Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stress Free Spending

In your own words, describe what you think a budget is.....

A lot of people would say that budgets are for people with limited resources.  The same people are probably living from paycheck to paycheck and suffering under extreme amounts of debt.  These people will also believe that their home is an asset and that saving can be done once they have settled down.

Think again.  Budgets are the foundation to financial stability and financial intelligence.  You will never meet a wealthy person who doesn't understand there spending habits or their personal financial statements.  

Real wealth is accumulated when a person plans their actions.  If you do not control your spending, then your spending will control you.  When your spending controls you, your ability to grow wealth is stifled and you spend more years digging out of debt instead of staying out of debt.

Crown Ministries has several excellent guides about budgeting to which you can compare your spending.  (Spending Guides)

If you are looking to begin a budget, then Crown can also help you get started with their budget guide. (Financial Planning Guide)

What do you have to do to begin a sound financial plan?  What obstacles do you face?  When will you get started?

Only you can break the chain of debt in your life.  Get control of your spending and experience the stress relief it provides!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Musings of a Church Planter - Lesson One

I spent the last four years praying about, learning about, and attempting to plant a church.  During this process I feared, hoped, laughed, cried, and experienced any other emotion someone can muster.  Unfortunately, the process ended with the closing of the church.

There are a lot of reasons why: poor execution of plans, not enough resources, not enough people, not enough leadership from me...oh the list could go on and on.  And after closing, the list continued to go on, and it would have continued to go on if a respected leader had not sat down to dinner with my wife and me and simply asked, "What are ten things you take away from this process?"

Hmmmm....that had me thinking.  Yes, plenty went wrong, but what went right?  What did I learn?  What can others learn?  So I created a list.

Over the next few weeks I am going to try to share the list of what I learned in hopes of encouraging current and future church planters, leaders, or anyone interested.  It is a very lonely process at times but you are never alone. God is always with you.  Charisma may ignite a church plant but only God can sustain it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are going through the many emotions of church planting or leadership, you are not alone and you do not have to do it alone.

In fact, that is the first lesson I learned - have a good friend outside of your ministry that you can talk politics with, watch sports with, or do whatever with.  Not a peer or a confidant or a mentor.  A friend.

There are times that leaders need to step out of leadership roles and just be human.  I read one article that said a person will always struggle in church leadership if they cannot simply learn to be just a Christian and be satisfied.  If you always have to be the leader, you will become disappointed and find yourself struggling to separate yourself from your leadership role in order to enjoy a friend.

If you are married, you spouse is your best friend but even they need a break from you - the leader.  They want to spend time with you - the child of God, the person.

Friendships remind us to be us and not an image.  Images can be distorted and so can we if we lose ourselves in our roles.  Friends will remind us how to relate with others and how to more effectively see people as Christ sees us - broken but healing, hurt but mending, weak and yet strong.  Value friendship and you will learn how much God values you.

So do not do ministry alone but especially do not do life alone.  You will not regret having a good friend or two or three to hang out with from time to time.

Who are your closest friends?  How do you make time for them?  How often do you purposely set aside time to be with friends?

As a Christian leadership coach, I can coach you through these areas.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Words That Heal

Proverbs 16:24 (NIV) - 24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Generally, when I think of wisdom, I think of the sayings found in the book of Proverbs. Today's verse is one of those sayings that can have a profound influence upon the way we communicate with others.

Yesterday, we mentioned that anger creates damage to our well-being.  The hope we find today is in how gracious words can restore health.  Gracious words are delightful or pleasant.  A simple "Good morning" is more powerful than not speaking at all.

Chick-fil-A employees are trained on this thought.  When thanked, they respond, "It's my pleasure."  I never tire of hearing this response, and hence, I continue to return for the great customer care I receive (plus, the great food...).

The sweet savoring words of one person adds breath to another.  What would happen to your employees if you intentionally added gracious words to your vocabulary?  How would they respond?  What about your spouse, your children, your friends, your employer, and on and on?  Your words could impact your environment and impact their environment which could spark a chain reaction of goodness...

Healing takes place in the comfort of one's home but not if one's world has been rocked by the venomous words of others.  Leader's have the best opportunity to create an environment that supports healing through the use of words that build people up rather than tear them down.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not calling for a place of fake accolades or where thoughts cannot be challenged.  I am talking about a change in how a leader begins to engage others in hopes of developing kinder and more open dialogue.

