What are you about?

It's a simple question really, although one that might be difficult to answer:  What are you about?  What defines you?  What is unique about you?  What makes you who you are?

Jamie asked this question of herself on her blog, which got me thinking about what I'm about.

I'm about Jesus, and I'm about helping others follow him.

I'm about my wife.

I'm about the Church and more specifically my church.

I'm about community.

I'm about cities. I live in DC, and my last three trips have been to Seattle, New York City, and Addis Ababa.

I'm about food. I especially love Chicago pizza, hot dogs and beef sandwiches, and if you grill meat I'll like it.

I'm about leadership, learning to lead myself and others well.

I'm about too much TV.

I'm about receiving grace and trying to get better at giving it.

I'm about reading and writing.

I'm about social media.

I'm about driving.

I'm about generosity.

I'm about being stressed and agitated but trying to change that.

I'm about my friends.

I'm about Sabbath.

I'm about poker.

I'm about competition and winning.

I'm about thinking and challenging and stretching my mind (and yours).

I'm about serving the vulnerable, because that's what Jesus is about.

I'm about integrity.

I'm trying to be about joy and intentionality.

I'm about theology.

I'm becoming about artistic expression and travel.

I used to be about politics.

I'm about exercise (sometimes).

What are you about?  Leave a comment below or better yet, write your own post and link back to mine.  I'll be sure to swing by your blog and check it out.

Photo by Flickr User gfpeck

A Rhythm of Rest

August 12-September 17 Task List
  • Lead mission trip
  • Launch fall small groups
  • Film three leadership training videos
  • Train new Protege

...it's been a long few weeks.

Fortunately, Rachel and I have nine days away from it all in sunny Seattle.  I'm looking forward to a lot of reading, writing, and caffeination.

On tap are a tour of Starbucks headquarters, the troll and the Lenin Statue in Fremont, perhaps a couple of days in nature, a visit to the Space Needle, and did I mention lots reading and writing in coffeeshops?

Not on tap? Checking my work e-mail.

The last few weeks and months are teaching me some important lessons.

There are no "slow" seasons in ministry, only busy seasons and busier seasons, and I know that's a problem not limited to pastors: entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and many others face the same struggle.

If I, or anyone else with a demanding role, is going to last—to live, love, and lead for a long time—it's going to take a concerted effort to keep a sustainable rhythm.

Notice that I didn't say a sustainable pace.  It's not about making sure you only work 48.5 hours per week every week.  Some weeks will be sixty or seventy hours.  There will be busy days, busy weeks, busy seasons, but don't fool yourself into thinking that every day, every week, every season can be like that.

I suppose there may be a few notable exceptions, a few people who can go and go and go day after day after day, but for the vast majority of us...

  1. We need to balance our periods of intense activity with real rest,
    and
  2. We need to avoid taking on more than necessary during our already busy times.

I could have done a much better job with both of these this year.

I have taken very little down time, very little time to rest.  There's a reason I still have 5+ weeks of vacation this late in the year... I haven't taken any.

And during two of my busy months, May and August, I managed to pile on a lot of extra work, like 30-40 hours of study for an intensive small group and an eight day mission trip.

Without a sustainable rhythm, we're setting ourselves up for burnout or worse, a crash that sets us back years.

Do you have a sustainable rhythm?

When are you resting?

What do you need to change so that you can last a long time?

Photo Credit: Nova77

Video of Me in a Human Gyroscope

This weekend I’m in Nebraska for my wife’s family reunion.  Yesterday we visited the Strategic Air and Space Museum.  For $5 they offer guests the opportunity to experience a multi-axis trainer, otherwise known as a human gyroscope.

Apparently, this is similar to the training that astronauts undertake to prepare for a tumbling re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.  By the end of the experience, let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling the greatest…

Without further ado, here I am:
Will, the Human Gyroscope

Why You Should Join a Small Group

Stories like this are why you should join a small group.

Huge thanks to Andy Pisciotti for filming and editing this inside of a crazy 36 hours.  Thanks to Leo, Edgar, Jessica, Mel, Bianca, Mark, Ashtan, and Tara for sharing their stories.  And of course, thank you to my lovely wife Rachel for letting nine people and video equipment invade our house on a random Tuesday night.

The Trip Begins – Day 1 Part 1

After getting to the hotel and orienting for a few minutes, we jumped in the vans and headed to Beza’s ministry compound near Entoto Mountain. (I know “compound” sounds militaristic, but they’re fairly standard here.) Entoto Mountain is home to a community of around 5,000 people suffering from HIV/AIDS, and the compound is home to the Entoto Project, a ministry to the community on Entoto Mountain. We had the chance to look around their new facilities, and we met the Entoto Project team. They are a group of amazing individuals. They are all young and their ranks include former teachers, a law school graduate, students, and a former resident of Entoto Mountain. The story of how the Entoto Project came to be is an amazing one that I hope to share at some point.

