#623 - THE WARRIORS TAUGHT ME THIS

Today, the 2018 NBA Playoffs began. Though the Golden State Warriorsare the defending champions, unfortunately, in the month leading up to the playoffs, they have been playing "uninspired" to say the least. So much so that many people, me included, have been concerned with whether or not they have what it takes to repeat as champs.

But how I feel about their chances of winning the championship drastically changed after watching them beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 today.

They played hard. They played inspired. They played together. They played enthusiastically. They played intensely. They played aggressively. And they won...convincingly.

And I couldn't help but think as I watched them play,

HAVING SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR, CHANGES THE WAY YOU PLAY.

Because the Warriors are now playing playoff games. Because if they lose this series their season will be over. Because a chance to win 3 championships in 4 years doesn't come around often. Because they know that making it to the playoffs the next year is never guaranteed. Because they realize that every team and every player's "window" to be great is very small, It is changing everything about their approach to the game. For the first time in a long time, it looks like they are actually trying to play to their potential. 

And this got me thinking about what I think is a very important leadership lesson:

CLARITY OF PURPOSE IMPACTS INTENSITY OF PERFORMANCE.

The more clear a leader can be on what is "at stake" in their leadership, the more likely they are to lead with passion and commitment. The more clear a leader is on what can be "lost" if they don't perform well, the more likely they will perform well. The more clear a leader can be on what they can possibly "win" if they lead with everything they have, the more likely they will lead accordingly. 

The Scriptures teach us that, "For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross."

Christ was "playing" for our salvation. Christ was "playing" for obedience to His Father. Christ was "playing" for completing the very last detail what He was sent here to do. And that type of crystal clear clarity led Him to commit the most selfless act in the history of mankind. 

Motivations matter. 

WHAT ARE YOU "PLAYING" FOR? 

#621 - WHERE I NEED TO GET BETTER

I wish it dawned on me earlier. I wish I would've had the humility to take this seriously sooner. Unfortunately, I didn't. It was not a priority of mine to get better in this area of my life.

And I think it wasn't a priority because it was and is an area that I believe I do well in. It is an area of my life that I take a lot of pride in. Actually, it is probably the thing that others would say I'm best at. And therein lies the problem. 

VERY RARELY DO WE CONSIDER STRENGTHENING OUR STRENGTHS.

I need to become a better preacher of God's Word. I need to become much better. More skilled. More proficient. More effective.

I need to interpret the text more deeply. I need to speak to the implications of the text more thoroughly. I need to apply the text more broadly. I need to do a better job of speaking both to the head, the heart, and the hands.  

I need to read more books about preaching. I need to watch and listen to effective preachers preach. I need to solicit more constructive feedback for my preaching. I need to, once again, make effective preaching a study.

Plainly stated: I need to become a better preacher.

I need to do this because I am convinced (and so was Marcus Buckingham!):

WE HAVE THE GREATEST POTENTIAL TO GET BETTER IN THE THING WE DO BEST.

Or stated another way,

WE CAN GROW MOST EXPONENTIALLY IN THE AREA WHERE WE ARE GIFTED MOST SUPERNATURALLY. 

Sure, there are certain weaknesses that deserve our attention. Yes, there are certain weaknesses in which we have to grow. 

But, I think we are missing out on experiencing our full potential in our areas of gifting if we "coast." The embarrassing truth is, that because I have been gifted to preach and communicate, it is also the area that I have placed the least amount of energy and effort into developing. That's poor stewardship. That's not stewardship.

The parable of the talents was all about stewarding what you have been given. It wasn't about maximizing what you haven't been given. The person who had one talent wasn't responsible for multiplying five talents. He was responsible for multiplying one

With that in mind, there are gifts that you and I have been given to steward. The question that we have to answer is, how are we maximizing and multiplying our gifts for the glory of God?

Grow your giftedness.
Strengthen your strengths. 

Don't you want to see how much you can develop what God has divinely placed in your hands?

I know I do!

#620 - 100 DAYS IN A ROW

For the first time in my life, I have done something for 100 days in a row! (Other than eating and going to the restroom!)

Unfortunately, I have not read my Bible for 100 days in a row, I have not brushed my teeth for 100 days in a row, I have not told my wife I love her for 100 days in a row, I have not exercised for 100 days in a row, and I have not done many other things which I probably should have done, by this point in my life, for 100 days in a row. But, I have done this:

I HAVE PUBLISHED A BLOG POST FOR 100 DAYS STRAIGHT.

