The Power of a Leader

Dear Leader,

You’ve been granted authority…

You have real influence…

People trust you…

Therefore…

Your words are powerful…

Choose them wisely…

The team looks at you for direction…

Take them to noble places…

Your suggestions are taken seriously…

Don’t make them lightly…

You have potential to spur change…

Use it to improve the lives of others…

You can empower others…

Raise up new leaders…

You impact the future…

Help make it brighter…

It’s the power of a leader…

(Following my lead, could you add a couple lines to my thoughts?)

My Top 10 Posts of 2010

Everyone seems to be making top 10 lists this time of year, so here are the top 10 blog posts of 2010.  Please allow me to humbly say how thankful I am for readers this year.  There are lots of blogs to read, so I’m thankful when you choose this one.  I’m planning to write more in 2011, so I hope you’ll keep reading.

It was be awesome if you would help promote this blog…I see it as a tool for ministry that…for whatever reason….God is using right now.  You can add it as a link on your site, put me on your reader program, or sign up for an RSS feed or email.  Whenever possible, if you feel free to comment on a particular post, or share it with your friends, that’s even better! However you read it though…thank you!  God bless you in 2011!

Here is my top 10 list:

God Will Allow More than You Can Bear (Alone)

Why Was David a Man after God’s Own Heart?

David Letterman Top 10 Signs You’re Obsessed with Facebook

10 Characteristics of Good Leadership

7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry From an Affair

7 Tips for Surviving the Terrible Threes of Parenting

7 Ways to Lead People Older than You

10 Things You May Not Know About Senior Pastors

What if We Did Church Like This?

7 Examples of Shallow Leadership

Do you know of a post you enjoyed that should have been on this list?

Do you have any suggestions for my blog this new year?  Anything I should do differently or do more of this year?

God bless you in the New Year!

Writing a Life Plan, Part 5

It’s day 5 of our life planning series. 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.

Possibly yours too!

The last step in our life plan is to…

CELEBRATE THE WIN!

In fact, you must!

It’s critical to any long-term success.

Build a reward in for the completion of each of your goals. The size of the reward can be based on the size of the goal and the size of your budget, but it should be enticing enough to keep you motivated.

It’s been said that what gets rewarded gets repeated — and that seems to be true from my experience.

Find a way to celebrate achieving your goals this year.

Using our hypothetical goals, here’s an example of what this might look like:

Lose 10 pounds – Buy a new outfit — or two.

Improve my marriage communication – Plan a special vacation together or eat at your favorite restaurant.

Pay off my credit card – Buy a new couch — but pay cash for it.

Read through the Bible – Give a Bible to someone who needs one.

Write a book – Get a weekend away to do nothing — absolutely nothing.

These are just hypothetical. You can come up with something better for you for celebration. It is important that you reward yourself though.

Obviously you may need to get help accomplishing some of these rewards, but that’s part of the beauty of Step 4. As others are included in your progress they will be enticed to help celebrate your win.

That’s the planning process. Simple enough?

I’d love to hear from you if you are going to attempt this process. Leave me a comment.

Here’s hoping for an extra productive new year!

Writing a Life Plan, Part 4

We’ve been writing a life plan this week. I hope you are following along and writing your own plan. 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.

Accountability

If you want to see your goals become reality, you need to build a system of accountability into your plan. If you are confident you want to complete the detailed goals you’ve set, and you believe the action plan you have written will help you meet them, then you must find a way to hold yourself accountable to completing the action steps.

You’ll need to add accountability you are comfortable with and makes sense for your goals and action steps, but here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Put action items on your calendar for the next year. I have some items that repeat throughout the year.
  • Print your life plan and share it with someone — give them permission to check in with you throughout the year.
  • Find a partner — this is especially helpful when exercising or in weight loss. (This is what makes Weight Watchers successful.)
  • Use an application/program such as Things, which I use, to schedule tasks and set alarms to remind you of your action steps
  • Comment on this post with your plan, or post it on your own blog — there’s something about going public that builds a stronger desire for completion

The key here is to build a system that will hold you accountable to completion of your goals. As you repeat the actions and see results towards your goals, you will develop habits in these areas and in the process of doing so will find you achieve more of your goals.

