YOU WON’T DRIFT TOWARD SUCCESS

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In October of this year I had the privilege of attending the Global Leadership Summit in Montego Bay Jamaica. Bill Hybels and team provide some great teaching and tools while the people at Jamaica Link Ministries do a nice job with the video venue.

Unfortunately, the afternoon of the second day of the conference was interrupted by word that my dad was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I spent time on the phone with my mom and with doctors. I was physically in Jamaica, but my mind was elsewhere. As the conference came to a close I headed toward The Strip and the airport. I didn’t know whether I should catch the next flight out or go get a bite to eat. I was driving along when I heard honking somewhere behind me. I turned to see what was going on and unknowingly drifted towards the curb. Seconds after I hit it I had a flat tire. I was able to pull over to survey the damage only to realize that there were actually TWO flat tires. When I lost focus on where I was going, I ended up somewhere I didn’t want to be.

The good news is that the people at the rental agency quickly got my car fixed and after two nights in the hospital, Dad was doing better and was released.

In the week prior to drifting into the curb, something had been on my mind. It was the idea that we don’t often, if ever, accidentally end up where we want to be in life. We have to know where we are trying to go and get there on purpose.

That night that I wrecked those tires, I didn’t know exactly where I was going. There were a variety of thoughts in my head and a variety of emotions that I was experiencing. Then, when a distraction came in the form of a car horn, something extremely common while driving in Jamaica, I ended up blowing my tires and stalled out beside the road.

Distractions are all around us and come in a variety of forms, many of them in and of themselves aren’t bad. A person with a goal of remodeling a couple of rooms in their house may end up distracted by the busyness of life with kids. A person working on finishing a college degree may get distracted by projects at work. Someone looking to launch a new business could be distracted by a favorite series on Netflix. There will be distractions, but if we know where we are going, we can make the necessary corrections and get back on track.

The start of a new year is just over a month away and new years are a great time to course correct. What if, instead of throwing out random resolutions for the next year, you were to come up with some real goals? Then, after identifying those goals, come up with a plan to accomplish them. For example, maybe your goal is to get a promotion by the end of the year. If that is your goal, say it. Then, come up with some steps that will move you towards your goal.

Maybe its time to create some bigger life goals.  For example, Eve and I have a goal of equipping our kids to pursue the career/interests that they believe God has for them by the the time they leave our home.  A few things that we are doing to help with this are: encouraging them to dream, encouraging them to discuss their dreams, looking for opportunities to be around others who are doing what they dream of doing.  In Micah’s case, he has a dream of being a helicopter pilot so we are working to get him resources to begin learning about it now.  The point is, this is a goal that will take place over the next 9 years.

If you are one of the many people that hasn’t had the privilege of being shown how to set effective goals, please allow me to share a couple of resources with you. Michael Hyatt has covered the topic more than once.  The Beginners Guide to Goal Setting is a blog he did to help understand how to set goals (https://michaelhyatt.com/goal-setting.html).  If you would rather listen to someone explain goal setting, Michael Hyatt does that in his “Goal Setting for Beginners” podcast (https://michaelhyatt.com/season-4-episode-08-goal-setting-for-beginners-podcast.html).

What do you want to accomplish? If you haven’t identified that, you will never accomplish it. We don’t drift towards success.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

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It has been a crazy seven days since the presidential elections here in the US. During that time I realized these 5 leadership lessons.

Cast a Clear & Compelling Vision

As Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 his mantra was “Hope” and “Change” I still remember it. He was casting a vision bigger than any one person could accomplish on their own. He was casting a vision of a better tomorrow, he was selling “hope”.

This year Donald Trump provide his own rallying cry: Make America Great Again. The American people have the opportunity to make things better in our great country by simply voting for Mr Trump to become president. By simply voting they would be part of something they could never accomplish on their own.

In both of these cases, these men had clear statements about what they wanted to accomplish. As a leader is it clear what you are trying to accomplish? If it’s clear, is it also a vision that people want to get behind? You need call people to a vision that is bigger than they are.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All of the Time

It happens every election year, a person gets elected to the role of president and half of the people they will represent didn’t want them there. This is true of any election I can remember. There was a group of people pulling for the Senior George Bush as he ran against Bill Clinton and loss that was none to happy to see Clinton elected. A lot of people wanted Al Gore to be president when George Bush was initially elected in 2000. When John McCain was defeated by Barack Obama there was again a group of people that were upset. 2016 is no different as we see some very upset Clinton supporters; upset because Donald Trump was chosen to be our next president.

A leader has to lead. When we do, some people may not like the direction that we are moving. Unfortunately for those of us who are people pleasers, that makes this hard. It can be hard knowing that the stand we are taking is going to upset some people. Leaders have to be willing to stand for something and work hard to achieve it.

