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    Hey, I'm Dugan! I'm a traveling speaker who loves to serve any event geared towards middle school, high school, or college students. If you're interested in finding someone to speak at your next retreat, camp, conference, ministry night or leader training, I'd love to connect! For a quick sample of some things I've done, check out this short video. Or just shoot me an email 72,69,82,69,46.EREH

Good Leader vs. Good Husband

Sometimes the things that make me a good leader, make me a bad husband.

One example: Seeing the weakest links.

Something I’ve seen good leaders do is find the weakest links in whatever they’re leading and strengthen them. They look at their team, ministry, or organization, identify what most needs improvement, and then do what they can to improve it.

But even though this might be a good quality for a leader, it makes for a bad habit as a husband or dad.

I’ve found myself drawn to thinking about the one negative part of a conversation with my wife or experience with my daughter, and ignoring all the positives. I’ve caught myself mentally removing myself from a moment and all the amazing parts of it because I’ve noticed and am dwelling on something less than perfect, and started to process how it could be changed.

The way my daughter didn’t say “thank you” to the cashier at Chick Fil-A (even though she did say “hi” and “please”), the fact that my wife didn’t ask me about a meeting I had that day (even though she made me dinner and complimented my new hat), when I’m not able to watch a game I wanted to (because we’re having an awesome family day at the zoo), and so many more.

I’ve started to see it more and do my best to dismiss it, in order to focus on and enjoy the more frequent and important positives of the people in front of me.

I might be tempted to think that I need to be a strong father or good leader in my marriage so focusing on the negatives to improve things is healthy, but more often than not, I’m pretty sure I’m just missing opportunities to love the amazing qualities of my family…and then tell them about it!

There might be times when challenge is appropriate, but I’d rather default to being the kind of husband and dad who was always looking for the positives, and experiencing the present moment with full appreciation for everything it is.

 

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Friday Five #17

Friday Five is back! Enjoy!

D

 

1). The Art of Small Talk.

As an introvert, this article was super helpful and interesting to learn some tangibles about how to engage in quality small talk.

2). The most beautiful and accurate baby lullaby I’ve ever heard. The Maya Rudolph variety show was a lot of fun to watch, but this was by far my favorite performance of the night. I loved Chris Parnell in Anchorman and Lazy Sunday, and this song just confirmed how awesome he is. For those of you with kids, this won’t get out of your head for a while…which you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

3). Ginger Sympathy. For my fellow pasty-skinned, red-heads, here’s some truth and love for you all: It’s a Tough World Out There for Gingers. 

willie 4). The Greatest Unscripted Movie Scenes Ever. Some of these are pretty shocking that they were ad-libbed moments in movies that became super famous. I found #4 most interesting.

the-dark-knight-explosion-unscripted-scene

5). Skiing with Dolphins. Here’s your feel-good video for the week. This is not only amazing but totally makes me jealous, wishing it had happened to me!

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Snow White and Louis CK

Today I took Eva to my doctor’s appointment. I wasn’t too concerned with her being with but near the end of our 45 minute wait for my doctor (which he was very apologetic for) her willingness to obey me was paper thin. After the 4th time of her grabbing the thing I told her not to, going being the table I told her not to, and chucking Show White across the room at me, I got down on one knee, gently but firmly took her by the shoulders and said, “Eva, honey, why are you being naughty right now?” She looked me in the eye and casually said: “Because I want to play with you!”

I laughed and felt my stress melt away. Then we had a Snow-White-Throwing-Contest, which Dr. Lincoln won (jk).

My kid stresses me out sometimes. There. I said it.

The moments are few and far between, but they happen. I think it can feel so intense at times because it’s really strong emotions on both ends of the spectrum. The love I have for her in contrast to the stress she can cause me are all meshed and intertwined in a giant ball of really potent feelings of anxiety and happiness all at the same time.

