Tag Archives: success

Do We Need a Bigger Boat?

 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  Matthew 14:24-31

Isn’t it amazing how far God will lead us if we are willing?!  In my previous post, we can imagine Peter launching out into the deep almost as a kind gesture.  “Okay, I’ll do it, but I’m telling you we’re not going to catch anything.”  He was not only willing to fail, but probably expecting it just to appease Jesus’ request and prove he knew what he was talking about.  It was the obedience we discussed earlier with little faith to speak of.

Now we see a very different Peter who is still willing to fail, but this time he is willing to fail with a faith few have ever possessed. 

In both cases he found himself in the midst of the sea.  In both cases there were people watching.  But now it didn’t matter.  He was willing to do something no one had done before; something that couldn’t be done just to be where Jesus was.  We don’t know how far Peter got.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.  If only for a moment, Peter proved to everyone on that boat at God’s command, if we keep our eyes on Him, He will do things through us and with us that can’t be done.  But we have to be willing to get out of the boat.

I could tell you that I have spent most of my life on the boat, but that would be a lie.  Most of my life has been spent on the dock watching the boat go by.  Getting past what people thought just to get on the boat was a big step.  But I have seen God’s power.  At times I have felt His love and Spirit consume me.  I have wept at the thought of what He has done for me.  And now it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says; I don’t care if I fail.

I want to get off the boat and be where Jesus is.  How ‘bout you?

Article by C.S. Depew

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Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make

I just found my notes from Hans Finzel’s book – a must-read for any pastor / church leader.  Just in case you’re like me and already have 3-4 books going at this moment and don’t really have time or energy to add another book to the list – here are the ‘cliff-notes’ version:  (Don’t miss #9 – it’s my favorite!)

1. Top-down Attitude
This is the “mother of all leadership hang-ups.”  Based on the military model, this autocratic model is set to be abused.  It promotes talking instead of listening and often neglects the art of delegation.

2. Putting Paperwork before People-work
People are opportunities – not interruptions.  Need-meeting is at the core of leadership and ministry.

3. The Absence of Affirmation
People thrive on sincere praise and appreciation.  Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘thank-you note.’ Do your best to catch people doing good and be generous with your compliments.  The ratio of positive to negative should be no less than 6:1.

4. Beware of not Making Room for Mavericks
People with different ideas are often pushed to the side by their leaders.  Make room for independent thinkers by creating an atmosphere of innovation.  Creativity has been terribly stifled in today’s churches.

5.  Dictatorship in Decision-making
You can’t delegate philosophy – only procedure.  Don’t think you are the only one who can do it. The one who does the job usually knows best how it’s done and how it might be improved.  The best ideas usually bubble up from the bottom – not from the bureaucrats!

6. Dirty Delegation
One of the most frustrating things to an employee or a volunteer is to be assigned something with no authority to do it.  Sometimes the job given has so many strings attached to it, that the worker is afraid to make a move.  Don’t be afraid of losing your authority – and don’t give into your tendency to micro-manage.  There is nothing that crushes morale and causes resentment quicker than this!

7. Communication Chaos
Never assume – NEVER.  Communicate your vision and repeat your dream.  Do more listening than talking.  The larger the group, the more formal the communication needs to be, and the more methods of communication needed to interact.

8. Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is defined as: the way insiders behave based on the values and traditions they hold.  Theologians call this ‘contextualization.’  Part of establishing credibility is learning to identify with the specifics of your team.  Know them.  Be sensitive to what people think.

9. Success without Successors
Instill your convictions and philosophies deep within your followers.  Pride tightens the grip, humility relaxes and lets go.  A good mentor:

  • sees potential in others
  • tolerates failure and weakness
  • is flexible
  • must have patience
  • looks down the road
  • prays for discernment
  • gives timely advice
  • has the capacity to encourage
  • gives freedom to allow leadership to emerge
  • is willing to risk his own reputation

10. Failure to Focus on the Future
Be pre-occupied by planning.  Don’t settle for long-term dreams — set short-term goals.  Then evaluate your progress.

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?

You’ve heard it a hundred times – if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And if this statement ever was true, it is simply no longer reality. Life IS about growth, but it’s not ALL about growth.

