Category Archives: The cure for the common life

Get busy livin’

shawshank1_2772806bSweet spot.

You have one. It’s the place where your unique talents, gifts, experiences, and passions come together in the service and glorification of God. It’s the spot where you feel most like you—you’re alive and engaged and positively contributing to the world around you.

You don’t get as tired in your sweet spot. You don’t get as stressed out. Results come easier, and you’re happier, more effective, and more alive when you’re operating from this place.

As Max Lucado said, it’s the sweetest spot in the universe.

It takes a little effort to discover your sweet spot. It requires some internal exploration to identify all of the treasures that God has pre-packaged within you. However, it’s worth every moment of effort because once you start moving toward your sweet spot, you’ll be on the path toward an invigorating, significant, uncommon life.

Your kids have a sweet spot too. If you’re a parent, one of the wisest things you can do is to help your child identify his or her sweet spot, and begin living in it early on. Many heart-breaking endeavors come about because young people waste time exploring life outside of their God-prescribed sweet spot.

If you’re ready to get serious about living an uncommon life, there are some reflection exercises in the appendix of The Cure for the Common Life that will guide you into the identification of your sweet spot. By identifying “aha!” moments from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, and by highlighting the verbs (the actions you took that made you feel most alive), you can create a script that will startlingly identify the essence of who you were created to be.

Please avail yourselves of those exercises, and get started on the path toward an uncommon life. As Andy Dufresne said to Red at the end of the film, Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Let’s get busy living intentional lives that glorify God, bless the world, and bring life to our own souls.

Know you are loved!

(This officially concludes this summer’s all-church reading program)

A Family of Friends

Parenthood“God is building a family. A permanent family. Earthly families enjoy short shelf lives. Even those that sidestep divorce are eventually divided by death. God’s family, however, will outlive the universe.

You didn’t pick me. I didn’t pick you. You may not like me. I may not like you. But since God picked and liked us both, we are family.

And we treat each other as friends.

C.S. Lewis said, ‘Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’

If similar experiences create friendships, shouldn’t the church overflow with friendships? With whom do you have more in common than fellow believers? Amazed by the same manger, stirred by the same Bible, saved by the same cross, and destined for the same home. Can you not echo the words of the psalmist? ‘I am a friend to everyone who fears you, to anyone who obeys your orders’ (Ps.119:63 NCV).

The church. More than family, we are friends. More than friends, we are family. God’s family of friends.

Oddly, some people enjoy the shade of the church while refusing to set down any roots. God, yes. Church, no. They like the benefits, but resist commitment. The music, the message, and the clean conscience—they accept church perks. So they date her, visit her. Enjoy an occasional rendezvous. They use the church. But commit to the church? Can’t do that. Got to keep options open. Don’t want to miss out on any opportunities.

I propose they already are. Miss the church and miss God’s sanctioned tool for God promotion. For church is a key place to do what you do best to the glory of God.

God heals His family through His family. In the church we use our gifts to love each other, honor one another, keep an eye on troublemakers, and carry each other’s burdens. Do you need encouragement, prayers, or a hospitable home? God entrusts the church to purvey these treasures. Consider the church God’s treatment center for the common life.

Don’t miss it. No one is strong all the time. Don’t miss the place to find your place and heal your hurts.”[1]

 

Summer Reading Program: The Cure for the Common Life Chapter Nine “Join God’s Family of Friends.”

[1] This essay is taken in its entirety from Max Lucado’s The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN: 2005): 77-82.

Curing poor I-sight

VisionLasik eye surgery in 1997 corrected my inherited nearsightedness, but according to Max Lucado, there is another malady affecting people’s vision today. It’s not a problem with natural eyesight but with “I-sight”—one’s view and perception of him or herself.

The two extreme lenses through which we humans sometimes view ourselves are self-loving and self-loathing. We either think too much or too little of ourselves. We have inflated egos or deflated souls. However, in between the extremes of “I can do everything” and “I can’t do anything” lie the Apostle Paul’s words, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).[1]

A pulsing laser in 1997 re-shaped my cornea and restored clarity to my natural eyesight, but what is the answer for distorted “I-sight”? According to Lucado, it’s worship.

Worship, he says, lifts ones eyes off self and sets them on God. Worship properly positions the worshipper, both humbling the smug and lifting the deflated. Worship adjusts us by lowering the chin of the haughty and straightening the back of the burdened. Worship shifts our gaze to the one who is inherently worthy.[2]

Moreover, worship is certainly not limited to a handful of songs or prayers on a Sunday morning at church. Worship happens anywhere that we lift our eyes beyond ourselves and set our affection and attention on God. It can indeed happen in a worshipping community, but it can just as easily happen in a workspace or on a weekend.

We were made to worship—we are worshippers at our core—and God deserves our worship. As Lucado said, we can “cure any flare-up of commonness by setting our eyes on our uncommon King.”[3]

 

 

Summer Reading Program: The Cure for the Common Life Chapter Eight “Applaud God loud and often.”

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN: 2005): 72.

[2] Ibid., 74-75.

[3] Ibid., 75.

Judged or Misunderstood?

scrutinyWould you rather be judged from afar or misunderstood from up close?

Would you rather have someone draw faulty conclusions about you from a distance, or misinterpret your expressed intentions?

It’s not a fun “would you rather” question because both options stink. We’ve all had people make unfair assessments about us from afar, and we’ve all had people misunderstand the good things we were trying to communicate or do.

