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3 Questions to Deepen Relationships

August 18, 2011

These aren’t questions to evaluate your relationship or anything like that, rather, these are questions to ask each other to improve the relationship.  You can ask them to your family at the dinner table, you can ask your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your roommate, good friend, whoever.  The more often (ideally daily) they are asked, the better.  Here they are with a little explanation:

What was the best part of your day?

This  allows you to see what is important to them.  You can see patterns in what excites them and what matters to them.  It gives you something to celebrate together, an important part of building relationships.

What was the worst part of your day?

Similarly, this allows to see what is hard on them, what things bug them.  It’s a time of learning as well as an opportunity to share in that problem or pain. (Maybe even just listening).

How did you see God work in or around you today?

This is a great question because it gets people to have a different perspective.  They begin to look for what God is doing around them which is important.  (If you’re dating this also helps evaluate where they are spiritually over time).  This question gets better when continually asked.  The person begins to look for God in their everyday so that they know what they are going to say when you ask.

Finally, all of these questions help develop healthy communication.  You know what is going on in their life, and you’re learning about them while doing it.

I call it “best part, worst part, God part.”  Try them out, let me know what you think.

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Are you too popular?

August 11, 2011

So I failed to blog last Thursday.  It wasn’t my original intention, but my excuse is I was at a conference.  Anyway, while at the conference one of the speakers said, “If you don’t run into the devil every once in a while maybe your walking in the same direction.”  Actually, I didn’t right it down, so I don’t know if that’s exactly how he said it, but it’s close.

It reminded me of something I’ve thought about before.  This idea of being “too popular.”  Jesus was always talking about how we would be persecuted, and Paul did too.  Actually, you can find something about it in every single book of the New Testament!

That’s the idea the speaker was getting at, if you don’t run into warfare every once in a while, maybe your heading in the wrong direction.

Like I said, this is taught throughout the New Testament, and I think the best example is in Luke 6.

Jesus says, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26, ESV)

He cautions people, saying, if everyone is happy with you, that’s probably not a good sign.

And right before that Jesus had said, “What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22, NLT)

You’re not blessed for being made fun of or disliked in general, but when it is on Jesus’ behalf.  When is the last time someone spoke poorly of you because of your faith?  What you said or did? Taught or believed?

Does that say something about how you are living?

It should be a part of every Christian’s life.

Are you too popular?

Raising Leaders – from the other side

July 28, 2011

Blogs, books or articles on mentoring, discipleship, directing, whatever you want to call ‘raising up a new leader’ are in abundance.

But not everyone agrees on what works, what it should look like, or how it should be done.

I can’t tell you the right answer.  BUT, I can tell you what has worked on me.

Yes, on me. Not for me.

This is from the future leader side instead of the leader side.  The one being invested in rather than the one doing the investing.  I’m only 21 years old, so for me to try to add to the conversation about how to do it would be pointless, but I can simply say what has and hasn’t worked on me.

1. Be intentional when finding someone to invest in. But don’t force it.  People who have wanted to invest in me have come in three forms: those who pursue me, those who force me to meet with them, and those I’ve pursued.  The whole goal is to raise up future leaders.  That means the should be able to take some initiative. Some. (We’re still learning).  Find someone with potential, get together, and build the relationship, but at some point leave the ball in their court.  Say something like, “If you want to do this again let me know.”  It’s okay to bring it up again, but let them take some initiative.  Some.  Not a lot.  It will make a big difference.  If it’s something they want, it’s something they will benefit from.  If they feel obligated to come, they come with the wrong perspective.  When people force me to meet with them I often see it as a commitment I need to follow through on instead of an opportunity.  This doesn’t mean always leave it to them, it means have a balance.  If they aren’t willing to even express interest (they don’t even have to plan the get together, just show they want to) you can probably find a better potential leader.

2.  The little things.  They saying “the little things make a big difference” is true.  Every moment is a teaching moment.  Whatever situation your in, take the opportunity to speak truth into that person’s life.  It doesn’t need to be planned, it doesn’t need be long, it doesn’t need to be profound.  Some of the things I remember the best were one line pieces of advice.

3.  Push them.  Expect a lot.  But be gracious if the don’t always make it.  If you don’t expect and ask for a lot, you will never get it.  Young people need to be pushed.  Encourage them, let them know you think they can do it and see what happens.  Give them responsibility.  It’s good for them.  If we don’t learn it now when will we?

4.  Help them understand themselves.  Understanding myself has helped me make huge steps as a leader.  Help the figure out their strengths and weaknesses.  What are they gifted at what are they not? What do they enjoy doing?  What seems tedious.  Then help them see how this plays into their leadership style.

