The secret to worrying less…

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 HCSB)

What are you dwelling on these days?

(By the way, that’s the secret.)

7 Encouragements for Leaders Who Worry

The title is confusing, isn’t it? It assumes some leaders worry and some don’t. The truth is, however, that most leaders will have occasions of worry. I’ve talked to some who say at least one day a week they are consumed with anxiety and fear. It’s the kind of frustration that makes them almost want to quit. I talked to a pastor recently who is struggling with stomach problems (I won’t get more graphic than that), because of the worry he is dealing with as a leader.

The fact that you worry shows that you are normal, human, and conscientious as a leader. You want to be successful and the natural reaction is to worry when you feel you may not be. Emotions play tricks on us. They’re fickle. They’re unreliable. Our desire to do well, causes our emotions to produce worry.

Obviously, Jesus said, “Do not worry!” We know that. We believe that. We want to live that. What’s the practical side? How do we actually live out that command? Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions won’t play tricks on you at times.

All of us worry, but what do you do when worry seems to control you as a leader?

Here are 7 encouragements for those who worry in leadership:

Pray and study – Worry is by definition a misplaced trust. Ultimately your answer is in God’s ability and His control, not your own. If worry is consistently plaguing your leadership, improving your relationship with Christ through Bible study and prayer is step one.

Remember your purpose – You have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. When worry hits you, you need grounding to something more permanent than your worries. You have a purpose. You believe in a vision. You have goals. You need to remember what fuels your fire and why you are willing to take the risk of leadership. If worry has gotten to the place where you’re not sure of your purpose anymore, stop everything and find it again. You can’t afford not to.

Contact an encouraging friend – I always find other leaders can speak truth into my life just when I need it most. God uses relationships to strengthen us and make us better. I have to be bold enough to text a friend and say, “I could use some encouragement”, but I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve been that bold. If you don’t have someone like this in your life that’s your assignment. The goal is to find the person and build the relationship before you need them.

Check your track record – Most likely you’ve had success that led to the position you have now. You can do it again. One reason I keep an encouragement file is so I can read through the positive things I’ve done on days when nothing seems positive.

Count your blessings – There are always others who would love to have what you have. Someone is always worse off than you are. Most likely, even outside the position you have as a leader, God has blessed your life. Spend some time remembering the good God has allowed you to experience. The list is probably longer than you think and will help you avoid worry as you recall what God has already given you.

Get some rest – Worry is more present when you are tired. You may have to quit for the day so you can prepare for better days. The depth of the worry should determine the length of the period of rest. I’ve also learned that part of being fully “rested” also includes making sure you are as healthy as you can be by eating the right foods and exercising, especially during the busiest seasons of life.

Rationalize – Most of the things we worry about never come true. Is your worry based on reality or based on your emotional assumptions? Dismiss the things you can’t control, aren’t certain will go wrong, or the unknown. The more you limit irrational thoughts, the less for which you’ll have to worry.

How do you battle the moments of worry as a leader?

One Way to Discern a Change

Lately I’ve been going through a season of helping people discern change. It’s been change of churches, change in jobs, and change in ministry assignment. It could be because I’ve wrestled through changes in my own life recently. I’ve learned God uses experience to help others going through similar experiences, so I’ve been more able to help people with change.

Anyway, recently I was listening to National Public Radio and heard an interview with a Canadian born, European artist Chilly Gonzales. Chilly is a piano player. I don’t know a lot about him, but I’m excited to check out his music. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

The interviewer asked him a question that spoke volumes to me. I thought his answer was a great test to discern a change.

The interviewer said (and I paraphrase), “Chilly, you write lots of songs. How do you know which ones to record?

Chilly’s classic answer:

“I wait for the one that won’t leave me alone.”

Wow! Classic. Genius. Helpful.

I instantly realized that was my experience with my recent change. I resisted coming to Immanuel, thinking I wasn’t a good fit for them, nor them for me. Yet, God wouldn’t leave me alone. The position wouldn’t leave my thoughts. I couldn’t get over the idea of being here.

What’s the thing that won’t leave you alone?

Could God be using the repetition of thought to draw you to His will?

How do you discern a pending change in your life?

Be sure to read the “related posts” on discerning change.

5 Questions to Discern a Life Change

This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen. Bill is a writer, thinker, speaker and non-profit leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith. You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and at Patheos.

Changing your direction in life is never easy. Especially if what you’re presently doing is truly helping a lot of people. Yet we all know change is unavoidable. So how do you know when it’s time to go?

