This Question Can Change Your Life

I was watching an episode of Modern Family recently. I don’t watch much television and this isn’t a show I necessarily follow, but I was out of town, it was the only thing I saw on, and I needed something mindless to unwind from a busy day.

The show certainly wouldn’t be the normal place to discover life or leadership advice, but in this episode a nugget principle struck me. It’s huge.

In this particular episode, Phil, the father of the main family, asked his father-in-law Jay for some business advice. He had been offered a new position with a company. It was a tremendous opportunity; a dream job for him, but Phil wasn’t sure he had the skills required for the job. He wanted to know Jay’s advice before he approached his wife about the situation.

Jay’s advice was classic; the kind only someone seasoned with life experience can usually offer. Jay simply asked Phil a question:

“What do you really want to do?”

As Phil pondered the answer, he knew what he had to do.

The question Jay asked is critical. It’s something everyone faces at various crossroads of life. It’s what you need to consider when you have a dream or a vision, but aren’t sure if how it will be received or if you really have what it takes to make the dream a reality.

Where’s your heart? What do you really want to do?

As with any dream:

There will be risks

You’ll be afraid

You may fail.

But, if you’re heart is in it. If God’s not against it. Most especially if God is calling you to it.

You need to follow your heart.

We typically follow most closely and passionately after those things which hold our heart.

You’ll typically find more success in life when you follow your heart.

Of course, this means you have to make sure your heart is pure, you are following after the right things in life, and you have an end desire to please Christ, but, after that, pursuing the dream of your heart will prevent you from living with one of life’s great disappointments… which is missing out on a dream because fear kept you from following through.

Don’t allow fear to be a roadblock to realizing the dreams of your heart.

Do you have any dreams you regret not pursuing?

Move and move now.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for theLord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

3 Keys to Effective Accountability

Accountability is defined as the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable. Over the years I’ve tried to be accountable to other men in my life. I have certain standards, goals and principles that I strive for, and I use accountability to help guide my life in those directions.

I realize that I’m tempted as much, if not more at times, as everyone in my church. Sometimes I feel Satan gives pastors “extra” attention. I’m sure everyone feels that way at times. Accountability is one way I attempt to guard my heart. I highly recommend it. Accountability is not a fool proof method to keep a person (or me) from a major moral failure. I know (and you know) people who had plenty of accountability, but still had a catastrophic personal failure. Ultimately the quality of a person’s heart and walk with Christ will protect him or her. I believe, however, if it is done well, it can certainly help limit a person from many downward spirals.

I’ve done accountability in a number of ways. I’ve met with a few guys weekly. I’ve met with one guy weekly or bi-weekly. I’ve met with guys long distance. (I don’t recommend this method as the best option. I think there is value in face-to-face encounters, but it’s better than doing nothing.)

I’ve learned there are three keys to effective accountability:

Consistency – You have to meet “regularly”. That doesn’t have to be weekly, but it shouldn’t be annually. I think monthly would be about as far as I would stretch an accountability relationship. You need to meet frequently enough that you begin to recognize when there could be a problem in each other’s life. That requires a constant, growing relationship.

Honesty – There is no true accountability until people are willing to be transparent with each other. You have to be vulnerable with each other and trust each other enough to share what’s really going on in your heart and life.  That type relationship doesn’t develop quickly and, frankly, doesn’t happen every time you try. I’ve had relationships, which were initiated to be accountable relationships, that never fully formed the closeness needed for true honesty to exist.

Intentionality – If you want to be in an accountable relationship, you must be intentional. You will have to seek out someone. You’ll have to build a relationship. You’ll have to open your heart. You’ll have to take a risk of trust. You’ll have to follow through on your commitment to meet together. You’ll have to discipline your time. Nothing happens of any great value without intentionality.

I’m not sure you can do accountability without either of these three.

What about you? Have you ever been in what you would consider an accountable relationship?

Describe how it worked for you.

The job of a shepherd: Encouragement for Pastors and Teachers

You can’t change a person’s heart.

That’s the work of God’s Spirit.

Many pastors and teachers get frustrated when people fail to live up to their expectations, or when they come so far only to mess up again. I’ll join you in that frustration. Some take it personal. Even if they are doing all they know to do and are called to do, people wander. Many pastors and teachers I know blame themselves. They allow it to impact their self-esteem or use it as a measure of their effectiveness.


The job of the shepherd is to lead sheep to the source of provision, not be the provision.

Shepherds point people to truth and grace, but you can (and should) trust God with people’s hearts.

