What is My Purpose?

3.2-Detail-Good-PurposeI know what it is to want to hide.

When I was in college, I hated this question: “What are you going to do when you grow up?”

Some of us seem to know even from middle school. Others seem to have no idea. I had no idea.

I went to the University of North Texas. They wanted me to declare a major. I chose sociology. That lasted for about a semester and then it was pre-law. Then finally it was business. I eventually graduated with a degree in business.

I came to a place in my junior year, spring semester, when I decided I would quit school. We had an English test the following day and I didn’t study. You don’t have to study for the test if you are going to quit that day.

I decided to drive to Dallas and look at other possibilities. I thought that maybe that day, I could get this sorted out.  I thought I might be a radio announcer and so visited a school that trained announcers.  I then visited a trade school and realized that wasn’t for me either.  Finally, that same day, I went to the Human Resources office at the Dallas Police Department in downtown Dallas.

That hour, a conversation with a very wise African-American police sergeant convinced me to stay in college. “Son, why don’t you just finish college?” he said.

I actually listened.

My Secrets May Hurt More People Than Me

SecretThe person with secrets often feels like she has gotten away with something.  That person may know that she has given in to a temptation and now remains undetected. When no one seems to know, you are basically carrying a secret.

“As long as no one knows, no one gets hurt.”  At least this is thinking of some people.  They get involved in a particular behavior they know is wrong but they believe they will remain undetected.

  • This may be the person who has a separate bank account from his spouse.  He uses it to buy what he wants to buy with their money and yet remain unaccountable.
  • This may be the person who lies on his tax return but is convinced his misdeed will never be detected.
  • This may be the person who has her eye on a co-worker and really believes that any illicit behavior will never be discovered.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start (1)Insight

See “Where to Look for Insight” by Mohanbir Sawhney and Sanjay Khosla (Harvard Business Review).


J.R.R. Tolkien’s 10 tips for writers.  Interesting and helpful tips.


See this infograph: Why You’re Still Bored.  Very interesting regarding boredom, social media, and the culture.

Making a List?

Stephanie Calahan has written a good post, “I’m Sure You Have a To-Do List, But Do You Have a To-Be List?”

One More List

Rachel Gillett has written a good article “What Happened When We Created Daily Lists of Our Successes.”

Ministry Inside.144

post-it-noteOn my desk is a post-it note that reads:

Be Better Than Yesterday.

I look at this quite often.

One of the great temptations in our work is to coast. Actually, this is one of the great temptations of life. People who coast have figured out a way to do life with little effort.  We can become lazy and slothful. Some of us become mindless.  We have learned to live in such a way that requires little thought.

Church leaders who coast are doing their churches no favor.  Yet, many of us may find it to be tempting.  I recall the elder who said to his fellow elders and ministers regarding the ministry of their congregation as the New Year approached:  “Well its business as usual.  Let’s just do what we’ve been doing.”  Such a statement created no passion or call to prayer.  It seemed that we were about to yawn together as a group.

No conversation.  No thought.  No reflection.  No call to put our faith in God against the forces of this world.

Business as usual.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


Note from Presentation Zen: “10 tips for improving your presentations and speeches.”  Very helpful.


Norvel Young, the former Chancellor and President of Pepperdine University had a way of bringing joy and energy to a room.  Recently I was re-reading a portion of a biography about Young entitled Forever Young by Bill Henegar and Jerry Rushford.  The authors quote Young as saying, “I stand on tiptoe looking forward to what God will do in my life in the years ahead.”  I really like this.

Far too many people look backward instead of forward.  Of course, it is fine to look back with thankfulness.  It is fine to look back to learn and appreciate.  Many people, however, look back with a nostalgia seems to view one’s best days of life as having already occurred.   Yet, as believer, while we appreciate and learn from our past, we are called to lean into the future by our faith in God.


See “How to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone.”


Do you read Books and Culture?  (I read the print edition.)  This publication really helps me stay abreast of many books I would otherwise miss.

