For the past few months, I have been sending out a weekly email called the Sunday Night Stretch. I typically send the email out on Sunday night (although I may have sent one out on Monday one week).
These emails provide an encouraging message and more personal update from me. The emails have sparked more exchange between my readers and me.
If you’d like to get on the list to receive these weekly Sunday Night Stretch emails, you simply need to fill out the form below. I’d love to connect with you on a deeper level.
I’ll be sending out a new Sunday Night Stretch email tonight. Sign up now, so you don’t miss another one of these weekly messages.
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.Stephen R. Covey
We listen to reply.
I’ve recently been on a Phil Collins kick. Collins got his start with the band Genesis as their drummer and eventual lead vocalist. Invisible Touch is one of my favorite Genesis albums. He eventually became a solo artist, and his musical work is diverse and amazing (in my opinion). He was especially popular during my junior high and high school years, but I believe his music is still relevant 25-30 years later. (He is still touring if you want to hear some fantastic live music!)
In the song, Collins uses story telling and song writing to remind listeners that everyone has a story:
Find yourself in the gutter in a lonely part of town
Where death waits in the darkness with a weapon to cut some stranger down
Sleeping with an empty bottle, he’s a sad and an empty hearted man
All he needs is a job, and a little respect, so he can get out while he can
We always need to hear both sides of the storyPhillip David Charles Collins (Both Sides of the Story)
Both sides of the story
I don’t think I’m alone when I say there seems to be a growing chasm between people in our country (and perhaps the world). Without getting political, you can see it in U.S. politics where view points seem so polarized, and there seems little effort on anyone’s part to get to understand why someone else would have a contrary viewpoint. We see it when it comes to perspectives on race, economy, guns, drugs, sexual identity, poverty, etc.
People have a strong viewpoint on many of these issues, and they are often not afraid to state their viewpoint – especially on social media where there is an increase in boldness and a decrease in respect. While having these strong viewpoints, people generally are unwilling to listen to the other side of the story.
When the lights are all on, the world is watching nowPhillip David Charles Collins (Both Sides of the Story)
People looking for truth, we must not fail them now
Be sure, before we close our eyes
Don’t walk away from here
‘Til you see both sides
Our news media doesn’t help from what I can find. News networks like CNN and FOXNews build stories around their viewpoints. They widen the chasm by telling only one side of the story. Despite what they proclaim, they don’t really provide a “fair and balanced” look into the “news.”
Before I let you believe this is the problem of others, let me confess that I need to do a better job getting both sides of the story. I’m quick to shutdown others who don’t share my perspective or to those who simply seem to be adding to the noise and the chasm. I need to listen to both sides of the story too!
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.James 1:19-20
Imagine a world where people listened to the other side of the story. Imagine a world where people approached things with a desire to understand. Imagine a world where disagreements were handled with respect and empathy.
Listening to the other side of the story takes time, humility, closed mouths, and open ears, hearts, and minds.
As we head into a new week, I want to challenge you to stretch yourself. Find ways to respectfully engage with others who are different than you – with people who are coming from a different perspective – with people who have another side to the story. Take time to listen. Work hard to understand. Without compromising your beliefs, find common ground and commit to keep listening and engaging to both sides of the story.
What steps can you take this week to hear the other side of the story?
The other day while I was driving with my wife, I noticed a sign that said “Godspeed” on it along with two other greetings. The sign marked the exit out of a specific township and entry into the adjacent township. For some reason, the word stood out to me.
What in the world is “Godspeed“?
Godspeed is not a word you hear or read every day.
My initial guess would be incredibly fast, God-like speed – like millions of miles an hour. Like a fast rocket ship or a really fast motorcycle or something way faster than I can imagine.
I’m guessing that’s not what the sign meant. I don’t think they were telling me to go really, really fast as I drove out of their community.
So what could it mean when they wrote “Godspeed” on their sign?
I looked it up (naturally). The word “Godspeed” comes from old English, and it is a blessing or a wishing of success along ones journey. In other words, the sign was wishing travelers like me success as we journey beyond the boundaries of the township. (To see what Miriam-Webster has to say about Godspeed, click here.)
