Browse Category: Leadership Nuggets

Leverage, Risk, and A Little Poker

On Monday we talked about the risk-failure-success combo and Bear Grylls’ take on the matter. I wanted to continue the thought-stream and touch on something that is near and dear to my heart…

POKER.

I’m just going to go out and say it: I’m good. Borderline cocky. Maybe not, outwardly cocky, but completely confident on the inside. I know how to hold a straight face. I feel like I’m judicious, calculated, and very reasonable when it comes to the risk/reward of certain bets. Part of that is my personality, but the other part rests on past successes and experiences.

On a side note: years back before we had kids, I was a part of a weekly game with some coworkers. My wife decided she wanted to come along and play with us. While she had never played before (I briefed her on the rules on the ride there), she dove in and swindled away all our our money and man-pride.


Part of the lure of playing poker for me falls back to the Risk vs. Reward. Do I fold my hand? Should I be reading my opponent differently? Will my next bet put me “all-in”? While I can’t completely control the outcome, I do have options when it comes to percentages and the risks involved.

While there is wisdom in being cautious and calculated in our decision making, I am learning that when it comes to my relationship with God, wholehearted commitment is preceded by going “all in”. What does this look like? I want to persevere like Noah, who continued to build an ark despite the ridicule and doubts from others. I want to lead with conviction like Moses, who stood up and demonstrated what a life of conviction looks like. I want to stand for God’s people like Esther, who knew her position would be leveraged for justice and truth. I want to be all-in.

Being all in for Him means being all out for me. Will that mean I’ll need to use certain things for the glory of God? Probably so. My influence, my family, my time, my resources – I want to be one characterized my willingness to leverage all that I have for the purposes of bringing glory to God’s name.

Do you play poker? What can be leveraged in your life to bring God glory?

Photo credit: maor-x

If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing

Undoubtedly, in the above clip Bear Grylls proves he is 124% more of a man than I am:  fearless, a calm demeanor, and a wicked-cool accent. What resonates in that video, however, is his composed response, “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”

Isn’t that true? Whether in business, personal choice, or in our faith, there always a level of risk involved. Late last year, I read similar thoughts in Erwin McManus’ book “Chasing Daylight”.

“You cannot fail without risking. If you have never failed, it might be just possible that you have never risked.”

What McManus wrote resonated with me. Oftentimes my first reaction to a situation tends be cautious and risk-averse. My thoughts are calculated and my pragmatic thinking tends to be very cafeful and guarded. That hit me in the gut, of course, because my “fear of failure” tends to affect my decision making at times–not so much in my business/professional life, but certainly in my family and friend relationships.

With regards to our faith, McManus goes on to write, “Our pop theology has eliminated the place for risk and insulated us with a comfort-and-security theology.” Bam! Do I make decisions, remain silent, or stand action-less because I want to do the “safe thing”? My answer in one word–Yes. Instead of chasing opportunities, I get caught up in managing the risk. Instead of confidently trusting in God’s character, l rely on trying to control things myself.

I was encouraged how McManus went on to close the book, “You know where to begin: take initiative. You know who God is, so embrace life’s uncertainty.”

How to you react to uncertainty? Do you watch Man vs. Wild?

Dragging My Feet

Our master bedroom needed a little overhaul for quite some time. Truthfully, it wasn’t very high on my priority list. I didn’t want to go through the massive box of papers in the corner. I certainly didn’t want to sort through old clothes in the closet. Needless to say, I was okay with leaving things as they were.

<enter wife>

Jen has this uncanny knack for visioning out a room. Not going to lie — she has this crazy feng shui inclination for design thing going on inside of her (minus the actual feng shui). And, a month or so that vision was cast. She got the new night stand. We bought the new IKEA dresser (which took me 4 hours to put together… an entirely different blog post in and of itself) and all the miscellaneous room add-ons to make it just perfect.

But there was still one thing.

I needed to go through that stinkin’ box of papers and I needed to sort through those old clothes.

I’m sure my wife would agree that I whined and moaned a few times, but in the end, it got done. The room looks great. Really great, in fact.

How many times do we stall and drag our feet with something… not realizing that doing that very thing will lead to beneficial results?

