bible, faith

The One Phrase You Should Live By

No Comments 14 February 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 8.23.46 AMOne of the best speeches I ever heard occurred before I was ever part of the world’s largest speakers bureaus.  I was a counselor at Kanakuk, a camp focusing on helping inner-city kids, located in Golden, Missouri.  We were at the end of “Work Week”, the week we spent cleaning, raking, clearing limbs, painting, and doing anything else that needed to be physically done to prepare the camp for students before they arrive.  We’d also spent the week studying and learning more about the Bible, doing prayer walks around the camp, and preparing ourselves and the place spiritually to prepare for the students.

Almost all of the counselors were collegiate athletes in one sport or another.  We’d all gotten to know each other pretty well, and were excited to hear each other say something.  We were surprised when the quietest guy in camp stood up.  He was a big linebacker from an Oklahoma school who I’d only heard say 5 words the whole week But as he began, we realized that even though he didn’t talk, much, boy, could he speak. Continue Reading

faith, family

The 3000 Year Old Female Entrepreneur

No Comments 25 June 2015

Screen shot 2015-06-25 at 9.25.59 AMFemale entrepreneurs are great, but luckily they’re not a new phenomenon.  The Bible highlights a number of them. In fact, Lydia, who was the very first European Christian, was an entrepreneur in the fashion industry.  Some of Jesus friends and followers were female business owners who helped support his ministry.  My favorite is the entrepreneur in Proverbs 31, written 3,000 years ago during the time of Solomon and Israel’s golden age.  I often read to my 8 & 9-year-old daughters at night.  To help drive the verses home it helps to connect them to someone you know. I decided to show my daughters how their amazing mother is like the woman the Bible holds up as a great example as a wife, mother, and -yes- entrepreneur.

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

(Girls, I would not trade mommy for any amount of money.  One of the big reasons I married her is that I knew I could trust her.  When I met her, she was singing and making an impact on others around the world, and now she does the same through her business and writing.)

Here’s where we get into the entrepreneur section.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
(Mommy works hard to figure out the best things to buy for her business at the best prices.)

14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
(Does Whole Food Fair Trade count?)

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
(well…mommy is still on California time and doesn’t really get up early, but she works a lot at night.)

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
(She first started out her business doing what everyone else did, continued to do her homework, and found out she could be more successfully doing things differently than everyone else.)

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
(Mommy saved all the money she made at the beginning, so that she’d never be in debt with her business.  She never spends more than she has in the bank.)

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
(We’ll substitute essential oil glass bottles for distaffs and spindles.)

20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
(Remember, one of the first things she did was to sponsor kids in three different countries through Compassion International, and also to donate money to help women in developing countries start their own businesses.)

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
(Mommy finds creative ways to make money so you girls can take music lessons and play sports.)

26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
(Mommy has helped so many other people when it comes to their health and taking care of themselves.  Other mommies from all over the country call and email her to ask for advice.)

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
(Even on days when she doesn’t want to, she’s always working hard in helping her family and friends.)

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
(Girls, make sure to tell mommy how thankful you are for how hard she works.  And you know what? Daddy should write a blog post about mommy.  I definitely would choose her over every woman on earth.)

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
(She is definitely loves and respects God- but I still think she’s pretty good looking, though :).

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (I don’t spend too much time at the city gate, but tell her how amazing she is, and I do sing her praises on Facebook!)

Our girls have certainly taken their mommy’s example to heart.  Last summer they made a few hundred dollars walking dogs, selling lemonade and washing cars.  Not bad for girls who haven’t hit double digits in age yet.  They are blessed to have such an amazing woman to look up to, and to see she’s living up to a great example from the Bible.

Also check out:

What Jesus Did On The Worst Day of His Life

How To Be Smart Without Being Obnoxious

faith, Hope, money, triathlon

5 Ways To Help A Friend In Need

1 Comment 01 September 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 6.52.46 PMHow do you help a friend who has suddenly been hospitalized?  I had a good friend who crashed on her bike yesterday training for Ironman Chattanooga, suffered a severe injury and is now facing a long hospital stay and even longer recuperation.  I’ve had a surprise hospitalization and long recovery myself, so I thought I’d write down some things you can do to help a friend in the same situation.