Wow! That’s pretty nice!
Today marks the return of our daughter, Hannah, to college for her final year at Messiah College. Leanne and I dropped her off this afternoon for the start of cross-country camp and the beginning of her academic year.
It was a bit sad and a bit exciting all at the same time. We are sad that Hannah’s transition from “childhood” or irresponsible youth is rapidly coming to a close. We are sad that she will be missing from our house for the school year and most likely beyond. But we are also excited. We are excited about the “empty nest” we find ourselves in now that both kids are away at college. We are also excited for the journey that lies ahead of Hannah as she finishes college and launches into her career and into her future.
As we said goodbye to Hannah this afternoon, I didn’t wish her “Godspeed” – although I think that would have been appropriate. I did wish her success and blessings on her year ahead. I hope and pray she will have a fabulous year – academically, socially, athletically, and spiritually.
You and I are also on a journey. We are getting ready to head into a new week that is sure to bring lots of adventures, some challenges, and hopefully plenty of success.
As you head into a new week, I wish you Godspeed.
May God go with you and grant you success on your journey!
No matter the risks we take, we always consider the end to be too soon, even though in life, more than anything else, quality should be more important than quantity.
Over the weekend, I watched 2019 Academy Award winner, Free Solo. In this documentary, Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to free solo climb El Capitan’s 900 meter vertical granite face in Yosemite National Park. (Spoiler Alert: He does it!)
I watched the movie Friday night after a long, long day. I fell asleep and missed the ending. Saturday, I watched it again. This time, I was wide awake, and the movie did not disappoint. The movie offers spectacular views and an intriguing look into the mind of Honnold.
Honnold shares his honest thoughts on dying, taking risks, and pursuing dreams and passions. I was inspired (and a little freaked out) as I watched him climb this challenging cliff. When he reached the top, Honnold was clearly happy and thankful that he took the risk to follow his dream.
While I’m not suggesting anyone attempt to climb El Capitan without any equipment or assistance, I am thinking the movie was an important reminder of the importance of taking big risks and going after our dreams.
What dream has God placed on your heart? What passion burns deeply inside of you? What God-given goal have you been suppressing because you are too chicken to get outside your comfort zone?
Life is short. We have seventy years – maybe eighty – and perhaps even ninety years to live our lives. This means I’m half way (or even more through my life). And the years seem to be passing more and more quickly as I get older. With this in mind, it’s time to get busy!
What do I want to accomplish? What am I putting off because I’m scared or because I’m too comfortable in my routine existence?
I want to build 100+ houses in Guatemala!
I want to help men become the fathers, the husbands, the men they were made to be!
I want to do something with my life that scares the S@#% out of me and leaves a mark – a legacy that far outlives me or my name!
It’s time to take the leap of faith – the plunge. It’s time to begin the climb of my life.
And it’s your time too! What are you waiting for? Dream big! And decide TODAY to take action. By taking one step at a time you too can climb your El Capitan!
This morning, I decided to write while sitting at the “bar” (or counter) of the Starbucks where I usually write on Sunday mornings before church. I typically write while sitting at one of the tables against the wall. For some reason, it felt like it was a good day for a different perspective.
From my current vantage point, I watch three Starbucks team members behind the counter busily serving their customers. One young man is the barista. Another is emptying the trash, warming up pastries, and loading the refrigerator with milk. A young lady is at the register taking orders. They seem to be working well together to meet the expectations of their customers.
I’m thankful for the new perspective this morning.
A couple of weeks ago, we held a meeting in our office for our field specialists. They are the team members who make sure our products work correctly in the buildings where we are contracted to provide our products and services. During the meeting, one of the specialists indicated he wanted a chance to do my job for the day – kind of a reverse Undercover Boss scenario.
I’ve been mulling over this request for a few days. What would it look like to have someone shadow me for a day? How could I give them an appropriate perspective on my job without compromising my performance or the confidentiality that I must keep with some of the information that comes my way? What is a reasonable outcome of such an experiment? Would a “Boss for the Day” experiment be beneficial in the long-run?
