do you have the right focus?

Do you have the right focus? This is a question I struggle with, as so often, when my focus is off, it can lead me down paths that are not helpful.

Basically it comes down to is our focus on what we have or what we don’t have?

A focus on ourselves and what we don’t have often leads to discontentment, resentment, bitterness, and a “takers” type mentality.

A focus on others and how we have been been blessed often leads to gratitude, contentment, fulfillment, joy, and a “givers” mentality.

The thing is – it is a simple choice as to what attitude you adopt. What is your choice today?


an attitude of . . . dependency

Lauren bench NOV 2014Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year and has been since I was a little boy. When I was small, Thanksgiving meant seeing grandparents, my parents were off of work and we could enjoy being with them, my mother cooked our favorite foods, and we played in the yard and in the woods. Sweet memories.

As I matured I began to understand a little more of what Thanksgiving was about and began to understand that it is a time to stop and express our thanksgiving to God for all that He is and all that He has done, is doing, and is going to do. Secondarily, it became a time for me to stop and express thanks to people who have impacted my life. People often talk about having an “attitude of gratitude”. Sure it is a trite phrase, but still true nonetheless. Scripture, other ancient wisdom literature,and even contemporary studies speak to the importance of having a grateful spirit or attitude.

However, let me suggest that there is another attitude that could be closely tied to a spirit of gratitude. In fact, I might even argue that you must have and understand this attitude before you can even fully possess and understand a spirit of gratitude.

During my time with Ambassador Enterprises, we talked about an attitude that was absolutely core to the organization. It is an attitude of dependency. When you read that – an attitude of dependency – does it strike you as somewhat negative? Maybe weak? After all, aren’t we taught that we should not be dependent on others?

The truth is that we are profoundly dependent upon God and others and until we realize that and embrace that, I am of the opinion that we will not truly be a grateful people. Romans 11:36 says it this way, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Get that? ALL things. Every good thing comes from God according to Scripture. We are totally dependent upon Him for every breath we take.

Additionally, we are dependent upon others – none of us are truly independent. We need each other – we were and are made to live and function in community.

So, this Thanksgiving, and every day in fact, live with an attitude of dependency – an acute sense of your need for God and for others. From that, in my opinion, will spring a deep sense and attitude of thankfulness.

We are a dependent people and I am so grateful for a loving God and for the people He has placed into the lives of my family.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


Choosing gratitude

Choosing gratitude

Want to be happy? Choose a mindset of gratitude.

where is your focus?

Good morning!

Angela (my wife) and I were talking this weekend about contentment and we realized that it is much about your focus. It seems you have two basic choices – to focus on what you don’t have or to focus on what you do have. The problem is that it is actually hard to do because of our nature and doubly so in our marketing driven culture. (by the way – my undergrad degree was in marketing). Marketing is all about creating discontent within us and then promising that their product is the answer to that discontent. Of course we all know better don’t we? Don’t we? It seems so logically, but not really emotionally.

A running joke I have with my youngest daughter Keely (who is single) is that the reason she doesn’t have a boyfriend is obviously she doesn’t use the right toothpaste, because according to the commercials, if she just used XYZ toothpaste, she would be fighting off the men. It is funny, but so often, deep down, we actually tend to believe that nonsense and we become discontent with our life. This leads to so many issues: entitlement, depression, anger, frustration and so on.

Instead, why not live life with a spirit of gratitude? Why not realize all that we have been given by a loving God and choose to live lives with a spirit of gratitude? It is amazing how that change in perspective will change your life. Try it.

Lauren - Charity WayerNow, on a related topic – my oldest daughter Lauren supports a charity called Charity Water. Did you realize that there are approximately one billion people in his world that don’t even have clean water? Talk about putting our so called “problems” into perspective! Well, Lauren has decided to become a part of the solution and is supporting Charity Water. One way she is doing this is asking that for her 27th birthday, people not give her gifts but to give $27 to Charity Water on her birthday page. Would you think about joining her? If so, click here to learn more.

Do something small for you that will radically change the life of someone else.


A Note That Makes A Difference

Check out Harvard Business Review’s excellent article on note writing.

Handwritten Note

Stop and Look Back

It’s Friday! This may seem funny to you, but I get excited about Friday because that means that tomorrow morning Angela and I will go on our Saturday breakfast date. We have been doing this for almost ten years now and it my favorite time of the week.Keely - Sky and clouds

Recently I was talking to a leader that is a friend of mine and he was dealing with some challenges and discouragement. He’s a hard charging guy who is trying to make a dent in this world for Christ. He has high standards and is always leading his people to grow and to make an impact in their community. As we were talking it occurred to me that his eyes were fixed on the top of the mountain that he was climbing. Like all good leaders, the gap between where he (and his people) were and where they could be was frustrating. He sees the potential and strives to lead himself and others to reach that potential.

