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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: accountability

Dirty words.

joeacast

no-profanityIt’s not a 4-letter word, but to many, “accountability” is still a dirty word. When I was younger, I think I worried that accountability showed some sort of weakness in my person or character. As I aged, I realized...it did! However, embracing accountability not only exposes my flaws, it also reveals a great strength: humble recognition that I can’t do this life on my own. If I am going to achieve my best, it will happen because of the help and influence of others.

Accountability is huge for my success, and I can confidently say it’s huge for yours, too. Here are a few ways accountability is working in my life:

  1. My computer is armed with software to help protect me and my family -- and keep me on track -- while surfing the web. That software reminds me that everything I’m doing on the web needs to be God-honoring.
  2. I wear an "Up" health band. Up records my exercise and sleep each day, then posts it online for my wife and friends to see. (If you’re using “Up” by Jawbone, add me to your team. (@joeacast)
  3. Now that I’m working more from home, my wife is able to see my work each day. She can see when I’m loafing or when I’m working too much. Just last week she helped me see that I was totally blowing off the kids to finish a couple of encouragement notes to others. How ironic, I’m trying to encourage other people, and neglecting my own children to do it. Hmmmm.
  4. This blog has some built-in accountability. When I’ve missed a posting day or two (I usually post on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays) it’s not uncommon to get a call, text or email form someone wondering if everything is ok. I cringe when I get one of those notes and I don’t have anything going, but the accountability is good and helps me work hard to stay ahead of the game.
  5. When I travel, or when my wife travels and leaves me home, I have a couple buddies who call and make sure I’m doing ok. These guys want to see me be successful, and they are eager to help me make sure I’m making the most of my time.
  6. I have another couple friends that ask me about my marriage quite frequently. They ask if I’m honoring my commitment to date Traci regularly. Especially during this particularly stressful season of life, they’ve been asking about our marriage and whether or not I’m doing my job to provide for, and take care of, Traci.
  7. When I’m working on a book, I set up a small team of people to help me meet my writing goals. They know my schedule and my deadlines, and they pray for me along the way, and ask keep me track.

The reality is that all of us need help in this life, and God has hard-wired us for relationships in order to find that help. From day one, He gave Eve to Adam (and Adam to Eve!) and all throughout Scripture you find the value and power of teamwork, friendship and accountability. So what happens when we don’t have that accountability?

  1. We treat people as property, and leave a wake of damaged relationships in our past. People without accountability often have few real friends and use their work as a shield to hide their insecurities or arrogance (or both). It’s hard to maintain good relationships when you live life without the input of others.
  2. We fall behind in our work, as no one is around to ask about details, confirm deadlines or even know what we’re working toward. A stay-at-home mom, a CEO, a college student or a Southern California pool boy can become lazy and ineffective, addicted to Netflix or video games, a busybody or micromanager when they live without meaningful input from others.
  3. We blame others for our failures, because no one in our lives is giving us the perspective we need. I’ve known too many leaders who operate without solid accountability, and they are professional blamers when it comes to organizational short-comings because it’s easier to blame a subordinate then it is to see yourself as the problem (or at least part of the problem). My lead pastor in Salem, Oregon, set a stellar example of submitting himself to accountability. More than once I saw him listen as a member of the Elder board, or a member of the congregation, confronted or challenged him on something related to his leadership. He was always willing (and eager!) to learn from those moments, and able to admit his own flaws when necessary. Accountability allowed him to see mistakes or shortcoming he maybe couldn’t see himself. That’s a good thing!
  4. We put up a front that hides major problems behind. As a pastor in the Pacific NW for almost 17 years, and now having served in Michigan for over two, I’ve seen too many ministries fall apart because a pastor held up a great facade while his marriage or personal purity or financial integrity was in shambles. When no one is asking us the hard questions, it’s too easy for us to hide the trash.
  5. We never realize our true God-given potential, because that potential is connected to the relationships God has given us. Leaders fail to get their organizations to their goals, marriages never reach the intimacy either spouse desires, families live in constant tension and people settle for ordinary lives because they neglect accountability.

