A Tribute to my Dad

Loyal Stutzman 1944-2021

Growing up with a dad is so important. I was blessed to have a dad for most of my life. There are so many things we learn from our parents about how to live life, and be successful. Parents help to shape their children and guide them to know right and wrong, to make good decisions and to learn skills, habits and abilities.

Children also can learn negative things at home and can experience lifelong damage as a result of a parents actions, inactions, words or beliefs. Being in ministry I’m constantly reminded about the many hurting broken families in this world. The real hardships and struggles that many people go through. Growing up without a dad or a mom is very hard.

Having a dad that has faith in Jesus and lives his life for Him first is a precious gift to his children. I was blessed to grow up in such a home. My dad loved the Lord and and taught us to do the same through his actions and words.

My dad passed away a few days ago and it’s caused me to think back to my early years at home and my memories of my dad. I have to say I’ve actually smiled more than I’ve cried so far. Looking at the many pictures has triggered some great memories about my dad. The times of gathering as a family, eating Sunday dinners together (meatloaf made a regular appearance). I also remember going to church as a family, doing family devotions together and praying for our extended family together. I remember the Christmas gatherings with food and presents, and dad would always read the Christmas story about Jesus.

As I grew older we still got together on a fairly regular basis. For a while we went to dad & moms place every Tuesday night for supper. We would eat and laugh and talk about what was going on in our lives.

As I and my brothers got married and started families these gathering times were less frequent but always special when we did get together.

As I think about my dad there are so many lessons I learned by simply watching him and listening to him over the years. Here are a few that are special to me and that I have taken on as his son.

  • Work hard and Provide for your family – My dad drove truck for most of his life. He worked hard and gave his best at all the jobs he had. He learned to drive and loved the open road and seeing the country. The people that worked with my dad saw how reliable, honest and trustworthy he was. My dad’s CB handle was the Wood Chopper, I don’t know why, maybe because he snored so loud or maybe because he worked so hard. He logged over a million miles and rarely complained, steady and reliable. Because he drove long distance sometimes we was not home a lot during the week. That is what made the weekends so special for us boys.
  • Eat good food and enjoy life – My dad liked to eat! I get my shape from him. He liked most kinds of food and really enjoyed my moms cooking. He called my moms cooking eating at Susie’s Diner. He loved sandwiches and soup. He also loved breakfast, eating eggs and bacon. I am the same way. Dad also liked to laugh and joke. He loved to share a good joke and laugh.
  • Be a Man of Integrity – My dad was a man of character and integrity. If he said he was going to do something he did it. If he made a mistake he would admit it. If he needed help he would ask for it. He told the truth and expected us boys to also be truthful. I was a bit of a challenge as a kid growing up. Dad was always gentle but firm. I don’t ever remember him saying a bad word or putting me down or even yelling at us. He would punish us when we where bad, but he also showed love and compassion.
  • Serve God and other people – My Dad was very active in his local church, serving in many different capacities. He was a song leader, something he learned growing up. He sang in a men’s quartet for a number of years and then used that gift to serve his local church. He also taught the adult Sunday School classes many times over the years. He also served in leadership at his church as the Administrator and then as an Elder. He used his influence to encourage people and mentor people over the years as well.
  • Be Humble – My Dad was very humble and did not want to be the center of attention. He was content to work in the background, but was willing to step up when he had to. Anyone that knew my dad knew that he was a kind, gentle, wise man.
  • Be a man of Faith – The best thing about my dad was that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. He loved the Lord and had a personal relationship with Jesus. That was the most important part of his life. His faith guided every other part of his life. His faith impacted his marriage of 55 years. It impacted the way he raised his three boys. It impacted how he worked and how he served. What I saw in my dad was an unswerving faith. He loved to talk about end times and read prophesy books. It makes me smile to know that he is in heaven and with Jesus and knows exactly what that is like. I love to think about how he is seeing many family and loved ones that are also there and that some day I will get to see him again.

