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

7 Things Healthy Teams Refuse to Allow

By | Church, Leadership, Life Plan, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 28 Comments

After a recent staff meeting, I was thinking about what makes our team at Grace Community Church healthy. I’ve written about healthy teams before HERE and HERE among other posts. I think healthy teams are intentionally created, so I’m consistently trying to make our environment better. My current thoughts have led me to believe that in our case, it’s as much about what we don’t have on our team as what we do have.

I think our team works well together because we get along well with each other. (Most of the time.) It may have to do with what we check at the door when we spend time together.

Here are 7 things healthy teams check at the door:

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10 Disciplines I’d Recommend Everyone Start in Their Twenties

By | Encouragement, Leadership, Life Plan | 6 Comments

This is one of those posts I hope someone learns something, which can help them in life.

I hope that for all of my posts – otherwise why am I writing, but, I see this one as a life-giving post for those who will read it and take some of it to heart.

My specific target is those who are in their 20’s, who are starting out in their adult life and career. As I’m writing, I’m thinking of my own two sons in that demographic (although one of them is about to hit the 30 mark), the young people who have worked on our teams, and hundreds of college students and young adults in our churches. Those who come to mind are driving my desire to invest something in those who will read this.

I’m 54, which is certainly not old – although it may have seemed like it was when I was younger, but it is old enough to have learned a few things. Like things I wish I had done when I was younger. And, some things I’m glad I did.

I have learned the only way to really sustain something in your life is through self-discipline. No one is going to force you to do some of the most important things you need to do.

If I were in my 20’s again, there are some disciplines I would make sure I incorporated into my life. I would practice them enough that they would be natural for me today.

Here are 10 disciplines I would recommend everyone start in their 20’s:

Saving. It’s easier to start setting aside money before you start spending it. Setting a budget and living by it makes so much sense to me now. I didn’t in my twenties. I wanted all the disposable income I could make. But, I didn’t spend it wisely and now I have to make up for lost time saving for my future.

Exercising. I exercise everyday. Now in my 50’s I recognize more than ever my need for regular physical activity, but some days the body doesn’t want to do it. Without it being intrinsic to who I am I’m not sure I would start now. I wish I had developed a better habit of this in my twenties.

Journaling. I have journaled off and on throughout my life. It is so much fun to read my thoughts from 30 years ago and reflect on how much I’ve learned and things God has done in my life. Still, there are periods missing where for years I didn’t journal. Knowing the value of this now I wish this had been more disciplined then.

Friending. Those deep, lasting friendships often start early – and they take work. At this stage in life, friendships have deeper meaning and importance to me. I need people who can speak into my life who know me well. I have those, but not necessarily among people I knew in my 20’s — who have a long history with me. I look on Facebook at friends from high school and college and I wish I had worked harder to keep those friendship strong. I miss them. At the time, I thought they would last forever. They didn’t. They are still “friends”, but not at the level they once were. I’d make sure I surrounded myself with the right friends — and those may or may not be the people from your 20’s, but I’d build healthy, long-lasting friendships.

Identifying. Specifically here I’m referring to learning who you are – who God designed you to be – and then living out of that truth throughout your life. This is the discipline of faith. Figuring out what you believe about the eternal and why you believe it and then putting faith into practice is vitally important. It will be challenged so many times. The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come.” Such wise advise. Knowing what you believe – nailing it down without reservation – will help you weather the storms of life which surely come to all of us. As a believer, knowing God’s approval of you will help you believe in yourself and your abilities and empower you to take the God-sized risks you may look back and regret if you don’t. This discipline also helps you develop the discipline of prayer so you can seek wisdom from God. When you fully recognize the value of being “in the family of God” you are more likely to cry out regularly to “Abba Father”.

Giving. Just as saving is an easier discipline if you begin early so is giving. Whether it’s time or money I now realize the value there is to me in helping others. I have practiced this one throughout my adult life and it is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. I highly recommend starting this discipline early before the world and all its demands takes the ability from you.

Resting. Those in their 20’s now seem better at this one than my generation was but for those who need it – start resting now. Work hard. It is a Biblical command and a good virtue. The older you get, and the more responsibility that comes upon you, the harder it is to find the time to rest. It needs to be a discipline.

