A Critical Investment Strategy

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Investing well is important as we consider and plan for the future. Most often when we think of investing, we are thinking of our financial investments. We are planning for our children’s college plans, their marriages, hedging against unexpected expenses, and for financial security for our latter years. However, our investment plans often do not consider the non-financial aspects of our lives and when we fail to invest in these areas, the financial investing becomes a moot point.

We are relational beings who are designed for and need strong relationships. The impact of good relationships on our mental, emotional, and even physical health has been well documented. As has often been stated, at the end of our time here on earth, it is not the number of hours we spent at the office or our impressive portfolio that we think about—it is the people in our lives. So, the question is, how is our “investment strategy” when it comes to the key relationships in our lives? Are you investing time and attention into your relationship with your spouse, your children, and your key friendships? Is it a high-quality investment?

What is your investment strategy when it comes to your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical health? The importance of a strong financial investment strategy diminishes quite rapidly when we have invested poorly in these other areas of our lives. Do you have an investment strategy for growing spiritually and emotionally? Are you spending time daily in quiet reflection as well as reading in a way that grows you in these areas? Are you becoming a self-managed person where you manage your emotions versus them controlling you?

How are you investing in your intellectual growth? Are you reading well and often? Do you have a plan for how often you will read and what you will read? Are you reading widely and well beyond your profession? Are you consistently challenging your own thinking and correcting it when you find that your preconceived notions are incorrect or when you realize that your thinking patterns are unhealthy?

Finally, to my favorite part (not really)! How are you investing in your physical health? Do you eat in a way that strengthens you? A friend of mine often remarks that he eats to live versus lives to eat. So, are you eating to live and live well? What about that dreaded word—exercise? Do you exercise on a regular basis? I am not talking about becoming a gym rat, but is reasonable exercise a part of your daily routine?

Investing well in our overall life, not just the financial aspect, is vitally important. It is important to those we love, those we serve, those we lead, and to ourselves. Invest well so that you leave a legacy of hope and changed lives.


‘dead leader running” by Wayne Cordeiro

how are you measuring your success?

How do you know you if you are successful? How do you measure success in life?

One place to start is with your definition. What is your definition of success? Where did that definition originate? A magazine, a book, friends, our society or . . . .? Did you write your definition of success or did someone else? Or is it simply a reflection of what we see in our society?

Maybe it’s time to change your definition of success. Maybe you need to write your own definition. One based on truth – based on God’s Word. A definition you develop that reflects who you are and who you were created to be and not what society tells you.

Sometimes, I feel like I have “missed the boat” in some ways or in some “measure” of success. Then God does something wonderful that reorients me. He did that this past Father’s Day. Both of my daughters created something for me from their hearts. As I saw and read what they had done and looked around at them with my wife, God showed me success and what it looks like – it looks like love. It looks like people.

Experiencing the love of my wife, two daughters, and my heavenly Father is success to me. I am a blessed man.


be present

waterfall at LAMGood Friday morning to you!

One of the challenges that I have is that I am often thinking about the future or evaluating the past. Too seldom am I present in the moment. As a result, I have missed too many important moments, I have too often not fully engaged in good conversations with people who are dear to me. I have passed by the small and beautiful things of God’s creation without noticing them.

Realizing this about myself, my two words for 2014 are “Be Present”. I am finding that to be difficult as I am dealing with my personality type as well as many years of habit. However, when I find myself actually being present with others and in the moment, I am seeing a richness of life that I have often missed. I see a decline in anxiety.

Most of all, those that matter most to me feel more loved and cared for, which is hugely important.

Do you struggle with “being present”? Think about it – all we have is this very moment. The past is past and we don’t know what the future holds, but we do have now, we do have those precious moments with our family and friends. Let’s don’t waste those moments with people by not being present with them.

A thought for you – practice being present with people today and see what you think. You might just enjoy it and maybe even relax a bit more today.

Have a great weekend!


5 regrets of the dying that could make you a better leader

purple flower - Keely 2013Good morning! Awesome morning here in NE Indiana!

Recently I came across a post online talking about Bonnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. I can’t speak to the quality of the book as I have not yet read it, but the blog post on the five regrets was gripping.

She had worked for many years in palliative care where she was with people in their last three to twelve weeks of their lives. She spent much of her time talking with them and one subject that came up often was their regrets. Over time she noticed there were five regrets that were the most common:

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So as a leader, how do these apply to you and those you lead? Let’s look at that question by question:

1. Are you living a life that is authentic? Do you know your calling in life and are you living accordingly? Or are you living a life full of the “fear of man” only trying to curry the favor or approval of others? Are you helping those you lead to discover their calling and helping them to live accordingly? What kind of environment are you building – one that encourages people to grow or one that demands that they please you?

