The Lie of Love

Somewhere out there you’ve been told a lie. It’s made you believe that if you really love someone or care about them, you can’t tell them the truth. Wrong.

When you love someone and care about their success, you will tell them the truth even if it hurts a little.

When you care about someone, you will bring to their attention things that are keeping them from growing. This actually proves that you do care about them and that you do want them to succeed. When you keep your mouth shut, even though you see a growth opportunity in someone else, it actually communicates that you don’t care.

What matters in this process is the love part. As long as the emphasis is on your genuine desire to see the person win, most people will receive the truth in love. The adage is true, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.”

Pure Imagination

You’re standing on top of the tallest building in New York City. You can see for miles in every direction and the wind is blowing its chilling breath down your neck as you hold on for dear life. It’s higher than you thought, and you can feel the sway of the building from up here. Your only thought is how to get down from here.

But then you hear their voices. They followed you here and you have only one choice:

Jump.

To your surprise, you soar through the air and begin to maneuver between the buildings like a pro. You weave your way around the towers, higher and higher, feeling the exhiliration of an eagle in flight.

And then you wake up.

Now, maybe you’ve never had a flying dream (some people never have…like birds?), but you get the picture. You may have even seen yourself on the top of the building as you were reading, and in your mind’s eye you pictured what the scene would look like as your feet left the ledge. Exactly my point.

Imagination is a powerful thing, as are our dreams. Dreams are our imaginations gone wild, taking us on a journey we have no control over while we lay sleeping. I don’t pretend to know what makes us dream or if dreams have certain meanings, but I do know that imagination is one of the most important gifts that we humans possess one that must be cultivated and stewarded well.

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Lasting Love

Today is my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary. Over the years, through thick and thin, my mom and dad have loved each other with an admirable and unflinching love.

Both of my parents come from godly homes where they learned the value of true love and commitment. Throughout my life I have memories of their affection for each other (at times embarrassing) and their fight to stay closely connected. Never once did I doubt that they loved each other, loved God, or that they loved me. I’m so thankful for their example of what it means to build a love that lasts, that isn’t dependent on circumstances or superficial feelings.

I still have thirty years before I’ll be where they are today. Thanks mom and dad for loving God, loving me, and loving each other. It has made all the difference to me!

Shoutout: Jason and Amy Owens

Jason Owens is just a great guy. He and his brother Adam (who deserves a shoutout as well) are the those guys that would be first on your list if you had to go to war with men who would have your back. Although I stand taller than both of them, I would not want to be on the wrong side of a fight with either of these Owens’ brothers. Strength is obvious in these men, both physical strength and strength of character.

Jason and his wife Amy attend our church and are a source of great inspiration to me. If you have the time, ask Jason about his story. He’ll tell you about how the decisions he made early in life ended up costing him dearly, wrecking his marriage and bringing him to the end of himself. But keep listening, because the story doesn’t end there. Jason will go on to tell you about how God arrested his attention, brought him back to the truth, and has now blessed him with a wonderful wife and family. This is the redemption of our God. He takes us when we are a mess, totally undeserving of grace, and somehow grants us a life beyond our wildest dreams.

From the stage during worship, I can always pick Jason and Amy out of the congregation. They have an unmistakable passion for God’s presence, and are “all in” all the time. They are always grateful, always encouraging, and they remind me why I love what I do.

Many people see worship leaders as distant and detached on the stage. But nothing can replace the value of getting out among the people and getting to know them. Leaders take note, knowing who you are leading will increase your heart for your people, help them to follow you and trust you, and will be rewarding beyond belief. Knowing Jason and Amy has been a privilege and a joy, I’m thankful to know them!

Going Back to Work

Every person deals with a sense of entitlement. Our attitude often reflects our strong belief that we deserve a high level of privilege without having to do the work required to earn it.

This is especially true for young people, and is due in part to how kids are labeled in their formative years. Children grow up being called “champ,” “hero,” “princess,” and who knows what else to bolster their self-esteem and foster a healthy ego. Young athletes win trophies and ribbons regardless of their performance. “Everyone’s a winner” we tell them. But this becomes a problem as they get older. It creates an expectation of greatness without cost, as if we can have anything and everything we want if we just say the right things.

Wrong. There’s nothing wrong with encouragement, but let’s be realistic. Everything costs somebody something. You can have anything you want, but it’s going to cost you. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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Two years into my life

Two years ago today on a hot summer Sunday in Athens, GA, I got dressed up in a chocolate colored tuxedo and stood in front of a couple hundred of my closest friends and said “I do” to my wonderful wife Aubrey.

Looking back on that day it was quite a blur. I was trying so hard to take it all in and remember every detail, but it just flew by and was over before I knew it. I remember the ceremony, I remember the pictures (and the humidity) and I remember a few conversations at the reception. But I remember this above all, that it was wonderful. If I said it was beautiful, magical, breathtaking, emotional, and exciting, I’d be telling the truth; but then again everyone must say that about their wedding so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

It’s hard to believe that was two years ago. Truthfully, it feels like it’s been much longer than that. Not in an exhausted way, but I’m surprised that it hasn’t been longer. It seems like Aubrey and I have known each other our whole lives, and it’s hard to think about life without her. In a way, my life didn’t really start until that day two years ago.

