Monthly Archives: January 2009

Amish Hockey

OK, last night I saw something that blew me away. As I was driving home last night at about 8:30, I saw some bright lights in a field. As I got closer I could tell that something was going on. I slowed down and nearly stopped. There was a hockey game going on. This was not just some kids playing, they had real hockey sticks, knee pads and skates. They had goals on each end with goalies in full gear. They had a generator running the lights and quite a crowd watching the game.

These Amish boys know how to play. They built this shallow pond a couple of years ago and have since added a small barn, the lights and even benches to sit on. I wish I had my camera to share a picture.

I wonder if they get into fights and have a penalty box? Hey they need to find something to do on cold winter nights.

My Biggest Challenge

Every week I have to fill out a report at work that summarizes what I did last week and what I am working on and focusing on. We call it the 5/15 report (5 minutes for my boss to read and 15 minutes for me to fill out).

One of the questions on that report is “what is your biggest challenge right now”? For me the biggest challenge has been and always will be me.

Leading myself is what determines how well I lead and help others. If you are really honest with yourself, this is true of all of us. We tend to be the biggest roadblock to our own success.

So, if this is the biggest challenge many of us face, how do you lead yourself? Here is my top 20 ways to lead yourself:

  • Spend time with God on a regular basis (prayer, reading the Bible, meditation)
  • Discover your strength and focus on developing those strengths – Understand your weaknesses and manage around them
  • Character is a big deal – It’s what you do when no one is looking that matters
  • Find systems that help you work and live smarter
  • Read
  • Ask Questions
  • Find mentors and organizations that you can learn from
  • Have someone holding you accountable – Give them permission to ask tough questions
  • Continually work at listening better
  • Don’t be afraid to fail or take risks, but learn from your failures
  • Surround yourself with good people that are strong in your areas of weakness
  • Be Humble – Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself
  • Be willing to step out of your comfort zone – Do something that stretches and challenges you
  • Pay attention – To people, to culture, to circumstances, to body language etc.
  • The things you do today are preparing you for your defining moments of the future. Little things matter
  • Think about the big picture every day – Work on it not in it
  • Get help – It is OK to go to a counselor, pastor or doctor
  • Make sure you are healthy Emotionally & Physically – This takes discipline
  • Don’t forget to relax and have fun

I could list many other things, but this is a good start. The better you lead yourself, the better your relationships will be and the more valuable you become to the people around you.

Lead On!

Divorce

I am passionate about reducing the divorce rate in Tuscarawas County. The rate of divorce in Tuscarawas County was 69% in 2006. That is up 5% from 2003. The rate for the state of Ohio is 55%.

What if I said we could cut that rate in half in the next 10 years. Would that get your attention?

There are proven ways to work at reducing the rate of divorce. The best approach is to pull the local churches, local government leader’s and other local leader’s together to form a strategy.

Part of the strategy would be to work at better preparing couples for marriage, offering marriage enrichment events and activities, mentoring and coaching troubled marriages, offering support groups for blended families and more.

If anyone is interested in being a part of a movement to lower the divorce rate, please contact me or comment. NewPointe Community Church is part of a program called Marriage Savers. Marriage Savers has done the research and put together a great program that is designed to bring a community together to make a lasting difference in families.

I am believing God is going to do something BIG in 2009. The local church can impact a community and change a community, if we work together.

Men

I’ve been talking with a few guys about what it means to be a man. Not just any man, but a Christ following man. Most guys have not had many good role models to learn from. We grow up learning what men should or shouldn’t do. We see bad examples and a few good examples. We are influenced by television, Internet, magazines, books and people. The church has also done a poor job of modeling the right view of the Christian man. For most Christian guys, we think we have to be this nice guy that gets along with everyone, provide for our families and have it all together.

As men, we desperately need to change this wrong view of who we are. In my conversations with these guys the theme that came out, is that most men growing up today are not getting the message that God wants them warriors and lovers. Men are not, in general standing up and leading their families well. Many men have settled into the role of just providing. We are much more than that. God has called us to be courageous warriors to go into battle for Him. He has called us to love like He loved, serve like He served and fight like He fought.

God does not want us to be timid and passive, especially in spiritual leadership. Most women want their men to be the spiritual leader in the home, but have had to take that role on, because he hasn’t. I think that happens because men and women have a different idea of what that looks like. How do you lead your family spiritually? How do you become the man that God created you to be?

