The Difference in Knowing and Doing

There is often a difference in…




When it comes to right things…things we should know and do…

It’s true for all of us…some more than others…

You can know the right things to do…and never do the right things…

In my experience, not doing is often a bigger problem than not knowing…

Many people who know never do…


The margin between knowing and doing may determine the degree of success you attain…

Understanding your margin sets you up to address the problem…

What is the current margin between your knowing and your doing?

How to Know When to Say No to Seemingly Good Things

Age and maturity has helped me improve at discerning what I can do and should do based on my strengths, weaknesses, passions and dreams.  It’s freeing when we become more certain in who God has wired us to be and who He has not.

Still, I’ve learned (through many different seasons) that there are often more opportunities than time in life…even God-honoring, seemingly good opportunities. Recently, I have had to say no to some great opportunities. These were things that I would have clearly thought had to be “God appointed”, but as much as they line with my strengths, passions, and dreams I have for my life, I said “no” to them.

How do you know when to say no to what looks like a good thing…perhaps initially even like a “God thing”?

Here are four things I look for in examining my heart before responding. I say no when:

The decision conflicts with the personal vision God has placed on my heart during this season of my life. I do not believe I’m called to a place as much as I’m called to a Person…through my relationship with Jesus Christ. There are seasons of life, however, where I know He has positioned me in a place “for such a time as this”.  I’m in that place now.

My heart doesn’t line up with this decision…I can get no “peace” about saying “yes”. This requires consistent prayer and wrestling with the decision, but the more I practice this discipline the more confident I become in sensing God’s specific will for my life.

When the calling of God on my life says no. This is the overall call on my life rather than a situational decision.  For example, I recently had an opportunity presented which would have taken me completely away from church planting, but I know that God has a call on my life to be involved in planting churches at some level.

When my personal strengths and interests don’t match the opportunity and I don’t sense an urgency from God. I have learned that situational or physical limitations aren’t a factor if God is in the mix. He can part waters if they are in the way, so I can do things outside of my strengths, but in my life God does seem to usually work within the experiences and gifting He has granted me. Why would He waste the investments He has made in me? Therefore, apart from a sense that God is challenging me in a direction outside my gifting, I can rest within the place where He has been preparing me.

Notice all of these have to do with the heart. Discerning the heart of the decision is critical and requires a consistent, close, seeking the heart of God relationship with the Father. I realize it’s much easier to write this post than to live this post, but hopefully this will help you as you too wrestle with the seemingly good, even sometimes seemingly God opportunities.

I wish I had used this paradigm earlier in life, because it would have saved me some heartache.

Do you need to think through this issue today?

What “good thing/s” do you need to say “no” to during this season of your life?

Make this post better.  Share your stories of wrestling through a decision that seemed like a good thing at the time.

For further thought, consider this post I wrote on 5 Ways to Help Determine if Your Plans are God’s Plans.

That Inner Nervous Energy…Some of Us Thrive On It

Do you know that nervous energy you get when you face the uncertainty of life?

You feel it when you assume a overwhelming risk…

It’s that emotion…that adrenaline rush…almost an inner fear…

Yet something inside prompts you to proceed in spite of the nervousness…

You feel it deep in your gut…

Ever felt it?

Well here’s the reality…

Some of us…as awkward, difficult, stressful, and even painful as it can be…

Live for that emotion…

You’ll find it in entrepreneurs…
You’ll find it in church planters…
You’ll find it among risk-takers…
You’ll find it in extreme sports enthusiasts…

I think the Apostle Paul must have had it…

It’s an inner drive to achieve, to accomplish, to pursue big dreams, conquer huge obstacles…

And achieve what others will not attempt…

I think it can be a God-given emotion…

It can be abused…

It must be used carefully…

But it shouldn’t be wasted…

Can anyone identify with that emotion I’m describing?

When’s the last time you felt that nervous energy?

(Share other examples of people who seem to enjoy this emotion.)

One Principle of Attaining Success in Life

Here’s a principle I’ve learned the hard way:

Sometimes the most successful are not the ones who do it perfectly but the ones who do it…

Whatever “it” is…

Many times we wait until the perfect timing, until all our questions are answered, or until the perfect set of circumstances are aligned before we move forward. In the meantime the world keeps moving and those who move, even though conditions are less than ideal, realize the victories others miss.

What dream, vision, call of God do you need to move forward on today?

