It’s Time To Quit NOT Creating

(Whether it's Thursday or not)

My friend, Bob, tries to quit something every Thursday. Usually it’s a bad habit or something he’s worrying about. He just quits and leaves it right there on Thursday’s doorstep and moves on with his life, getting lighter and more free every week.

I want to be lighter and freer, too.

So I’ve decided it’s time for me to quit something, just like my friend, Bob. I don’t mean it’s time to quit Bob. I can’t quit you, Bob.

Rather, I’ve decided it’s time for me to quit NOT writing, NOT CREATING.

I’ve been regularly NOT CREATING/WRITING for a long time which is NOT ME. And I’ll bet it’s not YOU, either. So starting today, Thursday, I’m going to do (or I guess, not do) just that.

Therefore, ladies and gentleman, may I present terrible writing that is hardly worth reading but is important anyway because I need to create.

(And you probably do, too. So quit NOT CREATING with me!)


Dear blog,

As you know, I’ve not written to you in sometime. But don’t worry – it’s not you, it’s me.

Ok, it’s you.

I’ve not written to you because you scare me. You scare me for at least FIVE of the following reasons:

  1. I want people to like me and I’m afraid if they knew the REAL ME then (blah, blah, blah, you get it).
  2. I want people to like YOU, my blog. I want people to visit it daily and find words that refresh them and inspire them and make them laugh. But I’m afraid they won’t do any of those things, even though I know that’s not the POINT of it all and that I should just write, dammit! Also I shouldn’t curse, even though – let’s face it – “dammit” is barely a curse word at all.
  3. I want to write. I need to write. And I need to share what I create because that’s what people are supposed to do – share themselves and receive the self that others share and blah, blah, blah unicorns and rainbows!
  4. I’m totes insecure and have trouble expressing myself apart from using the word “totes”.
  5. I forgot my password, dammit.

There, now you know the truth.

And if you want more truth: I just spilled coffee on my keyboard which I’m sure is a sign from the universe that I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t share. I should just keep my private world to myself and go around faking it all the time!!!!

Maybe I’ll quit faking it next Thursday.

Your friend,
JESSE

PS I just realized it was Friday. FUDGE!!!!

The Secret Power Of Selfies

How To Make Them Matter

I recently preached at my favorite church. The topic? Selfies.

To illustrate the topic, I borrowed a friend’s selfie stick. Because I obviously don’t own a selfie stick.

Anymore.

Since mine broke from overuse.

I held my phone close to my face – you know, one of those phones that you can also use to call people, if that’s something you still do. I said, from this distance, all you can really see in the frame is me.

And to be honest, it doesn’t make for a very interesting picture.

I suppose you could try to zoom in for greater detail to make it a little more interesting – wow, his skin is really oily right now. Or, I wonder what that scar is from?

But that’s about as intriguing as it’s going to get from this distance.

If I hold my camera out a little further before I snap the pic, I can squeeze in a couple of friends. We might then take several pictures together and I will post the one most flattering of me, because hey, we used my phone.

Then I said to the audience (or “congregation”, if that feels churchier to you): “But if I put my phone on the selfie stick and extend it as far as it will go…and then reach my arm out as far as it will go…(at this point, I turned my back to them)…there’s just about enough room for all of us in the picture.”

I then snapped a selfie of me with a few hundred of my besties.

My point was obvious (though I rambled on for another 20 minutes anyway).

If there’s only room in the frame of my life for ME, the story of my life won’t be very interesting. Or satisfying. Or compelling – to me or anyone else.

But if I make space for others to fit in the frame of my life, the story of my life can get really good.

As a final illustration, I threw up a selfie-style picture of my friend, Bob.

bob goff selfie 1

Bob is a famous author and humanitarian and is living some of the best stories I’ve ever heard. We’re friends because we once had lunch together and because I have his cell phone number.

To be clear, I had lunch with Bob because his host that day was a friend of mine (a friend who once brought Don Miller to see me…in my office…but that’s another story). This generous and well-connected friend hosted lunch for Bob and a bunch of other folks, and he invited Katie and I to join them.

