What’s Your Why?

What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? We can all find the motivation to do what needs to be done on the good days but is there something that keeps you going when things start getting tough?

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion. – Simon Sinek

Do you have a passion that drives your actions? If you haven’t yet found your ‘why’ or discovered something that drives your passion, maybe you can share mine.

I’ve heard it said that if you “find something you love to do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Nice idea but not quite true. I love what I do but I really do have to work at it … and that’s OK. I’m happy to work hard at what I do because there’s a lot to be done and it’s something I’m passionate about. My ‘why’ informs everything I do in my job (even the boring bits).

Did you know around 300 million children in our world will go to bed hungry tonight? Did you know that around 17 000 children under the age of five died today from preventable causes and another 17 000 will die tomorrow and the day after and the day after that? And let that word sink in for a while. Preventable. That means it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s my why right there. My work at Compassion is more that a job. Much more. It’s my driving passion. My why is all about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

I’ve sat in the homes of the poorest of the poor. I’ve prayed and cried with those in desperate need. I’ve looked into the face of a mother, standing on the dirt floor of her one room, corrugated iron home, as she told me that neither her or her son would still be alive if it were not for the work of Compassion. It’s people like her that I think about when I need to be reminded of my why.

There are things in this world that I find absolutely unacceptable.

I believe the corrupt systems that keep people in extreme poverty are unacceptable. The fact that a child can grow up believing that they are worthless is unacceptable. Most of all, knowing that our world has the resources and know how to not only reduce extreme poverty but eliminate it right now, yet chooses not to, is unacceptable.

I find it completely unacceptable that there is still such a gap between the excess we experience and the complete lack of resources experienced by many, many millions around our world.

Some would throw their hands up and say that that’s the way it will always be and I would challenge them to think again. Over the past few decades we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in extreme poverty around the world, which tells us we can make a difference, but the statistics are still alarming. There’s still much to be done and it won’t be done unless we all play our part in bringing about change.

I work for Compassion because I am convinced that there is no more effective organisation serving the world’s poor. I have seen no other method of working with those in poverty that even comes close to the way that Compassion is working.

That’s not the marketing spin of someone who works for the organisation, it’s the heartfelt conviction of someone who has seen the light streaming in to some very dark corners of this world and wants to be part of seeing more light and hope filling the lives of those around the world who are the poorest of the poor.

I have a why that gets me out of bed in the morning. How about you? Do you have a why? I’m more than willing to share mine. How about making releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name part of your why?

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Working on the Stuff We Love

It’s a weird concept but I’ve been thinking again recently about the self discipline we require to do the things we love.

We might imagine that we’ll just get on and do the stuff we love doing and that we only need to discipline ourselves to do the things that we don’t like to do; the things we have to anyway.

It takes real discipline and resolve for me to do any gardening and a bunch of other things that aren’t really my thing but what about the things I really enjoy doing?

Shouldn’t those things come easy to me?

Perth’s beautiful weather makes my city the perfect place for cycling. It’s one of my favourite passtimes yet if I don’t discipline myself to get out there on my bike I’ll miss out on something I love. It’s easy to sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of rising early to ride with my cycling friends but I know that if I put in the effort I’ll get greater benefits from cycling than I would from an extra hour in bed.

When I force myself into the habit of regular cycling I feel fitter and more energised, yet that discipline can slip away so easily. With a ride right across Australia on the horizon next year, I’d better get that discipline happening soon or I’ll miss out on my big adventure.

If I love reading so much why do I need to discipline myself to sit down with a book for an hour?

A week or two can often go past without me sitting down to soak in some words from the pages of a good book yet when I make the time to read I can easily get lost among the words and I thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Sitting down with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other is one of the most satisfying things in the world yet I can waste my time on the trivial things of life rather than reading.

We need to work on our relationships.

Some relationships are easier than others, but we even need to put in a great deal of effort on our relationships with those we love.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ? Theodore Roosevelt

Do you find the same thing happening?

