I have two questions for you.

  1. Do you have a safe place?
    A judgement-free zone.  A place where you can feel free to share what’s on your mind without worrying that people will be so scandalized they’ll never talk to you again.
  2. Do you have a stretching place that challenges you?
    A mediocrity-free zone. A place that inspires you and motivates you to be better.

We need both. We need a place where we can be accepted as we are AND a place where we can be challenged to be more than we ever thought we could be. We need a place that can handle the worst in us AND a place that brings out the best in us.

We call it “a safe place” or “a stretching place”, but really the “place” is secondary to the relationships that happen there. The people are what makes the place scary or safe–discouraging or encouraging.

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

A Great Example

As Christ-followers, we have the greatest example of this concept.  God saved us by grace while we were still in sin and had nothing to offer him.  He knew who we were and that we were incapable of pleasing him in our own strength.  But he choose to love, save and even adopt us into his family.  We were accepted and adopted as we were.  THEN, God sets out to help build us into a new creation to display his glory to the world.  Consider these three examples. Continue Reading…

What Do You Think?

December 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

Can I ask for your help?

Yes! I really do want to know what you think.

If you attend a church at all, I’d really appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences. That means if you lead in, serve in, or even just show up occasionally to a local church, your thoughts and experiences could be a tremendous help to me and others working hard to help people love God and love people.

Please just click on the image or the link below.

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D652QCZ

What To Expect

Nothing to buy! No political banter. No new scandals. No promises to make the next year AMAZING!!!!

Depending on your answer to the first question, you will see a page with 3 or 11 questions. Typically, people can reply to all the questions in under 3 minutes. Some people choose to share a little more in depth, but that is completely optional.

You can remain completely anonymous unless you would like to be informed as the project develops.

You will not need a #2 pencil and you can leave your books open during the survey but please close the browser tab with the cute kitten videos. I don’t think any survey can compete with kittens.

Thank you so much for your help. Please feel free to share this with your church friends and family. I have over 450 responses so far. 1,000 would be awesome and extremely helpful. 10,000 would be even more bettererererer.

Thank you!

Image Credit: Changered DepositPhoto.com ID: 37320541

 

 

Have you ever noticed that some people just can’t take a compliment?

I invest a ton of time and energy reminding Christ-followers (including myself) of the importance of encouraging one another.  But have you noticed that some people are hard to encourage?

They may not even realize it. But a compliment triggers something inside them that shouts, “you are unworthy.”  For whatever reason, they feel awkward being appreciated.

Copyright: ivelin DepositPhoto18908817

Before I mention the three steps to accepting a compliment let’s briefly look at some reasons people struggle.

Why Some People Can’t Receive a Compliment

Insecurity or Fear

They might be afraid that they can’t live up to the higher standard in the future. Some people have been bullied into submission by friends or family members afraid of being outshined.  They’ve been conditioned to think it is unsafe to be celebrated.

Perfectionism

They might feel unworthy because they are intensely aware of the imperfections in the product or performance that the average person would never even notice.

Pride

This comes from a different place.  To give the benefit of the doubt, some people have worked very hard to be able to fulfill their role in life.  Whether it be an entertainer, teacher, speaker, or political leader, they may feel that the average person isn’t even qualified to evaluate their performance.  To be fair, I’m not sure I would want to have an untrained person conduct an annual review that would impact my salary or job security.  But anytime we offer a product or service to the world, every single consumer is in the position to evaluate our offering as worthy of their time and hard-earned money.

Whatever the reason, I have seen people so uncomfortable in receiving a compliment, that they belittle or even abuse the person giving the compliment.  In an effort to appear humble, some people reject the compliment by criticizing themselves to compensate for the compliment.  I’m often amazed at how willing humans are to pounce on the self-destruct button.

How to Give a Compliment

I write much about how to encourage people but for now, I want to focus on an important character trait—humility. Continue Reading…

If you’ve ever worked or volunteered much at a church, you know there are many aspects of ministry to balance.  It can be overwhelming and balls can get dropped.

There are four major components to my personal philosophy of ministry.  There will be aspects of ministry that may not be included here, however, the following helps me organize my thoughts and efforts.