I’m guilty: making the call to connect with a friend, encouraging my wife in areas that interest her, waking up 15 minutes earlier to read the Bible…

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine gave me some wise advice. When I asked him what I should do to help me in this area, he responded with two simple words…

Just act.

What area are you dragging your feet in right now? What do you need to do to “just act”?

Living With Intentionality

My wife and I have been talking about a common theme lately: intentionality.

I believe that when we take a look at the life of Jesus, He lived with purpose and intentionality. His purpose was to glorify the Father. Jesus modeled for us a way to live out that purpose in every facet of life.

Some may argue that His life was characterized by sporadic acts of service, random miraculous signs, nomadic travels, and a lot of happenstance. When we dig deeper into the scriptures, we find that quite the opposite is true!

There was a method in which Jesus relayed His messages (ex. His use of parables). He was specific in the choosing of His disciples (ex. investing in the few). Jesus took every moment captive: from when He chose to meet with His father in prayer, to where He chose to break bread and with whom, etc. He lived life with a purpose, and He was intentional in pursuing that purpose.

As children made in the image of God, we exist to bring glory to our heavenly Father. In light of this, how do we fuse that God-given purpose with Christ’s intentionality in areas like relationships, finances, and work? What does it practically look like to glorify God in our relationships (marriage, children, extended family)? Finances? Work?

For me, one example with regards to our finances is embracing the “Give-Save-Live” way of managing our money (give first, then save for the future, then live). Our church communicated this idea a few years back and it resonated quickly and deeply with both my wife and I. Realizing what we have is not really ours to begin with, I want to cultivate a spirit of generosity with what we do have. Through that mindset, aside from tithing, we chose to partner with Compassion, outside missions organizations, and campus ministries–all specific areas that have impacted us at one point in our lives. Although a work-in-progress at times, this is one area that we (as a family) have committed to be intentional in.

In what areas of your life can you live with more intentionality?

Hitting Pause: A Priority Check

Last December, Urban Meyer cited family as the main reason for stepping down as head coach of the University of Florida football team. Even though this news is over two months old, I believe that his core message (from the press conference) is of lasting importance. While I don’t have the same things pulling me in my life that Meyer did, I do feel that I can relate to his situation as a husband, father, and friend.

The challenge for me today is this: what things do I place in front of the relationships that mean the most to me?

We all know the feeling...

As some of you may or may not know, I am in the middle of a job transition. I am leaving the company I’ve only worked for on Friday (almost 7 years) and joining another the middle of next week. To be honest, it’s both scary and exciting! This is an opportunity that I have been waiting for, and am thrilled to be given the chance to succeed in an area I’m truly passionate about (details forthcoming).

With the longer commute and increased responsibilities, I need to ask myself a couple questions: how will this impact the people I love the most (namely my wife and children)? What am I going to do about it?

My wife read me a quote the other day by Michael W. Smith, that I feel is wholly appropriate: “My life isn’t defined by my music. Music is my vocation. My life is characterized by my relationship with God and my family.” While I am far from a professional musician, you get the point. I want to leave a legacy that is marked by Jesus’ call to, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19-20). I want to be remembered for how I invested my time into people, not “things”. I want to pursue relationships, make decisions, and give generously in light of the Kingdom. In five years, will I be saying to myself, “I can’t get that time back”? I sure hope not. Today, I’m evaluating my commitment to God, my wife, and kids. Here are three things that I plan on doing over the course of the next three months:

1. Stay regular with God. Everything funnels through this discipline. The time I spend with God directly impacts the other relationships I place value in.

2. Date my wife. Especially with the new baby coming in a couple months, I want me wife to know that I still cherish uninterrupted time with her. I am committed to taking her out and spending “date” time twice a month, just me and her. Also, a friend of mine suggested “couch time”–the first 10 minutes of my time home after work is dedicated to my wife, where we can just talk on the couch.

3. Engage my children. When I come home from work, I want to try to give them my undivided attention. There will be times later in the evening or the next morning, to check e-mail. Put that blasted phone away! I want to slow down and take time to truly hear them and respond… I want them to know that they matter.

