Do You Know The Secret Formula For A Better Life?

Photo by  Coschda

Photo by Coschda

A Personal Discovery

I was pleasantly surprised.

I had discovered a secret formula for an amazing life. The more I engaged in this activity, the better I felt.

You see, a few years ago, I started developing some specific, personal habits in my life that were making look and feel better.

What exactly is this secret formula for a better life?

Exercise.

I know, I know. I’m sure you’re not overly surprised with this secret formula. It’s really not much of a “secret.”

We all have a head knowledge that exercise is supposed to be really, really good for us. The problem is that very few people take this knowledge and actually apply it. From my own personal experience, I have found that once you do apply this knowledge, though, the benefits of daily exercise are truly amazing. I can no longer imagine a life without regular exercise.

I made a complete paradigm shift on exercise after receiving five amazing benefits.

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

I believe the majority of people exercise to lose weight. That’s great. Keep on losing those pounds! But, I have also found that there are several other major benefits to daily exercise. These reasons keep me hooked and coming back for more.

  1. Increased energy level. This was the biggest benefit I have found once I got into the “groove” of daily exercise. I have a lot more energy to get stuff done. I have more energy from early morning all the way into the evening. This is the number one reason that keeps me going back to the gym every day. I want more energy to accomplish my dreams and goals.
  2. Enhanced mood. If you struggle with anxiety, irritability, stress, or depression, then regular exercise is a great prescription to boost your mood! I have found my life to be lived on a more “even keel” with exercise. Get off your emotional roller coaster with a little bit of exercise.
  3. Expanded mental focus. It is a well established fact that our mental capacity increases with exercise. We become more alert and focused on the tasks before us. In an age of digital distraction, we can all use a little more mental focus.
  4. Extended waking hours. The “weird” part of daily exercise is that you end up needing to sleep less. Why would this be? It almost seems like an oxymoron. You would think you would need to sleep more to allow your body to recover from all your exercise. But, once you are in a healthier state due to exercise, your bodily systems run more efficiently. They don’t need to work as hard, thus the need for a little less sleep. Then, if you need less sleep, you can accomplish even more!
  5. Renewed love life. Yeah, I don’t think I need to go into a lot of detail here, but daily exercise (for us married couples, of course) does help your love life. Try it, and see what I’m talking about!

Questions: How about you? Do you exercise? Why or why not? If you do exercise regularly, do you agree with my five benefits listed here? Am I missing any additional benefits that you have discovered?

3 Ways To Run Your Personal Finances Like America’s Successful Companies

Photo by Sal Falko

Photo by Sal Falko

America’s Best And Brightest

I enjoy hearing success stories of America’s best companies.

In our current political climate which often demonizes hard work and smart business practices, I have an even greater appreciation for companies such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, Wal-Mart, and Berkshire Hathaway.

Even during the worst economy in decades, these companies have figured out ways to succeed. They have made intelligent financial decisions that have helped them prosper.

I wonder what would happen if we approached our personal finances like these successful companies?

What if we as individuals and families had the financial mindset, will, and tenacity to make it in a difficult economy just like these businesses? If we did, then I believe we would no longer be in a down economy!

There are some great personal finance lessons that we can all learn from these prosperous companies.

3 Ways To Run Your Finances Like Successful Companies

  1. Avoid Debt. Apple, Inc. used to be a great example of this. Apple was formerly a completely debt-free company with billions of dollars in savings. In 2013, though, they decided to go into debt for a number of different reasons which included boosting their stock price, paying out dividends to investors, and taking advantage of our current U.S. corporate tax law. The decision to go into debt was really more of a strategic tax move and not a necessity to stay afloat, financially. Long-lasting wealth is built on the avoidance of debt in any form. In our personal finances, we would be wise to follow the ways of Apple, Inc., pre-2013! Get out of debt as fast as you can and stay out forever!
  2. Pile Up Cash. In our current economic climate, more and more companies are playing it safe: Apple, GE, Yahoo, and Caterpillar, just to name a few. These companies all realize that “Cash is King,” especially in an era of uncertainty. We should have the same mindset in our personal finances. Be sure to have a “baby” emergency fund of at least $1,000 if you’re still paying off any debt. If you’re completely debt free, then you want to have at least three to six months worth of expenses in accessible, liquid cash.
  3. Focus On Revenue Streams: products, traffic, clients, sales, and money. The best U.S. companies out there today have a laser-like focus on bringing in more revenue. They realize that revenue is the life blood for their company’s survival. Click here to see the revenue strategies for three major tech companies. In the same way, we should have laser-like focus on additional streams of income for our families such as side jobs, side businesses, passive income, dividend producing investments, and real estate. I highly recommend a couple of books on this subject from Robert G. Allen: Multiple Streams of Income: How To Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth and Multiple Streams of Internet Income.

