What My Obsessive Nature Says About My Spiritual Life

I am a guy who has obsessive tendencies. I once prided myself in reading weekly Sports Illustrated issues cover to cover before the next week’s issue arrived. I had a small transistor radio called the Street Beat that I carried around the house so I wouldn’t miss a pitch of a Texas Rangers’ baseball broadcast. This was done when I was a married man, with kids!

I have listened to everything Tim Bluhm and Mike Roe have ever recorded and obsessed over their best work and most memorable moments. Not a week goes by that I don’t make a reference to Friday Night Lights. I have run four marathons. Is there anything more obsessive than running marathons?

runner

How has this part of my personality helped my spiritual life?

Loyalty

I think, for one, I am not a binge obsessive. When I get into something, I am loyal to it for a long time. So, If I have a spiritual insight or inspiration, it will stick with me. For example, I have studied, memorized, read, and lived with the Sermon on the Mount for years and years and haven’t gotten tired of it. Parts of Psalm 23 still inspire as if I am reading them for the first time. Same with Colossians 3.

Stick to the Routine

If my routine gets off, it starts to bother me. This kind of rigidity obviously has its problems but also its advantages. If some kind of routine is required or prescribed, I am willing to adhere to it and not deviate. Every day may not be a breakthrough or an epiphany filled experience, but I trust the routine to bring something good coming my way.

mikeroe

I am  a Completist

I have tried to work on  this and  be willing to not finish certain things but my tendency is to complete anything that I start. This means, that I am able to fight through the emotional roller coaster that often marks the spiritual life. High points and joyous moments are great but if I am unwilling to fight through the frustrating times and the moments of uncertainty, then I wouldn’t be around for the pleasant moments that are waiting on the other side. I have learned to be okay with frustration.

My tendency to obsess over things is sometimes maddening, sometimes unfair to my loved ones, and sometimes a helpful trait to have. God created me in this way for some reason. Maybe, because he knew I might spend an obsessive amount of time writing this blog.

 

 

You Have a Unique Spiritual Personality

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows the number of every hair on your head. Before you were born God shaped you.

We know as a fact that no two people have the same finger print. Our individuality and uniqueness is often on display for all to see.

If you are so unique, then why would you think that a cookie-cutter, one size fits-all approach to Growing Up would suffice? My wife doesn’t like to read as much as I do. Do you think me throwing a book at her and telling her to just read this is going to be the best approach? No, she responds to words and actions and a chance to serve others.

fingerprints_taken_by_william_james_herschel_1859-1860

I have a friend who says,”I am a geek, God speaks to me in geek.”God touches him, inspires him, and challenges him in a way that works exactly with his personality, learning style, and preferences. He is not ashamed of the fact that his relationship with God may look different from yours. He has come to embrace it.

One of the first steps we can make on the way to Growing Up is to find out as much as we can about ourselves. Do a Myers-Briggs assessment. Take a Love Language inventory. Find out your learning style. All of these will inform how God will best interact with you. These inventories bind us to nothing but it demonstrates that God has created us with unique features and characteristics because that is how he wants to work through us and be with us.

Try this: Think about a time when you felt closest to God. What were you doing? What preceded this moment? Was music involved or words of declaration or were you reading scripture? What does this moment tell you about yourself and how God likes to interact with you? What could you do today to cultivate that interaction based on your personality and giftedness?

photo credits: wikicommons

Re-Hacked #2: Discovering Spiritual Activities That Work Best For You

To mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of this blog, I am re-posting some of my favorite posts from the past year. This post first appeared on Jan. 26.

In the last post, I explained that cookie-cutter advice  for growing spiritually was ineffective. Today, I want to give some examples of activities that fit individual personalities. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of the following types of people.

If you are the type of person who gets more out of the worship portion of the service rather than the sermon, then why don’t you look up the scripture verses where many of the praise and worship songs get their lyrics. A simple Google search for some of the lyrics should provide the scripture reference.

If you are the type of person who prefers working with your hands and creating things, then why don’t you create a cross of some kind. As you work on the cross, think about Jesus’ sacrifice and what it means to you. Think about how Jesus turned an ugly and torturous piece of wood and turned into something beautiful.

If you are the type of person who would rather watch someone read rather than read yourself, then find an audio version of the Bible to listen to in your car or on your mp3 player.

If you are the type of person who would rather play sports than watch sports, then take a Psalm and as you read it, act it out. You may have to do this one when no one else is around.

