Links for Your Weekend Reading

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5 things that won’t make your church start growing.

The trap most leaders fall into is believing that a change in form will be an adequate substitute for a change in substance.

Dan Dumas on 7 reasons you should buy “On Preaching” by H.B. Charles.

H.B. believes in preaching. You’ll put down this book not only informed about preaching but excited about it.

The 12 stages of burnout.

When we push our creativity and productivity to its limits, we can easily find ourselves teetering on brink of burnout. And there’s a fine line between being in the zone and falling down the slippery slope of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. 

How to stop working 7 days a week.

In those moments, remind yourself that what feels like an emergency to them might not actually be an emergency.  Their marriage didn’t get terrible overnight, it’s been sliding for years. Ask one more question, and you might discover that X has been in the hospital for a week and will be there for another week.

How to enter a room like a boss.

In reality, there are many things we all do, unintentionally, when we enter a room or gathering of new people that equates to walking into a room with our fly open. In other words, we’re killing our best chances at success with our own bad habits, mistakes, or simply ignorance. The stakes here are high.

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Making Room for What Matters | Pay People to do What You Hate

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleepTuesday, we talked about why you should take a break every 90 minutesYesterday, we looked at what electronics can do to our margin. Today I want to look at what will probably be the most controversial or at least, the one you think is unattainable.

Pay people to do what you hate. 

When I first came across this idea in Randy Frazee’s book Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected RelationshipsI thought, “that’s what wealthy people do.”

Hear me out though.

Think about the things you hate to do: laundry, yard work, cleaning your house, or something else. What if you paid someone else to do it?

Unattainable? Maybe right now. Wasteful? No way.

The reason I reacted like I did when I first read this was because we had just planted Revolution church. We had 2 kids with 1 on the way. We lived on $2,000 a month and our rent was half that.

Slowly, we have begun to work some of this into our budget.

Why do this? The goal of life is to enjoy it and use it for God’s glory. Not be miserable or wasteful.

You already do some of this, you maybe haven’t been as strategic about it. Every time you eat out or go to Starbucks, you are paying someone to do something you don’t want to do. So before you tell me you don’t do this, you do. Most of the time, we don’t have a reason for it, we just do it in that moment.

Here’s something our family did, this past year as our family expanded to 5 we learned how much water costs and how much laundry we do. So, we saved up and bought the biggest washer and dryer on the market. The ones that save energy and water. Consequently, we do less laundry because the loads are bigger.

Now, could that money go to something else? Yes, but we chose it to save Katie time on laundry so she could do other things.

Don’t miss this about time: You get 24 hours. That’s it. 

Every minute you spend doing something is one minute you don’t spend on something else.

It takes a long time to clean your house? Pay someone else to do it so you can be freed up to do something else.

Now, should everyone do this?

No.

I know someone who has 1 child, the wife doesn’t work and they pay someone to clean. Not to save time but because all their friends do that.

You must be careful about motivation on this.

Some people love yard work and find it relaxing. Others hate it. Yet, it has to be done for all of us.

This might be an area to cut back on.

The point is this: is there something you do that keeps you from experiencing life that you can give away or pay someone to do?

Consider doing that.

Here’s the pushback I get: If you have that extra money, you should give it away and be more generous. 

Here’s my response, “I am as generous as I feel God has called me to be. On top of that, if I can be generous to my wife and kids, why wouldn’t I do that? It is stingy to be generous to everyone but my family.”

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Book Notes | Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions

bookI read Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions by Arthur Boers as I prepped my sermon on balancing life, work, school and family.

To say I was challenged by this book would be an understatement. While I found some of his suggestions for decompressing and living (birding and gardening) not realistic for me, I loved his writing style. He did have other ideas of connecting in life, which I found helpful.

What I appreciated most about this book was the hard look he took at what electronics do to our brains and relationships. Many act as if electronics either do nothing to us or are neutral, but as Boers points out, nothing is neutral. Everything does something, positive or negative.

