Friday, February 27, 2009

The "Stuff" of Life

I had breakfast this morning with a friend. Our discussion reminded me of something I learned before I started in this role, thanks to one of my sisters. She pointed me towards the parable of the bags of gold from Matthew 25 (and Luke 19) where the master gave out 5, 2 and 1 bags of gold to three of his servants. Ever since I read this as a kid I viewed it as this lump sum of “stuff” we get as a human being to do life with, and when it’s all said and done and we have to give an accounting of our life, then God comes and determines your future state in heaven.

She pointed out to me that, no, it really means that what God has entrusted to me today, he expects me to use it well, and if I do, He comes along side of me and says “Well done, let’s go again!” There is also an implied partnership that should not be lost in these verses, but that’s a thought for another day.

So after she said this, my whole life flashed before my eyes where I saw myself in all of the various roles and jobs that I had experienced. I thought about my personal growth and the things I had learned through the good times and the not so good times, the increase in responsibilities that I had been entrusted with from job to job and also from role to role within the church setting. This was so cool because I saw all the points (I see charts and graphs in my head often!) where God had come alone side of me and said “Well done, let’s go again!”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. While I had been trustworthy with what God had given me, I was in no way intentional about how I invested my “stuff”. My progress was completely done out of an intuitive mind set to seek out that which is greater than the last. It was the first time in my life where I sat down and had a good look at my “stuff” that God had given to me and ask the question, could I get a greater return that what I was currently getting? (This also implies an increase in risk! Right, another topic for another day).

Since this time I’ve come to land on three things that must happen in order to be highly intentional in my investments of the “stuff” God has entrusted to me.

1. I must know that which He has given to me. For me it’s leadership, administration and discernment. If you don’t know your “stuff” then get on with the search.

2. I must have a usage plan for each one of the gifts I’ve been given. We all have a number of roles we live and breathe within. A mom, a dad, husband, wife, volunteer roles, work related roles. If you think about it, you have huge opportunities all around you to exercise your gifts and be intentional about using them. When you get intentional, you’ll find yourself having out of body experiences where you are watching yourself doing things that blow you away. Often we are looking for that perfect “role” to make us happy and feel fulfilled, but in reality, using your gifts in the “now” will be instant satisfaction.

3. I must have a growth plan. Part of growth comes when God comes along side of you and say’s let’s go again and He throws you into something that is big and scary. You’ll always grow this way. But a large part of the growth comes from being in the moment, using your gifts and seeing the things you could do well and the things you could do better. It comes from reading and studying about your giftedness. It comes from observing others with similar gifts. It comes from trial and error. It comes from evaluating failure and success. I’ve discovered that the greatest growth spurts come from walking through a tough time. Every tough time presents itself with two opportunities for growth. One happened in the middle of the tough time where if you are aware, you get to test-drive your gift in new ways. Second opportunity comes after the tough time is over and you can take some reflective time thinking about what just happened and what you learned about yourself.

Be intentional with what God had entrusted to you here today. Enjoy it! If you are, then it will open up the path for God to give you even bigger things down the road. Don’t concern yourself with what’s next. It’ll be bigger than you can possibly imagine.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Butter, Honey, and Crumbs

My mom is not doing so well these days. I was thinking about her today and some of my favorite memories.

We use to drive mom crazy before bed time. Us three boys would fight and carry on (just goofing around) and mom would get madder and madder because we were not going to bed. Sooner or later she would go to the cupboard and pull out the strap. A wide thick leather strap about a foot and a half long (or at least what my mind remembers it looked like).

We would all squeal and get scared and start running up the stairs and she would be chasing us, following us up the stairs too. Before she made it to the top she would start laughing and so would we. We never did get the strap (at least what I can remember) and we always went to bed once the little charade was over.

Mom was a great cook and many times we would come home and there would be fresh bread on the counter. Still warm. Mom is “fresh baked bread” for me. The aroma is so awesome. One day I came home alone from school to fresh bread. 6 loafs . . . They were still warm. . . No one was around. . . I love crusts. . . Mom’s crusts. Well, I proceeded to cut off all the crusts on all the loaves. Crusts, butter, honey and me. It was great.

I cleaned up all the evidence (butter, honey, and crumbs) and just walked away like I was never there. All was okay until later that night.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Morning Blessing

This morning I was reading Job 1-3.

Satan says to God, “So, does Job fear God for nothing?”

