No, I’m not the Grinch but I hate just about everything about Christmas

From the auditory train wreck that is Miriah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas, Is You” to the cliché ridden Hallmark movies featuring washed up child actors from the 90s and even more predictably unrealistic plot lines than the shows that made them famous in the first place, (I’m looking at you Candice Cameron Bure). The garish decorations and the forced attempt to make just about every expression of love and happiness fit within a false narrative of personal charity and community (re: Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” appearing on the Penatatonix Christmas Album; newsflash, it’s a song by a Jewish songwriter about King David and lust not Christmas!).  I hate just about everything about Christmas.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Tim Horton’s on Saturday December 21st waiting for the stores to open. The shop where I on plan purchasing a gift for my wife opens at 9:30 and I hope to be the first one in the door. Why? Because the last Saturday before Christmas is the busiest shopping day of the year and I would like to make it home alive, before midnight.

Yes, I still buy gifts.  I said I hate just about everything about Christmas, not absolutely everything.   I like to buy gifts as an expression of my love and appreciation to the people closest to me, but my list is small, and I rarely spend more than $20.00 on anyone.

The gifts are not what Christmas is about. Everyone knows that, at least they should. Even if our behaviour contradicts what we say about love and togetherness. The average Canadian will spend just over $1000 on gifts this season, buying trinkets for everyone from their dog walker to great uncle Phil who they only see once a year. How on earth can you buy anything meaningful for someone you only see for a few hours once a year? You don’t know that person, you probably have a more intimate connection with the barista at Starbucks, whom you at least see a few times a week.

Charitable giving is up this season too and that’s not a bad thing.  Canadians are generous people, 86% of us give to charity, giving on average $450 a year.  That’s less than half of what we spend each year on gifts but again, charity isn’t really what Christmas is all about either.

So, what is Christmas about?

Ricky Gervais, an avowed atheist, once wrote a passionately emotional piece on the meaning of Christmas.  “It’s when you visit or reminisce about the ones you love. And reflect on how lucky you are.”  He went on to talk with deep vulnerability and emotion about his mother and explained that we buy gifts for and spend time with the people we love as an expression of that deep sense of connectedness.  A lot of people agreed with him, some going so far as to say that in our modern world Christmas, or as they prefer to call it, “the holidays” needn’t have anything to do with Jesus, it’s just a secular holiday about love and community. 

But Ricky Gervais, and most secular Christmas lovers, couldn’t be more wrong and that’s why I say that Christmas music and movies suck and that the decorations are ugly.  The true meaning of Christmas is about nothing less than the salvation of the world.

We live in dark times.  Our world exists on a backdrop of despair.  The dust of our culture is cynical and fatalistic.  Just existing in this environment, the in-fighting and vitriol of our culture is impossible to avoid.  It settles on us like dust.  Efforts to clean up the environment, help the poor, balance the economy or fix the political grid lock are met with resistance from all sides.  Any message of hope seems naïve or simply too hard and too late. 

Poll after poll shows that just about half of society not only disagrees with but actively resents the other half.  Social media has created a world of silos and echo chambers where we go to hear and be heard only but those with whom we agree.  Our opinions are bolstered and reinforced by biased commentators and then released out into the world to recruit more like-minded followers. God help the dissenting voices and those who simply want to take a breath and examine more facts before making any decisions. 

It is on this backdrop that we are expected to celebrate Christmas.  But this watered-down secularized version of “the holidays” is just meaningless drivel.  A message of love and joy coming at a time when literally half of our neighbors would gladly wipe the other half off the planet without a second thought is hollow at best; hypocritical and downright blasphemous if you want to know how I really feel about it.  True love and hope are absent from our world and the Christmas songs and holiday movies that try to recreate them are nothing more than a clanging gong and a resounding cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13)

The true message of Christmas however is that maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late and maybe it’s not too hard.  Last Sunday while speaking at The Meeting House church in Oakville, ON, author and social activist, Danielle Strickland has said that “God’s ability to do things that look too hard and too late is the very definition of hope.”