Because of his faith in Jesus, we do not need to be troubled.  Yes we hurt and are sad, but what a tremendous gift he has given to our family.  To know that he is now in heaven, because of his relationship with Jesus.

In John Chapter 14 Jesus said these words to His disciples after he told them he was going to die.  

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the place where I am going.”

One of his disciples named Thomas asked the question many of us would ask.  We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Because of my dad’s faith we do not need to be troubled, we know he is in a much better place and is serving God in heaven as we speak.  

Jesus made it very clear that there is only one way to heaven and that is by believing and receiving Jesus Christ.

You see, there are two things that are going to last forever, One is your spirit.  The Bible says that God placed eternity in hearts of men.  That means we will live forever somewhere; either in the presence of a loving God or separated from Him forever and ever.  We were made to last forever, our brains do not know how to process death and that is why we must go through the grieving process.  Our brains were not wired for death.

It all depends on what you do with the person of Jesus Christ.  

The second thing that will last forever is the Word of God.  The Bible says that the grass will wither and the flower will die, but the Word of God will stand forever.

I believe that Dad would want me to share the four things that God wants you to know from His word.  Because he loved his family and friends he would be very concerned about all of you following him to heaven to be reunited again some day.  He would want all of you to know what he knows.

First, God wants you to know that He wants you to experience Peace and have eternal life.  God loves you, and He wants you to experience His peace as a way of life.  The Bible says, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

The second thing God wants you to know is that you are separated from God by your Sin.

Sin means missing the mark.  Sin is also the selfish attitude of ignoring or rejecting God and going our own way.  Our sin causes a gap between us and God.

God did not make us to be robots and force us to serve Him.  He gave us free will and freedom to choose.  We often choose to disobey and go our own way.  When you disobey God, you and I sin, and that separates us from God.  The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  That puts all of us in the same boat.  

Many times we try to overcome this issue of sin by doing good things.  If I could just do some good works then maybe I could tip the scales and God will let me in.  “I am basically a good person, I haven’t hurt anyone and I try to do the right thing most of the time.”  So we work hard at being good, but how good is good enough?  We can ever know for sure if we have done enough good to make the cut.  So we try to bridge that gap between us and God with good works, never knowing if I am good enough.

The third thing that God wants us to know is that the answer to this problem of sin and separation from God is Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the only answer to the problem of separation from God.  God knew we could never be good enough on our own.  He had a plan all along, He sent his perfect son to take our place, to stand in that gap for us.  Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty our sins require.  It has been paid in full.  Jesus has bridged that gap that separates you from God.  The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And in the book of John Jesus said “ I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

The last thing that God wants you to know is that you can receive Christ.  You can receive Christ as your Savior and Lord when you believe in His word and trust in only Him to save you.  The Bible says:  “To all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  What an amazing gift.

To receive Christ you need to admit you have missed the mark, be willing to turn from your sin, believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross as the sacrifice, covering all your sins, and rose from the grave, defeating Satan and death and finally through prayer, invite Jesus to come in to your life and receive Him as your Savior.

Maybe you have never really accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Maybe you don’t know if you would go to heaven if you died today.  By sincerely praying a simple prayer and believing it with all your heart you can have that assurance today.  

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you.  I know I can’t pay you back and make it right.  I believe that you paid for my sins by dying on the cross.  I am truly sorry for all my sins.  Right now I open the door of my heart and ask you to come in and forgive me.  I want to follow you as best I can.  Thank you for giving me the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  Thank you for saving me right now.  In Jesus name Amen.

My last memory of my dad was him slowly standing up giving me a hug and saying I love you. I’ll treasure that the rest of my life.

I

Four Tips on Dealing with Change

There is one thing you can be sure of, and that is things will change. We are all facing changes, some big and some small. Our bodies are changing because of the aging process, our eating and exercising habits. Our finances are changing based on choices and decisions we make.

The world around us is also changing. People are pushing for their agenda, their beliefs, their values, their convictions. The way we communicate is changing and the way we interact is changing. Technology is changing rapidly. Even what is viewed as right and wrong is changing.