For an oversimplified version of my story, a fist sized mass on my small intestine, which had grown from a surgery 30 years earlier, decided to explode, because, you know, it felt like it.  I went to the hospital at 3AM, and woke up sometime the next day with tubes in my nose, horrible pain, and had a half foot incision on my stomach.  After 10 days in the hospital on an IV drip, I was released to go home.  It was a high stress time, as we had a newborn, a toddler and had just moved into a new house without having been able to sell our old house (thank you, economy :).  Since they cut clear through the muscles of the abdominal wall, I couldn’t support anything, and wasn’t allowed to hold my little baby for almost two months.  Come to think of it, my intestines exploded almost 7 years ago today, and it took till about Christmas till I was back to normal.

Luckily, we had an incredible group of friends and family looking out for us, and they set a great example for how to help someone like us in need.

1) Pray 

Prayer works.  Jesus is listening, so pray for that person daily or whenever they come to mind.

2) Food
A meal list is a popular thing, but you need to make sure you do it the right way.  Sometimes people feel the size of their dish has to be big to show they care, but seriously, who can eat a gigantic vegetable lasagna in one sitting?  Also, make sure that if you make a meal for someone, it’s in a disposable dish. We ended up having quite a collection of those porcelain casserole dishes with no idea who they belonged to.  Our Sunday school class and neighbors were amazing.  Make sure you leave instruction if necessary. An Indian family across the street made us some authentic Indian food.  When we relayed that we’d mixed the rice-type stuff and the cinnamon golf ball thing together, they were like, “Yeah, you mixed the main course and the dessert together…but that’s totally, uh, fine.”

2.5) Delivery

I like to do gift cards for places that deliver, or are very close to their home or where their spouse works.  That way, they can get what they want, when they want it. If it’s a delivery place, make sure to not just give the gift card (which they can use to pay over the phone), but also include a few bucks for tip for the delivery person, which generally you can’t do with a gift card.
3) Money
Crowdrise and some other places have cool ways to collect funds for people.  Gift cards to places like Target, Wal-Mart, Publix, etc, work well (ask a closer friend who might know where they shop).

Want to always be prepared to help? Start Your Own Emergency Giving Fund!

4) House help
One of our neighbors hired a guy to mow our yard.  I was completely out of it, and it never occurred to me to do it myself.  I remember laundry was the bane of our existence for a while. See if you can help around the house, or better yet, hire a house cleaner for them for a time.  Sometimes people prefer to have a stranger cleaning things up, rather than having a friend see all their mess.  Cleaners can be expensive, so in one instance 10 friends got together and paid for it. Also, don’t forget their spouse.  Often it’s harder on them in some ways that the person with the physical recovery.  My wife was awesome, but I know it really took a toll on her, and it was great when family or friends came and gave her a break.

5) Calendar
Take out your calendar right now, whether its in a planner or on your phone or whatever, and mark it for one month, two months, and/or three months from now.  THAT is when this friend of yours really needs you.  It’s human nature to have a big emotional reaction right when an accident or hospitalization occurs, but your friend is still in need much longer.   Get them another gift card, watch their kids for them, send them a card to encourage them on October 1st, November 1st, and December 1st.

How has someone helped you in a time of need?

ALSO READ: 3 Small Steps To Make 1 Big Difference



How To Become A Christian

No Comments 25 October 2013

If you want to become a Christian, it’s not an accident. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44)

You don’t have to be perfect to become a Christian. In fact, if you read the Bible, those who were the most messed up- Moses (murderer), David (murder, adulterer, terrible dad), Jacob (thief, coward), Rahab (prostitute), Peter (all talk, no follow up), Paul (murderer)- were the ones God used the most. Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” (Mark 2:17) The common denominator was choosing to follow him.

It’s actually very simple to become a Christian. You simply say (and mean), “Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins. I believe you died for me. Please come into my heart.”

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”,and believe in you heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) has really good information on becoming a Christian as well.

Next, connect with a friend or a local church to learn more about Jesus. You can even download podcasts at places like Crosspoint, Elevation, and Northpoint. And, to make my mom happy, here is her favorite, Joseph Prince.

cycling, faith

How To Make It Through Your Trials Successfully

No Comments 03 April 2013

Have you ever raced a cycling time trial?  Last year, some cyclists-turned-triathletes put the word out that the Tennessee State Time Trial Championships would right outside of Nashville, and that it was only $25 to enter.  No swimming, no running- just 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) of pure cycling on a straight out and back course.