Are there things that you really love yet you find you have to discipline yourself to invest your time pursuing them?

I find the same thing with my faith. I’m never happier than when I feel that I’m in tune with the Creator yet I can let time slip through my fingers without making the effort to recharge my spiritual batteries.

The simple spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading the scriptures, reflecting and others that are absolutely life giving can be easily crowded out in our busy world.

Why do we let ourselves get robbed of the real stuff of life?

It’s somehow strange that we should have to exercise discipline and self-control to do the things that make us feel most alive but sadly it’s true. I guess that’s where priority setting comes into play.

What are you like at doing the things that you love? Are there things you love, things that truly energise you, that you have let slip away?

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Seasons

seasons

Are you getting ready for winter? Maybe summer? It could be Autumn or Spring depending on where you are and when you’re reading this post.

I’m always amused when I get emails from companies telling me that winter’s almost here when we’re about to launch into summer or celebrating the arrival of spring when we’re in autumn.

Our world is so connected now that we see friends on Facebook telling us what a wonderful summer they’re having while we’re shivering in front of a heater.

The Internet often shows us people on the other side of the world in a different season. To them, that is the ‘universal’ experience. They’re so immersed in their own reality that they can forget that we’re in a different season. And we do it too. We talk about what’s going on for us when it’s quite different in other places.

Seasons of Life

I sometimes wonder if in the same way we can be blind to the fact that we can be in a different season in life to others around us. When we assume that just because our lives are sunny that life is sunny for others we can miss the opportunity to be there for someone who is facing a difficult season. We know from our own lives that what is being displayed on the surface isn’t always a great indicator of what’s happening inside.

You might have seen quotes like, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

be-kind

That doesn’t mean that we have to be treading on eggshells with everyone all the time. We can’t second guess everything we say or be so overly sensitive that we’re frozen into inaction, but it does mean that what seems obvious for us may not be what someone else is experiencing.

There’s a verse in the Bible about how we treat others that most people would know in some form or another.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

Do Unto Others

We don’t just ‘do unto others’ so that we can expect them to treat us well. The verse doesn’t come with the caveat that we should do well ‘unto others’ as long as they do well ‘unto us’. This isn’t transactional, it’s just about how we should act. We can’t control how others treat us but we can control how we treat others, and that’s what we’re being called to do.

If we would appreciate others treating us gently, even when we muck it up, we need to treat others the same way. If we appreciate being shown kindness, honesty, integrity and respect, we need to be showing those things to others.

That doesn’t mean that we just excuse bad behaviour. I want others to help me become a better person so I appreciate correction, but I want it to come from people who have my back and are concerned for me rather than just someone wanting to pay out on me.

We never know what season others are facing, and we can’t just assume that others are in the same season that we are, so it makes sense that whatever season we are in, we treat others as we would want to be treated in our best or our worst seasons.

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The Junk Room

mind

Do you have a ‘junk room’?

Most people have a place in their house where all the junk is stored. For some it’s a room, for some it’s the attic and for others it’s the garage or a shed. Some people have a whole house that’s full of clutter.

There are decluttering experts who tell us how to remove the clutter and TV segments and shows dedicated to decluttering.

How do you feel when you walk into a cluttered room?

A lot of people say that walking into a cluttered space makes them feel anxious. I totally get that. I need space around me and so while I’m OK to go in and out of a junk room to get what I need, I don’t want to live in there.

I wonder if we realise that our minds are becoming full of clutter. We’re facing a growing problem of cluttered minds.

Our minds are becoming the ‘junk room’ of our bodies.

It used to be that if we wanted to find out what’s happening in the world we’d sit down with a cuppa and the newspaper or watch a half hour news bulletin on telly in the evening. If we wanted to stay up to date with a breaking story we’d listen to the radio and get the details in the hourly news bulletin. These days we have 24 hour news online, on television and on radio.

We have a constant stream of information from all over the world coming at us at a hundred kilometres an hour. On top of that we know what all of our friends are doing every moment thanks to social media. Of course it’s not only our friends but millions of others we’ve never met.