Maybe we don’t understand who Jesus really was. Jesus is our absolute best example to follow. Maybe we need to take a new and fresh look at Jesus the man.

Jesus was bold, courageous and daring. He did not care what others thought about him or said about him. He was focused and driven with incredible passion. He was not afraid to speak his mind and even offend some people. Yet he did this with incredible compassion, humility and love. He was a perfect balance of warrior and lover. He stirred things up, challenge people to think differently and then loved deeply. Jesus was not a nice guy or a good teacher. He was God and man. He was the greatest leader of all time. He showed us what he wants us to become. As a man that inspires me, that challenges me.

Life is an adventure, we are part of a bigger story that God is writing every day.

To become the man that God wants you to be, you need to have a right view of how God sees you. He sees you as His son.

Our challenge as men is to grow closer to Jesus, so that we can lead better, serve better and love better. Don’t settle for being a nice guy.

An Ordinary Day

You probably have heard the news about the US Airways plane that crash landed in the Hudson river. It happened on Thursday January 15th. As I heard the reports and listened to the story I was drawn in. It is rare to hear that all the passengers survive a plane crash. So many things had to happen just right for this to not be a tragedy. From what I have heard the pilot had a lot to do with this outcome. He had a lot of experience and was actually an instructor on safety and even had his glider license.

The pilot was doing his job, and very well I might add. All of the training and practice he had done prepared him for that moment. God had him in that plane, on that day for a reason.

I also had to think about all the people on board that plane. What do you suppose they were thinking about when the pilot told them to brace for a hard landing? At that moment they had to be thinking about their family, loved ones and many I am sure were praying.
Stories like these should make us pause and examine our lives. Things can change in an instant, we don’t know what tomorrow holds. A phone call could change your life forever. It also reminds us that we need to be prepared for when we are needed to make a difference. When we have the ability to make a difference in peoples lives, we need to take the initiative. What is God preparing you for? What are you doing today that will make a difference in the future.

You see I believe that today matters. The things we are doing today are setting the stage for things we don’t even know about. God has the bigger perspective. He knows what is going to happen and he usually uses people to make a difference. He places us in the right place so that we can make a difference. When you are faithful in the little every day things, it prepares you for the bigger things. It may be as simple as calling someone that comes to your mind to encourage them. That may be exactly what they needed that day.

The pilot and crew and all the rescue workers did a tremendous job. They did what they had prepared for. They worked together to make a difference. An ordinary day turned into an extraordinary day in a moment.

Are you prepared for your next God moment? Are you ready to step up when prompted to do something extraordinary?

Why Change?

I was reading today and came across this quote. It really resonated with me and challenged me. I hope it does the same for you. This is from “How People Change” by Timothy Lane & Paul David Tripp.

“Making us holy is God’s unwavering agenda until we are taken home to be with him. He will do whatever he needs to produce holiness in us. He wants us to be a community of joy, but he is willing to compromise our temporal happiness in order to increase our Christlikeness.”

“God is not working for our comfort and ease; he is working on our growth. At the very moment we are tempted to question his faithfulness, he is fulfilling his redemptive promises to us. Change is the norm for everyone, and God is always at work to complete this process in us.”

If you are a Christ follower, you are in process. God is at work in every area of your life, pushing for holiness. He is drawing us to him, so that we can become more like him. He won’t force it on us, but his desire is for us to be holy like He is holy. Are you holy in your relationships, your work, your family, your finances, your Internet activity, your conversations, your days off, your vacations? Where is God working on you? Where are you too comfortable? How are you changing?

A Winning Team

On Thursday night the Florida Gators defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in College football for the National Championship. I am a sports junkie and love to follow sports teams. Whether it is football, basketball or baseball, I enjoy follow sports stories. ESPN is my favorite channel on TV.

Many things in sports teach us things about life. The National Championship on Thursday night was a very good game, with these young men giving everything they had on the field. A lot of preparation went into that game. Weeks of practice, watching film and studying the game plan.

The head coach of Florida is Urban Myer. I was listening to an interview with him the day after the win. This is his second national championship in three years. The reporter asked him why he has been so successful over the past several years. Without hesitating the coach responded that he has become very good at hiring great people to surround himself. He talked about the trainers, the assistant coaches and the support staff. He said that it is the people around you that to a great degree determine your success. It was not about him, so much as the team he built around him.

