15 Leadership Reminders
“Do the simple things well.” These were the words my first Battalion Commander, Colonel George Dallas, used to always say.
Sometimes in the midst of reading books on leadership, listening to podcasts, studying Scripture, and actually leading a family and a ministry, I can overlook some simple leadership lessons.
So here are a 15 leadership reminders for me today….maybe you too! (in no particular order):
- Be responsible. If you say you are going to take care of it, then take care of it.
- Be professional. Arrive on time. Actually be early. And be organized.
- Be the best. Get better every day at what you do.
- Be humble. Talk less. Listen more. Make others the hero of the story.
- Be proactive. Not reactive. Respond and initiate before being told to or asked to by your boss or peers.
- Be focused. When it’s time to make it happen, discipline yourself to take it across the finish line.
- Be authentic. Lead from the real you.
- Be trustworthy. Your word is your bond….and your reputation. Honesty always trumps.
- Be optimistic. See the best in people and opportunities. Choose trust over suspicion.
- Be curious. Learn constantly. Read everything you can. Ask questions. Have a posture of constant curiosity and creativity.
- Be passionate. Love what you do. Do what you love. Seek a calling not a career.
- Be hopeful. Create a vision that tomorrow can (and will) be better than today.
- Be courageous. Step out and take risks.
- Be generous. Give more than expected, including time, talent, treasure and encouragement.
- Pray. The first and foremost of all my strengths is the conviction that God has called me to this place and time. He can do more than I can ever do alone. My time in prayer reminds me of my place in His world!
What reminders would you add?
Leadership 101: Building the Perfect Team
Did you know, according to data from The Harvard Business Review, the time spent by leaders and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more over the last twenty years, and almost three-fourths of an employee’s day at most companies is spent communicating with colleagues?
That is a lot of time working with others!
There are numerous reasons for this rise in teamwork and collaboration but I think it is common understanding that for many tasks, working in teams encourages faster innovation and better problem solving.
Just this week, a team I am a part of read and discussed an article on Google’s Quest to Build the Perfect Team. In 2012, the tech behemoth launched a venture called Project Aristotle, which gathered data by analyzing many studies and actually observing the way people interacted in a group.
For years Google had believed that by putting the best subject matter experts in a room would result in the best team. What their in-depth study and all the data revealed did not support that theory.
Turns out, the key to successful groups isn’t in the personalities or skills of the individual team’s members at all, but comes from the team’s “group norms.”
So what are “group norms?”
Group norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.
Based upon the study, here are a few examples of group norms categorized by healthy or dysfunctional teams:
Common group norms for dysfunctional teams were:
– You must prove yourself. One is not necessarily a part of the team to accomplish a task or complete a project but to further their standing within the organization.
– Competition among peers. Because I must prove myself, my success and recognition is more important than the goal of the group.
– Zero tolerance for mistakes. Very few risks are taken therefore the new or good ideas can only come from the top.
– No outside social interaction. Simply put, team members do not enjoy each other’s company.
Group norms of the successful groups were:
– Vision focused. The accomplishment of the mission and vision trump individual performance. If one succeeds we all succeed.
– No competition or judging. An atmosphere of “safety” is present…where ideas can be shared and discussed without the fear of intimidation. Everyone has a voice in the discussion regardless of title or role.
– They have fun!
– They cared for each other.
So what does all this mean for the leader? Easy answer: If group norms are the key to successful team building, guess who can directly influence, change, and set those group norms? You!
As a leader, ask yourself (better yet – your team members) the following questions:
– What are the group norms of our current team?
– Do my actions and example support or hinder a healthy team?
Who knows, maybe you’ll build the perfect team!
What Can a Greek Messenger Teach Us About Suffering?
What is the longest distance you have ever run? For some it may not be far at all. For others, you may enjoy the solitude of long runs. I think the longest consecutive running I have ever done was about 16 miles. A few Marine buddies and I ran a Tough Mudder a couple of years ago. It was a blast!
There are some people though who really like running! My friend Sean likes to run marathons. Recently, because the average marathon of only 26.2 miles was not sufficient, Sean ran an ultra-marathon. That’s right…an ultra-marathon. It’s not that bad. Only 50 miles. He’s one tough dude!
Did you know the term “marathon” has its origin in military history? The name “Marathon” is loosely based upon the fabled run by Pheidppides, a Greek messenger. Legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens, a distance of over 150 miles, to announce that the Persians had been defeated. Many historians and philosophers consider the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. one of the most significant battles in human history; but the battle is perhaps now more famous as the inspiration for the modern marathon race.