Our Words Have Consequences

A lot is said by all involved in the election season in the months leading up to the elections. Sometimes those words are taken out of context, but other times we say things that truly should not have been said. Proverbs 18:21 says that, “The tongue can bring death or life”. There are very few people, including kids, who haven’t heard about president-elect Trump’s “build a wall” statement. Unfortunately, some are reportedly using those words as an excuse to treat others in a way that is completely unacceptable.

What we say matters. It doesn’t mean that we don’t say anything. We do, however, have to remember that our words have power.

We Need To Lead At Home

As I listen to the news and read social media feeds, I can’t help but think that we, as parents, need to be leading at home. While I haven’t witnessed the nasty racial comments or actions first hand in the schools, I am told that many are. I blame the adults. Its true that the president is a very powerful individual, but he/she is not raising my kids. That is my responsibility as their dad and my wife’s responsibility as their mom. We need to teach my kids what they can/can’t say, yes, but more importantly we need to teach our kids that every life is valuable. We need to model treating people with respect. We need to reinforce the need to treat people lovingly. We need to correct our kids when they say or do something inappropriate. This isn’t the president job. This is our job as parents.

One of the things that we did in our house was to have conversations about what our kids were seeing in schools. We’ve done this before, but believed this was a good time to do it again.

Nothing Is Truly Private. Integrity Matters

During this election the reality that nothing is truly private has been repeatedly reinforced. One of the hot buttons in the election was emails through an unsecured server. Another sticking point was things said by Donald Trump in a conversation with a reporter, a conversation that was allegedly private. There were others, but those are a couple examples. It reminds me of Jesus’ words when he said, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open…” (Luke 8:17).

As leaders, and as people in general, we need to remember that integrity matters, character matters. I’ve heard character defined as what we do when we don’t thing anyone is looking. What we do in private matters.

My goal in this post is not to stir up political debate. There is plenty of that out there already. Instead, I am looking for what we can learn from the situation. What can we apply to our lives to make a real difference?

It is true, in my opinion, that the President of the United States of America is one of the most powerful people in the country. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us are powerless. We have the ability to make a difference. I hope that my takeaways will better prepare you to do just that.

YOU NEED A BREAK

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I am struggling with something and decided to be transparent. It’s not that I’m cheating on my wife (with porn or otherwise), stealing from my employers, or abusing my children, but it can have a negative impact on all of those relationships. I have a hard time making time to rest.

This isn’t something that just snuck up on me. I’ve known it for a while. But during my September trip to Jamaica, I started realizing it. I realized that I had worked all week and was planning to work through the weekend and on through the following week. I started to think that this can’t be physically or relationally healthy and on top of that, it goes against God’s example (on the seventh day He rested) and instruction (Exodus 20:8 – 10 Commandments).

The need for rest was brought up several days later as I read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. The truth is, it showed up in a couple of things I was reading and in some things I was listening to. When I begin hearing a similar message over and over in my life, I figure that it is time for me to listen.

Over the past six weeks or so I have tried to be intentional about resting and the biggest change I have made is to take a 24 hour period and relax. For me, the best time to do this seems to be from Friday evening until Saturday evening. It was important for me to realize that I didn’t need to do midnight to midnight.

I don’t enjoy just sitting and doing nothing. Unlike many men, I don’t have a nothing box that I can mentally go into and become oblivious to the world. Its just not how God made me. Because of that, a day of rest sounded anything but refreshing. Then, I heard an idea that made sense. That person stated that it wasn’t the idea of doing nothing, but of recharging by doing things that energize and refresh you. I can do that. Some of the things that I have done include watching football, watching a movie, hanging out at Starbucks, reading a book, writing, and listening to a speaker I want to hear from.

One of the side affects of this 24 hour rest period has been that I have more energy during the week. Doing things that energize me outside of work AND having more energy to get things done during the week…I’ll take that!

Here are the 3 steps I recommend to take as you prepare for a weekly break:
1. Identify some things that you would like to do, for fun, if you had the time. Write them down.
2. Pick a 24 hour period and give it a shot.
3. Hold yourself accountable to doing this by writing down your goal or telling someone.

A final piece of advice: don’t be overly rigid. I had something come up a couple of weeks back that was time sensitive. It had to be handled during my rest day. I was intentional about addressing that task and quickly going back to the recharging activity I had been doing. At the end of the day, I still felt really good.

For me, it’s only been six weeks. I’m not an expert on resting yet by any means, but I want to challenge you to try it. I think you’ll appreciate it.

HOW YOU TREAT PEOPLE MATTERS

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As I write this I am sitting on an airplane headed for Jamaica with my family. I can’t wait to be there! We will get to see some friends as well as visit the Deeside Campus of The Rescue Church. And when you think that it couldn’t get any better, we will get to spend some time in the ocean. Can’t wait!

