• 3 Building Blocks to a Culture of Empowerment

    Every leader is tasked not only to set a course for the future but to develop and empower those they are asked to lead. Here is a straight forward look at what I teach our leaders at Fathom Church. 
    3 Building Blocks of Empowerment
    • Authority: The right to lead - not just manage.…TRUST is vital.
    • Responsibility: The weight of authority - not just tasks….INITIATIVE is necessary.
    • Accountability: The environment of healthy teams - the expectation of progress. GOALS & REVIEWS are essential.
    4 Steps to Empowering Your Team
    1. Put it on paper. Map out where you are and where you want/need to be. It makes it so much easier to think about how to get from point A to point B when you can visualize the process. 
    2. Talk it out with a trusted leader. This doesn't have to be your direct report. In fact, I believe you will enjoy the conversation more if it isn't your direct report.  Decide who you want to talk about it with and set up a time. It won't happen unless you schedule it.
    3. Schedule facetime with some people you want to be a part of taking the next step. This isn't a big all call meeting. This is 1, 2, or 3 people within/ or not yet within your department that you like being around and think would add a lot to the team at a larger capacity. You often think to yourself, "Man, they could add a lot to the team" or "If I could only get them to do more..." Well there is a decent chance they are just waiting on the opportunity to do more. Have a written down agenda that they know nothing about. Let them know why you are having the meeting because you trust them and you need help taking the department to the next level. Let God lead your time together. 
    4. Pray for the right timing. Timing is such an interesting topic when it comes to leadership because God's timing is always so unique and His is perfect. Pray for the right timing to hand off authority, responsibility and begin a goal setting and review routine. We shouldn't delay in making these decisions nor rush them. Its all about God's direction and timing.
  • This is Really About That

    I stood in absolute wonder and confusion as my oldest son alerted me to smoke that was rising from the ground underneath the playground in our backyard. This wasn't fog, steam or even a leaf burning in the sun as I first thought. It was like there was a literal fire burning beneath the dirt. I snapped video and photos and sent it to people who might be able to solve this natural phenomenon. Could actual fire really be burning underneath the dirt and not go out? I touched ground where the smoke was coming up and I could feel the heat as I got closer. It felt like fire. I quickly grabbed a stick to dig with to see if I could dig up this apparent underground fire. Imagery of our local news network coming to do a story on this one of a kind wonder flashed across whatever cortex in my brain controls imagination. I dug a little deeper and the smoke got thicker and the heat hotter. What was I about to uncover?

    Well, turns out, underneath the smoke wasn't a fire after all. When we installed the playground, we nicked an electrical wire that was touching the wooden leg of the playground beneath the earth. This also solved the previous mystery as to why our garage power kept shorting out and flipping the breaker. Previous eletrcial estimates to fix the problem were between $700-$1200. All these mysteries were finally solved. The garage power and the haunting rising smoke all could be explained. THIS IS REALLY ABOUT THAT. 

    So many times in life we find ourselves frustrated as we search for solutions to our problems. Most of the time, its not what we think of first and maybe even what we fixate on. This is usually about that. Dad not being at your ball games isn't about him not loving you, or how busy he is at work, or even his drinking problem. It might be that since his mom passed away, he has never recovered to be able to love others. Its not that he doesn't love you, its that he hasn't felt worthy to love or be loved. Contextualize this example to your life and maybe the short in power is your lack of self discipline or the communication problems in your marriage but here's the point...

    It's time to do some digging. 

    This is really about that. 

    I can almost guarantee you that the more you dig, the hotter it will get. 

    The solution won't be what you thought it was because the problem wasn't what you thought it was. 

  • 4 Daily Steps to Bridging the Great American Divide

    Our most recent election results have only further clarified the great divide in the American people. This divide goes far beyond ideology and policy and into core American principles of freedom, faith and family. This conversation needs to be had. Regardless of who you supported, voted for or didn’t vote for. Start here. Start with the person in the mirror. Here are 4 daily steps you can take to begin the process of healing the divide. (Scripture footnotes can be found below.)
    • Stop Labeling: This is the one of the largest, if not the largest, problem we face to unite us as a country and most people are terrible at it. Labeling. Stop calling all black young men thugs. Stop calling all people of middle eastern descent terrorists. Stop calling all white Republicans racists. Stop. Stop. Stop. Out loud and in your mind. You are a part of the problem, not the solution. You offend and vilify an innocent majority while attempting to indict a fractional minority. Draw a line in the sand and choose to not paint with broad strokes. There is a difference in political correctness and respect for one another. (John 8.5-11)
    • Pray: Actually pray. Not just for the country but for your adversary. They aren’t your enemy despite what you might think. And before you get to worried about praying for the other side, pray that God would reveal and help you remove the plank in your own eye. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Until we remove the plank in our own eye we ought to just keep our mouth shut. And once you begin to make headway on your personal plank, when pride has been torn down, pray genuinely for your adversary.  (Matthew 7.3-5, 2 Chronicles 7.14)
    • Listen: Like actually listen. Like build a friendship with someone you have previously held pre-conceived notions or labels toward. Not a Facebook friendship but the real thing. Where we share meals, call each other to talk about our families and actually care what the other person has to stay. We clamor for politicians and Washington to reach across the aisle to make positive change but we won’t reach across the street and do the same. Most of the time we are too prideful to learn about the hopes, fears and pain of our neighbors and we miss out on the beautiful tapestry of our diverse land. (James 1.19)
    • Love Freely: To Christians, if you don’t have this, you got nothing. Our faith hangs on the love poured out for us at the cross and our only response is to love God and love people fully. To secularists, agnostics and atheists, be a part of a more tranquil union in our nation by loving those you disagree with. You don’t have anything to lose by respecting the opinions of others and making this society a more pleasant place to exist. (Matthew 10.5-8)

