Breaking Free



Have you ever been stuck in a personal rut that you just couldn’t break free from?  As a personal productivity coach and leadership specialist, I’ve helped thousands of people from all walks of life to replace negative patterns with much more positive and beneficial ones.  It’s not easy but you can do it…with a little bit of help.

Have you ever felt despair or even depression because of the overwhelming situation you were up against?  Even with all the training I’ve acquired, I also struggled through a “dark night of the soul” in my early 30’s and I’ll tell you there were some crucial lessons that I learned that helped me to overcome those destructive patterns.  I have a much more concise version that I’ll share with you today but trust me it is by no means easy.  Especially to make changes when you’re facing extreme difficulties that affect you so deeply that your soul begins to become dry and full of despair.

Ok, before I show you a visual image of this process, allow me to quote a scripture from the book of 2 Timothy:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

These two scriptures have often been used to describe the importance of allowing the ENTIRE bible to serve as a training guide, a success blueprint, a refining fire and a history of God’s attempt to commune with His creation.  Something overlooked, however, is the importance of the person reading these scriptures and his/her ability to allow:

  • teaching
  • rebuking
  • correcting
  • training for righteousness

…to transform their life.

Breaking Free

So having two young children usually requires you to have a spare container of play-doh around.  They make for very cheap entertainment as long as they’re kept in a soft, moldable state.  But once they’ve hardened, your child is gonna get irritated quickly at their utter inability to be made into a make-believe animal or shape.

Humans are a LOT like that when we disallow our friends and family from giving us constructive criticism, correction and/or advice.  We can be defensive or flat out obstinate for many reasons.  Unfortunately, this is where the pitfall of pride can be our own worst enemy.  We begin to believe that our negative circumstances cannot be changed and there’s very little we can do to improve our situation.  Rather than quickly accept the wise counsel of people around us, we instead choose to do everything our own way.

I’ve been intrigued by the show, Intervention.  Watching people choose to self-destruct and destroy not only their lives but the lives of those closest to them is strangely fascinating.  We all know someone who’s been stuck in bad circumstances.  We’ve probably all been THAT person.  Regardless, I want you to look at the following picture and think of something you’ve struggled to overcome.  Maybe you’re stuck right now.  If so, I want you to consider what things might be keeping you stuck and which things might actually be available to get you unstuck.

Getting Unstuck

Breaking the cycle

In conclusion, the key to getting out of a negative pattern is to leap…erupt…violently turn away from the thing in your life that has such a strong hold on your life. This not only requires you admitting what you struggle with but even letting someone else know and ask them for support. If anger is your struggle then come up with an alternative approach to handling yourself when anger is aroused. Rather than hit something or cuss at someone in your head, head to the gym. Your mind and the neurons that inhabit your grey matter literally have to be retrained to respond in a different way.


An Inheritance that truly matters.

Inheritance – what it really is and why it matters.

money_InheritanceMy wife and I attended Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership (link) conference at the end of March (’14). It was a one-day event that summarizes what their leadership mastery series in Nashville covers. Dave and his team of 400 people have built a financial empire that seeks to empower people to become both leaders & entrepreneurs, thus the name. Since leadership is at the heart of my work with empowering people, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this conference with my wife. Much of what he said was your typical leadership-speak but there was a very unique twist that Dave and his family have developed and it centers on the idea of creating a legacy. Not only that but the idea of starting a business that can be handed down to your family was a major discussing during the event.

One of Dave’s executive team members, Chris Hogan, started the morning with a brief discussion of one of the more widely used work personality tests, DISC personality assessment. It’s one of many programs out there to help large teams to function more cohesively and efficiently. It was interesting to note that my wife and I are extreme opposites, which speaks volumes to why my wife is superb at handling my weaker areas and vice versa. Although I use the MBTI daily, I hadn’t really had an opportunity to see my wife at work in her leadership roles (DISC is easier to implement and dialogue with individuals unfamiliar with personality testing). Instead I’ve been slowly exposed to them over the years which can make for some fun (and not so fun) “growing” experiencing as a team.

Next, Dave and his middle daughter, who co-wrote their book on this subject, started discussing the focus of becoming a family-oriented entrepreneurship. This was an idea that really began to pique my interest because the idea of passing great leadership skills to our children is and has been very close to my heart. My wife and I read to our daughter before she was born and our son will have had the same experience. We followed Dave’s Financial Peace University tenets and eliminated unneeded debt. It was fantastic and extremely valuable to our family’s future. We look forward to teaching our children how to avoid financial issues as well as instilling a voracious appetite for hard work and achievement…and the fulfillment that goes along with it.

So what is inheritance?

passing our strength to the next generation

passing our strength to the next generation

The bible was my primary written source of education outside of Dr. Seuss, mythology (don’t ask where I became fascinated with Greek, Roman and Norse mythology) and The Chronicles of Narnia during my younger years. There were numerous stories of parents leaving the fruit of their labor to be enjoyed (David), continued (Jacob), or sadly wasted (Esau) by future generations. Growing up the grandson of a full-time preacher and son of college students, I can tell you that I did not start my life financially wealthy.

However, I started with something much better. I had an amazing spiritual and educational legacy that helped me find an important identity as well as have a high self esteem that carried into helping others around me. It can be easy to have a narrow-minded perspective that inheritance speaks of monetary wealth being passed from parent to child. However, the very notion of leadership implies passing your traits (hopefully a lot of strengths and few weaknesses) onto and into those who follow you…familial or not. My career has focused on the broader sense of this idea.

My job for over 2 decades has been to acquire information, wisdom and insight regarding the strengthening of people. I have done that both professionally and voluntarily. As long as dysfunction and apathy plague our world, I will continue to champion ideas and strategies to help the world become a haven for constructive teamwork, unconditional love for our fellow man and an unquenchable desire to manifest the Kingdom of God through our talents and gifts.

Why is Inheritance important?

Dave commented during the conference that he believes the American economic crisis would solve itself if we equipped future generations with the financial concepts he espouses. Rather than borrow money incessantly, our children should focus on (legally) creating their own streams of financial resources through empowerment and education while maintaining a controlled amount of spending to achieve a particular goal. This is why parental support of the educational system is so vital to the future of our kids. Teachers need parents to be involved with supporting and reinforcing the learning strategies they present your kids in class. This means that parents need a strong awareness of how to support the child’s learning structure. 99% of parents want what’s best for their children.

If this is true for you as well, I exhort you to ascribe to some sort of plan to:

1)             Assess the nature of your proposed inheritance

2)             Implement this course of action over a period of years

3)             Review and re-assess the results of your plan annually I have written about this “bookend” approach to achieving results in previous posts.


It’s never too late to change your life!

Let’s look at a biblical text from Ezekiel 18: “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father? ’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live.

I LOVE THIS! We don’t have to wallow in our negative circumstances and expect scarcity for our future generations. Repentance is a complete turning away from things we used to engage in. I have watched thousands of people in my career turn away from things that were destructive. It’s one of the greatest privileges I get to experience when someone let’s go of a negative past and assumes their “place at the table” when they reach for higher goals and circumstances. Athletes. Addicts. Bankrupted. Broke. Broken-hearted. There are still 24 letters left to go…but I’m sure you can find yourself somewhere in this list. Everyone is invited to the feast of freedom in Christ. Don’t let despair cause you to give up on your dreams as well as the dreams of your children. Find a supportive community and helpful resources to pinpoint where you can make positive changes.

If we can help you discover those strategies, don’t hesitate to contact us here at


Holy Spirit … the church’s X Factor (pt 2)

Today I want to continue my previous discussion on how many evangelical (and even catholic) churches are embracing the re-evaluation of their doctrine concerning the person of the Holy Spirit.  In previous generations, fear of excess (emotion, disorder and discomfort) prevented many church leaders from even trying to teach and preach about His nature and qualities.  However, as anyone who has ever had a spiritual revival can attest, His presence is truly intoxicating, liberating and the amount of love you encounter and subsequently give away to others is exponential.

That alone is worth the price of admission and well worth the investigation!

New Year’s Eve 2005

So, allow me to step back in time to the year 2005.  Spiritually, I sang on the worship team and was a servant leader in our singles group at church.  Professionally, I was training collegiate and professional athletes.  Socially, I had tons of friends and never had a dull moment with activities every weekend.  Mentally, I was exuberant and always in pursuit of greater knowledge.  Life was exciting…but I still felt like something was missing.  Unable to put my finger on the cause for restlessness, I spoke with my close friend and senior pastor and he handed me a book called, “Surprised By the Power of The Holy Spirit“, by Dr. Jack Deere.  That was a first step towards asking God if there was something I was missing in my theology, then I wanted to be open to receiving more of the X Factor (Holy Spirit for the sake of this blog post).  Dr. Deere contended that any believer who read the entire bible would NEVER end up with the idea that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were only for a short period of time.  That was an eye opener because I had to admit I had never systematically studied for my own purposes whether or not I should be a cessationist or continuationist.

Now, when I say I was missing something, it’s not to say I believed “wrongly”.  It’s more of a statement of incomplete acknowledgment.  Kinda like when I buy something electronic (let’s say a tv) that has a detailed instruction manual.  I can still enjoy it when I turn it on, but if I make a sacrifice of time and effort to investigate thoroughly all the things the device can do, I’ll truly experience greater satisfaction with it.

That is exactly what happened when I read Jack’s book.  Concurrently, a few other leaders in my group were asking the same question and the result transformed our ministry.  If you’re a pastor or leader looking for growth in your body of believers spiritually and/or numerically, please consider reading through this blog article even if it challenges or offends you.

Personally, I began to see the Holy Spirit as my best friend.  I began to practice quiet times that started with 30 minutes and eventually became 2-4 hours a day.  It wasn’t something I willed myself to do.  It was as though He was inviting me to go deeper…into the Word, into Prayer, into the “restricted areas” of my heart, into my areas of pride and even into my longing to find a wife.  In other words, I was allowing God to have full access to me and likewise He was teaching me that I could have full access to Him as long as I was willing to take the time to search “the deeper things of God”.  This journey helped me see certain books like Acts and 1 Corinthians through an entirely new set of spiritual lenses.

The Usual Christian Pursuits

Singles groups can often serve different purposes.  They can be mobilized to do community outreach.  They can serve as a talent pool for new dating partners.  They can provide awesome social events for people to meet others.  They can minister to adults who are in a transient time of life.  They are a very needed ministry campground for adults.