With all this change happening, how do we cope with or manage the changes in our lives? Here are some thoughts I hope will help.

  1. Seek Wise Counsel – This is a biblical principle that helps a lot. For me the first place I go for wise counsel is God. If I’m facing a change, or have to make a decision because of change, I start by praying and talking to God about it. I also read God’s Word. I will also talk to trusted friends and family about the change, ask them questions and even ideas on what to do. For big changes that are causing stress, seeking out a counselor, pastor or mentor can be a big help. The key here is to humble yourself and talk to God and wise people to help you navigate some of life’s biggest changes.
  2. Focus on what you can control – There are so many things that are out of our control. When we start to think about the things we can control it really comes back to us. We can control the words that we speak, the emails or social media posts we write. We can control the way we respond to change and conflict. We can control what read, who we listen to, and the choices we make. Emotions can be hard to control, but we can be aware of what emotions we are feeling. When we do respond in a bad way, we do have control of what we do after that. We can ask for forgiveness, we can bring clarity and ask questions to try to better understand.
  3. Remember what you’re grateful for – Grateful people are much better at handling change. It helps to think about the good things in our lives instead of focusing on the negative and whats out of our control. It’s very helpful to actually write down things you are grateful for on a regular basis. We all need to keep the right perspective when it comes to change. Change can be hard, but it can also be helpful and good in the long run. Remembering what we are grateful for is vital to working through changes.
  4. Get back up – When change hits us and knocks us down, don’t stay down there. Get back up and keep moving forward. Maybe you go talk to someone about what just happened. Maybe you go spend some time with God. Maybe you go on a walk or a run or exercise. Maybe you list out 10 things you’re grateful for. Maybe you go do some research on what happened to better understand what is going on. This is about being resilient, it’s the quality that keeps us going, growing and making a difference.

Change is going to happen, but it doesn’t have to make your life miserable unless you choose to let it. You don’t have to embrace change, but you do need to deal with it, and choose to get better as a result of whatever happens to you.

Thoughts on Racism

Racism has been a hot topic this year, and has a long history here in America, and around the world. The sad reality is that there continues to be people that think they are superior to other people based on skin color or national origin or economic status. That’s sad because it’s not true. That’s a lie, planted long ago that has devastated generations of people. To be clear, that way of thinking is evil. Someone’s worth is not based on the color of their skin, where they come from, how they look, or how much money they make. Your worth comes from God, who created you uniquely. It’s your character and your heart that really matter.

It’s also sad and wrong to put people into certain categories based on the color of their skin or where they grew up. Not all white people are a certain way and not all black people are a certain way. It’s ignorant to think that all Hispanic people are the same or all Asian people are the same. The truth is there are haters, racists, and evil of all skin colors. There are also good, humble, caring people of all skin colors. Color has nothing to do with the character of the person.

The truth is we all have a spirit, body and mind. We all have life experiences that have shaped us and influenced us. We all have beliefs that drive our behavior, and it has nothing to do with skin color but everything to do with character and who or what you put your faith in. We all have a way of thinking about the world, ourselves and other people. Some of those beliefs may be true but some of those beliefs may be wrong. The world around us and the people around us influence us as we grow up. That can shape our beliefs, practices and behaviors. We can all pick up things that are deceptive, and not good. That’s why it’s so important to be open to learning, growing and changing. When we know the truth it sets us free.

The beauty of Jesus is his love and acceptance of all people. God created each of us, God wants a relationship with all of us, and he made a simple way for that to happen, He sent Jesus. When we have that relationship with Jesus, our perspective changes from seeing people on the outside to seeing people as a soul that will spend forever somewhere, either with God or separated from Him. That way of thinking helps us to love, serve, forgive and persevere. It helps us to see the world, ourselves and other people deeper than skin color or outward appearance.

