Often I have people ask me “are you watching this Netflix series? Or that Netflix series?” My answer is usually “no I don’t have time for a series but I do like a good war or action movie once in a while.” To be clear I did enjoy the HBO series Band of Brothers. So I guess if something strikes my interests enough I would make time to waste on a good series every once in a while. This reoccurring question has caused me to think deeply about these two questions. “Am I entertained or engaged? And are we as a culture entertained or engaged?” The answer is simple. A tree is known by it’s fruit. Entertainment produces entitlement. In that culture everything is driven by numbers, ratings, reviews and ultimately pleasing people. While engagement produces growth, progress, diligence, and faithfulness and then ultimately purpose. We can be people who are engaged in things that matter and hence we use entertainment for what it is supposed to be used for. Think of entertainment like dessert. Dessert is great once in a while. However we should not live on dessert. More often than not diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and an early death will be the results. So it is with people who live off and for entertainment. We were created to be engaged in things that really matter, because we really matter. Which means we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by entertainment. We must not allow entertainment to keep us from meaningful engagement. The proper engagements lead to long-term commitments that lead to lasting change. We must find out what really matters and give everything to and for that. We should find out what is worth dying for and live only for that. For me it’s Jesus. What is it for you?
We live in a culture where people are given entitlements with almost no requirements. Now you get a trophy for participating. The mass production of entitled losers has begun. Because faithfulness and diligence are becoming more and more rare the people who have these virtues will become rare and extremely valuable commodities. In fact the faithful and the diligent will own the future. The entitled will not be able to maintain what they got for free. People don’t value handouts, they value hard work. Participants can’t value a trophy because they didn’t win. In the days to come the influencers who have longevity and lasting success will be the faithful and the diligent. The virtues that we posses are the way we add value to others. It’s important to remember that we can only give what we have.
This is your life are you who you want be? – Switchfoot
Your life is a gift given to you by God. You didn’t ask to be born, but you are here. You are a unique person with a unique purpose. You have a unique DNA code and unique finger prints. There is only one you. You are the driver of your own life. Are you going in the right direction? In other words who you become is not up to God, it’s up to you. In the first parable where Jesus taught about the kingdom of God he mentioned seed and soil. If you look closely at that parable you will see that there is nothing wrong with the seed, the issue is the soil. We are the soil, our feelings, thoughts, desires and will is the soil. We determine how fruitful we will be. We must remember that problem is not with the seed, it’s with the soil. The thoughts we entertain, what we listen to and watch. Who we permit to influence us. The choices we make help to determine who we are becoming. The relationships we have help form us for better or worse. There are a lot of things in this life that we didn’t choose, but we always choose how we respond. We are not in control of what happens to us but we are in control of our response. Remember we choose to be a victim or an overcomer based on how we respond to what happens to us.
First let me define what an effective communicator is. An effective communicator is someone who speaks and people listen. An effective communicator maintains the attention of his or her audience and an effective communicator would be able to leave about 75% of his or her audience knowing the main points of what it was that was being communicated. If the communication leaves room for misunderstanding it was not an effective communication.
If we want to become an effective communicator there are 3 things we must do consistently.
1. We must be slow to speak. Meaning we must think before we speak.
2. We must mean what we say.
3. We must do what we say.
(Since none of us are perfect, when we mess up we should be quick to admit it. It is better to admit it than be accused of it.)
The more we live our message the more influential our message will become. If we don’t know what we are saying, mean what we are saying or do what we are saying we have no right to influence anyone. Our integrity is what gives us the right to influence others. We must remember that our words only have as much authority as we have integrity. We must think before we speak, mean what we say and do what we say consistently if we want to become effective communicators.
When we have unforgiveness in our life it changes the way we see reality. It even distorts how we see ourselves. When we have unforgiveness it feels like the whole world owes us something. When we have unforgiveness we are defined by what someone did to us or didn’t do for us. When we forgive we defined by what Jesus did for us. Unforgiveness even affects things that have nothing to do with the reason why we may have unforgiveness in the first place. Unforgiveness in one area of our life leads to bondage and deception in other areas of our life. Unforgiveness quickly turns into bitterness. Bitterness is poison to our soul, and it’s poison to those who hear and listen to us. Have you ever heard or said something that was right but felt totally wrong? That may be because it’s coming from a bitter root. If we want to move forward we must forgive. The only one unforgiveness holds hostage is us. Our future depends on us forgiving and letting the past go. If we let the past go it will let us go. Whether we are forgiving ourself or someone else, forgiveness is a key that opens up the doors to our destiny.
There is one common denominator among all successful people and it is this, they are committed beyond feelings. In other words their commitments are more important to them than their feelings. Their convictions about their commitments are stronger than their feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. Most people are more committed to their feelings than they are to their commitments. If you want to be successful at anything, if you want longevity in anything and if you want to leave a legacy to anybody you must be committed beyond your feelings. When you are tired you may feel like quitting, don’t. When you are offended you may feel like leaving, don’t. When you are unnoticed or unappreciated, don’t give up you matter. Anyone can quit, anyone can leave, anyone can complain. But you have the opportunity to be different. Faith (in Jesus) lifts us above our feelings and our circumstances. Faith allows us to live on higher and more solid ground. Faith allows us to live consistently above our feelings. So if you want to get married, stay married, raise children, pay debt, build wealth or have healthy relationships you will have to be committed beyond your feelings. Commit to being committed beyond your feelings in the end you will feel better anyway!
