Monday, February 28, 2011

Stop Doing List

I've read about creating a 'Stop Doing List' in a couple of places.  (Good to Great and the Management Buckets come to mind.)  But as we are almost already done with the first two months of 2011, I thought it was time to buckle down and write it out. (Really, where did the last 59 days go?)

Below is a list of things that I'm planning on Stopping.  My hope is that through choosing specific things to Stop I can prioritize my life around what is important.  Here goes.
  1. Stop reading so many blogs.  I currently use Google Reader to subscribe to 56 blog feeds.  I'd like to at least drop that number under 50.  ...And I'm done.  It was that easy.  Where do you need to limit your 'inputs'?  You can only take in so much information.
  2. Stop checking my cell phone so frequently.  Seriously.  That's why the silly thing rings and vibrates.  Leave it alone until it goes off.
  3. Stop showering.  Just kidding.  I wanted to make sure you were paying attention!  (But think of all the time you would save!)
  4. Stop running to the computer for your task list.  Spend 30 seconds thinking about what you should do instead.  I think overall this will save time because I won't end up checking my e-mail, responding to messages, etc.
I'm still debating on this one:
Stop pursuing workshops at conferences.  I really enjoy doing this but they also take a good amount of time for preparation.  I think maybe it's time to stop seeking out opportunities and let them come to me (while acknowledging they may not.)  Maybe.  Like I said, I'm still debating.

To come up with this list I looked at my current task list and thought through a normal day.  I also prayed that God would show me what I could 'cut out'.  If you make (or have made) a similar list, I'd love to see it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How I Read It: Fight Clubs

A few thoughts after finishing Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson:

(First of all, don't be impressed that I already finished another book.  This one was only 55 pages long.)

  • On bad discipleship: "I stood at the top of the stairs of discipleship, instead of sitting in the living room with fellow disciples.  I put the best foot forward and hid the ugly one.  Disciple had become more of a verb than a noun.  It was less about a community centered on Christ and more about an activity centered on what I knew."
  • On good discipleship: "Real faith is fighting faith. This faith fights, not for perfection but for belief.  We fight to believe that Jesus is more precious, satisfying, and thrilling than anything else this world has to offer.  We fight every day of our lives.  We fight from salvation not for salvation."

Challenging my Status quo:  This book presents a different view on "accountability groups" then I've ever heard before.  Dodson shows that sometimes groups focused merely on accountability questions can be a bad thing.  You can end up as someone who doesn't really care about following Christ, but merely has a goal to answer questions correctly.  I really appreciated this challenge to my thinking, and it came at a great time as I'm trying to re-formulate what some of my disciple-making groups should look like.  I want people to follow Jesus, not answer 10 questions correctly.

You Can Use This...Today:  Dodson has a great section on walking with the Spirit.  I'll quote it, but only if you promise to use it:
"Instead of getting angry or frustrated when unplanned things occur, ask the Spirit to show you his purposes in the circumstances.  Instead of just deciding which restaurant or coffee shop you want to go to, ask the Spirit to lead you.  Instead of jamming your calendar full of personal preferences, pray and ask the Spirit to guide you as you plan your week, month, or year." 

2011 Personal Impact Ranking:
1. Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson
2. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
3. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pheaney's Tips for Writing

Tip #1: Write.

Simple huh?

Some days words, ideas and concepts flows off your fingers.

Other days it feels like you're a Neanderthal attempting to write a doctoral thesis.  On those days I've found that it is important to keep writing.  Get your thoughts out for the mere sake of getting them out (as incoherent as they may be).

Note:  I wouldn't 'publish' on the 'Neanderthal-writing' days.  (Unless of course you are a Neanderthal, then I'd love to hear what you have to say.)  Normally the better days are right around the corner.  Make sure you have one of those before you share what you wrote with the whole world.

Tip #2: Pray.  This is actually tip #1, but I was worried you might stop reading if I put it first.  Invite God into the process of what you're writing.

What tips do you have for writing?  (Be it for school, pleasure or work?)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How I Read It: Switch

A few thoughts after finishing Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

Quotable: "Knowledge does not change behavior.  We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors."
"To create movement, you have have to be specific and concrete."
"When 'milestones' seem too distant...look for an 'inch-pebble'."

Let's Not Get Spiritual: In my 2011 book overview I asked this question about Switch: "Is it possible to change without God in the picture?"  I would answer that Yes and No.  Yes, we can make changes to our life and circumstances "without God".  We see it often: You don't need to be a Christian to lose weight, to be more punctual, etc.  (Truthfully, nothing can be done without God.  But the freedom that He gives us often makes us think we're in control of our lives.)  And this is where Switch spends most of its time: changing the circumstances and situations of everyday life.  But No, it is not possible to change our spiritual condition.  We need Jesus for that.

Let's Get Spiritual:  Despite this being a secular book, I was amazed at how many Biblical principles were "discovered."  Things like...  "Mere knowledge doesn't change behavior."  "Act your way into a new way of thinking."  "A person's identity is important for behavioral change."  "You can change. You are not stuck as you are."  "Change is a process, not an event."  "Your environment/community greatly influences your behavior."
What does this say to me?  I think God wants us to change and gives us the tools to do it.  If you're consistently plugging into Scripture, you are already someone who is awash in "change principles."  What Switch does is give change a framework.  (And praise God that he gave the Heath brothers the minds to put this framework together.)

