Stop Trying to Figure Everything Out

Humans make me laugh. We still don’t get it. Since the dawn of time, we’ve wanted to know and control everything. When we can’t, we get worried and stressed. Our behavior becomes irrational. Ever since we caved in to the original temptation, we’ve been on that all-knowing quest.

One thing I’ve learned is that God has hidden from me almost everything I should know about His providential purpose for me, which He is working out in my life. I’ve accepted I know something, but cannot know everything. I have an expiration date, but I don’t know when that date is, and I’m cool with that.

Therefore, I’m not going to waste one minute of my life from this day forward. I trust Him to create something beautiful in me for His glory. All angst has subsided in my mind. Peace has infiltrated my steadfast spirit.

Knowing this, the practical application is asking, “How can I make this world better for others?” I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by searching for that answer.

Well, I’ve found it. It’s in training professionals for their calling. That’s how I can make this world better for others.

Does your career feel like a job or a calling? A job is something you get. A calling is something you craft. A job is an event in your life. A calling is a process. A job serves you. A calling serves others.

The minute you stop trying to figure everything out is a major milestone. Your job will start to become to your calling. No matter where you are at that point, you will be content, yet driven. You will be aware of His authority over your life and be able to live with the assurance of His presence and provision for you.

Calm, Assertive, Peaceful Energy

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m calmly, assertively and peacefully living my life. I refuse to sop up the hysteria and participate in the panic. There’s good news about the current state of COVID-19 that’s not being promoted.

I respect the seriousness of the pandemic. It’s a highly contagious virus. I pray for the health and safety of those who have compromised immune systems, as they are the most vulnerable. For the majority of the general population, I struggle to see how the risk justifies the panic.

For someone like me, the risk is suffering from flu-like symptoms, not death. Frankly, for the past 50 years, I’ve lived with that risk. Because COVID-19 is so easily spread, I’ve enhanced my personal hygiene practices and respect the need for social distancing, but other than that, my behavior is normal.

The only rational explanation of the panic is the fear of death. Even though death is an improbable outcome of catching the virus, its uncertainty is causing irrational behavior. Why? Perhaps it’s a revelation of how little humans want to think and talk about death?

The current state of society is a great example of what happens when we let our fear of death paralyze us. It begs reflection about what’s possible when the inverse is true, when you’re not afraid to die, when you’re not afraid to take informed, calculated risks?

When you know where you’re going, you know the ending. No matter what twists and turns you take, eventually you’ll navigate to your final destination. You can proceed with a calm confidence, even though “storms” will attempt to derail you. You will persist until you arrive. In fact, persistence is another word for faith, for when you have faith, you will persist.

I know the end to my life. I will die. I can’t avoid it. However, I also know my purpose while I’m here. It’s to love God first and then love others by serving them with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness. It’s to exhibit self-control whereby I place their interests above mine. I know that I can fulfill that purpose with my calling, which is be a professional coach.

Not a coach of a professional sport, but a coach of professionals in the workplace who have to balance work with the demands of family and community. I am called to train them to gain clarity about their purpose and to help them craft their calling.

When one understands purpose and calling, then death is no longer a scary proposition. I am not afraid to die because I know where I’m going, and I have faith I will get there. I don’t know when or how, but I know the ending.

Because I’m not afraid to die, I am no longer paralyzed by worldly worries. A new frontier of possibilities is opened to me. Instead of asking “why is this happening,” I’m asking “what’s possible?”

My hope is that you can experience this too. Calm, assertive, peaceful energy is greatly needed.

Panic is a Choice

True character is being revealed at the moment. Gut-level, root-level character. Facades are being removed, and we’re seeing what people are really made of.

What category do you fall into?

Are you so worried that you’re hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, latex gloves, bleach, food, etc …? Is you’re anxiety level so high that you don’t want any interaction with other people? You’re not letting your kids visit their friends at their house. You’re afraid to go out in public.