2. Do you derive your sense of value from your work? Does your work take priority over your relationship with God, your spouse, your children, and your friends? How about those you lead? Have you created a “family friendly” environment or do you try to wring every last minute you can from those you lead?

3. Are you more concerned with keeping the peace or image management so that you don’t express yourself fully? Are you too busy being nice (maintaining harmony at the expense of truth) or are you more concerned with kindness (telling people what they need to know – with the right motivation)? How about your team? Do you make it safe for them to be fully honest? Can people really talk to you or are they taking a risk expressing themselves to you?

4. Are you making friends, especially old friends, a priority? Are you allowing a crowded calendar (which is your choice) to crowd out important friendships? We need friends – people that are speaking into our lives and that really know us deeply.

5. Are you making the choice to be happy? It is a choice you know. As has often been said, we most often don’t control our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to hose circumstances. Are you choosing to be joyful;? Are you teaching those you lead how to choose joyfulness? Remember, your mindset is your choice.

Hopefully this has been of some help to you and maybe started you thinking about what is really important in life. I hope that you, and me, start living our lives in a way that reflect day-o-day what is really important.

Would it not be a shame to get to the end of our lives and our nurse hear is saying these same things?

Have a blessed Spring day!


Three Lists to Freedom

Good morning to you on a soggy Friday morning!

This is from the post Stop Trying to Be a Superhero and Find Virtual Freedom (in 3 Steps) by Chris Drucker on Michael Hyatt’s blog.

It is an excellent article about how to become more effective while not working insane hours and by working smarter and virtually. It’s well worth reading.

Following are his three lists:

  1. Step #1: List Tasks You Hate. Get a piece of paper (or a whiteboard, or an iPad, or openEvernote) and create three columns. In the first column, write down a list of all the tasks you’re handling on a day-to-day basis that you really hate.
  2. Step #2: List Tasks You Can’t Do. In the second column, create a list of all the tasks you struggle with. Don’t allow your own Superhero Syndrome to get in the way of reality here. As leaders we have the misconception we can do everything ourselves—better than anyone else! It’s not true.
  3. Step #3: List Tasks You Shouldn’t Do. In this final column, create a list of all the tasks you really shouldn’t be doing, given the fact that you are the leader of your organization. Think long and hard here. You might enjoy these tasks. You might be really good at them. But should you be doing them? Can your time be better spent on more important, high-level activities that only you can do?

In the article he explains what you need to do with the three lists and how to reduce your hours while improving your effectiveness. Not a bad combination!

Click here to read the article.

Have a great weekend!


what is important?

Bill and Carolyn Allen wedding day 2What a week it has been. We traveled South to attend my nephew’s wedding, then to visit my parents, and now to attend Life Action Ministries board of directors’ meeting today and tomorrow.

I am sitting here enjoying balmy weather while NE Indiana is struggling through some more winter weather – that I don’t mind!

It seems I am a bit of a slow learner, but I have learned more this week. It started with a long drive (14 hours) with all my family to Mississippi to just make the rehearsal dinner for my nephew and his soon to be bride. It was a great time of connecting with my wife and two daughters. The next morning we then had breakfast with two friends and had a great time of reconnecting with them. Then that afternoon we celebrated a simple, fun, Christ-centered wedding. We witnessed the beginning of a new family.

We then traveled to Louisiana where my parents now live next to my sister and her husband. There we were preparing my parents to move into an assisted living facility. There we were witnessing the twilight of a marriage – of two lives that have blessed their children and grandchildren. We spent time looking at pictures of them in their youth that now seems so far away. My father, who once was a Class A Repairman on huge motors that stand taller than a house, now has to be helped doing even the basic things. My mother whom I admired for her sharp mind is now in the beginnings of Alzheimer’s and is frustrated because she can’t remember certain things or repeats herself and knows she is doing so. Quite a contrast to what we had witnessed the day before.

What struck me is how their eyes lit up when they saw their children and (especially!) grandchildren. The things that they talked about and treasured were not memories of their vocation, but of their families and friends. Despite the pain they were dealing with and their challenges, the memories of and delight in family shone through all of it.

Then, I had to leave to come to the board meeting while the rest of my family drives back to Indiana. I flew through the Atlanta airport which was swarming with people in so much of a hurry. So many on their technology oblivious to others and their surroundings. They were moving at “warp speed”.