Questions: How about you? Are you running your personal finances like these successful companies? Are you avoiding debt, piling up cash, and focused on revenue streams? Why or why not?

Featured Guest Post At XPastor.org: 7 Suggestions For Better Meetings

XPastor.orgI’m pleased to announce that I had a new guest post go live this week over at XPastor.org.

Post Title: Meetings Are Lame: 7 Suggestions On Making Them Better

Summary: In this post, I discuss the impact of poorly organized and executed meetings on any organization. I give 7 suggestions for making them better, such as:

  • Consider holding only afternoon meetings.
  • Create an agenda for each meeting.
  • Appoint a leader in charge of the meeting.
  • Announce a distraction free zone.
  • Start and end on time.
  • Create an action items list.
  • Delegate tasks within the meeting.

Read this and more over on my guest post at XPastor.org.

Thank you to Dr. David Fletcher and his team for utilizing my post!






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Do Rich People Stuff And File Your Taxes As Late As Possible

Photo by Ken Teegardin

Photo by Ken Teegardin

Tax Season Is Upon Us

It’s tax season. Yippie!

(That was a touch sarcasm if you didn’t catch the tone of my writing voice.)

I recently finished doing all my family’s tax forms. I don’t really enjoy doing my taxes, but who does? This is mainly because I’m either really close to receiving a small refund or owing a ton of money. You see, I have the awesome privilege and responsibility of paying quarterly estimated taxes due to my status as an ordained minister.

My income taxes are not deducted from my paycheck each month, and I like it this way.

(And now, I probably just painted a bullseye on myself for an IRS audit.)

What this means for me, though, is that I need to plan, budget and save accordingly, so that I can pay my federal and state quarterly estimated taxes on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15.

In paying my income taxes this way, I experience the financial “pain” of my taxes. Most people don’t experience this same pain due to tax withholding from each paycheck. Believe me, it’s a totally different experience. The government knows and understands this, too. They don’t want the majority of the population to feel this kind of tax pain.

For 2013, I messed up my tax calculations for a couple of different reasons. Now, I owe a substantial amount to Uncle Sam next week.

While I’m not thrilled with the thought of having to pay a substantial amount of money in addition to what I’ve already paid, I am okay with it.

And why in the world would I be okay with owing the government a bunch of money? Because I have a different tax season financial mindset than your average American.

Two Different Tax Season Mindsets

Poor and lower middle class families typically file early in the tax season.

Why do they file early? I believe this is due to the fact that poorer people tend to view tax season as an opportunity to “make money.” They have structured their withholding as such that they have been enrolled in a one-year forced money-saving program.

The funny thing, though, is that they have essentially loaned their money interest-free to the government for a whole year. They lost the opportunity of using that money for an entire year.

The poor usually have regular income from only one or two jobs. Their tax forms are relatively clean and simple. They can fill out the forms quickly and begin the process of getting their money back.

The sad reality is that the majority of Americans who receive refunds have no real strategic plan for this money once they get it back from the government. They tend to go spend it on stuff that they probably don’t even need, and then the cycle begins anew for another year.

On the other hand, wealthier individuals and families typically file as close to April 15 as possible.

