I Have Restless Life Syndrome

My name is Jayson Schmidt and I have Restless Life Syndrome.

Apparently, RLS does exist–––and I didn’t think of it first (trust me, I googled it). In 2013, millions of people around the world have made endless goals and boundless dreams. We’re all dreamers and doers, but some of us take it a bit further and I’ll step to the front of the line.

For me, it’s not enough to just have a career. Coaching lacrosse would be a great career. So would Quarterlife Man, or Quarterlife Woman, or Quarterlife Creative House, or Quarterlife whatever-comes-next. Or my work as a digital strategist. Or my work as a part-time videographer. At my count, that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of five careers. I picture it like spinning plates.

My to-do list apps are meticulously held. My iPhone gives me updated reminders every minute, on the minute, it seems. I segment my life down to the minutia (how often do we plan veg-out time?). The words that escape my lips often speak of dreams in which I get away, but honestly, if I was relegated to St. Maarten with nothing but a sailboat I would be miserable. My life is one constant embrace of the rush.

Why does life need to move so fast?

Do you remember the kid in preschool that always tried to fit the square peg into the round hole? If you suffer from RLS, that’s us. We forever try to fit things into this hole that only Jesus can fill. Jeremiah 2:35 sums it up well:

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?

Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?
But you say, ‘I can’t help it.
I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’

How many of us are addicted to alien gods? Career. Relationship. Friendship. Even family. We all seek to jam them into the round hole no matter how poorly they fit. In the two prior verses, the tale is set:

“How dare you tell me, ‘I’m not stained by sin.
I’ve never chased after the Baal sex gods’!
Well, look at the tracks you’ve left behind in the valley.
How do you account for what is written in the desert dust—

It’s time to start looking at the tracks we’ve left behind. If you’re chasing sex or a promotion or a family member who will never love like Jesus does, you can’t refute the tracks you’ve left in the desert. Sure, there’s security in a 401k or a loving wife, but it’s temporary. Even the best 401k loses value and the most joyful wife is bound to get angry. Jesus is the only one whose security is boundless.

What’s the prescription for RLS?

“The rush” only turns fatal when we fail to put our reliance on God. When we put reliance on ourselves, rebellion and a harsh correction are sure to follow. We can be movers and shakers, provided we have the right mindset. To examine a cure, we have to example RLS in its’ purest form, the name. Here’s a definition of restless:

rest·less [rest-lis] – adj.
1. characterized by or showing inability to remain at rest: a restless mood.
2. unquiet or uneasy, as a person, the mind, or the heart.
3. never at rest; perpetually agitated or in motion: the restless sea.
4. without rest; without restful sleep: a restless night.
5. unceasingly active; averse to quiet or inaction, as persons: a restless crowd.

Unquiet? Uneasy? As a person, mind, or heart. Wow. Definition number two hit me like a purse full of bricks. To cure Restless Life Syndrome, we need to quiet the unquiet and ease the uneasiness, which is done by checking our pace and focus.

As a rule, the faster we move, the more God “gets in the way.” Likewise, if we’re moving too fast for God, we’re moving too fast for ourselves. Most times, we admit that we’ve ‘got it all together’, but realistically speaking, who among us is spending an hour in the Word every morning with a jam-packed day ahead? It’s tougher than it seems.

The key here is to slowwwww downnnnn.

Table your two of your least important meetings for next week. Tell your girlfriend/fiance/wife that you’re having a date-with-God night. Get in your prayer closet and just be. No agenda. No to-dos. Just you. And God. And nothing but time.

It’s a fact: restless lives are the antithesis of our ability to pray/read/seek. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to stop everything and pray unceasingly (though that would be great), because you can be doing life at the slowest possible speed and still not living for Jesus. At the end of the day, our ability to maintain our pace on the outside is in direct correlation to how we maintain our focus on the inside.

If we’re focused on the inside, our ability to grab rest and stay eager-but-content wins the day.

Sound Off: Do you have Restless Life Syndrome? Do you think Jesus can be in the forefront while maintaining a restless life? Let us know in the comments below.

Is “Sexy Christianity” Really Sexy?

If you’re a believer and you’re reading this on your Macbook Air, throw a hand in the air.

You’re probably a sexy Christian.

Well, hold on. I meant that you probably subscribe to this sect of Christianity that’s called “sexy Christianity.” Maybe that was the wrong way to put it, but as we are made in God’s image and he is the perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2, ESV), it might be accurate nonetheless.

