7 New Year Resolutions Which Could Change Your World

By | Christians, Culture, Encouragement, Family, Life Plan | 16 Comments

Whether or not you do New Year resolutions, we could all stand to improve some things in our life. And, if we do, I’m confident we could also improve the life of others.

In fact, with a whole lot of improving – it might become contagious – and we might just change the world.

Here are 7 new year resolutions which could change the world:

Let’s resolve to begin everyday with a prayer, a smile, and a humility check.

A 3 part checklist. What if we woke up every morning and began by talking to God – recognizing His power and asking Him to direct our steps, make sure our smile is our attitude, and humbly enter the world not expecting anything other than to be a blessing? It will require discipline – but how we begin a day almost always determines how we end one.

Let’s resolve to return evil with good.

It won’t be easy. In fact, it will be hard. A grudge or sarcastic remark seems so much more fulfilling – in the moment. But, over time, it causes more harm than good – mostly to us – often even more than “them”. Imagine your world when you influence others by how you don’t respond when they “push your buttons” the wrong way.

Let’s resolve to never let the sun go down on anger.

Anger emotions grow overnight. They blossom into more intense anger emotions. We may not be able to resolve all disagreements, but we can drop the right to get even and resolve to be at peace as much as it depends on us. We will awake with level ground to build better, healthier relationships with others. Oh, what a world it would be if we had less anger.

Let’s resolve not use social media as a forum to bash others.

Or even as a forum period. It divides people rather than bringing them together. Let’s resolve for a kinder, gentler Facebook – rant-free even – where we simply stalk – I mean check in on old friends. Let’s act like people – real people -may actually see what we write. And care. And, let’s post in a way which encourages and builds each other up – almost like that’s in the Bible somewhere. (It might even be somewhere around 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – check me on this one.)

Let’s resolve to develop our patience muscle.

Wow! I put this one in the middle so maybe you (or my wife) would skip over it quickly. Just kidding. This is one I need – we all need. I’m not sure we can completely master it this year, but, with intentionality – and Christ’s strength – we can keep getting better. What if we thought about the most common things which test our patience – such as the traffic on the drive home at night – and we asked God to help us deal with it before we experience it – each time? Just a thought.

Let’s resolve to remember it’s not about us.

This one alone would surely change the world. What if we placed into our schema – into our immediate thought process – a simple understanding – OTHER PEOPLE MATTER – just as much as we do? Does it make a difference when you think someone values you? Of course it does. What if we valued others and demonstrated to them by how we treat them, what we say to them, our facial expressions, or even our thoughts toward them? Think it might change a few of our relational encounters this year? I think it might. Certainly seems worth trying.

Let’s resolve to listen more than we speak.

Ouch – if needed! It’s hard to value others when we are doing all the talking. (It’s also hard to hear from God.) It requires an act of humility when we remain silent at times we want to speak. Many times disagreements, arguments, even serious issues like prejudism or racism, have more to do with misunderstanding or miscommunication than anything. When we listen we demonstrate value – but, it also guards the tongue, protects relationships, and we might actually learn something.

Of course, ultimately the change the world needs is the Gospel, but who knows? Maybe if we change the way we treat others – including other believers – others might actually want to hear our Gospel.

I realize I’m simple-minded – but I do, henceforth, resolve.

Who’s with me?

Writing a Simple Life Plan, Part 5

By | Change, Culture, Encouragement, Family, Leadership, Life Plan, Vision | 23 Comments

It’s day 5 of our life planning series. This week we’ve attempted to take it step-by-step, in a simple format, to write a plan that will help us achieve some specific goals for the new year. If you missed any of these posts, be sure to catch up by reading:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Today we have our final step…and it’s a good one…in fact…it’s my favorite….