The Inner Resolve to Overcome: Lesson from this week in Chicago

I’ve been amazed this past week at the resolve of the people of Chicago. Reportedly this week saw the worst snow storm since 1967.  I’ve not been through a blizzard before, so this was an experience.  You can read why I’m here in THIS POST.

What amazes me is how the people responded so quickly.  Even before the storm hit, people were taking precautions, but during and after the storm, people spread salt, shoveled snow, pitched in to help one another, and quickly got back to normal.  Many places were closed early Wednesday, hours after the snow ended, but many were open by the afternoon.  By Thursday everyone was seemingly back to normal. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, you have to be careful where you walk, but people have gone about their business…in spite of the largest snow the average Chicagoan has ever seen.

Watching the quick response of the Chicagoans this week prompts me to ask:


Because there is an inner resolve in people to survive…to recover…to succeed!

  • We saw it in our city after the devastating flood last year.
  • We saw it in our city after the 1999 tornado destroyed most of downtown.
  • We see it in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and famine.
  • I’ve seen that resolve firsthand in Brazil, and Lithuania and Sierra Leone.
  • I’ve seen it in families who lost everything in a house fire.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals whose lives were wrecked by adultery, cancer and financial devastation.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals, who in spite of paralyzing injuries, continue to live with great joy.

There’s an inner drive in people to overcome.

I love seeing it…

I think it’s God-given…

I’m thankful for the times I’ve been able, by God’s grace, to pick myself up and move forward.

If you are experiencing the bad side of life these days, may I be a voice encouraging you to draw from that God-given inner resolve to push forward! The best is yet to come if you will pursue it!

Who has a story of recovery from tragedy that inspires you?

Do you have a story?  What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you…you lived to tell about it?tell me NOW!

I’ve written before about failure in these posts: (Click on the title to read)

7 Ways to Recover from a Major Failure or Mistake

How to Recover from Failure

5 Principles I’ve Learned from Failure

Failure Can Lead to Success

Writing a Life Plan, Part 5

It’s day 5 of our life planning series. We’ve attempted to take it step-by-step, in a simple format, to write a plan that will help us achieve some specific goals for the new year.

If you missed any of these posts, be sure to catch up by reading:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Today we have our final step — and it’s a good one — in fact — it’s my favorite.

Possibly yours too!

The last step in our life plan is to…


In fact, you must!

It’s critical to any long-term success.

Build a reward in for the completion of each of your goals. The size of the reward can be based on the size of the goal and the size of your budget, but it should be enticing enough to keep you motivated.

It’s been said that what gets rewarded gets repeated — and that seems to be true from my experience.

Find a way to celebrate achieving your goals this year.

Using our hypothetical goals, here’s an example of what this might look like:

Lose 10 pounds - Buy a new outfit — or two.

Improve my marriage communication – Plan a special vacation together or eat at your favorite restaurant.

Pay off my credit card – Buy a new couch — but pay cash for it.

Read through the Bible - Give a Bible to someone who needs one.

Write a book - Get a weekend away to do nothing — absolutely nothing.

These are just hypothetical. You can come up with something better for you for celebration. It is important that you reward yourself though.

Obviously you may need to get help accomplishing some of these rewards, but that’s part of the beauty of Step 4. As others are included in your progress they will be enticed to help celebrate your win.

That’s the planning process. Simple enough?

I’d love to hear from you if you are going to attempt this process. Leave me a comment.

Here’s hoping for an extra productive new year!

Writing a Life Plan, Part 4

calendar, blue target

We’ve been writing a life plan this week. I hope you are following along and writing your own plan. I have tried to keep it simple, hoping that will improve your chances of following through to completion. If you’ve missed any of them, be sure and read

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Today we add another step in the process.


If you want to see your goals become reality, you need to build a system of accountability into your plan. If you are confident you want to complete the detailed goals you’ve set, and you believe the action plan you have written will help you meet them, then you must find a way to hold yourself accountable to completing the action steps.

You’ll need to add accountability you are comfortable with and makes sense for your goals and action steps, but here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Put action items on your calendar for the next year. I have some items that repeat throughout the year.
  • Print your life plan and share it with someone — give them permission to check in with you throughout the year.
  • Find a partner — this is especially helpful when exercising or in weight loss. (This is what makes Weight Watchers successful.)
  • Use an application/program such as Things, which I use, to schedule tasks and set alarms to remind you of your action steps
  • Comment on this post with your plan, or post it on your own blog — there’s something about going public that builds a stronger desire for completion

The key here is to build a system that will hold you accountable to completion of your goals. As you repeat the actions and see results towards your goals, you will develop habits in these areas and in the process of doing so will find you achieve more of your goals.