However, in all my years of being involved with various Christian groups, I had never seen people utterly transformed from the inside and out to the extent that I witnessed in the revival that was occurring.  My small group c0-leader was going through the same thing and we had candid discussions about this season with our small group.  The spirit (because of the Spirit moving) of love and passion for Jesus as well as for each other was contagious and started spreading to other groups.  I had always longed to see people develop a mature and fulfilling personal relationship with God but it always seemed like hard work trying to lead people in that direction.  This, however, wasn’t work.  AT ALL!  I would say ministering within and outside the church was becoming easy but I think it had to do with all the joy that the Holy Spirit was producing in and through us.  People with very little confidence in their evangelism skills and gospel-sharing talents were radically discovering what it looked like to preach the Gospel with boldness.  Again, this was not flesh willing itself to be strong Christians.  This was something unique.

I couldn’t describe what was happening but I found a book by Wesley Campbell who described something similar that happened to his church.  People didn’t know how to explain what was happening when revival began to occur in his conservative church in the mid-late 1980’s but he lovingly and voraciously and with great humility addressed his congregation’s fears and surprisingly very few people left the church.

Striving For The Prize

I’ve spent my entire life in the pursuit of “being a better person”.  However, it didn’t really take full bloom until I found myself truly discovering who I was as an individual in college.  Specifically, my senior year in college I had fallen in love with personal training, sports conditioning and nutrition and since that time my education has been a pervasive, life-long quest for information to help others grow in some way.  I remember a company that used to advertise itself as never making a certain product…only making someone else’s products BETTER!  Everything about LeadershipDude is concisely described in this commercial.

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Professionally, I’ve been in the fitness and nutrition industry for almost 25 years.  I’ve trained pro & Olympic athletes.  I’ve worked with cardiac rehab patients who were fresh off the operating table/death bed.  That’s a pretty wide continuum of clients to develop customized programs for but it has helped me become the person I am today.  In other words, I don’t apply cookie cutter formulas to people.  I’ve taken that same mentality and applied it to leadership development, spiritual mentoring, relationship coaching and even parenting guidance.

There is no One-Size-Fits-All approach in the Health Industry

There is no One-Size-Fits-All approach in the Health Industry

There is a systematic approach to evaluating where a person is starting from and then I attempt to evaluate where a destination would occur depending on a person’s particular goals.  This necessitates a partnership with the person i’m coaching.  I’m not a fitness chauffer.  I prefer to let the person I’m coaching have ownership in the results we seek together.  I think God loves that we seek someone to teach us spiritual guidelines but i don’t think He intended for us to let others do all of our religious thinking for us.  (Remember when Moses replied to Joshua, “Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!“? It’s tough doing all the work for people.)

Thanks to the countless experts in other fields who have written, studied, meta-analyzed, criticized, and re-assessed data and shared it in books or on the web, you and I have access to all this information and can make…put your seatbelts on…we can make our own educated decisions rather than simply take the status quo belief as the “right way to think or believe”.

Trust me, every field has major tenets that have to be revised and rescinded because they were founded on shaky assertions.  It’s healthy and it’s even biblical (test the spirits; Bereans studied every day to test what Paul said as truth or not).  Jesus, himself, did this with much of the Jewish law.  He was hated for it.  Nonetheless, it made a huge difference for those who followed Him.

The field of nutrition is dealing with this in the wake of continued research in areas of low carb, high fat diet studies.  The “obvious” healthy approach isn’t so cut and dry and yet fat has been vilified and maligned for decades because of some rather shaky “research”.  Ancel Keys ring a bell?

But let’s get back to the Holy Spirit.

Suggested Reading To Dive Into This Subject

I want to mention a few other books that were crucial to my current theological understanding of both the Holy Spirit and the continuation (Continuationists are the other side of the spectrum from Cessationists) of revelatory gifts still in operation today.  Sola Scriptura and the Revelatory Gifts, by Don Codling, was a thesis presented at Westminster Seminary that looked into how modern day Christians should consider various revelatory gifts often believed to be a part of only the early church.  The other more intensive book is, “On the Cessation of the Charismata:  The Protestant Polemic on Post-biblical Miracles“, by Jon Mark Ruthven.  I point you to these two books as well as Dr. Gordon Fee (God’s Empowering Presence) and D.A. Carson (Showing the Spirit) to present a starting point for your theological journey.

A word of caution:  Your theology can be a major help or a tremendous hindrance to the actual spiritual encounter of the person of the Holy Spirit.  Without spending another article on the difference between Eisegesis and exegesis (read this for some insight), I can tell you that oftentimes our beliefs can handcuff the text we read rather than the text shaping our beliefs.  A good way to start this study is to first ask the Holy Spirit directly to open your spiritual eyes and ears to discern what He would lead you to understand…and make sure you PERMIT him to lead you to consider something that may seem counter to what you believe on the surface.  That doesn’t mean leave yourself open to error…simply be open to “new thoughts, ideas or inspirations”.

Where does a person seeking to ignite a relationship with the Holy Spirit start?

I have noticed that there are some major common denominators present BEFORE people have a spiritual revival:

  • Holy Spirit’s “presence” is manifested in a physical location (glory filled the temple so priests could not even stand; Saul’s soldiers sent to kill David ended up prophesying instead because the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them; in a weird way, I consider Samson’s continued powerful displays of strength to be a union with God that wasn’t taken away even though he wasn’t the perfect saint…at least until his covenant was broken through the cutting of his hair)
  • People going through a pretty exhausting struggle in their life that causes them to (re)consider what, how and why they believe what they currently believe. (Jonah, Moses, Joseph, Job, Peter, Paul…just to name a few spiritual juggernauts).  This was a precursor that softened up my mind to consider something else was stirring in my future.
  • Repentance is on the hearts, minds and lips of the person seeking change or some kind of breakthrough (David:  reveal in me any offensive ways; Daniel crying out and 21 days later having an angelic visitation)
  • People were hungry and crying out for God (The Israelites, much like us today, were asking for forgiveness every few generations after becoming distant to God usually because of allowing other gods to get in the way)
  • People were convicted or edified by someone through a prophetic word or preaching through the power of the Holy Spirit (Jonah: people of Ninevah, Jews at Pentecost, church at Corinth; my own experience here was the impetus for my pursuit of the Holy Spirit).  This is one of the major reasons why this gift is needed today.  Paul said of all the gifts, the church at Corinth should eagerly pursue the gift of prophecy.  Yes, the gift is pursued because the gift is developed by practice and continued intimacy with the Word of God and quiet time with the Holy Spirit…much like the oft-used gifts of teaching and preaching are developed and refined.
  • Worship (in your car, bathroom, living room with the kids, with friends in a small group gathering, dirty men at a campfire, etc) is an easy way to spark His entry into your heart, soul and mind.  (Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!)

The key from here is to stay and rest awhile.  The thing is…He (Holy Spirit) was given to us to help us live the life Jesus modeled for us.  If Jesus did it, we should try it…with the same power He used.  Jesus didn’t cheat and use his God-powers.  He memorized scripture tirelessly and allowed the Holy Spirit to christen His ministry with power from on high and Jesus made sure to instruct His followers to do the exact same thing.  However, Jesus never forgot to stay and rest awhile.  His quiet time allowed Him to rejuvenate His inner world when the outer world was weary from giving and giving some more.  The Holy Spirit would speak to us in a variety of ways and through all of our senses but we have to train ourselves to listen…listen again…and listen even more.

Our executive pastor at church was giving a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer a few weeks ago and noted that he recognizes the extreme importance of staying in a lifestyle of prayer…but his busyness keeps him from doing it.  How honest and how true for many of us if we’re not careful.  Do you find yourself too busy to spend listening to and for the leading of the Holy Spirit?  If so, you may find it challenging to take your relationship further.  Trust me, I know the struggle.

I’m reminded of a scripture I memorized for a men’s bible study group.  1 Peter 2:11…although allow me to quote some scriptures around it:

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

11-12 Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among (the people around you) so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

Colossians 3 also states:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Well, that’s exactly what I do when I find it difficult to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I’m allowing the other voices and responsibilities to crowd out my quiet time.  This is where you see your non-spiritual side influencing your mind, will and emotions (soul).  When Christians struggle with anger, lust, addiction, or other strongholds…it’s usually because a provision for the flesh is made to allow those thoughts to remain in the same room with the thoughts that usually turn to Jesus on sundays.  Some call it mixture…like salt water and fresh water.

I’m reminded of Nehemiah who was charged with rebuilding the temple.  He was constantly being asked to stop his mission by Sanballat and Tobiah, enemies of the mission to rebuild the temple.  Later on, the temple had been completed and in chapter 13 we see this:

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the kingand came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

Here is the very temple of God housing the enemy where offerings to God used to be kept.  Isn’t this exactly what makes it difficult for us as believers to conquer those deeper struggles and sins?  Wow, that’s a powerful scene.  I can guarantee that the Holy Spirit wants to reclaim that room in your heart that you’ve offered to the enemy.  However, He prefers that you hand him the keys rather than Him bust the doors down.  That’s what makes His love and grace absolutely stunning and unbelievable.  Yet, it’s our inheritance and it’s time we take hold of it as overcomers!

It’s simple…but maybe the hardest thing to do

We started this blog yesterday by describing how we approach most of our life without holding back.  We love our children with reckless abandon and even get rowdy at their youth soccer games.  We get overly angry when someone drives horribly in front of us.  We shout and act crazy at sporting events or with a tv and a beer in hand.  We treat our coworkers with kindness to their face and then look for ways to gossip behind their back.  Come on, we’re human right?

Yet, we show up in our sunday best (sorry, that was last decade before generation Y influenced our casual sunday clothes) and stand properly during worship (because God prefers worshippers to behave calmly) and sit quietly while we hear a sermon that teaches us to understand the bible better and maybe even incorporate that into our weekly lives for the “more committed believers”.  From our vantage point on stage (worship singers), we LOVE to watch you (anyone in the audience) raise your hands, clap, dance, close your eyes, kneel on the floor, sit with head bowed low or even lay prostrate on the ground because it reminds us that you (and others around you) believe God is actually here among us…taking His seat on the Throne!


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People that practice this at home feel much more comfortable trying it in public worship.  That’s why I suggest you try to engage your full senses when you engage the Holy Spirit.  Don’t hold back in private.  Practice that for as long as you like.  And introverts, take note.  I’m not saying everyone has to raise their hands.  What I’m suggesting is that however you invite the Holy Spirit to move in you, do it more and more until even your quietness in corporate worship causes the earth to shake in our assembly.

