On Earth as it is in Heaven: Courage for Action

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Devotion to Christ changes both His follower and the follower’s desires. The Christian leader seeks FIRST God’s kingdom and His righteousness, “and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV) What else will be given to you? What do you want? What do you want that is in line with what God promises? (This intersection is His design for glorious living.) You know what God wants by seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness.

As a result, Christian leaders muster the courage to take action now on the things that are most important to them, based on their best discernment of God’s will in their lives. That’s worth repeating:

  • Leaders muster courage (because they are fearful of God’s will)
  • to take action now (because now is often all we get)
  • on what is most important (pre-determined priorities)
  • by discerning God’s will for their lives
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Posted in Christian coaching, Christian leadership, core values, dreams, leadership, leadership definitions, ministry, ministry leaders, servant leadership, success, success definitions, values, values-based leadership | Leave a comment

On Earth as it is in Heaven: Success & Leadership

Not failure, but low aim, is crime. ~ James Russell Lowell

Leadership starts with authentic self-expression that adds value through relationships; it is value-based, purpose-driven, and mission-focused; it is revealed in the nature of one’s desires, sacrifice and service to others; and it is measured by the results produced by followers’ behaviors.

No doubt, there is a widely accepted correlation between success and leadership in modern literature. However, much depends on how each is defined and measured. Scripture turns common worldly definitions of success and leadership on their heads. (Mark 10:43-45)

When one’s goals are a reflection of authentic, sacrificial self-expression that adds value through God-honoring, sacrificial, loving relationships that lead others to listen to and obey Him, the following definition of Success works for the Christ-follower as well as anyone:

Success is the continual achievement of your own predetermined goals, stabilized by purpose and balance, purified by belief, and expressed in service. No matter how you think of success or measure it, it likely fits this definition — if you seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

This definition of success may still bring you back to the concern, “I just want what God wants.” The more you obey and follow God, the more likely your desires are His desires, or at least they are purified through your faith and by His grace. God reveals His desires through our own desires, purified by our faith and submission. This is why we also say that success is finding out what God wants you to do, and doing it. Success is listening to God and responding.

With these definitions of success in mind, journal your responses to these questions. Use a Vision or Dream Journal and continue to refine your Purpose statement and add to your dream inventory:

  • What do you really want? To do? To have? To become?
  • What is your cause or message? Where are you going? What are your goals?
  • Are you ready to become more authentic in your communication and relationships with others?
  • What are your core values?
  • What is your purpose — in your role and more grandly, in your life?
  • Are you on a mission? What is it? Is it written down? What is the desired timeline for achievement?
  • What is your vision for your life, your family, your ministry, your career?

For the Christian, if success is a relationship with Jesus Christ and obedience to God, then leadership includes guiding people into the same relationship. The measure of both is in the “Greatest Commandment” and the “Great Commission”.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”~ Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT) 

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
~ Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)

Posted in Christian leadership, core values, dreams, leadership, leadership definitions, servant leadership, success, success definitions, values, values-based leadership | Leave a comment

Your Design for Glorious Living

We were made for “Glorious Living.”

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ…he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
~ Ephesians 1:11 (MSG)

God has a plan for you and your ministry (Jeremiah 29:11) — a design for glorious living. Would you describe your situation as “glorious living”? If so, by what standard? If not, what is in your way? How could you raise your standard?

What is God’s design for your life? What is God’s design in the circumstances you now face? How does His design show up in your hopes, dreams and desires? How might you better reflect Christ in the way you are handling today’s challenges and opportunities? What is His design for your work and ministry? How do you know?

What do you want? What is your purpose, specifically? How might your life and work be “on earth as it is in heaven”? How might you more fully realize this “glorious living” described in scripture? What might glorious living look like for you? What should you do next?

We were made for glorious living — the first fruits of divine joy that will be perfected in eternity. Glorious living is by no means limited to fame or fortune, but no matter how humble it is remarkable. Borne through devotion and obedience, glorious living is about the revelation of scripture in your life and ministry, in your work and family, in your struggles and opportunities, cares and concerns. His story is our story, so we want to help you appreciate that story to the fullness of your potential.