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • We live in a society that has achieved a standard of living that surpasses the wildest dreams of most of the people in the history of the world; the most conspicuous result is that far too many of us live poor, thin, trivializing lives.
  • Our culture has a prevailing sense of being too busy, having too much to do, without enough time for things that matter and priorities that really count.
  • Study after study shows that numerous daily realities contribute to declining happiness and growing depression: commuting watching television spending time online being cut off from nature not having enough friendships living out of sync with natural and biological rhythms insufficient sleep feeling distracted.
  • When we allow devices and machines to reside at the center of our lives, we displace values and practices that once enriched the quality of how we live. We end up serving our gadgets instead of using them as tools to support our priorities. Technology itself becomes the center and purpose of how we live.
  • Too often our interactions with technology follow a predictable trajectory: because it is available we use it, then we think it is normal, and finally we expect or even demand that others employ it as well.
  • Many of us overlook that simple day-to-day choices—about cars, microwaves, cell phones, email, internet, television, dishwashers, communication options—have great and detrimental impact on our quality of life. If we do not pay attention to these effects, then chances are that devices will shape us in ways that we would not consciously choose.
  • One of the most significant challenges of contemporary technology is how it shapes our awareness, where it attracts our attention, and the ways that it sometimes—perhaps even often—draws us away from the things we value most.
  • Our lives are shaped by our focus. The direction of our attention not only shows values, but it also forms character.
  • We now live in “a never-ending cocktail party where you’re always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner.”
  • The more distracted we become, the less able we are to experience the subtlest, most distinctively human forms of empathy, compassion, and other emotions.
  • Technology often defines choices, sets priorities, and determines values.
  • Connectivity becomes a craving; when we receive a text or an e-mail, our nervous system responds by giving us a shot of dopamine. We are stimulated by the connectivity itself. We learn to require it, even as it depletes us.
  • We once thought that email meant easier communication and a lightened workload. Instead it increases expectations.
  • Busy lives, long work hours, and the desire to accomplish so much leave little time for deepening relationships or meeting new people. No wonder many are interested in online romance and “speed dating.” In touch with growing numbers, our contacts grow shallower even as they multiply. Time gets divided into smaller and smaller increments as we share it with more and more people.
  • Evidence shows that we are growing more isolated. Yes, there are certainly ways that people connect via technologies, but such connections tend to be tenuous, issue- or hobby-specific, and limited. Less and less are our relationships complex, ongoing, face-to-face, year-after-year.
  • The connection between consumerism and busyness is not accidental or coincidental.

If you find yourself struggling to have focus, limit electronics or connect with others relationally, this is a great book to read.

To see other book notes, click here.

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Making Room for What Matters | Take Strategic Breaks in Your Day

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On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleep

The second one: Take a break every 90 minutes. 

I came across this idea in the book The Power of Full EngagementThe point the authors tried to make is that 90 minutes is the length that your body and brain can handle anything. Once you go past 90 minutes, you are less engaged, less alert and ultimately, less useful at whatever you are doing.

So, take a break every 90 minutes.

Immediately, you are thinking, I can’t do that.

You already do this. You scroll through social media, go to the bathroom, stand and talk to someone at work. The amount of time we waste in our day is unbelievable.

The problem is: we aren’t proactive about taking breaks well. We don’t plan them.

Does this always work? Not always.

Here are some ways to do this:

  1. Plan your day and think through when you’ll take breaks.
  2. Don’t lead a meeting longer than 90 minutes.
  3. Check your email at lunch and before you leave work. This one thing will make an enormous impact.
  4. If you sit at a desk, get up and walk around every 90 minutes. We do this with our kids during homeschooling as well (they run around our culdesac every 90 minutes).

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to create margin when it comes to electronics.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Tim Challies on 6 deadly enemies of marriage.

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Thom Rainer on 11 things I learned from pastor’s wives.

The number one challenge for pastors’ wives is loneliness. That issue arose again and again. Many of these ladies have no true confidants. Some have scars from bad relationships. More than a few have experienced depression. Some still are.

Ann Voskamp on The cure for burnout.

The only way to lead a symphony is to turn your back to the crowd, the critics, the court.

Busy all the time: over-scheduled kids and the freedom of the gospel.

As a suburban youth pastor in a context where nearly all of my students attend college, I witness every day the madness and fallout from the frenetic, overloaded schedules of these children. Parents feel helpless and trapped in this lifestyle, while kids are flat-out exhausted and overwhelmed. Three terms capture the tone of statements I hear from parents when they lament over the busyness of their family: robbery, obligation, and inadequacy.

Kevin DeYoung on Yes, we are judgmental, but not in the way you think.

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

Jim Gaffigan on Parenting 4 kids

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Balance is a Pipedream

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As the holidays get closer, schedules get busier. There are parties to attend, pageants to go to, rehearsals for Christmas shows, tree lightings, decorations to buy and hang, presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare and all the while, still keeping up with everything else you do.

December 26th will roll around and most people will want to fall over in a heap of exhaustion, but there’s no time. We have to return clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are ugly, buy things that are on sale and get Christmas cards and decorations for next year because they are on sale for 80% off.

Over the next several weeks, people will quietly vent about all that they are doing and will do to friends and family, they will make resolutions in January about slowing down, eating better, working less, checking Facebook and email less, and signing their kids up for less activities. Only to find in February that they can’t wait for summer to hit so they can take a week off and sit around.

But we all know how summer goes.

In these conversations about pace, tiredness, doing too much, working too much, sleeping too little, an interesting work and concept comes up.

Balance.

Whenever someone says they are tired or doing too much, a friend with good intentions will respond, “You need to get balance in your life.” We talk about work life balance. Balancing schedules, checkbooks, planners, and activities.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, balance is a pipedream.

The next time someone tells you that you need to have more balance in your life, ask him or her what that means or looks like. You’ll get blank stares.

No one seems to know.

Yet, everyone is going for it.

Here’s a better way to think about life, work, kids, money, sleep, food and anything else you try to get balance in.

Every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.

Think about it like this. Whenever you say yes to staying up too late watching TV and eating ice cream you say no to a good night sleep, more sleep and a trimmer waist line.

