One Key to a Lifetime of Contentment

Learn to enjoy the mundane.

The everyday life.

The dishes (You like clean dishes, don’t you? And, you’re thankful for clean water, right?)

Brushing your teeth (Don’t they feel better when you do?)

Mowing your grass (I just love that freshly mowed look)

Smelling a rose (They smell best among the flowers…in my opinion)

Admiring the clouds. (I like Cumulus)

Having a discussion over coffee. (Cheryl and I have our best talks then)

A simple walk in the park (On a sunny, or not so sunny day)

A random thought (Some of my best ideas start that way)

A routine prayer (Okay…nothing mundane about that, but sometimes we take it for granted)

A text message from a friend (At least you have one)

An average Sunday at church (Thank God for the freedom to attend)

We tend to love the grandiose. The unusual. The vacation. The miracles. The shooting star. The celebrations. The once in a lifetime experience.

Those times are great. We love them. We want more. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem is when our happiness is wrapped in those occasions alone. Life is often lived in the mundane. Most of life, in fact.

Get up. Shower. Brush. Shave. (Or not) Dress. Drive. Work. Come home. Go to bed. Do it again. And again. In between those routines are the real moments of life. Even if seemingly mundane…non-miraculous.

Learning to love the mundane times of life, scattered among the routines of life, will help you find a lifetime of contentment.

What’s one seemingly mundane thing in life you love?

Keep a Failure File

Keep a record of the times you’ve messed up.

The times you failed.

Previously I wrote THIS POST about keeping an encouragement file. You need this too.

A failure file may be equally important.

In fact, it could likely be your greatest teaching tool in the future.

I am reminded from the Bible that Rahab never lost her title. She was always known as Rahab the Harlot. Even in the faith chapter. Rahab the prostitute. Rahab went on to be a great figure in Biblical history, yet her past followed her to remind her…and us…of the grace extended to her.

Your failures will serve in the same way.

I’m not saying live in them. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t move forward from them. Actually, I’m saying the opposite. You’ll need to remember how you’ve recovered and what you learned in the process. You’ll need reminding…if failure ever finds you again…that you found your way back, that God’s grace was sufficient, and that you can recover again. The valuable lessons learned in times of failure, will be the wisdom that sustains you in the future.

Let your failures work for you.

Keep a record of them.

How has failure shaped who you are today?

7 Things I Attribute to Personal Success

A young leader asked me recently, “What has gotten you where you are today? When you look back over your life, what would you attribute most to your success?”

Great question. I love people who think.

My first thought was to ask, “What success?”. When I look back at my life, in many ways, I see a life scarred with personal failures and setbacks. But, as I pondered the question for a couple days, I knew God has blessed me greatly, so I came up with a more comprehensive reply. Let me be clear about something, one of my missions in life is to help younger leaders succeed, so that’s why my motivation for answering this question. I am still very much a work in progress, but as I reflect on where I am midway in my life and career, I can clearly point to some things that have helped me succeed personally.

Here are 7 things I attribute to personal success:

God’s grace – I can’t deny it. It’s really all grace. I do not deserve the favor I have found. His grace has been amazing in my life.

Other people – I have had so many people invest in me. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve been intentional with networking and wisdom seeking, but I’ve had great people in my corner to help me along the way.

A little luck – Honestly, I don’t believe much in luck. It IS all grace. I think God is always at work around us, and He certainly has been in my life, but sometimes we find ourselves in “the right place at the right time”. Learning how to capitalize on those times has been key for me.

Purpose – I have usually known what I ultimately want to accomplish. I believe you hit more targets that you have in site. Sometimes that has been a few months down the road or a few years down the road, but I’ve most always tried to keep some direction in front of me…as much as God will allow me to see at the time.

Intentionality – Probably if there were one word to describe how I live my life it would be this one. Since I was in high school, I have intentionally pursued opportunities to accomplish where I felt God was leading me. But, I’ve been intentional in every area of my life, not just in my vocation. I think that is critical to living a balanced life.

Tenacity – I have weathered a few storms…actually, many storms. My list of failures, setbacks and disappointments is long. Every time, again, by God’s grace, I have gotten back up, refocused, learned valuable life principles and moved forward.

Commitment to help others – I genuinely love helping other people succeed. It’s been a pulling force in my life to do much of what I do. The purpose of this blog, for example, is for that reason. My personal investment in others has always returned to me tenfold.

So, there’s my attempt at an answer. How would you answer that question?

What has gotten you where you are today?

Things that make you grow up…

I’ve often heard it said some people “never grow up”. It is said in a humorous way. My wife may say that about me at times. But, many times it is said in a not so funny way, usually speaking of a person’s continued immaturity.

I have another thought. Maybe for some people it is that they have never had an experience that instills maturity in them. It’s possible.

I’ve personally experienced and observed that there are some circumstances in life that bring more automatic maturity…a sort of forced growing up mentality.

Here are 7 things I’ve seen force someone to grow up quickly:


A first child

Sudden authority


Losing a parent

Having to make it on your own


You can mature naturally. You can grow up over time. But, in my experience, you grow up faster when life experience grows you up. You don’t have to grow in these experiences. Some don’t. You either own up to the challenge, or you don’t. But, when you do, you grow up faster. At least, that’s been my observation.

(By the way, that’s why I believe in giving young leaders experience where they can grow. You can read a post about that HERE.)

Have you ever been forced into a new season of maturity? What caused you to suddenly “grow up”?

What would you add to my list?

10 Obstacles to Getting Things Done

Most people have a dream. Most people have goals they want to accomplish. It could be to run a marathon. Lose 10 pounds. Write a book. Start a blog. Open a new business. Fill in your dream here.

Most people fail to get there.

Be honest. It’s true. It may even be true for you. It has been for me many times. I’ve wanted to accomplish something but years pass and it is still simply a dream.

Why is that? I’m sure there are many reasons. I’m just sharing some of them.

Here are 10 obstacles I’ve seen to getting things done:

No specific plan

No first step

Cowering to public opinion or popularity

Giving up too soon

No accountability or measurable steps


Not including others

Inefficiency, poor time management or laziness

Lack of follow through

Success not clearly defined

Which one is yours?

What other reasons have you seen for why people don’t accomplish what they hope to do?

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.)

You Can Be a Mentor

Of someone.

Cheryl and I were discussing the need for mentoring recently. She was talking about getting older women to mentor younger women. I like the concept. I think it’s a great example of Biblical discipleship.

Then Cheryl said something that caught my attention. She said, “Everyone thinks they need a mentor, so they don’t think they can be one.”

I think she’s right. She’s right on both accounts. It seems to be true for men too.

Everyone probably does need a mentor. Mentors help shape our life. I’ve written extensively about the subject. (Find some of those posts HERE.)

Yet, the fact that they do makes people think they can’t be one.

But, everyone can also be a mentor.

You too can be a mentor.

Of someone.

You’ve learned some things in life. You’ve gained some experience. You have some things to share with others. There are others who can learn from you.

In my experience, its often when I start investing in others that I stumble into the help I need from others.

Try it. Find someone to mentor today.

Have you ever been a mentor? Tell me about your experience.

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.