Development vs. Destination

Family vacations.  Two short words that take you back in time in an instant.  If you had to travel any amount of distance, one question always popped up before you reached your destination, “Are we there yet?”  Maybe you’re asking yourself that same question right now and wondering if you’ll ever arrive.


There’s nothing wrong with making plans and setting deadlines.  In fact, dreams without deadlines are only  delusion.  The rub is it sometimes takes longer to get to our destination than you anticipated.

For example, when it comes to raising children, it’s so easy to imagine your family is going to look picture perfect just like the stock photos.  You know, the one where everyone’s hair is perfect and everyone’s teeth are white and straight and everyone appears to be a perfect representative of their age group.

Things are different in the real world.  In the real world there is heartache.  In the real world, children rebel.  In the real world, parents exhaust themselves trying to put food on the table.  In the real world, families struggle.  And in the real world it seems like you’ll never reach your final destination.  Like you’ll never achieve your greatest dreams.  Like you’ll never achieve the measure of success you’re seeking.  But what if there’s hope?

There’s nothing wrong with thinking about your goals, dreams and final destination.  What’s wrong is expecting to achieve anything worth achieving over night.

So what’s the solution?  Glad you asked!  Focus on developing, not your destination.

Focusing on the final product rather than the journey breeds frustration.  Asking ‘Are we there yet?’ is natural.  Here are some better questions.

Am I more spiritually minded than I was a year ago?

Am I more patient with my spouse than I was last month?

Is my current course of action taking me closer toward my goal or farther away from it?

Do I spend more quality AND quantity time with my children than I did last month?

All good things take time and you will not reach the next level over night, BUT….you should be making progress.

So, the next time you get frustrated with your family, job, or career, remember this simple truth- Focus on your development, not your destination.  You’ll be glad you did.  Are we there yet?


Feeling Ordinary?

Mastering The Mundane

God loves the foreigner, the outcast, and the forgotten. He collects the worn-out vagabonds that nobody else wants. They can be part of the club. Though they’re down and out, they can be up and in. Aren’t you glad?


How can we be sure?  Check this out —–>“That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.” (Luke 2:8-9, TLB).

Shepherds were often the outcasts of society. They were sometimes young.  It wasn’t a glamorous position.  Remember what David’s Dad said about him? “Oh yeah, there’s one other brother that just watches the sheep”, Jesse told the prophet Samuel when he came hunting for the next King of Israel.

Shepherds were sometimes criminals, sex offenders, thieves- the cast-offs of society- people pushed to the outskirts of the villages to watch the flocks. They stank like the animals they cared for, an easy way to identify them, should they mingle with civilians.  Some of them were girls.  In this account there is more than one shepherd. They may have been all together in the same place or separated by distance and they came together at the birth scene of Christ. Look at them now as they come out of the darkness into the light.

The shepherds were poor.  They just brought themselves. They were not like the  wisemen later on the story who brought Jesus Gold, Frankincense and Myhr.  This was a night they would talk about for the rest of their lives. Imagine their grandchildren saying, “Tell us again about the night the angels appeared and you saw Jesus!”

Maybe you’re not a shepherd. But chances are your job isn’t always exciting. Perhaps sometimes everyday feels like Monday. Or perhaps you have great responsibility and feel like you’re the only one who can get the job done.

Wherever you are today, if you’ll just look up, there are stars. God put them everywhere so that wherever we go, we’ll still be able to look up and be reminded of His wisdom and beauty.

Not only is there beauty in the world, there is beauty in the Word. The scriptures that is. If only this story alone were recorded, you’d be rich. The fact that God appeared once to such a group of unlikely recipients should encourage all of us. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!” WoW! How awesome is that. Some two thousand years later, God is still packaging great things in small bundles, but never one as great as that one. That small bundle of greatness rocked the entire world when he was unwrapped on the cross.  “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”  Matthew 27:54

Then look what happened. I like the phrase, “….And there was the baby, lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16, TLB) Simple words pregnant with wonder! Can you imagine? Not just any old baby, but baby Jesus!