This post is part of the series – What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?
Would You Return to Your Organization?
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?
Leaders are the Most Creative People on the Planet
Great Leaders Serve
Is Fear Taking Over?

I’m passionate about growth. I’ve written much about planningvision, and growth. For much of my life, anything short of growth I considered failure…until few weeks ago.

In a recent post, Chris Patton included a simple phrase that caught my attention – life is not all about prosperity.

Just a few hours before reading the post my wife and I had engaged in an emotional discussion about her moving forward with some decisions she needed to make. (I know what you’re thinking – but it was in a restaurant, so it wasn’t too lively.)

Sarah is steady, supportive, consistent. I am creative, innovative, impulsive. So I questioned whether Sarah was putting off some decisions because she was waiting for circumstances to improve. Or because she was hoping for more certainty.

After reading Chris’ post, I found myself questioning MY perspective – is life all about growth?

Here are three things I noted about growth from this experience –

1. Growth comes in many shapes and sizes

Reflecting on my conversation with Sarah, I realized that she IS experiencing growth. Among other areas, she is growing in patience – with her circumstances and with me.

Growth is not always bigger. It’s not always quantitative – measured the way you or I think it should be measured.

Here’s a great question for determining whether or not you are experiencing growth – Are my current situation and my resulting behaviors adding value to my life and work or to the life and work of others?

2. You can grow through pain

From a long-term perspective, maybe the old adage is true – If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Let’s face it – in a world of constant and rapid change, maintaining the status quo is quite simply passive regression.

But, on the surface, constant growth just doesn’t seem possible. Life is about dormancy, setbacks, and pain. It’s about disease, loss, and grief. It’s about uncertainty and unknowns – challenging projects at work, strained relations at home, in between jobs, waiting for word from the doctor, mounting medical bills.

And while it seems that life is about more than growth – life’s incredibly uncomfortable moments are, in reality, opportunities for explosive personal growth.

3. You don’t have to prolong the pause

It’s true – life is full of difficult moments. But it’s also filled with hope. With vision. With dreams. With legacy.

Life isn’t all about prosperity, but it can be about growth. If you are going to grow it will have to be on purpose. You must choose.

So whatever you’re going through, deal with it intentionally. Process it. Get help. Don’t prolong the pain any more than is absolutely necessary.

Decide right now – What one step can I take today toward closing this chapter in my life and opening a new chapter?

Life is a series of new beginnings – and today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Make it a great one!

So, is it true – am I dying if I’m not growing? What have you learned about growth? Leave a comment – let us know what you think.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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If You’re not Mentoring, You’re not Leading

You are not leading if you are not developing new leaders. Simply developing followers who flesh out your ideas and implement your vision won’t cut it.

Having followers is not the defining characteristic of leadership. At its very core, leadership facilitates change. After all, if you are not leading people and teams toward change, what are you leading them to do? To be?

Change is not easy. It’s difficult – not for the faint of heart. And developing people – new leaders – adds more complexity to the mix.

To develop new leaders, you must be willing to invest in people – to mentor them. And mentoring will require more of your time and your resources than you ever thought possible.

 

And it’s worth it. Because leaders mentor new leaders. And those new leaders will change the global marketplace.

There’s no need to worry about your position, your age, your place in life, your limitations. They don’t matter – they’re only excuses!

You’ve walked where someone hasn’t. And you can help them – if you dare.

Last week I received a phone call from a friend. He called to let me know that he began working on creating a personal life plan this week.

For several years I’ve been sharing my life planning experiences with this friend and the dramatic improvements I’ve seen in my life and work.

So he decided last week that it was time for him to get started. If he follows through, his life will be forever changed.

I recently heard Bruce Prindle talk about mentoring – he noted 3 ways that leaders mentor new leaders. Here they are:

1. Fully Committed

Mentor leaders devote themselves selflessly to those they mentor. It’s deeply personal. They fully realize what’s at stake.

Being an only child, our daughter, Madison, learned to entertain herself at a very young age. She would spend hours telling stories to herself as she acted them out. Usually her narratives involved a mother and daughter, teacher and student, doctor and patient, etc. She’s a good mommy and a good teacher – although she gets a little bossy at times.

One afternoon several years ago, I walked past her room and overheard her tell her imaginary daughter, “Honey, I need to finish my work and then I’ll play with you.”

