On Sunday we baptized 9 people at NewPointe. So far 23 people have been baptized in 2009. We video tape each persons story and play it before they get baptized. It is always an emotional time as we hear how God has transformed them and is continuing to work in their lives. Many family and friends join in celebrating with these folks. I love hearing their stories and getting know them on a more personal level. This is why we do what we do. Here are some pictures to enjoy:
This week I want to move from reactive to proactive, from unfocused to focused, from unclear to clarity, from being driven by circumstances to being directed by purpose.
To do that I must carve out time to work “on” things and also schedule time time to work “in” things. What I mean by that is this: “On” time is when you step back and take a look at the big picture. It’s like getting into a helicopter and taking a look from above. It’s when you spend time thinking, observing, planning, prioritizing, reading and studying. This is a time for self-development and identifying where your blind spots are. It’s a time of putting your strategy together for the coming days, weeks and months. It’s sharpening your ax.
“In” time is also important. That’s when you do administrative things. The day-to-day stuff that needs to get done. The reports that need completed, the emails, voice mails, notes, memos and meetings. It’s doing the laundry, washing the dishes and sweeping the carpet. “In” time is a vital part of every leader’s day. If you don’t pay attention to the details some of the time you lose track of things and balls get dropped.
So this week I am going to work on a better balance of “on” time and “in” time. The only way to do that is to think ahead and plan out your week. By planning out your week, you bring clarity, purpose and focus to the things you are doing.
How to be a Good Listener
Relationships can be hard work. Especially the marriage relationship. I am reminded of that over and over in my own marriage and other important relationships. A big part of deepening your relationships is to listen and communicate well. I came across this short article by Dr. Gary Chapman that did a nice job of explaining how to be a good listener. Take the time to read this and then start applying it to your relationships.
How to Be a Good Listener by Dr. Gary Chapman
You’re probably familiar with the five love languages–quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts and physical touch. Did you know quality time has many dialects? One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.
Have you ever wondered if you’re a good listener? How can you improve in this area? Here are eight steps to becoming a sympathetic listener.
1. Maintain eye contact when you are listening to someone. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that the person has your full attention. Refrain from rolling your eyes in disgust, closing your eyes when they give you a low blow, looking over their head, or staring at their shoes while they are talking.
2. Don’t engage in other activities while you are listening to another individual. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.
3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself: “What are this person’s emotions right now?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot…” That gives the person a chance to clarify his/her feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what they are saying.
4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the person is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what the person is really thinking and feeling.
5. Refuse to interrupt.
6. Ask reflective questions.
7. Express understanding. The person needs to know that he/she has been heard and understood.
8. Ask if there is anything you might do that would be helpful. Notice, you are asking, not telling the person what she ought to do. Never give advice until you are sure the other person wants it.
This time of the year is loaded with sports. You have the NCAA basketball tournament, you have High School basketball tournaments, the NBA season is winding down and the playoffs will start soon. Major League Baseball is in training camp and preparing for opening day. Free agency is in full swing in the NFL. The NHL is going strong, professional golf tournaments are happening every weekend and NASCAR is rolling.
Need I say more? Madness.
I am a huge sports fan, so this time of year is fun for me. Checking the headlines, following my favorite teams and cheering for my favorite players is a lot of fun. I am in a Fantasy Baseball league and filled out my Bracket for NCAA Basketball.
Sports can teach us a lot of lessons in life, but one that has stuck with me is the value of teamwork. All the sports I mentioned require people to work together to accomplish great things. In sports, it is easier to see this in action. Teams and individuals that work well together can go far in the tournaments and can compete for championships.
Life can be that way as well. The better we work as a team, whether it is at work, home, school or church, the more we can accomplish. When you bring people together that have a shared vision and passion it is amazing what can happen.
I am a part of a place like that. NewPointe Community Church is a great team of talented passion filled people that are out to change the world. Our team is made of men, women, students and children that have a shared vision of leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Each person brings a unique set of gifts, abilities, personality and experiences to the team.
Our convictions are intimacy with God, involvement in community and influence in the world. This team of people is committed to loving God and people and making a lasting impact in our surrounding communities.
We also want to help other teams at other churches. I believe we are on the same team and should help each other as much as possible. I love talking with other churches about what they are doing and how they are making a difference.
Here is to March madness.
Last night I spoke to the Sugarcreek Rotary about Ethics. It seems like every year we hear about unethical and illegal behavior in the business world. John Maxwell coined the phrase, “There is no such thing as Business Ethics”. I agree, ethics is ethics, whether you are at work, at home, at school, at church, in government or at the ball field.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Five factors that keep us from always being ethical:
Then I gave five Anchors to help us always be ethical:
- Ethical behavior is seldom a last-minute decision.
- Leading by example is crucial for integrating ethical behavior into a business culture.
- Personal ethics are formed by our inner-space view of the world around us.
- The people within an organization must believe in its core values or those values will be worth very little.
- Friendships are a key part of shaping and maintaining your convictions.
Here are some quotes I used:
“If a man can accept a situation in a place of power with the thought that it’s only temporary, he comes out all right. But when he thinks he is the cause of the power, that can be his ruination.” Harry Truman
“Pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” John Ruskin
“The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined. It has been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments…It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crisis seemed far away, the decisions that piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity or dishonor and shame.” Ronald Reagan
This week I came across Chick-fil-A’s corporate slogan. It was simple, yet profound. For a corporate business to say this is impressive. It’s even more impressive that they live it out.
“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
That would be a great slogan to take on personally as well.
I exist to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to me, and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with me.
Can you say that about yourself? Would other people say that about you?