And then God allows Satan to take everything away from Job. His oxen, camels, sheep, donkeys and even his children. Completely gone. Nothing left. What does Job so? He falls to the ground and worships God.

So I started to think hard on this. Do I fear God for nothing? If I lost all that I have, would I fall on my face before God and worship Him? In verse 2:10 Job responds to his wife, who had asked him to curse God, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”

If I had my dear sweet Faye and Ami taken from me, would I fall on my face and worship God?

If I lost my job, the house I live in, my wonderful wife, would I fall on my face and worship God?

If everything was gone, and I was left standing alone with just my pain and grief, would I still fall on my face and worship God?

Then I looked out the window and it was snowing and looked cold. I pictured myself out there in it, on my knees worshiping God, having no place to go, nothing to eat, still in my pain. But I was with God.

Is it enough for me to know God and to be known by Him? Is it enough for just me with my creator? What would keep me going in that moment? Would it be my total fear of an awesome God who holds me in the palm of His hand and can do whatever He wills with me?

Lord, today I want to thank you for all your blessings and want you to know that I appreciate all that you have given to me. But Lord, today I also want my fear of you to be deepened, knowing that I am yours to do with as you wish, and knowing that even in times of trouble, you love me and I’ll always safe in the palm of your hand.

So then in that moment of prayer I’m wakened to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I jumped up with a start and raced to pick it up so my wife doesn’t wake up. It’s a friend. He said he wanted to pray for me. So he did.

He prayed that I would have insight into God’s will for me that day. He prayed that I would have super natural wisdom and have the courage to follow through on whatever God would have me do today. Then he prayed that I would have a blessed day at work. He prayed blessings on my children, my wife, my home, my health. He wanted God to bless me in a great way. His last words were “Bless you”.

How can I not fear a God who knows me deeply, knows where I am and what I’m reading and thinking about. A God that summons His child to make a phone call so that He could speak into my moment in a profound way. This is such a God to fear.

I just sat in awe at what God just gave me. It was God coming close to me and saying, “Your safe with me, I know you fear me and nothing else, and this day I choose to bless you.” And then I got on my knees and worshiped Him.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Canadian Travesty

So a few years ago I sent this little note into the Calgary Sun and they printed it in the letters to the editor section. It was a time when Chretien was our PM and the liberals were spending way to much time on whether or not to leagalize pot.


Canadian Travesty

Well the great coffee scurry has finally come to an end for yet another spring at Tim Horton’s. It seems like only a few short days ago when I drove up to the window with buzzed (perhaps a coffee rush from the day before) anticipation of sipping from my first cup of the season, looking forward to that great taste topped off with a chance to Roll-Up-The-Rim-And-Win.

After a few wins and a few weeks, I think all Canadians start to feel the extra caffeine taking over their vital systems, which also including the staff at Tim’s. During the last week of the contest, on three different occasions and from two different Tim’s, I had just finished lapping up my last drop of coffee looking forward to the roll only to find my rim had already been rolled! I can’t tell you the devastation, violation, and feelings of deep depression that descended on my spirit. Somebody’s dirty fingers had touched my rim!

Somebody’s cheated me out of my free something-or-other! What do I do?! Who do I call?! Where do I go!? Is this something Chretien should deal with or is he busy with the pot thing!? Next year, Tim, please keep you fingers off my rims!

Jordan Polson

It was fun to write and even funner when they picked it up and printed it. I ran out and bought a few copies, which I still have today. A proud moment for sure. I have absolutely no idea what to do with them today!


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Joy and Happiness!

Roll Up The Rim To Win!

What a great day!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who Supports Me?

So I finished the book and wanted to bring forward for you one of the last chapters because it’s made me think a lot in the last three days. In chapter 24 Maxwell asked us to think about those that support us. I think you could do some translations from work to family to life in general, but I’ll talk here mostly from the context of my role and the staff that I lead at the church.

What kinds of support people do I have working for me? When I went through all of these questions I was able to plug a lot of my staff into them. So I’ll give you the questions and then talk a little at the end.

Who supports me at work?

Time Relievers – These are the people that save me time.

Gift Complementors – These are the people who do things I am not gifted to do and make up for those areas I am lacking. I need a lot of these kind of people!

Team Players – These are the people who add value to me and my team. They continue contribute and see themselves as part of something greater than just their own role.

