Category: reflection

Gatekeepers

You can’t be a _____ if…

Fill in the blank. I’m sure there is something that you’ve done or tried to do where someone has said something like this to you. Try to hold you back from doing or being that thing because you didn’t fit their idea of what it was supposed to be.

These are called gatekeepers. A gatekeeper is a person you guards access to something. Funny thing, essentially the word has not changed over thousands of years. Before modern times though, gatekeepers literally guarded gates. Now, the gates are metaphorical.

You’re not good enough to do this. You’re not smart enough to be part of this group. You don’t look the part. You don’t speak the part.

You don’t do this thing exactly the way I think it’s supposed to work, so you aren’t allowed to do or associate yourself with said thing.

There are some things where “gatekeepers” are a good thing. School, sports teams, certain jobs. Yes, there are a few things where only qualified people should be allowed. But those aren’t the gatekeepers who guard the tightest.

Hobbist gatekeepers, recreational gatekeepers, identity gatekeepers. Those are the ones who are the most strict.

You aren’t the life-long, ‘oppressed’ nerd so you’re not allowed to enjoy board, card, or tabletop games. You can’t quote a movie word for word, so you’re not allowed to call yourself a fan of a movie franchise. You have too many of this one thing, so you can’t possibly be a minimalist.

Once you tell people who you are, they will tell you who you are not.

Don’t let them.

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Phariseeism

“Phariseeism is born when we think it is okay to reject people to protect ideas” – Bill Johnson

This is such a profound quote. I remind myself of it often so that I remember that people are what Jesus cared about.

Jesus didn’t reject people… he embraced them, no matter what they did. Yes he corrected sin, but never rejected the sinner. Yet, christians can be the worst when it comes to accepting people. For some reason we look for disqualifiers, we look for a reason not to accept others.

Maybe it’s because we would rather be comfortable. Maybe it’s because these “disqualifers” truly repels us. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid our imperfections will come to light if we accept them.

Whatever reason it may be, it’s wrong. In John 4 Jesus meets a Samaritan woman who has been divorced multiple times and talked to her (which most Jewish men at the time would have never done). In John 8 Jesus defends a woman caught in adultery, someone (who even according to his teachings and beliefs) had sinned.

There are many other stories, but these two jumped out in my mind as perfect examples of Jesus loving and accepting person despite what idea cast them out. Jesus WAS an idealist, he had big ideas that even his disciples fought to protect, but Jesus never protected an idea at the expense of a person.

I’m not saying Jesus never addressed sin. In fact, in both of the stories I pointed out above, Jesus addressed them directly! But he didn’t do it in a way that rejected those women, which is where most of us will fall short.

So let’s set ourselves apart from current culture and how social media is trying to teach us how to treat others. Let’s show the world that people are more important than preferences. The church is made of people, and if we begin to reject people then the church will just be about ideas with no people…

And that’s no church at all.

Anyone can wear the Mask

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On my flight to Europe, I was able to see “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse.” A really great movie, I recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

On of the themes of the movie is Miles struggling with whether or not he is worthy to be “spider-man.” He feels he is not as powerful as the other Spider-men, so how can he be worthy to held the mantle of Spider-Man.

But he is reassured that “Anyone can wear the mask.” It’s not about whether you have the power, if you have the heart and to push through the struggle, you can accomplish greatness

In my opinion, Spider-Man is BEST when it is about a teenager not only coming of age but learning what they are capable of.

Without spoilers, my favorite scene is near the end when Miles finally discovers what he is made and that has the will to become great. In that moment, Miles became Spider-Man. Not when he go his “super powers” near the beginning of the movie, but when he discovered the power in himself.

The point of “anyone can wear the mask” isn’t anyone can be Spider-Man, it is that everyone has the power to make a difference, everyone has the power to be great. We just have to discover the power within us.

Signal to Noise Ratio

I keep the number of people I follow on places like Twitter and Instagram pretty low. Even on Facebook (where I’ll generally add everyone who adds me if I’ve met them) I will mute a lot of people… Sorry.

I do this because there are so many voices on social media now. Voices you agree with, voices you disagree with, voices who have an opinion on everything, voices who have very strong opinions on a few things. Whatever the case, there is so much noise out there, it’s easy for the things that matter and you want to see get smothered.