So, why would rich people choose to file so close to the deadline? Probably due to the fact that they feel the pain more of paying taxes. Their tax forms are more complicated. They have a variety of income streams. They have investments. They own a small business. They have more of a producer mindset rather than a consumer one. They understand the value of every dollar they earn.

Rich people definitely experience the pain of paying taxes at a deeper level than poorer people.

And, I wonder what would happen if poorer families had to pay their taxes like wealthier families? My guess is that we would probably experience a tax revolution in this country!

Here are some thoughts on how we can all shift our financial mindsets during tax season.

5 Ways To Shift Our Tax Season Mindsets

  1. Consider tax strategy in your overall budget process. I know when I plan my monthly budget, I want the largest amount of monthly net income in order to leverage what I need leveraged in my family finances, such as debt reduction, savings, and investing.
  2. Give the government exactly what it deserves. No more and no less. Yes, we should pay our taxes. As Christians, we need to be obedient to the laws of the land. But, handing additional money over to the government for them to use interest free for a whole year is not wise stewardship.
  3. Structure tax withholding and payments for equilibrium. You don’t want to owe, but you also don’t want to receive a massive refund, either. Consider meeting with a tax advisor or financial planner to achieve this tax equilibrium.
  4. Start some type of small side business and see your taxes and tax forms become more complicated. If your business is even moderately successful, you will need to pay estimated quarterly taxes. You will now experience the pain associated with paying taxes at a new level.
  5. Create a wise financial plan for any refund money that you may receive. You might consider using the money for debt reduction, savings, or investing. Otherwise, that money is going to somehow wander into Wal-Mart and be gone forever!

Questions: What is your tax season financial mindset? Do you think more like the poor or the rich? Do you file your taxes early or as late as possible? Why or why not?






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Book Review | The Art of Possibility by Ben and Rosamund Zander

The Art of Possibility BookDiscovering A Book Through A TED Talk

The information within books has the potential power to completely and radically transform your life.

Over the last few years, I can count a handful of books that made a deep impression that has changed my thinking and ultimately my life in amazing, powerful ways.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (note: this is a husband and wife duo) is my latest addition to this list of life-changing books.

I actually discovered Benjamin Zander through his amazing TED video (you have to watch this), visited his personal website, and then ordered his book through the Kindle store on Amazon. Money wisely spent!

Benjamin Zander’s biography reads:

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a guest conductor around the world. With London’s famed Philharmonia Orchestra, he is recording the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies for Telarc, recordings which have been received with extraordinary critical acclaim and several awards. Their latest recording of Bruckner’s 5th Symphony was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, and has received critical acclaim both for the performance and Zander’s now famous full-length disc explaining the music for the lay listener. They recorded their next release, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, in January 2012 and it is scheduled for release later this year.

In 1967, Mr. Zander joined the faculty at New England Conservatory, where he taught an interpretation class, conducted the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted the conservatory orchestras. For the past 28 years, he was the Artistic Director of the joint program between New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.

Mr. Zander is one of the most sought after speakers in the world. He gave the opening Keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where on another occasion he was awarded the Crystal award for “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations. In 2002 he was awarded the “Caring Citizen of the Humanities” Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations. In honor of his 70th birthday, and 44 years of teaching, he was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the New England Conservatory.

His partner Rosamund Zander and he have collaborated on a best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility” which has been translated into fifteen languages.

Yes, this book has a lot to do with music, orchestras, and conducting.

But, it goes way beyond that. I view this book more as a roadmap to be a successful leader and to live out a life of transformation. Whether you’re a musician or not, you need to read this book. It will turn your life upside down, inside out. The ideas that Ben and Rosamund present here will cause you to rethink your approach to life and relationships.

[PLEASE NOTE: this is not a “Christian,” sanitized book. There is some adult language and themes here and there (especially under Chapter 6: Rule Number 6 and Chapter 7: The Way Things Are). I don’t support or condone the language or subject matter, but I do agree with the primary principles presented here. If you choose to read this book, you will need to keep this mind. You have been warned.]

My 6 Takeaways From The Book The Art Of Possibility

After reading The Art of Possibility, I came away with six actionable concepts that I have already started applying to my life. I’m seeing amazing things happen in my life as a result.

