Archives For focus

Heart Of Service

Zechariah Newman —  October 14, 2014 — 10 Comments

In life we can either live a life of service or one of self-service. I struggle often with actually living a life of service. One that comes from the heart, not just the right actions. Not some mask of service, but authentically serving those I touch in my everyday life. When I am focused on my wants and desires I struggle with depression. Thoughts of self-service succumb to self-pity. Why me? Why is everything hard for me? I do the right thing and never get a good result! These are some of the negative thoughts I have when I focus on my life instead of living a life for others. At the time it feels like the truth although it is the furthest thing from the actual truth.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

When we focus our lives on helping and serving, we will be fulfilled. However, when we focus on when we will get a harvest, we will be depressed and frustrated. Our eyes have fallen on our wants and fixated on the negative things in life. I could spend ten minutes telling you how blessed I am. I could also spend ten minutes telling you why my life sucks. Sometimes in the same hour. It is all about where we choose to focus.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

Zig Zigglar has a great quote. It says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” I love this quote. I have one issue with it though that has led me astray. If in our hearts we are helping others to fulfill our wants, it will not work.

Studying Zigglar’s work, I believe he was exhorting us to get our minds off of ourselves and on serving others. This will lead to success! Only when we lay down our wants do we actually receive our true desires. Unfortunately, I at times have manipulated others; helping them with the intent to get what I want. The problem is then I am unconsciously or consciously still fixated on myself.

This week let’s be proactive in helping others. Let’s detach the strings that we put on “favors.” Serve just to serve. Sow seeds of love, peace and joy into others by focusing on the cross and God’s love for you. Love because Christ loved, serve because Christ served. Be the light that believers are called to. Use your dream that God put into you to serve and that after all is why He gave it to you to strengthen and exhort the body. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you focus your life into being one of service?

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The Pain of Progress

Zechariah Newman —  February 4, 2014 — 3 Comments

I wish our dreams just happened. Don’t you? I wish that when I decided to do something new it was easy. That life itself was easy, but it’s not. Getting up at 5:00 am this morning was especially tough. My bed was warm and it was cold out there. I did not sleep well, however, I have a packed day today so no snooze button for this dream chaser. Isn’t that how life is? Our current situation feels comfortable. It doesn’t matter what it is; whether it is good or bad at least we know what it’s like. We could be sitting in a wet or dirty diaper, but it’s comfortable. Putting a clean one on requires a few seconds of cold and discomfort. (Can you tell I have young kids?) Getting out of bed, though I was excited to write, was going to require action that was uncomfortable. Here is the truth about progression. Without the struggle there is no progress.

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It is in the low valley where we grow and are shaped. I wish that it was the mountaintops, but it’s not. The struggle shapes and cultivates us to become better. It is in failure, loss, and heartache that we are shaped and catapulted into a new and better season. It is too easy to become bitter and look at the failures, however, there can be a better life if we embrace the pain instead of run from it.

I struggled for years trying to figure out what to do with my life. Now I am writing, speaking, and leading others to follow their God-given purpose. I am honored to help others figure out and pursue what God has for them in their lives. I couldn’t do this if I didn’t understand the struggle. Could you imagine someone teaching about chasing dreams and the challenges people face when they don’t understand the pain?   There were tears of pain and confusion trying to figure out what I wanted to do. It has not been easy, but through the confusion and pain there has been a beauty. Through the pain I have found my purpose and calling. Your dream will be the same way; the pain forges the dream to new heights. The lowest of lows is what creates the mountaintop experiences.

So don’t run from, cover up, or hide your failures. Learn and grow from the struggle. Then teach others and show them the hope on the other side. God has so much for you. Hold on to hope and push through the struggle and discomfort. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you get through the discomfort and struggle?

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Practicing Your Dream?

Zechariah Newman —  November 21, 2013 — 3 Comments

I posted Tuesday about our “by now’s” that we all have. Here is the problem and the reason we use “by now” so much. Your dream is going to take a lot of time. Usually much more time than you have in your mind. The reason for this is that there is a direct relationship between quality and the amount of time spent. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. He discusses the fact that we spend 10,000 hours to become a master at something. You and I are only going to get better the more we work at our dream. The more you practice your dream the closer you will get to the reality of living it out. The more I write the better my writing becomes. If you look back at my earlier posts I think you would agree.

