Easter

This time of the year is an exciting time as new life springs up with the warmer weather, at least in Ohio.  Easter is also an exciting time for Christians as we celebrate Jesus Christ.  As we prepare for Easter 2014 I thought I would share some thoughts on the significance of what Jesus did that causes us to be celebrating over 2,000 years later.

  1. Jesus died in our place – This is known as substitution, Jesus subbed in for us.  He took our punishment for us.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He was made sin for me.” and in 1 Peter 2:24 “He bore my sin in his body on the cross.”  What happened on the cross was personal.  Jesus the perfect, sinless Son of God had your sin put on him.  All the garbage, all the junk and ugliness he assumed it all.
  2. Jesus made us right with God – This is known as justification or in legal terms we were acquitted and found not guilty by God the Judge.  Acts 13:39 says “Through him (Jesus) everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
  3. Jesus made peace with God possible – This is known as reconciliation, which means bringing together two people who have suffered a breakdown in their relationship.  Jesus, by his death on the cross, gave us the opportunity to have our relationship with God healed and renewed.  2 Corinthians 5:19 says “God was in Christ, making peace between our world and himself…God did not hold the world guilty of its sins.  And he gave us this message of peace.”  So Jesus created a new bridge between us and God that had been broken.
  4. Jesus made us a part of God’s family – This is known as adoption, meaning God went through a lot in order to bring us into his family.  He considers us as his own children.  In Romans 8:17 it says “And since we are his children, we will share his treasures-for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too.”
  5. Jesus purchased our salvation with his blood – This is known as redemption, which means being set free.  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says this “God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver, as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
  6. Jesus satisfied God’s justice – This is known as propitiation which means that Jesus completely satisfied or fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands.  God demands holiness and perfection and Jesus satisfied that demand.  in 1 John 2:2 it says “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.”
  7. Jesus sent our sins away from us – This means forgiveness.  In Colossians 2:13 it says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”  God put all of our sins on Jesus, even though he was innocent and pure.  When our sins are put on him, we never see the guilt of them again.  God’s forgiveness is final and complete.

So there you have it, that is what Jesus Christ did for us.  That is why we celebrate so big during Easter, because all of this is amazing, unbelievable, undeserved and completely free.  Salvation is not by works but by grace, it’s not initiated by us but by God and its not an afterthought with God, it is his eternal plan.

Healing

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In 2 Chronicles chapter 7 God appears to Solomon.  Solomon has just finished building this magnificent temple of the Lord.  He has had tremendous success all along the way.  His father David had prepared the way for this to happen and now Solomon has accomplished this huge project for God.  They have been celebrating for 7 days and people are coming form all over the world to see this amazing temple and to worship God.  Solomon and others have been praying and preparing and then Solomon hears from God.

In verse 12 it says “The Lord appeared to him at night and said: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.”  God goes on to say “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people.”  This is interesting because God is saying that hardship has and will come our way.  He says when things go badly, when sickness strikes, when hard times come, I am going to tell you what to do.  This is verse 14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

So no matter what happens to us, if we are in God’s family, whether success, failure, sickness, heart break, tragedy or loss.  If we humble ourselves, pray and seek God and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us and forgive us and heal us.

So how does that translate for today.  Jesus came and was the final sacrifice for our sins, so we don’t need a temple to make sacrifices anymore.  Jesus paid for all our sins and gave us a clear path to heaven.  If we believe in Jesus Christ and follow him, we are now the temple that God can live in.  This verse in 2 Chronicles still applies today though for God’s people.  I believe this is about God being more concerned about our spiritual & emotional health than our happiness or even our physical well being.

So here is the principle:  If our daily focus is to remain humble and not be filled with pride and ego.  Thinking less about ourselves and more about God and others.  If our tendency or habit is to pray and seek God in any and every situation.  If we routinely repent or turn away from our sins, bad attitudes, negative thinking and the things that pollute our minds and hearts.  God promises to forgive us continually and immediately and take our burdens and worries from us.  And this leads to healing and wholeness.