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Writing a Simple Life Plan, Part 4

By | Encouragement, Family, Leadership, Life Plan, Vision | 9 Comments

We’ve been writing a life plan this week. I hope you are following along and writing your own plan. I’m looking forward to hearing the goals you have and the success you see in attaining them. I have tried to keep it simple, hoping that will improve your chances of following through to completion. If you’ve missed any of them, be sure and read

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Today we add another step in the process

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Writing a Simple Life Plan, Part 3

By | Encouragement, Family, Innovation, Leadership, Life Plan, Vision | 11 Comments

This week we are writing life plans for the coming year. If you have missed the first two posts, read them HERE and HERE. My desire is that we realize all the dreams and goals we have this year. I’m convinced many of our resolutions…if we make them…are reachable with a little more intentionality and discipline. Many refuse to make resolutions, because they have repeatedly failed at keeping them. The purpose of these posts is to help you start the year on a good path towards reaching those goals.

Today we add another step.

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Writing a Simple Life Plan, Part 2

By | Encouragement, Family, Leadership, Life Plan, Vision | 18 Comments

Yesterday I began a series of post to help you develop a life plan for 2010 I hear people talk every year about resolutions…some make them…some don’t…some hate them…some keep them…most don’t. I’m confident the main reason most do not keep them and many refuse to make them is that they never put a plan of action together or applied enough discipline that would ensure success. Why make a resolution if you can’t ever keep it….right? We don’t like continual failure.

The point of this series is to put some feet to the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Yesterday you were asked to list three to five goals you have for the new year. If you haven’t done that or didn’t read that post, start HERE.

If you have your goals listed, today we’ll get more specific with them.

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5 Step Process to Write a Simple, but Achievable Life Plan

By | Change, Encouragement, Innovation, Leadership, Life Plan | 7 Comments

As we head into a new year, I want to help you think through life planning. I believe in purposeful living and that means you have to be intentional in where you spend your time. We are told in Ephesians 5:16 to “make the most of our time.”

Here is a reality I have experienced personally and in observation of so many others. Most likely, the degree of success you experience this next year will be directly proportional to the direction you head your life and how intentional you are with the decisions you make. If you have an idea or goal of where you want to go, and a plan of action coupled with discipline, you are more likely to achieve your desired results. You can’t control many of the things life brings you, but you will have a better chance of achieving what you want in life if you create some organization in your life to help you reach them.

I also believe simple is good, so for the next few posts, I want to offer segments of developing a one-year life plan. I’ll break it down a little each day to keep it from seeming overwhelming. At the end of the series, if you follow along, you’ll at least have some plan of action. The key is you are doing it far more than how you do.

This is NOT a complex life plan. If you don’t know me, you wouldn’t know I prefer simple. If it’s complicated or too involved, I’ll opt out quickly. My goal here is to keep it simple. I think with something simple you feel you can and will actually do you have a better chance of achieving success than with something complex you are never going to do.

I should be transparent here. I’ve posted this series several times over the years. There are far better “models” out there than the one I’m sharing with you, but I keep bringing this forward, because I hear from people who have incorporated it and found it helpful. But, you’ll notice some of the comments are from years past.

I’m praying God allows many of us to realize dreams and goals we never thought possible.

Here is step one in writing a simple life plan:

Step one, List three or four goals you want to achieve next year.

Think through several areas of your life where you would like to see improvement. Areas such as:

  • Spiritual
  • Personal
  • Marriage or relationships
  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Professional

Include a stretch goal, such as run a marathon, read through the Bible. learn to fly a plane, get out of debt, start a side business, or write a book, but limit yourself to three or four. In my opinion, if you have too many goals you’ll burnout trying to reach them and too few will keep you from achieving all that’s possible. You can add more goals later if you have initial success in these first goals.

At this point, the goals can be very general. They shouldn’t all be “stretch goals” – limit those to one or two, but they all should be goals designed to take you somewhere you want to go in life – somewhere you hope to improve.

Spend some time today and list your goals. Remember, no more than four. No less than three.

