Ernie Johnson: A Man’s Man

Ernie JohnsonI love these types of stories that portray REAL men—great work ethic, professional, totally committed as a husband and father. Way to go, Ernie! And thanks to ESPN E:60 for such a positive story.

10 Quotes From John Maxwell In “Teamwork 101”

Teamwork 101The 101 Series of book from John Maxwell is a great introduction to the many topics which he address in greater depth in other books. Here are some quotes from Dr. Maxwell which I especially enjoyed.

“I believe that insecurity, rather than poor judgment or lack of intelligence, most often causes leaders to surround themselves with weak people.”

“On good teams, trust is a nonnegotiable. On winning teams, players extend trust to one another. Initially that is a risk because their trust can be violated and they can be hurt. At the same time that they are giving trust freely, they conduct themselves in such a way to earn trust from others. They hold themselves to a high standard. When everyone gives freely and bonds of trust are developed and are tested over time, players began to have faith in one another. They believe that the person next to them will act with consistency, keep commitments, maintain confidences, and support others. The stronger the sense of community becomes, the greater their potential to work together. Developing a sense of community in a team does not mean there is never conflict. All teams experienced disagreements. All relationships have tension. But you can work them out.”

“Create an environment that unleashes new leaders.” 

“Teams that don’t bond can’t build.”

“For a team to be successful, the teammates have to know they will look out for one another.” 

“In a sport such as basketball, the players on the team recognize that scoring is what is important. When a team is more effective at scoring than the opponent, it wins. Because the team members know that, they spend their time in improving and perfecting their ability to score. That is their focus. In contrast, in many organizational settings, the team members don’t know what it means to ‘score.’ They may have a list of duties, but they don’t know how those duties go together to make a score. It would be the equivalent of a basketball player who knew how to set a pick, dribble, and pass, but who never knew all the skills were used together to score baskets. If just one player on a basketball team doesn’t know what is important to the team, it makes him ineffective. And when he is in the game, it is impossible for the team to succeed. The same is true in any organization. Anyone who doesn’t know what’s important to the team not only fails to contribute to the team, but actually prevents the team from achieving success. That is why it is so important for leaders of the team to identify what is important to the team and to communicate that information to her team members.”

“People on the team must be made to feel that they are in an environment where it is safe to offer suggestions or criticism without feeling threatened.” 

“The key to being competitive is channeling it in a positive way. If you squash it, you lose an edge that motivates you to do some of your best work. If you let it run wild, you run over your teammates and alienate them. But if you control it and directed, competitiveness can help you succeed.”

“Don’t let the personality of someone you work with cause you to lose sight of the greater purpose, which is to add value to the team and advance the organization. If that means listening to the ideas of people with whom you have no chemistry, or worse, a difficult history, so be it. Set aside your pride and listen. And in cases where you must reject the ideas of others, make sure you reject only the idea and not the person.” 

“Being an encouraging leader and leading across is not about getting your own way. It’s not about winning at all costs. It’s about winning respect and influence with your peers so that you can help the whole team win. Should you be passionate and determined, believing in yourself and your ability to contribute? Definitely. Should you hold on to your deeply held values and stand on principle when those are in jeopardy? Absolutely. But never forget that having a collaborative spirit helps the organization. When you think in terms of our idea instead of my idea or her idea, you’re probably on track to helping the team win.”

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Just as God saved man by taking upon Himself man’s flesh, so everywhere in the world He calls men by speaking to them through men of their own flesh and blood. God incarnates Himself—in His Spirit, incarnates Himself in the chosen men, especially in His church, in which He dwells as in a temple; and then through that church He is pleased to bless the world.” —Charles Spurgeon

J. Warner Wallace does an excellent job using his skills as a police detective to investigate the claims of Scripture. Here is a really good post entitled 4 Reasons The New Testament Gospels Are Reliable.

“Most Christians know we’re not saved by our works, but we are often prone to be satisfied by them,” writes Marshall Segal in his post Work With Your Hands, Not With Your Worship. Check out how we can worship and work in a God-glorifying way.

I grew up in the Detroit area, so the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons were―and mostly still are (except for the Lie-downs)―my teams. Here’s a really cool post on how these teams got their names.

This phone call from a Planned Parenthood employee reveals the dishonesty this abortion provider is steeped in.

