Archives For Patience

This post is a part of a series entitled Hinneh: a blog series on vocation and calling. You can read more here: http://manofdepravity.com/2015/05/vocation-in-stages/

Do you remember those times as a kid when someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I sure do. It was a magical question that was filled with hope, opportunity, and excitement. There was no hint of fear, doubt, or worry. This was the time to dream and say whatever your heart desired. I don’t know about you, but I think it was right around the age of 12 I lost that excitement and the reality that “my dreams” might not come true.

“Honestly Kyle, I don’t think you have worked hard enough to become a professional.” Tears rolling down my face as I looked out the passenger window of my dad’s car. “You have a great skill, but to truly make it, to go to the next level takes discipline and practice, are you willing to give up everything to go to the next level?” I knew the answer to my dad’s question, I wasn’t willing. This might seem like my dad was being harsh with me, but up to this moment he had been my biggest support. And at this point in my life, I needed to hear the truth. He wasn’t saying no to my dream, he was bringing in the reality. And at the age of 12, I knew, I wasn’t going to be a professional baseball player. That was the moment I lost the feeling of being able to do whatever I want, and started to see the reality of where I want to go.

It’s taken me many years since that conversation with my dad to realize that having a calling is like that. It’s a long process that doesn’t come overnight. It is revealed to us in stages, long conversations, and practice. Finding your calling happens over time, not in a singular moment.

DeathtoStock_People1

I’m probably not the best person to talk about calling, at least on paper. I have a degree in youth ministry. And yet, I work at a record label doing Digital Marketing. I have even worked in churches, but never in the youth department. I have spent more time building websites and writing marketing plans than planning youth retreats and playing games. And through this time I always felt like I was being patient, a time of growth and development was what I viewed it as. Never fully confronting my vocation as something different than what I studied in college. Until my 30th birthday started to approach and I asked the question we have all asked, “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

Vocation comes in stages. From the beginning stage of discovery, to when you finally become a maste of your craft, each opportunity brings about more time to learn, grow, be stretched, figure out what you like, and get better. I can look back at the opportunities I have had that seemed to be nothing more than a job or task and yet, when I follow the thread of the various stages of vocation, I can see how each opportunity was molding me for my calling. Like the time I had a summer internship at a youth conference where I managed backstage and programming. Or the time I was a middle school teacher and was challenged to come up with creative ways to communicate stories I heard long before.

Most of us spend more time thinking about vocation then working on our vocation. My friend Jeff calls this the stage of apprenticeship and usually lasts up to 7 years. It’s a time of growth and learning. It’s a time of figuring out what we are good at and what we don’t want to do. This apprenticeship time is quiet, sometimes lonely, and often times frustrating. The overwhelming feeling of not doing what you want to do seems to be the theme of this stage. Everything you do feels more like a task leading to frustration rather than an opportunity for the future. You do a lot of listening and watching rather than talking and doing. You wonder when your time will come? When will I be the one to lead? When will I hit my stride? Only to not find the answers.

Leonard Ravenhill said “the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.”

And living out opportunities is what we are doing. Opportunities don’t feel like steps to finding your vocation, but what I have learned is opportunities are the foundations to the calling that has been placed on each of us. They are the building blocks we step on as we walk through life. It’s easy to want to skip over these opportunities. To focus only on what gets us to our calling. But I would argue, each opportunity is a chance for us to learn about our calling.

In the times we are asked to do jobs we don’t want to do, we learn.
In the process of finding a job, we learn.
In the daily grind of work, we learn.
In the void of answers, we learn.
In the madness of others, we learn.
In the chaos of a project, we learn.

Every day is an opportunity to work on our vocation or calling. You could be wondering what you are going to do with your life right out of college, or your early 30’s wondering what you will do with the rest of your life. But when you realize that vocation comes in stages and each stage has a different theme and development, we can begin to see every single moment as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop.

This changes the way we approach our work, and even more so, our life. If we will approach every day as an opportunity to redeem it for the future, we will be free to live a life of being in our vocation. For we are called to make the most of what we have been given. Not focus on the dreams of our future, but to live in the everyday moments we are presented with to get better, to learn more, to encourage others, and to do great work.

