Leadership

Go Big or Go Home!

“Go big or go home!”

This is usually a phrase associated with sports, but I think there is an underlying principle that can transcend into other aspects of our lives.

I become more and more bothered by people with little or no ambition, especially within the context of Christianity. This could be a personality thing, but I am becoming convinced the dissatisfaction is more spiritual in nature. If we believe what we say we believe, then the Creator of every single thing that is lives inside of us. Here’s a refresher course:

John 1:3- All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Romans 11:36- For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

Colossians 1:27- God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

And if the Creator of everything that exists lives inside of us, then it would seem to me that there should be greatness and ambition in there too. I believe that we are all created with a very specific calling and gift set. The talents that we have are no accident. Our passion should be to leverage all that God has given us to maximize our influence for His kingdom. This is done most efficaciously by being who He made us and doing all that He has put in our hearts. After all, He is the one that “gives us the desires of our heart.”

A couple of closing thoughts on this: 1) Do work that matters. 2)  Do it well. It makes it so much easier to have the drive and passion about your vocation if you can find the purpose and value in it. Then, as I unwittingly tell my children, you can kick butt and take names!

50 “Hellos!” vs. 1 “How Are You?”

When I was in student ministry I learned something about myself. Wednesday nights were crazy, fun, and insanely energetic. I felt a little bit like a rock star to be honest with you. We talked a lot about building relationships with teenagers, and ,in my opinion, did a pretty good job of it. However, looking back I think it could have gone even deeper relationally. What I learned about myself is that it is easier for me to say “Hello!” to 50 people than “How are you doing?” to one person.

It’s kind of like the difference between good and great. Telling people “Hi!” is good. You acknowledge them, show them that you realize they are there, and in most cases really are glad to see them. But to take that to a meaningful conversation by asking, “How are you doing?” begins to journey toward great. I understand that you can get a shallow response to this question, and it’s not the phrase itself that has the power. The point is, instead of running around just acknowledging everybody you take the time to get into one person’s business (in a good way). The relational leverage lies in your proving to them that you really do care. After all, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This isn’t limited to student ministry. There are people that we run across everyday at work, at lunch, at the gym, at school, etc. that need to know that someone really cares. Our calling is to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. Seems like a logical conclusion then to say reach out to your neighbors and ask them, “How are you doing? LET’S DO THIS!!

Fighting Tendencies

The phrase or excuse, “That’s just the way I am” gets thrown around way too often, especially in light of the Gospel.

We all have tendencies that are contradictory to the truths found in God’s word. To forfeit effort to be pleasing to God in a particular area because it’s not something that comes naturally to you is really inexcusable.

To take it a step further, it’s actually pretty selfish.

Think about it on these terms: Personally, as I have aged my natural tendency is to be more introverted. My wife clowns on me because I don’t like to go to certain restaurants that I feel like I have to really work to create relational energy. It would be easier for me to be a loner. BUT that’s not what is best for the people around me.

Your tendency is probably not much different. It’s something you have to fight or else it would take over. Maybe it’s difficulties with punctuality, or depression or sarcasm. Whatever it is, if it’s not life-giving then it’s the opposite.

I heard a quote one time that really encapsulates this notion. A pastor told a staff I was on, “Always do what is best for the church.”

I think we could hold ourselves to that standard on a personal level and even take it as far as “doing what is best for those around us”. Is my tendency affecting those around me in a dissenting way? Is my timeliness (or lack thereof) encouraging tardiness to others? Is my lethargic attitude rubbing off on the ethos of my organization? Are there hints of cynicism in my conversation that create negative shockwaves?

We can’t be crippled by the tendencies that have carried over from our lives prior to being a follower of Christ.

It doesn’t really matter who you were. It matters who you are. And the way that I’ve got it scored you’re a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Fully Convinced

Fully Convinced. I use this term often.

However, something that I have noticed about my faith is that it is somewhat liquid. I’ll explain.

My thoughts about God and His nature and characteristics and what that demands of me are constantly being shaped, formed and reformed. What I thought about God 8 years ago was more rigid than I think He is today. Then I trusted more in my ability. Now I understand grace as unmerited favor. Then I acted as if I could make God love me more by an almost masochistic faith. Now I am learning the art of rest. You get the idea.

So what I was fully convinced of then is not what I am fully convinced of now? Maybe. I’m “fully convinced” there are aspects of our faith that will grow and stretch and change as long as we are alive.

