Archives For Leadership

Parenting to Prepare for Marriage

Parenting to Prepare for Marriage

By the end of month the Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling concerning the very definition of marriage in our country.  The implications of their decision could have colossal impact on the moral climate of our culture and has the potential of putting the Bible believing church in a very uncomfortable posture in the years to come.


That has started me thinking.  What can we do to make a stand for biblical marriage?  Of course there are legal and political stands that believers can take.  That is all well and good.  In fact it is important.


But there is a much more important way to stand for marriage and I was reminded of it at a wedding rehearsal dinner just a few days ago.


So what is the most important way to stand for marriage?


Parent your children in preparation for marriage!


The other night I was conducting a wedding rehearsal for a couple.  I have known the bride and her parents for almost 18 years.  I witnessed this young woman grow up and have watched her Mom and Dad parent her in preparation for marriage.


The bride was so readied for marriage and the groom was likewise.  They both are Christ-centered and have a vision for their relationship that drives them to live a godly commitment toward each other and the Lord.


At the rehearsal dinner the father of the bride spoke to those gathered.  He expressed his love for his family and his great affection for the daughter he would give away.  But he also gave the couple a charge.  He challenged them to live out a greater vision of marriage that would ensure their love could last, a next generation could emerge, and in a great way the world would be changed.


As I reflected on his words I thought of seven things parents can do to parent their children in preparation for marriage…


  1. Love your sons and daughters.  This father loved his daughter, his son, and especially his wife.  He expressed it.  When he did you could see his family was touched, but so were the friends around them.  Such love prepares children to want to be married in the future.  It creates in them the belief that marriage is a fundamental building block to building a home of love and support.
  2. Give them the gospel.  Many years ago I remember this father continually sharing the gospel with his daughter.  He never pushed her to make a decision, but he prepared her for the moment when she would.  In doing this he taught her that in life and eventually in marriage her relationship with Christ was always to come first.
  3. Model discipleship.  This father and mother modeled before their daughter what it meant to follow the Lord.  They were not perfect.  No one can be.  But they were consistent, committed, and honest about their walk with God.  When we model discipleship, we prepare our children for successful relationships and we give them a vision for life that is not merely about their own selfish desires, but a higher calling.  Marriage will not work when one or two of the spouses operate out of selfishness.  Discipleship teaches us to give and to forgive.
  4. Set the bar high for finding a spouse.  These parents wanted their daughter to get married, but not just to anyone.  They had impressed upon their daughter, by example and verbal expectation, the need to find a man who loved the Lord above all other loves.  They expected her to marry a person of character and integrity.  I want the same for my children.  I have often told them that I pray for them to find a person who loves Jesus as much or more than they.  I do not want them to compromise in anyway in this matter.  It is better to do without than to lower the bar on the things that matter the most.
  5. Expect faithful church involvement.  I loved hearing this father tell his daughter and future son-in-law that he expected them to be in church, lead in church, and partner with the church in her mission.  In most weddings I conduct I challenge the couple to devote themselves to their marriage and the church knowing that the two go hand in hand.  Both of these institutions were established by God.  A strong marriage makes for a strong church and a strong church makes for strong marriages.
  6. Model family leadership.  At the rehearsal dinner this father did more than speak to the couple.  He expressed his love and pride for every member of his family.  What was he doing?  Modeling family leadership.  He was the shepherd of his home and was caring for his entire flock.  When we do this as parents we teach our children to do the same.
  7. Cast a vision of legacy.  In this father’s speech he challenged the couple to obey God’s first command in marriage, to “be fruitful and increase in number.” (Genesis 1:28, NIV)  Even at a young age we should tell our kids that men and women get married to build a family and birth a new generation.  Marriage is not only for the gratification of the couple, it is to build a people.  I often tell couples to imagine how many people will come from their love in the course of a century.  In addition, for the Christian, marriage should also be about partnering together for the purpose of extending the gospel into the world.  Couples should come together before the Lord for the purpose of fulfilling his commission to bring Jesus to others.


So I challenge you, if you are a parent, to take a stand for marriage by parenting your children in preparation for marriage.


Question:  What are ways you have found to prepare young men and women for successful Christian marriages?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.




Is your church an instrument of God, representing the vivacious life of Christ in the world, or an institution of man, perpetuating the preferences and rituals of men?


