Check It Before It Checks You

How To Face Your Fears With Confidence

According to the Phobia List, there are OVER 2000 “CONFIRMED” fears.

Phobias are emotional and physical reactions to feared objects or situations. Symptoms of a phobia include the following: Feelings of panic, dread, horror, or terror. Recognition that the fear goes beyond normal boundaries and the actual threat of danger.

Nervous young black man looking out window, horizontal

Fears are mostly learned behaviors and this process can often start in a mother’s womb. Unborn children pick up on their mother’s responses to situations. This is known as innate learning and can become naturally inborn fears.

It appears there are only TWO fears we are born with:

  1. The fear of LOUD NOISES – (We question how sound affects and impacts a growing baby, after all we can make judgment, see, hear and sense sound. A baby has little insight of this)
  2. The fear of FALLING – (Giving birth is about gravity, and often baby’s can spend a long amount of time upside down, no wonder this is classed as a fear we are born with)

Therefore, if we can learn them, we can unlearn them.

The Real Reason Why Change Rarely Works

3 Lessons On Change and Transition

I’ll admit, as a leader it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision.

It’s natural because as leader’s we’re encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading? Why aren’t they with us?

Do You Like To Fish?

Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank.

Some are still prepping their fishing gear. Some are just starting to launch their boats. Others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and still others haven’t yet even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when you realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help facilitate the transition.

A metal toggle switch with plate reading Change and Same, flipped into the Same position, illustrating the decision to work toward changing or improving your situation in life

We have a choice to change or remain the same.

John Maxwell in his book Winning with People admits that patience is not one his strengths. He says:

When I was younger I constantly cast vision for the people in my organization and then left them behind – not a good thing for a leader.

In the past sixteen years, Mars Hill experienced many changes.  But as exciting as that vision of building was, we know now that during the process we left some people behind. There were parts of the process whereas leaders we simply dropped the ball. Here are three humbling lessons learned:

What To Do When There’s No Time

5 Blog Posts to Help You Manage Your Time More Effectively

Someone once said, “time flies when your having fun.”  I’d like to suggest that time flies whether you’re having fun or not.  In fact, time never stops.

It seems that everyone’s busy these days. And life shows no sign of slowing down. There are an endless number of apps, books, planners, and software all designed to help us manage our time more effectively.  Since life has no intention of slowing down, are your efforts effective? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re spinning your wheels?

Orange Time Management Button on Computer Keyboard. Business Concept.

“Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.” -CE Stowers

Now more than ever, we seem to have more work than time to do it.  Everyone has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. So since we can’t increase the amount of time we have, we need to learn how to control our use of it.

Here are my five favorite blog posts to help you grow in the area of time management.

Why You Can’t Seem to Manage Your Time – Brandon Cox

Time management. Of all the people I know who ever focus on this concept, only a small handful are confident that they’re doing it well.

Source: Why You Can’t Seem to Manage Your Time

Time Management System – Ron Edmondson

If you aren’t doing so already, I want to encourage you to plan your week for efficiency.  Every Monday (or Sunday night if you prefer), as the first thing you do, consider the week ahead.

Source: Time Management System – Ron Edmondson

3 Essentials for Time Management – Artie Davis

As you grow as a leader, your time becomes the most valued gift you can invest in others.

Source: 3 Essentials for Time Management

Top 10 Ways Leaders Waste Time – Carey Nieuwhof

When was the last time you complained about not having enough to do and more than enough time to do it in? Exactly. Almost every leader I know struggles with finding the time to get it all done. I do too. So what helps? And what hurts?

Source: Top 10 Ways Leaders Waste Time (And 10 Time Hacks to Help You) – Carey Nieuwhof

14 Tips for Time Management – Chuck Lawless

I make no claim to an expert at time management. What I am is a seminary dean, education consultant, church consultant, and local church pastor who has been forced to learn how to budget time. Here are some time management tips that have worked for me:

Source: 14 Tips for Time Management –

Heartsill Wilson said,

God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!

