pecaspers: a Blog in transition

October 12, 2013

Competing Desires

Earlier today my three year old son Peter threw an epic fit that made me a little later to a meeting to which I was headed. Even after I left, in part because I left, the tantrum train kept rolling right along for a while longer.

Why was Peter having a grade-A melt down? It was because he doesn’t have a steam roller, obviously.

That’s not quite right. It was because he has a monster truck instead of a steam roller.

I can see this isn’t making sense to you. Some background is in order.

Peter is a big Bob the Builder fan. Bob has a team of anthropomorphic construction equipment; one of whom is a steam roller named Rolly. Peter has a wide assortment of construction equipment toys. It doesn’t matter to him that only a couple of them are actually Bob the Builder toys, any kind of machine featured on the show is called by that character’s name. Peter doesn’t have a Rolly, nor does he have a suitable stand-in.

For his recent birthday, Peter got some “monies.” Yesterday, Peter and Mommy pulled a dollar and change (got to learn about taxes early) out of Peter’s froggy bank with the expressed purpose of buying a steam roller from Dollar Tree. However, Peter decided in Dollar Tree that he wanted a monster truck instead.

Peter wanted a Rolly, but he bought a monster truck instead by his own free choice.

Back to today’s fit. “I want a Rolly!”
“Peter, you don’t have a Rolly. You bought the monster truck, remember?”
“I don’t want that monster truck! I want a Rolly!”
And so on.

There’s a sermon illustration in there somewhere.

He had a desire for a good thing. He had the resources to achieve his desire. Yet because he wasn’t focused, he ended up with something other than his primary desire, and he regretted that decision when the weight of that first desire settled back in.

There’s all sorts of things this little tale might illustrate.

In this moment, the best tie in that comes to mind is to Colossians 3. Paul tells us to set our minds on Christ and his Kingdom rather than on this world, our flesh, and our struggles with each.

He leads off with a conditional statement: “If … you have been raised with Christ.” Have you? If you have, then we are to put to death what is dead and live the life which Christ raised us into. Go read Colossians 3 (especially 1-17), it’s right there in the Scriptures. You were dead, you died to death in Christ, you are now alive to live in Christ…if you have, in fact, been raised with Him.

Peter should have looked at that monster truck and declared it dead, not worth his time, attention, or resources. He should have focused on what would bring him more “joy” (to misuse the term for effect) later. He should have stood firm on his desire to bring his collection of construction equipment to completion. He chose what looked shiny and fun in the moment instead, and he suffered great emotional turmoil for it later, and he still had no Rolly in spite of all his screaming and crying.

Where are you caving in to earthly desires rather than staying focused on Christ and those things that will lead you to greater spiritual maturity, to fuller obedience to His will, and to greater experience of His blessings–whatever form they may take?

To be honest, a number of things come to my mind in my life. Will you be honest, too?

[Truth in all things: The end of this post was written weeks after the beginning of it. Peter does have a steam roller now. He also chose not to get a certain toy from another show the other day so that he could look for one that was the same character but had more moving parts. Growth is possible.]

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August 9, 2013

Hustle

Filed under: Hustle,Job Hunt,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 10:31 AM
Tags: , , , ,

[This might become a book one day]

I used to hustle. I was never great at hustling in all areas of life, but there was a time when the hustle would instinctively kick in. It still kicks in when the pressure is on and things just must get done, and that keeps me hopeful. However, chances are that the drift will continue away from hustle until I’m merely dragging my butt over everything I do unless I fight back.

That would unacceptable. That is why I must fight back.

Maybe you didn’t play sports, weren’t in Scouts, never participated in marching band, and missed out on all other disciplined, physical, group activities in your early years. If that’s you, then you might not understand the concept of hustle. Go watch Remember the Titans, Drumline, and Up; those movies are all about hustle. (Up? Really? Yes, Russell wasn’t all that smart, but the little dude had hustle.) For the rest of us, we know that “Hustle!” was the basic demand of every leader who wanted expected you to move quickly from task to task and consistently maintain discipline in whatever that task might have been.

When I played Dixie Youth baseball, Coach Bud would yell for us to hustle as he made us run our little prepubescent butts back and forth. If you were the chubby kid at the back of the pack like me, then you got to run more in order to sweat the weakness out so the hustle could have more room to work. When I was in Boy Scouts, hustle was getting things done quickly and efficiently–keeping meetings on track, setting up camp before the sun set, getting the fire started early enough so that you didn’t end up eating undercooked meat, and working hard on service projects so a quality job was done faster and better than you would ever expect a group of volunteer teenage boys to manage. Hustle is why in the Auburn University Marching Band “early is on time, on time is late, and late is inexcusable,” and “there’s no walking on the band field.” Hustle wins games. Hustle wins awards. Hustle gets things done. Hustle makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Thompson High School band director Jon Bubbett would say “Pride is an attitude that separates excellence from mediocrity,” and I would now say that hustle is the overflow of a good and proper pride–meaning the healthy desire to do well at whatever you do because you respect those you work for, those you work with, and yourself.

In his book Start, Jon Acuff offers help on walking the road to “awesome” rather than “average.” He talks a lot about hustle making the difference between those two paths. Hustle is not the same thing as awesome, but you don’t get awesome if you don’t have hustle.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my hustle. (I’ll save my thoughts on that for the another post.) Like I said, I never had a lot of hustle, but the hustle I remember having was far greater than the piddly little bit of hustle I can scrape together these days.

It’s gotten better over the last few months. I’ve been working on upping my hustle for a while. I’ve worked up to being able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes without stopping and dropped thirty pounds in the process. That took some hustle, and it’s built up my stamina so I can keep hustling longer and better in all things. I’m doing better in my practice of spiritual disciplines, Christian hustle. I have producing plants in my garden. This post is even evidence of some hustle.

The point is this, I’m shooting for awesome. I can’t get to awesome without hustle. It didn’t take long for me to realize I lack the hustle to be awesome. Oh no! What will I do? Simple, I’ve got to work out my hustle muscle.

I firmly believe discipline begets discipline. That’s one of the reasons I started running. I hate running, but it has helped me grow in discipline. You can’t really have hustle without discipline. You can quickly flit from thing to thing, but that’s not hustle. Trying to hustle without being disciplined, that’s how you burn a day without getting anything substantial accomplished. That’s how you end up, theoretically, sitting down to look for churches to send your résumé and end up on Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, and four hours later you don’t have an envelope to put in the mail, and it’s time for lunch/dinner/bed so you quit and leave it for later. But I digress.

Discipline is foundational, or it is at least the platform on which hustle stands. (Given enough thought, I’d probably argue that the gospel is foundational, upon which stands the Christian Worldview, upon which stands God-honoring discipline…or something like that). You must have discipline if you are going to build hustle on top of it. Likewise, you must have hustle if you are going to build awesome on it. Discipline is what gets you out of the bed in the morning to get life done. Hustle is what gets you up early enough to walk toward awesome and still get life done, and hustle gets life done in such a way that you have time throughout to keep progressing toward awesome. Hustle also allows time for more growth in discipline, which allows for more hustle, which allows for both more discipline and more awesome; and so on it goes.

I want to be awesome. So no more walking on the field for me. It’s time to get my hustle back.

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