But the next part is one of the best. “Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:20, TLB). The point? There are some people, even shepherds, who believe unless you can quote the bible inside and out or go to the mission field or start a homeless mission or give $10,000 a year to the church, you aren’t doing much. You may be a Christian, but you’re not on fire. Then again, according to some, chances are you’re probably not a Christian. If you were, you’d be going to Seminary or Calcutta or signing up to volunteer at church. Does that mean we shouldn’t do any of these things?  Absolutely not! The point is, our salvation doesn’t come from what we do, it comes from what Jesus has done.  There’s really no evidence that the shepherds did anything but go back and watch their sheep….back to the mundane….back to sitting under the stars….back to living outside the village. Are you there yet?

Don’t underestimate your value because you don’t live in the limelight. You may not have a platform, but that doesn’t mean you’re not playing a significant role. Our bodies can live without noses and eyes, but it dies without a heart or a liver.  Wherever you are, the value you add is greater than you could ever imagine. You make a difference whether you’re a missionary or a mechanic. And when strangers or your grandchildren come along and ask you to tell them a story, tell them about Luke 2 and how it changed your life.  Remember, there’s nothing ordinary about ordinary.

Better yet, why not share your experience right now on Facebook or Twitter?


Start With The Cross And End With A Crown

Thank God for leaders who are a lot further along in the race than we are!  As we run our race, their footprints in the sand inspire us to keep on going no matter what.  Not only do they inspire us, they set the pace.  Sometimes, by God’s grace, we achieve a measure of their success.  Shifting gears for a minute, who is following in your footsteps?


Here are four key thoughts I’ve captured after hearing one of my mentors preach today.  I hope they’ll be an encouragement as you set the pace for others behind you.  All four are found in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.  

1 Corinthians 1  And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

  1. Paul kept his message pointed and simple In 2 Corinthians 2:2, the apostle Paul wrote of not speaking of anything but Christ crucified among those he was trying to reach.  That was the heart of his message in a nutshell.  It’s good news!  Jesus Christ died for our sins and we can repent and be forgiven.  That may not sound very fancy to you, but it’s a very powerful truth.
  2. You can be weak and fearful and still win your race!  When we think of Paul, we think of someone who was bold and courageous.  And he was! But here he openly admits he was weak and fearful most of the time.  Huh?  You see, courage is not the absence of fear; courage is saddling up despite your worse fears.  If you’re going to set the pace for those behind you, you’ll never eliminate feelings of fear and weakness.  They’re par for the course.  Yes, there’ll be seasons when you are light in spirit and bouyant, but most of the time you’ll just have to show up and rise up.
  3. You don’t need a fancy vocabulary or eloquence to make a difference in people’s lives.  School is not a bad thing, neither are books or advanced degrees.  These are all good things and in most cases, needful.  It’s also o.k to be a good speaker.  But what about the rest of us?  For instance, what does it look like to live a life where there is a demonstration of the Spirit and power?  It’s not a very difficult question.  It just means you live a life filled with love and compassion.  If you’re filled with the love of God, it’s going to leak!  Not just toward those worthy of your love, but all men, women and children.  You see, when you’re gone, people will mostly remember you for your large, loving heart, not the grey matter between your ears.  They may not remember one sentence you said, but they will remember how you comforted and consoled them.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use words.  It just means your words and actions should be filled with love.
  4. A faith that stands in the power of God, not the wisdom of men– As a leader, you want your people to trust you but most importantly a large living faith is one that encourages others to put their faith in God.  As you run your race, you want to make sure credit is given where credit is due.  Your job is not to put the spotlight on yourself or your own power, but on God and his power!