“Join me in the search to be remarkable — that by grace you might have a valuable influence in the lives of others. Re-connect your thoughts and actions with your deepest values and purpose, and engender the same in others. Have the courage to take action now on the things most important to you. Achieve what may seem just beyond your reach. Join us at the Intersection of Purpose & Now.”
~ Lifting Arms coach Mark Sturgell

Personal, professional and spiritual revival

You may have a different perspective on life mission, ethics, relationships, problem-solving, decision-making, goal achievement and your own development because you rely on prayer, you study scripture, you have the experience of faith, and you are encouraged in fellowship by the body of Christ.

As a ministry leader or pastor, however, you may feel a bit isolated at times; you may have challenges, opportunities, goals and dreams that, for whatever reason, are inappropriate to discuss with someone in your congregation or ministry, or with a colleague or spouse. In fact, those very same people may seem to be at the center of your challenges! The isolation of our role can be fatiguing at times.

You need someone who knows what it means to really listen, without judgement, yet ask tough open-ended questions to help you clarify your thinking, discern the right reasons and the right time to take the right action. You need complete confidentiality. You want someone who will come alongside you, is a believer of like mind, and shares an underlying depth of faith and Christ-centered world-view. You need a coach who will advocate for you with prayer and encouragement, one who will support you in a process of personal, professional and spiritual revival.

Contact Lon Alderman or Mark Sturgell at Lifting Arms Ministry for more information.

Posted in coaching, crisis leadership, Glorious living, God's design, leaders, Lifting Arms, ministry, pastors, Purpose, revival, values-based leadership | Leave a comment

Remember the Sabbath…or Go Nuts!

One of my long-time coaching clients has a great habit (well, actually a lot of great habits) that I truly appreciate. Twice a month before our coaching calls, he sends me both his most recent pre-session review form and the one from our previous call, which now includes his notes from that session. He often quotes me in his notes.

I rather enjoy being quoted. It gives me a fleeting sense of immortality, I suppose. More importantly, I love to see his insights as he recorded them “live” during our coaching calls, including the questions and lessons I share with him, and the next steps he takes as we explore his creative tensions of work and life.

In one recent coaching session, we were talking about a habit he doesn’t do as well as he would like: his need for balance, including Sabbath in his daily/weekly life, and I said this:

“Don’t be so driven that you forget to live or so open that you forget to act.”

He soon quoted me in social media and later, before our next coaching call, he sent me his notes. Here are his annotated notes from that conversation.

“How do I work Sabbath into my regular life?

Typical theology is 1/10th of my money to God, 1/7th of my time to rest, so how can I intentionally include Sabbath in my week? I can go overboard; I tend to put so much pressure on finding time to rest.

Enjoy the moment! Appreciate the moment! Even as I move from one task to another. All kinds of things can reveal themselves. Be open for those revealing moments, be ready for them; that’s a form for Sabbath. Allow some time for purposeful meandering and be open to those spontaneous opportunities that God presents to enjoy just a moment of rest.

‘Don’t be so driven that you forget to live or so open that you forget to act.’

I need sleep. I need worship. I need devotion. These are not Sabbath/rest. I also need rest.

I must guard against (God, encourage me) to allow time in my scheduling for rest.  Just as important, I must allow myself to rest at times.”

Very likely, you need to be productive. You need to eat. You need to sleep. You need family time. You need time with friends. You need devotion, fellowship and worship. You need re-creation — You need rest. You may not always be able to balance these needs throughout your week, but you could be more intentional about shifting your focus to each one throughout your week.

What would it take to give one-seventh of your time to Sabbath-rest each week?

If you know your priorities and purpose, and have a vision for carrying out your purpose, it is much easier to focus and experience some balance on a regular basis. Let rest be part of your plan. It is at least part of God’s plan for you.

