Don’t Confuse Activity with Success

Here is a principle that works in many areas of life.  You’ll find it helpful in businesses, in organizations, in churches, in relationships and in your personal life.  Here’s the principle:

Don’t confuse activity with success.

I once wrote that growth covers over a multitude of problems.  (Read that post HERE.)  I know many organizations and people that mistakenly believe for a time (before it catches up with them) that busyness means things are moving in the right direction.  That may or may not be true, but long-term success always depends more on the quality of activity than on the quantity of activity. In the short-term, you can mask success with an abundance of action, but substandard performance will be discovered in time. (For more on this thought process, read my previous post, The Tortoise and the Hare Principle of Organizational Growth.)

If you want to ensure success, consider the goals and objectives trying to be attained, determine whether they are currently being achieved, and, depending on your findings, be willing to adjust activity accordingly to achieve better results.

Have you been guilty of being busy rather than being successful?  In what areas of your life are you more likely to allow that to occur?

Life Encouragement to My Sons

Here’s a quick message to my two boys.  Jeremy and Nate are 21 and 18 years old. (This picture is a few years old, but it’s one of my favorites.)  Jeremy just graduated from college last week. Nate finishes his first year of college next week. They are tremendous young men, but I realize they have some incredible opportunities ahead and I don’t want them to miss anything God has for them, especially not because they were unprepared.  I wish someone had given me this advice when I was their age. (Perhaps you need to hear it as well.)


I’ve messed up many times in life…

Please learn from my mistakes…

I’m not perfect now, but at least I’m headed in the right direction…

I wish I had started this path earlier in life…

Don’t wait to build your character, discover your life purpose, and chase your dreams…

Head your life early in the direction you want your life to eventually end…

Start today…

Do you need that encouragement today?

I’m curious: At what age did you start heading your life in the direction you ultimately want to go?

Read a letter I wrote to each of my boys HERE and HERE.

Don’t Quit Your God-Given Vision Before It’s Time

There is a sobering story in Numbers 32:1-5

The tribe of Reuben wanted to bail on the rest of the Israelites.  Read the story for yourself.

  • They wanted to take the easy way out…
  • They wanted to rest on their current success…
  • The journey ahead seemed too much for them…

Perhaps that’s your story today.  The journey has gotten much harder than you expected and the days ahead seem unbearable.  Some days you would just rather quit trying.

  • Are you tired of pushing forward?
  • Are you burned out…satisfied…comfortable…afraid…confused?
  • Are you ready to quit?

If you know the job you’ve been called to do isn’t finished yet…

Don’t quit…

Find the courage, recharge your batteries, raise up some other leaders…

…But whatever it takes…move forward…

Is that your story?  Are you tempted to give up? Leave a comment and others and I will pray for you…

Saturday’s Dream Stretch: What Job Would You Have?

If you follow my blog regularly, then you know that I’m trying to spur people to dream bigger dreams. Not only do I believe dreaming is a healthy practice, I believe we need your dreams. Obviously we cannot live in dream world all the time, and I spend far more energy on this blog writing about accomplishing dreams than dreaming dreams, but I believe the world needs some more dreamers. I believe God encourages this process. Read my first post on this issue HERE.

Therefore, since it’s Saturday again, I hope you will play along and share in another dream stretch.

Today’s dream stretch is:

If you could have any career position, what would it be? If you could do anything and earn a living doing it, what would you do?

(Remember, there are no restrictions in our dreams. Dream big. Also, rather than answering on Facebook or Twitter, if that’s how you came to this post, please answer here as a comment, so everyone can be encouraged by your dreams.)

10 Life Principles I Have Learned From Experience

The older I get (and that’s happening faster it seems that it once did) the more I’m beginning to assess my life and what the experiences of life have taught me. On my laptop I keep a file where I simply type principles/ideas/nuggets of wisdom as they occur to me. Sometimes these originate as a Twitter post, sometimes they are a line from a Sunday message, but often they just go in this file. I figure when there are 10 of them, it is time for another blog post… (I have written similar posts before, such as HERE)

So, with that explanation, here are 10 life principles I have learned from experience:

  • Having wisdom doesn’t mean you made all the right choices…it just means you learned from the choices you made…
  • Just because your momma laughs, doesn’t mean it’s funny…
  • Never waste an idea…always have something nearby to write it down…
  • You can’t ignore one life principle trying to live another…
  • This sweater may be old and ugly now, but one day everyone will want one just like it…
  • Often one’s perception is determined by his or her experiences…good or bad…
  • You can have tons of “friends” until there is trouble in your life…then you’ll have some real friends…
  • Big dreams rarely make it past our mind unless someone risks the chance that they could fail…
  • The little things we do often have more value than the big things.
  • Character is shaped by how we respond to life’s difficulties and life’s victories.

