We all have a little bit of understanding of what it means to live vicariously through someone else. Some sports fans live and die with the wins and losses of their favorite team. In my neck of the woods, grown men have their whole weeks wrecked by our beloved Razorbacks. And most parents will be quick to admit that they live (at lease a little bit) through the exploits of their children. Case and point: Facebook. I have a shirt that I stole from my wife that says, “My Son Plays – I Brag”. And to be honest it doesn’t matter what they do, we love to be part of their experience and call it our own. We call that vicarious living. But have you ever considered vicarious giving?
My dad calls it a flesh break. I call it the tirades of a crazy man. The Lord calls it sin. I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth. Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside. And there is no doubt that He heard me to my chagrin. It has been a long time since I had been that upset. Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward. That is till the other night when I hit the wall: the financial stress wall. The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out. Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hit the emotional wall. Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my mom who must have had the patience of Job. But, ever so often she would lose it. Not like I did but she would have to collect herself and work through her emotions. Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself. But how do you do that? Continue reading “Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times”
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now but when I was a kid I used to be pretty fast. I was not blazing by any stretch, but I ran a respectable quarter mile (54.5 was my best time). The quarter mile is the race that separates the men from the boys. One time around the track as fast as your little legs would carry you. It tests a lot of things but especially your will power. The first part of the race is navigating the opening curve. Your legs are fresh and your adrenaline is pumping so it’s pretty easy. The backstretch is pretty boring and even though you are not tired there is a temptation to step off the track in the and walk straight out to the bus. By the last curve, you are starting to feel it but there is something about being almost done and the curvature of the track that this part is kind of fun. Then you find yourself staring down the final straightaway. You can finally see the finish line and out of nowhere a 100 pound gorilla jumps on your back. Your legs are burning. Your lungs are exploding. And your mind screams at you to stop. By this phase of the race I used to look down occasionally at my legs to make sure they were still moving. The only thing that moves you forward is the will to finish what you started. The key to managing the will in the quarter mile is to not look at the track, or the crowd or even your own physical capabilities but you must look at the finish line. Continue reading “Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times”
I remember when my son studied about Johnny Appleseed in his first grade history class. Some think that Johnny was a fabled character who embodies the generous spirit of America. But, he was a real person. He was an entrepreneur type who loved his apple trees and made it his mission to plant nurseries of apple trees all over his part of the country. By the time he got through there were apple orchards all over the place. Johnny was a planter. And he spent his time and effort planting seeds that would blossom into trees that would provide sustenance to millions. Our topic today is not about agriculture but is neurological in nature. The question today is what kinds of seeds are you planting in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are consuming your days? There is a battle going on for the mind and it is being lost at the seed level. We are planting the wrong kind of seeds and therefore we are growing the wrong kind of trees. Continue reading “Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times”
Financial stress is not for the faint of heart. Nothing in my life threatens to undo me more than money problems. When things are going my way financially, my spirit is happy-go-lucky. I am generous and even sometimes others-centered. But, let the money get tight and I can get downright testy and unbelievably self-centered. Let the money issues linger over a period of time and I am susceptible to falling to the temptation that faced Job to curse God. Managing myself (my mind, my will and my emotions) becomes the challenge in times when there is no money to manage. In fact, one of the blessings of my life may very well be going through trying financial times that threaten to challenge my most core relational question with God: can I trust Him. Because it is during in these times that I get a chance to see what is really going on inside of me. Continue reading “Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage”