Remember to Make Room

You have probably noticed that Christmas is hurtling towards us. I’m probably safe in assuming that you feel it coming in the level of your busyness and the feeling that there is “so much left to do.” Shopping needs to be finished. Parties need to be attended. Cooking needs to be done. All the while, you still have to do you normal work. If you are one of the church leaders who read this, your stress is augmented by the preparation for the loads of extra people you expect at church. (Or maybe you are depressed because the crowds no longer come.) In all of this remember on thing. It is THE one thing. Remember to make room for Jesus. Maybe you need to – right now – close your eyes and take five minutes of quiet to listen for God’s voice in your chaos. (Don’t worry, you CAN afford five minutes.) Maybe you need to read a passage of the Bible independent of preparations for a message or study. Maybe you need to gather your family or friends together to read the Christmas story and express thanks. Make space for Him. Don’t stumble over the trappings of the holiday. Think about the Christmas story in Luke. Jesus was born into a world that struggled to make space for Him. Those who had eyes to see dropped everything. My prayer for you in the next week is that you will be one of those. How much space are you making for Christ in the midst of your holiday preparations? What one change will you commit to making right now?...

Creating a Mindset of Gratitude

It is December. It is the Christmas season. As the song says, it is the most wonderful time of the year! But, it is also the busiest. It can be the most stressful. The most expensive. And the most disappointing. If this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, should we be feeling more gratitude? At Christmas we celebrate the Gift that God gave to the world. Out of His love, God gave everything He had. That seems to be cause for thankfulness. Busyness, debt,  disappointment, and much of our stress comes from trying to gain a sense of worth from things apart from God: Saying yes to all the commitments. Buying impressive presents. Portraying the happy image. (For the church leader, having more people at this year’s church service than last year’s.) Gratitude takes discipline. One of the ways our brains have be designed to function is the more you look for something, the more you will find it. For example, if you believe people will ultimately disappoint you, then you will process everything though that lens. Another example, if you perceive that people disrespect you, then you will see your interactions through that lens. Thus, the more your mind is set on being grateful, the more things to be grateful for you will see. Growing in your identity in Christ enables more gratitude. When you are not dependent upon roles, relationships, or results for a sense of self, you can be grateful for what God has placed in your life – not what you feel is missing. When your lens is no longer clouded by...

I’ll Be Happy When…

I will admit to you that for a long time I had a problem being present in my life. What I mean is that I was always looking to the next thing, feeling like I would be fully satisfied at the next milestone. For example, when I knew I wanted to pursue vocational ministry, my mindset became “I’ll be happy when I work in a church.” Then I worked part-time, so the mindset became “I’ll be happy when I can work in the church full time.” When that happened, the mindset changed to “I’ll be satisfied when I’m a top tier leader.” On and on it goes. Always hoping for the next thing. Not celebrating, not being grateful, but continually longing. I see this all around me: The church leader that will feel settled when their church crosses that elusive attendance barrier. The woman who will feel content when she has her first (or another child). The person who claims satisfaction will be found in earning just a few thousand dollars more per year. Continually looking to the horizon for a sense of significance and identity will cause you to stray from the narrow path. When you are not present, you will… suffer from insecurity (what if the next milestone never happens?) live in scarcity (what happens if I lose what I do have?) create division (why did someone else get what I deserve?) After I burned out and subsequently began to develop my identity in Christ, I began to understand that the inability to be present – to be always longing for something else – was a symptom...

Seeing Jesus

It is election season. From things I’ve read, if Jesus were alive today, He would support every political candidate. Or at least that is the case people make. There is a proliferation of bumper stickers saying that “Jesus is an environmentalist” or “Jesus is a capitalist” or some other such identification. Many churches teach their opinions as if they were doctrines of Jesus. Things like kids must be home-schooled or that some standards of discipleship are old-fashioned. Here is the truth: we view Jesus through the lens of what builds up our false sense of self. We want Jesus to affirm the things from which we are seeking value. Thus, we don’t see Jesus as He actually is, we see a Jesus created in our own image. Jesus did not come to affirm our broken philosophies, He came to show the world the love of the Father. When we make Jesus in our image, that leads to division rather than unity, condemnation rather than acceptance, and judgment rather than forgiveness. Jesus was concerned that we do two things: love God and love people. Loving God is about rooting our full sense of identity in Him. Loving people is a fruit of the freedom that source of identity provides. Where loving God and people conflicts with our desires we are to abandon our self. In what ways does Jesus look more like you rather than you looking more like Jesus? ————————————————— I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and...

Why Big Things?

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21 All of us have a desire for significance. It has been implanted within us by the God who created us. In our lives, problems result when we seek that significance apart from our Creator. One of the ways that we attempt to prove our worth is by doing big things; having a big impact. The larger the impact, the thinking goes, the better our work for God. We want results to prove our closeness to God. But the verse above from Matthew says that our faithfulness is actually demonstrated in the little things. If we can stay rooted in Christ and believe the truth of who we are in the circumstances that seem insignificant to us, then we can be trusted with much. There is a temptation in the big things: we will look to them for our significance instead of God. So the pastor only feels effective if church attendance it big. An author only feels successful if they sell a lot of books. A parent determines their effectiveness by the career path of their child. A business owner gains significance from making more money. The list can go on and on. The false self seeks big things for a sense of value. God gives big things when we are secure and rooted in Him. Today at the Igniting Souls Conference that I am attending, I was reminded that impact is magnified when someone I...

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