Creative Thinkers – These are the people who solve problems and give me options. I can never get enough of these people and so I am always facilitating brainstorming sessions. I have my special people that I really love having at the table.

Door closers – These are the people who complete assignments with excellence. When I delegate something or create a project that get’s handed over, they bat it out of the park every time.

People developers – These are the people who develop and raise up other leaders and producers. Check out my other post here on Trading Up where I talk a bit about addition vs. multiplication.

Servant Leaders – These are people who lead with the right attitude. I’ve got a whole host of these kinds of people here.

Mind Stretchers – These are the people who expand my thinking and my spirit. Sometimes they create tension for me, but it’s always creative tension and never negative tension. I have come to really love these people in my life.

Relational Networkers – These are the people who bring other people into my life who add value to me. I’m really lacking people in my life that do this for me. This is the one area that I need to so some further thinking about to determine how I can acquire these kinds of people in my life.

Spiritual Mentors – These are the people who encourage me in my faith walk. I think I also need more of these kinds of people. They are hard to find in person. I have a few authors that give me substance, but not so much that one on one mentor.

Unconditional Lovers – These are the people who know my weaknesses, yet love me unconditionally. I need people in my life that I know are "for" me. I have a few of these. I’m thankful.

I am so grateful for my staff and from reading this chapter I realized even more all the wonderful people I get to work with. I’m not so good at letting them know how much I appreciate them, and with this list I’m actually able to put some verbiage around how they bless me.

I’ve gone through each of these types and wrote down the names of some of the people on my staff in those areas where they bless me. Over the next month I’m going to make sure they know what I think about them and how I appreciate them. Call me on it a month down the road and see how I did.

On to another book ...


Friday, February 20, 2009

Trading Up

Finished chapter 22 in Leadership Gold. Maxwell talks about 10 different things that you need to consider trading for so that as a leader you can get to the next level. Really good stuff. Two of these trades jumped out at me.

1. Trade Addition for Multiplication

If I’m all about leading others, well that’s really great. Because I am adding to myself as I lead people forward in whatever seems to be the trek of the day. The follower list might be growing but it’s still only through addition and not multiplication. It’s a far more significant thing, and more difficult to achieve, to develop leaders who in turn lead others. If I can lead and grow others in such a way as to result in those I lead developing still more leaders under them, well, then we are talking exponential impact. I’m not so sure I do this well, but I’m becoming much more intentional about how I lead and develop others into leaders. I feel like I’ve stepped into some kind of vortex in the past 3-4 months that has heightened all my sensory receptors when it comes to this thing called leadership.

2. Trade Your Work for God for a Walk with God

I’ve been doing ministry for years. I think since I lead my youth group in high school. A small portion of those years have been in a paid role, but none the less, I’ve been a busy guy doing ministry in various areas of the church. I think I’ve spent most of this time doing things for God and not necessarily spending time with God. Since last summer I have become convinced that God is far more interested in my walk with Him than he is in “using me” for the work he doing in our world. I’m not saying that’s not important, but what I am saying that without a deep relationship with God, nothing else much matters. It’s the relationship that lives for an eternity. Susan Scott in her book called Fierce Conversation makes a statement about people and their relationships that I think goes for my relationship with God as well. She said that we can think all we want about our relationships with each other, but none of it has any substance to form “relationship”. Relationship is formed only during the act of conversation. The conversation is the relationship. In that very moment, the act of speaking and listening, centered on another human being comes the essence of the relationship. It’s either a positive or negative encounter based on the conversation (words, body language, unspoken words, all that conversational stuff). If I’m not fully there with my presence, chances are high that its does the relationship harm. If I’m all there, centered, listening, sharing, interacting, consumed with the very presence of another precious being, God or otherwise, the relationship grows and becomes greater than before. Today I crave a deeper walk with my creator than ever before. So I’m becoming much more intentional and careful when I come into His presence.


ps. If you attend CrossRoads Church and would like a copy of Maxwell’s book, let me know. I’ve bought a few extra, just for you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The stuff of leaders

Just read a great chapter (15) from Leadership Gold by John Maxwell. He talks about leaders distinguishing themselves during tough times. Sometimes I think I’ve been on a great ride here at CrossRoads because God has blessed us all in so many ways. People are coming to Christ and lives are changing, the church growing. The finances required to meet the demands of ministry have been there. I have a great staff and generally, the people of CrossRoads are externally focused and all seems well.

