I Was Diagnosed With Shiny Object Syndrome

I have a syndrome. I was diagnosed with it in the fall of 2016. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called “shiny object syndrome”. I exhibited the following symptoms:

  1. I get happy about change
  2. I get excited about big changes
  3. I seek out change in my own life
  4. Learning new things, even daunting things, does not scare me
  5. I want to do 5 important tasks all at once
  6. Did I mention that change is OK with me?

You get the picture.

A friend helped me identify it the year that my family moved back to Maine to plant a church. Church planters seem to be wired with this desire for the new, for the next thing, for the start-up. I shared some of my story with him, my strategies, and plans. He looked at me and said, “Bro, you have shiny object syndrome!” He had it too!

At least I had name for it now. No more wondering.

Call it what you want, but I know I’m not the only one who has it. Some of it is my personal “wiring”. Some of it is the sin nature that remains in me. I’ve been crucified with Christ, but I still do things that I do not want to do. I’m a work in progress. On the upside this “syndrome” has led me at times in my life to be a business owner, welder, musician, a pallet broker (don’t ask), to learn several trades, become a pastor and church planter, adopt, write blogs, write two books, and still have energy left over to dream pretty big.

My wife knows that I “suffer” from this. She does not have it like I do. I’m not sure what you would call the opposite of shiny object syndrome (if you know, please tell me in the comments). But she has that, and I am thankful for her. In terms of change, she handles it with so much grace and patience, especially when I’ve caused it, but she’s certainly not seeking it out the way I am. I mean, who in their right mind would do that? Oh wait…me!

At the end of the day I believe God has used it. Man, He’s so merciful to me.

This drive has helped my family through lean financial seasons (caused a few too if I’m honest), but God’s sovereign hand has faithfully led me. I’m also happy to say that I have a deep enjoyment of simple and quiet disciplines like reading, writing, and journaling. It does take work, though. Shiny objects do not stop shining just because I sit down to read or study. Focus, Joel!

I’m a few months from forty years old, and though I still have a lot of drive to see changes, God has given me a Kingdom mindset to channel this through. I still see “shiny objects” everywhere, but I’m learning to be more selective. I see it as part of my job as a church leader to find others who share my “burden”, diagnose them, and help them figure things out too. That person is probably a church planter or ministry pioneer in the making.

If you have this syndrome, would you share a bit of your story with me, or an example of how God is taming and using this for His glory?

Thanks for hearing me ramble about my issues!

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