Dream Days

When I’m in my leadership sweet spot I have a practice that accounts for most of my creativity.

It’s called Dream Days.

You may call it something else, but that’s what I call them.

It’s a day, or even half a day where I get away from the regular routine, rhythm, pace and place of my work to dream about what’s next. I don’t have anyone else with me. This is not “GroupThink” time. This is me and Jesus time. This is “creative visioning” about our/my tomorrows. I try to find a location that makes me feel creative.

I read the Bible. I pray. I sit quietly. I get a pen and paper. I write. I turn off wifi. I imagine what’s possible if God really does have His future for us in mind.

The details can be worked out another day if I don’t have all of those yet. The logistics aren’t really important yet. I make notes of things I think are important for my team that I want to make sure I remember.

I’ve done it in the mountains. I’ve done it by bodies of water. I’ve done it in buildings with modern architecture. I’ve done it in a park. I’ve done it in coffee shops.

When my schedule gets busy. When my calendar tells me what’s important instead of the other way around. When my leadership gets stale. When my team gets bored…

It’s almost always because I haven’t prioritized Dream Day. I’m more reactive than proactive. I’m processing yesterday more than dreaming about tomorrow.

Call it what you want, but it could be the secret to unlocking the next season of leadership, growth and productivity for you.

Stop what you’re doing and go block some time on your calendar.

You have permission to dream!

Why I Love Leadership & Ministry Coaching

This past week I spent 2 days in downtown Atlanta with 29 other Pastors from around the country as part of a yearlong journey of growing together. For the last several years I have been a part of this coaching group in various forms through the ministry and efforts of NextLevelCoaching & NextLevelChurch.

You should know in full transparency that I’m pretty high on this church, their ministry and their staff. They are led by Pastor Matt Keller and others like Pastor Kyle Jackson. These men, and others on the Next Level team have sharpened my leadership, cared for my soul, and become my friends in the process.

My philosophy on coaching for Pastors and leaders in business is that

coaching isn’t an admission of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

In my attempt to be the best Pastor I can be, best leader I can be, best husband I can be, best father I can be, and on, and on, and on, I want to surround myself with people who can make me better in these endeavors.

Even professional athletes at the highest level have a coach. The best golfer in the world has a coach. The best baseball player in the world has a coach. These athletes know what they are supposed to do. They understand the basic fundamentals of the golf swing, baseball swing, etc but having someone on the outside looking in to notice a little change that could make all the difference. You are still ultimately accountable as to whether or not to apply their suggestions, but I don’t think you ever get to the place where you can afford not to have someone coaching you.

The thing I love about Matt, Kyle and the team at NextLevelCoaching is that they don’t teach you HOW they do things at their church. They teach you WHY they do what they do. There’s a big difference.

If they teach me HOW they do things and I try to apply those things in my context I’m going to have to eventually change things or get frustrated because I don’t have their giftedness, personalities, context of ministry and more. But if they teach me WHY they do things I can understand the transferrable principles and adapt them to my place of ministry or choose not to because I realize it doesn’t fit.

As I coach pastors and leaders myself I have tried to apply this same model of WHY instead of HOW.

At various times over the last few years I’ve been inspired by a new thought on leadership. Other times I’ve been challenged by something they share from Scripture that I’ve never noticed before. Still other times I’ve been moved to tears as they pray over me, my family and my church. And still other times I’ve been convicted as they call out things in me that need to change.

An enemy to being coached is pride. To think that I know better, and to refuse to be teachable.

I never want to find myself in that place.

Thanks Matt, Kyle & Next Level Church for investing in guys like me. It makes us better, and it’s a worthy investment of all that God has sown into your ministry in southwest Florida.

We are launching new coaching groups this fall at ForwardLeadership, I will lead one of those and if you are interested in being part of my group you can click HERE. You can also click on the links above for more information on the groups starting this fall through Next Level.

Worry isn’t a Way of Life (Part 2 on Worry)

Earlier I wrote about Worry isn’t Warning. You can read it HERE. I also spoke on Worry earlier this year at MPNCanton. You can listen or subscribe to the podcast HERE.

I talked in the previous post about the fact that we convince ourselves that worry is warning, but that it isn’t. Warning is warning. Worry is worry.

I also talked about the 2nd reason that we worry is that we believe it is a way of life. We think everyone worries, and it’s okay if we do too. We’ll pick up there!

——–

2) Worry isn’t a Way of Life. In fact it’s the opposite of the life God wants us to live. Worry is in fact worthless.

Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“

Worrying doesn’t change the situation, it just causes you a bunch of stress and fear.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.- Corrie Ten Boom

Instead listen to this in

1 Peter 5:6-9 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.

Now verse 7 tells us to give ALL our worries and cares to God. Why? Because He cares about you.