If you’re a trend-follower on social media, there’s a chance you’ve seen this post. It’s been making the rounds from internet town to internet town, but I want to take another look. And again, for emphasis: This is just another look. It’s not a stern rebuking or a tongue-lashing worthy of a band of picketers against unity; I simply want to dive into the world of sexy Christianity and poke around a little bit.

Macbook Air or not, I probably found you in the midst of poking around. You’re a part of this sexy Christianity, which is described as follows by the author, Kyle Donn:

My generation of believers loves the idea of radical Christianity. It’s edgy, compromises everything, it’s dangerously transparent, and it’s simple. Phrases like “I just want Jesus” are its slogan – its very breath. Verses are tattooed on our backs, and Greek words are penned into our wrists and biceps. Our sweatshop-free clothes are ripped and dirty. Our coffee is fair-trade. Our books are doctrine-heavy and well worn. And maybe we’ll even have a drink or a cigar here and there over a deep theological conversation. Today, most of us have made our pilgrimage to an African orphanage or held the hand of the dying somewhere in the third-world. We are not like our parents – who worry themselves that our bold-faith is going to leave us homeless and maybe dead.

Do you see yourself in that? Despite my lack of excitement for tattoos or TOMS shoes, I know two things: This is me… and there’s a good chance it’s you as well.

That’s okay.

We’re all world changers. The brands we love and causes we stand for drive us to action because God’s love compels us. We would likely rather die than see another child go waterless in Uganda. That’s okay. We come in different shapes, shoes, and sizes, with different causes, creeds, and capacities. And Kyle is right, “When a believer is more interested in the idea of loving Jesus than actually loving Jesus, then that is not Christianity.” But sexy Christianity isn’t sexy, just like antiquated Christianity isn’t antiquated. Christianity is Jesus. It’s the rock. And yes, this may be a simple, tattoo-worthy message, but it’s the truth. Christianity isn’t defined by who we are, but who God is. When we start moving the compass needle off of ourselves and onto Jesus, this no longer becomes a heart issue. His next sentence says:

And we ought to wage a war of wrath upon it – mortifying, dismembering, and crucifying it, and then putting it in a tomb where it belongs.

The belief that sexy Christianity needs to be dismembered is only a lack of understanding. Again, sexy Christianity is just plain normal Christianity. The second we begin to iterate and denominate who is doing what and wearing what, unity evaporates. God is not sitting in some massive courtroom, gavel in hand, waiting to tell the hipster that he’s less adored than the man in the blank sweatshirt. Clothes don’t matter! God’s favor doesn’t fall solely on the man in the blank sweatshirt just because he wears nondescript clothes and doesn’t tell anybody about it. Jesus says, “Come!”

Come if you’re wearing skinny jeans. Come if you’re wearing no jeans. Come if you love Starbucks or fair-trade or your own brew. Come if you like brewing beer. You are who you are and God has called you to dance down to the water and take a drink.

Radical Christianity isn’t going out of style, because it isn’t radical, it’s normal. Radical might be a buzzword (and that will die), but it only exists because we struggled to quantify it when this mold of living rolled onto the scene. Just like generations past had their own way of doing things, so do we. This Christianity thing has been around for thousands of years and we are just the latest manifestation of Jesus’ love to the world.

You are who you are.

You are living in a world that is unlike 50 years ago, or 500 years ago for that matter. You were created at this very time for a very specific purpose (Esther 4:14). You will glorify God more while on this earth than at any other time in human history. This Jesus you love and His Christianity thereafter is not going out of style, and neither are you. Sure, we’ll change with our surroundings–––I’ve said “y’all” more times during my time in Florida than I ever did in the north–––but we’ve come to expect the evolution of our hearts and minds.

Take me, for example. I wasn’t a very great person for awhile, but slowly, Jesus let the temporal crumble. I was a man who couldn’t name the Gospels, for crying out loud! And now look: I founded this very outlet and later its’ sister. I walk with a massive group of college students on a weekly basis… and I hated churchy college gatherings! Hashtag, redeemer. Hashtag, blessed. If you’re an instagramming, homosexual-loving, bring-the-fire type of Christian, know this:

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”

That’s a quote from author John Jakes, and besides the literal authorial meaning, isn’t that what we’re going for? To be who you are, fully in Christ, letting God shine through all of it? Yes. Yes, that’s what we’re called to be.