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Your dream burning inside of you will be the same way. I wish it weren’t true. I wish that you could decide to be a surgeon and then be world-class later that week. Intuitively we know this, but I had only applied this to other people until recently. The grind and writing in the margins of my life must happen for me to be good enough to see my dream.

How about you? What is your dream? How long have you been practicing? Six months? A year? Five years? I was listening to a speaker the other day and was in awe of all the information, stories, and overall captivation of the talk. Immediately I thought, “I wish I had that much talent and I wish I could communicate like that.” Well, there’s a catch. He has been speaking on that subject for about twenty years. Other people who you and I think came out of no where practiced for years. They plugged away when no one knew who they were. The small days that we can despise are what makes you and I ready when the spotlight is brighter and hotter.

This post stings a little bit because I can be impatient. If chasing your dreams were easy, it would not be as sweet of an achievement when lived out. Let’s change our perspective. We are not dream chasers. We are practicing our dreams. Make those payments of time and mistakes. I will leave you with the words my football coach used to say constantly, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Till the good get better and the better get best.” Be blessed on the journey.

What is your dream and have you been practicing it?

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One of the hardest things to do, but a necessity, is to make actions as if something is true when there is no evidence. This is how dreams work. Here is an example Jeff Goins talks about when his writing took off; he started referring himself as a writer even when he didn’t feel like he was one. For me this rings true. The more I have decided I am a writer and speaker, the more what I am doing has taken new life. Your dream and “calling” will be the same way. You must make decisions and actions as if you are already living the dream. It will feel awkward and strange, but this will work. You may even feel like a liar at first. These three things will happen when you live out your calling before you see any evidence.

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1. Feelings. I feel anything but a writer some days. I feel like I don’t have one inch of talent some days. I feel like I have nothing new to offer and no one will care. I feel like everyone will think I am a fake and point and laugh at me. These are all feelings. Your feelings and mine are liars. You can’t listen and be controlled by your feelings. Even as I write this I am having to say no to my thoughts and yes to this thing burning inside of me making me want to puke, laugh, and cry all at the same time. I am not crazy, I have just found what I am meant to do. Say no to your feelings and move to a new level.

If we don’t understand the inconsistency of emotions, we will be controlled by them instead of being led by the Spirit. (Tweet that)

2. Community. The more I believe that I am a writer, the more I have connected with other writers. I am forming friendships with many people in this community. I have talked on the phone with a few, connected on Facebook and Twitter. This is so huge for me and it will be huge for you. You cannot do what you want to without the help and support of others. We are not meant to go at this thing called life alone. If you need encouragement and or support, you can contact me on Facebook and Twitter. We need to walk with others and encourage each other. Get involved with the community that you want to be in.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

3. Actions. Belief and wisdom are nothing if they are not turned into action. It is the action before the fulfillment of the dream that produces the result, not the other way around. This has been confused in our debt ridden culture and almost turned backwards. We can buy stuff on credit then work for it instead of working to be able to buy stuff. I wake up every morning before my family to write and communicate on different platforms. I go to work as a writer for this three hour window. Do you go to work chasing your dream for part of the day? I challenge you to spend at least fifteen minutes working on it today. Don’t put it off one day.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

So today tell one person what your calling is. I will say it to give you courage. My name is Zechariah Newman. I have pizza parlors and I am also a writer and speaker. So again here are your two tasks today: Tell one person your calling and spend at least fifteen minutes today pursuing that dream. Be blessed on your journey.

