Stay Focused!

Philippians 3:13-14 But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

About this time of year, the passion of New Year’s resolutions and goals begin to wane, as the rush of everyday responsibilities consume us. I want to encourage you to not let the busyness and routine of everyday life crush your hopes and dreams for 2018. 2018 can and should be your best year yet, regardless of what circumstances may be threatening to steal your peace. Having the best year of your life doesn’t mean you’ll never have to face challenges or difficulties. It comes back to your focus on what God has spoken into your heart, as well as sticking to your core convictions. What you choose to focus on is what will impact your life in 2018 more than anything else. There are some things in life we cannot control. There is no point allowing your focus or peace to be distracted by these things. What you must focus on are those things you’ve been entrusted with and can take responsibility for. I’ve learnt that if I will play my part and give 100% to what I’ve been called to do, the rest of my life takes care of itself. Take heart, God is for you and he has anointed you with talents, abilities and responsibilities that require your attention. The arena you will see the most reward from is connected to you focusing on those very gifts and strengths that God has entrusted you with. Stay focused. Explosive Insights!

Overcoming Insecurity!

Insecurity! Everyone of us suffer from it at some point in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. Unfortunately, it’s rooted in our fallen nature and begins to surface in childhood. Many adults still have an insecure child in them due to a significant emotional trauma in their past.

Insecurity is like a heavy ball and chain weighing you down and disrupting your relationships with others. Insecurity is a feeling of unease and vulnerability due to a perception of feeling threatened in some way. Insecurity is a lack of deep understanding and confidence in our personal value and a lack of security in our personal identity.

A classic example of insecurity is King Saul (1 Samuel 9:21). From the very beginning Saul suffered from deep insecurity and it undermined his relationships and calling.

Symptoms of insecurity include:

1. Withdrawal and isolation from others.
2. An overly controlling personality.
3. Constant aggressive behavior.
4. Constant avoidance of confrontation.
5. Over-compensatory behavior
6. Defensive mechanisms towards others.
7. Mask wearing.

The downward spiral of insecurity looks like:

– Comparison to others
– Compensation of behavior
– Competition of others
– Compulsive behavior
– Condemnation of oneself
– Control the outcome

As you look at how insecurity manifests itself, we conclude it’s simply unhealthy because it drives us toward doing all sorts of things that are unnatural to how God designed us or what he thinks about us. Insecurity limits our self-authenticity because we are constantly living according to what we think other people think of us.

What’s the remedy? Identify where your insecurity surfaced in your life. What was the identifiable triggers of it? Repent and ask God to help you become a more secure person. Renew your ideas about your identity in the Scriptures. Celebrate and become comfortable in your own skin, including your gifts and unique qualities. Affirm others but don’t compare yourself to them. Welcome compliments and affirm the people around you.

Insecurity is a fruit of our fallen nature but in Christ we can grow to learn a new pattern of thinking about ourselves and others that’s both helpful and God-glorifying (2 Cor 5:17).



Pressure Shift!

The word SHIFT means to change from one position to another or to move from where you are to where you need to be. Life and leadership requires shifts of all kinds at various moments in our journey if we are going to continue to grow and influence others toward a preferable future. One of the shifts I have personally had to embrace that I want to pass onto you is:

A PRESSURE shift from the comfortable to the chaotic

When I wasn’t leading people in the context of local church ministry, my life was less chaotic and more comfortable and yet when I answered the call of God to lead and preach, the pressure increased radically. It’s in response to the possibility of stress that people often back away from the call of God but keep in mind the only place where there is no stress in life is the cemetery. Life, let alone ministry is full of chaotic activity, especially, when you are seeking to live in the centre of God’s purpose for you.

The first thing that signals a transition into growing pains is an increase of pressure applied to your life. Life Pressure is the amount of force applied to such things as your schedule, relationships, work and finances. When going through a pressure shift, you will feel overwhelmed by what is being expected of you and as a result you will have a tendency to go to emotional extremes. When you feel like your spiritual insides are going to explode you will generally respond in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Push harder, or
  2. Sideline yourself
Either option isn’t going to help you grow. I encourage you to go contrary to what you think should do and work a little less but spend more time with God to receive the spiritual energy you need to sustain the output required of you in your current capacity. Leadership, be it in the family or work context demands an increasing of capacity to keep growing.

Get Organized!

Every now and then I get totally frustrated with the lack of certain results and outcomes in my life. I tend to be a little OCD about getting things done and in a particular way. I have learnt that while my first fleshly instinct would be to blame someone and look for the fault on their behalf, I have to be honest and acknowledge that most of the time the central issue is me and my personal lack of organization.

