Success is a Journey…NOT a Destination

You know why this title is true?  Because if success was a destination, success (or progress) would cease once we hit our target.  And we don’t want that.

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I wrote a blog post 4 weeks ago on the beginning of a new approach to my eating habits.

At 6′ 4″ tall and 44 years old, I had hit the most I had ever weighed that morning.  260!

Now, it’s pretty easy to disguise 260 when you are 6′ 4″…BUT I knew something had to change.

Something ‘SNAPPED’ in me that morning.  I believe it was Jesus kicking me in the rear.  I’ll admit, I haven’t kept to my goals perfectly through those 4 weeks, but I have made great progress.

I weighed myself this morning after 4 weeks, and I’m at 251.  I dropped 9 lbs!  My long-term goal is about 200 lbs, but I’m focusing all my energy on daily goals rather than looking too far ahead.  This allows me to measure results and bounce back from slip-ups quicker.

So why am I putting myself out there like this?  Just two reasons.

1. Accountability | By putting this in a public blog and on various social media platforms, I’m really making myself vulnerable.  I want this to be a permanent change.  So, this has resulted in a number of people asking me how I’m doing.  Am I meeting my goals?  Where am I slipping up?  Others have also been very encouraging as well.

2. Processing | Some people journal.  I write.  And my preferred medium is blogging.  It helps me mentally process things I’m growing through in my own life.  And if it happens to help or encourage someone else along the way…..awesome!

I’m thankful to God for giving me the strength to succeed each day.  And I’m thankful to my amazing wife.  It’s not easy feeding a family of 5 on a tight budget when one of them is limited to a lot of specialty foods.  She has been so understanding and gracious with me.

How about you?  What are you working on, or what are you grateful for?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

Photo credit: affirmyourlife.blogspot.com 

 

6 ‘Easy’ Ways To Begin Leading Your Home Spiritually

If you’re like me, this DOES NOT come easy.  In fact, this topic is overly common among men.  It is also increasingly difficult for single mothers, because in the absence of a father this responsibility (privilege) defaults to them.   All children need (deserve) spiritual leadership and guidance.

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Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:23-24)

Now men, this scripture is NOT something we’re entitled to.  It is something to be EARNED!  It is also not something meant for us to LORD OVER our family.  The intent here is simply to give us the platform to lead our wives and kids into Biblical and authentic living.  We are to do this through love and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at a few ways you can begin leading in your home:

1. Pray with your spouse | For many men this can feel quite awkward.  But I can tell you from experience that it’s easier than you think.  Before you part ways each morning, try just giving her a hug and whispering, “Lord, bless my wife today and keep her safe.”  Simple, but powerful…and very meaningful to her.

2. Look for teachable moments | Not every Spiritual moment needs to be a Bible study.  There are TONS of ‘life lesson’ out there.  We just need to find them.  Hear your teen comment on a  questionable post online?  Maybe your 7 year-old walks into the living room and asks why bad things are on the news channel?  These are those moments.  Run with them.

3. Be authentic | You’re not perfect!  Neither am I.  And it’s ok (even healthy) to admit it often.  When you snap at your wife because you had a bad day.  When your kids notice you falling short of the Sunday morning message.  Simply acknowledge it…ask them to forgive you, and move on.

4. Lead yourself well (in the open) | I don’t mean to be ‘showy’ here.  Simply be visible when you exercising, reading your Bible, or praying.  This is a powerful way to model right living indirectly to your family.  Let them actually SEE how you are leading yourself.

5. Engage online | Let’s face it.  Social media is here to stay.  So when you come across a meaningful Bible verse on Instagram or a great quote on Twitter…share it with your wife and kids.  Doing this communicates to them what you find to have value.

6. Model Jesus | Ok, so this one isn’t exactly EASY.  But I couldn’t exclude it.  Your wife and kids will learn more about the character of Jesus by observing you than they will by you teaching them a Bible lesson.  Jesus taught much more by example than he did by preaching.

Don’t tackle all of these at once.  Start with one or two and work from there.  It really does get easier and more natural with time.