Vocation is not something we will ever obtain, but something we can strive after every day to find that what we are doing is what we were created to do. It all comes down to how you view your opportunities.

Evander Holyfield, ya the guy who had chunks of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson, tells a story about his first trainer. Evander was a young boxer making his way into the sport and his trainer asked him one day, “do you want to be great?” Of course Evander had the same answer as we all would have, “yes sir, I do.”

But the follow-up question was what shocked me the most. Evander’s trainer responded, “Okay, if you want to be great, you now have to decide if it’s a dream or a goal?”

Are you living a dream or chasing a goal?

Both dreams and goals have a forward focusing view. You look ahead to obtain them.
This is about all they have in common.
Dreams and goals are separated by wishes and reality.

Dream: I hope this will happen some day.
Goal: I am working on making this happen.

Dream: Wouldn’t it be great if this happened.
Goal: This is what I want to see happen.

When we know the difference between a dream and a goal we are able to focus on how to get there.
Figuring out if we are pursuing a dream or a goal will give direction on where we need to go, what we need to do, and how we need to get there.

Goals Are Dreams with Deadlines

Inefficient is not ineffective.
I know what the definition says, and I know what you hear in your head when you hear inefficient. But that is not the kind of inefficiency I am talking about.

Meaning of inefficient

The negative connotation that goes along with inefficiency is one of laziness, insufficient, and a lack of caring. I have never heard Jesus described that way, nor have I read Jesus described that way.

But if we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was anything from efficient.

There is a temptation today to make everything efficient. Your morning routine, your children, your job, your part-time job, your spouse, and maybe even your God. This temptation is in the name of effectiveness, a chance to speed up life and to get to the next thing in the most timely manor. If the fastest way to a point is straight, then you are headed straight.

Efficiency has crept its way in to our culture and has taken on words such as hustle, effective, and passion. And on the surface efficiency sounds great. It has become a way of life for many. This might provide them the opportunity to make more money for their family, write books, and take more meetings. Being efficient is doing everything to its absolute maximum and in the timeliest of manors.

The danger of efficiency is when it turns in to a way of life. When it becomes the only way to operate. When you start to make it your god. The temptation of efficiency is to always want more, to always take on more, and to systemize every action taken.

The thought of inefficiency might be the most inefficient thing you do today.

But looking at the life of Jesus, He does a lot of “inefficient” things.
Whether it was the time He decided to eat with a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Or the time He waited to go and check on His friend Lazarus. Or how about when He was suppose to be rushing off to save a dying child only to stop because He felt someone tugging on his jacket. Or maybe that time He called the Pharisee (the religious leaders of the day) a brood of vipers. Or how about when told the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow Him. Or maybe when He told a group of potential followers to let the dead bury the dead.

I am sure the disciples had several moments where they wondered about Jesus path to efficiency. Where they argued about how effective Jesus was really being. In fact, we see a bit of this exchange when Jesus is teaching  a large crowd. The disciples, realizing the potential problem ahead, tell Jesus to let the people go home because dinner is approaching. This obviously was in the name of efficiency. But Jesus had another plan.

Even in Jesus’ time, the demands for him to be efficient were overwhelming. He was suppose to be the one that overtook the Roman rule and lead the Israelite people to power, to authority, and to prominence. His path to efficiency was through shaking the right hands, kissing the right babies, and hanging out with the right people. It was all in front of Him. He needed to follow the plan and everything would fall in to place.

But reading the Gospels, Jesus took the path that no one else would have taken to power, He became death so that we may live. He took on sin so that we may be covered by His grace.

Empty Watch

If we learn anything from Jesus it was that He had a plan, it just wasn’t what we would have done. His plan was messy, it wasn’t efficient, and it was all about people. There was no system for Jesus, it wasn’t a step 1, 2, and 3 membership class, and it never made sense in the moment.