Marriage is like going to college. It’s full of excitement, changes, challenges, and lots of growing up. It is hard work that is very rewarding and worth the effort. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. But there is always more to learn, and (unfortunately) you never get your diploma and become an expert!

What amazes me still is the level of unconditional love and safety that marriage brings. Regardless of my faults and shortcomings, I’m loved by my wife completely. Our commitment to each other allows us to be honest even when it hurts. It is the true meaning of love, something that I never really understood until two years ago. I have no doubt that God designed marriage to teach us about Himself and to grow us up to maturity in Christ.

I am so thankful for you, Aubrey, and I love you more today than that day two years ago when it all began. Thanks for being my closest friend, my biggest fan, and my encouraging companion on this journey of life. I’m ecstatic about many more years with you, and all that God has for us!

Shoutout: Nathan Finley

I first met my friend Nathan about 3 years ago in connection to the worship team at church. At the time, all I knew about Nathan was that he played a mean set of bongo drums/percussion equipment and was really easy to talk to.

Some time later when we opened up our campus in Flowery Branch, Nathan approached me about playing guitar. He said he didn’t play much but would love the chance to grow. He came in and played his Gibson Les Paul like a champ and we’ve been playing together ever since.

Apart from the great musical talent, Nathan and his wife Kathy are wonderful servants. They lead a small group at church, serve as greeters when they aren’t playing music, and are always there with a smile. If anyone knows music and entertainment, it’s Nathan.

So here’s the shoutout: Thank you Nathan for always showing up eager to dive in and give his best. Thanks for praying earnestly as we prepare and for being teachable. You set an example for our whole team in preparation, investment, and in sincerity of heart.

Snail Mail and a False Sense of Accomplishment

I saw an elderly gentleman walking to his mailbox the other day carrying a stack of letters in his hand. I was just able to see him place the stamped envelopes in the box with an accomplished look on his face before I drove past.

It made me think of how much I enjoy sending letters. Maybe it’s because I have a pretty significant Type-A side of my personality, but I enjoy things like sending mail, filing applications, and filling out forms. Now I don’t want to spend all day doing this stuff, but something about these physical actions of moving things forward feels very satisfying. I could say the same about making homemade soup, building a piece of furniture, or getting rid of some old junk (all of which I enjoy doing). It just feels good.

But in our digital age of email, emotional labor, and intangible work, things like “snail mail” can be a little dangerous. Now I understand that we all have to pay the bills and get stuff done that requires actual physical labor. There is nothing wrong with working with your hands and sending actual people actual stuff. The visible results make these tasks very appealing. The danger is in how easy it is for our little tasks to take the place of the other work that needs to be done. The satisfaction we get from physical tasks can be used as a cover to avoid the intangible work that ever looms above our conciousness. Have you ever had a project due and decided to vacuum the house or clean out the garage? Exactly. Much of our work has nothing to do with putting something in mail or moving things around with our hands.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re done with something, or when you can check it off of your list. A meaningful conversation with a friend, taking the time to prepare for a meeting, reading, studying, and praying are all important but very hard to quantify. Yet they have tremendous value and demand our significant investment. The fact that results/progress can be difficult to measure may make this type of work even harder than physical work, and thus less appealing. But it’s still really, really important.

Anybody can move a stack of bricks, but nobody can give the time and attention to your wife, your kids, or people that need your mentoring wisdom. So don’t forget to invest your time into things that matter, even if the progress can’t be measured by a standardized system.

“Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.” Albert Einstein

A Tribute to the Sign Flippers

We’ve all seen them. Those people on the side of the road who are somehow getting paid to hold a sign and flip it around their head. They brave the heat, the wind, and the otherwise intolerable weather conditions to stand outside and add a human touch to advertising. I’m not exactly sure how this qualifies as a job, but I do find it fascinating to watch them.

The thing about these sign holders is the striking difference between a person who is excited about their job and one who is just trying to make it through the day. I’ve seen the texters, the iPod listeners, and I’ve even seen the use-the-sign-to-shade-me-ers. These people don’t believe their job has value and it shows.

But then there are the people who are all in, who love the chance to grab people’s attention. They may be a little crazy, but the fact is, it works! These guys are flipping the signs and twirling them around, dancing strange jigs while pointing and waving at passers-by. They may be a sign holder, but they are making the best of it.

Whatever your job may be, you may think it’s easy to hide how you feel about it. Your excitement/investment level might not be as obvious as these sign holders, but let me tell you it matters just as much. Your ability to invest in your work and get excited about what you do will make all the difference in the impact you have on people and the results you get.

There’s a saying that goes, “People love you the most when you are the most like yourself.” Find a way to love what you do, you’ll find joy in your days and you might even see better results in your business.