When You Can’t Seem to Find Your Purpose

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The other day someone said to me, “Pastor, Sorry I haven’t gotten involved in the church yet, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I can’t seem to find my purpose.”

I hear that kind of thing often. In this case, it’s been five years and the person is still waiting. Doing nothing. Inactive. Waiting for that “purpose” which may never arrive with this manner of search.

Here’s a good principle when seeking purpose in life.

Sometimes you have to work a purpose to find a purpose.

I hear from people all the time who can’t seem to find their place.

In church. In work. In life.

They want to know their purpose. Their unique role. Their calling.

But they never seem to find it.

So they wait on the sidelines. They make excuses.

Never seeming to find their purpose in life. What they do best. What they were meant to do.

My advice.

Try something new.

Do things. Explore. Test. Experiment.

Do honorable, good, helpful things.

But just do something. Try lots of different things. But do something.

You’ll do some things well. Some not so well. You’ll fail. You’ll succeed. You’ll have fun. Some not so fun.

Along the way you may just find a purpose.

Life purposes seldom fall from the sky. Mostly they are discovered in the process of discovery. How you are wired. How you are gifted. Where you have passion. Where God wants to use you most.

Sometimes you have to work a purpose to find a purpose.

Seeing Behind the Tinted Windows

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I am in Orlando as this post is written. I come here in April for the Exponential Conference. If you’re into church planting or revitalization, don’t miss this conference next year.

While I am here I always run. I love to run in this city. One thing that stood out to me this time in Orlando is that most everyone here has tinted windows. The sun shines a lot. It makes sense. Some are tinted more than others, but almost all are tinted. Some are tinted so much that you can’t see the driver. That’s hard for us runners.

But car windows are tinted…

Where I come from, highly tinted windows are illegal. And, so when someone’s windows are highly tinted, people often assume you’re hiding something.

Selling drugs…in a gang…you know.

But almost everyone has them in Orlando…

And I don’t think all of them are selling something. At least not something illegal.

As I was running this week though, the thought occurred to me.

All of us…everyone of us…in every city…regardless of where you live…have tinted windows. To some extent.

We have tinted windows to our life.

Everyone has something to hide…

Something they’d rather everyone not know. Some secret. Some hidden pain. Some past mistake.

We all have tinted our windows. Some darker than others…But we all have a story we are hiding…or trying to hide.

Some we hide better than others.

That’s okay. Not everyone needs to know all our story. Sometimes it’s none of their business. Many times it’s none of their business.

But, here’s my experience. All of us need someone who sees behind the tinted windows. All of us need some people in our life who know the whole story. All of us need someone who loves us, but is willing to shine a light into our darkest places.

All of us.

Who sees behind your tinted windows?

Are You Ready to be a Leader?

Elegant leader

I had a young man ask me recently, “Do you think I’m ready to be a leader?”

I said:

Great question. Glad you’re asking.. But, honestly, I don’t know that I’m the one to answer.

It might help if I ask you some questions:

Are you ready to stand alone at times?

Are you ready to push through fear?

Are you ready to do the right thing even when it’s the unpopular thing?

Are you ready to be misunderstood sometimes…okay…many times?

Are you ready to sacrifice for your team?

Are you ready to see things others may not yet be able to see?

Are you ready to enter the unknown…first?

Are you ready to keep confidences?

Are you ready to delegate?

Are you ready to see all sides of an issue?

Are you ready to sometimes feel like the weight of a vision is on your shoulders?

Are you ready to face conflict?

Are you ready to have your integrity closely observed by your followers?

Are you ready to receive criticism?

Are you ready to defend your team?

How’d your answers go?

Are you ready to be a leader?

10 Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition to a New Position

Lifestyle choices.

In a previous post, I wrote about the pastor’s spouse’s emotions during a time of ministry transition. You will need to read that post HERE for this post to make complete sense.That post resonated with several who are dealing with that issue. My post was to bring awareness to those emotions, but as I expected, it generated questions.

People wanted to know how…how do they help their spouse transition?

Great question. I don’t have all the answers, but I have some.

Here are 10 ways to help your spouse in a job transfer:

Celebrate what she’s doing – Many times your excitement will seem to diminish what your spouse is doing. I was talking to a young pastor recently who is experiencing great success in his new church. At the same time, his wife is watching their children. I reminded him that changing diapers on the children he loves is just as powerful. He knew that, but he needed a reminder to celebrate that fact.

Help her explorepace herself – Eventually, she needs to find her own identity. It will take time. Allow her the freedom to do so, even if that means you have to keep the children some so she can.