Christmas and the message of Christianity should be that of a people who do hope.

The apostle Paul, in Romans 12 defines the Christian movement this way:

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:10-16

This is how we do hope.  Share, be hospitable, bless even our enemies, feel things in the moment, be with and mindful of others.  Do not curse, do not be proud or conceited.  And most of all, associate with people whom you view as beneath you or just disagree with.

At the end of the story of the Grinch, when he heard the Whovillians singing, despite that he had stolen all their presents, food and decorations he realized that maybe, just maybe, Christmas “doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas is just a little bit more” 

Well Mr. Grinch, Christmas is a whole lot more!  I fear for the world if we lose sight of who we are meant to be.  Let us not lose hope, let’s do hope. 

Merry Christmas – Lauren

Silent No More

Over the past few years my blogging has been sporadic at best.  It used to be that I would write two or three times a week.  Lately it’s been more like two or three times a season.

There are many reasons for that, some of them based on time constraints, some based on an inability to focus but most based on a genuine lack of anything coherent to say. 

Much of what I have been dealing with as a writer has been a clear and persistent fear that what I was feeling wasn’t something anyone would be interested in reading about.  I have worried that if I were to write honestly about what I was truly feeling many of my former readers would abandon me, brand me a heretic or worse, go on the attack. 

Since we entered the era of Trump and the worldwide growth in populism, I have become increasingly fearful for the future of the world.  Democracy, human rights and religious freedom are all under attack.  The environment, climate change and the very survival of our species are at stake.  Faced with these daunting concerns I did what any sane, and yet fearful introvert does, I retreated into a self-imposed exile of silence and reflection. 

I didn’t stop writing all together, I just stop publishing what I wrote.  The resulting silence has led to three, not quite fully formed musings, on Leadership, Philanthropy and Blasphemy in the modern evangelical church.  Each one of these musings have the potential to blow up making me a target of criticism and vile attacks.    So, they remain unpublished, nothing more than bits and bites of data locked away on my computer hard drive. 

Until now. 

I would like 2020 to be the year that I re-emerge as a writer. I hope to begin by publishing exerts from some of my unpublished works, new thoughts and edits.  By the end of the year I hope to publish at least one book length project, maybe more. 

Will anyone care?  I don’t know. 

But I do know this; my purpose as a writer is to express my faith as a disciple of Jesus, to both teach and learn how to live life to the fullest in complete submission to the will of God, steward the planet, guide creation and care for humanity as a member of one coherent community of infinitely valuable image bearers of the divine.

Will everyone agree with me?  I doubt it. 

Will I make as many enemies as I do friends?  Probably more. 

Will I be reduced to a voice crying in the wilderness?  I hope not. 

But I cannot remain silent.  I am afraid for the future and I cannot remain hidden in the shadows.  If a sixteen-year-old can go from relative obscurity to Time Magazine’s newsmaker of the year, the least I can do is stand up and be counted. 

Up first, some thoughts on the continuing blasphemy of the western evangelical church.  Nothing like starting with something uncontroversial right?  Stay tuned.

The Sign of Jonah

But he replied to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves a sign. Yet no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah”

Matthew 12:30 (NIV)
This is how I pictured Jonah as a kid…

When I was a kid my favorite Bible story was the story of Jonah and the whale. 

I liked this story, I think, because it was simple, bold and a little bit humorous.  Here’s a guy God calls to go out on a limb for Him and preach His truth, but Jonah refuses and runs away. 

Everybody knows you can’t run from God, at least, that’s the lesson I took from the story.  Silly Jonah.  God sent a storm to follow Jonah and caused him to be thrown overboard where a whale swallowed him up.  Three days later Jonah was spit up on the shore and went to do what God told him to in the first place.  The End.

That was how I first heard the story and the lesson I took to heart was, do what God asks, or you might end up covered in whale vomit. 

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that the story doesn’t end there.  It goes on to describe how the city of Nineveh responds to Jonah’s message, how God shows mercy on them and how Jonah throws a hissy fit.  When I realized how much deeper the story of Jonah is than just being about a man who tried to run away, it stopped being funny. 