Posted in balance, coaching, focus, rest, Sabbath, time management | 1 Comment

We are getting soft

“Mothering” in our society has gotten out of hand. We are getting soft. For crying out loud, think about it.

  • Enough of the pre-school graduation ceremonies! 
  • Enough with the “everyone gets a trophy” approach to raising children (since when isn’t a hug and reassurance enough?). 
  • Enough with being surprised that young boys want to kill a lion, and young girls want to be beautiful; it’s time to start giving children the opportunity to hunt again, to be beautiful, and to recognize their true spirits again. 

(Note for the hyper-reactive, I am not promoting the literal slaughter of endangered species here. Think.)

  • And enough with our schools being more about compliance, reward, punishment and “tolerance”, than about learning, self-discipline and respect.

Nothing wrong with emphasizing one’s strengths, but you can’t know your strengths until they are tested. We don’t test strengths anymore (unless you count those clean little online surveys); we reward participation. As adults, we work out like hamsters in a cage and make daily visits to the coffee, froyo, and smoothie shops, and so-called “organic” groceries. (I can’t think of anything more plastic than an organic grocery.)

As adults, we work out like hamsters in a cage and make daily visits to the coffee, froyo, and smoothie shops, and so-called “organic” groceries. (I can’t think of anything more plastic than an organic grocery.)

You can’t know God’s spirit until you push yourself to the limits of your own spirit. That doesn’t happen by rewarding yourself with frozen yogurt after a really good workout on a stationary bike at the local spa.

https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/g2We5sfUfvw&source=uds

 I will never forget the trip we took to the Great Smoky Mountains when our boys were young. We stayed in a nice condo. (My wife is particularly soft and beautiful; but yes, she could kill a lion, too…with her eyes!)  A huge water park was next door. We couldn’t get the boys away from the water park all week. I begged them to go hiking: “We are in the Smokies, for goodness sake.” Finally, on our last day we tricked them and parked on the side of a mountain near a trail head and lured them in. They loved it. They wanted more! Their spirits were awakened. Unfortunately, we were starting home. They whined so much we stopped at a state park in Indiana and hiked the most rugged trail we could find. Something was finally born in my boys that day that had been dormant before, all because I made them get dirty and dangerous.

I will never forget that trip because it has been so difficult to forgive myself as a father. I was soft. Why didn’t I force the issue earlier? Why didn’t I just throw them into the dirt and rocks and trees of the Smokies to show them what a father’s love really is? I vowed to make it up, and hope I did in the years that have followed.  I’ve since encouraged my boys as they broke noses and arms, both theirs and others, playing hockey. I’ve consoled my wife when we found one of them laying in the dirt, discovering that ants don’t taste bad at all. My boys certainly have had ample opportunity to go wild caving with me. They know how much and how often I encourage them to “dive into the deep end.” I hope I’ve given them the opportunity to “kill a lion” and they have begun to recognize and respect the wonder and beauty in God’s kingdom while testing the limits of both their spirits and strengths.

Of course, I was the product of too much mothering and I passed that on. I don’t think my boys will pass it on. We will see. I look forward to grandsons and granddaughters who are beautiful and have the opportunity to kill lions in their own time.  But understand, if they have pre-school graduations, grandpa will come — then take them to a wild place to skip rocks and get dirty for the real celebration.

 Please take time to watch the new short film series from John Eldredge’s And Sons Magazine, “Killing Lions“.

Posted in beauty, John Eldredge, killing lions, raising boys, raising children, strengths | Leave a comment

Prepare Your Character Like Nelson Mandela


Certainly, pray for changed circumstances. But do not resign yourself to prayer alone when God is expecting you to carry His covenant into those circumstances.

Sure, you live in a place and time that surpass your understanding and abilities, but they do not surpass God.

Your circumstance may be God’s way to prepare you for His greater purpose. Use this time and place, this circumstance, to prepare your character so you are ready for that moment to come when God calls on you.