But look out.  A personal revival may cause you to catch spiritual fire and your hunger for God may radically change the world around you.  (fingers crossed!)

P.S. After rereading this article I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite speeches from the movie Troy so here you go to finish out your consideration of just how much your actions during worship inspire others…especially those like me who enjoy worshipping with my brothers and sisters in unity.

Thanks for reading, everyone!  Have a great week.



Holy Spirit…the church’s X factor.

A good friend of mine, Scott Stonehouse, recently preached a sermon on what the bible says about the person of the Holy Spirit.  A subsequent message was focused on the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.  I’ll include a link to the message here and here is a link to the actual scriptures.  Scott has a natural charisma (pun alert) in his speaking and has a true gift to condense difficult information into a concise and easily understood message.  He has a unique way of making people laugh without breaking his stride.   Towards the end of his message he emphasized the essentiality of understanding the Holy Spirit and challenged everyone to make Him a priority to become acquainted with if that wasn’t already the case.

In the spirit of the message (sorry i’m enjoying these puns), I wanted to further elucidate some thoughts of how pivotal the work of the Holy Spirit is to the life and ministry of the believer.  Remember, you can google or use software to do your own study on these scriptures but i’m going to skip these elementary steps in order to enter a more applicable discussion.  I’ll even use an illustration from my professional career as a strength and conditioning coach but first I want to throw out some thoughts to focus on (by no means exhaustive but you get the idea).

  1. Any discussion of the Holy Spirit that teaches about Him but that does not point or lead to a practical method for building a relationship with Him will eventually just lead to a greater theological understanding rather than a deeper walk with, trust of, and reliance on Him.
  2. Does your doctrinal stance on the Holy Spirit cause you to nod and move along as usual or does it cause you to stop, reflect and immediately reapportion some of your schedule to pursue, defer to and engage the One who “guides us into all truth”? (John 14:16)
  3. Do you personally have trouble in either your personal or public worship time–i’m assuming everyone does both; One without the other leads to some serious spiritual plateas–offering your ENTIRE self, attention and being to the object of your focus?
  4. Does your corporate, small group or individual worship time focus on themes or does it focus on praising God, thanking Jesus for His example and sacrifice as well as invite the Holy Spirit to lead your heart, spirit, mind and soul into a passionate, humble, and celebratory encounter in that very moment?
  5. Does your corporate, small group or individual teaching time focus on a savior who did something or on a Trinity who did, is doing and perpetually forever will do something?  (For instance, ministry times at the end of a service or prayer time in a small group that includes laying hands on one another in prayer or encouragement in difficult circumstances.).

Passion Unleashed

Allow me to change gears for a second to apply some of my message to a different scenario.  My title comes from my favorite NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs.  Back in the early 2000’s, the Chiefs were playing strong football.  Offense, Defense…and especially the lesser known part of football called Special Teams were major forces in the league.  Although special teams account on average for about 17% of an entire game, they often produce about 34% of the points.  This was especially important to the Chiefs and their premier return specialist, Dante Hall…aka, the X FACTOR.


[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”][/youtube] Whenever the Chiefs were in a tight jam, offensively and/or defensively, you could count on Dante to be unleashed and the entire crowd would go crazy.  I was raised a devout Chiefs and Texas A&M fan (any kind of football actually).  There was no level of restraint when it came to watching games, wearing red and gold and even yelling at the tv in order to identify with my team.  All the years I played football and even as a Strength Coach, I was vociferously passionate towards people pushing themselves through any obstacles or enemy for the purpose of achieving victory.  Evidently, this is the case with all sports fans worldwide so I don’t feel like a (complete) weirdo.

Here’s another illustration.  Look at the fascination with talent shows on tv like American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, etc.  People go crazy watching these shows and dialogue endlessly through facebook and twitter to voice their approval or displeasure at the results.  Even matchmaking gets in on the action.  The Bachelorette reality show gets all kinds of people excited and expressing their bold opinions about the results.  I love how technology has brought the entire world into an intricate web of connectedness.  People have the ability to be completely transparent, expressive and passionate about whatever matters most to them.

So what is it about our spirituality (what you do in private highly influences what you do in public!) that often reflects a restrained, deterred, submaximal, or dispassionate attempt to engage the Holy (God, Holy Spirit, Jesus)?  I remember the first time someone told me that their faith was private.  My first instinct was to ask where that scripture was in the bible but I refrained.  I truly feel that Jesus not only took the keys of the kingdom away from the enemy but he unlocked the door for anyone to come in.  The Holy Spirit not only accompanies us in the door but He invites us to make ourselves at home and to truly be free in Christ! check out a few verses from the Gospel of John:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 3:17 states the following:  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

If freedom is the interior decorator assigned to our new house, maybe we should allow Him to give us some input as to where we can use our bodies (and mind and spirit) to glorify Him to greater degrees.  Consider also 1 Corinthians 6:  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

If we were to consider a fun metaphor for football and spirituality, it might go something like this.  If God were the sport of football (cut me some slack, David called God a rock and a tower), Jesus might represent our offense, while the bible played out as defense…wait for it…and the Holy Spirit would change the outcome of a game in a split second as the special teams X FACTOR!  And the crowd goes wild…

A New Set of Eyes

One of my favorite theologians, Richard Beck, has a blog called Experimental Theology.  I linked a search to his views on the Holy Spirit just for fun. Here’s an excerpt from a discussion on cessationism from a church of Christ perspective.

To catch everyone up, cessationism is the view that the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit ceased (thus the label “cessationism”) after the apostolic era, generally the first century of the church. There are many aspects to this view but a few common ideas appear a lot. I’d like to mention the ideas that dominated in the Churches of Christ when I was growing up and how these ideas shaped how we viewed the bible and the activity of God in the world.The central idea had to do with the relationship between the charismatic gifts and the bible.Cessationists often argue that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were necessary during the apostolic era because there was no New Testament on hand. Thus, direction for the church had to be given through direct divine intervention, mainly through the apostles, but if one of those guys weren’t on hand then through the members of the church exercising things like the charismatic gift of prophecy.However, once the bible had been “completed,” it is argued, there was no longer any need for the charismatic gifts. The bible, rather than prophetic utterances, would guide and correct faith and practice. Evangelistic persuasion would no longer require miraculous displays but be rooted in the proclamation of the gospel, using the bible to convict the heart and mind of sin.Basically, the bible displaced the charismatic gifts.Where did this idea come from? When I was growing up this argument was made by an appeal to 1 Corinthians 13:

 1 Corinthians 13.8-10 (NASV)
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

The gifts will cease when “the perfect” comes. So what’s “the perfect”? Well, any cogent exegesis of this passage would say that love is this perfection. That love is the gift that pushes all other gifts to the side. That’s Paul’s whole point in verses 1-3: if you have all this supernatural power but don’t have love it profits you nothing.

But that’s not what I was taught growing up. I was taught that “the perfect” was the bible. That when the bible came the charismatic gifts would cease.

This interpretation was supported by other passages that identified the activity of the Holy Spirit with the bible. For example, passages like this were used to defend a bibliocentric–nay, a biblioexclusive–vision of spiritual warfare:

 Ephesians 6.16-17
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

It was pointed out that the only offensive weapon for spiritual warfare mentioned in this text was “the word of God,” which is also the “sword of the Spirit.” Thus, it was argued, the way the Holy Spirit “does battle” with demonic and satanic forces is through proper use of the bible. If you want to call upon the Spirit pick up the bible, “the sword of the Spirit.” The prime example of this was Jesus’s own battle with Satan in the desert temptations. In each instance Jesus resists the Devil by quoting Scripture. (See, my example of the bible being the defense isn’t that off base)

All of this, you can imagine, had a very deflationary effect on any robust charismatic vision of spiritual warfare. The battle with evil became about exchanging bible verses.

Spirituality was reduced to cognition, memory and rational argumentation.

Charismatic Christians, we were told, would object to all this, they would decry limiting and restricting the activity of the Holy Spirit to bible study. But we had a great proof text for them:

 Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Spirit working through the bible wasn’t a dry academic exercise. The bible was alive and active. The bible cut deep. 

In short, even all the dynamic language of God’s activity in the world was located in the bible. To suggest that the Holy Spirit was somehow constrained or limited by the bible was deemed to be a lack of faith. See Hebrews 4.12.

All this added up to a couple of big conclusions.

To be spiritual was to be biblical.

To engage in spiritual warfare was to quote Scripture.

And perhaps most importantly of all, the only way God acted in your life and in the world was through the study and use of the bible.

And thus, the Holy Spirit became the bible.

I grew up in the church of Christ.  Many generations of my ancestors were ministers.  I am so thankful to have grown up with such high regard for the scriptures of the bible and the God found at the very epicenter of those scriptures.  Unfortunately, I also grew up unknowingly being taught from a cessationist viewpoint–and thankfully there is a major trend in churches of Christ who are re-investigating their “position” and allowing the renewal and transformative power of the Holy Spirit to experience a fresh revival.  Until I had taken the time to investigate my own views on this subject, I could often be found arguing with charismatic friends that current expressions of the Holy Spirit weren’t valid and probably wrong.  Oy Gevalt! (i may spend an eternity repenting for that misunderstanding.)

I think you’ll enjoy Dr. Beck’s recent series of blog posts on the Charism of the Charismatics where he discusses how he has joyfully yet trepidatiously come to see people through different eyes.  Although his theology had created a sort of religious box with distinct boundaries, his willingness to be spirit-led and attend an inner city church that focuses on serving those that struggle to even survive day to day, has caused a transformational work to occur in him.  Yes, it makes him uncomfortable but it also invigorates his soul like nothing else ever had.

His story is but one of many stories where people have allowed the Holy Spirit to take them into uncharted territory.

My own story is similar in nature.  I’ll spend more time in my next post discussing my journey, a few books that were crucial challenges to my stance on what God does and “does not do anymore” (as if a human can truly dictate a “pattern” that God has assumed–remember in the Old Testament when God was apparently silent…He was really preparing something new), as well as some possible solutions to the points I delineated above in my bullet points.

As always, thanks for reading and have a fantastic week!


Identity Change

Who Am I – Identity edition

The Heavens Reveal…but Could Never Contain Our God (photo: Darker Than Black, stjerner – Bakgrunnsbilder)

Science has afforded me structure to engage in and enhance many of my career pursuits over the last few decades as well as to help me update or upgrade my previous notions on things such as health prescription, relationship counseling, parental coaching, spiritual advising, etc.  I was watching the science channel the other night because I’m enthralled with outer space and pretty much all things astronomy.  This particular show was describing The Big Bang and how our universe is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old.

