Don’t Let Death Scare You

Let It Do This Instead

Last week I had my first experience with what is known as a “Witches Walk”. Hundreds and hundreds of women, some from as far away as Kingston dressed up as witches and flooded the streets of Coldwater. Supposedly it’s just an excuse to get out and do some shopping while in costume. To be honest we didn’t know what to expect, but the truth is it was kinda fun.

The street was blocked off, there was live music and lots of good-humoured customers. But I have to be honest, I’d never seen so many big hats and big noses in my life and they just kept on coming through Em’s Cafe for over three hours. (Some Christians questioned why we would be open for such an event, but I will leave that for another day.)

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With the Witches Walk behind us and Halloween now just a few days away, it got me thinking. Not about Halloween so much but about a question that I think is worth asking. Here it is:

Does death scare you?

That may sound like an odd question but I think it’s an important one. Perhaps the only time we really think about death is when we are at a funeral service.

Which is the point. Maybe we should think about death beyond the walls of a funeral home.

Let me ask you this…have you ever considered what your own funeral service will be like? What people will say about you? Will the air be filled with kindness and affection because of the kind of person you were and the impact you made or will they have to make up nice things about you (I’ve been to those funerals, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve officiated a few of them).

Instead of “wondering” what people will say about you later, why don’t you “decide” what they will say about you, now? 

As you look to the future, hopefully much into the future…

  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What will you have accomplished?
  • Who will you impact with your life?
  • What do you want people to say and feel about you?
  • What will be your legacy?

I hate to be the one to tell you but we are all going to die someday. I will turn 50 next month and the older I get the more real this becomes. But in the meantime,

Try this exercise

  1. Consider the questions above.
  2. Write your answers down.
  3. Then work backwards from there.

Once you have a clear picture of the kind of person you want to be remembered for, determine what it will take to get there. Hopefully you’re already on your way but pay attention to any gaps.

“In order to get the results I want (how I will be remembered) I must be this kind of person (my purpose) and do these kind of things (my mission).

Don’t try to overhaul your life. Choose one or two things that you would like to change or improve that will move you closer to being the person you want to be. Do you want a better marriage, deeper friendships, or maybe you have a dream you’ve been putting off pursuing.

It’s been said that “Our future is determined by our daily habits.” How can your future self influence who you will be today?

I believe everyone of us is created with the potential to have a positive impact on others, whether a few or many. I don’t want to leave anything on the table, when my life is over. What about you?

 

Don’t let death scare you, let it motivate you 

 

Q. How do you want to be remembered at the end of your life?

 

I’d love to hear from you so leave me a message below. Share this post with someone.

10 Lessons: Going From Pastor to Small Business Owner

 

Over the past year our life has taken a significant change in direction. I left pastoral ministry after 15 years and Kathy left 25 years in retail to pursue a new opportunity. May 1, we became small business owners as we opened Em’s Cafe.

 

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Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned as I transitioned from pastor to small business owner:

You can accomplish a lot with the help of a loving group of friends

One of the reasons the cafe is so meaningful to us is that virtually every part has a personal touch from someone we know and love. From paint colours, to furniture, artwork, and lighting, someone close to us had a part. Our community of friends and family have been so supportive and a real part of the success of the cafe. It wouldn’t be a reality without the help of so many. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly loving community.

Wise counsel is priceless.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” Prov 15:22

From the very moment we began to entertain the idea of running a cafe, we sought input from others. This was one of the most important decisions we made. We talked with business owners, close friends and family, inviting their feedback because we trusted them. Were we crazy? Is this a realistic plan? Are there things we’re not seeing? Everything was on the table and their input was invaluable.

Helping someone realize their dream is awesome

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

What started as a casual conversation about 15 years ago eventually became a reality this year. I think I like the idea of a cafe because I have spent so much time in them over the years. But with Kathy’s passion for food & chocolate and her love for people the cafe has been a perfect fit for her. Ultimately this is her dream and one that I get to be a part of. I have loved being part of the researching, planning, organizing and the day-to-day operations. Seeing Kathy thrive in her new environment is very satisfying.

Receiving help is humbling.

It seemed that at every turn someone was offering to help and to be honest,  it’s not easy to ask or receive help. Maybe you’re the same way. It may be a struggle to be on the receiving end of someone’s help but it sure means so much. If you do struggle with this, remember…how do you feel when you help someone else? You don’t think twice about it, you do it and feel good about it right? Then allow others to experience the same thing. Sometimes you will be on the receiving end of generosity…be grateful for it.

