5 Principles For Dealing With Change

Things around us are always changing.  Think about your job and the number of changes that have happened in the last 3 months.  How about the stores that you like to shop at or the restaurants that you enjoy eating at.  Even the roads that we drive on are changing.  I’ve hit a few huge potholes lately!  In all these areas, things are either changing for the better or the worse.  Things are either deteriorating or being improved.

One area that is in constant change is the people around us and relationships we have.  People are constantly changing, lets face it we are emotional beings and so there are lots of ups and downs for all of us.  People are complicated and difficult, and yet we need people and relationships in our lives in order to thrive.

So when it comes to all this change around us how do you not get totally stressed out and just give up.

I’d like to give you five simple principles that can help you navigate the changes going on in your life or to help create positive changes in your life.

  1. Control the Controllable – Most of things around us, and all of the people around us are out of our control.  If we do try to control the things or people around us we add additional stress to everyone’s lives.  This principle brings the focus back to us and what we need to do, and what we can control.  We can control what we say; what we do; what we focus on; who we listen to; what we study; what we learn; what boundaries we set; what we spend and where we spend it.  We control what and when we eat, how much sleep we get and the amount of exercise we get.  The choices and decisions we make are within our control.  What other people say or do is out of our control, but we are in control of how we respond.
  2. Monitor the Conversations in Your Head – We talk to ourselves more than anyone else.  Those conversations are what I like to call narratives or stories that get replayed over and over again.  Our internal conversations come from past experiences, things we have learned or picked up along the the way.  For many people those conversations or stories are not as positive as they should be.  Those conversations with ourselves lead to decisions, choices, words spoken and outward behavior whether good or bad.  So start being more aware of what you are telling yourself.  Start to question if it’s really true, maybe you are believing a lie or deceiving yourself.  Maybe you need to start a new story.
  3. Ask Questions & Ask for Help – If you don’t understand something or someone it’s always a good practice to ask questions with the intent of wanting to understand.  What goes right along with this is to listen well.  When you ask good questions and then listen intently you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and mistakes.  A great practice is to repeat back to the person what you heard them say.  Ask clarifying questions if you need to.  Fear keeps us from asking questions or asking for help.  When you are struggling in any area of life it is wise to ask for help.  There are other people that have gone through what you are going through or have helped others with similar things.  So ask honest, sincere questions to help you fully understand what the other person is saying or asking you to do.  Also ask for help if you don’t know how to do something or you are stuck in an area of your life.
  4. Keep Growing – The books you read and the people you meet will determine the kind of life you will have.  The people that are constantly growing, learning and interacting with other people have the most influence in this world.  Put a plan together of what books you want to read and the people you want to meet or reconnect with.  Make sure you are growing intellectually, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  5. Make Your Faith a Priority – The one thing that I believes helps us the most when it comes to handling change is faith.  The Christian faith has been what has guided me for most of my life.  Learning from Jesus Christ has been the biggest help in making good decisions, handling stress and change, and dealing with all the relationships in my life.  Make growing in your faith a high priority and many of these other things will fall into place.

Doing these five things will bring your stress level down, improve your work and relationships and bring more contentment and joy to your life.  Life will never be perfect, but it can be better.

Why Most People Don’t Have What They Want

 

Cardiovascular problems cause thousands of deaths every day.  The main problem is neglect.  Every day there are thousands of divorces, often because of neglecting problems, and each other.  The relationships and things we neglect are damaged and deteriorate faster than the relationships and things we care for and pay attention to.

Think about your car.  If you never wash it and never get it serviced it won’t last very long.  It will start to break down and soon will quit running.  Or think about a garden that is neglected.  All kinds of weeds start to take over and they can choke out everything you planted.  Our bodies and our relationships are the same way.  If we neglect them they will stop working or weeds start to take over.

So what or who are you neglecting in your life?

The longer you neglect your health, your teeth, your weight, your finances, your marriage, your spouse, your character or your faith the worse it will get.

Why do we neglect things that are important in our lives?  That’s a big question, because most people want to be healthy, most people want a great marriage, most people want financial freedom, most people want a good reputation, most people want a closer relationship with God.  The problem is most people are not willing to do the basic principles that lead to health, growth and success in those areas of their lives.