But even beyond that, I love verses 6, 8-9 because it gives you permission to do something as a way of life instead of worrying.

First look at verse 8-9. Stay Alert! Watch out for the enemy…

I don’t think it’s our job to worry about the enemy. I think it’s just our job to watch out for him.

Verse 6 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God…”

Humbling myself under the mighty power of God…that sounds like what I do when I worship. I recognize my position and His power!

I believe you can worship away your worry.

When I worship, my attention is redirected away from what I see right in front of me to the object of my worship.

Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

There’s tons of context here but I want you to see the imagery of lifting my eyes up to the hills to see the help coming.

Worship is a secret weapon for you. I realize not everyone is the same, but when I get worried, or stressed. When I’m facing temptation. Any number of things. I turn on worship music. It changes the atmosphere.

Taking that thought even further Paul says this in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here’s that same passage in the Message paraphrase

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

No one can pray and worry at the same time. – Max Lucado

The translators of the Message say “Let your praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” You have the power to turn your worry into worship. Telling God exactly what you’re worried about and focusing on Him, His goodness toward you, and His example of faithfulness throughout Scripture, history and your life.

Let me give you a warning. I’ve counseled with a lot of people and I want to help you avoid something that many of these people had to find out for themselves.

Sometimes you can pray so much about your worries that you worry more. You can literally pray yourself in a worry circle. You can pray to God so much about the things you’re afraid of that you’re more afraid.

You can thank God so much for bringing you out that you actually get stuck in it.

That’s why I think it’s important to worship your way though worry. It takes my eyes off my worry and puts my eyes on the object of my worship.

I would encourage you to pray and tell God what you’re worried about. Thank Him for delivering you. Then worship and focus on Him and not on your worries.

I don’t know what you are worried about today, but I know that God desires to free you from that worry.

Worry isn’t warning, and isn’t a way of life. Don’t give it more power than it has.

 

 

Worry isn’t Warning (Part 1 on Worry)

I want you to read something, and then let’s talk about it for a moment. This is Matthew 6:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…  27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

There are very few places in Scripture that are this explicit about us not doing something that most of us still do without fear of repercussions. We worry! And yet, here is Jesus saying “don’t worry about your life…Can worrying add a single hour to your life?…don’t worry about tomorrow.”

Jesus says don’t, and yet we still do!

I preached on this very idea at MPNCanton earlier this year. You can listen to the message or subscribe to the podcast HERE.

Prior to that message I asked people on Facebook to tell me what they worry about. Here were some of their responses:

  • Not succeeding
  • Making decisions or taking risks
  • If you’re doing enough
  • Getting older,
  • Unfulfilled dreams,
  • Children
  • Career choices
  • The future
  • Letting people down
  • Missing out on what God has for me

Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive but it seems that we are most worried about success, money, health, family and the future.

So if Jesus said don’t do it, but we do it anyway let’s look at 2 reasons most of us worry.

1) A lot of times we think worry might be a warning. We’ve heard those stories of someone who had a feeling or a premonition just before something bad happened, and so we convince ourselves that our “worry” is a warning that something bad is going to happen. I want to come back to this in a moment.

2) Sometimes we think worry is a way of life. What I mean is that we think as a parent we are required to worry for our kids. We think we are supposed to worry about our jobs and our future. Everyone seems to be worried about something so I guess it’s okay if we do too, right?

So let’s address each of these quickly.

1) Worry isn’t warning. The reason I can say this with certainty is because

Worry isn’t the voice of God. The voice of God is the voice of God.

When I learn His voice I won’t mislabel it as worry! If God wants to warn me of something, He warns me of something. He doesn’t give me an obscure worry that causes me to doubt if it was His voice, and that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with what I’m feeling.

Jesus told us about a helper we would have after He left the earth.

John 14:26-27 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

He said that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate. That’s someone who is on your side. Someone who is there to help you. And when Jesus said He was leaving the Holy Spirit for us, He said that it was a gift of peace for our hearts and minds so that we didn’t have to be troubled or afraid.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is warning. If I’m unsure whether something is a warning I would ask 2 simple questions:

  • Is this a way God speaks (to me)?Be careful not to interject that you think someone, somewhere, that one time felt something before something bad happened…has God ever specifically spoken to you this way?
  • How am I supposed to act in light of what God has warned me? I believe if there isn’t a specific response that it’s just worry and not warning. A warning is “Get out of the way, a car is about to hit you”. A worry is “This is a dangerous world where bad things happen to kids.” There’s nothing I can do with that other than to just worry.

So worry isn’t warning. Warning is a warning.