Do any of those items resonate with you? If so, you might be lacking accountability in some area(s) of your life. Trust me, you can’t live the Overboard Life without the help of others, so the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can begin moving toward the goals, and ultimately toward the life, God has given you.

When I look at this list I know I’ve been guilty of each of these byproducts of living life without accountability. I’m thankful for the men and women who’ve stepped up to help me, for the ones who said yes when I asked, and for the ones who simply invited themselves into my life. In each case, the accountability has helped me live my God-designed life out of the comfort of the boat.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water.

Accountability, basketball and Dorm 230

joeacast

dorm-ball-3.jpg

When I arrived in Ankeny, Iowa for the start of school, I had no idea how my life would be impacted by my dorm mates in Dorm 230. Widely believed by all to be the finest dorm on campus, both in its sheer aesthetic appearance as well as the quality of men that resided inside, Dorm 230 was like the Tent of Meeting in the Old Testament -- it was the place where God spoke to our campus.  

Well, it was at least where He created one of the greatest championship teams in dorm ball history.

 

One of many stirring speeches that led our team to an 0-8 record.

During my Freshman year, we began a dorm-policy that stated that all members of the dorm were required to play on a dorm ball team. While we certainly had the corner on holiness, we may have been lacking on athletic skill. By my third year we were the opposite of a basketball dream team. Adam was a hockey player who could skate like a champ, but found running a challenge. Heppner had a nice hair and that was about it. The two farm boys from Nebraska could throw a bail of hay 100’ in the air and have it land on the back of a hay truck, but couldn’t put a basketball in the net if they were sitting on top of the hoop. Jason was the nicest guy on the court and would definitely have received a participation certificate and Craig only scored twice in three seasons; once during practice and once during a game (in which we called a time out, hoisted him to the net and took a picture).

 

Jamie was all heart...seriously, no talent, just Hart. (Jamie Hart...see what I did there?) Will and Ryan were fierce in their own rights, but honestly, were far better equipped for their musical conquests, than for their on-the-court finesse. Mark and Chad were decent players, but their off-the-court distractions with Jenna and Tammy respectively, totally competed for their basketball allegiances.

Dorm ball 2

Fozzy was pure energy and during his bouts of extreme motion appeared to have 3 or 4 sets of arms and legs, thus intimidating our opponents but making it hard to throw to a target. Greg and Scotty were roommates and demonstrated some skill as long as no defenses showed up. Steve was a little on the...um...short side and often used his marine training to injure opponents instead of blocking them out or setting screens. TP was our best dressed player, but his social calendar often kept him off-the-court. And I rounded out our two-team troupe, a pure shooter in every sense of the word -- I could miss 23 in a row and still believe my next hot streak was just one shot away (In fact, at one point I think I actually missed 13 in a row). Over the years, more than one of my coaches has encouraged me with, “You building a house with all them bricks?” Hilarious.

 

During the regular season our two teams combined for a record of 1-15; Team-B’s only victory came against Team-A. As dorm ball goes, however, all teams make the playoffs. And so it was, that Team-A (the legendary team I was honored to be a part of) began the greatest intramural basketball run in college sports history. And by the way, I’m never prone to exaggeration.

 

Our first game was against the seminary team. They had won the previous year’s championship and everyone mostly hated them (in Christian brotherly love, of course). They were dominant, they were all older and most of them were married and thought they were waaaay cooler than us single guys. We mainly viewed them as grumpy. However talented they were, and undefeated (a perfect 8-0), they were unable to overcome what sports historians have called, “The Miracle in a Corn Field”, when Team-A dominated them from the outside.

 

At one point, 5 consecutive 3-pointers rained down terror on the poor seminarians and they never recovered. In a moment of pure vanity, I had a stolen ball at the top of the key, dribbled to the three point line and instead of driving in for the easy lay-up, I dropped a three and taunted my enemies. Seemed biblical for some reason. But as time started to wind down, the seminarians made a brief comeback, suddenly remembering that they were the better team. With 10 seconds to go, they cut the lead to two and in a botched attempt to run out the clock, we turned the ball over with about five ticks left on the clock. I see it all like it was yesterday. Brian inbounded the ball to Mark. Mark took one dribble, then passed it to the other Mark who worked himself to the top of the key. He pulled up for a three to win the game and instead, air-balled as the buzzer sounded.