    John 8.5-11 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    Matthew 7.3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    2 Chronicles 7.14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

    James 1.19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

    Matthew 10.5-8 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

  • The One Question Every Leader Has to Answer

    In John 1.19-23, Priests and Levites are sent to John the Baptist to ask one question, “who are you?” 
    He immediately tells them he isn’t the Christ, Jesus. They begin with the follow up questions. “Are you Elijah?” “Are you the Prophet?” His answer is still “no.” So they ask again, “Who are you?…What do you say about yourself?” John responds by quoting Isaiah, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord."
    Every leader has to answer this question, “who are you?” And the second is equally important, “what do you say about yourself?” I wonder if God brought these Pharisees early in John’s ministry to make sure he knew who he was and what he was called to do. In the time when this occurred the Pharisees are surely hoping this man isn’t claiming to be a great leader of the past for that would be blasphemy. In our day and age, the opposite is quite true. By and large, those that are following or simply watching a leader taking on influence are desiring for Tim Cook to live up to the brilliance of Steve Jobs; for Andrew Luck to fill Peyton Manning’s shoes. In my context as a pastor, and probably yours too, there is so much external pressure intentionally and unintentionally applied to BE who THEY think you ought to be. The two questions laid out begin to converge at this point. "Who are you?” is a question of BEing. And the “what do you say about yourself?" question is one of KNOWing. Not who THEY think you are but who you KNOW you are. These are the questions that every leader must answer. Let’s digest them a little more fully together.
    Who are you? It's a simple question until you move past the surface and attempt to describe the complexity of our desires, dreams and fears then it becomes less simple. How would you answer that today? Maybe by process of elimination you would describe who you aren’t as John did. Or maybe, instead of diving into the complexities of each individual leader the takeaway is in John’s final response, a quote in fact, of Isaiah 40.3. It's an obscure picture, a vague identity with one very clear mission. I am but “a voice” crying in the wilderness pointing others to Christ. Who are we as Chrstian leaders? People with “a voice”, with influence even, to point to Christ. 

  • 9 Ways Pride Disguises Itself

    Here in America we are all about American pride and we also have made a cliche of the proverb, "pride comes before the fall” (from Proverbs 16.18). So which is it? Is pride a good thing or is it deadly? Maybe we should evaluate this a little deeper. Pride was the first sin and it will be the last. Lucifer thought he was worthy to overthrow God and his prideful rebellion was the first sin. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This speaks to us that each of us who have not surrendered our pride and will to God will face a humbling of the greatest magnitude in the end. Pride is as sneaky as the snake from which is comes. It disguises itself in the simplest and most unsuspecting ways and can leave a great trail of destruction in our personal, relational and spiritual lives. Let’s pause for a short moment to look over some ways that pride might be disguising itself in our lives. 
    1. Criticism and Gossip: Pride peaks its ugly head out from behind criticism and constantly running other people down behind their back. People who have never considered themselves to be prideful might be surprised as they realize they actually believe they are better than all of these other people they are constantly criticizing. A critical spirit is a prideful spirit. 
    2. Anger: Anger has roots of many different origins but one of them is most certainly pride. Pride convinces you that you are owed everything by everyone. When people don’t bow to your will and preferences, anger ensues. When people don’t recognize your superior insight, talent or appearance you just get mad about it. And most of the time, we don’t even realize what caused our anger. We just know we are mad. If you find yourself flying off the handle for seemingly no reason at all, follow the trail back and see if pride isn’t at the end of the rope.
    3. Boasting and a desire to be recognized: This might be the most obvious of all the ways pride disguises itself. It is very easy to spot someone who is obviously obsessed with themselves. Every story is about them. Every story ends with how awesome they are, how much money they saved or how well they performed on a given task. When we see this in ourselves or others we can quickly realize that pride in this instance is most likely a coping mechanism for someone who has yet to discover where their true identity comes from and is still searching for it in the  recognition from others.
    4. Selfishness: We are all selfish. Selfishness is natural but devastating to our relationships. Unearthing the reason for our selfishness is vitally important in cutting off the head of the snake. Since pride convinces a person that they are superior to others, they really don’t see being selfish as selfish. They actually believe it is obvious and everyone should understand why they get the last piece of pizza, why they deserve the promotion and why they get a veto on every dining out adventure (ugh!). Again, selfishness is a coping mechanism for someone who has not discovered their true source. Selfishness is most common from hurting people. 
    5. Justifying sins: Prideful people can do no wrong. They can’t be corrected. They do not receive teaching or rebuke well. This turns into constantly justifying their sins, wrong doing and behavior that is detrimental to themselves and others. Every time we make excuses for our behavior and justify our sins we lower our standards for ourselves until eventually, we have no standards left.  
    6. Unforgiveness: Pride and pain seem to work hand and hand as you might notice from the previous 5 disguises. Nothing is more telling of this than unforgiveness. Pride is what convinces us to hang onto resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Pride will not allow a person to ask for forgiveness or receive an apology. Don’t let a past injustice or hurt dictate any more of your future emotional and relational health. 
    7. Jealousy: A prideful person cannot celebrate with others. They find themselves embittered at people who have done them no wrong. They simply are jealous. Jealous of someone’s success, attention and accomplishments. You know pride is starting to loosen in your life when you can celebrate with others and enjoy their success and accomplishments with them instead of being jealous. 
    8. Obsession with appearance and other people's opinions: Pride, just as with the first disguise of criticism, disguises itself similarly with an obsession on what other people think. Lots of checking the mirror, purchasing clothes outside your budget and constant worry over what other people will say is more nasty offspring of pride. While there are healthy doses of concern over appropriate attire and being mindful to how others will feel and react, these can easily spin into a prideful obsession that can leave a person searching for validation and acceptance in all the wrong places. 
    9. Always Right Syndrome: The most wise person in the room realizes that they don’t have all the answers. The most prideful person is convinced they can do no wrong and are pretty much always right. Quit the argument now because you’re wasting your time with a person who has ARS. If you are suffering with ARS, be slow to speak, take time to acknowledge the worthiness of others and affirm what others bring to the table. You will discover great pleasure in respecting the opinions of the people around you and honestly, people will like you more. No one likes a know it all. 
  • Hearing God's Voice

