What If There Was A Powerful Way To Address Your Problem Today?

Do this before you reach the end of your rope

In order to grow as a leader, you have to develop new muscles.  What got you here won’t get you there.  So, to overcome ever growing obstacles, you need new strategies.  So, what do you do when the burdens of life become too heavy to bear?  Good question, right?

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As you lead, you’ll find there are some answers you just can’t find in a textbook.  In some cases, you won’t even find them through a multitude of wise counselors.  Are you with me?  Don’t get discouraged.

For example, imagine Moses.  Have you ever looked at or thought about the challenges he faced in Egypt, let alone leading millions of people in the wilderness for 40 years?  What do you do when the enemy is closing in and Red Sea is in the way?  While his challenges and heartaches were many, his mode of survival was not.  He prayed.  Let me say that again.  Whenever Moses faced an insurmountable obstacle, he talked with God about it and God worked in miraculous ways.  In fact, the bible says Moses cried out to the LORD (Exodus 15:23-25, Exodus 17:3-4, Exodus 32:11, Numbers 11:2, Numbers 12:13).

So how do you respond when people criticize you?  Your leadership?  Your family?  Do you ask God to intervene or try to solve the problem yourself without praying?

Lets face it, life can be hard!  In fact, so tough that sometimes we can’t even put our burdens into words.  But God knows our hearts.  Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

However, somewhere along the way we’ve associated prayer with words.  We’ve also made prayer sound easy.  Words aren’t bad things, but they’re also not necessary when talking with God.  And prayer isn’t easy.  After all, sometimes we can only sob and cry, but tears are a universal language all men understand, and a language God speaks fluently!

Chances are you’re trying to figure out your next move, right now.  But there’s also a good chance it doesn’t have to be figured out today.  For now, be good with taking it to your Heavenly Father.  Then leave it there….that’s the hard part.

You may even be surprised to remember He doesn’t need advice on ways to resolve the issue.  Chances are the answer he has is going to be beyond your wildest calculations and guesstimates.  Either way, he promises it’s all going to work out for good (Romans 8:28).  He’s good at that.  He’s been answering prayers for a long time.  Just remember, there are three answers to prayer: yes, no, and grow!

In the meantime, some things will always be a mystery; and some tensions never go away, we just learn to accept and manage them.

However, some things can change, but not through your own power.  In times like these, if you’ll pray, your great Heavenly Father may just reveal his power and love for you.

You’re Not Crazy And You’re Not Alone

Two resources you need to finish well

Recently I had the privilege of sharing with a small group of very important leaders.  I focused on the importance of breaking free from our teaching schedules on a regular basis to ensure we are fit to lead others.  There was lots of great feedback! A few said physical exercise is important.  We talked about that.  Others said prayer.  We talked some more.  These are all great answers!!!  We do need to exercise, pray.  Then these two gems were suggested.

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Do you know someone who’s been blessed with a wonderful sense of humor?  It’s always refreshing to be around these kinds of people.  They’re kind of like oil in an engine.  Engines can run awhile without them, but not for long until problems develop.  Remember, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!’.  When daily living becomes a daily grind, it’s time to unwind.  That means a diversion of some sort.  What better diversion than laughter?  Seriously, the moment we stop laughing is the moment we start crying.  So take a few minutes to visit the funny guy in the corner cubicle.  Call your crazy, but incredibly funny Uncle.  Go look in the mirror.  But whatever it takes, laugh.  You can even ask yourself ‘What is the funniest way to solve my current dilemma?”.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  My son went to the Dr.’s office yesterday for Strep.  So, what did the Dr. do?  She prescribed medicine.  He takes two teaspoons in the morning and two at night.  By the time he finishes the prescription he’ll be a new man.  If life has gotten to be really heavy and burdensome, maybe it’s time to talk with a Dr. and find out what you need to do to start laughing again.  If you don’t like Dr.’s, maybe it’s time to come up with a plan of your own.  This is one of my go-to guys.  He is a qualified Christian Counselor and he never fails to deliver solid advice on living that will have you rolling on the floor laughing.  His Kindle book is $8.99, but isn’t that a small investment in a valuable resource? http://amzn.to/1Ph4TkE

Now that you’re realizing the importance of laughter, here’s another resource to help you run to win.