To recap, in sharing your story, keep it simple.  While you’re at it, you can’t avoid fear and trembling, but you can face it and be successful.  As your success grows, people are more likely to remember how you made them feel than what you said or did.  Finally, as you live out your life in love, others will be drawn to the source of your power.  At that point, be sure you point them to Christ and be sure he gets the credit.  Be like Paul….start with the cross and end with a crown!


Your Finest Hours

Why it's important to embrace your limitations

Tuesdays are date night.  Last night my wife and I went to see ‘The Finest Hours’.  Don’t worry, there are no plot spoilers here :-).  The setting is important though and is as follows.  One oil freighter is broken in half on the Atlantic Ocean and one Coast Guard officer and his crew is sent out to rescue them against terrible odds.  Let’s leave it at that.  But as we move past the initial setting, here’s a question.  Do you have anything to prove?


When you have something to prove, you have to beware of the tendency to endanger yourself and others.  The problem is danger has become so commonplace, it’s not unusual for people to encounter it in a light manner.  This tendency has crept into every are of our lives in the twentieth century.  It was more obvious when men and women had to leave their caves and there were big hairy monsters with teeth lurking about.  Now that we think we’ve killed all the monsters we’ve become….careless.  The fact is, none of us are immune from danger in our daily travels.  It lurks in your home, on the street and in your workplace.

While we you not be able to avoid danger, you often have the opportunity to avoid life threatening situations.  While heroism is wonderful and something to be grateful for, you don’t have to rescue 32 people from a ship to be a hero.  You can be a hero in your home, at church, in the workplace, etc. just by doing the things well nobody else wants to do.  You don’t have to put yourself or your family in perilous situations just to make a name for yourself.  Heroes are often single Moms, the elderly, your mailman, the guy who owns the mini mart.  They come in all different shapes and sizes and most of the time they appear ordinary.  There’s nothing about them to make them stand out.  Sound familiar?

Speaking of heroes, the biggest hero in the bible was referred to as follows.  “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”  Matthew 13:55  Jesus’ most extraordinary feature was that he looked ordinary.  There was nothing about his appearance that stood out.

Let’s face it, there’s just something extraordinary about being ordinary.  By ordinary, I mean being yourself….being who God made you to be.  The world doesn’t need you to be a watered down version of someone else, it needs you to be a full-blown version of yourself.  Extraordinary people don’t look for ways to be like someone else.  Some of you are really struggling right now because you’re doing a terrible job of trying to be someone else, rather than embracing your own limitations and being yourself.  That’s not meant to be mean.  It’s meant to be freeing!

You don’t have to be like anyone but you.  If you’re not gifted at math, why do you want to be a mathematician?  If you were only meant to change the lives of a handful of people, why are you trying to lead the masses.  If God wants you to be a world class leader, he’ll let you know.  In the meantime, don’t overlook the people in your immediate circle, especially the short ones.

When we repeatedly attempt to exceed our limitations and continue to do so for long periods of time, something happens.  It makes us weary and vulnerable.  It clouds our judgement.  It makes us blind to lurking dangers, especially burnout and chronic fatigue.  Let’s face it, you’re not God and you’re not a machine.

Which leads us up to the photo at the beginning of this post.  May it be a reminder today of the fact you’re human.  Somehow, inherently, I believe that makes you a hero.  It reminds us we all do ‘great’ things from time to time, but for the most part we’re flesh and blood.  Bone of bone.

One of the most heroic things we can do is love and help other human beings.  With all of our limitations.  Because of our limitations.  These are the finest hours.  The times when we feel anything but extraordinary.  The times when we feel inadequate.  When we shine at these times, the world becomes a better place.

It’s not that we shouldn’t rise to the occasion when necessary.  When there are times to enter the fray to save the life of another human being, may God give us the courage.  In the meantime, lets not wait for times to shine and while we’re at it, lets not estimate our own value based on our own or the highlight reel of someone on Facebook or Twitter.  Deal?  You are so much more than the sum of your accomplishments and accolades.

What is one of the most ordinary things you ever did that turned out to make an extraordinary impact?  Please feel free to share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.