Was I Thinking Of You This Morning?

I was thinking about you this morning. Maybe not you specifically, but I was thinking of someone like you…that is if you are someone who is sitting on the sidelines afraid to pursue your God-given dreams, watching the world pass you by.  Was I thinking of you?

Maybe it’s because I encounter many people at their point of desperation…when they are tempted to give up…

It could be because I’m wired to dream big dreams…or because I’ve been sidelined for a time…watching everyone else pursuing their dreams except me…

But, for whatever the reason, I continually sense the need to encourage people to move forward with their dreams and aspirations.

Have you thought lately about the legacy you are leaving? Will you leave a legacy of having followed the dreams you had for your life?

If that’s your desire for a legacy…you may have to:

  • Take a risk…
  • Face the fear of the unknown…
  • Resist the temptations to give up…
  • Ignore the negative voices in your life…
  • Say yes again to God’s call on your life…
  • Release the guilt of the past by receiving God’s forgiveness…

What is your dream?
What is holding you back?
What legacy are you aiming to leave behind?

What will you allow to be the greatest pull on your heart?

Go for your dream…get started today!

The Summit, by Eric Alexander: A Book To Challenge and Inspire

What are you afraid of?

Do you have a dream you haven’t tackled out of fear?

Have you allowed your weaknesses, even your disabilities to hold you back from all God would have for you?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you MUST read this book.  Buy it HERE now.

The Summit, by Eric Alexander, retells the story of Eric’s powerful story and his unique life journey of guiding people with disabilities to the most perilous places of the world, including Mount Everest’s first blind ascent. In The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone you will follow in their historic footsteps, and learn about faith, trust, prayer, depending on God, as well as the perseverance needed during these climbs and in your own life. Be inspired and motivated by Eric’s insight, not simply to survive but to thrive every day in God’s grace.

You can even read the first two chapters free HERE. Can’t pass that up!

Be inspired, be challenged, be moved…Read this book! There is also a Kindle edition at Amazon, which is what I purchased.

Watch this video:

What is the one fear you want to conquer? Share it here!

Don’t Shy Away from the Word Balance

Over the years, I’ve heard differing opinions on the use of the word balance. I’ve learned there are many who actually hate the use of the word. For example, some say the life of a Christian is never balanced because God wants all of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. Others say it’s impossible to balance between work and home because one of them deserves our greatest energy (our home), and yet the two extremes will always compete for our best time and energy. I completely agree. In those contexts, I agree balance should not be our goal. We should prioritize our life around the extremes of life, ensuring that those things we value most receive our greatest attention.

Balance, however, doesn’t always mean things are equal. I prefer to use the term balance to describe how a person responds to the extremes of life. Balance to me means a person learns to stand up…keep their equilibrium, even when things in life are not equal…out of balance. When life is crazy, which it often is, the person of balance learns to juggle each area where over time none of them has to suffer. A balanced person prioritizes his or her life around what is most important, for me, that means first my relationship with God, then my family, then my work and my service to others, and then organizes life in a way where each area receives adequate attention for success.

I realize much of this discussion is semantics, but i believe it has importance in principle also. People who want to achieve success in all areas of their life must find ways to give adequate attention to each area, without neglecting those things/people of greatest importance in life. That requires balance. (The Proverbs 31 woman had balance.) I met with a new father recently and he’s having to learn how to balance marriage, parenting, and his work life, while attempting to be successful in each part of his life. He’s learning balance.

The leaders and people I respect most in life are those I see learning to balance success in all areas of their life…at home…at work…and in the world.

Don’t shy away from the word balance. Just learn to use it well. Gaining a sense of balance is a process that often takes years and even a few stumbling moments to accomplish, but it’s worth the challenge.

What does the term balance mean to you? In what area of your life are you most out of balance?

10 Characteristics of Good Leadership (Expanded Version)

It’s been a long time since I wrote the post 10 Characteristics of Good Leadership. It remains one of my most read posts, being found by readers through search engines. Shortly after I wrote the post my friend Jesse Phillips at Catalyst asked me to expand on each item. You can thank Jesse for this post.

In an expanded version, here are 10 characteristics of good leadership:

1. Recognizes the value in other people, so continually invests in others – Good leaders see a large part of their role as developing other leaders. Leadership development takes place in an organization as good leaders begin to share their experiences, good and bad, with others.