    One of our frustrating first world problems is poor cell phone reception. We all remember the "can you hear me now?" commercials from years ago. It pains me to no end to hear believers say, "I don't think God talks to me" or "I have never heard God speak." On one hand I'm shocked and on the other I'm not at all. I went for years in my life not feeling like I could hear God's voice and felt I was doing something wrong. I think on many occasions I was doing something wrong. I was living in sin or was too busy to slow down and actually hear God. On other occasions, it wasn't that I was doing something wrong, I was just uninformed about how God speaks. Here are a few ideas and thoughts about hearing His voice. I pray they help some of you that are struggling to hear God. 

    Three Major Blockades to Hearing God's Voice

    1. Sin: Sin is like a log in our ears or a plank in our eyes. If you have confessed and repented of your sins and placed your faith in the grace of God through Christ's death and resurrection then God sees you as white as snow. If the bondage of sin persists in your life then it becomes a giant blockade to hearing God's voice. Instead, we become focused on our own guilt and shame (Remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Romans 8.1) or even hiding our sin. Our eyes are not fixed on Jesus. Our ears are not tuned to His voice. They are tuned to our own passions and desires. Allow God to break the bondage of sin in our lives and transform us wholly from the inside out. The bondage of sin is not broken from human effort alone. If we take care of the natural, God will do the supernatural. 

    2. Busyness: I'm captain multitask. I love to do a million things at once. I've learned that God deserves my total attention though and I rarely slow down to listen. With our two boys, I usually ask them five times before I start speaking, "Are you listening? Are you listening? Are you listening? Are you listening? Are you listening?" I wonder how God has been trying to get our attention in our lives. The scriptures tell us He is a jealous God. He is jealous for our attention. He alone is worthy of our affection. He deserves the best of our time and attention, not the leftovers. Make some room to slow down and listen. 

    3. False Perception: If I responded to the question of "Why does God not speak to me?" with another question it would be..."How does God speak?" Many of us think only in terms of audible expressions of God's voice. I have found this expression in my journey, and most other believers, to be a less frequent occasion than the many other ways God speaks. In the scriptures God spoke through a cloud, a bush, a donkey, many other miracles as well as simple people like you and me just passing on the messages God asked us to share. Don't narrow down the ways you think God will speak. Just open your heart and mind to Him speaking and test it against His Word. God is not a liar and will not contradict Himself. Test every message you receive from the Lord in the Scriptures. It must line up. 

    There is no magic formula for hearing God's voice but these are a few simple places to start leaning in a little closer to hear Him. 

  • Leading Your Children Well

    One of the things I hear parents say more than anything else is "time just flies by." I hear parents of one year olds say it. I hear parents of young adults say it. Its one of these things that when you are young you don’t really understand but the older you get the more you realize how brief our time on earth really is. Lately I’ve been regularly fielding questions from parents about how to lead their children towards Christ in a healthy way. There are so many things I would want to cover if we were in a conference or symposium forum but today I will simply offer some practical advice for leading your children. 
    Let me first briefly begin with a Biblical foundation.
    God instituted family in Genesis. One of His first commands to Adam and Eve is to be fruitful and multiply. God wanted them to be intimate in their marriage and for them to become parents. Intimacy births multiplication. There is another message in that we will save for another day. Deuteronomy 6 is a beautiful picture of God’s plan for parenting. In a nutshell, your daily life should be filled with you talking and teaching your kids about the truth of God and how He saved you. Yes, you should constantly be telling your testimony to your kids! Isn’t that powerful? I could go on and on but let me give you a handful of practical things to lead your children well. 
    1. Lead Yourself: The most effective way to lead our children is by example. If you can’t control your temper, why should you expect them to? 2 Cor. 3.3 tells us that the Spirit of living God has written His law and truth on our hearts. You are the tablet they are reading and learning from, so lead well. 
    2. Lead by Principle and Grace: Jesus is the perfect example. It was never about, is this a moment to come down on principle or on grace? Jesus acted fully on both. Sometimes the greatest grace we have in our lives are holy rules/laws. The toughest situations are answered with both principle and grace. Be led of the Spirit in your teaching and discipline. 
    3. Lead Humbly and Honestly: Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong. Be willing to share the honest truth even when its hard. This will teach them repentance and dealing with issues head on. 
    4. Lead by Listening: As a child gets to pre-teen and teenage years the most common complaint from a child is that “My parents never listen to me.” More than they want the next toy, they want you to listen to them. Start this habit for them and you early on and make it a priority on your schedule to spend alone time with them just to talk and more importantly, listen. 
    5. Lead with Quantity and Quality: The average father spends 7 minutes per day talking to his children. Dad, you may not have lots of time every day but everything else seems to find itself on your schedule except your kids. The quantity is higher for moms but can be very guilty of having quantity without quality. Turn the phone off. The laundry can wait. The emails can wait. Turn off your notifications because time is flying by.
    We only get one shot at it and time is flying by. Let’s make the most of every moment. 
  • Prove Yourself

    The temptation of Jesus in Matthew chapter 4 is the first thing that follows His baptism. The beginning of Jesus' ministry started with temptation and testing. The Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness and the temptation from the devil was to prove Himself. "Turn these stones into bread." Prove yourself. I feel the large majority of humans don't wake up with a nagging voice saying, "Go prove yourself", though I know for a fact some do. In fact, I know that every human has within the desire for human applause. The desire to be recognized, affirmed and praised. Every human wants to prove their worth, their value. 