Food is an effective way to connect with people.

The vision for Em’s Cafe is to have a positive impact on every customer and the community. People are awesome…some visit and you know their life story before you pour their coffee. Others have a wait and see approach. But either way, food and coffee have a way of making strangers, friends.

The hours don’t matter when what you’re doing matters.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to open and run a new business and when I look back to those first few weeks I’m not sure how we got through some of those long days. It was crazy! But I have no regrets only gratitude. Perhaps we wouldn’t follow through on new ideas if we knew in advance what it would take to accomplish them. A little ignorance can be a gift I guess.

Ministry happens wherever you are.

I know that some people questioned my decision to leave pastoral ministry to open a cafe. I get it and I totally understand. But the truth is I connect with more people as a small business owner than I did as a pastor. This is not a statement about pastoral ministry as much as it is a reality of operating a community based business. We have seen thousands of people come through our door in the past 5 months. No, not every customer becomes a friend (although Kathy does her best to make that happen). But the cafe does provide plenty of opportunities to connect with people in a meaningful way.

Saying “Yes” to something , means saying “No” to something else. 

This has never been more true for me than this year. It’s easy to add things to our calendar without removing something else and before long we have little or no margin in our lives. Launching a small business has meant being very intentional about what we would be doing and what we would have to say no to. We would have to be all-in to have any success at all. Working 7 days a week, and some very long hours, meant that we would be saying no to other things; some good things too. Here are just a few examples:

  • Time with friends would be limited.
  • Church attendance would be interrupted (we’re thrilled to be back regularly now).
  • Pool parties were non-existent (this one really hurt)
  • No late night movies or TV including sports…I know crazy right?
  • Fewer family dinners; in fact finding food at home would be a challenge some days.

Whether you own a business or not, you have to say no to something when you want to say yes to something else.

Loving your neighbour is hard work

We have incredible customers, we really do. But we don’t just take their order and their money. We have made it a priority to engage them with a smile and conversation, even if it’s simply, “How’s your day going? Where are you from? Where are you going from here?  We get to know our customers (Kathy has an incredible way of remembering details and remembering them on their next visit) and I think many are surprised by the level of engagement we provide.  But this is hard work…if you’re an introvert like me, it’s exhausting work but so worth the effort.

Having a great team is essential. 

The cafe was a family decision which meant that our kids were not only on board with the idea of a cafe, they would be working with us as well. And they have been terrific. Yes there have been bumps along the way…working with family is a new and unique experience for all of us.

Hiring the right staff has also been a critical piece to the success of the cafe. Early on we learned from others that it’s critical to be thoughtful in the hiring process.  We have been so fortunate to have wonderful people working with us. They bring their unique personalities to the cafe and make it better. They are awesome and we love them.

 

Boiling it down to a few takeaways:

  1. Focusing on others well-being brings meaning & purpose to your life.
  2. When making significant decisions, seeking wisdom & insights from others is critical
  3. You can accomplish more by surrounding yourself with people you trust and love.

 

Question: How can you implement one or more of these in your life starting today?  

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Welcome to My Blog

My name is Dan Barber…welcome to my blog.

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A Little Background

My life took a turn in early 2014. It wasn’t a dramatic change at the time,  I simply began asking questions about myself and my life.  Up to that point I had enjoyed various ministry roles including the church I was serving at, Connexus Community Church. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, now 26 years and a 20 year old daughter and 18 year old son.

My family life was good and my ministry was meaningful. I have watched our children grow into amazing young adults and I have enjoyed the privilege of serving in 3 great churches, as well as counselling in private practice. Yet, believing that my best years were in front of me I began to ask questions about my own future; Did I want to stay in my current role? Was there something else for me to do? With my children now young adults, were my options changing.

 

Why life coaching?

To help me process the questions I was asking, I enlisted the help of a life coach. And for the past eighteen months she has been coaching me through this process. It’s been an incredible journey together.

As we considered my personality, skills and passions she suggested, “Why don’t you do what I am doing.” That is when I began to explore the world of life coaching.

Then a detour. Early this year, my wife and I left our jobs to open a cafe – Em’s Cafe in Coldwater, Ontario. Crazy right? Well maybe, but owning a cafe was something we’ve been talking about 15 years; but it was only now that the pieces were coming together for it to become a reality. And on May 1, 2015, we opened Em’s Cafe and we are 5 months into this new adventure.