  1. It’s all invented (p. 12). The interpretations of the world vary from person to person, depending on our culture, environment, and upbringing. We all tend to become rigidly attached to certain ways of thinking and specific ways of viewing the world. The Zanders have concluded that “It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”
  2. Orient your life toward abundance (p. 21). It is very easy for any of us to slip into a poverty or scarcity mindset, thinking that we don’t have enough money or resources to accomplish what we would like. The Zanders encourage us with these words, “you are more likely to extend your business and have a fulfilled life if you have the attitude that there are always new customers out there waiting to be enrolled rather than that money, customers, and ideas are in short supply … resources are more likely to come to you in greater abundance when you are generous and inclusive and engage people in your passion for life. There aren’t any guarantees, of course. When you are oriented to abundance, you care less about being in control, and take more risks.”
  3. Radiate possibility to everyone around you (p. 65). When the people you lead are not everything you envision them to be, who do you blame? Do you blame them, or do you blame yourself? Ben Zander puts forth the question for all of us who are leading others, “Who am I being that they are not shining?” (p. 74). The only person we can truly blame is ourself. We are the leader who is radiating possibility to others. So how do we effectively radiate this universe of possibility? The Zanders believe that “Purpose, commitment, and vision are distinctions that radiate possibility” (p. 179).
  4. Give people an “A” (p. 26, 39). Too many times, we judge people with very little information. If we feel like they have done us wrong one too many times, we put these people on our “naughty” list. The Zanders challenge us to give the grade of an “A” to “anyone in any walk of life – to a waitress, to your employer, to your mother-in-law, to the members of the opposite team … When you give an A, you find yourself speaking to people not from a place of measuring how they stack up against your standards, but from a place of respect that gives them room to realize themselves … This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”
  5. Lead from the second chair (p. 41). There is a disease that infects many music ensembles. This problem is sometimes called “second fiddle-itis.” The problem occurs when people perceive their role in a group to be of little significance (second violins for example), mostly due to the fact that many people are duplicating the same part. This is not true of other key positions within an orchestra, such as the primary brass and woodwind roles. They act more as soloists. But, this in no way diminishes the role and importance of the “second part.” Ben Zander tells us the story of Robert Koff, the founding second violinst of the Julliard String Quartet: “I came away convinced that the real leader of the string quartet is the second violin. Not because Koff dominated the rest of us, but because in his part he had all the inner rhythms and harmonies, and he gave them such clarity and authority that we were all tremendously influenced by his playing. He was leading us from the ‘seconds.’”
  6. Rule Number 6: don’t take yourself so seriously! (p. 79-80). The practice of Rule Number 6 is to lighten up, which may lighten up those around us. We can utilize the power of humor to defuse tense and awkward situations. All of us take ourselves way too seriously at certain times and under specific circumstances. When you find yourself getting way too serious and stressed out, just remember Rule Number 6 and observe what happens!

Questions: Have you ever read The Art of Possibility? If so, what were your own takeaways from this amazing book?






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Does God Really Want Me To Live A Life Of Financial Abundance Or Not?

Photo by DavidZ

Photo by DavidZ

Answering A Young Christian’s Financial Concerns

Is it okay to be a Christian and be rich?

Great question.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from one of my blog readers. She is new to the Christian faith and wrestling with wealth and the Christian life. You see, she lacks nothing in this life. She’s uncertain about what the Biblical response should be to the financial blessing of God.

In this post, I attempt to tackle ten questions that my blog reader asks in her email.

Before I answer these questions, take a quick scan of her email:

Hi Larry,

I recently found your blog and find it very interesting. I am a “born-again” Christian (since 2012) and found that no one wants to talk about money. Consequently, I am very thankful for your blog. I have a question and I’m wondering if you already addressed this topic:

Should I feel guilty that I do not lack anything?