 

I remember him screaming for a call because he said someone hit his arm when he took the shot. Sure I may have made a little contact. Sure he had a red mark on his forearm the same shape and size as my hand, but in my defense, I was trying to “high-five” him for what I thought was a very well-played game. I told you they were grumpy old men.

 

Team-B didn’t fair as well as Team-A in round one, but since many of their team members were also in the Pep Band, they supported us with heart-pounding music and inspirational half-time speeches. We rolled through round two and found ourselves face-to-face with Dorm 226 in the championship.

 

What many sports authorities have called, “The greatest single basketball game to ever take place in Ankeny, Iowa” (I hear some recent games involving individuals scoring a 100 pts have ranked a close second!) Team-A defeated the would-be spoilers in a thrilling game that ended when said opponents argued a call with :26 seconds left (down 6) and Coach blew the whistle exclaiming that the contest was over. A great victory occurred.

 

It has been said that old men wept when they heard the news of our victory. The stock market rose 147 points the next morning, republicans and democrats got along for almost three minutes that afternoon and many an Iowan farmer has stated that the sun was warmer, the air was cleaner and the stars were brighter in the early spring of 1995.

 

There are some who say this jersey should have been hung from the rafters. Others say I should have just returned it to the locker room. Whatever.

Dorm 230 was a great dorm, and not just because of the miracle season of 1995. It was a great dorm because of how we banded together in the crazy adventure of college life. I’m thankful for those guys who came along side me and encouraged me in my walk with God, I really needed that during my college years. TP and I were roommates our second year there, and more than once we had great moments of challenge as we were both learning to use our gifts for God’s glory and not our own. Today Terry serves as a pastor just a few miles from where Traci and I serve at the camp.

 

On one occasion, TP and I were on a double date, each of us was hanging out with a girl from the volleyball team. I totally ruined the date on two occasions, one of which involved me cracking an incredibly inappropriate joke following a story that should not have been told in mixed company. Later that night Terry came to me and called me on it. He properly rebuked me and after a brief moment of sarcastic anger (proving he was right) I called up the girls I offended and apologized. I even made arrangements to take my date out again for make-up date, and she was gracious enough to forgive me, and even enjoyed our second outing.

 

Dorm 230 taught me how important it is to have accountability in our lives. My theme-verses for 2014 come from Hebrews 12:1-2 where the author tells us to “run our race” and says, “let us throw off everything that hinders...” Notice the “us” in both those statements? The writer is challenging his readers to run with a friend, to be close to someone who is after the same goal.

 

In Proverbs Solomon reminds us that “wounds from a friend can be trusted” and that “Iron sharpens Iron” -- we need people around us who will keep us sharp, keep us accountable. Terry’s words were painful, but they were true; they hurt, but they could be trusted because Terry was helping me be a better man, a more godly guy. He was helping to sharpen me and I needed that, and I still do today.

 

We can’t live the Overboard Life without accountability and encouragement. We need people close to us who know us, who are willing to call us out when we’re acting like jerks, challenge us to grow in our faith, who love us even when we fail miserably and who are on the same journey and in need of the same kind of friendship. I’m thankful TP was there for me in Dorm 230, along with all the other guys in that place. And I’m thankful for Andy and Danny, and others who have come along side me today with the same tenacity and personal desires for growth.

 

Do you have people speaking into your life? Are you being held accountable by anyone today? Are you holding others accountable to the life they desire to live? Let’s run this race together and help each other grow to be the people God wants us to be, so we can do what God wants us to do!

22 down, 18 to go.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

Three thoughts for the weekend

joeacast

By Joe Castaneda Are you a procrastinator? Have you ever said, “On Monday I’m going to...” All of us, procrastinators or not, tend to function better when we have deadlines pressing in on us. Gary Ryan Blair says it this way, “You will always work best under a self-determined or externally fixed deadline.”