Here are some examples:

  1. Lose 10 pounds. (I went specific here, because most have an idea of a number on this particular goal. You can simply put “lose weight” at this point if that’s one of your goals.)
  2. Improve my marriage communication.
  3. Pay off my credit card.
  4. Read through the Bible.
  5. Write a book.

In the next post we will take this a step further.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you need something like this? Have you ever written out a plan for the New Year?

(Side note for those who are thinking.God is in control of my destiny ,so I’ll just let Him direct my paths. I don’t need a plan. I couldn’t agree with you more about God being in control – as He should be. All our plans and goals are futile without His input, but read through the Bible and you’ll see countless illustrations of how God allows men and women who seek Him to create a plan of action; sometimes for good and sometimes not. There are times God gives us clear and direct instructions and other times – and I would even say most times – God allows us to figure out the best course of action based on the wisdom and experiences He has allowed us to have.)

Of course, all of this should be done by committing your plans to God first. For help and an example of that, you might read this post: 7 Ways to Make Your Prayers More Effective

7 Excuses for Not Doing What God has Called Us To Do

By | Call to Ministry, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Encouragement, Leadership, Life Plan, Vision | 20 Comments

There’s always an excuse if we’re looking for one.

I’ve made so many excuses in my life. For years I may have sensed God was calling me into vocational ministry, but I knew I had to provide for my family. Also, I would be leading with the limps of previous failures – how and why would God use me? I didn’t have the most pastoral qualities either. For example, I’m far more of an organizational developer than I am a caregiver for the sick. There were a dozen others. If anyone had an encouragement for me to be in ministry – and I received lots – I had an excuse why it wasn’t a good idea.

Even when we are certain God has called us to something, we will stall because an excuse is always near.

And, most excuses seem reasonable at first glance. Common sense even. Think about the excuses Moses made for following God. I have to be honest – when I hear them, they make sense to me. I mean, if you’re not a good communicator – why send you as the chief spokesman for God?

But, God’s ways are not my ways – or Moses – or yours.

The reality is following a God-inspired, God-sized dream, always requires stepping into the unknown and always demands we overcome our excuses.

Are you stalling? Maybe you’re even running out of another good excuse. If an opportunity is still staring you in the face, let me encourage you from some of the best excuses I’ve used or heard – which have more times than not been proven wrong.

Here are 7 of the most common excuses I’ve used or heard:

I can’t!

Your excuse is you don’t have what it takes. And, the sad part of this excuse – this also means you aren’t trusting God to provide what you lack. Saying I can’t to a God thing is an indicator of faith. If God calls you to it – you can do it because whatever you lack He will supply . (Gideon would love to weigh in on this excuse. Judges 6)

I don’t know how!

The task seems overwhelming and you may be too proud to ask for help. So, I don’t know how will just have to do for now. If you trace its roots – this excuse is often fueled by either laziness, apathy or fear. (Do you think Noah knew how to build a boat the size of an ark? See Genesis 6)

I don’t have time!

God calls for obedience now, but you’re preoccupied. And, chances are – with this as an excuse – you never will have time. This one has worked for me before too – for a season. What it really means is I have my time and God’s time. And, more specifically, I have my agenda and God’s agenda – and there is no time left in my agenda. (See how Jesus liked this excuse in Luke 9:57-62)

I’m all alone!

Leading out by faith feels this way sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to being obedient to God’s call. I once thought I was the only one with a burden to plant a church. It seemed to be a lonely burden until we stepped forward in faith. Little did Cheryl and I know God had an army of core members prepared just waiting to be asked. (Remember, Elijah thought He was alone – and he found out otherwise. 1 Kings 19)

I’m afraid!

And, the reality of this excuse is you can choose to let fear control you. I have. Many times. Fear is simply an emotion and it’s a powerful, often motivating excuse. Much could go wrong with your dream. You could mess it up! You could have misunderstood what you sense God calling you to do. Plus, our mind is capable and skilled at quickly creating worst-case-scenarios. But, know this. Trusting God, even when you’re afraid to do so, always produces God-appointed and God-sized victories. In fact, you can’t possibly get to the victory until you face the fear. (Could we learn anything here from Esther? Esther 3)

I can’t afford it!

