Monthly Archives: July 2015

Do You Have A Life Purpose Statement?

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For the last 15 years I’ve been working on living out my life purpose statement of “Growing myself and others in Faith, Character and Leadership.”  This has been the driving force for me getting into full time ministry and the reason I get up every morning.  I’ve studied, written about and spoken about those three topics a lot over those 15 years.  Today I want to share why this is so important to me.

I grew up in a religious, conservative community.  We went to church, prayed and talked about the Bible.  I got a good dose of that as I grew up and it influenced me greatly.  I remember praying together as a family, kneeling at our couch praying for people in our extended family.  I remember coming home from High School or seeing my girlfriend and kneeling by my bed and praying before I went to bed.

I remember making a personal commitment to Christ with a friend at his church and then going through a discipleship class with my pastor before being baptized.  I remember having to give my testimony in front of the entire church before my baptism, talk about nervous.

As I got older I continued to follow and believe in God, but I also did a lot of my own thing and many things I should not have been doing.  I drifted away from God, but never gave up on God.  Church became more of an obligation and a social thing for me and I stopped growing spiritually in my mid to late 20’s.  I remember being involved in leadership at the church my wife and I attended, trying to lead change, search for a new pastor and then renovate a house for the new pastor.  I remember being confused about some of the teaching I was hearing and frustrated with the lack of leadership within the church.  I remember having conflict with the pastor and his wife and wondering why do I even try?  So when my term was up as Deacon, we stopped going to church.

For over a year we did not go to church and just did whatever we wanted without thinking much about church or religious stuff.  The church was not relevant to me, but I still believed in God and had a relationship with Jesus even though it was weak.  I was growing as  leader in the business community and was getting recognition for that.  So that is where I was getting my purpose and meaning and not my identity as a Christian.

Then things changed, God never gave up on me and kept slowly drawing me back to him.  It started with people that had a relationship with me inviting me to church.  We finally gave in and went and it really jolted us.  I remember saying to my wife, are they allowed to do that in church?  The music was upbeat and louder than I was used to.  They had fun and the message really made sense.  We weren’t sure about everything but we decided to come back again.

Then the pastor contacted me and we met for lunch.  That led to more lunches and breakfast meetings and then to one-on-one discipleship.  I remember meeting with the pastor early before I went to work at the bank.  I started volunteering and we got into a group.  My wife and I started growing spiritually again and I quickly got involved in leadership.  I ended up on the leadership team and was leading a group and involved in other ministry activities.

As I grew in my faith, my character also started growing and I got better as a leader.  Then God rocked my world by calling me to be in ministry.  I remember the moment at a leadership conference at Willow Creek Church in Chicago.  I surrendered every part of my life and clearly heard God telling me to pursue full time ministry.

That pursuit took over two years, lots of prayer, journaling, studying and conversations with mentors and friends.  It was during that time of self-discovering, searching and seeking God with my whole heart that I found my purpose statement and wrote a description of the man I want to be.  This is what I wrote and this is what drives me to help other people experience what I have experienced in faith, character and leadership.  This is why I love to develop, coach, encourage and challenge other people in those areas as well. I believe a lot of people are on a similar journey, looking for purpose and meaning and wanting to make a difference in the world.  I want to help people avoid some of the mistakes I made and starting growing.

Purpose Statement:

Growing myself & others in Faith, Character & Leadership:

A man devoted to improving his personal relationship with God through consistent prayer and study. A faithful, loving husband. A leader in the community, the church and the workplace. A man of good character and integrity. A life long learner. A servant to God and others. A loyal, caring friend and confidant. A positive proactive person that is willing to learn and grow. A man concerned about having a heart more like Jesus. A life that reflects the fruits of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.   A man above reproach, who is respectable, hospitable, sincere and honest. A good steward of what God has entrusted him. A mentor and a protege. A teacher and a student. An encourager and a builder. A speaker and a writer. Dependent on God Inspired to serve Devoted to glorifying Jesus Christ.