What is your calling or dream?
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Focused Blessings

Zechariah Newman —  October 24, 2013 — 6 Comments

It is so easy when you are chasing a dream that is burning inside of you to focus on what you don’t have. This can give such a bad taste in your mouth, making you ungrateful for the blessings around you. Blessings can end up looking like curses and the very things that you use to plead God for are now holding you back. The thing is if we took care of what God has given us we prove ourselves to be good stewards. We should be focused on the next step, but at the same time we need to have an appreciation and gratitude for what we have already. Perception change is so key. We often overlook the good and beautiful things we have and look longingly toward the future. The huge falsity is that we are almost there. The truth is that we will always be almost there. The next thing will not fulfill you. Ouch! I wish it weren’t true some days. God is the only thing in this world that will ever fill that void. These 4 things help me to focus on my blessings.

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1. Worship. Nothing can change your attitude like worshiping the one that has given you the breath in your lungs.(Tweet) Two songs that are really hitting home right now with me are No one Higher by Seth Condrey and Oceans by Hillsong United. When we worship God we tend to value what He values. It will strengthen and edify you.

*Edify is to instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually.

2. Celebrate. Take time to celebrate the success. I and I am sure you as well focus too much on improving and give no time to stop and celebrate the success. Take time to reflect on how God has come through. I am so much more energized and alive when I celebrate a win. It doesn’t have to be big, but it will add gratefulness to your spirit. Take the time to enjoy life.

3. Volunteer. Get your mind off your own wants and desires by helping others. We need to be intentional here. I feel so blessed with my life after helping others. Mission trips, helping the homeless, and counseling a struggling couple have all given me a greater perspective. I have a house and clean water. I have a wife that loves me and treats me with respect. I am a blessed man.

” Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4

4. Time. I am a terrible judge of time. I expect things to happen too quickly. When I look at other people’s lives I have found that it appears things just happened for them. This is not the reality of time. Acknowledge upfront that your expectation of time is probably way off. Your dream will take longer and cost more than you think it will. Hold on to hope. It will happen just give it more time.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. ” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

So if you are struggling with your joy get your eyes on Jesus. Help someone and celebrate what you have now. Focus on your part and truly trust God with His plan and His timing. An attitude of gratitude will lift your spirits. Be blessed on your journey.

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The Morning Hustle

Zechariah Newman —  October 22, 2013 — 9 Comments

Are you waiting to get chosen? Waiting to get picked? I don’t know who we are waiting on like there will be a ray of light that shines down, angels sing and we step out. The crowd goes wild and we have been chosen. This is not the reality. It is not called a choosing rather a calling. I have been up writing posts, working on my e-book called, Finding Your Path, writing Facebook posts, and getting my tweets set. All of this has been done in the dark by myself, just me, worship music, and my coffee. There is no glamor and crowd. It is really lonely and can be frustrating. Dream chasing looks a lot like work. Your calling and dream will look a lot like work too. It takes a lot of practice, focus, and patience.  It takes a deep-rooted abiding trust in God that He has a plan for you. Are you sitting in the bleachers or have you stood up and stepped out? Stop waiting. It is not going to happen until you put footsteps toward your dream. My dream and I believe your dream starts in the morning.

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Whether it is a new career direction, working out, reading more, praying, Bible reading, etc., you need to start it in the morning. When you start something new often times it will end up on the back burner. I have not been a morning person, but I have continued to force myself to get up and work on my dream. You can too.

1. Excuses. If you wait until later this huge bag of excuses has been gathering up all day waiting for a chance to be unleashed. “I need to clean the house.” “It has been a long day.” “I’m too tired.” “I need to check my emails.” “There is a big game on tonight.” These are some of the excuses I build into my day that stop me from working at and practicing my dream.

2. Distractions. There are so many fewer distractions at 5 am. No one is going to call you. Not many people are on Facebook. Everyone in your house is likely asleep. The only thing that is hard for me is staying awake till the caffeine or the excitement of writing kicks in. It will be the same way for you. If you get up and go, more will be accomplished in less time. Distractions are best avoided in the margins of our lives.

3. Energy for the day. When I wake up and work at my dream I have so much more energy for the day. I feel alive. I feel this way because I’m getting traction and am headed in a way that I am proud of. It will be the same way for you. Putting footsteps toward something gives you that sense of accomplishment and pride.

