Get To The Bottom And The Up Will Be Found

When an organization, relationship, or situation is in trouble, the faster it can get to the bottom the sooner it can begin the climb to the top again. This is often true in marriages, businesses, and economies.

Recovery will not usually come until the bottom is found.  The quicker you find the bottom the sooner you can reverse the slide from down to up or bad to well.   No one enjoys finding the bottom, but it is from there that any positive movement will most likely be found.

In a marriage for example, some people keep bringing up the same issues and repeating same mistakes and so they fail to initiate change.  Sometimes a spouse refuses to tell the whole truth and so bad news keeps coming out, opening new wounds each time.  The marriage never improves until everything is on the table, there are no more secrets and the bottom is found.

Get to the bottom of an issue or problem and its all uphill from there.

Are you nearing the bottom yet?

43 Weird Things Said in Job Interviews

This is hilarious.   CNN put together a story working with Career Builder on the funniest or weird things people said during job interviews.  What’s funny is that during the nervousness of something like an interview most of us are likely to say something we don’t necessarily mean to say.  Hopefully most of us are not this bad.

For example, here are a couple I thought were particularly funny:

Why did you leave your last job?

“I have a problem with authority.”

What kind of computer software have you used?

“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.”

Do you have any questions?

“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?”

What are your hobbies and interests?

“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.’”

Read the complete story HERE.

Building Spiritual Maturity In Your Home

Most Christian parents want to encourage their children to mature spiritually, but they do not know how.  I am not an expert at this and I am still learning, but my boys are incredible men of God and they sincerely seek after Christ into their young adult years.

Here are some thoughts for producing children who desire to grow spiritually:

Look at your plank first

How is your own your spiritual life? Are you growing in your knowledge and love of God outside of Sunday morning?  You cannot lead your family somewhere you have not been or are not going.

Have a plan

If you do not know where you want to go you probably will not get there.  I wanted my boys to be men of God. I started at the age of about 8 teaching them what that means.  At the age of 12, we began a year of discovery and at age 13 we celebrated entry into the beginning stages of manhood.  We have continued to fine tune that plan each year.

Find out what works for your children and for the family

You are only going to stick with things you really want to do and that work.  Your children are unique and each requires different environments to learn.  You may be strong enough to make your children sit still for a 30 minute family devotion time, but ask yourself is it effective or does it simply make you feel better.  The key is that your family is moving in the right direction spiritually, not that you follow someone else’s script.

Look for teaching moments

Be available to your children on their time. They do not know how the game of life works and they will need your input.  The problem is they will want you one minute and not the next. For Jeremy the best teaching moments were while kicking a soccer ball. For Nathaniel it was throwing a baseball.

Do not force it

Sometimes parents (maybe especially pastors) are so afraid of our own image, of what people may think if children do or say something wrong, that we put undue pressure on them. Do not be afraid for your children to question their faith. I see too many parents that go into panic mode when their children naturally question spiritual things. If you are normal then you have days when your faith is not quite as strong. Do not expect more from your children.

Minister together

I took my boys along for ministry meetings whenever I could.  We have participated in family mission trips.  I evaluate Sundays with my boys.  They feel a part of my ministry.

Keep your family emotionally healthy

How healthy are you emotionally? How healthy is your spouse and your children?  Recognize the signs of burnout and stress on your family and address problems early.

Build relationships first and spiritual maturity second

Build the kind of relationship with your children that will help them want more of what you value. Jesus did that with the disciples.  Your children are more likely to want to know the Christ you love if they learn first to love you.

What tips do you have for building spiritual maturity into your home?

One Sentence That Impacted My Life Greatly

Cheryl and I were invited to dinner at a woman’s house that attends our church.  She had previously attended The Gathering in Nashville, but the drive was wearing on her each week, so she was excited to find a similar church closer to home.  She wanted us to meet her former pastor and his wife, David and Paula Foster.  I cannot accept every invitation, simply because there are too many in a church our size to accommodate them all, but I am glad I accepted this one.  David is a great leader and church planter.  I had met David several times, but never spent any time getting to know him.

