I love adding value to church leaders, pastors, and marketplace leaders.
In an effort to add value to their lives, I decided to attend Pastor E. Dewey Smith’s One Day Leadership Summit in Atlanta, GA.
It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of John Maxwell. In fact, his 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, along with Bill Hybels’ Leadership Axioms travel with me everywhere I go. Attending conferences that equip me to influence the influencer fulfills John Maxwell’s 15th Law – The Law of Contribution – Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others.
I must confess that in the beginning, my motivation for personal growth was selfish. I wanted to grow, so I could be successful. There were goals I wanted to accomplish and milestones I wanted to achieve. But along the way, I made a life-changing discovery. My progress in personal growth also opened the doors for others.
Therefore, I’d like to share the top leadership lessons from one of the greatest leadership minds in Christianity, Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr.
People who live in Chicago know this: Our seasons are uncontrollable and unpredictable.
The same is true about life. It’s unpredictable and include good times and bad times. There are four weather seasons, but there are many seasons in the seasons of life, especially the Season of Loneliness.
Some of you are thinking, “I can stop reading now because I’m not lonely.” Keep reading because one day you’re going to need this message. Loneliness in an inevitable season of life. You will go through it many, many times.
What Causes Loneliness
It is not good for man to be alone. Gen. 2:18
Genesis 2:18 says God made us to need each other, that we are made for relationships. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He had every single thing he could want. There were no stress or problems. God looked at Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” The very first thing that God said is not right about the earth is loneliness.
Time is an unrenewable commodity. Once it’s gone, you can never replace it.
The real question is what are you doing with your time?
Each day the average American spends between one and two hours driving to and from work. Yearly we spend well over 300 hours of our lives in our car. It’s the equivalent of 38 work days of driving. Another way to look at it is 13 straight 24 hour days.
We Spend a Lot of Time Commuting
The average commute in the U.S is 45 minutes, with New Yorkers having the longest trek to work with an average 73-minute commute. Chicagoans came in second spending 64 minutes a day commuting, followed by San Francisco residents with 56 minutes, while those in Los Angeles have an average 55-minute commute, according to CNN Money.
In Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study, 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work.
Translation: 70 percent of Americans don’t like their jobs. Yikes!
There’s a reason King Solomon is considered one of the wisest men who ever lived. Thousands of years ago, he posed a question that’s even more relevant today. He wrote:
What do people really get for all their hard work? Ecclesiastes 3:9
King Solomon is asking, “Why do you work?”
Do you work to pay your bills? Do you work to get rich? Do you work so that you can retire? Since studies show you’ll spend 40% of your life working, maybe it’s time to think about the real reason you work.
Let me put it another way: If you’re an average American, you’ll spend about 150,000 hours of your life at work. That’s a long time considering how many people don’t like their jobs. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time understanding why people spend their lives doing something they don’t like.
Again I ask, “Why do you work?”
You’ve seen them before.
It’s the person at your job that everyone loves to hate. Everything always goes right for them. They get the promotion, has the biggest salary, the perfect family, and just returned from a two-weeks vacation.
Do you have that picture in your mind yet? Good!
Now, Imagine you’re on your way to work and by pass a police officer giving someone a ticket on the shoulder of the road. You take a double look and discover that the person getting the ticket is THAT person from your job. What are you feeling inside right now? Do you smile and whisper to yourself, “got ‘em!”
Welcome to the wonderful world of envy.
What Is Envy
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:25-26
Envy is resenting God’s goodness in others’ lives and ignoring God’s goodness in our own life. In today’s society envy is encouraged. Take today’s commercials, they have nothing to do with the actual product, but more so, the product of selling envy. They’re subliminally saying, “buy our product and you will be envied! You’ll be the envy of everybody else!”
How do you profit from your struggle?
What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Struggle?”
It’s a touchy subject that one rarely wants to discuss, let alone dwell on. If you’re breathing, at some point in life, you will inevitably have to confront it, deal with it, get through it and learn from it.