    Many of you reading this are young, as am I. Others of you are less young. (Isn't that such a nice way to say it?) At first glance the idea of proving one's self is a youth struggle but I would beg you to glance again. The desire to prove one's self, for earthly applause is natural, earthly natural. Jesus' response leads us to our path, a spiritual satisfaction that does not come from earthly applause. "But He answered and said, it is written, "Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  Jesus is providing an example to us that we must find life, substance, worth and satisfaction from the mouth of God - not our performance for men. 

    I share this scripture and encouragement as one who has had the Lord recondition my heart to be motivated by His applause and unwavering despite the silence of those I desire praise from and focused on His words despite the noise of my critics. I speak from life experience. I encourage you to find tune your ear to the voice of the Lord and allow Him to speak to you your worth, not your performance, not the voice of your critic. 

    May we be fulfilled by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

  • Lead Quietly

    Are you feeling it yet? Not the four on the floor bass drum, not the change in weather but the pressure.
    Do you feel the pressure? To talk louder so that they’ll hear you. To go bigger so they’ll notice you. To be edgy so they’ll talk about you. Do you feel that? Well, I have. The Christian social media world is as damaging as the rest of it. And not just to the sheep but also to the shepherd. Bombarded by everyone else’s conference schedule, attendance numbers, stage design and who they are rubbing shoulders with digs down in our heart and posts up on the adirondack chair seated in our need to be noticed, and more deeply, respected. We have some incredible instruction in 1 Timothy 2.1-8 for the beast inside that envies, schemes and lusts over what is not yet and what is not ours.

    Paul is pouring into Timothy here…

    "1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."

    So much to say, so little time. Let’s dive in for a moment together and I want to touch on a few keys to leading quietly. You’ll also notice some references to the Sermon on the Mount throughout that support this understanding on 1 Timothy 2. I think ultimately Paul’s instruction here is to raise up humble leaders, for it is only in humility that God can be glorified through our ministry. Did you see where it started?

    1. Have an Outward Focused Prayer Life
    (v.1-2) Pray for all people and especially for all the leaders in our life. Become the intercessor you want for your own life because God (through Christ & the Holy Spirit) is our intercessor. The pressure that we earlier spoke of leads us to bring more attention to ourselves, our brand and our movement when our hearts should be centered on bringing attention to Christ. We know in our hearts are pure and when we have crossed over into the dark side or the slightly shaded areas between marketing, evangelism and vanity. The truth is that we are a lot less broken than we feel when we are outward focused in our prayer and thought life. Granted, we’re usually more exhausted because of the constant pouring out and a disciplined Sabbath life becomes all the more vital, but we aren’t as broken as we feel. And then again, sometimes we are just as broken as we feel. I forget who said it but they called Sabbath, the discipline of rejuvenation. Schedule it. Do it. Love it. Praying for others, especially adversaries and other leaders, wrings ours hearts of sour emotions and un-dealt with anger and jealousy (Matt. 5.43-44).

    2. Be Better in Private
    (v.2) What if we were most godly and holy in private? In Paul’s time there was much persecution for the cause of Christ that praying for leaders was so that they could continue in public ministry without being taken to jail for it. Paul says that “peaceful and quiet lives” “pleases God our Savior”. It breaks my heart every time a Christian wants to pick fights with people who disagree with them. They want to pick public forums to shame others and convince them they are wrong. Has this ever worked in the history of humankind? Yeah, I don’t think so. It usually just makes things worse. That is why Jesus instructs us to give quietly, pray in secret, to fast and not tell anyone about it (Matt. 6.1-8). We don’t give often enough to be pleased with doing it quietly. We aren’t disciplined nor intimate enough to pray in secret because its easier to do it publicly when others are around. Based on my readings on this text as well as the Sermon on the Mount reference text, I don’t believe God is impressed with what we do publicly. It is holiness and godliness when no one is watching that He is impressed with.

    3. Repent Often
    (v.8) Repentance used to be something we heard from a lot of Christian preachers and teachers back in the day but not so much anymore. I think many of us as leaders don’t model it so it makes it pretty difficult for us to teach on. Paul’s encouragement is to not allow yourself to enter into prayer with ridding your heart of anger, envy and relational strife. Jesus was pretty hardcore in Matt. 5.14-15  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I dare you to confess. To boast in weakness on a daily basis (2 Cor. 12.5). I dare you to send some apology letters, texts and calls to leaders, students and friends. I dare you to start a message with what an ignoramus you can be at times. Its actually endearing to people and it is obedience to Christ. It frees our heart of pain, our mind of stress, models Christ to others and, most importantly, draws us nearer to Christ.

    May we pray outwardly, worship privately and repent often that we might please the Lord and others would be drawn to Christ in us.

  • Faith and Fruit

    Does anyone else love the ability to stream whatever they want wherever they want? I know I do. We have access to everything from anywhere today. It's a pretty cool world we live in. But its also dangerous.

    When I say the phrase "microwaveable meal" or "TV dinner", what comes to mind? Instant. Easy. Low nutritional value. Might kill us.

    When I say the phrase "harvest season", what comes to mind?
    We might imagine a field but many of us will go straight to thinking of a grocery store where we can pick it up. This is the instant world we live in.

    We are missing the process. We want the end results. We want the product. But we don't want the process. We don't want to be near when the field is plowed, seeded, watered, weeded and picked. We just want the fruit (or veggies). The hard work can be left to someone else. Let me know when its time to show up and celebrate.

    The same is true of our faith. We want the "fruit of the Spirit".