Being that my "word of the year" is routine, this is a very big deal. But, instead of just celebrating the accomplishment, I want to reflect upon it as well. Here are 10 things I've learned as I have published a blog post to this website, everyday, for the last 100 days.

  1. Doing something for 100 days straight is possible.
  2. Writing everyday is a possibility when learning everyday is a priority.
  3. Writing to be responsible is a stronger motivation than writing to be read.
  4. Quality comes from quantity.
  5. To become prolific I must abandon perfection.
  6. Having written is 100x more fulfilling than thinking about writing. 
  7. Everyday, either my resolve muscle or my neglect muscle is being exercised. There are no neutral days.  
  8. My pacesetter (Seth Godin) set the bar for my potential
  9. Thinking critically precedes writing clearly
  10. Milestones motivate.

I hope you have been served well over these last 100 days!

On to the next 100!

 

#616 - HOW TO RE-IGNITE INTIMACY

After nearly 14 years of marriage and after counseling a countless number of marriages throughout my years as a pastor, I have discovered a very simple "fix" for re-igniting relational, emotional, and sexual intimacy between you and your spouse...

MAKE OUT.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that many married couples no longer kiss for extended periods of time. They may kiss each other on the cheek or lips before going to work and when seeing each other when they arrive home, but they don't make out anymore. 

Somewhere along the way, they just stopped. They don't know when. They don't know why. But, kissing ceased.

This doesn't work all the time. I don't want to over-simplify. Sometimes, the problems go a lot deeper, and cannot be fixed in this way. 

But, other times, kissing can actually be the remedy for a marriage that has lost its "sizzle."

SO KISS. FOR A LONG TIME. WITH TONGUE. 

The magic in your marriage may just be one make-out session away!

#615 - I MUST WORK FOR THIS

Fridays are supposed to be my day of rest. The one day during the week that for a 24-hour period of time I do not do anything work related. 

The problem is, this rest day will not happen on its own. Though I know it should happen. Though I know it needs to happen. Though my staff knows that this is when my day of rest is, unless I fight for my rest, rest will not take place. In other words,

I MUST WORK FOR MY REST.

Work to protect it. Work to take it. Work to ignore everything else. Work to be ok with disappointing people. Work to allow emails to go unreturned. Work to sleep and not feel guilty. I must work for my rest. Because the unfortunate reality is this:

IF I DON'T WORK FOR MY REST, I'LL NEVER REST FROM MY WORK.

And neither will you.

#605 - THE GAME I LOVE TO LOSE

Being the super competitive guy that I am, I absolutely hate to lose. Many who know me might even consider me a "sore loser." But there is one game, I cannot win no matter how hard I try, and it is a game that I've actually come to love to lose. The game is - trying to outgive God.

In the last couple of months, I have been blessed to see God, in some very tangible and practical ways, crush me in this game time and time again! I am convinced.

YOU CAN'T OUTGIVE GOD.

And it's not just financially. You can't outgive God in any area of your life.

Time. Energy. Emotions. Love. Influence. Opportunities. Resources. Encouragement. Affirmation.  

WHEN YOU GIVE, HE TAKES WHAT YOU GAVE AND MULTIPLIES IT BACK INTO YOUR LIFE.  

He takes what you put into His hands and places something more fulfilling, more satisfying, more enjoyable, more valuable, more precious, and more glorifying to Him into your hands.

WHEN IT COMES TO GIFT GIVING, GOD WILL ONE-UP YOU EVERY SINGLE TIME!

You will give resources to others, but the way He will give resources to you will be bigger. You will give opportunities to others, but the way He will give opportunities to you will be better. You will give love to others, but the way He will give love to you will be deeper. You will give of yourself to others, but the way He will give of Himself to you will be grander.

I encourage you, play this game with God. 

Attempt to outgive Him. Attempt to out-love Him. Attempt to out-sacrifice Him.

YOU WILL LOSE, AND YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Luke 6:38 (MSG)

#604 - 5 CONSEQUENCES OF BEING A "BALL HOG"

If you played sports of any sort, you hated the "ball hog." You hated the teammate that took all the shots. You despised the teammate who didn't pass. You were the most frustrated by the teammate who didn't give the other players on the team the opportunity to shine.

Leader, if the "ball hog" got on your nerves in sports, the "ball hog" needs to get on our nerves in leadership. 