Perhaps you are at a place of transition or possible change too. I’ve been there…I’m still there and I know what it’s like to

  • ask hard questions about the future,
  • consider making changes while others question it
  • believe that change was needed but uncertain about where to start or what it would mean for my family
  • leave the security of a job and paycheque to follow after a dream.
  • face the fear of the unknown

 

My Goal For This Blog

Through my blog I will address life questions we all have from time to time and offer helpful content that I trust will give you the clarity, courage, and commitment you need to address the areas of your life that you’d like to see change…ie relationships, health, finances, faith, careers & personal development & growth.

My passion is helping others find theirs. I believe each one of us is uniquely gifted through our personalities, abilities, passions, hopes and dreams and that it’s never too late to make the changes necessary to live your best life now.

That’s what this site and life coaching is about. Helping you overcome the barriers and obstacles that hinder you from taking the steps necessary to live the life you want to live. I’ll be 50 later this year and I believe my best years are in front of me and I believe they are for you as well.

If that is you, then you’re in the right place and whether through this site or one-on-one coaching I’m glad we’re on this journey together…Welcome.

 

Dan

Change Your Life in 48 Days

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion, He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.” – James Michener

It’s common to hear that a high percentage of employees dislike their jobs. A Washington Post article suggests only 13% of people worldwide like going to work. That’s a startling number but one that is reinforced by many people I talk with daily.

Are these statistics a statement about work itself or the kind of work people are engaged in?

Just over a year ago I came across Dan Miller and his (48 Days To The Work You Love/No More Dreaded Mondays/Wisdom Meets Passion) book and I have to say, it has changed the way I view my work now.

I thought you might like to check out the site as well.

48 Days To The Work You Love

After reading 48 Days To The Work You Love, I visited Dan in Nashville. It was a wonderful couple of days as we explored life-coaching, the meaning of work and the importance of finding work that fits who we are; our skills & abilities, personality traits and our values, dreams & passions. Dan has helped thousands through the process of finding meaningful work.

He has helped me as well and has been a significant part of my own personal journey over the past 18 months as I began to explore what the next chapter of my life might look like.

Check out the success stories on the site and let me know what you think. 

 

Dan

 

This One Project Can Change Your Family

If you visit our home you will likely notice a plaque that sits in our front hall. Nothing fancy, but possibly one of the most significant items in our home.

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Years ago we decided it would be a good idea to come up with some basic principles that would guide our family. This became a family project that everyone participated in.

We scribbled down notes as we talked about our family; what was important to each of us…anything and everything was open for discussion. The goal of this exercise was to identify and clearly capture in a few brief sentences what we valued most.

By the end of the evening, we had listed what we called “Our Family Values”, five of them. For each value, we wrote a brief description of what it would look like for us and a Bible verse or two that explained it. We reviewed it, edited it and wrote a final draft…then we all signed it. Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking…we just took advantage of our children’s age, and their desire to please mom and dad. You may be right, but having young children sign a document is awesome! It may not be legally binding but it still carries a lot of weight in our house.

I can say without a doubt that taking a few hours out of our evening many years ago, to create our family values has been one of the most important things we have done as a family. Here are some reasons why…

1. Our family values reflect our faith. Our values are not our way of trying to gain God’s favor but a way of living as a result of it. By this point, both our children had surrendered their lives to Jesus so we were able to approach it from that perspective. These were not to be simply words on a page but guidelines for how we would make decisions, and interact with each other. Our other family values include honesty, kindness and having a strong work ethic. By the way Ephesians 4 is a gold mine for relationship guidelines.

2. Our family values create a sense of accountability. This was not a top-down thing…a tool for mom & dad to guide and discipline our children. This was for all of us…I am as accountable to my children as they are to me. And when we signed the page together, we were all in.

3. Our family values influence our decisions. For example, when Alex was eight, he played football and I was an assistant coach. That summer we practiced three times a week for 2-3 months before the season even started…then 2 weeks before the first game, the schedule came out…every game but two, were on Sunday morning at 10am. My heart sank and I didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, commitment and working hard were our values, and we had put so much into the season already.  But loving God was a family value as well and one commitment we made as a family was that “we would attend church together regularly.” After the practice we sat together reviewing the schedule. As a pastor, I knew what I had to do but I asked Alex what he thought he should do. He paused and thought about it for a while, then said to me, “well dad, I guess I won’t play football this year because we go to church together.” With tears pouring down my face, I thanked him for making such a tough call. Perhaps not wanting the season to end, I suggested we pray about it and see what happens. A week later a revised schedule came out and only 2 games were on Sunday and thankfully they were late enough that we could attend church and still make the games. It was a great season!

