I don’t know about you, but I need encouragement. This week I had three different people stop and take the time to thank me for what I do and encourage me to keep doing what I am doing. A few words of encouragement will last a long time. For me it is like drinking a Red Bull. It’s kind of like putting some drops of water into someone else’s bucket. You never know if their bucket is nearly empty or nearly full. My guess is that most people’s bucket is on the low side and could use some of your drops of encouragement.
Nearly 75% of what people hear is negative. That can wear you down and take a lot of water out of your bucket.
The word encourage means to put courage into. To inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; heartening; to spur on; stimulate, to give help or patronage to: foster.
There are two kinds of encouraging that we can do. The first is impulsive encouragement. It is unplanned, impromptu or spur of the moment. You saw an opportunity and you took advantage. This type of encouragement is important, but often we are too busy to notice these opportunities to encourage someone. We have our own issues and problems and we need our own encouragement and miss those chances to encourage someone.
The second is intentional encouragement. This type of encouragement is planned. You are actively looking for ways to encourage others. You include encouragement in your planning, by listing out names of people that you can encourage in the coming week. You take the time to write a person note, make a phone call or stop by their office. Maybe it is planning a date with your wife or maybe your daughter. This takes a lot of focus and determination to be an intentional encourager.
Intentional encourager’s have the ability to compel others into action, to inspire them to even higher accomplishments. If you have a relationship that is struggling, maybe you need to be more intentional with your encouragement. Maybe you need to pour some of your water into their bucket. It can be as simple as kind words, taking the time to notice something about them. Writing a note letting them know some specific things you appreciate about them.
“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 How generous are you with your encouragement? If you are in need of refreshment, maybe you need to refresh someone else first.
An encourager is a helper, someone who walks alongside us to keep us on the road to Christ. Encourager’s minister in a variety of ways. They listen. They affirm our contributions. They put an arm around us. They smile. They challenge and stretch us. They even confront us when necessary.
Take a moment and read Hebrews Chapter 10:23-25.
Who can you encourage today? This week?
I started reading the book of Isaiah on Monday. In the first chapter there were a few verses that really jumped out at me. They are so simple and yet give us great direction and purpose in life. It starts at the end of verse 16 with a simple “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!”. Sometimes when I am counseling someone or listening to someone I just want to say Stop doing wrong, learn to do right and send them on their way.
Is there anything you need to stop doing, because it is wrong? What are you doing to learn to do right? Do you know what is right and what is wrong?
It goes on to say this, “Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” There, in a simple sentence is a great way to approach life. read that over several times and ask yourself how you can put that into practice over the next week. If you are already doing this, it should be an encouragement to keep doing right, seeking justice, encouraging people, defending and pleading the case of the widows, single moms, elderly, disabled and children that need help.
Sometimes it is very difficult to stop doing wrong, it may be comfortable, enjoyable and thrilling. However, there are always consequences to our actions. God created us to know the difference between right and wrong. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard, but God rewards those that do right. Listen to verse 19 – “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Are you willing and obedient or resisting and rebelling? Is God calling you to do something, go somewhere, help someone, give something, give up something? Take a moment right now and ask God where you need to be willing and obedient.
For a number of years I met with a group of guys in an accountability group. We met every other week for breakfast. We would talk, laugh, pray and study a book. We also would ask each other a set of questions. My group is currently not meeting, but we are looking to get back together later this year.
Accountability is something that is important but no one likes. For me, if I want to get something done or accomplish a goal I need accountability. Someone to ask me how I am doing in that area. If I know I am going to get asked about it, I will be sure to be working on it. It is sad that most of us need this, but that is reality. When we live secretly, we create secret lives. This usually leads to things that are not healthy for us spiritually, emotionally or physically. When we live in secret, darkness tends to creep in. Accountability brings light to the dark areas of our lives.
Where do you need some accountability? Maybe in your finances, your Internet usage, your time with your family, your time with God, your exercise or diet?