Leader, let someone else lead. Let someone else run the meeting. Let someone else facilitate the discussion. Let some else make the decision. Let someone else answer the question. Let someone else come up with the plan. Let someone else do the thing you usually do. Let another leader lead.

I know they don't do it like you.
I know you think you do it better than they do.
I know you're convinced they're not ready.

I know it's hard.
I know it's uncomfortable.
I know it might even feel irresponsible. 

But, I also know this (and I only know this about you, because I know it about me!)...

You're insecure - you think that by letting someone else lead you may lose your influence. You're fearful - you think the way someone else will lead might "mess things up." You're prideful - you think the way you lead is most effective. 

And though some of these things may be true, you need to let someone else lead anyway. If you're not yet convinced, here are 5 consequences of not delegating leadership opportunities:

A SHORTENED LEADERSHIP LIFESPAN 

If you don't delegate leadership opportunities, you will get burned out. You will get fatigued. You will not have the strength to lead for the long haul. 

UNDEVELOPED LEADERS WON'T BE DEVELOPED

If you don't delegate leadership opportunities, the people in your organization with leadership potential will never grow in their abilities. Without leadership experience how can one gain leadership experience? If never given the chance to get better, how will they get better?

DEVELOPED LEADERS WILL LEAVE

If you don't delegate leadership opportunities, people who can lead well will find somewhere else where their leadership gifts can be utilized. It's only a matter of time before they will leave you. And, you know this to be true, because you, as a leader, if you found yourself in a similar position, would do the same thing!

YOUR FOLLOWERS WILL GET "LEADER FATIGUE"

If you don't delegate leadership opportunities, those that follow you will begin to become numb to your voice. Your style, your tone, and your method will become like "white noise" in the ears of those in your organization. Utilizing other leaders will keep your voice relevant. 

A SHORTENED ORGANIZATIONAL LIFESPAN

If you don't delegate leadership opportunities, your organization, ministry, business, group, or team will only last as long as you do. When you delegate leadership opportunities and develop leaders, what you lead will have the potential to live way beyond your life. 

Leader, pass the ball. You have teammates that are ready and waiting to "score." 

#599 - LEADERS GO FIRST

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They try first
They attempt first..
They fail first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They risk first.
They commit first.
They sacrifice first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They adapt first.
They innovate first.
They experiment first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They post first.
They launch first.
They release first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They care first.
They serve first.
They listen first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They pray first.
They repent first.
They believe first.

LEADERS GO FIRST.

They ask first.
They forgive first.  
They apologize first.

The simple idea is this:
If you're not ready to go first,
you're not ready to be a leader.

#595 - STOP READING MY BLOG

There is a particular person I want to encourage to stop reading my blog. Though I appreciate that you are reading and that you are interested in what I write, I think it's time that you stopped. I think it's time you stopped being so interested in me and started becoming more interested in you. Who is the particular person I am speaking of?

THE PERSON WHO SHOULD BE WRITING.

Some of you who have been reading my blog have thought to yourself, on multiple occasions, I should write too. It has crossed your mind to, like me, put your thoughts, ideas, and learnings into written form. You have felt compelled. You have felt inspired. You have felt motivated. But you've done nothing.

Enough is enough.

NO MORE FEELING. START DOING.

Whether it is in a physical journal, in your notes app on your phone, on a Pages or Microsoft Word doc, or on a blog you haven't posted to in months (or years) - write something...TODAY.

Write something. Anything. 100 words or 1000 words. It doesn't matter.

WRITE SOMETHING.

But don't do it because you want to be read. Do it because you want to be responsible.

Responsible with the gift God has given you to write. Responsible with the ability that God has given you to think and process. Responsible with the passion that God has given you to create.

Write something, and after you do, if you'd like, send it to me so I can read it. I'd love to be inspired by you!

Oh and by the way, after you've written something today, feel free to start reading my blog again tomorrow! Haha!

#593 - WHAT TOYS R' US AND THE CHURCH CAN'T HAVE IN COMMON

Toys aren't irrelevant. It's how Toys R' Us sells toys that is causing them to be irrelevant. Music isn't irrelevant. It's how iHeartRadio and Cumulus plays music that is causing them to be irrelevant. Movies aren't irrelevant. It's how Blockbuster rented movies that caused them to be irrelevant. Pictures aren't irrelevant. It's how Kodak developed pictures that caused them to be irrelevant. Books aren't irrelevant. It's how Borders sold books that caused them to be irrelevant. 