4. Our family values serve as a reference point at crucial times.  When wrestling with a decision they serve as guardrails. And if one of us violates a family value then the rest of us will call them on it. The phrase,” Hey, does that reflect who we are?” has been raised more times than I could count and contributed to an on-going conversation over the past 10 years.

5. Our family values contribute to our family identity. I’ve heard it said, that our calendar and our bank statements reflect our values. There’s a lot of truth in that I think. For us, we have sought to define who we want to be as a family by our family values. It’s a work in process and one I love being a part of.

Writing family values may or may not be your thing, but those few hours, years ago still impact who we are today.

What defines you and your family? What do you value and how have you been able to live them out?

3 Keys to Effective Parenting

Have you ever picked up a parenting book and gone directly to the back section? You know what I’m talking about. The “if they do this then you do this” section. It’s okay, to be honest I’ve done it too.

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Hey, I get it. As parents we want our children (no matter what their age) to make good choices and to follow the guidelines and expectations we have of them as parents.  But I think it’s easier at least in the short-term to focus on discipline (how we respond when our children disobey) rather than spend time teaching and training our children first.

Structure, guidelines and rules are a part of most families and every parent wants their child to follow them. But a common mistake parents make is disciplining for wrong behaviour before training for right behaviour.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. When our children began going to school, one of our expectations was that when they arrived home, they would hang up their coats, empty their backpacks (in the appropriate places) and make sure everything was put away, before getting a snack or playing etc.

A mistake on our part would have been to think we had done our job simply by telling them what we expected. I think after numerous failed attempts, they would eventually have gotten very frustrated with us and we wouldn’t have see any progress either.

So here was our plan.

First, teach them. We walked them through what it would look like to arrive home from school. We explained what was expected and made sure they understood what we were asking of them.

Second train them. We practiced. Not after school but on a Saturday morning or after dinner. We had them practice coming home from school; hanging up their coats, emptying their backpacks and putting things away.

Third, be clear on the consequences of failing to follow through on our expectations up front. If they failed to follow through with the “after school” routine we had agreed to, then a specific, predetermined consequence would follow.

We would monitor how things were going and when they put away their things after school as planned we celebrated that. If they came home and dropped everything at the front door we would call them on it. In the beginning we might extend some grace and not follow through with the predetermined consequence…instead we would have them start over. Put their shoes, coats and backpack back on, go back outside and come home again. This served as more training and was usually perceived as more painful than the consequence might have been. (We didn’t make them go back to school but there were days we thought about it.)

Teaching, training, discipline. Three parts of good parenting. But don’t skip the first two and go right to discipline. A good rule of thumb, “Don’t discipline for what you don’t teach or practice first.” 

What do you think? Share some of your parenting strategies. Are they different from how you were parented? If so, how?

When God Seems Far Away

A number of years ago, Kathy and I were leaving her family home in New Brunswick after spending the Christmas holidays there. We had made this trip numerous times but the challenge on this particular day was that the heater was not working in our car.

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Being the tough guy I thought I was, I was only wearing jeans, running shoes and a leather jacket, but no gloves or hat. With the set of towels we received on Christmas to keep us relatively warm and food for the road, we were off on a typical New Brunswick frigid, winter day.

The drive home was uneventful; I wouldn’t say we were warm but we were doing okay and we were making good time (that’s a guy thing). 3-4 hours into our 14 hour trip we were somewhere in Quebec. Suddenly we came upon two guys wondering the highway with a car on the shoulder. With no one else around we stopped to inquire. They told us they were fine but the women were in trouble. “What women?” I asked. “They’re in the truck.” I didn’t see any truck but then I caught a glimpse of it over the embankment about 40 feet below us.

Without thinking (and without gloves, boots or a hat) I quickly made my way through the snow, down to the vehicle. One women was on the ground and two more were inside. I yelled up to Kathy to throw down our towels. While Kathy fed the guys our lunch, I stayed below with the women.  I wrapped the head of the first woman (I won’t go into detail but I could hardly look at the gash in her head, it was so deep…I think the cold saved her life). I propped myself where the windshield use to be in the truck to block the wind. I talked with the other 2 women still inside who did not seem injured, just terrified. Did I mention it was windy and easily -20 degrees?