A Church Moving with God

A Church Moving with God

My great desire is to be a part of a local church that is experiencing, reflecting, and advancing the Lordship of Jesus in the world, not a mere center of predictable, never changing tradition.


Now don’t get me wrong.  Lot’s of traditions are good.  We value lots of traditions at our church that serve us well and encourage us in the faith.  But we are at our best when our ultimate focus is not on the tradition, but on Christ and what he is doing in our lives and communities.


Furthermore, by my opening statement I do not want to suggest that all churches fit squarely into one category or the other.  I would argue that my church is significantly experiencing God’s powerful movement in the here and now.  But if truth be told, we no doubt have blind spots where we have allowed “the way we have always done it” to restrict our responsiveness to the promptings of God’s Spirit.


In addition, it should be said that tradition is not an enemy of faith or of responsiveness to God.  For example, the tradition of weekly worship (a tradition based in Scripture) provides a continuous format for God’s people to be equipped, motivated, and deployed for serving the Lord.


What I am saying is that a church that leads her people to move with God will connect those people in certain very distinct directions.  In Timothy Keller’s book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, he mentions four ways churches should connect people that they might be a part of the move of God in their lives and communities.[1]


As a member of your local church, you want to see your church encouraging and facilitating these kinds of connections.  For those of you who are in church leadership, these are connections you will want to intentionally facilitate in the lives of the people you influence.


Here are the four connections:


Churches Moving with God will…


  1. Connect people to God through evangelism and worship.  It all starts with evangelism.  Welcoming people into an experience of the good news of salvation in Christ should be the heartbeat of every church.  We should tell the gospel to everyone, invite every person to respond to the gospel, and we should celebrate this good news in all we do.  Furthermore, our churches should be intentional about connecting people to worship the Lord with great affection.  This will be done in a variety of different ways and styles depending on the context.
  2. Connect people to each other through community and discipleship.  Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  The church, at it’s essence, is not an organization.  Of course every church should organize.  But fundamentally the church is a family, Christ’s family.  We were born again that we might be brought together as his redeemed people.  Because of that, local churches should encourage people to build relationships designed to spur one another on in their faith and practice.  In our church we do this through encouraging our people to participate in small groups for Bible study and relationship.  We also encourage our people to serve in ministries that edify the congregation.
  3. Connect people to needs of your city or town through mercy and justice ministries.  Christ is forming his Body, the church, that he might express and advance his mercy and justice in the world.  The active presence of the church in the community should make a difference in the lives of people who are vulnerable or under-privileged.  In our church the Spirit of God has prompted our people to provide for the poor, assist in the assimilation of Burmese refugees into our community, partner with organizations that equip people to get free from destructive addictions, and minister to our Hispanic population.  In some contexts churches will seek to rescue women from the blight of sex trafficking.  In meeting the needs of the vulnerable we move with God as we allow him to express his mercy through us.
  4. Connect people to the culture through integration of faith and work.  This is one that the evangelical church has not done a great job with over the years.  It is an area where we must improve.  For far too long we have bemoaned the fact that we are losing influence over our culture.  But this is in part because we have not engaged the culture with our influence.  Instead of seeing ministry only in the context of leadership in the local church, we should recognize that God’s Kingdom calling is not only for preachers, missionaries, and seminary professors.  God has called us all.  Whether you are a homemaker, factory worker, small business owner, manager, doctor, lawyer, or teacher…God has a calling for you to serve him in those contexts.  Your occupation is a mission from God.  Your faith should shape how you approach your job as you influence the culture of your home, business, school, or community organization.  This is a subject I will need to blog about in the future.  Imagine the powerful effect of an entire congregation with a vision for applying their faith, not just at church and with family, but in the workplace in creative and dynamic ways.  That is where we can see the world around us change and the Kingdom of God advance for the common good of all and the Glory of God.


So what about you?  Are you connecting, along with your local church, in these four ways?  If not, is it not time that you join what God is doing in the world?  I encourage you to follow the promptings of God to connect with what God is doing and be a part of his movement.


Question:  In what ways is God calling you to more deeply connect with the move of God in your world?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.



[1] Timothy Keller, Center Church:  Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, Zondervan, 2012, p. 250.

People follow leaders who believe Big! No one wants to join the team of a leader who does not have faith in the cause or has lost sight of the God who issued the calling. Doubt will infuse your team with insecurities and will cause alternative agendas to begin to divide your focus.