I’d never done a bike-only event, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  I borrowed a friend’s aero helmet (are those weird or what?), and headed out.  When I arrived, I asked one of our resident uber-cyclists, Lisa Starmer, for any tips she might have for a first timer.  The main thing, she said, was to get rid of everything that was unnecessary. Now as a triathlete, you’re used to having a loaded bike, because you have to be prepared for a lot, and you need to be able to fuel (eat and drink) to be able to run a 10K or a half marathon afterward.  Not so here.  Lisa proceeded to point out everything I needed to remove.  “You need to get rid of every ounce of extra weight you have.  No Bento (food) box, no second water bottle, and no tire repair kit.  If you get a flat, you’re done.  They’ll just come and pick you up.”  Thanks to Lisa’s advice, I did a lot better than I thought I would.

This got me to start thinking about what else in life we might be able to streamline.  What can we remove to make our lives lighter, so that we can endure our own trials, and be able to focus on doing what we need to do best?  One of my favorite verses helps in summing this up:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What’s one unnecessary thing can you remove from your life that is holding you back?  What is one thing you’ve removed in the past that helped make you better?

faith, missions, pixar, troll, wynter

Giant Trolls and The Week Before Your Mission Trip

No Comments 21 June 2011

Credit:Frighttime Prod.

Photo: Frighttime Prod.

Have you ever noticed that the week or two before your mission trip is generally terrible?  Everything that can go wrong does- you get sick, your kids get in more trouble than usual and somehow its the worst time ever to miss work.  Have you ever wondered why?

Trolls.  Big, giant, hairy trolls.

The play “Wynter’s Kiss” by Scott Crain of Oracle Productions fame tells the Narnian-esque story of Sir Galen Wynter, an old knight, who, along with a few followers, goes on a quest to find the cure to save his daughter from a deadly plague called “The Red Kiss”.   In the wilderness, they come to an old rope bridge that crosses a ravine.  Some of the men want to try crossing, but Sir Galen declares the bridge is too old, it’ll probably take them out of their way, and its not worth the risk.  Suddenly, a giant, club wielding troll appears and bellows that if any of them try to cross the bridge, he’ll be more than happy to kill them.

The men fall back. Once out of earshot, Sir Galen begins to devise a plan to defeat the giant troll and cross the bridge.

“What!?” one of his men exclaims.  “Five minutes ago you were talking us out of crossing the bridge, but now that there is a giant troll who wants to kill us, all you can think about is how to get across it?”

“Of course,” Sir Galen explains.  “You don’t send a giant troll to protect something worthless.  We have to get across.”


Photo: Disney/Pixar’s Up!

I think our lives can be a lot like this.  We’re fine as long as we stay in our cozy little existence, but as soon as we make a break from our lives and attempt to cross that ravine to serve others in need (and in the process, change ourselves), the devil throws some giant trolls our way.  Going to the Dominican in a couple days and your kid gets strep throat? Troll!  Going to Haiti and your car breaks down to the tune of a few thousand dollars? Troll!  Going to Africa for a year and the people renting your house (and therefore covering your mortgage) decide to back out at the last minute?  Troll!   (if you’ve seen Pixar’s ‘Up’, in my head I say “Troll!” like they say “Squirrel!”)

Of course, knowing that trolls exist doesn’t make them go away, but it does make them easier to fight.  And, like the old knight fighting to save his daughters life, you know that by defeating that troll and crossing that ravine, you might be saving lives as well.


P.S. As I was typing this blog about the dangers of going on a mission trip, the phones and internet shut off, threatening to make me lose everything I’d just typed.  Troll!

faith, haiti

Why I’m Scared To Go To Haiti

1 Comment 13 July 2010

For the most part, I’m very excited to be going, but part of me is afraid. So why am I scared to go to Haiti?  Its not really the ‘normal’ stuff.  I’ve had several friends who’ve gone and come back unharmed, mainly by always staying in groups, staying with your guide/interpreter, and not going out at night.  Don’t drink the water.  Wear sunscreen and plenty of bug spray. Play nice.

