Category Archives: Motivation

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.”

Work and Rest

Hey! You may notice a new voice. This post was written by Joe Work. (Which, can we all agree, is a good name for writing on this topic?) Joe is a UT graduate working in Technical Sales for Oracle. You can follow him on twitter at @JoeWork

Sometimes I’m astonished by the things that cultures were willing to lay down at the altars of their gods. They sacrificed their time and energy even their families to gods of empty promises. But then I remember how often I do the same thing.

We see work as an endless treadmill. We’re running and running and running to keep up with the pace, to stay plugged in and connected. Forty hours a week is a myth.

If we aren’t at work, we’re worrying about it. Sometimes, we simply like feeling busy.

Ultimately the issue is in our hearts. Work can become an idol. And sometimes, it’s the idol that we sacrifice to the most. We give up our time and energy, friends and family, to worship our jobs.

What do you find yourself laying down at the altar of your career?

Worshipping our work leads to restlessness. We begin to feel tired, no matter how much sleep we get or coffee we drink. The world tells us to produce more and work longer. It promises us satisfaction if we just work a few more late nights or refuse a couple vacation days. It promises us joy once we get there. But we never actually get there. That’s the nature of sin. Empty promises await for all of those who bow at the feet of their jobs. Sounds like Hell, doesn’t it? Continuous striving to attain a prize that you never actually reach. Building our sandcastles only to have the tide come in and wash them away.

We worship our jobs and starve our souls, seeking and searching, never ceasing, never resting.

But restlessness is not a characteristic of our God, nor of his followers.

He rested while creating the universe.

We can rest too.

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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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.

Fuel for work

(You are going to think this doesn’t apply to you. It absolutely does.)

You will be tempted to work through the holidays. You will be tempted to work Christmas morning even. Maybe for your day job, maybe not. But the temptation to work will be alive and well.

  • Cook breakfast that will impress everyone
  • Be winsome and funny
  • Fit in at dinner
  • Make sure everyone knows you did ________
  • Make sure no one knows you did ________
  • Hide this
  • Embellish that
  • perform, perform, perform
  • Think about work
  • Check email
  • Check twitter
  • Take 15 pictures, post one to instagram
  • Post one to facebook
  • Write a comment about how great everything is
  • #blessed
  • perform, perform, perform
  • Worry about how your comment was taken
  • Worry about how your gift was received
  • Worry about who gave you this and who didn’t give you that
  • Worry about what that means about how they think of you
  • Worry about what it all means about you
  • perform, perform, perform
  • work. work. work.

Christmas morning is God’s gift to you to lay down your work. Not just your “day job” work, but the work beneath the work. The work of defending and protecting yourself. The work of modifying and correcting your image. The work of proving your worth (to others and to yourself). The work of striving for _________. The work of earning the love of those around you.

Christmas morning is the ultimate gift of rest and provision and peace and comfort.

Jesus is the ultimate gift of rest and provision and peace and comfort.

His birth (and his death and resurrection 33ish years later) are the fuel for your rest this coming Thursday. That rest, deep soul rest, is the fuel for your work every day forward.

This Christmas, rest in God’s completed promise, wrapped and laying in a manger. Rest because God told you to. Rest because if you know Jesus, you don’t have to work.

More than anything, I hope you get that peace this Christmas. I hope your heart and mind and soul rest in the good news that God wrapped himself in flesh to be with us. I hope you find the rest that can only come from knowing that because of Jesus, God loves you specifically and unconditionally.

I hope I get that rest too.

Merry Christmas. (Restful Christmas.)