Focus on a vital few core values and pursue those virtues with all you are, all you have, all you do. Through discipline in these vital few, you will be prepared to land the aircraft in the Hudson River, to free a nation from apartheid, to lead a people across the river into the Promised Land, or perhaps just befriend a neighbor or raise a child who will.

That’s what Nelson Mandela did. We can, too.

Posted in change, character, circumstance, core values, Nelson Mandela, values, virtue | Leave a comment

Why would an already successful person hire a coach?

Why do so many executives – people already in top positions – demand an executive coach as part of their benefits package? Because they know from experience that even their highly refined ability to see what is needed is limited by their own assumptions and beliefs.

Most people know themselves pretty well and are able to make decisions and set goals based on who they are. Well, at least most people do this much of the time – ah, there lies the rub.

 The problem is we all use our own assumptions and beliefs to make decisions. These are driven by motivations that are often outside our own realm of awareness. Sometimes our assumptions and beliefs are empowering. Sometimes they are limiting, faulty or out of date and we rarely take time to truly explore and update them.

One of my core values is that no one knows you or your business better than YOU. Sometimes our attitudes and beliefs limit the potential benefits from what we know. A good coach helps you see what you’re not already seeing. A good coach asks you questions that you cannot always answer right away, questions that require hard thinking, questions that test your assumptions, reveal possibilities and lead to right action that you might not otherwise have conceived. That’s why the most successful people work with coaches.

Posted in coaching, core values, goals, why hire a coach | Leave a comment

You Can’t Have It All!

I see the Today Show on NBC is running a story on “work-life balance“, emphasizing that men can “have it all” as well as women, based on an recent article in Esquire magazine.

Here is the real truth: you cannot have it all!  You don’t want it all!

You can have or achieve almost anything you want, but you can’t have everything. 
Eliminate this quest for “balance” and having it all. Instead, develop the courage to take action now on your priorities and purpose. 
Focus on your priorities and Purpose. What is most important to you now?  What brings you alive, gives you a sense of fulfillment, achievement, a deep inner Joy?  What do you treasure most? Is this what is showing up in your conversations and activities, in your schedule and your checkbook?  Why not?  Are you treating obstacles, which you could overcome if you chose to take different actions, as unalterable excuses?  Are you blaming your circumstances, subjugating yourself to the life of a victim?
Know what you want and purify it with your deep values and beliefs. Plan tomorrow before you end today and review your plan in the morning because things can change overnight. Don’t allow your mood of the moment interfere with the intentions of your life. Put your “Must do” before your “should do.”  
Live at The Intersection of Purpose and Now. 
Posted in balance, Esquire, focus, fulfillment, joy, Purpose, Today Show | Leave a comment

Burnout

I love it when my readers suggest topics for The Intersection of Purpose and Now. I have a reader from the Radiological Society of North America to thank for suggesting the subject of “Burnout”.

I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life right now. Are you? I have the life I want, and I want my clients to be able to say just that as well.  But let’s face it, anyone can face “burnout” at some point in a career.

What is burnout, generally?  If every day is a “bad day”; if you are often or always tired; if tasks at work or home seem like a waste of time; if you find most of the tasks you perform daily to be boring or monotonous; if you feel like nothing you do is appreciated or makes a difference…you may be on a path of burnout.

What is burnout like for you, personally, right now as you go about your daily life in work or school? Before reading on, invest a few moments with pen and paper (or computer) answering this question,

“What does burnout look, sound and feel like for you right now?”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines burnout as:

  1. the cessation of operation usually of a jet or rocket engine; also : the point at which burnout occurs
  2. exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration

Perhaps a lack of necessary “fuel” has brought your engines to a stop. Do even know what fuels you? Do you know how to get refueled? Maybe you’re just tired and need a rest. Or stressed and frustrated and need a break.  Do you know how to rest? Have you made that break a priority?

I would suggest that burnout can have at least one more source.  When I was a young driver, my friends and I would test a car’s acceleration (and our manhood) by “burning out” our tires. (Rather comical now, considering I was driving an Olds Omega 4-cylinder.)  Thing is, every time we burned rubber we reduced the tire tread quickly and, therefore, the traction and lifetime of the tire.