When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, remind yourself that it holds incredible possibilities. You can allow that day to slip away from you, or you can use it to make things happen. The choice is yours.

What other time management techniques have worked for you?

The #1 Obstacle That’s Holding You Back (and What To Do About It)

Here’s something you don’t hear at most conferences and seminars: Behind every opportunity are obstacles.

In 1999, I was installed as pastor of the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.  However, as is so often the case, this opportunity came disguised as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  I succeeded my father, Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. as pastor.  I inherited a traditional baptist church that had plateaued.

Basic RGB

Based on almost every metric available, I knew I had to do something fast or else our attendance would decline. The optimistic side of me was determined to turn our church around. Therefore, in 2000, I attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference and worked hard to formulate and cast a new vision for the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.

I restructured our church, hired staff, and with fresh enthusiasm, we were off to a great start. I anticipated smooth sailing ahead.  What I didn’t anticipate is that everyone wants change until it affects them personally.  Why?  Growth is uncomfortable and requires change.

The Single Most Effective Secret to Winning in Life

Let’s face it – winning is fun. I know some believe that “winning isn’t everything,” but why play the game if you’re not playing to win? That’s why I love Scripture, especially The Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11 is about winners. It’s God’s Hall of Fame. These were ordinary people who accomplished extra ordinary achievements. They weren’t perfect. They often failed. But they all reached their goals. One of my favorite winners listed in this book of winners is Moses.

Businessman Writing the Words "Be Yourself"

In my humble opinion, Moses was one of the greatest men in the Old Testament. He received the Ten Commandments from God, wrote the first five books of the Bible, and led the children of Israel out of captivity and slavery into the land of Egypt. Why was God able to use Moses so effectively? He understood that being yourself is one of the secrets to living an effective life.

How Doing Less Can Help You Achieve More

When is enough…enough?

Recently, I asked several people to explain to me exactly what they wanted. Guess what – NOT A SINGLE person could answer.  Knowing what you want is the best way to avoid the temptation to pursue several things at the same time.  That takes focus.

I’ve seen people get frustrated by their ministry, business, and careers because they know that they want something but they don’t exactly know what. The main reason people struggle professionally and personally is simply a lack of focus. This lack of focus can be costly because there is a subtle push to pursue more.

do less

There Will Always Be a Subtle Push to Pursue More

There’s a subtle and (if you’re not careful) sinister push that we should devote more time to building our brand/platform.  Although I’m a pastor, a writer, mentor, and speaker, I’m not exempt from this subtle push. A few years ago I discovered that there was a danger to my soul in pursuing more exposure, more name recognition, more money to be made from thinking, writing, and speaking about ministry issues. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up like King Solomon and lose focus.

King Solomon’s Dangerous Pursuit of More

King Solomon wrote an entire book (Ecclesiastes) on perilous pursuits and eventually paid a hefty price.  He lost focus and desperately pursued several unrelated goals in a vain attempt to satisfy himself (Ecclesiastes 2:1–11).  As Solomon penned these words, he was rich beyond measure, but internally empty.

He couldn’t fill the hole God placed in his heart with things or understand why he lacked contentment.  Regretfully, he tried to fill that hole with his outward pursuits of more.  Solomon eventually did narrow his focus, but it took him a lifetime and an entire book to do so (read Ecclesiastes. 12).

Solomon finally determined what really mattered and what he really wanted. I read somewhere: “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”  The danger with pursuing more is that it’s limitless. Unlike Solomon, Jesus models what happens when you’re focused.

Jesus Was Focused – He Didn’t Allow Distractions or Rejection Change His Focus

While in the synagogue, Jesus spoke from Isaiah 61 about His anointing (Luke 4:18). His cruel rejection by the people of his hometown in Nazareth is highlighted to characterize Jesus’ initial teaching ministry in Galilee. Even when His audience didn’t like what He had to say (Luke 4:28, 29), He moved on to the next town to continue His work. He would not let anything drain His anointing or distract Him from His mission.