Jesus said that the only sign he was going to give the pharisees was the sign of Jonah.  This, like just about everything else Jesus ever said, pissed the pharisees off.  Why?  What would the pharisees have understood the sign of Jonah to be?  Why was it that Jesus could have scandalized the pharisees with such a seemingly simple off-the-cuff statement? 

This is is an example of how the Pharisees viewed the world, heaven forbid they should ever share their fishbowl…

Over the last few weeks I’ve re-read the story of Jonah several times.  All of it this time.  The pharisees were concerned with purity, keeping God’s chosen people separate and clean.  To a pharisee, the most important thing was to follow the law.  A gentile, for no other reason that an accident of birth, could never truly partake in the kingdom of God, the pharisees saw to that.  To be a gentile was to be forever separated from the grace and mercy of God. 

The sign of Jonah proves that God is more concerned with the condition of a person’s heart than their ethnicity, history or current practices.  God’s grace and mercy is available to everyone all the time.  The sign of Jonah is the message of the gospel.  Law doesn’t matter, history doesn’t matter, ethnicity doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is the condition of your heart and the grace of God. 


The way many prefer to look at the “other” Never forget, these are people Jesus thought were worth dying for…

The world today is standing at a crossroads.  Many leaders, Christian and otherwise are asking for a sign.  What kind of a world will we live in, who’s in, who’s out and what is the will of God?  I am afraid no further signs will be given, except for the sign of Jonah.  Will you heed it?

Flotsam & Jetsam

Over the last few years Labor Day has become the annual deep clean and purge weekend around my house. 

After I emptied out the “Harry Potter Closet”, aka the cupboard under the stairs, I took this video and posted to Instagram…

I realize that to some of you this may not look too bad.  My wife and I are far from what might be considered hoarders.  And, I am happy to report that after a trip to Value Village to jettison a few books that have followed me since High-school, some old knickknacks and a few Christmas decorations, everything fit back in the closet.

All of this got me thinking about how we tend to accumulate so much flotsam and jetsam as we go through life.  Flotsam and jetsam are marine terms referring to debris found floating in the ocean.  Flotsam is debris from a shipwreck, jetsam is debris thrown overboard deliberately to lighten the load and avoid said shipwreck.  I guess with those definitions in mind what I have would be considered jetsam (short for jettison) but if I were to hang onto it until I die, that would be more accurately considered flotsam (from the French for floater).

My mother-in-law is moving into a retirement home next month.  She has a lot of jetsam, close to 50 years worth of it to be exact. Much of it has been stored away in the cupboards and corners of her house since she first moved to the city in 1971.  Her husband, my father-in-law, was a hoarder.  When he retired, way back in 2001, he promised to go through everything he had accumulated through life and start lightening their load.  Then he started showing signs of dementia and died before anything got done.  Going through his possessions and paring down a lifetime of accumulation from a three-bedroom home with full basement, to a one-bedroom apartment in a retirement community is not easy. 

typical hoarding household, my mother-in-law would kill me if I showed you an actual picture of her home….

Hoarding is an actual mental disorder that my mother-in-law had the misfortune of dealing with for over 50 years.  According to the Mayo Clinic, Hoarding Disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.  A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.  Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. 

My father in law would often say that he was keeping things because he thought he could fix them, use them or sell them.  But the economics of collecting, selling and reusing items have changed.  We live in a throw-away and freecycle society. No one pays for used items anymore, regardless of their cost or value.  It’s just too easy to buy new.  Stores like Value Village, where I dropped my jetsam, cater to a niche of consumer that is both cost conscious and wants to support local charities.  The local garage sale has gone on-line and is only good for larger items of a certain value.  It’s more common to find smaller items offered for free. 

Bottom line – it just doesn’t pay to be a hoarder.  Jettison your jetsam now before it becomes flotsam for someone else who has to clean up your crap. 

Why Seemingly Smart People Won’t Take Good Advice

I see it all the time, seemingly smart people faced with new information that could have a significant positive impact on their long-term health and financial wellness, paralyzed with indecision.  They need to “think about it” or check with another trusted expert before they make a decision. 