Even though I am a devout Believer, I’ve never eschewed the role of science nor do I get uncomfortable with man’s attempt to observe, study and describe his surroundings.  My faith in what I believe enjoys the scrutiny and only grows in strength when tested. (1Cor 4:20-21)

However, I did give my imagination the opportunity to consider what would happen if I completely gave my mental constructs over to evolutionary design without any input from a creator with specific intentions for His creation.  You see, with my understanding of how man was created to be fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, in addition to being a new creation while loving his neighbor and endeavoring to live by the Spirit through Jesus Christ, I was made to develop leadership skills that would invite others to discover and implement their own strengths and pass the encouragement on to their social circles…a light (freedom) in the proverbial darkness (pick something that stops you from being all that you are passionately able to accomplish, ie. fear, pride).  I could go on and on but instead I wanted to try taking off that particular crown and instead claim another identity…for fun, of course.


Hi, Uncle Mike!

I am an evolving combination of cells and living tissue—no more, no less.  I have no control over how my cells will become something else and thousands or millions of years later those dna may develop long arms and 4 hands to handle all the emerging computer technology and my gluteus maximus may double in size to accommodate a career full of seated activities that become the norm in an intelligent and less active society.  That would be great actually because I still lament the homecoming game my senior year where I didn’t make a dramatic game-winning catch and 10 extra feet of arms and legs would definitely have made me an instant high school hero.

ok, let’s see…Nope!  I tried to feel a spark of empowerment and world-conquering readiness and I just couldn’t seem to pull it off.  I think I’ll stick with Psalm 139:14 for now.

[divider scroll_text=”Identity —> Actions”]

 Who you think you are scripts the life you lead

Since one of my personal LeadershipDude philosophies states that “Identity precedes Action”, I must therefore design a personal ecosystem to support that biological identity.  If I am a cell, then my ONLY goal is to survive.  Cells don’t live or die because they are happy, sad, lonely or elated.  Cells shrink, grow or maintain equilibrium because they have adequate nutrients and are supported by adjacent and/or related systems in the body.  Type I Diabetes, for instance, causes the body to attack itself [kind of like a husband and wife who make vows before witnesses that their love will weather any type of relational hurricane until death they do part and yet they eventually become the worst of enemies.] and destroy cells that should help the body function better.  So the body needs an exogenous source of insulin in order to prevent death.  Wow, that really stinks.  A group of cells that are at war with itself does not bode well for any organism’s future.  What exogenous substance do your cells need to survive the life you’ve created for yourself?

I’m not sure how our cells ever overstepped the boundaries of simple multiplication and became an elaborate network of interrelated systems run by a cerebral center of operations.  The statistical probability of a planarian uncle of mine eating a donut, catching a touchdown pass, attempting to play an electronic version of a song entitled “Canon in D major”, copiously reading leadership articles and feeling exuberant joy during a kiss on his daughter’s forehead are indeed difficult to calculate and yet exactly what I have encountered this year.  Oh what amazing cells we have!

How does a cell evolve from mechanical movements and energetical functions into experiencing consciousness, emotion and optimistic hope for his fellow man?  Does Darwin have an accurate timetable for just how long that evolutionary timeline takes to enable?  Many human reductionists have sure made the attempt.

How does a cell then pretend to receive, encounter and enjoy a spiritual relationship with a divine being that engages back through scripture reminders, revelatory thoughts, visions, rescues, healings and/or any other miraculous interaction between the natural world and whatever else lies outside of that man-controlled world?

The mere act of prayer itself is miraculous.

Prayer through speech or thought is sent out in any direction and somehow lands in the receiving line of God’s eardrum.  It’s similar to the symbiotic relationship between efferent and afferent neurons that allow your body to react to tripping over an object and reflexively brace for a fall before your conscious mind has the time to consider how that puddle of dirty water is going to look on your new white jeans.  Somehow a circumstantial response that “magically” or “coincidentally” meets the objectives of the needs that I have as a finite, yet needy human emerge from nowhere and my life moves forward with thankfulness and gratitude that I am known and loved by Lady Luck.  Right?  Think what you like because you are free to do so, however, my answer is unequivocally…WRONG!

I am not just a conglomerate of cells in unison working for survival.  I am a man with a purpose and destiny who is loved dearly by his creator and called to partner with God to “redeem the time” and be a steward of the people, time and opportunities that He allots to my journey.  I stand on this perspective and invite others to consider something similar for their life.  Discover what Proverbs 16:9 states for you…In his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

I have clients who do believe that life just happens and their job is simply to analyze the roll of the dice and react accordingly.  If bad stuff happens, their cells will just deal with it.  If good stuff happens, their cells will keep functioning as usual.  They’ll enjoy the temporary smile (possibly) and party like it’s 1999.  (Don’t hate, I’m a child of the 80’s.)  Although I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint, I respect and honor who they are as individuals and remain committed to finding helpful coaching points that support the acquisition of their goals.

So what’s the big deal with all the turmoil, division and angry banter that religious and non-religious people engage in on Facebook and other social media meeting grounds?  Lack of unity and agreement on who the real enemy is as well as which arguments are worthy of debate and discussion is definitely near the top of the list.  I don’t have immediate answers for world peace but I do have answers for individual reflection and that’s where we’ll procede from here.

Identity Precedes Action

People in the consulting business utilize many strategies to solve a problem.  We get paid and become revered in our industry when those strategies legitimately accomplish what we say they can accomplish.  My approach to training elite NFL and NHL athletes consisted of searching for cutting edge technologies and methodologies that other strength coaches weren’t even aware existed.  This necessitated countless late nights of study and experimentation even before the rise of Internet access to information.  Because I believed that people deserved the best, I needed to become the best.

Interestingly, the more time I spent with people, the more I realized that people don’t necessarily change because they need or want to change.  They change because they believe they CAN change.  [Again, I utilize a lot of Dr. Prochaska’s Stages of Change Model and my experience closely correlates to Precontemplation.] People with the belief that they are either uninterested or unworthy of accomplishing a different result for their future are very hard to work with…even when they pay you to help accomplish that very task.  Conundrum anyone?

Cardiac rehab patients, pre-adolescent children, prenatal moms, pulmonary restricted, college golfers, overweight dads…you can change the circumstance but you can’t change a very simple truth:  Who you think you are scripts the life you live!

This is our identity.

Identity Change

Mid-life crisis is the opportunity that men get to re-engage and enjoy their pubescent immaturity, uh, I mean…it’s the belief that if a man can experience a new environment that (temporarily) looks and feels exciting on the outside, it’ll manifest absolute joy and fulfillment on the inside.  It’s the search for a new identity but it often leads to destructive choices and irrational desires that can lead to seemingly impossible dead-ends.

Much time, energy and money has been wasted on advice to fix our situation that ultimately ended in futility or disaster.  There is no shortage of action items to solve a problem.  Many things can be purchased.  New clothes.  New face.  New car or house.  More positive friends.  New attitude to get chicks.

The good news is that I have found a much more concise and successful approach to helping clients successfully overcome issues that involves less time, less money and yields exponentially more results.  I didn’t create it.  I borrowed it and applied it individually for the unique needs of the person I was coaching.

The bad news is that most people lack the openness, humility, trust and willpower to implement a major change.  Not because they’re lazy.  Unintelligent.  Poor.  Homeless.  Lonely.  Rejected.  Divorced.  Barren.  Overwhelmed.  Abused.  No, none of these plights or conditions render a person unable to achieve a different life…a better life.

It’s when you believe your circumstance defines you that you get hammered the hardest by life.  That is when you lock yourself into a virtual prison that begets a series of self-fulfilling prophecies.  The endless cycle of disappointment and failures begin to convince you that you deserve nothing better and any attempted rescue from the outside world is not only frowned upon but something that should be shunned and avoided at all costs.

Perfect Theology

I feel so heavy thinking about how many millions of humans have endured perpetual heartache and disappointment.  Yet, we always take courage in hearing the stories of the brave hearts and courageous lions who believed in something more and left this earth with no regrets.

Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author (beginning) and perfecter (end) of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of God.”  Talk about no regrets.  Jesus Christ is perfect theology.  I see a question…and He becomes the answer.

A woman deserves punishment because she committed adultery.  He says she deserves life.  John 10:10 states that Jesus came so that we might have life…and have it more abundantly.  A tax collector deserves rejection and isolation.  Jesus said He’s going to his house today.  A lame man makes the ground his bed.  Jesus invites him to get up and walk…and keep walking.  1000’s of people are starving.  Jesus says eat until you’re full…and they do.  They can drink and never be thirsty, too, because He is living water that never runs dry.  If you are a Believer…that He was, is and is to come…or that those who are in Christ Jesus are a New creation, then it’s time to live fully in THAT identity rather than the brokenness you’ve come to accept as an adopted guardian.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”  It’s not hard to see that a world that was given to us to take care of and steward has been neglected, abused and mishandled.  The repercussions of it affect all of us.  Yet, we don’t have to be defined by negative effects.  We actually get the opportunity to redefine it through the supernatural relationship we have with Jesus Christ.

To the extent that He becomes your reality, is the extent to which your true identity will be transformed and you will discover the abundant life that Jesus gave you as your inheritanceThat truth has changed my life and it’s changed the lives of countless others. 

It doesn’t mean you get to be happy all the time.  It doesn’t mean you’ll become a wealthy, healthy and problem-stealthy person but it does mean you will walk with inescapable joy and peace.  It also means that the prison cell you created for yourself will remain unlocked regardless of how many times you decide to take a nap on your old bunk.  He who the Son sets free…is free indeed! (john 8:36)

Thanks for visiting LeadershipDude and remember we’re always available for coaching individuals or group seminars.





Church Identity

Who Are We … Church Identity Edition

Church Identity

Moving Forward Means Knowing Who You Are and Who You Want To Become

Recently I had a discussion with a local pastor about their church’s struggle to overcome a growth plateau.  This is a very common difficulty for organizations that are aspiring to grow and is especially of concern for many church communities.  Funny thing is, I first encountered dealing with plateaus as a budding bodybuilder in 1991.  Although there were several “expert” (nonscientific, of course) opinions on how to overcome physical plateaus, there was also a wealth of scientifically valid studies on how to adjust your planning and approach in order to minimize and possibly avoid altogether the risk of “hitting a wall.”  As it turns out, there are a lot of parallels I’ve been able to connect throughout my research in strategic people development and leadership principles.