God doesn’t want cookie-cutter lovers with no heart and soul. He wants you. Every piece of you, every flaw. So run to him. Take your cultural relevance with you, because you’ll need it. Just like bikers reach bikers best and you reach those in your circle best, God will you use in any condition. All you have to do is run.

3 Things That Happen When You Find Your Future Wife

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, each of us spends a fair amount of time looking for our future wife. Maybe it’s because we think a man isn’t a man unless he’s gotten a woman to agree to marry him. Or maybe it’s because we don’t want to be alone for the rest of our life. Regardless, quite a bit of time and energy can be put into the search for the future Mrs. You.

For some of us, this is a self-assigned mission, steeped in heartache and error-filled trials; for others, it’s an itch in the back of our brains, a passing thought of fancy that flitters in and out of our brainwaves from time to time. And whether the search is a full-time obsession or a shrug of the shoulders, what few of us fail to consider is what will happen (or not happen) once we do find the one woman we want to spend the rest of our days with.

Therein lies the majesty of the unknown.

For the sake of complete transparency, you should know that I’ve already found the woman who will soon be my wife. And I’m not just saying that in faith. I presented her a ring and she was kind enough to say yes to a lifetime with me. So when I speak of what’s to follow, I speak from a place of experience and truth, not misguided hopes and unfulfilled dreams.

First, you should know that when you find your one true love, things will change. Your life and way of thinking will change. And more importantly, you will change, as a person, a soul, and a man. But you aren’t being forced to change by her. No, she will love you just as you are, unaltered and raw. Instead, it’s that complete love that will make you want to change. You’ll want to be more considerate and thoughtful. You’ll want to be more responsible and mindful of her wants and needs. You’ll even find yourself smiling more, with no rhyme or reason to explain it. That one woman is a changer and whether you realize it now or not, she will change you from top to bottom without offering a single suggestion or passive aggressive thought. You will want to change because you know she deserves the absolute best version of yourself. And that’s what you’ll strive to give her.

Second (and this is important), when you meet your future wife, you’ll look back on the time you spent as a single chap and you’ll be able to rightly see every single mistake you made in this vicious fight known as romance. You’ll see how foolish and/or desperate you were. You’ll see the missteps and the mistakes. You’ll see where you tried too hard and when you didn’t try hard enough. You’ll see why things didn’t work out with that one girl, even though you were sure they would. You’ll see why you failed in love before because this love you have now will be impossible to compare against. [quote]You’ll see why you failed in love before because this love you have now will be impossible to compare against. [/quote]You’ll see that those past relationships couldn’t have lasted because they didn’t have what you have now. You weren’t complete in those past partners the way you are now. Through everything you’ve experienced and fought against, this love—this completeness—allows you to see why you fell short so many times before. It’s because it wasn’t with her. She’s the reason it works now and she’s the reason you know this is now forever.

Lastly, when you meet the woman you’ll marry, you’ll begin to work. And I don’t mean in the way that earns a paycheck or promotion. No, you’ll begin to work at this relationship in ways you never knew love required. Because you realize that her saying yes to your proposal isn’t the end of your journey, but only the beginning.

You’ve found her, but now you have to keep her. And through this given wisdom, you’ll realize that to make this wonderful, mesmerizing, beautiful gift work, you’re going to have to work and sweat and bleed. Because while love feels easy and breezy, it’s not. It’s a beast that requires work and struggle. And yet, while you work to make this relationship as strong as you can, you’ll do it with a smile and joyful step. Because even though you’re working and working and working, it’s with your best friend and the work isn’t a job, but a privilege.

The Bible says that he who finds a wife, finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). And once you find this one woman who captures you heart, mind, and soul, you’ll know it to be true.

If you haven’t found your one true love yet, don’t be discouraged. Personally, I had to grow through a failed marriage and numerous failed loves and relationships to find the woman who made it all worth the fight. So don’t give up, do not surrender. Just be prepared for the day that you do find her, you will change, you will be made wise, and you will begin to work. This I promise you.

Dating with Happy Feet

You know him. The quarterback with happy feet.

He drops back to pass. Looks. Scans. Nothing open. He does a jig that’s less footballish and more Riverdance, and it’s usually followed by a mistake.

Interception. Sack. Fumble. You name it, you’ve named him. The quarterback with happy feet.