There is one more step to this process. I’ll share it in the next post.

Can you guess what it is?

Writing a Life Plan, Part 3

This series 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 if we are a little more intentional and with 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. Let me be honest. This step is not as fun as setting goals — at least for people wired like me. This is a little more difficult and will take a little more time to complete, but it is a vital step to the success of your plans.

Chances are good that if you fail to keep your New Year’s resolutions, not doing this step well is the more likely reason.

In this step, we will write some action steps, which will help us reach our specific goals. The question you should attempt to answer here is: What specific action steps do I need to take to ensure I reach my goals?

Be specific here. The more specific the action step the greater chance you have of completing it. I continue to use the same hypothetical set of goals for illustration purposes. Below you will see the specific goals followed by the action steps.

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert Realistic Date Here) by eating less and exercising more.

  • Exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Limit eating fast food at lunch to twice a week
  • Stop drinking diet soft drinks and drink more water
  • Keep track of calories, attempting to eat less than 2,000 calories per day

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

  • Write out questions for our date nights to answer together…
  • Read one marriage book together and do one Bible study together
  • Attend a marriage conference this year
  • Have a date night every week

Pay off my credit card – I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (Insert Realistic Date Here).

  • Limit eating dinner out to once a week
  • Work to refinance the house
  • Write a realistic budget by Jan 30th. (Set a date approximately 30 days out)
  • Read the book “I Was Broke and Now I’m Not” by Joe Sangl

Read through the Bible – I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it this year, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

  • Use one of YouVersion’s daily reading plan
  • Not check Facebook or email until I’ve read the Bible
  • Follow along with my small group curriculum
  • Get the YouVersion smart phone application

Write a book – I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish. (These dates are for example. You set the realistic date that works for you.)

  • Write a book proposal by January 30th
  • Send out proposal letters to book publishers and agents by March 1st.
  • Outline book chapters by Feb 15th
  • Write a chapter every two weeks beginning March 1st

As I stated yesterday, during this step you may decide to alter some of your goals — or even scrap one of them — that’s okay — they’re your goals. You are far more likely to follow through with goals you fully believe you can accomplish.

Tomorrow we add another step. There’s just a little more to do to ensure success. You’re almost there.

Writing a Life Plan, Part 2

This is part of a series of posts to help you develop a life plan. I hear people talk every year about resolutions — some make them — some don’t. Some hate them — some don’t — 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. Actually, even more than that, to write a life plan. In the last post, 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. The key here is to further define your goals into something that is measurable; something where you can clearly track your progress and success.

To help with this part, ask the question for each goal:

  • What would success look like for this goal?
  • What would make me feel I’ve completed this resolution?

For illustration purposes, I’m using the same goals I listed in the example yesterday. First is the stated goal, followed by the more specific description of that goal:

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert realistic date here) by eating less and exercising more.

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

Pay off my credit card – I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (insert realistic date here).

Read through the Bible – I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it in 2011, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

Write a book – I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish.

Do you see the progression to a more measurable, specific goal here?

At times, while completing this second step it may redefine, shape, or even change the original goals. That’s okay — keep in mind this is your life plan — no one else’s. The hope is that you complete a plan this year that you are pleased with and that you make progress towards achieving your life ambitions — not that you complete it in a way that pleases others.

Again, the goal here is to take this in steps and make it simple. Next time we’ll take this another step forward.

Writing a Life Plan, Part 1

As we head into a new year, I want to help you think through life planning. I believe in purposeful living.

Here is a reality that 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 some of the things life brings you, but you will have a better chance of achieving your dreams 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 a plan of action. (If you have a better way of doing this, I welcome your input. The key is that you are doing it far more than how you do.)

Today, let’s set some goals for ourselves.

List three to five goals total. In my opinion, if you have too many you’ll burnout trying to reach them and too few will keep you from achieving all that’s possible.

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

  • Spiritual
  • Personal
  • Marriage or relationships
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • 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.

At this point, they can be very general. They shouldn’t all be “stretch goals”; limit that 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.

So, spend some time today and list your goals. Remember, no more than five. No less than three.

Here is an example:

  1. Lose 10 pounds. (I went specific here because most have an idea of a number here…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.