So even if you are not a believer in Jesus, you can follow his example of seeing a person as a person, and not a color or an object. We are so quick to judge in this country and most of the time we judge wrong. We don’t know all the facts, we don’t know what’s going on in someone’s else’s life, and yet we are quick to condemn, blame, shame or cancel people. So stop judging people and situations based on a social media story or video. Be careful about the words you say or type. Ask yourself, are those words helpful or hurtful, will they make the world a better place or worse?

I would like to challenge anyone who reads this to ask yourself if you are perfect and without flaw. I’d you are, then you can judge others, but if you are imperfect and flawed and have problems and issues then stop judging others, stop shaming others, stop making fun of others, and start loving people, believing the best about them, and look for the positive in people.

Don’t get me wrong when someone does something evil, wrong, hurtful, dangerous or illegal we have a responsibility to report it to the proper authorities. We have a right to put up boundaries and protect ourselves. We need to call out evil, hurtful sand harmful behavior. The truth is we can do that and still be kind and compassionate.

All people, no matter what color, where they came from, or what they look like, matter to God and therefore matter to me. I love people, but I don’t always agree with their beliefs, behavior, actions, words or values. That doesn’t mean they are less than me, just different than me.

If we really want to make the world a better place then it starts with our own character. It starts with all of us working on ourselves to get healthy emotionally, spiritually and relationally. It’s hard to do that on your own, so let your guard down and get help if you are struggling with damaging emotions like anger, jealously, greed, or pride. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is also a huge help, because He helps us to change, grow and become the person God designed us to be.

Racism only grows if you feed it. Hate needs fuel, and the world around us has plenty of fuel for hate. Love comes from God and grows as we understand who God is and who we are. Love grows as hurts are healed, relationships restored and forgiveness given.

I would love for racism and hate to end, but the truth is that this world we live in is not heaven, it’s flawed, broken and dysfunctional. While we live in this world there will continue to be racism and hate and many other evil things. But there is a better way and that is through faith in Jesus and embracing God’s love.

My Top 10 Spiritual Leadership Principles

The year 2020 has been quite unique with the COVID-19 virus, the protests and riots, the political unrest and the economic turmoil. That’s just in the first 7 months.

As I look back over the first part of 2020 there is so much I have learned or that has been reinforced in me. I’ve been in some sort of leadership position since I was in my early 20’s. Over those 30 years I’ve learned a lot about leadership, made a lot of mistakes, and had to unlearn some things as well.

There are some guiding principles that have helped me to lead better, whether at work or at home. This tough year has reenforced these principles for me and I hope they will help you as a leader.

Here are 10 principles that guide my leadership:

  1. Vision is Vital – In times of turmoil, fasted paced change and chaos, a clear compelling vision is so important. It’s during those hard times that vision gives people the right perspective, and helps people to focus on the right things. Communicating the vision on a regular basis is also vital. Great leaders repeat themselves over and over when it comes to vision. Consistent, clear communication of where you are going as an organization or a family will keep your team pulling in the right direction. Most people need a regular reminder for why they are doing what they are doing, and why they are part of the organization.
  2. Be Flexible with your plans but firm on the vision – When things are uncertain and chaotic in the world around you, being able to change plans quickly can be the difference between success and failure. The best leaders are always evaluating their plans and strategies to make sure they still make sense and are working. Listening and asking the right questions can really help in knowing when to be flexible and when to be firm.
  3. Pray for Wisdom – Being in leadership means that you have to make some difficult decisions. It also means that you will be criticized and questioned. Asking God for wisdom is a way to gain clarity, check your motives and gain deeper insight. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Connecting with God is a huge advantage in leadership, making this part of your daily life will make you a better leader.
  4. Learn to be patient and decisive – This one is so hard, especially for high D leaders. Often it is wise to pray and wait, to plan and wait, to think and wait. One of the keys to great leadership is the ability to be patient and yet bold and decisive when the timing is right. That means you have to understand your vision, your people, your culture and the world around you. As a leader you never have all the facts and you can’t wait for a perfect time. Managing the tension between being patient and taking action is a leadership skill that takes time to get good at. Often it takes trial and error, life lessons and lot’s of prayer to get really good at this.
  5. Seek wise counsel – The people you have around you, and the people that you listen to are so critical for any leader. When things are chaotic you need some wise mentors that can speak into the situation and ask the right questions. Great leaders are constantly looking for the best mentors to help them navigate the uncertain waters and avoid making big mistakes. Seeking out counsel can help you avoid unnecessary pain and struggle.
  6. Make time for important relationships – When things are changing around you and your busy and stressed, it’s vital to take time for family, friends and teammates. Don’t neglect the people around you, plan and schedule time with them to stay connected. Fight against isolating yourself as a leader. Those relationships will nourish you emotionally and strengthen you personally and the people around you.
  7. Find a regular rhythm of rest – This is another hard thing to do for hard charging leaders. Resting looks different for everyone, but find those things that recharge you, and disconnect you from the day to day stress of your leadership. Take at least one day a week off and really rest. It makes you sharper, more likeable and may even help you live longer.
  8. Spend time with God Daily – This is one of the most important things you can do no matter what is going on around you. Daily prayer, reading God’s word, devotions, meditating on Scripture are all ways Christian leaders can stay sharp and focused on the right things. Taking care of your soul helps you keep your priorities in the right place, and helps you grow spiritually.
  9. Pay attention to your emotions – It times of chaos and stress emotions can get out of whack. Negative emotions are a warning sign that something is wrong. If you are getting lots of negative emotions it can spiral you downward into depression, anxiety and darkness. In that state of mind it’s very difficult to make good decisions and lead well. If your struggling emotionally, ask for help. Talk to a trusted mentor, go to a Christian counselor or trusted Pastor. Talk about what is contributing to the negative emotions. You can also work on what your putting into your mind like social media and news. Be careful who your listening to, and make sure you are spending time with God.
  10. Lead with Love – This is all about your heart and what is motivating you. Caring about the people you lead and wanting what is best for them builds a great culture. When it comes to leading with love Paul gives us great advice in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonors others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” You may not have thought about that as a leadership verse, but think about the kind of leader you love to follow. Usually it’s because they are doing much of what Paul wrote about in those passages. At work or at home, lead with love.

Those are a few critical principles that have helped me along the way. Keep working on yourself, because the healthier you are as a leader the healthier your organization and the people around you will be. Lead on and Lead well.

Six Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned During the Pandemic

This has been the most unusual time of my life. I remember Y2K and the big deal about that, the fear it caused, but nothing like today. After 9-11 our country changed, and we now live in a new world because of what happened back then.

Today we are battling a world wide virus that is highly contagious and is not consistent in how it attacks people. That has caused doctors and scientists to constantly adjust and adapt to new information. The amazing thing is that they are learning more and making progress in how to treat this virus. Doctors, Scientists, and businesses are working hard to find solutions. Also businesses and industries have been very innovative and adaptive through this pandemic and have made major improvements in areas of testing, producing protective gear and even manufacturing needed medical equipment.

In church world this has been an interesting time as we have not been able to meet in person for church for months. Again, there has been innovation and creativity that has allowed churches to continue to grow and reach new people, while staying connected with the people already a part of the church. It has forced us to think differently, and it has helped more churches work together to love and serve people. I am actually grateful for this time as it has been a big time of stretching church leaders and helping us get out of our box and into the world.

I believe that many good things will come out of this time of Shutdown and Stay at Home orders. As our country starts to re-open, here are a few leadership lessons I’ve learned during this time that I think will help us moving forward.