Let me start by sharing a couple of highlights from the trip so far…

…We were less than 30 minutes from home and our Expedition began acting up. Not sure if it was the heat or if it was some maintenance I have been putting off, but either way, we turned around and went home. After grabbing two cars (we couldn’t all fit in one), we were on our way…again…about 2 hours behind schedule.

…We arrived at the Minneapolis Bloomington West LaQuinta Inn where we were doing Park N Fly. Unfortunately, they only allow you to leave 1 vehicle per room. Additional vehicles can be left…for a fee. Thankfully, after hearing why we had 2 vehicles, they agreed to allow us to leave it for free.

…As we arrived at the airport for our flight, we learned that our flight would be leaving late. That meant that we would likely not make our Jamaica connection. However, we were told that they had been notified that Southwest was holding the flight on our behalf. To make it better, when we eventually arrived at our plane, they had held 6 seats together because we had our children with us. Great service! I highly recommend Southwest!

As I reflect on our trip, I am extremely thankful for the excellent service we have received from both LaQuinta Inn and Southwest Airlines. Here are 3 takeaways:

1. When you take care of people, they come back. We had an excellent experience with Southwest when Eve and I went to Jamaica in October 2015. She said that she wanted to use them again. When booking this time, we drove 4 hours to the Minneapolis Metro Area so that we could fly with Southwest again. We specifically didn’t use a different airline because of a similar flight delay where they gave our seats away despite us being at the gate before they finished boarding.

2. When you take care of people, they talk. The reality is, people will talk if you do a great job taking care of them or a terrible job taking care of them. After our great experiences, I got on social media and shouted out my appreciation.

3. You can choose how to respond to challenging situations. Southwest could have told us that we were out of luck. LaQuinta could have had more money and significantly increased their short term profits. In both cases, they chose to go above and beyond what they needed to do.

Regardless of where you work, play or serve, you can make a positive impact on the lives of those around you.

 

PLEASE NOTE: I will be using my blog to post updates during this trip (if all goes well and I have access to the internet). There will be updates as to what God is doing at the Deeside Campus of The Rescue Church, including the weekend experience, VBS and the Care House (www.trccarehouse.com). There may even be some updates from a beach somewhere. I hope that you will check back regularly over these next 10 days.

5 TAKEAWAYS FROM MY TRIP TO JAMAICA

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As I write this I am sitting on a plane returning from a 4 day trip to Jamaica. I am blessed to be able to visit Jamaica multiple times each year and have a number of great friends there. And I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy even a quick trip to the ocean.

While I was in Jamaica, some things jumped out at me and I thought I would give you a glimpse into my latest trip.

Make time to learn. One of the main purposes of this trip was to be part of a Pastor/Church Leader Round Table event in Montego Bay Jamaica. Seventeen of us met at Fairhaven in Montego Bay to learn from each other. That means that each of us took time away from what we would normally have been doing to learn from each other. It was our third time doing one of these events and we addressed real life issues that people were encountering. I was encouraged to hear from multiple people that this was our best event yet.

Look for opportunities. On this trip I have had a couple of unplanned opportunities. One of those opportunities was to meet a lady and her daughter who were traveling to Jamaica on a trip granted by Make A Wish. On the 2 and a half hour flight I was able to get to know a little about their story and offer a little encouragement. Truthfully, I had planned on getting some computer work done during that flight but instead had this opportunity to offer some encouragement, answer some questions, provide some resources and help calm her extreme fear of flying.

Another opportunity that I hadn’t planned on was a connection with a gentleman from an organization based in the US that is doing some similar things to what The Rescue Church does. We were able to learn some from them as well as make a contact to learn from in the future.

While in Jamaica we may have even found a future member of The Rescue Church team. Time will tell. Each of these opportunities presented themselves because we were looking for something we could learn or a contact we could meet.

Ministry shouldn’t be misery. I have heard from a number of people talk about being afraid to go into full time vocational ministry (i.e. Pastor, Missionary, etc). They are often afraid of what they will have to give up. I haven’t found that to be true at all. I love warm weather, palm trees, beaches and people. One question in my mind was why God didn’t move me to a city in the south as a pastor. Instead, I moved back to the place I thought I would get away from: South Dakota. In my mind I didn’t understand this, but God knew the big picture. He knew that he could keep me where my extended family was, and where I would have the chance to be part of a great Church with an exciting vision while allowing me to enjoy multiple times each year in the Caribbean. It certainly isn’t how I saw things coming together, but God knew I enjoyed warm weather, palm trees, beaches and people. After all, he created me this way and he did it for a purpose. His plan for me has some cold and snow in it, but it also includes some of what I dreamed of for myself.