After some time to talk, lunch, and some more briefing we headed up the mountain. We split into two teams, one to play soccer with the kids and another to visit the homes of several residents who participate in the Entoto Project. The second team further divided into groups of three or four (including a translator). Jessie Webb, Rachel, and myself, along with Eden (pronounced Aiden), an Entoto Project staff member and our translator, visited with a woman named Sara (name changed for privacy reasons). It was an amazing experience, but that is a story for another post.

Jury Duty In Increasing Demand

From the Washington Chronicler:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the economy in decline, an unlikely trend is emerging. Jury candidates nationwide are actually seeking to become jurors. Attorneys and judges report that prospective jurors are giving all the “right” answers to the lawyers’ questions.

Payments to jurors differ by region, but the average daily stipend is $30 plus travel expenses. Shawna Patterson, a potential juror, was delighted at the prospect of jury duty. Out of work for six months, Ms. Patterson, 37, said that “Some work is better than no work at all. The pay may not be good, but at least it’s something to do during the day.”

Still, not all jurors are so pleased. One juror, a well-paid doctor who preferred not to be identified, bemoaned the loss of nearly $5000 in billing as a result of jury duty.

While it may not be for everyone, some are finding meaning and a bit of income in a task approached with dread in previous years.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I made that last article up, a bit of recession humor. I also made up “The Washington Chronicler.” I got the idea from the back of Dave Barry’s “Dave Barry Slept Here,” a parody of American history, specifically the quote “the Sixth Amendment states that if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial before a jury of people too stupid to get out of jury duty.”

Perhaps the most ironic part of this all is that I came up with the idea for this post on Saturday night. Later that night, Rachel got the mail and brought me my first jury duty summons.

1 Down, 11 to Go

One of the most important things to do when you set goals is to define points at which you look back and reflect on your accomplishment of/progress made on the goals. For my New Year’s resolutions, my first such evaluation point was set for one month. (Yes, yes, I’m a couple weeks late). So, how am I doing so far?

Spiritual Goals

  • Pray/Read through Morning Prayer service every morning during January.
    Other than one day when I was traveling and had forgotten to print off the service the day before, I accomplished this goal.
  • Fasting once/month (through March) plus once for Leadership Retreat.
    So far so good
  • Scripture Memorization
    No progress made.
  • Reading through Bible with Rachel
    No progress made.
  • Reading through New Testament
    Progress is slow but being made.
  • Intentionality with accountability partner.
    Trying, but still working on it.

Physical Goals

  • Eat Reasonably
    Little Progress
  • Run 2x per week
    I’ve been running 3 or 4 times this year.

Intellectual Goals

  • Book Reading
    Little progress made, some books changed out for others

Relational Goals

  • Rachel
    I have been more intentional about our relationship, and I think it has made a difference.
  • Others
    I’ve been busy, and some relationships have been put on the back burner. I need to work on these a lot in the coming months. I wouldn’t say I’ve failed at most of these, just that I need to put some extra effort in to them.

Stop Doing

  • Limit TV to 15 hours/week
    While I was failing at this initially, I’ve been so busy in recent weeks that I haven’t had time to watch more than 15 hours of TV per week.

Why did I write all of this? You probably don’t need to read it, but you probably do need to take a look at the goals you’ve set and your progress. If you don’t have any goals, you should probably think about setting some. You accomplish more when you’re working for something.

How do I feel about my progress? Well, pretty good actually. While I certainly haven’t nailed everything, I feel that I’ve made good progress on the goals that are most important to me (the spiritual and marital ones).

What are your goals, and how are you doing?

Valentine’s Day in the Nation’s Capitol

Today Rachel and I ate cinnamon rolls and photographed a blue jay before heading out on our bike tour of the mall. Our intended destination was the newly renovated American History Museum. We were (read: Rachel was) especially interested in seeing the Lincoln exhibit. (She has a strange attraction to his top hat.) This weekend would be his 200th birthday, should he have managed to live that long. After we were done there we went down the Mall to the Vietnam War Memorial and then up to the Lincoln Memorial (where we saw some dudes in fancy costumes) before heading back home. Tonight scallops, pasta, cheesecake, and (I’m hoping) a game of Settlers of Catan are all on the menu. My Valentine’s Day present was a copy of the latest Settlers expansion, Traders and Barbarians. (I know even though I haven’t opened it yet.)

Anyway, here are a few pics from the day:
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Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day I’m trying to save a little money, so I got creative with my gift. Rachel and I have been in our apartment for just over two years now, and we’ve never really hung many photos or pieces of art. So, here’s my gift to Rachel:
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What are your thoughts on the Inauguration?

Here are some of my thoughts:

What are yours?