My Daily Approach
I’ve been in the habit for the last few years of Facebooking, 10 Great Things That Happened to me Today. Sometimes, I do longer lists. Sometimes I skip a day and catch up with 25 Things. I started this as a discipline for myself–a way to count my blessings. For some time, I was just writing them down for myself. One day, a couple of years ago, I decided to post them in order to influence the tone of social media.
Largely due to these lists, sometimes people will approach me or write me to say they are inspired by the way I see life. I appreciate the encouragement. I enjoy asking them what particular things about what I do inspire them. Usually, I get answers about the freedom and permission I seem to embrace to try new things, invent ideas, go against the grain, not settle for mediocre.
Often times, professional ministry folk will say the same things about how I approach ministry. Maybe because they read my lists or maybe because they’ve read my books or done life with me. To be honest, the “way I see life” and my “approach to ministry” are the same thing to me. I don’t delineate between the two. Life is life. I am a Jesus follower at work or at home. Everything is spiritual.
I was recently telling my wife how strange it sometimes feels that people think I’ve found some secret decoder ring of happiness. At least once a week someone says to me, “I wish I had your life” or something similar. I think I’m a normal guy. Normal problems. Personal and family health issues and worries. Bills. Taxes. Occasional tragedies. Ugly fights from time to time. But, my wife assured me, “Not everyone thinks like you. Not everyone sees things the way you do.” Hmmm.
So, I thought it would be healthy and maybe helpful to record the questions I ask myself each day when I wake up. I don’t literally go through this list. They have become part of me.
Who am I going to meet today?
I love walking in to a restaurant in town and being called by name. There is something magical about being known. I figure other people feel the same. So, I try to meet someone new every day. This requires proactivity. I don’t assume people will walk up and introduce themselves. I have to ask for their names. I have to engage in conversation. I keep a running list of names of people I meet and notes about them. It’s my goal to know every shop owner and employee in every store and restaurant I frequent in my town. Because, these are my people. It’s where I live.
What will I be surprised by today?
I expect that I will experience some kind of wonder in the day. This requires paying attention. Asking questions.
What new experience will I create for myself today?
I walk where my feet take me. I take new routes to and from work. I walk in to stores I have never been in even if it looks like it’s not my flavor or style. I watch movies I’ve never heard of. I try food I never order. I listen to Sirius XM stations I have never heard. I take five minutes to stop at the side of the road and read the historical marker. I walk inside of buildings just because they are there. I take elevators to top floors just because.
What am I going to read today?
Everyday I read something. Anything. Not always the Bible. Every February, I read nothing but Fiction. Fiction February. Wanna join me this year?
What am I going to eat today?
Food is a big deal to me. I don’t eat fast food. I cook a lot. My wife cooks a lot. When we eat out, we aim to try a new restaurant. I seldom eat at chains and when I do, it’s usually because I’m outvoted. So, I make the best of it. Plan your food. It’s a huge part of your life.
What will I listen to today?
I collect vinyl. Some of the albums in my stack I have never listened to–they were a gift, I found them cheap, they were recommended, etc. It is a great experience to listen ALL THE WAY through an entire album. Sitting still. I do this as often as possible. When I don’t have time to do that in my day, I at least make sure I am listening to something I have never heard before. Music is a language. It speaks louder, deeper, more eloquently, softer, more convicting, more emotionally, more emotively than any other language. It informs my life.
What am I going to make today?
I make something every day. Period. I design my own thank you notes. I draw. I paint. I build. I craft. I write.
What am I going to imagine today?
I walk with my phone in hand. I take photos of things that inspire me. I talk out loud. And, I speak my thoughts into the recorder app. I collect notebooks. They are full of notes and ideas. Song lyrics. Quips. Jokes. When I think it, I write it down. And, I dig deeper. If I get an idea, I start to flesh it out with bullet points. I may never do it but I will do something. And, daily imagination is where it starts.
Who am I going to encourage today?
Every day, I send someone a note. An email. A card. Doesn’t matter. Everyday, SOMEONE will hear some encouraging words from me. I want to be encouraged. I’m sure they do to. So, it breathes life into my day to take 2 minutes to drop a note.
Where will I spend some personal time today?
On my motorcycle. Spinning vinyl. On a walk. Late at night after everyone’s asleep. I need it. It fuels me.
What conversations will I have today?
I try to have a face-to-face appointment every day. I look for excuses to have them spontaneously. I host vinyl listening parties in my office. I grab a pipe and invite a friend along. I meet folks for coffee. A new conversation with someone everyday (that’s not work related, not to troubleshoot, not conflict resolution) to learn more about them is life giving.
How will I greet nature today?
I go on walks. I sing to the birds. I talk to the cats. I take new trails. I walk at different times of day to literally see things in a different light. I walk in the rain without an umbrella.
How will I play today?
I watch movies. I sing songs loud while walking through the office. I call mandatory meetings and put on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I play board games. I go for drives. I write songs. I write poems. I grab people in the office and take them shopping. I ride a scooter through the office. I hold laugh parties.
What will God say to me today?
Yeah. I’m one of those weirdos. I don’t expect Him to audibly call my name. But, I expect He’ll give me perspective. I expect He is speaking through others and I need to shut up a bit. I expect I’ll learn a lesson.
What will I say to God today?
I believe He’s listening. I think He wants me to talk to Him. So, I do. I tell Him everything. He’s not afraid of my honesty. I laugh with Him. Cry with Him. Yell at Him. Confess to Him. Consult Him. Ask things of Him. Apologize to Him. Ask Him for wisdom. Nothing is off-limits.
What will I say yes to today?
How would you like to go on a drive and meet someone? Yes. How would you like to come to work with me and see what I do? Yes. How would you like to play music for my youth group? Yes. How would you like to come over for dinner? Yes. How would you like to play a few songs for some teenagers? Yes. These are legit questions that have led to some of the most memorable experiences and friendships of my life.
I’ve played music throughout Europe. I’ve spoken at major conventions and conferences. I’ve written books. I’ve gone on joy rides in private helicopters and planes. I’ve been behind the scenes at major corporations. I’ve seen the hidden tunnels and secret passageways of public spaces that no one gets to see. I’ve met CEO’s and Presidents of major companies. I’ve been on national television. I’ve had rock stars stay at my house. I’ve played music on the same stages as some of my heroes. I’ve written theme songs for independent films, book releases, and radio shows. I’ve made wine with vintners and had a beer named after my band. I’ve stayed in European cottages for free. I’ve had wine with the head of the Romanian Prison system. I’ve been front row and backstage at hundreds of concerts for free. I have hung out on the tour busses of major touring acts—talking about life. I could go on.
All of these opportunities came through saying yes to smaller opportunities. Life is waiting for you to say yes.