Life-planning. Creating a discipline of stopping periodically to ask yourself huge questions will keep you heading in a direction you eventually want to land. Questions such as: Am I accomplishing all I want to do? If, not, why not? Where should I be investing my time? What do I need to stop doing or start doing to get where I want to go? In what areas of my life do I need to improve?

These can be life-altering questions. Ideally, we should ask them every year, but at least every few years this is a healthy discipline to build into your life – and the sooner the better.

Honoring. This discipline is honoring the past – learning from those who have gained wisdom through experience. When you’re young you can be guilty of thinking you know more than you really know. It’s not until you get to a certain age – I’m there now – where you realize how much you don’t know. There is always something to be learned from another person’s experience you don’t have. This one seemed to come to me naturally, because I grew up most of my early life without a father in the home. I craved wisdom, especially from older men. But, I cannot imagine where I would be in life had I not developed the life-long discipline of wisdom-seeking early in my life.

Coaching. Pouring into others is a great discipline and should begin early in life. In my 20’s I didn’t realize I had something to give others from what I had already learned. Imagine the impact of a 20-something person investing in a middle or high school student – maybe someone without both parents in the home. It wasn’t until I recruited one of my mentors in my mid-20’s and he said, “I’ll invest in you if you invest in others” that I began this discipline. I wish I had started even earlier.

It’s probably not too late for most who will read this to start most of these. Most of them, however, become more challenging the older you get.

Someone will wonder how I chose the order of these or if some are more important than others. There may even be push back because I started with one about money. I get that and it’s fair. Obviously, one on this list is MOST important. In my opinion, it would be “Identifying”. All else is an overflow of that one. But, had I started with it then the natural question is which one is number two, and number three, etc. Whichever one would have ended up number ten could seem less important. I think all of them are important, so I didn’t prioritize them.

Any you would add to my list?

Discerning the Season of Your Life

By | Church, Family, Leadership, Life Plan | 4 Comments

As I write this, we are supposedly in spring on the calendar, but today is a cold day. There is actually snow in the forecast this week. A couple weeks ago we had several inches of snow on the ground.

Like the saying goes in my part of the world, “If you don’t like the weather now, stick around, it will change.”

Seasons. They come and they go. Sometimes quickly.

Life is like that.

Life happens in seasons.

Ecclesiastes says there’s a time for everything. Everything has a season.

Good seasons. Bad seasons.

Productive seasons. Growth seasons. And, seasons of decline.

Seasons of mourning. Grief. Seasons of laughter. Jubilee.

Seasons where there are more obstacles than opportunities. Often followed by seasons where we can’t seem to find time for all the opportunities presented to us.

There are seasons of stretching, where God seems to shape something new in our hearts. And, we often don’t know what that new is until we enter yet another season.

Seasons of passionate, growing love. And, tough seasons, where love is tested.

Seasons you’re more the leader and seasons where you’re more being led.

Seasons of blessings. And, seasons of wondering where are all those blessings others seem to be experiencing.

There are seasons of discovery and seasons where we get to invest what we have discovered in others – all while we keep discovering something new.

As parents, we have lots of seasons. The seasons where we never seem to have a break and you can’t get everything done and the kids are driving you crazy some days and you just need one good night’s rest. And, then seasons where the house seems empty and you long for a cluttered floor of toys again.

Seasons. Life happens in seasons.

What’s your current season?

It’s important to understand seasons occur and to know what season in which you are currently living.

When we don’t understand this concept of seasons – especially in the bad seasons – we can begin to believe seasons never change. We may stop trusting. Stop dreaming. Stop taking risks.

But, life comes in seasons. Seasons do change. Sometimes quickly. And, sometimes seasons overlap each other.

When we find ourselves in a good season, especially an extended good season, we can start to take the season for granted. We may even forget seasons change. Sometimes quickly. And, so we aren’t prepared.

Take a minute and reflect: What season of life you are currently experiencing?

Review your life by how the seasons have molded you. God never wastes a season. Ask God to place in your heart what He wants you to learn during this specific season of your life. Invite God to speak into your seasons.

Life happens in seasons.

7 Small Changes Which Produce Huge Results

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

Sometimes the smallest changes reap the biggest results.

