In this post, I want to start a dialog.  We may not find all the answers in one post.  In my experience, answers that come that quickly tend to be deceiving.  Quick answers ignore the complexities of an issue.  They make us feel that we’ve addressed the issue but in reality, nothing has changed.

We may not find all the answers in one post.  In my experience, answers that come that quickly tend to be deceiving.  Quick answers ignore the complexities of an issue.  They make us feel that we’ve addressed the issue but in reality, nothing has changed.

Credit: iqoncept Depositphoto ID: 32472607

Systems

I have been thinking a lot lately about Time Management.  Systems that have worked for me in the past aren’t having the same impact they once had.

  1. Perhaps the current roles and responsibilities require different systems.
  2. Perhaps the systems I used in the past are no longer available because the technology has moved on rendering prior tools “obsolete”.
  3. Maybe today’s environment has more distractions than the old system was designed to overcome.
  4. Or maybe we just got bored with a system that worked and moved on to the latest shiny object that promised deliverance from our distractions.

Dis (oh look) tractions

I am reading The ONE Thing

(So let’s be honest.  In the course of writing the sentence that begins above and concludes below, I checked an email account, read and thoughtfully replied to a Facebook post, while having successive YouTube videos playing in the background, “Liking” half of those videos, “Sharing” one of those YT videos on my Facebook timeline (https://youtu.be/ecUU6AWJj-4), started to share it in a group but decided not to, and answered a phone call from my son.  OK, I’m back.)

by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan as I get ready for a group chat with one of the authors.

(Hold on.  The person replied to my FB reply.  I’ll be right back.)

One of the key takeaways from The ONE Thing was how they took the time to explain and teach the underlying concepts behind some of the productivity axioms we’ve heard for years.  For example, they discuss the impact of interruptions in the workplace.

Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions. And yet amid all of this we still assume we can rise above it and do what has to be done within our deadlines. (Page 46)

The Myth of Multitasking

I remember listening to cassette tapes of Dr. Charles Hobbes in the mid-1980s telling us about the myths of multitasking.  Thiry years later, Keller and Papasan, among many others are still trying to get the message across.

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have. (Page 46)

At the heart of the matter is not that we have too much to do.  Rather, we have trouble being honest enough with ourselves or employers to say 75 hours of work really can’t be done in 40 hours—not well at least.  Instead, we try to do the impossible.

Changing Situations

I recently took a Productivity Assessment from Michael Hyatt, a NY Times Best-Selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  The result was that I am “The Circumstance Surfer”

Right now, you’re facing challenges that come with a transition or a certain set of circumstances. You would love to be able to create a solid routine, but predictability is just not an option right now. So you ride the waves that come your way. You need something flexible, a way to keep the peace throughout all the chaos in the midst of your current circumstances.

This was interesting and insightful.  You can take the assessment at http://freetofocus.com/WLEAFS/2017assessment.

Currently, I wear a few hats:  Pastor, Writer, Speaker, Wedding Officiant, Counselor, Videographer, and Graphic Designer.  These are not subcategories of my role.  They are all separate categories for which I am hired currently.

I remember hearing Jim Collins talk about the importance of having a Not To DO List.  At the time, I had one job and I thought that it was pretty easy to identify the things I should not do.  Now that’s a bit more challenging to do.

It’s a New Day!

While I still reflect on principles I learned from Charles Hobbes decades ago, today’s challenges seem to call for new strategies and systems.  I participated in an online training this morning led by Michael Hyatt on The 7 Deadly Sins of Productivity: The Hidden Habits Undermining Your Performance (And How to Change Them).  

One of the many takeaways for me was the reminder of the importance of taking time to plan.  If we are faced with an overwhelming workload we can be tempted to just dive in the deep end and start splashing around.  When I slow down long enough to get perspective, I still have a big workload but it may not be quite as overwhelming.  I can identify the top priority for that period of time.  I may also identify some parts of the load that could be done by others or maybe shouldn’t be done by anyone.  I can see Jim Collins smiling now.

You can sign up for Michael’s training here.

I enjoyed the training and found it helpful for dealing with the realities of being productive in today’s world.

Please let me know your thoughts and journey in the comments what works for you.  I will probably write more in the coming weeks.  This is a critical topic that impacts the time we have to spend with God, with our families and friends, and the time we have to enjoy life.