Honestly, I had never thought of such an idea before I heard it two weeks ago. It’s a reminder to keep my eyes and ears open to the ideas, perspectives, and opportunities presented by others.
Are you a person of routine like me?
One of my Daily Stretch Affirmations is: I take time to try new things.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
Daily Stretch Affirmation No. 1
We live in a world of non-stop motion. During the day, fingers are moving across keyboards creating and sending messages around the world. Cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles are moving over the countless miles of concrete, asphalt, dirt, and stone that make the roads we travel. People are moving from one meeting to the next. At night, families and individuals are moving from one activity to the next – soccer practice, scouts, grocery shopping, dinner, homework, and the list goes on and on and on. We don’t stop until we collapse in bed at the end of the day hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before we do it all over again the next day.
Wake up. Move. Move. Move. Move. Move. Collapse in bed.
We struggle to be still.
This is not good!
Statistics show that anxiety and anxiety disorders are on the rise. For example, a recent Stastista survey finds that 39% of adults surveyed are more anxious in 2018 than in 2017. Obviously, there could be a number of reasons for these findings, but I would argue that our culture of busyness and constant motion contributes to the anxiety we feel.
If there’s any question that these results are short-sighted, I’d encourage you to think about your own experience. How do you spend your days? How often to you stop? How much time are you moving around (physically or mentally)?
I’ve written about it here before. I struggle with this. I typically get up at 4AM every day. I turn off the light around 10PM every night. And I’m in constant motion between 4AM and 10PM.
It’s not healthy to live this way.
It’s not the way we were meant to live.
There’s a better, more healthy way.
Taking time to still yourself has three benefits that are sure to make your life better.
1. Being still gives you the opportunity for rest, restoration, and relaxation. We need these things. I’ve heard people say they can rest and relax when they die. This may (or may not) be true. I would argue that we need
2. Being still gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationships with others. In our busyness, we typically spend little time going deep with the people in our pathways. We ask people how they are doing, and we become satisfied with their “Good” answer. We’re okay with this answer, because we’re trying to get to the next thing or our brains are occupied with other thoughts.
3. Being still gives you a proper perspective on God. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).” When we are in constant motion, we leave little opportunity to connect with God, to contemplate God’s impact on our lives, and to develop an appropriate understanding of God.
The discipline of daily affirmations took a major hit in the early 1990’s when Saturday Night Live aired several episodes of “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” starring former SNL regular, Al Franken. In each episode, Stuart Smalley offered self-talk in a way that came across as weird and even delusional. Since then, many have shunned the practice of daily affirmations as unnecessary and crazy.
Recently, the discipline of daily affirmations has gained traction as authors, speakers, and leaders have shared their affirmation success stories. For example, Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answerman (now Mindset Answerman), has spoken quite a bit about his own practice of daily affirmations on his weekly podcast, The Cliff Ravenscraft Show. Episode 521 provides a small glimpse into his daily affirmations specifically related to money and wealth. On his blog, leadership mentor, Michael Hyatt, alludes to his use of daily affirmations to help train his brain in an article titled “How to Beat Your Brain and Succeed.”
A couple of weeks ago at my Friday morning men’s group, the topic of daily affirmations came up. Actually, the topic came up through a YouVersion study plan we were working through together (Crash the Chatterbox). I had been thinking about incorporating daily affirmations into my morning routine, so I asked the group if any of them practice daily affirmations. One of the guys in the group shared his daily affirmations with the group. I promptly “stole” them and added my own to the list.
I printed them out and taped them into the front cover of my daily planner. I’m still working on making this a regular discipline in my life, but I can already tell the positive self-talk is actually a real good thing for crushing my doubts and encouraging me to use my gifts.
Today, I’m sharing seven of these affirmations. These are affirmations specifically written to remind me to Stretch on a daily basis. Here they are:
My daily affirmation list will continue to grow and transform as I live my life and encounter new challenges and opportunities. I’m thankful for this new discipline in my life.
Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn brings up a great point about daily affirmations. Words are meaningless unless they cause real action and change in our lives. I would encourage you to share your daily affirmations with someone, and ask them to hold you accountable to taking action on the words you say to yourself everyday. Also, ask them to observe you and give you honest feedback on what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change when it comes to your daily affirmations.