Lead with Belief

Lead with Belief

If you are a leader, to be effective you must lead with belief. That does not mean you cannot have doubts or second thoughts, but you must have a core set of beliefs that drive your leadership of others.

Typically people will join your team or cause because they see a fire in your eyes. You believe in the cause and you believe so passionately that it is contagious and others want to be a part of this important task.

Years ago I saw this flesh out in the local church where I serve as Pastor. Our leadership, years before, had determined that God was leading us to build an entirely new and expansive campus for our ministries. From the beginning I shared this belief and led the way with our people.

I spoke often about how God was going to use us to achieve this great project. I cast vision, painting a picture of the impact we would have on our city as we sacrificed to build and expand. People followed, giving of their time and money as we purchased land and developed plans to build. I believed so strongly that we were going to succeed and was convinced God would provide.

But then we went through a few years where our project was stalled. Until we found a buyer for our old facility we could not move forward financially. It was a test of faith and I began to have doubts.

I did not doubt the rightness of the cause. I was still convinced that God had inspired the project. But I started to doubt that it would be accomplished. I got my eyes off God and onto the sluggish progress of our process.

I started to let that doubt leak out in small, but significant ways. In committee meetings, years before I would say things like, “God is going to come through in his time and we are going to build this complex and many people are going to have their lives impacted.” But now I started to say things like, “If things work out we will build this building. If God comes through, we will have success.”

My subtle doubts impacted our team members. Problems seemed more overwhelming and motivation a bit less powerful. It became easier to feel insecure before challenging circumstances and that had the potential to paralyze the process.

One day, I was meeting with two of my top lay leaders. I was frustrated and asked them what they needed from me most as a leader. One of those men looked me square in the eye and said, “Pastor, we need you to believe.” Hearing these words hit me hard and helped me self-correct my leadership posture.

A couple of years later our project would pick up and we were moving forward, but then a huge challenged threatened the work again. Team members were anxious, even struggling with a measure of doubts. The truth is, I was nervous too, but then I remembered that as the leader I needed to believe.

So that is what I did. I remembered the rightness of our cause, the history of how God had already been providing for us, and I led with faith. I would say things like, “God is not dead. He did not lead us this far only to let us stall out in the middle of the task. Let’s believe and move forward.”

By no means was my belief the sole reason our project went forward. Many people were involved. But I know that without my decision to believe, paralysis would have been given power to hinder our efforts, divide our focus, and discourage the many people who were sacrificing to expand our ministries.

It is the same with your leadership. Whether you are leading your kids, your spouse, a church ministry, or an organization in the marketplace the people who follow you are looking for you to believe. When you believe, they feel safer and exhibit more boldness in accomplishing their tasks.

I encourage you to believe in God’s plan and power in the arenas of life where you apply leadership. Lead with passion and faith.

Question: Can you name leaders in history or in your life that have inspired you with their belief? Share them with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Need for Real Men

September 19, 2014 — 6 Comments

Our culture and our churches desperately need robust examples of manhood.  Perhaps our present society’s greatest deficit is in the area of strong and godly men.  Because of this, families crumble, women suffer, and children struggle throughout their lives.

Real Men

Real Men

The world is crying out for an army of real men to rise up to love their wives, rear their children, stand for Christ, and show the way.

By real men, I do not refer to the macho man of action films or the lusty player that seduces the ladies.  By real men, I speak of men who love God, have submitted their character to the Lordship of Christ, and who take responsibility for themselves and those God has entrusted to their care.  I refer to men of principle and commitment, men who follow through with their vows even when life gets hard.

As a Christian leader I am struck by how many men, particularly young men, do not know what a real man looks like.

But the truth is our culture does not give men very definitive answers.  It used to, but it no longer does.

Where will a man receive his vision for manhood?

Will he find it in the community?  Probably not.  There are no rites of passage offered every boy in our culture, no distinctive initiation.  This needs to change.

Will he find it in the family?  Maybe, but many do not.  We live in a day where for a few generations fathers have been rather absent in family life, at least in a staggering number of families.  There is something a boy marching to manhood needs from his father.  He needs validation.  He needs blessing.  But few receive this.

Will he find it in church?  He should, but once again many do not.  For the most part the church has done little to help a man know what it is to be a man.  We have not been deliberate in addressing the spiritual role of men.  Take a look at many churches and you see that women outnumber the men.  Often the image we portray in the church is that spirituality is predominantly a female pursuit.  This is sad.  After all, the Bible is overflowing with stories of men, real men, surrendering their lives to the Almighty God.