 

What would you add to this list?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

3 Things I Did To Get Back To My Goals

So, three weeks ago I began a serious refocus on my personal health.  Specifically, regarding my obsession with food.  Then, I spent a week in Nashville for my son’s graduation followed by 4 additional days serving at a Summer Camp for elementary kids.  Let’s just say that those two environments don’t make it super easy to eat healthy and plan your meals ahead of time.

I ate the best I could for the most part.  I also indulged a little, but feel like I did pretty good.  I was able to refrain from most carbs and sugar, and DID honor my rule of not eating after 7pm.

During those 2 weeks, however, I completely stopped my daily push-up challenge.

In the past, I would have felt like I have failed for two solid weeks and thought, “What’s the sense in picking this back up? Why even try?”  And I would have returned to the former eating habits immediately.

Not this time!

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Here’s what I did when I returned home….

Forgave myself | This is a huge first step.  I need to be able to give myself grace in the low moments in order to excel into new higher moments.  Otherwise, I’ll continue beating myself up over the past failures and crippling future potential successes.

Reviewed my original plan | I looked back to 3 weeks ago.  I looked at how I was able to lose 7.5 lbs in my first week.  That motivation gave me the ‘can do’ attitude to pick up right where I left off.  No worries…no regrets…and only looking forward.

Determined to start again | Like Nike says, ‘Just Do It.’  Start somewhere, ANYWHERE.  And I did.  I began today with a goal of getting 30 push-ups done.  You know what?  I did 60!  I was also public (once again) online and with my family about my goals.  Putting my goals out there creates powerful accountability for me.

Now, I’m writing this just two days after restarting.  I’m hoping and praying that a week from now I’ll be able to tell you I’ve been able to #WinToday successfully each day with my goals.  And honestly, I’d invite you to ask me exactly that.

How do you bounce back from a day or more of slipping away from your goals?  Or maybe a better question is what do you need to do that you are not doing to get back on course?

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below.

Health & Fitness on THIS Blog?

For years I’ve joked that being 6′ 4″ makes it pretty easy to disguise being overweight.

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While this is true, the truth still remains.  It’s impossible to hide it from YOURSELF.  So I got out of bed a week ago determined to make a permanent life change.  Mainly, this had to do with food.  Food has been my idol, my drug of choice, my depression medicine for far too long.

The problem, however, was that I needed some regular inspiration to keep me focused on my daily goals.  So I did a quick search on iTunes and found the Fat-Burning Man, a podcast hosted by Abel James.  Don’t let the title throw you, this podcast is so much more than just ways to burn fat.

Other podcasts I am following include: ReLaunch, The One You Feed, and Underground Wellness.

While I’m on this new journey to much better health, this blog may become more about journaling my progress and discoveries for a season.  BUT the blog title still remains to be fitting.  Because leading ourselves well is the most stable foundation to leading others well.

Why am I posting  this?  The more I can be authentic and public about it, the more I feel like others are watching.  There’s a level of accountability in it.

For me….my desire is to eventually lose 60 lbs.  My new approach, however, is to set daily goals that are small enough to achieve.  I’m not looking past the next 24 hours, other than to plan my meals.  So each day I will strive to #WinToday!  And starting off, a ‘Win’ at the end of the day means I’ve accomplished all 5 of these goals:

     – Nothing after 7pm but water.
     – Cut 90% of sugar and carbs out of my diet
     – Average 30 – 60 push-ups each day
     – Cut my meal portions in 1/2 (they were BIG)
     – Drink about 60 oz of water each day

When we’re not working on something we actually stop developing as individuals.  We become stagnant.  (btw, that’s not good)

What are you working on and what does your process (or plan) look like?

5 Things To Know When Asking Jesus To Work

I’m sure we’ve all been there.  Circumstances which are out of our control often lead us to saying things like, “Lord, I need a miracle” or “God, why is this happening to me” or “I’m not sure if I can make it another day.”

Can you relate?  (I thought so)

Take a quick look at this passage from Matthew 20:29-34.

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.  And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”  They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

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So try to keep these things in mind when asking Jesus to move in your circumstances:

1)  When asking Jesus for his mercy, make an emotional investment (Lord, have mercy on us).  These guys asked more than once.  They put their heart into the request.  If it’s not meaningful enough to us, it probably won’t be meaningful to Jesus.

