Four Questions that Can Bless Your Life

question-markI once heard a former college president reflect on the years he had served the university.  A colleague had recommended a particular person to him to possibly serve in his administration.  The question from this college president was:

“Is she capable of high level thinking?”

That is a good question for all of us.  Are we capable of thinking about those things that really matter?  Do we ask good questions? Do we reflect on important matters?

Do we take the time to reflect on important questions?

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Quick-StartFear

I love this quote.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s a cliché now, but when I first heard that idea 15 years ago, it was new to me and incredibly empowering. I’ve now gotten in the habit of chasing my fears. Overcoming my fear of flying is my best example. Ten years ago I refused to fly—now I’m on planes every week.

See Kelly McGonigal “How I Work” in Lifehacker.

Leadership

See Julie Pierce “Leadership Q & A: What Helps You Grow as a Leader.”  Some very good resources here.  See also Thom Rainer’s book “Ten Characteristics of Leaders who Last.”

Books

From Real Simple “50 Great Books That Will Change Your Life.”

Growth

From Farnam Street  The 8 Causes of Plateaus.”

Do This and Your Problems Only Get Bigger

Problem StatementIn the minds of some people, there is a fast way to make your problems go away.  Lie.

Didn’t do your homework?  Tell the teacher you weren’t feeling well. 

Stopped for speeding?  Tell the officer you were trying to get to the hospital quickly because your mother is very sick. 

Trying to sell your home?  Tell the prospective home buyer only what will help sell the house.  Don’t tell about that leaky roof. 

Is the amusement park too expensive?  Tell the attendant that your children are younger than they really are so they can get in with children’s tickets.  

So many of us try to solve our problems by not telling the truth.  Now of course we usually don’t use the word “lie.”  That word sounds bad.  We would see ourselves as simply trying to fix a problem.

However, these really are lies.  When you lie, you do so at a very heavy price.

A number of years ago, I was watching a television news program about prisoners on death row.  At one point, the reporter interviewed a man who had grown up in a very good family and had many advantages in his early years.  Yet, he had murdered someone and now was on death row.

The reporter asked him, “How could this have happened?  You had a good home and a good upbringing.”

The death row inmate said, “A person’s character is much like a tow sack of rocks that one is carrying over his shoulder.  Each time you make a poor decision, lie, or compromise your character in some way, you lose a rock.  That may seem like no big deal at the time.  However, as you go through life lying and compromising, you one day realize that you have no rocks left.  You have compromised your character.”

When we lie, our character is being chipped away little by little with each lie.  If you are like many who lie, you one day look in the mirror and realize that you are not the man or woman you used to be.

Maybe there is a way to deal with our problems through the grace of God instead of only making them bigger.

Question

What are we often tempted to lie instead of facing our problems?

 

Do This and Your Problems Only Get Bigger

Problem StatementIn the minds of some people, there is a fast way to make your problems go away.  Lie.

Didn’t do your homework?  Tell the teacher you weren’t feeling well. 

Stopped for speeding?  Tell the officer you were trying to get to the hospital quickly because your mother is very sick. 

Trying to sell your home?  Tell the prospective home buyer only what will help sell the house.  Don’t tell about that leaky roof. 

Is the amusement park too expensive?  Tell the attendant that your children are younger than they really are so they can get in with children’s tickets.  

So many of us try to solve our problems by not telling the truth.  Now of course we usually don’t use the word “lie.”  That word sounds bad.  We would see ourselves as simply trying to fix a problem.

However, these really are lies.  When you lie, you do so at a very heavy price.

A number of years ago, I was watching a television news program about prisoners on death row.  At one point, the reporter interviewed a man who had grown up in a very good family and had many advantages in his early years.  Yet, he had murdered someone and now was on death row.

The reporter asked him, “How could this have happened?  You had a good home and a good upbringing.”

The death row inmate said, “A person’s character is much like a tow sack of rocks that one is carrying over his shoulder.  Each time you make a poor decision, lie, or compromise your character in some way, you lose a rock.  That may seem like no big deal at the time.  However, as you go through life lying and compromising, you one day realize that you have no rocks left.  You have compromised your character.”

When we lie, our character is being chipped away little by little with each lie.  If you are like many who lie, you one day look in the mirror and realize that you are not the man or woman you used to be.

Maybe there is a way to deal with our problems through the grace of God instead of only making them bigger.

Question

What are we often tempted to lie instead of facing our problems?

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Creativity

I love the following video on creativity.  Worth thinking about.

 

Leadership

Important questions from Margaret Marcuson regarding self-definition (think Systems Theory) for church leaders.  “Six ways to practice defining yourself at church.”  You might also want to be aware of her book Leaders Who Last.

Culture

Why the Boomers are the Most Hated Generation” from the Atlantic.  Interesting.

Writing

Here’s How Sonia Simone Writes.”  This is the opportunity to look over the shoulder of this writer for Copyblogger to observe how she does her work.  Interesting.

