Archive for the ‘journal’ Category

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I’m all about that GROWTH

In art,Bible,blogging,Books,business,journal,PCA,Presbyterian Church in America,prophet,sermon,writing on February 12, 2015 by mstevensrev

As I’ve reflected on my life as a whole trying to find a unified theme that connects all the seemingly random events and achievements, that one piece of yarn that is the thread through the entire story, providing some sense of unity, I have often come to the theme of relationships. In addition to being an extreme extravert, I also find the deepest joy (and pain) while looking into the face of others. The principles I use to guide my life contains one principle dedicated to this, “Relationships are what matter in life, so value them.” So for years this I thought that this was my theme and my motivating factor.

Then I was writing this week in an attempt to help me focus with my work, and something kept popping up. Then this morning I realized that I had stumbled onto something significant to understanding myself. I value relationships, yet I clearly have let many fade away or have had to break relationship with people. Why? Because (for the most part) these were not healthy growing relationships, not moving toward life. Therefore relationships are part of what brings my life meaning, yet only from the perspective of growth.

Note: For anyone reading this that believes I am only referring to positive growth in a constant directions for good at every moment, that is not what I mean. Often the hardest circumstances and relationships provide the opportunity for the most growth. Growing a baby is an incredibly positive thing in pregnacy but any mother would say that it is not all “positive”, “easy” or in a “constant direction”.

So hear are a few items broadly where I have identified this GROWTH in my life:

Professionally: My career has taken the eclectic experiences I have had and put me in a place to use my talents and continue to evolve to be more of a person then I ever imagine. Throughout life I have sold, but now I am growing in international business, technology, management, and client delivery.

Relationally: Growing up in Baltimore it was common to see neighbors in the front lawn fighting to settle a disagreement, my instinct toward aggression has lessen and a world of non-violent communication has opened up to me. Thankfully this is the case because the most important relationship in the world to me, my wife, would not tolerate the primal dualistic ape that roamed my psyche.

Spiritually: God reached out to me very young. Most of my spiritual development took place in a fundamentalist power driven women hating sect of Christian spirituality, and I was a professional with them. This is the place where I can see how much growth has been the theme in my life. Thankfully as the feminist father of three daughters I can know stand open minded filled with love as I engage the world.

All of this reminds me of a passage from The Books of Bebb, by Frederick Buechner. Bebb a wild evangelist has a man in his office who points to a Bible and essential asks how can this thing make my life Bebb.  And Bebb knowing that there is no magic answer that he can provide by pulling out this book then goes on to share with him. (please mind this is my paraphrase, not a direct quote)

growth-chart1-handmade-charlotte-notonthehighstreetSo Bebb asks, “Do you know the passage John 3:16?” The guy nods as just about everyone does. “For God so love the world that he gave his only Son..” pausing “you know the rest. The thing is that passage talks about sin and most people these days don’t even know what sin is. So instead of sin I like to talk about shit. For God so love the world that He sent His only Son down here into the shit with us. You see people can understand that, it something that we all relate to. And God did this, sent his Son into this because shit can be deadly. If it piles up too much in one place it will kill everything. And yet if you take it and spread it out something happens. You see God sent his Son down here with us, so maybe a little green can GROW.”

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Integrity: theme for the week and continuing The Corporate Mystic

In Books,Community,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,generosity,journal,leadership,mission,Money,Uncategorized on November 30, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , , ,

Each month (when I am not traveling for work) I attend a great networking event here in ¬†Seattle called Kiros, yesterday there was a striking talk on “Crossing the line” by Mark Sabo. This was Mark’s personal story of his failure in business regarding integrity and the consequences that followed. ¬†Personally I was struck by what a small decision by Mark led to such very serious consequences. ¬†The point that hit home for me (again) was this idea of identity. ¬†Mark, like myself, considered himself a man of integrity and yet he was able to justify his later regretable actions. ¬†As many say, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” ¬†Seeing yourself as a person of integrity is not enough, often times that view leads to the least common denominator and efforts to do the bare minimum. ¬†What is needed, what I need is something greater than myself to guide my actions daily.