The job of a shepherd is not to make grass or water. It’s to lead the sheep to quality grass and water.

You can’t change another person’s heart, so don’t be too frustrated when people don’t seem to change.

That’s God’s job.

Do the leading…let God do the changing.

Do you get frustrated when sheep run astray?

Even in the best restaurants…

They still put napkins under a wobbly table.

They just use nicer napkins.

Recently I was made aware of a wealthy family took advantage of someone of lesser means. It was frustrating, because they were “legal” in their actions, but completely inflexible and hurtful in their actions.

I hate when that happens.

Shortly afterwards, Cheryl and I ate in a really nice restaurant. We were on vacation and treated ourselves to a great meal. It was one of those white tablecloth places where we had more than one waiter/waitress.

At the table next to us sat a nice, well-dressed couple, also enjoying a romantic evening. I could tell the couple, especially the man, were struggling with the rocking table. It wobbled whenever he leaned on it.

What did he do?

He leaned over, lifted the table slightly, and stuck a folded napkin underneath the leg. Problem solved.

The two stories working together reminded me:

While some of us may think we are better than others…when it comes to a wobbly table…we are all the same.

My mom used to say, “Everyone puts there pants on one leg at a time.”

I say, “Everyone fixes a wobbly table with a folded napkin.”

God says, “Don’t think you are better than you really are.” (Romans 12:3)

Have you been looking down others who have less than you?

Be honest. We can all be guilty of it at some level. God, continue to mold us into who you want us to be; seeing others as you see them.

Two Words of Wisdom that will Change Your Life

Be Purposeful.

In parenting.

In marriage.

In forgiveness.

In ministry.

In your relationship with God.

In your career.

In your social media activity.

In your education.

In your financial life.

In your life planning.

In relationship building.

In leadership.

The “secret” that separates many from succeeding or failing is the degree in which they were purposeful in attaining what they hope to achieve.

Not getting the success you’re looking for these day? What’s the secret?

Be purposeful.

Try it.

In what area of your life do you need to be more purposeful?

What’s holding you back?

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4

You’ve been holding back, haven’t you?

You want to move forward, don’t you?

You just can’t seem to move forward.

Someone told you you couldn’t…

They said you didn’t have what it takes…

Someone you loved hurt you…

They lied to or about you, cheated on you, misled you,

You failed miserably…

It was a public failure…everyone knows about it.

You disappointed the people you love the most…

Whatever the reason…

You feel like a miserable wretch.

(Is that a fair assessment?)

Maybe this is your theme verse:

Bend an ear, God; answer me. I’m one miserable wretch!

Psalm 86:1…I’ve had days I’ve thought it was written for me.

It’s kept you from taking a risk…

It’s kept you from living your life…

At some point…

You’ll have to try again…

You’ll have to get back up…

You’ll have to move forward…

The beauty of grace is that it gives you a fresh start.

You can begin again. You can start anew.

Pray this prayer. God, I’ve messed up. I’m messed up. Others messed me up! God, I can’t hide from you. I believe Jesus paid all the price for my sins…and the sins of others. I know real life is found only in you, and in you there is hope. All things can be made new. God, by your grace and power, renew me. Cleanse me. Strengthen me. Help me take the first step. Permit me, push me, shove me forward. Whatever your will…Let’s go! In Jesus name! Amen.

Are you praying?

You Don’t Have to Address Every Fear

But it’s not necessarily a bad idea to address any known fear.

It prepares you to face other fears.

I didn’t have to jump out of an airplane. But, I faced a fear. I addressed a personal fear and now, the thought of doing it again gives me far less anxiety.

I’ve learned over the years that God assignments are likely to bring me fear. Each assignment seems bigger than the last.

I’m not alone. Throughout the Bible God called people to incredible tasks and the most common reaction was fear.

God calls people to tasks which are big, seemingly impossible and scary. (Ever been a church planter?)

You’ll probably never completely eliminate fear from your life. The world is full of the unknown. I encourage you, however, to face some of your personal fears…even the ones you don’t have to face.

You’ll be more willing and better prepared to face the fears that come from the assignments God brings into your life.

You may want to read

7 Questions When Facing Fear

5 Reminders for Ridding Your Life of Fear

A Devotional Encouragement on Overcoming Fear

What’s one fear you have? Do you need to address it?

There really are few second chances. If any.

There really are few second chances. If any.

Which also makes our first chance…and first impressions…so incredibly important.

Oh, I know, we always say “God gives second chances” and “You’ll get another chance”.

And, that’s based on some truth…but it’s really not.

True, that is.

