Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Not Be So Interesting

Most people love to talk about themselves, and most people have become pretty good at it.
A few weeks ago I wrote in this space a Blog titled "Do We Talk Too Much?" where I mentioned this thought: Be interested, not interesting. I went on to say that when someone shares a thought or relates a story, instead of giving my opinion, or sharing my own story and thoughts on the matter, I stop and allow that person to share some more.

Some of us are more interesting than others. Some of us are the most entertaining person in the room. Some of us are just plain odd (a description my wife sometimes places on me). But all of us can become not so interesting.

How can we do that? By simply becoming interested in the other person/people around us. We can do that by asking good questions.

Allow me to share some questions to ask which will make us less interesting and more interested:
  • How did you spend your long-weekend? (Instead of "Let me tell you what I did on my long-weekend...") If they ask us how we spent ours, we can respond: "I had a great time away with my family. What about you?" 
  • What are some of the books you are reading? (Instead of "Let me tell you about this book I just read...") If we are asked what we are reading, we can share the title of the book(s) and then quickly follow-up with: What about you? (By the way, that was a subtle hint to turn off the TV and read.)
  • How is it going at your job? (Instead of "Let me tell you what happened at my work this week...") Again, if we are asked this question, we can give a quick response, and then ask: How is it going at your job?
  • What is your favorite (hardest, most challenging, best) part of your job (vacation, hobby, childhood memory)? You get the picture...

In summary:
  • Ask questions that people want to be asked.
  • Allow questions that we are asked to be a springboard for another's response by simply asking it back. 
  • Go deeper than "Did you see the (your favorite team) game?" Life is more than sports.
  • Ask questions that are open-ended and allow others to share what is important to them.

Do you see the theme here? It's not difficult to direct attention away from ourselves and allow others to share about their dreams, goals, and lives. That is how true relationships are built. That is how we can add value to other's lives. Lead Well!

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Do You Have An Alibi?

I was having a lively and fun exchange earlier today with the pastor whom I serve alongside of. He is a former prosecuting attorney before he entered full-time ministry.
He jokingly said in our open office for all to hear that I had left a door unlocked. I responded that although accused of the crime, I had a great defense attorney and wasn't worried. He in turn asked if I had an alibi. I told him I didn't need an alibi as long as I had a great attorney. And if I needed to, I could produce 12 witnesses, all of them my grandmother, that would swear that I was with them when the door was allegedly left unlocked.

We laughed, but I began to think about alibis. Usually they are associated with a crime, when a person needs someone to vouch for them. Often they are accurate. Sometimes they are fabricated.

Have you ever needed an alibi? Have you ever fabricated an alibi to assert innocence, even when you were guilty?

Integrity. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and moral uprightness.

I believe that integrity is the issue here. If we are known for our integrity, we wouldn't need an alibi. The fact that our word can be trusted goes a long way towards proving that what we say is right.

Integrity may not stand up in a court of law, but it surely stands up in the condition of life.

By the way, I was eight miles away visiting someone in a hospital, with three other witnesses (neither of which are my grandmother), during the time that the door was allegedly left unlocked!

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What's In It For Me?

What’s in it for me? I believe that is the most often asked question that is never formally asked in our culture. People tend to make decisions, choices, and recommendations based on what they can get out of it.
Look around: The vast majority of people are seeking to get, and they are seeking to get for themselves.

Follow advertising: 99% of all advertising seeks to “scratch a particular itch” that people have.


Listen to conversations: People are constantly maneuvering and re-shaping conversations towards themselves and their desires, needs, and experiences.

Is that true about us as Christians? Are we people who usually evaluate life based on What’s in it for me? If it is, should that be true about us as Believers?

God’s Word makes it very clear that life is to be lived for God (see the Greatest Commandment), and for others (see the 2nd Greatest Commandment). In other words, we should always be asking the question: What’s in to for them? (What's in it for God, and what's in it for others).

This is what I call a Kingdom Mindset. That is, seeking to build up the Kingdom of God, rather than our personal kingdoms. You might say that seeing what’s in it for you is ok, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. But we must again look at the 1st and 2nd Greatest Commandments of Jesus. Are we loving the Lord with all of our hearts, and are we loving others, in everything we do?

May I encourage us to ask the question: What’s in to for them? in everything we do: At work, while watching TV, while conversing, at the store, on FaceBook, even when worshipping on Sundays…

Are we making it about me, or about them? Lead Well!

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)



If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Do We Talk Too Much?

I know I am being contradictory right out of the chute, speaking to you through a Blog post titled "Do We Talk Too Much?" But allow me to ask and comment on that question...
Do We Talk Too Much? Every where look (listen) people are talking: Political candidates, commentators, announcers, parents, children, friends, DJs, commercials, talk radio (no surprise there), newscasters, and... Us. We call, text, comment, post, comment on posts, comment on other's comments on posts... Well, you get the picture.

Do you quickly comment "I do that." or "I love that too!" or "I know what you mean." when listening to another person?

There seems to be a lot coming out of our mouths. But have you considered if it might be beneficial to not talk after you hear someone else say something, but rather probe deeper and allow the other person to have the opportunity to say more?