  1. Leaders have to make decisions without all the facts. This has always been true, but with the ever changing environment today, leaders are faced with a lot of uncertainty and yet still have to make decisions. Some leaders get paralyzed and don’t make decisions, or defer to others that are considered to be experts. The main responsibility of a leader is to take in as much information and input as possible, and then make a decision that is best for the organization, country, state, family. The ability to discern, ask the right questions, and trust your instincts are leadership skills that help a leader in times like this. Don’t let fear and uncertainty keep you from making decisions and moving forward.
  2. Adaptability and Flexibility are keys characteristics of successful leaders. Today more than ever leaders have to be able to adapt quickly to new information, new ways of doing things and learn as you go. Being adaptable means you are not stuck on only one way of doing something, it means you are always looking for the best way, not your own way. Flexibility is another key. To me this means you can change directions quickly, you are open to learning from anyone, and again looking for the best ways to do things and get things done. Both of these characteristics require a good bit of humility. It also means that you have to be willing to take a risk, admit when you make a mistake, or when something is not working and either stop doing it, or change it. Our world is going to keep moving at a high rate of speed and leaders that are adaptable and flexible will be able to keep up.
  3. A crisis shows the emotional intelligence of a leader. Most people know that emotional intelligence is important for successful leaders. Yet when there is a lot of uncertainty and fear, our emotions can drive decisions. When you are aware of your emotions and can think clearly and calmly in a crisis, you will make better decisions and fewer mistakes. It’s also much easier to be adaptable and flexible when you are healthy emotionally. God gave us all emotions for a reason and the more aware you are of your emotions the healthier you can become.
  4. Leaders will always be criticized. Again, this has always been true, but it more evident in difficult challenging times. When information is limited and there is a lot of uncertainty, leaders still must make decisions, and will sometimes get it wrong or less than perfect. That’s part of being in the game instead of on the sidelines. There will always be critics, people that push back, question or challenge everything. Many of those people are not in positions of leadership, or if they are they are, they are low on influence because they take pot shots at others after the fact. Leaders have to be able to take criticism and know when to respond and when not to respond. That takes wisdom and discernment.
  5. Faith in God really makes a difference. Leaders with a healthy relationship with God, lead and make decisions much differently than leaders without faith. That God factor changes the perspective of the leader, and allows the leader to tap into the all powerful creator of everything. For me the most important lesson we can learn in this time is that God is in control, He has a plan, and He is always with us and for us. The deeper we go with God the more powerful and influential our lives become.
  6. Times like this are always preparing us for what is next. God uses times like this to prepare us for the things that are coming. He also uses things like a pandemic to help us see more clearly what is most important in life. It can reset our priorities and help us make the proper adjustments in our lives, organizations and countries. It also reveals our weaknesses and past mistakes, and forces us to address those mistakes or go backwards.

I know there are so many more lessons to be learned. The key is that we are actually learning and not just going through the motions and reacting as we go. Now is the time to be learning and growing. Now is the time to be adjusting and rethinking. Now is the time to be changing and fine tuning. Focus on what you can control and put the work in there, it will make a huge difference down the road.

Leading During a Crisis

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Our world is in the midst of a crisis know at the Coronavirus of COVID-19. It is spreading all over the world and things are changing rapidly. Leaders at all level of government, medical, education, business, non-profits and churches are making important decisions everyday.

During a crisis like this, how can we lead well? Many decisions that leaders make are questioned, scrutinized and criticized. However, thats what it means to be a leader. Leaders make decisions and get things done. Here are a few things we can all do in order to lead well during a crisis.

PRAY AND SEEK WISE COUNSEL: Go to God first in any crisis. Talk to God and read His Word. It’s also important to know who you can go too for counsel and support. Surrounding yourself with the right team is vital in a crisis. You must trust each other and believe the best about each other.

PLAN TO COMMUNICATE: During a crisis, communication is critical. Even if you do not have new information it is important to communicate as much as possible and allow a space for people to ask questions. People tend to panic more if they feel like they are in the dark or that their leaders are not sharing all the information. It is better to over communicate.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Blaming others or pointing fingers does not help. Leaders should take responsibility for the current reality and focus on solving problems and finding solutions. It’s also important to quickly admit when you or your team got something wrong or made a bad decision. Admit it and move forward.

MAKE NECESSARY SACRIFICES: A leader must be willing to make sacrifices for the betterment and protection of their people. There may be personal sacrifices or organizational sacrifices in order to do what is right and responsible. Short term sacrifices can lead to long term success.