Where can a man go to capture a vision of manhood?  I believe we must look to Scripture!  The revelation of God.

The Bible is clear…

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” Proverbs 29:18a


This makes sense when you look at men who have not been guided by revelation and have cast off restraint…

Think about it!

*Men commit 90 percent of major crimes.

*Men commit 100 percent of rapes.

*Men commit 95 percent of burglaries.

*Men commit 91 percent of the offenses against the family.

*Men comprise 94 percent of drunk drivers.[1]

Robert Lewis in his book, Raising A Modern Day Knight, points out that the Bible compares Adam and Jesus Christ as displaying two very different kinds of masculinity.

Adam represents man whose life is “separated from God.”  His selfishness and sin created the rift.

But Jesus Christ represents man “in union with God.”  A life based on faith.


Consider these Principles of Manhood:

  1. A real man rejects passivity.  In Genesis 3, Adam chose a passive posture and yielded to the temptation that brought him separation from God and ultimately death.  But Jesus rejected passivity and descended from heaven to earth to bring salvation to man. (Philippians 2:5-8)


  1. A real man accepts responsibility.  Adam blamed Eve for his failure.  But Jesus, who was without sin took responsibility for bearing sin by going to the cross.  The need today is for men who will accept the responsibility that God has entrusted to them for their homes, business, and reputations.


  1. A real man leads courageously.  Men were created to lead, but Adam abdicated his leadership.  Jesus leads with courage and he is our example.


  1. A real man expects the greater reward.  Adam was looking at the immediate pleasure.  Jesus looked to the greater reward. (Hebrews 12:1-2)


Lewis points out what a real man looks like…Men of godly action, responsibility, courage, and a willingness to go the hard way to win the greater reward.

Men, let’s rise to that level of manhood and encourage and equip others to do the same.

Question:  What are other characteristic of a real man, a godly man?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.




[1] Robert Lewis, Raising A Modern Day Knight, p. 46

In two weeks by oldest child goes back to college for her junior year and my newly graduated second child heads off for his freshman year at the university.  I can’t help but get emotional thinking about it.  Questions fire off in a parent’s head during such moments.  “Did I rear them right?  Did I prepare them for life’s ups and downs?  Are they spiritually ready to continue walking with God without me to prod them?”

Aim To Rear A Spiritual Adult

Aim To Rear A Spiritual Adult

What has been my aim these past two decades of parenting?  Simple.  My wife and I have had one primary target we have been shooting for in our parenting.  We wanted to rear our children to be spiritual adults by the time they were heading out from the home.

What do I mean by spiritual adult?  We wanted more than just our kids accepting Christ, being baptized, and growing up in church.  We wanted our children to be equipped to take personal responsibility for their own spiritual life and disciplines.

We wanted them to have a vision for how they would walk with God on their own and answer their unique calling given them by God.  We wanted them to see themselves, not as church kids, but as young grown-ups that are just as responsible for their own spiritual lives and the ministry of the church as any other adult of any other age.

So far I am seeing my kids step up to this vision of their lives.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do not have perfect kids.  But I do see in my young adult children that they are taking personal responsibility for the spiritual course of their lives.  For that I am very gratified.

So what does a parent do to prepare a child to be a spiritual adult?  Here are a few things…