More often than not they never do anything.  They sit on the sidelines and let opportunities pass them by for no other reason than they failed to act when the time was right. 

Why is that?  I believe this unwillingness or inability to act in our own best interest goes deep and says much about our society as whole.  At its core there are at least 3 reasons why we continually fail to act on new information that can significantly enhance our wellbeing.

1 – Anti-intellectualism

2 – Information Overload

3 – Status Quo Bias


This is just a fancy way of saying that most of just don’t trust all that fancy book learnin’. 

It comes from a place of arrogance, where rather than admit we might be wrong we hang on to old information and refuse to accept anything that contradicts what we already “know” to be true.  Anti-intellectuals tend to be afraid to be made to look foolish.  Rather than seek corroboration of any new learning they prefer to deny and discredit anything that doesn’t line up with their previously conceived worldview. 

Anti-intellectualism has been the favoured tactic of the conservative elite since the dawn of the scientific revolution, if not sooner.  Of course, the world is flat, anyone can see that, no need to try and prove Galileo wrong, he’s just crazy.  It’s cold out today, global warming must be a Chinese conspiracy.

For most intellectuals the battle for the hearts and minds of the general public is made exceedingly frustrating by the anti-intellectual camp.  It’s not enough to be right, you also have to be popular.  You need to make a compelling argument that to continue thinking the opposite is not only wrong but dangerous.  There will always be a popular alternative to the truth, an easier way that people can swallow without too much work.  

Global warming is a perfect example of this dilemma.  The truth is scary, and the solutions are hard, better to believe it’s just a hoax and move on.  The intellectual is left with only one alternative, to continue to educate and hope that someday enough evidence will mount to prove them right beyond a shadow of a doubt, before it’s too late.

Information Overload

The internet has democratized information and made it free.  As a result, people can spend countless hours researching any topic they can think of.  For the most part this is a good thing, making informed choices is important.  But there comes a point when more information does not add anything, it’s just noise. 

Not only that but with the aforementioned anti-intellectualism so rampant on-line the amount of contradictory information on just about any topic is staggering.  It’s not just noise that is being added to the process it’s contradiction and that only adds to people’s anxiety.   

With so many contradictory voices is it any wonder that this leads to “paralysis by analysis”?  Maybe, the next article, book, or blog will give me a definitive answer.  What if the next website provides new information that completely changes what I’ve learned so far?  Better to keep researching so I don’t make a mistake. 

Status Quo Bias 

For most people both anti-intellectualism and information overload lead to the final reason many seemingly smart people won’t take advice; Status Quo Bias. 

As long as, doing nothing remains an option, many people simply prefer to sit on the sidelines and wait for a better offer.  No matter how compelling the argument for change, no matter how much better life could be with just a small adjustment the status quo always has a huge advantage.  Couple all that with anti-intellectualism and information overload and you have a potent recipe for absolutely nothing to happen. 

Here is my three-point, counter point to otherwise seemingly smart people who don’t take good advice.

1 – Trust the experts. 

Embrace new learning.  Experts are experts because they spend years studying things so you don’t have to.  When it comes to your health, listen to your Dr.  When it comes to finances, listen to a financial advisor.  At tax time, listen to your accountant.  And when you get arrested, listen to your lawyer.  That’s what they are there for.  But it’s not just these highly educated professionals that should be considered experts.  When your roof leaks, listen to a roofer.  When your car starts making a funny noise, consult a mechanic. 

2 – Pick a source and stick with it. 

As I already mentioned, information is every where and it’s free.  But that doesn’t make it all right.  Find a couple of credible sources, test your conclusions against them and stick with it.  You might make your camp on the wrong side but at least you’ll be consistent and that’s worth more than you might think.  Most people have an intuition about what they want to do long before they make a decision, once you find some corroborating evidence, go with your gut. 

3 – Do something. 

The status quo may still be the best option but you can only decide that after you’ve gone through steps one and two.  If there is reason to change, then change, sticking with the status quo at that point is nothing more than lazy foolishness. 