5.  Take chances.  People have taken some crazy risks on me.  And it’s helped me exponentially.  Give them opportunities that will stretch them.  This helps them develop skills as well as figure out more about themselves.  Maybe they do well, maybe they bomb.  But no matter what, they learn.  They may realize this is or isn’t for them.  They learn what areas they have to work on to improve for next time.  And finally, they learn what it looks like to actually go through that whole process.

What has worked on you?  Would you change or add anything to this list?

Labor vs. Results

July 21, 2011

It’s easy to get discouraged when we are unable to obtain the result that we desire.

We live in a culture where we are both evaluated and rewarded by the outcome.  The result is what matters, not the work that was put into it.  In church and ministry this can often be discouraging, because we don’t have control of the result.  It’s out of our hands.  We do our part and the rest is up to God.  So when God is blessing the ministry next door and ours seems to be struggling discouragement becomes an understatement.

That’s when it’s important to remember what we are evaluated on.  God does not evaluate us based on the result.

1 Corinthians 3:8 says, “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”

The key part of this verse is the last phrase.  They are rewarded based on their labor.  That’s contradictory to what is ingrained in our culture.  The verse before acknowledges God is in control of the outcome, our job is to just do the work.

In order to avoid discouragement we need to remember that we have a singular purpose: to do the work.

It’s not always easy to remember, but it’s the perspective we need to have.  So don’t get caught up on the things you can’t control.  Just do what you can.

The rest is up to Him.

Modern Day Ecclesiastes

March 3, 2011

I often just sit and think.

Typically its about the future, sometimes its the present, and rarely the past.

I was rather reflective today.
Thinking about life in general, wondering what I was doing, what’s my purpose?
The more I thought about it the more I just got these feelings of hopelessness, futility, uselessness, and emptiness. I felt like the writer of Ecclesiastes. Everything seemed like vanity. There’s nothing new, life just continues to go on. Problems come and go. The world keeps on spinning. Things that promise happiness prove to leave us wanting. Nothing seems to truly satisfy.

So what’s the point?
We’ll like Ecclesiastes, this isn’t where I ended.
The writer concludes with this:

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

So there are things that matter. The trick is remembering what they are.
It’s not anything that the world can offer.
It’s a simple relationship with God.
The sooner we can get this figured out. The more satisfying our life will be.

Something to ponder, mull over, muse on, cogigate on, etc.

February 8, 2011

Here’s something to think about.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Got it?
Alright, now that you have it, here are a few questions to follow up with.

Is this something worth changing, or is it just vain?

If it’s vain, what does this say about the way you view yourself and how can that change?
If it is worth changing, what change can you implement to obtain this goal/idea/characteristic?

I dare you to avoid setting it aside as something that you’ll never achieve, and actually start the modification process. It’s not going to be easy, so don’t just give up if you fail. It’s a war, not every battle will be victorious, but determination is the catalyst of success. So, stay focused and continue to think about it and remember it as you make decisions. The more you filter your decisions through this desired change, the closer to it you will become.

Do you need a realignment?

January 26, 2011

Every so often our cars need to have their tires aligned. This need can come from a something specific (such as hitting a pothole or a curb, getting in an accident, etc.) or it can just come from natural uneven wear on the tires. Either way, the result is that your car “drifts” or “pulls,” it no longer just goes straight.

This can happen in our spiritual life. Whether its something specific or you’ve just put in a lot of miles in with your walk, we can sometimes get off track. It’s not that we’re heading in the wrong direction, we’re just “drifting.”

So what do we do? If you’ve ever heard me speak, I almost always talk about the “fundamentals of the Christian faith.” That’s because I think they are so important. The little things are what keep you on track. To switch analogies, remember that the fundamentals in any sport are what allow you to to be successful in that sport.

My point is, when is the last time you have had a spiritual alignment? The last time that you got some things tweeked to make sure you’re going straight.

I’ll give you an example from my life. Remember, for you it can be anything. For me it was staying focused on the end. Let’s go back a couple of weeks. I was still walking with God, reading my Bible praying, etc., but something was off. I couldn’t figure out what, but I was “drifting” against my will. So I headed to the “shop.” That is, I fasted for a day last week and asked God for a spiritual realignment. Well today I got the answer. I had lost focus of the end. I wasn’t living expecting Christ to return at any moment. I asked for forgiveness and God quickly got me back on the road, going a little bit straighter than before.

So what is it for you? Are you heading straight, or do you need a spiritual alignment like I did? Ask God, I’m sure He will show you with time.