I am the quarterback with happy feet. Granted, I’ve never taken a snap from under center and I’ve never been crushed by a 290-lb. defensive tackle, but that’s me. Prepare for the metaphor application… as single men, we have happy feet in the dating world.

In 2013, options are everywhere. You can theoretically find any type of woman you’d like, from Miami to Mozambique and back again. They can be writers or rodeo clowns. They can be tall/short, little/big. Whatever you want, so long as it’s reciprocated, I suppose. But this presents a problem. In the past, you dated people you ran with. If you were a member of the bourgeoisie, you dated a member of the bourgeoisie. Likewise, peasants; meet peasants. Not anymore though–––like no other time in history, it’s up to you–––and that might not be a good thing. Here are four things that quarterbacks with happy feet do:

1. They’re unhappy with their options

A quarterback has his go-to receiver. If that receiver isn’t open (maybe she’s in a relationship or engaged), he scans the defense for another matchup. If he makes it through all of his reads, the ball usually ends up in the hands of his check-down option.

2. They get anxious

If everybody’s covered, he gets anxious and begins the dance of the happy feet. Due to the mounting pressure, he looks back at his options, floating something halfway reminiscent of an actual forward pass toward his target.

3. They make a mistake

By the time that pass is thrown, the receiver is covered. Interception.

Sometimes, the quarterback is crippled by indecision and takes a sack. His future decisions are now altered due to his previous indecision, and he needs additional yardage to score a touchdown.

4. They overreact

That quarterback is thinking about the last pass he threw. In the best case scenario, he is a quick forgetter. If not, he might make another mistake, or even worse, just hand the ball off.

 ///

If there are two things I love, it’s football and dating metaphors. And unlike the Mark Sanchez’s of the world, you don’t have to have a career making questionable decisions on the field. Like Peyton Manning in the opening video, even the best quarterbacks get happy feet, but we all want a touchdown, right?

We do. But somewhere along the line, you’ll get sacked. 

You’ll fumble. You’ll turn first-and-goal into fourth-and-long, but at the end of the day, Peyton Manning was a twelve-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl winner, and four-time NFL MVP. There is a correlation between your past mistakes and your present successes. If you’re willing to learn from your mistakes, you’re more likely to run headlong into the teeth of that intimidating defense.

The Cure for Happy Feet

The cure for happy feet begins by realizing that a lack of focus is deadly in relationships, as in football. Options are great if you’re talking hamburgers or hot dogs, but when you’re driving the field, you can’t be preoccupied with multiple receivers. Without focus and a number one receiver, you’ll be more inclined to make an errant decision.

In addition, happy feet disappear when you slow down, because not all decisions are best served quickly. When we speed up the dating process, we are asking for trouble. Nowadays, we meet, greet, and delete in a fraction of the time, leading to our lack of options and unhappiness.

Let’s talk Peyton again–––and his favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison. Together, they set NFL records for QB-to-WR completions, yards, and touchdowns, but they didn’t do it overnight. They built chemistry. After awhile, their interactions on the field were almost completely in sync. It was magical (much like a great relationship should be), so if you see a receiver downfield, make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with.

Get Off The Bench

It’s gametime and it’s time to step up. We are called to be leaders on and off the field, so find your receiver and get to winning. Sure, I’m not asking you to take 11 years like Peyton and Marvin did, but making sure you can score a touchdown with a lady friend will go along way toward getting that Super Bowl ring.

 

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: Do you get dating happy feet? Do you think the football analogy was just a little over the top? Let us know in the comments below. [/alert]

Birthday Greetings from the Quarterlife Man

Here I am.

It’s my 25th birthday and as the founder of Quarterlife, I am now officially a Quarterlife Man. Today is a special day.

If you’re new to what we’re doing, I launched QM in November 2011. Since then, it’s been full speed ahead and we’ve seen amazing things happen for college-aged young people and twenty-somethings. We’ve launched Quarterlife Woman. And Quarterlife Creative House. And there are other things in the works.

I am blessed.

Catching Vision

My adolescence could be considered the highlight reel of dreamer. Time after time, I stepped outward to make things happen. When I started my school’s lacrosse program, I was “just a kid.” That kid went on to find coaches, schedule games, and do things that middle-aged men normally do. All because I wanted to play the game.