David Foster made a huge investment in my life Friday night.  I had previously written a post about this need.  (Read that post HERE.)  God must read my blog…or my heart.  ☺

It was really simple.  David is a great listener so he heard my story of planting the church.  I shared with him the struggles, the heartaches, the sadness in losing friends, and of course, the joys of seeing God do amazing things in people’s lives.  I do not talk about the struggles much, but David understood firsthand the difficulties in church planting and he encouraged the conversation.  David said he considers himself a renegade.  In fact he wrote a book about it.  See an excerpt HERE.  I am sure he has faced controversy, but his words to me were invaluable.

David said one line to me and it rocked my world! He said, “Ron, you know this already (I am not sure I did.)

Find your affirmation in the people to whom God has called you to minister…in whose lives God is changing through your work.”

Wow!  Such a simple thought, but honestly, I am not sure I had really stopped long enough to see things through that paradigm.  I had probably spent more time seeking affirmation from other pastors or comparing our ministry to other churches. Sometimes I compare myself to them competitively.  I may get discouraged if I am not as successful as them. Frankly some pastors seem to resent or question the reasons behind our success.  There may be struggles if we have different methodologies.  I can wish the church world was less competitive, but even though its leader is perfect (Christ) it is an organization run by imperfect people.

When I apply David’s principle of finding affirmation I am overwhelmed at what God is doing.  He is molding, shaping, changing, growing, spurring, releasing, capturing, and saving countless lives through the work of Grace Community Church.  I have never been so encouraged to continue the work God has called me to do!  In addition, my greatest calling is to my family and they are flourishing in Christ!  (I am writing a separate post about this in recent days.)

Thank you David for investing in my life! You have no idea the impact your few words had.

Have you ever had a few words impact you in a powerful way?  Who is investing in you right now with words of wisdom or encouragement?  In whose life are you investing?

Orientation By Wilderness Experience (Could It Work For Your Team?)

1078283_58943098Taylor, one of my 18 year-old son Nate’s best friends, is going to Wheaton University this fall. I am excited that he will be an hour away from Nate who will be at Moody Bible College.  I wrote a blog post about their friendship a couple months ago. Read that post HERE. I had coffee this morning with Taylor, because he is leaving this weekend for an extended and unusual college orientation.

Wheaton offers an optional wilderness experience as a preparation for incoming freshman to the university. Students explore a Christian worldview and get college credit in exchange for an extreme outdoor adventure with other students, professors, and experts in wilderness adventures.  Someone at the university told Taylor, “If you can survive 12 days alone with someone in this experience then you can last a lifetime together.”

I love the concept.  I am wondering if it would work in other settings:

  • Incoming staff people…
  • Premarital counseling…
  • Potential leaders…

Do you think this would build healthier teams?

Who in your organization/family would you like to send on a 12-day wilderness experience so they will be a better team player?

Every Possibility Is Not An Opportunity

Lots of people confuse a possibility for an opportunity.  That can be dangerous.  There can be a huge difference in the two.

Recently our church was approached with what we thought was a great opportunity to plant another church campus. An existing church building was going to be available for little or no money and 10 or 20 people were ready to launch with us.  With no start-up costs it would be reasonable to think we could successfully move quickly towards a decision. We have thought about multi-site campuses in the past, so this seemed to make sense.

Shortly into the discussions the owner of the building decided he did not want to continue to discount the building for another church plant. He is considering other options with the building. If we rented it our cost would be several thousand dollars per month.  No longer was this an opportunity.  It was now only a possibility.  Do you see the difference?

Characteristics of Opportunities

  • Defined as “an appropriate or favorable time or occasion” (Dictionary.com)
  • Come with some defined realities
  • Almost like being “in the right place at the right time”
  • Hard to pass up, because they almost always come with some pre-arranged wins
  • Make decision-making easier

Characteristics of Possibilities

  • Defined as “the state or fact of being possible” (Dictionary.com)
  • Filled with lots of hopes and dreams
  • Have fewer assurances
  • Could be great, but they could equally fail
  • Come with unique risks and require more preparation to insure success.
  • Need more thought, prayer and discernment.

Both opportunities and possibilities can be good.  I love risks and without them there is usually no opportunity to score big wins, but leaders (and individuals) need to learn to recognize the difference between the two.  Confusing a possibility for an opportunity often gets organizations and people in trouble quickly.

I have heard too many people say, “This is such a great opportunity”, when mistakenly what they have is an attractive possibility. There is a difference.

Have you ever made mistook a possibility for an opportunity?

A Lesson In Grace/Building a Legacy of Grace

Bear with me through a little Bible pilgrimage to illustrate a point about grace.