You don’t have to be a pastor to have a ministry. For some reason we tend to think that if you are a pastor or missionary that you are the person God has commissioned with teaching others about Him. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Since I have know Candacia Vernon, she has had the desire to be a teacher and impact young lives. While on this trip, I had the opportunity to visit her in her classroom. Mrs. Vernon is wrapping up year one of teaching third graders in the public schools in Montego Bay and God is using her. She spoke of identifying a couple of students dealing with dyslexia and working with them to learn in a way that fit them. She is putting in extra time finding creative ways to teach subjects in a way that is fun for the students while helping them capture key principles. I couldn’t believe the number of students who said that math was their favorite subject. None of them even joked about recess or lunch being their favorite part of school. There were a couple of letters from students that I was shown in which they thanked Mrs. Vernon for the role she is playing in their lives. She is making a difference in the lives of these 3rd graders. (As a quick sidetone, she is also able to do a morning Bible study with her students each day despite being in a public school.)

Celebrate Successes. This is one of the most fun things that leaders get to do and throughout this Jamaica trip there have been plenty of things to celebrate. I’ve had the chance to contact people with congratulations regarding new opportunities. While at the school with Mrs Vernon it was fun to acknowledge her achieving the dream of being a teacher. There was an opportunity to congratulate a member of the team on his level of communication and leadership at the roundtable event. We were able to meet with part of the team at the Deeside Campus of The Rescue Church and celebrate what they are accomplishing through the Care House (www.trccarehouse.com). And these are just some of the successes and accomplishments. Let me challenge you, don’t forget to look for accomplishments and take time to celebrate them in front of others.

 

It was an exciting trip and I’m looking forward to the next one.

SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD…REALLY HARD

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You have had one of those tough times in life. Maybe you didn’t get into that college you planned to attend. Maybe an adoption fell through or an unborn child died. Maybe a friend or family member received a life altering medical diagnosis. Maybe you or your spouse was laid off or fired. Maybe your company went through a challenging time. Maybe your marriage is falling apart. The list could go on and on but you have undoubtedly had challenging times or will have them in the future.

I consider myself extremely blessed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience hard times. Currently I am at the beginning of one of those trying seasons. I’m going to be as transparent as possible for perspective. In the past 2 weeks a close family member has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Incurable Cancer. Earlier this week I was at an appointment with a person close to me where the “C” word was thrown out and a biopsy scheduled for next week. Those are just the ones that are in my immediate family. There are other friends and family around me who are going through some really tough times too (out of respect to them, I won’t share examples). In spite of all of that, I still have hope.

I’d like to offer some reasons why I’m going to be ok even though I’m entering a hard season. If you are going through a hard time, I hope that you find this encouraging. In his book Through The Eyes Of A Lion, Levi Lusko offers this piece of advice: “you must train for the trial you’re not yet in.”  If you aren’t currently experiencing a challenging season of life, let me encourage you even more to keep reading.

I have invested in friendships. The topic of friendships, healthy friendships, is worthy of an entire book, presentation or seminar, but I will try to shorten that to a couple of paragraphs.

(Sidetone: My wife is my closest friend. In a recent blog post, 6 Things That Help Keep My Marriage Going, I discussed how we have built that relationship so I won’t spend a lot of time on that here.)

This isn’t an area that I have always done well in. It is true that I love being around people and know quite a few people around the world, but that doesn’t mean that I have built strong friendships. My wife called me on this some years back. She does a great job of this. As an introvert, she doesn’t necessarily connect with as many people, but she had several very solid friendships; friends that knew her extremely well, asked each other the hard questions, and who supported each other during the hard times. Those types of friendships take work and Eve correctly identified that I wasn’t putting in the work to build those relationships.

In the times since then I have worked to build some strong friendships. That has meant giving time to this. I have had to share more than surface level information and be vulnerable. Those relationships couldn’t just be about me investing in them. I had to allow them to invest in me and to know about me. Those friendships take effort, but they are worth it. As I started to get the news of these past 10 days, I had people I was able to contact and with whom I could share what was going on in my head. Those people were willing to help in any way I needed and to offer insight on what this season looked like for those who had been through it. To have that support was critical.

I have spent time reading. Books are vital to growth and preparation for the future. Books, blogs, podcasts, etc provide an opportunity for me to learn from others. I get the benefit of the experiences of people I will likely never know.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Levi Lusko speak. He spoke about the pain of losing his 5 year old daughter on December 20, 2012. That prompted me to listen to him on You Tube and then to purchase his book: Through The Eyes Of A Lion. There are a number of great nuggets I took from that book and can refer to in Evernote.

A couple of years ago I learned about a book where the author spoke about his great personal loss and what it was like to go through that. I wrote it down as a book that I wanted to read in the future and ended up reading it last year. In his book, A Grace Disguised, Jerry Sittser shares the pain of losing his child, his wife and his mom in a car accident where he was the driver. He shares about the anger and the numbness he felt He talks about the years following and how he got through it. He also shares how the lessons he learn relate to the painful experiences others are going through.

