Equipping the Called

A friend recently learned that her car was equipped with a remote starter—on the day she went to trade it in. I can relate: I’ve had my iPhone for eight months and just realized that I can print from it.

I often say that when we make the most of what we have, God blesses us with more. But what if we don’t know what we have? What then? Does a lack of knowledge let us off the hook for all consequences?

Ignorance is not bliss if it keeps us from enjoying the blessings that are ours for the taking. … Like a warm vehicle in the winter. … And a phone that lives up to its potential.

Maybe that’s why God works through His spirit to give us a hand—or a timely whisper. I read once that the brain can’t help but answer a question once it’s been asked. Having repeatedly found this to be true, I have to wonder if God does this as a reminder that He can be trusted to do the same.

Even when we don’t know it, God is at work behind the scenes to meet our deepest needs. The Beatles weren’t kidding when they sang that all we need is love. God’s love—and a little initiative on our part—is all we need to find answers to even the most perplexing problems. Like today when Katie asked me to help her get the wireless printer to work with our home computer. After I searched the internet for solutions, attempted to reload the printer driver, and called Apple for support, my oldest said: “That’s one thing I love about being in this family: You know how to fix things when they stop working.”

“I don’t know what to do,” I confessed.

“You sure look like you do.”

What Katie saw as confidence was really a reliance on the One that all of us should be turning to. Matthew 7:7 promises that when we take the first step, God will lead us to the next one and the next until everything we need to do gets done. And although the pace is rarely as fast as we would like, those who keep following. … and trusting. … will eventually see every wrong made right.

That’s what happened to me when, as a last resort, I reset the cable router and our printer sprang to life. To her excitement and my surprise, Katie’s e-reader also started working for the first time in over a week.

The saying is true. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And when we do our best and trust Him with the rest, He will exceed our expectations every time.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7b

3 Questions for the Frantic Family

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing Patrick Lencioni give a message based upon his book,  The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family. Having received rave reviews by leaders like Elisa Morgan of MOPS International and the former CEO of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., we purchased a copy to take home and found it to be an extremely easy read—most of the chapters are less than three pages.

Notes taken while sitting in the audience of Willow Creek’s February 4th weekend service and links to download his message and strategic planning model are found below.

People are more frantic and overwhelmed than ever because there are more opportunities than ever, and more social expectations for taking advantage of those choices.

Why does our work get all of our energy when our family is all that matters?

What families don’t have enough of is not structure and rules; it’s context: The context of knowing what matters most to us and to Christ.

Three questions that give even the most frantic family context are:

1. What makes our family unique?

What are the core values that make us different from the family next door?

What trait did you like in your spouse when you first met that you also possess?

You know you have a core value if you’re willing to be punished for it. Or if it’s inconvenient and you do it anyway.

2. What is our family’s rally cry (i.e., top priority or slogan) right now?

If everything is important, then nothing is.

Ask yourself: “If we accomplish one thing during the next month, what should it be?”

Knowing your rally cry eliminates the guilt that comes from saying “no” to other worthwhile projects. It’s ok to let the lawn go, for example, when your family’s focus is getting ready for a third child.

3.  How do we talk about and use the answers to these questions?

Your family’s defining objectives should be centered around your rally cry and based upon the reality in which you live.

Because Patrick struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, part of his family’s reality is to embrace the challenge of OCD.

After asking yourself the above questions, you are ready to update your family’s Scoreboard with your rally cry and objectives.

Don’t let the urgent squeeze out the important. Instead, review your scoreboard regularly, celebrate your successes, and embrace your struggles every day.

Willow Creek Church Weekend Service Podcast

Influencers

In a recent e-mail from Bill Hybels, he challenged me and thousands of other readers to think of the person who influenced us the most during our first 18 years and breathe a prayer of gratitude to God for the impact they had on our lives. This request caused me to pull out a recently completed self-coaching exercise where I identified my top ten needs and the positive or negative ways that I attempted to meet them. As I reviewed the list, it became clear that everything I valued now could be traced to something that was missing at one time or another from my life.

Most would view these unmet needs as a negative thing, but I have a different opinion after seeing the good that has come as a result of them. I am passionate about progress, for example, because as a child I saw the effect of making none. And I include as many people as possible when planning events because, growing up, I often felt left out.

We say that we don’t want anything bad to happen to us, but without the trial there would be no triumph. And although looking back to see where we’re headed sounds like an oxymoron, we’ll never grow in the direction God is leading us by looking to where others have gone.

It is our past that leads to our purpose, not someone else’s. Knowing this gives new meaning to Proverbs 22:6 because training up a child in the way he should go is about, not just discipline, but discernment. Every consequence we experience, whether brought on by our actions or another person’s, is a lesson in how—or how not—to live.

There’s no way around it: Whether our past makes us bitter or better, either way it defines us so why not choose the route that makes the world a better place to be? That’s what Joseph did in Genesis 50:20 when he forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery because it put him in a position to feed his family and all of Egypt. “You intended to harm me,” he explained, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Joseph was exactly where God needed him to be to make a difference during his time on earth and so are we. So instead of cursing the darkness, let’s choose to be a light as we give thanks, not just for the good influencers, but also for the ones who taught us how not to be.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Automating Calendar and Contact Information

A subscriber recently e-mailed me to ask if I had any tips on managing contacts. Since this is a question that others may have, I’m also sharing this information with you.

For over ten years, I stored my contacts in Microsoft Outlook because they synced to whatever smart phone I had at the time and worked with Outlook’s mail program so I never had to look up an address. It was also easy to locate and backup the file that the contact information was stored in (making it simple to transfer information to a new computer whenever I upgraded).

After making the switch to a Macbook Pro last June (which I don’t regret), it took a lot of trial and error to figure out what to do because the contact and calendar information in Office 2011 (which is the version that Microsoft created to run on a Mac) had major syncing issues with my iPhone.

I ended up transferring all of my contacts to the address book that came with my Mac. It syncs well to my iPhone and solved the problem.

To fix the calendar problem, I uploaded my appointments to google calendar and set my iPhone up so that whatever I add to my google calendar appears on my phone and vice versa.

I am a firm believer in Romans 8:28, which assures us that all experiences—even bad ones—can be used for good if we learn from what we live through. With this in mind, I offer up the following lessons learned:

  • Office  2011’s version of Outlook on the Mac is not worth the effort it takes to set it up.
  • If I hadn’t had problems syncing Outlook’s calendar to my phone, I never would have discovered how easy Google calendar is to use (or enjoyed the benefits of having access to my calendar from another computer when I accidentally spilled water on mine).  I especially like how easy Google’s calendar is to schedule an event and invite others (even if they use a different calendar program to keep track of appointments).
  • My final lesson learned is actually a rhyme that I use to remember the message behind Romans 8:28:  If things don’t turn out the way you think they should, trust God to use bad for good.

That’s all for my first technology update. If you have a calendar or contact solution that works well for you, feel free to add a comment to this post so that everyone can benefit from your experience. For help with automating your appointments and address book or syncing them with an iPhone, my coaching business is up and running (website coming soon) and I would be happy to work with you on this and any other area of your life that needs an upgrade.

Your progress is my passion and I can’t think of a better calling than encouraging my readers to stop settling and start living a no limits life today.