One of my life principles that I seek to consistently model is this: Be interested, not interesting. What I seek to do is this: When someone tells a story, relates an experience, or makes a comment, instead of giving my opinion, sharing my own story or thoughts on the matter, I stop myself and ask the person to clarify, or ask how they feel about it. Or simply, I don't verbally respond, but use my facial expression to communicate.

Usually, we like to make everything about us. Our experience. Our struggle. Our history. Our victory. But should we be doing that?

Evaluate your last conversation. Look at your last Facebook post or comment. Re-read your last text conversation. Was it about the other person, or about you? Did you turn the conversation around to reflect your ideas, your story, or your comment and opinion?

What would happen if instead of turning someone's comment, experience, opinion, or story into what we want to say, we allowed it to remain about the other person? What if we simply said "Good for you!" (when something good happens to someone), or "Wow, that's gotta be tough" (when others experience difficulty)?

Here are some ideas to try:
  • Ask yourself, "Why am I talking?" When verbalizing something, or writing a Facebook post or comment, or texting, ask yourself why you are talking (commenting, posting). Are you talking about you or them?
  • Practice asking the other person," And what else?" So often we immediately jump in and speak before we hear the entire story or experience the other person is seeking to relate. Ask for more, instead of contributing.
  • Ask the other person, "What do you think? or "How do you feel about that?" Those two questions go a long way in clarifying the other person's heart as they communicate.
Allow me to exhort you: Be interested, not interesting. Stop yourself from speaking while another is speaking, or immediately when they are done. Allow conversations to be about someone else besides ourselves. Lead Well!

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Manliness And My Mini Cooper

A few days ago I was walking across the parking lot to my Mini Cooper and someone called out, "Why do you drive a Mini Cooper? That's a 'girlie' car!"
I was surprised by that comment! I actually did not know that a type of car determined if I was "girly" or not. Interesting...

I consider myself to be a relatively well-read person, but apparently I have not come across the book "What You Drive Determines Your Manliness". And if that book actually does exist (I googled it and couldn't find it), who made the rules on what is considered a manly or girly car?

It is interesting how our culture writes and rewrites "rules" to determine a person's place in that culture. One day a type of food or style of music ls considered acceptable. Two weeks later it is bad for you or obsolete.

(The movie "The Italian Job" popularized the Mini Cooper here in the US, and interestingly one of the Minis used in the movie was driven by the actor Jason Statham, who in that movie and in other roles always plays a man's man.)

We find this same influence in the western church. Music and ministry styles come and go with much frequency. This leader says church should be done this way. After the next conference we find out that church should be done a different way. (For me, it's all about God's Word and the Presence of God.)

But back to manliness and my Mini Cooper. By driving one, I am not seeking to impress my peers. Nor am I trying to be attractive to other women.

I dive a Mini Cooper simply because it's fun to drive. My wife will say I drive it because it is great on gas mileage and I am cheap. She is absolutely right! Great mileage and fun to drive... Not a bad couple of reasons to drive one!

The one place where I do find manliness defined is in God's Word. Among other things, it clearly says that I am to love my wife, give myself for her, lay down my life for my friends, pray without ceasing, consider others more important than myself, not gossip, and seek after God always. That defines if I am manly.

But no mention of a Mini Cooper. Lead Well!


(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Are You Multi-Visioned?

Vision. We all need vision. We all need vision for multiple areas of our lives. We cannot expect to accomplish anything with our lives unless we are purposeful about living them.
If we never plot our course and raise our sails, we will simply drift and be at the mercy of life around us. When it is all over, we will have been a spectator instead of a history maker (read more about that here).

Here are a few areas where we ought to have a vision, and a plan to accomplish those visions. (I gave some personal examples from my life simply as an encouragement):
  • Personal - What do you want to accomplish in your personal life and growth during the next year; five years; season; lifetime? I am seeking to strengthen and diversify my daily spiritual time with the Lord. I have a list of books that I am purposing to read. I am constantly fine-tuning my exercise routine as I age. I have weight and health goals that I monitor and maintain.
  • Family - How do you see your spouse and children, growing (spiritually, emotionally, educationally, relationally) during the next year; five years; season; lifetime? Our family has re-shaped over the last 10 years: Marriage of one child, moving out and subsequent return of another, moving out for the third. We are constantly re-evaluating goals and vision among ourselves as we weather these changes.
  • Financial - Where do you plan to be financially in the next year; five years; season; lifetime? (This is not our most important priority.) Except for our home, we are debt-free. We have in place a systematic plan to pay off our home. We have increased our giving to international missions.
  • Professional - What are your professional growth goals for the next year; five years; season; retirement? Coasting and professional stagnation are not in my future. My plan is to continue to grow and always be reproducing myself into the lives of others. I am consistently writing and arranging music, as well as increasing my musical skill-set through practice. Although I do not believe in formal “retirement” where I will stop working and live off of my savings, I do know that I need to be expanding my non-musical skills for future opportunities.
  • Ministry - (I believe that everyone ought to have a ministry -  not just professional clergy. And for professional clergy, I believe that you ought to have a ministry outside of your church.) What are your ministry plans for yourself and your family for the next year; five years; season; lifetime? My ministry is to the unreached Muslim and Hindu people of northern India. I am seeking to reproduce that vision into my children. (I have taken one of my sons with me on a mission trip to India, and am seeking to take my other two children.)
What is your vision for these areas of your life? What plans do you have in place to accomplish those visions?