Great products aren't irrelevant. Distribution methods, on the other hand, can be. 

I'm sure that before shutting down or having to declare bankruptcy that Toys R' Us, iHeartRadio, Blockbuster, Kodak and Borders all felt the warning signs of their distribution methods becoming outdated and ineffective. But, very likely, these were warning signs that they were either too blind to see or too prideful to acknowledge

With that in mind, as a local pastor and church leader I must always remember:

THE GOSPEL WILL NEVER BE IRRELEVANT.
THE CHURCH WILL NEVER BE IRRELEVANT.
PREACHING WILL NEVER BE IRRELEVANT.

BUT, THERE MAY BE WAYS OF DISTRIBUTING THE GOSPEL THAT WILL BE. 

What are these potentially irrelevant "ways?" What are these potentially irrelevant "methods?" What are these potentially irrelevant "approaches?"

I don't have the answers to these questions, but I do know this:

We can't afford to be too blind or too prideful to acknowledge our answers. 

Feel free to share your comments or thoughts below. I'd love to hear what you think!

#591 - THE PASTOR'S WORK

Serve.
Be present.
Ask questions.
Listen intently.
Be interested.
Ask questions.
Listen some more.
Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Speak truthfully.
Extend grace.
Be patient.
Die to yourself.
Encourage.
Admonish.
Correct.
Discipline.
Pray for.
Love.

This is the way of the cross.
This is the way of the pastor.
Each person. Each family. Each sinner. Each saint.
Each day. Each week. Each month. Each year.
Until a lifetime of loving people well is your legacy. 

#590 - UNDER-APPRECIATED PLEASURE

The pleasure of a good meal.
The pleasure of a compliment.
The pleasure of a good night's rest.
The pleasure of an unexpected gift.
The pleasure of a new pair of shoes.
The pleasure of an extended vacation.

I can go on and on about the various, more obvious pleasures of this world that I enjoy and look forward to.

But as great as the above pleasures are, I have recently become more and more convinced that there is a pleasure that I have under-appreciated though it has been available to me for as long as I've been a follower of Christ...

THERE IS GREAT PLEASURE IN PRAISE!

Like for real. Not because I'm a pastor. Not because I have to say it. Not because I want people to believe it. But, because it's true.

There is great pleasure in praising the Maker of the heavens and the Earth. There is great happiness in hallowing the name that is above every name. There is great bliss in blessing the One from whom all blessings flow. There is great delight in declaring unto God His matchless wonder and power. There is great ecstasy is exalting the King of King and the Lord of Lords. There is great gladness in glorifying the God of infinite grace and mercy. There is great wonder in worshipping the Lion and the Lamb.

THERE IS GREAT PLEASURE IN PRAISE!

The pleasures that are experienced in praising God are far greater than any other pleasure that can be found in this world! It's better. It's better. It's better! He's better. He's better. He's better!

And here's one last thought to make the pleasure of our praise unto God that much more satisfying...

GOD IS PLEASED BY THE PRAISE THAT GIVES US PLEASURE!

#588 - SUNDAY SERVICE TENSIONS

As a pastor, in a local church, every Sunday I am aware of and must manage various tensions:

  • Leading with both confidence and desperation.
  • Preaching to both Christians and Non-Christians.
  • Teaching in a way that is both Biblical and practical.
  • Connecting with both Members and 1st-Time Guests.
  • Engaging in the service both personally and pastorally.
  • Singing songs that are both God-exalting and good sounding.
  • Giving opportunities for both seasoned leaders and new volunteers to serve.
  • Being mindful of both the planned format of the service and the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

But in addition to all the tensions listed above, there is also another tension that typically burdens me more than the rest. The tension is this: 

MINISTERING WITH BOTH URGENCY AND PEACE.

We must minister with urgency because:

  • Today is the day of salvation!
  • Someone may be giving the church one last chance.
  • Someone may be desperately seeking God for answers.
  • Someone may be attending church for the first time in a long time.
  • Someone may have had a horrible week and they don't know where else to turn.

We must minister with peace because:

  • God knows His sheep and His sheep know His voice!
  • No one's salvation is dependent upon one church service.
  • No one's relationship with God is dependent upon one church service.
  • God is not confined to one church service to meet a person's spiritual need. 
  • The overall success, health, or legacy of the church isn't defined by one church service.

We must minister with urgency, tomorrow is not promised to anyone. But, we also must minister with peace - God is not limited, in any way, by tomorrow. 

