Mastering the art of business travel

Read in 2 mins

Conquering business travel

The Annual Meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society are happening in San Diego this week. Like many others, I spent yesterday en route to the conference.

Booth 513 at ETS

Gratefully my flight was less than half full and so I had four hours to (literally) stretch out, read, and rest. Extra space offers extra mental and emotional capacity for introverts like me, which meant that I had a really pleasant and quite productive flight reading about habit formation.

Not all of us travel regularly for work. Over my career with InterVarsity, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the road and have learned some lessons.

Jeff’s travel tips for work travel:

  1. Take an early flight (less chance of delay and more chance of extra space)
  2. Set productivity goals (identify what you must do)
  3. Take only what you will use (no aspirational packing)
  4. Pack an empty water bottle (don’t pay for water when you can get it for free and on demand
  5. If you travel monthly or more have a dedicated set of travel toiletries
  6. Use You Version for Bible reading
  7. Take no more than one book (especially if hardcover)

Jeff’s templated packing list for work travel:

  1. 1 pair of socks and underwear per travel day (excluding workout clothes, see #3 above)
  2. 1 dress shirt per travel day
  3. For trips 1-4 days, 1 sport coat and one sweater/alternate top; for trips 5-8 days 2 sport coats and 1 sweater/alternate top
  4. 1 pair of trousers for each two day period (alternated) and a pair of casual trousers for travel days
  5. 1 pair of shoes (exclusive of running shoes, see #3 above)
  6. 1 tie per day
  7. 1 belt
  8. 1 pair cufflinks and 1 tie clip

What are your best tips and hacks for travel?

Don’t decolonize your library

Read in < 1 min

I recently learned of an author who urged her audience to immediately go home and “decolonize your bookshelf.” Presumably, she intended her hearers to remove books from their collection based upon the race and sex of the author.

turned on floor lamp near sofa
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on

I’d like to suggest that such an approach is ill-advised and almost anti-intellectual.

A better alternative is to seek out significant, valuable works by a wide range of authors. After all, diversity of race and sex doesn’t alone guarantee a worthwhile library. It’s possible to collect a library of pablum using such criteria.

Better to recognize the value of diverse authorities across the centuries and across the continents. Better to avoid the tyranny of now.


Give change a chance

Read in < 1 min

Give change a chance

Change is a constant of life. No change. No life.

Yet, we are instinctively frightened by change.

We resist it.

Sometimes we even try to pretend it’s not happening or that we can stop it.

We can’t.

The key to navigating change is self-awareness. Inquiring of ourselves, amongst other things, what about this change is causing me to resist it?

Change often means that we lose some position, influence, or power that we previously enjoyed. Sometimes it is the eclipsing of this that causes us to resist or resent change.

What we fail to realize is that though change causes us to lose some things, it also brings us new opportunities.

Better to be resolute and look change in the face asking ourselves how this change is inviting us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Life’s too short to be defensive

Read in 2 mins

The power of agency

We’ve all found ourselves in situations where it seems apparent that something we have done–or failed to do–has caused a problem.

Most of us work in collaborative environments where we are part of a process that creates value and offers it to the market.

The very nature of process means that each stage of the work is predicated on earlier work being done well and on time.

Life in the modern workplace–full of trade-offs as it is–is also such that colleagues will periodically disrupt the process.

When this happens, there’s a choice to be made. The choice is how you’re going to react to it. And it’s important here that we remind ourselves that we have agency over our reactions–we can control them.

It might take some time.

It might mean a walk and a talk with ourselves.

Either way, in the end we can have the power to choose what we will do with this obstacle.

Defensiveness wastes time and energy

Many of us, myself included, find ourselves easily jumping to defensiveness. It’s not my fault. I did my part. That’s your problem.

While these sorts of reactions are readily understandable and possibly even justified, they are not helpful.

When we become defensive we give away our agency. It’s as though, in an instant, the our challenging situation becomes one to which there is only one possible outcome and that outcome is bad.

In defensiveness we waste time and energy in attempting to remove culpability from ourselves.

We treat a conversation or meeting as a referendum on our worth in the world and our value to the company–it’s not the right place for that sort of conversation.

As Seth Godin puts it, “Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.”

Default to can-do and can-learn

Challenges are a laboratory that offer us the chance to learn some valuable lessons about ourselves, our colleagues, our processes, and our values.

Most of the time it is difficult to learn these lessons in ways other than challenge or even failure. Don’t squander it.

In the midst of challenges I want to default to can-do and can-learn. I want my first response to be “if there’s a way to make this work we’ll find it.”

I don’t want to overpromise. There might not be a way to make this work and if that’s the case, such is life. However, I’m not going to give myself an out to give 66% to solving the problem.

Similarly, I want to have a can-learn attitude. I want to be able to say, “here are the factors that contributed to this outcome and here’s what we can change to lessen the chance of having the same outcome again.”

I don’t want to waste a challenge. Don’t you, either.

When a pastor renounces the faith

Read in 2 minsIt’s never easy when someone renounces their faith. It’s especially difficult when that person has served as a pastor.  The news broke (on Instagram, of course) that celebrity megachurch pastor and author Joshua Harris is not only ending his marriage, but he no longer understands himself to be a Christian;
The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.⁣⁣
In addition, he’s decided that he was wrong to hold to and teach the traditional understanding of human nature and sexuality:
‘…to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.⁣⁣
How ought we to respond?  Remember, God’s Kingdom will endure The first thing to note is that God’s Kingdom was not built on the shoulders of Joshua Harris. That Harris has changed his mind and moved on or away from the Christian faith makes little difference. Sure, he was a persuasive preacher, a decent writer, and for a moment he was a big deal and sold a lot of books. Those things are, however, pretty superficial. They don’t add up to much in the long run. Don’t forget to have compassion Christian internet reactions to famous people who renounce the faith are often shrill. That’s likely because the faith of those denouncing the apostate isn’t all that much stronger. Whatever you think of him, Joshua Harris is clearly someone who is struggling and suffering. And just as he was certain when he penned I Kissed Dating Goodbye, he’s certain now. Chances are that before he dies he’ll be certain in another direction. Say no to proxy wars Really, what’s happening in episodes like this one is that the life of a famous person becomes a morality play or proxy war used as a prop in a larger ideological struggle. The narrative that Harris has embraced does just that: I was a sex-averse, legalistic fundamentalist who spent time and energy judging others. I have now become free to love all and have turned my back on my prior ignorance.  There will be a book to follow. I guarantee it. Don’t let the veracity of the Christian faith be litigated on the basis of Joshua Harris’s life and faith. It’s not worth it. For every best-selling Christian personality there are myriads of simple, faithful, orthodox pastors who preach the gospel and love their people. Look at them, not Harris. Or better, look to the great shepherd of the sheep–Jesus himself.