9 Insights To A Lasting Marriage

Leadership requires selflessness, mentoring, learning from others, patience, persistence, and the willingness to grow through your mistakes.  These also apply to making a marriage work.  And not to simply ‘work,’ but to THRIVE.

Today (August 31) marks 24 years with one AMAZING woman of God!  Both of us have had to lead ourselves and each other through some pretty challenging seasons.  But we have both learned that marriage is much more than a ‘relationship status’ on Facebook.  It’s a life-long investment in a journey together.

Here are 9 lessons on marriage I’ve come to realize over the years.

Leavenworth,_WA_-_Gustav's
Honeymoon | 1991 | Leavenworth, WA (Bavarian Village)

Marriage Insight #1 | Celebrate well, and remember often.

Turner Field | Our first MLB game
Turner Field | Our first MLB game

Marriage Insight #2 | Experience new things together.

Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR
Annual Family Vacation | Lincoln City, OR

Marriage Insight #3 | Cherish your family traditions while you have them.

Gloria Jean's Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years
Gloria Jean’s Coffee | A Favorite From Our Dating Years

Marriage Insight #4 | Don’t forget to travel down memory lane now and then.

Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN
Every Time We Visit Nashville, TN

Marriage Insight #5 | Travel and explore together often.

The 'Chick-fil-a' of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA
The ‘Chick-fil-a’ of Hamburgers | Lake Forest, CA

Marriage Insight #6 | Experience good food together.

Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR
Multnomah Falls | Columbia River Gorge, OR

Marriage Insight #7 | Family memories are priceless.  Protect them.

Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA
Marriage Retreat | WinShape in Rome, GA

Marriage Insight #8 | Invest in your relationship.  Otherwise it will run dry.

Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach, SC

Marriage Insight #9 | Don’t be afraid of displaying your love for each other publicly.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor. 13:7

To Cailey, the most incredible and beautiful woman I have ever known….Thank You!  Thank you for loving me, especially at times when I’ve been unlovable.  Thank you for patiently waiting for me to learn what it looks like to be the Spiritual leader of our home.  I still have much to learn here.  Thank you for being a loving, guiding, teaching, and nurturing mother to our children.  And lastly, thank you for constantly challenging me to become a better husband, father, and church leader.

Happy Anniversary…I Love You!

3 Ways to Not Hate Your Work

smileIf you hate your job or position in life today, you’re not alone.  A recent Gallop poll found that only 30% of Americans are engaged and inspired with their work.  But this can change for you.
Three things that motivate my work in ministry.
1.  Obedience – This part is so important.  If I’m not doing what God wants me to do, I’m not in his will.  Its as simple as that.  When we have received the gift of salvation through his grace and mercy we should want to do the work he has for us.  Not only that, I’ve come to realize that we can never really be fulfilled and happy with our lives until we’re fully in line with what he has called us to do….at home, work, and with everyone around us.
2.  Love for Jesus – That’s right.  When our motives are good and we are focused on pleasing the right person, it changes everything about how we view our jobs and responsibilities.  Any time I’ve ever found parts of my job unpleasant, I start thinking about the fact that I really am doing this work to please him…not my boss or co-workers.  Just him!
3.  Love for others – For me, this includes church people and non-believers.  For you, this might be a spouse, employer, customers, co-workers, etc.  When we become focused on others we are better able to lose sight of the things we personally find troublesome or lousy in our own lives.  Our attention is now being directed outward instead of inward.
So, let’s recap.  Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?  Is what you’re doing putting a smile on Jesus’ face?  And are you keeping in mind the benefit of others while you do your thing?
What have you done to stay motivated in what you do?

Please leave me a comment below.

The #1 Enemy of Productivity

photo by: www.feistywomenrock.com
photo by: http://www.feistywomenrock.com

The key to true productivity varies a bit for most of us.  In general, maximum productivity comes from precision focus.  This leads me to what I consider to be the #1 enemy of productivity.

Multi-tasking

In many circles, multitasking is the key to everything.  It’s the method to accomplishing more in less time.  It’s the way we tend to look at cloning ourselves.  Multitasking has become a cultural norm, for the most part, across America.  But here’s what can result after multitasking too long.

– Burnout comes hard and fast.  You and I are human.  We can only work 70 hrs/week averaging 4 hrs of sleep each night for short periods of time.  Fight the urge (nature) to work like this with all you have.

– We have nothing left to offer our spouse, kids, and friends outside of work.  We are spent.  You’ve heard that leadership is a marathon, not a sprint.  Well, multi-tasking is sprinting.  It’s a fast work pace.

– Work becomes more of a chore than the career we hopefully love.  I love being a pastor.  I haven’t always been able to say that with integrity, but I can now.  But when I find myself juggling multiple things for extended periods of time, I do dread going to the office.  When this happens, take note.  Something needs to change soon.

The key to healthy productivity is the complete opposite of what I’ve mentioned above….‘uni-tasking.’

Uni-tasking is simply focusing all our attention, energy, and time on one task at a time.  Now, I will admit, there are those unique times that require short periods of high-energy work loads.  New or big projects come up and will demand more of our time.  But don’t allow this to remain the new normal once the height of that project slows down.

So, what does uni-tasking look like?

Simply stated, it requires intentionally blocking out all other distractions while working on one single task.

Turn off social media, calendar, and email reminders.

Initiate the old ‘lock-in’ at the office.  If you cannot do this, plan time working in a different environment.  Starbucks, the library, or outdoors at a local park (if you have 3G or 4G).

Inform receptionists, co-workers, and spouses when you plan these specific times for high focus work so they can avoid calling/texting you.