However, I also think there are some constants that can provide some stability to our frenetic lives. Examples:

  • God is love. That never changes.
  • Jesus as Savior. That work has been finished, it can’t be tampered with.
  • Sin kills. Always has, always will.

This is where it gets practical. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it, thus being fully convinced. I find out what I am fully convinced of when I am backed into a corner. I find out what I am fully convinced of when one of the truths that I value is attacked.

Paul said in Romans, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Whatever it is that you believe, believe it because you believe it. Not because somebody else believes it. Not because it was the most attractive option. Believe it because it has you fully convinced that its origin is one of validity.

This is so pertinent for followers of Christ because the passion with which we convey the greatest message of all time rises and falls on our belief in it. That’ s no small thing. Passionless delivery diminishes the effectiveness and value to the listener. Don’t try to sell me something that you’re not smoking!

The take away: Let’s get about the business of owning our faith. Let’s study, pray and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit to “Lead us into all truth”. BE FULLY CONVINCED!

Monday Morning Quarterback

If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “Monday Morning Quarterback”, I’ll gladly enlighten you. By definition it is a person who, after the event, offers advice or criticism concerning decisions made by others; one who second-guesses.

I always feel a little like this the day after we have our experiences at Motion. When things don’t go quite as planned, or there are certain things that you forget to say that would have been perfect with point 1, subpoint b, or a technical miscue…. You get the idea. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

But here is the interesting thing: Most people don’t even notice the things that make me freak out. If I put it in the proper perspective it changes everything. They really are just mole hills, not mountains. Even with a few shortcomings people still connected relationally, had an opportunity to worship God and heard and applicable message about Jesus. Not a bad day.

While I’m not excusing laziness or sloppiness, I am saying that we can lose battles and still win the war. In the grand scheme of things, giving it all we’ve got is all that we are required to do. The rest is out of our hands and into some pretty trust-worthy ones.

If you’re looking for a life application, here it is. When we fall short. When we don’t think we measure up to whatever standard we’ve set for ourselves. When we look back and say, “I wish I would have…”. In the middle of the chaos that we create, I can almost hear Jesus saying to us, “Stop looking back. Stop second-guessing. Stop allowing shame and guilt to consume you. Look forward. That’s where I am.”

Here is great scripture to complete this thought.

Proverbs 21:31- Do your best, prepare for the worst – then trust God to bring victory.

Guaranteed Victory!

I’m an avid sports fan. I watch the sports. I watch the commentary before and after the sporting event. I even listen to the radio station that spends the majority of it’s programming on sports.

One of the most common phrases you hear in the sports world coming from confident, ambitious players is some variation of, “I guarantee a win!” Of course we know that they seem to be wrong most of the time. The ones that actually predict their victory are lionized like Joe Namath.

I was thinking about this concept of “guaranteed”. In our world nothing really seems to be guaranteed. Everything is changing, shifting and adjusting. Our careers, schedules and relationships are seemingly always subject to change. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it just is the state of our society. In other words, it is what it is.

On the flip side, I was reminded of some things that are guaranteed. I think about 1 Corinthians 13 where it says, “These three remain: faith, hope and love.” I think about one of my favorite songs called “Your Love Never Fails”. I think about the scripture in Matthew 24 that says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My word will stand forever.” Guarantees.

The point of all of these ramblings is this: The only real consistency that we are going to find in this life has its origin in our relationship with God. We know that things decay and depreciate. We, at least intellectually, know that people will eventually fail us. Even the things that we have some control over, such as our health, can take a turn for the worse without warning. However, if we keep the main thing the main thing it should certainly help us to have a better shot at a “Guaranteed Victory”.

Refocus

As you probably are already aware of, East Texas has been devastated by fires over the last few days. While nothing has really come close enough to our home to consider it a threat, it definitely has caused me think about what is really important.

Seriously, if everything that I own were gone tomorrow how much of it would I really miss or even know was gone? This is one of those things that we know, but sometimes we don’t act like we really know it. We know that all “things” are temporal and lose their value almost immediately after we get it. But we still pursue them. We know that our house and its contents don’t define who we are, yet we spend the majority of our time working to fund them.

The point of this rant is really short, simple and sweet: Let’s make sure that we are devoting the best of ourselves to the people and causes that deserve it. I heard a quote one time that really drives this idea home. “Those that are closest to you deserve the best from you.” Our spouses, kids and friends don’t deserve what is left over from our devotion and commitment to the pursuit of passing pleasures. As far as careers and endeavors are concerned, give your time to what is going to allow you to do the most good and leave the most lasting impact.