It takes discipline to lose weight and get healthy, it takes discipline to work on your marriage and become a better person, it takes discipline to get out of debt and be generous, it takes discipline to grow in your faith and trust in God.

Our natural tendency is to do what’s comfortable and easy.  We avoid conflict, we avoid the scales and going to the doctor.  We eat our favorite foods and only think about exercising.  We avoid having that conversation or going to a trusted advisor for counsel.  In other words we neglect some of the things that are most important in our lives and stay busy with things that don’t improve those parts of our lives.  Many people simply hope it will get better or that the problem will just magically go away.

So what should a person do if they have areas of their lives that have been neglected and damaged?  Here are a few simple steps that can help get you back on track:

  1. Set some goals – We all have two choices, making a living or designing a life.  When you write down goals and review them often you are paying attention to parts of your life that you want to improve.  The first step in improving an area of your life is to pay attention to it.  The ultimate reason for setting goals is to keep us focused on the things that will bring out the person God created you to be.  To be a better man or woman, husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter.  Setting goals is the first step toward being a better person.
  2. Ask for help – Trying to accomplish major changes in your life is very difficult without the help of others.  Whether it’s losing weight, reconciling a marriage, improving a relationship, transforming your financial condition or deepening your faith, find trustworthy people that can walk with you.  Find people that want something for you not something from you.  Look for people of integrity, honesty and character.  Remember that God created you and has a purpose for your life.  Talking to God and reading His words in Scripture can be a huge help in making changes in your life.
  3. Think long-term – Short-term fixes don’t work.  Cutting out carbs might help you lose some weight but long-term weight loss only happens if you change the way you eat and exercise for life.  The same in relationships, you can learn to do some nice things for each other but if you don’t address your core issues your right back in the same place a year later.  Address why you eat too much, address why you get so angry, address why you spend so much money.  That is the hard part of change, not just putting a bandage on the wound but cleaning it out and stitching it up.
  4. Don’t give up – The hard work is always worth it.  When you exercise on a regular basis you get sore and hurt for a while, but as your muscles and lungs and heart get stronger you feel so much better.  When you learn what your hot buttons are and how you defend yourself, then you can start working on changing your responses, which will improve your relationships.  Put in the hard work, face your fears, keep pushing to get better and don’t give up.

So if you’ve been neglecting areas of your life start making plans to change that today.  A year from now you will be glad you did.

 

Be Generous

F81ABBC8-9EB7-2769-67EBF258A0BD8E18It’s the most generous time of the year.  For many people Christmas time is a time to be generous with family, friends and even strangers.  It’s also the end of the year and people are thinking of year end giving.  I want to talk about generosity and what that really means.

As a follower of Jesus one of my desires is to be known as a generous person.  Jesus was very generous with his time, talent and treasure.  He taught many life-changing messages and stories about being generous.  He even gave his life for our sins.

Generosity is demonstrating the nature of God by wisely reinvesting the resources that He has entrusted to us.  There are several key traits that go into making someone generous.  Without these in our lives we cannot be truly generous.

  • Loving – It is not possible to have love without generosity, but it is possible to have generosity without love.  If you have the love of Christ in you, then generosity should flow out of you.  It should be a part of your nature to be generous and look for ways to give and serve others.  1 John 3:17 says “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
  • Sowing – Generosity follows the law of the harvest.  The more generous we are in sowing, the greater will be our harvest in true riches. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
  • Honoring – Honor means “to place value upon.”  We are instructed in Ephesians 6:12 to honor our parents.  We honor civil authorities by paying taxes and following laws.  When we give to the poor, we honor the Lord and He promises to repay.  Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Generosity is not just giving, it is giving abundantly or joyfully.
  • Grace – It is through God’s grace that we are able to give and be generous, and that giving is an expression of the grace we have in Christ Jesus.
  • Stewardship – A steward is one who is entrusted with the assets of the master and is responsible to make wise investments with them.  A wise steward understands that the assets he has under his control do not belong to him and should be returned to the master with increase.  We are stewards of all the people, possessions, abilities and talents that God has blessed us with.