Place it on your calendar.  What’s not scheduled will not get done…period!  Making it an appointment gives it priority.

What do you think?  Are there other enemies of productivity?  What are they and how do you avoid them?

Comments are welcome below.

 

Manage your life, or your life will manage you!

photo by: www.southernfriedscience.com
photo by: http://www.southernfriedscience.com

Are you tired, stressed, or in any other way overloaded by the pressures of this life?  Well, I have good news and bad news.

Bad news:  Join the crowd!  All of us experience this from time to time.  In our busy society, this is not going away.  (I know, encouraging, right?)
Good news:  These pressures of life can be limited to short seasons and not the daily ‘norm’ that most Americans have come to believe.
Let me suggest 3 methods that I have personally begun to implement over the past year.  Don’t get me wrong on this.  I’ve still got some improving to do here, but I’ve come a long way in this area.  I hope and pray for you to experience the same.
#1  Take a real day off:  Everyone needs rest…both mental and physical.  You are not super human.  Seriously, there’s no law that says you cannot take care of you.  And let me say this loud and clear.  If you happen to be employed at a company/business that expects you to work 10-12 hours a day seven days a week (and even working from home), you need to find a different job!  You can read more on how to take a day off effectively here.
#2  Set healthy priorities:  I’m not talking about writing a productive task list for work.  Try spending a couple of hours contemplating your current life while sitting in your favorite coffee-house.  Take a notepad (or notes app) with you to jot down your thoughts.  List 2-3 lifestyle changes you would like to make.  Maybe its reading a good book for half and hour each night before bed.  How about not responding to email or phonecalls (texts) after 6 or 7pm?  Perhaps its doing some intentional grocery shopping on the weekends so you’re prepared to eat healthier during the busy work week.  I think you get the picture.
#3  Plan ahead:  To make the prior two points a reality you must schedule them as if they are actual appointments.  Before my daily morning quiet time  and trips to the gym became routine I actually put them on my iCloud calendar.  Place all your work and personal items on the same calendar!  This way they won’t overlap.  And we all know what happens when they overlap…….our personal time gets bumped every time.  Plan your entire week before your work week starts.  If your job is a difficult one to do this with, plan for each day on the evening before.  Trust me, mastering this practice will greatly decrease your stress levels.  It has for me.
Whether you are an executive in corporate America, fast-food worker, pastor, parent, or student…these are all possible for you.  Make them a reality, both for your sanity and for your future (not to mention for those around you).
Pray and meditate on this Psalm each day.  Give your life focus.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Prioritize your life, or life will make your priorities for you!  

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Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

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The Fruit of the Spirit in Leadership

photo by: brenda-thethingsiponder.blogspot.com

Joy

Do you have joy, REAL JOY, in your life today?  Ok, that’s a pretty big question.  Let me scale it back just a tad bit.  Do you experience Joy in your job?

See what I did there?  I fine-tuned the question while keeping it’s magnitude.  But it really is a fair question.  Do you honestly look forward to going to work each day?  Now, reality proves that ‘every day’ Joy in heading to work might be a slight stretch.  The heart of the question, however, is asking, “Do you love what you do?”  If your answer is ‘no,’ you might need to start examining why that is.  If you are in a leadership position and you don’t love what you do…..we need to talk!

It is absolutely critical for leaders who lead others to have REAL JOY in their position.  If you are miserable, everyone you lead will be miserable.

REAL JOY is not dependant upon our circumstances.  Go back and read that part again!  Let me paint a quick picture for you.  Even if…

…everyone on your team isn’t catching your vision.

…your boss is not pleased with your overall performance.

…you don’t have all the resources you need to do the job well.

You’ve got to be able to experience Joy in spite of your circumstances.  Why?  Because our circumstances cannot be our source of hope and fulfillment.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.     Romans 15:13

Today, rediscover Joy in your leadership role.  And if you have never really had Joy at work, I’d encourage you to  take some serious time away to reflect and pray.  Search for why Joy is absent.

Have you worked for someone who clearly disliked their job?  How did that effect your work?

Comment below.  You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram

3 Keys to Staying ‘On Track’ During the Holidays

photo credit: library.austintexas.gov

If you are reading this post right now you are probably feeling very similar to how I’ve been feeling over the past three weeks.

‘Off Track’

Maybe you know someone who is inundated with life stressors.  Pass this post on to them.  Here are 3 keys to staying ‘on track’ during the holidays.

1)  Stop – When I am feeling like everything is in disarray, the absolute worst thing I can do is accelerate forward with the hope of hitting a few big ‘to-dos’ on my way.  When you recognize that life and/or work are getting cluttered, slam on the brakes!  Trust me, stopping everything for a few hours (or even a whole day) will not cause a calamitous event in the universe.  Zebras will not lose their stripes.  The IRS will not deposit $1,000,000 to your bank account. And yes, you will still be willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee.  Take time to pray, go for a walk, get a needed nap,

2)  Focus – Use Evernote (or an actual note pad) to jot down everything you feel has been dropped.  Those work tasks you haven’t touched in about a month.  The family dinner you still need to make happen.  The reading you need/want to do because……dang it, that material simply doesn’t pop into your head when you wake up in the morning.  Next, prioritize this list and put it in your calendar (I learned this from Jim Wideman).  This is the planning phase.  Don’t….I repeat…..don’t make this too difficult!  Keep it small and clear.

3)  Restart – Now, take a big breath and let it out s l o w l y.  Set yourself DOABLE goals each day and pace yourself.  Celebrate the little victories, and give yourself some grace when you drop the ball…..it happens!

Now, when things begin to get ‘off track’ again…..revisit #1 above.