Lessons from My Weight-Loss (Honesty)


By: The U.S. Army
How important is honesty?

Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

Um, yeah!

One of the best examples is how important honesty is when trying to lose weight.  This may sound surprising to some of you, especially if you’ve never really struggled with your weight.  But it can be very, very difficult to be honest with yourself about what you’re really consuming and what’s it done to your body, self-image, health, etc.

What do I mean?  Let me give you an example.  The day that I came to the realization that I needed to lose weight ended with me taking the first honest look at my food intake ever.  I can truthfully confess that before that day I had never sat down and took a good, hard look at what I was consuming.

The results were rather shocking.

At that time I needed to consume 2500 or so calories a day to maintain my weight.  But when I calculated how many calories I consumed the day before I started losing weight, the number almost reached 4000!  And, sadly, that day was not exceptional; it was just a normal ol’ day!

That level of honesty with myself helped kick start my rear-end into gear!  And the more honesty I dished out to myself, the more motivated I became to change.  I took measurements.  I found out my bod fat ratio.  I discovered my body mass index.  The result of all that honesty?  I discovered that I was obese and ready to change!

How Honesty Can Help Us Become More Missional

How does this weight-loss lesson about honesty apply to becoming more missional?  I think the answers are pretty self-explanatory:

  1. Appraisal — How is your life lining up with the mission of God?  From the opening pages of the Bible to the very end of Revelation God has revealed the fact that he’s interested in reconciling all things to himself through Jesus Christ.  Are you regularly joining God in this mission?  Are you doing something besides just giving money?  Are you getting your hands dirty?  Are you involved in making disciples and deepening the discipleship of those who already follow Jesus?  Remember, it’s important to be honest.  If you don’t take the honesty portion of this journey seriously, none of the other steps will be effective at all!
  2. Progress — How are your progressing in being more in line with the mission of God?  Jesus certainly doesn’t expect you to have it all down pat right from the beginning!  His closest friends and disciples didn’t have it all figured out even though they had been in an intensive, hands-on training program for three years!  In other words, it’s perfectly typical not to have it all figured out.  But it’s important to be honest about where you are at in the process.  Now some of us will be tempted to minimize any progress we’ve made, choosing instead to focus on how much more missional we need to become.  But others of us will err in the opposite direction, over-estimating our alignment to the Missio Dei.  Whichever way you lean, it’s extremely important to be honest so that you can have a true picture of where you’ve been and where you need to go.
  3. Need — Are you being honest about the fact that you can’t do everything alone?  Are you able to admit and act on the facts that you need God to empower you and you need a community to encourage you to be all that God desires you to be?  Honesty in this area can be really hard.  Some of us are just wired from a very young age to achieve and to do so on our own.  If that’s you, then it’s high time that you took a dose of honesty!  No one can do this thing alone.  In order to be missional in the most effective and worshipful way, we must admit that we need God and we need one another.

So I hope you’ve seen how important honesty is when talking about becoming missional.

How else can being honest help us become more missional?  Let me know in the comments below!

Lessons from My Weight-Loss (Hard Work)

hard work

tpsdave / Pixabay
There really is no substitute for hard work, whether when losing weight or fulfilling the Great Commission.

Not long ago I was obese, at least according to my BMI number.  I spent a year full of hard work in which I lost 65 pounds.  I’ve kept almost all of that weight off, which has also been due to hard work.

In fact, when people have asked me what the secret to my weight loss was, I almost always answer one of two ways: “math” or “hard work.”  “Math” because it’s all about tracking calories relative to the total needed to maintain your weight; and “hard work” because losing weight and keeping it off is no walk in the park (minus that actual walks in the park!).

In fact, hard work might be the best advice for losing weight ever.  Keeping track of your food and exercise is hard work.  Eating more reasonably when you’ve spent your entire life doing otherwise is hard work.  Exercising is hard work.  Dealing with the emotional issues along the way is hard work.  Etc., etc.