There are actually very few second chances.

We try so hard to do it all over again, but in the process, I wonder if we waste a lot of energy…trying to create a second chance that will never come.

Circumstances will be different. You’ll know more. You’ll know better. You’ll be experienced. Everyone around you will have changed. You’ll have a hard time getting all the factors aligned exactly as with the first chance.

It will likely never be the same again.

You can try as many times as you like. You can begin again.

God extends grace after grace after grace…far more than your sins will ever wear out…

But, second chance…maybe not.

You’ll just be disappointed trying to produce a second chance that never comes.

And, that’s okay. Don’t be dismayed.

A fresh start is always better than a second chance.

If that’s true…if there are few second chances…

And I’m fully convinced it is…

Don’t try for a second chance.

Make it another first chance.

Only do it better this time.

I Needed Those Scars

My friend Kenny York launched one of the fastest growing non-profit ministries I’ve ever seen. Manna Cafe is a mobile feeding ministry in my hometown. They take food to where the homeless and hungry live. It was amazing to watch them flourish in two fast moving years and I was happy to be a small part of it.

Recently Kenny and I were talking about his story. He has some “baggage” in his past. There were times of partying…a little more than most of us have partied. There was the period of homelessness. There were the days that were so dark he couldn’t even see any hope of future light.

He calls it his “wilderness experience”.

Many of us have similar stories, but they didn’t all run as deep as Kenny’s did.

Today Kenny is an ordained Gospel preacher. They call him Pastor Bubba and he is reaching people who will never enter most of our churches.

I’m so proud to call Kenny my friend.

Kenny said something in our conversation I thought was worth repeating. Perhaps it applies to you in your story. Maybe you are doubting the purpose for your struggles, or at least how God could ever use them for good. Perhaps you are in a leadership position, but you feel slightly unqualified because of your past. You fear if people knew the real you, they may not respect you…or even love you anymore.

Maybe Kenny’s story can help.

Kenny said:

Without my wilderness experience, I wouldn’t have the scars I needed to do what I’m doing right now.


Have you ever thought of it that way?

Your scars have shaped you into who you need to be, so God could use you how you were designed to be used. The scars you are now developing, even though you can’t see it at this time, are achieving a greater glory that will someday be revealed.

You wouldn’t be who you are designed to be…without your scars.

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Are you at a point yet where you can see how God is using your scars?

Dodging Geese Poop in Life and Leadership

(This is the kind of post I only do when my wife is in another city. I’ll explain why in a minute.)

We were on vacation not long ago. I got to run in some incredible cities. I ran in Minneapolis, Fargo, ND, Sioux Falls, SD and Mason City, Iowa.

One word for everyday’s run. Glorious.

I worshipped. I talked to God. I dreamed. It was awesome. Loved it.

I came to this realization though:

The best places to run all have some common characteristics.

It was true on vacation last week in the cities I mentioned. It is true of my two favorite running cities of all time…Philadelphia and Chicago.

You see, the best cities in which to run, in my opinion, have these attributes in common:

A river (Insert lake or ocean where appropriate…as in the case of Chicago)

A path beside the river

The peace and tranquility of running on the path beside the river

The chance to connect with nature and God along the river

But, here’s the other thing I learned…and the point of this post.

The best places to run require dodging geese poop.

(There. I said it. That’s the part my wife wouldn’t have wanted me to say. She wouldn’t think a nice blog like this, written by a mostly nice pastor like me, about leadership and life, should use an analogy…or a word…like in this post.)

But, it is true. I and I think you need to know…if you want to run in the best cities…

You’ve got to dodge the geese poop. No one scoops and bags for geese.

And, right about now, you’re wondering why you’re even still reading this post. I understand.

Well, it’s because…as I was dodging the geese poop, it occurred to me.

The same principle is true in life and leadership.

You can settle for mediocre.

You can choose to go for second best.

You can compromise before the right decision is made.

But, if you want to experience the best life has to offer.

If you want to settle for nothing but the right decision.

You have to dodge the geese poop of life.

The path to the best places in life are often lined with difficulties along the way.

It’s messy, filled with setbacks, conflict and obstacles. There will be times we are tempted to give up, choose an easier route, or quit before the end is in sight.

It’s a choice. You can “run” where you want to run, stay on the boring and safe treadmill of life if you want, but, as for me, no doubt about it, whenever I get the chance, I’m choosing to run by the river.

I’ll just watch out for and endure the geese poop. I know it’s a part of the path.

Are you on one of those “river” paths of life right now?

Don’t give up…the Glorious part is coming!