Here are the questions that we have been using. You can create your own or use a variation of these.
Chuck Swindoll’s Pastoral Accountability Questions:
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?
I recently read about a spiritual exercise that I thought I would do myself. After doing it I was humbled and reminded what it really means to love people. We sometimes just read Scripture and don’t make it personal. I would encourage you to read this with your name instead of mine. Then ask yourself does any of this describe me? Do I love other people this way? Would anyone in your life say this about you?
Chad is patient, Chad is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. Chad is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, Chad keeps no record of wrongs, Chad does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Chad always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I don’t know about you, but that was a wake up call for me. That is what I want people to say about me when I am gone. What can you start doing today to make some of that true about you in your relationships?
Organizations/Teams can only accomplish two or three goals at once with excellence.
Organizations/Teams can only accomplish two or three goals at once with excellence.
That quote from Stephen Covey has had me thinking all weekend. I threw out that quote to see who agrees with it, so I thought I should share what I thought.
I tend to agree with Covey in regards to doing it with excellence. As an organization, if you have more than three major goals you begin to diminish how effective you can be. You might have some smaller goals underneath those three major goals. Those are the how I am going to get it done kind of stuff. The problem is when you take on more and more you tend to lose steam in the other areas. It is a constant struggle to stay focused and do what you do best every day. When we start to dabble in areas we are not experienced in and good at we risk losing the effectiveness of what we do well.
I have also found that to be true in my own area of work. The department that I lead is Care Ministries at NewPointe Community Church. I have three major areas I try to focus on. For now those areas are:
In each of those areas, I have multiple goals to help accomplish the bigger goal. What gets me in trouble is all the other smaller things that come up every day. I can’t always be focused on just those three things, because I have many other responsibilities. I think most people can identify with that. However, by having those top three goals I can regularly step back and look at those areas to see if we are making progress. If I would have four, five or six major goals, I would find it even more difficult to be excellent in any of them. As a matter of fact I wonder how “excellent” those three are right now.
The more you can narrow the focus the more excellent you will be in that area. The more time you can spend on something the better you can get at it. So yes, I agree with Covey in the sense that your organization should have no more than two to three major goals. Each department or team within the organization should also have two to three major goals that support those top three for the organization. If you want to be excellent you need to focus on the things you do best. Too many goals tends to paralyze you and keep you from being world class, instead you become average.
This can be one of the hardest things you ever do. Saying no to big opportunities because it is not what is best for the organization, or it would cause sideways energy. The more sideways energy you create the weaker you get in the areas of true importance. The best leaders stay focused and can say no to the things that don’t fit or would cause you to get distracted.
One of my favorite songs on my iPod is Boston by Augustana. It came out in the summer of 2007. Here are some of the lyrics:
You don’t know me and you don’t even care
You don’t know me and you don’t wear my chains
I think I’ll go to Boston
I’ll think I’ll start a new life
I think I’ll start it over
Where no one knows my name
I think that I’m just tired
I think I need a new town
To leave this all behind
Cause you don’t know me and you don’t even care
You don’t know me and you don’t wear my chains
No one knows my name
If you listen carefully you can hear the pain. We all crave to be known, for people to know our name and to be accepted and loved. When that is missing in our lives we want to disappear, because we already feel invisible. Many people are feeling this way. Feeling lost, hurt, broken like no one cares. Even the smallest thing can convey to a person that they matter, that they are worth noticing.
If you are feeling like no one cares, it sounds intriguing to go to a new city and start over, however all of your baggage goes with you. It won’t be long until some of the same old patterns start popping up again. That is why it is so important to work through your conflicts, your hurts, your hangups and your bad habits.
This song is also a reminder to all of us to pay attention to the people around us. Are you interested enough in the people you meet to remember their names. Calling someone by name is huge. We all love to hear our own names. This is an area I can certainly work on. I have my good days and my bad days. Mostly we struggle with peoples names, because we are not really listening to the people we meet and really don’t care. We are usually too busy to take the time to get to know someone. When you get to know them, you remember their names.
