What you may not know about these TV spots is that you don’t get paid a dime. Why, then, does the BBC, or CNN, or MSNBC, or all of the other channels have an endless array of experts who are willing to not just call-in from their home office but will also go to the trouble of putting on a suit-and-tie and arrange books just so? BECAUSE YOU’RE ON TV!
Here’s the deal: the male ego is both remarkably fragile and remarkably easy to satiate. Tell said ego he will be featured as an expert in front of a national or global audience and he will do whatever it takes — including 12 years of academia and wearing a suit at home—to ensure it is so.While I have never put on a full suit to field a Skype call from my home office, I have absolutely put on a dress shirt and tie (while wearing athletic shorts from the waist down) and sat at my desk to video chat with an interviewer. When the requests come in (primarily via email), I am definitely guilty of running around and inconveniencing myself and my family to take the call. Justin is pretty much the same way. We both agree that it will help to get our research and best practices out to those who need it. We also feel that we only have a limited amount of time to build our careers, and this is one of the ways which require some sacrifice – especially if it is a big-name media outlet. I have always wanted to be someone who isn’t a hustler, always angling and scheming and posturing for success, but rather someone who remains humble and trusts that God will exalt me in due season (if He thinks I can handle it). What the author’s commentary pointed out to me was that I am largely doing it to feed my ego. I’ve done media interviews on weekend mornings, during the evenings when I should have put my laptop to bed, and sometimes even on vacation (though, thankfully, rarely). And I justify it over and over again – because it will be relatively simple to knock it out (just shave and put on a button-down!), because I know the answers to the questions they are going to ask, and because others will meaningfully benefit from the information I share. But if I’m honest, those are all secondary reasons to the primary motivation: others will see it and hear my name, and I’ll maintain relevance as a sought-after “expert” in the field. And my ego will have been fed. Ugh. Just typing that out loud feels gross. Slimy. Yucky. I don’t want that. I have always wanted to be someone who isn’t a hustler, always angling and scheming and posturing for success, but rather someone who remains humble and trusts that God will exalt me in due season (if He thinks I can handle it). I do believe everything good and perfect comes from the Lord, and that I don’t need to exhaust myself in human effort to “make things happen.” But it is clear that belief has not yet permeated all aspects of my life, as much as I want it to. And if I am objective about it, the primary reason why I am so keen on doing these interviews (again, to the detriment of my own schedule, peace of mind, and family prioritization) is because of the fear of becoming irrelevant. And it’s weird because I really don’t want fame or notoriety – I just want to be able to provide for myself and my family. But if I’m irrelevant professionally, I feel like all opportunities (and provision) will completely dry up. And no one will care. And life will fall apart. That is ridiculous. That clearly demonstrates a lack of faith in the Lord as my source and my provider.
- the search has a purpose in building your faith;
- the time it takes to search strips away the false pretenses and separates true seekers from the exploiters and manipulators; and,
- the reward – for the comparatively few who make it their mission – is incomparably grand.
As much as you want others to learn from your bloody experiences, sometimes they just need to bleed for themselves.Another example would be when your friend comes to you for advice in her romantic relationship, and you tell her flat out that she should kick him to the curb because you and everyone else knows he’s major trouble – but she doesn’t. And she’s not going to. She’s going to do what she wants, which is to wait for him to change, or justify the way she’s treated, or avoid breaking up because she can’t deal with being alone. Even right now, I’m mentoring a guy and he is coming to me for advice and his situation with a girl is jacked up, but there is nothing I can do because he just isn’t getting it. He’s seeing what he wants to see, and believing what he wants to believe. Of course, I want and need to be loving and gracious towards these people in my life, because I know in my own past I have perhaps not heeded wise counsel as quickly I should have – simply because I wasn’t in a place to receive it and put it into action. As much as you want others to learn from your bloody experiences, sometimes they just need to bleed for themselves. 2. When you come through for someone, you might be keeping them from learning the lessons that God is trying to teach them, and from the growth He wants them to experience. People should desire in and of themselves to become whole, healthy, healed individuals. They should have an internal – and not external – locus of control and know that they (with God and their loved ones) can deal with any problem that comes their way. You can’t want this for them more badly than they want it, and if you keep rescuing them, they never hit rock bottom and decide of their own volition to make changes. And making changes in their lives of their own volition is the surest way for that change to actually last. If you are always swooping in and saving them, they never learn personal responsibility and autonomy. Instead, you’re a co-conspirator in their learned helplessness and victim mentality, where they start to rely on others to be their conscience, their reminders, their motivation, their brain. And you’ve become a cattle prod and a full-on enabler. And eventually a major reason why they stay in the same place they’ve always been.