What I find most interesting and compelling about the Marathon story is the sequence of the event.
First – something happened. In this case, an invasion by the Persian Empire which resulted in a fierce battle. For us, we will all undoubtedly have certain events in our life that trigger a long road of suffering. This event or events may be self-inflicted or the result of others.
Second – a long road of suffering requiring intense endurance. Remember he had to run over 150 miles – after fighting in a battle! Our road of suffering will come. It may be long or it may be short, but it will come.
Lastly – he shared his message…three simple words, “We were victorious.” When we consider the story of Pheidppides it is important for us to remember this step: he shared his message; he shared his testimony. If Pheidppides would have given up along the way and never delivered his message, history would not remember his name.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we know a few things: We know we will face suffering. We know this suffering requires lengthy periods of endurance. But we also know that we are not alone. We know that our suffering is not wasted. We know that just like Pheidppides, when our suffering ends, because of the grace freely given by God, we can simply say, “We were victorious.”
If you are in the midst of trails and sufferings, I ask you to take a few minutes and watch this video. You won’t regret it.
Leadership 101: 4 Keys to Team Building
There’s no way to overestimate the importance of learning from the people around us. When we’re open to learning from others, we benefit from their experience as well as our own and we can inherit their wisdom and knowledge.
I learn a lot from my friends and teammates. Recently one of them, Ryan Cook, wrote an article for LEAD 222, an international coaching and mentoring ministry. In this article he shared his 4 keys to team building. Here is an excerpt from his piece:
*Wherever you are and whatever capacity you serve in I’m going to bet you became very aware, very quickly that leadership is kind-of a big deal. Either because you experienced good leadership or you experienced bad leadership. The health of any organization, ministry, or team will rise or fall on leadership.
Early on I saw the huge impact of leadership and began wrestling with questions like:
What does a good leader do?
Am I a good leader?
Can I effectively lead others?
Can I build a winning team?
So here are a couple things I have tried to do to lead my team:
- PRAY – I serve with a great team right now. It has taken four years to build and lots and lots of prayer. I asked God to bring leaders of leaders. Then I waited patiently and didn’t move until He said to.
- VISION – You have to lead with vision rather than tasks. Leaders follow vision and workers accomplish tasks. Invest the time to pray and seek God for His vision for your ministry. Learn how to cast vision effectively – too big and the team can get demoralized, too small and the team is uninspired. Find ways to celebrate little wins along the way and always keep the vision in front of your team. Vision leaks so YOU have to fill it up again!
- EMPOWER – Surrounding yourself with the right people allows you to manage lightly. I sit down with my team members each month and ask 4 questions – How are you doing personally/spiritually? What have you been working on the last month? What are looking ahead to the next month? What do you need from me? We always end with prayer. Checking in more often feels like micromanaging and checking in less often feels like neglect.
- STAFF FUNZIE’S – Ministry is a grind. Set aside one time a month for your team to do something fun. It could be a simple lunch, a day trip, a conference, an overnight get away or dinner at your house. Make memories and build community. Right now we have the “Year of the Burger” – so we are going to lunch once a month at a new burger spot in town. Simple but fun.
There are so many other things, but this is a good start. Leadership is a life-long pursuit. Grow as a leader and you will build a winning team. Lead with wisdom and humility and God will honor that and ministry can be a lot of fun. *
Ryan is spot on…whether in the workplace, ministry, or your local community, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others. Team building is both an art and a science and the leader who can consistently build high performance teams will accomplish more than he could ever do alone.
My challenge for you today – take a few of Ryan’s keys to team building and give it a try. I think you’ll find it worthwhile!
The Valentine’s Day Challenge
Valentine’s Day – the annual celebration of love and commercialism – hits us again on Sunday, and many of us will spend the coming days scrambling to find perfect gifts for our significant others (not me this year – already bought my gift!)
According to a USA Today article I scanned earlier this week, the top 5 Valentine’s Day 5 gifts are:
- Gift Cards
These are all great gifts. But this year I want to challenge you to add something to the box of chocolates or new pair of socks you buy your spouse. I want to challenge you to take 10 days…a simple week and a half…and give your spouse the gift of encouragement.
10 days where you intentionally speak and write words of encouragement to them.
10 days where you praise at least one thing you appreciate about them.
10 days where you point out things about his or her character that you love.
