Choosing to Grow Before You Go

Have you ever been frustrated to a point where going felt like the best option? Or maybe the only option?

You were…

…Frustrated with a relationship, and you just had to get out.

…Frustrated in a marriage. So you walked out.

…Frustrated with a job. So you quit.

…Frustrated with your lack of progress. So you dropped the gym membership and grabbed a candy bar (sorry, was that too close to home?)

We’ve all been there. Most of us too many times to count.

The frustration to leaving conundrum is very real and very visceral. At times leaving is absolutely the best option. But not always. For now, let’s focus our energy on workplace frustrations.

I’ve never met a person who’s lived a life free of work-related frustration. As an emotion, frustration drives us to make many decisions. Not necessarily good decisions, but decisions none-the-less. Of all the decisions we face in the midst of our frustration, decisions that seemingly remove the frustration come to us first.

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Unplugging the Microwave of Success

Have you heard the soundtrack to the hit broadway musical “Hamilton?” If you’ve seen the actual musical, just keep that to yourself — intentionally causing envy is tantamount to envy, itself.

The music is quite spectacular. And historically insightful, too. My kids are way more knowledgeable about the Founding Fathers due to our time in the car together. It makes me question everything about my school upbringing! Hip hop trumps note-taking all day long.

Production aside, Alexander Hamilton was quite an amazing guy. He accomplished much, including establishing one of the first banks in America, the Bank of New York. Here’s what made me take a step back while jamming along to the soundtrack — it took Hamilton seven years to establish the bank’s charter. I know, the local community bank went up in a months time, and that seemed like forever in today’s world, but think about that for a moment. Seven years. That’s a long time to focus on something. Anything.

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Giving Yourself Some Growing Grace

If you are leading in any way, no doubt you are faced with potential personal growth opportunities. These opportunities come in various forms. Some are easy to understand while others are more complex. Some learnings are easier to implement than others. Unfortunately, the most difficult aspect of personal growth isn’t identifying the growth opportunity, but rather dealing with our implementation attempts and setbacks.

Let me explain with a personal example:

I recently was able to take some time away from leading at Woodstock City Church. I spent the bulk of my time processing some interpersonal stuff that was directly impacting my ability to lead well in the long term. One key learning for me (among so many) was how easily I can allow what I do as a leader to define who I am as a person. When what I do is doing well, I’m doing well. When what I’m doing is struggling, I find myself personally struggling. When I fail, I begin to believe I am a failure. It’s identity 101, but none of us are immune to forgetting this Christian life principle. Especially in leadership, where progress and doing is the bulk of the work.

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25’ish Books I Hope to Read in 2015

What books are you planning to read in 2015?

It seems like a daunting task to create a list of books, conferences, and other learning opportunities, but as we begin the year together, it seems having a plan is the best (and only way) to ensure we take growth steps.

One thing: Before you look at my list, I’d love to know what YOU are planning to read. Even better, what have you read that is a MUST READ that I’m missing on my list?

Also, in case you’re wondering, here were my favorite books from 2014!

Here are the books I’m planning to read in 2015.

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Does Working for the Weekend Work Against YOU?


Read this if…
You sense there is a connection between time and momentum.

This post in one sentence…
Does time away take away? From our momentum? From our progress? From our purpose?

How you can engage…
Create a “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” list of your own and share it with me in the comments below. And share this post with others who might need to consider the idea, too.

Do YOU need to take more time off?

I know, I know… sounds like a trick question. But let’s think critically for a moment. Is taking time off ALWAYS a good thing? Loverboy sang “everybody’s working for the weekend…, “ but does working for the weekend ever work against us?

An Observation that Initiated the Question

I recently took time away from writing. Outside of a few random posts, I didn’t blog for a couple of months. I didn’t really write anything. I won’t bore you with the reasons, but I was excited to get started again. I felt ready to pounce on a blog post like a lion stalking prey. I was mentally refreshed. I assumed two months away would allow me to come back with ideas upon ideas. It was going to be a landslide of great writing. After all, every time I write, I use up an idea; so taking a few months off should in theory create a backlog of options.

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Discovering What You Were Made To Do.

What do you really love to do? I mean REALLY love?