But you might call it a blooper reel, because trust me, I’ve failed too. Like that time I wanted to cross the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Northern Michigan. I didn’t know that they were two miles long and over 400 feet high, but what’s intimidating to a nine year old? Eventually, I turned around without tasting the sweetness of Lake Michigan.

(Note: Mom and Dad, sorry for causing that freak out! I’ll never get lost again–––I think.)

Joel 2:28 (NIV) speaks to me:

“And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

Our God is the God that imparts vision to EVERYONE. Young. Old. Sons. Daughters. Rich. Poor. You. Me. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. You have a calling and it’s not just any calling–––it’s a high calling. Ephesians 4 says to live a life worthy of your calling. Jeremiah 1:5 says that you were known, even before you were formed in the womb. Not only that, but you were consecrated (read: set apart) for amazing, mindblowing things.

Don’t you see it?

1000x1000


“To young men contemplating a voyage, I would say go.”

These words come from Joshua Slocum. He was the first man to sail single-handedly around world, completing his journey in 1898. His words resonate with me. Far too often, we live a comfortable life. A life of just finishing term papers; just doing the day-to-day in our careers; just being average.

You are not average.

You have a God-given calling on your life for excellence and as men, we need to GO. There are enough men out there that are living idly by, watch the earth spin ’round. You are on this earth in this present day for so much more. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.

Hold Me Accountable

As my community of readers and friends, I want you to hold me accountable. If I ever settle (I don’t like using the “s” word), you have free reign to slap me upside the head. Please. Slap me and remind me to dream and to conquer again. So that I would not question the haters and the doubters, but to just GO.

I want this for you too, so make a commitment with me.

Today, commit to run after your dream. If you don’t have a dream, pray that God would place one on your heart with such intensity that you would have to do it–––or literally die. We are blessed to have the ability to chase after our dreams with little standing in the way. Take advantage of that. Never in history have there been fewer barriers to entry for those trying to start a business, write a book, or publish music.

So do it. To young men contemplating a voyage, I would say go.

Never stop dreaming. Never stop believing in yourself. You can do it and I believe in you.


Note: I will be checking in on you when I turn 26. Be prepared to have stories. You have 364 days.

Does Surprise Exist In Relationships Anymore?

I can’t imagine growing up in my parents’ generation. If my father liked a girl, he actually had to, you know… get to know her. It sounds crazy. In today’s culture, we know nothing about the “getting to know her” phase. Instead of:

Boy meets girl.
Boy asks girl out.
Boy gets to know girl.
Boy and girl date or never speak again.

It’s now:

Boy sometimes (but not always) meets girl.
Boy initiates contact via Facebook.
Boy and girl Facebook the you-know-what out of each other.
Boy and girl hang out.
Boy and girl randomly know too much about the other person, but play it off as mere coincidence.
Boy judges girl because of risque spring break pictures from Cabo in 2007.
Girl judges boy because he doesn’t have 1 Corinthians 13 listed in his “favorite quotations.”
Boy and girl grow tired of each other, and cease contact, because the fun of getting to know someone is completely minimized.

Does surprise exist in relationships anymore? I don’t think so.

What happens above happens in many (if not most) circumstances. We’re so ready to meet and marry that we’re willing to forego any semblance of getting to know another person.

With the advent of social media, nothing is shrouded in secrecy. I mean… you can easily decipher whether “Mrs. Right” is the perfect match based upon a seven-second Facebook stalk or Twitter search, right?

Wrong.

You see, the problem is that we are so willing to see if our prospective wifey meets specific dating criteria, that we are willing to forego intimacy. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4 (MSG) that God wants you to live a pure life. Prior to that, Paul says:

We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.

Paul is urging us to live a spirited dance of purity. And yes, the physical side is crucially important, but the mental side is paramount. We refuse to hear this, most times.

“As long as I’m keeping it in my pants, I’m good.”

And that’s a lie. You can marry yourself to someone in your mind if you’re not careful. You can date someone in your mind if you’re not careful. If you engage in the Facebook stalk, you’re asking to put this person under the microscope. There’s no purity there. You’re committing to somebody in your mind, or you’re leaving them for dead before they even know what’s hit them.

Embrace The Infatuation Phase

I’ve heard people rail against the infatuation phase, but really, I don’t think it’s all that bad. Sure, you might abandon all sense of self-control and go AWOL to your friends and family, but at the very least, the infatuation phase is honest.

