Clarify your dream for your life.

Many of us are thinking this week about our accomplishments in the year past, and the things we hope to do in the year ahead. Some of these are personal quality of life topics, while others are more about our professional or work lives. Often we try to think and function as though these were separate and disconnected spheres, only overlapping or impacting each other during a heavy work project, on sick days or at the company holiday party. My own experience and observation indicates that an integrated life is a happier and healthier life – one where our personal and work lives overlap in healthy and beneficial ways. A great example of this is the growing trend in flexible work situations where people can be more effective and efficient at work because they are able to also accommodate their family needs, including caring for children, spouses and aging parents.

As we move into the new year, we do well to clarify our life dreams alongside our short term personal and professional goals. Otherwise, we may invest years and even decades into valuable endeavors only to discover far too late that we have failed to build the life we most wanted. When we have clarity around our life dream(s), then we can make choices each day that will move us in that direction, and can gather a community of advocates who will help us along the way.

DASL
Consider the possibility that your life needs more DASL. I’m not asking you to add bling with glitter and rhinestones. No, DASL stands for Dream ~ Articulate  ~ Share ~ Live. Dreaming is something that happens inside of our hearts, minds and imaginations. Our dreams want to come out, so we learn to articulate them, even when they do not seem to make sense to us, or seem irrational, unbelievable, impossible. Next we share this articulation of our dreams with others. We do this for several reasons. When we share, we hear ourselves and our dreams, and we come to believe in them more. We also continue to refine our articulation of our dreams. Plus, when others hear our articulation of our dreams, then they ask questions, catch the vision, begin sharing our dream, and experience an upwelling of their own dreams. This process naturally unfolds into the reality of living our dreams. When you see it, clarify it, and tell it, you begin organically to live it, and you find resources in people, ideas, tools, and energy that will help make the dream a reality.

Where is my dream?
If you already have a dream trying to burst forth, and you know it intimately, then the hardest work is already done. But what if you don’t have a dream, or can’t see/remember because it lies buried under obligation, fear or grief? In an upcoming post we will consider some techniques to uncover or discover your dream (personally or professionally). For now, go back to the last dream you remember having, and practice DASL with that. And when you’re ready to talk, let me know.

Jeremiah 29 (NKGCV)

(The following is my own modified translation from Jeremiah 29, following closely the NRSV. NKGCV => New Ken G Crawford Version)

This text, I believe, is both central to our understanding of God’s call upon the church, and terribly misunderstood by congregations and especially when applied to individual lives. I invite you to read the text, and then I’ll explain why I think this is true.

4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord. 10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

11 For surely I know the dreams I dream for you, says the Lord,
dreams for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Again, v 11 “For surely I know the dreams I dream for you, says the Lord,dreams for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Those familiar with this passage typically know it with the word “plans” where I have translated “dreams.” The Hebrew is “Machashabah”  (thought, device, plan, purpose,invention) from “Chashab” which can mean “to plan” but also means imagine, consider, think upon, recon, and esteem. “Plan” is an unfortunate and limiting translation because of it’s concrete and specific connotations in our modern culture. We think of building plans, schematics, of a plan for a trip or event, that has every detail clarified and managed. By implication, then, this would suggest that God’s intentions toward us are similarly concrete, specific and managed town to the last detail. Two problems with this, biblically speaking: 1) The text is about “The People of God”, not about an individual or individuals; and 2) the scripture simply does not support the notion that God has every detail thought out in advance. If that were true, then our task would be to discern and follow every micro step in our journey. At any point in time there would be one and only one right and perfect place and way to be in the world, everything else would put us outside of God’s perfect will and plan for us.

Certainly there are times when the Spirit does seem to have a concrete and specific intention in mind for us, individually and collectively. Those moments appear in scripture as well – and they are the exponential exception, not the rule. Take the story of David, for example. We have dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of days accounted for in his life. This leaves the vast majority of days unaccounted for. This does not mean God was absent (“Where can I flee from your presence?” Ps 139:7) but rather that God’s presence is more like the wind that blows, as Jesus suggests (John 3:8). Some will counter with “All our steps are ordered by the Lord” (Prov 20:24). I would submit that we hear Proverbs in light of Psalms “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a Light to my path” (Ps 119:105) and understand that God’s Word and Spirit are leading and guiding us in the way of righteousness, but not micromanaging our choices along that way. Each day may present us with multiple good and right options for living our lives. Righteousness comes in fidelity to God’s spirit i the choosing, and in our commitment to the choices we have made, recognizing that each “Yes” also brings multiple “No”s. My yes to my wife means my no to that kind of intimacy with all other people. My yes to my children means my no to pursuing my own interests (and even what call I think God may have placed on my life) at their expense.