2. Shares information with those in the organization – There is a tendency of some leaders to hold information, because information is power, but a good leader knows that the more information the team has that collectively the team is better, which directly benefits the leader.

3. Has above average character – There are no perfect people, but for a leader to be considered good, they must have a character that is unquestioned within the organization. Leadership always draws criticism from someone, so a leader may not be able to get everyone to believe in him or her, but the people who know the leader best should trust the leader’s character.

4. Uses their influence for the good of others - Good leaders are as interested in making a positive difference in people’s lives as they are in creating a healthy profit margin. This doesn’t mean that balance sheets and income statements aren’t important, in fact they are vital for the success of an organization (even non-profits), but a good leader doesn’t separating a desire for helping others from the desire for financial success. Good leaders find ways to leverage financial health to strengthen the well-being of others.

5. Is skillful and competent - Good leaders can be depended on for their professionalism and follow through. You don’t question whether a good leader is going to be able to complete a task. If they don’t know how to do something, they will find someone who does, but they will ensure that a job is done the best way it can be done.

6. Not afraid for others to succeed (even greater than their own success) – Good leaders realize that some followers will outgrow the leader’s ability to develop them any further. Good leaders, however, aren’t threatened by another’s success. They are willing to celebrate as those around them succeed.

7. Serves others expecting nothing in return – Good leaders have a heart of service. They truly love and value people and want to help others for the good of the one being helped, not necessarily for personal gain.

8. Continues to learn – Good leaders are always learning and implementing those learnings into the betterment of the organization. That could be through reading, conferences, web-based learnings, or through other leaders, but also through people who report to the leader.

9. Remains accessible, approachable, and accountable to others – Good leaders don’t isolate themselves from people regardless of the amount of responsibility or power he or she attains. Good leaders willingly seek the input of other people into their professional and personal lives.

10. Is visionary: Thinks for the organization beyond today – Good leaders are always thinking beyond today. “What’s next?” is a common question asked by good leaders, knowing that someone must continually encourage change, growth and strategic thinking for an organization to remain healthy.

What do you think of the expanded list? Do you agree with my assessment of good leaders? What would you add to my list?

5 Steps to Getting Unstuck

I have recently written two posts about reaching dreams. Actually I’ve written lots of dream posts, but two in recent days. One post (HERE) was about how to reach them and the other post (HERE) was about why you may not be reaching them. A couple of the comments on those posts brought up another important question. What do you do when you are stuck between dreams? I have written some about that issue also, but not recently or as specific as the questions were asking.

Perhaps you had a dream, but you got sidelined pursuing it. Perhaps your dream absorbed all your energy, all your resources, and all your passion, but it didn’t work and now the dream is dead and you don’t know what to do next. I understand. I’ve been there several times in my life. If this is your situation, here are a few suggestions:

Here are 5 suggestions for getting unstuck:

Recharge – Whenever a dream fails you are drained emotionally and physically. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to spend a season resting and waiting. This doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing, but it does mean allowing yourself a chance to heal. (For a similar post on this topic read THIS POST)

Refocus – Most likely your setbacks have taken your focus off of the big picture of your life. You may have been saturated with fear and uncertainty and you are afraid to risk again. You may need a fresh dream or you may need some new dreams, but at some point you will have to lift up your head from the natural self pity that accompanies disappointment and refocus on your future and the plans God has for your life.

Redesign – If the dream is God-given or at least God-honoring and you don’t believe it’s time to give up the dream, then spend some time setting some new goals and objectives towards reaching the dream. You may need to redesign your dream into a contemporary context as culture or your life changes, you mature, or God gives you greater understanding. You may have to tackle the dream from a different angle, learn something new to help you towards it, or make some new connections with people who can help you achieve the dream.

Replace – It’s okay to get a new dream. While we may not achieve one dream, many times God leads us through disappointing opportunities to teach us valuable principles to help us achieve other dreams. (Read a similar post HERE and HERE.)