Don’t lock her into your world – Don’t dictate her ministry. My wife and I our partners, but she is not me. Nor am I her. Her interests and mine are different. That’s okay. It’s actually by design. She makes me better. And, in a much smaller way I’m sure, I make her better.

Listen to her – That’s always important, but even more so in times of stress or change. You’ll be busier than ever. But she will need you…more than ever. Listen. The practice will serve you and your marriage in the days ahead.

Let her grieve – She may mourn over the separation from friends. She may miss the old house. She may complain at times that the supermarket isn’t as easy to navigate. It’s a part of the acclimating process. Give it time.

Be conscious – It won’t be the same. It probably never will be. Her role will be different. Your role will be different. You will have different friends. Your schedules may be altered. Your routines will change. Be conscious that this creates stress in people and relationships.

Be present when home – When you finally get home, be fully home. Shut down. Have some times where you quit everything work related and be with your family. Give your family the attention they deserve.

Celebrate your new area – Explore the new city together. Discover the hidden gems and be a tourist for a while. (I wrote a post about how to acclimate to a new city HERE.)

Keep her informed – She will naturally feel somewhat isolated from your exciting new world. Don’t allow that emotion because you’ve excluded her from it. Make her feel a part of things as much as you can by giving her details of your day. I realize this will require even more patience, but during transition she needs to be even more a part of your day that she missed.

Be patient – It may take longer for her to acclimate to the new environment than you think it should. That’s okay. She’s not you. Don’t expect her to respond to change the same way you would.

Those are my suggestions. If you’re in a time of transition, for the good of your marriage and yourself, be intentional!

Have you transitioned recently? What recommendations do you have?

The Emotions of Betrayal and How to Process

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I was reading a passage the other day and something struck me…

The emotions of betrayal…

Have you ever experienced them?

It helps to be able to count to twelve…

See what I mean…

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.Acts 1:13

Do you see what I saw?

Count them. There are eleven names. Eleven. Not twelve.

One was missing. For three years there were twelve. They had been Jesus’ disciples. His closest companions. Jesus had invested time, energy and life into them. Now there were eleven. One was missing.

The betrayer…

If you don’t know the story, another named Judas betrayed Jesus. For a hefty sum of money he handed Jesus to the authorities where He was arrested, beaten and crucified. Of course, it was used for a divine purpose, but the fact is one of the disciples betrayed the others and Jesus.

I don’t think I ever considered this before…but what were the emotions of betrayal for the remaining disciples? Did they miss their friend? In spite of his betrayal, he was a close companion on a mission. A team member. There must have been some attachment. Were there moments of bitterness, anger, or rage? Were they sad? Was there one in particular who got hurt most? He was closest to the betrayer, perhaps, (I don’t know…just knowing people and team dynamics I’m asking).

But, that was then and this post is really about you.

Have you ever experienced the emotions of betrayal?

We don’t talk about it much in leadership or ministry, but maybe we should. Those emotions are real. They are heavy. And, they are common.

Have you been hurt by your own betrayer? You trusted him or her. You may have even called them friend. They let you down. Disappointed you. Betrayed you.

Anyone who has served in any leadership position has experienced betrayal at some level. It could have been the gossip started by a supposed friend or a pointed and calculated stab in the back. Either way…it hurts.

Learning to deal with, process, and mature through betrayal may be one of the more important leadership issues, yet we seldom deal with the issue.

How do you handle betrayal?

Here are a few quick suggestions:

Grieve – Give yourself time to process. Be honest about the pain. Don’t pretend it didn’t matter. It does.

Forgive – As much as it hurts, refusing to forgive or holding a grudge will hurt you more than the betrayer. Embrace and extend grace. If there are realistic consequences you can let those occur, but in your heart let it go. It may take time to do this, but the longer you delay the more you are still held captive by the betrayal.

Analyze – It is good at a time of betrayal to consider what went wrong. Was it an error in judgement? Do you need stricter guidelines? Would it have happened regardless? You can’t script morality and shouldn’t attempt to, but you should use this as a chance for a healthy review of the parameters in which the betrayal occurred.

Continue – You can’t allow a betrayal to distract you from the vision you have been called to complete. There will always be betrayers in the mix. They show up unexpectedly. Eventually you will have to take a risk on people again. It’s the only way to lead healthfully.

Have you ever been betrayed?

What would you add? How did you’re forward? Or have you?

3 Critical Learning Environments

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I believe in lifetime learning. The best leaders I know are always learning something new.

If you’ve followed this blog long you know I tend to like simplification. Some would say over-simplification. I like information presented in an easy to understand and follow format.