I am certainly going to be out of my comfort zone. Heck, I’ll be working at a Habitat for Humanity building site in Nashville and be uncomfortable, just because I don’t know what to do, and now I’m doing the same thing, just in Haiti. (I had to Google ‘sawzall’ and ‘rebar’ since I didn’t know what they were.)  I’m also going to try to be a translator in training for a dialect (Creole) of a language (French) in which I’m only moderately fluent.  However, I more dread than fear the construction aspect, and I’m actually pretty excited about the translator possibilities, although I know I’m going to mess up a good bit.

What scares me are the kids.  Years ago, and what really got me started in having a ‘missionary’ outlook, so to speak, was a baby crying.  I was holding our little baby daughter Brooklyn, who was only a few months old at the time, and she wouldn’t stop crying.  I was going through my mental checklist- Fed? Check.  Diaper changed?  Check. Burped?  Check.  Despite doing everything right, she wouldn’t stop crying.  And then finally, she did.  But it hit me that somewhere out there, a mom or a dad was holding their little baby girl, and she wouldn’t stop crying.  They love their child just as much as I love mine, but they can’t feed her, they can’t clothe her, they can’t wrap her in a warm blanket.  They can’t take her to the doctor to help her get better.  They just have to hold their sick, tired, hungry little girl and hope she feels better, hope she stops crying, but hopefully not for the last time.  And there are some kids that don’t even have parents to hold them.  I’m also reminded of our trip to the ER this past February.

And that’s what scares me, the realization that I’m so small and helpless and I can’t fix it like I want to.  I know mentally that God is huge, and that He’s made for doing miracles and changing lives, but I have to get my heart there as well.

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faith, family

Playing Catch- A Father’s Day Story

1 Comment 10 June 2010

Note- I had some friends who said this story (especially the ‘playing catch’ part at the end) really helped them in their relationship with their dad, so I’m putting it up here again for Father’s Day.

(From January 15, 2010)
My dad died today. Heart attack. He’d just turned 60 on Christmas Eve. We went over to his house that night after Christmas at Grandma’s, for our Christmas/birthday celebration, with his daughter, three sons, the married one’s spouses, and a lot of grandkids. ‘The Incredibles’ was on the TV, the kids were all laughing and playing with the self-inflating whoopee cushion, ‘Pee-paw’ (my dad) had gotten for Christmas.

We’d stayed an extra day this time around to work on a family history I was trying to put together. We’d rounded up some relatives and set to work getting started, recording stories and scanning in pictures. I am a big fan of history, but one of my big motivators is that an interest in family history is one of the things my dad and I shared, and writing this history is something I wanted to accomplish with him. Somehow it came up in the conversation that I’d gone to an expensive college, and even after scholarships, there was a lot left over. My dad had paid for the rest. I remember him telling me in passing on a college visit that he’d sold some land to make the payments, and I didn’t appreciate it at the time. A farmer selling off his land is like cutting off his leg. I’d made sure to thank him profusely this time around.

I have regrets, but I have a lot fewer than I would have had I not made some decisions about family relationships some years ago. I wanted my relationships to be as if tomorrow might not come. I wanted the people I loved to know I loved them, what I thought of them, what they meant to me. My dad knew I loved him. I’d only tell him about every third phone call because it made him a little uncomfortable, but he knew. My regrets are of a good nature. For my 9th birthday, my dad had taken down to a Reds game, and we’d tentatively planned on going back this summer. At least we’d gone to a couple MLB games before.

Tonight, our neighbor Daniel had come over for a bit, and noticed that we had a giant, heavy mirror that needed to be hung up. I caught myself before I said, “Yeah, we’ll get my dad to do it.” I’m the least handy person you’ll meet, and he’s the most. He’d helped us hang the giant mirror at our old house, and made it a point to do handy stuff whenever he came down to Tennessee. Krista would make a list with artwork, light fixtures, and ceiling fans that would sit in boxes for six months, waiting for my dad to put them up. He’d call up to see what we’d need him to do. He loved doing that stuff. At least he got to try to teach me how to do that stuff, but really all I did was hand him screwdrivers. I did install a couple lights over our garage in August, and my dad made me stay on top of the ladder while he ran to his car to get his camera so he could jokingly have ‘proof’ that I’d actually done something handy.

