#684 - YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS ABOUT HONOR

Since returning from my summer sabbatical, God has been requiring of me that I give honor to others in ways that I, if I'm being honest, am not the most comfortable with. Here are a few things I'm learning:  

  1. Honor communicates gratitude.
  2. Honor attributes value. 
  3. Honor should be extended when it is earned.
  4. Honor doesn't have to be earned to be extended. (Respect is earned, honor is extended.) 
  5. Honor should be given both privately and publicly.
  6. Honor, when not given privately first, is disingenuous. 
  7. Honor requires humility because it's not about you. 
  8. Honor is a form of dying to self.  
  9. Honor is a way you become less so someone else can become more. 
  10. Honor shows preference for someone other than yourself.
  11. Honor, when reciprocated, feels great.
  12. Honor, when not reciprocated, feels lousy. 
  13. Honor can't be given expecting anything in return. 
  14. Honor strengthens the body of Christ.  
  15. Honor honors God. 

Who might God be requiring of you to honor?

#681 - THINK AT LEAST 10 YEARS OUT

So much has been said about seizing the moment. Living in the present. Taking it one day at a time. And I'm all about it! (Who needs to carry the burden of what's going to happen in the future when the present can already be so overwhelming.)

ON THE OTHER HAND...

When it comes to influence and impact, we've heard this said before as well,

We overestimate what God can do in 1 year and we underestimate what God can do in 10.

As I look at the type of influence I want to have in people's lives, the type of influence of I want our church to have in the city, the type of disciple-making movement I'd like to see multiply...

I NEED TO THINK FARTHER OUT.

Deep impact doesn't happen over night. Systemic change doesn't take place in an instant. Trust isn't built over the course of days. Life transformation can't be rushed. 

THE MOVEMENT CHURCH has been going for almost 5 years, and I feel like we're just starting to see what is possible if we keep at this thing!

So as much as what you do today is of extreme importance, the timeline you are giving yourself to experience the results you desire is equally important.

Pick an arena where you desire to have deep, real, long-lasting impact. Then, commit yourself to that work for 10 years.

Don't be perplexed by the amount of time it is going to require to build something deeply influential. Just accept it. Great things don't grow overnight.

#680 - FALLEN HEROES

I am grieved by how their sin stains.
I am frustrated by how their flesh won.
I am sickened by how their victims suffer.
I am devastated by how their family aches. 
I am saddened by how their church struggles.
I am overwhelmed by how their actions impact.

I AM SOBERED BY HOW THEIR STORY COULD BE MINE.

BUT...

I am thankful because God's love heals.
I am hopeful because God's grace restores.
I am joyful because God's purpose remains.
I am grateful because God's justice exposes.
I am prayerful because God's power overcomes.
I am cheerful because God's Church perseveres.

I AM MINDFUL BECAUSE GOD'S WARNING IS THIS:

"Take heed lest you fall." 

#679 - THE DISTANCE NECESSARY

LEADER...

Bless to the extent that you want to be blessed.
Honor to the degree that you want to be honored.
Support to the level that you want to be supported.
Affirm to the magnitude that you want to be affirmed.
Encourage to the depth that you want to be encouraged.

DON'T HALF-ASS IT. 

The farther the "distance" you travel in loving people well, the more you resemble Jesus Christ who went as far as one could possibly go to give of Himself for the sake of others...

HEAVEN TO EARTH.

#675 - SIMPLIFY

When it comes to simplifying your personal life...

Simplify your wardrobe by having less clothes.
Simplify your home by having fewer things.
Simplify your schedule by having less commitments.
Simplify your finances by having fewer expenses.
Simplify your relationships by having less conflict.
Simplify your phone by having fewer apps.
Simplify your faith by having less doubt. 

When it comes to your professional life...

Simplify your management by having less direct reports.
Simplify your success by having fewer goals. 
Simplify your processes by having less steps.
Simplify your training by having fewer expectations.
Simplify your day by having less distractions.
Simplify your productivity by having fewer objectives.
Simplify your communication by having less messaging. 

Do less. Have fewer. Achieve more.

SIMPLIFY. 