I consider myself to be pretty generous. I cheerfully pay my 10% to the church and contribute to many charities. On the other hand….I do not lack anything. Sometimes, I feel guilty about the comfort that my family enjoys. Simply put, how can I justify having anything above the minimum necessity of life while thousands are dying from starvation every single day? Aren’t Christians supposed to sacrifice their “comfort” for the good of others? Isn’t true that many early Christians sold everything they had to give to the poor? How much credit do you get when you give out of abundance without experiencing sacrifice?

I recently started questioning expenses such as new clothing, new furniture, going to the movies and even family vacations! If I can’t hardly justify these, never mind considering real luxury items such as spa treatments, Botox, 10 pairs of shoes and a fancy car!

Anyone else experiencing this guilt and questioning every expense? Am I worrying too much about this? Should I forget it since after all, my contribution will not put an end to starvation? Did God want us to live a life of “sacrifices”? Is it wrong to enjoy earthly pleasures while others are dying? Is it wrong to not lack anything?

Your thoughts would be appreciated,

God bless,

Blog Reader from Alberta, Canada

A Biblical Response To Wealth

Here is my response to my reader’s specific questions based upon what I believe God teaches us through His Word. I attempt to quote a key Bible passage for each question.

  1. Should I feel guilty that I do not lack anything? To be blunt – NO! If God has chosen to bless you and your family, then I say REJOICE! Approach Him daily with a an attitude of gratitude for His financial blessings. You also mentioned that you are cheerfully tithing and giving to others. Your blessing and financial generosity should result in thanksgiving, not guilt! “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).
  2. How can I justify having anything above the minimum necessity of life while thousands are dying from starvation every single day? There’s a Gospel story (The Alabaster Jar) found in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 when a woman (probably Mary Magdalene) took a very expensive perfume/ointment that cost an entire year’s wages and poured it all over Jesus. She anointed His body before He went to the cross. The disciples were mad about it, too. Their response was “why couldn’t this expensive ointment been sold and the money given to the poor?” Jesus’ response, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” Yes, we need to help the poor, but there will be other large financial priorities that can and will supersede poverty. We will never be able to fully eradicate it. Jesus said so, Himself. Help where you can, and then leave the rest in God’s hands.
  3. Aren’t Christians supposed to sacrifice their “comfort” for the good of others? Yes and No. It’s a slightly complicated question. God’s first priority for you after the tithe is for you to provide for your family. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Now, I do realize the passage is dealing with taking care of widows within your family so that they are not a burden on the church, but I still think there’s an overarching principle here. God gives us financial supply in order for us to provide for our families. But, if you and your spouse feel that you have way more than enough, then you could always make a decision to place a cap on your lifestyle and give the rest of your wealth away. There are no hard and fast rules here. You and your spouse just need to pray this one through and see what the Lord has called your family to do.
  4. Isn’t it true that many early Christians sold everything they had to give to the poor? You’re actually referring to the Book of Acts in this question (read Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37). I believe this was an isolated incident in Scripture, completely based on the circumstances of the Early Church. The early church was being persecuted, and many of these young Christians were very poor. Apparently, they all threw their money together in a “communal pot” and took care of each other’s needs (not just poor people in general). Plus, these early believers thought Jesus was coming back sooner than later, so they didn’t really care about their wealth and what was going to happen to it. Unfortunately, some believers even stopped working and become idle in their lives as a result. In fact, the Apostle Paul had to chastise believers in Thessalonica about this very issue. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-14. As the church grew and matured, we no longer see this communal church living structure after the Book of Acts.
  5. Anyone else experiencing this guilt and questioning every expense? Many wealthy Christians struggle with these same questions as you do. You are not alone. My encouragement to you would be to embrace the struggle. That means the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. This is a great problem to have. Pray daily regarding what the Lord would have you do with your abundance.
  6. Am I worrying too much about this? Again, it’s a slightly complex problem you are dealing with, with no clear-cut answers to all of your questions. In Luke 12:25, Jesus poses the question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Instead of worrying about it, pray about these challenges and discuss them with your spouse. With God’s help, formulate a game plan for your abundance.
  7. Should I forget it since after all, my contribution will not put an end to starvation? I would say do what God has called you and your family to contribute, and then leave the rest in His hands. You can only do what you can do.
  8. Did God want us to live a life of “sacrifices?” At some level, I would say “yes.” If you have modified your lifestyle to the point where you are not spending money at the level you could based on your wealth, then I would submit that you are already living in a sacrificial state. “Sacrifice” has a different definition at different income levels. Your sacrifices won’t look like my sacrifices. This may be a horrible example, but let’s say you could financially afford and had a strong desire to buy a brand new 2014 Cadillac CTS with cash, but you have chosen to forego that purchase and buy a really nice, used, 2-year old 2012 Buck LaCrosse instead. And with the money you haven’t spent, you decide to give that to the poor. I believe then that you have lived out a sacrificial lifestyle.
  9. Is it wrong to enjoy earthly pleasures while others are dying? No. In 1 Timothy 6:17 we read, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” In this one verse, the Apostle Paul mentions that God does give wealth for our enjoyment. You and your spouse may just need to set the limits on that enjoyment through prayer and insight from the Holy Spirit.
  10. Is it wrong to not lack anything? No. Nowhere in Scripture do I read that it is wrong to lack anything. As a matter a fact, I read the opposite in God’s Word, at least in the sense of lacking real world, everyday needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. In Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus tells us, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Questions: So, what do you think? Am I on the right track regarding Christians and wealth? How would you answer this blog reader’s questions?






