Taking it up a notch

journeyI was convicted today.

This morning’s sermon by Pastor Jason Perry was called “Caleb: Faith for a Lifetime.” Pastor Perry led us through a chapter from the book of Joshua in which Caleb, an 85-year-old man by this time, is recounting his experiences of taking God at His word. Caleb and Joshua were 2 of 12 scouts the Israelites sent into Canaan after God promised Israel this land was for them. Ten of the scouts brought back reports of giant people and large armies inhabiting the land. Joshua and Caleb acknowledged the challenge but were confident in their God. “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it,” was Caleb’s report (Numbers 13:30, NIV).

Well, Joshua and Caleb were outnumbered, and the Israelites were punished for their lack of faith. They were banished to the desert for 40 years of wandering—until that whole generation of the doubtful died off. Their children would enter the promised land that they themselves had been afraid to accept.

85 years old and still ready for battle

Joshua and Caleb would be the only members of their generation to step foot on Canaanite soil. Because of their faith. In fact, listen to Caleb talking to the younger generation of Israelites:

“So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:10–12, NIV)

Do you love that? Caleb’s faith had only grown stronger during 40 years of desert waiting! He was just as confident, just as whole-hearted, just as eager to slay giants and serve God as he had ever been. Wow.

Advice for all ages

Pastor Perry’s advice to the young people of our congregation was to make God a habit now, by developing a discipline of talking and listening to Him every day through prayer and Bible reading.

His advice to the “seasoned saints” was to finish well, to never accept retirement, to find new ways to serve, to allow age to take a physical toll but never a spiritual toll.

For people in my age group—between youth and retirement—he suggested, “Take it up a notch.”

Take it up a notch?

What does that mean? For me it means I want to be more strategic about how I spend my time. I can’t pack any more into my days—I’m already overwhelmed! But “overwhelmed” is no way to go through life. So taking it up a notch means investing time in the right things.

  • It means I’ll be more careful about the clients I accept, the projects I agree to, the committees I join.
  • It means I’ll eliminate some of the blogs and e-newsletters I subscribe to, so I’ll still have time and energy to read the Bible and really think about what it says.
  • It means I won’t neglect rest, and healthy meals, and outdoor activities—because I want to be able to say when I’m 85, “I’m just as strong, just as vigorous to go out to battle, as I was 40 years ago!”

Will I keep blogging? Tweeting? Facebooking? LinkingIn? I’m not sure. I haven’t been able to discern yet whether the words I post in cyberspace ever result in the world being a better place. Am I strengthening anyone’s faith? Or my own? Sometimes you don’t know until years down the road.

Please share

I would appreciate any comments on this subject. What are the rest of you doing to make sure you spend time on only the “right” things? What kinds of disciplines have you set up? And how did you determine what is right? Did you ever eliminate something you thought was not worthwhile, and then wish later you had kept it?

If you were challenged to take your faith up a notch, what would that mean for you?


Social media frenzy

frenzyJUNE 2009 – As Mike Stelzner’s recent Social Media Marketing Industry Report reveals, I’m not the only person feeling nearly overwhelmed by the social media frenzy. It’s quite common for regular business people, not just teenagers, to spend 5–10 hours each week blogging, Linking, Facebooking, tweeting, and using other forms of social media. Now, if you approach social networking as a stress-relieving hobby, you might consider those hours an investment in renewed mental health, or an efficient way to build relationships with a wide, diverse network. But if you are using social media to broadcast a business message—in addition to fulfilling your regular obligations to traditional, print-based forms of communication—you may find yourself overwhelmed and wondering where the greatest ROI (Return On Involvement) is.

I’m wondering that myself. I’m new to social media. I joined Facebook less than a year ago when an old high school acquaintance asked me to confirm our friendship. I began tweeting just a few weeks ago out of curiosity. LinkedIn is probably my favorite network—it’s friendly and helpful, but always professional.

Then I signed up for the Social Media Success Summit 2009. The first three presenters were so passionate about social media and so clear about its benefits, that I was swept up in their enthusiasm. I sat through hours of presentations and took pages of notes. I downloaded the video and audio files the next day and re-listened to them during my commute. I updated my Facebook page, started tweeting regularly, and joined a few LinkedIn Groups. I was hooked.

Only time will tell if the time I’m investing will result in business growth, new friendships, heightened creativity, increased crankiness due to lack of sleep, or all of the above. Three weeks into the Summit, I can relay only these specifics: I’ve sold one book, I’ve received three positive comments on my website, and I’ve more than quadrupled my network, my followers, and my fans.

Whether those results turn out to be significant or not, I’m enjoying the frenzy for now!