In 2014 I read You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado. At the time there were people around me going through some painful experiences and this book caught my eye. After reading this I have given out a number of copies to people and recommended it to even more people. It is an easy read.

I’m part of of a great local church. I understand that as a pastor there I am biased, but I assure you, its true. As a result of being connected at The Rescue Church, I have people who are praying for my family and really care about us. There is not doubt in my mind that if I needed something, people from my church would do whatever they could to help.

This area is similar to friendships. The reason I know these people care is that I have invested in those relationships. We spend time together on Sunday mornings. We attend different meetings, conferences and events together. We serve together getting projects and tasks completed. We had spent time together building the relationships.

Let me encourage you, if you aren’t part of a great local church that cares about people, find one. Churches are made up of imperfect people, so it won’t be perfect, but it is still incredibly important that you are connected with one.

Most importantly to me, I have my Faith. I don’t know what your world view is, but I believe in a loving and just God; a God who not only created the universe but also cares deeply about me. He wants a relationship with me. He knows what it is to experience death and loss so he can relate to my paid. The Bible says that He is a loving father. In 1 Corinthians 15:57 it says, “But thank God! He gives us victory over death!” He has promised a life in Heaven beyond this life for those who have a personal relationship with Him. Is there any better hope than that?!

There is plenty that I don’t know. Maybe you have things that you would have added. I just wanted to share what I am experiencing in hopes that it might challenge you, encourage you, or prepare you. I truly believe that there are great days ahead!

4 PHONE APPS I DON’T WANT TO BE WITHOUT

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I love my smart phone. Unfortunately, this past week it simply decided to stop working. While I knew it was going to be an inconvenience, I didn’t realize how much of a hassle it would be. At the time I was thinking about the headache of dealing with the warranty and the waiting (patience is a virtue that God continues to develop in me). It ended up being so much more. For some a smart phone may be a toy but for me, I learned, it is a tool. If you give me a few minutes of your time, I will share some of the ways my iPhone makes my life easier. Not coincidentally, these are 4 of the apps that I missed the most when my phone quit working.

Nozbe:

Nozbe is a productivity app that uses the Getting Things Done model. It’s what I use to schedule what I need to get done. Nozbe syncs with my calendar so that my list of things to do are save on my calendar as well. I’m also able to email tasks to Nozbe for scheduling which is handy for things I need to do.

There is a free version of Nozbe and a paid version. While you can do as many tasks as you want in the free version, you can only schedule a limited number of projects. The paid version allows unlimited projects.

Nozbe syncs across devices. I have it on my iPad, iPhone and laptop.

Audible:
Leaders are learners and one of the best ways to learn is reading. That said, I don’t do a great job sitting down for extended periods of times to read. With Audible, an Amazon company, I purchase audiobooks that I can listen to on the Audible app on my phone. It allows me to make the most of time in the car, walking/excersizing, etc.

Audible has a couple of different subscription levels that include a book or two each month. You can also purchase more books at a discounted price. If you aren’t sure if you will like it or not, they provide a 30 day (free) trial that includes 1 free book.

My 2 favorite features are the ability to change the speed the book is read at and the satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return a book you don’t like for a credit to purchase a different book. I have only returned one book and it was an easy, no questions asked process. Occasionally the readers are reading the book slower than I would like to listen. I can speed up the reading to 1.25, 1.5, 2, 2.5, or 3 times. Most often I listen at 1.5 times.

Evernote:
Evernote is an app that I use to take notes. There is the ablility to create multiple notebooks in which I create the notes. For example, I am typing this blog post in my “Blog” folder in Evernote. I can then add searchable tags for reference at a later time. If I wanted to, I could scan a document into my note or clip from an website to save in the document.

Evernote syncs on my phone, iPad and laptop and I have only scratched the surface of what Evernote can do. Personally I use the free version, but there are 2 other variations that allow you to do even more and store more data.

All notes are searchable. You can even attach scanned documents or handwritten documents and those notes become searchable too.

I use Evernote regularly for several things. One of them is sermon notes. During sermons I type my notes in Evernote to review later. I have a “Reading” notebook that I use to keep track of books that I have read and want to read. Each book gets a note that I use to write highlights and takeaways to refer to later. There is a “Licenses & Memberships” notebook where I keep membership information from a variety of different places. For example, I have a note with my Marriott Rewards and another with a copy of my License to Preach. The options are numerous.

You Version:
You Version is the free Bible app from Life Church. It comes with way more versions of the Bible than I will ever use and reading plans about a multitude of topics.