Often with the Overboard Life we have work that has to be done, projects that need to be tackled and short-term goals that need to be met. Yet, without some kind of “externally fixed deadline,” those things can go undone. We have the “best of intentions” and want to pursue what God is putting out there, but fear, procrastination or just a lack of know-how keeps us from being effective.

A simple fix can found in using a deadline that puts something concrete on the calendar. Just the act of writing the matter on the calendar can create the necessary motivation to get the job done. Here are three thoughts about why deadlines work:

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 9.37.30 AM1. Deadlines represent commitment. When you commit to a deadline (whether it’s one you chose or one that was placed upon you by some other external force) you are committing yourself to completing a task or project. 2. Deadlines also enforce accountability. I recently signed up for a 1/2 marathon with my wife Traci. We’ve picked the event, the Sleeping Bear marathon, and chosen the date: October 5th. Having done that, I announced through this blog, through facebook and twitter that I’m running and now a lot of people are tracking my progress as the race moves closer and closer. Announcing the deadline has created accountability. 3. Deadlines help to create urgency. As a college and seminary student, nothing propelled a mid-week all-nighter more than the looming deadline of a mid-term, 10-page paper or some other class project. Deadlines create urgency.

Do you need create some movement in your life? Simply adding a deadline to your activity may be all you need to move out of the boat, and out on the water where God is working!

What do you need to put a deadline on?

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

Getter' done!

joeacast

My wife and I love dreaming big dreams about our future, and about what God is doing in our lives and in our family. Not only do we like to think about our work and our goals for projects etc… we like to dream about vacations, events we want to be a part of and special trips we hope to take. One of the realities we have observed is this: If we don’t put those things on the calendar, they rarely come to be.

A couple of months ago, Traci and I had the privilege of teaching our couples’ small group at church. It’s a class of 12-15 couples that we enjoy being with every Wednesday night. Back in November, we were given the chance to teach two of our weekly classes.

During those two sessions, we talked a lot about goals and dreams, and about this idea of getting them on the calendar. Well just a few days ago I was talking with my pastor and he told me, “Kori and I bought our books.” I asked what books he was referring to, and he talked about the books that would prepare them for their dream vacation 2-3 years out. They’ve put it on the calendar and now they can start preparing to enjoy it, and watching to see what God will do in the weeks and months to come as they steer towards this special trip.

Nehemiah

But this idea of putting a date on the calendar isn’t just good for vacations and dream trips, it’s good for goals and plans etc… For example, after coming back from a conference in California, I knew it was time for me to tackle a challenge, both physical and mental. It would be easy to put this activity -- running a 1/2 marathon with my wife -- on the “to-do” list that would never quite finish. Mind you, me not running a 1/2 marathon is a to-do list item I wouldn’t mind leaving unfinished!

However, since I know this run means more to me than just completing a physical challenge (it is symbolic of theme God has put in my life) I had to put a date on it. My first half marathon is on the calendar for October 5th; Traci and I will be running together (along with a couple of other friends who will be running both the 1/2 and the full marathon). The date brings a certain urgency and expectation to the commitment.

What do you have on your dream list, goal list or to-do list that needs to get put on a calendar? Want to multiply the success rate of that particular event? Then don’t just put it on calendar, but announce it others, too. The extra accountability creates even more potential for you to experience success.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

Are you pursuing some great plans in your life? Check out Project Nehemiah from the Overboard Bookstore. It’s ON SALE for this month (only $8.99), and includes free shipping!

3 thoughts for New Year's resolution-makers

joeacast

Maybe you’ve already started your New Year’s resolution(s), or maybe -- like many people -- you will begin yours on Monday, January 6th. (Why is it that most of us dread Mondays, yet every year so many of us pick the first Monday of the New Year to start our resolutions?!?!) Whether you’ve just started or you’re getting ready for Monday, here are three thoughts about making sure you keep those new resolutions. Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 10.38.58 AM