And without a doubt, the good far outweighs the bad. Usually any moment of stress is eclipsed by the countless moments of love and laughter I have with her. The love I have for her is even confusing sometimes because I can’t even understand why it’s so much and being a dad has grown my patience and mercy and empathy and so much more.

But as often as we have moments of rainbows and  flowers and the universe being pink, she still stresses me out.

And I feel like this isn’t something modern parents talk about a lot. People always look at new parents with a huge, open-mouth smile and bright, expectant eyes as they enthusiastically say: “So…how do you like being a dad!?!?!?!” Of course, my response has to match or surpass their enthusiasm and, at worst, must be be 99.9989% positive. But there have been many times when I’m asked this questions coming from a day full of poop under my finger nails, tantrums at the frozen yogurt place, and a 45 second nap.

I remember when Eva was only a few months old, there were a few times when she was fed, changed, and swaddled, but would scream her head off for hours with no apparent reasons. During these kind of moments, I would have to put her down for a few minutes while I took a lap around the living room to calm down and build up my patience again. I remember thinking for the first time: I get how people would shake their baby. Obviously I’m not endorsing it and I can’t imagine the pain that people have gone through because of a completely innocent or well-intentioned mistake. But as a parent, I know the sense of just wanted her to be happy but when I’ve done everything that should make her happy but she was still so violently not happy (combined with my lack of sleep, not having left the house in two weeks, and having vomit on every wearable t-shirt), my fuse was pretty short.

 

louisck

One of my new favorite entertainers is Louis CK. His stand-up material and TV show frequently talk about some raunchy subjects, but overall I find his comedy fresh and real. His show is like a modern-day Seinfeld and more than any other comedian I’ve heard, Louis seems to be the most authentic to himself. He doesn’t put on any kind of act or persona, but is just being himself and talking about his life in genuine, hilarious ways.

I especially love when he talks about being a dad to his two daughters. He seems like a great dad and a lot of his philosophy of parenting I tend to agree with (teaching them to adjust when life doesn’t go the way we plan, learning to solve problems on their own, being intentional about talking and having fun together, etc.). Mostly though, I love that he doesn’t shy away from talking honestly about the less-than-perfect aspects of having kids.

During one of the stand-up segments of his show (Episode 2:1), he talks about the paradox of the extremely good and and bad things having kids can make him feel:

“Any parent who is honest will tell you, you live with that ambivalence. You look at the face of your beautiful, lovely child and you think two things at the exact same time: ‘I love this kid so much that it ‘s changed my whole life. I love other people more because of how much I love her. I love people that died years ago more. My love has traveled time because of how completely I love her and she loves me back. She’s completely given value to life that didn’t exist before…and I regret every decision that led to her birth’. That’s how it feels.” – Louis CK 

 

Okay, so I don’t necessarily regret every decision that led to my daughter’s birth, but I love that he’s not afraid to admit that it’s really difficult to be a parent sometimes. And that’s okay! Parenting is one of the most difficult things to do and I think parent’s should be allowed to say that. Whether it’s the stress of an infant, toddler, awkward and/or rebellious teenager, or very poor decision-making, the stress of being a parent is very real. And we don’t need to be afraid to admit that! For an interesting perspective on modern parenting, check out Jennifer Senior’s TED talk entitled: “For parents, happiness is a very high bar.”

“Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time” – Bill Watterson (via Calvin’s dad)

So, if you’re a parent, it doesn’t make you a horrible or even slightly-less-good parent to admit when you had a frustrating day with your kid or that you’re totally stressed by them. If anything, that’s the healthy way to purge those feelings by expressing them honestly to be blessed by some encouragement or just a listening ear. Galatians 6:2 tells us that by sharing each other’s burdens means we’re obeying the law of Christ. Parents always joke about the stress of young kids once their kids are older, but I think it’d be healthy if we could laugh/cry about it when it’s actually happening too. God got ticked at His kids, which makes me think it’s okay for me to have a rough day as a dad now a then. And instead of pretending like everything is perfect, I’d rather admit I’m worn thin and seek to do better tomorrow when by beautiful baby girl becomes, what Linds and I lovingly call: Cray-Va (pictured below).