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7 Ways To Solve Problems At Work, In Ministry, And In Life

Photo by Donna Grayson

Photo by Donna Grayson

Quit Your Whining And Moaning

I used to whine and moan too much about problems at work.

I can look back over my last several years at work with a sense of guilt or shame about my complaining.

And, I’m not talking about problems that were outside of my sphere of influence or control. I’m talking about my day-to-day problems that any good leader encounters.

I would think to myself, “why can’t all these issues just resolve themselves or not even materialize in the first place. I’ve got better things to do with my time than deal with these petty problems.”

The reality is, though, that if you were hired into any kind of leadership role, you were hired to handle problems. You were hired to find creative solutions to your problems. You were hired to push through your problems and take your organization to the next level in spite of these problems.

Can you be proactive in mitigating these problems? Most definitely.

Wise leaders put systems in place to help prevent or at least soften the impact of certain levels of problems. Many problems, though, just come with the territory in your area of expertise.

3 Types of Problems

In my quest to deal with problems, I have found it helpful to mentally categorize these into three distinct types:

  1. Problems within your control. These are the types of problems where you feel like you have enough time, people, and resources to handle them.
  2. Problems that seem outside your control. These are the next level of problems that seem just beyond your comfort zone. Perhaps, you don’t feel like you have enough time, people, or resources to handle these challenges adequately. This is where you need to get creative in your problem-solving abilities. In my own personal leadership, this is where I believe I have grown the most in the last few years.
  3. Problems that are definitely out of your control. There will always be a few problems that will occur that are beyond your ability to fix. You just need to move forward and go on. If you feel like you have adequately planned, prepared, and done your best, then that’s all you can do.

How I Deal With Problems, Today

When I finally made that connection in my mind a few years ago that a big chunk of my leadership role is dealing with regular, ongoing problems, I could actually sort of calm down and relax about it all.

Do I enjoy having the problems? No, not really, but at least I now have a better understanding that when you’re dealing with volunteers and limited resources, you will have problems.

Stuff happens. You’ve gotta deal with it. So, this is how I have learned to deal with it.

  1. Lead from a position of strength. I can deal with most problems a lot better when I’m exercising daily, eating well, and getting adequate rest. My physical body is able to handle the stress better. Also, when my personal life is in order, such as with my relationships and my finances, I am in a healthy mental and emotional state to deal with work issues on a whole better level.
  2. Set expectations upfront. You can probably avoid a lot of problems on the front end by clearly stating your expectations with your team on the front end. Attempt to take a pre-emptive strike approach before the problems even begin.
  3. Relax. Take a deep breath. It will all work out somehow, some way. Many leaders tend to blow problems way out of proportion, at least I know that I struggle with this from time to time.
  4. Formulate a few solutions to your problems. List these solutions from best to worst.
  5. Work your list from best choice to last choice.
  6. Throw money at the problem. This is my “ace in the hole.” If I can’t get any traction with my list of solutions, then spending money will be my last option if necessary.
  7. Be vulnerable and open to suggestions from others. Occasionally, I will discuss my larger challenges with others. When I do this, I am amazed when they see solutions that I hadn’t even thought of! Graciously thank them for the idea and go see if you can make it work!