The bottom line is that God wants us to trust him and depend on him for everything.  He wants us to turn away from the things that pull us down and turn to him who lifts us up.  It’s about becoming more like Jesus Christ who trusted God fully and completely and turned to him throughout his life here on earth.

So God is still in the healing business.  He wants us to be healthy and whole in every way and he wants to be the main focus in our lives, he wants us to worship him alone.  No matter what comes our way he is with us, for us and in us and he wants to forgive us and heal us.  God wants to free us from the hurts and damaging emotions that fill us up and tear us down.  He wants to free us from the lies and deception and fears that keep us locked up and in bondage.  He wants to heal our land, which is every part of us, not just our bodies.

The Power of Forgiveness

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One of the most powerful and helpful things we can do to be healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, is to practice forgiveness.  Forgiveness enables a person to release buried anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, grief, regret, hate and other damaging emotions that live inside of us.  Forgiveness releases layers and years of hurt and begins the healing process.  Forgiveness leads to an ability to love well.

It is important to know what forgiveness is and what it is not.

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting – Forgetting is a long-term by-product of forgiveness.  Once you choose to forgive someone, then healing and forgetting the hurt can start to happen.
  • Forgiveness is a choice – Everyone can choose to forgive, but typically we don’t feel like forgiving, because we like to hold onto our anger or resentment in order to protect ourselves.  When we don’t forgive we stay chained to our past.  Nobody can fix your past, but you can be free from it, it is your choice.
  • Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin – We all have had someone hurt us and we can either live in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.  No one gets off God’s hook, we all have to give an account for our actions and there are always consequences for our actions.
  • Forgive from the heart – Just saying the words I forgive you is not enough.  It’s important to bring back up the painful emotions and memories of the person that hurt you so that those emotions can be healed and not buried.
  • Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone’s sin against him or her anymore – This does not mean that you put up with abuse, we all need healthy boundaries and there are consequences for sin.  This means that we won’t bring up old offenses after forgiving someone.  Remember that God freely forgives us and does not hold our sins against us.
  • Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving - Most people will never get there.  Make the hard choice to forgive, even if you don’t feel like it.  Once you choose to forgive, the hold on you is broken and God can start healing your damaged emotions.

We should never base our decision to forgive on a person’s good behavior compensating for previous hurtful behavior.  Forgiveness is something that happens inside of you, it comes from your desire to forgive for the sake of forgiving.  Waiting until a person is worthy of forgiveness will feed your damaged emotions and cause further hurt.

Always remember that it takes only one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile.  You can forgive a person even if they don’t forgive you, but reconciliation always requires the wills of both parties involved.

There is so much more to forgiveness than what is covered here.  Some of the principles I covered come from Neil Anderson and his booklet called Steps to Freedom in Christ.  If your having a hard time making the choice to forgive, ask God to help you.  He can give you the strength to do it.

Encouragement is Incredible

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Being positive and encouraging people is more important than you might think.  If you want to turn around your workplace, your company, your marriage or your relationship with your children this is the way to do it.  Here are some interesting quotes from a great book called How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath:

  • The number #1 reason people leave their jobs (relationships) is they don’t feel appreciated
  • Bad bosses (spouses) could increase the risk of stroke by 33%
  • A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with-for good
  • 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace (home) last year
  • 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people
  • The magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction
  • Extending longevity: Increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years

So it’s clear that the majority of people don’t get the positive reinforcement they need.  I believe this is true at work and at home.  Some people are just naturally more positive than negative, but all of us can get better at this.  Here are a few simple things you can do this week to be more positive or encouraging:

  1. Say Thank-you – this simple gesture goes a long way.  Be sincere and specific.
  2. Write a note – hand-written notes take time and are more meaningful than emails or texts
  3. Smile – your face matters
  4. Listen – when you actively listen people feel valued
  5. Slow down – Take some time to actually get to know someone or have a meaningful conversation
  6. Touch – a high-five, knuckle-bump, touch on a shoulder etc sends positive signals.  With your spouse this could be a hug, kiss, holding hands etc.