 

(Note: some of the links I share may include affiliate links to products or services that I have personally hand-picked to share with you here on Encourage and Equip.  If you are interested in those offers, using the links provided could result in a small income flow that helps offset the costs of maintaining the site.  Thank you.)

Perspective Matters

September 15, 2017 — Leave a comment

Have you ever considered that the way we view ourselves impacts how we use the gifts we have received?  Secondly, have you ever considered that the way we view other people would impact how we serve them—or how we ignore or use them?

If we are truly seeking to love God with our whole being and to love others like ourselves, we need to wrestle with these two questions.

Copyright: Mattz90 DepositPhoto ID: 50713175

I have to admit; I wasn’t planning to write a post here today.  But, after reading two allegedly unrelated blog posts from friends in a Facebook group, the wheels started turning.  I knew I just had to share something here.

I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  So when I saw the title of K L Greenwalt ‘s article, I couldn’t help but click to read “Why You Can’t Trust How You See Yourself.”  She shared a personal story with a big lesson. Continue Reading…

Up till now, I’ve been trying to help us understand the need for encouragement in our day. In Part 1, we explored the impact of a culture that focuses on the negative. In Part 2, we considered the impact of fear-based marketing tactics. We could continue to explore the reasons people need to be encouraged. But, I’d like to shift the focus to the positive.

A little encouragement can make a big difference. You can even start small.

Encouragement tip #1: Validate Existence!

Some people have been so abused or neglected by so many people, that just saying hello will make a difference in their day.

For example, the movie musical, Chicago, has a sad-sack character, Amos Hart, who exemplifies this. His big solo reveals the depth of his self-esteem crisis…

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart.
Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

And even without clucking like a hen
everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!

Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name!!!!
Mister cellophane
’cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there!

Now, his character is written to be somewhat likable and largely pathetic at the same time. John C. Reilly does a masterful job at portraying this. As if the lines above don’t paint enough of a picture, when the lawyer (played by Richard Gere) suggests Amos should divorce his wife, Amos rises to his feet and shouts, “I’ll divorce her!” Then he catches himself and says, “She probably won’t even notice.”

Continue Reading…

What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s?  or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?

Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?

Image by 3dconceptsman DepositPhotos #19467907

Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO?  Do I just sit here and do nothing?  Well, sometimes the answer is yes.  Other times, the answer might be different.

Be Still

When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.

When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. Continue Reading…

My wife’s parents were role models in showing hospitality.  Dinnertime was not only a social event, it was the main event!  The food was always great and so were the welcome and the conversation.

This is the third in a series of posts honoring the life of a true encourager, my father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, Sr.  You can find Part 1 and Part 2 on the Encourage and Equip blog.

A Friend of People

My father-in-law was a friend of people, regardless of their church affiliation or absence. Let me explain.

As a kid growing up in New York CIty, I remember the occasional big holiday dinner around the table for hours but the normal daily routine was sitting on the couch with folding snack tables with the evening news on the television.  When I made a dinner reservation at a restaurant, they would ask “what time?” so they could estimate what time the table would be available for the next guest.

While living in Italy many years ago, I noticed a key difference between American culture and Italian.

My daughter Cathy enjoying time with her grandpa after dinner.

In Italy, I quickly learned lingering at the table with loved ones was one of the rewards of making it through the day.  When I made a dinner reservation in Italy, they only asked what day because they reserved the table for the evening.  When you were invited for dinner at Joe and Rose’s (my wife’s parents) you were invited to linger.

At my mother and father-in-law’s, Continue Reading…

Shortly after his ninetieth birthday, my father-in-law was given a few months to live.  What would you do? Let me tell you what Joe did.

My father-in-law had the rare blessing of getting a “two-minute warning” so to speak.  Shortly after his ninetieth birthday, he began experiencing unusual health complications that made treating one problem impossible without creating or escalating other problems.  Long story short, the prognosis was a few months left to live.  What would you do?  Let me tell you what Joe DeRuvo did.

Among other things, he made the most of the opportunity to contact and say goodbye to friends and family–a rare blessing indeed.  He also planned out his own memorial service with the help of long-time friends and pastors.