Re-start – One thing is certain, you will never reach a dream if you are sitting still. Even God-given dreams require a commitment of personal energy and resources. Often people who fail to reach a dream remain sidelined because they never start again. Don’t be a victim of that mindset. Find your passion again, get your dream in focus, be willing to risk, then get started again. (For more encouragement here, read THIS POST)

If you feel stuck today, you may also want to read 7 Pieces of Wisdom for the Disappointments of Life.

Have you ever been stuck? How did you get unstuck? What would you add to my list? Where are you now along the journey of reaching your dreams? Let your story encourage others.

Preparing to Recover in the Moment

Yesterday morning I was scheduled to do the welcome at Grace Community Church. After the first song, I was scheduled to come on stage, welcome people to the service, and we would continue worship. It was that simple. Before the second service, I was in a meeting in another part of the building. All of a sudden I thought to look at the time. The service had started and I was late. I jumped up and started running for the auditorium. I arrived just in time to hear one of our worship leaders covering for my absence. I was mortified. Thankfully, Dustin covered for me.

The incident, however, served a purpose, because I was reminded of an important principle. No one on our team should be irreplaceable.

Is your staff prepared to recover in the event of a no-show? Do you cross train for every position?

Things can happen. People get sick. People leave the team…sometimes quickly. Scattered brained pastors get distracted.

Take a minute to review your organization. Where are the positions that would still be empty if key people aren’t in their place? What changes need to be made in your organization, so you can continue in spite of any absences?

7 Reasons You May Not be Achieving Your Dreams

Recently I posted 7 steps to achieve your dreams.  I love helping people attain their God-given visions.  It occurred to me that there may be a counter post needed here.   This may seem like common sense, but I’m not sure it is sometimes.  The fact remains that more people will look back on their life and wish they had done more with their life than they did.  I heard someone once say something like, “If you’re not careful, your “hope to do’s” will become your “wish I had’s”.  I have many of those areas in my life.  I want the next phase of my life to be different.

Here are 7 reasons you may not be achieving your dreams:

You have no goals – You may have some but you’ve never written them down, analyzed them or organized them into reachable and attainable goals.

You have no plan – A goal without a plan is just a goal. A goal with a plan is an avenue to success.  You can’t “work the plan” if you never wrote one.

You need accountability – We were designed for relationships.  Sometimes knowing someone is going to hold you accountable is enough incentive to follow through.  Give a few people the freedom to challenge you to work the plan.

You are afraid to share the load – If you are trying alone for fear of sharing your dream, you’ll also have no one with whom you can really share the victory.  Sharing the load builds synergy, makes a stronger effort, and keeps your ego from sidelining your progress.

You’ve given up – You may have had a set back and now you’re afraid to try again. Successful dreamers are willing to get up after a fall, knowing they will be stronger and better equipped the next time.

You aren’t willing to take a risk – Fear can sometimes be a powerful motivator, but most of the time it’s one of our biggest stumbling block.  Some of the best moments of your life are hidden in your fears.  Risk-taking and dreaming go hand-in-hand.  If the dream requires no risk, it isn’t much of a dream.

You never got started – Every road to success begins with one step.  If you don’t start, you’ll certainly never finish.  What step do you need to take?

Are any of these your reason for not achieving your dreams? What would you add to my list?

Be sure to read 7 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams

Public Recognition Makes a Difference

We have an all staff retreat yesterday (Friday) and today (Saturday). A couple times a year we get away to dream, plan, evaluate, critique, and stretch ourselves. A great part of that is the relationship-building that takes place as we are in the same place for hours at a time. Friday night our spouses joined us for a meal and fellowship and Saturday morning we have a session with staff and spouses. It helps us get buy-in from the families of Grace staff.

One of the take-away challenges for us Friday was to encourage another staff member. We drew names of everyone in the room and were asked to email that name with an encouragement, including everyone else to see the email. I picked the name Katrina Watts. Katrina leads our preschool ministry. Here is the email I sent Katrina: (You should know that Katrina’s mom was one of the most godly women I have known and passed away a few years ago.)

Katrina, this week when I was pulling together the Myers Briggs information to use today, I found your mom’s assessment where we did it as a community group. I realized that you and she share the same type. It made me further realize (I’ve been noticing it for a while) that you are your mom. You have your mom’s heart for people. You have your mom’s desire to invest in everyone around you. You have your mom’s passion for worship. You have your mom’s sincerity. You have your mom’s pure heart for God. You are your mom’s daughter.