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A Few Things Christians Shouldn’t be Ashamed Of

1). Counseling

It’s been too long that the idea of going to counseling has brought with it some kind of red flag for something majorly unhealthy about a person. The truth around counseling is the idea of seeking out someone who is educated in the field of mental health, in order to gain wisdom and perspective on things we can’t see on our own. The Bible talks so much about the importance of the mind and the need for wise counsel and community to keep us healthy, that counseling should be something we celebrate and champion, not be ashamed of admitting.

I’ve gone to counseling for various reasons, for various amount of time, at various seasons in my life. I’ve gone for really specific reasons or general maintenance or even when I’m feeling like I need to, even if I don’t know specifically why.

A pastor friend of mine used to compare it with regular car maintenance. He’d say: “You wouldn’t wait for your car to have at total breakdown to take it into the shop. You take it for regular maintenance to avoid any kind of potential disaster.” And counseling works the same way. Of course, it can be a great resource in a time of major trauma, but it also can be a wise and healthy practice when things are going well to prevent potentially major issues and/or discover current personal things that need to be dealt with.

I realize Proverbs is the king of proof-texting Bible books, but I think these words offer some great advice:

Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise. - Proverbs 13:10

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. – Proverbs 15:22

…the words of the wise bring healing. – Proverbs 12:18b

 

2). Medication

Similar to counseling, prescription medication brings with it a sense of shame or the need to hide it from others. And I get it. Those who don’t need medication might tend to look at it like a quick-fix or means of avoiding dealing with personal issues in a healthier way, but the truth is that there are a lot of incredible, healthy benefits to medication for those who go through a healthy process of discovering their need for it.

In ancient times, before medication was an option, people usually just assumed that every major human mental or behavior problem was because of demonic influence. Nowadays, many people might believe the opposite that there are no demons and every major human problem can be totally explained through science and biology. I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While the existence and influence of the spiritual world is something the Bible seems pretty clear about (Daniel 10, Ephesians 6:12), we also live in a fallen, physical world that I believe medicine can help with. Much like the balance between believing in and praying in faith for divine healing, combined with the wisdom and blessing of educated doctors and hospitals. I don’t think God would frown on taking cold medicine on a day when you have an important meeting or want to be fully present with your kids. And while taking Emergen-C for a cold might seem like a distant concept to taking a prescription medication, I think the principle is the same.

For the past 6 months, through a variety of wise, professional and personal counsel, I’ve learned that I have a low-grade depression and have been prescribed some antidepressant medication. Not only has the medicine been a huge blessing to me (and the people around me), but it has also been wonderful to reach out and connect with some friends of mine who have experienced something similar, while also fully loving Jesus. For me, the medication was needed to help me get over what felt like an emotional “hump” to be able to engage with the people and world around me, and operate as a healthy husband, father, friend, and student pastor.

All that to say, whether it is a temporary need for medication based on life circumstances, or a permanent need based on genetic or chemical reasons, I believe there should be no shame when it comes to the potential need for prescription medication. It is something that needs to be approached with wisdom, discernment, and wise counsel (as well as regular accountability to make sure any kind of addictive behavior doesn’t begin to grow), but overall, I’d say that, if anything, people should be proud that you are taking steps to be a healthy and whole person.