Are you bored?  Not with just a relationship or your job, but with life in general?  Maybe you’re even bored- if you were honest- with your walk with Jesus.  It used to be fun and exciting.  You felt fulfilled.  But now it’s just become routine.  You’re not alone.  It happens to most people at one time or another.  The question is, do you want to stay that way?  Unless you’re willing to make a change, what got you here, won’t get you there.  Someone said, God uses transitions to get us from where we are to where he wants us to be.  That’s true.  But he won’t drag you kicking and screaming.  You have to choose to go, and when you do something amazing begins to unfold.  It’s called an adventure!

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Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines an adventure as: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.  Now before you decide to do something that could possibly harm yourself or others, you might want to think again.  Remember, God will never ask us to do anything that violates the truths and principles taught in his word.  The kind of adventure we’re talking about incorporates the first resource we talked about: fun!  For instance, you might pursue a new hobby or degree or the age old adventure- rafting.  Take a trip to a place you’ve never been.  Try some new foods.  🙂

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While you’re at it, it doesn’t have to be a major adventure.  It might just mean filling a thermos with hot chocolate and taking your kids out into the area surrounding your house.  Take a magnifying glass and look at snowflakes.  Borrow a book from the library, ahead of time, about animal tracks and have them identify a few in the snow.  Talk about the critters who made the tracks.  See if they’re interested in researching some of their favorite animals.  You get the idea.  Visit a local museum….

You can also explore a new route to work.  As a good friend once said, ‘Try a new way and God will show you something new!”.  Along the way, notice not just the houses, but some of the details.  Remember, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’  Give yourself some margin and stop and take a picture of something interesting with your phone.

You also can block out some time to just walk out your door and ‘go’ without a plan or destination in mind.  Invite some good friends.  Hop a city bus and see where it takes you.  Try the biggest dump of a restaurant in town.  Dress up like a ‘homeless person’ and watch people’s reactions.

If any of the preceding ideas push you out of your comfort zone, maybe that’s all the more reason to try them.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  Now go out and take an adventure and while you’re at it, have fun!

How to Live Beyond Your Final Chapter

Making Sense of the Miracle in the Mess

Over the years I’ve gotten really good at taking back my prayers.  It goes something like this.  I find myself trusting God with something.  It could be my finances, my kids, my job, whatever it may be.  Everything is great for awhile.  Then I take my prayers back and try to answer them myself.  How about you?

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Someone once said, we’re to pray as if the answer to our prayers totally depend on God and work like the answer to our prayers totally depends on us.  But doesn’t there seem to be some kind of contradiction?  After all, sometimes we can’t work anymore.  We’re too tired or broken or exhausted or exasperated.  That’s not to say we want to be ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’.  You know the one I’m talking about.  They do something really stupid and then become a victim and join the club.  When they enter the room, people whisper “that’s him”.  Or, “I heard she…”.  You catch my drift, right?

There was a day when Moses killed a man.  Not just any man, but an Egyptian who was beating another Hebrew.  I’m sure he didn’t wake up that morning and say, “I think I’ll go kill an Egyptian today.”  It’s not like there was some kind of season on Egyptians and he got lucky that day.  No, he saw an Egyptian wailing on a Hebrew slave and he decided to take matters into his own hands.  He acted impulsively.  He did something he shouldn’t have.

The next day he went to intervene in another situation and a fellow Hebrew more or less said, “Who died and made you boss?  Are you the guy who blew your stack and murdered an Egyptian yesterday?”  You could only imagine how he must have felt, right?

Then he fled to Midian.  And in Midian- away from leadership and every day wear and tear- something began to change.  In fact, by the time Moses died, he’d written some of the greatest volumes on leadership in the history of the world!

So how about you?  Have you ever messed up?  Maybe you just reached the end of your rope this past year, or month, or today.  Or, there’s something building up.  You feel some kind of wave in your soul getting ready to crash.  Maybe in your heart of hearts you don’t want it to.  But if you were honest, you’d admit you’re ready to do something you know you’ll be sorry for tomorrow.  Can I tell you a secret?

