going through challenges–get in a small group and lead by your mind, not your…

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Currently, I am involved as a leader in a soul care/Hope Group kind of volunteering effort at my church.  I understand groups like this are popping up all over.  Maybe you are involved, even right now in one.

The idea is to come together for a period of time with a small group of people, say weekly for 1-4 months and learn together principles to help shed light on gaining a healthy perspective dealing with conflict and root issues of our problems.  These groups  offer encouragement, support, and accountability to the weekly attendees.  Personally, I have benefitted so much personally, just my involvement in this ministry over the past few years.

For those currently in groups like this, or even to those who are going through a time of difficulty let me encourage you to keep just a few things in mind:

  • realistically, your area of hardship will not go away overnight–adjust your expectations on when things will get better
  • wishing your situation will get better on its own without any changes by you will just not happen
  • Try to get an understanding on how your behavior needs to change (avoid the mindset of “well, they need to change also…”)–do what you need to do to improve
  • it’s all about making consistently the right choices–learn what are the right choices to make and why and then strive to make adjustments in your life to do them>>>>>>make the right choices because you know mentally it is the best thing to do, even though you might not feel like it…Lead by your mind, not your emotions
  • as hard as it might be if you are going through a tough time and want to see the day when everything is all better—-turn away your thoughts from the future and FOCUS on today.  What “details” of your attitudes, actions, and motives do you need to get consistently better at?   If you persevere in a continuous improvement mindset, the results you long to see happen have a greater chance of coming true.

 

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A crucial hidden truth of leadership is…

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The bottom line for leaders is they want to lead well and want to produce victories. Whether it’s in sports, or business, or in the arts, leaders want their teams to be successful.

Because of that desire to “win”, the truth is that a leader might not really like a person, or people on their team, but are willing to tolerate them because of their talent.

So, what does that mean for you and I?  First of all, it means, as I mention so often in these posts, always try to be your best. Don’t worry about what’s in your future, but concentrate on being your best in all you do—today!  With that “continuous improvement” mindset , whether it’s in business, or personally, you will be amazed at the doors of opportunity that will open up for you in the future, as leaders look for people who have the abilities to solve their problems and help them achieve successes.

Second of all, as your talent improves in whatever area you’re concentrating, you do not have permission to act like a jerk.  Yeah, your skill level will open doors of opportunity, but understand that people will only go so far in their desire to win.   If your personal morals, or personality are so “over the top” offensive, you will be asked to leave the team because the annoyance and frustration of working alongside you outweighs the positive feelings that come from team success.

Let me share a story with you that illustrates this principle of people overlooking their own hesitance with liking a person, but seeking that talented person out to help them with their difficulties.

There once was a man named Jephthah.  He was the son of a woman who was not his dad’s wife.   As he got older, his half-brothers, the sons born to his father and his father’s wife, basically turned on Jephthah (as well as the elders in the community), and kicked him out of their town because of Jephthah’s illegitimate birth.

However, Jephthah was a mighty warrior and developed quite a reputation for his battlefield successes. As years went on, Jephthah’s home town, Gilead was being attacked. The leaders of the community realized the weaknesses in their defense and in desperation sought out Jephthah to be their military leader and to help them defend their town.  It seems like the people in Gilead were willing to put aside their previous criticisms of Jephthah because of their desperation for his help with their current problem.  Jephthah told them if they would accept him back in to their community he would help them. The town’s leaders accepted his offer and Jephthah, did in fact lead them to victory.

So, to summarize the heart of this post, it’s this:  First of all, your character matters in all you do. Please don’t limit any opportunities you have because of offensive things you do to alienate others.  Second of all, strive to be your best and fight the urge to want “success” now. Continue to be the very best you can be.  Rather than focusing your energies in dreaming of the future, concentrate on developing your skills, and trust that in time,  the opportunities will find you.  I believe they will.

Note:  The story of Jephthah is told in “The Book of Judges”- chapter 11 (in the Bible)

spectacular achievement is always preceded by …

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I believe we all have had, some time in our lives, these two experiences.

In one situation, whether its taking a test, or giving a speech, we come into it, unprepared.  For whatever reason, we didn’t prepare and we go into that event nervous, stressed, and not confident.  We knew we blew it and we can just hope we can wing it, well enough to get by.

In the other situation, again, whether its taking a test, or giving a speech, we go into it well-prepared.  We almost go in with a cockiness because we know our stuff.  We are at ease, almost anxious, and definitely feeling like “we got this”.

What’s the obvious difference–it’s the preparation that was put in.

To me this subject of being prepared is one of the most powerful activities leading to success and the applications for it are almost limitless.  Sure there are the tests, and speeches, but what about anticipating how you will act when you walk in the doors of your home after a long day at work.  Will you take your work troubles home with you or will you be able to leave it at the door, so that you can concentrate on the needs and opportunities of your family.

What about doing your preparation work before you start a home project that you don’t have to run back to the store mid-way through your work?

What about preparing a personal budget ahead of time so that when you near the end of the month, you are not caught up in that awful feeling that you have no more money to pay the monthly bills?

