Category Archives: Calling

The way you see it

There’s this new thing going around the internet right now. It’s this big color controversy about a dress. You’ve probably never seen it. (hahaha just kidding of course you’ve seen it… it’s been everywhere.)

Anyways, this dress.

thedress-obvious

It’s just a dress.

But this picture of the dress.

thedress

People can’t agree what the color looks like. The internet is collectively losing its mind over this thing.

After seeing the picture, some people say it’s blue and black, some people say it’s white and gold. The people that say it’s white and gold don’t say that just because they feel like being contrarian. They SEE IT as white and gold. Same thing for people in the blue and black camp.

Maybe you see it one way or maybe you see it the other.

But here’s the thing – that dress is actually a specific color. Right? I mean, we live in a world where most things actually are a specific color (because light and pigment and refraction and eyes and rods and cones.)

Let me work this out for you: There is a dress of a specific color. The picture we have of that dress does an ambiguous job of representing that color. We see the ambiguous picture and our minds go, “Oh. I know what that is!” And that’s what we see.

The colors on the screen are the same for everyone. (A fact. Not up for argument.) It’s our perspective that makes the difference in what we think those colors are. (Obviously up for argument.) Two people can stand side by side, looking at the same picture, and see two different things.

But don’t miss this – the dress IS a specific set of colors. That’s not up for debate. It’s how we see those colors – how we interpret those colors and make meaning of them in our minds – that has spurred this fiasco. Tracking with me?

And that reality – that our perception of something determines what we believe to be true about it – is on display every day.

Here, I’ll prove it in two sentences: One time, I totaled my car. It turns out that totaling my car is one of the top three best events of my entire life. No joke.

Many people could easily say, “But you totaled your car! That’s terrible!”

Those people would be wrong. That event, while hard at the time, was far and away one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It seemed subjective at the time. It wasn’t.

Let’s look for some other examples. Let’s take a quiz. If you are a believer, which of the following events are good and which are bad? (Spoiler alert: if you’re a believer, they are all going to be good.)

  1. You get passed up on a promotion you deserve.
  2. You ace a presentation.
  3. You are late to work because of unexpected traffic.
  4. Your company goes out of business.
  5. You don’t get a job you applied for.

(Answers: 1.Good 2.Good 3.Good 4.Good 5.Good)

If you are a believer, everything (everything) everything is ultimately for your good.

You may not understand it. It might be painful. You may perceive it as bad. Heck, from a worldly perspective it might actually be bad. But for you, ultimately, it’s for good. That’s a promise from God himself.

And it’s just like the dress.

Like we did for the dress, let’s work this out together: There is an event and it has a specific meaning and purpose. Our picture of that event does an ambiguous or misleading job of representing the true purpose. We see the ambiguous situation and our minds go, “Oh. I know what this is!” And that’s what we experience.

The truth though, is that if you are a believer, every experience you have is for your good. (A fact. Not up for argument.) It’s your perspective that makes the difference in what you perceive the experience to mean. (Everyone will have an opinion. Many people will debate it.) Two people can experience the same thing and conclude it as either good or bad.

But don’t miss this – the experience HAS a specific meaning and purpose. That’s not up for debate.

It’s for your good.

This doesn’t mean everything you go through will feel good or be easy. But knowing that it’s all ultimately for your good allows you to rest easy and can give you massive peace if you let it.

Trusting that all things are for your good allows you to do crazy things like give thanks in all circumstances even if you find yourself like Corrie Ten Boom did: surrounded by fleas in a Holocaust work camp.

You can do crazy things like that when you start seeing the world for what it is: for your good. Everything in your life has an actual provable purpose, just like the dress is an actual provable color.

What would be different if you believed that?

Whispers of Doubt

Here’s some of the things the little voice in my head said to me today:
“It’s just totally obvious to everyone that you are a fraud.”
“You can’t do this. You are going to fail and look really stupid.”
“I wonder how you succeed at anything given that you are so poorly skilled.”
“When you fail at this – and you will fail at this – everyone will realize you aren’t good at anything in particular.”

Does that voice sound familiar to you? Do your doubts and fears sometimes sound like this too?

I hear these fears and doubts anytime I create something, whether it be a blog post, a report at work, a call to a client, an interaction with a friend, a photograph.

Do you hear them too?

This self-doubt. This self-accusation. It sounds similar to the whisper of sin. The accusations from sin that you are not worthy of God’s love, that you are not capable of being forgiven.

“Other people get forgiveness, but not you… you’re too far gone.”
“God forgives most things, but not that.”
“It’s just a shame how disappointed in you God is.”
“I’m sure your worship would be meaningful and sweet to God’s ears, but for the fact you’re worthless.”