Trust the experts, test them against a credible source if you must and do something. 

Tell me about a time you didn’t take advise and what it cost you or a time you did and what you gained in the comments below…

Take Action

A brief introduction to my new marketing message.

Hi gang.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to write a quick note about my new marketing message.

In actual fact I‘ve been communicating this message to my clients for about a year now and just finally wrote it down in the form of a flyer that I leave behind with all of my meetings.  The message is direct and leaves the perspective client with no doubt about I expect from them. 

During all my meetings I stress the importance of taking action.  It is all fine and good to plan but planning is useless without action. 

Take Action Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

And what actions do I expect you to take?  It’s all laid out in the flyer I leave behind.  The flyer asks three questions:

  1. Do you have any debt?
    1. If I could show you a way to reduce the interest paid on all your debts, free up cash flow and be debt free years sooner, would that be a conversation worth having?
  2. Do you have a plan to protect and grow your assets?
    1. If I could show you a way to protect your assets from market volatility and other unexpected losses, without sacrificing growth, would that be a conversation worth having?
  3. Where do you want your money to go after you die?
    1. If I could show you a way to significantly reduce the taxes owing on your estate and increase the amount of money available for the people and causes you care about, without effecting your lifestyle now, would that be a conversation worth having?

Financial planning and growing wealth is simple (not easy).  It involves reducing and eventually eliminating debt, building and protecting wealth and leaving a legacy.  With a few simple changes to your lifestyle and thinking today you can make a significant impact on your life moving forward and well into the future, but you must take action.  The longer you wait, the harder it becomes and the fewer options you have available to you. 

So there you have it, my straight forward, no bullshit marketing message: 

Take Action Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

Check out the links to the flyer above and get in touch to start taking action for your future self…

A Too Common Real-Life Story

Let me share with you a story that I’ve seen and heard too many times.

A young man and a young woman graduate high-school and go on to attend university or college. Since no money has been saved for the tuition fees etc. and since credit is so readily available, they both obtain student loans, lines of credit, credit cards and accumulate a lot of debt.  They might work a bit during the summers, but the course load is too much during the rest of the year to maintain much of an income to support their lifestyle while in school. 

At some point this young couple meet, “fall in love” and get married. 

After they have finished their schooling, they both get full-time jobs and purchase automobiles with 0% financing. Not long after that, they purchase a home but because they still have next to no savings, they borrow most of the down payment from their parents and take on a huge mortgage.

The student loans, credit cards, car loans and big mortgage accumulate to a huge amount and they start to encounter significant financial problems. At this point, they ask each other “how did we ever get into this financial mess?”

Unfortunately, this couple has been violating many financial principles for years and are suffering the consequences. 

Not only do I see and hear this story on an almost daily basis in my work but just over 14 years ago this was me.  After I got my financial house in order, I became a financial advisor specifically so that I could help others avoid the same mistakes I made.  Join me on this journey to debt freedom and a life of abundance! 

If I could show you a way to reduce the interest paid on all of your debts, free up cashflow and be debt free years sooner, would that be a conversation worth having? 

Of course, it would!

Reach out in the comments below or send me a private message @laurencsheil for more details and start living life to the fullest without the burden of debt!

Release, Rebuild, Rejoice

The Importance of Vocation

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

[Psalm 90:17]

I spent the day working in my garden on Saturday.

There is something down-right spiritual about manual labor.  Especially when it involves manipulating the earth. 

Adam, the first man, literally means “of the earth”.  To work with your hands in the dirt is to connect with the very building blocks of humanity. 

I’m speaking metaphorically of course.  I’m not a literal creationist and I didn’t skip health class in high school, so I know where babies come from.  But there is still something spiritual about digging in the dirt and working with your hands that leaves your mind free to think.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of vocation.  Vocation is different than an occupation or a job.  Miriam Webster defines vocation as:

a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action…

So, a vocation is kind of like a divine calling.  It’s something you do not for a pay cheque or to climb a career ladder, you do it because it’s who you were made to be. 