2)  Ignore the naysayers (The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent).  There will always be those around us who doubt God, his ability to do anything, or that he even cares.  When this happens, surround yourself with believers who are mature in their faith who will partner with you in prayer.

3)  Be specific with your request (What do you want me to do for you?).  Jesus already knows, but it’s that relationship thing again.  He wants you be make it personal with him.  Notice, however, that he doesn’t ask the men ‘How.’  This is super important.  Simply answer the ‘What’ and trust him with ALL the details.

4)  Trust that he does care about you and why you are making your request (Jesus in pity touched their eyes).  When translated, the word ‘Pity’ literally means to have compassion.  Jesus was moved by their situation…and he’s moved in yours as well!  Remember this the next time you ask for something.  And imagine Christ looking intently into your eyes with compassion, caring, and genuine concern.

5)  Follow him, even more than before, once he answers your prayers (and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him).  Never take his touch on your life for granted.  There’s always a reason, and it will almost always bless someone else who is not even involved in your specific situation.

 Today, may you cry out to Jesus with all your heart and clear expectations.  And may you find peace as he turns and looks into your eyes.

Comments are always welcome!

4 Ways To Embrace Failure

How does failure affect you?

Every new venture has the potential to succeed or fail. ..BUT only if you actually take a risk.  This is very true for churches when they launch their first multisite campus as well.  Nine months since our launch and the lessons continue to flood in weekly.

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Recently, our streaming video teaching failed in a BIG way!  So I thought I’d write about it (insert smirk).  What exactly happened and why is less important than actually taking steps to ensure that this virtually does’t happen again.  Our team got together during the week, collaborated, and agreed on a process.  All I can say is that the next campus our church launches should be much better off as a result of the lessons we’ve learned.

So, what are we to do when things go wrong…whether we caused it or not?  The choice is up to you and I.

Here are 4 ways to EMBRACE failure.

1)  Expect it | What we can see coming (to a degree) prepares us to better deal with it mentally when it hits.  It’s like a warning.  And I’m not talking about pessimism either.  Reality and experience teach us that failures are a part of life.

2)  Don’t fear it | Fear can keep us from taking future risks.  Fear screams, “Don’t even try that!”  Here’s the thing, fear of failure crowns complacency as King.  We don’t want that.

3)  Learn from it | Failures not learned from are usually repeated.  If you continue to stub your toe on the same item when you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, don’t you eventually move that item?  Learning usually requires some level of adjustment.  Leaders who don’t learn from their failures fail to grow.

4)  Share it | Grab a huge piece of humble pie, own your “Well that didn’t go as I had hoped” moment, and help others to grow their leadership from your experience.  Most of the incredibly helpful leaders I have learned from in the past 20 years of ministry realized that sharing their personal mishaps actually helps further Kingdom work.  It offers hindsight to younger, less experienced leaders.

In a recent interview, Jon Acuff said, “I like the 39 year old me better than the 29 year old me, and I hope the 49 year old me feels the same.”

I think that can apply to leaders too.  Think about it.  Ten years from now don’t you hope to be a stronger leader than you are today?

Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Not The Gatekeeper Of Every Ministry

Remember that iconic line from Monty Python and The Holy Grail?

“None shall pass!”

Arthur, King of the Britains, attempts to pass a bridge.  It is guarded, however, by the infamous Black Knight.  He guards this bridge with his life, allowing no one to cross over to the other side.  He claims, “None shall pass” twice before earning multiple ‘flesh wounds.’

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I share this because I recently had a powerful coaching discussion with my Lead Pastor.  In September of 2014 I transitioned into a Campus Pastor role in the midst of our church’s first multisite launch.  Can I just say…I’ve learned a lot in just 8 months!

As a new, and smaller, campus we want to be careful and purposeful about when and how we start new ministries.  Too much too soon can bring more problems than good.  This was the topic I brought up to him.  After a few minutes, he made a statement that instantly gave me clarity on the issue.