Leaders and Managers are very similar in some aspects but also very different in other aspects. An effective leader and manager must be both strategic and intentional.
Leaders move things forward.
Managers keep things together.
Leaders are about momentum.
Managers are about morale.
Leaders are pioneers.
Managers are developers.
Leaders see the big picture.
Managers see the little details that are a part of the big picture.
Leaders are about significance.
Managers are about security.
Leaders are about substance.
Managers are about structure.
Leaders and Managers are both essential for the progress and development of any entity that wants to grow and thrive.
Comfort does not produce change or growth but challenges do. If you are not being challenged you are not growing. We need friends that pick us up when we fall, correct us when we are wrong, challenge us when we are complacent and encourage us when we are weary in well doing. While it is very true that we need others, we also need to learn how to build challenges into our every day life to assure us that we are growing. Setting goals that are just beyond where we are will build a steady flow of challenges into our life if we choose to be accountable. Kris Vallotton says it this way, “accountability means you must give an account for your ability.” Challenges + accountability = Growth. Consistent growth positions you to reach your full potential.
When you intentionally build challenges into your life it helps you better handle the challenges that just seem to find you accidentally. I will share a few of the ways I am challenging myself in hopes of inspiring you. Here are a few challenges that I have worked into my life that are helping me to grow. When I run on the treadmill my last minute is usually my fastest minute. When I go to CrossFit I am working consistently to improve my rope climbing skills. Also often but not always after my CrossFit exercise I do some extra time on the bike just to get some extra cardio in just to push myself a little bit harder. Wednesday is my day off during the day, and Wednesday night is my family night. I am challenging myself to keep my rest, health and family at the top of my priority list because my longevity and legacy depends on it. My only challenge to you is for you to give someone who is trustworthy permission to challenge you and hold you accountable so that you reach your full potential.
We live in a stressed out society. All you have to do is go to the mall or a rest stop on a major highway, and there is a very high chance that you will see a machine that you put in some change and it will tell you your blood pressure. You put in a little change and the machine basically tells you how much you need to change. The question is not, “do we have stress?” The real question is, “how do we handle stress?” or better yet, “does stress handle us?” Do we live in reaction to everyone, and everything or do we decide how we feel and how we are going to live? Let me be clear how we handle stress will determine how we feel, the relationships that we have and the legacy that we leave. How we handle stress may very well be a deciding factor in both the quality and the quantity of our life.
What we internalize and externalize is a determining factor when it comes to the quality of our lives. Thoughts become feelings, feelings become words, words become actions, actions make habits and our habits determine the environment we live in and the culture we project to the world around us. When we choose to forgive someone we are saying that his or her stupidity and sin can’t live on the inside of us. By not forgiving the only one we hold hostage is ourselves. Recently my wife and I paid about 14,000 USD dollars in debt. We kept the debt on an excel spreadsheet. Why? Because, we chose to take responsibility for our debt. We began to pay our debt, but we did not allow our debt to live in us. It lived in an excel spread sheet inside a Mac Book pro, not inside my wife or I. In other words, we had some stupid debts, stupid debts didn’t have us.
What to Internalize – You internalize something by thinking about it, remembering it and writing it down for the sake of remembering something (but for good.)
What God has said – In his Word (the Bible) or what he has spoken through his people. (Teaching or tested and accurate prophecy.)
What God does – The testimonies of the Lord. Remember the faithfulness of God in your life.
Success – Remember the successes you have had as a result of your obedience to God.
The counsel or the advice of the wise – Remember when someone corrects you, because correction is protection from both deception and destruction.
What to Externalize – We externalize things by speaking them out, and writing them down. Writing it down in the sense that you recognize there is a problem but you are not giving that problem permission to live inside of you.
Debts – If you have any debts write them down. Assume responsibility for them; formulate a strategy to pay them, but don’t allow the debt or debts to have you.
Debtors – If anyone hurts you don’t wait for them to say they’re sorry to forgive them. If someone owes you money consider canceling the debt.
Temptation – Renounce and reject any destructive desires that you may have. Remember whatever thoughts you don’t take captive will take you captive.
Needs – Write down, speak out and pray about any emotionally and spiritual needs that you may have in your life. (Make sure the needs are appropriate and spoken to a trusted friend. Don’t entrust your secrets to unsafe people.)
Failures – Learn from your failures don’t let them live in you. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you are a failure. Confess your sins to God. Admit when you are wrong.
If you have enjoyed this blog, you can listen to a podcast on – How to Handle Stress by clicking here. The podcast is only 16:40.
I really don’t believe in first impressions anymore. Unless I sense that someone is dangerous to my children, my wife or myself, I don’t allow my first impression of someone to define how I view them. In all honesty the first impression helps to lay a foundation for how I begin to think about a person but I have learned not to make a strong definitive idea about someone based on my first impression or on my first interaction with someone. You could be catching someone on the worst day of his or her life. They could have just lost a parent, spouse or even a child. They could have just been evicted from where they live; maybe they just got fired from their job. I think it is wise to be patient with our perceptions of other people. We should extend grace to others, and instead of immediately labeling people we should learn to love them. Something even dumber than first impressions is – second hand opinions.
Formulating a second hand opinion of someone is even more stupid than allowing a first impression to define how we see someone. It is unfair and unwise to allow someone to define how we view someone else. We can’t allow someone else’s bad experiences to keep us from good relationships. My encouragement to you is to be slow to formulate opinions of people, and don’t formulate second hand opinions of people because you would not want someone to do that to you.