Charity and Goodwill for President

Disclaimer: This isn’t about politics. I’m not taking a political stance with this article, but I am taking a stance on us being better human beings for our own good and for the good of others.

Here I sit in my office exactly 24 hours after President Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. I’ve seen joyous social media posts, viral YouTube videos of people my age crying about his becoming president, individuals gushing over the new commander in chief while raving about his ability to make their lives great again, “protestors” destroying a Starbucks, smashing the car windows of Larry King, and anti-Trump Twitter trolls bullying young 10 year old Barron Trump on Inauguration Day (wow at the irony in that). With all of those instances in mind, it really begs the question:
What is wrong with people?

I can say with one hundred percent honesty that I’ve never been more disappointed in our country than I am in this moment. When did we decide that the president of the free world decided our personal journey or fate in life, for good or for bad? When did we allow political party allegiance to blur the lines of our interactions and relationships? When did we lose sight of who we are?

I have a theory.
One side of the coin has a false sense of hope while the other has a false sense of fear. Just as President Obama didn’t magically usher America into a perfect, utopian society, neither will President Trump. On the other end of the spectrum, contrary to the popular belief of my conservative friends, President Obama didn’t leave the country standing on one leg and neither will President Trump.

This is America. It will never be perfect. What makes us great is that we have the ability to positively affect this country regardless of who holds the office of the presidency.

We don’t celebrate the person. We celebrate the fact that we have a democratic republic. We still have a voice and that’s a blessing and privilege we take for granted far too often. We live in a country that citizens of other countries only dream of being a part of.

Stay away from social media if it causes the worst in you to come out. This may sound like a revolutionary thought, but arguing with strangers on Facebook or Twitter isn’t going to positively affect the world. So, you have to be honest with yourself and answer a tough question: do I want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

If you see traits in the new president that you find less than sufficient, outweigh those traits with your own goodwill and charity for your fellow man. That is our collective mission as citizens of America and quite frankly, it’s our responsibility. We can only do what is within our power to do. Regardless of how I felt about President Obama, I committed to respect him and pray for him as he led our country. Likewise, I’ll do that for President Trump.

Don’t take the bait that you have to despise a person because you may have differing viewpoints.

Listen to understand, not to respond.

Agree.                                                       Disagree.                                                       Agree to disagree.                                     Argue.                                                             Move forward.

Stay passionate about your convictions and feelings but respect the opinions of others.

That’s how we make America great.

That’s what makes America the best country in the world to call home.

If we lose that, we lose our identity.

 

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Marriage Is Too Hard (And that’s ok)

Marriage is hard.
Trying to make two completely different people become one can seem like an impossible feat to achieve. However, no matter what the world may say, it’s doable and worth it.

Humans, by nature, are selfish, prideful, inconsiderate, arrogant, and impatient. That’s obviously not a good concoction for a union in which you have to be the exact opposite of those characteristics to be successful. I have much to learn about being a better husband but I’m thankful for the growth I’ve seen in my own life over the past four years. I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned through hard lessons and through wisdom by people who do it better than me.

  1. Listen to understand, not to respond.
    This is a loaded statement. It’s one that should be simple to grasp, yet we see people fail at this every day in so many different situations. Our human characteristic gives us a mindset which makes us think what we have to say is more important than what the other person talking to us has to say. This is so evident in marriages, especially today. We are so consumed with our own ideas and issues that we can’t even begin to consider the microscopic possibility that our spouse could actually make us see things differently, and the fact that WE CAN BE WRONG. I know. That’s a novel idea for a lot of people but listening to your spouse to understand them instead of just responding to them can shape the way you see them and the way you see the issue they are trying to convey to you. People just want to be heard and understood. It can make all the difference in the world.
  2. Surround yourself with people who have successful marriages.
    In a culture of DIY projects, marriage isn’t one of those things you should just go into blind and see what happens. Find a person or a couple who have made it work through all of the highs and lows to mentor you and your spouse. There is no shame in asking for help, especially with something as monumental as the vow of marriage. The best leaders learned from someone who did it better than them and marriage should be no different.
  3. Show grace even when your husband or wife doesn’t deserve it.
    This subject is one my wife has had to practice more than me. There have been so many times where my selfishness and pride have caused a massive divide in our marriage. Thankfully, she’s never given up on me. We are geared to retaliate when people treat us in a less than honorable way. My whole four years of advice in this area: don’t. The truth is none of us deserve forgiveness but at the end of the day, forgiveness is a better solution than bitterness. In the small mistakes, be sure to forgive. In the bigger mistakes, show grace even more.
  4. When the world tells you to give up, love anyway.
    Our society is one in which we are taught to live in the moment and the outdated, antiquated union of marriage is as disposable as a red cup from Starbucks. (Too soon?) The idea of being young and free to do whatever you want may sound inviting and fulfilling but it’s exactly the opposite. There is nothing more fulfilling, meaningful, and honorable than finding the person you were meant to be with and staying committed to them as long as you’re on this earth. Don’t listen to what the world says is popular because the world won’t be there for you when you’re alone at the end of a trail of meaningless relationships. 

Again, I’m far from a marriage expert and would probably consider myself a novice at best. However, falling on my face has taught me so much about what not to do as a husband, and I definitely rank number one in that area.

Yes, marriage is too hard for the average person, but don’t be average. Choose to be great. Purpose it in your heart to be the best spouse possible and strive to serve your spouse in all you do. The things in life which can be the most difficult at times are usually the most rewarding, so don’t give up on something as meaningful as your marriage. It may at times be a fight, but it’s so worth fighting for.