I’ve wrestled intently with this question for the last nine months. As a non-profit leader for a dozen years in a successful Christian school, I knew I was doing a lot of good. People shared their sincere appreciation often.

Yet I sensed a restlessness within. I felt a call, subtle at first, to better steward my God-given gifts of writing, thinking, speaking, and – yes – leading change along the way. My passions, above all, pulled me toward connecting those gifts with my faith.

And yet my faith was what motivated me to serve where I was. Hence, the tension.

Maybe you’ve been at that conflicted fork in the road before. Maybe you’re there now. I decided it was time to step out by faith after getting a lot of wise counsel and asking some critical questions.

Here are five questions you should ask to find out if it’s time for you to go in a new direction?

  • Are you centered on what matters most? For me, my faith in God grounds all I do. Your foundation may be different but still vital. If something is interfering with that core relationship, it’s tough to trust any other inputs, including your own. Make sure you have good spiritual habits in place to keep the main thing the main thing.
  • Are you clear on your calling? Most people settle for simply drifting into oblivion. Our restlessness is simply our subconscious self telling us to get intentional about our life direction. It was when I took a retreat to prayerfully consider my own calling that my choices became clear – as did my self-centered excuses.
  • Are you growing where you are? I heard John Maxwell say recently that if you’re at the head of your class, it’s time to find another class. It took a casual comment by my friend Doug Carter to realize that I needed to raise my own leadership lid to keep growing.  If you stop growing, you start dying. Soon no one will want to be around you, no matter how sincere you may be.
  • Are you running from ______________? The odds are good that your subconscious just filled in that blank with whatever you presently fear most. If you want to leave to avoid a challenge, it’s not going to work. Ask Jonah. Better to confront it now. The fear will only follow you.
  • Are you willing to moving forward?  Seth Godin shared a neat trick to call your own bluff. Write down the one barrier that keeps you from acting on your dream. Now set it aside and ask yourself, “If that barrier were removed, would I move forward?” If no, you’ve uncovered another wall closer to the foundation of your fears.  If yes, focus your creative efforts on how to remove the barrier – or get around it

Have you ever faced a significant change in your life direction?

What questions do you suggest to help get clarity during seasons of change?

Leave a comment to share your story or suggestions for growth.

A life principle my daddy taught me…

It is what it is…

My father was probably the most bottom line guy I know. One of his most quotable lines was “The main thing is don’t get excited.” If anyone was ever tempted to stress about an issue he would interject that often repeated line.

Occasionally, I remember him adding another sentence into stressful moments. He would say, “It is what it is…”.

In other words, you can’t change it now. That’s a fact, Jack.

Admitting that “it is what it is” allows you to quit complaining and actually do something about it.

Do you need to admit:

Your marriage is in trouble…

You have a spending problem…

You’ve let your weight get out of control…

You’ve been a lousy friend…

Your relationship with God is struggling…

You are surrounding yourself with bad influencers…

You are in over your head…

(Insert yours here)

It is what it is…

Now that you’ve admitted IT

What are you going to do about it?

2 Keys to Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison

This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a pastor from Portland, Oregon whose first book, Why Holiness Matters, just released. Learn more about a special offer for purchasing the book. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.

2 Keys to Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison

“I’ll never be able to write like that.”

“If my church had the resources that church had then we’d be set.”

“I sure wish God had given me the musical talent he has.”

“What I would give to have as many church members as him.”

Admit it, you’ve had thoughts just like this. Probably more than once.
Maybe even today.

We’re all prone to compare ourselves to those around us. As a writer,
pastor, and musician I’m constantly wondering how I stack up next to others
out there doing similar things. Do people like me as much or more than
others?

Comparison is dangerous. Give yourself enough time comparing your meager
efforts in life and you’ll begin to realize just how awful you really are.

Comparison is dangerous for what is does to you, underneath the surface. It
wages a war against your morale and puts you into a submission that forces
stagnation.

But comparison also tarnishes the Creator God who created you His image.
Consider Brennan Manning’s tough words:

Any attempt to measure the value of our lives by comparison and contrast
to others belittles our gifts and dishonors God by our ungratefulness
” (pg.
144, Ruthless Trust).

None of us want to dishonor the God who created us. None of us want to
remain stagnant by comparing ourselves to others. Yet we do it. Over and
over again.