If you are always swooping in and saving them, they never learn personal responsibility and autonomy. Instead, you’re a co-conspirator in their learned helplessness and victim mentality.I’ve done this. For example, I want my parents to work out more (I bet everyone wants their parents to work out more!) so that they can stay strong and healthy. But they need to want it for themselves. I used to remind them all the time, but I don’t anymore. Another example is when someone keeps bailing out a friend who has money problems. Or a person who refuses to file formal charges against an abusive domestic partner. Sometimes, you have to let them feel the full weight of the consequences they are due. Sometimes, if they sow the wind, they have to reap the whirlwind – and not be protected from it. If someone wants to change badly enough, they’ll figure out a way to make it happen. They’ll carve time for it. They’ll prioritize it, and they’ll reach out for help, and they’ll get it done. If they don’t want it badly, it’s not up to me to convince them otherwise. It’s their life, and not mine, and that is a bitter pill to swallow. Trust me, I know. But as callous as it sounds, it is the healthiest option you can make – for yourself, and for the other person. It is tough love at its finest. 3. When you operate completely in human effort and led solely by human emotion, which is untrustworthy. This is an exhausting way to live, and from my experience far from fruitful. I care about a lot of people, and when they post or mention their needs or wants on social media or in conversation when we’re hanging out, I always think – I could help with that, I could come through for you, I could advise you in this area, I could lead you out of this foxhole. But I have also learned over time that only when God clearly and repeatedly puts that person on my heart does my help really make a difference, and really have a lasting impact. Otherwise it’s like, "um, yay, thank you," and then it’s back to business as usual for them, and I’m left feeling unsettled, unfulfilled, and really let down.
What I find much more productive and beneficial is when God clearly leads me to step in to help others, instead of me doing it out of compulsion, obligation, or emotion.What I find much more productive and beneficial is when God clearly leads me to step in to help others, instead of me doing it out of compulsion, obligation, or emotion. Then, He ends up making things go way better and way smoother, because He is actually involved in the process. I always want to be led by Him. I want Him to direct my steps. I want Him to make my paths straight. I want my efforts to really, actually matter – and my experiences have shown me that He supernaturally blesses what I do when it’s been bathed in prayer and prompted by Him alone. And, to be honest, the feeling is the best feeling ever – to be led in these ways, to be a light in someone’s darkness in these days. Frankly, I want that all the time! It feels like what I was meant to do. 4. You and I actually have better things to do than get involved in every situation and drama and issue that we see in the lives of those around us. Unfortunately, it’s so easy as a Christian who has the best intentions and the kindest of souls to get caught up in other people’s messes in an unbalanced way. And like I’ve alluded to earlier, it’s so easy to rationalize as “doing God’s work.” For the reasons stipulated above, I just don’t think that we should invite ourselves into the problems that others are having unless He clearly prompts us. If your heart is in the right place, I promise that He will prompt you and He will push You out of your comfort zone to be a blessing to others. But if we are constantly doing it whenever we are asked, and in any and every situation without wise discernment about what is right for us to take on, I just feel like it’s foolish. I’ve seen people constantly pour themselves out on behalf of others as a way of “taking up their cross” while their own lives, family situations, and health fall apart. It makes me so upset. It is such a travesty. Please don’t misunderstand the gist of my message here. I fully understand that we are called to be a blessing to others, and those of you who know me will attest to the fact that I walk the walk. All I am advocating for here is more God-sourced vision and selectivity for when and how we come through for others. I hope that the reasons and examples I’ve provided above, as well as the stories of my own failures in this area, help to convince you of its merit. I’d love to hear if these words have struck a chord with you – please let me know in the comments below!