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Dreams To Disappointments

Everybody dreams about something: A better life, a more successful business, an incredible vacation, a better world... Dreaming is a part of life.
But for every dream we have, there seems to be accompanying disappointments that oftentimes discourage us from dreaming. The better life dream dissolves when the sickness hits. The successful business fails when the economy drops. The incredible vacation sails into the sunset when the transmission goes out on our car.

Disappointments are as much a part of life as dreaming. How we handle those disappointments determine if we remain dreamers. Consider these ideas:
  • Write down your dreams. When sidetracked by unexpected disappointments, we tend to forget our dreams. Keeping them in front of us will help us get back on track in pursuit of our dreams.
  • Be willing to change what your dreams look like. Don't minimize them, simply see them from another perspective.
  • Dream dreams that are big enough to outlast you. Don't let the fulfillment of your dreams end when your life ends. Have dreams of generational and eternal value.
  • See disappointments as ruling out ways to pursue our dreams. Edison said he discovered 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb, in the pursuit of creating one.
  • Be willing to lay aside your dreams for a greater purpose. Maybe God has something else for you. His dream for you is usually better than your dream for you. Which leads us to...
  • Make sure your dreams are God's dreams. Instead of asking God to bless your dreams, ask God what His dreams for you are, and get in on them.
Dream. Dream big dreams. Dream dreams that are bigger than your disappointments.

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the top right.)

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Focus On The Younger

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the right.)

As a leader, where is your focus? I have stated before that I believe everyone is a leader, because leadership is influence, and everyone has influence. How we use (or ignore) that influence determines your leadership effectiveness.
Most of us as leaders desire for the task to get accomplished, the desired outcome to be achieved, the organization to grow and move forward.

But there is a very important dimension of leadership that is sometimes overlooked as we go about leading: The development of Young Leaders.


Leading Young Leaders is difficult, time-consuming, and often frustrating. But, I believe it is one of the (if not THE) most important aspects of leadership.


One of the basic tenants of leadership is to work ourselves out of a job. To do that effectively, we must be mentoring others to replace us. And that's where investing in Younger and inexperienced Leaders becomes important.


Here are some simple suggestions for focusing on the Younger Leaders:

  • Spend time with Young Leaders. They need our counsel, input, direction, and mentoring. That can't be done effectively unless we spend time with them.
  • Teach Young Leaders. Simply directing them only makes them minions. They need our expertise to be shared with them.
  • Take Young Leaders with you. Allow them to see us in multiple leadership situations. Allow the down time (riding in the car, etc.) to be opportunities for influence.
  • Delegate to Young Leaders. Don't simply give tasks to do, but give them the responsibility and ownership of what you are delegating.
  • Allow Young Leaders to make mistakes. Don't chastise or immediately correct. Use times like this to be a learning experience. Allow them to suggest how to do things better.
Although this list is not exhaustive, it can serve as a starting point for focusing on Younger Leaders. Question: What are some effective strategies you use to focus on Younger Leaders?

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Lost My Glasses!

(You can receive this Blog every week via email by entering your address on the right.)

A while back, when I opened my backpack and took out my glasses case, it was empty. I had lost my glasses. I expected them to be in my glasses case. But they weren’t there.
I didn't panic. I am a planner, a big picture visionary, and an adapter. One of my Clifton Strengthsfinder Themes is Strategic: ...creating alternative ways to proceed.

As a result, I have planned ahead and I keep an extra pair of drugstore reading glasses in my desk just for situations like this.

Also being strategic, I was also able to quickly back-track my movements, and remembered the last time I wore them: Sitting on a friend’s couch while we swapped technology ideas. I am sure I left them on his couch.

So no worries, all is good. I was able to make it through the day, and I retrieved my glasses that evening.

Allow me to use “losing my glasses” as a metaphor for when things don’t go the way we planned. We have expectations from others, but they let us down. We chose a driving route but the road is closed. We expect pizza, but we get served soup.

How do we react when we "lose our glasses" and don't have a back-up plan? (No internet connection, floor monitor on the wrong side, slightly-off color paint, blue pen instead of black... You get the picture.)

Do we fuss, fret, and become hard to be around? Or do we adapt, and make the best of what we have?

Life is full of “losing our glasses”. In fact, most of us go through every day and “lose our glasses” in one form or another.

As for me, I adapted to my contingent drugstore reading glasses. My colleagues in the office asked me when I started wearing glasses (go figure). The lenses are too strong and I got a slight headache. And, they look really tacky. But hey, they worked!

Question: How do you adapt when you "lose your glasses"? Share your thoughts below in responses.

If you like this post, you can re-post it, 'share' it on your Facebook status, 'Tweet' it, or forward it to your friends. Subscribe to regular postings of this Blog on the top right of this page.