    Gal. 5.22-23
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    We want each of these amazing qualities in our life but we have trouble connecting ourselves in faith to the Spirit that brings these characteristics out within us. Because that's the hard work. That's choosing to go out and water the field when it is so hot, dry and miserable outside. That's choosing to weed the field instead of complaining about the weeds in the garden. And from this place, this place of faith and connection to the Spirit, comes fruit. Real, tangible, life-giving fruit. The stuff we've dreamed that we could possess, the characteristics we've failed at time and time again and felt guilty for it, the kind of life that makes people look twice and reflect on their own life...we now possess. Not by popping it in the microwave or showing up to the store to grab a few pieces when we need it. But flowing. Flowing from the depths of our souls as we have connected ourselves to the Spirit that brings life, not death. There is no law against these things. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

    I pray that we would be set free from our desire for instant gratification.
    I pray that we would find hope, rest and purpose in the process.
    I pray our lives would be built firmly on the solid rock that is Christ Jesus...

    and from this place let fruit come forth.

  • The Mission of the Church

    Recently I was asked to email a short response to this question by a friend working on some school work. What is the mission of the Church? I responded with this short, uncomprehensive, emotional response to what God is speaking to me currently for our church. Thought I would share it.

    "The mission of the Church is more deep than it is broad. I believe the American Church has gotten these two backwards. It has attempted to offer a surface level understanding and message of Jesus in many superficial programs and ministries rather than embracing the words of Jesus to live out the love of God as a faithful Christian community. At Fathom Church, we have simply enabled the Great Commission (Matthew 28.19-20) as our "mission statement". Go! Go out. Go upstream in your field of calling; your field of harvest. Go obey. Go point people to Jesus. Go radically obey in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let God supernaturally redeem your family, your office, your community by acting as a very practical vessel of His all sufficient mercy and grace.

    Shut down the programs. Shut down the busyness. Shut down the idea that we have something to give the world. And resurrect Jesus. Resurrect His simple message. Resurrect the truth that He is all we will ever need.

    In this the Church finds truth, mission, purpose, passion, compassion, true grace and real rest."

  • Help! I'm not creative and I can't measure up!

    Industry standards today require an incredible amount of creativity to stay alive and viable in the 21st century global marketplace. Whether you are a global business or a local coffee shop, for profit or not-for-profit, times are a changin'. I want to spend a minute sharing some of my thoughts specifically for people and leaders who are not extremely creative but need creativity to generate new business, rebrand, and/or change the world.

    I've had so many people tell me, "I'm just not creative like that." I always have the same response, "Yes, you are. You just don't know how to organize and communicate it."
    It's true, some people are just naturally more creative. Its genetic. Its how our brains work. I'm not saying everyone is creative or should even attempt to be creative. What I am saying is creativity is subjective art. (read my post on (You're an art critic and didn't know it ). This means that as a leader you have to learn to communicate what you think is good and bad art, creativity at work.

    3 Tips for the Right Brain Leader

      1. Know when to use specifics and when to leave a blank canvas. In working with graphic designers over the years I have learned this fine art. I used to give too many details that would box a true artist in so much that they couldn't create anything that they would actually like. With creatives, share as few as words as possible to provide clarity. This means you better think through your words wisely!

      2. Give hard deadlines with ample time to create. Creativity takes time. If you are going to have a creative strategizing session, give an agenda several days in advance. Let it simmer. Let people think about it in the shower and on the way home from work. That's where the good ideas usually come from anyway. Don't throw a topic on the table and talk for twenty minutes and expect that to be the best idea your team can offer. You sell your possibilities way short by doing this. Let it boil in the pot for a while but like pasta, there is a small window to bring it home with a hard deadline.

      3. Trust instincts. Both yours and theirs! A lot of right-brain leaders either trust their own or their teams instincts exclusively. Don't be so prideful that you have to squash every idea that isn't yours. And don't be so lazy and spineless that you won't speak up and go with your gut.

    Whatever your business/organization setup is, make time and processes that the get the most out of your team. I wonder how many great ideas have been lost out there?

  • Finishing

    I grew up in love with the game of basketball. I was the short white kid who couldn't shoot. Doesn't sound like these hoop dreams are headed for success right? Well regardless of what my future held playing the game, I loved it. I still do. I spent hours every night as a kid and teen playing on any court I could find. I was a natural passer, ball handler, defender and leader; a classic point guard. As I developed my weaker areas like shooting and rebounding, there was one hurdle I couldn't get over...finishing. I would use incredible technique dribbling (I mean, And1 baller wanna be at its best) and making it to the basket only to watch the ball clank off the rim one more time. I couldn't finish. It was the death of me. Everything was perfect until the ball didn't go in. I soon found out this flaw was wrapped up in much more than basketball.

    As a creative I find myself surrounded by people a lot like me. People who have big dreams, big opinions, a good heart and an inability to finish. So what must the creative develop in order to finish projects, pieces, and dreams?

    3 Keys for the Creative Person to be a Productive Person

      1. A hatred for unfinished projects and a passion for follow thru. Nothing changes unless something changes. This mindset=step one. 

      2. A "get it done right now" attitude. I don't believe myself when I say I'll do it tomorrow. Half of what gets done every day doesn't make it to the to do list.

      3. An intense system for life organization. The only reason I'm effective at anything is that I organize and track projects. I have to follow up on myself because I usually don't finish tasks like I want to. I'm not near as good as I think I am. This is quality control for my life.

    Here's the amazing news- finishing feels great. I've learned to finish now. Still probably can't on the court, but in life, when it matters, I do. The idea of rolling the boulder 75% up the hill every day only to let it roll back down again is the epitome of frustration, self doubt, and hopelessness. So here's to finishing. Here's to success and realized dreams.
    Let's go finish something!

  • You're an art critic and you didn't know it

    "Those uniforms on that team look ridiculous!"

    "The paint on these walls looks too dark."

    "What do you mean you hate this shirt? This is my favorite shirt!"

    "This guy is too boring to listen to."

    You see, you are an art critic and didn't know it.

    We are surrounded by art. Some generic. Some bad. Some original. Some provocative. Some boring and some inspiring.