If you are the type of person who is energized by times of solitude, then take your lunch hour and find a park and just sit thinking about God’s creation and provision.

If you are the type of person who likes writing encouraging notes to people, then why don’t you write a prayer of praise to God.

If you are the type of person who enjoys talking with friends about serious matters, then find two or three who will join you regularly to talk about what Christ is doing in your life.

If you are the type of person who gets more out of the sermon than the worship portion of the service, then take notes during the sermon and review your notes during the next week.

If you are the type of person who learns more about yourself when you are helping someone else, then volunteer with a ministry who serves the poor and envision each person you help as Christ himself.

These are just a few suggestions among thousands. The point is to be creative and be willing to try out new things. Do any of these resonate with you? What suggestions would you add to the list?

Discovering Spiritual Activities That Work Best For You

In the last post, I explained that cookie-cutter advice  for growing spiritually was ineffective. Today, I want to give some examples of activities that fit individual personalities. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of the following types of people.

If you are the type of person who gets more out of the worship portion of the service rather than the sermon, then why don’t you look up the scripture verses where many of the praise and worship songs get their lyrics. A simple Google search for some of the lyrics should provide the scripture reference.

If you are the type of person who prefers working with your hands and creating things, then why don’t you create a cross of some kind. As you work on the cross, think about Jesus’ sacrifice and what it means to you. Think about how Jesus turned an ugly and torturous piece of wood and turned into something beautiful.

If you are the type of person who would rather watch someone read rather than read yourself, then find an audio version of the Bible to listen to in your car or on your mp3 player.

If you are the type of person who would rather play sports than watch sports, then take a Psalm and as you read it, act it out. You may have to do this one when no one else is around.

If you are the type of person who is energized by times of solitude, then take your lunch hour and find a park and just sit thinking about God’s creation and provision.

If you are the type of person who likes writing encouraging notes to people, then why don’t you write a prayer of praise to God.

If you are the type of person who enjoys talking with friends about serious matters, then find two or three who will join you regularly to talk about what Christ is doing in your life.

If you are the type of person who gets more out of the sermon than the worship portion of the service, then take notes during the sermon and review your notes during the next week.

If you are the type of person who learns more about yourself when you are helping someone else, then volunteer with a ministry who serves the poor and envision each person you help as Christ himself.

These are just a few suggestions among thousands. The point is to be creative and be willing to try out new things. Do any of these resonate with you? What suggestions would you add to the list?

How Christ Made Me A Better Person Pt. 2

Here are three more examples in my own life of personal changes coming as a result of the work of Christ in my life. Let me note that Christ taught me these things through his Word, through prayer and meditation on scripture, and through great teaching from the likes of Dallas Willard, James Bryan Smith, Brennan Manning, and Henri Nouwen, just to name a few.

See anger for what it is and what it is not – In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spends six verses driving home the point against anger and its partner in crime, contempt. I have learned that anything that can be done with anger can be done much better without it. This has helped me in disciplining my kids and points of contention with my wife. Sure I get angry and sometimes respond to things poorly but more and more I am able to remove anger from these situations so that I can try to help the situation instead of making it worse.

To avoid second looks– Lust has got to be the biggest problem that men face and I am as guilty as any man but Christ has taught me that the real problem is not with the first look but the second, third, and fourth looks. That is when simple awareness of attractiveness turns into lust and objectification of an individual. I work on a college campus where there are young attractive females but I have learned that there is nothing good that can come if I continue glancing their way. And best of all, Christ has taught me to value more those that aren’t on the surface attractive and beautiful.

Accept who I am – One statement that has probably meant more to me than any single teaching from one of my heroes, Dallas Willard, is this, “Discipleship is becoming the person Christ would be if he were I .” In other words, I am not called to be Christ because he has already been on this earth, I am not called to be my pastor, or Mother Theresa, or whoever else we consider to be a spiritual hero. I am called to be me, who has been transformed by the work of Christ.

In the past, I have felt that there is something wrong with me because I don’t have the enthusiastic outgoing personality you often see in churches. But Christ is not calling me to be someone I am not, he is calling me to be me but with a heart change. So that means that my personality, my gifts, my background, my context are perfectly acceptable to God and not just acceptable but needed in the work that God is doing on Earth. I was made the way I am because God needed me to accomplish a specific thing and that thing could not be accomplished if I had a different personality or different characteristics.