  1. Aim to rear a spiritual adult.  Get this goal in your head.  If you your kid is just a couple of days old.  It is never too early to set your direction for your desired destination.  Let this shape your prayers.  If you keep this goal in your sights, you will be amazed at how God will lead you to help your child on their spiritual journey.
  2. Be a spiritual adult yourself.  You simply must be the example.  Duplicity in the home can drive children from faith and the church for a lifetime.  But when children see a parent that takes their faith seriously (though imperfectly) it is a powerful thing.  What does it mean to be a spiritual adult?  It means you take personal responsibility for your own spiritual growth and obedience to the Lord.  You take the initiative to read the scriptures, obey God’s bidding in your life, support the church, and share your faith.
  3. Cast vision, starting young.  When my kids were young, I would often tuck them in at night and pray with them.  When I did, I would cast vision into their little hearts.  I would say, “God loves you so much.  He wants you to accept his Son Jesus.  He wants you to serve him and do great things to spread his kingdom.”  Their eyes will be wide and their hearts receptive to this great kingdom vision that is being cast for them.  Children need to know that their lives are ordered by God and that God has a journey for them to follow.
  4. Go to church.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  By no means am I saying that church going is all it takes to keep a family on track spiritually.  That would not be true.  But not being in church can have a detrimental impact on faith.  God did not save us to be individuals.  He saved us to come together as his church.  Without our togetherness, we never become all God wants for us.  When your children are in church and see you active and involve, they know that faith is important.  Furthermore, they meet many other faith-filled role models that inspire them and encourage them.
  5. Live faith at home.  If all you do is live faith out at church your children get the wrong message.  They begin to believe faith is just for the church house.  God is not relevant at home, work, or school.  If you are going to teach your children to live full on for God, they must see that Christ is present in every venue of life.  Pray at meals.  Talk about God in casual conversation.  Answer their questions about God when they raise them.  Lean on God when times are tough and give God the glory when his activity in your life is evident.  And declare your faith in God even when it seems God is not answering your desperate prayers.  Your kids need to see that God is prevailing over every aspect of your lives.
  6. Walk with them in the early years.  When my children were young, I read them the Bible and prayed with them consistently.  When they got older, I encouraged them to do more of that on their own and I did it with them occasionally.  When they became a teen I encouraged them in their spiritual disciplines and expected that they would do them on their own.  I have been encouraged by my son who is on his seventh reading through the Bible.
  7. Begin passing the baton in the early teens.  With my children, around the age of 11-12 I begin to encourage them to seek God on their own.  I tell them, they have found it easy to believe depending on us.  But now is the time for them to pursue an experience with God that is just between the Lord and them.  This is a great time to do this, because they are entering the Youth years at church where many camps, conferences, and spiritual trips provide many venues for experiencing God on their own.
  8. Encourage faith building activities.  This can be an event at church, Sunday School, or a service project.  It might even be a faith stretching act of obedience on the part of your family.  Years ago, God led us to adopt.  Our biological children were a part of the faith stretching experiences that this endeavor demanded of us spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  My kids learned about sacrifice, generosity, and trust at that time.
  9. Model and encourage missional service.  I love our church.  We encourage the kids to volunteer for ministry and mission.  All my children have been encouraged to volunteer their time and talent for many different ministries and projects to share the gospel, help the poor, or minister to the hurting.  My wife and I have a plan to see that each of our children have a foreign mission trip experience before they go off to college.  The impact of this has been immeasurable in our home.
  10. Expect them to be spiritual adults as they come of age.  I speak of this often with my kids.  I expect them to make the right decisions.  I hope I don’t nag (they might argue that I do).  But I do expect that they will carry on their practice of faith as they go to college.  My daughter is one of the leaders at her Christian Student Ministry.  My son has already been making plans of his own to be involved in a particular Christian ministry on his campus and looks forward to finding a church in his college town.

I hope you find these helpful as you aim to rear children to become spiritual adults.

Special Note:  I am dedicating this post to my very special wife, Stefanie Faulls.  Most of the credit for rearing children who love God simply must go to her.  She is amazing and deserves most of the credit for impacting our kids for Christ.

Question:  What are suggestions you would add to this list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I have often seen my Summers as times to prepare for the coming year.  It is a great time for your personal pace to change for a short period as you prepare to launch into another cycle on the calendar.

Preparing For The Coming Year

Preparing For The Coming Year

Sure, I know, it is New Years that typically gets all the press for another year beginning.  But the truth is most young families see the start of the school year in August to be the real launch of a new year.  The kids are all entering a new grade of school, you are buying them a new wardrobe for the year, it is time to get back to class, back to the normal routine, and back to a new year at church.

That is why your Summer is a great time spiritually and organizationally to prepare for the coming year.  I find, for me, the Summer is an intense time of preparation.  In some ways things slow down for me, but in other ways my work intensifies.

Where my work intensifies is in the area of preparation.  Currently I am on a month long Study Rotation.  Most Pastor’s call this a “Study Break.”  But I hardly take a break during this time.  In fact in the area of preparation I work more strenuously during these weeks than perhaps any other season.  I read, research, write, and plan for my teaching, preaching, and leadership for the next year.