    Clothing. Color. Communication. These are all arts that should join the traditional gamut of music, movies, and "museum art".

    You may disagree but creativity (or lack thereof) has even gone into developing the names of the colors on your wall. And most importantly, it matters.

    It effects the way you feel, the way you think, the way you buy.

    Your stress level, your creativity, and your motivation all have been effected either positively or negatively by the art that surrounds you.

    You know how you feel in your favorite outfit? Confident. Its Art. From creative thought to expression, development, marketing, purchasing, and finally you wearing it and feeling confident.

    So what's the point in this unrequested "defining art" symposium?

    Own it. Don't let the word ART scare you. Just because you don't consider yourself creative or an artistic doesn't mean you can't be or shouldn't be.

    Art should be less about the commercial appeal, or what the critics say, and more about what you release, learn about yourself and share with the world in the process.

    But just because you are producing it doesn't mean its worthy to be shared in public forum. Be very careful before you launch your art to the world. Be prepared to not be received, to be criticized, and be laughed at. Know that there is a great risk/reward relationship in expressing art. Its the hand that feeds you and can strangle the life out of you too.

    Own it for yourself first before inviting others to enjoy it.

  • Overnight sensation syndrome

    It seems these days that everyone wants to blow up into some sort of international sensation overnight because they saw Snooki and the Sitch do it. The unfortunately popular American pursuit for fame and celebrity is destroying todays youth and depressing the more seasoned. Kids, teens, and young adults are having trouble removing their faces from the pie in sky and are slowly waking up with an awful stomach ache. Middle agers and baby boomers remember a time when folks consistently invested in something that mattered to them over a period of time. When people lived a good life by waking up every day, working hard, and coming home to family. I would like to boldly encourage the masses for a brief moment, if I may.

    First of all, get over yourself. You aren't nearly as great and worthy to be watched and listened to as you think you are. Quit imitating people that lack purpose and let yourself be influenced by people with God honoring vision.

    Secondly, work that matters fulfills you. I believe fulfillment is found in understanding a call/purpose from God on this earth. All other pursuits will satisfy for a moment but eventually leave you empty.

    Lastly, be patient. Statistics that people would hurl at me as a short white kid who wanted to star in the NBA frustrated me as a child. Now I get it. Perspective is everything. It only meant that the journey would most likely be long and hard for me. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your dream. Be patient. Be consistent. Be courageous.

    Be encouraged. You can do something that matters every day regardless of your platform.

  • Hey Dreamer! Find your space.

    Something I am learning every day is how to find my space. Not just my outer space but my inner space. Let me explain.

    Steve Jobs was a dreamer. He was extraordinarily successful because he found both his inner and outer space. He co-founded Apple (Macintosh) computers and was later fired by the company he created. Several years later he was asked to rejoin the company and lead them to greater success in the new millenium. He did just that with the releases of ground breaking mobile entertainment and computer technologies. If you learn more about his story you will find that he was the perfect candidate at the perfect time to dream and create in his field, or "outer space". Look further and you'll find that it was the inner struggle (or space) to overcome and succeed that transformed a success story to a legend and icon.

    Michael Jordan transformed the game of basketball. The NBA was a big man's game. Most legends of basketball were 6'9 or taller. Very few players like Oscar Robertson (6'5) and Jerry West (6'2), whose careers both lasted from 1960-1974, came along to make an impact on the game, and certainly none at the caliber in which Jordan did. The game progressed from a big man's game to one where teams had to have incredible athletes at the two and three position to guard the likes of Jordan. American basketball hit the global market at a much greater level with the Nike and Jordan brands because of his success. There was outer space open for this legend to succeed. There was no one to stop him. He was cut from his high school team but overcame that failure and many more to become basketball's greatest player ever.

    Understanding that you hold the keys to achieve your dreams begins by understanding yourself. Understanding the connection between who God created you to be, where you've come from and where you want to go is what I call the foundation of the inner space. Today, you may see your past history with pain and scorn but it could be your foundation for the inner space that God will use to ultimately fulfill you. Once you see this incomplete portrait you can look around, see the outer space in which your passion and skills can flourish, and then finish this incredible painting that God dreamt long before you were born.

    Find your space.

  • 1000 Rotten Eggs

    I don't know if anything sounds worse than being in a room with 1000 rotten eggs except knowing that you are the one that produced them.

    I have a practice of taking Thursday evenings and Friday mornings to be devoted completely to unhindered God releasing creativity through my simple brain and heart. I write down crazy idea after crazy idea. From website ideas to business ventures in fields that I have nothing to do with. From new album ideas to fun things to do with my family. As a creative, this is a major release for me each week. I am also finding that something is happening in this process.

    Last night I briefly developed, in writing, a business leadership mentoring venture. I won't go into detail because a.) I'm secretive like that b.) it's not the point of this post and c.) you probably don't care. What I realized as I looked back over the dated folder of ideas that have sprung forth is that they seem to get better and better the more I allow myself to write and release them. The purpose is more powerful. The model is more fluid. The appeal reaches further. I am more confident to create something incredible for the world.

    This small moment gave me insight into a tiresome process we each must go through. We all desire to be respected and known for something great but the painful process of creating failure and flops is daunting enough to make any man give up. So remember this on your rollercoaster journey, you may have to lay 1000 rotten eggs to lay 1 golden one. And when you do lay that golden one, that is what you will be known and remembered for. Happy laying my friends.

  • 3 Things to Expect When You Don't Know What to Expect

    1. Expect to be wrong. It is great to have a worse and best case scenario going in your brain for any event or venture. The pain of shattered expectations can be absolutely devastating but we set ourselves up for this sorrow (and often blame everyone else). This expands your expectations beyond narrow-mindedness to where your heart and mind are as fully prepared as possible for any outcome.