- People now count on you. This makes you important and valued to others. Keep doing it. Otherwise, no one will care about you. You won’t have any value to them.
- This is your identity now. This is who “Sameer” is. This is what keeps you affirmed, and validated, and appreciated.
- People don’t have everything together like you do. They are a hot mess. You know what everyone needs, and you have what everyone needs. You should feel sorry for them and give them what they need.
- People need you to help them because if you don’t, no one will. It’s up to you to save the day.
- If you helped other people in the past, why wouldn’t you help this person now? You need to come through for as many people as you possibly can.
- Life is brutal, and if you come through for others, they will come through for you – in precisely the ways you need them to. Or God will. Because that’s how this thing works.
- Jesus died to Himself every moment of every day and was always spending Himself on behalf of others. Do the same. Be like Jesus.
- Why do you feel this constant compulsion to rescue others?
- Why do you feel so inadequate just the way you are that you need to constantly be the hero to everyone else?
- Why do you feel it is your job to make sure that everyone is doing okay?
- Why must you try to fix others and clean up the messes that they make?
Through this relationship, Daniel not only learns karate, but also many lessons of greater import related to life, relationships, stability, confidence, and courage.I wanted that. I wanted that so badly. And I saw it all in so many other stories: Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan, Neo had Morpheus, Harry had Dumbledore, Frodo had Gandalf, and Peter Parker had Uncle Ben. I can’t express to you how much these relationships resonated with my heart – and still do, even today: the desire for an older man to come along and train up the next generation in the way he should go. To mentor me, encourage me, and teach me tangible skills. To advocate for me, champion me, to always have my back. To simply be there – as a guide, as a sage – and remind me that I didn’t have to face everything alone. Author John Eldredge writes about how that is the primary thing all men struggle with: the feeling that everything is up to us, that there’s no one out else interested or available to really help us through the tough stuff of life. I know that is a plaguing thought with which I wrestle constantly. The question remains: who really is there for me…to show me the ropes, to go to bat for me, to teach me the ways of the warrior?
The question remains: who really is there for me…to show me the ropes, to go to bat for me, to teach me the ways of the warrior?My dad and I are very close, and he has raised me well to be a man of integrity, wisdom, discipline, and cultivated in me a deep love and loyalty to family. But I didn’t receive spiritual mentorship from him. Instead, three pastors invested in me over the years: Pastor Mark in Orlando, Pastor Bob in West Palm Beach, and Pastor Matt in Stuart. They have taught me about true faith, and developing a friendship with God, and waiting for His best, no matter what. In between, I also was spiritually mentored by a number of Christian authors who taught me about authentic masculinity, how to honor and cherish a woman, how to set boundaries for healthy living, and how to remain stable in the midst of storms. Sure, I would have loved to learn those things from people in real life, but that wasn’t what happened. The cool thing, though, is that God’s plan to train me up in the way I should go wasn’t dependent on the people immediately around me. He made so much of it happen through books, and I am grateful for that. Even still, there is so much that feels solely up to me. I wish someone would teach me more about investing, about certain home improvement projects, about how my car works, about how to build a successful business, and about how to walk the line between letting others know what you have to offer, and waiting for God’s hand to exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6). Right now, I’m having to learn a lot on my own – and pretty much every guy I talk to feels the same way. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright exhausting. I think of Thoreau’s words…how the mass of men are leading lives of quiet desperation. Honestly, I think there is a bit of desperation in trying to figure out how to do life well on your own, and fending off the questions and lies and accusations and doubts that you are in this alone, with no one really there to help you.