If you’re anything like me, that question provokes thoughts, not necessarily of roles or positions, but of specific moments. Moments in time where you felt alive. Experiences that you would love to relive again. Tasks where time seemed nonexistent. Hours past as minutes.

This is an idea that I’m processing currently. Most of the time people introduce ideas once they are solidified in their mind. That’s not the case here. I’m still marinating, but here is where I am (at least right now…).

The strengths movement ushered in by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton has brought questions like this to the surface more now than ever. It’s an important question for us each to answer. Finding our sweet spot makes us both happier and more productive, which benefits both our organization and us. We should be more successful working out of something we love. Eventually, we might even find the perfect seat on Jim Collin’s Good to Great bus. Feels like we are building to an inspirational “never work another day in your life” quote, huh?

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Pushing Past Simple Gratitude

With Thanksgiving in mind, this is reposted from June 2014…

“Why can’t you be more grateful?!?!”

I hear this all the time from parents in our church, neighborhood, school… well, pretty much everywhere, including my own home.

Our children have so much. Virtually everyone we know has everything they need: clothes, shoes, food, and shelter. And they have all the non-necessities, too: XBOX, Wii, iPads, cell phones, bikes, and toys. I believe my entire street put a pool in their backyard this year – and I don’t mean the kiddie or above ground variety. You get the point.

As parents, our overflowing stuff plus limited gratitude drives us to demand gratefulness from our families.

So when my 14-year-old daughter and I recently returned from a mission trip to Ecuador with Compassion International, what I heard no less than 50 times was to be expected: “Aren’t you glad your daughter was able to see how the rest of the world lives? I bet she will be more grateful for what she has now!”

I hate to admit it, but to some extent, I thought the same thing as we boarded the plane out of Atlanta. She has everything she needs – and more. Much more. Her carryon bag proved the point. As a family, we have been blessed, and I used to desire more gratitude from my kids.

But while we were visiting the little home of a Compassion sponsored child in an extremely impoverished community in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, it hit me: I don’t want my daughter to feel grateful, I want her to feel responsible!

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What I Learned Watching Ferguson.

What can Christians learn from the events in Ferguson?

Not necessarily politically or even racially, but with the Kingdom in mind, what can be learned?

Like many of you, I found myself last Monday night watching the grand jury verdict and the ensuing demonstrations (both peaceful and violent). I’m pretty sure the media was the only winner. There was little middle ground to be found. There was, however, much division. Where there is no middle ground, landmines always abound.

In the death of Michael Brown, I don’t pretend to know the details. The vast majority of us don’t, either. So as I searched for #Ferguson tweets while watching CNN’s coverage, I pondered what could be learned from this moment. Primarily as a Christian, what does this event teach us? Considering God’s concern for humanity — God’s desire to see all men know to Him — what should we learn?

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How Andy Stanley’s Surprise Visit Taught Me Something Important

Have you ever been frustrated that you were frustrated?

Sometimes our frustration is understandable. Sometimes only we can understand our frustration.

But then there are those times when we are frustrated, but we know we shouldn’t be frustrated…which makes us more frustrated! This pretty much describes my experience when my boss, Andy Stanley, recently paid Watermarke Church (the campus location where I lead) a surprise visit.

Just a little background. It’s not normal for Andy to be at Watermarke. We still meet in a school, so our ability to export and broadcast messages to our other church locations is limited. When Andy preaches, everyone needs to hear him, so preaching from Watermarke is not optimal at the moment. But on this particular Sunday, Andy was not preaching, so with his off-Sunday, he decided to pay us a visit – an unannounced visit.

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Why Are Christians So Angry?

I couldn’t believe the comments that people posted!

My friends at recently reposted an article from my blog. They’ve done this a few times. I’m happy to allow them access to anything they believe is helpful. What I wasn’t ready for was the comments that ensued. Wow! I’m glad I have thick skin!

If I remember correctly, I was called a heretic. I believe one person questioned my salvation and even suggested I prayed to Satan. It was suggested that I was ruining God’s church. That was flattering, because I didn’t realize I had that much influence! I engaged with some of the responders, but I quickly realized the futility of open conversation with angry Christians.

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