One thing to be aware of as you work on being positive is to be careful what you are taking in.  What you watch on TV, what you read, what you listen to, all affect how positive or negative you are.  Feed your mind positive good things and you tend to be more positive to other people.

Lead On

Surprised & Inspired

 

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God has a way of surprising and inspiring us in the most unexpected ways.  I am on a weekend retreat for men that run Radical Mentoring Groups.  I’ve done three of these groups and love it each time I do a group.  I’m meeting up with over 100 other men that are doing these types of groups across the country.  We are gathering in Cleveland GA, which is north of Atlanta near the mountains.

When I arrived I discovered that I had some extra time before the retreat started, so I decided to drive up into the mountains and do some sight seeing.  I found a park area and decided to do a little hiking.  The weather was sunny and near 50 degree’s.  For people in GA that’s really cold but for me it was perfect.  I was the only one at the park and had the trails to myself.

I decided to do some running and got my heart rate up as I climbed up to an amazing waterfall.  I then turned around and headed back another way and found a second waterfall.  As I was there I started talking to God and asked him why I was here and had this extra time.  Then it hit me hard – God was telling me he loved me!  As I stood in the middle of this amazing wooded area I was struck by God’s goodness and was humbled at the gift he gave me of free time to just enjoy his creation and talk with him.  The sense of how much he loved me stopped me in my tracks.

I asked him what else he wanted to tell me and I heard some simple things, here they are:

  • Love your wife and treat her well – You can do better
  • Mentor and invest more time in the young men you have influence with
  • Talk to me more often and find time to listen

So that’s the start of this retreat, I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend.  I am anticipating that God has something more for me this weekend.

How to Build Trust and Influence People

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about trust.  Building trust with the people around you is one of the most important things you can do.  Building trust raises your level of influence and leads to more productivity and closer relationships.  When trust is broken, relationships shatter and it takes time to mend and rebuild that trust.

One of the greatest assets a person can have is the trust of the people around them.  That only happens if you work at it and develop it and don’t do things to lose it.  This is where character comes into play in leadership.  It may sound simple, but to build trust you must be trustworthy.

 

Building Trust takes intentional work and skill, here are some things you can do to build trust at work, at home, or anywhere you have influence:

 

• Listen and ask questions in order to understand the other person’s interests, needs and concerns.  Even repeating back what they just said.

 

• Make and meet commitments consistently.  Do what you say you will do.

 

• Identify and communicate shared interests and goals.  Find out what dreams and goals the other person has.

 

• Identify and clearly communicate differences as appropriate.  Explain the why behind your decisions.

 

• Honestly acknowledge when you have made a mistake or hurt someone, clarify intentions, and find a suitable remedy that affirms the value of the relationship. Basically you work to resolve conflict and seek and give forgiveness.

 

• Use a win-win approach to resolving conflicts or conducting negotiations.

 

• Develop, maintain, and strengthen relationships by spending adequate time with people getting to know them better and allowing them to get to know you better.  Taking a risk and being transparent with the other person opens the door to trust.

 

• Demonstrate honesty, keep commitments and behave in a consistent manner.

 

• Think about how to clearly communicate thoughts, feelings and rationale so that others understand your personal positions.

 

• Remain open to others’ ideas and opinions even when they conflict with your own.

Openness and honesty always lend substance and credibility to our character, which leads to greater trust.  When trust is present, the relationship is closer and healthier.

It’s important to note that building trust also means telling people the truth even if it hurts.  It takes courage to speak the truth to people you care about.  That initial hurt often leads to healing and a healthier relationship.  Telling someone the truth can also help them grow and avoid making mistakes.

If you need to work at building trust, you must first lay all the cards on the table and admit your past mistakes.  Then you need to start the hard work or rebuilding by doing the things mentioned above.  Building trust takes time and energy while losing trust can happen instantly.  Everything we say and do is either building trust or losing trust.