All of us can use our Summer to spiritually and practically plan for the coming months.  Here are a few ways you can use your Summer to prepare…

  1. Regain your spiritual focus.  This can be a great time to get back in the Scriptures and drink deeply from God’s Word as you prepare your heart to follow the Lord into another year.  When I was 18 years old and gearing up to go to college, I used the Summer to read the entire New Testament.  I read three chapters a day for three months.  When I started school, the Word of God was fresh on my heart and mind.  It prepared me to see God’s handiwork all around me.  Last Summer I read the entire Bible in just six weeks.  Talk about an immersion.  Not everyone can do that, but I am telling you it impacted me deeply.  This Summer I have been reading and re-reading 1 Peter in preparation for a series I will preach in the Fall.  I am seeing things I have never before seen and truly sense God speaking to me about the spiritual future of the people of our congregation.
  2. Evaluate your previous year.  Every year at this time I do a lot of reflecting on my previous year.  To be honest this one can be painful.  Even when my year has been filled with successes, I most always have some regrets where I believe I missed an opportunity or dropped a ball.  But as painful as this process can be, it is so helpful in planning for the next year.  If I am honest about things that need improvement, then I am more prepared to make a bigger impact in the year to come.
  3. Set some goals and make some plans.  This is what I am in the process of doing now.  Those goals and plans include several areas of my life.  Sure they involve my job and career, but they also include ways I want to go to another level in my marriage, parenting, and personal development.  The biggest key to setting goals and making plans is to write them down and place the tasks on the calendar.  After that, roll up your sleeves and get started.  Action is the only way to get momentum toward the fulfillment of your plans.
  4. Get some rest and have some fun.  This is important.  I am still trying to learn this and have a long way to go.  As a workaholic by nature, I find this a serious challenge.  But it is vital.  There needs to be some decompress time in order to have a refreshed mind and soul for the coming year.  Recreation is all about being re-created into a more refreshed person.

Question:  What are ways that you use the Summer to get ready for the coming year?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Recently I blogged about how the changes we face can expand our lives.  I also posted about the fears we often encounter when we consider following God through a change.  Today I am going to share with you six principles for navigating change.

Navigating Change

Navigating Change

Many of you may be facing some changes that God is preparing for you to make.  My oldest son is preparing for his Freshman year of college.  He is facing big changes that will impact every area of his experience.  He knows these changes are of God and is thoughtful about how God wants to use him in this new chapter of his life.

You might be facing the need for change in your family, school, work, or ministry.  You might even be faced with the task of leading others through change.  By the way, leading others through change is one of life’s most difficult endeavors.  I have been spending all my adult life helping people navigate change.  It is tough stuff.

Let’s look at the Old Testament leader, Joshua, to learn principles for navigating change.  Joshua was the God called successor to Moses.  His task was to lead the people to cross the Jordan and conquer and inhabit the Promised Land.  It was a daunting task and would change everyone’s life.  They had to step out of the familiar, risk, and enter into the unknown.

Principles for navigating change.  (Joshua 1)

1. The purpose principle.  Ask the right question:  Is the change you see before you meant to fulfill the purposes of God?  When Joshua considered his task he saw that the change was God’s plan.  God even said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)  Is the change that is being made being done to do God’s will?  If so, move forward.

2. The trust principle.  If the change is of God and is for the fulfillment of his purpose, then it is your task to trust God and step ahead.  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)  What God calls you to do he will empower you to do.  Trust him.

3. The obedience principle.  When God calls you to do something and you are sure it is of God, then it becomes a matter of obedience.  The Lord told Joshua and the people, “be careful to obey all the law” and he said, “do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth…be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7-8)  For the people of God, success is obeying the Lord.

4. The courage principle.  Follow the command to be strong and courageous!  Over and over again God calls Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:9)  We must realize that doing this is a choice we make.  We say to children:  “Be a big boy or be a big girl.”  We are asking them to choose to be bolder and stronger.  This is a command and we choose to follow it or not.  God knew Joshua was afraid, that is why he gave this command.  He said, “Be tough, after all I will never leave you or forsake you.  What is there to fear with Me on your side.”  Obeying the courage command is key to navigating through change.  It can make the difference between being steady or panicked.  The courage principle is really all about starting with changing yourself.  Adapting to change is 100% about making the change on the inside.

5. The team principle.  When changing, it is good to do it as a team.  Many of you will face changes in the organization of your business, school, or even at church.  When such changes are happening, are you a team player in the change or are you simply a resister.  When Joshua led the people to take the Land, he called all the tribes to help each other secure their portions of the nation.  Everyone was to help everyone else.  Are you working to help the entire team navigate the change?  When an organization is going through change you can carry a bucket or a gas can.  When there is a fire (negative talk or gossip) you can choose to add fuel to the fire or to douse the flame.

