Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. — Romans 12:2
Some years ago a magazine pictured a man staring out of a window; the caption read: "Why does this company pay this man $100,000 to look out a window?" The answer: Because the lifeblood of any organization lies in ideas and creative thinking. Thinking is powerful. Flying a plane, air conditioning, cell phones, vaccines, the World Wide Web--without thinking, these would have been impossible. Everything begins with a simple thought.
Ideas are a great moving force of history. We are never free to do what we cannot conceive. Having a godly mind enlarges our thinking capacity. A leader's thinking must be shaped by the following:
Vision: What is our dream? Carl Sandburg was right: "Nothing happens unless it is first a dream." Vision is a process of the mind--it's mental, not visual. Vision is seeing what everybody has seen but thinking what nobody has thought. What is needed to build a pyramid? One person who can think and ten thousand people who can grunt.
Values: What is important? Values have to do with how we treat people, how we do our work, what is vital to us. Values are the standards, the principles, and the code of conduct that characterize the organization. Values aren't dreamt; they already exist. Leaders shape and form the organization's values. Some universities decide to pour sidewalks after students have first worn a path. Where are the well-worn paths--the actions, the beliefs, the attitudes--that matter most to you? Those are your values.
Venture: What are we willing to risk? Organizations that make a difference are willing to think outside the box. For example, a company that was in the well-digging business began to think in terms of efficient and effective means of making holes, and they soon discovered that lasers dug holes better than augers. They achieved the same goal but accomplished it more efficiently.
Vehicle: What will get us there? How can we accomplish our desired outcome? A dream without a strategy is merely wishful thinking, but with a strategy it becomes powerful thinking.
Victory: What will the celebration be like? A leader thinks like a champion. The end result is to move forward, to accomplish goals, to be God's faithful servant, to celebrate being a part of God's kingdom.
Wake up and start thinking. Take off your nightcap and put on your thinking cap. Ask God to continually renew your mind.
You and I were made for a great adventure—it’s why we like movies. Movies have a story to them, an adventure to follow through. It’s also why we like shows like “Star Trek.” We want to “boldly go where no man has gone before."
That’s no accident. God made us to long for adventure—his adventure. God calls all believers to join him in a rescue mission, “to seek and save the lost” (see Luke 19:10) and complete the Great Commission.
Not only has God created us for this mission; he also wants us to go on the adventure together. God’s agent for completing his mission is the church. Churches start churches. The Bible says, “[God’s] intent was that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known …” (Eph. 3:10). God has chosen the church—not governments or businesses—to be his agent to complete the mission.
I’ve experienced failures. I’ve watched others fail. I’m guessing you’ve seen plenty as well. This morning I tried to think through some common reasons why failure happens. I’m looking forward to some healthy conversation on this one.
1. It’s not your passion. If it doesn’t make your heart beat fast or cause your mind to race when you’re trying to sleep, you’re probably doing the wrong thing.
2. You don’t have a plan. You need a vision, and you need to identify specific steps to make that vision become reality. That includes a financial plan. (I happen to believe you need direction from God on this.)
We recently had the “Bennett Boys” over while their parents David and Heather went out for a birthday dinner. We love those boys! Austin is 12, Hudson is 8 and Jackson is 7.
They are great kids. They’re smart, love Jesus, and are lots of fun! One thing they all have in common is energy. Lots of energy!
Our little dog Nacho is a play machine. He never tires of playing with anyone who will give him attention. Well, he met his match that evening. The boys wore that pup out! Nacho slept great that night!
I’m a high-energy and long-endurance guy, but when I see kids play I think, “Wow I’d love some of that energy!” Like the Energizer Bunny! (My favorite one… with Darth Vader!)
The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves. — Proverbs 14:8
Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was thought eccentric because of how extensively he planned his plays in advance of each game. Most coaches would wait to see how the game unfolded, then respond with plays that seemed appropriate. Walsh wanted the game to respond to him. Walsh won several Super Bowls with his "eccentric" proactive approach. He was a coach who looked into the future.
Looking ahead is the process of creating the future before it happens. People who learn to do it "understand where they are going." Like Bill Walsh, it involves deciding your actions in advance so that your life will respond to you. What are the benefits of such a proactive pursuit?
Looking ahead gives direction. It's like using a highlighter on a roadmap to indicate where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. The highlighted roadmap not only provides information for where you are going; it also suggests where you are not going.
Looking ahead helps us to create rather than react. With each step along our journey, we are faced with a choice either to create or to react. Many people spend their entire days reacting. Like goalies in hockey, with pucks flying at us all day, we react. We react to news, cars in traffic, people, events, challenges, and obstacles. A better way involves making choices and following plans.
Looking ahead saves time. "One hour of planning saves three hours of execution." Planning yields a savings return. We only have twenty-four hours in a day and 365 days in a year. If we don't use them wisely by looking ahead, we will forever forfeit those gifts.
Looking ahead reduces crisis. Our daily lives have two controlling influences: plans and pressures. When we look ahead and choose to plan, we take charge and control of our days. If we fail to look ahead, we will spend our days in crisis mode. We will fall into a trap of panic planning--planning on the fly with no time to effectively map out a strategy.
Looking ahead maximizes energy. Failing to look ahead, we dissipate our energy on less important matters, improper agendas, and lost crusades. We waste our time on the trivial many. But preparation often energizes us!
Be wise. Look ahead. It's eccentric but well worth the effort.
On my last day in Ko Olina, Hawaii, I was reminded of a discussion we had two weeks ago in Manila about burdens. Here is an expanded version of what I shared.
1. Distinguish between a load and a burden. There is a difference between a load and a burden. The Bible tells us to carry our own load (Gal. 6:5) but it also tells us to carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Loads are regular occurrences we are designed to carry. Examples of these are: caring for our love ones, work entrusted to us, providing for our families, even connecting with people God wants us to reach.
Burdens on the other hand are those that are beyond our ability to carry. This could be due to something unexpected, unknown or unusual. The first step in turning burdens into spiritual muscles is to correctly identify them. Is it a load or a burden? Once you have identified a burden, it’s time to…