Lead On

 

Love in Action

liove is action

 

I’ve been thinking and studying this idea of love.  I have to say that I need to work on this area of my life.  I think most people would say they can do a better job of loving others.  But for most of us we don’t know what that looks like.  I work at a church so what I look to in order to learn and grow is God’s Word.  I was reading this today and it really struck me and challenged me.  I hope it does the same for you.  This is found in Romans 12:9-21 in the New Century Version of the Bible:

9 Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. 11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. 12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. 13 Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.

14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.

17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”[a] says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” Proverbs 25:21–22

21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

Just that first sentence, your love must be real is enough for me today.  You can’t fake love.

Love is all about doing and taking action.  It’s about how we think about ourselves, others and God.  The best way we can worship God is by loving others well.

 

What Grace Does

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I’ve been thinking about grace lately.  What does it mean to give someone grace?  If your a follower of Christ, you’ve heard of God’s grace.  Grace is giving someone something that they don’t deserve.

When the grace of God shapes our relationships, we respond to the sin and weakness of others with grace. So here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you hold people to a higher standard than you hold yourself?
  • Do you fail to overlook minor offenses?
  • Do you spend more time catching people doing wrong than doing right?
  • Are you better at criticizing than encouraging?
  • Do people feel accepted and loved by you or criticized and judged?
  • How do you tend to respond to the weaknesses, sins, and failures of those around you?

A grace mindset enables us to serve others out of a heart of compassion, gentleness, patience, kindness and love.  The closer we get to people the more these attitudes are needed because the closer we get the more we experience their weaknesses and sins.

When grace is shaping our relationships it means we are ready, willing and able to forgive.  Forgiveness starts with a transaction between God and us.  It’s talking to him about the offense and entrusting that person and the offense to God.  That prepares us for the interaction with the person that hurt us.  On our own it is very difficult to truly forgive and let go of the hurt.

Grace also enables us to humbly ask for forgiveness as well.  The truth is that we all hurt others from time to time and need to take responsibility for those actions or words.  When we ask for forgiveness, we are admitting our responsibility for sin against others, without justification, excuse or blame.  Being able to say something like this brings great healing:  “I was wrong for saying __________.  Please forgive me.  I am sorry for the pain I caused you.”

  • Grace enables us to make peace
  • Grace enables us to speak the truth
  • Grace enables us to serve others
  • Grace enables us to grant forgiveness
  • Grace enables us to learn to say no
  • Grace enables us to recognize, develop and use the gifts and abilities God gave us.

Ask God to help you have more grace in your life, it can transform all your relationships and change your circumstances.

The Six Core Competencies of an Effective Leader

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There are many competencies that are needed to be effective and just having these 6 does not mean you don’t have or need others.  I have identified 17 that I try to work on and develop in myself.  However, these six are the ones that I have identified as critical for leaders to have for long-lasting, high level leadership success.

 

I am a campus pastor for a church that currently has four campuses.  I have been with this church for over eleven years and previous to that I was a manager in the business of banking and accounting for 15 years.  These competencies are important for mid-level to executive level leaders.  I have tried to define each in practical ways so that you can evaluate yourself on how you are doing with that particular competency.

 

Here they are:

 

 

Accountability

  • Defines objectives and strategies to meet customer/member requirements and organizational goals and objectives.
  • Manages performance to achieve expected results.
  • Keeps informed of performance through face-to-face meetings, written communications, analytical reports, and performance measures.
  • Keeps supervisor informed of progress, issues, and potential problems.
  • Maintains a cost/effective balance of controls and risk-taking to ensure effective and efficient operation within budget.
  • Identifies and addresses areas of weakness that may affect organizational performance.
  • Freely shares information with team members and superiors
  • Takes full responsibility for results.