I am a particularly organized person (If I don’t say so myself… haha) but I generally attempt to do too much and squeeze that little extra into my already overcrowded schedule. In the past when I would struggle with punctuality, it wasn’t because I was lazy, it was because I was attempting to complete, ‘just one more thing’ in my schedule that I simply didn’t have time for (can anyone else identify?).

I have learnt that if I really want to grow in a particular area of my life, I must get more organized (I know in Australian English ‘organize’ is spelt with an ‘S’ but I like the way the Americans spell it). Personal organization and self-leadership is a fundamental backbone of personal growth and development. You can’t go higher in God, work or life if you don’t commit yourself to getting more organized.

Here are some basic tips I have learnt to getting more organized:

  1. Know what God has called you to do – Being clear on your life calling and purpose helps to eliminate wasted time and energy. Knowing what God has called you to do helps you to know what to say yes too and what to say no too. While we are always growing in our understanding of God’s call on our lives, we need to establish some clarity and work towards fulfilling it. The earlier, the better… but it’s never too late.
  2. Structure your schedule around your physical and emotional energy peaks throughout the day – While this is not always practical or even totally realistic, if you have the flexibility to make this happen in your schedule, observe for a week your energy peaks and lows and schedule your most important assignments, meetings or tasks in the appropriate time of day.
  3. Buy an iPad 2 – I have found this little instrument an absolute master-piece of tech-engineering that helps me to no end with my personal organization. Not only do I have a daily, weekly, monthly and annual outlook on my calendar but I have access to various apps (Awesome Notes)that make taking notes, referencing work related materials and recording important things much easier. All that I need is in one place, it’s mobile, super-fast and can be accessed at the click of a button. Definitely worth the investment.
  4. Have a weekly planning meeting once a week – I meet with my wife every Monday night and quickly go over our plans for the week. It helps keep each other in the loop on what’s coming up and also helps us our communication flow during the week. We also look ahead in the month and plan future activities including holidays and family events that need to be included in the schedule.
  5. Look over your schedule the night before – Don’t wake up and wonder ‘Oh what do I have on today?’ Know what you have on because your brain has already made a mental note, the night before. Know what’s going on and don’t be wondering what just happened.
  6. Have a specific place for everything – The simple way to avoid leaving things around the place is have a place for everything. Be it clothes, shoes, bills, administration tools, books, food, sports equipment, CD’s, DVD’s, etc… Know where things belong and where to put things after you have finished using them. I don’t lose my keys at least when I am at home because I always put my keys, phone and wallet on the front bench as I walk into the house (If they do go missing, I know that some cheeky little monkeys are up to something…).
  7. Chunk – Carve out blocks of time to concentrate on specific and important tasks. Don’t do a task in dribs and drabs. Make time and focus your energy, resources and abilities on completing the task.
  8. Focus, Focus, Focus – They key to great performance in something is complete focus and concentration. This comes naturally to me, like a sixth sense, which sometimes irritates my wife to no end but is able to be developed by anyone who is desperate enough. Golf is a great game to teach you focus, because if you don’t focus, you won’t be playing golf for much longer… it’s too frustrating.
  9. Plan, Plan and then Plan some more – The key to great organization is planning. I plan my preaching 12-18 months ahead. I plan holidays 12 months ahead. I’m getting better at planning my financial budget than I used to.
  10. Develop an action orientation – Make things happen by getting actively involved in the process of life. Don’t be passive and watch life pass you by, get involved. The world waits for no-one. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it.
  11. Get fit – Great fitness enables you to do more, be more and live more. When your physical body breaks down, everything in your life just stops because you need time to recover. The fitter and healthier you are the more alert, energized and organized you will be.
  12. Develop systems for doing routine tasks – For example, I don’t get to watch the news every night to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world but every morning after my devotions, I’ll use my iPad 2 (Gotta get one) and access a top News website to get a big picture scan of the key news items for that day. My job requires me to be informed of what is going on in the world around me and this little 5 min exercise helps keep be informed and engaged.
  13. Prioritize your BIG Rocks – Date night with my wife is a big rock that I have in my diary weekly. My devotions and preaching study time is a big rock that goes into my diary. Meetings with key people need to be prioritized in your diary. There will always be more work, more people and more opportunities to fill in the details of life but you are responsible for what’s most important.
Hope this helps.

The Disciple Making Church

The BIG idea of why the church exists is found in Matthew 28:18-20. The church exists at the core to make disciples of Jesus. You must be convinced that disciple making is for everyone, and not just a few elite people who have the gifting and passion for it.

Why is making disciples so important? Jesus has commanded us to disciple and Jesus has modeled to us what disciple making looks like. The early church lived and breathed it and unless the church makes disciple making the main agenda, world evangelization won’t take place.

It’s not enough for the church to have an overseas mission program and neglect mission at home base. Weak mission at home weakens mission thrust in foreign lands. When the local church prioritizes disciple making, Christians become healthy and start to reproduce more disciples.