10 days where you point out the contributions they make to your family.
10 days where you praise their talents and gifts.
10 days where you simply attach value to the person you love most.
You know during my military career there were times where I got an award, or medal, or even a welcomed pat on the back. These were all great and appreciated however no gift or no person can encourage me like Liz. Her words, her actions, and her belief in me are needed more than any other earthly accolade. She has the power to diffuse stress and literally give me energy.
So this Valentine’s Day I challenge you take 10 days and speak life into your spouse! Drop me a note and let me know how it goes!
The Applause of Man
“It doesn’t matter if the world knows, or sees or understands; the only applause we are meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands.” Ron Owens (former Director of Worship at the International Mission Board)
80 years ago today, on January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound. Today there are over 300 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The overwhelming majority of us will not end up in any hall of fame; however there is something intoxicating about the power of our fellow man’s applause. Maybe it is just me, but deep down most of us love it….the affirmation, the sense of worth, the praise. It can become addicting.
As a leader, parent, or spouse, consider how many decisions you are called on to make in any given day—some in private and some in the public arena. Every day presents multiple opportunities to make applause-generating decisions. However when our daily self-worth and identity come primarily from the applause of those with whom we work or live, we are finished. Why? Because (1) it will never be enough and (2) it will one day go away.
One of my wife’s favorite singers is a young lady named Francesca Battistelli and one of her favorite songs is titled, “He Knows My Name.” Consider the lyrics to Francesca’s chorus:
I don’t need my name in lights / I’m famous in my Father’s eyes / Make no mistake / He knows my name / I’m not living for applause / I’m already so adored / It’s all His stage / He knows my name
There is something freeing about no longer working for the applause of man. You still strive for excellence…you still steward your gifts and talents well…and guess what – the applause still comes…however your motivation is based simply on the fact that you are already fully and completely accepted by Him!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to seek first His kingdom. What do you seek first? The applause of others? The affirmation of man? The answer to this question will determine the legacy you leave behind.
My Top Ten Others (Blogs / Podcasts / Websites) of 2015
Last week I shared my Top Ten Books of 2015, now I want to give you a quick insight into my Top Ten Others (Blogs / Podcasts / Websites) of 2015. From my laptop to my phone, I use these resources to help make me a better leader, dad, and husband. A few of these also provide simple entertainment and ideas for recreation. Similar to my last post, they are not in any particular order.
All Pro Dad. All Pro Dad’s mission is to help men love and lead their family well. From marriage advice to practical dad tips and even a pretty neat “Stuff Men Should Know” section, All Pro Dad has something for everyone. They routinely have quick read articles or interviews with professional athletes, business and church leaders, and regular Joes. I typically connect with All Pro Dad via Twitter.
careynieuwhof.com. Carey Nieuwhof (the founding and teaching pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto, Canada) has created quite a following with his blog, podcast, and books. I am a consumer of all three of his platforms (especially love his podcasts) and continue to learn from each of them. Carey has a simple goal of “helping leaders lead like never before.” For any leader in the local church, this is the place to start!
Explore Texas. From backroad diners to tips on hiking and camping spots to any and all things Texas history this blog has everything you need to explore Texas. The blog’s author, Omar Garcia, is an experienced world traveler (gobeyondblog.com) that has now turned extra attention and efforts to capturing his adventures in Texas. If you are looking to see Texas through fresh eyes or maybe you’re considering venturing down long stretches of Texas backroads on your own – this blog is for you. Trust me, through Omar and his stories, you will certainly make a few new discoveries about the Lone Star State!
challies.com The second Canadian on my list, Tim Chailles (it’s pronounced CHALL-eez and rhymes with “valleys” and “rallies) is the senior Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I value Tim’s blog due to its variety and daily updates. Tim has book reviews, links to articles, guest commentaries, etc… Tim’s passion is theology and the local church so the majority of his selections lean that way.
This American Life. Most weeks This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country, with around one million people downloading each episode. Primarily a journalistic non-fiction program, it also features essays, memoirs, field recordings, and short fiction. Each week’s show has a theme, explored in several “acts.” Stories are often told as first-person narratives and the mood of the show ranges from gloomy to ironic, from thought-provoking to humorous. Although much different than the other podcasts I listen to, I have continually found myself captivated by many of these stories.
bradlomenick.com/bradblog/ Brad Lomenick is a leadership consultant, speaker, and author of The Catalyst Leader and H3 Leadership. He writes about leadership, creativity, innovation, social media, teamwork, and personal growth. Many of his interviews are also included on the Catalyst podcast however his blog is worth following. Brad is a high caliber leader with a lot to offer. Check him out!
