Life is Not a Marathon!

April 13, 2017 in Leaders Tips Videos
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I’ve been told that life is a marathon, but I don’t think it’s true. Here’s a better way to think about your race.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon?” I’ve heard that often and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is actually not true. While it is good to take a long term perspective, I think it is a very important thing to do, the truth is life is more like a series of sprints that are broken up by periods of rest than it is a marathon.

When you think about life being a marathon, or have a marathon mindset, the idea is you just keep going, you don’t quit, you just keep going and going and going. And I think that can be a recipe for burnout and ultimately for ineffectiveness. Rather than that, think in term of a series of sprints.

Rather than setting an annual goal or a five year goal or something like that, think in terms of twelve week goals. Twelve weeks is long enough that you can get some substantial things done but short enough that you can stay focused, work hard, and when it is done, step back and take a break.

We’re designed for that combination of push and rest, stretch and release. You know if you work out, you work hard and then you have to give your body some recovery time. That’s kind of the way life is organized, kind of the way life is made. Push hard and then rest, push hard and then rest. Even within a single day, think of it as series of sprints.

Break it up into smaller chunks where you work hard and focus, you press in, then you step back and take a break. You take a break and go for a walk, or even a nap, something like that. Then you come back and press hard again. Structuring your time that way, and approaching life that way, as a series of sprints rather than a marathon; studies have shown you’ll actually get more done that way than if you work straight through. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest.

The reality is life is not a marathon, even though it lasts a long time. A series of sprints, broken up by rest, you’ll get more done, faster, with higher quality. So try it and let me know how it goes.

The Circle Maker

April 9, 2017 in Pastor's Perspective
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I’ve read a lot of books on prayer over the years, but few have both encouraged and challenged me the way Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker has. While not a book on leadership, this is a book that every leader should read.

Obviously a book written by a practitioner, not a theorist, The Circle Maker is filled with insights that come from practice, as well as from pastoring people who are dealing with the real stuff of life as they are learning to pray. I’ve seen so many of these played out in the people I pastor! Here are just a few of the ones that struck me:

The importance of praying specifically: Often our prayers are so general, and so vague, that we have no idea if God has answered them or not. And, “we never know if the answers were the result of specific prayer or general coincidences that would have happened anyway”—so God doesn’t really receive the glory. And honestly, our faith that prayer makes a difference is actually undermined.

The importance of taking risks, and being willing to look foolish: You cannot build God’s reputation if you aren’t willing to risk yours. This is one of those truths I hate—I really don’t want to risk my reputation! But I have seen that that is the only way to position yourself for a miracle of any kind.

The blessings of God won’t just bless you; they will also complicate your life. Sin will complicate your life in negative ways. The blessings of God will complicate your life in positive ways. This is certainly true to my experience, but I think most of us aren’t clear on that. We somehow think God’s blessings should make our life easier—that it means everything will work out with no effort or stress on our part. And because we don’t understand that, we often miss out on giving thanks or even really embracing what God is doing. It’s a pernicious lie that the evidence of God’s favor is a stress-free, simple life.

One of the things that shows that this is written by a practitioner is the way unanswered prayers are addressed. “The hardest thing about praying hard is enduring unanswered prayers. If you don’t guard your heart, unresolved anger toward God can undermine faith.” I think every pastor has had to deal with people whose faith has been undermined because God didn’t answer their prayer, or answer it in the way they wanted. And then they became angry, or hurt, or cynical, and often turned away from God. It’s sad, but not uncommon.

As pastors we have to be able to deal with that—to give an answer, or a perspective, that makes sense and can help people over the hump.

I’m challenged to pray bigger prayers, and persist in them. What was your reaction to The Circle Maker? Share your thoughts—I’d love to hear them.


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Captivology

March 27, 2017 in Pastor's Perspective
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Captivology was a challenging book for me. On the one hand, I totally agree with the premise of the book—that we should be aware of the things that capture people’s attention, and use those things to get our message across. I think that’s what good speakers, and good leaders, naturally do.

On the other hand, I am also very aware of how those things can be used to manipulate people. Honestly, there is nothing that can be done about that; I can’t control what other people do. But I can seek to be wise, and act with integrity, in my own use.

It was interesting to me that there are different things that capture people’s short or long-range attention. (more…)

The Ideal Team Player

March 13, 2017 in Pastor's Perspective
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I can’t remember ever having a conversation with a pastor on the topic of building teams. I’ve had lots of conversations about hiring staff, and recruiting volunteers, but not any about putting together a great team, and what is needed for that to happen.

The Ideal Team Player touches on some helpful aspects of that topic. Lencioni really focuses in on character qualities, as opposed to focusing on skills or talents. Not the traditional ones you will find churches talking about, like the character qualities needed to be an elder, but the ones that make someone a good team player. They are different. You can be a person of good character—honest, devout, faithful to your spouse, etc.—and not be a good team player. (more…)

Saving Time or Spending Time?

February 28, 2017 in Leaders Tips Videos
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Focusing on saving time isn’t the best way to manage your time. Here’s a better approach.

Video Transcript

This week’s Leaders Tip is about time management. Most of us when we approach time management think of it from a standpoint of “How can I save time? How can I get things done faster or cut corners so that at the end of the day I’ve got time left for other things I want to do?” (more…)

The Most Excellent Way to Lead

February 27, 2017 in Pastor's Perspective
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I really enjoyed The Most Excellent Way to Lead, mostly because it brings a fresh approach to looking at leadership. That’s ironic, because talking about love shouldn’t be unusual. But in terms of leadership, it’s seldom a focus. I can remember maybe 2-3 books that touch on this in some way, but that’s about it.

Noble really gets at the heart of leadership, or maybe better to say, the heart of the leader. Especially in the church, a leader’s motivation above all should be love for his/her people. Unfortunately, even in the church our motivations can be for lesser reasons—ego, desire for power or attention, competition, etc. (more…)

Essentialism

February 16, 2017 in Pastor's Perspective
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I loved Essentialism! I think the concepts outlined in this book could be life-changing for many people I know. As I read it, I realized I have been on a journey in that direction for a while, but had never identified it so clearly.

I think identifying that thing, or those few things, that are truly essential is one of the most powerful steps any person can take to improve their life. There is a peace that comes with that kind of focus that doesn’t really come any other way. And it provides an antidote for the crazy-busy lifestyle that many of us have bought into.

It’s actually hard to limit myself to only one or two things—this is a book (more…)