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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Facebook Rules!

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

Facebook. A phenomenon that cannot be ignored. According to Statista (a statistics portal), there were almost 1.7 billion active (logged-in) users worldwide last month. There are 222 million active Facebook users in the USA alone. Those numbers are hard to ignore.
I have a Facebook profile. Yes, I look at Facebook daily (but not the first thing I do in the morning). I also post a few status updates each week, and interact with others's posts.

Sometimes people ask me about my Facebook page, and how I use and manage it. Here are some of my tips and personal guidelines:
  • Facebook is one of the tools that I use for influence. I am a leader (as all of us are, because we all have influence), and I use the Facebook as one of my vehicles for influence.
  • I do not use Facebook as a personal soapbox. The people whom I am Facebook friends with are too important to waste personal, trivial words on.
  • I will only become friends with someone I personally know. Traveling internationally puts me in contact with many people, and I get regular (daily) friend requests. Again, for me Facebook is a tool for influence, and I am very careful with who I seek to influence. Relationships override number of friends.
  • I am slow to copy or re-post other's status or links. I seek to share original thoughts, not just pass on someone else's.  When I do share or re-post, I always seek to verify facts. Just today I saw that Miley Cyrus said she was moving to Dalton, GA (very near to where I live) to escape the "LA Lifestyle". I was not planning on re-posting, but I was curious. I did a bit of research and found that over the last few months she had "said" the same thing about moving to Longview, TX, Monroe, LA, and Plantation, FL. No credibility: Bogus information.
  • I do not use Facebook for public criticism. I know I will get some criticism for this, but public criticism is gossip. Period. If I go to a restaurant and the food is not up to par, should I post it? If I went to a friend's house and the food is not up to par, I wouldn't post that. What if the service is bad? Do I post about the terrible service? Maybe I should seek to find out if the server is experiencing personal issues that are affecting their work, and pray for them. Don't like a politician? Pray for them, or post my dissatisfaction? Again, I seek to be careful to not use Facebook as a forum for gossip.
  • I do not use Facebook as a gripe platform. When I am stuck in traffic, I assume God wants me use the time to seek Him. When I can't sleep (even on nights before a "big" day), I assume God wants to speak to me. Storm making noise? Pray for the people who weather storms with no roof. Having to wait in line? Begin a conversation with the person next to you and share Christ (rather than gripe to them). The bottom line for me: Griping makes what I have to say revolve around me. I hope I don't believe that the world revolves around me.
I use Facebook to encourage, challenge, and motivate others. I believe that we ought to demonstrate godly principles and share our Christian beliefs all of the time, including what we post on Facebook.  I am not talking about copying and pasting an "I am a Christian..." status, but to ask the Lord to give us creativity to use the tool of Facebook to help others to be better.

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 05, 2016

Great Expectations

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

What are you expecting? Did you know that what you expect will usually come to pass? I am not talking about rubbing a genie lamp, but rather I'm referring to our attitude toward what we expect.

When I was a Jr. and Sr. high student, I thought it made me funny to tell my friends, "I always expect a bad grade on a test, because when it's bad I'm not disappointed, and when it's good I'm surprised.”

It might have sounded humorous, but it was terrible reasoning for a high-achiever (which I was, and hopefully still am).

Here's the bottom line: People who expect bad things to happen usually experience bad things happening. Why is that? Mainly it is because people who expect bad things to happen tend to have a limited, negative, and pessimistic view of life.

Living with that attitude causes them to not try, not attempt, and to take the easy way. The result: Not a lot of good happens in their lives.

But the people who choose to expect the best usually receive it. Why is that? These people are positive, confident, and hopeful.


Living with this attitude causes them to expect the best, work toward the best, and take the difficult yet productive road. The result: Good things happening!

There is a spiritual dimension in this also. Isaiah 64:3 says, …for You did awesome things beyond our highest expectations… Ephesians 3:20 says, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

God wants us to exceed our highest expectations. He desires to make us more effective in our job, our relationships, and our ministries. A lot of the time we are looking at the news, the economy, or our FaceBook feed, and what we see is pretty depressing. But, if we'll look to Him and His Word, we'll see goodness, hope, and life.

