Posts Tagged ‘success

15
Oct
20

Where the Nutrients Are

A couple of years ago, I was driving from Point A to Point B, listening to the radio. As is usually the case, my car radio was tuned to the local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate.

By Jeremy Nelson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70921545

The host of the show was interviewing a young musician named Josiah Wise who performs under the name, serpentwithfeet. His musical style is described as “neo-soul,” whatever that means. (As an aside, that is one of the reasons I enjoy listening to NPR so much; they put me in touch with people I might never seek out on my own.)

As Mr. Wise told his story, he talked about his upbringing in the church, and his early interest in classical music. Many of his friends told him that he had an opera-quality voice and should pursue music education at the conservatory.

The point in the interview when my ears really perked up was when Wise talked about applying to multiple conservatories and receiving rejection after rejection. 

Those rejections ultimately led him to exploring his own unique musical style and put him on the path to what has now become a very successful musical career. [In the interest of full disclosure, I have not heard Wise perform. But he has been on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, so he’s clearly no slouch.]

When asked how he felt as he was hearing “NO” after “NO” after “NO,” in response to his applications, Wise (appropriately named, as it turns out) said this, “I learned to love NO. Because NO is where the nutrients are.”

Take a minute with that. Let it percolate. Connect it with your own experience.

Think back on the times in your life when you have resolutely pointed yourself in a particular direction – full of vinegar and conviction – and then run smack-dab into a brick wall of NO!

What did you do? How did it affect you?

In my case, one of the biggest “NO’s” I ever received came in the form of the failure of the small advertising and public relations firm I had started. I never could find the sweet spot between actually DOING the business and going out and FINDING NEW business. And so, after five years, I had to face the facts and shut the doors. 

That gigantic NO then led me to God’s YES of seminary and a life in ministry.

When we dive into it, we find that the Bible is chock full of stories of God’s people encountering life-shattering NO’s: the Great Flood, the fall of the Tower of Babel, the enslavement of the Israelites, droughts, plagues of locusts, suffering, disease, pestilence, crucifixion, and death. 

And as we see in each of those stories, each of those NO’s produced a rich field of nutrients that nourished astounding New Beginnings.

A new world… a new people… a new land… a new destiny.

But I have to admit… I am not sure I have EVER heard a “NO” in my life, smiled, and thought, “YUM! More nutrients!” I still regularly catch myself wanting MY plans to succeed… wanting MY blueprint of the future to triumph.

Someday I hope to be as wise as a serpentwithfeet… finding nourishment in the NO. 

Until then, I guess I will just keep listening and learning.

Abundant blessings;

07
May
19

It’s Closing In!

Retirement coupleI’m not going to lie… I am more than a little bit scared.

There is a date looming on my calendar that ties my stomach into the kind of knots only a Boy Scout could master.

What is the nature of this anxiety-producing date, you ask?

Is it a root canal? A colonoscopy? An IRS audit? A Kenny G concert?

Nope. None of the above.

June 30, 2019, is the date of my official, 100% retirement.

And it scares me pantsless. (Not literally, of course.)

To clarify… I OFFICIALLY retired from ministry in the United Methodist Church three years ago. But because I still had energy – along with a deep-seated fear of facing an empty calendar every day – I accepted a half-time appointment.

Since July 1, 2016, I have been the pastor of the Mound City and Blue Mound, Kansas United Methodist Churches. They are located just about an hour south of my home.

The people at Mound City and Blue Mound have been more than gracious in allowing Joan and I to serve as their clergy couple. They have been generous and forgiving in helping this confirmed city boy connect with his first rural pastorate.

But now the time has come to move on to that next chapter, and I am surprised to find myself more anxious about making THIS transition than the last one.

Questions abound.

Questions such as: what am I supposed to DO all day? How often should I shave? How much Candy Crush is too much? What happens if Joan gets sick and tired of seeing me all the time? Am I going to turn into one of those people who take every little sniffle to the doctor’s office just to have something to do? Is reading a book in a big, comfy chair (and then falling asleep) really as much fun as it looks? When do black socks with sandals become acceptable? Will going out to a restaurant at 4:30 p.m. suddenly seem like normal behavior? How many blog posts a week are too many?

And the question of all questions: IS LEARNING TO PLAY GOLF A RETIREMENT REQUIREMENT?

Good Lord, I hope not.

OK… maybe I’m making some of those things up. But I am not making up the part about having no small bit of nervousness about entering full retirement.

You see, like many (most) other males, I have tied my identity a bit too close to my work. Here is what I mean by that: if someone were to ask me who I am, I would likely respond by telling that person what I do.

The truth is; who I am is NOT what I do.

And yet, for those who fail to make that distinction, the disappearance of our WORK can often mean (in our minds) the disappearance of our WORTH.

I have preached and counseled about this very topic on numerous occasions. I have looked people in the eye and told them, “You are a person of INFINITE WORTH, no matter what else is going on in your life.”

I have opened my Bible and read Matthew 6:26 to them… reminding them, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

If anyone should be hip to this whole idea, shouldn’t it be ME?

Well, not to worry. It is only May 7. I’ve still got six weeks to figure this out. I’m sure something will percolate through my brain by then and I will finally be EXCITED and EAGER to retire.

 

In the meantime though, can anybody tell me what the Earlybird Special is at Denny’s today?




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