Do any of these apply to your life?

Have you learned any of these principles from experience?

Which of these do you need to learn?

Mentoring: Who Are You Investing In These Days?

This is Josh and his son Luke. Josh and his wife Shana are in our community group. I love these pictures. (Pay special attention to the one of Luke…he’s busy!) Cheryl at first said I couldn’t post it on the Internet, but I couldn’t resist breaking a rule. I think the two pictures are hilarious. Like father like son…

I love investing in young fathers…

Our community group is full of great ones…

Recently Josh had a career decision to make. He wanted to wrestle through it with me. He actually took my advice. He honored me greatly, not by taking my advice, but with a text he sent me later, which said, “You are my new mentor!” He probably was joking, but he doesn’t know how much that comment resonates with me.

Years ago I solicited a mentor. He agreed to mentor me on one condition; that I would in turn mentor others. I’ve been attempting to obey that commitment I made to my mentor ever since. I cannot tell you how those times have blessed my life!

Do you have a mentor?

Who are you investing in? Who is investing in you?

What have you learned from the process of mentoring?

What To Do When Questioning Your Abilities

Next time you question your abilities to pursue your God-given vision , consider the story of Moses:

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4:10-13

Moses was used of God to do incredible things for God’s glory, yet Moses, more than many leaders I know, questioned his own abilities. He lacked confidence and would have probably never volunteered for the job. His reasons might have been:

  • Past failure
  • Fear
  • The task was overwhelming
  • He was intimidated by the Asker
  • He felt unqualified

What’s your excuse for not obeying the vision God has placed in your heart? Is it really a valid reason?
Perhaps you need to do as Moses did…walk by faith, not by sight.

The problem with desiring normal…

I talk with people consistently that are looking for some sense of normality in their life. Often they express that sentiment by saying something such as, “I just wish life could be normal for me sometime.” Have you ever said that statement?

What I have come to understand from experience is that life never rests long before some new highs or lows appear. The problem with desiring normal is that normal seldom looks like we expect normal to look. I’m wondering if normal may be more our reaction to life, than the circumstances we experience in life.

Perhaps the better goal is to learn to balance our lives amidst difficulties, good and bad times, triumph and tragedy, and the feast or famine the world in which we live tends to experience. In fact, I wonder if learning how to balance our emotions between the extremes isn’t the normality we are seeking, rather than periods where everything is calm. When we learn to live in the joy of every moment, normal may seem more attainable.  (Consider what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13)

What has your experience taught you? How would you define the “normal” life?  Is your life “normal”?

Setting Ground Rules for Your Marriage

One concept I have been an advocate for is setting ground rules for your marriage. Let me illustrate what I mean with a personal example.

It didn’t take long for Cheryl and I to realize that one of us avoids conflict and one of us actually enjoys it. If you read my blog at all you can possibly guess which one of the two I am. As a result, of this in our personalities, if Cheryl and I had a disagreement, she would quickly disappear to the bedroom. She always went to be early on days we had an argument. (Yes, pastors have those also.)

Since I believe in obeying Scripture in my home, and knowing I’m commanded not to “let the sun go down” on my anger, Cheryl and I decided that we need a rule in our marriage that we will handle disagreements before either of us go to sleep. Sometimes that means I have to “break the ice” by offering forgiveness, sometimes she does, but if we are going to obey the rule, we have to at least agree to drop any anger we have towards each other. We may settle the issue later, but we try not to go to bed angry. We have a rule!

I have often been asked how these are enforceable. Honestly, they probably aren’t. If the need to enforce them is your issue, your marriage may have bigger issues. The idea here is a mutual submission to each other (read more about that idea HERE), where both spouses agree that obeying these rules will make the marriage work better. It’s a shared agreement to behave in a certain way for the good of the marriage.

Please understand, I am a grace guy. I usually rebel against a bunch of rules for the sake of rules. The goal of our marriage, however, is for “the two to become one flesh”. We are trying to build a marriage that honors and glorifies God, but because we are two imperfect beings, we had to agree to comply with some basic understandings (rules) to help make that happen.

Do you need to set some ground rules for your marriage?

What rules would you need to have in your marriage to keep your marriage heading in the right direction?

What are some ground rules you think would be good ones for a marriage?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Has Your Direction Stolen Your Identity?

We are in a series called Identity Theft at Grace Community Church. There are some things in life that have stolen from us the people we thought we would be. Last Sunday I spoke about how the direction of our life, or lack thereof, can be the culprit in stealing our identity. Have you lost your way? Watch this message to help you get back on the right path.

For more thoughts on having a life plan, click HERE.