One of the things I have to constantly be working on is focus. It is so easy to get distracted by urgent things, fun things, or things other people could do for you. Where I work the pace is fairly high. I find myself “busy” sometimes, instead of productive. When that starts happening, I have to re-focus myself. I need to step back and look at the big picture and start asking myself some questions. It can be that way not only in our work lives, but also our personal and spiritual lives as well. Here are some questions I found from Bob Biehl that have been helpful for me:
- What three changes in me would most please our Eternal God in His Holy Heaven?
- What can I do to make the most significant difference for God in my lifetime?
- Why am I on the earth?
- If I could accomplish only three measurable priorities (Problems to solve, Goals to reach, Opportunities to seize) before I die, what would I accomplish?
- If I could only accomplish three measurable priorities in the next ten years, that would make a 50% difference in my life-long contribution, what would I accomplish?
- What single word best captures the focus of my next year?
- What three land mines, or roadblocks need my immediate attention?
- If I had to cut my budget 20%, what would be the first three things to go?
- If I got a surprise gift of 20% of my budget, what three things would I do immediately?
- What three changes could improve the quality of my work by 50% in the next 12 months?
These are big forward thinking questions. They help to get us out of the here and now. It’s kind of like having your hand two inches in front of your face. All you can see is your hand. If you fully stretch out your arm you can see beyond your hand.
If you need to bring some focus to your work or to your life, start asking some of these questions. When you know what the most important things are in your life, you can then begin to focus on those areas.
I still must work on the small things, the urgent things, the boring things and the unimportant things. I still need to have fun and relax. But you actually have more time for those things when you do the important stuff first.
I finished a good book this morning called UnChristian by David Kinnaman. The chapter that really jumped out at me was entitled judgemental.
The definition the author gives for judgemental is “To be judgemental is to point out something that is wrong in someone else’s life, making the person feel put down, excluded and marginalized. Some part of their potential to be Christ followers is snuffed out. Being judgemental is fueled by self-righteousness, the misguided inner motivation to make our own life look better by comparing it to the lives of others.”
He says that 87 percent of young outsiders think that judgemental, accurately describes present-day Christians. They believe we are more interested in proving we are right than that God is right. This perception of Christians has kept many people away from a relationship with Jesus Christ. That attitude pushes people away from God and His purpose for their lives.
It is very easy to be judgmental if we lose our passion for outsiders. Instead of looking at them with love and compassion we judge the way they act, talk, look and dress. The Bible makes it clear that God, not humans, should judge. He calls us to love people, accept people, build relationships and friendships with people.
So how do we avoid being judgemental. It starts by listening. Listen to understand, not be understood. We often judge because we don’t understand. Don’t label people or put them in a certain box, because of how they look, act or behave. Don’t pretend to have all the answers and to know it all. That is always a turn off.
Try to put yourself in their place, empathy helps you to love instead of judge. It also helps to be real and not pretend that you have it all together. To really care about people and be their friend, even if they don’t come to church or believe like you do. Friendship should be real and based on a genuine interest in the person.
This week I met with a young lady that was new to being a Christian. She had many questions, because she was not raised in a Christian home. As I answered some of her questions she shared some of her struggles with me. She thought that becoming a Christian meant she had to be perfect. She told me later in our conversation that she was watching how I would react to her struggles. She said she did not feel like I was judging her, which helped her to draw closer to God.
I have to remind myself often that it is not my job to change or judge people. That’s God’s job. It is my job to love them and to point them to the love of Jesus. He is the one that will bring change in their lives. I know that, because that what Jesus did in my life. He changed me over time into a new person. You see, the opposite of judgementalism is love.
So how do you perceive single parents, divorced people, gays and lesbians, people with tattoos, people that smoke, your neighbors, your pastor? Philip Yancey said “the opposite of sin is not virtue; it is grace”. Are you extending grace to people the way God extended grace to you? I hope this week we can all look at people through the eyes of Jesus, and love them like He does.
Do you have a clear idea of what is most important to you in life and how you can achieve those things?
Do you know the disciplines, improvements and outcomes necessary to win in life?
If that is a little fuzzy for you then maybe you need to take a time out from life and develop a life plan. What is a life plan you ask? Why is that important?
A lot of leaders, myself included, spend most of their planning time setting goals. Most of us set goals, but very few experience real long-term success. When we reach a goal, we enjoy it for a moment and then are on to the next goal. By taking the approach of a life plan you begin to see that every decision you make will either increase or decrease your success in the important areas of your life. Every decision incurs a cost somewhere. More time at work can deplete your account at home.
Most successful people are running at a very high pace. Especially if you are doing something you are passionate about. We tend to think that we will run at this pace for a while and then later on I can slow down and get to the other areas of my life. That does not happen, it doesn’t get any slower tomorrow. We always find something else to keep us busy.
By developing a life plan, you become proactive instead of reactive. I am trying very hard to be more proactive in my life instead of just reacting to what happens. Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We have a limited number of days. None of us knows how many days we have left.
To develop a life plan you need time to think and plan. To think through how you want to be remembered by those around you. What kind of a legacy are you leaving behind? What is your purpose or mission in life. How can you add value to each of the main accounts or relationships in your life.
There are some good tools out there to help you through this process. One that I am using is a book called “Becoming A Coaching Leader” by Daniel Harkavy. This book has been challenging me to grow as a leader. He has a great tool for developing a life plan. I am excited about working through this process. I challenge each of you to start this process as well. If you need help let me know and I will share what I have learned.
This weekend Some friends helped me move a lady and her three little children. It was a little rough on our backs, but the reward of helping someone in need was great. I love being the church to our community in practical ways. After we got her moved into her new place, we prayed for her and her family. I also invited her the NewPointe and she said she would be there. Here are a few pictures of our experience. A big thanks to Erich for letting us use his trailer.