If you expect the worst, you probably won't be disappointed. But, if you will expect to see God's goodness and favor, you will also not be disappointed!

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, June 28, 2016

We Sure Do Talk A Lot

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

We talk a lot. Sometimes with our mouths, oftentimes with our fingers (on our smartphone keyboards).
We can't get away from it: We live in a world of talking heads, talk radio, smartphones, Facebook, chat rooms, Twitter, texting, instant messages, status updates, comments on tagged photos, comments on updates, and comments on comments. Whether we use our mouths, our MacBooks or our thumbs (pro texters will follow that), countless words leave us and move through the atmosphere and through cyberspace.

Sometimes what we have to say is important. Sometimes what we have to say is complementary to what another has already shared. But a lot of times what we have to say is about ourselves, and doesn't really benefit anyone. (Here's a test: Look back at your posts and comments and see how often you use the words I, I've, me, my, mine.)

In the end, it is up to us to determine if what we have to say is really worth saying.

I remember one time getting caught by my mother in a lie (I was a young boy of eight). After she confronted me on the issue and asked if I had done the deed, she said, "Before you answer, think about what you say." Well I didn't think about what I would say, and Mom knew it wasn't the truth. Needless to say, I paid the price. (I can't remember what I did - I just remember the consequence for my lying.)

Maybe Mom's advice isn't just for eight-year-old boys who have the opportunity to lie. Maybe before we speak, text, or type, we all ought to stop and "think about what you say." Is it truly benefiting, encouraging, and challenging to someone, or is it simply about me?

Maybe we'd say a lot less, but it would mean a lot more.

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, June 21, 2016

Protect Your Valuables

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

What have you done to show value to those whom you work with? How can you say to someone, "You matter!"?
I have learned over time that valuing others is one of the greatest encouragements we can give. Here are four ways I use to show value:

I expect the best, and assume it will happen. Expecting mediocrity or failure is very de-valuing. Expecting excellence isn't a demand, but rather shows belief in a person. I work with singers, musicians, and technical-types at my day job. My heart is to raise everyone to the next level in skill. My heart is also to immediately see maturity among the "learners" (new team members).

We recently transitioned to new presentation software for our worship services, and preparing for the first use, I never mentioned that there might be some glitches. Rather, I told the team that I believed in their abilities to handle the learning curve, and that the service would be seamless. (It was!)

I seek to focus my attention on individual people. A gentle word of encouragement during a rehearsal, or taking someone aside to speak truth (while looking them in the eyes and smiling) is a big valuing move. I try not to be distracted during conversations. 

Recently while having lunch with my Orchestra Director, I received a text message from my sister (I knew it was her by the exclusive ringtone). Normally I would have ignored the text, but because I knew it was from my sister (who rarely texts me during the day), I asked permission to read and respond.

Also, I seek to be interested, rather than interesting. (How often, after reading a FaceBook post where someone shares something they have done, we respond with "I've done that too!" or "I've eaten there also... Love the sliders!", instead of "Good job" or "Good for you!"? We make it about us instead of them.)

I seek to keep team members informed, and provide resources to support them. I have worked with volunteers (usually), and paid personnel on teams, and they all have one thing in common: They deserve resources to improve their skills and do their jobs with excellence. Again, I am seeking to help others improve, be better, and achieve their goals and visions.

I regularly email blogs and articles to our Tech Team. Some of the time they know the information I am sending. Some of the time they don't and it becomes a help. All of the time it communicates that I think they are important enough for me to take the time to share it.

I regularly praise and thank, but I do so privately. I may be a bit over the top on this idea, but I believe that private thanks and praise goes much further than public thanks and praise. Yes, it's much easier on us to publicly recognize someone for their work, but taking the time to privately say "thank you" and "great job" shows that we truly value their work.

I write hand-written notes and mail them in the traditional way. A lot of time and effort yes, but the people I send the notes to are worth it. (Our "click-culture" doesn't leave room for effort and sacrifice. Convenience is king!)

After major productions and services, I send everyone involved a personal, hand-written thank-you note. Sometimes I enclose a gift. It takes many hours to do this, but again the participants are worth it.

What do you do to value those you lead?

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.