Question: How do you deal with problems in the workplace, in ministry, and in life?






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How To Control Your Thoughts And Influence Your Outcomes

Photo by Nicola Albertini

Photo by Nicola Albertini

The Power Of Choice

“Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours.”

This quote is on the back of an entrance sign for my daughters’ school. Every time I need to run up to school for an event, I contemplate this quote when I leave the school grounds.

This quote is a great reminder to all of us that there is tremendous power in our choices.

Before our heads hit the pillow at night, we can (and many times do) decide how the next day is going to go. We can dread it and decide that it will be a horrible day at the office. And, guess what kind of day it will be? Probably the worst day, ever, simply because we decided in advance, without even realizing it!

Or, we can take a better, more proactive approach. We can decide that tomorrow will be the best day ever, and we can’t wait to wake up in the morning and enjoy it!

Will it be a perfect day? Well, probably not perfect, but it’s going to be a better day because you made the choice in advance that it would be.

This is all rocket science, I know.

The Bible And Our Thoughts

You might be surprised that God’s Word talks about our thought life.

In Proverbs 23:7a we read, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he …” We become what we think about.

That’s kinda scary when you contemplate that statement for a while.

Negative thoughts breed negative results. But, on the flip side, positive thoughts breed positive results.

Now, I’m not talking some kind of New Age mumbo-jumbo in these statements. But, our thoughts will guide our overall outcomes.

God wants you to have a thought life that is positively focused on faith and trust in Him for all things. Now, this doesn’t mean that our lives will be puppy dogs and rainbows once we make this switch in our mental focus. But, it does mean that God will give us the faith and strength to handle all outcomes.

Check out these additional Bible verses on our thought life [Source: Openbible.info]. Meditate on these spiritual words of wisdom this week.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Philippians 4:6-9
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Questions: How’s your thought life? Do you focus on the positive or negative? Do you purposely “guard your mind?” Do you think your current outcomes in life are related to your thought life? How do you need to think differently, starting today?






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Who Else Wants More Out Of Life?

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Photo by gfpeck

Put In. Get Out.

“You get out of it, what you put into it.”

Have you ever heard this little phrase before? A friend reminded me of this saying several weeks ago.

This quote is so true, AND, it’s a truth that applies to just about anything and everything in your life.

The problem I see is that most people want to coast through most things in their life. They want to put in as little as possible. They want everything handed to them on a gold platter because they deserve it, but they aren’t willing to work hard and go after it.

Now, I’m all for achieving maximum results with minimal effort. Working smarter not necessarily harder is my mantra. But there are going to be areas of our life that we’re just going to need to put the time and energy into in order to get anything meaningful in return.

The amazing thing that happens, though, is putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean that all your energy is zapped out of you. Putting yourself out there can actually be an energizing experience.

Instead of thinking yourself as a battery being drained of power, think of yourself more in terms of an alternator or generator. Energy is put in and energy is released. It’s a win/win all around.

Areas To Put In

Do you want to have a deep walk with the Lord? You’re going to need to spend a lot of time in Bible reading and prayer. You need to be actively involved in your local church. You need to have a missions mindset.

Do you want to have a great relationship with your spouse and children? You’re going to need to put a lot of time and energy into those relationships. You need to get home in time to have family dinner around the table. You need to schedule date nights with your spouse. You need to love and nurture your kids.

Do you want to be a superstar employee in your workplace? You’re going to have to put in a little extra time and energy into your position. You need to grow in your leadership skills. You need to take on some projects that will take you and your organization to the next level.