6. The “Just Do It” principle.  Make the change.  With Joshua and the Israelites there came a moment when the people just decided to make the change.  They said, “wherever you send us we will go.” (Joshua 1:16)  Just do it!  Be a leader and navigate the change.  You will grow and gain, though the way may be full of twists and turns.

Question:  What change is God calling you into?  Which of these principles most encourages you in making the change?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

In a previous post I wrote about change being an opportunity to expand your life.  The problem is often we allow our fear to paralyze us from ever seizing such opportunities.  Change is guaranteed in life.  Why do we resist it?

Fear Of Change

I have always found the Old Testament hero, Joshua, inspiring.  God called him to face his fears and lead the people of Israel to invade and conquer the Promised Land.  I would encourage you to read of God’s call on Joshua. (Joshua 1)

This Old Testament man of God had several reasons to fear the changes into which he was to lead the people.

Consider the fears he might have experienced when he faced his life changing task…

  1. Fear of the unknown.  They had little battle experience.  There was a divine promise that they would gain the land, but there was not a promise that they would attain the land unscathed.  They would have to strive and fight.  They would have to risk and sacrifice.  Even when God promises us a victorious future, he also calls us to enter battles and face uncertainties.
  2. Fear for survival.  The enemy forces were intimidating.  Joshua and the people could have thought that they might lose the fight.  Sometimes change scares us because we fear that we will lose something and that our lives will be irreparably diminished.  Are there changes you are facing that make you fear that you will lose your position with others or the routine to which you have become accustomed?  As a leader of a church, I have often had the task of leading our organization through change.  Almost always, there are a few people who resist the change.  Usually they do because they fear the loss of something they are comfortable with.  Sometimes they fear losing a position they have enjoyed filling.  Often these fears are unfounded, though sometimes change does eliminate things they have come to love.  The only way to face such a fear is to trust that God has something else for you on the other side of the change.  It might be different, but God is bringing the change so that you will join him in a different adventure.
  3. Fear of failure.  He had witnessed a previous failure.  Forty years before the people refused to advance into the Promised Land.  Only Joshua and Caleb had spoken for obeying God at that time.  Often when we face changes our minds go back to times when we experienced painful failure.  Those failures of the past can be magnified in our minds paralyzing us from embracing the changes that could stretch us and expand our opportunities.  Beware of the fear of failure.  It just might keep you from one of the greatest successes of your life.
  4. Fear of inadequacy.  Joshua was following a legend.  Moses had led the people for four decades.  God had used his predecessor to free the people from Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and receive the Ten Commandments.  It would be difficult to fill Moses’ sandals.   He had not performed miracles.  Moses had, but Joshua had not.  He could have looked at his predecessor and said, “I can’t measure up to that.”  Had he let that fear grip him, he would have missed his calling.  I often look at a task for which God is calling and then compare myself with others who have done it.  It is easy to make such a comparison and feel inadequate.  But none of us should let that fear prevent us from moving forward.  Those same predecessors had the very same feelings of inadequacy that we are prone to have.  What made the difference for them?  They faced those fears down and moved forward anyway.  So can you and so can I!

It is so worth facing down your fears.  Why?  Because entering into the changes God call us into can have great benefits.

Consider the benefits Joshua would attain when pushing through his fears…

  1. Growth.  Because Joshua was willing to follow God through change, he grew to realize his calling and increase his responsibility.  When you follow God through changes in your life you grow.  Your understanding of God’s purpose for your life increases as your responsibilities in life increase.
  2. Gain.  Joshua would help the people attain the Promised Land.  All great achievements in life demand that you navigate through change.


Change can be frightening.  Kriegel and Brandt say, “Change is uncomfortable, unpredictable, and often seems unsafe.  It’s fraught with uncertainty and always looks harder than it is…Change brings us face-to-face with the unknown.”

But let’s not forget that change is our opportunity to face down our fears, stretch our faith, and reach for something more.

Question:  What fears grip you when you face change?  Why should you push through that change to follow God’s call into something new?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I heard someone once say, “Work on yourself more than your job.”  The statement intrigued me.  At first the statement sounds all wrong, but it is good advice.

Work On Yourself

Work On Yourself

You have probably heard the wise saying, “Work smart, not hard.”  There are times when we don’t seem to be getting where we want to go in life so we just try harder.  Unfortunately, often that only leaves us further behind.  Why?