Over the years I’ve come to realize I’ve often done things the wrong way. I’ve tried to make huge changes in my life only to quickly fail. I didn’t keep going. I stopped. Overwhelmed. I tried to change too much too soon. It didn’t work.

What I have learned is that when small changes are repeated over time not only are they easier to implement, but they tend to stick longer. I’ve made some good habits in my life simply by starting with small changes.

Here are 7 small changes, which produce huge results:

Read one chapter of a book each day.

This is gold. Most people would like to read more, but they never seem to find time – or make time. Leaders are readers, right? Establishing a discipline of one chapter per day will get you averaging a couple dozen books a year. This would be an improvement for most of us. And, it usually only takes about 15 minutes per day.

Two glasses of water each morning.

This may sound small, and that’s kind of the point of all of these, but this has proved to be huge for me. I started this several years ago. It’s a great way to wake up in the morning. Apparently we wake up needing hydration. I squeeze a fourth to half of a lemon in mine. I’ve been told it works wonders on our body. I can’t swear to that, but it does improve the flavor. (My doctor actually said it’s the best way to limit kidney stones.) I wake up craving my water now. It wakes me up more than coffee — and I still love coffee.

Exercise as a part of your daily routine.

You don’t have to run a marathon to maintain health. Just being active when you can will do wonders. Park further from the building. Park on the opposite end of the mall from where you’re going. Take the stairs if possible. Walk while you talk on the phone. I take frequent “mind” breaks and walk around our office or my neighborhood. I’ve even asked people to “walk” with me as we meet about something. I find myself interacting more with our staff because I’m all over the building during the day.

Spend 5 to 10 minutes in prayer and reflection each morning.

You may wish you could pray for an hour or dissect the book of Romans like the spiritual giants you know. (I’ve learned they aren’t always as “mature” as we think they are. Knowledge does not equal maturity — obedience does.) But, what can you do? When I began a daily discipline of investing in my spiritual growth it was like I put fertilizer on my soul. It’s amazing what God can do with a seed of interest invested in knowing Him.

Take 5 minutes to plan the day.

At the beginning of each day, before you begin your first task, spend some time prioritizing how you will do the work. You’ll be so much more effective in your day if you’re working from a plan.

I also do this at the beginning of a week, month and year.

Routine your week.

Of course, there are no routine weeks. Life happens and it doesn’t happen routinely. I have found, however, when I have some idea of what my week should look like I am more likely to see some semblance of a routine.

For example, I know Mondays and Tuesdays are going to be meeting days. I plan my schedule around it. If someone asks to meet with me I try to steer them towards Monday and Tuesday. This frees up Wednesday as my primary day to write and prepare for Sunday. I keep Thursday fairly open for meetings but more for last minute meetings – depending on how my Wednesday preparation goes. I can push to Monday or Tuesday if needed. Friday I use for a catch-up day. I’m continually re-evaluating my routine, but having one helps me to have a more productive week. I’m certainly more prepared for the things, which happen to interrupt my routine, because I attempt one.

Make a list.

Feeling overwhelmed? Make a list. I realize the pushback against living by lists. I get it. You can become so scheduled life is no fun. But, when you learn to manage your lists effectively, it can give you more freedom than you have now. You can even put “fun” on your list.

When you have a list you can choose to tackle the hard ones or the easiest ones first. I typically go for the easiest, because it does something powerful to your mind and momentum when you get to check something off your list. You want more.

With several of these I now do far more than what’s listed, but this is where it started. For example, everyone seems to know we need to drink more water, and my small change has made me crave water even more. It actually keeps me more alert during the day, which is been a huge benefit to my productivity.

Another example: I also exercise — a lot — but it started with a small mindset change of being active throughout the day. My body naturally desires activity, because I’ve planted that into me through a small change.

Small changes repeated over time = Huge results.

What Was My Greatest Success in Life?

By | Church, Encouragement, Leadership, Life Plan | 2 Comments

I was interviewed a few years ago for a leadership podcast. One of the questions took me by surprise. I have been interviewed for podcasts many times, so answers usually come fairly easily.

They didn’t this time. At least to this question.

The question:

What has been your greatest success in life and what did you learn from it?

Greatest success?

