Think Seasons, Not Sessions

Making Sense of Hurt

When I think of pain, I think of an accident I had while ice fishing two years ago. Before I share that story, here’s a principle you may find helpful if you’re hurting right now. When it comes to pain, think seasons, not sessions. Let me explain.


One minute I was warning my buddies how slippery the ice was because there was about 3 inches of water on top of it. The next minute my feet went out on me and I had a complete garage sale in a matter of seconds and was sprawled out on my back wondering if I was still alive! Somehow my buddies were able to keep from laughing while I laid in the water for about a minute like a turtle on its back. All of my gear was sprawled out like cargo from a plane crash. I felt as though I’d just been in one.

Of course I managed to fish the rest of the day, but by the time I hobbled off the ice at the end of the day, I knew something was seriously wrong. A trip to the Emergency room confirmed my diagnosis. Cracked ribs.

No big deal. Until you realize there’s nothing you can do to get comfortable. Whatever you do, you learn not to sneeze. The problem is your ribs heal very slowly because your lungs constantly move them when you breathe. I laid on the couch for about ten days, dreading every movement. Although the acute pain went away after a couple of weeks, it was still difficult to sleep for about ten months and I still experience numbness in my left foot and left leg and back from time to time.

The pain I experienced didn’t go away after a session of fervant prayer. It didn’t go away after a trip to the Emergency Room. It didn’t go away after a couple of weeks on the couch. Why not? Because sessions are never an instant cure. Sure they can add up to healing. But in all honesty, healing takes more than one or two sessions of anything.

In fact, sessions can take the form of the quick cure. Without getting to poetic, lets just say that while many things can be fixed quickly, pain isn’t one of them. Yes, you can medicate and numb it for a while, but it’s still going to come creeping back until it runs its course. So much for the quick cure.

Before you go thinking sessions are bad things, they’re not. Sessions are good things. They can add up to great results and be an all together wonderful experience….healthy ones that is. However, rather than expecting instant results, you’re better off thinking long-term. That’s where seasons come into play.

When you think seasons, think 3 months or longer. For example, while the seasons in the Northeast are usually somewhat predictable and regular, that hasn’t been the case this year. We had about 6 months of Sprinter, earlier in the year. During this time, it wasn’t quite Spring and it wasn’t quite Winter, it was a combination of the two. While you may laugh, seasons in your life can be just as long and unchartable. That’s why it’s so important to think seasons and not sessions. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to quit before real healing takes place.

Which leads us up to this question. Who are you talking with about your pain? Notice I presumed you’re talking with someone. There’s a reason why. The reason is you cannot reach your full potential as a leader unless you have someone to help. You can call them what you want, a teacher, coach, counselor. The point is find someone if you haven’t already. In fact, I’d even be willing to wager that Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel have at least one person to talk to if not more. So what makes you think you can do it on your own?

As a pastor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone want to make a change. Some of them want it so bad, they’re willing to take whatever course of action is necessary to get better. Then, after a short period of time and not attaining the result they want instantly, they drop out of the race and go back to where they started. Usually in worse condition than when they started.

Then there are others. They too follow your advice. However, unlike the drop outs, they persist. After a while, you don’t even have to ask them how they’re doing because you can see the difference in their lives and attitudes. Yes, they still stumble and fall from time to time, but they always get back up and keep running. They are the righteous men and women who though they fall seven times, they persist.

So what are you waiting for? Find someone and get the conversation going about your healing. Ask if they’ll meet with you once a month for six months to a year and start meeting with them. While you’re at it, find a church and a pastor who will love and encourage you. Attend their weekly services and start getting your life back. And remember, when it comes to pain, think seasons and not sessions.


How to Have your Best Vacation Yet!

Or At Least a Better One than Last Year


You’ve worked hard all year, and now it’s time to take a break….the question is, what makes a great vacation? After all, you only have a limited amount of time and you want to make the most of it. We’re glad you asked!