The Most Effective Tactic I Use to Stay Focused

Schedule time on your calendar to focus on the task.

After reading Jason Fried‘s book Rework, I’ve incorporated the “Alone Zone” into my work flow.  If some asks if I am available, I reply, “I’m sorry, but I have another commitment at that time.”

Jesus was focused. How about you? Have you figured out what you want?

4 Proven Ways to Grow as a Leader

As I reflect on Easter Weekend at the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, I want to take a few moments to share what I’m learning as a leader.

I eat, drink, and sleep leadership and my leadership vision is seeing it work without me. God allowed me to see that happen Easter weekend. Since there are many moving pieces that make Mars Hill work, I won’t name names because I know I’ll leave someone out. Now that the dust has settled, I want to share the 4 proven ways to grow as a leader.

Be Confident – Confidence is the Engine That Jumpstarts Momentum

I tell our congregation, “Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” Our Worship & Fine Arts Ministry decided to begin our services with a play on the BIGGEST Sunday of the year. It was an absolute hit and the audience loved it. It takes confidence to take a risk and our team did it.


“Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone of successful leadership. Only those who believe in themselves have enough optimism to see the best in those around them. “Self-confidence breeds confidence in others,” according to noted author and pastor John Maxwell.

5 Reasons We’re Launching Our Online Campus –

Every generation experiences change.

In a relatively short amount of time, the Internet has moved from an occasional tool to one of the principal ways we communicate, entertain ourselves, and do work. Staying up-to-date on emails, social media and other means of online communication is a bigger time requirement than people may realize.

New research has found that the average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, and using social media and other forms of online communication. Since people are already online, we decided to launch an online campus and guess what – it’s biblical.

Android Tablet

Here We GROW Again – Easter 2015 People Reaching People #PRP

On Sunday, March 15, 2015, the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago celebrated Friends’ Day.

We had our largest attendance this year. Every seat, including two overflows were filled to capacity. I believe God gave us a glimpse of how Easter 2015 will be. Therefore, we’re adding a Saturday service for our members so we can free up space for our guests attending Easter Sunday.

Easter Flyer 2015

People Reaching People

At Mars Hill, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People #PRP.  That means we’re encouraged to stretch ourselves and do different things to reach people.  We have to be open to new ideas, take some risks as we prepare for the overflow that God is sending us.

As pastor, I am asking our members to attend our Saturday Easter service (April 4th) at 5PM.  It will be very similar to our Sunday services and CHILDCARE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ALL.  It’s casual so come as you are.

If you attend Saturday’s service and will attend Easter Sunday, we ask three things of you:

  1. Wear your Mars Hill T-shirt,
  2. Sit in the section for Mars Hill members, and if necessary,
  3. Be ready to give up your seat and go to the overflow or our cafe.

It’s all about reaching people this year so we have to be willing to make sacrifices.

If you are bringing guests on Easter Sunday and you need to sit with them, don’t wear a t-shirt because it is more important that our guests feel comfortable.

Easter Weekend Schedule:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

5PM – Live Worship Experience – Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago
5PM – **NEW Online Worship Experience** (Yep, it’s almost here)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

8AM – Live Worship Experience
8AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**
10:30AM – Live Worship Experience
10:30AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**

Remember, It’s all about People Reaching People #PRP.

The Real Reason Why You’re Not Growing Spiritually (and no it’s not the Devil)

Have you ever wondered what’s the real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually?

We blame it on the enemy, our busy lives, our careers, children, even the church we attend. The real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually isn’t because of the enemy, busyness, or the complexity of sermons; it’s because we’re distracted. Despite knowing that distractions hamper productivity, most people don’t realize how it affects their spiritual growth.

Barbie distracted while driving

In the few minutes it takes to read this blog post, chances are you’ll pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to your desktop to read an email, or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. And pastors wonder why it is people are not growing spiritually. They’re distracted!