All these accusations from sin seem to rhyme with accusations we bring against ourselves. “You’re not good enough. As a matter of fact, you’re terrible.”

Luckily, we as Christians have the best answer to all of these accusations.

“You’re wrong… I’m far worse…”

“… but God is far better.”

The answer to these accusations is to understand that they are completely true insofar as they diagnose you as imperfect and broken. But they are wholly and completely wrong when they suggest you can’t do anything because of it.

As believers, we get to practice answering to our shortcomings with God’s mercy and Jesus’ righteousness every day. That’s a huge advantage when we turn our attention to creating and building and doing things. We have an advantage because when the daily whispers of doubt start, they sound just like all the other whispers from sin. It’s not a new enemy we are facing when we try to create and build and do, it’s the same old one we fight every day. It’s just that the pig put on some lip stick.

So when the whispers of “not good enough” and “you have no right to do this” start, we can answer confidently: “You’re right, I’m not good enough…” And then triumphantly, “…but I know someone who is. And he has called me. To this.”

What about a duck?

People have told me I walk duck-footed. I don’t think that’s a compliment. It’s not a good look.

I mean… Have you ever seen a duck walk? It’s pretty goofy.

Have you ever seen a duck swim? It’s a little awkward. It’s certainly not the most efficient way to swim.

Have you ever seen a duck fly? Sure, they have that V thing down… and there were those Disney movies made after them… but let’s be honest, they aren’t the most majestic beings in flight.

Duck Jealousy

Should the dog or the fish or the sparrow be jealous of the duck? Alternatively: Should the sparrow work and work and work to swim like the fish? Should the dog try and try and try to fly like the sparrow? Should the fish jump on land in an effort to run like the dog?

No.

Right?

That’s silly.

… so why are you different?

What’s a skill you have that you discount in yourself? “Yeah, sure, I can do x… but that’s not important.”

What’s a skill you don’t have that you covet? “If only I could do y…”

A freeing truth in scripture is that you and I were each created for a purpose. My purpose is different than yours, yours different than mine. My skills are different than yours, just as yours are different than mine. But neither call or purpose or skill is worth more or less than the other. They are just different.

I wonder how your work would be different today if you were to embrace the strengths God gave you and stopped wishing for ones he didn’t. I wonder how your work would be different today if you stopped thinking about what you’re called to as a higher or lower calling than everyone else.

What if you started flying rather than wishing you could swim, or started running instead of wishing you could fly?

There’s no higher calling than the one you’re called to and it’s not helpful to wish there was.

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The Compass

Religion offers us a map. Take a right turn here, a left turn there. Fill this spot, check that box. Do this, not that. At the end of the road we are offered our prize. The problem though, is that destination we find ourselves at is never the one we wanted to get to.

The Gospel offers us a compass. Always pointing a singular direction, regardless the obstacles that might stand ahead. Rocks and boulders, forests or swamps… just go around… the compass will keep pointing to your destination.

Though the map feels safer, important work has always been done with a compass. Lewis and Clark didn’t have a map. Neither did Columbus.

Important work today and tomorrow will be done with a compass as well, rarely a map.

Today you will almost certainly have the opportunity to do something new, or act in some bold way: share the Gospel with a coworker, take initiative on a project, serve a customer or superior in an unexpected way that isn’t in your job description.

None of those opportunities will be on your map. By definition, they can’t be. All of those opportunities will be important – To you. To God. To the expansion of the Kingdom.

When in doubt, follow the compass. Forget the map. (It’s out of date anyways.)

Christian Kamiwaza

You should strive to be like the gods. Or maybe not. (Wait, what?)

In The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin writes about a Japanese term kamiwaza:

“Like most great words for which we have no equivalent, it is difficult to translate. The shortest version is “godlike.”

When we strip away self-doubt and artifice, when we embrace initiative and art, we are left with kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as the gods would run.”

That statement is so close to correct, it’s almost painful. Isn’t it?

Kamiwaza isn’t something we should strive for… I mean, Adam and Eve wanted kamiwaza, to be like God, to be godlike, and it didn’t turn out so well.

So, no. Not kamiwaza. But Christian kamiwaza. (I’m not super original.)

Christian kamiwaza.

Like most ideas rooted in scripture, it’s simple to understand but difficult to master. The shortest version might be “as created.”

When we strip away self-doubt, artifice, and doubts of our Creator, when we embrace what we were created for, we are left with Christian kamiwaza. The purity of doing it properly but without self-consciousness. The runner who competes with Christian kamiwaza is running with purity, running properly, running as God created him to run.

What would Christian kamiwaza look like in your work, art, home life, friendships? You would be fearless, decisive, adept, skillful. You would be intentional. You would be humble. You would be free from the unnecessary restrictions of others or self.

You would be whole.

You would be as created.