    2. Expect for it to take longer and cost more. This simple leadership practice is elementary for business and construction leaders but us everyday folk often miss great basics like this. Shave your budget multiple times. Recalculate the travel time over again. Inform the troops that we have to stay flexible. Be a penny and minute counter. Always pressing for efficiency and great work ethic.

    3. Expect to learn. Why are Edison, Einstein, and Jordan known for their success? Because they refused to fail. They each had unstoppable determination and a willingness to learn. Colin Powell said, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." Failure doesn't sting as bad when you realize how much you can learn from it.

  • Organization for Creatives: Disciplined for Excellence

    I'm sure you've heard that mastery of your craft takes 10,000 hours of practice. That means that you are a master at sleeping, eating, and pooping. Aren't you so accomplished?! In all seriousness, the one area you are most naturally talented in takes disciplined practice to truly master it. Beyond talent to true mastery. I played sports in school, mainly basketball and football. I was OK. Never anything to write home about. I remember being surrounded by some of the most naturally gifted human beings I've ever seen. I wish I could say that all of them made it big and went on to be professional athletes. Some of them did. Most of them didn't. It had nothing to do with talent. It had everything to do with discipline. Remember this, nothing can hold you back except you. Here are a few thoughts to chew on about discipline:

    1. How bad do you want this?
    2. How much practice time do I need to schedule in my week to become a master in 5 years? 10 years? Take the time and do the math to see what this will really require of you. Remember to do a honest subtraction of time practiced already.
    3. What can I eliminate from my schedule to allow time for my passion? Chances are, there are several. Pick a few. You may just need to limit those other areas to find the time you need.
    4. Study, read, be mentored, work hard, pray hard. God will blow your mind when you let Him write the equation for success.
    5. What does success mean to me? Is this how God defines success? Will this fulfill me?

    I hope the past five days have been encouraging to you personally and professionally. Please share this blog series with friends and colleagues as I hope to encourage the masses in their journey.

  • Organization for Creatives: 4 Tools of the Trade (4 of 5)

    I want to to be very short and to the point with unveiling 4 Tools of the Trade to revolutionizing your organization and eventually your life and craft.

    1. You: One of my mentors has told me on numerous occasions, "your greatest asset is you." That is to say that nothing in your life is more valuable than your passions, skills, and time at work. You have tools. Leverage them in everything you do to get yourself where you want to be.

    2. Not-To-Do List: Almost every human creature in America has written a to-do list before but very few have written a not-to-do list. So much our time is wasted on things that are unnecessary or things we hate doing. Make an ongoing list of things you want to stop doing. Don't just randomly stop one day - especially without your supervisors permission if they are business tasks you are required to do. But talk with your superiors, explain why you feel this is pointless/inefficient, offer a solution at the right time and in the right way and you just may be able to cross the first item off of your not-to-do list.

    3. Evernote: Evernote is an app I use for organization (available on all iOS, Android, Mac & PC). It isn't the sexiest design you will ever see but it allows me to store everything in my life in a very organized way. There is also a desktop client to work seamlessly from the office or on the road. No more double typing and note taking. You can record audio and snap pictures then send any notes, pics, or sound clips to collaborators on any of your projects. There are tons of note taking and to-do apps out there like Wunderlist, Wunderkit, ActionMethod, AnyList, and Weave are a few I have downloaded. Whatever works for you and, most importantly, whatever you will actually work on is what you should use. It's time to use those to-do list for more than shopping and errands.

    4. Mentors: Assemble a team of mentors for specific areas in your life that you want to continually improve in. Meet with them from anywhere between one and four times a month. Most of these relationships will probably have to be more short-term due to schedules and depending on frequency. You can chat on the phone on the drive home on Thursdays, have a late Wednesday night video chat, simply follow a blog or podcast or read their book. Technology has released information and knowledge for our generation. If you aren't leveraging all that is out there in some way you will probably be left behind in your field. A mentor can be a great sounding board but please don't talk the whole time. You are there to learn from them. You have two ears and one mouth. Remember this when meeting with a mentor.

    Use these powerful tools to turn what was once a monotonous, inefficient, uninspired routine into a dynamic and life-giving schedule.

    If you haven't yet read days one through three in this blog series please go back and read each one to catch the entire understanding of this method of organizing.

  • Organization for Creatives: Target Routine (3 of 5)

    If you have checked out installment 1 and 2 in this blog series on writing your personal mission statement and setting goals you are ready for the most powerful thing you could ever do for your schedule, almost regardless of your field.

    I'm in a blessed position where I get to write my own shcedule. I realize not everyone is so privileged. I also realize not everyone is disciplined enough to handle this freedom/responsibility. Regardless if you are a self-starter entrepenuer or a pencil pushing, cubicle-bound servant of the man, this time management writing exercise can help you manage your passions, tasks, and responsibilities in the most effiicient way. 

    Let me see if this sounds familiar. You have one giant to-do list that includes groceries, work calls, errands, new recipes, bills to write, etc, etc, etc... It gets longer and longer. It never ends. You forget things on the list and a bunch of things never even make it to the list and stay incomplete. How's that working for you? My brain will just not allow me to process so many things together that are better evaluated and completed separately. I began separating all these unique tasks in the most efficient way for completing them around my schedule and personality.

    A target routine is like a really fun water slide. Each slide is unique with its twists and turns, you'll never take the exact same journey through the tube, and it will always quickly and efficiently drop you back into the pool to relax a little before climbing back up and giving it another go. A target routine is an efficent way to organize tasks throughout your week so that more things get done in less time. For instance, stop doing one errand a day, every day. Take two hours on Tuesdays and get all of them done at once. Add to your errand list throughout the week and have the discipline to wait until the set time. Very few errands are urgent. When a list is in place for a category in your target routine, you plan ahead, forget less tasks and have more time to do whatever you want. A target routine is made up of blocks of time, not specific times. Within my target routine I have space for things like mentoring and being mentored, reading, paying bills, family devotions, date night, rest, writing, and creative space for whatever I want to do. Remember, there is no right answer. They should all be different. based on personality, occupation and schedule. Hey Bosses! Try this in your organization. What if everyone in every position was more efficient at what they did because we all had a similar target routine?