I think efficiency is so appealing because it can be predictable.
It is the only surefire way to have a guess at what the result will be. But what happens when efficiency leaves you empty? What happens when the system you created for your followers leaves them empty? What happens all the barriers are removed in the name of efficiency but there is still a huge gap between hearing and doing?

There is nothing wrong with efficiency. But when it becomes the only way to live it starts to rob moments that could have been. Imagine if Jesus never fed the 5000. Would life go on for those people if they had to go home and eat? Yes. Would they have been able to have practical application to the teaching of Jesus and His promise of providing? No.

I am afraid that our efficiency could be robbing ourselves and others the opportunities to have moments of growth. That the very way of living efficient could be stealing the every day miracle of life. Efficiency is the most inefficient thing you can do.

Should we live a life of chaos and wastefulness? No. Should we live a life that allows what some would call distractions (inefficiencies) to interrupt our schedule? Yes. Because those could be the very moment where God is speaking, showing, and doing something amazing in yours and others lives.

Maybe the most efficient thing we can do today is to look for chance to be inefficient in the way we love.

Thankfully my friend Jeff is calling us to live inefficient.

How do you miss a layup? By assuming that it is easy.

There is nothing more embaracing then messing something up that is suppose to be easy. Just ask anyone who has failed. They know what it means to have gone into a situation thinking nothing could go wrong only to walk away with their head held low. Failure has a way of humbling us, but it also has a way of showing us that nothing is easy.

In life I have had what I often call “layups.” Situations that seemed so basic and easy that I could not miss or mess up. On the surface everything looks great, but below the surface awaits pain, frustration and confusion. Because missing a layup produces all kinds of questions and responses.

  • What happened?
  • It seemed so easy?
  • Did it slip out of my hands?
  • What distracted me?
  • Why did I take my eye off of the goal?

I think layups cause us to relax. They cause us to think something is going to be easy. But as we all know, life is not easy. Life is not filled with layups and wide open lanes to drive through. Life is messy, life is not what is expected. Life is not a layup.

But it is okay that life is not a layup. It is okay that we mess up the “easy” things in life. Because in those moments we move from our own dependance to a place of reliance on God.

Have you ever gone into a situation expecting a layup when it was really a half court prayer?

*kyle

I would say that the reason most people do not move forward on many decisions is the fear of rejection.

The power that rejection holds over most peoples lives is one of great strength. It dictates what they say, how they act, and what they believe. All in the name of being accepted.

As I have gotten older I reflect back on high school more and more and realize how much of a jerk I could have been. I say could have been because at the time I really do not know if I was or not. There are specific memories of me playing the role of a jerk and treating people like they were an oddity that could not fit in. This seemed like a pretty normal process for me and my friends, not because we wanted to hurt people, but because we didn’t know it hurt them. Often times the thing we found funny was the thing that was slowly destroying the spirit of the one that did not fit in. But they never said anything. Maybe it was because they didn’t want to be rejected, but probably because they just wanted to be one of us.

Rejection has a powerful hold, it keeps people expressing their true feelings to friends, potential significant others, and family members. The odd thing about rejection is that you cannot experience it unless you speak up. Maybe that is why it is so powerful, because it never has to flex its muscles until someone gets bold enough to challenge it.

Currently I am fighting its power. Afraid of what someone will think when I tell them how I truly feel is holding me back and slowly bringing about a tortuous death. I doubt this is a quote but it should be: “Patience is enough to kill a man” and as much as I believe that, patience is exactly what is holding me away from rejection. I think the rejection I fear right now is that I will have to move on to something else. It’s easier to just sit back and keep believing then starting over.

The power of rejection is only as powerful as we allow it to be.

Do you ever feel the pressure of rejection?

*kyle

Red lights frustrate me.

They slow me down, waste my time, and even get in my way. But I had a revelation about what to do when I hit a red light in my life.

Well, kind of.
But seriously, after a couple of tries I just feel like I am not finding my fit.
After about 20 seconds you can guess what the outcome of this video will be, but you have to stick it out to the end (around the 2:10 mark) and see how frustrated she gets because he plan is not working out.
Somedays I just wish everything would fall into place.

You?

*kyle