Life can be hard.  It’s not like you get three guys like you do in a video game.  You’re only given one lifetime, and try as you might to preserve it, there are dangers lurking around every corner.  Life can be messy.  You’re not promised tomorrow, but the good news is not everything in life is a matter of life and death!  The bible says God’s mercies are new every morning.  I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty good news.  It tells you that despite your biggest messes, there is abundant mercy available if you’ll only receive it.  Mercy means you don’t get what you deserve.  You live to see another sunset and go after your dream.  But….

But sometimes that doesn’t mean you get what you want.  Sometimes you end up holding your heart in your hand.  It’s easy to say this is just another chapter and this is all going to work out.  But sometimes it’s more than that.  Sometimes you find yourself writing or reading another book.  There’s only one book most people spend a lifetime reading and that’s the bible.  All the others are fair game.  If they’re no good, you toss them out or give them to the guy at the office you can’t stand and get another one.  🙂

If at this point you think you should just cash in your chips, that’s not what I’m saying.  What I’m saying is life is messy and sometimes the vase falls and shatters on the floor despite your best intentions.  Sometimes you come apart at the seams.  Sometimes the results are not what you’d hoped for.  Sometimes you wreck your car, hurt your loved one, and abandon your dream all in one week.  And sometimes it’s impossible to go back and fix everything….to put the car back together, to reassemble the vase, heal your loved one, but God can do all those things in his own way- in his own time, on his own terms.  After all, it was never your turf to begin with, you had just gotten used to thinking it was.

Look.  Things don’t always work out the way you hope they will, but that doesn’t mean things can’t get better.  Don’t stop going after your dream, but just remember God has the final say.  Like the old farmer said, “You can push against the rock all you want, son, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to move!”  Maybe it was never about moving the rock in the first place.  Maybe it was all about you just getting stronger and developing muscles you never even knew you had.  But no rock, no revelation.

Rather than beating yourself up about your mess up, why don’t you thank God for it.  Tell him you’re grateful for the lesson.  Grateful for what it revealed about what was lurking under the surface in your soul and ask him to do something about it and show you how to make a better choice in the future.  You’ll be glad you did.  Here’s a start.

Lord, thank you for the messes and the miracles.  I can do nothing, but trust you right now.  You said your mercies are new every morning, and I believe that.  I’m not asking for what I want right now.  I want what you want.  Please allow me to experience the peace that passes understanding.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Vision

8 snapshots to keep you moving forward

If you’ve ever taken a cruise, you realize how important mission and vision are.  We took a cruise to Gran Turk in early 2015.  It was a blast!  While the trip took a lot of personal planning, I’m grateful the company took some time to do some planning of their own.  Without a mission (port of destination) and vision (what it will look like along the way), we would have been doomed from the start.  So what is your vision for your life? Your church? Your family? As someone once said, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail”. Chances are if you have no blueprints for your life, you’re not going to build much of anything. You can jump on the expressway to nowhere and get there pretty quickly.  So where do you start?  Here are 8 thoughts on vision.

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1. Pastor and author Andy Stanley argues that vision starts with a daily commitment. Think about that for a moment. Regardless of how great your vision is, unless you’re willing to commit to it, you’re doomed from the start. Will you make mistakes? Yes! But as Life Coach Dave Kraft says: “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making much of anything.”

2. I believe one of the largest obstacles holding leaders back from casting vision is the fear of error. As someone said, “there’s so much fear of strange fire, that we have no fire!” When we fear what others will think if we fail, the obstacle in question is our pride.

3. Vision is a clear mental snapshot of “what could and should be”, according to Stanley. Vision is not the real challenge, the real challenge is making vision stick. Some of you have an idea of what could and should be. You may even have the wisdom to make it happen. But are you constantly and creatively finding ways to keep your vision before the eyes of your followers?

4. Another good question to ask when trying to understand your vision is to ask what the problem is that needs to be solved. For instance, maybe the problem is there are no basketball courts in your community for under privileged teenagers. Or maybe the problem is poor morale at your place of employment because the employees have no allocated place or times to get together for meaningful connection throughout the day. You can’t come up with a solution until you understand the problem.