Technically, every Christian is a disciple of Jesus and called to make disciples. God expects every believer to be a mature, reproducing disciple. Disciple making isn’t an even, it’s a process and a lifestyle. Jesus Christ is our chief example of disciple making. Jesus wasn’t random in his ministry. He had a plan, priorities and goals. So important was the mission to Jesus that he made 5 Great Commission declarations throughout his ministry. If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying over and over again.

There were 4 key statements in the Gospels that help us focus in on the disciple making process in the life of the local church:

  1. Come and see = Invite people to activities that introduce them to Christ and the church.
  2. Come and follow me = Show people how to follow Christ and do it with them in a life group.
  3. Come and be with me = Train disciples to lead others and let them do it themselves
  4. Remain in me and Go and make disciples = Send disciples out to make more disciples
In order for this process to work every believer must shift their focus outward, rather than inward. The more we keep focused on our own little worlds, the more dysfunctional we become but the more outward focused we are, the more healthy we become.

Spiritual Warfare!

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11)

There is a spiritual battle waging for your soul, whether you can see it or not. Being a Christian and having a Biblical worldview exposes me to the reality of the devil and his agenda on the earth. We must avoid 2 extremes when it comes to Spiritual Warfare. Too many of us either, attribute too much credit to the devil’s influence in our lives or we don’t acknowledge his presence at all and write him off as just being pure fantasy.

Someone once said, “One of the greatest lies Satan ever convinced us with, is that he doesn’t exist”.

The Scriptures exhort us to remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. The 1st lesson of spiritual warfare is to know thy enemy. Unlike the common caricature of horns, pitch-fork and pointy tail, the devil masquerades himself as an angel of light, he distorts the truth and the bible says that he is an accuser of God’s people and continually opposes Gods purposes on planet earth.

Keep in mind that Satan is not like God in any way. He is not omnipresent, omnipotent or omniscient. Only God is completely and utterly holy and sovereign. Our approach to spiritual warfare must be shaped by a biblical worldview. The reason Ephesians 6:10-20 exhorts us to stand and defend against Satan’s attacks is because the decisive battle over Satan has already been won by Jesus. 1 John 3:8 says, the reason Jesus Christ appeared was to destroy the works of Satan. Christ has disarmed the rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame.

God hasn’t called us to be cowboys when it comes to spiritual warfare because Jesus has already done the heavy lifting against Satan rendering him a defeated foe. Our job as believers is to enforce the victory Christ has already one and drive out the kingdom of darkness from the world through the weapons of Gods truth, prayer, faith, the gospel, salvation and our righteousness in Christ.

Satan doesn’t have any new tricks up his sleeve. He just tries the same old well-worn attacks he has used for centuries. He attacks the mind with strongholds. He attacks the body through physical sickness. He attacks relationships with strife and he attacks the church with doctrine, disunity, persecution and apathy.

Our response to these attacks is to root out anything in our lives the devil could use as a foothold to enter in and destroy us. We are to submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us. When you stand strong in God, you won’t fall when Satan attacks you.


A Leadership Model

Leadership development is more than a course, it’s a life long process. Through this life long process God molds us over many years into the person he wants us to be. Growing into the leader God wants you to be demands great faith in God and a breaking of our own resources. Leadership development requires an intentional framework of thinking.

I think about leadership development in the form of a compass.

The true NORTH of the leadership compass is Character: Character is the foundation of leadership that establishes dependability. The Book of Proverbs talks about our gift making room for us. The formation of character helps you stand strong when more room is created for you to exercise your gift.

EAST of the leadership compass is Vision: Casting vision is being able to embody a clear and compelling picture of the future. Casting vision answers the ‘what direction are we heading in?’ question. Casting and clarifying compelling vision is one of the chief responsibilities of the spiritual leader.

SOUTH of the leadership compass is Skills: Our gifts make room for our leadership to be expressed. Some of the skills of a leader include creating culture, strategic planning, communication, conflict resolution, time management, delegation and team building.

WEST of the leadership compass is Relationships: Leaders must be able to build strong relationships with people to realise vision. No matter how gifted you may be, none of us can fulfill the vision alone. The primary means of influencing people is through the building of healthy relationships.

Character partnered with vision helps you to model commitment to the vision. Character partnered with relationship helps us to earn trust from followers. Skills partnered with relationship helps us to serve and empower followers. Vision partnered with skills helps us motivate commitment in followers.

Keep in mind, you lead out of who you are. What God does is take us on a journey to develop 4 major aspects of who we are: Identity, integrity, intimacy and intensity. Keep the big picture framework of the leadership process in the forefront of your mind as God develops you into the leader he has called you to be.