Because sometimes doing more of the same doesn’t get us where we want or feel called to go.  Those are times when we need to change our strategy.

What is it that God has put on your heart to do or become?  Is it to…

  1. Get promoted in your business?
  2. Make your company more profitable?
  3. Become a more loving spouse?
  4. Become a more attentive parent?
  5. Develop the ability to influence others spiritually?
  6. Overcome a troublesome habit or addiction?
  7. Breakthrough the bondage of past hurts and hang-ups?

What does it take to accomplish these things?  You have to work on yourself.  You have to become a better business person, learn what it takes to advance in your market, discover new ways you can love your spouse or kids, carve out more time for your relationship with God, or get wise counsel and accountability to overcome hurts from your past.

When I counsel people, I often ask if they have ever flown on an airplane.  On most occasions they have said that they have.  I remind them of the safety instructions the Flight Attendant gives at the beginning of the flight.  In those instructions they always tell you, in the event cabin pressure is lost, oxygen masks will drop from the cabinet above.  Then they give you instructions that seem counter intuitive.

They say, if there is someone next to you that has need of assistance, first put on your mask, then help them put on theirs.  But we say, what if that person beside me is my child, or spouse?  Wouldn’t I want to take care of them first?


Why?  Because how can you help them if you do not have the oxygen you need?  If you pass out, how can you be any good to them?

If you want to serve others in your business better than you have, you will need to work on your skills, knowledge, and strategies so you can become more valuable to them.

If you want to learn how to love your spouse and kids better, you are going to have to work on those things in your life that distract you from making the loving investment you want to make.

If you are going to be a healthy example to others, you are going to need to get honest and get help to deal with those hurts and addictions that haunt your life at every step.

Jesus said it best when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)  How can you love your neighbor in a generous way if you don’t know how to love yourself as God loves you?  We can only give to others what we have ourselves.

Do you want to go to the next level spiritually, relationally, or vocationally?  Then start working on yourself.  You will improve and so will your impact.

Question:  So what kind of investment do you need to make in yourself so that you can contribute more to the lives of others?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Focus Of War

June 18, 2014 — 2 Comments

Last week my daughter and I sat down for lunch with a long time friend and high ranking Navy Chaplain.  In our conversation we talked about the power of war to bring focus to a team.  One insight emerged that surprised me.

The Focus of War

The Focus of War

Over the past thirteen years my friend has seen a lot as our country has experienced conflicts around the world.  He has prayed with people at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks, ministered to war weary soldiers in two tours in the Middle East, and most recently served a mission in a small country in Africa.

The first two tours were in the midst of war, but the last was not.  It was more diplomatic in nature.  I said to my friend, “I imagine that this past mission was far less stressful since you were not in the midst of military conflict.”  But he explained that actually it was far more stressful.

I was surprised by his answer.  How could that be?

He explained that war has a way of clarifying the objective, focusing teams, and unifying diverse people.  When such a potent objective is not operative it is easy for more distracting agendas to take shape.

My friend was in no way saying that war was better.  He is all too acquainted with the horrors of war.  He would rather peace prevail.  He was only observing that a common threat, or a powerful objective, truly brings out the best in people who realize they must work as a team.

That got me thinking.  In my own organization, our local church, I too have observed that our congregation has been at its’ best when we have faced a big problem.  We have had more energy, more intense momentum, greater unity, and more focused love for one another when we have been clear on our mission and together engaged a great challenge.

When we kept before us that lost people matter to God and that we needed to be the ones who reached those people for Christ, we rallied, sacrificed, set aside our differences, and did bold things to impact people with the gospel.  But the times when we lost that clear focus, we became apathetic, less committed, and often found other things to be conflicted about.

My conversation with my Chaplain friend reminded me that being clear on our mission as Christians is vital to our success in that mission.  We need to see that serving the Lord and advancing his gospel really is life or death for people.  We need to awaken to the fact that the church really is the hope of the world and it is imperative that believers come together to extend that hope to the people of our communities and the nations.

So if you are leading a team, a Bible Study group, a ministry, or a church, be clear on the mission and what is at stake in people’s lives.  Keep that mission before your people and urge them to join you in coming together for a common purpose.

When you do, you will see greater unity, commitment, and sacrifice in your team.  You will see more clearly opportunities and your faith in an eventual victory will rise.

Question:  How have you seen this principle play out in your life, family, business, or church?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.