Signal to Noise ratio is an engineering term that measures “the desired signal to the level of background noise.” Basically, how much background noise do you have to endure to receive the desired signal we want.

This also applies to social media. How many posts do you scroll through each day that you actually find useful? How many opinionated rants do you have to see?

There is good stuff on social media. In fact, there is great stuff. But the problem is, many of us also have a fear of missing out so we follow everything and everyone so that we might not miss those trending things. But our pursuit of making sure we don’t miss out on anything, we end up missing out on the posts that actually add value to our lives.

So pare down your followers, stop worrying about having to see everything. You’ll quickly scroll through all of it anyways and you’ll still need to be told what is trending.

But when you start consuming the content you want to see, the content that you enjoy consuming, all of a sudden you’ll have a different experience (not just with social media, but with the world as well).

If we cut out as much of the background noise as we can, all of a sudden the signal comes through stronger and more frequently.

Get better by doing!

Many people want to be better at something. Or they want to learn a new skill or diversify their activities. But sometimes they don’t know how to get better, or even how to learn to get better.

Maybe, they see their favorite YouTuber’s newest video and wish they could be as good as them so they can make their own YouTube videos.

Perhaps, there is a person they look up to, that has a position or does a job they wish they could one day have, but feel like their skills are so poor compared to them they could never do it.

I have one piece of advice – Go out there and do it!

Seriously, just start doing it!! We think we need to be experts or highly skilled in order to begin, but that’s not true at all. Go out there and just start doing what you want to do. Yes you might be awful, yes you might look back and be embarrassed, but every time you do it you’ll learn something.

In the Order of the Phoenix when Harry was secretly teaching fellow students how to defend themselves, he told them one very profound thing that we all need to remember, “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than we are now. Students. If they can do it, why not us?”

If you want to be great, do it, learn from your mistakes, keep getting better, and begin growing in confidence in your new skill.

That YouTuber or other hero you want to emulate, they started at some point as beginners just like you are, they just went out there and started doing it.

You should too

You are Special

Mr. Rogers was right… You are special.

But that doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else. It also doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything. You may have to work hard for others to see that value.

In this time, many young people are branded “snowflakes.” It is used as an insult and attacking how young people grow up thinking they are special because of the programming they watched and participation trophies for everything they do.

But, I believe that nothing is wrong with believing you are special. There is nothing wrong with believing everyone offers the world something that no other person can. Not only is nothing wrong with this, but this is a good thing.

I will agree with some of the sentiment in the “snowflake” branding. Just because you are special doesn’t mean you are entitled to whatever you want, or that anything should be handed to you because you “deserve it.”

That IS a toxic mindset. That is not what Mr. Rogers meant when he called his young viewers special. That is not Mr. Rogers wanted to instill in those children.

You are special. But you don’t deserve anything just because you are special. What Mr. Rogers wanted to teach when he said you were special was that you were worth something, that you can (through hard work and perseverance) accomplish whatever you want, and that you can make the world a better place.

I am thankful for men like Mr. Rogers who faithfully and unselfishly served and lifted up his viewers. We need more people like him. We need more people to teach us what it truly means to be special. Because we are special, and the sooner we learn what that means, the world can change.

A fly on the wall

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall?

A strange fascination of mine is how things work. Not in the way like the How it’s Made TV show shows us how we make things.

What I am talking about when I say how things work, I specifically mean how do organizations work. How decisions are made. What considerations are made when coming to a decision. What I would give to just see how that works. I would just want to be a fly on the wall. I wouldn’t need to say anything or interact with anyone in any way. I just want to sit there and observe.

For example, I would love to know how does a board for a giant corporation work? What types of things do they discuss when making decisions to buy out other companies or launching a new product.

In the entertainment industry, how to they come to the decision to greenlight one movie instead of another. Or the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful people with great singing voices and can write music and/or play an instrument. How do they decide no to them, but yes to Taylor Swift, Adele, or Ariana Grande.

In Politics, I would love to sit in on conversations a party Whip has with a congressman. Or in the Roosevelt Room when important meetings between West Wing staff and congressional caucus compromising on a bill.

I feel like I would learn more in one meeting about leadership and management and overall how the world work then I could ever learn on my own or in a class.

Where is someplace you would like to be a fly on the wall?