Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, recently published his latest offering, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. Despite the ominous title, Henry seeks to remind each of us that we have a finite amount of time and that when we’re gone, our work, defined as anywhere that we add value, will stand as the biggest testament to who we were and what we believed. It’s the sum total of our focus, assets, time and energy.
“Ultimately, your life will be measured by what you gave, not what you received. Don’t hold out on the rest of us—we need you to contribute. Spend your life building a body of work you will be proud of. Engage today with urgency and diligence. Plant seeds every day that will yield a harvest later. Tomorrow is only an unfulfilled wish, so live and work as if today is all you have. If you do, you will be able to lay your head down each night satisfied with your work, and in the end, you will die empty of regret, but full of satisfaction for a life well lived.”
Boys night at Rogers HQ! #wipeout on the Wii
For the past two years I’ve joined a team of creatives from around the country on an endeavor to encourage church leaders and help them communicate a message of hope to their communities. No, we don’t build church buildings or construct orphanages. No we don’t run a VBS or witness on the streets. We work to create sustainable solutions for churches to effectively communicate an ultimate message of God’s never-ending love for each community the churches we help are involved in. So far we’ve been to Albany, NY and Northwest Arkansas.
Last year Pastor Andy Swart from Metro Church, in Rogers, Arkansas was impressed that we knocked out needs his church had for four years.
“This week has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders as a lead pastor. I have in my head what I want things to look and feel like, and your team somewhere did a ninja assault on my brain and figured out what that looked like. I’ve worked two twelve hour days with them, but they have been energizing and refreshing days! The work they’ve accomplished allows us to focus more on getting Jesus to NWA!”
This year weʼre working with 15-20 churches and ministries in Anchorage Alaska and surrounding areas.
Alaska is the least churched state in the country and leads the nation in almost all of the worst statistics (suicide, depression, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse). Some move to Alaska to run away from all sorts of things including other people and even the influence of Christianity. Itʼs no surprise the biggest felt need is acceptance – community and belonging. However, God is at work and doing new things. People are responding to a gospel of grace. Thereʼs a real sense of unity among pastors. For the first time in years, many churches are being planted and working together with established churches to bring revival to Alaska.
We will be helping good churches and pastors like Jay in Wasilla who recently followed Godʼs call by moving his family from Virginia to plant a church. Heʼs bi-vocational. His full-time gig is working at Lowe’s Hardware. Creative Missions is the least we can do to help guys like that.
Finally, the good folks of Anchorage believe Alaska is the only state in the country where if you influence one city (Anchorage) you can influence the entire state. This is good news for us. Weʼre specifically helping churches in Anchorage to maximize the impact of Creative Missions in Alaska. You will play a part in spreading the gospel to all of Alaska!
Over the last two years we have seen the countenance of church leaders lift. We’ve heard them confess that, by the time we leave, they no longer feel alone in ministry. We’ve seen churches grow, add services and community outreaches as a result of just a few creatives dedicating a week of time. Creative Missions changes churches.
See what we’ve done the last 2 years:
Weʼre building five teams to accomplish a three-pronged strategy with 25-30 Creative Missionaries.
The world is always seeking an expert; the latest guru on a topic or idea. They are looking for the consultant that’s been there and has written the book on it. I get it. As a consumer of anything, I want someone to show me the ropes and has experience with a product, application or model. I get that. However, I’ve been getting to this point lately where experts seem to be a dime a dozen. Everyone’s an expert in this or that and the problem I keep bumping up against is that the experts all seem to say the same thing. Perhaps that’s all that can be said but perhaps not.
What about the rogue nobodies. The ones with the different perspective that peer through a slightly different pane on the prism. These are the people that look at a product, turn it upside down and use it for something it was never quite intended for but, hey, it works! These days, I’m far more interested in the novice, the inexperienced end user who doesn’t know what the product is for or what it’s supposed to do but has made it work their way, for them. Who says we can’t make our fortune and save the world at the same time. Maybe 3:45 AM is the perfect time to post something on a social network and have it go viral. There’s a place for the experts but leave space for the ones that get it done differently and perhaps better.
Those that dare to plod on as novices, as goonies….they just might change the world.
Goonies, never say die!
I’ve been analyzing data this afternoon prepping an annual report for a client. In the midst of my research I stumbled across a post from Mashable called Your Life as Data: The Rise of Personal Annual Reports. I was intrigued. Professionally I track data all year and analyze it against last years data, last months data, seasonal data, etc and attempt to project where that data will take me and what outcomes I can expect to judge how successful I am at what I do. But personally? The questions started flooding my mind. What would I track? How would I quantify it? I began looking at some of the data others have collected like this and this. I was disappointed to see reports on how much TV someone watched and how much they spent on transportation or time spent out of state, etc. The sad thing may very well be that tracking those things is the sum of what we care about or who we are. Am I really the $1,659.34 that I spent on coffee (a made up number as I am sure it’s much higher than that) and is that really how I wanted to spend $1,659.34? Is that the best I could do?
One of my favorite songs from the musical, RENT is called “Seasons of Love” and as colorful as the musical is they nail something on the head with this song:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
The trick is analyzing the right data. Too often I’ve come to the end of something and found I was collecting the wrong data or in the wrong format, rendering it useless. It got me thinking how to calibrate my life and begin tracking what matters and analyzing the data to make better choices. I shudder to think I get to the end of all of this only to find I collected the wrong data, measured myself by the wrong standard and ended up miles off course to where I could’ve been; should’ve been.
The same song from RENT ends with:
“Measure in love”
So what did you measure this year? Was it the amount of debt paid off or times under budget? Was it hours worked on particular projects or money earned on the side? Or was it how many times your children smiled, or the length of a kiss with your spouse, or how many coffees you had with a friend? What will you measure this coming year? Sunsets with your spouse, hours of play with your children or hours in service to those in need in your community?
How do you measure, measure a year?