There is one more step to this process. I’ll share it in the next post.

Can you guess what it is?

Writing a Life Plan, Part 3

This series we are writing life plans for the coming year. If you have missed the first two posts, read them HERE and HERE.  

My desire is that we realize all the dreams and goals we have this year. I’m convinced many of our resolutions — if we make them — are reachable if we are a little more intentional and with discipline. Many refuse to make resolutions, because they have repeatedly failed at keeping them. The purpose of these posts is to help you start the year on a good path towards reaching those goals.

Today we add another step. Let me be honest. This step is not as fun as setting goals — at least for people wired like me. This is a little more difficult and will take a little more time to complete, but it is a vital step to the success of your plans.

Chances are good that if you fail to keep your New Year’s resolutions, not doing this step well is the more likely reason.

In this step, we will write some action steps, which will help us reach our specific goals. The question you should attempt to answer here is: What specific action steps do I need to take to ensure I reach my goals?

Be specific here. The more specific the action step the greater chance you have of completing it. I continue to use the same hypothetical set of goals for illustration purposes. Below you will see the specific goals followed by the action steps.

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert Realistic Date Here) by eating less and exercising more.

  • Exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Limit eating fast food at lunch to twice a week
  • Stop drinking diet soft drinks and drink more water
  • Keep track of calories, attempting to eat less than 2,000 calories per day

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

  • Write out questions for our date nights to answer together…
  • Read one marriage book together and do one Bible study together
  • Attend a marriage conference this year
  • Have a date night every week

Pay off my credit card - I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (Insert Realistic Date Here).

  • Limit eating dinner out to once a week
  • Work to refinance the house
  • Write a realistic budget by Jan 30th. (Set a date approximately 30 days out)
  • Read the book “I Was Broke and Now I’m Not” by Joe Sangl

Read through the Bible - I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it this year, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

  • Use one of YouVersion’s daily reading plan
  • Not check Facebook or email until I’ve read the Bible
  • Follow along with my small group curriculum
  • Get the YouVersion smart phone application

Write a book - I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish. (These dates are for example. You set the realistic date that works for you.)

  • Write a book proposal by January 30th
  • Send out proposal letters to book publishers and agents by March 1st.
  • Outline book chapters by Feb 15th
  • Write a chapter every two weeks beginning March 1st

As I stated yesterday, during this step you may decide to alter some of your goals — or even scrap one of them — that’s okay — they’re your goals. You are far more likely to follow through with goals you fully believe you can accomplish.

Tomorrow we add another step. There’s just a little more to do to ensure success. You’re almost there.

Writing a Life Plan, Part 2

This is part of a series of posts to help you develop a life plan. I hear people talk every year about resolutions — some make them — some don’t. Some hate them — some don’t — most don’t.

I’m confident the main reason most do not keep them and many refuse to make them is that they never put a plan of action together or applied enough discipline that would ensure success. Why make a resolution if you can’t ever keep it — right? We don’t like continual failure.

The point of this series is to put some feet to the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Actually, even more than that, to write a life plan. In the last post, you were asked to list three to five goals you have for the new year. If you haven’t done that or didn’t read that post, start HERE.

If you have your goals listed, today we’ll get more specific with them. The key here is to further define your goals into something that is measurable; something where you can clearly track your progress and success.

To help with this part, ask the question for each goal:

  • What would success look like for this goal?
  • What would make me feel I’ve completed this resolution?

For illustration purposes, I’m using the same goals I listed in the example yesterday. First is the stated goal, followed by the more specific description of that goal:

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert realistic date here) by eating less and exercising more.

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

Pay off my credit card - I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (insert realistic date here).

Read through the Bible - I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it in 2011, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

Write a book - I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish.

Do you see the progression to a more measurable, specific goal here?

At times, while completing this second step it may redefine, shape, or even change the original goals. That’s okay — keep in mind this is your life plan — no one else’s. The hope is that you complete a plan this year that you are pleased with and that you make progress towards achieving your life ambitions — not that you complete it in a way that pleases others.

Again, the goal here is to take this in steps and make it simple. Next time we’ll take this another step forward.