The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. Probably my favorite podcast to listen to! Created by Andy Stanley (Author, Pastor, and Founder of North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia), The Leadership Podcast is designed to “help leaders go further, faster.” Made for leaders in any organization, Andy provides leadership lessons and principles in his usual simple and easy to understand way. If you want a sampling of what a typical podcast with Andy is like take a listen to “The Question that Great Leaders Ask” released on April 30th of this year. If you want to lead and lead well, subscribe to Andy’s podcast!
Catalyst. Catalyst seeks to “unify change makers.” Through their annual leadership conferences Catalyst brings together hundreds of leaders throughout numerous organizations. I recommend you take a look at their robust website for a better understanding of what they offer. In addition to their website, I subscribe to their podcast and also have their App on my phone – both great tools.
Best of Mike and Mike Podcast. If you know me, you know I love sports. On this podcast, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (Mike and Mike) break down the top news, games and drama throughout the sports world. I have been watching and listening to Mike and Mike for over a decade. Unfortunately I don’t have the margin to listen or watch all 3 or 4 hours of their daily show so this podcast helps me stay up to date with some of my favorite sports personalities. If you are a sports fan, tune in!
Leadership Journal. Leadership Journal is published by Christianity Today and offers smart, honest perspective on matters of ministry and the Christian leadership experience. In both its quarterly print edition and robust website, readers can count on candid articles and in-depth interviews. The goal of LJ is to help leaders enhance their ministry, encourage community, and grow their leadership. I follow LJ on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms provide quick reads on a daily basis.
What about you? What blogs, podcasts, or other platforms do you routinely follow?
My Top 10 Books of 2015
K. Chesterton once remarked that “there is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.” This past year I have found myself floating back and forth between these two categories so the book choices below reflect that (study and leisure).
A couple of disclaimers first:
*The majority of the books I read this year revolved around leadership, church strategy, and family ministry. This list reflects that.
*These books are not in order by preference. They take on many different styles so I choose not to rank or compare apples and oranges.
*Most of these books are faith based books written by authors with a Christian worldview. However some of them (and others I read this year) are not. Several of these books are thoughtful accounts of history, leadership lessons, and practical life hacks. They will be profitably read through the lens of an intelligent Christian worldview, though the books themselves are often not written from such a worldview. To quote Al Mohler, “The world needs more careful Christian readers, who can read honestly, reflectively, thoughtfully, eagerly, and well.”
Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs. Bill Hybels. Hybels is the founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. He has become known worldwide as in expert in training Christian leaders to transform their communities through the local church. I have read many of Bill’s books and this possibly ranks as my favorite (Courageous Leadership is excellent as well). In this book, Bill provides 76 Leadership Proverbs that can (and should) be used by leaders in the marketplace, military, and ministry! This would be a great book to walk through with the key leaders of your organization.
Be a Better Dad Today! 10 Tools Every Father Needs. Gregory W. Slayton. Slayton does a remarkable job setting the tone for the importance of fatherhood. He believes “the future of civilization depends on how we (fathers) do our job.” With humor, empathy, common sense and stories from his personal experience, Slayton provides his “Ten Tools of Fatherhood.” I read this book with one of my best friends. We read a chapter every day or so and emailed each other our responses to the “For Further Reflection” section. A group of men at our church completed it together as well. The major draw for me was the practical and down to earth tools Slayton provides. Highly recommend it for dads young and old.
The Mission at Nuremberg. An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis. Tim Townsend. The Nuremberg Trials were intended to bring those most responsible for the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust before a court of justice. Adolf Hitler and some of the most senior Nazis escaped the court, but more than 20 senior leaders of Nazi Germany stood trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. The most significant trials were held between November of 1945 and the following October. In the end, twelve death sentences were handed down against those who were found most responsible for crimes against humanity.