The infatuation phase serves its’ purpose because despite the sheer amount of time spent together, it’s like one giant scavenger hunt. You’re finding something new about them, they’re finding something new about you. Repeat.

But that’s weird. And we don’t do that anymore, right? Because they could be awkward… or they might think you could be awkward. And it takes vulnerability to figure that out. So instead, we turn into miniature private eyes and seek to dissect everything about Mrs. Right before we even take our first walk together.

Hashtag awkward.

Make Her Worth The Wait

I’m preaching to myself here. Far too often, I’ve shelved great relationships with great women because they didn’t pass the test (whatever that means). Here and now, let’s commit to waiting. This seems way down the rabbit hole of what’s counter-cultural, but to see a different relationship you’re going to have to do something different. We need to keep our eyes on the prize: Jesus.

Find Jesus instead of the best possible version of her. Considering that our social media accounts are just highlight reels anyway, you’ll find that Jesus is the highlight reel God. The Bible is his immaculate Facebook. You’ll never find something about him that doesn’t meet your list of standards, because he is the standard. And I can guarantee you this:

You won’t care. The more you press in, the less she matters. And that’s not in an arrogant way, but in a “Jesus determines my love, so who cares what she did in Cabo” kind of way. It’s that simple.

The Blind Leading the Seeing

Three sentences. That’s all it took to know Reyna was extraordinary. I met her just a few days ago. Reyna’s spirit reverberated in her Dominican home and into the heart of this American visitor. And she unsettled me in profound ways with her unassuming heroism.

Reyna’s modest home fronts a dirt alleyway in the town of El Seibo, a busy city in the heart of the Dominican Republic. Life isn’t easy in her neighborhood. Deficient infrastructure, education, and sanitation shackle her community. But Reyna’s smile wasn’t lacking. She approaches life like an eager Coloradan advances on a challenging hike—with vigor, optimism and confidence. Her enthusiasm is surprising because of poverty’s grip on her city. But it is remarkable because of her impairment. Reyna was blinded at the start of her adult life. At the age of 20, Reyna lost her sight.

“God has given me so much. My job is to give back to others.”

An embarrassing lump grew in my throat when she voiced those words. Reyna was a charity case poster child. She could have starred in a Sally Struthers infomercial. Dirty water. Substandard hospitals. Single woman. Blind. But Reyna didn’t see it that way. Her impairment didn’t cloud her identity. Reyna knew she was a strong, purposeful and capable woman. She could see she was designed in the very image of her Creator.

Reyna has unhampered ambition. She launched a business and it grew dramatically. The corner Target, her store provides it all: Rice, flour, cooking oil, toiletries and more. She trusts her faithful clients to pay in full. When new customers stop in, however, she keeps their payments separate till a faithful client stops in to verify. She treats her customers with class and only sells the best products. And her business has grown enormously profitable.

Dominican-Republic-Reyna

And that’s a good story: The rags-to-riches blind entrepreneur. But Reyna’s story was just beginning. She’s since taken in her sister’s two children and raised them. Her nephew now studies at the Dominican Air Force academy. Her teenage niece aspires to medical school. She is a leader at her church. While she answered my many questions, she interrupted our conversation with a phone call. That might have been rude, but in a very “that’s Reyna” sort of way, the caller was a young woman in her church who was preparing for a surgery and looking for her counsel. Reyna refuses to succumb to, or even acknowledge, low societal expectations.

“God says that, ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,’ she recounted. “We’re called to be openhanded in our success and that’s what I try to do.”

It’s as if she doesn’t get it. Reyna, I see you as the poor in this proverbYou’re the blind woman in the developing country. She deflects what I might assume about her because she knows what her Father thinks about her. And she’s chosen to share in her success. She extolls everyone to embrace the gifts God’s given them.

“There a many blind people in my city that are not working. Why? They are more than capable. This is a big problem for us.”

Reyna captivated my imagination for the hour I stood in her home. She, of course, had prepared a patented dulce de leche dessert for us. And, of course, she cried several times in gratefulness for all God had given her. It’s what heroes do. Nothing fabricated and no veneers. Reyna was created to create and gifted to gift. No barrier was going to keep her from seeing that.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

Change in the Age of Shallow

My attention span isn’t what it used to be. While reading a terrific book last night, I noticed my itchiness for the end of the chapter. It felt forever away. The chapter ran thirteen pages. Apparently, thirteen pages is my new eternity.