In every struggle, there’s a lesson and we must learn how to leverage it and profit from our struggles. “When God wants to send you a gift, He wraps it up in a problem. The bigger the gift – the bigger the problem,” according to Norman Vincent Peale.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of TED Talks and it’s not uncommon to come across a life-changing message. Zain Asher, national business and personal finance correspondent for CNN, challenged listeners to “Trust Your Struggle.” Check it out:
After watching Zain’s talk, I came away with two valuable lessons:
- Seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty. Every setback you face contains 1-2 lessons that have been sent to you to help you become more successful. Failures feel sorry for themselves when things go wrong. Successful people look for the valuable lesson they can learn.
- Focus on what can be done now (solutions) instead of who’s to blame. Ask: “What’s the good in this situation?”
When you look for something good, you’ll always find something good. Like Zain said, “I don’t believe in competing for what I want, I believe in creating what I want”
Are you trusting your struggle?
I have a confession to make: I waited until the very last minute to write this blog post.
Why? I work best under pressure. Really? That’s just another excuse I tell myself but in reality, it’s procrastination. No matter how many productivity tips I discover, procrastination still stalks me from time to time.
Procrastination is a Universal Problem
Most of us know what we need to do, we just put it off. The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a way of life, a lifestyle. The more you do it, the better you become at it. Some people are professional procrastinators. They are very, very good at it.
The Bible has something to say about procrastination.
Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17
I know the things I ought to do, and I don’t do them. Here’s why:
When my children were younger, I frequently traveled for my work as a senior pastor of a growing church. When they grew older, they became active in sports and other activities. Consequently, flying slowed down dramatically.
Now that my children are older and living their lives, I’m flying again. When I board the plane and take my seat, I find myself paying more attention to an old familiar message from the flight attendant.
In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.
During past trips, I never actually paid attention to the flight attendant’s message. On this particular day, I did, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Let that sink in for a moment. What does it mean? Simply put: If you don’t put your mask on first, you won’t be there for others when they need you. You will be unconscious.
Our natural tendency is to do for others, because we are caring, loving, nurturing, responsible, supportive and competent people. However, just like the oxygen mask, we need to take care of ourselves so we can effectively take care of the people we love.
Rejection is powerful.
When I counsel people, sometimes I hear them say, “I don’t care if people like me, as long as they respect me.” When they say that, it’s an “emotional wall they use to block the hurt of rejection,” according to psychologist Marcia Reynolds.
God created us to be social, and if we’re honest, all of us care if people like us. “The feeling of love, affection, and belonging is necessary before we can reach the highest levels of consciousness and wisdom,” according to psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow is saying we all need people to survive. So, how do keep from withdrawing when dealing with someone who doesn’t like you?
Fortunately, you’re not the only one who’s had to deal with this problem. After Nathan had anointed David as the future King of Israel, Saul became his bitter enemy. Like David, all of us, at one time or another deal with people we don’t like and who don’t like us. Perhaps you have people who want to do you harm and see you fail. This is where David found himself in 1 Samuel Chapter 24.
Until recently, I’ve never heard of the shiny object syndrome.
It’s the “syndrome” that causes one to be easily distracted by “shiny objects” and lose focus on the tasks at hand. You see it with parents overcommitting their kids. You see it in entrepreneurs starting several businesses at the same time. You see it in churches dabbling in everything except the main thing.
Are you interested, or are you committed?
How do you know the difference?
Why does it matter?
Interest vs. Commitment
I heard a story one time that discussed the difference between commitment and interest. Two guys independently created an objective to swim a mile. The first man calculated how many laps he would need to swim in the community pool to complete the distance goal and proceeded to attempt the objective.
The second guy had a friend drive him out in the ocean 1 mile, drop him off and leave him to swim back to shore. For the first guy, it was a matter of convenience, if he became tired, he could simply get out of the pool. For the second guy, there was not an option to simply get out. He would have to push through the fatigue, sore muscles, to achieve his objective. That is the difference between commitment and interest.