Your occupation can change, mine has, but your vocation and calling generally stays the same. It’s about finding your sweet spot. 

I found my sweet spot when I discovered that I am at my most authentic when I am working to help people release their burdens, rebuild their lives and rejoice in the moment.  Release.  Rebuild.  Rejoice.  The three r’s of my life’s work. 

Release is about letting go of the past.  Loosing the chains that bind you and embracing your God given potential.  That can mean working through past sins and wrongs done to you.  Setting aside or paying off heavy burdens of debt brought about by illness, bad luck or bad decision making.   Or fighting through a general malaise brought about by a series of events beyond your reach or understanding.  Like a monkey with his fist caught in a jar you can be free if you just release your grasp, on these things.

Rebuild is about just that. Once you’ve let go of the things the burden you, you can be free to start building the life you really want.  What are your goals and dreams? When you look in the mirror who do you see?  Who do you want to see?  Who do you hope to see 5, 10 or 20 years from now?  Start with the end in mind and work backwards to where you are today.  What one thing must you do today to make incremental progress toward the person you want to end up?  You build a house one nail at a time; you build a life in much the same way. 

Rejoice is about taking the time to stop and recognize your achievements.  The journey is long.  You need to celebrate each milestone along the way.  Pay off a credit card – rejoice!  Make peace with a part of your past – party time!  Repair a broken relationship – kill the fatted calf the prodigal has returned!   Celebrating your achievements, making progress along the journey keeps us energized and full of hope.

My day job in financial services provides me with a front row seat to some of the most amazing transformations.  I have worked with people who have rebuilt their credit from almost nothing, paid off debt, bought houses, started businesses, sent kids to college, funded charitable causes and retired in the lap of luxury.  All because they learned the secrets of release, rebuild and rejoice. 

It’s not just a financial concept.  It can apply to almost anyone, no matter their starting point.  We all have a past.  We all have dreams.  Let me show you how to release your burdens, rebuild your life and rejoice in your newfound road to success. 

Message me or tell me how your doing in the comments below.

Rivers of Living Water

June 17, 2019

Jesus performed a lot of miracles over the course of his ministry.  He healed people, fed them, walked on water and his first miracle, my personal favorite, turned water into wine. 

Possibly because of the Jew’s history as a nomadic desert tribe, possibly due to it’s cleaning and healing properties and possibly due it’s essential life sustaining qualities, water figures prominently in many of Jesus’ miracles.

The Jews understood that water has some remarkable power and they were very good at creating rituals around the use of water.  Ceremonial washing alone figures into well over half of the Jewish law in some way or another. 

Last week I wrote about Judging Correctly based on Jesus encounter with the Pharisees over healing and ceremonial washing on the sabbath.  Picking up from that theme and my personal reflections on the power of gratitude over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have Rivers of Living water flowing through us.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. [Jesus,  John 7:37b,38]

It wasn’t until recently that I read that statement of Jesus in it’s entirety within it’s proper context.  When I first read it and learned about living water the emphasis had always been on the first sentence only.  If you are thirsty, come and drink.  While that is a fine analogy, true to the experience of most Christ-followers it only tells half the story. 

Coming to Jesus for your own sake does nothing to advance the kingdom.  Jesus doesn’t stop by saying that he is here for our personal sustenance, he goes on to say that the rivers of living water will flow from within us.  The King James bible says that the water will flow out of our belly.   The Revised Standard Version says it will flow out of our heart.  And The Message says that rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes. 

The imagery is clear, Jesus sustaining, thirst quenching, purifying, living water is not meant to be kept for ourselves.  It is meant to overflow out of us into the world. 

Think about the Dead Sea.  Fresh water flows into it from the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee but is has no where to go.  The only thing that keeps the Dead Sea from overflowing its banks is evaporation.  As the fresh water evaporates it leaves behind heavy minerals, like salt.  The Dead Sea is dead because it takes in but never lets out.  

Don’t be like the Dead Sea!