What of these dream then? How and when do they come? The context gives us those answers. God says, “Bloom where you are planted. Bless those around you, even if you see them as your enemies. For your blessing hangs directly on your willingness and actions to bless others.” So, while I am waiting for God’s dream to be revealed and fulfilled in my own life, I am to be faithful to the call of this larger context from Jeremiah 29. I am to to as Micah 6:8 direccts “Do justice together with God. Love mercy together with God. Walk humbly together with God. This is the whole of what God requires of you.” (NKGCV)

Linchpin

Can you cast vision, chart direction, and provide energy, while also being the one keeping the wheels from falling off?

Linchpin. That’s a funny word. To my ear it sounds dark and sinister – like something from a mafia movie or a tortured legal battle. I expect to see a long black sedan pull up with impenetrable windows. The chauffeur opens the rear door and out steps a man with slicked back hair – his suit more expensive than my car. That’s not what I have in mind here.
LinchpinNo, I am imagining the term linchpin being used to describe a leadership role in an organization or project, whether secular or sacred, commercial or faith based. Whether you’re a business or ministry leader, how does the idea of a linchpin apply to you?

I’m asking these questions because someone used it to refer to my potential role in a project. That got me thinking the above, and then I decided I’d look it up and see what I could find. So, Wiki had this to say: “a fastener used to prevent a wheel or other part from sliding off the axle upon which it is riding. The word is first attested in the 14th century and derives from Middle English elements meaning “axletree pin”.” Webster online says: “1. a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft); 2. one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit <the linchpin in the defense’s case>” Setting aside for another post the ME “axletree pin” and the immediate question – “Hmm, “linch”….”tree”…. I wonder….” I want to focus on this idea of a wheel on an axle. This is an important role. These pins keep the wheels on your wheelbarrow or dolly from coming off. Years ago they would have kept the wheels on a tractor or car attached. So, the linchpin is an essential component, without which, literally, “the wheels come off!” And yet, it is also a very humble position. The pin has no creative power. The wheel does not influence the force, speed, or direction of travel. Without it the travel won’t happen, or at least not safely. But it has to humbly stay in place while others create and manage the movement.

So what is the role of leader as linchpin? Seth Godin discusses this idea is his recent book by the same title. Linchpin bookThe idea of organizational indispensability is interesting. Is it real, or a myth. Are any of us truly indispensable? What does this say about they notion that “every is replaceable”? When we are working on boundaries and balance, we need to affirm that people can manage without us – sometimes even MUST, or they won’t continue to grow and mature. How would you reconcile these ideas? We want to believe that we are indispensable, and yet when each one moves on, the organizations (families, congregations, communities, corporations) adjust, reorient their leadership, and move forward under a “new normal.”

Is the leader the linchpin, or need those be separate roles? Can you cast vision, chart direction, and provide energy, while also being the one keeping the wheels from falling off? That sounds like a lot of responsibility for one individual. I wonder. What do you think?

New Coaching Practice – day 3

Well, this launch of my new coaching business/ministry has been a whirlwind of
thoughts, hopes, dreams, questions, words, conversations,listening, praying, watching, tweaking, typing, driving, calling, texting,
asking for favors and offering favors.

I think that the more I tell my story, the greater clarity I gain and the more my words seem to make sense and find their own coherence. At least that is how it feels to me.

I have revamped my website and built a new Facebook Page for Ken G Crawford Coaching.

I have created initial business cards and flyers for both the business and ministry sides of my practice.

I have had business owners express interest in forming strategic alliances.
I have had individuals request a consultation to explore establishing a coaching relationship.I have had clergy indicate both need and desire to work work with a coach.

I still have to make decisions on the formation of the legal entity – LLC, S-Corp, SP, etc.
I still have some branding decisions to make in the short term.

I still need to decide on a name for the business and the ministry. I am leaning toward:
“Synchronous Life” – as in “Bring harmony your work, relational and spiritual energies.”  “Synchronicity Ministries” and “Synchronous Life.”  I want one central word or idea – i.e. “Synchronicity” that can be developed and riffed in a variety of ways for both commercial and non-profit ventures.

I am excited about the new things that God is unfolding in my life and ministry, and hopeful for all that is to come. I pray that this work makes good use of my gifts and talents, is a blessing to others in their lives, enables me to provide for my family, and ultimately glorifies God. That’s not too much to ask, is it?