Anyway, I asked this pastor several questions to ascertain some foundational issues.  I’ll share more about this later in this article but let’s briefly discuss why some churches get stuck against a membership wall.  And by the way, there’s always hope if you are seemingly in a rut in regards to church growth, but it may require a good dose of humility and willingness to change directions and invite counsel from others to accomplish it.  So let’s explore this idea of church identity further.

Many churches operationally mirror businesses or corporations except that they are not usually staffed by people with corporate backgrounds, training and expertise.  This has its pros and cons.  They may implement business models without the business experience to correctly analyze the results.  Oftentimes, large businesses hire consultants and experts to analyze growth trends as well as evaluate current employee productivity and efficiency.  Roles are constantly evolving and being redefined so that talented people can (or at least should) focus on their strengths.  Unfortunately, churches are usually started and grown with very little executive input, which can lead to burnout, staff turnover and premature baldness (joke) due to stress and confusion.

Let’s introduce a companion industry for comparison sake:  The Fitness industry.  This beloved field is wrought with entrepreneurial exploits built on callings and passions.  However, the archaic standards and lack of professional protocols held in place mostly by tradition and disorganized experimentation–not that religion has ever had negative consequences from adherence to tradition and experiential evidence (sarcasm)– have prevented many gym chains from experiencing the kind of revenue and growth seen in other industries.  Much like the church industry, you see people passionate about fitness (parallel this with spiritual fervor) who aren’t so great at using excel spreadsheets, managing money wisely and forecasting daily trends.  Gyms, much like churches, are geared towards building (and retaining) membership and providing a quality service for the purpose of helping people become physically more fit.  Financially speaking, the goal was always to increase revenue and sustain high member retention rates.

I was fortunate to have spent most of my career in high-end facilities (member-focused; service-centered; staff-supported leadership) that were extremely adept at successful business practices.  However, I have also experienced my fair share of operational mistakes that resulted in high staff turnover rates, low member retention rates, poor employee morale and overall negative environments.  One of those tenures involved a large company who hired/fired over a few CEO’s in the relatively short time that I worked for them.  After numerous attempts at a concise, consistent and supportable mission statement, they failed to identify exactly who they wanted to be as a company and this created all kinds of company-wide chaos and fickle pursuits of managerial productivity.  Their brand may have been well known but internally there was major evidence of corporate identity amnesia.

As a leadership coach with many years of experience supporting corporate executives as well as pastoral staff of many denominational backgrounds, I am frequently amazed by the similarities in organizational structures and concomitant difficulties in maintaining successful membership involvement.  Passion and devotion to what you believe in (church or work) is great but there are some things I truly believe to be essential to an organization’s success.

IDENTITY…who are we and what do we do (effectively)

One of the concepts I preach over and over in my personal training school is the idea of identity–Who do you think you are versus who you were created to be?  Change agents have to be skilled in the evaluation, nurturing and fine-tuning of the personal beliefs that their clients/patients maintain.  Negative thoughts yield negative actions.  Luke 6:45 comes to mind…The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Specifically, a preacher or personal trainer can give all the sage advice and beneficial strategies to a person they possibly can.  However, a person with self-limiting beliefs will struggle to implement those concepts and practices because they do NOT feel they are worthy of a better life or that their situation is too insurmountable to overcome.  [see James Prochaska’s “Stages of Change” model]  However, I believe very strongly that anyone can change their circumstances with the right perspective, strategies and support.

There’s a saying that you cannot fix what you cannot measure.  If you can’t identify what needs tweaking, you run the risk of wasting precious time, resources and volunteer support.  This is where it is crucial to establish your organization’s clear purpose for existence as well as how you are going to interact with the community you serve.

Let’s examine an illustration for a moment.  When a large chain fitness club becomes successful, it’s not uncommon for it to be purchased by a holding company.  This usually means that employees of the holding company are inserted into or consult with the current executive team of the gym business.  The goal:  produce more revenue…and maybe create a better product or service while they’re at it.

This sounds great on many levels but unfortunately the emphasis on greater revenue production can put the original vision or identity of the purchased company on the backburner.  Similarly, when churches decide to build a new facility to aid in member growth and ministry effectiveness, they can lose sight of the original purpose, strengths or vision of the church.  It is imperative that an organization develops and purposefully maintains a lucid understanding of what they strive to be.  In addition, the language they use to define and support this identity have to point all individuals involved with this organization towards the growth of their vision.

For instance, let’s look at one of the most influential church voices of the 1990’s:  Willow Creek Church.  Here’s an excerpt from their website:

Willow History

Explore the journey of Willow Creek Community Church

From a College Classroom…

Willow Creek Community Church started as a whisper in a college classroom in 1972. At Trinity College, 20-year-old Bill Hybels sat captivated by the beautiful picture New Testament professor Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian painted of the first church as described in Acts chapter 2. “When I left Dr. B’s classroom that day,” Bill says, “I went out to my car, put my head on the steering wheel, and cried. The dream of being part of such a church had taken root in my soul.”

…to a High School Youth Group

At the time, Bill and some friends were leading a high school youth group in Park Ridge, IL. As they began to apply the Acts 2 principles taught by Dr. B, the youth ministry exploded. “Kids were coming to faith in Christ,” Bill says, “their lives were being transformed, and they were loving one another with the kind of unconditional love you see described in Acts 2.”

…to a Movie Theater

On October 12, 1975 in the Willow Creek Theatre in Palatine, IL, Bill and friends launched the very first Willow Creek church service. The church thrived, quickly outgrowing their space at the theatre. In 1977, they purchased a plot of land in South Barrington, IL—the site of the central church campus today—and construction began. In February 1981, the fledgling church met for the first time in its new home.

…And Beyond

God has taken Willow on quite a ride since those early days. And throughout the past 35-plus years, Bill and the Elders and leaders of Willow Creek have never lost sight of that original vision of being an Acts 2 church. While much has changed over the years, key themes—taken straight from the Acts 2 passage that gripped Bill’s heart in 1972—have transcended individual leaders, ministries, and eras. These themes are part of Willow’s very DNA as a church. And the church’s mission, to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, remains its singular passion.

Today, more than 20,000 people worship at one of Willow Creek’s six regional campuses each weekend. Churches from around the world look to see what God is up to at Willow, and to find encouragement and equipping for their own ministries. Willow Creek remains, above all else, a local church of Christ followers—a place where people matter to God and to us, where together we seek to live out God’s vision of being an Acts 2 church.

Now, when I read Acts 2, I see an extremely single-minded, unified group of people who not only walked for three years with the real “most amazing man in the world” (apologies to Dos Equis), but also an expectant group of hungry individuals—lucid vision in tow–who had spent 40 days learning about a Kingdom where God was going to add his “Super” to their “Natural” and God Himself was going to insert His Spirit and subsequently empower every individual (and their children’s children) to set the world on spiritual fire.  The Holy Spirit was not going to railroad the “human organization” He was entering in this new partnership…He was going to join, love and empower the partner–male, female, jew or greek–to change the world for His Glory.

In terms of Willow Creek’s initial goal of being an Acts 2 church, it seemed, however, that an alternative vision was being emphasized:  The development of numerous programs aimed at inviting members to get “more involved” which would then facilitate their spiritual growth and cause them to become a “fully devoted follower of Christ”.  Willow Creek became a beacon for many churches to emulate because they were turning their experiences in explosive church growth into reproducible formulas and seminar events.  I don’t think Jesus had lots of church activities in mind when he was heading towards the cross.  Personally, I believe He had intentional and focused discipleship on His mind.

Willow Creek’s Reveal Study and subsequent follow-ups conveyed this very idea so it’s no secret that churches who focus too heavily on church activity involvement find it difficult to advance spiritual formation.  Churches need an unbiased approach to evaluating member spiritual health in addition to feedback on church efficiency.  Far too often, church leadership (which may just be a single pastor) takes “constructive” criticism personally and thus prevents leadership from doing in-depth reviews of church administration. This was just one large example of an approach to help churches find ways to combat ineffective ministry practices.

So what can churches do to grow?

Earlier I mentioned the conversation that I had with a local church pastor.  They had recently evaluated that they were stabilizing (slowing way down) after an initial surge of memberships due to a recent building purchase a few years prior, which had much higher traffic and exposure as well as a beautiful exterior design.

Some of the questions that immediately came to mind were:
–           What is your church’s mission?
–           What is your church’s passion?
–           What does your church do well?  (Does your church KNOW you do this well?)
–           Where do you see your church in 10 years?
–           How does your leadership seek counsel from outside influences?
–           How open is your leadership to “feedback”?
–           What would you change overnight?
–           Any acknowledged weaknesses that your leadership is embracing?

Again, this is a very common characteristic for churches to experience growth after a building upgrade.  Oftentimes, It can create a false sense that internal design and practices are very effective when in reality you are simply experiencing a spurt of people taste-testing the spiritual environment.  To compound the problem, there’s nothing worse than an organization that rapidly grows when the systems that support the organization are in dire need of revamping and realignment.  Primarily because change is very hard for people to accept or implement in large scale, it’s very important that an organization prays long and hard and invites “wise counsel” in the beginning to help shape a vision that is meant to be a foundation for that group.  Leadership also needs to designate a team of trusted in-house or external advisors solely dedicated to truly constructive feedback in order to ensure they are focused on the right things and the right people to support.


Once it (vision) is in place, perfect what you do and love rather than compare yourself to other churches who seem to be “doing it right”.  Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”  In other words, what you feel the Lord has called you to bring to the world, Bring With PowerSupernatural Power!  This has definitely been the case with my forefathers.  My grandfather was a preacher for over 50 years who had a personal vision of loving unconditionally (he had an inner city church and also worked for a children’s home).  My great grandfather was also a preacher for over 50 years and he LOVED to teach the bible.  My dad is president of an architectural firm in North Dallas who has done numerous design projects for churches in addition to large university buildings.  Dad’s job is to help a church clarify it’s vision and values so that the church and its campus can reflect and support the implementation of that vision.  Some of his work can be seen here (as well as the pic to the left of a church design in AggieLand).  The key to growth is to multiply what you’re church is gifted at doing by strategic discipleship and empowering leaders to help sustain the efforts of your body of believers.  Just make sure that LOVE is the most important thing emanating from your church so that the world will know you are His disciples rather than simply a zealous bunch of religious people telling the world they’re heading to hell in a handbasket.

