1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Most people I talk to about their health & fitness wouldn’t place their physical well being in the sacred category. However, from Gods perspective, there is no divide between the sacred and secular. Everything is spiritual. Our bodies are the vehicle Gods given to us to live our lives and carry out our life purpose. Whilst Godliness is of every value, bodily training is of some value and it generally only becomes an issue when ill health surfaces in our lives. Many of us punish our bodies with a lack of sleep, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles that ultimately catch up with us as we age. When your unwell and unable to operate in your daily life as you once did, it doesn’t matter how grand your vision, or how passionate you are about reaching your friends with the gospel, the truth is you are dramatically limited in your capacity to carry out your ministry and spiritual goals. I’m advocating that we all increase the value we place upon our physical well being, not for cosmetic reasons but for stewardship and sustainability reasons that brings glory to God and energy for life and ministry. Sleep 7-8hrs, eat clean and move your body 30-60mins daily and the benefits will be dramatic, both physically and spiritually.
Ephesians 4:1 Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called. Everyone of us have been called to something unique and specific. Everyone of us are accountable to God and ourselves for how we fulfill that calling. There are specific things God asks of one person to do within their calling, that he doesn’t ask of another person. I can’t compare myself or what God is asking me to do with someone else’s calling and their personal approach to it. I’ve got to get on with being obedient in the things that help me fulfill my calling and you do too. Whatever God has called you to, walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have received, otherwise you’ll undermine what God wants to do through you. Consider what it looks like for you to walk it out in this season of your life.
I love fashion but fashion doesn’t save someone from hell. It seems like some preachers are more concerned for how they looked than how their sermon was cooked. Leonard Ravenhill once said,
No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organisers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors; few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.
Life tends toward complexity. Complexity is tiring and overwhelming. Most of us are already overwhelmed with more information and demands than we can handle. It seems like every week we need to take stock and cut out, afresh, the complexity from our lives. Simple, on the other hand, is cool. Simple is better. Simple is more effective. Simple is attractive in this day and age. Simple is refined. Simple is leaner and meaner (in a good way). Simple is possible. What complexity do you need to cut out of your job, relationships, finances, health, schedule and faith? There’s been no better time than right now to get simple, get clear and feel more effective in life.
From reading it I’ve been challenged by these key ideas.
Clear away the distractions and focus on becoming exceptional at one big thing. Modern life is complex, overwhelming and distracting. A key recipe to emerging from the chaos surrounding you is to identify the one big thing you were born to be, do or accomplish. Doing this will narrow your focus and compel you to utilize your time more effectively for your core purpose.
Focusing on one big thing will ignite your passion. A person fully alive is the glory of God. You can’t be fully alive without passion. Passionate people produce extraordinary things and attract a following. People line up for those who are passionate and exceptional about their one big thing.
Think about whom you want to influence with your one big thing. Who you want to influence is a key to focusing your energies and efforts to maximise your one big thing. Your niche crowd could be mum’s, leaders, executives, average joe, athletes, aspiring actors or teenagers. No matter how life changing your one big thing is, without an audience, your message doesn’t matter.
Your one big thing is connected to what you’re actually good at, not what you want to be good at. Sometimes we get romantic notions about what we want to do but demonstrate no skill or grace in that area. Get brutally honest with yourself without putting yourself down because every one of us have something we can develop and excel at. Discover what it is and get working on it. The best way to get noticed for your work is to be incredible at one big thing.
We are all capable of being ok at many different things but I’m interested in what is the one big thing we can contribute to this world. Ignore the advice of the crowd and put all of your eggs in one basket. Master your craft.
I planted Activate Church in April 2006 with a core group of young, passionate and visionary young people. We had energy and drive but very little material resources. We had passion and vision but only a little wisdom. We had faith and were willing to sacrifice but we lacked the seasoned perspective of more experienced campaigners around us.
We grew quite quickly, by God’s grace but we also expended a ton of energy. Sometimes, we discussed things and wrestled with issues that really were more of a distraction, than it was a help. Since then, I’ve become very focused on making sure that my energy and the energy of the team around me is directed to what’s most important. It’s the leader’s job to work out what’s most important, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Growing up a pastors kid and spending several years on staff at a number of churches, I thought I had the goods to get the job done but little did I know there is a big difference between being a member of a team and being the point leader of the team. There is a drafting effect when you are working in the slipstream of a point leader that does make it easier, but the moment you take the lead position, the weight and wind resistance increases exponentially. There was a definite weight-shift that took place when I took the lead pastor role and it only compounds the further you go and grow.
Youthful enthusiasm brings energy and momentum to any organization, especially a church. At Activate we have a 6pm service Sunday nights that has more than doubled in the last 12 months and with it has come new Christians hungry for the word and passionate in their worship of Jesus. I value youthful enthusiasm but I have come to appreciate the wise sages around me who have given very helpful advice at much-needed times.
I’ve come to learn that wisdom trumps enthusiasm. Passion, energy, drive and enthusiasm needs the focus of wisdom to direct it to the right target. Not only do we need to bring wise and experienced campaigners around us but we also need to grow in wisdom ourselves. Wisdom comes from 3 primary sources:
- Fear of God (Proverbs 1:7) – Until you fear God and weigh most heavily in your life, you will remain an undisciplined fool.
