Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kingdom Riches vs. Worldly Riches and How They Define You

balance scales
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

There are two kingdoms that are vying for your heart in a relentless pursuit of you. In this life we have a choice: we can either pursue Worldly Riches or we can pursue Kingdom Riches. Worldly Riches are temporal things like money and possessions that don't last and can be taken from us. Kingdom Riches are eternal things that only God can provide and can never be taken away. They last forever. You can't pursue both because, as Matthew goes on to tell us, you will hate the one and love the other. Both kingdoms are opposed to each other and have different agendas. The Worldly Kingdom and its riches are only concerned with the here and now. The Heavenly Kingdom and its riches are concerned with your eternity and more importantly, your soul. There are five ways these two kingdoms define you.

#1 - They determine your IDENTITY

Worldly Riches define you by what you can or can't do, or what you have or don't have. Kingdom Riches define you simply by who you are in Christ. In God's kingdom your identity is not tied to what you do. Have you ever noticed in the bible that David is called "a man after God's own heart?" He is not identified as the one who killed Goliath, or the one who wrote the Psalms, or even one of the greatest kings of Israel. His identity is simply based on his relationship with the Father. In heaven there will be no titles in front of our names.

#2 - They determine OWNERSHIP

Not what you own, but who owns you. The pursuit of Worldly Riches leads to enslavement because possessions have a way of controlling you. The more you get, the more you have to work to keep them. The pursuit of Kingdom Riches leads to freedom because God is the one who not only owns you, but owns everything you have. In fact, you wouldn't have any of those things if it weren't for him in the first place. The Worldly Kingdom seeks to own you to make you dependent upon it. On the other hand, the Heavenly Kingdom seeks to own you to bring you freedom from dependency upon things that don't last.

#3 - They determine your VALUE

Worldly Riches actually devalue you because they place value on what you have. In that kingdom, life is limited to 2+2=4. Kingdom Riches increase your value because, once again, your value has nothing to do with what you can or can't do. Your value is solely based on your relationship with Christ. Whether you have a million dollars or are homeless, your value doesn't change. In this kingdom life is unlimited because God is not limited by human math or the economy. In his kingdom 2+2 might equal a million.

#4 - They determine your TRUST

Worldly Riches lead to worry because there is no real guarantee and you are left to rely on the economy, other people or yourself. These will only lead to disappointment. Kingdom Riches lead to peace because God is your sole source of provision. You can trust him because he will never leave you or forsakes you and he is the same yesterday, today and forever. You can't say that about anything else.

#5 - They determine your REWARD

Worldly Riches lead to hopelessness because there is no guarantee for the future. Banks fail and markets crash. When they do, they take your stuff with it. Kingdom Riches lead to hope because your future is secure. In God's kingdom his word is backed up by a 100% guarantee and his record through the ages proves it. Any reward you receive from the Earthly Kingdom is short lived but your reward from the Heavenly Kingdom is eternal and nothing can take that away from you, ever.

The pursuit of Kingdom Riches requires letting go. You have to let go of Worldly Riches. You can't grab on to what God has in His hands until you first let go of what you have in your hands. He has so much for you but you will never acquire it as long as your hands are full of Worldly Riches. Once you let go, he will fill your hands with Kingdom Riches that will last forever.
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Top 5 Most Read Blog Posts for September 2014

top 5 trophy
In case you missed them, here are the top 5 most read posts at The Good Life for the month of September 2014. Click on the titles to go directly to that post. Thank you for stopping by my blog and happy reading.

What is a servant leader? It's not complicated really. If you see people as a means to serve you, then you are not a servant leader. I would call you a manager or simply a boss. If you view your role as a leader to empower others to become better at what they do, to achieve greater levels of skill and ability and become better and more productive people in the process, then you are a servant leader.

The very essence of the meaning of leadership is to take people somewhere with you. Unless someone goes with you, you haven't led anyone. I have determined to be what I call aCollaborative Leader. This requires not only leading people, but involving them in the leadership process, giving them the reigns, and letting them get the credit. I can tell you it works and is the key to successful leadership whether you are a CEO in charge of thousands of people, or a manager in charge of just a few people in a small department.

I have worked for leaders who had the mindset that it is their job to remove every obstacle possible from the path of their employees. While that sounds like a noble practice, it actually works against success. There are four major reasons why removing obstacles is bad leadership.

One common mindset I find when talking to couples who have been married for 50 years or more is that even after 50 years, they are still learning. Once we think we have learned everything we are headed for big trouble.

#5 - Leading With Conviction

Most leaders today are lead by public opinion. Their goal is to make people happy. This isn’t leadership. It is simply following the masses.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Break Out of the Mundane and Into the Miraculous

break out wall
Do you ever get tired of where you are at? I'm not necessarily talking about your job or the house you live in. I'm talking about the spiritual rhythm of your daily life. Do you ever feel like there is something more waiting for you just over the horizon but aren't sure how to get there?

If you are going to break out of the mundane rhythm of your life and step into something much bigger you have to take a step of faith. You will have to step out of where you are now and step into where you need to be. Don't wait for God to open the door or map out the road for you. Step out and he will open up the way for you.

Joshua faced this same challenge after the death of Moses. God was calling Joshua to finally lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. God also encouraged Joshua to be strong and courageous and remember that he would be with him every step to of the way. As they stepped into the Jordan the waters parted before them and they entered into a totally new way of life.

That is the key for you and I. If we are going to break out of the mundane and begin to experience the miraculous we have to step into the water in faith. We can't afford to let fear hold us back and rob us of realizing God's future for us.

You can stay where you are if you want, but as long as you do you will miss out on a miraculous future God has waiting for you. So go ahead. Take that first step. God is waiting for you! Watch this video of a song by Chris Tomlin titled, Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies). It will bless you and give you courage.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Is It A Leader's Job To Remove Obstacles?