In the memorial service that he planned, my wife (his daughter) shared some of her personal recollections and a note that he left behind. Continue Reading…

One of the greatest influencers in my life passed away as that Sunday drew to a close after some weeks in hospice. My father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, was truly a great and gentle man used mightily by God and will be missed by many.  Earlier that morning, May 28, 2017, I preached my final sermon as the Intentional Interim Pastor for the First Church of Christ in Lynn, MA.

 

Celebrating his 90th birthday with homemade cheesecake.

Joe De Ruvo celebrating his 90th birthday with homemade cheesecake.

My final sermon focused on the Last Words of Paul–not the last words he uttered in life but his last words recorded in the New Testament to a special young pastor in 2 Timothy chapter 4.  Along with his command to Preach the Word and Keep his head in the midst of ministry challenges and persecutions, the older Apostle shifted young Timothy’s attention from implementing Paul’s teachings to emulating Paul’s life.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Those words took on a special meaning for me as I read them in the context of watching a man who had walked with God for ninety years look forward to meeting his Lord face to face.  That calm assurance comes from knowing that he could face death confident that it is merely a passage to the place Jesus has prepared for him.

I generally enjoy people but there is a handful of people in my life that are truly impressive and have made a difference in my life and the lives of many others as well.  My father-in-law is one of a very rare breed.  Thirty years ago, I married the love of my life.  I knew I was truly blessed that day.  But wait, there’s more!  As a bonus, Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law.  I gained a faithful prayer warrior, mentor, and role model when Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law.

This past Saturday, June 24, 2017, friends and family gathered to celebrate this special life.  This memorial service was unlike any other I had ever attended.  By God’s grace, I was able to record the service.  I will post it here in four parts for those who were not able to attend.  I also share the video for the benefit of those who never met my father-in-law but still want to benefit from the remembrances of those who were deeply impacted by his love for his God and his love for them.

 

 

 

 

Be Kind: We’re All in a Battle.

My first two posts on Encourage and Equip were designed to lay a foundation for why we need encouragers so much in our day (Why Pt. 1, Why Pt. 2).  However, there is one area I really wanted to write about because it is so critical. But, I wasn’t sure people were ready to receive the message. I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate the message clearly without sounding like an alarmist, a religious nut or fanatic.

At the very core of my being, my heart cries out that the reason we need to encourage people is that we are all in a battle.  Most people don’t even realize it.  Those who are aware of the battle tend to underestimate the opposition–It’s much more than a pillow fight!

The Foundation

At the heart of my thinking on encouragement Continue Reading…

I write to model or provide encouragement, to point people to God as the unending source of strength, or to help develop our skills and gifts as we live out our faith and seek to love God and people.

God commands us to encourage one another. Please consider with another of the major reasons I think we need it now — perhaps now more than ever.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)  In our day, an average person faces a myriad of challenges and obstacles that can tear down and destroy their drive, effectiveness, and the quality of life that God desires for us to enjoy.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at our tendency to focus on the negative.  To further illustrate the point, Jon Acuff tells a classic New York story of Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) attending a baseball game at Yankee Stadium.  During the game, his picture was shown on the screen and he was announced as being at the game. 50,000 people stood and cheered.

As David left the stadium, a guy drove by and yelled, “Larry, you suck!” “That’s like, literally all he heard,” Berg (David’s friend) says.  David spent the ride back from the Bronx obsessing over that moment, running it over and over in his mind. It was as if the other 50,000 people, the ones who loved him, didn’t exist. “Who’s that guy? What was that?” He asked. “Who would do that? Why would you say something like that?”

Today, I’d like to direct out attention briefly to another factor that challenges us every day.

Fear Based “Motivators”

In politics and marketing, a growing number of people are seeking to get their message or products into people’s hearts and homes with ads or entire campaigns designed to capitalize on people’s anxieties and insecurities.

Shadow puppet symbolizing inordinate fear.

1. Political Campaigns

The last presidential campaign season has developed the attack ad to a whole new level.  A major dynamic of this is also known as scare tactics. In a personal conversation, one journalist covering the election told me that most people were actually voting against the opposing candidate rather than voting for their candidate.   They weren’t even sure what their own candidate’s platform was. Continue Reading…

God commands us to encourage one another. Please consider with me of the major reasons I think we need it now — perhaps now more than ever. In our day, an average person faces a myriad of challenges and obstacles that can tear down and destroy a person’s drive and effectiveness. Consider the following as examples.

Continue Reading...