Harding School of Theology

Saturday evening, HST hosted its annual dinner honoring the 50 year existence of this wonderful theological library.  For many years Don Meredith has served as the librarian, along with Bob Turner and Sheila Owen.  This was a night to honor the wonderful contribution this library has made for many years and today continues to serve many students, ministers, and many others.


You might enjoy a recent presentation I made at the Harding Lectures.  “A Return to Leadership.”


Ministry Inside.143

fresh-logoHow can I stay fresh and alive all of my life?

For 36 years, I preached primarily for three churches.  The last twenty years were spent with the Crestview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas.  It was important that I stay fresh and alive in order to do this kind of ministry.  Staying alive, however, is not just an issues for ministers. Each one of us, as we move through the various chapters of our lives, ought to give attention to this.

The following are a few suggestions:

Continue to Learn

Learning can keep us fresh and alive.  Take a class.  Read a book.  Watch a video series.  Listen to a lecture.  Take notes.  Do something that will stretch you!  So often men and women remain where they are because they refuse to do anything that takes effort, even if it will help them grow.  I read books, skim numerous newspapers, and listen to podcasts.  I have taken an art class, a history class, and numerous classes at a seminary.  I took these classes long after finishing my academic studies.  These were taken not to earn a degree but to learn and grow.

Why This Picture Makes Me Melt

BrodyPrayerYesterday, I spoke in chapel at Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas).

My daughter, Christine, told her son that his “Poppy” was going to speak in chapel and they could watch the live streaming.  She set up her iPad and set the link to the live streaming of chapel.  She left the room.  When she returned, someone was leading prayer on the screen and four year old Brody had his head bowed and eyes closed.

I look at this picture and I melt.

Why?  I think part of the reason lies in who we are.  That picture reminds me that we are God’s children in desperate need of our Father.  We may act as if we are self-sufficient.  We may speak with confidence.  We may even believe we are smarter and brighter than others.  We can become quite cocky and self-assured.

Yet, the truth is that are children in desperate need of our Father.

Maybe this picture moves me because this four year old, with his head bowed and eyes closed, reminds me of how vulnerable and fragile we all are.

Maybe the best we can do today is to simply say, “Our Father who art in Heaven. . . .”



Monday Start: Resources for the Week

startnow8norMental Illness

A gripping, powerful story from the Washington Post. “A father’s scars: For Va.’s Creigh Deeds, tragedy brings unending questions.”


See Mark Woodward’s interesting and helpful report from the recent Global Missions Conference held in Memphis, Tn.  See “What Do the Experts Say About Short-Term Missions?” and “What Experts Say About Short-Term Missions, Part 2.”


Michael Hyatt has written a good post!  “My Secret Weapon for Extra-Energy at Work.  I practice this more occasionally than regularly.  However, I have noticed a tremendous boost in my energy when I do practice this.


Melanie Pinola has written a fine post regarding a writing schedule but is actually applicable to other forms of work as well.  See “How to Stick to a Writing Schedule.”

Farnam Street

Do you read Shane Parish’s Farnam Street?  I find this useful.  Parish will often review and discuss books that I will probably not read but often have an interest in the subject matter.


Ministry Inside.142

healthyChurch1-732x360Each Thursday I write this post with church leaders in mind.

No matter where you serve, you can contribute to your congregation’s health by the way you behave and function within the congregation.  No, you don’t necessarily have control over whether or not your congregation is healthy.  However, it is important for any church leader to function in a way that contributes to health and not to dysfunction.

As a church leader, how do I treat people in our congregation?

A few suggestions:

Be a person who can be trusted and not a manipulator.  Church leaders who practice manipulation use people instead of loving them.  A minister might use a favorite elder to get his way.  Another might use a “prominent” family within a church to run interference while this person stays in the shadows.  These behaviors do not contribute to the health of a congregation.

Ministry Inside.141

IN67_cover_tweet_BWWorking with a congregation can bring great joy.  Yet, it is also very difficult work.

There are some behaviors which can irritate a congregation and even work to lesson a minister’s tenure with that congregation.

A minister can behave so that his own ministry is undermined and credibility is lessoned.

The following are eight behaviors that can cause a congregation to become irritated with their minister. The continuation of these behaviors over time can even lead to serious repercussions.