So…if you want to be a lifetime learner…

Here 3 learning environments:

Learning by experience – This is where you learn by doing. It could be during success or failure. Life is a great teacher. You can’t necessarily avoid this one. It happens. You do get to choose your reactions to the experience you learn. Choose well.

Learning by influence – This is where mentoring takes place. It’s gaining insight through another person’s wisdom, often gained by their experience or education. You can easily avoid this one. Ignore help. Dismiss advice or constructive criticism. Or, you can welcome input. Find mentors. Glean from others. Let iron sharpen iron. Choose well.

Learning by education – This can be classroom or text book learning. It may be at a conference or seminar. It’s acquiring more academic knowledge. This is a choice too. Choose well.

That’s the three I’ve experienced in my journey. All three have been vital to shaping who I am as a person, pastor and a leader. I have learned I must be intentional if I’m going to continually be learning in each of these ways.

Which one are you missing most at this time? Do you need to better learn from your own experience? Do you need to find a mentor? Do you need to take a class or start reading more?

I’d strongly recommend you not miss any of the three.

Are there other learning environments I failed to mention?

How a Mentor Will Change Your Life

This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a writer and pastor from Oregon. He is the author of several books, including a book on mentoring and Why Holiness Matters (Moody), which is on sale for FREE this week only (ebook version). You can find Tyler on Twitter or his blog, www.manofdepravity.com.

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How a Mentor Will Change Your Life

We all want to achieve some level of greatness or significance with our lives. What we often underestimate is that this only comes through our engagement with others, not in isolation. We all need people behind us that continue to push us forward.

Only when you understand who you are, will you start living into how you were made to engage in your current context. I believe we were each made with an intense longing to have other people speaking into our lives. A mentor will help you discover who we are in a way you would not know in leading an isolated life.

There is no life-change without life-exchange.

For over a four year period I waited for an older and wiser man to mentor me. I assumed that if I waited long enough this person would give me a call and make my life better. The call never came despite desire and my frustration continued to grow.

Eventually I worked up enough courage to flip the script and asked someone who I thought would challenge me to be a better person. And sure enough, the time I spent with him changed my life.

Looking back I see the specific ways interactions with a mentor facilitated change within me.

Clarity Within Community

A lot of people have clarity of vision for their life, but they lack the relational engagement needed to see the full extent of the vision.

A mentor provides added perspective. You have blind spots—areas in life that you struggle to navigate well.

Personal clarity without the input of others often leads down treacherous paths.

A Nudge

Your life needs fresh eyes to lend perspective on where you are going astray. A mentor is not a babysitter or a parent, but they can shed light on areas of concern. A mentor—having navigated life further down the road—can give you the nudge needed to keep you walking the right direction.

The culture at large teaches that you should surround yourself with people who give positive vibes, but what you likely need is someone who is willing to give you the honest truth when you would rather ignore it.

Hikes Not Maps

I’m stubborn enough that I typically look for someone who will provide me with enough information for me to continue on my way. These information givers are like shopkeepers who provide maps.

The problem is what I need is a trail guide who can walk the paths rather than just providing a map.

You need a trail guide, not a shopkeeper. On a lonely trail, you need a hiking partner, not a map.

Plenty of people can give you the information you need to take the next step but a mentor will walk alongside you throughout the journey.

A Character Driven Life

In my weaker moments I’m often drawn to make decisions when my emotions are at their peak. Instead of taking the time to process through it all, the knee-jerk reaction seems to come naturally.

A mentor helps you sift through the emotions to make character based decisions. What are the principles and values that under gird your life? Those should drive your decisions.

At one point 6 months ago I was about to make an emotionally-driven, irrational decision because I sensed a need to make a drastic change in my life. My mentor helped me see how that decision directly contradicted a few things I believed to be true about myself.

A character-based life allows for short-term wins to translate into long-term sustainability.

Wings to Launch

The Millennial Generation has been described as “failing to launch.” The reasons for this are many and highly debated, but it doesn’t remove the truth that many people feel relegated to their current state—flightless with no wings to see beyond it.

This is right where a mentor can step in and help you navigate how you have been gifted and how those gifts can launch you toward the life you’ve been created to live.

Take the step. Make the ask. Get a mentor. It will change your life.

In what ways has a mentor changed your life?

Catch Phrases Heard On the Way to the Finish Line

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I am a runner. I mostly run just for my personal health and pleasure, but I’ve run in quite a few races. I’ve even run a marathon and numerous half marathons. I’ve learned, however, that distance is relative. If a 5K is your milestone, that’s a long race. I have a friend who runs the 100 mile races. Crazy.

