Encouragement

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?

Stop & Learn

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.

Accountability

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:

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

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?

Make it Personal

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?

Goals & 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:

  1. Developing the Mentoring Ministry (one-on-one and couple to couple ministry) – Helping people through difficult times in their lives.
  2. Launching a Leadership Development Experience for NewPointe leaders and potential leaders.
  3. Coaching small group leaders to lead healthy thriving small groups.

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.