This app has some great features. One of the greatest things about the You Version app (besides the fact that it is like having multiple Bibles in the palm of my hands) is that many versions have audio features. I’m able to listen to it at a variety of speeds. I can also highlight verses that catch my attention or copy verses to my Evernote in my “Bible Reading” notebook that I use to journal about things I have learned during my Bible reading.

These are just 4 of the apps that I rely on daily. It doesn’t even include the headache of not being able to make/receive phone calls or send and receive text messages. (Who knows how many text messages didn’t get seen or answered while waiting for my replacement phone.)

Technology, including smart phones, can get in the way of important things. It can also be used as a tool to help us learn and be more productive. I hope that you will find at least one of the apps mentioned in the blog helpful.

6 THINGS THAT HELP KEEP MY MARRIAGE GOING

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Marriage isn’t easy. Anyone that tells you it is either isn’t married or is a liar. Don’t misunderstand me. Marriage can be amazing, but that isn’t to say that its without its challenges.

Following are some things that I believe are key to Eve and I being married for almost 17 years. Some I’ve learned first hand while others are from people with way more experience than I have. It certainly isn’t an all inclusive list, but I believe there are some things that will move you towards a stronger marriage if you practice them. These are, in fact, six things that help keep my marriage going long after we our wedding day.

Friends. Eve and I have friends we trust, friends who are willing to hold us accountable and will step in when we need it. A couple of years ago we decided that I would build a loft bed for my oldest daughter. For those of you that know me, you know that I am about the furthest thing from a handy man. (My dad can fix just about anything, but this is one way that he and I are different. I learned a lot from him, but not this.) After working on this project all week, I was frustrated. Actually, my fuse had gotten really short and I wasn’t being a great dad or husband. A couple of friends saw what was going on and crashed my pity party. It helped clear my head enough to finish the project without completely destroying my family in the process.

My friends are also concerned about my marriage. It isn’t uncommon for one of them to ask how our marriage is going. They aren’t looking for a simple “fine”. They really want to know. You need friends like these.

Dates. Life gets busy. Both Eve and I work outside the home and I work the equivalent of 2 Full Time jobs. On top of that, we have kids who are active in church, sports, school and with friends. In order for a relationship to grow you have to spend time together. Combine that with the fact that my wife’s love language is Quality Time and we need our dates. Some dates are to a nice dinner where we just sit and talk. Other dates include running errands together. We are able to get much needed groceries or whatever while having time to talk and just be together. Occasionally we will even catch a movie together. While we aren’t able to talk during the movie, there is time to and from the movie to talk and time during the movie to just be together.

As a quick side-note, let me encourage you to date your children. Teach them how to date while spending quality time together. Currently one of my kids’ favorite dates is a trip to Starbucks for a Creme Frappuccino. We have time to talk and each of us bring something to do while we sit there together. One time we even brought a game to play while we enjoyed our drinks.

This date-your-kids idea isn’t an idea original to me. I saw it modeled well by a good friend who did it with his kids. His daughter pulled me aside in the past couple of months and told me that I was doing a great thing and that as my kids got older, these would be great memories for them. I hope she’s right.

Know Your Spouse’s Love Language. Gary Chapman wrote a great book called The 5 Love Languages (available on Amazon for less than $10).. It was released a number of years ago and rereleased in 2015. In his book, Chapman has drawn on 30 years of marriage counseling to identify 5 key love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Chapman asserts that each of us have one of these love languages. One of these 5 things is key to us realizing that we are loved. I mentioned earlier that Eve’s love language is quality time. When I spend time, quality time, with her, she feels loved by me. If I don’t have much time and try to replace that with gifts, it won’t have the same affect. Gifts don’t show her that I love her. Quality Time does.

My love language is Words of Affirmation. I want Eve to tell me that I did a good job or that she appreciates something I did. I value her praise. That sounds somewhat egotistical, but it’s true. I want her to compliment what I do. Simply spending time together doesn’t do it for me. I don’t need a lot of quality time like she does.

If you don’t know what makes your spouse feel loved, what makes them tick, how can you be sure that they realize how you really feel about them? Learn their Love Language and use that to tell them they’re loved.

The Husband Needs to Lead. You may have heard the saying, “anything with more than one head is a monster”. This applies to marriage as well. Someone has to carry the weight of leadership. I believe in a healthy marriage, that is the husband. This can take shape in a number of ways, but let me first say what it is not. It is NOT me discounting what my wife says and doing simply what I want to do. That isn’t a leader. That is a dictator.

A good leader considers the good of his family and marriage over his personal desires. He may really want to watch that game on Sunday, but he needs to date his wife. He sacrifices what he wants because he is a leader.

Someone has to have the final say in decisions. A good leader gets input from those he is leading. In marriage, it is even more important that you work with your wife on those decisions but don’t leave her to carry the weight of the decision. As the husband, that is your job.