Generosity brings light into a dark world.  It makes people smile and feel good.  Generosity also draws us closer to God because it’s when we are most like Him.  Giving also reminds us that God owns it all and that He is the one that can give us more or take it all away.  Being generous also breaks the bondage of greed and overcomes the love of money.

Here are some simple steps to help you be more generous:

  • Dedicate everything to God – This includes all your money, time, possessions, strength, abilities, and relationships.  Truly acknowledge that God owns it all.  That takes a lot of pressure off of us.
  • Practice living simply – Try to simplify your life.  This could mean selling or giving away some of your stuff.  It might mean giving up some luxury items so that you can live at or below your income.  It may mean saying no to some things in order to say yes to being more generous.
  • Give as God directs – The goal of generosity is to demonstrate the love of God so that others will be drawn to Him.  Start being generous by doing random acts of kindness.  You can also start giving to your local church.  Consider giving a percentage of your income.  Start giving your time by volunteering at your church, in the community or at a non-profit.

So how generous are you?  Do you see God as the provider of all wealth?  Do you see yourself as a steward of God’s resources?  Do you honor God with a generous portion of all His increase in your life?  Are you living as frugally as you can so you have more to invest in God?

Generosity is the result of focusing on God’s riches rather than our resources.  CS Lewis said this “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.  I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

Ask God for opportunities to be generous and see what happens.

Five Key Spiritual Habits

habits

We are all busy, there are many things competing for our time and energy.  Leadership can be defined as having influence in someone elses life.  If you have faith in Jesus Christ you are also a spiritual leader, because now you are an ambassador for God.  The influence we have with people, whether it’s at work, home, school or church is often a reflection on what daily habits we have.

Jesus gave us a great example of things we can do to stay focused on the right things and keep the right perspective on life.  It’s easy to drift and be consumed by the day to day activities of life unless we develop these essential habits.  So here are five things we can observe in the life of Jesus that can contribute to our development of faith, character and leadership.

  • Solitude – This is a challenging behavior because it’s countercultural.  It is a rare and often unsettling feeling to stop doing and just be.  Solitude is being completely alone with God away from all human contact for extended periods of time. It is in these times of solitude that we can seek to refill our spiritual fuel tank, hear from God, think clearly and honestly.  It helps us make better decisions, work through grief and pain and strengthen our spirit and resolve.
    • Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert.
    • Before he chose the 12 disciples he spent the entire night alone praying and thinking.
    • When a close friend John the Baptist was killed he went off in a boat by himself.
    • After a great ministry event of feeding the five thousand he went up into the hills by himself.
  • Prayer – How’s your prayer life?  Prayer is essential for our spiritual and emotional well-being. Regular connection with God through prayer is what sustained Jesus while he was here on earth.  For us as leaders it’s vital to be able to talk with God about anything and everything.  Prayer is the way in which we plug into God’s power, receive God’s comfort and encouragement, vent our frustrations and pain and intercede for other people.  Prayer helps prepare us for the day by focusing on God first.  Praying with people and for people is a powerful leadership principle.  Praying for your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, employees, small group, boss and other leaders is an effective way to lead and love people.  When prayer becomes a habit it becomes part of our DNA and normal way of life.
  • Bible – It’s the greatest resource known to mankind.  It’s more than a how-to manual for life, it’s an intimate love letter written to you from your Heavenly Father.  I’m currently reading through the New Testament in 60 days.  I’m on day 51 and I love it and look forward to it.  There are five practical ways you can cultivate this habit of getting into God’s Word.
    • Hearing God’s Word – That is why it’s important to go to church, to hear God’s Word and messages about how to listen and obey and put it into practice.  You can also listen to the Bible through great Bible Apps like YouVersion.  Have your spouse or friend read the Bible out loud to you, not only will you get into God’s Word it will build that relationship with your spouse or friend.
    • Reading God’s Word – There are so many great translations of the Bible that it’s much easier to read the Bible today.  I use my Bible App on my phone a lot.  There are great reading plans for all parts of the Bible.  Don’t take on too much but be consistent.  Reading the Bible daily or most days will help you lead better, even if you don’t understand everything at first.  Great leaders read a lot and the Bible should be at the top of the list.
    • Study God’s Word – This is more than just reading, this is examining and looking into the meaning and application of God’s Word.  This is great to do with other people in a small group, but we also need times when we dig in on our own.  Using a study Bible is helpful because there are study notes that explain what the Scriptures are saying.
    • Memorize God’s Word – When was the last time you memorized something?  A great way to go deeper in God’s Word is to memorize it.  Every year I lead a group of men and one of the things we do is memorize Scripture together.  Jesus used Scripture to fight against the devil and we can do the same.  When you memorize it you can recall it later when you need courage for the fight.
    • Meditate on God’s Word – Memorizing Scripture puts it into your head, while meditating puts it into your heart.  It’s focusing on a verse or several verses over a period of time.  Writing it down, reading it out loud, emphasizing different words, personalizing it by putting your name in the verse, praying the verse to God.  It’s praying while your focus on that Scripture and asking God to reveal what he wants you to know or do.
  • Trusting God – Jesus completely trusted God with absolutely everything.  In our culture we tend to only rely on or trust ourselves.  Trusting others and God is a struggle for most people.  Pride & fear fuel this lack of trust in our lives.  Many people have also been hurt or let down by important people in their lives so it’s hard to trust again.  Only in our relationship with God can we trust for complete unconditional love.  Because of God’s incredible, never changing love for us He is trustworthy.  When we understand who God is and how much He loves us it changes our perspective on life, ourselves and the world around us.
  • Intimate Community – Jesus had the 12 men that he spent significant time with.  But he also had 3 men that he was even closer and more intimate with.  It was his inner circle, the ones he did life with and passed on the leadership of the church to.  It’s vital for leaders to have soul-filling relationships with people where you can give and receive.  A safe place to share your heart, your struggles and your victories.  We need to be around people that know us well enough to tell us the truth, challenge us, question us and love us.