Taking a vacation doesn’t have to be difficult. A vacation can be an amazing part of your year….a time to recharge and make great memories with friends and loved ones.

The problem is, the human experience doesn’t go away just because you have a week’s worth of free time. Let me explain. Just because you have a week off, it doesn’t mean your marriage is going to improve if it’s been on the rocks awhile. This applies to every area, including personal debt, health, spirituality, fitness, etc. It’s great, that you have a week off, but if you’ve let the chickens out during the last year, be sure they’re going to come home and roost!

Maybe by now, you’re not so excited about your upcoming vacation because there are issues you’ll have to deal with. Relax, there’s hope. You can still have a great vacation. In fact, it can still be your best vacation yet. Here are some tips to help. But first, a bit of wisdom.

The scriptures say, “Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest.” Before you get all out of sorts about the slacker bit, think about what the writer in Proverbs 6:6-8 is saying. Although you lack wisdom, it’s yours for the taking if you’ll take time to take ONE small step.

If you’re thinking about stopping for an extended period of time, it MAY do you some good to stop beforehand. Look before you leap. Huge change doesn’t happen over night, it’s a result of lots of baby steps. Ants are tiny, but they are able to do great works over a period of time, by carrying out small, simple tasks on a daily basis. By the way, a slacker is someone who avoids pain. We all get that. Most people prefer comfort and pleasure. Let’s be honest. Those aren’t bad things. Beware: don’t allow yourself to gravitate toward ease and the path of least resistance. It’s easy to stop doing difficult things that will improve not only the quality of your own life, but the life of others.


1) GREAT VACATIONS DON”T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT, SO MAKE A PLAN A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Sit down with a cup of coffee, some paper and a pen. (Yes, paper!). There’s just something about writing things down. Now, write down 5 or 10 things you’d like to do on your vacation. If you’re planning on a stay- cation, still take the time to make a list. The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.

2) DON’T LET A LACK OF FINANCES BE AN ISSUE You’re not taking a break to spend money, you’re taking a vacation to spend TIME. You can have just as much fun at the local public beach as you can in California. Your wish list might include visiting an old friend. Do some gardening, complete an unfinished product, meet with a spiritual mentor, etc. Write down whatever comes to mind, you can always edit later. The list doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on it. At this point, you are brainstorming.

3) PUT YOUR PLAN ON PAPER! You don’t have to stress and work on it for your entire vacation, but you can take an ant step. For instance, if it’s personal debt, plan on taking a book out from the library that will educate you. Plan on meeting or talking with someone who seems to have their financial act together, over coffee. Balance your checkbook. Look at your bills and identify needs and luxuries. You get the idea.

The key is balance! Too much of a good thing can be a not so good thing and this includes vacations. Scrap your fitness routine for a week and you’ll see what I mean. Sleep in every day until noon and you’ll understand. Go on a drinking binge and eat fast food every meal….Ignore your relationships. You get the idea. Disrupting a routine you’ve worked hard to establish will derail your growth and progress.

Congratulations! If you’re about to take a break, you have a wonderful opportunity to experience your best vacation yet! Hot dogs on the grill with some good friends can be just as wonderful- if not more- than an extravagant meal at an expensive restaurant. Besides, that kind of meal won’t take you ten years to pay off!

Whatever you do, if you’ve worked hard all year, be sure to carve out some time to relax and enjoy your loved ones

Regardless of where you are on your journey, rest assured you are loved more than you could ever imagine!  A vacation isn’t the time to beat yourself up because you’re such a crummy person.  You may not feel like it after the year you’ve been through, but rest assured God loves you and wants to spend time with you and your family.  He got you through the year and he’d love to get you to the next level if you’ll only trust him.

What Would You Do If You Had A Month Off?


Basket Weaving or Pottery.  My advisor looked back at me in astonishment.  We were planning my final semester of college and clearly a change was needed.  He asked me if I’d ever thought of studying abroad.  I lept.


It’s easy to forget how much courage or carelessness the walk of faith takes.  There are always good reasons, sound reasons, why you should stay.  The real question is how important are you?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important are you?