Oh, and I have Bob’s cell number because he put it at the back of his best-selling book. So maybe you have it, too. But so what. I’m over it.

I told the congregation/audience/crowd/throng of worshippers that Bob always takes a great picture because he has a great smile, but despite his great smile, the picture wasn’t super interesting.

Then I zoomed out to reveal the rest of the picture.

bob goff selfie 2

This is Bob and some of his friends. Bob and his team have built several schools in Uganda and a few other places (there’s even one in Iraq!) that serve kids without families.

It’s a lot more interesting picture. It’s a more satisfying picture. It’s a picture that inspires me and reminds me there’s a whole lot more to my story than me, me, me.

What was the key difference between the two pictures?

The second one simply had more room in the frame for others.

The throng got it. They always do. They’re a bunch of Bob-like folks who have graciously included me in their shot.

So I finished my sermon like I finish all my sermons: by dropping the mic and strutting off the stage to “Jesus Walks”.

I snuck back later to retrieve the selfie stick. In case, you know, I needed it for something.

How To Survive Holy Week With Your Faith Intact

A Busy Christian's Guide To Not Missing The Point

This is Holy Week, a time where we Jesus-followers go to church even more than usual (for some of us, we’re finally getting back in the door since LAST Easter, which, apparently, is OK with Jesus).

And if you’re part of a church staff as I was for most of my career, Holy Week can also be Holy **** Week.

There are SO many details to prepare for all those extra services and the many returning church-goers (in hopes of getting them to stick around).

And if you happen to also be part of the music team, like I was – Lord, have mercy. You can pretty much forget about sleeping well or making healthy food choices or not getting in massive fights with your spouse and/or children and/or contracted flautist.

I used to rail against the fact that for us church-staffers, Holy Week seemed to be such a frenzied scramble, but then I learned two things:

  1. Much of the frenzy was in ME and I had been projecting it on to others. There were many fellow staffers who could handle the extra load AND be mindful of the rich significance of Holy Week. They weren’t better than me, but they were certainly living better than me.
  2. A week saturated with mundane details, full to overflowing with to-dos and impossible-to-get-dones…is exactly the place Jesus seems to delight in working.

I’ve never been a big fan of reality. I would much rather live in my head than, you know, do stuff. I’d rather fantasize about how it could be, what could have been, or – more often than not – what I’d look like with six-pack abs (I’d look good).

People I trust tell me that’s all a way of avoiding responsibility for my life, and I’m starting to believe them. But still, reality isn’t naturally the place I want to plant my flag.

But it was for Jesus.

The mundane and ordinary. The messy and ugly and boring and exhausting. The non-6-pack, this-is-how-it-actually-is stuff of life. That’s exactly where Jesus is living and working. And where I’m invited to live and work with him.

To practice that, here’s what I’m doing:

I’m turning back to him every time I feel like I don’t have what it takes to be with the boys a little longer, or the energy to get through all my “starred emails”, or the hope to remember there are blue skies out there, somewhere beyond my Pacific northwest horizon.

I’m praying simple prayers like, “Jesus, help me see what you see” and “What are you up to here?” and “Help me to do the hard thing.”

As I do that, I’m finding that reality’s not a half bad place to live. Sometimes it’s even great. I’m serious – my life feels different simply because of this steady convo with Jesus throughout the day.

On Palm Sunday, my pastor and friend, Scott, preached on why the mundane can be so life-giving. He talked about the guy who lent Jesus his donkey so he could ride into town and people could wave palm branches at him and say “Hosanna!”

All the guy had, said Scott, was his donkey. So he gave what he had. It was a great day for that donkey. And probably for his owner (“Hey! That’s my donkey! You go, boy!”)

So here’s some ordinary words from an ordinary guy. Here’s my attention and energy and to-do list. Here’s my half-donkey attempts at becoming the best version of me.

Take it all and make it holy, useful, impactful, transformative. For me and everyone around me.

And help my church musician friends make healthy food choices this week. Amen.