Or are you calm, level-headed and prudent? Mindful of the risks, equipped with the facts, and not falling for the hysteria?

This is an opportune moment to examine where you really are in life. What do you believe? In whom to you place your trust? With whom to you place your faith?

If you don’t like way you feel, then there’s hope. Worry, anxiety and panic are choices you don’t have to make. However, making alternate choices will require a change of mindset, a renewing of your mind.

Renewing your mind requires specific guidance. You need a helper that remolds your very way of thinking. When you accept this help, then you’ll have true self-control for the first time in your life.

You’ll no longer be bashed back and forth by circumstances. You’ll no longer choose to panic.

If you desire to have such self-control, then I’d love to hear from you. Kindly send me an e-mail at marc@mindwolves.com.

My Limp

It may not be outwardly noticeable, but I walk with a limp. With every step I take, my limp reminds me of my vulnerability. It’s with me wherever I go. I can pretend it doesn’t exist, but that only slows me down further. My “limp” is my broken heart.

My limp was actually self-inflicted, coming as a result of my pride and struggle to confess who I had been. Yet, it has been good for me. It’s symbolic of how I have grown. It serves as a reminder of how I have changed for the better. It’s a sign of my own struggle, my hurts, my hangups and my need to be dependent on God.

Money, power and romance are all good slaves, but bad masters. When they are put to good and Godly use, there’s nothing wrong with them. In that context, they are beautiful results of God’s design. However, when they are masters, thereby controlling our motives and behaviors, they become idols we worship. They become our gods.

In my experiences, worshiping these gods kept me in control, as no single god could claim my all. Each god was at arms length, enough to keep me comfortable. In the end, the root cause of my broken heart, i.e. my limp, was placing these gods above everything else in my life.

Chasing these gods proved futile, as they were are always elusive. When one god disappointed me, I would begin the equally unfulfilling pursuit of another. It was a perpetual cycle of disappointment and dissatisfaction.

It was not until I wrestled with and lost to the one true God, did I commit to pursuing him fully. At that moment my heart was broken, but the door was opened for me to see and train for my calling.

My broken heart, my limp, is a reminder that a sinner like me, who could never get a hold of the gods I pursued, was ultimately able to get a hold of the one true God.

My limp is a reminder that God gives himself fully to those that let him.

It’s not fair.

Envy may be the ugliest emotion. It is the symptom of a deep spiritual infection in our hearts. The dictionary defines envy as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Even the definition is ugly.

Why do we care about what someone else has? Why is that the baseline for our happiness? The answer is as old as the first humans who inhabited the Earth. We care because we doubt God’s goodness. We care because we fell for the oldest trick in the book, that we can be all knowing like Him. He doesn’t know what’s best for us. We know what’s best for us.

Three of the Ten Commandments speak to envy (Commandments 7, 9 and 10). With all due respect to non-believers, kindly permit me to address the remainder of this story to believers of God.

Why do you care about what someone else has? Why is that the baseline for your happiness? Envy is like a fever caused by an infection. Doubting God’s goodness causes the infection. The only way to get the cure is to learn to love like God loves. The only way to do that is to develop a mindset that dwells on the Holy Spirit, a mind that consistently thinks about who He is and what He wants for you.

These habits can be formed through proper training. As they increase in measure, your inclination to envy will decrease. With hard work, envy will become a thing of your past and no longer part of your character.

I used to fall into the trap of envy a lot. I used to say things like:

  • “It’s not fair!”
  • “Why them?”
  • “Why not me? I’ve worked as hard as they do.”
  • “I’ve played by the rules and have done what I’m supposed to do. Why do they make more money?”
  • “Why do they have a bigger house? A happier family? A nicer car?”

I was like an ungrateful child, unhappy about what I didn’t have, rather than focused on the gifts I’ve been given. Now I possess enough knowledge about God’s love that I no longer question His fairness. I am content with the conversation He and I once had:

Me: “Those other people were hired last and worked only one hour. But you paid them the same as you paid me who worked all day in the hot sun.