To which the imaginary daughter replied, “But mom, I really want to play now.”

Mommy Madison said, “I can’t play with you right now, I have to finish my work.”

At this point I walked in the room and asked her, “Madison who did you learn that from?”

She responded, “Mommy and you – I want to be just like you guys”

Yikes!

Are you too busy to be fully committed to mentoring new leaders?

2. Model life and work

People will take your example far more seriously than your advice. The last thing the world needs is more noise. Effective mentors talk less and live more.

And it’s not just about job function and performance. Mentor leaders help people improve holistically – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

3. Pass it on

Mentors challenge future leaders to think creatively and work passionately. And the new leaders know that their mentor is genuinely interested in their success!

I previously wrote a post, Success – When Your Successor Is More Successful Than You, so I won’t include the same information here. But take a few moments to review the post.

If you are not mentoring a future leader, you are wasting your influence. And that’s inexcusable!

If you’ve been mentored, you understand the enormous value of the mentoring relationship. Your life and work were profoundly impacted by your leader. So pass it on to someone else.

If you don’t, well, you’re not really leading.

Question: What mentor had a profound impact on your life and work? Honor them by including their name or, if you’d prefer, a description of their influence in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Scriptural Steps to Secular Success – Part 2

Read Part 1

Title Is Earned

Genesis 39:4-5 “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.”

God Rewards Faithfulness, As Do Bosses

The Christian life is a call to faithfulness.  In the secular world, consistent productivity is noticed.  While some members of management may seem to “have it out for Christians,” today’s economic climate dictates that they not only notice but reward productivity.  When your testimony improves, opportunities will present themselves.  As Joseph found grace (or favor) in Potiphar’s sight, he continued to serve.  That is exactly what you must continue to do.  Beware!  There is a tendency to get comfortable, to relax, to become lazy. Put simply, be faithful!  Remember, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life!

Temptation Often Comes Before and After Success

I’ve never worked to obtain a title.  But I will be the first to admit that I enjoy recognition and affirmation.  Just like Joseph, I have been made an “overseer” of some sort at almost every job.  However, I never compromised to obtain it.  The temptation was there.  They threw out the infamous, “Well, we really are going to need you to work Sunday morning.”  I always respectfully said no, and God never went back on His word.  He blessed my faithfulness just like he blessed Joseph’s – and just like He will bless yours.  As we see in verses 7-12 of Genesis 39, temptation came to Joseph – and it came at some point following becoming the overseer of Potiphar’s house.  But, I am confident that temptation and opportunities to compromise had presented themselves much earlier as well.  Maybe Joseph was asked to participate in some pagan ritual or eat food offered to false gods.  Maybe he was mocked for his belief in only one God, rather than the Egyptians’ many gods.  Had Joseph compromised, his success would have been “his” and not “His” (i.e., the Lord’s)!

Trust Is Exhibited

Genesis 39:6 “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.  And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”

A Title Is NOT Synonymous with Trust

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute!  You earn trust before you get a title.”  That is not what we see in this passage.  Joseph is made “overseer” but only of Potiphar’s house and what Potiphar put into his hand.  Later, in verse 6, we see that Potiphar leaves “all that he had” in Joseph’s hand.  My experience has been that managers often do not trust other managers; as a matter of fact, managers will often trust their employees more than other managers.  Stated differently, you can have a title without having trust.

Trust Is Superior to a Title

Trust is more difficult to earn than a title and much easier to lose.  If you lose your temper, stretch the truth, or fudge the numbers – even once – you can lose or diminish the trust you have built over many months or years.  But each time you “do the right thing” you increase the trust.  If a co-worker told your boss that you swore at them or mishandled money, would they question you or summarily dismiss this as “something I know he/she would never do”?  I have had co-workers defend me to my boss, not because I was a supervisor, but because of trust.  As a Christian attorney, if I had to choose, I would much rather be a trusted associate than a distrusted partner.  However, following simple, Biblical principles and trusting God to reward as He has promised means that you will rarely have to choose!

No matter what your occupation or geographic location or the level of your compensation, you can be successful in the secular world.  Over time, look for ways to display Christian qualities in your work.  Make your testimony a priority, higher than friendship or recognition.  Faithfully work and look for opportunities to serve your boss; they will result in your boss giving you a place of leadership.  And, most importantly, build and guard the trust that you earn.