Having struggled mightily with this over the past year, I’ve yet to rid my
life of comparison, but I have been able to overcome it much more often.

Rather than being stuck in the prison of comparison that damages my
self-worth and dishonors God I’ve allowed 2 principles to move me past the
danger of comparison.

1. Speak Truth to Yourself

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. In comparison to others, what is
lost is the truth about how God sees you and how He has gifted you.

Every morning I spend the first 15 to 45 minutes in prayer, meditation, and
reading. I always end the time by reciting this short and simple prayer of
truth:

*You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You
are a son of the King.”

Comparison sums up our lives by what we’ve done in the past rather than
looking to the future, and it certainly doesn’t take stock of where our
identity should be placed.

Mere words or the recitation of a short prayer won’t have a short term
effect but they could very well by the launching point for you.

It’s often the smallest, incremental shift that leads to the most
significant change in our lives.

2. Discover and Develop Your Gifts

Comparison brings us down because we’re trying to impute someone else’s
gifts into our lives. God didn’t create us that way.

We weren’t created in order to try to become like someone else. We were
created to discover how God uniquely made us and to live out this creation.
But discovering is not the end game. We all know someone who has incredible
gifts and talents but squanders it all away by not developing what they’ve
discovered.

This is where the help and influence of others come in. I’ve yet to
discover a gift of mine without the influence of another person who helped
me see what I could not.

You cannot simply know your gifts, you must understand them.

We can know our gifts through textbooks but we must develop them by living
them out to truly understand them. Through our engagement of relationship
with God and others we can continue living out the creation within us.

God asks one thing of you: Be who you are created to be.

As the old saying goes, “Be who you is, cause if you ain’t who you is, you
is who you ain’t.”

Those of you who have struggled to move beyond the danger of comparison,
please share some of your comparison story in the comments.

What Every Senior Pastor Needs From His Staff

This is a guest post by Eric Speir. Eric is a staff pastor, writer, blogger and educator. He likes to use biblical principles, coaching, practical wisdom and encouragement to help others to thrive in every area of their life. You can read more of his posts at www.ericspeir.com and follow him on Twitter @ericspeir.

What every senior pastor needs from his staff:

Being a pastor can be a lonely and brutal job. It’s a task that requires determination, tenacity and a work ethic that rivals most NFL coaches. Even if a pastor is gifted in many areas he cannot accomplish everything on his own. In fact, pastoring is nothing new, because it’s been around for a long time.

In the Old Testament Pastor Moses, the first mega-church pastor, had more problems that most pastors can dream up. At one point he almost had a nervous breakdown until the Lord intervened and sent him a wise mentor and raised up a staff around him.

If Moses couldn’t do everything by himself, then it is more important than ever for a pastor to have a staff around him that can help to accomplish the God-given vision. With this in mind, there are some characteristics that every pastor needs in a staff:

Every senior pastor needs a staff that…

• Is committed to the same vision he is. If you’re not committed, then find somewhere else where you will be. There’s no shame in finding a place where you’ll be effective in ministry.

• Will overlook his bad days. David had the chance to stab Saul in the back when he caught him with his pants down, but he chose not to. Remember, everyone has a bad day!

• Will pick up the trash when he needs you to. Simply put, don’t be afraid to do something that seems beneath you.

• When you say you’re praying for him, then actually do it. Being a senior pastor is a tough job that most people won’t ever understand.

• Has his back, instead of talking behind it. In other words, when you have a problem, bring it to the team, instead of to people who can’t help.

• Can help solve problems and be team players. Jesus couldn’t do ministry by himself, pastor’s can’t do it all either.

• Can think BIG! Anyone can be small-minded, but it takes someone extraordinary to think what could be.

• Can laugh and cry with him. It’s easy to forget your pastor is human and bleeds the same color blood as you. Just because he’s the spiritual leader, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have needs as well.

What would you add to this list? How can you serve your leader better?

Go ahead…Give up!

Go ahead…Give up.

Seriously. Quit trying. It’s easier. You’re probably tired. It might not work anyway.

Sure. It was a God-given dream. Of course, it was His idea. But you gave it a good shot. You hung in there longer than most. Find your justification…create the right excuses. Make yourself feel better about quitting now so you can move on with your life.

Sure, you may be quitting just before a victory begins. You will never know what could have been. But, you can process your regrets later. For now, live for the moment. Get some immediate relief.

There. Is that the “encouragement” you wanted, or do you not do sarcasm very well?

For how I really feel, click HERE.