God: “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on … What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Are you jealous because I am good to them too?

Good point.

The Key

In my experience, forgiveness is not easy, but it’s the key that unlocks the door to fulfilling God’s mission for ourselves on Earth. We have to commit to self-mastery of forgiveness to clearly see our purpose and mesh it with our calling.

Forgiving goes against our nature to fight back, harbor a hurt and have the last word. However, we don’t have to rely solely on our own strength. If you’re a believer, you can trust you have the Holy Spirit working in you to help choose the things God loves, i.e. mercy, compassion and grace. You can show these things to those who offend or hurt you, because that’s what he’s shown to you.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:9

The world right now is having an identity crisis and misunderstands what love really is. Love is not what you feel or say. It’s what you do. It’s an action. To forgive is to love.

With the rise of the Internet and social media, we can now project ourselves as anything we want. Many work tirelessly to build up a false self so that they can receive affirmation from others. Others use it as a platform to get even and have the last word. At the root, both camps are exposing their greatest need, i.e. to be loved. It is, in fact, humanity’s greatest need, and we have an enemy aimed at it’s destruction. Putting on facades to our true identity is exactly what the enemy wants. It forces us into a lifestyle of never being truly known and therefore never truly loved for who we really are.

Forgiveness is the weapon that will defeat the enemy. Learning to forgive yourself and forgive others means you will let go of the past, wipe the slate clean, and start over with a “clean sheet of paper”.

It’s never too late to forgive. In fact, I would argue life really doesn’t start until you do. It’s the key to unlocking the door to your true self and your calling.

Your Example

Exactly one year ago my son, Dallas, wanted to work for Chick-fil-A. Being only 14 years old, he was a little young, but he gave it a shot. I helped him by picking up the application, filling it out and coordinating the interview with the restaurant manager for him. As he interviewed, I waited in the car for him to return. He had butterflies, which is normal for a first job interview. I was probably more nervous than him. After all, what parent wants to see their child rejected?

He returned to the car, and I asked, “Well, how’d it go?

He replied, “Good, but I was told I’d be better for Back of House, and you have to be closer to 16. She told me to apply again next year around the same time.”

As he eagerly awaited February 2020, his desire to work for Chick-fil-A did not wane. If he had it his way, we’d eat dinner there every night. Plus, he loves their culture and corporate values and wants to be part of their team.

This year, however, I decided not to do everything for him. Rather, I would counsel him through the process and teach him what he’ll have to do to make the right impression to get the job. I want him to benefit from the knowledge of how to get the job, rather than him benefiting from the direct results of my labor. He would have to be responsible, accountable and earn it himself.

He picked up, filled out and turned in the application on his own. His cell phone and e-mail were listed as contacts, not mine. He would get the call to coordinate the interview.

He turned in the application late Monday evening. He received a call Wednesday to schedule the interview for next Friday.

I asked him, “Is that Friday, February 14th or Friday February 21st?

He replied, “Next Friday is the 21st.

I said, “Ok, just make sure you confirm what date she meant.

So, I’m relaxing from a exhausting week late on Friday the 14th, and Dallas pops his head in my room, “Dad, I just listened to a voice message from Chick-fil-A. My interview was today, and I missed it.

I’m so sorry about that, Dallas. Did you confirm what ‘next Friday’ meant?,” I asked.

No, I was certain it was the 21st,” he answered.

Well, I think you should call them back, apologize for the misunderstanding, and I’m sure they will forgive you and reschedule,” I advised.

Dallas’ interview is now scheduled for Monday, February 17th. This was a valuable learning experience for Dallas.

