Monday, October 22, 2012

How to stop worrying

Quick answer if you want to save the time of reading this; you can’t (now skip to the end). In my opinion, most of us cannot simply stop worrying. Worry is a response, and like most responses there is a huge element of choice - yes. But more than that, worry is an expression of basic human fear. And fear cannot be reasoned away, not entirely. Don’t take my word for it, go ahead and try as hard as you can to stop worrying. Turn red, grunt really hard, bust a blood vessel in your scalp. Do your best. How did that go? Or better yet – be that person who tells people; “I don’t know what you’re so worried about – just stop worrying”. Do this and watch your friends total on facebook shrink.

My observation is that once fear/worry is engaged, it’s a process that cannot simply be halted. It can however be re-directed. Worry does not always have to follow the same default path to anxiety and depression. Worry can be displaced! It’s like many other things in life. Nature abhors a vacuum, so stop trying to create one by removing worry. Instead try and replace it with something else. Like Indiana Jones with the rock and the gold statue (except with better results). For myself I try to replace worry with things like truth, perspective, and best of all faith. A great Jedi once said; “your focus determines your reality”. So focus on where you want to steer the ship of your emotional self instead of focusing on the worry. Pretend the worry is a voice; what is worry telling you? What does worry want to make you believe? What will you choose to believe instead? Spend some time actively engaging in things that direct your focus to what you want to feel. Time with certain friends, get to the mountains, listen to the right music, recall good memories with your wife/husband. It could be almost anything; just do it. You are not merely focusing on the positive, or distracting yourself, you are displacing the worry. Most often worry contains an element that is, how shall I say, blown out of proportion? Displacement gets your headspace and judgement back within realistic proportions. That means the worry will automatically seem smaller, and you’ll find yourself saying; “what was I so worried about?”

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Curse of the Competent

I can’t believe I have not written about this until now. It’s an observation that has turned into an insight about life, and it’s a Rob original (as opposed to all the other insights I rip off from smart people I’ve read, then proceed to forget where I read it and claim it as my own).

The seed for this insight has been my own life experience. You see I think I have pretty good judgement. I value wisdom and take time to think things through. I have learned to trust my judgement because it is right %99 of the time. But that’s just it… when I hit that %1 (which happens rarely but consistently), I fall hard. Most people would think that sounds like a pretty good track record, so I should stop complaining and give up on my quest for perfection; and they would be right. Accept that this revelation exposes an interesting truth; I trust my own judgement too much, and I will be doomed to repeat those one- percent-hard-falls as long as I do. This is the curse of the competent.

If you are like me and suffer from this curse, if you trust your own judgement and think a little too highly of your wisdom consider this. Is it possible to benefit fully from one’s own wisdom and good judgement, while at the same time not trusting it completely? If that sounds like a rhetorical question it probably is. It’s been my best strategy in dealing with the curse. I remember that my tried and tested wisdom will fail me inevitably. This begs the question, what better means of decision making is there? For me the answer lies with the creator of wisdom, God. When I subject my good judgement to His greater wisdom it is an act of humility, of worship. God gets to be God in my life and I get to learn from my mistakes, and hopefully make less of them.

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Friday, September 24, 2010


It was only a few weeks ago that the word “September” struck fear in Jaime and my heart. Now the month of doom is drawing to a close and... Low and behold, the sun still rises, and there’s food on the table.
God has been so faithful, not only to provide for our needs, but to do so in unexpected ways that teach us and bless us. We prayed for 15 coaching clients to start September, but the first week came and I had half of what I hoped. So we prayed, and God provided... more lightsaber work. For those of you who don’t know I design and build expensive custom lightsabers – now as a part time job... a job I really love.
Genesis Custom Sabers
As it turns out, this lightsaber work is answering our prayers from the previous post. Miracle numbers one and two (1. Time to have my soul restored, and 2. Work that is refilling, allows me to coach, and pays the bills). This is God’s way of providing for our material needs and spiritual ones. Money is still tight, but we no longer carry the fear that we did only a few weeks ago. Jaime and I are more comfortable with the fact that money will be uncertain each month from now on, and that is OK. It’s part of the faith journey that God has invited us to take with Him. He continually blesses and inspires us through the people who believe in our vision, and have put that into action by giving us gifts, apples, Save-on-Foods cards etc.
I have 8 coaching clients now, and a few really good opportunities ahead. I love being a coach, and I want to be the most skilful, anointed coach I can be. Actually, come to think of it... I can honestly say that I love my life (all of it), for the first time in quite a few years.