If the life of Joseph teaches use one thing, it is this: Doing right is not always easy, but it is always right.  And, right is ALWAYS blessed by God.  


Read Part 1

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Scriptural Steps to Secular Success – Part 1

For those of us not in the ministry, work is the place we spend the largest amount of time each week.  It therefore presents a great opportunity to display Biblical Christianity.  Nowhere in Scripture is the life of a Christian in the world better exemplified than Genesis 39.  In this portion of Scripture we find Joseph, who had been sold by his brothers into slavery, serving in Potiphar’s house.  If we fast-forward to Genesis 41, we find this very same man is now the second in command in Egypt, wearing the Pharaoh’s ring, married to the Pharaoh’s daughter! His “success story” was no accident; it was not the product of luck.  I believe the first six verses of Genesis 39 are a microcosm of Joseph’s life and hold the key to Joseph’s success.

While many books could be written about Joseph’s life, I believe a few important “steps” were the key to his success while working in the world.  These steps are something from which every Christian can learn.

Time Elapses

Genesis 39:1-2 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.  And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

 Don’t Hide Your Light

I’m going to start, rather than end, with the disclaimer.  I am not advocating being a “closet Christian” or hiding your light under a bushel – not even for a day.  However, experience has taught me that our Christian witness is often much more effective and powerful when exhibited over a period of time.  People can question “religious” words, but they find it much more difficult to discredit true Christian living.  Joseph was purchased by Potiphar.  For some period of time, Joseph was “in the house of his master.”  It was during this time that Joseph continued to live his life for God, just as if he were still at home.

Be an Exemplary Employee

The first step to secular success is to live your Christianity every single day at work.  Be the best employee in every way possible.  Show up on time.  Work hard.  Be absolutely honest.  If you are wronged by someone, turn the other cheek.  Don’t aim to be popular, aim to be profitable.  Every boss I have ever had has taken notice of employees that excel.  Remember to do your work “to the glory of God.”

Look for opportunities to talk about the Lord and church.  Don’t tell people you can’t come to the barbeque on Sunday “because you’re busy.”  Tell them you will be at church.  Love your fellow employees.  When you see or hear they have a heartache, ask them about it, tell them you will pray for them, and actually pray for them.  Follow-up telling them that you’ve prayed and asking how the situation turned out.  Over time, your co-workers and bosses will not only know something is different, they will know what is different.

Testimony Is Elevated

Genesis 39:3 “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

You Are on the Stand

The secular world calls it “reputation.”  Most Christians refer to it as “testimony.”  I much prefer the latter.  Think about the word.  The definition includes: 1) affirmation, declaration; 2) open attestation, profession; 3) witness, evidence, proof of some fact.  For a Christian, each day presents an opportunity to help or hurt the cause of Christ – to build the case for Christianity.  To put this differently, and in paraphrase of a devotion written by Oswald Chambers, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life.  If you profess the name of Christ at your workplace, people will start collecting evidence; they may even interrogate you.

You Are NOT Testifying on Your Own Behalf

We often forget the purpose of our life.  What do you see as the end goal of your secular work?  It is not to obtain a comfortable life.  Though important, it is not ultimately about providing for your family.  The purpose for everything you do in life should be to bring glory to God.  Imagine that you were on the stand testifying on behalf of a loved one who was accused of a serious felony, who was believed by many to be guilty, who you knew to be innocent.  How careful would you be with your words?  How careful would you be with your life the days before and after testifying if you knew the “accusers” were watching your every move to discredit your testimony?  If we were all this careful when it came to our testimony on behalf of Christ, the world would have a much different view of us and Him.

You ARE in Control of Your Testimony

Nowhere is our Christian testimony more “on trial” than in the workplace.  But just like a witness on the stand, you are completely in control of the testimony you put forth, and you must tell the truth.  You’ve heard the euphemisms – “A testimony takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.”  It’s true!  If you live your life every day to please Christ, you might not be the most popular person with your co-workers, but you will gain their respect.  They will “see that the Lord is with you.”  And, I can tell you from experience, your boss will also be pleased.  Your testimony, influence, and opportunities will continue to expand.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Grow on Purpose

It’s the one piece of advice we all know is true, but don’t necessarily want to hear. If I could say one thing to my generation it would be this – Grow on purpose!