As Dallas grows up, he’s becoming a more coachable young man. He’s allowing me to “prune” him, just as I allow God to prune me. It’s becoming more and more evident to me that Dallas notices that. My process of discipline and correction is aligned with God’s process, and it’s rooted in unconditional love. We treat every day as an opportunity to grow in relationship with His Spirit and allow the pruning of branches that do not bear fruit. Every gardener knows that pruning non-bearing fruit branches of a vine or a plant returns even more fruit on the fruit bearing branches. This is analogous to how we should live our lives.

As I reflect on this Chick-fil-A experience, it highlights how important it is to learn by doing and making room for failure. We are all better off if we acquire the knowledge of how to do something rather than simply getting the something itself. We can’t appreciate what we don’t work for.

For example, children are better off learning how to get a job and make money rather than getting the money itself. They are better off getting the example of of their parents’ labor rather than the result of their parents’ labor.

I am grateful for the example that God sets for me so that I may set it too for my children.

Be a Neighbor

The late, great Fred Rogers treated everyone like a neighbor. I think most people interpret that word literally, i.e. a person living near or next door.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor (2018) Trailer

Mr. Rogers, however, had a broader definition. To him, everybody is our neighbor. He humanized our world better than anybody in modern history.

“Love is at the root of everything. All learning. All relationships.

It’s An invitation for somebody to be close to you.

The greatest thing we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”

Fred Rogers

I am humbled that Mr. Rogers and I share the same neighborhood, literally and figuratively. We’re both from Pittsburgh, PA. I grew up watching his TV show, which was produced by WQED in Pittsburgh. He taught me me two very valuable lessons:

  1. Prioritize likeness over differences
  2. Put others over self

Coincidentally, these are also lessons taught by Jesus in The Parable of The Good Samaritan, a story about what it looks like to be a neighbor. In that story, a question is asked, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37)

Both Mr. Rogers and Jesus had the same answer. We are all human and made in the likeness of God. Rather than focus on how we’re different … race, gender, political or religious beliefs … we should acknowledge we are all humans who need to know we are loved and are capable of loving others.

We should also place others above ourselves by seeing their problems as our problems. Why? Because the people in our lives are more important than our plans or agenda. We should enter the mess of their lives and make them our own.

When Mr. Rogers extended the invitation, “Won’t you be my neighbor?,” he was genuinely humanizing each of us and modeling the behavior of a loving neighbor. It was the same model of love the Good Samaritan offered to the beaten, nearly dead stranger on the side of road.

This standard of behavior is hard. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The reason it’s hard is because it’s counter-cultural. Society doesn’t teach unconditional love, selfless sacrifice and self-control. Rather, it promotes selfish love and “have it your way”. In fact, because we’re flooded with these messages daily, the force of their current acting on our behavior is so strong that many of us get caught up in it. For most of my life, I certainly was.

But now, I am grateful the seed that was planted in my heart as a child is starting to blossom. I am grateful for the lessons I was taught about how to be a good neighbor and who my neighbor is. I am grateful for the ability to prioritize likeness over differences and others over self. I am grateful for the willingness to enter the mess of other people’s lives and make them my own. I am grateful for my calling, which is to train others how to be a neighbor too.

Adversity, the Great Team Builder

This week, I’m writing on location at The SPIRE Center, a multi-sport complex in Geneva, OH. My daughter has taken up club volleyball and this is her first of many tournaments. I enjoy the change of pace from my normal Sunday morning routine. I’m also grateful for the beautiful fresh dusting of snow on the ground. There’s nothing like a layer of God’s fresh white powder to transform an otherwise mundane landscape into a beautiful work of art. I appreciate God’s purpose for snow, to slow us down, in the midst of our busy schedules and regular tasks, so we can simply rest in his good gifts.

My daughter’s team is designated a 12-year old team, however they have only two 12-year old girls. The majority are 10 and 11, and they are the youngest, most inexperienced team here. The teams they’re up against are older, bigger, stronger and have been playing together for a couple of years. Their first match revealed that disparity.

Needless to say, yesterday morning was a long morning. They lost every set of every match. Their confidence was low and their coaches did their best to teach them and pick up their spirits. After a long mid-day break, they got back at it.