You Can Use This:  Speaking of framework, it is pretty simple and easy to remember.  (You can find it here, but you need to 'Sign Up' before you can access it.)  I know that in the next year I'll find myself 'stuck.'  For example: if a camper at one of COCUSA's locations consistently trashes the entire bathroom I often feel stuck.  (Hypothetical situation of course.) What should I do in a situation like that?  For starters, I want to pray about what's stuck and invite God into the process: Pray early and pray often!  But then, I'm planning on using the mind He's given me and this book's framework as a guide to making a switch.  Hopefully I can share a cool story of how it happened.

I'm Still Wondering: One of the directives early on in the process of making a Switch is to "Script the critical moves."  For example, telling a toddler (or teenager) to clean his entire room might lead to no action whatsoever.  But telling a toddler (or teenager) to pick up all of the matchbox cars (or soda cans) on the floor might help get him started because it is a specific and smaller directive. I'm wondering this:  When you 'script the critical moves' how do you ensure actual change and not merely a band-aid on the symptoms? (In this example, the toddler (or teenager) hasn't actually switched to being a cleaner or more obedient person, you just lowered the bar enough for him or her to obey.)

If you've read Switch I'd love to hear from you.  What did you think of it?  What did you think of How I Read It?
2011 Personal Impact Ranking:  This is my ranking of which books impact me the most.
1. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
2. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pheaney's Valentine's Day Special

It's pretty rare that my posts actually go up on a holiday.  And even more rare that I've thought that far ahead and prepared something in advance that relates to that holiday.  But this is one of those rare times.

At the risk of sounding precocious, I'll make the following statement:

Brittany and I have a fantastic marriage.

(To be honest, this is probably due more to her than to me.)  But for what it's worth, I wanted to share a handful of ways that I specifically seek to care for my lovely wife.   If you're married (or on your way there), maybe one or two of these can help you.  (If you're not married, file these gems away for the future.)
  • Dates:  Brittany and I are religious about going out on a date once a month.  (And I don't use the term 'religious' here loosely: I don't think we've missed a monthly date since we've started 'dating' over seven years ago.)  We do have the advantage of having free quality babysitting from two sets of grandparents that live 15 minutes away.  But even if we did not, I believe we would still be doing this.  Spending two to three hours a month together and alone is priceless.  (And really not that hard.  If you're married, you should do it.)
  • Sabbaths: Each week we do our best to set aside one day just for our family.  I don't work for my work.  I don't work for my house (and for good reason).  I just spend time with God, my wife, and my kids.  Brittany will tell you that this is huge for her sanity. 
    • An aside to this weekly Sabbath: I also put myself in charge of the main meal on those days.  Which means that we eat an abnormally large amount of pizza on Saturdays.  Papa Murphy's in Pekin is our favorite.
  • Cleaning List:  Now doesn't cleaning sound romantic on a Valentine's Day?  Truthfully I don't clean that much, but I do pitch in as often as possible.  I figure that if I make the mess (and I do), I should probably help clean it as well.
  • Kids:  If I'm home, I attempt to take the lead on any discipline or correction that is needed.  This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but I'm working on it.  If I have time in the morning I'll help get them ready for the day.  And since they're boys, I pride myself in my ability to wrestle the energy out of them when needed.  (Which is quite often).
I'm Brittany, Pheaney's wife, and I approve this message.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Transforming Discipleship Notes

    I recently reviewed my notes from Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden.

    I remembered why I recommend this book to people in my TRAINing Disciples workshop.  It's a fantastic resource for "making disciples a few at a time." (Conveniently that's also the book's subtitle.)  Here are a two quick quotes:
    • On Elvis Presley and why programs alone don't cut it:  "As a child, he went to church camp for five consecutive summers for free by memorizing 350 verses of Scripture each year. That means that 1750 Bible passages were tucked away in the recesses of his memory. Yet the content of those verses alone was not sufficient to keep Elvis Presley focused on a lifestyle pleasing to God."
    • A great CS Lewis quote: "The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of ‘little Christs,’ all different, will still be too few to express Him fully."
    As I say in my workshop:  When it comes to making disciples like Jesus, start with the Bible.  Read the gospels and try to emulate what Jesus did.  Once you've done that, this is a great book for understanding what Jesus-like disciple-making looks like today.

    Do you have any disciple-making resources to recommend?

      Monday, February 7, 2011

      And the winner is...

      The winner of my 2nd annual football contest is...

      Dave Getz

      Dave's original pick was the Packers over the Patriots.  Thanks to the points tiebreaker, he beat out Kyle O'Hagan who chose the same Superbowl match up.  Congrats Dave!  I'll be contacting you about your free book and coffee discussion.

      Here's my short message for all you losers out there.  (Losers of my silly game, not in life of course).

      Pick a book on my list and read it anyway.  Or if you don't like one of my books, find another one and read it.  I'd love to hear what you decide to read.  And I'd love to discuss with you too.  (I'm just too cheap to pay for everyone's book and coffee).

      Please comment if you feel so inclined.

      Thursday, February 3, 2011

      BOOR February 2010: Are you sad because of an empty line?

      This is short enough that I'll copy the whole post.  Find the original (and more blogwork) at Guy Richard's blog.
      I was walking out of a Staples in DC and noticed that the lady behind the counter looked down and out. I smiled at her and said, “early morning, huh?”  She smiled, rolled her eyes and said, “it’s dead.”

      Isn’t it funny how some people need movement to be happy? Yes, this lady could have been down even if her line was packed with customers. But chances are, if her line were packed her mind would be on the task at hand leaving no time to dwell on the negative until the rush was over.
      I believe the issue is not in “busyness” but in “purpose.” Purpose keeps people joyful even when there is not a line.
      Where there is lack of purpose there is lack of joy.