Friday, December 31, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed?

I'm noticing a pattern for myself:

I have so many things I want to do that I'm overwhelmed, and don't get very much of any of them completed. The temptation to "go do something else" (usually not as hard) is very strong.

(I thought I'd share it here in hopes it's a helpful observation for you.)

Here's a hypothesis: I feel the overwhelm because I lack confidence in my planning. I feel the overwhelm because of fears (looking foolish, getting into 'unsafe' territory, fear of failure, etc.). I feel...

Hey, maybe that's at the heart of the issue? I'm focusing too much on my feelings!

What about you?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Defining Spiritual Leadership

Excellent thoughts here from David Murray about spiritual leadership. I've recently been rereading Oswald Sanders' Spiritual Leadership and this hit home as well.

I like Joel Beeke's definition: "Spiritual leadership is moving people by biblical means, in dependency upon the Holy Spirit, to do God's will." Here's my own: "A Christian leader serves God and His people by exemplifying godly character and conduct; by communicating God's Word to everyone with wisdom and love; by excelling in vocational responsibilities; by uniting, equipping and inspiring God's people for worship and works of service; and by preparing them for eternal life." It's a bit of a mouthful and probably still doesn't cover all the bases. Let me expound it a little.

1. He serves God and His people

The Christian leader sees himself primarily as a servant not a ruler. And he is a servant of God first, then of His people.

2. He exemplifies godly character and conduct

The internal life comes first. Without a Christ-like core, everything else will eventually decay and rot. But character does issue in external conduct. Modeling holiness of life is perhaps the most powerful and yet most neglected element of spiritual leadership.

3. He communicates God's Word

Christian leaders read and study God's Word in order to communicate it wisely and lovingly to Christian and non-Christian alike, as opportunity arises. He is concerned to speak God's Word more than his own and to make sure all his own are consistent with God's.

4. He excels in vocational responsibilities

He does not over-spiritualize leadership by thinking that prayer and Bible study will cover a multitude of incompetencies and inefficiencies in everyday life. He recognizes his duty to be organized, to be efficient, to keep appointments, to prepare for meetings, to inspire trust and respect by wise financial stewardship, etc.

5. He unites, equips, and inspires God's people for worship

He unites God's people in thoughtful, orderly, reverent and Word-centered worship. But He also leads and directs worship so that it reaches and inspires the heart and the emotions. Like the Father, he wants worship to be full of Truth and Spirit.

6. He equips and inspires God's people for works of service

While prioritizing worship, he also teaches, trains, organizes, and enables God's people to serve Him, His Church, and His World as their talents and opportunities permit.

7. He prepares God's people for eternal life

Eternity is ever before him. However busy his life or his church's life, however much he and God's people serve here below, the spiritual leader is ever mindful that all this is all-too short preparation for the long world to come.


Monday, December 27, 2010

When Fathers Go to Church...

This study seems consistent with my observation -- when fathers attend church regularly, their adult children are much more likely to be regular worshippers.

Here's an excerpt:

"In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society."

Read the whole essay.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fathers and Sons

The first part of this video is from the terrific film "Secondhand Lions"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kill Kids by Destroying Their Imagination

Haven't read it, but the theme sounds excellent. Dad's need to pay attention to these issues for our children and grandchildren.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Studying Books -- the New Old Mantra

New mantra for men: it's not enough to read. You must study.

I wrote earlier this week lamenting that men weren't readers. Ok. I'm not going to whine or cajole or plead. I will call you to a high standard, and challenge you to step up to your God-given responsibilities and challenges.

Simply passing your eyeballs over the pages of a book will not do. Invest yourself into books (that are worth it) and study, in order to strengthen your mind and thinking.

Some suggestions for study:

1. Select good book, challenging books -- the ones that help you become a better man, husband, father, leader.

2. Write the month and date you start reading a book inside the cover. You'll be amazed when you come back to books later and see how God brought that into your life at that time for a reason.

3. Read in 2 or 3 books at a time. You're less likely to get bored, and the cross-fertilization of ideas and disciplines will turbocharge your learning.

4. Write in your books. Really mark 'em up, make 'em yours. Studying means reading with pen in hand and interacting with the text.

5. Plan to pass along the best material you find, with an explanation of why you recommend it. This forces you to summarize the key ideas and place the book in the context of other books, topics, etc.

Study, men.

I have a whole course on learning faster, if you're interested.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

3 Steps Forward -- Fit in Hard Thinking in Your Busy Schedule

I know you're scrambling, busy with MANY things going simultaneously. It's difficult to write, create, think clearly about complex problems, and complete projects.