    I AM FREE! I am not stressing about everything, all of the time anymore. I put it on the list and will knock it out at the right time. I control my time. My time does not control me. I control my schedule. My schedule does not control me. Make a choice. Make a plan. Make a target routine and be disciplined enough to stick to it. You will be surprised how much freedom there is in discipline.

  • Organization for Creatives: Goal Writing (2 of 5)

    I am going to make a couple of bold guesses to kick off this post. One. You are good at some things. Maybe even really good at something. Probably not an expert at anything. Two. There is a bunch of other stuff you wish you were better in. You stress yourself out over these areas. Am I close? Well I don't wish to make this about your strengths and weaknesses and how much time you should spend developing them. Read someone like Tom Rath for one perspective on that topic. However, I do want to challenge you to engage in a simple but thoughtful process of goal writing. Here are a few tips on how to approach this task in an efficient way. Again, like my last post stated...WRITE it down!

    1. Write down every category in your life that you would seek to have goals in. List them by importance. Personally, I have ten categories. I'll list them to give you glimpse into my world. Marriage, Family, Leadership, Financial, Giving, Physical Health, Reading, Music, Writing, Creative. This isn't the perfect's just my list. Make your own.
    2. Your personal mission statement should be represented in the categories in some way, shape or form. Your personal values will most likely be repsented in your goals.
    3. Now try writing 2-5 diverse goals under each category. Try to vary your goals in difficulty, expected time to complete, required consistency, and number of people that must be involved to complete. Diverse goals will keep you encouraged. If all your goals can be accomplished by you, you will probably be lonely. If all of your goals are long-term goals, you will end up discouraged and wanting to quit without a sense of completion.
    4. Be specific as possible. Give yourself deadlines. Idenitfy specific times and days in your schedule when you will accomplish these items. We will talk in detail about this in tomorrow's post.
    5. Check back once a week or at least every two weeks to see how you are doing. Take a few minutes to make notes on your progress, areas to focus on, and adjustments to make.

    A few other notes of encouragement in this process if I may. If you realize after a couple of months that you are making zero progress in an area, consider three things. One. You aren't passionate about achieving this goal and it may not need to be on the list. Two. Your schedule isn't providing space for this goal to be achieved. If you are passionate about it. If the category is toward the top of the list. It's probably time to change your schedule. Three, table this item and move it to your bucket list. Just plan to do it later. In the meantime, remove the stress and anxiety of feeling like a failure when you look at the list and realize nothing is moving on this front.

    For those people of faith like myself, you may ask yourself "why no spiritual goal category of growth for Kyle?" The Jewish understanding for faith was much more profound than our modern Christian American understanding. We see faith as a token card to carry around in our wallet. To whip out when convenient. The Jewish understanding of faith was woven into every fabric of life. How you take care of your body is deeply spiritual. How you interact with your family matters to God. How you spend your money tells God everything about what is taking place in your heart. I encourage you to see each of your goal categories through a spiritual lens. Let me know how it's going.

  • Productive OCD: Purpose (1 of 5)

    I would like to say I am self-proclaimed OCD but that would be a lie. Many will confirm this fact about me. It's a bit odd to find creative types such as myself (a musician, songwriter, pseudo-inventor and innovator) that have a real understanding and passion for organization. Our type is much more prone to freedom and/or chaos. This isn't condemnation at all. In fact, we work best when in this environment. Try to get McCartney or Picasso and the likes of other great artists to work a nine to five with a boss and a dress code and we wouldn't be blessed with so much great art present in our world. Over the next five of days I am going to post a series of blogs to help revolutionize your future. You may be good, you may be great. But when you begin to apply these organizational pieces to your life it will clarify, streamline, and improve your potential for extraordinary success.

    While archery may be a fun excuse to launch an arrow into your neighbor's yard or chase off a pesky rodent, the ultimate goal is to hit a target that you are aiming or hunting for. You are hungry for something.You may just not know for what yet. Like those annoying conversations sitting in the driveway trying to decide what to eat with a group of friends. Everyone is hungry but no one wants to decide where we are going. Are you just scared to say what you want because you are afraid it will get shot down?

    Well step number one in organizing yourself for success is writing down your purpose. The key word isn't "purpose" here. The key words are "writing down". There is something indescribibly important about writing things down. If you cannot clearly communicate your purpose or goals, or strategy for achieving them, you most likely have not tried writing them down. I've found that BIG dreams take a lot of people and that means a lot of communication. Our innate desire in communication is for clarity to be present. Before you set out on a journey or go any further in one. Write down your purpose in traveling so that all that may be a part of your journey will understand why and where we are traveling. This isn't an organizational tip. This is a personal one. You, as a person, should write down your mission. How will you judge one month from now whether you have been succeeding at what you feel your mission or purpose is? Are you waiting for someone to tell you that you are failing or succeeding? Are you waiting for something to go wrong? Do you need to go bankrupt before you assess your mission? Does your spouse need to leave you before you reevaluate your purpose in life? No time to waste. Before we go any further, make sure you know where you want to go.

    Write your personal mission statement then write down your core values.

    I did this for myself. I wrote down my mission statement and then my core values as a husband, father, leader, pastor, and person. Several of the values and categories intersect but some don't so it helps to generate separate lists. I refer back to these lists often to see how I am doing. It may help to start with your values as a person then attempt to construct your mission statement from there. Don't be afraid to have several drafts and to edit them over a several month, or even yearly basis. At some point you won't want to touch it because you will know with confidence what your mission is So get to work and let me know how it goes.

    I will build on this in tomorrow's post on goals.