I hope these are habits that become a normal part of your life.  I encourage you to take small steps toward applying these habits into your daily, weekly and monthly routines.  If you do it will transform your leadership and your relationships.

 

COMMITMENT

Some Thoughts on Commitment

We are all committed to something or someone. For those of you who are married I hope you are committed to one another. Some are committed to their careers, their families, their religion, their politics. Some are also committed to Jesus Christ.

All of us are at different levels or degrees of commitment in each of these areas. You could also call this maturity.

Some examples of people that were committed:

  • Christopher Columbus – Was told his mission or dream was “Quite impossible”, then discovered America
  • Orrville and Wilbur Wright – Were told it is impossible to fly, then found a way to fly
  • Thomas Edison – Took nearly 1,000 experiments to develop filament for Light Bulb
  • Abraham Lincoln – Failed in 12 out of 15 elections in his life
  • John Wesley – He averaged 5,000 miles a year mostly on horseback and 15 sermons a week
  • Lebron James – Was told you can’t win a championship in Cleveland, then did it
  • Billy Graham – Was committed to Sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ and thousands of people did

What are you committed to?  Is it something that will last beyond you?  Is it going to make the world a better place?  Is it something you want to be remembered for?

I believe that we are all spiritual beings and that our spirit will live forever, long after our bodies die.  We spend forever somewhere either in the presence of God or separated from him forever.  Because of that belief, I am committed to helping people grow in Faith, Character and Leadership.  Faith in Jesus Christ, developing the character of Christ and leading like Christ.  That is what will change the world and bring hope to the hopeless.  That is what will change a person, a family, a workplace, an organization, a city, a state, a country and the world.

Here are some guiding principles when it comes to commitment:

  1. Lasting commitment is making a decision before the solution is found, knowing the principle is right.
  2. Commitment is the motivator that keeps me moving toward my goal.
  3. Commitment lets other people know where I stand
  4. Commitment gets me started while others stand, and keeps me going while others quit.

SO WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT DIFFERENCE MAKERS ARE COMMITTED TO?

WHAT ARE YOU COMMITTED TO?