I should have probably had an answer ready, but I don’t think I have ever kept a mental record of successes. I tend to think in terms of what I can do better, what I need to know, or how we did on the last whatever we just did.

I didn’t have an easy answer.

The first answer, which came to mind:

Apart from knowing Christ and being known by Him, my greatest success has been failure.”

Then I took my interviewer by surprise, until I went on to explain.

I began to tell him I felt successful in my ability to have a failure and then get back up and try again.

I feel most successful when I keep going in spite of the obstacles around me.

Having had plenty of time to think about my answer I’m sticking with it.

The truth is I have had lots of failure. I’ve been on the bottom several times and, by God’s grace and through commitment and perseverance, I always climbed back.

I have failed in so many different areas of my life too – in professional and personal life.

And, here’s what I’ve observed:

I’ve gained my greatest lessons from life through the hardest times of my life.

And, something tells me I’m not finished learning.

I’m not sharing this to boast about anything in my life. In fact, if failure has taught me anything it has taught me humility.

I share it to encourage you. You may feel discouraged today. Maybe you are a pastor and you’ll read this on a Monday. You may have just about lost all hope. You may feel a complete failure – like the best of life is past for you.

I am here to tell you it’s not! You can stand strong again. By God’s grace – and through commitment and perseverance – you can climb the mountain again.

By the way – this is almost always the story of people who experience success. You often only see them when they’re standing, but you didn’t see the times they fell. 

Your greatest success in life may be your ability to endure through the hard times – even through failure – get up and move forward again. 

10 Difficult Lessons Experience Taught Me

By | Christians, Life Plan | No Comments

Some of life’s greatest lessons come packaged in a hard personal experience.

I’ve learned a few things in life, but truly, the greatest things I know came through mistakes, failures and disappointments.

Here are 10 hard to learn life lessons:

  • A “lesson in humility” teaches far more than an “ego boost”.
  • Often, in my experience, what I don’t want to do is the very thing I need to do the most.
  • The best friends sometimes say the hardest things to hear.
  • Sometimes it’s not until you give up the right to control that a breakthrough comes.
  • People are more honest with you if they can predict your reaction.
  • We hurt most the ones we love the most.
  • Very few people can really comply with “don’t tell anyone”.
  • You never get a second chance at a first impression.
  • God’s way is better than my own.
  • Rebuilding trust is more difficult than keeping established trust.

12 Challenges for the New Year To Make Your Life Better

By | Change, Christians, Encouragement, Family, Life Plan | No Comments

The verdict appears mixed among the people I know of whether of not they make resolutions for a new year. And, I understand, many have tried before – it didn’t work – and so now they are like “why bother?”.

I believe there are probably some principles in place as to whether or not a resolution succeeds. For example, is it reasonable? Is it measurable? Is it sustainable? Do you have accountability in place? But, I wonder if the term itself is a problem for some people. RESOLUTION. I hereby resolve! Sounds kind of formal, almost intimidating, doesn’t it? I hate to say I’m resolving to do something where chances are good I won’t.

I do believe strongly, however, we should work towards continual improvement in our life, whether this begins at the first of the year or in the middle doesn’t matter as much. But, the new year does provide a nice, clear place to start.

So, I want to offer a spin on the old resolution tradition and offer a new word.

Challenge.

How does that word resonate? Do you ever challenge yourself to do better? It’s easier than saying I resolve to do this. You’re not saying you will – you may not even be able to – it will be a challenge, but you’re willing to give it a try.

Let me give you some examples, some which may be challenges for you want to consider. I can almost guarantee if you meet just a few of these challenges your world will be better. You won’t need to meet all of them, just the ones most “challenging” to you. But, you’ll have to trust me in this – meeting them or even improving upon them – will brighten your life.

Here are 12 challenges for the new year:

Quit trying to be someone else

God made you to be you and He didn’t make a mistake. The more you live the you He intended the more you’ll enjoy the benefits and blessing. There’s something you can offer this world no one else can. Comparison only leads to disappointment.

Quit trying to carry all your burdens

And, the challenge here for you may be to quit trying to carry everyone else’s burden. God designed you (and me) to be insufficient without Him and to have a relational need for others. Sometimes the best thing you can do is admit you can do it anymore – and ask for help. In your weakness He is strong, but you’ll have to admit your weakness before He usually allows His strength to kick into full gear.

