This is the first part in my series on 5 life lessons that I learned from Labor Day weekend in 2005, while volunteering with efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
On that Monday and Tuesday I served in a temporary data center for a 6,000 person shelter that had been setup at the River Centre in Baton Rouge, LA. As a computer guru and web application developer, I knew that a few technology tweaks could make this data processing much more useful. It was frustrating to be there and know that something better could be done.
Then on the drive back to Illinois on Wednesday, we were listening to a Steel on Steel podcast and they were talking about how technology could possibly solve our oil shortage. I was like, “Yeah… technology can solve any problem.”
Then, suddenly, I realized what I was saying. I really did tend to think that technology can fix any problem. Technology is amazing. It can solve starvation, resource scarcity, data analysis, recovery from natural disasters, etc. It can literally save people. Or can it? Can technology fix all our problems? I sure tend to think it can if we can just wrap our minds around a solution.
I realized that much of the time I look to technology to fix us, instead of God. The world’s core problems can only be solved by God. My deepest problems can only be made right by God’s miraculous touch.
If I don’t watch myself, I start to worship technology, rather than the one who created order to our world and gave us the left and right parts of our brains in order to develop and apply technology to our worlds.
Lord, help me to rely only on you and realize daily that technology is something you created for us to use to glorify you.
How do you tend to worship technology? What else do you worship instead of God? Politics? Wealth?
At the beginning of this year I tried to post a series of blogs about what I learned in 2007. I never did get past the first post, because I quickly realized that I didn’t really grasp yet what I’d learned in 2007. It’s often hard to look at your recent past and fully understand what you’re in the process of learning.
But, tonight I was reminded of a huge thing I learned during Labor Day weekend in 2005. That was the weekend following disaster in the Gulf Coast, known as Hurricane Katrina. As I was thinking about this one lesson that I learned that particular weekend, I realized that there were some other lessons I learned that weekend. And each of these were really huge, significant lessons that have shaped my life since then.
So, this is an introduction to 5 key lessons that I learned from the weekend after Hurricane Katrina. Read about my 5 lessons here over the next few days:
- Techno Savior
- A Little Less Action, and a Lot More Talk
- Pray Tell What?
- It’s Safer Driving from the Back Seat
- Shouldn’t This Be Less Fun?
One of the habits that I want to develop is documenting my life lessons and glimpses of when I’m certain God showed me something. These lessons from this one weekend are just that.
How do you remember when you learn a life lesson? How far after an experience do you typically need to be to understand what that experience has taught you?
Recently I’ve been putting a lot of thought into why I actually do, or don’t do, things. I mean, why is it that I a tend to live an undisciplined life? Why do I not want to do my laundry, wash dishes, lose weight, eat healthy, etc.? You’re issues may be different, but I bet there are things that you feel like you should do, but have a hard time following through with them.
Last week an idea really clicked with me. Living a disciplined life should not be the goal. Rather a discipline is something that I do so that I can live a certain way. The act of taking out the garbage isn’t my goal. Eating healthy isn’t my goal. Rather those are things that I do so that I can live life and not get distracted by those things.
So, what are some of my goals? I want to live a life full of passion. I want to be connected in meaningful relationships with people. I want to help people experience a meaningful life. So, I need to strategically lead my own life so that things don’t distract me from these goals. That’s where discipline enters the picture.
I want to focus on a few disciplines that help me to not get distracted from my goals:
- By spending time in God’s Word, I can learn from His passion.
- By focusing on my health, I can live more vigorously and invest more freely in relationships.
- By studying and reading, I can develop skills in leading people.
I need to understand what my motivation is. It’s so easy to get caught up in a task and forget why it’s even important.
Where have you lost your motivation recently? What is an area of your life you want to grow in, and how can a discipline help with it?
Occasionally I can step back from my life and take a look at it from a bigger picture. Normally I’m experiencing it one day at time and I lose perspective of how the story of my life fits together. In reality my life is like an epic novel or movie with many different plots and adventures that all weave together in a loose pattern to help me make a difference in my world.
Sometimes one chapter or book comes to a dramatic end and it’s hard to imagine how the next section could continue. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit abandoned. The woman I loved walked out. My job could end anytime. Another job opportunity that looked exciting never developed. My close friend, mentor, and pastor has decided to quit his job and move away. A couple close friends are drifting away. Sometimes a chapter or book ends on an exciting cliff hanger. Other times, they end without a sense of resolution and it’s hard to imagine how the next section can continue.
But, I know the writer of my story. He’s the greatest author ever. Why wouldn’t I expect the next section to move forward and the epic adventure to continue? Is my author less skilled at writing a great epic than J.R. Tolkien or George Lucas? Heck no! Those are novice authors compared to my God.
While it’s a disappointing time in my story, I’m confident the next book will be even more exciting. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!
This past year has definitely been the hardest year of my life. At the same time it’s been my most defining and best year. Today I begin a series of posts to help me look at the past year and document what I’ve been learning through various hardships.
It actually started over a year ago. In October 2006 God really started challenging my faith and belief.
“Bill, if you believe that faith in Jesus is key to people finding hope, forgiveness and eternal life, why don’t you seem to care? Why don’t you care about people? People who are far from God? People you work with? People from church? Family? Bill, what have I called you to? Didn’t I say love me and love the people around you? I didn’t call you to some other mission.”
I never heard an audible voice or anything, but God started putting that burden on my heart last fall.
So, life lesson number 1: Relationships matter everything. God’s core desire for us is to know Him and share our lives with people around us (see: Greatest Commandment). If those relationships aren’t at the core of what I’m doing, I’m not really in the game. This wasn’t really new to me, but the newness was an understanding and appreciation that God sets this as the top priority.
So, in October 2006 I started to move toward investing in relationships as a core focus. There are times when I’ve gotten off track and sat on the bench, forgetting how to play the game, but this new passion for relationships has been the basis for making the past year incredible. You’ll hear about some of these new relationships in future parts of this post.
What about you? Do you really let the value of relationships be the top priority in your life?
Do you have any advice for keeping this a core focus in your life?