Here's a three-step process towards being more fruitful (meaning, creating value for yourself and others):

1. Print off this article:
"Getting Creative Things Done: How to Fit Hard Thinking Into a Busy Schedule"

2. Read it, study it.

3. Get your calendar out and start implementing this strategy.

Start on step 1 now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lion Chaser's Manifesto

I have this on my bathroom mirror and read it regularly. I commend it to you!

Lion Chaser's Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

(Mark Batterson)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Men, But Not Readers

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who cant read them." - Mark Twain

Why is that so few men read books?

There are lists of recommended books (here's one from The "art of manliness" website -- takes a while to load all the pictures...hmmm... maybe that tells us something about men?).

Perhaps we're too easily distracted by things which are less work than reading.

Perhaps we think we've done all our reading in school.

Perhaps we're just lazy.

My counsel: buck the trends, be a man who reads.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Parenting: Preparation, Persistence, and Prayer

I recommend Rebecca Hagelin's short article, "The Myth of Experts." We dads (less so than moms) are inundated with how-to information on parenting from 'experts,' with the net effect that our confidence in how to parent is being rattled left and right.

An excerpt:

"It takes three basic stones to build the foundation for raising a child of character —preparation, persistence, and prayer.

First, prepare for the journey of raising a child (or if you are starting late, a teen) by having a vision for him or her. My young friend’s parenting confusion, like so many parents I hear from, stems from the dizzying number of child-rearing theories thrown at her that have one thing in common: mom isn’t good or smart enough to figure it out herself. The first step is simple: shut out the experts and focus on the kind of young woman you want your daughter to become. Keeping that vision in mind, it becomes much easier to know who should be shaping her heart and what type of relationships will give her life meaning. Our vision for the adults our children will become offers a coherent set of principles and values that will guide our childrearing.

Secondly, be persistent in holding onto that vision no matter what the culture throws at you. Part of never giving up means finding allies in the battle. Identify others you trust – mentors, if you will – who have been there before; and people in your faith group who will enforce what you are teaching at home. Surround yourself with people who understand that it is God who chose you to be the father of that particular son.

Third, but most importantly, pray for your child and for your own wisdom in parenting. A humble heart before our God opens our ears to hear His guidance. Pray for a heart that will love unconditionally—and then practice the virtues that express that love: generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

If You Could Get Some Leadership Coaching...

I believe God is calling me to do more to develop the next generations of leaders. I'm curious for your input: if the best possible leadership coaching were available to you on an ongoing basis,

What would you learn more about?
How would you like to interact?
What would be different than your current situation?

Comment or email me, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Don't Make This Choice

Men, I have a gut-level truth for you to process today:

We choose to procrastinate.

No one makes us procrastinate. No circumstances compel us to procrastinate. There's no one else to blame. We get to make choices in how to spend our time, our energy, and the focus of our thinking.

If you procrastinate, it's because you choose to.

Don't like it? Make a different choice.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A New Definition for M & M's

I recommend this talk about effective work, from Jason Fried. (And his book, Re-work.) Prepare to be jolted. You'll find a whole new definition for M & Ms.

Why do I post this on a blog for husbands and fathers? First, most of you are working in some environment where you experience interruptions. Second, you're in leadership roles -- and leaders need to always be thinking about effectiveness. Third, this might spark some thoughts about how you manage your family time and relationships.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How Jesus Dealt with Legalists Outside the Kingdom

One of the great persistent dangers for the Church is legalism. In several letters, Paul dealt with legalism inside the churches. Here let's look at a time when Jesus dealt with rabbinical legalism.

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother' and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.”

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt 15:1-13, emphasis added)

This quote from Isaiah 19:13 is an excellent summary of legalism, isn't it?

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.”

God wants our words to be authentic expression of love from our hearts, which are (through His power) close to Him. And we are not to teach "merely human rules," but the commandments of God.

Jesus commandment to the disciples is simple: "Leave them" (the ESV has it "Let them alone"). Don't seek them out for confrontation. Don't follow them. Don't participate with them, but leave them behind as we follow Jesus.

Please note that Jesus didn't go after the Pharisees unless they came to him first and confronted Him. He didn't campaign against them or seek them out. And I believe the disciples got the instruction clearly because we never see the disciples going after the rabbinical leaders to confront them.

(By the way, verse 12 has to be one of the funniest verses in the Bible.)