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Wow!  And he followed up with this.

He explained that new ministries simply need to have clear purpose, leadership, boundaries, and must be fully in line with the mission, vision, and core values of our church.  That’s my job.  As long as that is all in place, we want to be permission-giving.

If you’re in a senior leadership role, can you relate to this?  Do you find this helpful?  How is the creation of new ministries handled in your church?

Join the discussion.  Please leave a comment below.

 

 

Just Two Guarantees In This Life

Have you ever thought of life in general as a disappointment?  Ever said, “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!”  Well, you’re not alone.

I have recently come to an eye-opening revelation about life.

This simple but scary revelation occurred to me as I was reflecting on my current season of life.  And it took me back to this well-known scripture.

 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.  – John 16:33 (HCSB)

Here’s what they are:

We will have challenges | We’re going to get a flat on the way to work…get into an argument with our spouse moments before teaching a session on marriage…not get the job we really wanted…or live with an illness that makes it hard to be joyful every day.  We can run ourselves into the ground trying to discover the ‘why,’ or we can choose joy in the fact that we have a loving Father in Heaven to walk through it all with us.  Perspective is everything!

God is always faithful to His promises | His Word is true and it can always be trusted.  It is packed full of promises, instruction, and encouragement.  He celebrates, hurts, and walks with you and I through it all.  He’s never absent.  Never uncaring.  Never unfaithful.  He’s your loudest personal cheerleader!

God’s Word is both our microscope into our life AND the life-saving anchor for when the waves of life get turbulent.

Do you agree?  How has this been true in your life?  Leave a comment below. 

5 Huge Differences Between Leaders & Managers

“If leadership practices in the Church are not drastically different from the corporate world, the Church’s influence on the world will cease reflecting the person of Jesus.”

For the sake of this post, let’s define ‘managers’ as task-oriented individuals in high positions who’s only goal is to get results at any cost…and ‘leaders’ as people-oriented individuals in influential positions who’s goal is to accomplish objectives with their teams.

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Managers say, “You will get this done.”

   Leaders say, “We’ll get this done together.”

Managers tend to delegate tasks to those in specific positions.

   Leaders give tasks out to those team members best equipped to handle them. 

Managers lead others out the office they occupy.

   Leaders lead out of relationship which earns them influence.

Mangers make decisions out of what makes sense and seems logical.

   Leaders realize the importance of prayer, thinking ‘outside of the box,’ and involving others in decisions.

Managers tend to protect their position until they are offered a chance to move up the corporate ladder.

   Leaders do their best to bring one or two others along and mentor them to replace themselves one day.

 

That’s my list.  Would you add anything?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

It’s Not a Witness Protection Program

A witness protection program is offered by the government in exchange for testimony that could convict a dangerous or most wanted criminal. After testifying in the courtroom, the witness is given a new identity. The protected witness’s new identity includes a new name, Social Security number, birth certificate and place to live. Every effort is made to ensure that the person’s prior identity is destroyed so a new ‘safe’ life can begin. The intent is to protect the individual, who essentially goes into hiding…maybe even permanently.

This is NOT the case in the Christian life.

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When you and I witnessed the grace, love and mercy of what Jesus did on the cross for us, our identity changed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

No name or driver’s license number was altered, but our entire being was transformed. God gave us a new life and new eyes to see things the way He sees them.

Unlike the witness protection program, our new identity in Christ is not intended to protect us. The opposite is true. God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Instead of taking that new identity and keeping it from everyone, you and I are supposed to share it everywhere we go. In fact, our story involves telling others about both of our identities…past and present. Why? Because there is power in transformation. People tend to take notice of a changed life.

Many people are lost and need to be transformed. God expects us to go and share the gospel message with the world around us. Instead of hiding from the world, we are called to abide in the Word. His Word says to “go” (Mark 16:15).

Your ID badge labels you an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Your new life creation involves a new mission. This transformed identity moves us away from a life of self-serving, and into a life of serving God and others. Who can you share your identity in Christ with today? Maybe a better word here is …who ‘should’ you…?

How drastic has the difference been in your new identity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment.

 

photo credit: http://www.redstate.com