However, a steady diet of “mountain climbing” will take its toll, so we all need to learn to stop on occasion,  turn around and see just how far the Lord has brought us on the journey. We need to stop and pause and give Him thanks for what He has accomplished in our lives. Then, we need to take some time to celebrate with those who are on the journey with us. That simple act of turning around and acknowledging how far the Lord has brought you will give you perspective, cause you to develop a more grateful heart and allow you to reconnect in a more meaningful way with your fellow sojourners.

So stop for a bit, turn around and enjoy the scenery, give thanks to the Lord and your traveling companions, and then gather some strength before you tackle that next ridge on the mountain.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend,

Lead with Gratitude

Good morning!

This is the time when, as a nation, we stop for a day to give thanks to The Lord for what He had done for our nation and our families. We have been wonderfully blessed and so often we take that for granted.

While we are taking a day for thanksgiving, we actually should be living our lives with a constant sense of gratitude. First for our Lord, for Who He is as well as what He has done for us.

Next we should be deeply grateful for the people He has brought into our lives, even the difficult ones! As a leader, you should be deeply grateful for those you lead and you should let them know of your gratitude for them.

Today, tell those that you lead of your deep gratitude for them as individuals. A leader should have a heart of gratitude and should show it to those he leads.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Celebration Expresses a Grateful Heart

Looking forward to a treat in just a little bit – I am meeting with a good friend of mine for breakfast to celebrate his birthday.  It is a privilege and joy to celebrate with him on his birthday.  This man has impacted so many people over the years and has been instrumental in the process of so many people’s lives being transformed.  His is a life to celebrate!

It struck me how important it is for us to celebrate – even the small things.  It is one way of expressing a grateful heart.  It is a means to teach people how to value others and to be grateful for other people.  So often, we see the negatives in those around us – celebrating with them helps us to see what is special about them and to be grateful for them.

This applies for your family, friends and co-laborers.  We often forget those we serve with and sometimes they are in great need of celebration.  So take time today and celebrate a victory, a milestone, a step forward with someone – you will be the richer for doing so.


Are You Saying Thank You to the Right People?

Thank You!  Powerful words that express a grateful heart and that bless other people.  Yet, we seem to be a little stingy with their use.  That is sad and I know I personally am quite guilty of not thanking others.  My problem is pride, for some reason I sometimes actually believe that I am deserving of what I receive and there is no reason to thank someone for what they should be doing anyway!  Now, I don’t actually think those thoughts, but unfortunately, I believe that is my heart at times.

When we do say thank you, it is often to those that are most visible, those that might be able to help us in the future, those in power or those with whom we want to curry favor.  We often miss those quiet servant hearted people that work in the background.  We often overlook those whose job is “to serve”.  No need to thank them as they are just “doing their job” right?  Wrong.

Try a little exercise – take 30 minutes one day and just start listing people who have helped you, blessed you, served you or somehow made an impact on you over the course of  your life.  After you make that list, go to the store and get some nice stationary and then drop by the Post Office and get some stamps.  Then bless those that have blessed you.  even if has ben ten or twenty years ago that they blessed you.

Just say Thank You!


Take Nothing For Granted

Good morning – for many of us it is the first morning back to work in this new year.  I hope you had time to reconnect with those dear to you over the past couple of weeks.  For those in ministry, especially pastors, this is not usually a break, but a much more intense time of ministering to others.  Hopefully you will have a chance to “recharge” soon.

My boss puts our what he calls a Monday Morning Memo to our staff and Board which is a great tool.  Today, he quoted a friend who had quoted someone who had quoted G. K. Chesterton. Lot of quoting going on there!

He said to remember three things this next year:

  • Let nothing be taken for granted. 
  • Let everything be received with gratitude.
  • Let everything be passed on with grace. 
Nothing and everything are all encompassing words, but very biblical.  So, as you move forward through this next year – don’t take anything for granted.  Things can change in an instant as one of our staff families learned this last month when they lost one of their sons in an accident.  Live in the now – be present with whoever you are with at the time – especially your family.
Be grateful in ALL things as Scripture commands us.  Receive all things with gratitude and look for how the Lord will use it in your life – the good things as well as the hard things.  How we respond is often more important that what actually happened.
Pass things on with grace.  Speak grace into the lives of others.  Make a difference in someone’s life.
Hope it is a great day for you today!