#587 - YOUR NEXT BREAKTHROUGH WILL REQUIRE THIS

It is very likely that, as you read this, you desire a breakthrough in a specific area of your life. Whether it is financially, professionally, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, academically, mentally, or physically - there is a next level you want to attain and experience.

Here's the problem - breakthroughs aren't free

Breakthroughs are costly. If you want a breakthrough in any of the above areas of your life, you will have to pay a price. You will have to pay the price of discipline, commitment, perseverance, hard work, study, etc. But you probably already knew that.

What you may not have known, is this: your next breakthrough will require that you push through.

You will need to push through pain. You will need to push through discomfort. You will need to push through apathy. You will need to push through fear. You will need to push through doubt. You will need to push through failure. You will need to push through anxiety. You will need to push through opposition. You will need to push through something.

If you haven't had a breakthrough in recent months or years, it is very likely you haven't pushed through in recent months or years.

Instead of pushing through, you've backed down. Instead of pushing through, you've ran away. Instead of pushing through, you've given up. And as a result - no significant change has occurred.

PUSHING THROUGH PRECEDES BREAKING THROUGH.

PUSH.

#584 - ENTRUSTED NOT ENTITLED

Entrusted with life not entitled to longevity.
Entrusted with vision not entitled to success.
Entrusted with position not entitled to perks.
Entrusted with leaders not entitled to loyalty.
Entrusted with wisdom not entitled to listeners.
Entrusted with influence not entitled to notoriety.
Entrusted with gifting not entitled to opportunity.
Entrusted with resources not entitled to abundance.
Entrusted with partners not entitled to commitment.

ENTRUSTED WITH VERY MUCH.
ENTITLED TO VERY LITTLE.

Nothing is earned.
Nothing is merited. 
Nothing is deserved.

IT'S ALL GRACE.

Be grateful.
Steward accordingly.
You will be held accountable.

#581 - ONE RECOMMENDATION ON SLEEP

Can you imagine a life without sleep? Can you imagine how much we could get done if we didn't have to sleep? Can you imagine how your nights would be spent?

You ever wonder why God created sleep in the first place? He could have very easily created humanity with no need for sleep. Yet, He did. But why?

I believe, 

GOD REQUIRES US TO SLEEP BECAUSE GOD DESIRES US TO TRUST.

Every time we sleep, we have the opportunity to declare, I trust God. I trust God to do what only He can do while I am sleeping. I trust God to make up for the time I "lose" while I sleep. I trust God to replenish my strength. I trust God to wake me up.

With this in mind, I would like to encourage you with one recommendation on sleep. I know this isn't possible every day, and it may not even be possible every week. But, I would encourage you to make an attempt at least once a month to:

SLEEP UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED SLEEPING.  

Though that sentence may shock you and seem to be to you an impossibility, I encourage you to, every now and then, make it a reality.

Sleep until you can't sleep anymore. Don't just sleep until you have to wake up, sleep until you want to wake up. Sleep until you've rested.

Now, I know you have excuses why you can't do this. Legitimate ones at that. But, regardless of what your excuse is, you need to do this. Once a month, once a week if possible - do this.

You need this to do this for you. You need to do this for your spouse. You need to do this for your kids. You need to do this for your job. You need to do this for those you lead. You need to do this as a way of declaring to God - I trust you.

SLEEP UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED SLEEPING.

God will be honored and you, will be happy.

#578 - HOW TIME CAN BE FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU

Years ago, I received a piece of advice I didn't appreciate as much as I do now. It was a principle that I believed was true, but now, that many years have gone by since I first heard it, I am even more convinced of it's validity. The principle is this:

TIME WILL EITHER PROMOTE YOU OR EXPOSE YOU.

For better or for worse.

If you are lazy.
If you are immature.
If you are irresponsible.
If you cut corners.
If you break rules.
If you tell lies.

You will be exposed.

If you are faithful.
If you are diligent.
If you are consistent.
If you overcome obstacles.
If you practice regularly.
If you work hard. 

You will be promoted.

Let this sink in for just a moment...

It's only a matter of time before who you are in the dark comes out into the light. It's only a matter of time before the seeds you sowed in the last season will reap a harvest in the next. It's only a matter of time before your habits become your legacy. For better or for worse.

TIME WILL EITHER PROMOTE YOU OR EXPOSE YOU.

You cannot escape this. This can either be a dream come true or your worst nightmare. Live accordingly.