Dreams without Discipline is Fantasy

To find success as a leader we must desire the discipline of execution more than just the rush of the idea!

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The Biggest Weakness of Most Leaders (People)

I would venture to say that over the years I’ve found that one of the biggest excuses I hear people tell is “I just don’t have enough time”.  I would say out of all the weaknesses there are, time management is probably the biggest, or pretty close to being the biggest weakness for most leaders or people in general.  The crazy thing is that this is the one commodity that every single person has the same amount given as every other person.  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Page – the list could go on and on; all had just 24 hours a day just like you and me.

The radical difference between someone who is productive and someone who is not is the way they choose to use this precious commodity of time.  Time is the most precious commodity because once it is gone it is gone forever and too many of us are spending our time instead of investing it in areas that have an ROI.  I heard it best described that we are all given 86,400 seconds in a day, and let’s look at each second like it is a dollar.  So we are given $86,400 a day and told we must use all of it everyday because none of it can roll over, but how we use it is extremely important.  We could spend it on things that have little long term value and once spent is literally gone forever. However, we can invest it in areas that will produce long term gains towards a bigger goal, and we can get the benefit of compound interest in the future because we were wise in how we spent it in the past.  It is easy to waste time because we are “live in the moment” people with little to no cognitive thoughts about where we will be 5 or 10 years from now. But unless we change our perspective, 5 or 10 years will pass and we will still be in the exact same place in life!

So how can we maximize this commodity called time? Well let’s look at 4 ways to get an ROI out of your time:

1. You control your calendar.  Your calendar does not control you.

As driven people in our search for success we can easily become workaholics because we love what we do, but in doing so we destroy the greatest loves in our lives.  When we allow our calendar to control us we are slaves to our work instead of masters of our work.  What I mean when I talk about our calendar controlling us is that our true priorities are taking a back seat to every other activity that is already scheduled.  You MUST schedule your “top priorities” first and there is no compromise in this area.  Listen if you just try to fit in your so called “top priorities” it is expressing to yourself and the people around you that work is actually your “top priority” and everything else is filler.

So how do you discover what is the most important areas or priorities in life?  Well, I ask myself,  “What will impact me in heaven a thousand years from now?”; because that is what should be at the top of my list when it comes to my priorities.  Those two things are my relationship with God and my family.  I can’t take my business, my money, my cars, or my homes with me; but I can take people with me and I will get to spend forever with Jesus.  So those two areas ALWAYS come first in my calendar because I can be the most successful on paper, but if spiritually I am bankrupted and my relationships are strained it is all meaningless!

2. Schedule Everything!

You must put everything in your calendar.  Every meeting, lunch, haircut, appointment, all has to go into a calendar, and what is on the schedule always comes first. (Now a side note: I am not talking about family emergencies). What will throw a schedule completely out of whack is several 20 to 45 unplanned meetings that people need to have with you.  The next thing you know you are running behind and are late to your scheduled appointments, which is extremely rude to the person you are scheduled to meet. If someone needs to meet with you, schedule them in or block out a certain amount of time that is built for random meetings, but either way it is scheduled in your calendar.

3. Maximize empty slots.

Now that you have your priorities in your calendar and you are scheduling every meeting, you will see where you have empty slots in your schedule.  These moments are where we can either invest or spend our time.  We can either hop on Facebook or turn on Netflix or we can start chipping away at our goals.  The choice is yours and you have to have the discipline to choose wisely. If you can develop this discipline you will maximize your progress at a speed that most in this world do not, and this is where you separate yourself from the pack.

4. Wake up early.

I know this one is definitely not sexy and no one likes to wake up early, but I feel it is imperative to success.  On top of the studies that say you work better in the mornings, I do it for a few different reasons beyond that. First, it takes discipline to wake up early.  Secondly, when I wake up early and I have already been productive before the day begins I feel accomplished and that builds momentum into my psyche.  Thirdly, I am more presentable for the day in my appearance and in my attitude.  When we roll out of bed straight to work and we look like we have been run over by a truck, it does not boost confidence or respect from our team.  It also takes time for your brain to wake up and you are losing valuable productive work time.  Fourthly, nothing causes stress or ruins your mood like rushing out the door as you are running late. Lastly, as a married man my wife cares much more about us going to bed together than us waking up together.  There is something meaningful about going to bed at the same time with your spouse instead of working late, going to bed separately, and then sleeping late.

I know life can seem busy and you may be working a job that is not in your future while trying to pursue your dreams, but trust me it is still possible to manage your time so you can be productive moving forward. I am speaking from a first hand experience, and it can be done if you have the discipline to make it happen!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it,  leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS PT. 4 (SERMON)

So we are wrapping up this blog series on “HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS” and you can check out the previous 3 posts on 1st Impressions, Kids, & Worship.  Today we are going to tackle the sermon.  A recent study by Pew Research on the top reasons why someone chooses a church and the #1 pick at 83% of the people was the quality of the sermons.  Now if that doesn’t speak to the importance of being a good communicator I don’t know what will. Today I just want to hit 7 keys to delivering an effective sermon at you church.

1. Speak on Relevant Topics.

This seems like a no brainer right?!? Speak on topics people want to hear, but you would be surprised on how many speakers just speak on whatever they feel like.  Every great communicator knows you are not a great communicator if you ignore the very needs of the people you are speaking to.  Paul said it best in terms of connecting with his audience “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

So how do you know who you are speaking to and to discover their needs?

  • Get your staff involved.  I love bringing my staff into our calendar planning and we discuss what topics are important to our church.  This allows us to expand our reach within our community as each staff member has weekly interactions with so many of our members through serving and Life groups which in return hits a wide demographic.
  • Send out a survey. I also like to get direct feedback from our people and to do so we will have a survey card we ask everyone to fill out once a year.  The survey card actually hits many important ares of our church, but one part of the survey is a list of topics that they would like us to speak on.  This helps us specifically identify the needs in our church.
  • Have a strong prayer life. I feel like every year God speaks a theme into my heart for our church.  2017 the theme is #TheYearofGrowth as we are going to continue to grow physically, but most importantly grow spiritually as our roots get deeper. In 2016 we saw over 600 people give their heart to Jesus and I was really seeking God on developing all these people that are new to the faith in prayer He spoke that theme in my heart.  Seek God and I know he will speak direction into your church.

2. Add a Personal Touch.

Evangelism isn’t telling people what they need to do as much as it is telling them what God has done in you.  You have to share yourself with your people.  Being open with what God has done in your life builds trust with your listener and trust is what drops guards to allow them to receive what you are saying. As much as I wish people came up to me raving about how smart I am as I dropped some Greek or Hebrew knowledge on them it never really happens that way, but every time I share personally how I struggled or doubted and God moved someone is impacted.  Personal stories take it from a far fetched lecture to real experience that can also take place in their lives.

3. Add Humor.

This is probably the hardest thing to build into a message, but it so extremely necessary because laughter allows people to relax and get engaged. Now the better you know your audience the more you feel comfortable in this space.  A few things to think about is first you are not a standup comedian that needs to have an elaborate joke with a punchline so don’t put that pressure on yourself, secondly don’t  take yourself to seriously but be willing to laugh at yourself, thirdly thinking of a funny story or exaggerated examples that goes with your topic truly helps,  and lastly the more comfortable and relaxed you are on stage the funnier you are.

4. Add Applicable Points.

I like to build into every message either a “Take Home” or “Action Steps” which are practical points people can apply to their life.   It is one thing to give someone spiritual goosebumps and get them all amped on your fiery message, but it’s a whole new ball game when they actually start applying what you speak on. Many people want to apply the messages, but we use such broad strokes in our messages that they don’t seam practical.  So what I do is give them something physical to walk out the service to do in the week… Everything from joining a LifeGroup, to going on a date with your spouse, to writing out goals, to setting a specific devotion time, etc… We have to put action towards our faith.

5. Let Your Message Breathe.

Great messages unfold over time.  To many pastors throw their messages together at the last moment and in doing so haven’t given the message enough time to breathe.  I like to have my messaged outlined earlier in the week and finished no later than Thursday.  This gives me several days to tweak the outline and then two whole days to polish the finished message.  You will find humor is easier to develop after you have gone over the message many times, your transitions become smoother as work through them over and over again, and you are able remove material that isn’t really necessary.  Don’t wait to the last minute to write your message, but you have to build into your calendar planning and writing moments for your message every week.

6. Speak with Pace.

Pace is one of the most important factors to keep peoples attention.  Most speakers speak with a slower pace because they don’t truly know their material and so they are constantly going back to their notes.  I am a big advocate of speaking without any notes and I don’t even have a pulpit on stage.  I have confidence monitor set up in front of me that has my main points and scriptures. This allows me to have an effective pace and flow in my messages.  The key is not memorizing your messages, but knowing your message.  When you truly understand the content of each point and have went over your material enough you will be able to deliver what I believe is a more personal message.  No longer is your head down hiding behind a pulpit, but you are out front engaging your audience.

7. End EVERY Message with a Salvation Opportunity.

I have seen so many Pastors deliver powerful messages where you could sense people were ready to commit their lives to Jesus in the room, but the speaker just ends the service with no opportunity to except Jesus.  I am convinced many searching people leave Sundays still searching because as Pastors we didn’t communicate with them their first step. We live in a generation that wasn’t raised in church and to assume people know the sinners prayer is a mistake.  I cannot tell you the amount of people that have attended our church that don’t know what worship is, offerings is, who Matthew Mark Luke or John are let alone accepting Jesus free gift of salvation.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and nothing is more energizing to a Church body than knowing they are part of a Great Commission church!

Lets be communicators that speak the life, the truth, and the hope of Jesus in ways that connect with our people week in and week out as we see more people come and then become involved in our church communities!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!