A college pastor (and hilarious tweeter) who is one of my pop-culture heroes gave a personal and well-educated teaching on depression and anxiety that I found very helpful and insightful. I definitely recommend it:

Sammy Rhodes: Depression and Anxiety Part 1

Sammy Rhodes: Depression and Anxiety Part 2

 

3). Failure

I don’t mean it’s okay to run out and intentionally sin or neglect what we know is important, or purposefully jack something up, but too often, I’ve seen and experienced Christians so afraid of failure, that they don’t even try or take any risks. We get afraid when we feel prompted to go encourage a stranger, tell someone God loves them, or engage with a homeless person because we “might not do/say it right.” We don’t allow anyone else to teach our congregation, student audience, or lead worship in our ministry because they might say something we don’t like, not like we would, or they’re “not ready yet.” We don’t bring up a difficult issue or frustration with our spouse because it might result in a fight or hurting each other.

And in all of these, when I say: “we”, I really mean “me.”

But failure is a part of life. Failure is how we learn and grow. Sometimes failure is the only way to figure out what success actually is! And even though this is way easier said than done, I know I would rather fail and know something didn’t work, rather than not even try and always wonder if it would have.

The Bible (Jesus, actually) says that life won’t be easy (John 16:33) and that we should embrace, not reject difficult times (Romans 5:3). We get so afraid of making any waves, but the boat needs to rock if we want to learn how to sail. Anybody can just float, but it’s only through difficult times that we will learn anything and grow as a person. Like C.S. Lewis says: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

So, don’t try to fail, but also don’t be afraid of it.

 

4). Being a Recovering Addict

The first time I met a man who is now a mentor of mine, within the first five minutes of meeting him, he mentioned that he was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict that has been clean from both for 15 years. I knew right then and there that I wanted to keep him in my life as a friend and mentor. I found it so refreshing and powerful how open and confident he was about his past struggles and the healing journey that God has clearly brought him through. There was no sense of self-degradation or that he was searching for pity or attention. He didn’t talk about his past like some deep, dark, secret that nobody could know about or he was ashamed of. Obviously I’m sure there were parts of his past that he wasn’t proud of, but the way he talked about his healing made me respect him and praise God all at the same time.

As Christians, there’s sometimes this idea that past or even current issues or addictions are a huge black-eye in the story of someone’s faith. But when it comes to alcohol, drugs, porn, food, or almost anything else, we as human beings are constantly at risk to develop an addiction. And it’s my belief that because it’s such a taboo thing to use the buzz word: addiction, many Christians make the choice to simply hide a current or developing addiction (or use words like “struggle”), which can simply cause it to gain more destructive strength.

I think the freedom to admit imperfection and struggles is the key to seeking understanding, help, and healing from them. And instead of feeling shame about it, we should all champion someone taking the incredibly brave step to being open about their issues, since we all have them anyway! And once those issues are in the process of healing (since we’re always in process, even once we’ve made it past the major addiction part), we should be open and authentic about them, so God can use our story to impact others who are or might go through the same things.

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Friday Five #16

Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s this edition of the Friday Five. Enjoy!

D

1). The Fatherhood Project from Soul Pancake. These are incredible videos from my friend Corbyn Tyson all about figuring out how to be a dad. Definitely check them all out, but here’s the most recent addition:

2). Stephen Colbert’s Faith – I never watched The Colbert Report but after the news of him taking for for Letterman, it’s been awesome to get to know him more. This article was very interesting to read about a number of times that Colbert got real about his faith. I think it’s cool to see someone who is known for his intelligence, also have a broad knowledge of the Bible as well as a firm foundation in his beliefs. Definitely check out the link to the article and one of the videos it talks about below:

ARTICLE


3). Life Graphs.
These are super creative and as Homer Simpson says, funny because they’re true.

http://www.fascinatingpics.com/7-graphs-that-reveal-painfully-true-facts-about-everyday-life/

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 9.11.35 PM

4). Twenty One Pilots. The newest band I’ve been enjoying. I first saw them perform at the MTV Movie Awards and although there were some weird elements to their song, it was really well done and fun musically. Their full length album is really a fun listen and after seeing a few interviews with them, they both seem like down-to-earth guys.

21pilots

5). Textpert I thought this was really catchy and well done. And might just save your life one day…

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