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.

10 Tips for Recovering from Major Disappointments

Sometimes life throws curves at us that take the wind from our sail. If we aren’t careful we can allow the injury to haunt us for life; never regaining what we have lost.

Have you lost a job recently? If you’re not careful, you will falsely assume that you could never get as good of a job again.

Have you had a business failure? If you’re not careful, you’ll keep yourself from ever taking a rid again.

Did you suffer from divorce? If you’re not careful, you’ll believe you can never recover or receive God’s grace.

Did your spouse have an affair? If you’re not careful, you’ll never risk intimate love again.

The Devil loves when you doubt yourself.

What steps should you take to get back on track and succeed again after a major disappointment?

Here are 10 tips to consider during the recovery process:

Reconnect with God. This is always a wise idea, but it becomes a necessity at times like this. Times of disappointment can cause us to emotionally pull away from God. Our faith may still be in tact, but our daily trust waivers. We may know God is able, but we have a harder time trusting Him to do what needs to be done. (I preached about this issue HERE.)

Evaluate your life. Use this time to reevaluate the decisions you have made in life and what got you in the situation you are in today. Are there changes that you need to make? If so, be willing to change. If you did nothing wrong in this case, release yourself from responsibility.

Create some new dreams. Don’t allow past mistakes to keep you from discovering your passions in life. Keep those creative forces going in your mind so you’ll be ready when the next big opportunity comes along. Give yourself permission to believe the impossible. God does.

Call in the advisors. Others can usually see things we cannot see. They approach our life from a different perspective. Give someone you trust, who has your best interest at heart, access to the painful part of your life…and the freedom to speak into your life.

Don’t take your pain and anger out on others. It doesn’t make things better (usually worse) to hurt others because you are hurting. Innocent people shouldn’t be subjected to the wrath of your pain.

Take a break. Don’t expect to recover immediately. Your situation and the emotions and struggles because of them, probably didn’t start overnight and they will not end overnight. Give yourself time to heal.

When it’s time, be willing to risk again. Yes, you may get hurt again, but just as life is full of disappointments, it’s also full of joy and discovery. Remember that everyone is not the same and every situation is different. Don’t hold your past experiences against others who weren’t even there or against a future that hasn’t come.

Don’t let failure or disappointment define you. Be defined by God’s love for you and His plan for your life.

Do something. Rest yes, but at some point, just do something to stay busy and occupy your mind. It’s true that the “idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. If you lost your job, find somewhere to volunteer until you find another job. If you lost a relationship, find non-sexual relationships through church or civic activities to keep from being alone. If nothing else, start journaling as a way to release your thoughts. Do something.

Get back in the game. Choose your next steps carefully and don’t keep repeating the same mistakes, but at some point it will be time to enjoy life again. Life was not meant to be lived on the sidelines.

What steps do you have for receiving from disappointment?

(This is an expanded version from a previous post.)

You’ve Got More…

…than this world could ever offer!

far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:21 NIV

Nothing is better than what the believer gains through Jesus Christ!

I used to think I wanted to be President of the United States! When I was 18, I thought that I would be the nation’s youngest president at the age of 36. (There would have been an election that year and I would have been old enough.) Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen. What if it had? What a title! President of the most powerful nation in the world would have certainly been impressive! I suspect my blog traffic would have been higher these days. :)

I once wanted to be rich. I had “noble” purposes. I was going to make lots of money, give lots away, and own a beach house too! I was on a good track, but something got in the way. Mainly I lost what I had started with. God called me into ministry…and…well, you know the rest of the story.

I have a friend who is running for a high elected office. If he wins, and I think he will, he will be powerful. I could be envious of his opportunity, but instead, I’m trying to appreciate the influence God is potentially giving him.

I have another friend who is worth millions! Mega millions. His millions have millions. He has worked hard, been blessed greatly, and was often “in the right place at the right time”. It would be easy to be envious of him and his wealth. I try, however, to appreciate what God has done and is doing through my friend’s resources.

Often we look at people or positions in life and think to ourselves: “if only I could be where they are” or “if only I had what they have…everything would be okay”. For the believer, Paul reminds us that we have what is far better than anything this world can offer. We have a relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. We have an inheritance that we share with the Son of God. We have a promised eternity that outshines all the wealth of the world! We have Jesus!

If you are finding yourself overwhelmed by what the world has that you don’t, and if you ever become dissatisfied with your appeared lack of worldly treasures, remind yourself whose child you are. You are heir to the Throne of Grace! Your Daddy owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You can boast that your family heritage includes Jesus!

What you have is far beyond what this world can ever offer!

Do you need that reminder today?