Maybe you’re really important.  In fact, so much so that your organization can’t run without you.  You reason that if you were to take a month off, everything would be in shambles when you returned.  You may be right.  Or, you may find you were wrong.

Yes, my decision to study in England for six months was made out of desperation, but it was also probably the best decision I ever made.  The town where the University was located was surrounded by a Roman wall that was built so that horses and chariots could ride UPON it!  Amazing people with funny accents lived there.  I discovered Sausage Rolls and the English baste all of their cakes and pies in Vanilla Custard!  I even met an AMAZING English girl who has been a soulmate ever since as well as the loving mother of three beautiful kids!

It often pays to take a peek over the wall.  If you’re too important to take a month off, you and your organization may just stay right where you are and never experience growth.  While some measure of self-importance is vital, it can be a vine that will completely choke any potential for growth and expansion.  For you as an individual and your organization.

Similarly, believing you aren’t very important is just as deadly.  People who feel they are unimportant miss out.  It’s easy to go through life imagining you are unworthy for greatness.  There is all kinds of evidence to support your belief system.  There is your background, your family, your lack of finances, your social networks, your average job….Did it ever occur to you that you may be more important than you think?

Most of the influential people I know have one thing in common….they see themselves as neither too important or unimportant.  Said another way, leaders are careful not to overestimate or underestimate their worth.

Until you have a healthy estimate of your value, you will miss out on tremendous opportunities to thrive and grow.

So which is it for you.  Is there a next step you need to take, but you feel like it will sabotage all that you’ve built up and accumulated over the years?  Or, are you waiting for someone to come along and give you permission to take the next step?

Here’s the bad news.  Nobody is coming.  The good news is you can go!

God gave us an awesome poem to remind us of his provision.  It’s found in Psalm 124.  The just of it is there were many threats to Israel’s well being throughout history- both real and imagined.  But the writer of the poem concludes, “God’s strong name is our help, the same God who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8, The Message).  How awesome is that?  Pure goosebumps.

Regardless of how important you feel you are, God wants you to know that he loves you and he’s got your back!  He’s the same one who made heaven and earth.  Imagine what he has in store for you as you step out in faith.

It’s been said that a Lion leading a flock of sheep will conquer a Sheep leading a pack of Lions.  So what message are you sending your followers?  Do they see you as someone who has great confidence in God or someone who is quaking in your shoes?

To recap, maybe a month off to rest and recalibrate isn’t in your immediate future.  That’s o.k.  However, what would it hurt to start planning a month off next year?  Once you have that goal in mind, you can begin to plan the steps necessary to make it happen.

The idea that you were made for more isn’t just a daydream or a figment of your imagination.  Part of growing up involves moving out with the ever expanding circles if you are going to be all God has made you to be.  So don’t be afraid.  Stepping away from the wheel for awhile may feel counter productive, but it’s the only way if you’re going to mature as a leader and a human being.  You’re not serving a charlatan, but a God who loves you and wants to take you further than you could ever imagine.  However, often the only way to get there is to trust him and embrace an experience that few leaders have the courage to experience.

England was more than just six months of my life.  It’s an experience I reflect upon quite often.  The ways it changed my course and destiny are mind boggling.  So what adventure is calling you away from the shore?  You’re not going to get to London by thinking about not going to Los Angeles.  Determine your destination.  Devise a strategy and set your sail!

“The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God.  So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11, The Message).


What Would You Do If You Had A Month Off?

A Powerful Question Worth Asking Yourself (Part I)


What if you had an entire month off from your regular duties?  Sounds wonderful, right?  But what would you do if you had so much time on your hands?

Thanks to an amazing church and an even more amazing God, I’m taking a sabbatical this month.  This all came about after following the example of a very good friend and mentor who’s been doing this for a couple of years now.  It’s been amazing!!!!

But what would you do if you were in such a position?  Would you go to the beach?  Follow your favorite band?  Go camping?  Sleep in until noon everyday?