 

Image credit: 6kor3dos DepositPhoto.com/11826108

 

Focus

Based on John 10:10, as well as ministry and life experiences, I am convinced that in any Christian endeavor two supernatural beings are always at work. God is at work to promote life and our enemy is at work to thwart life and growth and sabotage spiritual progress. Therefore, we need to actively choose to focus our attention on what God is doing in any given situation rather than on what Satan is doing. I am firmly convinced that our attitudes in life are greatly controlled by the one on whom we set our focus. That is the one we actually serve. Therefore, my personal philosophy of ministry is to first maintain my own focus on what God and what he is doing and then to help others stay focused upon God and be an asset to what He’s doing in their lives.

Feed

In the practical outworking of the above principle, I see God entrusting a flock to a pastor’s or teacher’s care with the expectation of their being returned to Him having been well fed, strengthened and protected. Col 1:27-29 speaks of bringing the flock to maturity for God in Christ’s strength. Eph 4:11-16 paints a picture of believers being equipped for works of service so that the body would be a built up, unified, mature, loving and growing organism. I believe these goals are best achieved by sound biblical instruction given in an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion.  Efforts will likely include:

  • Opportunities for people to evaluate where they are in their walk with God along with suggestions and resources to grow during the upcoming season.
  • Expository preaching of Bible books and occasional topical, yet expository, messages.
  • Relevant and engaging teaching during Sunday School/Adult Bible Fellowship or other opportunities (seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences, etc.)
  • Small Groups that help people discover God’s word and his people in a deeper way.
  • Specialized small groups designed to offer a forum for the questioning and a support for the struggling.
  • Well-planned prayer meetings would also help maintain focus in, and excitement about how God is working in and through the various ministries of the church.

Find

The choice of the word “find” for ministry to unbelievers is deeply rooted in my philosophy of evangelism. I often view the evangelist as a kind of spiritual midwife. We are not the parent, but we are there to aid in the birthing process. The relationship of the pre-natal child and the parent has long been established and the midwife would not think of doing anything to hinder that relationship. Therefore, rather than striving for a decision or to manufacture spiritual sensitivities, prayerful efforts should be made to discern those in whom God is already working and seek to be an asset in that process.

We need to teach evangelism as a lifestyle proving ourselves good stewards of God’s grace. Teaching on evangelism should be careful to equip the experienced without overwhelming the novice. Telling people about God’s involvement in our lives should be a natural outflow of a child in love with her Father.  We must also reinforce the truth that we are in partnership with God and not resemble a multi-level-marketing strategy.

While many choose to focus their efforts on the saved or the unsaved, I am greatly indebted to training from Child Evangelism Fellowship who taught that you may never really know where your audience is spiritually. Therefore, each Bible teaching should include a point of application for the saved and a point of application for the unsaved.

Family

I am thoroughly convinced of the communal nature of the Body of Christ.  Not only does God save us, he also adopts as children into his family where we can be encouraged, nurtured, and developed to maturity.  The sheer volume of “one-another” passages in the Bible clearly show that Christian fellowship is not just a nice fringe benefit but an essential dynamic of God’s plan.

Hebrews 10:19-25 also show how this should be a key component of our regular gatherings.  I am concerned that this could be a missing ingredient in many churches in our day.  Beyond the obvious reason of meeting to worship God, the author of Hebrews helps us to realize one of the purposes of meeting together is to encourage one another.  We are to follow Jesus’ example and come together to serve rather than be served.  Interestingly, if everyone comes together with that mindset each member will leave having served and having been served as well.

“Let us encourage one another” is not just an empty or fluff command.  Webster defines encouragement as “to impart courage.”  Then defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, and difficulty.”  This is exactly the spirit the author is trying to instill in his readers.  As we encourage each other, we are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  I can’t help but wonder what God could do in our world through bands of believers who regularly leave our gatherings encouraged by the body and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Get Your Message Heard

October 18, 2017

A few years ago, I felt a stirring deep within that God was getting me ready for something new.

Change isn’t always easy.  Overcoming fear or procrastination can make Goliath seem like a cub scout.  But like the expression goes, sometimes it’s “Change or Die!”