I hope this gives you the energy and encouragement to rise early and change your life. Big dreams happen over time with focused energy multiplied by God. Be blessed on your journey.
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Your Calling

Zechariah Newman —  October 17, 2013 — 13 Comments

Why do we care so much about what others think? I talked about this with the fear of rejection. It is natural to care what others think to a degree. Here is the problem though. I want you, yes you, the one that has taken the time to read this to chase the dream that God has placed within you. This is impossible unless you make up in your mind and heart that what God says about you is what matters. Otherwise you will live someone else’s dream. You have a “calling.” We refer to pastors as having a calling, which they do. Pastors have a very important role for the kingdom of God. Here is what we fail to remember; we all have a calling. Here is what I would like you to ask yourself: Regardless of the opinions of other people, what do I enjoy doing?

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1. Your dream has to be bigger than the opinions of other people. Your dream has to be so much greater than that or it will never happen. I have a co-worker that was going to enroll in college to be a teacher. In the three years I have known her all she talks about is doing hair and how much she loves it. She was so close to enrolling in school and going into debt for being a teacher because she thought people don’t respect someone who goes to cosmetology school. I love her honesty. I pray she goes in the direction that makes her heart sing.

2. Your dream has to be rooted in God. This is an important step that I believe a lot of people miss, including me at times. You need to look inside to figure out what brings you alive. You need that point in time where it shifts to an outward focus because your dream in the end isn’t about you. Your dream and purpose has to be rooted in Christ or it will feel empty and void at the pinnacle of your success. Do not leave God on the sideline. He wants to be involved in your whole life. This includes the work of our hands.

Start today figuring out what you want to do and not what others tell you to do. Life will be so much sweeter because no matter how much our loved ones love us, this is your journey not theirs. You will be the one putting in over forty hours a week. Bring it all back to God and He will bless the work of your hand. Be blessed on your journey.

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Earlier I wrote about slowing down to see hinge moments. This post is also about slowing down, but more to slow down and enjoy life. I recently participated in Jeff Goin’s Slow Down Challenge. Each day was a new challenge of slowing down and enjoying life. Things like take a 15 minute walk and really look around and examine what you see. It made me realize even more about something I already knew. I rush through life missing the very things that make life so magical. Things like the hills out my back door, my smiling kids, sunrises, and birds chirping. When did I start to tune it all out? When did the wonder of everything go away? I think we all rush through life missing the very fabric of what creates an excellent life. Always on to the next project, goal, and accolades. I wrote about how we should operate in life. This is dedicated to the enjoyment of life; to the sweetness of things we take for granted. These 4 things help me to embrace the moment.

 

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1. Breath. Slow breaths in and out bring me back into the moment. Most breaths are shallow. Bring the breath all the way down to your belly. When you breathe full breaths, you will see that everything including you slows down.

Mathew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

2. Thank God. To me this is one of the most powerful things we can do. Start verbalizing what you are thankful for. If I am not intentional to thank God, He can get only my complaints and my wants. What we are lacking is obvious to us. We want something so bad we make it a need. What we have pleaded with God for, we now take for granted. Stop and Praise Him like the day He gave it to you. (Tweet it) What is it for you? A spouse, kids, a job, house, your health. These are just a few things for me. Thank Him today.

Isaiah 40:26″ Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

3. Go for a walk. Walks are great as they help me to put the stress of the day behind me. Walks help me to refocus on this moment in time, not the past and not tomorrow. Relaxing through light exercise is great and calms me every time. While you walk look for seemingly small things. Light reflection, kids playing, nature; things you walk by and ignore most of the time.

“All walking is discovery.  On foot we take the time to see things whole.”~ Hal Borland

4. Don’t multitask. People much smarter than myself have done studies proving multitasking is a myth. Our brains switch back and forth between tasks. Sometimes very quickly to have the appearance as if we are doing multiple things at the same time. Focus on one thing. Be all in the moment and don’t jump in and out of tasks and moments.

These things help me to enjoy the small things that God has created. If “I don’t have time” comes out of your mouth too much, it may be time to drop something. Productivity comes from doing a few things well and not a lot of things rushed and hurried. I hope this helps you to enjoy the journey of this crazy life. Be blessed on the journey.

