The Pain of Discipline vs. the Pain of Regret

Yesterday, Gary Thompson posted on Twitter

The pain of discipline is not as great as the pain of regret.

The statement both resonates with me and challenges me. In terms of taking care of your health, a similar idea is expressed in the statement, “Prevention is the best medicine.” Better to be disciplined on the front end than to live with regret on the back end.

I’m fairly disciplined, but I’m more disciplined in some areas than in others. Areas where I’ve done fairly well include time with God, time with family, exercise, and (especially nowadays) nutrition (all to varying degrees and seasons). I’ve been pretty disciplined with my education, personal growth, as well as my ministry. But I’ve struggled in other areas, such as rest and play, which is a major reason for hitting the wall. I am presently trying to become more disciplined in these areas to avoid future regret!

So, wherever you are today, choose the path of discipline over the path of regret!

Hitting the Wall

Recently, I wrote a post on Wayne Cordeiro’s book, Leading on Empty. Cordeiro writes, “Sooner or later every long-distance runner encounters the wall. Regardless of how well-trained the athlete, he will meet it one day, and he will meet it head on (34).”

Well, I believe I hit the wall five months ago, on June 14, 2012. I’ve alluded to it here and there over the last few months: 3 Steps I’m Taking to Manage Stress Better, Engage & Disengage, Songs for the Valley, Secrets From the Treadmill, Simple Techniques to Manage Stress, The Discipline of Replenishment, as well as Leading on Empty.

Five months ago, I experienced heart palpitations, which was followed by an increased heart rate that lasted for several days, and for two out of the first three weeks. My elevated heart rate was mostly in the 90s to low 100s (technically, “normal” is 60-100, but it didn’t feel normal!). Fortunately, those first three weeks happened to be followed by two weeks of vacation, which helped. Since then, I’ve had some bouts of an increased heart rate, but it has been less and less over time.

One of the first things I thought about, at first, was Wayne Cordeiro’s experience, which is why I read his book. The problem, as Cordeiro and others discuss, is that you can only live on adrenaline (a stress hormone) so long without encountering problems. So, as I’ve been discovering through lots of soul-searching over the last few months, I need to make some changes in order to get away from my reliance on adrenaline.

Incidentally, I was also in the middle of the latest HealthMiles challenge where I was doing 30,000 steps/day. Before the latest challenge, I had completed five 4-week challenges over a four-year period, doing 30,000 steps per day everyday of the challenges. I’ve since learned that doing too much exercise actually increases levels of cortisol, another stress hormone (while light to moderate exercise reduces the stress hormone).

Cordeiro’s book talks about the need to increase your level of serotonin (healthy chemicals) so that you don’t have to live on adrenaline (stress hormones). Basically, as I understand it, you increase your serotonin by doing things that replenish you and “fill your tank.” You can also increase serotonin by eating well. Overall, I’ve done pretty well in the area of nutrition, but still need to improve other areas (rest, play, etc.). Cordeiro points out that rebuilding serotonin levels is a slow process!

While I certainly have not enjoyed this ordeal, once I fully recover and get beyond this wall, I will be grateful to God for the wake-up call, and for the opportunity to live healthier so that I can be more prepared to finish well!

Fantasy Football 2012

With apologies to non-sports/football fans, but this is my annual fantasy football post. Previous posts included: Fantasy Football (2008), Life Lessons from Fantasy Football (2009), Fantasy Football 2010 Underway, and Getting Ready for Fantasy Football 2011.

This is my fifth season playing fantasy football (all in our church league at Centre Grove). My strategy has evolved over the years. This year, I’ve tried to streamline my preparation and research even more than in the past, and the following is my current strategy.

Twitter
I follow a number of fantasy football experts on Twitter. I’m currently following 41 people, but it’s changes periodically, as I add some and remove others to keep the list manageable.

RSS Reader
This year, I started using an RSS reader to subscribe to my favorite fantasy football articles. I subscribe using Google Reader and then quickly skim the articles in Mr. Reader (an iPad app).

Rotoworld Player News
I also like the Rotoworld Player News iPad app.

FantasyPros.com
For rankings, I rely almost solely on FantasyPros.com, which compiles around 100 or more expert rankings each week. Their free service, My Playbook, where you can import your fantasy team, is a must-use resource. FantasyPros.com is a major time saver!

NFL Fantasy Live
I don’t often get to watch NFL Fantasy Live, but it’s a good program that airs on online (and on NFL Network) Monday through Friday, as well as Sunday before game time. When I have some spare moments, I try to watch parts of an episode or two online (picking and choosing among segments listed in the sidebar).

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Post-Election Prayer

Now that the election has come and gone (thanks be to God!), we need to turn our attention to praying for the nation and the leaders that have been elected for the next term.

1 Timothy 2.1-2 says …

First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity.

Here are some things I’m asking God to give our leaders …

  • Wisdom
  • Integrity
  • Pure motives
  • Protection
  • Unity
  • Courage
  • And the ability to play well with others!

May God bless America!

The Matthew 28 Initiative In Review

A little over a year ago, I wrote about our conference’s Matthew 28 Initiative. I wrote that post on the eve of our consultation weekend in September 2011, and I recently realized I haven’t written anything about it since then!

The consultation, which was conducted by Rev. Roz Mason (Consultant), Rev. Rich Morris (Coach), and Rev. Lori Steffensen (District Superintendent), went very well. We had a couple of listening sessions in subsequent weeks and voted, overwhelmingly, on October 25, 2011 to accept the prescriptions presented by the consultation team.

The consultation report listed six areas of strength (a committed core of leaders, active spirituality, building and location, stewardship, relationships, and pastor). The report also named five areas to work on (vision and understanding of mission, worship, children’s ministry, leadership development, and assimilation). The prescriptions were designed to address the areas to work on.

I said from the beginning the real value of the process is that it would help us do in one year what it would otherwise take several years to do on our own (if at all). As we come to the end of our year, it was certainly an intense year, but I believe it has been a real catalyst which will help us as we move forward and build on what God has done in and through us this past year!

I see at least three benefits from having engaged in the Matthew 28 Initiative …

  1. Centre Grove has become more active and energized! There is a great deal more energy and enthusiasm than there was a year ago. In fact, our core leaders listed “lack of enthusiasm” as a challenge last year, but I don’t think that would said as strongly now.
  2. Centre Grove is realigning for mission and ministry! We created a new structure after studying Winning On Purpose: How To Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission by John Kaiser. The new structure emphasizes authority, responsibility, and accountability. But it’s not just about changing, or simplifying, the structure; it’s also about clarifying our roles. In a nutshell: the Pastor leads, the Leadership Team (volunteer/paid staff) manages, the Council governs, and the Congregation ministers.
  3. Centre Grove is becoming more outward-focused! We are embracing our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Now, there were parts we could have done better, of course. There are a couple of areas we have to regroup and redo. But the best part is, we’re just getting started. We’ve only scratched the surface. The foundation we’ve laid through this process will enable us to be more effective in our mission and ministry.

While most of the fruit from our work in the past year will come later, we are already beginning to see some fruit. We trust God will help us bear much more fruit for the kingdom of God in the days and years ahead!

The Matthew 28 Initiative is not a silver bullet for fixing all that ails in a church. It is simply an opportunity to bring about better focus and alignment for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

If you are serving The United Methodist Church in the Susquehanna Conference and would like more information, there’s a brochure available at the conference website. Also, feel free to post a comment below or contact me if you have any questions.