5. Maybe you struggle with vision because you get side tracked. Often, less important things take the place of the urgent. Saying YES to vision may mean saying NO to less important details.  Why? The bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish!”. Pastor Johnny Hunt says it this way: “Where there is no clear, prophetic revelation, the people cast off all restraints!”. If the people in your life cannot see your vision, maybe it’s because you haven’t made it stick. Vision is a big deal when you realize people’s lives are at stake.

6. One way to make vision stick is to make it simple and memorable. Provide a visual. For example, if you’re a pastor, post a photo of you and your smiling church members standing in front of your sign. What simpler way to illustrate the goals of joy and unity? Again, not only must you state the vision, you must REPEATEDLY remind your people, family, organization and others of the vision.  Perhaps right now, you are faced with a challenge. Maybe, just maybe, you are burdened by the problem because God wants to use you to come up with a solution. It wouldn’t be the first time. A.W Tozer said: “God tells the man or woman who cares!” The challenge you are facing right now may be a leadership opportunity in disguise.

7. Whatever you do, Stanley emphasizes that you take notice when people catch your vision and CELEBRATE! As a leader you want to minor in pointing out flaws in other people and major in recognizing strengths.

8. In the meantime, understand that people’s complaints can be useful in determining their understanding of your vision. Feedback is your friend! Facts are your friends.  Sometimes their complaints only show their lack of understanding. Leaders never take constructive criticism personally.  They look beneath the service.  They attempt to determine motives.

So what have you learned about vision?  If you’d like to study this topic some more, buy a copy of Andy’s book ‘Making Vision Stick’.

 

 

 

 

Confidence

One simple daily tip to boost your sense of worth

If someone offered me a twenty dollar bill, I’d take it.  Doesn’t matter if it’s torn, marked up, dirty, I’d still want it.  Why?  Because none of those flaws change the fact it’s still legal tender.  How about you?  If you struggle with your own sense of worth, here are two key thoughts to help you.

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It may be a lack of confidence when you’re talking with someone.  For example, you offer good advice, but there’s an inner voice saying, ‘Who are you to give advice?’  Or you may sense a lack of confidence in your private times.  Whichever the case, these types of scenarios affect your overall enjoyment of life.  So what can you do?

First, you have to learn to trust your mind.  If you don’t believe your factory equipment is is great shape, you’re going to have problems.  That doesn’t mean you should trust every thought.  Some thoughts are worth acknowledging and some aren’t.  However, you’ll never make a good decision unless you believe your capable of making one.  If you think you are or you aren’t capable of having right thoughts,  you’re right.  Tell yourself, ‘I can trust my mind.’  That’s the first step.

Second, you have to believe happiness is available to you personally.  Not only is happiness available, but you are worthy of happiness.  You’d be surprised how many people are listening to tapes telling them otherwise.

It also doesn’t matter what other people feel you’re entitled to.  If it were up to them, you’d be miserable.  God, on the other hand, loves you and wants what’s best for you.

These two thoughts together are a powerful mixture.  1) I can trust my mind.  2) I’m worthy of happiness.  If you really want to go crazy, tell yourself your worthy of the highest form of happiness!

Unless you write this down somewhere and review it daily, not much is going to happen.  Write it on a stick note or a 3 by 5 card and tape it somewhere you’ll see it daily.  On your bathroom mirror or in your car.

While you’re at it, store it as a reminder on your cell phone.  Have it repeat daily.  If you’re really struggling, maybe have the reminder repeat itself a couple times a day or hourly.  It sounds silly, but you’ll be surprised what a difference these two thoughts can make.

Life’s too short to go around feeling worthless.  You have value, regardless of what you or anyone else says.     In fact, your station in life doesn’t determine your worth….it doesn’t matter if you make ten thousand or ten million dollars.  However, sensing your own worth is important.  Notice I didn’t say over estimating your worth.

If you’re not worth anything to yourself, chances are you’ll never be worth anything to anyone else.