Books

See Rachelle Gardner: “How Good Books Can Lead To Spotless Floors.”

 

 

 

Ministry Inside.121

dating_shy_guy_600x369Each Thursday, I write this post for church leaders in particular.  Regardless of what role you are in, one of the dangerous tendencies for church leaders is the temptation to become far too self-conscious.

A heightened self-consciousness will drain you of energy and eventually diminish your joy.  Perhaps what is especially dangerous is that you can easily become a pretender.

Many church leaders understand all too well that they are often being scrutinized by people.  One of the unhealthy responses to criticism is a heightened self-consciousness.  What I mean by this is an exaggerated preoccupation with how others perceive you.  Consequently:

  • You try too hard to be liked.
  • You try too hard to say what will appeal to everyone and cause no one displeasure.
  • You try too hard to preach/teach what will not cause anyone to experience discomfort.
  • You try too hard to disclose only what you believe others want to hear and not what you genuinely believe.
  • You try too hard to convince others that you are a likable person while you lose your convictions in the process.
  • You try too hard to please people and experience way too much distress when someone is not pleased.

After a while, if you are like some church leaders, you become so self-conscious about what others think that you lose any sense of who you really are.  In fact, you may look in the mirror and feel like a pretender.

What next?

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start_button_gifWorth Thinking About

Consider this statement found on the Farnam Street blog.  Might be helpful as you consider how to spend your time and energy.  Especially important as you and I make choices about how we use our time each day.  I think we may underestimate how many distractions clamor for our attention throughout the day.

More About Time

Top Ten Time Savers for the Stuff You are Too Busy to Do

N. T. Wright

Read this advance praise for N. T. Wright’s upcoming book Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

Free Kindle Books

From Lifehacker: Finding Free Books For Your Amazon Kindle.

Presentations

How to Give a Killer Presentation” from the Harvard Business Review.

 

Ministry Inside.120

I have made lots of mistakes in my work and ministry.

Looking back, these were often the times in which I learned important lessons about life and ministry.

Some years ago we lived in North Alabama.  I was preaching for a congregation that seemed to attract many people who had struggled with various addictions.  In addition, the congregation was attractive to men and women who had experienced some sort of spiritual setback in their lives. Quite often they were coming back to church for the first time in years.  Many were learning to follow Jesus as adults.

At the same time, I was a young minister with a wife and two small children.  I had just finished three years of academic preparation at ACU.  I was eager, sincere, and wanted to do good.

However, I really had no sense for what I needed to do.  Every day, I was scrambling to keep up with the counseling demands, preparation for sermons, and the other needs of a small church. Because we were a small church, the responsibilities were extremely varied.

I did not know how to structure a week or even a day so I could address some of the big picture items in our church.  Instead, I was scrambling to simply get through the day.  I was carrying out my ministry the only way I knew how.  I had no sense for looking ahead or what would help the church months and years ahead.  I was just trying to get through each busy, intense day.  In all honesty, some of this busyness probably also fed my ego. 

That was many years ago.

At this point in my life, I can see several mistakes I made during that time.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start_button_large.pngTechnology

This is a helpful post: “40 iPhone tips and tricks everyone should know.”

Writing

Jeff Goins is always helpful. He offers good suggestions, tools, and insight for anyone interested in writing. “Writing Tips to Make You Better.” You might also enjoy “Here’s How Jeff Goins Writes.”

Habits

From Beethoven to Woody Allen – The Daily Rituals of the World’s Most Creative People and What You Can Learn from Them.” I really enjoy getting a peek at how others work. See also “The Daily Routines of Famous Writers.”

Tools

John Mark Hicks recently wrote a helpful piece “Stone-Campbell Research Tools.”

Journal

Have you seen The City? This is an interesting journal published by Houston Baptist University.

 

Ministry Inside.118

just_be_youMany years ago, I was asked to preach for a congregation in Huntsville, Alabama, for about six consecutive Sundays.  I had never done this before.   This was a church of about three hundred people which just seemed huge to me!  What made it especially challenging is that I had only preached about three to four times before this.

That meant I had only two or three sermons.

I wasn’t quite sure where to start.  I had graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in business.  I was in my second semester of study at a small Bible college in Alabama.  So now I was being asked to preach every Sunday for six weeks.  I began working on sermons, not really sure what I was doing or how I needed to begin.

Beside the content for these sermons, I was confused about how a person develops a style of preaching.  It seemed as if the styles of various preachers were so different.

So, I listened to recordings of several preachers.  In those days, I would listen to Landon Saunders one week and Charles Coil the next.  On still another week I might listen to Lynn Anderson then W. F. Washington the following week.  Each Sunday morning I seemed to do a poor imitation of whatever preacher I had listened to the previous week.

I can’t imagine the confusion the congregation must have experienced over those six weeks as they listened to this young, novice preacher who sounded like a different person each week.

It took me a long time to find my own voice.  It took me a long time to learn to simply be myself.