I believe that is very true. You can see it in the business world, in schools, in government, in non-profit organizations and churches. The most successful organizations and people have great teams. Our President elect Barack Obama has been assembling his team over the last several months. His success or failure, will in large part be due to the people he surrounds himself with right now.

Sometimes this can be difficult, as we want to surround ourselves with people that like us and are like us. The danger in that, is they will tell you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. Sometimes you need to bring in people that are much different than your self. You need people with different skills and talents and personalities to complete your inner circle.

Don’t we tell our kids to be careful who they hang out with. It is the same for adults, be careful who you spend time with. The people you meet and spend time with will have a big impact on your life, so make those choices wisely. Whether you are hiring a team member, building a team of volunteers, recruiting board members, getting into a small group, joining a business group or just making friends, choose wisely.

Who do you have in your inner circle at work? In your personal and spiritual life? Do you even have an inner circle, or have you isolated yourself? If you want to win in life, you must surround yourself with the right people. People that will speak the truth in love to you. People that will be there when things get tough. People that will watch your back and encourage you to keep going and growing. People that will challenge you. People that will discipline you. People that will love you.

God at Work

Today I had a really cool story happen right in front of my eyes. This past Sunday at church someone stopped me and said he would like to donate a car to a needy family. I told him that I did not have anyone in need of that right now, but that I would let him know if I came across anyone with that need.

Well today it happened. I got a call from a single mom on disability. She was very stressed out, because she had lost her child support, because her daughters father had lost his job. That had put her behind on all her bills. She had bought a cheap car recently, only to find out it needed a new computer. The cost was half of what she paid for the car, and she still owed money on the car.

I told her I may have another option for her. She told me she had been praying a lot lately and had been going to church and trying to do the right thing, but things only seemed to be getting worse. I called my friend and told him the situation and he said that is exactly what he was looking for. He said he would have the car ready in a week.

When I called her back with this, she was blown away. I could hear a difference in her voice. I believe it was a faith building moment for her, a defining moment. I will be working with her on some other issues as well, but I believe that God is already working in her life. My prayer for her is that her personal relationship with Jesus Christ gets more intimate through all of this. This act of compassion and kindness could be what she needed to break out of the problems she has been facing. She still has some work to do, but this helps big time. God is good.

God works through people, what story is He writing through your life?

New Years Reading List

Happy New Year!

This time of year usually is a time for people to make resolutions or goals for the coming year. Many people have new hope of making some changes in their lives. That is all good, but many fall short after only a couple of months. January & February are busy months for the weight loss and exercise business. My question is this: If you could change one thing in 2009, what would it be?

One thing that I have tried to do each year to grow and change is to meet new people and read good books. The people you meet and the books you read will impact you more than you can imagine. To do that, you must be intentional about getting out to meet people, to seek a mentor, to get into a small group, to make an appointment for lunch or breakfast. You also need to plan on what you want to read this year. So start planning on who you need to meet and what you need to read.

Maybe you want your marriage to change this year. A great way to start that process, is to read some books about marriage and relationships. You could also go see a counselor or pastor and even better, find a couple with a healthy marriage and meet with them and get to know how they worked through their problems.

Here are some books on marriage and relationships you should consider:

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggrichs
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley

If you have read those three, contact me for more good marriage books.

Whatever you want to change in 2009, starts with your decision to change yourself. I hope that 2009 rocks your world. I hope that you will be stretched out of your comfort zone; that you will be challenged in new, unexpected ways; that God will give you a burden for something; that you will have courage to walk through the doors God opens in your life; that God will heal you emotionally, spiritually relationally and physically.

So what am I reading in the coming year? I always have a stack of books on my to read list. Some I don’t get to and I often add to it throughout the year. Many come from recommendations of others, or favorite authors. In any case, I hope you will read more this year and meet some new people that can help you grow.

Here is my reading list:

Non-Fiction:
Unchristian by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons (Currently Reading)
How People Change by Timothy Lane & Paul David Tripp (Currently Reading)
Discovering God’s Daily Agenda, 365 Daily Devotional by Henry & Richard Blackaby
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell
Sex God by Rob Bell
Sex Begins in the Kitchen: Creating Intimacy to Make Your Marriage Sizzle, By Kevin Leman
Becoming A Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George
Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels
Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary Haugen

Fiction:
Split Second by David Baldacci (Currently Reading)
The Last Juror by John Grisham
The Partner by John Grisham

The Bible – NCV

Change & Grow!