Both Eve and I discipline our children. Sometimes our kids do things they shouldn’t. It’s not uncommon for those occasions that need correction/discipline to fall on a day or at a time when we are tired. If necessary, Eve has the ability to say, I can’t deal with this. I need you to handle it. As the dad, that means I handle it. Sure. I can ask for her help at times, but it truly is my responsibility to lead in this area.

When it comes to the finances, I don’t believe that the husband must be the primary wage earner, but I believe he needs to carry the financial weight. He better not be lazily sitting at home and not trying to earn an income while his wife is slaving away trying to provide for her family and carrying the weight of managing the budget. Husband, you be the leader in your finances.

Prayer. Depending on what your world view is, this may not seem like a big deal for you and your spouse. Because of our Christian world view, we see this as huge. We pray for each other. We have friends who pray for our marriage. We take time nightly to pray as a family. Many things are outside of our control, but they are not out of God’s. I believe that He invented marriage and that He cares about mine. As important as Eve is to me, she is more important to her Heavenly Father. As much as Eve loves me, God loves me more. Why wouldn’t we go to him with our challenges, our dreams and our concerns.

Divorce Isn’t An Option. God’s desire for us is that we remain married until He returns or one of us dies. We are committed to that. We stated early on in our relationship that divorce isn’t an option. Period. As a result, we face the tough times knowing that divorce isn’t an option so we have to find another way. Full disclosure, there have been some pretty dark times in our marriage. Some of them dragged on for what seemed like forever. At one point I may or may not have frustrated my wife to the point where she sought pastoral counsel from a pastor friend of ours. (Not my finest hour.) Even during these times, we knew we would get through it or die trying because we had resolved that divorce wasn’t an option.

I want to take a quick moment and encourage any of you that are divorced. While I believe the Bible is very limiting on when divorce is allowed, I believe that God’s love and grace are more vast than we can even imagine. He offers hope and healing to anyone who accepts it. Don’t believe Satan’s lies that would tell you that you are worthless or damaged goods that God can’t love.

FIGHT FOR YOUR GOALS

Tenacity

 

Why do some businesses make it while others don’t? It isn’t luck. Jim Collins and his team researched the impact luck had on the best companies and their leaders. One wasn’t more lucky than this other. It isn’t starting with a lot of money. There are plenty of stories of companies like Apple that had humble beginnings in someone’s home or garage.

What enables some churches to grow and impact a large percentage of their communities? Like many I am quickly reminded of the verse that says that Jesus builds His Church. It’s true, but it’s a cop out. God uses people to help grow His Church. He says to send laborers into the fields. He builds His Church and He uses People in the process.

Marriage, or any relationship, will have challenges. If you haven’t had a challenging time with either family, friends, business associates or your spouse, then you don’t have any authentic relationships. And even though there are fights and challenges, some relationships grow stronger. How does that happen?

“Tenacity!” It’s a word that I heard recently that succinctly summarizes some thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

At Leadercast 2015, someone, I believe Andy Stanley, shared an illustration. This example was regarding a teenage girl that wants a new iPhone. They want it so bad that they will do whatever it takes, from begging mom & dad to negotiating with grandparents. Even if those people tell he no, she will not be stopped. She will find some way to get that iPhone. That is tenacity. She knows what she wants and she will not let the dream of having an iPhone die simply because she is told “no”. (By the way, let me strongly suggest that you get to Leadercast 2016. You will learn something.)

This past year I read the book The Everything Story by Brad Stone. It’s the story of Amazon and Jeff Bezos. That man doesn’t quit. There were numerous obstacles that he faced along the way from huge debt to a shipping system that couldn’t keep up. Additionally, he wanted to transition books from print to electronic text. Do you know how many books are out there that weren’t digital? Through it all, Bezos didn’t let go of his dream to have an online store that would have everything a person could want at a great price. AND Amazon practically invented the e-book. Like Amazon or hate them, there are millions of people who would be lost without them. Bezos has tenacity, He didn’t let go of his dream.

I love my parents. They’ve been married over 40 years! There have been some tough times…some really tough times, yet they’re still married. While I love them very much, they aren’t perfect. The way 2 imperfect people who face more tough challenges than I ever want to face are able to stay together is tenacity. God plays a huge part in that too. After all, He made them who they are and it is because of Him that they are a couple that wants to fight for their marriage. They still had a choice. They had to chose not to let go of each other. They had to choose to hold on to their marriage when they were deep in debt and getting deeper, forced with a decision to relocate their family, while trying to raise 4 of their own kids and 1 “foster” child. They didn’t give up on each other. They were tenacious in their love for each other and their family.

Tenacity is a difference maker. Tenacity separates those that are going through the motions from those who refuse to fail. Tenacity holds on to the dreams that God has given a person. They will do whatever it takes.