There is a bit of desperation in trying to figure out how to do life well on your own, and fending off the questions and lies and accusations and doubts that you are in this alone, with no one really there to help.Most of the time, I trust Him to be what I need, give me what I need, and provide the right opportunities and people in my life at the right time. Occasionally, I cry out to Him for more, because I do need guidance and insight and tangible help. I do. We all do. I’m okay with that. And He understands. Through all of this, I’m learning two things. One is that I need to pay it forward. Well, let me strengthen that statement: I want to pay it forward. And so I’m trying to be readily available and am seizing every opportunity to do that when it’s clear God wants me to step in. And He does make it very clear – I know when He is sovereignly orchestrating it, and when I want to do it only because I feel the need to try to rescue the other person. It works out so much better when it’s arranged by Him, instead of rooted solely in my own human effort. I find great joy in guiding and mentoring the teens He has put in my life, and He keeps confirming that I am made to do this, that I am meant to do this. This also helps me stay balanced, so I am not wasting my life building my own kingdom and a protected, comfortable little life for myself. I don’t want that. I want a life that is epic, one that has a transcendent and inspirational impact for many. And I have learned over and over again that any other kind of life is pretty empty.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." ~ King SolomonThe second thing I am learning is that I need to position myself so that others see a need and want to help me, as they are prompted by God. If no one sees or hears about my needs, no one will rise up to the challenge. No one will pray about whether God wants them to step in and be that guide or mentor or positive influence in my life. I do believe that other men are surrendered to His will and leadings, and would gladly swoop in to help a younger brother out when the occasion presents itself. This is because they have experienced the same need, or they themselves were taught and counseled along the way, or they viscerally understand that – like Jesus – the best lived life is the one poured out for others. Thinking back to Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, it’s patently obvious how much the Karate Kid needed and benefited from his sensei. But upon closer observation, it’s also clear that Mr. Miyagi needed and benefited from Daniel in his life in equally wonderful life-altering ways.
Asking for help is super hard, and goes against the things I have told myself to steel up my defenses, and grit and grind through life as I’ve known it. But I know I must.So, I am trying to ask for help more often. I can’t do everything – and really don’t want to do everything – on my own. But asking for help is super hard, and goes against the things I have told myself to steel up my defenses, and grit and grind through life as I’ve known it. But I know I must. I know it is the right, healthy, and honest thing to do, even if it renders me vulnerable to rejection and failure. I have to ask. And just see what happens. And no matter what, I have to trust the process. Even if someone doesn’t come through for me, I know that God will. He always has, in one way or the other. Let us all be more sensitive to the needs we see around us, particularly those which we could rise up and meet. Let us be quick to come through for others, because we remember how much we have needed someone to come through for us. Let us do so enthusiastically, knowing that we are spending our life in the most worthy of pursuits, honoring God, and doing Him proud. And let us humbly but pointedly ask others to consider being that guide, that sage, that mentor in our lives. If they say yes, they will be blessed. If they say no, the only thing that will hurt is our pride. And even then, we can hold onto the truth that God is still working everything together for our good, and He’ll make something else awesome happen - in time. Image source: http://bit.ly/2f7NcYz
We just want life turn out a certain way, and we pour ourselves out to make that happen, and don't want our blood, sweat, and tears to be wasted.We can't control if we will land our dream job, and if we do - we can't control how our boss treats us, or our co-workers treat us, or whether it will fulfill us as much as we thought it would. We often can't control what happens to our physiological health. Even with exercise and a great diet, things can take a turn for the worse because of a genetic predisposition, a freak injury, or even simply due to the natural aging process we all face. We can't control the choices our girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or even children will make in the future. We can love them, advise them, shepherd them, teach them, encourage them, remind them, and even plead with them, but they will invariably do what they want to do - even if their actions harm themselves or others. We can't even control what is done with our money and property down the road. We could be incredibly hard-working, wise, and investment-savvy, but we could lose it all in a moment with a bad deal or random disaster. Or, it could be stolen or frittered away by those who come after us. The older I get, the more I realize that control is so elusive. Actually, it's more than elusive - it's an illusion. You live enough years, and you totally understand this. And if you don't, yet, you will. It's one of the hardest lessons we all have to eventually learn.