Monday, July 12, 2010

3 miracles

Jaime and I are grateful for the number of people who are genuinely interested in our faith journey over this next season of life. So I will do my best to keep this blog updated with posts design to inform you who are praying for us.
Seeing as we feel like this is the biggest leap of faith we have ever taken (quitting my job with no plan), it seems reasonable to pray with big and desperate faith. So Jaime and I have made a miracle list that we have posted on our fridge. Essentially these are 3 things that are impossible to accomplish on our own, 3 things that would be huge helps in our new life. They are as follows.

Miracle #1... Time to rest.
I feel drained, Jaime sees it. I need time for God to “restore my soul”. We have provision for the month of August, but we’re praying that God can miraculously give me a few more weeks off without fear of not paying the mortgage. Like I said, not something we can accomplish on our own.

Miracle #2... Perfect work
As of September 1, we have no income. Last time I checked, we still have a mortgage and 3 mouths to feed. I am under no illusion that my coaching practice will be able to provide for all this right out of the gate. Even with a full client load (which would be a miracle) I’m not charging enough for it to pay all the bills. So I will need some kind of work. Here are the “impossible” things we are praying for that make this nebulous work a miracle;
a. Work that allows me to pursue coaching with all my energy.
b. Work that pays ALL the bills
c. Work that is energizing, not draining.

Miracle #3... Certification
I am a fully trained coach. But I am not yet an internationally certified coach. Becoming certified with the International Coaching Federation would allow me to charge twice what I am presently asking. There is a 6 month program that I would dearly love to start, which would have me certified in 6 months time. This intense program of learning, supervision, and practice would help me be a much better coach. It costs $5000.

I know that there are a lot of good people suffering financially right now. People who would look at these miracles and think they are a dream. Why do Jaime and I deserve these things from God? Simple – we don’t! But His word tells us that we often do not have, because we do not ask Him. Jesus encouraged us to have faith like a child – so we ask. If God does not provide any of these miracles we will still trust, love and follow Him wholeheartedly. But what if He does? That would be so sweet!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life change

Deciding to resign from my position, more than that – to leave pastoral ministry is a pretty big deal for me. It has not been a quick decision, in some respects it has been years in the making. It is as much about where I am going as it is about what I am leaving behind.

I have never been one who believed that I was “called” to be a pastor. I’m not sure anyone really is. Rather, I believe that we are all called to be who God made us each to be. For me that means I am called to be a discipler, a teacher, an artist, a coach. For 15 years, pastoring youth and young adults has been the most logical way for me to BE my calling to the fullest. I am now in the season of discovering that there are better ways to be who I am called to be. God has made this clear to me in two main ways.
The first way is through what is commonly called “burnout”. Over the last 15 years of ministry I have periodically come to a place in life where I feel so drained emotionally that I cannot continue. Fortunately, I have had the help to recognize this before I reached a serious breakdown. In my case this does not happen as a result of over working or long hours, but it’s the emotional drain of life as a pastor that gets me. Imagine a gas tank inside each of us – filled with emotional energy. There are things in life the supply energy, and things that drain energy. If my “tank” is slowly being drained more than it is being filled – I will eventually fall into crisis, depression, and other bad stuff. As I am reaching this crisis point for the 3rd time in 15 years, I am learning that I am unable to continue in this work. I can’t find a way to do the work of pastoral ministry in a way that is sustainable. If there was a perfect job for me to find a way... this job would have been it. It’s not that there is anything wrong with WECA (my church), and I do really love the people I get to work with in facechurch. I just KNOW that I am done now, it’s time for a new leader to take my place here. It’s taken some doing for God to break through my thick skull to tell me that this is OK. It does not mean I have failed – it means I have discovered what God wanted to show me. That there is a better way to be the man He created me to be – my calling.
This leads me to the second way God has spoken to me. I have discovered that I am born to be a coach. A professional coach is kind of like a counsellor, but different in their approach. A coach is trained in creating a dynamic relationship with the client, in order to help them discover their own insights and answers. A coach is the not expert, does not offer a diagnosis, or even advice. Rather, a coach asks questions, discerns truths, and challenges assumptions in a way that makes the client more able to see clearly, and be honest with themself. Often this is a much more dramatic way for a person to discover who they are, and what they want to do about it. Up until last year the only job that allowed me to do what I’m called to do for a living, was being a pastor in a church. Now I have discovered that professional coaching is an even better fit. As I look back, I clearly see that I have been “coaching” as a pastor the whole time. It has been the most energizing part of my job. Unfortunately it has only been part of my job. I have been coaching people all these years without being trained, until now. Last year Jaime and I invested in my training, by way of an extensive coaching training course. Through that course I came to realize that this work is why God put me on the earth! (If you’d like that same kind of certainty in your life I have two pieces of advice; 1. Get to know your creator, 2. Get a coach!)
It’s true that it would make more sense to continue in my job and learn coaching on the side. But God’s will does not always make sense. After much prayer, Jaime and I feel very strongly that the time to step down has come. I do not have any illusions that I can coach full time right away, so I expect that I will have to get some kind of part time job. I have no idea how we are going to pay the mortgage and buy groceries, but we have faith that God has a way (I really wish he would just tell us). This is the biggest faith leap of our lives, but somewhere deep inside we both know that it’s supposed to be. It’s amazing to watch my son. He is just over a year old and to him – nothing has changed. Mom and Dad still love him, and life is great. Jaime and I are trying to take a lesson from Tristan. Because our Father in heaven still loves us in a way we can’t comprehend, nothing has changed, and in this light, life is truly great.

