Keep Going, Forrest Gump

 

“I figured since I gone this far, I might as well turn back and keep on going.”

 

You’ve made this far so you might as well keep going.

This month I’ve been using Austin Kleon’s 30 Day Challenge to keep track of my daily blogging and my Bible reading.

As I write this it’s 11:30 pm. I just got home from doing stand-up at a men’s event across town. I’m tired. I don’t feel like I have the energy to write anything creative/funny/interesting. But November is more than half over. I’ve made it 15 days in a row. I’ve already gone farther than I thought I could, so why not keep on going?

I’m really good at giving up on goals. I’m an old pro. Maybe when I feel like quitting I just need to be like Forest Gump and just keep going.

Stop Arguing, the War is Over

 This is a still from  THE OATH , a movie about arguing at Thanksgiving

This is a still from THE OATH, a movie about arguing at Thanksgiving

A while ago I talked about how I don’t like the language we use around arguments. We talk a lot about winning, like they’re competitions.

I’m reading Alan Jacobs’ How to Think (which is so good I want to eat this book) and there’s a chapter where he talks about this! He references Metaphors We Live By, a book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson that discusses “one of the most deeply embedded metaphors in our common discourse…” (Jacobs’ words).

ARGUMENTS ARE WARFARE

You ever notice that? It's the only way we know how to talk about arguments.

Examples from Metaphors We Live By:

 

Your claims are indefensible.

He attacked every weak point in my argument.

His criticisms were right on target.

I demolished his argument.

I’ve never won an argument with him.

If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.

He shot down all of my arguments.

 

It’s no good. You go to war with enemies, not your aunt at Thanksgiving. Everyone says war is hell. I get it. Hell exists in the Facebook comments.

We need to change the way we think about disagreements because the warfare metaphor is doing damage. War leaves no room for empathy. We don’t see a person on the other side of the “battlefield," we see a wrong idea/opinion that must be “defeated.”car

From Alan Jacobs:

 

“When people cease to be people because they are, to us, merely representatives or mouthpieces of positions we want to eradicate, then we, in our zeal to win, have sacrificed empathy: we have declined the opportunity to understand other people’s desires, principles, fears. And that is a great price to pay for supposed 'victory' in debate."

 

It’s almost Thanksgiving, traditionally a time of war. Let us lay down our arms, pick up a leg (turkey, that is), look across the table at the human being we love so dear, and talk about issues without going into battle.

Even just me saying that felt exhausting. Look, I never said this was going to be easy. I’d much belittle people with sarcastic comments and dismiss them completely. I’ve done it before and it’s REALLY FUN TO DO. But I know it’s not right. I might not change completely overnight but it is something I need to work on.

Seriously, Alan Jacobs’ How to Think is an incredible book. Read my other post inspired by it, The Courage to be Wrong.

Please Respect the Genius of Kenan Thompson

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Kenan Thompson and his long time writing partner at SNL, Bryan Tucker about how they create characters together.

Throughout the interview they played clips from Kenan’s sketches on SNL and I found myself constantly looking like a fool for laughing out loud at Wal-Mart.

Side note: One time I had to leave a Planet Fitness because Grown Ups 2 was playing on one of the tvs and I scream-laughed at some dumb joke. Everyone stared at me and so I had to run away.

When I finished the interview I started watching a ton of old SNL videos and it reminded me how good Kenan Thompson is. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being one of the most solid and reliable performers on SNL. Bryan Tucker thinks so too. He wrote a LOVELY tribute to Kenan on Slate that opens like this:

 

“Here’s a secret. If you’re a Saturday Night Live writer, and you want to get an extra laugh in your script, just add this line: “KENAN REACTS.” Sure, it’s sort of cheating. But we still do it sometimes. Because it works.”

 

I feel like this sketch captures that perfectly.

Leaving New Mexico

First of all, look at the awful thumbnail Facebook chose for this video. Come on, guys.

My weekend in New Mexico was one of the best trips all year. The only part that sucked was when I had to leave.

There’s this old joke about evangelists that they blow in to town, blow everything up, and leave the pastor to clean up the mess (I’m sure there’s more to the joke than that). When I first started ending my shows with a message on confession, I made that same mistake. I remember a few times (years ago) I didn’t even warn the pastor ahead of time. I just dived right in. I asked all the leaders to come down to the front because we were about to have a response time. All of them had this look like “uhhh, I’m not ready for this!” Kids would find a leader, pour their heart out, and the leader would have to figure out what to do next.

I don’t do that anymore. Now when I speak in churches I’ll either train leaders on a separate night or I’ll at least meet with them before service starts.

But I know there’s still more I can do to equip churches to handle those difficult conversation. Not only that, I want to create resources for those who are opening up for the first time. What’s supposed to happen next? Confession is never the end of the journey. It’s only the first step.

That’s what my Patreon is to help support.

In 2019 I want to start putting out podcasts, books, and video training that can help churches create a culture of confession.

Viktor Frankl and the Optimist's Calendar

 this is Viktor Frankl. he changed my life.

this is Viktor Frankl. he changed my life.

I follow a Twitter account called Year Progress that only tweets updates on what percentage of the year we’ve completed.