I regret that he didn’t get to find out a surprise that I’ve had for him since I was probably 8 or 9 years old. My first son was going to have my dad’s first name (and my middle name), Stephan, as his middle name. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever have a son, but I’m sorry my dad won’t be around to know that he’d have his name. It wasn’t a very well kept secret (what 25 year old secret is?), so maybe he knew. A German nurse’s typo of ‘Stephen’ has become a family heirloom.

The prayer I can remember praying more than any other in my life is for my dad to become a Christian. I remember during prayer time at my little Christian school, I’d give that prayer request to my 1st grade teacher, Ms. Huffhand. And my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Arthur. And Mrs. Caldwell in 3rd grade, and Mrs. Langreck in 4th, and so on. When I was in college, I started promoting Christian concerts, in part because I’m wired to organize stuff, but also because I knew my dad would come to support me, and he’d hear the Gospel. I talked with him about it, and even gave my old, marked up Bible to my dad in hopes that he’d read it. I wrote out and highlighted the ‘Roman Road’ to salvation.

Romans 3:23- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8- But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:13- Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:9-10- If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

I really don’t know if he ever accepted Jesus into his heart. I know he seemed to be changing, and there’s hope in that. I know God can do anything.

One of the times I was proudest of my dad was years ago during the major flooding in Iowa. My dad was one of the truck drivers who volunteered their time to drive emergency relief supplies over to them. There’s a newspaper clipping somewhere with the story and a picture of him in front of a semi. I think about tonight that in another emergency area today, Haiti, so many people have lost their fathers, sons, brothers, just as suddenly. Believe it or not, a few days before the earthquake, our 4-year-old Brooklyn decided she wanted to ‘help sick kids and kids who don’t have anything’ in Haiti, and we’d set up a donation website:, which links to I’ve had so many people ask how they can help us. Maybe helping other kids who’ve lost loved ones is a way to honor my dad and Brooklyn’s grandpa.

A couple Christmases ago (again, coinciding with his Christmas Eve birthday), we put together what I think would be one of the greatest presents you could ever give someone. A short book called, “Dad stories”. My sister, two brothers and I had spent a couple months writing down and emailing back and forth stories from our childhood up to our present, about fun times we’d had with our dad and things we’d learned from him. My dad’s not an emotional guy, but once he opened it and started reading it, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of it. We were kind of like, “Uh, hey dad, you’ve got more presents to open.”

I’ll share a couple of those stories below.

One regret I don’t have concerns baseball. My parents got divorced when I was 6, and for about a 10-year period, we didn’t have much interaction. But one lesson my dad learned is that no matter how long things are a certain way, you can change them. Since that time, he’s really come through in spades, helping in college as I’d mentioned, getting to know my kids, my wife, me.

That inspired me to do something I’d missed out on doing. I have a foggy memory of one time throwing a tennis ball with my dad when I was a little kid, but never with an actual baseball and a glove. I remember I’d have friends who’d complain about their dads making them go out and play catch with them, and I just wanted to tell them they’re idiots! They were so lucky. If you ever wanted to get me choked up, show me a dad playing catch. Every boy’s favorite scene from ‘The Natural’ was when he hits the ball into the lights and they explode. Mine was at the end when he gets to throw the ball with his son.

One day, well after I’d gotten married and started my own family, I decided I wasn’t going to whine and feel sorry for myself about what I’d missed. I was going to make something of what I had. My dad was coming into town, so I bought him a glove, and a baseball, and we played catch. I’ll put the story below (its actually kind of funny). I’m so glad we did that, that we got to play catch. I have that now.

It was a cool and windy fall day in late October. We were dedicating our two-month-old daughter Brooklyn at church, and several family members had come down from Indiana to celebrate with us.
We’d all come back to our house from church, and Dad and Kathy were getting ready to leave. It was at that point that I remembered something else I’d planned. Growing up, we didn’t play catch too much, so I decided to get him a glove so we could throw the ball around at family gatherings. Frank, Eddy and I were there, and we had gloves for all. I grabbed Dad as he was heading out to the car, and we all went out to the back yard. Kelly, who’d played softball in high school, came out to throw as well. It was pretty much a Norman Rockwell painting all around, with Dad standing about even with the Bradford pear tree, and us kids about even with the garage side of the house. And then for reasons unknown, Dad decided to attempt what might justifiably be called assisted suicide.