2020 Revolution 12U Team

The afternoon was much better. They won their first set after the break and took their opponent into the third set of a best of three match. They ultimately lost the last set, but they fought valiantly. They started to function as a team and exhibited moments of perfection. Dig, set, kill. Their confidence and cohesion rose as they competed throughout the afternoon. There was blood, sweat and tears. They fought the good fight, and the simultaneous look of exhaustion and satisfaction on their faces revealed it. The “well done” they received from their coach was a great way to cap the day.

The adversity they faced was a reminder of what a great team builder it can be, provided the response to it. Everybody has a role. Everyone has a job to do. One person not doing their job means the whole team is off. The coach has to remind the players of that, using bad decisions and unforced errors as constructive learning tools. No one person is above the team. Nobody can do it all themselves. They have to use and trust their teammates. There can’t be one hero getting all the glory, but rather everyone must unselfishly serve their teammates and make heroes of them.

Life is a team sport, and the common good is served by viewing it that way. God will use anyone who believes in him to change the world for the better. Each of us must continually ask, “Am I trying to be the hero, or am I trying to make heroes of others?” All adversity works for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

There should be no division of “the team” if its members have equal concern for each other. If one member suffers, every member suffers with them. If one member is honored, everyone celebrates with them. The team grows and builds itself up in love, as each member does their job. Just as every person has one body with multiple parts with different functions working together, a team is comprised of many members with different talents and roles. The team forms one body and each member belongs to all the others.

To the 2020 Revolution 12U team, thank you for the reminder. You set a wonderful example of how to use adversity to build a cohesive team.

Well done.

TEAM C

I’ve had the same license plate since 1998, TEAM C. Back then, I wanted COACH C, but it was unavailable in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I “settled” for TEAM C, and little did I know how prophetic it was. Twenty-two years later, TEAM C embodies my calling.

Life has a specific design, a way in which it is intended to work. It’s meant to be lived in community with others, in other words as a team. One can only live a meaningful life in the context of a team. Everyone’s team is different, yet we all have the same purpose, to use our Spirit-empowered gifts and resources to build up the whole team to accomplish our God-given mission on Earth. Investing in the lives of your teammates serves them and the greater good of the team. Our individual motive should be to sacrifice ourselves so that our teammates can do even greater things than us.

Most people act as if living a meaningful life is all about status, having the lofty title, living in the exclusive neighborhood, making a lot of money, driving the fanciest car. In team speak, this is equivalent to having all the right “statistics.” It’s like having a team comprised of star players who are individually successful, however that does not guarantee a cohesive, successful team. In fact, my experiential belief runs counter to that prevailing wisdom.

I believe meaning and purpose is derived by our individual contribution to a team who has players willing to sacrifice personal success for the sake of the team. Players who forget about their own statistics to get the win. Players who subordinate their ego for the benefit of the team.

Back when I wanted COACH C on my license plate, I had an individualistic motive. I wanted Coach C, the nickname given to me my players because my last name was hard to pronounce, to get the glory. I wanted Coach C to get the praise. Sure, I wanted the team to win, but so I could get the accolades.

By settling for TEAM C, I did not realize then that God was giving me an aiming point. I had a hunger to be a coach and teacher, but I had the arena all wrong. Rather than football, my “sport” was to be the professional workplace. Rather than football players, my “athletes” were to be faith-led people who were entrapped by the 9-5 daily grind and trying to live the “American dream.” TEAM C was to be my beacon as I chart my life’s course. Having the benefit of hindsight and a little wisdom, I see that now.

TEAM C helps me to navigate through the good days and bad days. On good days, it’s keeps me humble and reminds me I’m part of something bigger than myself. On bad days, it keeps me focused on my mission and helps me weather the storms. Every day, it points me to my purpose, which is to train professionals for their calling. I’m called to serve and invest in them so that they can do even greater things than me, and we all serve a God who gets all the glory.

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