Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Combating Workaholism

We went to Arizona for vacation this spring.  It was my first 2 week vacation in many years.  The vacation allowed me to reflect and re-prioritize. Workaholism is something that I've struggled with throughout my career (although I feel like I've made some good strides since the old youth ministry days). There is a great article at Relevant Magazine that has a list of 10 ways to break through workaholism.  You can read the whole article here.  I've grabbed 3 of their suggestions to highlight here - the content from the article is in italics.

1. Observe the Sabbath
Because of my job, Sunday isn't a good Sabbath day for me.  But Friday is the day that I try to reserve for Sabbath.  I don't think the main point is the exact day, but that one day out of seven be set aside for rest and reflection.  I've tried to be much more intentional about how I spend my Sabbath day in recent months. 
After God had spent six days creating the earth, He rested on the seventh day and sanctified it. In Exodus 20: 8:10, we’re instructed: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work”. This isn’t just a suggestion—Sabbath observance is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Going to church and then coming home to plug in your laptop so you can work the rest of the day just won’t cut it. If you know there’s a big meeting or a final coming up at the start of the week, push yourself hard on the previous Thursday and Friday. Bottom line: If a day of rest is good enough for God, it’s good enough for you, too.  
2. Unplug From Technology
I chose not to take my laptop on our vacation.  This was a good decision. It allowed me opportunity to slow everything down by removing the constant flow of information.
Dr. Bryan Robinson, author of Chained to the Desk, calls technology “the opium of our generation,” and few of us can claim we’ve never felt something of a rush when using a tech toy. But just because you’ve got a new, flashy cell phone, Blackberry or iPhone doesn’t mean you have to answer it, even if your company’s paying for it. Weekends and evenings are what the “ringer off” setting is designed for, so use it. You won’t be able to check work email if you don’t plug in your laptop, and let’s be honest: What could have happened at your job that’s so urgent it needs your immediate attention at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night?
3. Stop Procrastinating
This is one that I need to continue to get better at.  It is the #1 contributor to my workaholism.  When I'm staying ahead on projects and deadlines my workflow is much more manageable.  I've been a life-long procrastinator -and just this year I've started to leverage my calendar and pre-planning to try to combat this.  I'm forcing myself into a schedule that keeps the procrastination to a minimum and helps me to work ahead.
Responding immediately to friends' and colleagues’ voice mails, IMs, Facebook posts, and emails adds up, eventually creating a mountain between you and what you need to get done before the end of the day. Leaving projects until the last minute can be even worse, as it creates unnecessary pressure and can leave you unprepared for that important presentation to your boss. If you plan ahead, particularly for big projects, and block off time daily during which phone, IM and email are off limits, you’ll have no problem getting tasks finished.
What are some tips that you have found helpful in combating workaholism?

Monday, May 30, 2011

3 Reasons I believe in online giving

We have been encouraging the people of Grace Church to explore the possibility of online giving. You can set up your online giving to Grace over hereKim and I have used this method of giving for years and I really believe in it.  Here's why:

1. First Fruits - So many people take care of themselves first financially and then give God the leftovers...if there are any.  Many people approach the offering time at church like they are tipping God after enjoying a good meal themselves.  The bible commands the opposite approach.  God should get our first and our best. The Old Testament talks about the concept of giving God our "first fruits" (a reference that makes the most sense in an agricultural context but the principle still applies to us).  Proverbs 3:9 says Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.  Setting up an online giving account allows us to set aside our first fruits for God; to fund God's kingdom before funding our own. 

2. Intentional Worship - For many Christians, the act of giving in church is an afterthought.  They find themselves rummaging through their wallet or purse in the middle of the service trying to find a few bucks to throw in the plate.  Again - the bible commands a better way. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. There is a heartfelt intentional decision that is involved in cheerful giving.  This decision should happen in advance of the actual worship service.  Online giving allows us to decide in advance what percentage of our income we will give to God and forces us to be consistent in that giving. Some would argue that the act of dropping a check into the offering plate is the true act of worship and giving online removes this symbolic gesture.  I would argue that it's just as worshipful to intentionally decide up front to give regularly, consistently, and generously.

3. Convenience - And last but not least it is simply more convenient to give online.  It allows us to be most consistent in our giving.  We can be certain that we are giving even when we're out of town for a weekend. It removes the dreaded "I forgot our offering again" moment that plagued Kim and I for many years!  We are an online generation that rarely carries cash or checks anymore.  Most of our financial transactions happen online.  In addition to being personally convenient, it is also more convenient for the church. It is more convenient for the church to process online contributions, it simplifies the financial records the church needs to keep, and it saves time for our volunteers who count and process the offerings every week.

If you have never considered online giving I would encourage you to give it a shot.