But a largely unknown story within that well-known account concerns Rev. Henry Gerecke, a U.S. Army chaplain assigned to the prisoners throughout the trial, and eventually to the condemned. This Lutheran minister found himself face to face with those who had plotted the extermination of 6 million Jews and had brought the world to the horrors of a global war. Even more moving, was the reality of how Gerecke faced the deepest personal and theological questions imaginable, specifically how much he believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is an extremely powerful book. Consider this excerpt:
“For Gerecke, the decision to accept the assignment wasn’t easy. He wondered how a preacher from St. Louis could make any impression on the disciples of Adolf Hitler. Would his considerable faith in the core principles of Christianity sustain him as he ministered to monsters? During his months stationed in Munich after the war, Gerecke had taken several trips to Dachau. He’d seen the raw aftermath of the Holocaust. He’d touched the inside of the camp’s walls, and his hands had come away smeared with blood. The U.S. Army was asking one of its chaplains to kneel down with the architects of the Holocaust and calm their spirits as they answered for their crimes in front of the world. With those images of Dachau fresh in his memory, Gerecke had to decide if he could share his faith, the thing he held most dear in life, with the men who had given the orders to construct such a place.”
Decisive. Chip & Dan Heath. Recommended to me by my Senior Pastor, Decisive tackles one of the most critical topics in the workplace and in our personal lives: how to make decisions. The Heath Brothers present research to suggest that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases. Their book revolves around what they have labeled the “Four Villains of Decision Making.” They provide strategies and practical tools that enable us to make better choices….a key for any great leader.
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof. A few months ago I was on my way to work and was listening to Carey Niewhhof’s podcast. On this day he and Reggie were discussing their book so I picked it up. In this book, the authors describe how the two powerful influences of church and home can be combined together to widen the capacity of our parenting. Perhaps the best chapter is the chapter on “Making it Personal.” As parents, we can’t pass on what we don’t have, and if parents are going to maximize the potential for their own kids to love and follow Jesus some day, then it must be true in their lives as well. Fairly easy read with great practical advice.
Working with Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman. This book is a follow up to his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence (EI). Goleman continues in this work to discuss the important of emotional intelligence. He basically states that the old days of hiring based off of IQ or proficiency alone has passed. He presents facts and stories to show that IQ explains surprisingly little of achievement at work or home. He states that companies (and leaders more specifically) should look for people with high emotional intelligence. He categories EI as: self-awareness, motivation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships. Although a little scientific at times, this book is a definite read for those at the executive leadership level of any organization.
American Creation. Joseph J. Ellis. Ellis is one of my favorite American Historian Authors. If you have never read Ellis, I highly recommend him. He is a master story teller. His Pulitzer Prize winning book Founding Brothers is one of my top 5 books of all time. In American Creation, Ellis continues his examination of the last quarter of the 18th century….perhaps the most politically creative era in American history. He spends most of the book focusing on Washington, Jefferson, and Madison; specifically analyzing their successes and failures. Overall it is a fairly easy read that will give you a greater appreciation of the “human nature” of the Founding Fathers without tearing them down.
Manage Your Day-to Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei. Super easy read! Time is valuable. Time is limited. If you are like me, you try to manage your actions each day to effectively steward the time you have been given. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, 99Us’ Manage Your Day-to Day helps equip you with pragmatic insights and tools for using your time wisely and making your best work. This book was recommended by the author of a blog I follow and it did not disappoint.
Don’t Waste Your Life. John Piper. A re-read for me. A good friend and fellow Pastor (Omar Garcia – www.gobeyondblog.com) was recalling a few stories and lessons from this book which prompted me to read it again. I didn’t regret it. Piper warns us not to get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. He boldly writes that God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display His love and sacrifice in all the spheres of our life. This is a great book to start your 2016 reading with!
Counter Culture. David Platt. In Platt’s newest book, he shows Christians how to actively take a stand on issues such as poverty, sex trafficking, marriage, abortion, racism, and religious liberty. According to David, in a day when social issues are creating clear dividing lines, neutrality is not an option for those who believe the Gospel. Drawing on personal accounts from around the world, Platt presents an unapologetic call for Christians to faithfully and lovingly follow Christ into the cultural battlefield. This book challenged me to look beyond the specific social issue and have a deeper understanding of who God is and how He relates to everything around us.
What about you? What are some of your favorite books of 2015.
Hunting and Life Lessons
I love the outdoors – fishing, hiking, riding 4 wheelers, I could go on….but I especially like hunting. When Liz and I first got married I remember talking about taking our kids hunting. I couldn’t wait for that day. We even named our first child Hunter! (I can also share with you offline how Liz vetoed my recommended name for our second son). Well God has been especially generous; we now have two young boys who are roosted on our family tree and are already bearing camo-clad fruit on the branches of our heritage as hunters.