Maybe you can relate: The moment you wish a 90-second YouTube video would get to the point. The moment you yearn for a red light so you can catch up on email. The moment you need to check a new text message during dinner with friends. This growing impatience dangerously impedes our ability to stick with things that matter.

I’m sure some teenage whippersnapper will suggest I’m simply recreating the tendency of our grandparents to overstate the distance they walked to school. They didn’t walk uphill both ways, always in blizzard conditions.

But our attention spans are slipping. According to a new book, our physical brains have adapted to our shared shiny rock syndrome. In The Shallows, author Nicholas Carr argues we have lost the ability to last. We skim and scan, but rarely sustain. While debate remains whether our brains have physiologically changed in the digital age, my experience certainly affirms Carr’s thesis. Maybe it’s my world-in-my-hand smartphone. Or, maybe I subconsciously yearn for the days when my dad’s car phone was a connectedness marvel. No matter the reason, I’m itchier than I was five years ago.

I wonder how our multitasking influences how we view change within people. Even Desmond, my two year old, rapidly switches between apps on my iPhone (…and no, parental purists, I’m not too proud to admit he borrows it at restaurants). I mean, goodness, he gets unruly halfway through Goodnight Moon.

Does the age of shallows stunt our patience? On a recent trip to India, I walked through a “slum among slums.” Conditions were abysmal, and I craved a “fix and flip” solution to the wrenching problems. I questioned whether I had the endurance to invest in the sort of change that demands time. I questioned whether my millennial sensibilities would allow for the sort of steady and faithful life-on-life investment needed for true growth.

We need to recalibrate to a longer view. Bangladesh cut infant mortality by two thirds and more than doubled female literacy over the past twenty years. The “rise of globalization and the spread of capitalism” halved extreme poverty worldwide over the same time. The Church spreads at unprecedented rates south of the equator. It’s not instant, but it is remarkable.

We need a personal recalibration too. Good change is rarely immediate. Friendships demand TLC. Marital harmony is more like a slow cooker than a microwave. A virtuous life is not “acquired spontaneously” but rather a “product of long-term training, developed through practice.” Desmond didn’t master the barnyard animal puzzle overnight. These good things demand the long view, but the Information Age clouds us from seeing it.

Change takes time. In a broadband world, Indian slums prompt frustration with the measured pace of change. But in the case of a wayward sibling or a forlorn slum, slow can be good. The knight on his white horse creates a scene, but he doesn’t change anything. Hitting the jackpot makes waves, not change. Healthy change is incremental and it emerges through faithfulness. In our sound byte society, we need the discipline to wait for it.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

When Life Throws You A Curveball…

Things are going as expected.

In the ocean of life, it’s smooth sailing. All of the sudden, a rogue wave comes along and threatens to wreck your ride. What do you do? Do you let the wave dictate where you’re going, or do you forge, headlong into the thick of it?

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

(Hebrews 11:1)

Our responses to the curveballs of life are signified by our faith and trust in the author of our universe.

When life throws you a curveball…

I’m not going on the Quarterlife #48States Road Trip. Despite months of planning and preparation, the trip is over before it begins. Why, though? To answer that question, let’s sprint back over to Hebrews 11, which I referenced above. It’s one of my favorite and most revered chapters of The Bible.

The author of Hebrews mightily tells stories of faith in Chapter 11. In fact, he says “It was by faith” sixteen times before going on to say: “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.”

What. Boundless. Faith.

33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 

(Hebrews 11:33-34)

Their faith harnessed the power of a God that can move mountains.

A History Lesson

I’m reminded of my own story. Which begins with my mother.

In 1978, my sister was born into this world. She was supposed to be the only Schmidt child, due to internal complications. Roughly eight years later, my mother prayed, harnessing the power of a God that can move mountains. She said, “If you are who you say you are, give me a son for my husband.”

In the fall of 1987, my brother was born into this world at one-million-to-one odds. 364 days later, she got double for her trouble. That’s me.

What. Boundless. Faith.

At 2,000,000-to-1 odds, I stand on this earth as a result of a laboring of prayer. To put that in perspective, if you repeated this outcome 1,999,999 more times, I wouldn’t be here. Only the finger of God could have made life when there was no possible outcome for life. Ask my mom, though. Seemingly insurmountable odds were nothing for an insurmountable God.