Think about your life—this day, in what areas of your life can you do a better job at preparation?

“spectacular  achievement  is always preceded by spectacular  preparation”       Robert H. Schuller

By doing this it brought incredible success

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Recently, I was in a conversation with a young man who mentioned to me some things he wanted to accomplish in his life.  As an fyi, we’ve been meeting together every couple of weeks in a mentoring kind of relationship.

As I reflected later about our conversation, I got to thinking that I hear much of the same thing at each of our meetings.  I hear “I wanna do this, or that”, but each time we get together minimal progress is made and many “I wanna do this or that’s” are said.

I believe the issue for my friend is his intentionality about setting up a plan and making the necessary adjustments in his lifestyle to accomplish his goals.

With this current situation in my mind, I came upon this brief excerpt from Keith Ferrazzi’s excellent book, “never eat alone” and thought it so  interesting:

“In SUCCESS magazine, there was a study where researchers asked Yale’s class of 1953, a number of questions.
-three had to with goals:
Have you set goals?
Have you written them down?
Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

-it turned out that only 3% of the Yale class had written down their goals with a plan of actions to achieve them. 13% had goals, but had not written them down. Fully 84% had no specific goals at all, other than to “enjoy themselves”.
In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13% who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% of students who had no goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3% who had written their goals down were earning on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of graduates combined!”

So, what is important to you?

Have you identified you long-term goals?

Can you think of some small steps you can take to accomplish these goals?

Have you written these goals down?

Have you shared your goals with a friend to receive from them encouragement, accountability, prayer, and support?

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As a further help to accepting responsibility for all the areas of your responsibilities (and building close relationships as you do), check out this App I’ve created:

You can visit either the App Store (for IPhones) Foundations Life Management app for IPhone devices

https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

or go to the Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en

 

I thank God for my friends

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God never ceases to amaze me.

Recently, my father passed away, which as you can imagine is a tough thing to go through.  However, I have been so overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and prayers that it has definitely eased the sorrow and has strengthened me.

On top of that, I have just seen this recent devotion from James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, “Friends who hold you up” and have had to just step back and thank God that the qualities of a true friend, as outlined in this meaningful devotion have been showing up, right in front of my eyes. I thank God for the friends I have!

 

David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home (1 Samuel 23:15–18, esv).Because of the pressures of life—stress at work, turmoil at home, a health problem, a financial crisis—sometimes we stumble. Sometimes the weight on us is so heavy that we can’t help but stumble.

That’s when we need a biblical friend or two to hold us up, as Jonathan did for David during a crisis in his life.

David was being hunted again by King Saul. This wasn’t a game; Saul wanted to kill David. “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh” (1 Samuel 23:16a). Jonathan was taking his life into his hands by even speaking to his friend, who was number one on Saul’s most wanted list. As we examine this scene, let’s notice five ways Jonathan held David up. These translate into five ways we can support our friends and receive their support.

1. Their Presence
A biblical friend shows up. Jonathan arose “and went to David” (23:16a). Jonathan had many reasons for staying away. Personally, he had everything to lose and nothing to gain. He risked his father’s wrath. In fact, when he got up to leave the table in the palace, his father threw his spear at him, trying to kill his own son (1 Samuel 20:30–33), which showed how Saul had slipped into insanity. In siding with David, Jonathan also risked his own royal position. After all, if Jonathan just let his dad kill David, then Jonathan would become the next king.

But David was alone and afraid, and there was no way Jonathan was going to let David down. He went to David.

2. Their Prayers
A biblical friend prays with you. When Jonathan arrived at David’s hideout, he “strengthened his hand in God” (23:16b). Even though David was a man of deep faith—author of most of the Psalms, a man after God’s own heart, a giant-slayer—he was hurting and disillusioned. Jonathan didn’t show up with shallow comments or advice, nor did he present himself as the solution. He helped David take his problems to God.Notice what Jonathan didn’t say. No cheap encouragement, like, “Dad will come around soon, Dave,” or “Don’t worry so much. It’s not as bad as it seems. Let’s look on the bright side while you hide here in this damp, dark forest without food or hope.” Often when we show up for our friends who are hurting, there’s nothing to say. The burden is too big, the hurt too deep. It’s about presence and prayer. We need friends who will take us to God, and we need to be that kind of friend when others stumble. Christian friendship isn’t about sitting in the same pew at church on the weekend. We need friends who will get on their knees, pray, and discuss the things of God with us. Biblical friends “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24b, niv).

3. Their Protection
A biblical friend protects you. As soon as Jonathan showed up, he reassured David, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you” (23:17a, esv). Think of what these words meant to David. David was an emotional guy—he’d have to be to write the kind of moving poetry found in the book of Psalms. It’s not hard to imagine that as he saw Jonathan approaching, David might have questioned his friend’s loyalty. He didn’t have to wonder long. Apparently Jonathan sensed that David’s meter was redlining, so he quickly reassured him. “My dad won’t find you. Of course I won’t tell him where you are. Relax.” When David heard those words of support, he felt strengthened.