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that, if you’re pushing yourself, at some point along the race, you’ll struggle. It will go from being “fun” to being a challenge. I’ve also discovered that without those stretching moments, there wouldn’t be near as much thrill of crossing the finish line.

Here’s something else I’ve observed. There’s a common language among those struggling the most.

Run any distance race and you’ll hear the frustration out loud.

I’ve heard things like:

  • I can’t do this.
  • This is harder than I thought.
  • I’m not a runner.
  • Why did I sign up for this?
  • This is crazy.
  • I’m never doing another one of these.
  • I’m in pain.

But, I’ve never met a runner, who crossed the finish line, who didn’t receive the thrill of victory…even if it was only after they threw up in the trashcan nearby.

The completion of a dream…a goal…a challenge…feels great after the finish line.

Are you ready to give up the dream?

Don’t quit too soon. You don’t want to miss what’s next!

Farmer Super Bowl Commercial: Reflections

I couldn’t get past the “Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl. My grandfather on my mother’s side lived in Kansas. He died when I was young, but I’ve always lived somewhat in his shadow…he was a hero of mine. Everything I knew about him was captured in that commercial. If you missed it, or want to see it again, watch it now.

A good friend…and a great leader…Jason Cummins sent me his thoughts on the commercial.

Here is a guest post from Jason reflecting on the commercial:

The Super Bowl was last night, and as always, my wife and I looked forward to the commercials. However, I’m not one to go online and view them ahead of time. I feel the precise broadcast time establishes context, and thus is an important part of the overall experience.

As we entered the second half, I was a bit disappointed. No croaking frogs, dive-bombing pigeons, or office linebacker sightings. Rather, Madison Avenue seemed content to reflect our culture’s status quo…a preference for short-term gratification over long-term reward.

Then entered what will be referred to today as simply, “The Farmer” commercial. Narrated by one of my all-time favorites, Paul Harvey, the ad immediately transported me back to my childhood, riding on the bench seat of the family roadster or huddled around the single, family radio in my grandparents’ house.

But it wasn’t merely the voice that made the commercial so powerful. Rather, it was the verbal content and the accompanying deep, pictorial images. Americans respect farmers, and the farmer was extolled for his virtuous characteristics. As I rewatched the commercial this morning, I pulled the five following traits from the rich narrative. These resonate with our souls, for deep down, we respect them, desire them, and want to be led by those who embody them:

1. Disciplined work ethic. He is willing to get up before dawn, work all day, finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon, and then work another 72 hours. He isn’t afraid of hard work. He is hard work.

2. Selfless. He attends school board meetings, applies first aid, and willingly attends to the needs of others before himself.

3. Competent. He can shape an axe handle, shoe a horse, or make a harness out of scrap. He knows his trade and confidently, yet humbly, goes about doing his work.

4. Compassion. He sits up with an ailing colt and splints the leg of a meadowlark. He heart is attune to his surroundings, and he is willing to do something about it.

5. Character. He plows deep and straight and will not cut corners. He will choose the harder right over the easier wrong. He works for good.

And then the commercial concludes with, “To the farmer in all of us.” Much like a good class, the ad not only made us think, but it also made us feel. And in the process, it reminded us of important characteristics we should all aspire to emulate. May each of us live a little more like a FARMER today.

Who do you think of when you watch that commercial?

7 Ideas that May Help You Attain more Success

Road to success

You want to achieve more, but for some reason you can never seem to reach your goals.

Is that your story? I hear it often. You’re in good company.

Here are 7 ideas that will help you attain more success:

Clear vision – Where are you leading your life? Many times you don’t get there because you never really decide where you want to eventually be. It’s hard to hit an undefined target.

Discipline – Are you putting in the needed effort? Those who wait for luck to kick in or hope for the easy way to victory, seldom discover what they’re looking for in life.

Embracing other’s help – Do you know you can’t do it all alone? The most successful people do.

Letting go of past hurts – Offering forgiveness frees you from needless bitterness and anger that slows you down and keeps you from being completely emotionally healthy.

Trusting more than you doubt – You can pray or you can worry. You can’t do both equally well. The more you worry, the less likely you are to take a risk. And, you can’t achieve the thrill of victory without a lot of risk.

Becoming an even more generous person – Your level of generosity demonstrates your level of contentment. Generous people naturally feel more successful.

Loving principles and progress more than policies or procedures – Structure is needed and good, but the best structure advances progress not curtails it.

Which of these do you need to consider in order to help you attain more success?