 

 

Finding Peace In the Meantime

We’ve all been there. We have a dream. Sometimes, it’s as if we can reach out and touch the very dream that we’ve ran after for so long. The problem is, it isn’t time just yet to realize that dream.

It’s disheartening, discouraging, and sometimes overwhelming. Many times I’ve questioned my current situation and if it’s really helping me move toward my ultimate goal.

The worst thing we can do in these soul searching moments is to hit the fast forward button to propel ourselves into a situation that we aren’t prepared for.

There are ways to “make it happen” yourself. There are ways to become the orchestrater of your own life and claim success based upon your own merit and willpower. Choosing this path where you control your own destiny may or may not open doors but the path can certainly grow darker when you try to navigate it alone.

These are things I’m faced with every day because I have a drive within me which calls me to do more. That drive makes me completely unsatisfied with settling for what most people would call a good situation. That very drive which is and will be a great catalyst in realizing my calling is the very thing I sometimes let blur the lines between being unsatisfied and being discontent.

I’ve learned that being unsatisfied with where you are in life isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be something great. Some of the best inventors, ministers, and athletes don’t find satisfaction in their current state but strive to be better tomorrow than they were today, all the while finding joy in their journey.

Being discontent with where you currently are may sound similar to being unsatisfied but it’s a completely different place to be. In my experience, when you aren’t content with your current surroundings it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone and everything around you.

You can’t strive for greatness when you are clouded by discontentment. You can’t chase your calling when you are only focusing on the disappointment of what you haven’t accomplished yet. Remember that the journey is just as important as the destination.

We all have a purpose. We all have a meaning. We were all created to do something bigger than what we are doing at the moment. I’m persuaded to believe that only a very small percentage of human beings ever tap into their God-given potential. While I’m an advocate of chasing the desires of your heart until you see them come to fruition, finding peace in the meantime is possibly the most important aspect in reaching your goal. The space between chasing a dream and realizing it can either strengthen your faith and resolve or cause you to crumble.

Don’t lose your zeal. Don’t lose your drive. Don’t lose the passion that keeps you on the path towards your goal or calling. But more importantly, don’t attempt to take the pen out of the hand of the author of your story and write your own version of it.

I promise His version is better.

 

D O S O M E T H I N G (Seriously, stop waiting)

(For those who feel stuck)

I’m 26 years old, married, have a good, solid job, have a nice house, and two dogs.

A lot of people would call that the American dream. Not that we are loaded by any means, but we have a good, normal life.

So, what’s the problem?

Six years ago, I had a revelation from God that I was called to do full time ministry. At that moment, I knew there was nothing that would ultimately satisfy me unless that’s what I did for the rest of my life.

I began pursuing God with everything in my being. I would lead music, speak, organize mission projects, you name it. I began a tenure of three and a half years on staff at a local church and was so excited and expectant about what God was and was going to do in and through me.

Fast forward to today.

I’m no longer on staff at a church anywhere, I’ve barely completed my basic studies in college, and I’m working a normal job like everyone else.

You could describe my ministry “career” as a failure to launch. Yes, I was on staff as a youth ministry assistant, but never wound up going any farther in my calling. I watched as friend after friend got a great position at a church somewhere or started a ministry while I became stagnant.

Call it fear. Call it being comfortable. Whatever it was, I couldn’t move forward with my calling.

Opportunity after opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t jump. It never felt right.

I wound up stepping down a little over a year ago from the position that I really held onto for far too long.

We switched churches, thinking that would all of a sudden give me clarity on what to do with my life and how to get there. We found a home, but my heart was still in turmoil.

I started to let jealousy, negativity, and selfishness rule my life. I was jealous of those around me who had advanced in ministry. I became negative about things in my life and in my new church. I became selfish in every facet of everything I did.

This became me up until about six months ago. In the middle of two separate family crises, I finally allowed God to humble me and help me see why I never went any farther than I did in ministry.

You see, I was more concerned about my plans and my advancement and disguised my intentions behind “kingdom advancement’.

I realized that nothing ever felt right because it wasn’t the right situation and I was nowhere near ready to take on any opportunity that came my way.

During my time as a church staff person, I had a small ministry that flourished at first, but I soon became a bad steward of what I was over and it fell apart.

It took God six years of basically hitting me in the face with truth about my life for me to finally realize it was ME who was getting in the way.

I say all that to say this:

For the first time in my life, I know not only what I’m supposed to do but how I need to get there. I’m by no means satisfied with where I’m at currently, but rest in the fact that I will fully realize my calling and have no doubt about that.

At this point, I can sit still no longer. Action is necessary. I could deliberate with myself for eternity about what step to take, or take a true step of faith for the first time in my life.

Don’t be like me and be so blind and prideful that it takes years for you to make a move.

Make one now.

Whether you’re looking for your purpose or trying to figure out how to live out your purpose, rest in the fact that God has a plan laid out for you. Don’t fret about what direction to go. If you know that HE has called you, GO.

Don’t try to live out a God ordained calling with human reasoning. His calling and plan for your life is so much bigger and better than anything you could ever create. Give your calling back to Him and let Him orchestrate the details.

Finally, rest in the fact that the sole purpose of our existence is to glorify God and bring others to the knowledge of His glory. Whether you’re opening a coffee shop, writing songs, speaking to the masses, or shepherding a church of 50, your purpose is to bring Him glory.

There, you will find your satisfaction. There, you will find completion. There, you will find rest.

Get up. GO.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28