To make a long story short, it took 45 minutes for emergency crews to arrive but no one  helped in the meantime…crowds of people were watching but no one offered assistance until an Ontario trucker stopped and came down with a comforter to warm the women.

Eventually we got each woman to the surface and all five people were transported to a local hospital. (they were all treated, released and eventually got to their home in PEI). Kathy and I made our way to our vehicle and she had to help me in because I could hardly walk. As we sat in the car, we had to pause to take in what had just happened. After being out in the cold for over an hour with no gloves or hat, wearing jeans and running shoes, I began to cry, hurting from the cold. And now without towels or food.

I didn’t know what to do…I didn’t think I could drive (as a rule I didn’t let Kathy drive…but that’s a story for another day). I couldn’t feel my hands and my entire body felt like it could crumble into pieces with the slightest provocation.

Cold and hungry we prayed. “God, thank you for allowing us to help this family, but we are desperate. We are cold and we need help. God we need the heater in our car to work and we know you can do this. Please help us.”

We opened our eyes, looked at each other and I turned the key…I have to admit I was completely surprised the heater came on…in a few minutes the heat was working like it never was broken…we sat there for about 15 minutes warming up and wondering how long it would last. We started out again and the heater worked until we hit Toronto…eight hours later. At that point it shut off and never worked again but by then we didn’t care. We were close to home and we were warm.

As a Christian I do believe God loves us cares about us but I have to admit, I really didn’t think our prayer that day, on the shoulder of a highway, in the middle of nowhere, would be answered so specifically and so quickly. There is no way the heater in our car should have worked but God did something incredible.

Do you ever feel like God is distant or uninvolved in the details of your life? I think we can all find ourselves there sometimes. Even if intellectually we know differently, sometimes God can seem so far away.

Does God seem near or far from you today? If the gospel shows us anything, it’s that God chooses to be close to us. Jesus left the glory of heaven to live among us, He ate and talked with people and spent time with them. He learned about them and loved them. Whatever your circumstances today, know that God is still doing that today. God loves you and cares about you.

If I ever start to feel that God is distant or uninvolved in my life, I just have to think back to the day He provided all that I needed on that cold winter day.

I love the words from Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

How Dad’s Can Really, Really Frustrate Their Kids

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.” Ephesians 6:4

I know that verse, I’ve read it plenty of times but sometimes it’s easier said than done. And why are dads centered out anyway! I’m sure that none of you parents, dads in particular woke up today and made it a priority to aggravate your children.  

But if you’re looking for ways to drive your children crazy, alienate them or have them resent you, then I can help. Here are 20 ways to do it:

  1. Do not follow through on promises you make.
  2. Live by the mantra, “As long as you live under my roof…” Otherwise known as the MWOTH (my way or the highway) parenting philosophy.
  3. Treat your friends, neighbours, even strangers better than your own family.
  4. Don’t prioritize your marriage.
  5. If you’re a pastor, play the “do it because you’re a pastor’s kid” card as much as possible.
  6. Use your masculinity (voice, strength and size) to intimidate them.
  7. Stop all forms of affection, especially towards your son once he turns 7.
  8. Disrespect your wife, especially in front of your children.
  9. Discipline your children for things that you never teach or train for.
  10. Always ensure your discipline never relates to the offense in question.
  11. Only give attention to your children when they are misbehaving…otherwise keep your distance.
  12. Never say, “I’m sorry”. Never acknowledge you make mistakes.
  13. Never ask for forgiveness when you have blown it.
  14. Never spend one-on-one time with your children.
  15. Routinely be late or miss family meals altogether.
  16. Have an inflated view of yourself and your importance.
  17. Do not listen to the opinions of your children.
  18. Don’t have fun with your kids…never let them see you laugh.
  19. Be rude to your children’s friends.
  20. Treat your children as pawns, rather than people…simply because you can.

Perhaps you’re wondering how I came up with such a compilation…how many resources I referenced to create this comprehensive list. The truth is, I have used most, if not all of these at some point over the past 20 plus years. So I know from personal experience. Hopefully these are less true of me now than ever before.

What do you think? What would you add to the list?

So what do you do if you find yourself doing one, two or ten or more of this list? 

Start here: Pick the behaviour you are prone to and do the opposite.

For example, lets say #17 is true of you. Instead of never letting them talk or cutting them off mid-sentence let them finish a thought. Ask for their input and thank them for it. Have a conversation not a monologue. 

Where can you start today?