3 Most Read Blog Posts in May

1) With This One Statement You Could Change Your Kid’s Life

As a parent, you want to raise kids who are “comfortable in their skin” and have the confidence to pursue extraordinary things for God. I want that for my son and my 3 daughters! I want to share a statement you can begin telling your kids today that can make a HUGE difference in their future confidence . . .

2) Here’s The Most Likely Way You’ll Become Unhappy with Your Job

What if there’s a job out there that pays more? What if there’s a job out there that’ll make you more happy?

Dan Gilbert’s book, Stumbling upon Happiness describes the human brain’s unique ability to create what he calls “synthetic happiness” even when things don’t go the way we want.

For example, Gilbert claims when Obama or Romney lose their presidential bid this November, he will claim years from now he is happier and better off because he lost. His brain will produce a “synthetic happiness” causing him to believe that unexpected opportunities or growth resulted from his loss which a win wouldn’t have produced . . .

3) 3 Ways to Make Bold Decisions WITH Your Spouse

Take a BIG step for God. But before you do let me give you some friendly advice: Make sure it’s a team decision between you and your spouse. Disclaimer: I don’t have this figured out but I’m learning it’s extremely important.

If you and your spouse aren’t equally called for a BIG step then IT WON’T WORK! . . .

BONUS: 4) After the failure, hurt, and disappointment

Just wanna think out loud today.

A BIG hurt, failure, or disappointment is usually followed by a “season of silence”. This season can last days, months, or years. It is difficult. It is lonely. In the end, it is meaningful. Based on my experience, a season of silence includes the following characteristics . . .

Imagine: You Can Send ONE Text to God Knowing He’d Respond

You can only send one. What would you text?

First, here are some texts I’d be tempted to send:

When will the Cowboys win their next Super Bowl? Isn’t Tom Landry is pulling strings up there?

Mac or PC?

Obama or Romney?

What’s up with the beginning of Genesis 6?

Can John Calvin beat up James Arminius? Or, do You even care?

When am I going to Heaven?

What trials or pain are in my future?

Thank you for Jesus.

Thank you for the Holy Spirit.

I love you.

But here’s the one I think I’d actually send:

How can I increase You and decrease me?

How about you? What would you text?

Pain: Don’t Like it but Don’t Avoid it

You’d love to become a leader but inevitably people will criticize you.

You’d love to speak the truth to a friend but you know it would be a hard conversation.

You’d love to take a bold step but it’s risky.

You’d love an authentic relationship but transparency might include rejection.

The real problem is you don’t like pain. Neither do I.

We’re in good company. Jesus didn’t like pain. (See Matt. 26:36-39)

Even though he didn’t like pain, Jesus didn’t avoid it. In fact, Jesus would get angry when someone tried to prevent his pain. Angry! Why?

Here’s an example:

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” – Mark 8:31-33

Like you and I, Peter viewed pain as hurtful, a setback, and something to be avoided.

But Jesus sees pain differently. He views pain as a planned pathway leading to God’s desired future. He knew avoiding the pain would void his mission. The disciple’s efforts to stop the pain could’ve tragically prevented Jesus from going to the cross!

Jesus saw how pain tends to pave the way for God’s glory:

– Lazarus’ resurrection from the tomb followed a death, burial, and mourning.

– The leper’s life-saving healing followed a leprosy diagnosis and then isolation.

– The blind man’s glorious healing was preceded by a lifetime of visual darkness.

– The resurrection followed the cross.

Jesus didn’t want to be rejected, betrayed, or killed. But he knew God’s road to the resurrection required all of them. On the other side of Christ’s pain, God had a seat waiting near him.

Pain is a common ingredient found in miracles. Even though Jesus didn’t like pain, he passionately protected it.

The only thing worse than pain is missing out on God’s mission.

You don’t have to like pain but it’s tragic to avoid it.

A Complaint-free Day

I wanna offer you a challenge today.

Would you only communicate gratitude today? No complaining or negativity . . . ALL day.

It would be easy to focus on life’s difficulties. But not today.

Why? Because people many of us don’t know gave their lives for a cause greater than themselves.