So what am I tenacious about?

My family. I have a responsibility to lead well and to equip my children to be world changers. There are plenty of things that challenge that. My goal is to set an example for my kids of a healthy marriage while preparing them to impact everyone around them.

I believe that God wants to grow The Rescue Church. Specifically, I believe that God wants to grow The Rescue Church in Colman, South Dakota. While it is only a town of 600, it is located on one of the busier roads in South Dakota and just off of the interstate. There are 1000’s of people that go through or by Colman that would benefit from what we are teaching.

God has put me at Pickard Insurance Services. I believe His plan includes using me to build that business. So far he has used this business to enable me to be involved in church and ministry in Jamaica and the US. I’m at Pickard Insurance Services for a reason and it isn’t to fade quietly into something else.

I have this dream of helping others achieve their goals and develop into the people and leaders they can be. While I haven’t completely realized the how, I’m not letting this dream go.

Stop going through life allowing things to come and go. Figure out what you are supposed to do it and don’t let go. Fight for it. Be tenacious! We can change the world.

 

 

(The definition is from dictionary.com.  How cool is it that you can find definitions on the web versus looking for the big paper dictionaries that I used as a kid?!)

ACHEIVING YOUR DREAM

MLK Headshot

As I listened to Martin Luther King Jr’s speech from the first and only National Conference for News and Politics during Labor Day weekend 1967, I heard King say that some dreams take time to come to reality. (You can listen to this speech at https://youtu.be/j8d-IYSM-08.) He didn’t specifically say that dreams take time, but referred to a speech he gave where people, supporters of his, became restless. It appeared to King that after hearing him speak about his dream of equality for more than 12 years, people had become restless. They had grown tired of waiting for this dream to become part of everyday life.

Less than a year after this Labor Day weekend 1967 speech, on April 4, 1968, MLK would be assassinated without having realized his dream. Does this mean that Martin Luther King Jr’s dream was pointless, a waste of time? I don’t know of a sane person alive who doesn’t believe that King’s dream changed our country and and as a result, the world. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to make it easier for African American individuals to vote. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall, joined the Supreme Court as our first black Supreme Court Justice. During the 1980’s I was able to go to school in the south alongside my African American friends and with the same rights as they had. As recently as 2008, our country witnessed the first non-white person elected president. It might even be argued that, in part due to Martin Luther King Jr’s efforts five decades prior, my family was able to become a multi-racial family in 2010.

While many of our dreams don’t compare to that dream of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our dreams still matter. Unlike King, I fear that many of us give up on our dreams too soon. While we have dreams that could positively impact our children, our families, our communities, our nations or beyond, we give up before we see them become a reality. We have no idea how that failure to persevere could negatively impact our world.

When I think back, I have a dream that I didn’t see through. It was a dream from 15 years ago. Eve and I lived in a small Minnesota community and I had this dream to set up a teen/youth center. This dream was spurred by a need I saw when I witnessed teens hanging out in the streets. My dream grew as I heard stories of the role alcohol was playing in many families. When I shared that dream with some people who’s opinion I valued, they encouraged me to move forward and offered to be part of seeing it through. Unfortunately, I didn’t pursue that dream and have no idea what would have happened if I did.

Do you have any dreams that you haven’t seen through? You aren’t alone. Do you have current dreams? I hope so!

Today I have dreams, dreams that are much bigger than I am. This time, motivated in part by my regret over my previous failure to persevere, I move forward determined not to give up on my dream. While the impact of Dr. King’s dream dwarfs that of mine, the opposition I will likely face is also much less. Nonetheless, I am challenged today by Martin Luther King Jr’s determination and stamina.

It is easy to SAY that you or I won’t walk away from our dreams, but what are we doing to make these dreams a reality? Let me offer 6 steps that I am taking to ensure that this dream doesn’t fail to become a reality. I am…

– …ensuring that I can clearly and succinctly communicate my dream.
– …writing down the goals that I believe will help make this dream a reality.
– …sharing with a couple of people close to me, who won’t be negative about my dream, what this dream is so that they can challenge me to achieve it.
– …praying about this dream. My belief is that God can do far more than I can ask or imagine. I want to partner with Him in achieving this dream.
– …reading books that are related to my dream.
– …listening to podcasts and speakers who have something to say that can motivate me towards my goal.
– …attempting to make contacts that help me see this dream become a reality.

You see, I am doing something, even though most of those things are small, to bring this dream to life. I want to create momentum. What I picture in my mind is that snowball in the cartoons from my childhood. Those snowballs started small and as they rolled down the hill, they quickly grew and attracted everything in its path. The giant snowball starts small but becomes something big. My steps may appear small, but they have the potential to become something big!

Let me challenge you today to see your dreams through. Be encouraged by Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s perseverance in light of extreme opposition and don’t give up.