- Wise Counsel (Proverbs 15:22) – Point leaders need the right information from the right people at the right time. Your job is to build a team of the right people around you, who can not only do their jobs but give you the counsel you need, when you need it.
- Applied Experience – It isn’t enough to just have an experience, you need to apply it to your life by reflecting and possibly journaling on what you have learnt from the pain or success of the experience. Some people live the same experience 50 years in a row and never learn from it. Don’t be that person. Learn, don’t make the same mistake twice and grow.
The curse of youthfulness is impetuosity and to be honest I had buckets full of it. On the one hand, I had an action orientation that lends itself towards quick results but sometimes, only temporary results. Our generation wants everything done yesterday. In fact I don’t know any leader who doesn’t want things moving more quickly. However, wisdom gives you the needed discernment and perspective to help make the best use of the opportunity that’s presented before you.
Impetuosity moves quickly but spends energy unnecessarily. Leader, you aren’t just called to make any old thing happen, you’re called to make a specific thing happen and to steward what God has entrusted to you. This requires both capacity and wisdom.
We must obey the biblical exhortation to proclaim to the coming generation the glory of God (Psalm 78) but we must also exercise wisdom in how we lead ourselves and the young people around us into God’s purposes for the future well-being of the church.
The key to high performance is being able to completely focus all your energy on one thing at the one time. I know what it’s like to be in a moment with someone, like my wife or my kids, but not actually be present because my focus is on something else… work, etc. Not only is this frustrating for the person who is trying to engage with you but you also miss out on the full experience of being completely present with that person.
BE in the PRESENT!
The ability to focus is hooking onto one thing, often the most sensory absorbing thing and committing all your energy to it. Dr John Eliot in his groundbreaking book, “Overachievement” says, “By focusing on one task in one moment (the more specific the better) and free of results, time will disappear… and so will your misery or whatever else has been distracting you. More important, you will find that your performance goes up.” (2004, Ch8)
Performance isn’t a bad thing.
As a Christian Leader I often hear and even suggest to others the idea that performance isn’t something we should be aiming for or even thinking about. It’s true that anyone of us can get caught up in living a lifestyle of performing for others around us in order to please them and get approval from them. This is unhelpful and negative, however, there is a positive aspect of performance which is more about being in the zone and there’s something awesome about being able to switch it on, whenever you need, so you can better engage with the moment you find yourself in.
By definition, focus is where your eyes and senses are, not your mind. In other words, focus is thinking less, not thinking more. When I’ve thought of focus in the past, I’ve associated it with intensity, and while there may be a measure of intensity that enables focus to happen, it’s important to understand that to the individual in the zone, focus, is as natural as breathing. When you are so caught up in what you are created to do and loving it, you’re not even conscious of what you are thinking, you are just doing it. When you can switch on your focus as required, you can improve your performance and feel the exhilaration of feeling Gods pleasure as you live on purpose.
Feel God’s Pleasure!
Scottish runner, Eric Liddell, in the Movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ said these words, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure”. Each of us have been predesigned to being glory and honour to God as we run the race He has set for us. Where is it in your life that you feel God’s pleasure? Fire up your focus on it and watch your performance in your life increase.
Fulfilling your calling is going to take enormous energy. Anything worth pursuing requires an investment of energy on your part. Energy is a precious gift. The lack of it can limit your impact and contribution to life. I think great energy is a byproduct of Gods grace in our lives, directed towards a call.
People struggle for energy without a clear and defined purpose. A clear call and vision from God activates you to get up in the morning and get into the day. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us, “Without vision, people perish.” I have an internal drive because I have a clear vision for the call of God in my local church and personal life. What energizes you? What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?
Energy is also a byproduct of how we look after our physical bodies. If you pay attention to your ESD, you will go a long way to maximizing your physical energy. What is ESD?
E is firstly, EXERCISE. I encourage you to move your body for at least 20-3omins a day, 5-6 times per week. This could be walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, gym or competitive sport that you enjoy on a regular basis. S stands for SLEEP. Whatever you do, get up at the same time each day. Even if you have a late night, get up at the same time and sleep in before midnight, not after midnight. The hours pre-midnight are far more conducive to a healthier lifestyle than post-midnight. A basic 7-8 hours sleep a night is important for all of us to heed. Lastly, D stands for DIET. You are what you eat. Your physical energy rises and falls based on the fuel you feed it. Have a solid breakfast of grains, fruit and yoghurt. Eat fruit and healthy snacks throughout the day. Enjoy pasta’s, vegetables, lean meat, fish, etc for your main meals and try not to eat after 9pm each night. Minimize sugars, fats, etc because a healthy ESD will go a long way to increasing your energy.
Energy is also a byproduct of time spent with God. Don’t forsake your intimacy with God because they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Set a daily appointment with God and always keep it. Life can get busy and often the first thing to go is our time with God. Until you are convinced that anything good in your life is a result of your relationship with God, you won’t take it seriously enough to invest more time and energy into it. The busier life gets, the more you need to make time for prayer.