You are maturing into a woman of God in the way of your mother, and as you know, in my book, that is an incredible compliment. God is going to use you to impact and influence people in ways you’ll never know. Your mother never knew the positive impression she made on so many people and you may never know either, but God knows and others are taking notice. Be challenged to live out your faith boldly. Even when you have no confidence in yourself, God is fully confident in you. Trust the character and heart God is building in you. Allow God to continue to stretch and mold you. Your best days are still to come.

I love you my sister in Christ and I’m thankful to be on your team!

Ron

I share this to ask:

1. Who do you need to encourage today?
2. How does your staff/team retreat together?
3. Do you serve on an encouraging team?

I’d love to hear from you. (It would encourage me!)

Friday Discussion: The Christian’s Role in Politics

Thanks for being a part of Friday discussion. You can now check out the past Friday discussions in a newly created category HERE. Continue to add your thoughts on those subjects.

For today, let’s discuss politics. You aren’t afraid of that, are you?

So let me jump in quick: I grew up in a church environment where to be a “good Christian” you had to belong to the “right” party. It was an easy decision who to vote for, because most everyone around me, or at least the vocal crowd, were Republicans. And, you weren’t just any Republican, you were a very conservative, James Dobson Republican. I’m not trying to be offensive, but that was the environment in which I lived.

In my church today, and among many of the younger generation with whom I minister, that seems to have changed. They seem far less concerned about parties (much as they are far less concerned about denominations), than they are about causes and issues.

Do you see a change? Let’s discuss politics today. Consider these specific questions. You can answer all, certain ones, or give a general answer regarding politics today and the role of the believer in the process.

Do Christians have a party of choice today? Does it matter as much to you whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican?

Can or should a Christian run for office…be involved in the political process….vote?

What about a pastor? Could a pastor serve in an elected office in your opinion?

Would you be more inclined, less inclined, or neutral on voting for a person if you heard he or she was also a Christian?

Where are we today in this culture and where is a Christian’s involvement going?

Share your thoughts…discuss…(But be kind)

Let’s talk politics…

5 Characteristics Needed to be a Church Planter

Recently I posted a funny video about what it takes to be a church planter. Want a laugh? Watch it HERE. I decided it might be a good idea to share what I really believe is necessary to be a church planter. Church planting is a difficult, but rewarding assignment in ministry. All pastors and planters should operate under a calling of God, but it does appear to me that there are some unique qualifications for church planters.

From experience, here are five characteristics I believe it takes to be an effective church planter:

Love of risk – There is an entrepreneurial heart in most church planters I have met. Church planters love things that are new, changing and growing. They have an entrepreneurial spirit about them, embrace change readily and get bored with status quo. This characteristic can bring it’s own problems, which leads to number two.

Willingness to be patient – Notice I didn’t use the word patience, even though that’s part of the fruit of the spirit all believers should be developing. Effective church planters are willing to be patient for God to do His work. The balance between these first two is a constant challenge, because church planters are wired for growth, but effective church planters develop a good plan, surround themselves with the right people, and then wait as God works.

People who believe in you – Church planting is not to be a lone ranger activity. Without the structure of an established church, church planters must depend on people to help develop ministries and systems. Effective church planters learn to rely on volunteers for success and are willing to share leadership and responsibility with others to plant the church.

Healthy family life – Church planting is a family activity. If a planter wants to be effective, he or she must have a healthy family life. Ministry is tough, so this is true for all ministries, but church planting, because of the unique uncertainties and risks involved, places additional stress on a marriage and family. Effective church planters begin with and maintain a healthy family life.

Close walk with God – Church planting will test a person’s faith many times. Church planting is not always popular in some church communities and can make a planter feel like an outcast in the church community. The risks involved and the waiting process challenge a planter. Church planting, like all ministries, is an act of faith and requires constant communication with God. Effective church planters continue to build and draw upon a strong relationship with Christ throughout the process of planting.

Again, many of these may not be unique to church planters and are possibly shared by others in ministry, even in many secular settings, but my experience as a planter of two churches leads me to believe these are critical needs for a church planter.

Are you a church planter? Have you ever considered church planting? What would you add to my list?