I think it’s a good idea to take the extrinsic happenings around us from time to time and let them be a reminder to refocus our attention on what really matters. The best way I can think to explain this is like a car. As nice as your car may be, even if it cost 100k, it will still inevitably need a realignment to keep everything in line. We’re not much different, are we?

A Thought On Hope

On September 25th, the last Sunday of this month, we will have our last monthly experience at Motion Church (we will start weekly the next week, which really means we start weekly that week… confusing I know) We’re doing a series right now called Motion Is… in which we break down the Mission of Motion.

So far, we’ve talked about Leading, Living and Moving. The next topic is “Being”. During my preparation for the message I found some pretty interesting things about this concept of having our being in Jesus. One part of the definition of esmen (being in Greek) is “to have hope”. I thought that was pretty fascinating. When you put that wording in the context of the scripture that we stole to create our mission statement it makes even more sense.

Acts 17:28- In Him we live and move and HAVE HOPE.

Whatever difficulty you may be facing, there is reason to hope. As bleak as your situation may seem, you have a help in your time of trouble. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not an oncoming train).

As beneficial as that is to us, I think this has some more elements to it. How we respond in hope to our desperate situations could be the answer that those around us need so desperately.

It’s not just that we have hope. It’s also that we are hope. 

I’m certainly not trying to make light of your struggles. But I do know this: God is good and He is for you. So whatever it is in your life that seems hopeless, remember there is always a reason to hope. That reason may be for someone else to have hope.

 

Birds of the Same Feather…

You’re probably familiar with the old adage, “Birds of the same feather flock together.”

This axiom has particularly stood out to me as of late as a result of various situations. I know that we know that it is important to have the right people around us. We’ve all heard quotes like, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” But what fascinates me is that in spite of knowing this, people still allow birds with the wrong feathers to have influence in their lives.

I heard a really good analogy that explains this. Pretend you’re on a boat in an ocean. Let’s say you’re clumsy and manage to fall off the boat and cut your leg. Now that you’re in the water, the blood will soon begin to pour from your wound. It won’t be long until you find out what or, more importantly, who is around you. Maybe there are some dolphins. We’ve all have heard the stories of the heroism of dolphins and how they help people in trouble. Conversely, there may be a shark in the water. Of course we know what happens when a shark smells blood.

Although birds and sharks are quite different, we can still learn much about them as a result of adversity. Sharks react violently. Birds get their feathers ruffled. When feathers get ruffled, and they will, inevitably some will fall to the ground.

My suggestion: STOP AND CHECK THE FEATHERS OF THOSE AROUND YOU. 

If the feathers don’t belong to birds that can fly as high as you plan on flying then you need a new flock!

Rather than taking the time to kill birds with stones (or two with one stone), I want to celebrate the birds that are in my life. Specifically, the core team of Motion. These guys give countless hours to serving, giving, meeting and planning the various aspects of the church. They always find a way to overcome disagreements, show honor even when it’s not easy and do what is best for the whole instead of the individual. I’ve never been more excited about a group of people. T.D. Jakes said, “You can tell what God is trying to build by the people He places around you.”

If that holds true, God is building an amazing thing at Motion Church.

What We’re For

As we were developing the Laws of Motion (our core values), I looked at several different churches and pastors that I respect for direction. One day, I came across the Honor Code from Elevation in Charlotte, NC. In that,  I heard about a principle that has challenged me deeply.

WE ARE KNOWN FOR WHAT WE ARE FOR.

Unfortunately, churches are full of drama. That is, of course, because it is made up of broken people trying to figure life out (and some tares… if you don’t know what that is read Matthew 13:24-30). We have plenty of opportunity to tear other people down to make ourselves look better or to justify why we do what we do the way we do it. But, it just isn’t right.

Every time a church leader makes a mistake we are forced to make a difficult choice. Do we jump on the bandwagon and condemn them? Or do we take the high road and focus on the life-giving grace of God?

We all know that bad news travels way faster than good news. We also know that it is easier to talk negatively about situations (that may even deserve it) than to speak life. But isn’t that what grace is? God doesn’t give us what we deserve, and that is really good news!

The simple truth is that when we allow the faults and failures of others to become a part of our conversations and platforms, we lose. We lose the respect of people who are searching for real hope. We lose the luster and appeal that the church should have to people who are sin-filled and in need of a Savior. I would even take it as far to say that we lose the Christlikeness that we are striving for as His people.

The take away is this: We have to choose between death and life. We know that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Our response to negative situations will fall directly under one of these headings. Which one are you a conduit of?