As a disclosure, my family is truly excited about this opportunity for me. My wife is the ultimate “I’m in your corner no matter what” kind of partner. To be honest, it would be hard to do much of anything if it wasn’t for the unbelievable support I get from her every single day. With that being said, I need a gut/motive-check from time to time. My prayer is that, through it all,  I would be intentional to not to sacrifice my work for my family.

How can we live like people matter?

Photo credit: josephleenovak

Environments of Grace

Tony (who has a great blog I follow) shared the following quote on Friday:

Most people know an environment of grace when they see it. They simply point to the results: people feel safe, they grow up, they trust each other, they live authentically, they celebrate each other, they laugh a lot, they produce better. But in some environments, grace is so evident you can feel it from the first…
– The Ascent of a Leader

When I read that quote a few days ago, one question kept ringing over and over in my head: If I were to be unknowingly observed, what would the analysis of my life be?

Do I lead a family that lives out a demonstrated faith?
Do I foster healthy communication of trust and truth?
Do I create environments of grace?

When I stop and think about it, oftentimes I fail to live out those things. I discipline my kids because my patience is thin. I shortchange engaging with my wife because I want to watch some television. I avoid the coworker because “he always talks about himself”. I am not thoughtful because I want to do the things that I want to do.

My selfish nature creeps in and reiterates the lie that its all about me. This is sobering because, in the end, I am called “to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God” (Micah 6:8).  When I do that, the truth rises to the surface: it’s about God, not me. With that verity in place, the environments that I create will be more inviting, safe and upward-focused.

The challenge for me today is this: in my home and in my work, if I take steps toward building environments of grace, the heart of the matter will come to the surface. That being, people matter.

What can you do today to create an environment of grace in your work or your home?

A Letter From Dad To Son

This note was found at my parents’ house a little while back. There was no date on it, but it had to be while I was in college getting ready to go on one of my trips to Amsterdam with the college ministry I was involved with at the time.

Two things that strike me: 1) I get my handwriting gene from my Dad, and 2) This made my day. I hope my children will find things like this from me when they’re older.

It made me think: how do we speak truth into our childrens’ lives? Through actions, words, notes, etc? Have you received something like this from a parent?

Note: This was first posted on our family blog. Felt it was more appropriate here.

A Bag of Doritos for a Broken Spirit

That is what went through my head over the weekend; and I thought to myself, “I stood silent when I could have said something.”

On Saturday, myself and the girls went to pickup some groceries at Wal-Mart along with 90% of those living in metro Atlanta. See, we had a “snow storm” brewing and the local news was prepping us for a potential 4-6 inches late Sunday night. You know what that means, right? Everyone scurries to their local grocer and buys 8 gallons of milk and 3 loaves of bread. Needless to say, the store was packed! We did our shopping and went to check out. That day, however, the lines were insane and we had to wait 25 minutes just to check out.

While waiting, there was a mother and son ahead of us. Right before we got in line apparently the little boy, maybe 8 yo, did something to anger his mother. The mother then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes with her finger pointed at her son, explaining that he messed up and he wasn’t behaving like some of the other children waiting in line, even threatening to take his bag of Doritos away if he didn’t stop crying. Meanwhile the little boy was teary-eyed, his lip was quivering, and he was constantly shielding his face in embarrassment. What made me even more upset was that the boy couldn’t speak up for himself. He was using sign language and struggling to communicate his way through the situation. I didn’t know the entire story, but regardless, I was heartbroken for the kid. I wanted to speak up and say, “Child, you are worth it! You are important!” My heart ached for his spirit.

I was reminded that even in our sin, even in our depravity, Jesus advocates on our behalf. Even when we are unworthy to speak up for ourselves, he is on our side. He is above everything, knows everything, and accepts us nonetheless.

…we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

In our moments of deepest exasperation as parents, do we choose to leverage the respect and diminish the honor of our children, for our own vengeance? It would be all too easy to look upon this woman with contempt and judgement, but to truly search our hearts in humility, and in light of  Christ’s sacrifice is a far more humbling thing. How am I affirming and encouraging my children’s spirit and character? How can I show them that I will stand up for them on their behalf? How do I advocate for them at such a young age? As leaders of our households, lets engage readily, act promptly, and advocate constantly.

In what ways have you stood up for your spouse/kids?

Photo credit: Chelsea Rose

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