Note the preceding verse:

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.

One becomes more persuasive (not manipulative) when wisdom rules their tongue.  How can you implement gracious words into your vocabulary?  What do you think about this thought?

Feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Heart of Anger is Unhealthy

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV) - Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Leaders can be quite emotional.  Some rely on the emotion of anger in order to get their will to be done or to have their orders followed.  Anger in and of itself is a human response to outside forces that they want removed from a situation.  Psycholigy Today says:
 Anger is a corrosive emotion that can run off with your mental and physical health. So do you hold it in? Or do you let it all out? Anger doesn't dissipate just because you unleash it. Some insight into why we have it and how it works can help you better manage this raw emotion before it causes self-harm or erupts into hostile, aggressive, or perhaps even violent behavior toward others.
 Anger is corrosive!  Anger is unhealthy!

Just like our verse for today says "anger resides in the lap of fools."  The lap is the bosom or heart.  Anger rests there tearing away your very being - your physical and mental being.  Left there long enough, anger controls you and becomes you.  But there is hope.

As leaders in our work spaces, homes, and communities, we can turn to the advice God gives us through James about anger:

 James 1:19 - My beloved brothers, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger..

1 - Quick to listen - This tells others you care about what they are saying, and it also slows you down long enough to take a full assessment of a situation.  Listening requires you to stop thinking about what needs to be said next and allows you to fully engage the person talking.

2 - Slow to speak - Choosing words carefully can keep situations from escalating and move you from being seen as an angry leader into being seen as an influencing leader.  Slow to speak means you can take a moment to think before talking (this is okay!).  This may also surprise people when you start thinking before blurting out the first thought that comes to mind.

3 - Slow to anger - Without the first two, you will have a difficult time with this one.  But you can do it.  Remember, anger is an emotion and you should control it.  Count to ten...take three deep breathes...stand up and get your blood flowing....talk to someone....take a time out.  Start practicing these and see what works best for you.  Your health is at stake!

If anger has set its claws into your lap, you can loosen its grip.  Get a leadership coach to help you along the way.  What first step can you begin to practice today?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What Are You Asking, Seeking, and Knocking About?

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) - 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

This verse is fairly familiar to those who have been in and around those who read the Bible.  It is a powerful illustration of God's desire to bring joy to our lives by helping us live up to our greatest potential.

But what do ask, seek, and knock mean for those who trust God?

I did a bit of research into the word origins and wanted to share a quick thought:

To Ask:  When asking God, the word itself is simple enough - just ask.  But when you look deeper at the word it also can mean to beg, to call for, to crave, to desire...It's more than just asking.  So many people ask without a deeper desire to connect with God in the ask.  Asking for anything on a whim will never get us closer to the God who answers.

Asking anything of God is not like asking mom for a quarter to put into the vending machine.  Asking God is learning to connect with God, to find out how He desires to bless us, and then asking for His blessings.  Simply asking is okay but if you ask without hope or belief, what are you really asking?

To Seek:  Seeking is seeking but the deeper thought here is also an act of worship.  It means to endeavor, to enquire (because enquiring minds want to...you know), or to be about.  What are you seeking to become?  What is your truest goal for life, for your finances, for your leadership, for your walk with God?

Seeking is more than looking for your car keys when you misplace them, though I have quoted this verse over and over when I have...Seeking is endeavoring to have a deeper knowledge of God through our interactions with Him, and in this search we find our paths align with His blessing and we find.

To Knock: To knock is to take one's hand and hit the object (usually a door) we have in front of us until we get the attention of the one on the other side.  Simply put it is rapping (not musically) our knuckles against a solid object.

I think many people get stuck here.  In fact, some will knock and walk away without an answer.  Others will knock, knock louder, and then start pounding in hopes of gaining entry.  The idea that many fail to see is that God opens to those who have truly come to the door to gain entry through Him and not of their own volition.  God wants to get the credit because He is the one who opened the door.  Too many doors have been opened for people who have turned around to said, "See what I just did."  How many doors has God opened for you, and you did not give Him credit?  How many doors have you walked away from because God did not answer in your timing or to your liking?

When you ask, seek, and knock this week, I hope this come to mind.  How will you approach these opportunities today?