  1. Say it out loud…to someone who cares: If a resolution is made in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it count? Many people make resolutions in the quietness of their own minds or on the pages of journals where no other eyes are permitted to wander. While these resolutions may involve good intentions, the act of privacy immediately lowers the likelihood that the resolution will be completed. Research makes it abundantly clear that teamwork makes resolutions far more successful. So it’s not just telling someone, but telling someone that cares about you, your goals and your future.
  2. Establish habits that lead to success: Don’t try to make changes in one massive swoop. Big changes happen through the formation of daily habits and patterns. The fastest way to make long-term change that sticks is to develop habits and patterns that last. In one sense, it’s easy and very rewarding to create rapid changes that don’t stick. For example, have you ever (or have you ever known anybody who has) gone on a diet and lost a lot of weight, really fast? The diet is initially very rewarding, but since diets are by nature temporary, the long-term gains are often lost once the diet is broken or the individual returns to “normal life”. In fact, over the years, studies have shown that long-term, on-again-off-again dieting results in weight gain despite the initial release of weight! However, if you make a lifestyle change (instead of just “dieting”) through habits and patterns, the likelihood of success rises dramatically. Big changes flows out of daily habits.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate: Because most of our resolutions are about identifying areas in our lives that need some adjustment, our desire is to make significant change that sticks. In order to do that, we must be willing to reevaluate the direction and scope of our resolutions throughout the year. In the past, I know I’ve made resolutions that were way too easy and simple; and other goals were set way too high. For example, if I said I wanted to lose 100 pounds in the month of January, I may find i’m down 20 by January 20th, and a goal reset is very appropriate. It’s not that 100 pounds was necessarily unrealistic (I could probably drop 25-30…100 is a bit steep!!), it’s just that the time parameters weren’t a great fit. So what? Adjust your resolutions to create success! (And no, this isn’t an excuse to under-challenge yourself, it’s just a reminder that evaluation and adjustment is essential to success!).

Happy New Year to you! May 2014 bring you closer to God as you challenge yourself to live the Overboard Life.

Go ahead and take the plunge, 2014 will be better if you live it on the water!

The Lone Ranger...and other myths.

joeacast

I wonder if God will show us what our life could have been, if we had just been willing to ask. I’m working on another trip through the 100 Day Challenge with Gary Ryan Blair. Today’s lesson was on asking for help, so I looked back at last year’s 100 Day Challenge and here are things I wrote about asking for help:

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I wonder how often you and I miss out on something great for our lives, simply because we were too afraid to ask. Seriously, how often is something we desire just barely outside our grasp, yet easily reachable by someone else, but we never ask for help?

It seems like our western culture has tainted some of our thinking in this matter. We pride ourselves in being independent, people who don’t need help. The old western Cowboy movie captures that so well...town goes to pot, bad guys with handkerchiefs over their mouths running around shooting bullets into the sky while chasing women and drinking whiskey. The sheriff gets run out of town, usually humiliated by the head villian, and all hope is lost for the pretty damsel who has to stay behind and help her aging parents. Suddenly, a “stranger” shows up in town and he doesn’t like what he sees. So single-handedly he out-smarts all the handkerchief wearing bad guys except for the boss. Finally it’s down to the two of them, and they settle their dispute the way every argument in the Old West was settled; they stand on main street and have a duel. The good guy shoots his enemy’s gun from his hand and chases him out of town. Town saved. Hero born. Girl kissed.

theloneranger

While it might make for a good flick (or maybe not!), it sure doesn’t make for reality. We need each other, and we need to be willing to ask for help and be willing to give help when it’s asked from us. Here are three guidelines about asking for help:

  1. Ask nicely -- nobody likes someone who acts entitled or demanding when needing help.
  2. Ask with clarity -- know what you’re asking for.
  3. Ask the right people -- just asking for help may not get you the right help, from the right people.

If you’re working on a project or putting together plans for something in the future, who do you need to ask to join you? What do you need to ask help for? Who has asked you for help that you could assist? Over the years I’ve been thankful for so many people who have helped, and actually have asked me to ask for help! I’ve also been thankful to be able to help others who have asked for my help.

Seems like one of the best parts of belonging to the Body of Christ is the reciprocal relationships, the give and take where we love, accept and help each other because we belong to the same Father. I can’t be a lone ranger, and neither can you. Let’s get out of the comfort of our boat and ask others for help.

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Do you need to ask someone for help? Is someone asking for your help? Let’s help each other live remarkably!

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is better on the water!