You’re afraid the dream will be more expensive than the provision of God. You wouldn’t verbalize this one, but it’s real, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the money fear raised by potential church planters. I often say the money is in the harvest. (Tell this excuse to the widow in 1 Kings 17 or the disciples who picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread in Matthew 14)

I won’t!

This may be the boldest excuse. With this excuse you simply refuse. You may disguise it lots of ways, but the fact is you’re doing things your way – instead of God’s way. You can combine all the other excuses here, because you won’t even give it a try. In fact, if the truth is known, you’d rather run some more. I did this one for years. (How did this excuse work for Jonah?)

There will always be an excuse not to follow the dreams God lays on your heart. Obstacles in life are plentiful. You can keep making excuses, or you can address them one excuse at a time. The one who achieves most is often the one most willing to overcome excuses.

What excuse are you using to stall on God’s plan?

7 Life-Giving Statements Everyone Needs to Hear

By | Church, Encouragement, Family, Leadership, Life Plan | 6 Comments

Words are powerful.

As leaders, the words we use make a difference. A huge difference.

In my post about life-giving statements Jesus made , I shared some things Jesus said, which can encourage us today.

As we seek to be like Him, we have an opportunity within our influence to be people-builders; speaking life-giving words to those we are attempting to lead.

For good and bad, my life has been greatly shaped by words shared with me.

I once had a pastor say, “Ron, you’re a giant killer!” He encouraged me to kill giants for the Kingdom of God. It changed the trajectory of my life. I possibly wouldn’t be serving the church as I am today without those words. They came at just the right time in my life.

And, there have been a half dozen or so other equally impacting “words” in my life.

Words are huge. Especially from someone we trust. My son preached recently about having a “Yes Face” – being the type of encourager who puts wind in other people’s sails. I think you’ll find it helpful and you can watch it HERE.

I’ll be honest. I’m not the best at it. Sometimes I get so focused on completing tasks I forget people are what life is all about. Every task on my list today and any day mean nothing without people. So, I intentionally try to pass on encouragement to people. I especially like to encourage younger leaders as I see opportunity. I try to make it a matter of personal discipline.

Everyone needs encouragement.

And, there are some common encouragements we all need to hear.

Here are 7 life-giving statements everyone needs to hear:

I’m praying for you! Don’t you love to know people are praying for you. I think even people who aren’t believers often appreciate a prayer on their behalf. I’m thankful for those in my ministry years who have made part of their ministry praying for me.

You can do it! In every position I’ve held there has been seasons where I simply didn’t feel I had what was needed to fulfill my role. The voice of people who believed in me – people I trusted – was vital to my success. I’m confident any achievement I’ve ever had has been proportional to the people that supported me in my attempts.

I love you! “All we need is love! Love is all we need.” That’s not just a good Beatles song. It’s like air in our lungs. Of course, God is love. So, there’s not one ounce of our being or moment of our time where God is not all-loving to us. But, we also need the love of others. We were designed for it.

It’s going to be okay! When my boys were little there were times when they needed my presence in their room in the middle of the night. They were afraid. Perhaps they had a bad dream or were worried about something they were facing the next day, but they needed to know it was going to be okay. I’m not sure we ever grow out of needing to hear those words or sense that “presence” of assurance from people we trust.

I believe in you! When I was at one of my lowest points in my professional career I felt like a failure. We had sold a business just to get out from under it with a very little bit of money to start over. I felt I was letting down my family and others. I’m thankful my wife kept assuring me she believed it me. It was a catalyst for my growth and without it I’m not sure I would have recovered – at least to where I am today.