I am not perfect and I still am working on areas of my life that are not good.  I still have bad days, make mistakes and bad decisions.  But even with all those blemishes in my life I know that I am a child of God that is deeply loved and accepted.  It allows me to lead with my heart, love others, forgive people and press on.

 

Six Practical Leadership Principles

 

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A lot has been written about leadership, I’ve read books, articles and listened to speakers.  There is not one thing that makes a great leader, each person is a bit different in personality, style, gifting and drive.  Some leaders are bold and charismatic while others are quiet and reserved.  I’ve seen great leaders with each of those traits.  So what’s important to know in leadership?  As a young person what can be done to grow as a leader?

Here are some things I’ve learned over the years in my experience leading in the banking/accounting world and also in full time ministry:

  1. Be the best version of you – Don’t try to copy another leader’s style or personality.  Work at knowing yourself and what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Learn from other leaders but be who you are and keep improving who you are.  Personal growth should be a high priority if you want to be a great leader. Early in my leadership I would often try to imitate leaders that I admired and would wish I had gifts I did not have.  That led to frustration and disappointment.  As I got comfortable with who I was, I got better as a leader.
  2. Ask for criticism and feedback – Give the people around you permission to criticize you and give honest feedback about your leadership and the systems, procedures and policies that are in place.  Create safe ways for that to happen.  Doing that allows people to be open and honest and helps to keep you humble.  When I get critical feedback it always motivates me to get better, focus more and make adjustments and ask questions.
  3. Take the time to plan – Most people do not take time to write down their plans and think about how to get there.  Developing a life plan that involves personal and business is critical for high level leaders.  This means setting aside time to think, study, analyze and dream.  It means writing down your plans or your vision for the future and then developing goals on how to get there.  It also means putting those goals on your calendar, updating your progress as you go and staying focused.  When you spend time planning it’s easier to say no to good things so that you can say yes to the best things.  Planning well keeps you focused on the right things, not the urgent things.
  4. Learn to relax – Most leaders have a high drive and love to get things done.  However, if you run at full speed too long you can blow a gasket or your whole motor.  High level leaders know how to stop, relax and recharge.  They understand when they need to take a break, get away and spend time doing something they love doing or simply spending time with family and friends.  Taking a sabbath day each week is a great place to start.  Don’t wait until you are burned out to relax and recharge, build it into your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly planning.  If you don’t deal with stress, the stress will deal with you.
  5. Build healthy relationships – Leadership is all about relationships.  To build healthy relationship you have to be healthy yourself.  So deal with your junk, go see a counselor or a coach and work on your issues.  Then work at deepening the relationships in your life at home and work.  When the people around you trust you, know you and understand you, the team will be much more productive.  This takes time, patience and lots of hard, honest conversations.  Speaking the truth with love leads to healthier relationships.  Caring about the people you lead is vital in leadership.  If people know that you actually care about them as a person they will follow you wherever you go.
  6. Take Personal Responsibility – This one is huge.  Instead of complaining about what is happening ask yourself how you can lead better, what can you contribute to make things better?  What part do you need to own?  What is under your control?  Doing this helps to keep you humble and focused on yourself and not the other person.  Coming up with solutions to problems instead of complaining about the problems is what high level leaders do.  They own their mistakes, admit when they failed and ask for forgiveness.  They don’t make a bunch of excuses or shift the blame.  This is a mark of maturity and builds incredible trust and respect.

Learning to lead is really learning about yourself, knowing your blind spots and barriers.  Knowing your core fears, weaknesses and scars.  When you raise your level of self-awareness you raise your level of leadership.  Then if you can surround yourself with people that will be honest with you and are gifted in areas you are not, incredible synergy can start to happen.

Six Guideposts for an Emotionally Healthy Life

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Living an emotionally healthy life is incredibly freeing.  Yet it is very difficult to do because we all grow up learning unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy emotions.  Think of it like pieces of armor that we put on growing up, defense mechanisms, ways of handling conflict, how to treat other people, what we think about ourselves, others and God.

