I heard someone say the other day, “you have to love what you do if you want to be good at it.” Living out our great God-adventure often involves doing things we’d rather not do. So, how to come to embrace and even love doing things we don’t like so much, and to even be good at those necessary things so we can press toward God’s high calling in our lives with excellence? That’s what we are going to talk about in this episode.
How to Love Doing the Stuff You Don’t Love
Okay, it is possible to be good at something that you don’t like to do. I can think of plenty of things I am good at, and even semi-enjoy, but don’t really want to do. I’m pretty good at writing bylaw articles and resolutions to support them, but that’s not really how I want to spend my time. I don’t hate it, per se, but I surely don’t want to do it, and I definitely do not want it to define my skill sets in any way!
When I say “you have to love something to be ‘good’ at it,” I am defining “good at it” your heart and passion are clearly seen in it. It is getting in the transformation zone, it is being efficiently effective because you have a love for what you are doing.
Life is just full of things we don’t want to do or would rather not do, but this is about our quest to move our passions into the core of our lives. We want to live the bigger picture of life out of our passions, and to find joy and connection even in the things we’d rather not do, but must.
Our great God-adventure is our attempt to get as much in our “zone,” or our “lane” as we can. To attempt to restructure our lives so we are spending more time working toward the things we are passionate about than on the things simply necessary.
First, working in your passion zone has an ongoing cost, be good with it.
In Genesis, the story of the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God initiated a self-inflicted curse on mankind that included tilling the ground. From this point forward, humans would have to work for their food, clothing, and shelter.
I call it “paying the rent.” Everything we love, everything for which we have passion has a price tag attached to it. In my zone, I may even get to focus most of my energies on the core of what I do that I love, but there is always rent to pay.
For a builder who loves to build and lead building projects, there is marketing.
A restaurant owner may love interaction with customers and being in a food environment, but they may hate working with an accountant after hours to keep the business administrative viable and sound.
A pastor who loves watching transformation in people’s lives hopefully does not like the inter-personal conflict that sometimes comes with leadership.
Everything I’ve ever done that I loved came with a price tag, it came with a “rent” payment.
On our great God-adventure we are working, and sometimes fighting, to get into our zone. In fact, it is actually a journey to get into our zone. We initiated major life transition because we believed, and still do, that it was time for us to reorient our lives to maximize time spent in our God-gifted zones.
So, how’s that working out for us? Well, right now we are working toward getting into the zone. The things we will engage in Africa, even the unexpected things, the things with which we must be flexible, are our focus, they are our zone. Right now we are on a journey to get into that zone and we are paying a front-load price for it.
I’ve been around the block many times, but I’ve never attempted anything in my life that had a greater front-load investment outside the passion zone than what we are doing right now. Never.
There are different investment structures. One of them is a front-load investment. You pay the costs and commissions upfront. What is your front-load investment? This may or may not be encouraging, but I believe it to be truth: the journey toward spending most of your focus in your zone requires a front-load investment of years and sometimes decades.
Embrace this: Getting into your zone has a front-load cost and it has an ongoing cost. When you get discouraged, remember, everyone has to pay “rent.”
When you consider a major life transition, please consider the front load investment and decide if it is worth it or not — ‘cause you will pay the front-end cost. Where you are going has to be so worth it, that the front-load investment is worth it.
I struggle with that statement, but the foundation of the statement both intrigues me and prompts me to search for the love for some of the necessary things that cause me to chafe. This is the heart of what we want to say in this episode.
Second, you can only truly be good at something you love.
See, here’s the honest-to-goodness Delp reality: We have a calling is putting us in the zone of our gifts and passions. For us, where this happens to be unfolding is Africa, but we have this thing we call itineration. What we call itineration is actually enlisting partners in this mission. We are logging miles, mailings, and meetings like crazy.
As I write this we are in the middle of Kentucky and our car’s CV joints (my shade-tree analysis) seem to be whining louder and louder. It started somewhere in Missouri last week, continued on a trip to Chicago, and one of my prayer requests today is that it just doesn’t give us trouble until I can drop it off at a mechanic on Tuesday to see if there is a problem.
Last night we were with a small group of people in central Kentucky. We ate with them, we prayed with them, they watched our video and heard our hearts. We already love them. They are awesome people. They said they would pray for us. They put money in a paper bowl, like the one I had eaten cake out of earlier in the evening. I am so deeply moved by this scene that plays out over and over again.
I hate fundraising, just like you hate certain things you have to do. Just like I use to hate rewriting bylaws. It’s not so much that I hate it as much as it seems a hinderance to getting in our zone.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to love partner-raising. If I want to be good at it, and I need to be good at it, then we have to approach it with a passion and a love.
See, I love those moments when we get in our zone and we get to connect with people. What I hate is the constant travel, what I don’t like so much are the miles and the mailings, the meetings are our zone.
Is it possible that the only thing that keeps you from living in your zone is simply learning to see what you are doing differently and deciding to love it instead of hating it? Is that a possibility?