Monday, June 14, 2010


The following are some thoughts, and some questions that have arisen from my musing on the subjects of dreams, and God’s design. Rather than write a chapter about is (It would be hard to beat chapter 3 from Crazy Love by Francis Chan), I will just post these thoughts and questions for your own consideration. My hope and prayer is that God will spark something deep in your soul when you read a particular thought. If that happens – I suggest taking some time to pray and meditate on it. What might God have for you there?

Psalm 37: 4 tells us “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Considering that the concept of “heart” at the time this was written meant more than emotions, it referred to the very core of your being... ask yourself;

- What does the deepest part of me long for?... the “me” He designed and custom built!
- He built your heart to long for specific things – do you even know what those things are?
- God wants to fulfil THOSE desires – in perfect harmony with His greater purpose for others – for His glory (to make him revealed as AMAZING)

Interesting to note:
- You cannot give yourself the desires of your heart
- The deepest longings of your heart have little to do with comfort, or with material things

Is this where dreams are found?

In Genesis 37, we find the story of Joseph, a very familiar story for many of us. What do you notice when you read the beginning of this story?

- Did you notice in verses 3- 4, how Joseph had the favour and love of his father? The other brothers did not.

I wonder if there is a connection between the father’s
love, and the ability to dream.

- If I could grasp more fully my Father God’s amazing love for me, would it unlock an ability to dream, and to desire... an ability which I do not presently have?
- I can tell you that I want my son to know my love so deeply in his bones, that it gives him a security to be himself. I hope that my love for him unlocks his ability to desire great things and to dream big... is our Father God any different?

Re-examine your relationship with God right now...
- Do you KNOW deep in your bones – that God, your father loves you?
- Or do you say you know it – but live as if He is disappointed in you... tired of you?
- Would accepting this love (really believing it) - open you up to dream?

Consider Ephesians 3: 14-21. Rob’s paraphrase of this passage is as follows...
- Know God’s love
- Dream big

It appears that there is some connection, between the father’s love, and the ability to dream. Doesn’t that make you want to explore God’s love for you a little more?

I dare you!
Go find a few coloured pencil crayons and some paper... and write a “Dear Daddy” letter to God. Do it as if you were nine years old again. Why? Ask yourself;
“at what age did I stop dreaming?”
Write or draw from the deepest desires of your heart! What is the worst that could happen? You loving Father could say; “my child, those are not really the desires I made you for. You are dreaming too small – let me show you what the heart I made inside you REALLY wants...”

And that is the worst that could happen if you do this!!! I wonder what the best thing could be?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hey, that’s my roof!

In Mark chapter 2 we read a story of this dude who has been paralyzed and lives his life lying on a mat. The story tells of these other dudes, his friends, who hear that Jesus is in town, you know, the guy who they say can heal people of anything. So the friends go pick up their paralyzed buddy, and head off to see Jesus. When they arrive, they discover that there is no way to get through the crowd outside, let alone get into the house to see the great prophet (or even maybe the messiah). What do you suppose these friends do? Call it a day and head out for a hummus latte? Nope, they fight through the crowd and get right up to the house, towing their paralyzed friend with them. Then they climb up on top of the house (still dragging their friend), at the very least giving the crowd something to look at. Next they actually start taking apart the roof of the house (imagine that was your house), and they lower their paralyzed friend inside, mat and all, THUMP! Right at Jesus feet!
Not for Jesus. He forgives the paralyzed man of sin (perhaps for the benefit of those stiffs who thought that he must be paralyzed because of some great sin) then Jesus heals him, and he picks up his mat and walks out, to rejoin his friends who are right now escaping from the roof. The ones who would do anything to get their buddy in need - to the feet of Jesus.

What kind of friend does that?

Would you like to have such friends as these? Would you like to be a friend like that? What if I suggested to you that it is your God given destiny to be that kind of friend?