ACT DECISIVELY: It’s important to make decisions as quickly as you can. There is a tension between getting information and making a decision. You can’t always wait until all the facts are known. You have to do the best you can with what you have. Keep the big picture in mind and do what’s best for the people and your organization.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: When stress is running high it is so important that leaders take care of themselves. Plan for down time, rest and eating properly. Get some exercise and take some time for you family. When you do that, you will be sharper and better able to function in the crisis.

SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES: There is always an opportunity in every crisis. Look for the positive, look for things that can be improved, streamlined or eliminated. What lessons can be learned as you go through the crisis that will make you stronger and better in the future.

Thank you to all the people that are out there leading well. Keep going, don’t give up, you are making a difference.

Generosity is …

Generosity is a quality that most people want to be around. It can be inspiring and heart warming to see genuine generosity. However, generosity is a heart issue, it’s what is happening in our heart that causes us to be generous.

Paul wrote most of the New Testament and he talks a good bit about generosity. in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 he unpacks some amazing truths about what generosity is. Take a moment and reflect on these 11 truths and then ask yourself how generous you are? Where do you need to grow?

  1. Generosity is unrelated to income and wealth – You can be generous no matter what your economic status.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 8:2

2. Generosity is never forced – it’s a choice we make everyday.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own. 8:3 

3. Generosity cannot be contained! – When we are transformed to see as God sees, and care as God cares, we understand the honor we have in giving. Giving is contagious.

And they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 8:4 

4. Generosity is always focused first toward the Lord – When we give ourselves to the Lord, our hearts turn from selfish to generous.

And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. 8:5 

5. Generosity is tangible evidence of our love for God – It is outward evidence of the inner change happening in us.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 8:8 

6. Generous people meet needs – God helps us to notice the needs around us and gives us the discernment to know how to best help those in need.

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need . . . “[He] who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 8:14-15

7. Generosity honors the Lord – It is an act of worship and brings glory to God.

What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 8:19 

8. Real generosity is expressed cheerfully – It’s a joy to give. When we give we are a blessing to others and when we give we are blessed ourselves.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 9:7

9. Generosity is personal between us and God – It’s a personal choice to give, we should always pray about our giving and make plans to give.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 9:7 

10. God provides the gift for the generous to give – God owns it all and supplies it all.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous . . . 9:10–11 

11. Expressed generosity moves others closer to God – Our giving impacts people in ways only God really sees.

So that you can be generous…and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity . . . 9:11–13 

Success and Humility Go Hand in Hand

Many years ago, a rider came across some soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log without success. The corporal was standing by as the men struggled. The rider asked the corporal why he wasn’t helping. The corporal replied, “I am the corporal; I give orders.” The rider dismounted, went up and stood by the soldiers and as they were lifting the log, he helped them. With his help, the log got moved. The rider quietly mounted his horse and went to the corporal and said, “The next time your men need help, send for the Commander-in-Chief.” After he left, the corporal and his men found out that the rider was George Washington.

The message is pretty clear. Success and humility go hand in hand. The most successful leaders have a blend of humility and a drive to achieve the vision.

When it comes to leadership there are so many important qualities. However, I believe that humility is the foundation for all the other qualities.

People want to follow leaders who are confident in their direction and capabilities, and can make a decision. People also want to follow leaders who know who they are, and are comfortable in their own skin. But there’s a point at which confidence can slip into overconfidence. The Greek word, hubris, means “dangerous overconfidence” and “exaggerated pride.” Confidence without humility leads to hubris. There is a line that any leader can cross if they don’t embrace humility.