How do you slow down to enjoy life?

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Recognition is something we don’t talk about enough. It takes intentional living to often tell people in your life how much you mean to them. A sincere heart-felt compliment is so unusual that it can totally switch the direction of someone’s life. I still remember many compliments I had in my youth that continued me on the path I was going or made me rise to a new level. Remember that our words are so powerful; they bring life and death. Here are three things that will help you to tell those in your life what they mean to you.

“Leaders are brokers of hope.”~ Napoleon

1. Constructive criticism. Our society is so focused on constructive criticism that we fail to help people excel in their strengths. Be careful here. Most people don’t have a problem letting you know when something is wrong. When something is right we barely here about it. The best example I think of is as a parent. If your child brought home a report card full of A’s and one D, what would you focus on? It is natural to focus on the bad grade. We want them to come up higher. The problem with this is that we are reinforcing the child that if you just try harder you will be good enough. Obviously we need to correct, but let’s spend more time praising the A’s. Take more time to tell loved ones how awesome they are.

“People say motivation doesn’t last, well neither does bathing, that is why we recommend both daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar

2. Be specific. A general praise is great as it is much better than saying nothing. If you want to get the most out of praising people be specific in the action or personality trait that you want to encourage. We are specific with correction so let’s be specific with our praise. Here is a quick example. My wife partners with me to chase my dreams. She talks highly of me to others and is a great mom because she is patient and loving to our kids. These are just the first four things that came into my mind this morning even though there is so much more that I appreciate about her. The point is I could say, “I love you.”, which I do many times a day. However, I also need to praise that which is so cool about her. I know I married up so I need to let her know. Let’s make a goal to let those we care about know it.

ray of light

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3. Be intentional. Praising and recognition is not something that happens naturally so we need to be intentional about it. Look for things daily. A compliment has to be real. Look for opportunities to give honor to people. I talked about perspective here, but it bares reminding that we will delete things so if you are looking for good things you will see them. If you are looking for things to correct you will see those too. Catch someone doing something that you admire today and encourage it. Otherwise they could stop doing the things you admire.

These are just some quick things to think about. Let’s speak life and hope into those around us. You will see them walk a little bit taller today. Make the world a better place one word at a time. I will leave you with this. I appreciate that you have chosen to take the time to read my post. Thank you for taking what I am doing seriously. Be blessed, restoring those around you.

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Are you thinking your dream to death? I’m guilty of this. I get excited about something and nothing can stop me. Then when the excitement wears off, I think the thing to death. I can often figure out the fatal flaw or build a huge mountain in front of me. I was reading about David and Goliath and noticed something. He was offered armor and didn’t take it then when Goliath challenged him, it says he ran at Goliath and killed him. No thinking just doing. These 3 things help me to be like David!

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1. Get out of your head. David didn’t sit there and think, “should I fight him or not? Should I wear the armor or not?” He went with His God and his past experiences with the sling. He had killed bears and lions protecting his family’s sheep. He did not over analyze the situation, but truly believed with God all things are possible. If you are like me your problem is not in analyzing, it is thinking about it for days. When confusion sets in you have thought about it too much. Most decisions do not need a lengthy process to determine.

2. Action flowed. Figure out the pros and cons and pray about it, but make a decision and go. It helps me to make a deadline and go in the direction I feel is needed at the deadline. It is the second guessing that will eat your mind alive. So, also make a “no matter what” deadline. I’m running this way no matter what until this time. Commit to go and run toward your dream.

3. God was and is enough. In the end if you have God; you have enough. What separates a giant from a tiny shepherd? The power of the almighty God. We need to truly embrace who we are in Christ to have victory in our lives. God was enough for David, He is enough for me, and He is enough for you. Walk with your shoulders back and head high because you are a son or daughter of the most high.

So I will leave you with this. Face your giants, whether a new habit you need to start or one you need to stop. Dream big dreams and face your Goliaths. Take heart in these words of David in 1 Samuel 17:45 -47, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

 

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