Anger

Step 1: Realize Jesus doesn’t want to help you manage your anger.

Jesus is not interested in helping you manage your anger.

Jesus is aiming much higher and diving much deeper.

He doesn’t want you to learn to control your temper. He is going to get you to a place where there is no temper left to control.

His way is not anger management. It is about having no anger left to manage.

He says:

“Unless your righteousness surpasses the righteousness that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

This is a teaching not about self control, but about becoming the kind of self who doesn’t need to be controlled.

The Pharisee is an ancient example of the kind of person we all know, and maybe know best when we look in the mirror.

The Pharisee is the person who has the willpower to not do bad things no matter how they feel inside. Cut a Pharisee off in traffic and they wont give you the finger. Check the criminal record of a Pharisee and you might find a parking ticket at best. Look at the Pharisees Instagram account and you’ll see some bible verses and a smiling wife. Their Google filter is set for the safest setting. It will all look fine.

But hang around a Pharisee for awhile and it soon wont feel so fine. There is something bubbling beneath the surface. It might come out as a prayer request for someone who is having an affair but you swear the Pharisee is more gleeful than concerned about the situation; maybe even envious.

Behind their pious veneer is a heart which would have an affair if they could get away with it – but they are stuck being a Christian. The discerning can, when in the presence of a Pharisee, begin to notice envy, contempt, lust, fear, and anger all bubbling beneath the surface.

It is the terrible fate of the Pharisee to have a life where they can never do what their heart truly desires to do. They are kept from fulfilling the desires of their heart by the constraints of their religion.

“If I wasn’t a Christian I’d head over there and shut him up for good.”

“If I wasn’t a (married) Christian I’d be able to just leave her and no one would blame me.”

“If I wasn’t a (tithing) Christian I’d be able to afford a nicer car too.”

Clearly, not all the Pharisees are dead.

It is a terrible to have the heart of a sinner stuck in the body of a saint, but this is not your fate. The Kingdom of Heaven is, at least in part, the state of mind and heart where your desires align with the desires of King Jesus and you can act on them freely. What you actually want is so good and life giving you are free to do whatever you want.

Your very heart has been transformed. This is what it means to “surpass the righteousness of the Pharisee.”

Jesus is not offering a way to control your sinful heart. He is going to give you a new heart. He is offering a self which doesn’t have to be controlled. It can be let off the leash. It can be trusted because if it gets what it’s heart desires no one gets hurt and everyone is blessed.

Jesus isn’t interested in helping you manage your anger.

He wants to take you to a place where there is no anger left to manage.

Anger, Leadership, Parenting, Pastoring, Sermons

6 Infuriating Steps For Defeating Anger.

I was angry, but now I’m not.

When I share my story of victory over anger, people are always curious to hear how it happened.

Actually, “curious” is the wrong word, “desperate” is more accurate.

Accurate because people know anger is about to cost them the most precious things in their lives and they are desperate to avoid loss. Or, they realize they will never get those precious things only available to people who are not ticking time bombs or quietly grinding their teeth 24/7.

Desperation is appropriate. Anger needs to go, and it needs to go soon, because you only get so many chances before it costs you everything.

Fourteen years ago, I remember being absolutely livid because Tamara was taking a long time getting out to the car with our 4 month old baby. I was honking the horn, huffing and puffing so much the windows were fogging up. When they did get settled in the car I slammed it into reverse and shot out of the driveway at warp speed – right over the snowbank on the other side of the road. I swore, shot her a dirty look, and said “See what you did?”

The rest of the Sunday morning drive to church was relatively uneventful.

The insanity continued for 5 more years. Then, Tamara gave an ultimatum. I needed to stop being angry or I would lose some very precious things. I could tell she meant it and that was the day I got desperate enough to get serious about anger.

I was serious about beating anger, but didn’t know how. Now I do and I want to share it with you. So, I’ve taken my story and re-worked it here into 6 steps for removing anger from your life.

Because it doesn’t have to be ruining your life.

Listen, I know what life is like when the next five minutes are going to be dangerous because of what is welling up inside of you.

I know how it feels to ruin a weekend getaway with one angry word.

I know how it feels to be really tired of making people you love cry.

I know how it feels to see the person in front of you shrink way from you.

I know how it feels to embarrass yourself in public.

I know how it feels to be incapable of enjoying what you have because anger numbs every one of your senses.

Thank God, I also know how it feels when none of that happens anymore.

And you can too.

Come back next week for Step 1.

Leadership, Parenting

The reason you are tired.

Would you rather be a good father, mother, pastor, lawyer, friend, employee, boss, farmer, etc but have everyone think you were a terrible father, mother, pastor, lawyer, friend, employee, boss, farmer, etc?

Or

Would you rather be seen as being a good father, mother, pastor, friend, employee, boss, farmer, etc but actually, in reality, be a terrible father, mother, pastor, friend, employee, boss, farmer, etc?

Which is more important to you?

To actually be?

or

To be seen as such?

Nassim Taleb says the question is as ancient as Cicero and Machiavelli, but I can’t imagine a more relevant one.

For you, because you are tired and might not know it is because of the tremendous energy it takes to be seen certain way instead of just be.

And specifically for pastor’s, who wonder why they have ended up with a career as opposed to a ministry; a church as opposed to a niche.