Hopefully I can spend more time with how you unpack the previous questions that a church leadership contends with in a future article.  As usual, we are always available for consultation with leaders who are seeking a new infusion of strategy and development.  Don’t hesitate to drop a question for us.

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Leading From The Front By Serving From The Back…

Herd mentality...time to think for yourself!

Getting Your Brain Back ( autonomous thinking )


“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

– King Solomon

“Our love of being right is best understood as our fear of being wrong”

– Kathryn Schulz

Have you ever been the victim of a fib, half-truth, untrue rumor or fabricated lie?  Well, you certainly would not be alone if you had.  I’ve definitely “enjoyed” being wrong many times and I’m sure it will happen again (frequently) in the future.  When I was pursuing a bachelor of science in the early 90’s, I became increasingly aware that being wrong was not an if thing, it was more like a when thing.  The sheer nature of science implies the perpetual updating of concepts and theories through further research.  However, what happens when people do not take on the attitude of (re)adjustment and simply accept their world as a concrete foundation?  This does little to promote free and autonomous thinking.

Herd mentality...time to think for yourself!

Herd mentality…time to think for yourself!

In this article, we’re going to spend a little time discussing why people can be set up from an early age to believe everything they hear.  Additionally, we’ll consider the importance of keeping an open mind about subjects that can be billed as slam dunk conclusions.  Let’s start with an example that connects with a now issue:  technology.

Most people today know what a smartphone is and what kind of benefits it can enable us to utilize.  I use several “apps” (software application) that enable my job to flow better.  I have apps that help me to monitor my finances.  I have apps that can monitor my current heart rate.  I have apps that can analyze a mole or freckle to determine if it might be cancerous.  I have bible study apps to help me dig deeper into the Hebrew root word for something that an English translation couldn’t quite describe.  I have apps to grab the attention of my smarty pants 2 year old daughter when she’s inconsolable at a public restaurant.  You get the idea.

So imagine what would happen if you paid almost $1000 for an app and it’s sole purpose was to do…wait for it…absolutely NOTHING!  Here’s a snapshot of this app before it was removed supposedly after 8 people had purchased it.  The glowing red shape in the middle was your reward for purchasing this extravagantly priced application.  Can you imagine the excitement of buying this little treasure and believing you were getting something really valuable for your money only to find out it was completely useless? 1000$ nothing app

We present to you a discussion not so much about bad apps but rather on the nature of what happens when people believe something they deem as truly valuable that to varying degrees may be utterly useless, wrong, inaccurate, and possibly even harmful. Before we delve into particular myths and controversies, let’s discuss how we become susceptible to untruths.

There is no way anyone can always avoid being the victim of this but using better tools to wade through our critical thinking (or lack thereof) is a strong preventive measure to being duped.  Let’s get started.

[divider scroll_text=”Transformative Learning vs Informative Learning”]

American education…teaching how to think vs. what to think?

bloomstaxonomyBloom’s taxonomy is a concept that teachers use to help structure and maximize their teaching criteria.  The basic premise was to take the structure of individual learning and break it down into levels that could be adjusted based on the needs of the student.  For instance, the first step in the learning process is sheer memorization of facts and concepts.  Once this information is learned it can be molded and shaped into more useful pieces of knowledge and understanding.

When an educator is trying to reinforce a certain level or stage of Bloom’s, he/she refers to a concrete exercise that represents that particular stage.  In case you’re new to this concept, let’s look at a few examples.

Many of the chemistry and math concepts I learned growing up had no relevance to my thinking until they were plugged into a real world application.  Then my homework made a bit more sense.  This represents an application in level 3.  If I wanted to gain further mastery I would practice the processes of synthesis and evaluation in order to look for potential moments when a concept didn’t work so well.  Situational concepts where something may be true most of the time but in certain cases be construed as incorrect would require the use of synthesis and analysis.  Judges use this concept quite frequently in their verdicts.

Unfortunately, there is a major weakness in our style of education system.  Or consider it a limitation that affects children who will later require skills that necessitate practice in the art of HOW to think abstractly when solutions to their problems are not obvious or attainable within black and white guidelines.

Empower Kids to Think For Themselves

Empower Kids to Think For Themselves

Pedagogy is the method or practice of teaching children but it almost always implies a unidirectional flow of information from one person (teacher) to another (kids).  The teacher then has the difficult responsibility of keeping the learners (kids) engaged and compliant–corporate buzzwords that adult leadership concerns itself with in productivity discussions–while disseminating the day’s curriculum.

Thankfully, adult education has had numerous sources of input as to what kinds of curriculum should be presented to the learner.  Agendas have really been to make courses fun, accessible to all and educationally efficient in order to provide people with opportunities to further their vocational skills, mental growth and/or financial capabilities.  


The last few decades we have seen a shift in learning aimed towards adults which involves more lateral participation.  Allow me to borrow a resource to describe my point.

(The following excerpt is adapted and updated from Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Individualizing instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.) There is little doubt that the most dominadult learnerant form of instruction in Europe and America is pedagogy, or what some people refer to as didactic, traditional, or teacher-directed approaches. A competing idea in terms of instructing adult learners, and one that gathered momentum within the past three decades, has been dubbed andragogy. The purpose of this resource piece is to provide the interested reader with some background information regarding both instructional forms. The pedagogical model of instruction was originally developed in the monastic schools of Europe in the Middle Ages. Young boys were received into the monasteries and taught by monks according to a system of instruction that required these children to be obedient, faithful, and efficient servants of the church (Knowles, 1984). From this origin developed the tradition of pedagogy, which later spread to the secular schools of Europe and America and became and remains the dominant form of instruction. Pedagogy is derived from the Greek word “paid,” meaning child plus “agogos,” meaning leading. Thus, pedagogy has been defined as the art and science of teaching children. In the pedagogical model, the teacher has full responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, when it will be learned, and if the material has been learned. Pedagogy, or teacher-directed instruction as it is commonly known, places the student in a submissive role requiring obedience to the teacher’s instructions. It is based on the assumption that learners need to know only what the teacher teaches them. The result is a teaching and learning situation that actively promotes dependency on the instructor (Knowles, 1984). Up until very recently, the pedagogical model has been applied equally to the teaching of children and adults, and in a sense, is a contradiction in terms. The reason is that as adults mature, they become increasingly independent and responsible for their own actions. They are often motivated to learn by a sincere desire to solve immediate problems in their lives. Additionally, they have an increasing need to be self-directing. In many ways the pedagogical model does not account for such developmental changes on the part of adults, and thus produces tension, resentment, and resistance in individuals (Knowles, 1984). The growth and development of andragogy as an alternative model of instruction has helped to remedy this situation and improve the teaching of adults. But this change did not occur overnight. In fact, an important event took place some thirty years ago that affected the direction of adult education in North America and, to some extent, elsewhere as well. Andragogy as a system of ideas, concepts, and approaches to adult learning was introduced to adult educators in the United States by Malcolm Knowles. His contributions to this system have been many (1975, 1980, 1984; Knowles & Associates, 1984), and have influenced the thinking of countless educators of adults. Knowles’ dialogue, debate, and subsequent writings related to andragogy have been a healthy stimulant to some of the growth of the adult education field during the past thirty years. The first use of the term “andragogy” to catch the widespread attention of adult educators was in 1968, when Knowles, then a professor of adult education at Boston University, introduced the term (then spelled “androgogy”) through a journal article. In a 1970 book (a second edition was published in 1980) he defined the term as the art and science of helping adults learn. His thinking had changed to the point that in the 1980 edition he suggested the following: “. . . andragogy is simply another model of assumptions about adult learners to be used alongside the pedagogical model of assumptions, thereby providing two alternative models for testing out the assumptions as to their ‘fit’ with particular situations. Furthermore, the models are probably most useful when seen not as dichotomous but rather as two ends of a spectrum , with a realistic assumption (about learners) in a given situation falling in between the two ends” (Knowles, 1980, p. 43 ). The andragogical model as conceived by Knowles is predicated on four basic assumptions about learners, all of which have some relationship to our notions about a learner’s ability, need, and desire to take responsibility for learning:

  1. Their self-concept moves from dependency to independency or self-directedness.

  2. They accumulate a reservoir of experiences that can be used as a basis on which to build learning.

  3. Their readiness to learn becomes increasingly associated with the developmental tasks of social roles.

  4. Their time and curricular perspectives change from postponed to immediacy of application and from subject-centeredness to performance-centeredness (1980, pp. 44-45).

(Back To Chad again…) By no means an exhaustive treatise on the subject of learning, I simply wanted to set the stage for the fact that learning should be about sharing and learning rather than simply obeying someone with more age, power and authority.  It was in this environment that many adults were instructed NOT to question what they were taught and develop critical thinking skills in their adolescent and teen years.

adult learning

This has been a major contributor to the “mob mentality” that has plagued society throughout the centuries.  Can you hear the Monty Python crew screaming, “Burn her, she’s a witch!”?  monty_python_witch-701441


All jokes aside, I spend a good deal of time explaining this process at the National Personal Training Institute in Dallas.  There is a lot of government-backed information that we’re responsible to discuss.  Yet, there is a growing body of more current research that is causing the revisionists in our fields to reconsider the boundaries of what is both acceptable and beneficial for the public.  I try to be fair to the students by presenting both sides of various debates for the very reason of putting the critical analysis in the students’ hands rather than my own.

I want to teach these students to gather their own information so that learning extends well beyond their class graduation date.  These are, after all, adults who will make subjective decisions about many different individuals that will require individualized health solutions.  This is why I believe so strongly in teaching our kids this process at a younger age.  Many teachers do this but they’re still restricted somewhat by the curriculum that must be instructed.

Mythology Beyond The Walls Of Greece

Previous to becoming the director at NPTI, I had thoughts of becoming a Jr./Sr. high science teacher and therefore needed to go through alternative teaching certification.  Ironically, no one wanted to hire a teacher “with no teaching experience” although i had spent 2 decades teaching people the art of personal change in addition to anatomical and nutritional science practices.  Buzzwords in the teaching industry like engagement were a very real part of my previous career, day in and day out.  It was about that time that I was offered the opportunity to use my skills as a personal training mentor to help brand new trainers get their start as a health professional.

