Here’s What I Told My Son Josh on His 18th Birthday

Dear Son,

Today you become a man. Becoming a man is more than reaching a milestone. It’s a process that began on that day eighteen years ago when you took your first breath and will continue until that time in the future when you take your last.

Josh graduation

Being a man is not about accomplishments, athletic ability, academic ability or pursing popularity, power, possession, or prestige. Being a man is more about character, compassion and courage.

A man has character when he is a person of integrity who can be depended on. A man has compassion when he not only cares for others, but demonstrates it by putting their best interests ahead of his own.

A man has courage when he does what is right even what it’s difficult. I believe you are a long way along this journey to becoming a man. You have learned so much already. You show so much promise. As you journey into manhood, I’d like to share my experiences and help you go further faster.

  1. Be proud of who you are. You are a Stowers and we determine our values, why they’re important, and live them out. Don’t be afraid to be an individual.  Own it!
  2. Listen more than you speak. You will learn more by paying attention to what others have to say, and people appreciate being heard.
  3. Add value to people’s lives. Look for ways to inspire and empower others. Look for simple ways to help others.
  4. Stand on your word. Doing what you say you will do is a rare thing in our world today. It is one of the easiest ways to stand apart.
  5. Be confident but stay hungry and humble. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to, so don’t doubt your abilities. On the other hand don’t think too highly of yourself.  Never get too high or too low.
  6. Keep grinding. The process of working toward a goal is often as rewarding as the achievement itself.
  7. Intelligence and wisdom are not the same. Intelligence is the ability to learn. Wisdom is using knowledge and experience to make good choices. You can be both.
  8. Never stop learning and growing. There’s a whole world to be explored beyond the classroom long after graduation.
  9. Own “IT.” Whatever life throws at you, embrace. Change, obstacles, accomplishments, difficulties, adventures, success, failure are all opportunities to grow. Enjoy the moment.
  10. Love God and people! Be a man who is known by his affections and his actions. Value your family and forge friendships that last.

These eighteen years you have been alive also happen to coincide with the best eighteen years of my life. That’s no coincidence. Your coming into this world has profoundly changed mine. No words can adequately describe my love, my pride and my hope for you. I am blessed to call you my son. And today I am also pleased to call you a man.  Happy 18th Birthday Son!  I love you man!

Your father & life coach :-D

The Real Reason You’re Not Successful

Google is amazing. Some love it. Some hate it.

I confess: Google is my trump card when I need to know something really fast. Recently, I searched “top skills you need to be successful” and I was blown away. I quickly discovered:

  1. Everyone has their own definition of success
  2. Everyone has their own list on what it takes to be successful
  3. Most results centered on power, prestige, possessions, and popularity
  4. Now I understand why we are confused

How would you define success? A lot of my Google search results considers power, possessions, prosperity, and prestige to be the highest of goals. It is true…God blesses some people with positions of power or wealth.

Success

It All Goes Back In The Box

I love the game Monopoly.  Not the online game…the real board game – the old school version.

The game Monopoly was originally created to highlight the pitfalls of greed, consumerism and the world banking system. Winning the game means having a monopoly – all the pieces, all of the properties, and all of the money. The only way to do that? Bankrupt all of the other players.  As good as it feels to bankrupt everyone, when the game is over, everything goes back in the box.

Monopoly

 

Life is like a game of Monopoly. You strategize, take risks, and wheel and deal to improve your position. But when the game is over, all the pieces go back in the box. When the game of life is over, your body is placed in the grave. Only eternal investments will follow you into eternity.

To get the most out of life, you must arrange your priorities around what matters most. A life that focuses on temporary prizes will result in disappointment when the game is over.  Consider today’s post as an invitation to join me on a journey to study the life of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21).

Be a friend and bring a friend to Mars Hill Baptist Church (8AM or 10:30AM) on Sunday, February 22, 2014.

It’s More Than Just Another Month – What Black History Means To Me

Black History Month means different things to different people.

As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.

As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me.  For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.

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The Price of Pleasure: How Ministry Pornography Destroys Your Church

Lately, a lot of “so called” experts believe the church is in decline. I don’t.

As a result, there are plenty of conferences offering their latest and greatest pitch to stop the church’s decline. Each year we’re invited to hear “celebrity” pastors share God’s plan for the church and how we ought to adopt it and be large and successful like them. Frankly, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a venue to really address how and why churches grow.

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Many pastors & church leaders make their annual pilgrimage to Catalyst, Saddleback Church, Willowcreek Association’s Leadership Summit, North Point’s Drive Conference, Greater St. Steven FGBC, The Potter’s House, etc. and come away excited and delusional with unrealistic expectations. Ed Stetzer calls it ministry pornography.