Temporary thrills, “highs” and mountaintop experiences are not sustainable. Rely on them too much in your work or life and they increase your need for external inspiration and decrease internal motivation.  Burn too much “rubber” too frequently and you lose traction on your work, your emotions and more. Too many burns too many times and you reduce the lifetime of value you might otherwise give to that which you serve, whether it is your work, or family, or community, or self.

  • When you are doing one thing (e.g. in a job) but would like to be doing something else — this leads to burnout. 
  • Maybe you are really good at what you do but don’t really enjoy it. 
  • What if you are passionate about what you are doing but aren’t very good at it?

If you know me or read this blog, you recognize how reluctant I am to give advice. With that in mind, the best advice I can give you in any of these circumstances is “Quit. Find a way to start something new.”  You have to stop doing what you don’t like, or if you’re ineffective, if you want to start doing something else that truly brings you alive.

Develop healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits. I know you’ve heard it, but are you doing it? Learn how to manage stress; take yoga, pottery, a Bible study or meditation class if you must. Schedule your priorities instead of prioritizing your schedule. Set boundaries, “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Put away the cell phones, laptops and tablets, the TVs…have a daily getaway from technology.  Develop daily rituals that bring you moments of peace. Try something new, or something “old” with a beginner’s mentality.

Find someone or a cause to serve. I started volunteering to speak at the local women’s correctional center once a month more than ten years ago. This is perhaps my favorite thing to do. I love it (I think they love me, too.) and look forward to returning each month.  Serve someone; you’ll be amaze at the revival you experience.

How specialized are you in your work? Research indicates general practitioners have the highest proportion of burnout cases.  The more closely you identify your niche, your role, your special purpose or calling in life, the less likely you are to experience burnout. Find something you enjoy and pursue mastery in that area or with that skill. Commit to 90 days of coaching with me and I promise you the opportunity to articulate your Purpose in life as readily as you do your name, address and phone number.

New York Times Bestselling Author John Maxwell speaks to the cause of burnout by directly addressing its cure.  Maxwell, and many of my colleagues in career, life and business coaching will suggest you find one thing you do well, and thoroughly enjoy doing, and do it. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? Marry those two things and act on them. Stay at it. Make it your vocation or make it your avocation. Work at it or do it after work.

This blog, The Intersection of Purpose and Now could be read as a primer on avoiding and overcoming burnout as well. May I seek to remain humble and still suggest that you read through the archive of this blog to help you address burnout and rediscover your passion? You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. Discover your vital few priorities. Understand the Myth of Balance. Know the difference between your Must Do and Should Do activities. Understand how “Overcommitted is an oxymoron.” Rediscover your passion.  Why not take a magic carpet ride?  Learn how to fix your broken want-to.

I also address the subject of burnout head-on in my popular workshop Why This Work: Renewing Your Passion for Your Work and Life(Contact me directly for more information or to schedule an event.)  Look for a few nuggets from this workshop in coming days…

Need to talk?  Check out my Performance Development Network or Lifting Arms Ministry home pages, find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Give me a call. Subscribe to and read this blog.

Posted in balance, burnout, frustration, John Maxwell, passion, Purpose, stress, Why This Work | Leave a comment

Bucket List or Dream Inventory?

There is a big qualitative difference between a “bucket list” and the Dream Inventory that I ask my clients to produce.

A bucket list typically focuses on things you want to do and places you want to go before you die. Often, the list is relatively self-centered.

The Dream Inventory includes everything you want to do, want to have, want to become today and throughout your life. It involves family, friends, your “whole person”, character and often legacy. The Dream Inventory most often leads one to a much deeper sense of Purpose, personal vision and service to others – adventure, too – while also sorting out the mundane priorities of everyday life.

A Dream Inventory may well include a bucket list, but can be so much more.

Image credit: louisdavilla / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted in achievement, Bucket List, coaching, Dream Inventory, dreams | Leave a comment