It hurts to feel stereotyped, judged, or misunderstood and it elicits the cry: “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t think those things about me!”

  • If you understood my heart, you wouldn’t question my motives.
  • If you understood my introverted temperament, you wouldn’t mistake it for aloofness or disinterest.
  • If you understood how deeply I think and feel, you wouldn’t think my sanguine nature is shallow or insincere.
  • If you really knew me, you would love me.

Do you think that’s true of God?

Do you think our current view of Him accurately reflects His character and nature, or have we inadvertently judged and misinterpreted Him?

A low or warped view of God will keep us from taking risks and spending our life in His service. And the tragedy of those low or warped views is that they’re usually formulated through misinterpretations or judgments from afar.

The cure? Relationship. The best way to shatter a faulty perception is to relate with reality. When I truly get to know you my inaccurate perceptions of you fall by the wayside.

How well do we know God? How intentional are we about knowing Him more?

The cure for the common life is a life lived out of our sweet spot for the glory of God. However, in order to truly live for His glory we must know and trust Him. Perhaps this point in our summer reading program is the perfect time to press in to know Him more.

Grace Church summer reading program, The Cure for the Common Life, Chapter Three: “Read your life backward.”

 

Don’t consult your greed

scrooge mc duckEpic. Strategic. Helpful. Wise.

Max Lucado’s chapter “Don’t consult your greed” contains some of the best life advice that we could ever receive!

Here’s his punch line: when attempting to identify your ‘sweet spot’ don’t consult your greed. The God-ordained niche for your life will be outrageously significant; however, it probably won’t satisfy every greedy longing in your soul.

Mine won’t be fully satisfied either—no one’s greed ever is. As Epicurus, Greek philosopher from 300 BC, noted, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” Similarly, when John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?” he replied, “Just a little more.”[1]

Perhaps your sweet spot will provide a comfortable living for you, but perhaps it won’t. Some people get paid to pursue their sweet spot, while others touch that place through volunteering. The primary goal is not to get rich by doing what we love, but rather to passionately and honorably pursue what we love, and then practice contentment with its results. Indeed, some people in their longing for more have accepted job “promotions” that have elevated them right out of their sweet spot. Consequently, rather than doing what they love, and learning to be content therein, they have gained a little “more” but have become miserably out-of-place along the way.

I know this perspective flies in the face of our American quest for “more,” and yet I wonder if our longing for more has caused us to become negligent or ungrateful for what we currently possess. Remember, Jesus said that tomorrow’s promotion is often tied to faithfulness today. “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 13:12).

Success is not defined by position or pay scale, but by doing what we do best as often as we possibly can.[2]

Grace Church summer reading program, The Cure for the Common Life, Chapter Five: “Don’t consult your greed.”

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life, Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2005, 43.

[2] Ibid., 47.

Study your S.T.O.R.Y.

psycho dentistThe cure for commonness begins with strength extraction.”[1] Thus said Max Lucado in this week’s installment of our summer reading program.

What, exactly, is “strength extraction”? It sounds like a terrifying dental appointment with a vigorous, pliers-wielding dentist.

However, according to Lucado; strength extraction is actually something wonderful. It’s what happens when you identify your S.T.O.R.Y. by asking and answering the following five questions:

  1. What are your strengths? What “verbs” best describe your aptitudes—for instance, running, jumping, fixing, writing, or relating?
  2. What is your topic? What “nouns” are attached to your “verbs”? In other words, where and with whom and in what setting do you prefer to run, jump, fix, write, or relate?
  3. What is your optimalcondition? People can run, jump, fix, write, and relate in myriads of settings and conditions—which ones are ideal for you?
  4. What about relationships? What are your preferred relationship patterns? Do you work best alone or in a group? If in a group, do you like to chime in from the sideline or lead the parade? Are you a collaborator or a solo inventor. There isn’t a wrong answer to the question, but you do need to answer it.
  5. Yes! Identify some of your “Yes!” moments when your strengths, topics, optimal conditions, and relational preferences all came together to form a sweet spot that made you feel alive and flooded with destiny.

Life inside that spot—at the center of your S.T.O.R.Y.—is anyting but common!

 

Grace Church summer reading program, The Cure for the Common Life, Chapter Four: “Sudy your S.T.O.R.Y.”

 

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life, Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2005, 32.

Read your life backward

Boys Playing with SwordsI was made to do this.”

When was the last time you said that? When did you feel that way as a kid?

When you read your life backwards what blueprint emerges from your youth or childhood? What passions and aptitudes made you feel the most alive? Were you happiest when you were writing, painting, talking, thinking, or studying astronomy? Did you come alive when you were giving advice, performing in front of your peers, or babysitting younger children?

Those childhood attributes were quite possibly predicting your adult distinctives.

William Wordsworth wrote, “The child is the father of the man.” In other words, our childhood interests—the things that made us feel like us—were forecasters of our adult abilities.

Just as Moses, Paul, and Billy Graham each possessed a youthful zeal that predicted their future callings, so your adolescent passions have predicted yours.

As we wage war against the common life this summer, let’s spend a few minutes remembering those times when we felt “made to do” whatever it was that we were doing. Perhaps God has a message for us in that memory.

As Lucado stated, “The oak indwells the acorn. Read your life backward and check your supplies. Re-relish your moments of success and satisfaction. For in the merger of the two, you find your uniqueness.”[1]

Grace Church summer reading program, The Cure for the Common Life, Chapter Three: “Read your life backward.”

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life, Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2005, 29.