In honor of their selflessness, let’s spend today expressing gratitude. Express gratitude to a spouse, a friend, to God for the sunrise, our freedom, opportunities, breath, breakfast, a flower, the wind, a smile, a song, a laugh, or a memory.

Will you join me?

Let’s spend Memorial Day honoring those who gave their lives by truly appreciating their gift of freedom.

 

Where do you make the greatest contribution?

I love those quiet evenings when Ginger and I sit down at a restaurant. We’re given a menu and suddenly it happens. I see a ton of great options.

I hate that because I immediately want everything! So I order the blackened chicken and then wonder if I should’ve picked the tortellini pasta. Oh the madness!

We do something similar as leaders. Instead of trying to eat everything, we’re tempted to lead everything. Instead of a hunger for food, we have a hunger to be needed. Generally, this leads to widespread failure.

Andy Stanley offers this important question every leader should ask themselves: “What do you do that only you can do?”

Even if you’re a young leader, answering this question is important.

“It may take years, but when the time comes and you’re in a position to control your time, will you know where to invest it?” – Andy Stanley.

Where do you make the greatest contribution in your organization?

This is one of 6 questions Andy Stanley recommends every leader ask on this month’s leadership podcast.

After the failure, hurt, and disapointment . . .

Just wanna think out loud today.

A BIG hurt, failure, or disappointment is usually followed by a “season of silence”. This season can last days, months, or years. It is difficult. It is lonely. In the end, it is meaningful.

Based on my experience, a season of silence includes these characteristics:

1) God seems distant even though He’s close

2) It’s hard to imagine life will ever be good again

3) God’s purpose isn’t immediately clear

4) Relationships change . . . some end . . . some become life-long

5) Comfort zones end and new dreams begin . . . eventually

6) Faith is immediately shaken but eventually strengthened

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can you add some other characteristics to this list?

Read More in Less Time

“I’ll read more when I have more time.” “The title of that book looks fascinating. I wish I had time to actually read.”

You wanna ready but you’re busy! Plus, some books are just plain difficult or boring!

A misperception is thinking all books are equally valuable. They ain’t! 

So why give them equal time? I’m getting quicker at discerning if a book will add value for me. Sometimes that’s a reflection of the book and sometimes it’s a reflection of me. (I might not be at a place to appreciate the truth of a book right now.)

I’ve also learned a reading approach (not original with me) that’s a huge time-saver. Here’s how you can read more in less time:

1. Read the entire first chapter word-for-word. This is the “money chapter” the author submits to convince the publisher to pick up his or her book.

2. Read the first paragraph of each subsequent chapter. The author wants to engage the reader for the entire chapter so this is their overview and hook.

3. Read the first & last sentences of all other paragraphs. You may not get everything but you’ll get the point of the book.

4. You’ll read most books in 60-90 minutes with this process. Then you can decide if you believe the book’s worth slowing down to digest more thoroughly.

Here’s a great and FREE article by Alan Jacobs entitled “How to Read a Book”. (See chapter 9).

Don’t feel guilty skimming. Not all books are created equally . . . for you.

4 Practices to Set Your Child Up for Success

Imagine you had a HUGE dream to build the most magnificent skyscraper in America. (Think of “The Stark” building from The Avengers Movie.)

Then imagine being told you can’t build it but your child can. How would you set your child up to succeed?

That’s what happened years ago when the nation of Israel’s King, David wanted to build a world-class Temple. God told David he wouldn’t build it but his son would. David decided to set Solomon up for success. You can re-read the story in 1 Chronicles 28.

You might not dream of your kid designing skyscrapers but you want your kid to succeed. David did four specific things for his son that are transferrable practices for those of us parenting today.

Based on this story, here are 4 practices to set your child up for success:

1) Be honest about your own failures 

I asked an incredibly Godly dad recently, “How can I raise great kids like you have?” He quickly said, “Be honest with your kids. When you mess up say ‘you’re sorry’.”

David told Solomon that he wasn’t allowed to build the Temple because he’d caused too much blood shed on the battle field. Solomon already knew but he must have been encouraged by his dad’s honesty about his own failures.

My kids already know my weaknesses. My willingness to admit them only increases my credibility with them.