When our hearts feel like tornadoes, the last thing we need is for a so-called friend to show up and fan the storm. Instead, biblical friends protect us, speaking words to soothe our troubled emotional state.

4. Their Personal Loyalty
Biblical friends confirm their personal loyalty. Jonathan told David, “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you” (23:17b). Even though Jonathan was the prince, David had been anointed to be the next king, and Jonathan didn’t contest God’s decision. In fact, he painted a picture of the future for David, essentially saying, “You will be king—not me—and that won’t sever our relationship. I’m content with being number two as long as you’re number one.” No wonder David loved him.

When we stumble, we need friends who protect us with their fierce allegiance, not someone who turns against us and kicks us while we’re down. We need friends who will come to our aid and lift us up with their life-giving loyalty.

5. Their Promise
A biblical friend confirms the friendship with a promise. “And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord” (23:18a). Some men might balk at that idea, claiming it sounds girly or weak. Actually, what a sign of strength that two warriors stood together, admitting they couldn’t be all that God wanted them to be without the other. They communicated, “I really need you! Let’s stand together in this.” That kind of committed friendship lifts those who stumble.

When we slow down in life, get off track, feel discouraged, lose focus, want to quit, or fall flat, we need this kind of friend.

And we need to be this kind of friend.

“You know, I’ve never been asked that question” !

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Many years ago, I was doing a fair bit of traveling for work and I can vividly remember feeling on one hand that it was so cool seeing some of the sites that I was enjoying. On the other hand, I felt sad because I wasn’t seeing these sites with anyone.

More than ever, I have realized that life is a precious thing in and of itself, but all the more when we are doing it with others. There is truly a preciousness about knowing you have family and close friends around you that you can share the fun times,  as well as experience together some of the most painful struggles, and everything in between.

As I’m writing these words, I think about a brief conversation I had with someone at church some time ago. Please keep in mind this was a leader in the church.  I asked him how he was doing.  The way I asked that question conveyed that I really wanted to know. I wasn’t just saying “how ‘ya doing?” as I was walking past him.  Shocking as it was for me at that time to hear (and still is) , he replied, “you know, no one has ever really asked me that question before.”  How tragic.

If you are like me where there seems to always be something to worry about in the future, as well a never-ending list of things to accomplish today, let me encourage you to pause to appreciate those closest to you who you are doing life with. It is the memories you have with these friends that make life special.

“The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch  one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way.”  Jack Kornfield

 

How are you doing with taking time to enjoy the people in your life?

Foundations Life Management APP

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Giving your best, but “are you playing for Him?”

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I’ve written a lot of posts over the years – over a thousand.  But I’m really excited about this one.  There’s a sweetness in my heart as I think about writing this post. (I was holding back the tears before it was all done).

This message is about vision and perspective. It’s about re-looking at the way you live your life and your motivation.

Readers of my blog know that my posts often deal with being intentional about striving for excellence in all seven areas of responsibilities. I believe that if a person does, they will generally be happier and more successful than those who don’t .  My Balance Sheet

In a similar way, I believe any person who is faithful, honest, hard-working, and exercises self-control will tend to have a more orderly life with generally less problems than someone who tends not to be faithful or trustworthy, and is selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and is not self-controlled.  Mind you, everyone has their difficulties, but a person who tries to be kind and think of others first will tend to not bring more troubles upon themselves than a person who only concerns himself with his own needs (and wants).  Wouldn’t you agree?

So, with that said, I believe that anyone will benefit from striving for excellence in all these seven areas of responsibilities.  I believe when you are at your best, you will bring others happiness, as well as yourself. But, hear me out as I go on.  But, even when we are at our very best, in and of ourselves, we are never good enough to come to God on our own merits.  We are just too mired in the stain of our selfish and sinful ways to come into the presence of a holy God.

Thankfully, God solved the problem by amazingly giving us His best.  He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ to live a perfect life on earth, then go to a place of judgement (a cross) to die in our place.  Through His sacrificial death, He has reconciled all who will receive this free gift of His kindness.

Now, as an expression of gratefulness to God for all He has done for us and empowered by His Spirit, we can do good works.  So, just to really make this clear,  as believers in our Savior, Jesus Christ, we now desire to do good things,  not to earn His favor, which we can never do, but as an expression of our gratitude for what He has already done for us.

In a similar way to doing good works, I want to encourage you with this rallying cry to strive for excellence in all seven areas of responsibility, but not so that you can boast about how good of a person you are, but as a gift back to God for His transforming work in your life.

As passionately as I can and out of a humble heart filled with gratitude, I want to come to Him and present my life to Him in hopes I have represented Him well. Like the little drummer boy, I want to be motivated to come to Him and honor Him by “playing my best for Him”.

Let me encourage you  (even dare you)  to find a quiet place this day, and with this post in mind, consider how you are doing in the seven areas of your responsibilities and how you can be better. After all, don’t you want to be your best, so that can present your best to Him?


As a further help to accepting responsibility for all the areas of your responsibilities (and building close relationships as you do), check out this new App I’ve created:

You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     Foundations Life Management app for IPhone devices

https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

or go to the Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en