Each year we take at least one hunting trip with my father in law. The boys love hunting with their Dad and their Grandy; while my father in law and I simply love spending time with the boys. This past week we completed this annual tradition again. As we have now returned from our week in the woods I begin reflecting on the lessons hunting teaches my kids (and all of us).
Stay in Your Stand: Sometimes you see deer, sometimes you don’t. Patience and endurance is KEY. The longer you are willing to wait, to stay in your stand, the better your chances of having a successful hunt. Hunting teaches us that a lack of patience and endurance bears little fruit.
For my boys, there will be a day in their future when they will stand before a beautiful young lady and vow to be her husband. I hope they remember, like their deer stand, they should not climb out of it. There will be great times and there will be tough times. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay in Your Stand.”
Or maybe like me, they may find themselves standing in an airport about to board another flight for another tour in Iraq or Afghanistan and thoughts of “why am I doing this again?” pops in their head. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay in Your Stand.”
Stay Awake: Last week I read an article in a hunting magazine that stated the #1 reason why hunters are typically unsuccessful is that they fall asleep during key moments of the hunt. I personally know how hard it is to stay awake. Arriving in the woods before sunrise and sitting still for hours is the perfect recipe for a nice nap. Add some cold weather and bundles of warming layers and even the best hunter is tempted to close his eyes for a moment. In its most raw ways, hunting teaches us that comfort based decisions are costly and rarely produce results.
I want my young men to know that there will be many times after a long day at work that they will want to go home and rest, to check out for a while…however their wives and kids will require time and attention. I hope they seize the moment to spend time with their family.
Throughout their life, I hope they put aside personal comfort for the sake of others. Hopefully they will remember, “Stay Awake.”
Know Where to Aim: The first thing we always do during our hunting trips is conduct some refresher training. We go over gun safety rules, the hunting laws (what we can and can’t shoot), and most importantly, when the right time comes, knowing where to aim. Anyone can shoot a gun, but knowing where to aim and how to hit your target makes a successful hunter.
As both my boys go through life I want them to have a crystal clear focus on where to aim. The world will present cheap targets with brief, momentary satisfaction. My prayer is that throughout the struggles and setbacks, the successes and victories, that my boys will always keep their aim on Christ and Christ alone.
There will be a day when both my boys sit in a deer stand alone….no longer needing me to supervise or assist. They will be able to make their own hunting decisions. The clock is also ticking toward that day when they pull out of the driveway and into manhood. Among the many things I hope they remember forever, I’ll add the simple hunting principles of “Stay in Your Stand, Stay Awake, and Know Where to Aim.”
Speed of Life: How Fast Are You Going?
I love books…especially books on leadership. One of the best ones I have read recently is called “Leadership Axioms” by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. In his book, Bill provides a collection of insight and wisdom aimed at helping today’s leader.
During one of these short essays Bill recalls a moment at the conclusion of a conference he was speaking at in Germany. Bill’s translator was bringing him back to the airport and along the way they chatted about the most impactful moments of the conference. To quote Bill, “As we made our way through a residential part of town, our conversation matched the relaxed, easy pace of our drive.” But then they hit the autobahn. (For those who may not know, Germany’s autobahns are famous for being among the few public roads in the world without speed limits for cars and motorbikes.)
Bill immediately noticed that the faster his friend drove, the less they talked. He recalls that for most of the drive on the autobahn they rarely spoke at all. He somewhat jokingly added, “Instead of continuing our enjoyable conversation, we found ourselves focusing solely on dodging other cars and avoiding a crash.”
I believe there is an important lesson in this story for all us….especially during this time of year. We add events to our week, items to our list, and begin planning for a New Year. We don’t want to be under-achievers (heaven forbid!), so we fill our schedules uncritically. Options are as attractive as they are numerous therefore we overbook. Before we know it we have generated a velocity that we find hard to sustain.
Maybe it is time to slow our pace, adjust our schedule, reorder priorities, and focus on our relationships. I know there have been seasons in my life where the health of my relationships with my Creator and my family have suffered due to the speed I had committed to. My speed caused me to be less aware of God’s presence in my life and even less aware of my actual presence at home. Driving on the autobahn may be fun….but it is not sustainable and it comes with a price.
I challenge you to slow your speed. Find time to rest…Time to relax…Time to enjoy your family and friends…Time to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).
And I’m actually going to take my own advice….if you are looking for me next week, my boys and I, along with my father-in-law, will be relaxing and enjoying the view of Southwest Texas from a deer stand.
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