As you can imagine, nutrition is one of the most impactful conversations that a health professional can have with a client.  The American Dietetic Association has been espousing low fat, higher carb diets for decades for the purpose of reducing heart disease and a myriad of other health risks that are related.  My college training gave me organic chemistry as a tool to better understand how to defend “our” beliefs.  I was trained to understand research-based ideas such as this to be true and unchanging and this was an industry standard to be defended until the end. When the upstart rebels of the low carb, higher fat diets began to grow, war soon fell upon the industry.  Personal attacks, discrediting all the apparent “diploma mill” PhD experts and other tactics to vilify these anti-establishment ideas were in full bloom.  I was right in the middle of this battle and I vigorously defended the low fat position.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I ever gave it much more thought than a very shallow glance at their beliefs and simply discarded the conversation.  Not to be deterred, curious professionals from many industries started to research and experiment and disallow preconceived notions to limit any possible out-of-the-box findings. What resulted was a resurgence of low carb tidal waves and this time people were open to anything that could end the relentless onslaught of obesity and diabetes (type 2) in our country.

I finally decided to defect to the enemy territory and give low carb diets a try and not only did I lose that stubborn last bit of body fat but I surprisingly felt more energetic once I had survived the initial few days of my body switching to ketone burning.  When I had my physical last year the doctor told me my blood work was the “talk of the town” for someone my age (43 at that time).  This was all I needed to know and was finally the point that I abdicated my animosity towards the “low carb advocates”.

I’ve learned to appreciate that no diet is right for everyone.  Nor does that mean that all low carb diets are evil as is often portrayed by various government organizations.


In a similar fashion, no formal schema that an individual holds true is right for every person.  I think Jesus nailed this idea when he stated that all the law  (600+ laws) hangs on two beliefs:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself.  As much as the rule keepers of the time were baffled by the simplicity of His statement, they undoubtedly were also skeptical and not a little unnerved by his perspective.  Other rabbis certainly would have taken issue with his stance.   This is where individual wisdom confounds others when they are not on the same page.  (Check out Matthew 21:23; Mark 11:28 & Luke 20:2 when the pharisees were debating the grounds on which Jesus had the “authority” to do and say what he did.)

One thing is for certain…Jesus’ “page” was vastly different from many of the religious elite of His day.  It’s important to note that Jesus was not merely acting on His own human knowledge.  He was partnering with the person of the Holy Spirit (a perpetual advisor for believers; 1 Cor 2:11-12) who was actively guiding Him “into all truth” (John 16:13).  We read how Jesus engaged in dialogue/debate with other adult Jews as a young adolescent and impressed many of His listeners.  This indicates his memorization and comprehension (first few stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy) of Jewish principles was firmly in place.  However, His actual ministry and teaching began after being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The crucifixion was a terminal point that demonstrated that the Holy Spirit was not guiding men lead by jealousy to kill a “conspirator”.

The fruits of the Spirit have never listed rage, malice and murder and this was something the Holy Spirit revealed to 3000 people when Peter preached a simple message at the Upper Room.  The Spirit was moving in their hearts to consider something that their minds would not have normally reacted to.  He was present not only in Peter’s bold proclamations but in the listening of those watching the Upper Room participants act in ways that some misconstrued as drunken behavior. 

As a spiritual support to many pastors and leaders, I have seen many people take the same idea and react to it 20 different ways.  In coaching couples through relationship struggles, I’ve definitely observed how two intelligent people can look at the same scenario through completely opposite lenses.  The fact that my NPTI classes have all kinds of personalities all but guarantees that I am going to be the referee for several debates and disagreements over subjects we cover in class.  I’ve spoken to large groups and had completely different reactions from my listeners that implied that some were not really listening while others were actively engaged and bringing new insight to me that would further progress our conversations.Speaker Listener

As a matter of fact, religious denominations have done that and divided and divorced when no agreement could be reached.  Jesus stated that God hates divorce (broken covenant between 2 people and God—not just between 2 people before God) and in some ways we can see groups of Christ-centered believers doing this very thing simply because of issues that aren’t even salvation issues.  

In the Gospel of John, Jesus prayed that the church would be “one”.  How in the world did He ever hope for that to happen?  (sarcasm) Didn’t he realize how many expert theologians were going to take a crack at scriptural exegesis–and unfortunately a lot of Eisegesis, meaning we first add our own bias to what we think we’re reading and then attempt to interpret what something means–of the Gospel message and therefore create even more disagreement and disunity?  Paul preached that out of sincere love for one another, we should be willing to put others needs above ourselves and even allow the “weaker brother” to have their way out of unconditional love, honor and respect for our neighbor.

We’ve mentioned some topics in society where beliefs can be either misunderstood or utterly wrong.  The truth about the “evils” of saturated fat and it’s link to CVD is definitely one of those topics.

On a spiritual note, I think the concept of cessationism vs continuationism gets a lot of discussion these days.  The Holy Spirit has been traditionally neglected and misunderstood mostly because of fear and ignorance regarding His true role in a believer’s walk.  I’m glad to see that beginning to change but I have to be honest and admit that I was part of the camp that believed the trinity consisted of the Father, Son and Holy Bible.

If we can take a step back and retrace our foundational roots regarding doctrinal beliefs, we might be surprised how much influence someone else’s ideas and teaching had on us.  John Calvin, B.B. Warfield…these were a few people who played a rather large role in portraying the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit as simply a validating sign that Jesus and his disciples were legit.  Yet somehow those gifts would only be relevant for the generation that immediately intersected with Christ.  John 17 describes Jesus’ plea to the Father in desperate prayer:

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.a 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify themb in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself,c that they also may be sanctifiedd in truth.

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Subsequent generations, some try to argue, were gonna lose the manifestations of the Spirit’s power because we would later have the Bible and that inspired text would replace what the Spirit had been accomplishing through miraculous endeavors.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!  The Holy Spirit uses it as one of His primary forms of communication and communion with us as human beings.  And while He would never contradict what has already been inspired and written, He (Holy Spirit) still speaks, guides and helps us worship in spirit and truth in addition to direct scripture.  Ask any prayer warrior that has received comfort, unspeakable joy or peace that passes all understanding.  Scripture alone didn’t produce that.  The Presence of God within us as believers did! (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22).

So tell me what to think, Professor!

I know many of my personal training students come to our NPTI course expecting me to tell them WHAT to think.  They soon learn that I often hesitate to do this and instead focus on showing them HOW to think in regards to their newfound trade.  Kathryn Schultz, in both her book and lectures, discusses the possibility that maybe we should grow more accustomed to not having all the correct answers and avoiding the traps that error and inaccurate convictions about our perspective bring us when we’re prideful, assuming and “certain of our rightness”.

I can teach them where to search for answers as well as what the current beliefs and guidelines look like.  I can demonstate what has worked in the past.  I can discuss popular theories.  But I don’t want to limit their discoveries and questions by putting a lid on their mental container, so to speak.  If I answer their queries, they potentially turn their brain off and just accept my “expert opinion” as bona fide fact and never question it again.  As much as I would like to say that the field of science is based purely on fact and complete findings…well, I can’t.

Nor will I for the rest of my life, I suppose.

There is a certain element of controlling people (cattle herding) into believing what we believe and that is a scary scenario.  Cults have benefitted from that approach for thousands of years.  Many marriages have failed because one or both spouses were too fixated on changing the other into thinking the same way rather than sharing the transformation.

Parenting research and strategic leadership books have lamented the adverse effects of coercing or controlling our kids or the people we manage in the workplace into behavior that makes us feel secure.  We don’t handle mistakes very well and often work really hard to ensure that others don’t make them as well.  External motivation (like punishment or consequence) rather than internally-derived motivation (like passion or enjoyment) is usually short-lived and less effective but it’s often the most innate form of “leadership style” that people know how to use.  Compliance at its best, .:snicker snicker.

This leads me back to why we continue to depend on and cultivate intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  Developing our spiritual senses through consistent fellowship and communion will help us in our quest for “truth”.  I know that there have been times where my flesh was perceiving the right decision rather than my spirit petitioning the Holy Spirit for direction and understanding.

I have a strong sense that this is why revivals in previous generations have stopped.  Rather than a “revived” group teach the next generation how to “get their own revival” and keep the fire burning, the “revived” group enacts a new series of doctrinal rules and beliefs which handcuff the next several generations to live off the energy of the initial church pioneers.  In some ways, I’m reminded of how the Israelites wanted Aaron to erect a golden calf so they could have something tangible and concrete to worship rather than an invisible God that they were too scared of engaging in person.  It’s difficult to trust what we don’t understand or can’t predict.  So we prematurely try to create a concrete or tangible memorial, idol, or other representation because it can fit under our jurisdiction and control.

It’s much easier to develop a monument to remember something important from the past.  Imagine, however, if we maintained ongoing dialogue as well as wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17).  We would always have guidance and direction to light our path.  Prov 16:9 states, “in his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  We should strive to trust that to be true and teach our kids and fellow church patrons to seek a vibrant, robust and intimate relationship with the Trinity.

So in conclusion, let’s begin to trust people with their own ability to think and act under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and not be afraid of letting people…that includes our children…think for themselves.

Change Model

Changing Your Perspective

A few months ago I flew to a leadership seminar in Chicago.  Chicago was hammered by snow back in February (2013) but this made for an adventurous time.  We don’t get that kind of snow in Dallas so it’s a nice change of pace.  The biting wind was a little annoying but nothing a little deep-dish “thin” crust pizza couldn’t pacify.  (And yes, deep dish and thin crust are quite the paradox but I avoided getting into a debate with my waitress).  I always enjoy going new places and seeing new things but the fun all starts on the plane trip.

My favorite part of flying is the rush of the plane taking off from the ground.  Acceleration is such a beautiful thing to behold.  Having coached world-class athletes for many years, the subject of speed is always near to my heart.  Just recently I even had the opportunity to watch a friend (Olympic-caliber and world-ranked athlete) do a sprint analysis with Dr. Peter Weyand at his speed lab at SMU University.  That level of speed is a thing of beauty…but I’m digressing.

During my plane trip I just happened to have a new book on football speed in my lap when a young male cheerleader next to me starting asking how he could become more explosive.  I love coaching people to achieve new successes so I didn’t hesitate to let him know how smart I (thought I) was.  He graciously acted like he understood my explanation and then went back to his Drake cd.

Another favorite part of the flight experience happens during stormy weather conditions.  You can experience bad weather on the lower side of the clouds and instantly ascend above the clouds and experience beautiful panoramic views that can take your breath away.  It always reminds me that we can often change our negative surroundings if we’re willing to change our vantage point or perspective.