As I’ve been thinking about being more a more missional follower of Jesus, I’ve started to realize that hard work is needed here too!  Here are a few examples:

  1. It’s hard work reaching out to people who do not know Jesus yet.  Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, connecting well with people who don’t know Jesus is difficult.  Why?  Mainly because many of us churchy people have almost exclusively surrounded ourselves with other churchy people.  So we’re left with the problem of finding “natural” ways to encounter those who don’t know Jesus.  Another issue is that in many cases those who don’t know Jesus yet have lives marked by different values and goals than that of a sold-out follower of Jesus.  It can be hard work to connect over this barrier.
  2. It’s hard work bucking the attractional church model.  Most churches in the United States use the attractional church model, which means that most Americans associate this model with church in general.  A key idea of the attractional church model is that if we build it, they will come.  This leads us to talk about “going to church,” as if church is a building that we enter.  When we start trying to move away from this idea to a more biblical understanding of church as God’s people wherever he sends them, things get hard.  It’s hard work not to talk about church as a location!  Beyond that, it’s hard work trying to be the church among the people!
  3. It’s hard work not getting immediate, measurable results.  I think most of us want Burger King Christianity, my way, right away.  So if we take this same attitude with us as we start to shift toward being missional, we’ll be disappointed really fast.  Being missional means building relationships that create safe and natural spaces for people to discover Jesus.  That process can be slow and it can take time.  In other words, it takes hard work and patience!

I’m sure there are a million other ways that being missional requires hard work.  Can you think of any more?  Share them below!

Lessons from My Weight-Loss (Be Intentional)

On April 27th, 2011 I was obese.  According to my Body Mass Index, weighing in at a husky 250 pounds at my height (6’2″) slid me right into the obese category.  Over the next nine months I worked hard, counting every calorie consumed and burned, and lost 65 pounds!  Now, quite a while later, I’ve gained back 5 of those pounds, but I’m convinced that most of that is muscle!

In case you were curious, here’s some pictorial evidence.  On the left is me at 250 pounds and on the right is me at 190 pounds!

The purpose of this post, however, is not just to pat myself on my back for my weight loss.  Instead it’s to share some of the lessons I learned and apply them to being a missionally postured, incarnationally activated follower of Jesus.  This is Part One and there will be more parts to come periodically.

So, what is the first lesson? Be Intentional.

Losing weight, for me at least, did not just happen.  It required a great deal of effort and purposefulness.

Getting to 250 pounds just happened though!  That was easy!  But losing the weight (and keeping it off) has been a process that has been difficult for me at times.  I’m not a person who plans things out carefully by nature.  I prefer to live life by the seat of my pants!  But doing so led me down a path to obesity.

So, with some effort, some support from my amazing wife Alida (along with my family and friends), and some patience, I lost the weight.  I made a plan and I stuck to it.  I knew exactly what I was shooting for and I had figured out the best way for me to reach my goals.

How does this apply to being missional?

I’m so glad you asked!  In the American church we have just been “doing church” now for quite some time.  We figured that discipleship was just going to happen, that evangelism was just going to happen, and that leadership development was just going to happen.

Where has that gotten us?  Well, by almost any standard you’d like to use, we have a great vacuum of actively-growing disciples in the church.  Evangelism for many of us has become something only the very few and very, very brave engage in, since we’ve narrowly defined it as going up to a stranger and trying to reason them or scare them or persuade them into saying the sinner’s prayer.  And we have a great need for more dedicated, trained, and passionate leaders.

In other words, we’re in trouble.

What can we do?  Well, we can start by being intentional!  Just like I had to sit down and come up with a plan in order to lose weight, we need to strategize together about how best to reach this mission field called America.  And whatever our plan is, it can’t be just a repackaging of our old methods.  That’s what I tried when I was 250 pounds.  All it did was keep me fat.

It’s my assertion that if we keep on doing the same things as the church, then we’ll keep getting the same results.  It’s well passed time that we try some new methods of discipling up, reaching out, and worshiping well.  The ramifications of us continuing to waste time are simply too dire.  We must change!

There are a thousand things we could begin to be more intentional about, but here’s an “easy” one.  Let’s stop thinking about and talking about the church as a building where we go to consume religious goods and services and instead let’s start thinking about and talking about being the church among those who need the good news.  This small shift can make a huge difference!

What are some other ways that we could be more intentional as missional followers of Jesus?  Let me know in the comments below!