The answer, in my opinion, is yes and no. I have seen some recent buzz on social media about this subject and that got me thinking. First of all, I do believe it is your responsibility as a leader to remove obstacles for your employees if you have created them. One of your priorities as a leader is to free people up to do their job well. If your leadership is creating obstacles then you are responsible for the results of those under your leadership. With that in mind, let me now share why I believe it is NOT your job to remove obstacles.

I have worked for leaders who had the mindset that it is their job to remove every obstacle possible from the path of their employees. While that sounds like a noble practice, it actually works against success. There are four major reasons why removing obstacles is bad leadership.

#1 - It sabotages personal growth.
Without obstacles people will never learn how to solve problems on their own. Obstacles present opportunities for growth, develop flexibility, and build confidence. The old adage, "No pain, no gain" is true and it certainly applies to our work. A leader who removes obstacles ends up with a weak team.

#2 - It kills motivation and creativity.
The greatest way to develop motivation and creativity in your team is to give them a challenge. A mentor of mine taught me that when given a challenge, people will rise to the occasion. Nothing kills motivation and creativity faster than a lack of challenge. Removing obstacles will create boredom and lead your team to believe that they have nothing to offer.

#3 - It creates resentment.
Leaders who remove obstacles are motivated by the belief that they are the only ones who can do things the right way so they do it themselves. They have a hard time letting go of responsibility and trusting others to do their job. They forget that they simply can't do everything (don't forget that's why you hired your team in the first place!), and they eventually make huge mistakes only to blame everyone but themselves. This breeds resentment and anger and leads to a high turn-over rate.

#4 - It diminishes the strengths of others.
When you remove obstacles for others you send the message that you they are incapable of doing their job. It also tells them that you don't need them, or worse, don't want them. This is just plain dumb leadership. This is like a mechanic who has a shop full of the best tools yet chooses to repair an engine with his bare hands. He won't get very far. No one would think of doing such a stupid thing yet so many leaders do the same thing with their employees everyday and wonder why they fail. Leaders who remove obstacles subject themselves to their own limited resources rather than the unlimited resources of those around them.

I have worked for leaders over the years who have made these four mistakes so I can tell you from experience that these principles are true. I have also worked for leaders who instead of removing obstacles, mentored people in the process of overcoming obstacles as they did their jobs. These leaders had a low turn-over rate, enjoyed high levels of employee engagement and motivation, and produced consistent success. I can also tell you that it was a joy to serve under their leadership and they taught me invaluable lessons not only about leadership, but about life itself.

What do you think? Have you been guilty of being an obstacle remover? Have you worked for an obstacle remover yourself? I'd love to hear about your experience.
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Monday, September 8, 2014

4 Mindsets That Are Sabotaging Your Marriage

angy couple
In four weeks my wife and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. I must say that I am no expert on marriage. I have read countless books on marriage, attended marriage seminars, and have even counseled couples as a pastor, yet I still have much to learn. One common mindset I find when talking to couples who have been married for 50 years or more is that even after 50 years, they are still learning. Once we think we have learned everything we are headed for big trouble.

Over the last 28 years I have made a lot of mistakes. Some of the most powerful learning experiences come from failure, whether our own or from others around us. The following principles come from much of what I have learned from my own mistakes. My hope is that someone who is struggling in their marriage will find this helpful.

#1 - Marriage is a 50/50 relationship.
If you believe this to be true I can tell you that your relationship is doomed from the start. The minute one partner gives less than 50% the other will feel cheated and will fight for their rightful share. This is not healthy and does not work. When you said your marriage vows you promised to give your spouse everything, not 50%. A successful marriage is one where each partner gives themselves sacrificially and never keeps score. The focus is on what I can give, not what I can get.

#2 - There is only one right way to do things.
This mindset assumes that one of you has to be right all the time. This sets the relationship up for massive conflict and will shift your focus from the problem onto each other. When facing problems don't try to find out who is right and who is wrong. Instead, find a solution and then work together to solve the problem as a team. Once you step in the trap of having to be right you not only hurt yourself, you hurt your partner too.

#3 - Don't go to bed angry.
Before you hit the delete button, hear me out. This mindset is based on a misinterpretation of Ephesians 4:26 that says, "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath." This is not what this verse means. When you read the entire verse you will notice that Paul makes a distinction between anger and wrath. Anger has to do with our emotions while wrath has to do with our actions. What Paul is saying is that we need to correct our behavior before the day is done. To not do so is to sin. He never said it is a sin to be angry. I have learned from experience that thinking every conflict must be resolved today is not healthy. Sometimes the best way to resolve conflict is to sleep on it so that you can deal with it without the emotion of the moment. Many times you will wake up and have completely forgotten you were angry. Your anger is your sole responsibility, never your spouse's.

#4 - I have a right to be happy.
This is simply not true. Your happiness is your sole responsibility. We have an unhealthy addiction to happiness. I can tell you that if you spend your time and energy pursuing happiness you will only end up being miserable. Contentment is the better and more reasonable goal. 1 Timothy 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain. Happiness is dependent upon how we feel which changes with our circumstances. Contentment is dependent upon the truth which remains constant regardless of our circumstances. When you pursue contentment your relationship will stand the test of time. When you pursue happiness your relationship will fall apart the moment you run into difficult circumstances.

If I could sum up everything I have just said I would say it this way - Marriage is not about me. It's about us. Marriage is not easy but regardless of what statistics tell us, in spite of your family history, and in spite of your own past, you can have a marriage that is both rewarding and lasts a lifetime. However, you have to be intentional about it everyday and be willing to work hard at it. Follow the example of how Christ lived in laying down his life for us and I guarantee your marriage will be successful.
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