Tomorrow we will take this a step further.

Feel free to share your list in the comment section of this post.

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.)

Choosing Things of Greater Value


 

I’m very reflective this time of year…

As we head into a New Year, I considering if my life is achieving the things of greatest value…

One way I’m doing that is asking myself some self-evaluation questions…

For example…

Am I more concerned about:

  • My clothes or my character?
  • What others think of me or what God thinks of me?
  • My success or my influence?
  • Having fun or making a difference?
  • Making a quick and easy return or a creating a long term investment?
  • Gaining instant pleasure or producing eternal rewards?
  • My personal safety or my obedience to God’s will?
  • Being loved or loving well?
  • My happiness or enhancing the happiness of others?
  • The worries I can manufacture or having a faith in One I can’t control?
  • My popularity with the rich and famous or a relationship with my Creator?
  • My bank account or making a Kingdom impact with what God has given me?

Sometimes it is not a matter of good or bad, but of good or best…

In 2011…let’s be concerned about things of greater value…

What else could you add to my list of questions?

Unwrap Christmas – Gift of Love

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

This might not be part of the Christmas story you share with your family as you sit around the fireplace, but maybe it should be!

As we unwrap the gifts of Christmas this year, we can’t help but mention God’s love. It was because of His great love for you and me that we even have a Christmas to celebrate!

When God created the heavens and the earth, the world was a perfect place. Man was in union with nature. Man had a committed relationship with his Creator God.

Then sin entered the realm of mankind. Sin separated man from God. What once was a perfect relationship was scarred forever. Men and women were subject to death, because of the plague of sin. Mankind could no longer reach a Holy God.

But then there were those two words…”but God!” But God so loved (insert your name here) that He gave His one and only Son! God threw a smelly birthday party, decorated with hay and attended by the local barnyard animals, overseen in the starlit night by a simple carpenter and his teenage wife to be. At the center of the celebration was a baby, helpless, yet powerful, weak, yet strong, unknown, yet to be the most popular figure to ever walk along the earth.

God loved you and me so much that He was willing to give up His son for a while, that the penalty for sin might be paid on a cross.

The greatest gift of Christmas is the love of God that brought us Jesus!

Dear friend, won’t you today accept His gift of love? Regardless of who you are, what you’ve done, where you are from, or how desperate you feel, you can know right now that God, the awesome Creator, has a real, intimate, and deep love for you!

Now that’s a Christmas present!

Do you feel loved by God today?  What does that mean to you this Christmas?

For more in this Unwrap Christmas series, read HERE, HERE or HERE.

My Top 5 Books This Year – Book Giveaway

Winners of the my favorite book giveaway:

@rlscovens

Jason Stewart

Congratulations…They each get their choice of one of my five favorite books of 2010!

Thanks for reading my blog this year!

I usually read tons of books each year, but this has been a relatively slow reading year. Still, I read some books this year that greatly impacted me, perhaps becoming some of my favorite books of all times. In fact, I believe in them enough that I want to share them with you and give a couple away this Christmas.

Here are my top 5 books for 2010. I will give two of them away to random readers of this post. (Details below…you can click on the name to read more about each one.)

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller – This is perhaps one of the best looks at the story of the Prodigal Son I have ever read. If you have been a believer for very long, this book will challenge you in how you live out your faith.

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley – Andy is one of my favorite speakers and authors. He has a way of communicating truth in an understandable way and he does this brilliantly with the vital issue of grace.

Linchpin by Seth Godin – This is a simple book, but it is oh so profound at looking at how our work environments, careers, and the way we accomplish things is done these days.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – This is not a new book, but I had put off reading it. I read it on the plane to Africa this Summer and shortly into the book I was mesmerized. Gladwell will challenge your thinking of why some succeed in life and others may not.

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne – I had the opportunity to spend some time with this author this year and I can’t believe I had not been closely following his work previously. This book is full of nuggets of how to make teams work well.

Here’s how you can have an opportunity to win one of these books:

  1. Comment on this post with your favorite book of 2010…or one you would suggest I read.
  2. RT or Share this post via Twitter or Facebook.

I will choose two random winners tomorrow and mail you a copy of your book of choice from the list above.

Thanks for being a reader of this blog this year!