 2) Put other adults in your child’s life

Do your kids have other adults reinforcing your values in their life? Maybe it’s a small group leader at church, a teacher who’s taken a special interest in them, or a family member they feel comfortable with. Whoever it is, it’s just important that someone is there. And as an adult, you can help foster those relationships.

David told Solomon there were skilled workers at his disposal who “will help you in all the work.”

 3) Give your child resources to succeed

You may not have tons of gold and silver like David.

You have gained some wisdom. Pass your wisdom on to your child.

You have experiences. Pass your experiences on to your child.

You probably have a stronger faith. Pass your faith on to your child.

4) Encourage your child to do BIG things & put their faith in God

Listened to how the story ends as David says one last thing to his son Solomon:

Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.

What if we repeated these words to our kids? Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until ALL of His purposes for you are finished.

3 ways to make bold decisions WITH your spouse

Take a BIG step for God. But before you do let me give you some friendly advice: Make sure it’s a team decision between you and your spouse.

Disclaimer: I don’t have this figured out but I’m learning it’s extremely important.

If you and your spouse aren’t equally called for a BIG step then IT WON’T WORK!

Last year our family moved to California. This was a life-changing move.

Last weekend at our church, my wife shared why this was a particularly big move for her. Ginger was born and raised in one great town her entire life.

While Ginger was sharing the difficulties and blessings of our BIG step (moving our family to the West Coast), one thought went through my mind over and over again: I’m so grateful we made this decision together.

Ginger sharing at 1 of the 3 services in which she spoke this weekend

3 ways to make bold decisions WITH your spouse:

 1) Stop. If your spouse doesn’t want to take the step, God isn’t ready for you to take the step. It may not be a “no”. But He’s at least saying, “wait”.

 2) Process together. Walk together from the beginning of the decision-making process. If you’ve been praying and learning about a possible next step for months, it’s unrealistic to expect your spouse to be on board after just a couple of conversations.

 3) Talk. Pray about it together. Share your fears together. Share the possibilities together. The process will bring clarity for the decision but more importantly it will help align your hearts. Maybe that’s what God desires more.

Your family and ministry require unity in your marriage. Decision-making is difficult but don’t move too fast and, whatever you do, don’t move alone.

Awaken Your Heart

When I was a kid and someone died I’d ask my mom, “How’d they die?” My mom has a dry sense of humor so she’d say, “Their heart stopped beating.”

That’s not always the cause of death but it’s always the proof of death.

Put your hand over your chest. No, seriously. No one’s looking.

Feel the heart pulse as it pumps blood to your entire body? That means you’re alive! One day someone will put their hand over your heart to confirm that you’re not.

Between now and the day your heart stops beating, will you you dare to awaken it?

Because you’re alive your heart longs to awaken. Do you hear it? It’s begging you!

But how do you awaken your heart? By pursuing your dreams. Your heart lives for dreams!

If it’s been awhile, that’s okay. Listen to your heart again and DREAM.

If you’re out of practice, remember dreams almost always include 3 things:

1) They DARE to MAKE a DIFFERENCE

Steve Jobs dreamed of “making a dent in the universe”.

One of my deep fears is living a life that will not have mattered.

You were created to pursue a cause bigger than you. Your heart is heart-wired to encourage others. If only you benefit from your dream, it’s too small.

2) They’re SCAREY

My kids and I love to hide behind things and scare each other. My wife is the most common victim. When you’re surprised or scared do you notice how fast your heart beats?

Should your dreams include fear? Yes. Should that stop you? No.

“Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do your fear.” – Richard Wilkins

If your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not a dream it’s a “to do” list.

There are 3 important limits you should have for your fear when you’re dreaming. I list them HERE.

3) They AWAKEN Your Heart

The next time someone shares their dream with you notice the sudden spark in their eye, how fast they begin to talk, and watch their energy increase. It’s a beautiful site! Their heart awakens before you. That’s what dreams are supposed to do!

When you share your dream, if you don’t feel an energy bump you’re probably sharing a desire not a dream. You don’t have to manufacture energy to talk about your dream.

Set some time on your calendar right now. Dreaming requires margin.

Before you develop action steps and actually pursue the dream enjoy the rush as your heart begins to awaken!

Ready? First, put your hand on your chest. Feel your heart begging?