#674 - 5 QUICK LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

Tomorrow, I'm leading a meeting with several of the leaders from our church. As I prepare to share, here are a few leadership thoughts I am considering passing along:

  1. LEAD YOURSELF > LEADING OTHERS - Would you follow you?
  2. MODELING BEHAVIOR > REQUIRING BEHAVIOR - Do you do what you expect your team to do?
  3. BECOMING SOMEBODY > DOING SOMETHING - Are your team members growing or just "doing?"
  4. ACHIEVING A VISION > COMPLETING A TASK - Are your team members inspired by a dream or are they driven by a to-do list?
  5. DELEGATING AUTHORITY > ASSIGNING RESPONSIBILITY What decisions can your team members make without you?

#666 - THE JOY OF DEVELOPMENT

Today I had the privilege of, once again, sitting under the teaching and preaching of someone who I've had the opportunity to disciple and develop over the last 5+ years. 

I laughed. I cried. I learned. I fell more in love with Jesus.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again...

THERE IS MORE JOY IN DEVELOPING THAN THERE IS IN DOING.

To pass down your love, skills, and motivations to someone and then to be able to watch that person take what they've learned to impact others for the glory of God, in ways you never could, is an incredible feeling. 

So satisfying. So fulfilling. So meaningful. 

There are very few things that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning like developing leaders does. With this in mind, to play a small role in the "shine" of another leader is a thing I pray I never grow weary of doing. 

#657 - FLEE

Pastor, leader, husband...this is for you. This is for me. This is for us.

When certain temptations come your way (you know what it is for you), you shouldn't "hang around." You shouldn't "wait and see." You shouldn't "stay just 10 more minutes." You shouldn't "be nice." You shouldn't "try not to be rude." 

YOU SHOULD FLEE. IMMEDIATELY. 

Get in your car and leave. Ask for a ride home. Leave. Run. Get out of there.

Staying, could cost you everything. 

#656 - GRACE AND GRIT

Ministry requires so much grace.

Grace to forgive. Grace to love. Grace to lead. Grace to discern. Grace to preach. Grace to confront. Grace to ignore. Grace to promote. Grace to decrease.  

But it also requires a helluva lot of grit. 

Grit to persevere. Grit to push-through. Grit to overcome. Grit to endure. Grit to last. Grit to show up even when you don't feel like showing up. Grit to engage even when you don't have the emotional energy to engage. Grit to lead even when you don't know where you should be leading!

For me to do a 30 year run (which is my goal) as the Lead Pastor of theMOVEMENT Church in Oakland, I am convinced...

GOD'S GRACE MUST BE PRESENT, AND MY GRIT CAN'T BE ABSENT.

But as daunting and exhausting as that may seem, I am also thankful of this:

Even my grit is a gift bestowed upon me because of His grace!

So in the end, it's ALL grace.

#653 - AN UNEXPECTED ASPECT OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY

Tonight as we were in our prayer meeting, it hit me. As I was praying, an element of spiritual maturity dawned on me, and I had never thought about it in this way before.

It wasn't Bible knowledge. It wasn't church attendance. It wasn't evangelism. It wasn't giving. It wasn't serving. 

ONE OF THE GREATEST INDICATORS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS CHILDLIKE FAITH.

This hit me while I was praying because I realized that I do not pray as audaciously as I should because, over the years, in some ways, I have lost my childlike faith in God. 

Why do I believe in Him for salvation, but I do not call out to Him for healing? Why do I trust in Him for forgiveness, but I do not petition Him for revival? Why am I sure that I am justified, yet I am unsure of whether or not He can still perform miracles? Why am I confident that He will return, yet I am hesitant to ask Him to do the supernatural in my midst.

It almost seems as if, over the years, as I've grown in my ability to explain God, I've lost my ability to believe God. What a tragedy!

Here are three ways that I know my faith has shrunk that I hope to reverse and I pray you'll avoid!

MY PRAYERS WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS ACCURATE RATHER THAN AUDACIOUS.

One indicator of this might be if you always feel the need to say in your prayers, "If it's your will..."  Only you know whether or not that is a necessary statement in your prayers or if you are using it as a way to guard your ego if the prayer is not answered. Audacious prayers requires childlike faith.