 

 

Building Trust

  • Communicates an understanding of the other person’s interests, needs and concerns.
  • Makes and meets commitments that contribute to addressing the other person’s interests, needs, and concerns.
  • Takes time to get to know people and genuinely cares about them.
  • Identifies and communicates shared interests and goals.
  • Identifies and communicates differences as appropriate.
  • Addresses perceived harm to the other person by fully acknowledging any harm done, clarifying intentions, and finding a suitable remedy that affirms the value of the relationship.
  • Is quick to admit mistakes and errors. 
  • Asks for and gives forgiveness.
  • Uses a win-win approach to resolving conflicts or conducting negotiations.
  • Develops, maintains, and strengthens partnerships with others inside or outside the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support.
  • Demonstrates honesty, keeps commitments and behaves in a consistent manner.
  • Shares thoughts, feelings, and rationale so that others understand personal positions.
  • Remains open to others’ ideas and opinions even when they conflict with their own.

 

 

Developing/Coaching Others

  • Clarifies responsibilities, authority, and expectations.
  • Provides timely guidance and feedback to help staff accomplish a task or solve a problem.
  • Provides guidance in how to strengthen knowledge and skills to improve personal and organizational performance.
  • Provides new assignments and experiences to develop the employee’s capability.
  • Communicates clearly & effectively and develops subordinates.
  • Conducts performance appraisal and feedback on a regular basis.
  • Provides helpful, behaviorally specific feedback to others.
  • Works with employee behavior problems.
  • Shares information, advice, and suggestions to help others to be more successful.
  • Gives people assignments that will help develop their abilities.
  • Regularly meets with employees/leaders to review their development progress.
  • Recognizes and reinforces people’s developmental efforts and improvements.
  • Expresses confidence in others’ ability to be successful.
  • Helps others learn new systems, processes, or programs.
  • Collaboratively works with direct reports to set meaningful performance objectives and then holds them accountable.

Emotional Intelligence

  • Demonstrates an ability to control and filter emotions in a constructive way.
  • Exhibits consideration of the feelings of others when/before taking action.
  • Demonstrates recognition of the various psychological and emotional needs of people.
  • Expresses feelings clearly and directly.
  • Understands ones own fears and unhealthy emotions
  • Is willing to get help when needed.
  • Exhibits humility and persistence.
  • Balances feelings with reason, logic, and reality.
  • Demonstrates an appreciation of the differences in how others feel about things.

 

Establishing Focus/Setting Direction

  • Acts to align own campus/department goals with the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Ensures that people in the campus/department understand how their work relates to the organization’s mission.
  • Ensures that everyone understands and identifies with the overall mission and values.
  • Ensures that the campus/department develops goals and a plan to help fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Uses effective techniques to define outcomes and expectations.
  • Clearly identifies the target and then sets objectives to focus on.
  • Sets goals for self, campus/department and expects the same from all direct reports.
  • Reviews those goals and objectives in regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports.

 

Interpersonal Skills

  • Considers and responds appropriately to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of different situations.
  • Relates well with others.
  • Maintains confidentiality.
  • Is likeable and approachable.
  • Communicates in a clear way.
  • Demonstrates consistency and fairness.
  • Anticipates and resolves confrontations, disagreements, and complaints in a win-win way.
  • Is tactful, compassionate and sensitive, and treats others with respect
  • Provides timely and honest feedback in a constructive and non-threatening way.
  • Listens with the intent of trying to understand before being understood.

 

 

Lead On

 

 

Leadership Lids

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LEADERSHIP LIDS

Every leader has lids on his life.  The issue is never whether you have lids.  The issue is what you are going to do about them.

Lids that limited us:

 

 

  • Fear
  • Impatience
  • Denial
  • Impulsiveness
  • Deceit
  • Jealousy
  • Anger

 

 

Most of these have to do with character.  If you are more concerned about keeping up appearances than cleaning up your character these lids can limit you.

Lids that did not limit us:

 

  • Family
  • Leaders
  • Background
  • Youthfulness
  • Inexperience

 

What lids exist in your life? 

 

What character flaws do you have?

 

What is your attitude toward those lids?

 

Are you taking responsibility for lifting them?

Are you willing to allow someone else help you lift them