So, is it possible to love “paying the rent?” Is it possible to love the things we think we hate to do?
What are those things for you?
Here’s some thoughts on how that may be possible.
Third, you can be passionate about things you don’t necessarily like if you love what those things will produce.
I’m big on passion based leadership. Our Calibrate360 framework is “get in the Presence of God, a PASSION will arise, a path will emerge, and a practice will result.”
When we listen to the heartbeat of God we sense his passions, the things important to him. Our best passions are those stirred by listening to the heart of God.
I’ve coined a new term to describe what we are doing. Mailings, Miles, and Meetings. We are partner-raising for the mission in Africa we have joined. In this phase of getting into our God-ordained zone, we have to first work on getting positioned into the zone.
When we find it difficult to be passionate about the mailings, miles, and meetings, I connect it to the things I love. The things I love about what we are doing right now, and the things we love that lay ahead.
If you can find your passion in the anticipated end results, you can find a love and passion for taking care of the first and necessary things with heart and excellence.
We often think of our mailings, miles, and meetings as things we are PUSHING through, but lately I am convicted that we need to be good at executing this season, and I cannot be truly good at what we are doing unless I love it—unless I find a love for the things I sometimes don’t like so much.
Leadership is about connecting the hard and dirty tasks with the desired outcomes. When I led camps, every morning I spent time with the volunteer kitchen team connecting the life transformation happening in the kids with the work they were doing. It put air under their wings.
When I led a church I had to put air under the wings of nursery workers. If they could connect the importance of what they were doing to the mission, and they felt they were making a valuable and critical contribution out of a heart of love for the babies and the families, they would smile and be happy about it.
The week before vacation you usually have to work twice as hard to get things covered and cleared out so you can be gone. What keeps you focused? Looking forward to the time away. It’s not the extra work you love, but you are motivated by a love for that for which you are preparing.
Fourth, you can love “paying the rent” if you keep a God-attitude
This episode is my real life attempt to love some things I think I hate.
Here are the spiritual leadership principles I have to anchor in:
(1) Do everything for the glory of God
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians [10:31] ESV
I’m not doing this for me, this is not about me, this is my reasonable act of service in obedience to God. I may not love the immediate task, but I love God and I serve him by doing it — and I love that!
(2) Be faithful in small things
“”One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke [16:10] ESV
It’s not always about passionate feelings, it is always about faithfulness. If the task at hand is one of faithfulness to the task of God, then as a servant I am not to question it’s validity when I understand its necessity. I love God, so I choose to love the tasks that draw me closer to him.
(3) You are a servant, keep a serving posture
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:3-5 ESV
Maybe the things we “hate” are actually serving someone or something beyond ourselves. Yes, I want to stay in my “passion zone” and yes, God is developing his calling in our lives, but we are servants of God. The tasks I do today are not about loving the tasks or hating the tasks, it is about serving God and serving others.
When I look at our calling and our passion zone the core is simple: Serving God and serving others with the heart of God. To find joy in things I think I “hate” is to look for the substance beneath the surface.
Every “mailing” is an opportunity to serve God, bring glory to God, and serve others.
Every “mile” is an opportunity to serve God, bring glory to God, and serve others.
Every “meeting” is an opportunity to serve God, bring glory to God, and serve others.
This is not about the big task at the end of the road. This is about bringing glory to God, making him known, serving God, and serving others… and THAT I LOVE. I love everything about that.
For us the mailings (which includes phone calls) and the miles lead to the meetings where we can get in our zone and sometimes see transformation happening. The mailings, the miles, and the meetings are the road that lead to Africa, joining with the Africa team, and loving and lifting leaders in Africa — this is our zone, and we need to love that so much that we start to love the road that gets us there.
I cannot say that we have attained this goal yet, but we press toward it for the reward of the joy it will bring.
What are your mailings, miles, and meetings? Can you connect your “rent” payments to the zone you are preparing and moving toward?
We are in a unique situation where we have to spend about 16 months making a front-load investment that involves daily taking on things that do not immediately and obviously relate to the mission to which we feel called.
We can tell ourselves this is fun, we can tell our selves it is a necessary part of the mission, but the reality is simply a disconnect between the training, equipping, resourcing, loving, and building relational contexts to accomplish our calling.
Transition from your safety zone into your passion zone always requires a journey. Building infrastructure, navigating obstacles, facing spiritual warfare and human opposition, believing passionately enough in something to press through is part of it.
See, I did that once. I got to where I wanted to be. Now, part of the pain is the pain of starting over to get to the next level of engaging all of the preparations in my life. Going to successive levels of fulfilling our life’s callings isn’t really starting over as much as it is engaging at those new levels with a determination to move deeper into your zone.
I want to be good at the things necessary to keep moving toward our core. To be good at them I have to see their connection to the big picture. I have to look for and find the joy in aggressively engaging those things I think I would rather not do to reach for the thing to which I am called.
I don’t know that I will ever love the mailings and mileage part of our mission. I do love the “meetings” part.