I wondered how much they are missing. I thought about how much I have missed because I treasured the wrong things, because I lived my life to wrong priorities. Seeing my parents only one or two times a year over the last decade. When my children were young and I was working hard, I would often leave before they were up and not be home until after they were asleep in bed. Then when I was home, my mind often wasn’t – it was still working on problems, so I wasn’t really “home”.

Fortunately I have a forgiving family that loves me and lets me know it. I just grieve at the things I missed and cannot go back and retrieve. In some things in life you don’t get a do-over. You do receive forgiveness and grace, but some things – once you miss them – they are gone.

The question I have is are you living your life according to what is really important? Or are you missing out on things because of what someone else told you was important? Is your work, your boss, actually an idol in your life? Are you sacrificing time with those who love you most for people and institutions who will barely remember you when you are gone? Are you doing that in your relationship with Christ?

Determine what is important in your life and live accordingly. Be courageous and change.


do what makes sense

railroad tracks - Keely 2013Good morning, we are finally thawing out a bit here in NE Indiana. Last week was a tad rough here as it was for most of the country.

For most of us our vocation is important to us. For those who lead, the mission is important – especially when the mission is serving a higher cause. So not only are we driven to “get our job done”, the importance of what we do drives us even more. For many serving in ministry and serving people in non-profits we have so much to do and so few resources, especially time. So we push and push, and as leaders we keep urging those who follow us to reach new heights. Because they are dedicated people they respond.

While they are responding, their families are seeing them less and less. They go home burnt out with no energy for their spouse, no energy to play with their children, no energy for spending time with their friends, no energy to attend to pressing financial needs, and no energy to attend to their own relationship with the Lord. They are spent, all for a good cause, but still spent. And amazingly, they often still feel guilty for not doing more.

As leaders, we then commend them for their dedication and hard work, thus signaling to others that the standard in our organization is to sacrifice family, important relationships, and emotional and physical health for “the cause” – whatever it may be. This is also true in most of our country no matter what the industry. Why do we do this to people? And why, most of all, do we do this to people in ministry?

There are ways we can better take care of those we lead, there are ways we can help them to be healthy and strong, there are ways we can protect families, and finally, there are ways we can make our organizations healthier as well as more effective.

This article, How to Be a Family-Friendly Boss, on the Harvard Business Review site, gives some tips for helping those you lead (and maybe you need to try these tips in your own life?).

Focus on What, Not How or When. With today’s information technology, more and more work can be done in places other than the office and at times outside of traditional business hours.

Get Better at Measuring Performance. For managers to become comfortable with employees working more flexibly, they need to get better at measuring performance.

Delegate, Coach, and Let Your People Earn Trust. Another great investment that pays off in the long-term is spending the time to develop employees to the point where they can work more autonomously in the medium- and long-term.

Serve as a Work-Family Balance Role Model. Finally, you can help employees struggling with work-family balance by showing them how it’s done. Make it a habit at work to mention your family activities and ask your employees about theirs.

And finally this key thought (applies to ministry / non-profits as well as to business):

Managing employees is not easy, and for the most part, human resource policies in large organizations are designed to simplify things. But sometimes, in their tendency to focus on risks and avoid worse-case abuses, these policies serve to discourage supervisors from doing what makes sense.

You are a leader – do what makes sense. Take care of your people – be a shepherd and not a “boss”.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Blessings on your week!


Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 223733-223740). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Are You Saying “Yes” When You Should Say “NO”?

It has been hot here in Michigan! Up to 100 yesterday – makes me feel like I am back in the South.

Have you ever said yes to something when you should have said no? I know I have and it was almost always because of my “Fear of Man“. In other words I made decisions that were not in accordance with my worldview, beliefs or my priorities simply because I did not want to disappoint someone. The sad thing is that I often was saying yes to my job and no to my family when it should have been the other way around.

Read this article by Greg McKeown in the Harvard Business Review blog. Mr. McKeown makes three suggestions to help you learn to say no:

1. First, separate the decision from the relationship.

2. Second, watch your language

3. Third, avoid working for or with people who don’t respect your priorities.

Some decent suggestions. The main thing is to truly understand your priorities and to actually live your life in accordance with those priorities. So, learn to say No so you can yes to what is truly important.

Have fun this weekend!

A Wonderful Present

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end, . . .”

Isaiah 9:6-7

Merry Christmas!

May you know deeply the love of Christ whom we celebrate and worship!