Leadership

Sexy Lexy burns premium like you burn appreciation.

Last night was PAC’s 4th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet and I was drawing a blank for how to creatively offer words of appreciation.

  • Years 1 and 2, I took a bunch of real-life anecdotes and wove them into a fictional story about the journey of a new family to PAC and how their lives changed over the years thanks to our volunteers.
  • Year 3, I read letters from “Future PAC” to “2017 PAC”  to try to show how the faithful service of our volunteers leads to large-scale transformation over time.
  • Also Year 3, I belted out “Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show while the cheesecake was being handed out.

The stories and letters were appreciated – mixed reviews for the song. Thumbs down from my daughter and wife. Thumbs up from everyone else. An aspiring 70’s rock vocalist is not without honor except in his own home.

This year I decided to use the pastors of the Bible as mentors and ask:

“How would James, Peter, Paul, and John encourage their churches?”

Turns out, none of these four pastors would be on your shortlist as guest speakers to invite to your volunteer appreciation banquet. They rarely encourage their congregations about specific behaviors. There are a few places, but for every word of affirmation, there are pages of correction. Not really the sort of vibe we have at our banquet which is really more of the “no correction, all appreciation” genre.

Now, they are smart guys. They led churches. They know how important morale is and that stuff needs to get done. Why the absence of cheerleading?

My thinking is they understand sustainable ministry requires better fuel than appreciation. If you are running on appreciation you’ll find you burn through it faster than a 2000 Lexus 470 burns through premium fuel (painfully fast) and your tank will generally feel empty and your wife will wonder why we even bother keeping Sexy Lexy on the road.

This is true of volunteers. This is true of pastors.

This is why James, Paul, John, and Peter didn’t focus their attention on affirming specific behaviors and focused their encouragement elsewhere.

They coached behavior, they affirmed identity.

Some quick examples:

  • “You love because God first loved you.” – John
  • “You are a firstfruit of all creation.” – James
  • “You were rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.” – Paul
  • “Nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Paul

If you know you are a child of God, the right behaviors will simply flow because the hearts of sons and daughters are naturally poised to do the work close to the Father’s heart.  Your heart cherishes and longs for the same things as the Father and so you serve.  You don’t need cheesecake, encouraging emails, pats on the back, and renditions of “Sylvia’s Mother” to keep you going. And if you do get them – as nice and deserved as they may be – they won’t be enough to keep you going.

John, James, Peter, and Paul might not be the best examples of how to pump up the parking team with the eternal significance of their contribution to the mission but they do clarify the truth that sustainable ministry doesn’t come from consistently pumping up the troops with hype. But rather, from a rhythmic re-enforcement of exactly who the troops are in Christ.

What’s nice about this is a pastor wanting to encourage doesn’t necessarily have to be a gifted visionary or salesman and figure out how to add deep mission significance to every action or explain how personal fulfillment is connected with volunteer service. Those are helpful skills maybe, but not the ones we see on display from John, James, Peter, and Paul.

We see them focus on identity.

 

 

 

 

Podcast, Portage on Purpose

Portage on Purpose Episode #1: Chris Tompkins.

Episode #1: Portage Clinic COO Chris Tompkins on humility, insecurity, potatoes, and rec. hockey glory.

Click link to listen and click one of the share buttons below to help spread the word.

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Next month episode features Portage Regional Economic Director Vern May.

 

Sabbatical Sessions

Judge Not Lest Ye Become A Paranoid Mess.

Our brilliant Jesus tells us to not judge or else we will be judged.

And so we imagine, somewhere down the road,  a robed figure with a gavel assessing our life and giving the verdict.

Somewhere down the road……..we miss the NOW.

We miss the truth that no one ever gets away with anything.

To use James K Smith’s words:

“What you do does something to you.” 

It may not be visible initially, but given enough time and the person who judges will take the judgment into themselves. At that point, they cease to be merely a judgemental person who occasionally chooses black and white from the full spectrum of colors. They have become “judge”; only capable of seeing black and white. Judge not, lest ye become judgified….

Life gets pretty dang small right about then because it is no longer something to be lived, it is something to be evaluated and compared.

And that is not all.

With judgment present everywhere inside of you, you now believe it is present just as thoroughly everywhere. What started out as a character flaw has become “just how it is”.  You exist in an atmosphere of judgment.

Everyone is talking about you.

Everyone is evaluating you.

Everyone is judging you.

You become very, very, paranoid.

So listen to Jesus. Don’t judge!

Not just because He is always right, but because to not listen to Him is to inject poison into your veins.

As E. Stanley Jones says:

“We don’t break God’s laws, we break ourselves on them.” 

Sabbatical Sessions

Sabbatical Sessions #3: Short Shifts.

Shifts in pro-hockey are about 45 seconds. Lactic acid builds up and eventually shuts your body shuts down.  Generally, the higher the level of hockey – the shorter the shifts required. Out there too long and you will get burned.

It is true even if your last name is McDavid.

It is especially true if your last name is Byfuglien.

Life is like that too. If you are really really tired it won’t matter:

  • How good you are at holding your tongue.
  • How good you are at avoiding temptation.
  • How good you are at having a positive attitude.
  • How good of a leader you are.
  • How good a teacher you are.
  • How patient parent you are.
  • How understanding a spouse you are.

If you are tired, something starts unraveling.

So go get some sleep.