In order to get healthy here are a six guideposts that can help us all get healthier emotionally and live with freedom and joy.  Many of these guideposts come from researcher, author and speaker Brene’ Brown.

  1. Cultivate authenticity and let go of what other people think –   Authenticity is a choice and must be practiced every day.  It’s letting ourselves been seen for who we really are and also setting healthy boundaries in our lives.  It’s being able to say no in a kind way yet stay firm when pressured.  It’s choosing to have a hard conversation instead of stuffing it and letting resentment fill us up.  It’s paying attention to what we are feeling and why and dealing with the truth.  It’s speaking up instead of holding it in.  It’s taking our mask off and being our true self, imperfections and all.
  2. Cultivate self-compassion and let go of perfectionism – Perfectionism leads to frustration, anger and a host of other unhealthy emotions.  It also leads to negative self-talk and keeps you from moving forward in relationships and projects.  It can feed fear and keep us paralyzed.  To let go of perfectionism we need to be able to practice self-compassion or being kind to ourselves.  It’s allowing ourselves to deeply feel what we are currently going through and understanding that we are not alone in our struggles.  Others have gone through similar things and survived.  We must be able to love ourselves before we can love others.  It’s giving ourselves a break from having to be perfect and always doing the right thing.
  3. Cultivate a resilient spirit and let go of numbing behaviors – This involves knowing who we are and how we are wired.  It is the self-awareness to know what our numbing behaviors are and a willingness to get help to avoid going there.  It’s understanding our purpose in life and God’s plan for our lives.  When we grow spiritually it strengthens our spirit and allows us to bounce back much faster when troubles come.  It’s having a healthy outlet for venting frustrations and pain.  Allowing people close to us to know us and be vulnerable with them about what is happening.  numbing behaviors include things like spending hours on Facebook or social media, watching TV, video games, working.  It can be drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking or watching porn.  It can also be focusing on our phone and not being fully present with the people around us.
  4. Cultivate gratitude & joy and let go of scarcity & fear – It’s not just having an attitude of gratitude, but actually practicing gratitude.  Keeping a gratitude journal and actually telling others how grateful we are for them and the things we are grateful for.  It’s living with an eternal perspective and knowing we have a higher purpose in life.  It’s noticing the little things in life and being able to live in the moment and just be.  It is being comfortable in our own skin and not trying to be somebody we are not.  It’s having an abundance mentality, and not a scarcity mentality.  It’s being generous with our time, our money and possessions and our abilities by helping and serving others.
  5. Cultivate intuition and trusting faith and let go of the need for certainty – Certainty is not real but uncertainty is.  Our intuition comes from the experiences we have had in life.  To cultivate intuition we need to think about and learn from our experiences.  It’s also important to grow in our faith and keep searching for answers to life’s questions.  Yet it’s also being OK with not having all the answers.  Many people would rather be miserable and certain than emotionally healthy and uncertain.  One way to cultivate intuition and trusting faith to create time for silence and solitude.  Building time into our schedules to connect with God, feed our soul and nourish our minds.
  6. Cultivate creativity and let go of comparison – Every human being is creative, some people practice using it more than others.  Unused creativity turns into unhealthy emotions like anger, judgement, rage and depression.  When we start comparing ourselves to others our creativity goes down because of fear.  Often because of something someone said or did to us as a child we avoid being creative because we fear not being good enough.  When children get to be in the 4th and 5th grade their level of creativity goes way down because that is when their art begins to get graded and compared to others.  To cultivate creativity we need to start doing something we gave up or thought we were no good at.  Start drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, taking pictures, making videos.  Finding our creative side and exercising it will bring joy, freedom and energy into our lives.  Do something creative today.

Start pursuing an emotionally healthy life by cultivating the good and letting go of the bad.