You get out of anything in life, what you put into it.

I’ve Decided To Put More In

I can confidently proclaim this truth, because I’m learning it through firsthand experience in another organization outside of the four walls of my current church position. You see, almost a year ago, I joined a volunteer group in my community to learn and grow in the areas of leadership and communication. Yes, I’m putting quite a bit of time and energy into this group, but I’m also getting a TON out of it, too. I was even voted on (probably more like drafted!) to become an officer in the group. Being a part of this organization has been a real blessing in my life. Has it been easy? No, not really. Has it been worth it? Most definitely!

So, what do you want out of life? Do you want to just coast along and go with the flow? Or, do you want to really dig in and grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and musically? For me, personally, I pick growth, every time.

You get out of life what you put into it.

Question: What are you willing to put into your life in 2014?






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Whatever You Do, Don’t Manage Your Money Like Many Professional Athletes

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Photo by yoyo du 33

From Riches To Rags

Broke. Tapped Out.

Would it surprise you to know that some of the greatest athletes of the last 40+ years are now poorer than dirt?

I’m talking athletes like Mike Tyson, Johnny Unitas, Latrell Sprewell, Dorothy Hamill, Scottie Pippen, Evander Holyfield, and Michael Vick.

All of these famous, well accomplished athletes have made millions upon millions of dollars in their careers, and what do they have to show for it? Not a whole heck of a lot.

On a percentage basis, professional athletes are the WORST money managers.

I recently read the following statistics when it comes to professional athletes and money: Around 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players go broke within five years of leaving the field, according to a Sports Illustrated estimate made in 2009 (Source: UK Guardian).

Just look at the life of professional boxer Mike Tyson.

At the height of his career, here’s what Mike was able to accomplish. He was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He was the youngest man to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF Heavyweight Titles. Finally, he was the first man to win 12 of his first 19 fights in the first round by KO. His estimated lifetime earnings range from $300-400 million.

Yes, you read that correctly, $300-400 million!

But then, the wheels came off and his life fell apart. Mike Tyson’s story reads like the Great American Tragedy: domestic violence, bad press interviews, the death of his father-figure trainer, a nasty divorce, a federal rape charge, felony possession of drugs, a DUI, and a bloody ear incident.

And, at one point after this whole mess, Tyson was worth less than $700. Now, how in the world do you go from $300 million all the way down to less than $700?

3 Ways To Go Broke Quickly As A Professional Athlete

When you investigate the lives of professional athletes who have gone from millions to bankruptcy, you can definitely see a pattern that led them down a bad financial path. If I had to pick three areas that led these athletes in the wrong direction, then here are the three I would list:

  1. Fast Living. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. If you want to make millions of dollars and lose it all, then simply live fast and loose. In this way, you can lose your career faster, go to court, land your butt in jail, get divorced, and then pay millions in alimony and child support. Yeah, that’s pretty easy to do.
  2. Toy Gathering. Expensive luxury cars. Multi-million dollar homes. Massive yachts. These are the high dollar items that get many athletes in trouble. But, this is what happens though when young athletes go from financially poor to massively wealthy as soon as they sign on the dotted line of an incredible contract deal. They don’t know how to handle that kind of wealth. So, they run out and go on spending sprees. Plus, they end up spending more than they actually make on stuff that will sharply go down in value within a few short years.
  3. High Risk Investments. Getting investment advice from those people closest to you (family and friends) is always a bad idea. But, when you look at these riches-to-rags athletes, this is definitely what you observe – rich people taking investment advice from other people around them who are just plain money hungry. Bad restaurant deals are pretty typical with athletes. The restaurant business is a brutal industry and not a wise place to invest large sums of money.

Questions: Ok, so you’re not a wealthy athlete, but are you making some of the same mistakes as these athletes? Are you living a questionable lifestyle that will damage your finances at some point in the future? Are you buying a bunch of stuff that is dropping like a rock in value? Are you making any risky investments that will come back to bite you in a few years? What decisions do you need to make, today, in order to put yourself in a better financial position?






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