Are you in it to win it?

Everyone likes to win, I sure do. In fact I have such a desire to win that if I can’t win something, I don’t do it. I actually have a hard time playing games of chance because it bothers me that I can’t figure out a way to maximize the chances of winning. It drives me crazy. I probably need to see a counselor about that but I think there’s a point to winning.

Look what Paul said about it…

1 Corinthians 9:24-27New Living Translation (NLT)

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

What does it take to win according to what Paul is saying here?

  1. Run to win
    1. Paul says that not everyone is in it to win it. Some are just in it to finish. He says the prize comes to those who run to win. What are your wins? Are they attainable? Are they quantifiable?
  2. Discipline
    1. He mentions discipline twice in this passage and training once. What that sounds like to me is that its doing to take some work. To win spiritually, you need spiritual disciplines (Bible, prayer, journaling, etc). To win physically, you need physical disciplines (healthy eating, exercise, rest, etc). To win as a leader, you need leadership disciplines (reading, problem solving, strategy, delegation, etc.) Every area of life requires disciplines to succeed in it.
  3. Purpose
    1. Why are you doing what you are doing? What are your motives? Let that fuel your desire to cross the finish line. Christ needs to be the center of our purpose or we are running the wrong race. Make sure your purpose is God-breathed and God-ordained.


Don’t be a Spiritual Prima Donna

pri·ma don·na

noun \ˌpri-mə-ˈdä-nə, ˌprē-\
a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team
I hope that doesn’t define you but I know that at times I have been a prima donna.
What are some of the signs of being a ministry prima donna?
  • 1) Its your way or the high way.
    You don’t really let others have a voice.
  • 2) You don’t take correction well or at all for that matter.
    I mean who needs to take correction when you are always right?
  • 3) Everything you do is your idea when it goes right and someone else’s when it goes wrong.
    Even when you take others ideas you pretend they are yours and blame your bad ones on those who agreed with you.
  • 4) Personal success trumps organizational success or even how God defines success.
    There’s no “I” in team, but there ain’t no “we” either.
  • 5) You don’t care who you burn as long as you get things done.
    When you hurt people you point at the results and tell them to get over it.
  • 6) You see compassion as weakness.
    Weak like Jesus.
  • 7) You say yes to the boss’ face but say no behind his/her back.
    Yes sir, yes ma’am.
  • 8) You exaggerate your “victories” and excuse your “failures”.
    You did what? Sure you did.
  • 9) You take all the credit even when you don’t deserve it.
    The only credit we should care about is to do with money.
  • 10) Your way is always better.
    Different isn’t always wrong, sometimes its just different.
  • 11) You demand respect from everyone and the feign it for you.
    If you have to demand respect, just know they are faking it.
I could go on, I’ve done it all…. any other things you would add?

Know Your Kidmin Culture

I recently made a friendly wager with Sam Luce about the Tigers and the Yankees ALDS baseball series. I won as the Tigers won in five games. I haven’t been a Tigers fan very long, just about six months to be exact. That sounds kind of like I am a bandwagon fan no doubt.

Let me fill you in on something, I moved to the Detroit Michigan area six months ago. I am originally from St. Louis and I love the St. Louis Cardinals. I know I have no obligation to cheer for Detroit teams when I moved here but I did because it is very important to the culture of my church. I am still cheering for a 2006 rematch although then I will be in trouble.

It’s important to understand the culture of where you are serving. Each country, region, state, city, denomination, and church has a different culture. I think even churches in the same city can have different cultures. You can’t always predict people by those you’ve known in the past.

Here’s some culture questions to ask.
1)How do people spend their time?
One of our campuses is more rural and closer to the water. They fish, boat, and hunt. Our campus is more suburban. They do suburbanite stuff.

2)What’s important to them?
My pastors have a passion for planting churches. That means they also have a drive to raise up leaders. That has to be my drive also.

3)What’s been normal?
We just hired a youth pastor and I love the phrase he uses, “defining the new normal”. Often normal for one group of people isn’t normal for another. I think we have to be respectful of what is normal despite our feeling on it.

4)What have been the past failures, shortcomings and challenges?
Learn from someone else’s mistakes. Don’t do the thing that got the last three guys fired.

5)What have been the past victories, triumphs, and solutions?
Some things are working and just need tweaks and not torched to the ground. Just because you didn’t think of it doesn’t make it a bad idea.

6)Who are the political players?
I don’t enjoy playing politics in church but knowing the players can save you a lot of trouble.

A few other things to look at:
Volunteer Culture How strong on volunteers is the church? We have around 80% of people serving somewhere. We also have more men teaching than any other church I’ve ever been at.

Priorities What’s the vision? What is most important thing the church does that makes it stand out? is it going to hurt your feelings if it isn’t your ministry?

Leadership Style My pastors are business people so I’ve had to make changes faster than most experts agree you should. The people I serve are used to it so it has been a very smooth transition.

I Need Boundaries!

Boundaries are important in life…

They guide us in what we should and shouldn’t say. Well, most of us. I think there have been times where I have turned off the speech boundary switch.

They help us know which lanes we should drive in. Again, not all of us seem to see those. Just last night on I-75 I questioned if one gentleman knew what those dotted lines meant.

Chairs make a great boundary. I would love to remove them from my children’s church but the kids seem to forget how to act as soon as I try it.

We have to live our life by boundaries as well. This is especially true in ministry. Here’s some things I have had to do to make sure my life has proper boundaries.

1) First off I like to use the word “priorities”. I have set priorities, I think everyone has. Anyone can make a list of priorities, it’s a totally different thing to actually live by them. For instance, I am sure every Christian should put God at the top of the priority list. He surely comes in #1 on my list. Sometimes though I don’t feel like He’s #1. Sometimes things seem to try and push Him out. I have to measure how am I really spending my time? How I spend my time determines what my priorities really are.

2) Learn to say “no”. They are some good things you are going to have to say “no” to. There may even be some great things to say “no” to. You can’t do every good thing. You have to do what God has called you to do.

3) “Do first things first and second things not at all” (Peter Drucker). We talk a lot about R.O.I., return on investment, here at Life Christian Church. Is there a better way I could be spending my time? Is this worth the effort I am putting into it?

4) What am I doing that someone else can do? What are the things that only I can do? This is one of my weak points. I have to learn to delegate and duplicate myself in others at a higher level.

5) Fight for your family (or marriage, free time, hobby, etc), because no one else will. It’s not your boss’ duty to fight for those things, only you can know whats worth fighting for. No one is going to schedule dates for me and my wife. My pastor isn’t going to make sure I am spending quality and quantity time with my daughters.



What to do When You’re Stuck

Have you ever felt like you are stuck in a ministry position that feels like a punishment? Does it seem like you are in a spiritual Siberia? I know the feeling of being stuck. Maybe you don’t feel you are being used to your potential. Maybe it seems you will never see your dream come true.

Joseph must have felt the same way when his brothers threw him in the pit. He had these grand dreams and they must have all seemed impossible at that moment. He gets sold into slavery and then things start looking up again. Then no fault of his own he winds up in prison for doing the right thing. He didn’t quit though. We have no records of him even complaining.

He takes charge over the prison and I believe that is because he first took charge of his attitude. When you have a faith-filled attitude and a God-given dream,  nothing can stop you.  After many years he finds himself once again in the palace running the most powerful country in the world.

You can get to where God has called you to be from where you are right now. Its not a stretch for Him. Guard your attitudes, guard your mouth. Even if you face setbacks, that may or may not be your fault, don’t give up. God dreams come true, if only we don’t quit.