Solid Advice for Young Leaders from Dr. Billy Graham

My friend coach Craig Candeto is a former Navy standout quarterback. He’s still a young man, but he’s already started an impressive career as a coach. Currently he’s coaching quarterbacks for the Citadel. In addition to being a great football player and coach, Craig is a solid believer. He lives his faith boldly in all he does.

Recently, Cheryl and I were visiting with Craig and his wife Maribeth, and Craig told me a story of meeting Billy Graham recently. Craig was invited as part of FCA with a few other coaches to go to Dr. Graham’s house in the mountains and visit with the famous evangelist.

He said Dr. Graham was frail, obviously weakened from how most of us think of Billy Graham, but he was gracious, gentle, and still very alert.

One of the coaches asked Dr. Graham a question.

What word of advice would you have for guys like us, just beginning our careers and still young in our faith?

The young coaches expected something profound from the famed pastor, but Dr. Graham frailly and simply answered:

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Did you catch that? Was it too fast for you? Should I write it again?

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Wow! Deep!

Billy Graham, after years of influencing others with the Gospel, encouraged these men with what was most important in developing themselves longterm as believers.

Spend time with God everyday!

Here’s my take on Billy Graham’s encouragement:

Don’t try to make it more complicated than it is. Sometimes simple is the most profound.

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

You got it? Any questions?

You can follow your heart

I talk to so many people who are waiting on a burning bush experience before they move forward with an idea or dream. With the best intentions, they want to make sure what they are doing is God’s “will” for their life. They keep waiting for some sign…maybe a writing in the sky…a letter from God…or certainly some definite “sign” that this is God’s plan for them.

I also know pastors who are afraid to let people “follow their heart”. Anytime I post about following a dream some well-meaning person challenges me that following the heart is dangerous.

Can you trust your heart apart from Christ? You better not. Could we misunderstand God’s will? Absolutely. Could we move in a wrong direction? Of course. But, telling people not to follow their heart?

I’m not sure that’s the right approach.

God didn’t make us a robot.

If your heart is closely following Christ…

If your desire is to please Him…

If you aren’t being convicted otherwise…

You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and let the world pass you by.

God is creative, and He’s made you creative as a part of His image.

I’d rather tell people to get their heart close enough to hear Christ…then go!

  • Check your heart
  • Continue to check your heart
  • Check your motivation
  • Continue to check your motivation

If it’s not sinful…if the Bible doesn’t specifically address your issue…if you don’t have any sense God is telling you otherwise…if what you are doing is good and honorable…if it is helpful to others, or…if it is in line with the direction and experience you’ve had in life…

Give God all the glory…

But quit sitting on the sidelines and follow your heart.

Have you been waiting for a “sign”?

Draw a Line in the Sand (Or on the Wall)

Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand…

Or on the wall…or in your mind.

I’ve worked with many people who can’t seem to move forward, because of a past failure or disappointment.

It could be a marriage damaged by an affair. The injured spouse is not sure she (or he) can ever trust again. After counseling, time to heal, and repentance on the part of the offender, the injured spouse simply can’t seem to forgive and move forward to build the marriage again.

It could be after a personal failure. The person feels they will never recover, so they refuse to take another risk. They remain miserable, but they can’t seem to pull themselves out of the emotional hold they’ve placed on their life. They may not be able to internalize the truth of God’s grace in their life.

It could be after a financial loss. The person can’t see that life will be any better than it is right now, so they refuse to invest or dream again.

Whatever the reason…and I’ve seen many…life has a way of sucking the passion to move forward out of us at times.

In circumstances like these (and many others), one mental “exercise” I’ve done is to draw a mental line indicating a starting over point. I’ve even drawn it on a board for people, such as the picture above. There’s nothing “magical” about this practice. It’s simply an opportunity to remind yourself of the truth that you can “forget what is behind and press forward”. (Philippians 3:13) You can begin again. You can make better choices. You can get up (again) and take another risk on life. You can do it today!

Get out a piece of paper, if it’s serious enough, draw it on the wall of your house, but maybe just a mental picture…then sign and dated it…Yesterday was then, today is today, and tomorrow is tomorrow. Move forward from this point with the rest of your life.

Do you need to draw a line?

Wherever you draw the line, draw it today!

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

Andy Griffith Prepared to Die

I was saddened, as many Americans were, to hear of Andy Griffith’s death yesterday. The show after his name is still one of my favorite. I’ve seen every episode enough times to complete the lines.

I read where Andy was buried only 5 hours after his death, at the wishes of the family. What I liked most about what I read was this statement by his wife:

“Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord,” Griffith’s wife, Cindi, said in a statement on Tuesday. (Source)

Andy was prepared to die.

Are you?

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.

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?