A man named Boaz displayed grace as the kinsman redeemer of a widow named Ruth.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. (Ruth 4:13)

Boaz became the great-grandfather of a man named David.
Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. (Ruth 4:21-22)

David displayed grace to a man named Mephibosheth.
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1)

Of course, the lineage continued to Jesus, the author of grace.
(Matthew 1:1-17)

I wonder if all those human examples of grace started here:
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab (Matthew 1:5)

Do you remember Rahab?
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. (Joshua 2:1)

Here is my conclusion:
Rahab, the prostitute, received grace from the Israelites. Boaz was raised in grace because he had a mother who knew it firsthand. David was a man of grace, because it was in his heritage.

Here is my challenge to me:
I have been given much grace in my life, from God and others.  If I pass it on to others will I establish a legacy of grace in the generations to follow me?

Here is my challenge to you:
What legacy of grace will you leave?

Bill Gates Dumps Facebook

D23318-3I thought this was an interesting post from Mashable.  Apparently Bill Gates actually had his own Facebook account and tried to be real “friends” with people.  When he couldn’t keep up, he dumped his account. Read the story HERE.

I’m actually impressed that he would try.  At least he doesn’t hire someone to be friends with his friends.

That makes me wonder, do famous people like this have close friends?  Do you think it would be hard if you were Bill Gates to trust why people wanted to be your friend?

Come on Bill, I’ll be your friend!  For free. You seem like an alright guy…a bit geeky maybe, but in a completely good kind of way.

Is Social Media Ruining Culture and What To Do About It?

As an avid user of social media in my work, people seem to enjoy sending me negative articles on the rise of social networking and its negative impact on our culture.  Yesterday I posted similar thoughts with an encouragement to develop a personal social media policy.  Read that post HERE.

The critics of social media claim:

  • Social media promotes the person and only builds another’s ego
  • Wastes time
  • Is not real ministry or work

I am reminded that everything good can be misused.   The key in using social media, in my opinion, is finding the right balance.  Here are a few suggestions I recommend:

  1. Have a purpose for social media.  It could be fun, business, or both, but know why you are using it.
  2. Limit to 2 or 3 mediums at most. I use Twitter, Facebook, and my blog.
  3. Learn enough about the medium to use it effectively.
  4. Discipline yourself so the practice does not control you.
  5. Figure out how to simplify.  Use tools such as Tweetdeck, synchronizing various mediums, etc.

Social media is a part of modern culture.  If the church or business ignores the world of social networking it will ignore a major portion of its target market.

Developing a Personal Social Media Policy

iStock_000009648196XSmallMost businesses are being forced to think through and add a social media policy to their human resource policies.  The rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking choices means the workplace is being impacted greatly by social media.  Individuals represent their organization even during their personal time and that needs to be considered in employee management.

At Grace Community Church we are adding a policy this fall, but I suspect ours will be less strict than some businesses I have seen are considering.  We actually see a huge benefit from our people being involved in social media, especially at a personal level. It is still important that our staff represent the church and Kingdom well, so I think it is important that a person develop his or her own social media policy.  Having a personal social media policy builds accountability, structure, discipline and purpose into the time spent social networking.

Here are a few of the things I have in my own social media policy:

Determine why I am participating in social media
– A person could choose to participate for fun, networking, businesses or marketing, but for me personally my end goal is Kingdom-building.

Decide in what social mediums I will participate – The fact is there are more choices than there is time available to do them all. I have chosen to limit my time to Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.  Right now these seem to have the best impact on accomplishing my purpose, but if that changes I plan to change with the culture.

Learn about my choices – I do not have to be an expert in my three mediums, but I need to know enough about them to be effective at accomplishing my purpose for being involved with them. .  Occasionally I have to learn new techniques to keep up with these mediums.

Organize my time on the front end – I have learned to connect my Twitter to Facebook, so that I actually spend little time on Facebook. I use Tweetdeck to organize the Twitter followers I learn from the most.  I automate Tweets for times I am unavailable.  It is important that I keep my time manageable for effectiveness in accomplishing my purpose.

Discipline myself to follow my own plan - I have to continually remind myself of my purpose and not allow social media to control my time.  I use it instead to help me control my overall purpose in ministry.

Do you have a personal social media policy? How does yours differ from mine?