Mission Impossible

ᐈ Mission impossible stock vectors, Royalty Free cool motorcycle ...

Even if you’ve never watched a Mission Impossible movie, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone say this somewhere along the way:

              ‘Your mission…. should you choose to accept it.’ 

What followed was a description of something incredibly difficult that required a combination of courage, resourcefulness and resilience. It also required running fast, riding motorcycles, jumping out of planes or off tall buildings and probably getting shot at!

I’ve been watching and hearing the messaging about our response to COVID-19. The familiar refrain is ‘stay safe.’ It’s good advice, but the packaging is problematic.

Here’s why:

‘Stay Safe’ is rooted in a fear/fortress mentality. It communicates a ‘hunker down until this is over and hope you don’t die along the way’ approach. There’s truth in ‘stay safe,’ but the fear message enforces a negative thought pattern that eventually impacts your mental health and personal well being, even as you wash your hands ten times/day, sanitize everything around you and stay home because of the scary virus outside.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that you ignore the prescribed protocols and government expectations at this time. What I’m saying is that thinking about this from a different perspective could be a game-changer for you and your mental health.  

In this morning’s briefing (April 1), the Prime Minister spoke about a collective call to service in the COVID-19 battle and drew the connection the generation that served and sacrificed during WW2. In those days, Canada came together like never before around the shared mission of supporting the war effort. It’s a good picture of what needs to happen today.

Mission brings a sense of purpose to our lives. We aren’t staying at home, washing our hands and sanitizing everything in sight because we are afraid. We are doing those things to keep other people safe. It’s the way we contribute to the current ‘war effort.’  

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It Is To:

Stay at Home

Wash Your Hands

Practice Social Distancing

Avoid groups over 5

Save The World From COVID-19

Do this well and you might get a starring role in upcoming ‘Mission Impossible: The Sanitizers.’

The power of proper hand washing - Hamilton Health Sciences

National Day of Prayer re: Covid 19

There are times when our commonality is more important than our differences. This is one of those times. The crisis we face is real, with the potential to alter our world as we know it. We can live in a place of fear about what we see, or we can choose to see something different/better by faith. I prefer to live/see by faith because I know it has a better outcome than what happens when I live in fear.

President Trump has declared March 15 as a National Day of Prayer in response to the COVID 19 crisis. You may agree or disagree with Mr. Trump as a person and a leader. Still, this I know… remarkable, exceptional, stunning and miraculous things happen when leaders are willing to make room for God to work on behalf of the nation they lead.

Politics, personalities and policies aside, our world is in a difficult place. It’s also in a place where something tremendous can happen if the Church takes its place as priest and intercessor. We, and only we, can stand in the gap on behalf of our land… and when we do, we can expect God to respond remarkably.

Panicking is easy. Hoarding exposes the fearful selfishness of our hearts and spreading fear is as easy as ‘sharing’ something off your social media feed.

History shows us that praying changes everything!

Here are three things that you can pray for:
1) Pray for our leaders who are working hard to respond to this crisis. Ask God to give them wisdom, strength and courage to address this situation.

2) Pray for healthcare workers around the world who are working hard to care for those affected by this pandemic.

3) Pray Ps 91 over yourself, your family, your neighbours and co-workers.

4) Pray for a miraculous intervention that would stem the expansion and impact of this virus. Ask God to stop it in the same way plagues were stopped in the Bible. Nothing is impossible!!

James, the brother of Jesus wrote these words speaking to people just like you and me:

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:16

This moment calls for us to step into Elijah’s sandals and pray with the same kind of boldness, faith and authority that he did, because the stakes are just as high! Elijah’s prayer addressed an immediate need, but also set a national transformation in motion. God is not limited or intimidated by COVID 19. Nor is He powerless to do anything about it. Let’s invite Him into this in bigger and bolder ways than we ever have before.

You and I were made for this!

Breaking Free

godupdates 3 steps to break chains of addiction fb

I had been looking forward to Saturday for a long time. Just before I left home for twelve days in Ottawa, I traded off my motorcycle and upgraded into something a bit newer and with less risk of a costly repair. My new bike needed some customizing and so I left it at the dealer to be cared for while I was away.

Saturday dawned bright and clear, which was perfect because I planned to bring my motorcycle home from the dealership and spend the day riding. On the way to the dealership, I stopped to pick up a temporary operating permit at ICBC. While the agent was processing the paperwork, a friend (another motorcyclist) I haven’t seen for a long time smiled and waved from the lineup.

When I finished my business, I stopped to say hello and catch up. While we chatted, my friend told me that he had just completed six weeks in a treatment centre. While I knew that he had been through a difficult time personally, I didn’t realize that addiction was part of his battle. I’m hardly an expert, but I know that addiction (in any of its insidious forms) destroys lives, relationships, homes, careers and the list goes on and on. My heart aches for those caught in the snare and celebrates everyone and anyone with the courage to admit they have a problem and seek help!

A few hours after I chatted with my friend, I saw a ‘preacher quote’ come through on my Facebook feed that said something like this.

‘The Loudest Shout Comes From The Person Who Has Just Been Set Free!’

My friend is shouting loudly right now, and I couldn’t be happier for him!