I spent two days experiencing extreme cold and snow.  It wasn’t an abstract idea or thought.  I could feel the frozen snow.  My fingers experienced painful sensations when exposed to the icy winds while waiting for an available taxi to rescue us from the fast approaching evening and its lack of warm sunlight.  I was excited to get back home and see my wife and daughter.  However, in a matter of seconds my plane (window seat, of course) transported me to the exact opposite of cloudy, snowing conditions.  Bright sunlight and blue skies were all around with no trace of snow or depressing conditions.

I’ve often marveled at this idea:  change the perspective and you often change the outcome.  As humans, we can all attest to those moments when we felt like a rat running on an endless wheel.  It seemed as though we would never reach a destination or resting point.  Is our momentary misery really based in reality or our interpretation of the events we perceive around us?  That’s a question I’ll leave you to wrestle with and ponder.

For me, the change in scenery often serves as an impetus for paradigm shifts or re-evaluation of a current goal.  Many people set goals for themselves that can often get derailed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a lack of information or techniques that prevents us from finishing.  Sometimes there’s a lack of willpower to complete the task.  Everyone knows what it feels like to have resistance when we decide to move or change something.

One of the obvious keys to achievement in any area of your life is to have a well-marked destination or goal.  However, you can create the best plan in the world and still fall short of that goal without assessing your progress.  I have found that frequent self-assessments serve as gauges (empty/full; hot/cold) for personal success and achievement.  Without assessment, goals and destinations become ambiguous, amorphous wanderings that can end in a stagnant season in one’s life.

Weight loss is just one example.  Although I’m not a fan of using scales, it does give a person (the appearance of) concrete evidence things are changing (weight loss).  I prefer people using the “How-do-your-clothes-fit?” method of progress evaluation but that drives many impatient individuals crazy.  Weight loss is of little value if you’re losing water rather than body fat.  Scales can’t (accurately) tell you what kind of weight you’re losing.

Lately I’ve been revisiting a book I read many years ago called Motivational Interviewing (2nd ed).  Its focus is helping prepare people for successful change.  Just this week I was coaching a counselor (paradox #2 of the weekend) who is seeking to make some personal changes but in the context of exploring his personality strengths/weaknesses.

Over the years I’ve developed more of a comfort with the Myers-Briggs personality assessment as a coaching tool.  Its usefulness and flexibility have helped me coach individuals who struggled through various relationship, vocational and/or health difficulties.  I don’t use it to solve every problem because it’s simply a tool but it works well when you know how to implement it.

In the conversation with this counselor, we discussed what I like to refer to as the Action Gap.  Quite simply, it’s the physical distance between the idea of changing and the actual act of changing.  This conversation was fresh on my mind when I was reading Motivational Interviewing on the flight home.  I had skipped towards the middle of the book where all the highlighting was hanging out and read the chapter on the interrelation of (Prochaska’s) stages of change and motivational interviewing.  The contemplators (2nd stage that is beginning to consider options before engaging in an actual plan to change) can get stuck in a rut (rat on a wheel) of wanting or hoping to change but not actually committing to this change)

I’ll create a visual that allows you to see the progression from stage 1 (precontemplation) to stage 5 (maintenance).  In his original work, Dr. Prochaska indicated a 6th stage called cessation but this has been modified because so much of what I encounter deals with things that should be ongoing (health modification, image improvement, spiritual pursuits, etc).

Change Model


Many of you reading this may be experiencing some difficulty in committing to an actual plan.  I’d like to outline some strategies to help you reach your goals rather than simply dream about them as a possible outcome that could occur sometime in the future…how is that for ambiguous and open-ended?

The Process of Goal Achievement

Step 1 – Define and clarify the problem, question or place of difficulty.  Too much time is wasted when the REAL issue is not addressed.

Step 2 – Create and implement a solution to the problem that concisely addresses the issues listed above.  These will always set the stage for everything else.

Step 3 – Once we’ve established a starting point and a proverbial conclusion (otherwise known as a goal), it’s time to delineate action measures to move forward towards this new vision.

Step 4 – The framework has been set.  Now, it’s time to create a support system.  Anyone invested in personal change must realize that there is strength in numbers.


How to raise your child to be a leader in a follower generation

This video is a great example of what most adults experience every day.  You’re minding your own business when something comes along uninvited and attempts to bring fear or chaos into your world.  How we handle it depends a lot on our predisposition as well as our experience with adversity.  I love how the boy in this video never acts defeated or outmatched.  He simply responds to the enemy with perseverance and determination until he wins the victory.  This article is not about fighting but it is centered around teaching our children how to fight for what’s right.  Unfortunately, our children aren’t always clear on what we think is right.  Additionally, they are often conflicted by the (negatively perceived) emotion we emit while telling them how they may have done something wrong, ie, when parents punish rather than discipline children for some misbehavior.  Allow me to change gears for a second, though.  I want to dig a little deeper and discuss how to raise your child to become a leader in a follower generation.

Without a vision, the people perish (Prov 29:18)

Unless you were raised by a pack of wolves in the wild somewhere with no tv or possibly on another planet with no satellite capabilities, you’ve probably heard of this guy, Bruce Lee.

I grew up watching martial arts movies (Shout out to the Shaw brothers).  The first of many (and still my all-time favorite) was 5 Deadly Venoms.  It was then at my friend Ricky’s freshman year, stay-up-all-night-because-it’s-the-last-day-of-school party that I began to learn about a common martial arts theme:

A young man becoming a warrior accepts a very difficult challenge.  There will be sweat and perseverance.   There will be hardship.  There will be pain.  There will be obstacles.  However, if you have the courage and willingness to fight for what you believe in (mentally, emotionally as well as physically), there will also be victory!

As a parent, I constantly think about what kind of values, skills and attributes I’m passing to my daughter and son.  My actions will always speak louder than my words especially when they are old enough to emulate and reproduce what they have seen from their two most influential forces–me and my wife.  It is the desire to leave behind an inheritance that cannot be measured in dollars.  It is the desire to see my achievement ceiling become the next generation’s achievement foundation.  Isn’t that the nature of an inheritance?  Give your children a head start so that they won’t have to work as hard.  Or is it better to preserve the valuable lessons of enduring trials and tribulations and allow your child to experience chores, hard work and diligent study?

Unfortunately, too many parents have been stung by the desire to shield their children from difficult experiences.  It’s one thing to do things FOR your children.  It’s another thing entirely to do things FOR THE BENEFIT of your child.  One breeds entitlement, laziness and a skewed reality of how the world works.  If you’re familiar with the Love and Logic system of parenting wisdom, you’ll immediately recognize the term, “helicopter parent“.  You know, the parent who SWOOPS in and saves the day for the children so that the child doesn’t have to experience any undue fatigue, grief or sorrow.

When I directed sport camps for jr/sr high kids, I continually witnessed the negative side of children who were raised in this shielded environment.  They had lower self esteem, acted indifferent towards the goals and objectives of their teammates and had very negative attitudes towards hard work.  This in turn affected the other kids around them and often caused other children to start slacking as well.  To say this had a major impact on me is an understatement.  I can attribute these experiences as one of the main reasons I promised myself to learn everything I could about parenting and performance coaching before I became a parent so that I could (try to) avoid the pitfalls of dysfunctional, enabling parenting styles.

If you’ve ever been a boss or leader and had to endure underperforming, entitled, no-initiative-taking people working for you then you know the frustration of wondering where they learned to work so hard little.  This generation has been labeled as lazy and it’s not surprising.

You may be asking yourself how you can avoid this scenario.  The first step in addressing any problem is ALWAYS the assessment.  [You can refer to my other articles about occurrence or asking the right question.] What kind of parent do you wish to be?  What kind of parenting style are you already using?  As a reference let’s utilize Love and Logic.  There are 3 types of parents:

1) The Consultant (Helps children make decision but leaves the ultimate choice to the child which allows the child plenty of practice at making good and bad decisions.  This tends to give more wisdom to the adolescent facing more serious pressures from peers to make harmful or dangerous decisions.)

2) The Helicopter (Flies in during enemy warfare and saves everyone from danger.  Unfortunately, this tends to handicap our little soldiers later in life when they need to make difficult decisions.)

3) The Drill Sergeant (Orders our little soldiers around because it’s obvious they don’t have a mind of their own and can’t do it right, sarcasm intended.  This is the essence of controlling our kids into obedience but often backfires later when our children evolve into young adults and resent authority…especially the parent’s.)

It’s important to make clear goals for what you want your child to value when they become an adult.  If you want your children to honor people, show them honor.  If you want your children to extend grace to others who mistreat or offend them, show them grace.  If you want your children to demonstrate love and forgiveness towards others who deserve an angry response, by all means show your children love and forgiveness.  Model for them the traits that will help them be successful and admired people in their future.  Try to avoid frequently demonstrating any negative traits such as unforgiveness, short-tempered anger, selfishness or any other self-centered characteristics.  And if you do, show them how quickly and earnestly you can apologize to them.

Here are some undesirable recipes for dysfunctional family dynamics.  If you want an angry child who defies his/her parent(s), try to routinely control them and make them rebel against you once they’ve become an adolescent.  If you want a lazy child, do everything for them so that they grow up with the expectation that someone else will always be there to do their dirty work.  If you want a hard-working child, give them chores and esteem-building responsibilities as a child that fosters a strong sense of worth and accomplishment.  No need to argue or give long explanations as to why they have to do it.  Simply tell them, “That’s how we help and support each other in this family!”  Love is always the strongest glue a family can be held together by.

After we assess our own preferences for parenting styles, we need to form a vision, mission statement or other big picture that serves as a guide for our speech and actions regarding our parenting practices.  For instance, I desire that my daughter/son and any subsequent children be hard-working, ambitious adults who concomitantly understand the value of serving others.  Having power and abusing power are in stark contrast to one another.  In order for my daughter to lead others, I need to instill self esteem and confidence in her heart and solidify in her mind that she is loved unconditionally.  I need to give her responsibilities and authority so she can practice being in charge of things.  Whenever she messes up or makes a bad decision, I simply allow her to bear the consequences and reiterate my confidence in and love for her so she can get right back up and do it again.

Great leaders all do this with their children, employees, players or volunteers.  This is an exit strategy of the people kind.  If you spend time equipping people to take your place, nothing changes when you retire or move on to something new.  This is why coaches must allow their rookies and young players to have an opportunity to both succeed AND FAIL in a safe environment.

As always, feel free to contact me for help and further clarification.  In the meantime, check out our other articles and let us know how any of our strategies have benefitted you or those you can share this info with.  Thanks for stopping by!