OK! Now it’s your turn. Stretch yourself today by creating your own list of daily affirmations. When you’re creating this list, think about the things you want to keep doing, and think about the things you want to change or implement in your life. You can do it!
At lunch time today, I walked across the street from my office to head to my Toastmasters International regular club meeting. Due to scheduling conflicts, I haven’t been to the club for a couple of months. Prior to my relatively brief absence, I was a regular member of the club for the past three or four years. I even served as the President of the club for one year.
I pride myself on making sure everyone feels welcome. I try to introduce myself to guests and new members as they check out the club for the first few times, and I try to learn a little bit about each person. I also try to remember the names of the people who come to the meetings. Our club has added several new members the past few months which has made this a bigger challenge.
Today as members were gathering for the meeting, I mistakenly referred to one of the newer members by the wrong name. I had the best of intentions, but I completely botched his name. I tried to laugh it off and even joked about it, but I really felt bad about my blunder.
Last month, Isaac (my son) and I read through How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (We’ve been intentionally reading through a book together each month as he prepares to make the transition from high school to college. That’s another topic for another time.) One of Carnegie’s principles for winning friends and influencing people is to remember people’s names. People like to hear their name. When you remember someone’s name it shows them you care and they matter. When you use someone’s name you establish and strengthen a human connection with the other person.
There’s a person at my church who is amazing at this. Her name is Terri Stone. Our church’s typical Sunday morning attendance is 1700-1800 which means there are probably around 2300-2500 who call our church home. I would bet that Terri knows 75% or more of the names of these attendees. Terri makes it a point to find out a person’s name when she meets them. She uses their name at least a few times during their initial conversation. The next time she sees the person, she goes out of her way to talk to the person she met a week (or longer) ago, and she uses their name every time. Many people I know at our church would tell you that Terri Stone made them feel welcome, and they would comment on how she remembered their names.
If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, take time to get to know them and to know their name. As Dale Carnegie says, you will provide the sweetest sound to their ears.
Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, but you can bet I’ll get that guys name right the next time I see him at Toastmasters.
If you want to take it a little deeper for fun, what’s your middle name?
How are you doing?
Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.
Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.
I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)
I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.
In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.
I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”
And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”
Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.
I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.
I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.
If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at www.stretchedmengroup.com. Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!
Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
We’ve all had conversations with our mothers that go something like this:
Me: “Mom, I shaved my head.”
Mom: “Why did you do that?”
Me: “They made me do it!”
This is peer pressure, and it’s not always the best thing in the world. In fact, I’m sure peer pressure has led us all to do some pretty stupid things – like the time I smoked my first cigarette – or like the time I gave the substitute teacher a hard time in junior high school – or like the time I ordered a bunch of food at the McDonald’s drive through and then drove away. All these events were influenced by peers, and they aren’t the kinds of things that make me proud.
But what if peer pressure was actually a good thing?
What if our peers could actually get us to do things that we really should do?
One of the reasons I seek out accountability in my life (like from our GSAB – Guatemala Strategic Advisory Board) is because I know these people will actually have a positive impact on my life. They will make me do it – the things I need to do.
Without accountability I may be able to accomplish a few things, but I know I’ll accomplish more of the things I should be accomplishing when I surround myself with people who will spur me on.
“It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a partner suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 my paraphrase) From the very beginning of time, God placed people together to encourage and uplift each other. Adam was not complete without his accountability partner, Eve.
“A chord of three strands is not easily broken.” In Ecclesiastes (4:12 my paraphrase), Solomon recognizes the power of doing things with others.
“Don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. But spur each other on all the more as you see the day approaching.” In Hebrews (10:24-25 my paraphrase), we’re reminded again of the power of community, the power of accountability that comes from hanging out with other people.
You and I need this kind of peer pressure in our lives.
We need people who will spur us on. We need people in our lives who will make us stronger. We need people who will partner with us and make us better.
I hope you have this kind of peer pressure in your life. If not, what are you doing about it?