The Single Reason Why Vacations Are Vital

It’s no secret, like most executives and business owners, many pastors are workaholics and rarely take vacations. Workaholics, please take note – a vacation is a must. It’s time to mute the noise and take an annual vacation. Regardless of what others may say, it’s time to let go of your guilty feelings and VACATE.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2015

Welcome to the “Guilt-Free” Zone 

I use to feel guilty about taking vacations fearing I may fall behind. Sometimes I took work with me and short-changed my family in the process. A recent study shows that 82 percent of small business owners who took a vacation were performing better at work when they got back. An added bonus is that about a third of men who take this sensible step are less likely to die of heart disease.

So, If taking vacations trouble you, I’d like to share the single most important reason taking a vacation makes you better.

Vacations Inspire Creativity

“Vacations help us change the view, which can spark an idea or kick-start creative thinking,” according to Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media.
For me, the church environment is hardly the place to generate new ideas, strategies, and decision-making techniques. Ministry, like any other high-demand profession, is intense. You cannot be creative or get inspiration when you are under enormous pressure.

Change Your Scenery – Change Your World

A change of scene on a vacation can work wonders. Although you cannot switch off completely, when you relax, creativity flourishes. Your mind will start asking questions you never thought of up until now. You’ll have a clearer mind because you are no longer tired.

So, forget the old work ethic that longer hours mean higher productivity. Take a vacation instead.

You can thank me afterwards.

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 😀

A Tribute To My Wife – Happy Anniversary!

I would like to think it was easy to be married to me for 21 years but my wife’s commitment to be with me drew her into a life of many challenges. Don’t misunderstand, we’ve been blessed in many ways and we’ve had many good years together. Yet the life of a Pastor (or being married to him) is not easy. Shortly into married life, as I was still training for ministry, I became a co-pastor and we enjoyed a brief time in ministry. Then the opportunity came to transition to senior pastor in May 1999.  We are still here and Mars Hill has grown exponentially.

Marriage Pic

June 27, 1992
Jackson, Mississippi

Common Sense Just Ain’t Common

My father, the late Rev. Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. was a wise man.  He had a lot of what’s missing today – COMMON SENSE.  He was an expert at summing up life with quick pithy statements.

Stay Out Of Debt

The best financial planning seminar I ever attended was my dad’s.  It didn’t involve plane tickets, hotels, conference fees, or books.  It took less than five minutes & here’s what he said:

“Son, it’s not the money you make, it’s the money you hold on to.”

  1. Make yourself a budget.
  2. Live BELOW your means.
  3. Pack your lunch.
  4. Pinch pennies.
  5. Save as much as you can.
  6. Get the education you need for as cheap as you can get it.

The art of holding on to money is all about saying no to stuff you don’t need. Say no to eating out, $4 fancy coffee, and that shiny new computer when the old one still works fine.

That’s my dad…his advice still works! LOL!

 What would you add to my dad’s list?

Work Hard – Dreams Come True

I didn’t attend worship last Sunday at the Mars Hill Baptist Church because I was being a father.

My son Josh & I were on a requiting trip at the University of Louisville. I’m excited to share pictures of his visit to the University of Louisville. It was an exciting trip and they have a great campus, field, and training facilities. The coaches were awesome and I love that they love to develop players & WIN!!! Enjoy it!

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Love My Wife

Today is the one of the most important holidays in the Stowers Household: Valentine’s Day.  It’s importance ranks up there with July 2nd (Shauntai’s birthday), June 27th (Our anniversary), December 25th (She loves Christmas – her favorite season), and Mother’s day.

I have a 9-year-old daughter at home and Valentines Day has morphed into a silent, but friendly competition between the two.  My two sons could care less.  On June 27, 2011, Shauntai and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage.  I still make an effort to go all out to make the days that are special to her special to me.  As I grow older, so does my love for my wife.  She’s my best friend, helper, cheerleader, and coach.

Here’s what I love about my wife:

  1. She believes in me more than I sometimes believe in myself.
  2. She’s a true P-31 Woman (Proverbs 31) & is the Chief Operating Officer in the Stowers household.
  3. She’s immaculate & keeps our home clean, organized, and functioning like a well oiled machine.
  4. She listens to me ramble and never cuts me off.
  5. She’s funny & makes me laugh – she has a great sense of humor.
  6. She’s very compassionate & loves deeply.  You gotta love anyone who cries watching Martian Child.
  7. She loves God and is a TRUE WORSHIPER.  While she’s cleaning, she’ll go in listening to Shekinah Glory in a heartbeat.
  8. She encourages me at the right time which makes me feel I can do anything.
  9. She’s extremely serious about her relationship with God and desires to grow spiritually.

Question: Have you told your spouse how much you love them?

Friday's Top 5 Ways To Handle Criticism

For better or worse, leaders put themselves out there, on display, for the entire world to see.  Whether you’re a pastor, ministry leader, business owner, entrepreneur, supervisor, or hold no titles, at some point in your professional career, you’re going to be criticized.  Recently, God’s overwhelming presence cut into my sermon time and I didn’t preach a full message.  Boy, did the critics come out.  They criticized me for using the Holy Spirit’s visitation for not wanting to preach.  OUCH!

Criticism, even to the most seasoned professionals, is still a difficult pill to swallow and one that doesn’t go down easily or sit well with many of us. When someone publicly (or privately) criticizes you, take a deep breath and follow these guidelines:

Friday's Top 5 Ways To Tell You're Good and Grown

Have you ever noticed how circular life really is?  We start not knowing anything, and enjoy it immensely (childhood).  Eventually we think we know everything, but everyone else still thinks we don’t know anything; this causes a lot of frustration (adolescence, end of childhood).  At last we realize…no, we don’t know everything, in fact we still hardly know anything; again, we seem to enjoy this stage, in many cases a bit too much (college and professional life, the in-between to adulthood).

The legal age for adulthood is eighteen for women and twenty-one for men (never understood that).  However, we all know many enter adult well before AND after the legal age.  So, when did it occur for you?  When did you discover you were “good and grown?”

I discovered I was good and grown (an adult) when:

Now That I'm 44…

On December 2, I celebrated my 44th birthday with family and close friends.  During the week of Thanksgiving, we loaded up a rental minivan and hit the highway headed to Jackson, MS.  We had a great time bonding with family, shopping, and of course – EATING!  I’m happy my wife had a chance to see all of her relatives including her mother and grandmother.

(All the grandchildren posing for a pic…including my Shauntai – my wife)

Last week, my family and I shared a birthday meal together and I hopped on a plane to a much warmer place with a few close friends.  You can call it an official “fellas” trip.  We had a chance to catch up on old times and enjoy each others company in a “warm” & “stress-free” environment.  In short, we had a great time.  While away, I thought about my next steps in life…what they would look like…how I would approach the next phase of my life.  It’s been said “when a man enters his 40’s he carries with him the experiences from the past and the anticipations of tomorrow.”  Thus, I decided to create an organic…ongoing list called “Now that I’m 44.

Top 5 Black Friday Shopping Suggestions

What is Black Friday you might ask, It’s the day after thanksgiving, the kick off of the holiday shopping season, a day you will find great deals, and lots of people.  If you have never done a black Friday before you will need to have a plan in place.  You can’t control your job, investments or home value, however, you can control how you spend.

Therefore, before you hit the stores (you may already be out there by the time you read this), ask yourself the following questions: