Why do most stories of “successful people” seem full of struggle, despair and burnout?
The myth of the successful person is that they made stunning sacrifices for their dream. They did a staggering amount of work. Eventually, they were rewarded with a modicum of success and become a minor celebrity.
Then the reckoning. Divorce. Despair. Addiction. Depression. They spiral into breakdown.
Eventually, they discover some sensational principle, achieve bliss and write a New York Times best-seller about it.
These stories are real. Sometimes the books are helpful. But is this nightmare necessary to live the life you want?
These books will teach you great principles like “get into therapy,” “watch your diet” or “practice Sabbath.” Read them. Do what they say.
But there is one surprisingly simple method to avoid burnout and save you from disaster.
It works just like Archimedes dropping the crown into the bathtub. It’s so simple that you may run naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!”
The secret to living out your life purpose is found in nature and in Richard Linklater’s latest film.
Linklater recently pulled off the impossible: He released a movie that felt like an brand new concept.
Over the course of the past 12 years, Linklater filmed the same cast to create the film “Boyhood.” Boyhood is both simple and incredible. On one hand, it’s nothing great. The script is simple. The characters are stock. The plot is almost completely non-existent. There are moments that are more worthy of a Lifetime movie.
On the other hand, what Linklater has done in this movie is phenomenal and unprecedented. You watch as the main character from age six to age eighteen. He goes from being a hopeful kid to a rebellious teenager to a bright-eyed college freshman. You watch adults who come in and out of his life. You watch his parents do some growing up themselves.
By the end of the film, it feels less like you have watched a movie and much more like you have been a witness to the various seasons of a person’s life.
I love this concept for a movie because, I’m apparently obsessed with the idea of seasons.
This past summer I spent the weekend with four guys I had barely seen in 10 years to prepare for one guy’s wedding. After a few days, together one of the guys remarked something along the line of “let’s talk about seasons. Because Chris sure does. He’s always using the word ‘season.’”
I’m obsessed with seasons because I’m learning they hold the key to finding purpose in your life today.
Seasons are simultaneously obvious and ignored. There is nothing more basic and fundamental to what it means to live on earth than to deal with seasons. Seasons shape our clothing, language, sports, and agriculture. Our culture awash in technology, productivity and globalization also seems built to ignore seasons.
Parker Palmer puts it this way:
“Seasons” is a wise metaphor for the movement of life, I think. It suggests that life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance, but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real. The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all – and to find in all of it the opportunities for growth. (Let Your Life Speak)
If you haven’t already, you’ll eventually hit a moment in life where you are struggling to know what your purpose.
Jesus followers have traditionally called this “vocation” a sense being called to join God’s work in the world through a specific task or way of life.
A few lucky people seem to live with a constant sense of vocation. They’ve got this drive and a grand purpose for their life.
For the rest of us, the search for our vocation can seem to be confounding.
Parker Palmer and Richard Linklater would suggest that we’re making this way too complicated. We can only experience vocation must within the seasons of our lives.
Or to put it more succinctly:
Know season, and you’ll know your reason.
Once you hear this, it seems incredibly obvious. We are rhythmic creatures in a rhythmic world. Our bodies are regulated by heartbeats, breaths and circadian rhythms. Our world is organized by the literal seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Texas is organized by the seasons of summer, and it’s almost summer.
A few common seasons that most people experience are adolescence, parenthood, being a student, depression and falling in love.
The people of God have always organized their lives around seasons. In the Bible, the people of God were called the Israelites, and they had festivals and seasons where they would all come together to commemorate important events in the past or just to worship. As early as the second century Christians began to organize their calendar with seasons based on the story of the life of Jesus, seasons like Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Eastertide and Ordinary time.
This is what Solomon (and The Birds) is getting at in his famous poem:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
So tonight instead of losing sleep because you have no idea what your purpose in life is, consider these two questions:
Whether you are a world-renown brand or a local handyman, you can’t get away from social media.
Social Media is often the first way people will encounter you. It’s a contributing factor to your search rankings. It’s a sign that you are alive and participating in today’s world.
Social media is not sexy. It’s not (necessarily) going to drive a lot of traffic to your website. It’s not going to make you the coolest new church or ministry in town.
It is like one of my clients has said, “table stakes.” Like the phone book decades back, it’s part of doing business.
In my day job, I help individuals, businesses and non-profits tell their story with content and social media marketing. I try to apply the same rules to myself, and to our church community, Austin Mustard Seed. Although, as a landscaper too busy to care for his ugly yard, I don’t always represent the ideal I want for others.
Churches have to be on social media. But they need to be there thoughtfully, purposefully and personally. Here are eight
ways that your Church should be using social media Continue Reading…
There are few things that repulse me more than self-discipline. I’ve never practiced a musical instrument, consistently made my bed in the morning or paid my bills at a regular interval.
As a Church Planter, I am well aware of the fact that my own day-to-day life sets and example for what it means to follow Jesus. There is more to following Jesus than making the right decision when the time comes. It’s means becoming the kind of person who is in the routine of making the right decision.
So my lack of self-discipline is a problem. Nowhere was I feeling this more acutely than in my lack of spiritual discipline. Continue Reading…
You don’t have to deal with stuffy old churches. You can be creative and share the gospel with people who might otherwise be ignored.
Every week I hear about a new church planting conference or training organization. More and more individuals are considering “church planting” a realistic and important direction for their life. More churches and denominations are getting into the game.
I believe that Church Planting is so vitally important that in 10 years, it may be the only thing we have left. It’s also hard work. In fact, I can’t think of a single book, resource or speaker who doesn’t say “this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” The fact is that forming a community of Jesus followers in a certain time and place is full of normal, day-in and day-out realities, just like any other vocation.
Church Planting is also a long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Those of us who embrace this vocation need to be prepared for five unsexy details. Continue Reading…