My Greatest Success in Life

success

I was interviewed recently for a leadership podcast. One of the questions took me by surprise at first. I have been interviewed for this type of thing many times and so answers usually come fairly easily. They didn’t this time. At least to this question.

The question:

What has been your greatest success in life and what did you learn from it?

Greatest success? That goes contrary to my normal thought process. I don’t think I’m keeping a mental record of that. I guess I should more often. I didn’t have an easy answer.

The first answer that came to mind:

Apart from knowing Christ and being known by Him…

My greatest success has been failure.

And, in addition to that, the ability to get back up and try again.

Having had time to think about the answer I gave more — I’m sticking with it.

You see, I have had lots of failure. I’ve been on the bottom several times and, by God’s grace and through commitment and perseverance, I always climbed back.

I’ve gained my greatest lessons from life through the hardest times of my life.

And, something tells me I’m not finished learning.

I’m not sharing that to boast about anything in my life. I share it to encourage you. You may feel discouraged today. You may have just about lost all hope. You may feel a complete failure — like the best of life is past for you.

It’s not! You can stand strong again. By God’s grace — and through commitment and perseverance.

That’s almost always the story of people of success. You often only see them when they’re standing, but you didn’t see the times they fell. 

Your greatest success in life may be your ability to endure through the hard times — even through failure — get up and move forward again. 

Facing Adversity and Being in God’s Will

man praying

Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. 1 Samuel 19:1

David was minding his own business one day, tending sheep, when God called him to be a king. Talk about a God moment.

He didn’t ask to be king, but God said he was the one. He turned out to be a great king. Imagine that? God made a good pick! David had a heart modeled after God’s, according to the Bible.

So, since God had chosen to bless David in such a way, why do we later find Saul trying to kill David?

In fact, for some time Saul chased David. David hid out, all alone, which is the setting we find him in during the writings of many of the Psalms. David was God’s choice for king and yet he was placed in incredible adversity.

What does this tell us?

I think it says to me that sometimes God’s will for us will find us in the middle of trials in life.

That’s right. His will for our lives.

More importantly, I am learning that I cannot determine whether I am in God’s will based on whether or not my life is peaceful. Just because I have trials in my life, doesn’t mean I am not in the center of God’s will for my life.

I love how Alistair Begg once said it.

“We should not seek to confirm God’s will by the absence of adversity.”

Think about Biblical characters who faced great trials.

  • Abraham who faced the trial of leaving his homeland, then the years of infertility.
  • Moses wandered in the wilderness forty years.
  • Joseph was sold into slavery.
  • Ruth lost her husband.
  • Nehemiah had to fight off naysayers.
  • Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den.
  • John the Baptist was beheaded.
  • Paul wrote some of his best work in prison.

All of these great servants of God faced persecution, heartache, and trials beyond most of our imaginations. Yet, all them, during the adversity, were right where God wanted them to be, in the center of His will.

Yes, we would all like life to be peaceful. It is true that we can have inner peace and joy even in the middle of the storms of life. But God has not promised us a life free of problems.

In fact, we can be perfectly within His will and still be facing adversity. It is often through the process of life’s difficulties that God makes us more like Jesus., teaches us more about Him and ourselves. Our character is defined in

Trust Him today, regardless of your circumstances! He is always working a plan!

For more devotional thoughts, click HERE.

When Did Christians Become So Mean?

mean boss

Okay, this one will get me into trouble. Especially if the shoe fits. Wait for the comments on this one.

But I have to ask…

When did Christians become so mean?

Not all Christians. Most Christians I know are nice. Very nice.

But, I’ve met some mean ones lately.

Now, let me be clear. I am one. A Christian that is. (Hopefully not mean — too often.) In fact, I’ve centered my life around my faith and even am vocationally supported by Christians. (So I love you! I really do.)

But, when did some of you — my brothers and sisters in Christ as we are often referred to — become so mean?

It’s mostly online. You write something they don’t agree with, and instead of a healthy disagreement, they blast you. Right there on your Facebook wall or with a hurting comment on a blog post. Where everyone can read it. In fact, some people read it even before the one who wrote the post reads it. I’ve even had guest bloggers tell me they don’t want to post anymore because of the comments.

I understand that. My blogs are reposted on different websites — with more widespread readers than I have — and I don’t read the comments much, because when I do — I’m tempted to tell them I don’t want to post there anymore. Mean people commenting — calling themselves Christians. I don’t want to play that game either. Who has time for that?

It’s not that they don’t have valid points. Many times they do, but the way they make their point doesn’t come across very Christ-like. Actually rather mean.

I get that it’s cultural now. We’ve become transparent. Honest. Blunt. But — just being honest — sometimes that comes across as mean.

I can’t imagine how those outside the faith view the way we often treat each other.

I wrote a post about Christians behaving online. It wasn’t just because I didn’t have anything else to write about. It’s because some Christians have become mean. Online. For everyone to see.

The Internet has made it so much easier — and faster — to be mean if you choose to be mean. Even anonymously if you want.

But, I’ve seen it in public too.

Why just last week — I saw a Bible study group meeting at a local coffee shop. I didn’t know any of them. I was minding my own business, but it was obvious what they were doing discussing the Bible. They had Bibles. :)

I loved it.