The other day I said that gratitude is the fuel that drives passion through positive feedback.  The more grateful we are for the things we have the more people are willing to support us.  Jesus’ living water flowing out of us does the same thing.  It draws people toward us to bask in the positive flow of love and grace that we exude.  These then become the same people we need to build up our positive flow and the fountain of living water can become (with Jesus’ help) a self-sustaining spring. 

This is a new perspective for me.  I’m still learning what it all means.  But I know this for sure; by expressing gratitude for the things I have been given I am living a life of abundance beyond anything I could have ever imagined. 

And it just keeps getting better.  Be grateful! 

Passion, Prowess and Gratitude

June 15, 2019

I dropped the ball on my daily writing habit the past few days. 

I knew it would happen eventually I just didn’t think it would happen so soon after recommitting.  In my defense I’ve been busy, sort of.  While I haven’t had time to write about it, I have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing 2 shining examples of passion, leading to prowess and gratitude. 

The first example occurred on Wednesday night.  As a thank-you for all my hard work over the past several months my director gave me four tickets to a rock concert by 1980’s pop legend Corey Hart.  I was given the tickets, in a luxury box no less, as an expression of gratitude for closing a big deal.  I turned around and, along with my wife invited two friends as a thanks to them for supporting our journey through life unconditionally for years. 

For his part Hart, who stepped away from live performance in 1999 to be a full-time dad, put on one of the most passionate and gracious shows I have ever seen.  Pausing mid set, and even mid song, to acknowledge the fans, with waves and comments like “I see you, nice T-shirt” to a fan wearing a Fields of Fire shirt from 1986, taking a placard from another and signing it during a guitar solo, inviting other on stage during her favorite song and even taking a walk through the middle of the crowd to take selfies. 

It was obvious that Corey Hart is passionate about his music and loves to perform, which makes the fact that he was willing to set it all aside for 20 years for the sake of his family all the more remarkable.  At one point he showed a video of himself explaining to his 14-year-old son why he had done it and why he felt that now was the time for him to launch a come back.  His son said that he appreciated everything Hart had done for him and that by his example he knew that whatever he wanted to do he would do it with passion.  After the video played Hart told the audience that 20 years ago, he never imagined that his fans would welcome him back with so much passion of their own and he was extremely grateful.

The next night I witnessed history when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship.   After the game, while the players and coaches were celebrating on the court, I was struck by the gratitude everyone involved was showing for their families and the fans.  Kyle Lowry, (point-guard) was taking photos with his two children, Nick Nurse (head-coach) gave an interview with his son on his hip.  Every one of them expressed gratitude to family and fans for supporting them on their various journeys to the top of the basketball world.

It seems to me that passion is a prerequisite to success.  But it’s not enough by itself.  Passionate people need to be supported.  At first, they need the support of family and friends, next they need coaches and mentors, and lastly, they need fans and supporters who are willing to put down their own time and money to fuel the drive. 

Nothing kills passion faster than un-supportive parents and friends.  I shutter to think what the world might have lost if Corey Hart’s mother hadn’t paid for piano lessons and stood by him while and sent demo tapes to the likes of Billy Joel as a teenager.   And nothing fuels passion like gratitude.

Gratitude has a double benefit.  When we are grateful, we provide the fuel that motivates people to continue to support us.  They feel appreciated and out of their own sense of gratitude they continue to provide the support passionate people need to continue working on their dreams.  It’s a positive feedback loop that just keeps growing and leads to the last aspect that I witnessed, prowess.

Without passion and gratitude Corey Hart never would have put in the time and effort it took to write chart topping songs like “Sunglasses at Night” and “Never Surrender”.  Without passion and gratitude Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of the Toronto Raptors never would have spent the time in the gym that it takes to climb to the top of the NBA.  Without passion and gratitude, I never would have survived the last few years in business. 

What are you passionate about and to whom are you grateful for supporting you?  Show it.  I promise, gratitude will be the fuel that propels you to even greater heights.

Here’s a cell phone video I took of Corey Hart performing one of his biggest hits of the 80s.  It’s hard to see but I think you can tell that everyone, including him, is loving every second of it.