Image copyright: iqoncept DepositPhoto.com ID: 5078752

I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like and where He would lead but it was clear that something new was coming.  I knew that God had given me a message to share.  Somehow, I had a sense that it would include writing and maybe speaking.

Over the next couple of years, I spent a lot of time seeking God and learning new skills.  In many ways, I am still learning and still on that journey.  Let me share some of the people and resources that have helped me tremendously.

Writing

I attended a workshop with John C. Maxwell and Michael Hyatt about Continue Reading…

If you’re not feeling as productive today as you did in the past, you’re not alone.  It’s a new day with distractions galore.  You may have read my article earlier this week in which I shared all the distractions that I dealt with (or tried to) while reading and writing about staying focused.  Why Is Time Management So Elusive?

We live in a day where people are constantly busy but sometimes we’re just spinning our wheels.  Just like the hamster, we can find ourselves going full speed but not making any progress.  Then our friends and families get whatever leftover energy we might have left when we finally make it back home.  Not to mention churches, synagogues, and other community organizations that we value but don’t have the time or energy to serve with our full focus.

There is hope.  We can live in a way that allows us to be free to focus on what truly matters.

Pic: I'm too busy to be less busy.

I have enjoyed watching Michael Hyatt develop from a behind-the-scenes corporate executive to an in-demand, mainstage speaker, best-selling author, and productivity expert.

He has developed a program, entitled Free to Focus designed to help us be able to focus on those relationships that truly matter in our lives.  The registration period only last through Friday, September 29.   If you are interested or would just like to learn more, please click here http://freetofocus.com/WLEAFS/2017f2fsales

Michael Hyatt, NY Times Best-Selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, offers some very helpful real-world advice in this free online training today, September 29,  at 11:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., or 9:00 p.m.  Eastern Time.  You can register here http://freetofocus.com/WLEAFS/2017webinar

I believe in it so much that I signed up as an affiliate to help get the word out.  Please feel free to share this with your work team and friends.

Thank you

Kevin

In this post, I want to start a dialog.  We may not find all the answers in one post.  In my experience, answers that come that quickly tend to be deceiving.  Quick answers ignore the complexities of an issue.  They make us feel that we’ve addressed the issue, but in reality, nothing has changed.

Credit: iqoncept Depositphoto ID: 32472607

Systems

I have been thinking a lot lately about Time Management.  Systems that have worked for me in the past aren’t having the same impact they once had.

  1. Perhaps the current roles and responsibilities require different systems.
  2. Perhaps the systems I used in the past are no longer available because the technology has moved on rendering prior tools “obsolete”.
  3. Maybe today’s environment has more distractions than the old system was designed to overcome.
  4. Or maybe we just got bored with a system that worked and moved on to the latest shiny object that promised deliverance from our distractions.

Dis (oh look) tractions

I am reading The ONE Thing

(So let’s be honest.  In the course of writing the sentence that begins above and concludes below, I checked an email account, read and thoughtfully replied to a Facebook post, while having successive YouTube videos playing in the background, “Liking” half of those videos, “Sharing” one of those YT videos on my Facebook timeline (https://youtu.be/ecUU6AWJj-4), started to share it in a group but decided not to, and answered a phone call from my son.  OK, I’m back.)

by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan as I get ready for a group chat with one of the authors.

(Hold on.  The person replied to my FB reply.  I’ll be right back.)

One of the key takeaways from The ONE Thing was how they took the time to explain and teach the underlying concepts behind some of the productivity axioms we’ve heard for years.  For example, they discuss the impact of interruptions in the workplace.

Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions. And yet amid all of this we still assume we can rise above it and do what has to be done within our deadlines. (Page 46)

The Myth of Multitasking

I remember listening to cassette tapes of Dr. Charles Hobbes in the mid-1980s telling us about the myths of multitasking.  Thiry years later, Keller and Papasan, among many others are still trying to get the message across.

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have. (Page 46)

At the heart of the matter is not that we have too much to do.  Rather, we have trouble being honest enough with ourselves or employers to say 75 hours of work really can’t be done in 40 hours—not well at least.  Instead, we try to do the impossible.

Changing Situations

I recently took a Productivity Assessment from Michael Hyatt, a NY Times Best-Selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  The result was that I am “The Circumstance Surfer.”