This week try to call more people by name. Reach out and do something kind for someone. Make an investment in the life of someone you may not have noticed before. Maybe its the quiet guy at work or the elderly lady in your neighborhood.
Also don’t run from your baggage, face it and deal with it. Get involved in a small group, take the initiative to get connected with other people. Just like “Cheers” used to say on TV – We all want to go where everyone knows your name. Find a church that you feel is accepting and inviting. The really cool thing is that God knows each of our names, he never forgets.
Think about yourself a year ago. Go back to 2008 and think about what you were like, who you were hanging out with, what you were doing, what weren’t you doing? Think about the type of person you were, the relationships you had, the work you were doing the way you were parenting, the quality of your relationships, the health of your marriage.
Now think about where you are today. Have you changed? Are you a different person? Are you pretty much the same? Are you doing worse? Deeper in debt? Are you closer to God? Farther from God?
Sometimes it helps to have a bigger perspective on your life. When you step back and look at the bigger picture of your life story, it helps to see things a little more clearly.
Now start thinking about next year, 2010. Where do you want to be? What are some things you can start doing today to become the person you want to be? Maybe it is reconciling a relationship, or maybe improving your financial condition. Maybe its going to school or having a different job. Maybe its getting closer to God and exploring the Bible. Maybe its finding a church that you can relate to. Maybe its developing some friendships. Maybe its becoming a better parent, maybe a better husband or a better wife or a better son or daughter.
How will you be different a year from now? Will people notice you have changed for the better or will they say you are the same old person as last year?
On Thursday my wife and I cleaned out our garage, in preparation for a garage sale next week. The first thing we did was take everything out of the garage. We took everything out into our driveway, we then took everything off the shelves and put it on the floor. Next we began to clean the shelves and then each item that was on the shelf. We then used a vacuum cleaner on the corners of the garage and the walls throughout the garage and then scrubbed the floor.
One of my jobs was to clean every item we took out of the garage. We then had to make the decision about what items we wanted to put back in the garage. We ended up throwing some things out. Things that were broken or of no use to us. Other things we put on a pile to sell.
This was a long and dirty process and it made us tired. However it was needed in order to bring order and organization to our garage. It also gave us a sense of satisfaction that we had completed this task and it made more room for the important stuff.
You may be in need of some intense emotional housecleaning as well. The attic, the basement, a closet and the garage of your heart may be crammed with clutter from the past. You may be overflowing with emotional debris.
Often times we don’t notice our mess for years. We accumulate stuff and put it in a corner. We accumulate emotional garbage during our childhood and have added to it every year as we grow older. When you get married, you tend to combine your junk. This can lead to all kinds of relational problems.
If you don’t have regular times of cleaning house, this stuff gets out of control. We find it hard to move around, because there is so much clutter. This can be a big daunting task to take everything out and either clean it up, throw it out or put it back in it right place. However, if you don’t start to do this, it only gets worse.
Sometimes we need some help getting things cleaned up. Getting wise counsel, meeting with a mentor or a coach, can be a huge help. Asking God to help is vital, He will take all our junk, just like the garbage man took ours.
So what room in your heart needs cleaned out? What junk do you need to throw out? What needs to be cleaned and scrubbed? Start today, you will be glad you did. What a great feeling it is to have a clean garage.
Do you feel like you are in the midst of a storm in your life? Do you feel like the wind is against you? Mark 6:47-51 describes a time when Jesus was separated from his disciples. They were out on the water and he was on land. The wind was against them and they were struggling to move forward (sound familiar). Jesus noticed them struggling, but waited until later to go to them. He started out for them and was about to walk by when they noticed him and cried out to him. Actually they were frightened because he was walking on the water at night (pretty scary). This is what he told them – “Take Courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” He got in the boat and the wind died down.