“Hey, Eddy!” he called out. “Why don’t you throw it to me as hard as you can!” Not even a question, really, it was more of an order. Eddy had been brought up to obey his parents, but in this case, he should have just forgotten Commandment #5 and said no.
Eddy has, if not a world-famous, at least a family-famous, arm. One time during a church league softball game he was playing the outfield, and threw the ball on a line to home plate. The ball came in so hard that even though it hit the catcher in the glove, it still knocked the guy over on his back. That was from about 200 feet throwing to a 220
pound college kid. This was from about 30 feet throwing to a 185 pound
grandfather of four who probably hadn’t played ball since high school. Also, we had a baseball, which travels a heck of a lot faster than a softball.

“Are you sure?” Eddy asked. “Yeah, throw it on in here.” the old man replied.
I started to mentally go over my EMT training for handling blunt head trauma. Eddy, not one to under-do things, reared back and let the ball fly with all his might. Time slowed down. The ball turned a bright blue flame color. Dad seemed to slowly raise up his glove about shoulder high. Would the glove get up to ball level in time? Would it matter? Could the ball actually break through the glove’s webbing and embed itself in our father’s chest cavity? Or would he amazingly lean back, Matrix-style, while the ball rippled through space and time as it passed over him, creating its own sound wave tunnel?
Then…SMACK! The ball crashed safely into the glove, and Dad rocked back, ever so slightly. He was still alive, but I’m guessing a little bit shaken. Maybe next time he’ll try something a little safer and let Frank throw knives at him or something.

business, faith, history

Want to Change? Just Get A New Name

No Comments 28 April 2010

Many times we come up against a tough obstacle, problem, or issue that we know we need to tackle, but mentally, we’re not there. We’re stuck on who we think we are, or what limits we have on what we can do. A great way to beat this mental roadblock is to simply get a new name.

About a decade ago when I was still at William Morris Agency, an artist told me about his decision to change his first name while on stage from ‘Andy’ to ‘Andrew’. Although he was a very talented musician, he was a cerebral guy at heart. He’d grown up wanting to be an English teacher, but had somehow become a successful singer, songwriter, and front-man for a band. The issue was that even though he didn’t naturally have this big, outgoing personality, he really needed to have one on-stage. Andy had read this article about Bono, who, it turns out, is only ‘Bono’ when he’s ‘Bono’. Otherwise, he’s just Paul Hewson. Andy adopted this idea, and said it greatly helped him grow and develop a great stage presence as ‘Andrew’.

God is famous for doing the name change with his people.

Abram was just a common man until God breathed into him, changed his name to Abraham, and made him into the father of nations that are still around 4,000 years later- he’s considered a founding father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, Abraham didn’t immediately become the father of nations after his name change. He went several decades from the time of his new name to the time when he had his children, all along trusting that God would make him the man He’d promised when he’d given him the new name.

Paul is probably the most famous name changer. He’d grown up as Saul, a student in the law, and a zealous persecutor of Christians. God knocked him over on the road to Damascus, gave him the new name of Paul. The new Paul became the chief writer of the New Testament, and one of the most influential people in the history of the world.

I have to think God knew that these people needed to look at themselves in new way in order to get done what they needed to get done, and a new name was the way to do it.

I’m not saying you have to have a Damascus road experience. It can be much more subtle. I even used this idea myself in late 2007. I’d just recovered from massive abdominal surgery (kind of a second apendectomy, long story), and knew I needed to make some hard changes. So I went with ‘Brian 2.0’. I’d tell myself, “The old Brian would get five chicken fingers, but Brian 2.0 is only going to get two. The old Brian would get a Big Mac, Brian 2.0 gets the turkey sandwich.” It helped, and I’ve enjoyed living life in the 180s much more than in the 200s. Plus, its fun to refer to yourself in the third person.

Is there something you feel you should do but are having a tough time getting it done as the old you? Why not try a new name? It has worked before.

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