Whenever you say yes to sign your child up for everyone team and activity you can throw at them, you say no to a sustainable pace, family dinners and overall health.

Whenever you say yes to work late you may say yes to a promotion and more money, but you also say no to family time, relaxing, time with friends and unwinding with a good book.

When you say yes to going into debt, you say no to peace in your life and bank account.

When you say yes to that extra piece of pie over the holidays, you say no to health.

Remember, balance is a pipe dream.

Are all these examples wrong? Not at all. You should eat some good dessert over the holidays. You should sign your kids up for fun things. You should buy nice things you can afford and bless others with nice presents. All of those are great things.

Take a minute though and remember last December, last January and February. What did you feel? Exhaustion, a longing for a break and rest that never came.

Now, the question isn’t should I do these things, it is more about, and what do you want to say yes to and say no to. Because, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Every time.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Ed Stetzer on Has Dr. King’s dream come true?
  2. Mark Driscoll on It’s all about the numbers. Really well said.
  3. 6 subtle signs your organization has silos.
  4. Jay Dennis on Pornography and pastors.
  5. 10 questions to ask about your work/life balance.
  6. Perry Noble on The one thing that holds leaders back.
  7. Seeing God in your work.
  8. John Stott on How to preach with authority.
  9. 10 football books leaders should read.
  10. Dave Bruskas on How to rest in ministry.
  11. Donald Miller on People aren’t following you because you aren’t clear.
  12. What Matt Chandler wished he knew when he started ministry. This series is gold for pastors and those entering ministry.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Drive

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (kindle version) by Daniel Pink.

Who should read this book:

  1. If you find yourself leading people and wondering how to motivate them, challenge them to do things, reach higher and go longer.
  2. If as a parent, you struggle to motivate your child and can’t seem to get them moving.
  3. If you make goals and never reach them, always giving up.

Pink uses the difference between motivation 2.0 and what he calls motivation 3.0. Motivation 2.0 is what many companies and leaders use, they put a carrot in front of an employee, volunteer or child. If you work this many hours, get this kind of grade, perform in this way, you’ll get the carrot. Which is a treat, more money, prestige or security. If you don’t, you’ll get the stick. The stick is always the threat.

Motivation 3.0 is different. As Pink puts it,

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system— which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators—doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Motivation 2.0 does not work. Pink says,

Carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior, create addiction, and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view…When people use rewards to motivate, that’s when they’re most demotivating.

At Revolution, we really seek to challenge our leaders, staff and volunteers with motivation 3.0. For employees, we run the culture of, “get your work done, as long as it takes, get it done.” Some seasons are busier than others. Some weeks are longer and some are shorter. It could take a full-time employee 40 hours one week, 50 another or 35 another. I don’t buy into the the myth that a job has to take 40 hours for it to be a job. That doesn’t motivate anyone. Especially as Pink shows from the success of companies like Best Buy, 3M and others.

This book was helpful to be reminded of how I and others are motivated. Definitely a worthwhile read for leaders.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || There’s No Such Thing as Public Speaking

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is There’s No Such Thing as Public Speaking: Make Any Presentation or Speech as Persuasive as a One-on-One Conversation (kindle version) by Jeanette and Roy Henderson.

I was recommended this book by Justin Anderson and it really does have a ton of wisdom in it for communicators.

The biggest takeaway for me from the book had to do with body position and eye contact. Picking out 3 people that you will continually make eye contact with, thus giving the effect that you are looking at the entire room and pulling in everyone around them. They also pointed out that every main point should be given to the center section, 2/3 of the way back. Applying these two principles in the last few sermons have made a huge difference.

Here are a few other things that I highlighted:

  • The goal of the perfect presentation: to realize that the number of people listening is irrelevant; you are simply having a one-on-one conversation with a lot of people at once.
  • As the presenter, you must clearly understand that everything you do, every move you make will have a consequence, and the audience will respond accordingly.
  • Before you being any conversation, meeting or presentation, you must know what need you intend to have satisfied as a result, what effect you desire.
  • Every presentation should begin with an irrefutable statement that the audience can nod and mentally say “yes” to.
  • Every presentation should create in the audience a desire to have a need met and satisfied. They should hear you, know what need you will meet and satisfy and wait for it.
  • The best rule of thumb with gestures is to wait for it, then when you feel it, go for it.
  • The longer the pause, the more anticipation you build, and the more attention your audience will pay to what comes next.
  • When the presenter appears less organized or knowledgable than the audience, there is little hope that the presentation will be well received.
  • The more natural something appears, the more time went into making it appear that way.
  • The presenter must represent authority, must be the leader for that moment in time.
  • To establish authority through dress, dress one step up from what your audience is wearing.
  • You want your clothes to say, “I’m just like you, I just have a little more knowledge or authority. Therefore, I’ve been a little more successful on this particular subject.”
  • Dressing below the audience will fail to project authority and it will be nearly impossible for the audience to perceive you as the leader.

As I said, if you preach on a regular basis, this is a book worth picking up and going back to on occasion.