In¬†The Corporate Mystic¬†the author states, “The first question to ask is whether you are out of integrity with yourself. ¬†Are you genuinely at ease with the path you are on?” ¬†Many successful people are working to heal a wound from their family, perhaps earn recognition from a loved one that never expressed it. ¬†In my case I worked ¬†(and often work) to overcome shame that has been present in my life and in my family story for generations. ¬†This is a dry well to pull from, and only when you are able to step back to you realize that. “Many of us learn very early to tune out inner signals, and the long-run costs of this are enormous…Happiness flows from a clear spring: You need to have a totally honest relationship with yourself.” ¬†This is a key reason I believe that how people answer who they have been created to be is key to all of life: personal, spiritual, professional, and family.

A friend shared on facebook today the article,¬†Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever¬†by Amy Rees Anderson, a very good article that inspired me. ¬†The last few lines of the article are very powerful, “If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity.¬†There is a plaque on the wall of my office which reads: ‚ÄúDo what is right, let the consequence follow.‚ÄĚ It serves as a daily reminder that success will indeed come and go, but integrity is forever.” ¬†I couple that with a friend who’s dad gave him the advice in college, “Know who you are before you go into the party.”¬†Integrity¬†is not something that is learned on the fly, life is too hard and our minds are too easily tricked. ¬†It is essential for all people (including business people) to take time to do the tough personal and spiritual work to find the source of integrity, and the reward is well worth it. ¬†As¬†Amy Rees Anderson states success will come and go, your character is what you are stuck with.

“I contend that dishonesty will create a failure force that often manifests itself in other ways-ways not apparent to the outside observer.” -Joseph Sugarman

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>The Art of Making New Dreams

In church,Community,faith,journal,poetry,Prayer,writing on July 12, 2009 by mstevensrev

>When I was a kid I regularly dreamed. So much in fact I had regular reoccurring dreams, not day dreams, but actual reoccurring dreams at night in which I was returning to the same place, even sometimes revisiting a previous dream. This is the first time I have thought about it but I don’t remember many of my dreams anymore, is it something that has just faded or was it taken from me I’m not sure.

One lesson I am currently learning is the art of making new dreams. While this might sound very beautiful to me it is difficult and feels like it is splitting me at the seams. In biblical terms it might be more like dying to one self (Matthew 16:24-27). Time and again already in my life things that bring about a great deal of meaning to me have been taken from me. Is this because they had a inappropriate place in my heart? Yes. Is this because of the sin of those around me affecting my dreams? Yes. Is it because of reasons I don’t have any idea about right now? Yes.

These transitions, dying, making new dreams has been hard. Not only is it about looking forward and having a plan, but it is about digging in the lowest and earliest regions of my identity. My life was one of the chosen son of blessing, a role which torments me because I know I can never meet the expectation and yet it is the standard in which I have for myself. Either I am all things or I am nothing. This is a dream that is from the depth of hell and it deserves being shattered. But if that happens, then who am I?

Even in writing this post I’m lost at how my intention was to talk of rebuilding, the art of making new dreams, and yet I’m left feeling as an orphan. Yes we know that adoption (Romans 8:15) is one of the beautiful picture of scripture, yet have you ever known a person who was adopted and had severe abandonment issues? That is where I’m at.

Struggling to hold my own self deception too heavy for me, yet temporarily I keep it up knowing that it shatters when dropped and only then I will be free to make new dreams.

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>Thoughts on old fashion journaling

In journal,work,writing on April 20, 2009 by mstevensrev

>Not so in to it. I know that I have friends who live and die by it, and it really makes me feel like I’m missing out because I can find the deep connection there.

Currently though I am writing in a journal as I write down answers to career questions. This is helpful. First I think because it has a point. I’m able to sit back and write down answers rather than just float ideas out there. If I want to float ideas I’d rather do it on a blog. Second it has an end. There is never enough when it comes to a journal, therefore it is overwhelming to me. Having a clear purpose and hopefully time period devoted to such writing makes it bearable to me.