By now you’re probably trying to figure out how to take a sabbatical yourself, or punching your computer screen :-).  While this is all new to me and I haven’t thoroughly researched it, here is a question that is shaping the way I’ve been spending my time.


That’s it, end of post, caput, we’re done, have a great week.  Just kidding.

When it seems like we have all of the time in the world, we can make the mistake of thinking any road will get us to our destination.  You know the adage, ‘All roads lead to Rome’.  That may be true if you have all the time in the world, however, even a Honey Bee knows the shortest distance between two points is a straight line

Lets face it, it’s easy to lose your bearings, especially if you have no compass to help you get back on track.  I learned that when hunting in the Adirondacks about ten years back.  An enjoyable traipse in the woods turned into aimless wandering in a Cedar swamp.  Every way looked right!  Needless to say, I’m glad I finally got my bearings after an hour or so.  Otherwise, it would have been a cold, dark night.  The same principle applies in decision making.  Without a compass, you may be doomed.  That’s the reason ‘why’ is such a good question.

For example, if you take a month off and have lots of free time, ‘why?’ is a powerful question to help figure out the way you structure your time.  It becomes a filter through which you funnel all of your decisions.  Otherwise, if you intend to go nowhere, you’ll get there every time.

So, if you take a month off, with the goal of resting, here’s how it works.  Rather than focusing on ‘what’ you plan to do, ask yourself ‘why’ you’re going to do it.  Is volunteering for a week going to help you achieve your goal of rest?  In some cases, yes!  Volunteerism is a beautiful thing.  However, in some cases, no.  Especially if you volunteer actively throughout the year.

Here’s another example.  You decide to take a month off to reconnect with old friends.  Great idea!  However, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, don’t wait to ask yourself ‘why?’.

When you ask ‘why?’, you’re forced to examine your motives.  If you’re not careful, you can even find yourself doing a lot of good things, for the wrong reason.  Good things aren’t bad, but they can keep you from reaching your goals and accomplishing your dreams.  Especially when you have such a limited amount of time.

For example, maybe you’re thinking about going back to school.  Great!  But why?  What’s driving you to do it.  Are you looking to become all that you can be or is it just going to be another feather in your cap?  Imagine spending years doing something that was never a good decision to begin with.  Nobody wants to be the guy running toward the wrong end zone with the football.

By now you can see the reason ‘why?’ is such a powerful question.  ‘Why?’ has the power to help you cut through the fog, guilt and confusion.  I’ll tell you right now, if you decide to take an extended time off, there is going to be resistance in some shape or form!  Someone is not going to understand why you’re doing it or see the benefits of your choice.  Remembering why you chose to do so, will keep you on course, especially when you feel like people are talking behind your back or plotting your demise.

Switching gears, maybe an extended period of time off isn’t possible right now.  Don’t fret.  You may not have the luxury, but you can still carve out time to move forward and rest.  ‘Why?’ will help you do that.  For example, there’s an opportunity to work overtime.  Before you commit, you know what to do.  Ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Or your friends invite you to a get together.  ‘Why’ will help you choose what’s best for you.  Life’s too short to always do what’s expected of you socially.  In fact, Jesus had a church member die and he didn’t even call the family or send a text for three days!!!  Although I wouldn’t recommend doing that, it goes do show that Jesus paid very little attention to social norms.

While your at it, have fun and don’t feel guilty about it if your conduct is a reflection of good character.  I like how Eugene Peterson says it, “Take on an entirely new way of life- a God-fashioned life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you”.  Ephesians 4:24 (MSG).

So go ahead and take the class.  Read the book.  Call the friend.  Visit the beach.  You’re in charge of your own time.  If those activities are going to help you reach the goal you’ve set, go for it!  Just be sure to  decide ahead of time what your reason for taking the time off is, and act accordingly.  Don’t be like me and end up in a Cedar swamp trying to figure out how you’re going to get home safely!

When did you last take time to reflect and determine the true motives behind your actions?

Stay tuned for part II!