Yet with all that said, the growth of the church is causing me to reflect on the sustainable nature of its state, asking the question as to whether or not we can we continue on with the current pace without some major paradigm shifts in how we think and do things. I am sensing that now is the time for me to really step up as a leader and earn my keep! As the challenges get deeper and more complex, it’s during these times that a good leader is most needed. Most people can lead on the front of a huge wave where everything is going well and rolling forward. But in challenging times, when tougher choices need to be made and the risks are higher, it takes an exceptional leader to move things forward. Am I such a leader?

Maxwell says that if you want to lead well in the tougher times, then you have to lead well in the smaller issues, making the tough calls when necessary. If you can do this, then no matter what kinds of storms come, or how far in over your head you may think you are, you can keep on leading well. I have a feeling there is a little more to it than just that, but I’ve found this is an important piece of the puzzle to leading well.

I’m most definitely in over my head most days and I’m glad I’m not doing this alone.

Over the next few blogs I’ll share some of my thoughts on how we need to think differently around here. The paradigm shifts I believe we need to make here at CrossRoads.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Three questions

I love my staff. They are a great bunch of people to work with who are committed to our vision and purposes. I watched a video a couple of days ago that nailed it for me. It was about vision and what the church needs to be about. This was both affirming for me in where we are heading as a church, but also challenging in the way that makes me wonder if we are taking enough risks these days. I’ve never been afraid of change, in fact, the team probably get tired of me preaching at them about the fact that change is necessary to get where we want to be. But with change, I’m also very methodical in how I implement things. I could take more risks and trust God more. Check out the video called “Three questions that need to be asked” from NewSpring Church.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

In That Secret Place

How about two blogs in two days! Just has some time and thought I would throw these two thoughts up here while I was thinking about it.

For the past year God keeps bringing me back to Psalms 139. I’ve been attempting to do a full memorization on this chapter because is speaks to me so kindly of how God sees me and thinks about me. I’ve got all kinds of study notes on this chapter now, but the thing that has been sticking out the most to me over the past while comes from verses 15 and 16.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

The first phrase of v15 does not do this justice to what the psalmist actually was implying. These verses are a powerful picture of God, up close and personal, knitting me together in my mother’s womb and never able to take His eyes off of me because I was the main focal point. It’s just like my Dad watching hockey when I was a kid. He was glued to the TV. If one of us kids tried to talk to him, he would respond, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the action in front of him. He would rock back and forth and side to side with all the hockey action, engaged verbally with the TV and in constant motion throughout the whole game. We were the distraction; the hockey was the prime focal point.

In my mother’s womb, I was the prime focal point for God. He couldn’t take His eyes off of me. He could not be distracted. A deeper study also showed me that not only was He completely focused on me, but he was actually mesmerized by me and couldn’t stop thinking about me. Mesmerized (or captivated) by me as He busied Himself with the act of created me, making me just like he had imagined before he even started a single stitch. In that dark, quiet, still place; in that secure and perfect incubator (my mom), there was God and there was me. And He loved me and couldn’t stop thinking about me. All I was able to do was to be there and receive and know the warmth of His presence and His love.

God, let this knowledge change my view of myself. May I come to really know and understand in my heart that you are a loving and gracious God and that you like to be with me. Bring me back often to that place of being perfectly still and quiet, delighting myself in your presence.

I got lots more on this chapter that God has used to speak deeply into my life. Perhaps someday I’ll expand some more.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Altering the Future

Well, it's been a while and I've not journaled here one single thing. I have a sneaky feeling that there is a whole lot more thought going on in my head than that which I let out. Oh well.

Been reading Leadership Gold from John Maxwell. Great stuff. It encapsulates all of his thoughts on leadership throughout his life time into one book with great applications around each chapter.

First off, chapter one made it clear to me that I have a responsibilty as a leader to bring others along with me. If I'm climbing a mountain by myself, all I can do at best is tell others of my achievements, but if I bring others along with me, the stories get told in many places and many have an opportunity to learn with me those things that I am coming to understand.

Robert Greenleaf said that "The greatest forsight, the most difficult and most exciting, is the influence one wields on the future by helping the growth of people who will be in commanding positions in the next generation."

He goes on to say that the future can be radically altered by the kinds of people now being prepared for the future. Wow! I can either contribute to the future, or let my life pass before me without any intentiality towards the growth of others. I choose the former.

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