A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Time to Say No

For those of you who aren’t among the five regular readers of this space, let me explain my strategy for A Bodey in Motion.

On Mondays (and other days when I get a wild hair) I try to stick to stuff related to my personal life. Sometimes it will be about a trip or an event that I just got back from. Other times, I’ll write out an issue I’ve been working through. Work and money topics tend to take a priority, because that’s where my head has been lately, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

On Thursdays I try to quickly hit five(ish) things that got my attention in the last week or so. I do that for a lot of different reasons. Maybe I’m using a hit as a place-holder, so I can find the link again later. Or I might want to briefly touch on a topic that doesn’t quite fit in the fairly loose theme here (like drug legalization, or weird Barbie stuff). Finally, I might be using it as an introduction to a thought that I know I’ll be getting into later, which is where we are today.

A few weeks back I wrote this:

Time is precious. Almost any other resource we have can be renewed, but time, for each of us, is finite. We all want more time to do the things we consider important, but we eventually come to the harsh reality that 168 hours a week just isn’t enough to do it all. So, managing our time becomes crucial, just like we have to budget our money. We have to be ready to make sacrifices.

We have to be willing to say “No” to some of the good opportunities that come our way, so we have the freedom to say “Yes” to the great ones later. Which means we also have to be willing to quit and walk away.

I’ve been doing volunteer financial coaching at a local church since the beginning of this year. Overall, it’s been a very rewarding experience. I’ve been able to help several families find hope in their money problems, and begin to work their way out of the hole that they’ve put themselves in. There isn’t much better than that. I hope that I don’t have to walk away from it any time soon.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, though.

For example, I got to meet with a couple that were living the classic American broke lifestyle. More debt than they should have had. Trying to take care of everything at once with their money, and doing none of it well. No financial goals, and no financial plan. A calamity away from financial disaster.

One of them recognized there was trouble ahead, but couldn’t grasp why. She hoped that I might be able to show them where the troubles were and help them form a plan to avoid them.

The issue was that he didn’t see any troubles at all. He didn’t even want to be there.  Everything I said, he had an answer for. They weren’t good answers, but they were good enough for him. His way of handling the money was right, and there was no telling him otherwise.

I could see the beginnings of long-term marital stress there.  Trust had already been a casualty, and blame was being tossed about. I could see the distance between the two of them grow as we talked. Divorce wasn’t a certainty, but it was a definite possibility.

After going through everything that they had brought to the table and touching on every financial issue, I struggled to try to get them to agree on something, anything, financially so they could move forward with coaching. I wanted to help them, but every door I opened was a fight. Still, I wasn’t going to give up that easily. If I could convince them to try a couple of things and come back for one more session, I might be able to make some headway.

Then a voice cut through my self-delusion. A memory from when I was went out to Nashville last Summer. The booming voice of Chris Hogan speaking these five words:

“Some people can’t be coached.”

And I knew that I had to tell them no. I had to quit. They weren’t ready for me to help them, and it would have been a waste of my time to try to keep working with them. Especially if that kept me from working with someone else who was ready.

Now, I’ve tried to learn what I could from the meeting (and there has been plenty), and I’ve prayed for them several times since then. I hope that they will learn to work together and walk together in their marriage. I hope that they start honoring God with their money. I hope that the next time I’m faced with a similar situation, I will see it clearly right away. I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time.

Have you ever said yes to a commitment that kept you from doing something better? What are you struggling with right now that you should consider quitting?

November 19, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future, Work and Money | 1 Comment

Quick Hits of the Week

  • I am always surprised when I hear the statistics about giving among Christians. It’s well known that people working in ministry are, in a majority of cases, underpaid. Christians are called to be generous, emulating the gift that was given to us by Christ. Our family tithes and gives as much as we feel called to, because we want our church to be able to pay our pastors well, and we want there to be margin for helping the people in our community who have difficulty providing for themselves. Now, there is some debate over whether or not pastors should depend on the financial support of the church, but I think the argument for is fairly strong. If you don’t that’s your choice, but I’m wondering how you live generously.
  • We like to measure our success, no matter how we endeavor. One of the problems with that is the way we measure our success will have an effect on how we try to achieve it. Sometimes we’re just measuring the wrong things. For example, in education: if the goal is children who love learning, are test scores the best way to measure that?
  • Alright. I’m not condoning fighting a house fire with a garden hose. I don’t actually think that it would be effective. However, faced with the possibility that a neighborhood fire might spread to my property, and no firefighters in sight, I might try something drastic to slow the oncoming destruction. It would be incredibly unwise for me to do so against the explicit order of a police officer, too, but I would expect at least a couple of verbal warnings before they’d resort to whipping out a Tazer and shooting me with it to stop me. What do you think?
  • Part of the problem that our garden hose wielder was running into was the fear of what might happen. The police couldn’t risk him even trying to stave off the flames, because if he were hurt or killed, they would likely receive some blame. We live in a society that more and more tells us that if we can do something to reduce a risk we should do it, no matter the cost, or the limiting freedom. Every time somebody dies in a tragedy, somebody is to blame.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

November 15, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Loyalty

Once again, I’ve just pre-tested for a new belt rank in Karate. Just like last time, I have to complete a written test, part of which is a half page essay on a subject determined by the rank I am advancing to. For the next belt, the subject is ‘Loyalty.’

So, what is Loyalty?

Loyalty (n) – the state or quality of being loyal; characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc.

Characterized by faithfulness. Honoring your word and duty.

As a married man, I can understand the idea of being faithful to a vow. A surface-level comprehension of that comes pretty easily. I’ve made a life-long commitment to honor and protect my wife. I got that.

Now ask me about what that looks like in my everyday life. It’s one thing to understand it. It’s another thing to live it.

Can I claim that I’m honoring my wife if I’m not careful with my eyes, my thoughts, or my heart? Am I protecting her if any image or idea that could challenge her status is allowed to enter my home? I may not actually take an action, but is that good enough to be able to claim loyalty?

I don’t think so.

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.

Morihei Ueshiba

I can’t claim loyalty if I’m not willing to engage in self-sacrifice, and force my personal identity to give way to the identity that I first committed to when I became her husband. That vow supersedes my wants or desires. The moment I claimed the title, I was no longer living for just me, not even inside my own head. So, I am only faithful to my wife if everything about me is subject to the review of what a husband should be, and anything that fails that review should be culled.

That’s true of every mantle I’ve assumed, every oath I’ve taken, and every obligation I’ve committed to:

Christian.

Husband.

Father.

Leader.

Teacher.

Whether I’m at my home, my place of worship, my workplace, or standing on a street corner, faithfulness to the principles that those words represent are more important than any fleeting whims or serious plans I might have. Every decision I make and every action I take should first pass through those filters. Otherwise, how can I claim loyalty to any of them?

Believe me, there are days that I think I can’t, but each day is an opportunity to improve, and I’m thankful for grace.

The more I thought about this topic, the more things came up. What should you do when your loyalties conflict with each other? When is it alright to walk away from something you’ve committed yourself to? Is there ever a good reason to be loyal to a nation or flag? All more than I could cover in a half-page essay, but feel free to discuss it in the comments below.

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Christ and Church, Marriage and Family, Past and Future | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Heaven Enough?

In his book God Is the Gospel, John Piper essentially asks whether we are in love with God:

          The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Heaven isn’t the reward for doing good. Your actions have nothing to do with it. It’s reuniting with the one you love. Coming home to the one who loved you beyond reason and sacrificed everything for you. Is that enough?

November 10, 2012 Posted by | Christ and Church | , , , | Comments Off on Is Heaven Enough?