According to Ed Stetzer:

Ministry pornography is an unrealistic expectation of an experience you’re never going to have which distracts you from the real thing.

God used these churches and their pastors for a specific time and in a specific place. Unfortunately, that experience is rarely duplicated. If you were to take the aforementioned churches and transplant them in other areas, the results would be drastically different.

Can you imagine Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or Andy Stanley leading an inner-city urban church? Or, can you see Bishop T.D. Jakes screaming “Get Ready…Get Ready…Get, Get, Ready” at Saddleback or North Point Church? Simply put, God rarely does the same thing twice.

Suggestions On How To Break Your Addiction to Ministry Pornography

  1. Confess your addiction to ministry pornography & repent!
  2. Try not to attend any conferences for one year.
  3. Get alone with your Bible, pen, & paper and discover God’s purpose for the church (read Matt. 22-37-40; 28:19-20, The Book of Acts).
  4. Get a demographic breakdown of your community (US Census Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce).
  5. After discovering the purpose of the church, write down how your church plans to reach that community (this is the hard part). Make sure it’s less than a paragraph because people don’t like to read long statements.
  6. Preach/teach a series on God’s vision for the church and how you plan to fulfill it.
  7. Reorganize your church’s leaders, staff, volunteers, and structure (in that order).
  8. Evaluate & tweak your plan/strategy.

As for the church, our best days are not behind us, they’re right now and ahead of us.  So, what’s your next step? I’d love to hear it!

Hey JRW: It’s Not Your Fault – Learn From This

Hey JRW, it’s not your fault – the adults in charge failed you.

The adults in charge put together a questionable roster with ineligible players who lived outside the team’s approved boundaries. In response, officials of Little League International stripped JRW of its U.S. title and much more.

In youth sports, when adults knowingly cheat, kids lose.

JRW
Photo credit: MLB Blogs Network

As a father whose son plays baseball at the highest amateur level, baseball is very much an old school sport, much like golf, with unwritten rules. Whatever you do, don’t get caught cheating. It’ll come back & bite you.

Feeling Stuck? 3 Steps to Getting Unstuck

You have a deadline looming.

However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

I’m guilty of it. Even when I don’t want to do it, it creeps up. Now time passes. Ten minutes turns into thirty minutes. Thirty minutes turns into hours and before we know it, the task we set out to do doesn’t get done. Now we’re stressed out because there’s another unfinished task on our todo list. Bummer!

Getting Unstuck

Give Me 10 Minutes — And You’ll Discover What To Do When People Won’t Change

How often have you wanted to change other people so they’d be better?

Have you ever noticed it’s hard to change habitual behavior?  As a pastor, leader, and life coach, my mission is to help people achieve positive change in behavior: for themselves, their family, and their leadership teams.

Research shows that successful people, who embrace change, have a strong sense of self-determination. Simply put, their mindset says, “I am doing, what I am doing because I choose to, not “I am doing what I am doing because I have to.”

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Since I help people embrace and navigate change, I wrestle with the tension change brings to individuals and organizations. I hear it all the time: “I want to grow. I just don’t want to change.”  How do you respond when people want to grow, but not change?

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

The Biggest Mistake We Don’t Even Know We’re Making

After a long day at the office, sometimes I sit back and watch TV.  Recently, I found myself channel-surfing for about 15 minutes.  I was amazed at how many of the ads were about getting in shape.  Here are some of the exact phrases I heard: 

  • “Six-second abs.” 
  • “Easy shaper.” 
  • “Incredible — a miracle!” 
  • “It feels terrific! Let us show you how easy it is!” 
  • “Quickly turn your flabby abs into that sexy six-pack!” 

Where did we ever get the crazy idea that getting in shape is supposed to be quick and easy?  Why do we think that there will be almost no cost?  Why are we surprised when working out turns out to be hard and healthy foods don’t really taste that good?  It’s because we think easy and simple are synonymous.  Wrong!

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Photo courtesy of desktopnexus.com

THE MISTAKE WE ALL MAKE:
WE OFTEN CONFUSE THE WORDS “SIMPLE” AND “EASY”

5 Books You Should Read During African-American History Month

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. It’s jarring news.  Therefore, I’m sharing my list of reading recommendations.  Here are a few titles that had an impact on my life and that every African-American should read.

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The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.

The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools.  This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for themselves,” regardless of what they were taught: History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end.

Paperback

Kindle Edition