You might be reading this and dealing with your secret (or maybe not so secret) battle that is consuming your life. My friend is not the exception to the rule. I’m telling you his story with the hope of inspiring you to break free of the chains that have trapped you. While I don’t know the whole story quite yet, I do know that he made at least three critical choices.

He ACKNOWLEDGED he had a problem.

He BELIEVED that he could see a better day if he sought help.

He COMMITTED to getting help and finding the freedom that he was born to enjoy.

He DARED to follow through!

You can do this! I know you can!

Because it is Hard…

Image result for apollo lunar mission images

It was before my time, but I’ve heard and read ‘the speech’ many times. It inspires me every time I do. JFK made the speech at Rice University on Sept 12, 1962. If it’s new to you, he was talking about the outrageous idea of putting a man on the Moon. America had unexpectedly fallen behind the Soviet Union in the space race and putting a man on the Moon was the only way for America to regain prominence. Losing to the Soviets in anything was seen as a failure of democracy.

Here’s my favourite part of the speech:

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

I remembered the speech this morning as I was describing my current work situation to someone. I’ve taken on a new, more significant and much more complex challenge than what I’ve ever done before. It’s taking time to sort out how we will proceed and what it will look like as we move forward. I’m making more time to wait and to ‘be’ in the moment as I watch for what I don’t know I’m looking for. I can’t describe it yet, but I’ll know it when I see it.

While I wait, I’m brainstorming, sharing and reflecting with friends and colleagues who understand the road that I (and we) are walking together. The easy way to do my new job is to pursue the same low hanging fruit that everyone else is going after. It’s easy and comfortable, but it won’t give me the kind of impact that I’m looking for, so I’m choosing the hard option. I’m choosing the road where we think that the doors might be closed but could swing open with the right approach and ‘knock’ if we’re willing to try. I’m choosing a road that will stretch both our team and me. We will be better for it because stretching will increase our capacity for more effective and fruitful ministry.

We are choosing our version of going to the Moon. We call it establishing our work in Ottawa. It will require the best from us and a flood of God-sized miracles. I can hardly wait to see it unfold!

2020 Vision? You Can Do Better!

I bought this journal a few years ago because the message on the cover leaped out at me. I don’t use it anymore but I keep it on my desk because of the words on the cover. (Lesson in passing, people (or at least I) will keep you in my world because of the message you carry, but I digress!)

Today marks the first day of 2020. It’s not just a new year, but a new decade and 2020 vision is a quick and easy theme if you’re looking for one. My social media steam has been filled today with posts, memes and 2020 vision quotes. They’re mostly cute and ‘pithy’ puffed up with a touch of bravado. It’s probably worth saying that if a 2020 meme is appealing to you, it’s gleam will fade pretty quickly unless you’ve got clarity around your plans and strategy. Bravado is a fantastic call to action, but it’s not sustainable, and more and more people are opting out of following leaders whose primary skill is chest-thumping because they’ve been disappointed too many times before.

The message on my journal cover brings me back to several touchstones that keep me focused and grounded.

‘It always seems impossible’ reminds me of the scope of a compelling vision.

A vision must be big and ‘impossible’ in the sense that it calls us to something so challenging and demanding that it requires more from us than just us. In broad strokes, your vision (even your 2020 vision) is too small if you can do it by yourself.

Vision also needs to be sustaining. There are good days, and there are bad days as we pursue our vision. Your vision needs to be exciting and important enough to you that you show up with passion on the day after your most challenging setback or disappointment. If you didn’t have that in 2019, it’s not likely that the change of the calendar is going to give it to you for any length of time.

The second part of the message points me to perseverance and persistence. The day I started training for my first half marathon I hadn’t run a kilometer in years. I found a training plan, committed to it and ran… rain or shine and most days in the dark. I prepared for months. On the morning of my first half marathon, I was nervous and a bit unsure of myself. Up until that day, the farthest I had run was 18km. I’ll never forget passing that marker and thinking that every step I took after that was a new personal best. A year earlier, that distance seemed impossible until it was done. A few years later, I lined up for my first marathon. My longest run in training was 35kms. A full marathon is 42.2. Even though I was well trained, a marathon is demanding, and I wondered if I could finish. At 30kms, I developed severe calf cramps that required me to stop and stretch and eventually walk until they recovered. There were times in my last 10kms when it felt impossible, but I persisted, and then, it was done.

Today marks day 1 of my 15th year of building a chaplaincy to support politicians across Canada. It’s been harder than I thought it would be and has taken me much longer to get to where we are than I thought it would. We haven’t arrived, but the vision is a lot less impossible than it was 15 years ago.

Here are some things I’ve learned about ‘impossible’ along the way.

If your vision doesn’t present the legitimate possibility of complete failure, it won’t be big enough to keep you coming back. Dream BIG!

Clarity matters. Make sure your vision is crystal clear and that you can articulate it in a couple of sentences that include your why. Keep it simple and clear enough so that people who hear it for the first time will say, ‘that’s awesome!’

Seeing impossible happen is more about persistence and perseverance than it is about a series of quick miracles.

The miracles that make the impossible happen come because of persistence and perseverance. Lightning sometimes strikes, but it’s mostly in response to faithfulness.

Bravado might stir a crowd, but it won’t keep you getting up in the morning. Give yourself to a vision that is marked less by chest-thumping and more about strategy, intent and focus. You’ll be happier with the results!

Happy 2020!