The older I get, the more I realize that control is so elusive. Actually, it's more than elusive - it's an illusion.With that said, though, those of you who know me know that I am an eternal optimist. You know pessimists by their belief that "if anything can go wrong, it will." Well, I deeply and truly believe that "if anything can go right, it will." Seriously. And I know it's one thing to say that you are an optimist, but another thing to actually walk the walk. I really try to walk it out. And it isn't swagger, or arrogance, or confidence in myself. Really, it isn't. I do believe in myself and my abilities, but I also know that with so much out of my control, it can't solely be up to me. It just can't. And frankly, I don't want it to be. And so my confidence has to be in something outside of myself. And decades ago, I found it in God. The cool thing is, He has never let me down. Sure, I've been disappointed, and hurt, and even broken by life and the circumstances that have come my way, but in the big picture, He has worked all of those things out for my good, for my benefit, for my intrinsic or extrinsic gain. Being into God - and having a personal, living, vibrant relationship with His son Jesus - has shown me over the years that His Word is true. All that I've learned from it and put into action has been of great value in my life. It's provided me with emotional stability, guidance for romantic relationships, wisdom related to work, lessons for living, ways to conquer doubt, reasons for hope, reminders on the brevity of life, peace in the midst of stormy situations, and so much more. And one of the things that has been helping me recently has been God's ability - through His Word - to allay any fears that sneak their way into my thoughts and emotions about what the future holds. And it's been really powerful.
My main fear is that at some point, the bottom will fall out. The other shoe will drop. The wind will shift and the house of cards will all come tumbling down. That's what I worry about.My main fear is that at some point, when I am not expecting it...the bottom will fall out. The other shoe will drop. The wind will shift and the house of cards will all come tumbling down. That's what I worry about. Not always, but definitely sometimes. And when I talk to others, they often echo the same sentiments. They're concerned that despite their best intentions, efforts, and even prayers, disaster will strike. Suddenly. With their job, their health, their relationships, their family, or their money. At some time or another. And so we fret. And sometimes freak out. And scramble to secure ourselves against sudden disaster. But it's exhausting. And we're running themselves ragged. And even when we do all the things we think of doing, we still feel unsettled. Like there is more that should be done, that can be done. And our lives are filled with anxious thoughts and worried days and sleepless nights. And there is no peace to be found. There are two verses that I have built my life upon that help me in these moments. And I remember them, and I remind myself of them in my head whenever I start to fret and freak out.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.I fully, completely believe those words - most of the time. And on days that I struggle, I meditate on them, and repeat them to myself, and fight to get them embedded into my heart. They help me to let go. They help me to trust. Just like so much else in the Bible, they aren't just words on a page, but promises to me. Because God doesn't want me always spinning, always on edge, just waiting for something to go wrong. He wants me to surrender, and expect for things to go right, and - more importantly - for things to keep going right. The title of this blog is Childlike Faith because I really believe that it is the answer to so many of our difficult questions. When we were a kid, we believed and trusted and were convinced that life was going to be good to us, that God was going to be good to us. But then hardships and letdowns and so much pain came along, and we lost that innocent, wide-eyed, soft-hearted approach to it all. And He asks us to go back to that mindset. It's super hard - especially when you haven't done it a lot - but it does get easier the more you make it your objective, no matter what. I keep doing it, and it's become who I am - and people know it and I know it and God knows it and I am so thankful. And again, it helps so much.
It doesn't matter what anyone thinks or says or does. It doesn't matter what the future holds. He's got me. And He is good.I refuse to believe that sudden disaster is going to strike my job situation or body or wife or future kids or savings or anything like that. And I refuse to spend my life worrying about and fearing any bad news that might come my way. Instead, I want to remember that truth of those verses: that He is right next to me, He keeps my feet from any traps or trapdoors, and my heart is steadfast because my life is perfectly secure in His hands. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks or says or does. It doesn't matter what the future holds. He's got me. And He is good. I don't want to be pessimistic, or cynical, or suspicious of His goodness towards me - now or in the future. I just want to trust. I just want to relinquish my desire for control to Him. And I just want to enjoy the peace He willingly provides, if we will let go of what we're holding onto and take it instead. Image source: http://bit.ly/2xyR6P4