When life throws you a curveball…

…it’s the perfect time for a home run.

Verse 40 says, “For God had something better in mind for us.”

Often, we settle for mere fractions of our God-vision. Or, we seek to implement his will ahead of time. To this, I exhort you: God’s vision for your life is exclusively yours and the author of time is always on time. Never early, never late.

It is for that reason that I can’t take the #48States journey in 2013.  And that is tough to say because I desperately wanted to take this trip. Still do, in fact. But I am unwilling to sacrifice God’s good for God’s great. And the companies that have partnered with Quarterlife have been great throughout this entire process. I am truly floored when I think of their willingness to fund such an amazing opportunity.

In the end, though, it’s about doing what we’re called to do. In this season, I must press the pause button because God has something better in mind. It’s called We Drop Love.

wedroplove-large

We Drop Love is God’s home run. We Drop Love is all about loving people–––whoever they are, wherever they’re at. It’s about dropping bombs of love, no agenda attached. It’s about an giant, audacious goal: to find 500 different ways to love people on a national journey next summer.

And so we wait. But waiting is good. Waiting always gives us the opportunity to become further aligned with God’s will.

While we wait for next summer, I am asking you to join us on the journey. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation and keep updated. Ask us questions. Suggest things. But above all else, let’s get moving. Together, we’ll forget the hatred and forget the judgment. You’ve seen the news lately–––there’s enough of it already–––but we as a generation can change things.

If we do, We Drop Love might be the biggest curveball yet.

A Lesson in Leading People

The doorbell startled us. Late night guests are not common in our quiet neighborhood. I opened the door cautiously and saw two men bundled in snow gear. Before the door even cracked, one man interjected, “Listen, we don’t want any trouble, but we’re in a rough spot and just looking for some honest work. You need someone to clear your sidewalk?”

The biggest snow storm of the year hit Denver that morning—and brought with it a lesson in differentiating good from great.

Sixteen inches of powder heaped up in our yard and barricaded the cars lining our street. The duo at my doorstep averted eye contact, snow shovels poised at their sides. They pitched their snow removal services. After a brief negotiation, we shook on the deal and I returned inside to find cash, feeling quite pleased with my actions.


When opportunity presents itself, I love hiring folks. It breathes of dignity to provide a fair wage for hard work. I stepped outside and paid the men, quickly stepping back into the warmth of our home. But looking across the living room, I saw Alli rushing to heat a pot of water.

“It’s freezing outside, Chris,” she said. “Let’s at least share a cup of hot chocolate.”

Later that month, I visited Steve and Jim, two friends who lead a small manufacturing business in north Denver. Sandwiched between a rail yard and tire depot, their nondescript warehouse looks much less remarkable than what takes place inside. While touring their facility, they explained how their team converts stacks of sheet metal—what looked like an oversized stack of paper—into massive fans that improve the efficiency of machinery.

They shared about the steel-and-rivets nature of their business, but it was clear their success had little to do with metal fabrication. They succeeded because of how they cared for their people. With an average tenure of 15 years, this warehouse acted more like second home than a factory.

“My dad had a simple philosophy when he started this business,” Steve said. “‘Let’s pay people well, give them great benefits and really get into their lives.’”

When Steve and Jim talked about the men that worked on the shop floor, their energy intensified. They liked manufacturing, but they loved their people. The hard-nosed crewmen roaming the warehouse floors were not just workers. To Steve and Jim, they were friends, peers, and fathers.

Jim summarized their leadership approach:

“Here’s what we believe: Walk beside the foul-mouthed. Treat them well. Invest in their lives over a long period time …and watch what happens.”

And over time, great things did happen because of how they militantly defended their culture of dignity and respect. They didn’t use gimmicks to achieve organizational excellence. They just remained fastened to treating people right. And the results told a story: Business was good, work wasn’t just for the weekend, and their people thrived.

Steve and Jim operate by a simple premise: The best way to do business is to hire hard workers and unleash them to use their abilities. But their special sauce is how they care. And that’s what I missed with the shovelers. Paying them for snow removal was fine, but it was the cup of hot chocolate that made it great. When we shared the warm beverages with our late-night guests, a smile lit up their faces, starkly contrasting with the cold night air. A sincere drink of worth for two men parched for it.

Originally posted at SmorgasblurbRead more about Steve and Jim’s business in this profile at Christianity Today.