MY PREACHING WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS PRACTICAL RATHER THAN PROPHETIC. 

Did God call me to preach just so that people would have a few "to-do's" to try during the week? I don't think so. God called me to preach so that His truth would be proclaimed. He called me to preach so that darkness would be exchanged for light; so that death would be exchanged for life! Prophetic preaching requires childlike faith.

MY LEADERSHIP WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS CALCULATED RATHER THAN COURAGEOUS.

The local church doesn't need another calculated leader. That might be what a business looking to turn a profit needs. But, the body of Christ needs a courageous leader who will boldly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit regardless of the cost. Courageous leadership requires childlike faith. 

Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with accurate prayers, practical preaching, and calculated leadership. It is when these things come at the expense of childlike faith where I believe one's spiritual maturity must come into question. Enough is enough.

Would you join me in maturing our ability to believe God like a child?

"For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom." Matthew 18:2-4 (MSG)

#646 - SHOW UP

Leader, show up.

You never know who is going to benefit. You never know who is going to be impacted. You never know who is going to be blessed by what you bring to the table.

SHOW UP.

Even when you don't want to. Even when attendance has been down. Even when you don't know who is going to respond.

SHOW UP.

One is worth it. Because to the one, you being there, is everything to them. Your ego may believe you are worthy of more than one, but the moment one becomes too small of a number, you have forgotten why you started doing what you do in the first place. 

SHOW UP. 

Because even if no one else does, showing up builds something inside of you that would not have been built if you had chosen to stay home.

#624 - THE 6TH DAY

Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to experience a much-anticipated and needed change of pace and rhythm to my schedule that will take me to Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and then Nevada over the next 20 days.

But before I could experience the beauty of tomorrow, I had to embrace the responsibilities of today!

And I'm so glad I did.

I preached, and I gave it everything I had. I led a meeting encouraging our church community to engage in one-on-one discipleship relationships. After that meeting, I even met briefly with a church planter planning to plant a church in Oakland to encourage him in God's call on his life. 

I also accomplished nearly all of the tasks that I set out to do at the beginning of the week in order to finish well. And after a pretty intense several days I can say with deep conviction,

I FINISHED WELL.

And in light of doing so, I am convinced...

It's worth it to finish well. It's responsible to finish well. It's God-honoring to finish well. It's satisfying to finish well. It's relieving to finish well.

I am so thankful the 6th day is through! The 7th day is tomorrow, and I am unashamedly going to follow God's lead and do exactly what He did after 6 days of work...

REST.

#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!

#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.

#614 - THIS EXPLAINS IT

Why do I care so much about the inner-life of a leader? Why do I care about their emotional health? Why do I care about the health of their walk with Jesus? Why do I care about their rhythms of rest? Why do I care about a leader's insecurities? Why do I care about their motivations?

Why don't I just let these things slide and concentrate on the work that needs to get done?

Today, I read this quote from Pete Scazzero that puts into words why, many times, I put an inordinate amount of attention on what's going on in a leader's heart, rather than what's going on with a leader's hands.

Minimally transformed leaders result in minimally transformed teams doing minimally transforming ministry.
— Pete Scazzero

In other words...

TRANSFORMATIONAL MINISTRY IS A BY-PRODUCT OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE.

With this in mind, we must no longer ignore the "seen" and the "un-seen" character deficiencies in our lives.

We can't ignore the pervasive anger.
We can't ignore the constant envy.
We can't ignore the irrational jealousy.
We can't ignore the petty attitude. 
We can't ignore the insensitive apathy. 
We can't ignore the negative demeanor.
We can't ignore the adolescent insecurity.
We can't ignore the divisive spirit. 
We can't ignore the deficient love.

If we think we can do effective ministry while ignoring these things, we are kidding ourselves.

We cannot lead beyond our own spiritual growth and development. We cannot help others address the darkness within themselves if we can't address the darkness within us. We cannot effectively extend grace to others in the areas where we have yet to receive it for ourselves. 

THE DELUSION MUST END. IF WE'RE NOT BEING TRANSFORMED, WE CANNOT BE TRANSFORMING. 

#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)