Then one of them became a real jerk to the girl that messed up his order.

Mean. Right there in front of his Bible study friends, me, and all the other coffee shop patrons — many who may not have been Christians. And, probably aren’t anymore motivated to be one now.

I was embarrassed.

I’ve had some restaurant people tell me the “church hour” — after the churches finish on Sunday — is one of the hardest hours of their week. Really? That’s sad. I would hope it’d be the opposite.

How’s that for having the mind of Christ? Or being witnesses? Or considering others better than ourselves?

Whenever I’ve asked, well over three fourths of my blog readers identify themselves as believers. So, if you’re in the one fourth who don’t claim Christianity, this post isn’t for you. Sorry about that, but today I’m only addressing the “family”. We call ourselves brothers and sisters. In love, we sometimes gently rebuke one another. That’s what families do.

So, brothers and sisters. Quit being mean.

Consider what you say and the way you say it before you ever say it.

That sounds logical. Biblical. A good discipline even.

Because I can fall into a culture that thinks more about myself than others too. You can too. We all can. We can value our opinion, consider others without our opinion wrong, and talk to people who we know are wrong like they are less human because of it. Sometimes we treat members of our family — people we love — worse than we treat a stranger. I get that.

But, when we are mean it flies in the face of what Christians are taught to do — in the Bible we claim as our guide. And, it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance. To my knowledge, no one ever comes to faith through meanness. Or watching someone be mean to others.

In fact, there is no “meanness” of God. God is love — even when He’s sharing truth.

And, we are to be like Him. At least becoming more like Him.

So this is an encouragement. A simple, striving to be nice, non-mean intended, encouragement.

Let’s clean up our act. Or, to put it in my Christian like terms — let’s let Jesus clean up our act. Let’s be more like our Savior. The One by whom we are called Christians. Christ.

Let’s set an example for others. Not be so mean. Actually be nicer. A kinder, gentler breed of Christians. Let’s learn how to disagree with one another the right way. Full of grace and truth. Let’s love one another. And, demonstrate the peace of Christ to those who are seeking peace.

If they can’t find kindness, forgiveness, love in us — where will they find it?

“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.” Proverbs 11:17

Now read 12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean Online.

9 Great Ways to Be Extremely Strange

ALIEN LIFE

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents…

(1 Peter 2:11)

9 great ways to be extremely strange:

Love – Loving others even when others may seem unlovable.

Joy – Being joyful, in spite of the circumstances around you.

Peace – Providing a calming peace to those around you.

Patience – Demonstrating patience even in chaos.

Kindness – Being kind to one another, even when others aren’t so kind.

Goodness – Not advocating perfection, but genuinely striving to be a better person and serving as a witness to that endeavor for others.

Faithfulness – Standing firm with loyalty and commitment to Christ, even when others are rejecting what’s true.

Gentleness – Not wimpy, but carefully balancing strength and truth with grace and love.

Self-Control – Disciplining self to live out a strange kind of life, often sacrificing what’s temporary for what is eternal.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Galatians 5:22-23)

How Leadership Principles Apply to Coach Cal and the UK Basketball Program

Businessman with basketball ball, teamwork, leadership

My friend Bradley Stevenson wrote a post about Kentucky basketball. Isn’t everyone these days? Well, not everyone, but lots of people are around here. UK basketball is a topic of conversation wherever you go in Lexington this time of year.

And, all the chatter hasn’t been positive this year. You are obviously not a basketball fan if you couldn’t figure that one out for yourself.

But, Bradley’s post was different. It was challenging, but encouraging at the same time. It resonated with people. Lots of people. Read “An Open Letter to Coach Cal (Coaches, Players and Fans)”.

Then Bradley did something only a friend would do. He asked me if I had any leadership advice to offer the UK basketball program. What? Me? I’m a student of leadership, but I’m only a casual basketball fan. I love the game. I go to the games. I wear the team colors. I cheer. But, my greatest passions are consumed in other directions. (Like Jesus. I’m passionate about Him. And, leadership. And the church.).

Anyway, Bradley’s a friend, or at least he claims to be (we’ll see how good a friend after this post goes live), so I decided to comply with his request. We did it in an interview fashion. And, knowing how much I like (and use) the number 7, Bradley asked me 7 questions about my leadership advice for Coach Cal and the UK basketball program.

Here were the questions:

  • What’s your best leadership advice when dealing with negativity?
  • How do you motivate your team during difficult times?
  • How do you stay focused during difficult times?
  • What do you say to naysayers?
  • If you had 5 minutes with Coach Cal what advice would you give him?
  • Same question, but about the team! If you had 5 minutes with the team (without Coach Cal) what advice would you give them?
  • Finally, if you had 5 minutes with the UK fans…what would you say?

You can read my answers on Bradley’s blog post, “A Leadership Perspective for Coach Cal, Players and Fans“.

Be warned. I’m a leadership guy. And, this is basketball. Big Blue Nation basketball. That’s serious stuff around here. And, I live here. Please be nice.

Let’s talk sports. Or leadership. How do you see the two subjects related?

And, for bonus points…

Who, in your opinion, is the best leader as a coach in sports today?