I thought it would be a fun reminder of much time we have left in 2018. Turns out the dumb thing only freaks me out and sends me into a ridiculous panic.

It’s 2018. I graduated high school 10 years ago. I started doing comedy 10 years ago. I graduated from college 6 years ago. Comedy became my full time job 5 years ago. Next year is 2019. Then it’s 2020. I’m almost 29 which means I’m almost 30 which means I’m almost dead.

Everyone over 30 is reading this laughing while everyone under 25 is throwing up because of how old I am. Just a reminder to all you Over 30’s, you probably have a birthday coming up that freaks YOU out and it’s coming at you fast!

We can all get caught up in a panic about how time is slipping through our fingers. It marches on whether we want it to or not. This is only life we have and if we screw it up, there are no do-overs. No time machines (…yet?).

One of the most important things that happened to me this year was that I read Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning. It’s an incredible book that legitimately changed my life.

As I look at where we’re at on the progress bar of 2018 I’m reminded of one of the most impactful passages in the book.

 

“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,' he will think. 'Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

 

2018 is a little over 86% complete. That could easily fill me with dread. But I want to practice looking at that through the eyes of Frankl’s optimism.

If My People...

 
If my people, who are called by my name, would just chill out for like a second.png
 

The internet caused everything in our culture to speed up. Trends and memes only last a few weeks. There’s a new breaking story every 5 minutes. It’s exhausting. Every day it feels like we’re sprinting through information, only allowing ourselves quick reactions, and never thoughtful responses.

We need to slow down. We need to chill out.

Stop being buttheads to people Jesus loves.

The Courage to be Wrong

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Being wrong takes courage.

I started reading (with a pencil) Alan Jacobs’ How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. I’m only two chapters in but I’m already buying all of you a copy for Christmas.

We’re not as good at thinking as we think we are. Jacobs says that “many errors in thinking arise from assumptions people don’t know they’re making.” We assume too much. We’ve got biases locked in that we don’t realize are messing things up and we need the courage to confront them. Because, as Jacobs points out, it’s RISKY to think.

 

“Relatively few people want to think. Thinking troubles us; thinking tires us. Thinking can force us out of familiar, comforting habits; thinking can complicate our lives; thinking can set us at odds, or at least complicate relationships, with those we admire or love or follow. Who needs thinking?”

 

Josh Harris is the perfect example of this. In the 90’s, when Harris was only 21 he published I Kissed Dating Goodbye, an incredibly successful book on Christian relationships. It became a number one best seller and influenced the way youth pastors across the country talked about dating.

There were people loved the book but others had really negative experiences with it. Some would reach out and try to explain to Harris how his book hurt them, screwed up their views on relationships, or was used as a weapon against them. Now Harris has a statement on his website about his book and how his opinion on it is changing.

From his statement:

 

“While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years. I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.”

 

He goes on to make a real apology, owning what he did wrong.

 

“To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry. I never intended to hurt you. I know this apology doesn’t change anything for you and it’s coming too late, but I want you to hear that I regret any way that my ideas restricted you, hurt you, or gave you a less-than-biblical view of yourself, your sexuality, your relationships, and God.”

 

At first I thought it must have taken a lot of courage to write something like that but now I think the courage came earlier. By the time he got to the point where he felt the need to say something publicly, the momentum from an earlier act of courage was strong enough to carry him along.

Here’s what Harris said in a TEDX Talk called Strong Enough to be Wrong:

 

“But it was so hard for me to face up to being wrong because it felt like I was saying a big part of my life was wrong. I didn’t have the courage to do that. What helped me to begin to let my guard down was a few years ago I stopped being the pastor of a large church and I went back to school. I went to graduate school and I stopped having to be constantly right about everything and defend all these ideas and I just became a student who was a listening.”

 

It took courage to slow down and listen.

NOTE: I don’t think every pastor needs to leave ministry in order to have mindset. I think ultimately the pastor’s role isn’t necessarily “the one with all the answers." Scripture is supposed to stand as the authority figure and the pastor is the first follower, helping the congregation to see the answers and guidance God’s Word gives. I believe a pastor is allowed to be wrong and I think it could be an incredible example for their congregation if a pastor were to get up and apologize during a service.

In that TEDX Talk Harris says “evolution always involves death.” If we want to grow and change we have to let old habits and old ways of thinking die off to make room for the new. That’s what change is.  We need to create a culture that celebrates the courage it takes to question what in your life needs to change. It has to be a culture that allows the space for people to be open and vulnerable enough to evaluate all the things in their life that may need to die.

We’re all wrong about at least one thing. We can’t all be right about everything all the time. So there’s got to be at least one thing you believe that isn’t right.

This isn’t just about political opinions. It could be priorities, how you handle your anger, opinions on relationships, biases about other cultures, theology, and a million other things. We’ve got to be willing to exam these things.

When we belong to a community of people we truly believe care for us and want the best for us, it’ll be easier to have the courage to slow down, listen, evaluate, and be convinced that something needs to change.

Do you have that now? Are you contributing that sense of security to the people in your community?

We need it. Now more than ever.