Our minds have become the junk room. They’re so full of stuff that other people are throwing in there that we haven’t got time to think through the important issues in our lives. We swing from one drama to the next.

I wonder if we can do just what we do at home. We have a junk room where everything goes that doesn’t have a place but we try to keep our lounge room a bit more ordered. We only put stuff in the lounge room that’s meant to be there. Our lounge room is ‘on purpose’.

Maybe we need to make room in our busy schedules to regularly disconnect from the junk room. It’ll mean putting our phones and all the other things that keep us filling up on junk out of reach and being intentional about what goes into our minds.

Most of the time we can’t help spending time in the junk room so we need to be intentional about creating a space where we decide what we’re thinking about.

I love what the Bible has to say in Proverbs about setting our minds on the things that matter.

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

If that’s the case, we need to make time to take back control of our thought life. If our thought life is totally given over to the urgent, rather than the important, we won’t have time to see the bigger picture.

Many of us are able to quote a particular phrase from Psalm 46. “Be still and know that I am God.” The rest of the Psalm gives some more context. It talks about being still and getting to know that God is in control despite the craziness that’s happening around us. Maybe you can start decluttering your thoughts and your mind by spending some time contemplating that Psalm.

Psalm 46 (ESV)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

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There Will Be Hills

Road

When was the last time you went for a bike ride? Were there hills along the way?

I lead a ride from Albany to Perth every year and I’ve become known for announcing at the start of the day, “There will be hills”.

I don’t say that to discourage anyone. I simply want people to be ready. I want them to have the right expectation because if they think that it’ll be all flat with a roaring tailwind they’ll be disappointed.

Of course, if they know there’ll be hills, they’ll prepare for them. They still might not enjoy them but they’ll know they’re coming.

Where did that hill come from?

I did a ride on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria two years in a row. The first year we climbed a very big hill called Lavers Hill. Many of us thought it was all downhill from there. No one warned us about the next big hill, so when we had to start climbing again it was tough. The second hill wasn’t as big but it still had some very steep sections. We had all been warned about Lavers Hill and so while it was a real work out, we managed to reach the top reasonably well. That second hill came without warning, after our bodies had already clocked off, expecting a downhill roll for the rest of the day.

The following year, I knew the second climb was coming. I worked hard to climb Lavers Hill but I knew that wouldn’t be the final climb for the day. When I reached the second hill I got over it surprisingly well. In fact I thought to myself, “Is that it?” Being prepared made all the difference.

Beaten before the climb begins.

On a ride across Australia many years ago there was a young, fit, eighteen year old who hated hills. Even though we cycled for five weeks, with an average day being around 160 kilometres and several days topping 200 kilometres, he still couldn’t handle the hills. I watched him a few times when we would see a hill in the distance. Even though we’d still be on a flat section, riding along really well, the hill would defeat him as soon as it came into view. His shoulders would slump and he was already beaten. From there he would just struggle. He had fitness and youth on his side but mentally he would crumble.

I wonder if some of life’s struggles defeat us because we’re expecting life to be flat with a tailwind.

When we recognise and understand that hills are a part of life, we live differently. We don’t just slump our shoulders and give up. We know we’re on a bumpy road and so we face challenges differently. The hills can still be hard, extraordinarily hard at times, but if we know they’re on the horizon it changes the way we approach them.

I certainly don’t want to downplay some of the big struggles and disappointments in life or pretend that they don’t matter. There are some things we face that we can’t just soar above but being able to face the many, and sometimes daily, hills along the journey helps prepare us for those bigger trials.

For those of us who have faith in Jesus, we know that struggles will come but we also have someone to walk, or even ride, alongside us in those times.

We can expect difficulties throughout our lives but we should also expect great things from God. When Jesus was talking to his followers about the kind of troubles and persecution that we may never face, he reminded them, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Remember no matter where we are in life, there will be hills, but there is a God who loves us and wants to give us his strength for the journey.

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