Right now, you’re facing challenges that come with a transition or a certain set of circumstances. You would love to be able to create a solid routine, but predictability is just not an option right now. So you ride the waves that come your way. You need something flexible, a way to keep the peace throughout all the chaos in the midst of your current circumstances.

This was interesting and insightful.  You can take the assessment at http://freetofocus.com/WLEAFS/2017assessment.

Currently, I wear a few hats:  Pastor, Writer, Speaker, Wedding Officiant, Counselor, Videographer, and Graphic Designer.  These are not subcategories of my role.  They are all separate categories for which I am hired currently.

I remember hearing Jim Collins talk about the importance of having a Not To DO List.  At the time, I had one job and I thought that it was pretty easy to identify the things I should not do.  Now that’s a bit more challenging to do.

It’s a New Day!

While I still reflect on principles I learned from Charles Hobbes decades ago, today’s challenges seem to call for new strategies and systems.  I participated in an online training this morning led by Michael Hyatt on The 7 Deadly Sins of Productivity: The Hidden Habits Undermining Your Performance (And How to Change Them).  

One of the many takeaways for me was the reminder of the importance of taking time to plan.  If we are faced with an overwhelming workload, we can be tempted to just dive in the deep end and start splashing around.  When I slow down long enough to get perspective, I still have a big workload but it may not be quite as overwhelming.  I can identify the top priority for that period of time.  I may also identify some parts of the load that could be done by others or maybe shouldn’t be done by anyone.  I can see Jim Collins smiling now.

You can sign up for Michael’s training here.

I enjoyed the training and found it helpful for dealing with the realities of being productive in today’s world.

Please let me know your thoughts and journey in the comments what works for you.  I will probably write more in the coming weeks.  This is a critical topic that impacts the time we have to spend with God, with our families and friends, and the time we have to enjoy life.

 

(Note: some of the links I share may include affiliate links to products or services that I have personally hand-picked to share with you here on Encourage and Equip.  If you are interested in those offers, using the links provided could result in a small income flow that helps offset the costs of maintaining the site.  Thank you.)

Perspective Matters

September 15, 2017

Have you ever considered that the way we view ourselves impacts how we use the gifts we have received?  Secondly, have you ever considered that the way we view other people would impact how we serve them—or how we ignore or use them?

If we are truly seeking to love God with our whole being and to love others like ourselves, we need to wrestle with these two questions.

Copyright: Mattz90 DepositPhoto ID: 50713175

I have to admit; I wasn’t planning to write a post here today.  But, after reading two allegedly unrelated blog posts from friends in a Facebook group, the wheels started turning.  I knew I just had to share something here.

I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  So when I saw the title of K L Greenwalt ‘s article, I couldn’t help but click to read “Why You Can’t Trust How You See Yourself.”  She shared a personal story with a big lesson. Continue Reading…

Up till now, I’ve been trying to help us understand the need for encouragement in our day. In Part 1, we explored the impact of a culture that focuses on the negative. In Part 2, we considered the impact of fear-based marketing tactics. We could continue to explore the reasons people need to be encouraged. But, I’d like to shift the focus to the positive.

A little encouragement can make a big difference. You can even start small.

Encouragement tip #1: Validate Existence!

Some people have been so abused or neglected by so many people, that just saying hello will make a difference in their day.

For example, the movie musical, Chicago, has a sad-sack character, Amos Hart, who exemplifies this. His big solo reveals the depth of his self-esteem crisis…

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart.
Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

And even without clucking like a hen
everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!

Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name!!!!
Mister cellophane
’cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there!

Now, his character is written to be somewhat likable and largely pathetic at the same time. John C. Reilly does a masterful job at portraying this. As if the lines above don’t paint enough of a picture, when the lawyer (played by Richard Gere) suggests Amos should divorce his wife, Amos rises to his feet and shouts, “I’ll divorce her!” Then he catches himself and says, “She probably won’t even notice.”

Continue Reading…

What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s?  or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?

Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?

Image by 3dconceptsman DepositPhotos #19467907

Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO?  Do I just sit here and do nothing?  Well, sometimes the answer is yes.  Other times, the answer might be different.

Be Still

When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.

When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. Continue Reading…