Archives For Focus

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.

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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.

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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…

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…

Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2015

I have so much to be grateful for.  Sometimes, it’s so easy to take our blessings for granted.

I pray that our hearts would overflow with thanksgiving for the many ways that God has blessed us.

Johnson Oatman, the hymn writer, urged us to count our blessings and to name them one by one.  I have listed some of mine below.  How about you?  Care to share in the comments some of your blessings?

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I am especially grateful for:

  • making it through another year.
  • the chance to finish and publish a book–with the help of many friends and family.
  • my family and the chance to be together to celebrate God, life, and each other.
  • friends (both from
  • the chance to serve as an Intentional Transitional Minister and help prepare a church for their next Senior Pastor.
  • the chance to serve as a Marketing Coordinator for by design ministries.
  • opportunities to write or teach knowing that God might choose to bless someone through my ministry.
  • the prospects of what God has in store for the next twelve months.
  • YOU.  Thank you for reading, liking, and sharing posts, tweets and status updates throughout the year.

Photo credit:  DepositPhotos.com 54943239 by PixelsAway

A lot of people find spending time in prayer particularly challenging. They carve out some time. They muster up all their self-discipline and courage, get on their knees, and then say, “OK, what do I do now?!”

Personally, I have often found it helpful to have a variety of resources available to help me stay focused during prayer. I share this not because I am a spiritual giant. Rather, I often find it such a struggle to stay focused in prayer that I have had to discover or develop tools to help.

I have found three resources, or methods, immensely helpful in developing confidence and consistency in my own prayer life. In this book. I weave all three of those methods together for a powerful combination in Time with God: Develop Confidence and Consistency
in Your Personal Prayer Life.

Time with God Book Cover

This book is designed to serve as a resource to help us grow closer to God and to build confidence and consistency in our personal prayer lives. Primarily, we need to remember that prayer is simply spending time with God. Unfortunately, we can complicate it so much that we get confused, insecure, bored, or distracted. Continue Reading…

(Note: Today’s post is written by Kelly O’Dell Stanley, the author of Praying Upside Down, which releases today, May 1, published by Tyndale Hose Publishers.)

I don’t know about you, but my favorite way to pray is upside down.

I’m in good company. Jesus constantly surprised his followers—and critics—with His unexpected answers. Jesus always challenged the status quo. He looked beyond the surface and wasn’t afraid to flip things around.

One Sunday morning when my son, Bobby, was six, he left our pew and walked straight to the front of the church, up the steps onto the platform, right in the middle of our worship. Pastor Nathan was sitting in a chair off to the side, putting the finishing touches on his sermon notes. Bobby circled around the worship leader, ignored the musicians, and climbed into the seat next to Nathan. With a sigh, he leaned back and then scooted to the edge of the chair. The big smile and hug Nathan gave him weren’t a surprise—Nathan had taught all the children that they were always welcome to come up front. That day, as I watched through tears, I finally understood the beauty of having direct access to God. Knowing that He welcomes me, and you, with joy. No matter who’s watching.

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This must be what Jesus meant when He spoke to the adults who tried to shoo the children out of the way. Continue Reading…

So, on Monday, I shared how much I enjoyed Easter Sunday.  What I didn’t mention was that I was a little surprised.  You see, I can be one of those people who tend to think we shouldn’t need a “special day” every year to celebrate something that we should be celebrating every day.  Do we really have to wait till Thanksgiving Day to be grateful?  Do we have to wait for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc to show our favorite people how much we care about them?  Shouldn’t we be mindful every day of the amazing fact that God, the Son left His place in heaven to take the human form–even a newborn infant, a suffering servant, a crucified sin-bearer, and a risen savior?

But, then I get a day like this past Sunday.  Even though I do try to be mindful of all we have because of Jesus, somehow it all came into an even sharper focus this past Easter.

Photo Credit:  http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

Photo Credit: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

On the family and fun side, two of my kids were able to come home for Easter dinner and brought a good friend from Gordon College.  I even made a quick dash to the local CVS to pick up the usual bunnies and chocolate eggs.  Even at my ripe old age, I can still remember waking up in my single-digit years and seeing the kitchen table filled with goodies.  OK, so I do realize we are talking about a spiritual holiday, but family fun is good, too.

On the spiritual side, I began to ponder anew on the wonders of the resurrection and what that can mean and should mean in my daily life. Continue Reading…

I really enjoyed yesterday.  It was Easter Sunday–a day that can embody all the best of faith and family. Plus, the weather was great. Two of my three kids were able to come back home and enjoy a great dinner together with an extra friend.  It was just a really good day.   Church was very nice.  Somehow songs about the resurrection took on a whole new significance.

He didn't stay on the cross.  Because He Lives, I can...

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The pastor referred to Dr. Tony Campolo and his, now classic, sermon.  My daughter wasn’t aware of the message so it gave me an excuse to look it up so I could send her a link.  It is truly a great message. Toward the end, Tony shared his memories of preaching at a “preach off” at an African-American church.  One of the preachers did a 90 minutes focused on one phrase.  He would describe the followers of Christ in various stages of despair seeing Jesus on the cross.  Then the pastor would say, but they didn’t know.  “It’s Friday but Sunday’s a comin'”.

It also made me remember the opening line of a sermon I heard about this time over thirty years ago.  “The problem with many Christians is that they are living on the wrong side of Easter.”

You see, before the resurrection, it’s a little easier to understand how some people can tend to give up hope. I can’t really imagine what that first Good Friday must have felt like.  Not knowing what would occur in two short days, it’s understandable that they would feel that all was lost.

However, the sadder truth, is that so often knowing what already did happen on the first Resurrection Day, we can fall into old patterns of despair and disillusionment or just distraction and drifting through life.

I woke up this morning thinking about both of those older sermons and reminded myself that even though it is Monday, Sunday’s not coming.  It already came.  I don’t need to wait for the power of the resurrection in my life, I need to live in it. Continue Reading…

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Sunday Verse: Joshua 1:9

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

Sunday Verse: Deuteronomy 4:39 (NIV)