Grow on Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received scores of email with questions and comments about self-development and leadership. And the resulting conversations often involve how to improve priority management and make better decisions.

Leaders and team members are looking for solutions to complex challenges in their life and work. And our conversations inevitably lead back to the same solution – grow on purpose.

When life happens

When your words are misunderstood. When people are criticizing you. When you think you can’t handle any more – grow on purpose.

When you feel discouraged and you want to quit – keep growing.

When you’re not sure if your life or your work is making a difference. When you don’t know if your leadership or influence matters – just grow on purpose.

There is one, and only one, silver bullet solution to breaking through to the next level in your life and work — to becoming the leader you long to be: You must grow!

Whatever you do – don’t stop

So many people struggle when vision or plans are unclear. They don’t know where to start or how to move forward. And they do the absolute worst thing – they stop.

So when you’re feeling unsupported, blocked, or stuck – grow on purpose.

When it doesn’t feel like you and your team are making progress – don’t stop, keep growing.

When your  life and work seems designed to frustrate you and thwart your plans on your journey – grow on purpose.

Don’t stop. Keep going. Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Just keep growing.

Stop and start

No matter where you are on your journey, successful leaders who have gone before you knew one thing – the secret is to keep growing. So keep moving. Keep deciding. Keep learning. Keep leading.

Whatever your fear – grow on purpose.

If you feel like a wannabe – grow on purpose.

If you are waiting for your “big break” (and it feels like you’ve been waiting forever) – grow on purpose.

Grow. Step up. Lead. When you’re done, do it again. There’s no better way to make maximum impact – grow on purpose.

Stop complaining, whining, and questioning yourself. Stop criticizing others. Stop blaming everyone and everything else. And start doing this one very simple (but very difficult) thing – grow on purpose.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Fall Seven, Rise Eight

You are only a failure when the number of times you have fallen is greater than the number of times that you have gotten up…

Back when the Miami Heat was a real basketball team and not the spectacle it is today, Dwayne Wade was considered the best player in the league. After winning the NBA title in 2006, he got a TON of endorsements. One of which was his own pair of shoes from Converse known as “The Wade” — Real original right? — What I liked however was the slogan for his shoe. Real simple, but real catchy: “Fall Seven, Rise Eight”

Although it can be applied to basketball, that slogan is an actual Biblical principle from the book of Proverbs:

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. – Proverbs 24:16

What King Solomon is telling us in this passage is not only profound, it is also ENCOURAGING!  Everyone falls down and has heart ache, it’s just a part of life. However, it’s what you do while you are down that makes or breaks you as an individual. We have a natural impulse to stay down when we do fall. In our mind, it is easier to stay down and not take the risk of falling again when you finally got up. I say that ANYONE can fall … but it takes a strong person to stand up, look their adversary, addiction, depression, or fault in the eye and press forward!

Staying down only further damages you. It does not let you heal. You heal by working through it and gaining confidence each day to overcome! As you have seen on Animal Planet, the Lion never goes after the running gazelle, it goes after the one that is weak, fallen, and hurt. If you do not pull yourself up, Satan will get to you and ENSURE that you never get back up:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: – 1 Peter 5:8

Is it embarrassing to fall? Of course, but we all do it. And as we looked at earlier, it’s an even bigger embarrassment to not get back up.

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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Bio – Michael Nichols

I serve as Administrative Pastor at FBC Midlothian in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I usually focus on intentional growth and leadership. I believe that if you are going to live and lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it.

I write on self-development, coaching, productivity, and leadership. I also occasionally write about resources I am discovering as I grow.

I blog with some burning questions and a few ambitions. I want to know:

  • How do successful leaders do it?
  • What makes organizations grow consistently?
  • What does it really take to lead?
  • How am I supposed to lead when I’m not in charge?
  • Why do leaders lead?
  • How do you succeed at leading without driving everyone crazy?

Along the way, I found a community of like-minded people sharing many of the same struggles in these areas. So, this is where we band together to grow and lead with purpose in our lives and work.

I invite you to visit my personal blog: http://www.michaelnichols.org/