For years I’ve pondered an interesting question. If I wrote a book called How to Fail, and it became a best-seller, would that be a good thing?
In today’s world, there seems to be a subconscious, relentless drive toward being successful. There are countless conferences, books and podcasts on the topic of attaining success in our work, family and social life. But there aren’t a lot of resources on failure. Who wants to be a failure, right?
No one wants to be a failure. But failure is a reality that most people will face at one point in their lives. The truth is, even though I strive for success in all I do, I’ve met just as much failure, if not more. I’ve struggled with the “f” word (failure) in my work, ministry, and relationships. And since labeling oneself a failure can have damaging emotional effects, I want to give some hope and shed some light on the topic. Below are three thoughts to keep in mind about failure.
Failure is an event, not a person
When failure happens, it’s easy to take the blame. I was raised to own up to my responsibilities and take ownership regardless of the results. But when we do that, we can often label ourselves as a failure. We need to remember that failure is an event, not a person.
Being firmly rooted in your identity in Christ is crucial as you work through failure. Your mind can easily tell you, “You’re a loser. You don’t deserve to succeed. You’re a failure.” But contrast those thoughts with the truth of scripture that says you are chosen by God. You are dearly loved. You’re a redeemed child of God (1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:12, Ephesians 2:1-5). Continue reading
Many churches today have an emphasis on small groups. I’ve been involved in small groups, and have passionately promoted them in ministry since 1988. While strategies have changed over the years, some things that remain the same are the need for doing life together and the scriptures that clearly demonstrate this reality. Here are four foundational scriptures that promote Biblical community, and why it’s vital for Christ followers to do life together.
Creation – Genesis 1-2
In the beginning, after each day of creation, God said, “It is good.” And after the sixth day, when he created humankind, he said, “It is very good.” But then God said something remarkable. He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Wait…what? When God and Adam enjoyed perfect harmony together in a world unspoiled by sin, when everything was “very good”, God said something was “not good”?
God knew that deep down inside every human being was the need for intimate, mutually satisfying relationships. The animals God had created weren’t going to suffice. Adam needed something more. So God created Eve and instituted human relationships.
The book of Genesis tells us that humans were created in God’s image. God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:27). Ever wonder who God was talking to? God, by nature, is Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s very nature is relational. And since we were created in his image, we were made to be in relationships! Continue reading
In over 30 years of ministry, I’ve noticed that many wise ministry principles can relate to work and life in general, and vice versa. Here are my top five blog posts of 2016 that contain wise principles for work and life. Enjoy!
Riding the Wind of the Spirit
What windsurfing teaches us about listening to God.
3 Simple Questions to Help Address Complex Issues
Very complex issues are best addressed by asking and answering very basic questions.
3 Principles of Productivity
Things to consider when making decisions and taking action.
Delegating Versus Releasing Authority: What’s the Difference?
Why releasing authority is better than delegating tasks.
6 Key Areas in Which to Develop Margin
How to replenish your energy by developing margin in your life.
Two summers ago I took up windsurfing. I learned to windsurf about 25 years ago but had not done it since. So when I saw an old, used windsurfer at a garage sale, I decided to buy it. I immediately took my new purchase to the lake, and like riding a bike, it didn’t take long to relearn the basics. Since then I’ve spent many summer hours on the water, enjoying the outdoors, feeling the sun on my back, and riding the wind.
But I’ve also learned some things about being guided by the Holy Spirit through my exploits windsurfing. The Apostle John described the Holy Spirit like the blowing of a breeze. “The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants” (John 3:8 CEV). Here are three things I’ve learned while windsurfing that directly relate to listening and responding to the Holy Spirit.
You can’t go anywhere without the wind
There are a few basic ingredients needed to windsurf. You first need a board, a sail, a rudder, and a boom (the part you hold on to). A life jacket, sunscreen and some cool sunglasses also come in handy. You need a sufficiently large body of water, some knowledge of the sport, and some skills developed through practice. And of course, you need the wind. Continue reading
Ever wonder why some days you seem to handle things better than other days? Why, on a Wednesday, you can deal with a particularly stressful situation, but on a Thursday that exact same situation can push you to your limits? The answer can be summed up in one word. Margin.
Margin can be defined as the space between our load and our limits. It’s the breathing room we all need in our lives. It’s the buffer between where you are on your rope, and the end of your rope. When a person has margin in their life, they can weather the storm. They can get pushed toward the end of their rope, but still have enough left at the end to hang on. But when a person is at the end of their rope, they have no margin. One little thing can push them past the edge. And they fall. Hard.
The need for creating and maintaining margin is especially true for pastors and Christian leaders. Pastor and author Wayne Cordeiro, in his book Leading On Empty, noted that serotonin (that natural, feel-good hormone) replenishes us during times of rest, and fuels us when we’re working. But if we don’t replenish ourselves, our bodies replace serotonin with adrenaline. But adrenaline was designed for emergency use only. If we run completely on adrenaline day in and day out, we will sooner or later burn out.
The solution is to maintain margin. Since maintaining margin is so critical to leading a healthy life and ministry, here are 6 key areas in which to develop and maintain margin:
Allow for extra time in your schedule to deal with unexpected issues that may arise. When something unexpected comes up and you’re called on to deal with it, you can say “Certainly! I’ve got the time.”
Dave Ramsey and other financial planners encourage people to develop and maintain an “emergency fund” to handle unexpected bills that suddenly come up. Car repairs. Medical bills. Home maintenance. Create a savings buffer. Plan ahead for those financial burdens that come up unexpectedly.
I recently posted a blog (Got Clarity? Part 1) where I talked about the need for pastors to gain an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstance. I mentioned that in order to get an accurate understanding of yourself, it’s helpful to have a therapist. I’ll expand on that thought a bit and give two reasons why every Pastor needs a therapist.
Pastors are no different than anyone
One thing I’ve learned about Pastors – once you look past their exterior, they’re human. Pastors deal with the same emotions, fears, and insecurities as anyone. The Bible says “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”(Jeremiah 17:9). We all need help in figuring out our heart’s motivation, navigating the storms of life, and maintaining basic mental health, even if you’re a pastor.
For example, I know of a church that holds an annual, county-wide Mental Health Summit. Every fall, over 500 mental health professionals and concerned community leaders from county agencies, local police departments, educators, and the faith community all come together to discuss mental health issues and the stigma that is often associated with them. From the turnout, it’s clear that many in our communities, including Christians and Christian leaders, can benefit from intentionally pursuing mental health.
Pastors are very different from everyone
Even though in some ways, Pastors are just like everyone else, they are very different in many, many ways. The role of Pastor is extremely unique and has many distinctive characteristics that make the job unlike any other. There’s a unique spiritual element that brings spiritual attack from the enemy. And there’s also the perceived need to be a great preacher, compassionate counselor, strong leader, wise mentor, dynamic vision caster, eloquent communicator, Biblical theologian, and frugal financial manager. That’s a lot of pressure and even though Pastors are typically very gifted, no one can do it all. Continue reading