Start embracing today

You can keep hoping your life improves – that this would happen or that would happen. The Apostle Paul said he had learned “the secret of being content”. I’ve personally defined contentment in my life as “being satisfied with where God has allowed me to be in life – right now.” When you begin to find contentment TODAY becomes a great day – in spite of the challenges it holds. Perhaps your greatest challenge in the new year will be embracing where God has you now and waiting more patiently for what He will bring in the fullness of time.

Let the past go

As much as we can learn from history, we shouldn’t be bound by it. One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 11:3, “Wherever the tree falls, there it lies.”. So simple, yet so profound! It speaks volumes to me. If the tree fell there it lays. You can’t do anything about it now. It’s done. Finished. On the ground. All you can control now is your response to the tree which fell. If grief is holding you back by all means grieve. It is healthy to mourn a loss. (Get help if needed.) But, at some point you will need to move forward. If it’s regret then reconcile the loss. If it’s guilt, or disappointment, or anger – whatever “it” is from your past deal with it now. Admit the tree fell. It hurt. It stinks. You probably wish it hadn’t happened, but, I challenge you to move forward in the new year.

Accept God’s grace

It’s always more than we deserve. You can’t earn it. It’s amazing grace. But, denying or refusing it ignores the beauty of it. Is the guilt of your past keeping you from enjoying all the blessings of being a child of God? Has there never been a time you received the gift of salvation? Have you been living more like a prodigal in exile than a child of the King? If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. If the Son has set you free you are free indeed! I challenge you to embrace grace in the new year.

Live free of grudges and bitterness

The lack of forgiveness is a hidden destroyer of joy, peace and happiness. Someone reading this is holding on to a grudge, some bitterness, maybe anger – and it’s keeping you from fully enjoying life. Every time you hear a person’s name or see them you are reminded of the injury they caused. And, it’s hurting you more than it is them. Chances are they’ve moved on and you’re still struggling. Isn’t it time to let it go? (Let it go could be a “Frozen” song you need to sing to yourself.)

Remember other people exist

Don’t be selfish or always command your way. People, even the best people, will never perform to all of your standards. Honestly, is it even fair to expect it from them? They may not even agree with you as to what is important. You cannot hold people to unrealistic expectations and not be disappointed often.

And here’s a note to those of us disappointed with the things of this world. As followers of Christ, we can’t expect that everyone sees the world as we do. Of course, there are biblical principles through which we view the world and live, but can we really expect people who aren’t believers to embrace them?

Admit mistakes readily

Sincere humility is an attractive quality and it helps to free you from future regrets or guilt. We all can have “perfectionist” tendencies, yet none of us is perfect. If you want to live with less self-induced stress this year, admit you don’t have all the answers and sometimes you have none.

Give generously

Giving opens the heart to joy and contentment. Something happens when we give to others which causes us, though we have less, to feel like we have more. And, there are many needs around us. I challenge you to give more in the new year and see how it makes your life better!

Protect your heart

“Above all else” the Bible says. Where your heart is there your treasure will be also. Most likely there are activities, or people, or places where your heart is most easily injured. You may not be able to avoid them, but you can be aware so you can “guard your heart”. And when you are aware you may be injured you will build guardrails to lessen the damage.

Take a new risk

The adrenaline of attempting something you’ve never done before fuels you for future success. It could be something you’ve always wanted to try or something you know God wants you to do, but, for whatever reason, you’ve resisted. Especially if it’s God-honoring, not sinful, will make your life or other’s life better, then what are you waiting for? Don’t let fear or thoughts of your inadequacies be your chief motivators in the new year. I challenge you – GO FOR IT!

Think and act eternally

There is more to this life than the world we know today. Thankfully, I might add. Jesus said to “store up treasures in heaven”. Whenever possible, I challenge you to consider the eternal consequences of the decisions, investments, and actions of your life. Jesus said to live in this world, but not be of this world. How are you making a difference in the world to come by your world today? The more intentional you are the more treasures you build for a future reward.

Which of these challenges are you willing to accept?

(I posted this in a similar form a few years ago.)