I believe humility is all about mindsets. Here are some key mindsets that drive the actions of a humble leader:

  1. Serve others – When we have the mindset that we are here to serve other people it keeps us humble. True humility is thinking about other people more than you think about yourself. That is a difficult thing to do, because we all think about ourselves all the time. But a mindset of serving others keeps us more aware of the needs of the people around us. It helps us to think about how we can lift others up, and help them in meaningful ways. It’s a desire to improve the lives of the people around us.
  2. Listening – The listening mindset goes along with serving others. If we are not listening to the people around us it is impossible to be humble. It’s also difficult to serve others if we don’t listen with the intent of understanding them better and how we can best serve that person. Listening shows that we care and really want know the best way we can help or serve that person.
  3. Self Awareness – This mindset helps us to be aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. A humble self-aware leader will ask for help and honest feedback. When we ask for help in areas we are weak or struggling in, it shows that we are aware that we cannot do everything on our own. When we ask for feedback it shows that we are aware that we can get better and learn from others. A self-aware mindset also allows us to admit when we are wrong and to ask for forgiveness.
  4. Adding value to others – a mindset of adding value to others goes to the heart of investing in other people to help them get better, heal from past hurts, and draw out the best in them. Humble leaders are always thinking about ways they can add value into the lives of the people around them.
  5. Grateful – A grateful mindset helps us to be aware of the many blessings in our lives, and to be thankful for everything that God and others have done to improve our own lives. Humble leaders are grateful for what has been entrusted to them, and therefore are good stewards of what they are given.

I could keep going with other mindsets that humble leaders have, but this lays a good foundation for anyone that wants to be a better leader at work, home, school or community. Think about what your mindset is like when it comes to leadership and humility. Non of us have arrived and are perfect in this area of humility. We are all a work in process, and when we can learn from our failures, ask questions and listen well, it helps us to add value to others and to be grateful for what we have.


The Head turning Power of Compassion

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

Jesus says that there is one force in this world that can shed light in a dark world.  That force is the church, which is made up of people. How brightly is your light shining?  Are you involved in activities that will cause someone to say what a Good God there is? Maybe your wattage is dim; does your bulb say 25w or 40w or does it say 150w?

Showing compassion to the world is what we are called to do.  We are not called to judge the world, but to love those in this world, just like Jesus did.  It is so easy to become hard in this world and to rationalize why we should not help those less fortunate.  However, when we show unconditional love to a broken world it gets peoples attention. Maybe it’s going on a short term mission trip or simply finding a way to serve your neighbor or that person that you know that is having a hard time. It can be taking the time to listen to them and then pray with them. Sending an encouraging note or text and being available. Compassion can come in many shapes and forms.

Here are three reasons why we should engage in acts of compassion:

  • When you let your light shine it will change you.

Most people look for happiness in the wrong things.  Looking to things like money, a new home, a new job, getting married or even getting out of a marriage.  Those things don’t bring us happiness. When people focus on others, they are happy, when people focus on themselves, they get depressed.  When you get to the end of your life the best memories will be of when you blessed the lives of others. When you start showing compassion to others, you start to change yourself and your outlook on life.

I recently took a group of people to Buffalo New York to love and serve a poor neighborhood with an organization called Eight Days of Hope. Hundreds of people came together and served people in need. We fixed up homes, but we also listened to the homeowners and prayed with them. We built a connection and a relationship. Trips like that will change your life.

  • You change the world one person at a time.

We all are among the richest people in the world.  Most people in this world don’t have anything. We don’t realize this until we go and see how other people live in other countries or other neighborhoods.  Showing compassion can start right here in our own backyards. When you start looking for people that need help and people that need encouragement, your eyes are opened to a whole new world.  Every day we come into contact with people that need our compassion. When was the last time you did an intentional act of kindness for someone? Who is your one person?

  • It does something to the heart of God – It blesses God.

Think about your own children, if they hurt you hurt.  Think about how much God loves His children and how much He must hurt when his children are struggling and hurting.  Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.” Have you turned any heads lately with your light?  

Most people start out with good intentions, but then get busy and preoccupied and forget about all the other people out there.  We forget that the local church is in the people saving and serving business. I believe that the local church is the hope of the world, and that together the church can make a huge impact in our communities and around the world. Let your light shine!

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com