Conflicted No More

I woke up Saturday morning conflicted. I have two big things going on:

  1. My first book (The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance) launches October 18th; and,
  2. My dad has just died.

There’s big tension here:

  • I have been working on the book for 2 years and the launch is critical (so my agent and publisher tell me.) They tell me I need to get comfortable being uncomfortable telling everyone about the book.
  • Simultaneously, my Facebook and LinkedIn world has exploded with love and encouragement from family members and long lost friends because of my father’s passing. I hate to appear insensitive, or worse yet, opportunistic plugging the book during this time.

But then it hit me:  I wrote the book to help people.  To give them a pathway to the peace, purpose and balance that eludes so many. This isn’t a novel or some form of entertainment.  I believe it’s God-breathed instruction on how to live more fully. Why would I ever duck the opportunity to shout it from the rooftops?

A text exchange with my 20-year son Neal helped me.  Here it is verbatim 2 days after my dad died:

Neal: “How is your joy theory holding up?”

Me: “It’s the real deal, Neal. God delivers on His promise. ‘In God’s presence is the fullness of joy.’ (Psalm 16:11) And abiding in Him drives how I manage my time, talent, treasure, temple and tribe. Pretty cool”

Neal: “That’s great. Very cool how God sovereignly used Grandpa’s passing to put you through the crucible prior to your book coming out.”

Neal’s right.  God can turn horrible things into good things.

So what about you? How are you doing in the peace, purpose and balance categories? 

It’s a question I’ve been asking groups of people all over the world the last decade. In fact, here’s what I actually say: “With a show of hands, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the best) how would you rate the joy in your life? How many of you would say you’re at a 1?”

Not many raise their hands.

“How many 2’s?” A few hands go up.  Followed by lots of 3’s and 4’s. Not many 5’s. (No one likes a bragger you know.)

And then I ask “How would you feel if you found out the scale actually goes to 20 and you’ve been living at a level 3 or 4 when it comes to joy?  There’s actually a level of joy that’s available that is far beyond what we could ever imagine.”

As you read this, you may be wondering: How in the world do I experience that?  Of course, that’s what my book is all about — and I do encourage you to read it — but here’s the short hand: It’s called the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan.

M= Margin: Create space in our calendars to slow down and think intentionally and strategically about where we are going with our lives… and then make the hard choices and proper adjustments

A = Abide: Use a portion of that extra space to spend more time with God and His Word so that our thinking becomes intuitively aligned with His thinking.

S = Self-Awareness: Be brutally honest with ourselves about our strengths, weaknesses, dreams, motivations, fears, and brokenness.

T= Treasure: Manage our money with a biblical perspective of how money flows, how God provides it, and how it’s all His anyway; and Temple: Care for our bodies so that we can be healthy enough to distribute God’s love to the rest of the world. (see my wife Michelle’s ministry for more about this)

E= Engage: Engage in our Calling by applying our talents to the issues and causes we are passionate about.

R= Relationships: Be wise about managing relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and our fellow man.

I’d like to wrap this blog up by demystifying the Abide piece.  To “abide” simply means “to spend time with.”

If your jury is still out on the God and Jesus question, my encouragement is to read Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ.  If you want a fun intellectual challenge read C.S Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Or just click and read Matthew 5-6and John 13-17. Think deeply about it. If all that stuff is for real, what are the implications for your life now? What are the implications for when you die?

If you’re already a follower of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to take your bible reading, prayer time, meditation, solitude, journaling, etc. to the next level.  I don’t mean legalistically doing more of the same, but being thoughtful about how to really connect with the Holy Spirit through your spiritual rhythms.

Joy doesn’t have to be elusive.  Pick up the right books and read.  The legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had a few core principles of life.  At the top of his list was “Drink deeply from good books – especially the bible.”

Go ahead and take a swig.

Jeff Spadafora