I’m proud of you! Speaking of my wife again, this is one of my favorite things to hear her say. And, she knows it, thankfully. If you’re raising boys or married to one I would say guys cling to these words almost more than “I love you” – in my experience. But, all of us – male and female – need to hear this affirmation.

I’ve got your back! In my first management role I wasn’t trained for what I needed to do. The previous manager had quit unexpectedly and I was put in the position almost by default. I had a semi-retired professional on my team. He was far more qualified than me to be leading, but no longer wanted the responsibility. More than once, however, he said these words to me – “I’ve got your back.” And, I believe if I had ever needed them he would’ve stepped up and covered for me. I certainly sought his wisdom many times and it helped me lead even when I wasn’t fully qualified.

So there you go. Words. Powerful words of encouragement.

Who could you add some life to today?

One Way to Enjoy Life (and Leadership) More

By | Christians, Encouragement, Life Plan | 2 Comments
  • Are the routines and details of your life getting you down?
  • Is the direction of your life not turning out as you planned?
  • Are you stressing so much about things that are happening — or not happening — that you can’t enjoy the good things already in your life?
  • Do you continually compare yourself to others?

Here’s one suggestion I have learned the hard way to better enjoy life (and leadership):

Throw away the scripts.

Throw them away. The script you’ve written about how life is “supposed to go”, where you should be in your career by now, or what perfect relationship you should have – throw it away. In the trash.

I’ve learned that any script ( could write likely won’t work anyway – most of the time.

You can throw away the script in:

  • Your career
  • Your relationship life
  • Your health
  • Your finances
  • Your personal walk with God

Also, the script you’ve written for what your children will and will not do — throw that script away also.

Throw them all away.

I know we like scripts.

Most of us have written scripts in our minds about how life supposedly will work for us. It’s easier. It’s less messy when we can script things out the way they should work. The way we want things to happen. It’s cleaner. Life is more tidy with scripts.

But, scripts simply don’t work – most of the time. The fact is, life doesn’t follow the script we write for it. In fact, it seldom does in my experience.

For example, you’ll seldom be able to script how long you work at one place. Just try. You’ll seldom be able to script your relationships; specifically, how others respond to you – and, even the way you respond to them. Try as much as you want and you’ll still say the wrong things, be misunderstood, and have to keep working on the relationship. I know some great relationship attempts, which failed – again, from experience.

You’ll seldom be able to script your health. Some of the healthiest people I know got cancer. You’ll seldom be able to script your bank account. One tragedy and everything could be gone. I have seen it many times. I’ve lived it. Script and all.

And, you’re walk with God. You’ll seldom be able to understand all the ways of God. Strive the hardest to please God, follow Him closely, and you’ll still have unanswered questions about why God allows some of the things He allows in your life. Testimony after testimony proves this; including mine.

And, just when you said your kid would never – your kid will – or so the story goes for so many.

I’m not saying to not have a plan.

I’m not saying not to set an end goal or destination. That would be dumb. Really dumb. You’ll seldom hit a target you didn’t aim to hit.

I’m talking about the script. I’m talking about the “dialogue” with your mind along the way and the exact setting and all the characters and the special effects you have pre-scripted. Don’t be afraid when your story sometimes colors outside the lines – or goes off script.

Sometimes it’s good just to throw away the script.

I watch so many people stress about the details of life – the things outside their ability to control – that they miss the joy in the journey.

When people completely rely on a script, they sometimes fall ap art when things don’t go exactly as written. They have a hard time getting back into character. And, they have a hard time adjusting to the other characters in their life who went off script.

Things will seldom turn out just as planned.And, yet, the show must go on.

Granted, having a plan helps you adjust accordingly and more easily, so I say have one – I even write posts telling you how, but the script will seldom live up completely to the paper upon which it’s written. Certainly not in every scene.

Throw away the script. (You’ll stress less when you can’t remember your lines.)

And, if you’re wondering where I got some wisdom:

“In his heart a man plans his steps, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration.” – Isaiah 55:8