“Forgiving a financial debt costs your balance sheet. Forgiving an owed apology frees you to be generous again.” —Seth Godin

“Prayer and humility, along with a hatred for sin, produces a ‘mind to work.’ ‘So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work’ (Nehemiah 4:6). True revivals of holiness always produce workers. Books and seminars and lectures don’t—but revival does!” —David Wilkerson

It’s Not Whether You Win Or Lose…

…it’s how you play the game.

These guys know how to play the game!

Basketball Evangelism

Basketball's creator James Naismith

In preparing for our Salt & Light series which starts this Sunday, I’ve been reviewing the different places in my life where I can season and illuminate my world. It’s pretty simple:

  • In order to season like salt, we have to get out of the saltshaker.
  • In order to shine like light, we have to uncover our brightness.
  • And we have to be around people who need seasoning and illumination.

One of my favorite workout activities is playing basketball, so I absolutely loved reading a story about why James Naismith created this fun sport.

Read the rest of this entry »

Every Moment Is Special

As I was in the midst of studying for our new series Overloaded which we kicked off yesterday, there was one thought that kept coming back to me time and time again —

The biggest victim in our overloaded lives are our relationships

And then the news of a tragic, unexpected death comes crashing into all of my local newsfeeds.

Wes Leonard was a star athlete for the Fennville High School Blackhawks. This 16-year-old played quarterback for the football team, and forward for the basketball team.

Last week the Fennville basketball team put their undefeated season on the line in their final regular season game against Bridgman. The game was tied at the end of regulation. As overtime was running out, the Blackhawks turned to their star player. And Wes Leonard deliver: hitting the game-winning shot as overtime expired!

The other Blackhawk players lifted their hero into the air and celebrated their undefeated season. But just moments later their joy would turn to shock, and then to sorrow. Wes collapsed just minutes after the game ended. Even though medical personnel worked valiantly on him, Wes Leonard was pronounced dead at Holland Hospital.

There were no outward signs of any medical issues. It wasn’t until the autopsy that the corner discovered that Wes had an enlarged heart, which led to the post-game heart arrhythmia, which caused this 16-year-old to have a life-ending heart attack.

None of us know how much time we have.

I pray we’re never too busy to have deep, meaningful relationships.

I pray we make the most of every opportunity to connect with our friends and family.

I pray we live without the regrets of unspoken words of love.

I pray we realize more and more that every moment is special.

I pray that you can overcome the overload in your life that may be robbing you of capturing every special moment that comes your way.

Little By Little

I’ve found a great group of guys to play basketball with in Cedar Springs. I love early morning basketball, because I feel like it gets my day started right.

I have been playing with this group for a little over two months. Prior to this, I hadn’t played full-court basketball in quite awhile, so when I started up again, it was amazing how quickly I was out of breath … and how many turnovers I had … and how off my shot was. Just a few months of not playing, and everything deteriorated.

But I hung in there. And yesterday it dawned on me, “Hey, I can run a little longer before I get winded. And my shot is getting a little better too.”

I didn’t see a dramatic overnight improvement. In fact, I only see real improvement if I compare my game in mid-November with my game in mid-September.

This is an important concept to remember in anything we do: little by little keep moving forward. The little steps you take everyday add up.

  • Start with just 5 minutes of exercise, and slowly increase it.
  • Read a book for just a few minutes each day, then a few minutes more.
  • Pray for a couple of minutes before you go to bed tonight, then a couple minutes more.
  • Quit smoking for just an afternoon, then try an hour or two more.

Little by little you are increasing your capacity to do greater things. Don’t try for cold turkey or overnight success or immediate results. Little by little will help you get there.

Ready? What little thing can you do today?

The Refinement Of Pain

I was recently invited to join a bunch of guys — mostly staff in the Cedar Springs schools — for some early morning basketball. I love basketball, I’m a morning guy, and getting to know new people in Cedar Springs made this an invitation I couldn’t refuse. So I started hoopin’ this week. It was nice to get back on the hardwood floor!

Yesterday morning, I jumped in my car to come home to shower. It’s a mile from the school to my house, but by the time I got home, my back muscles had seized up and I was barely able to stand up to get out of the car. I’ve had this happen to me once before, and it’s a whole lot of no fun!

So all day yesterday my schedule had to be modified, as it hurt to move, it hurt to stand for too long, and it hurt to sit for too long. I couldn’t get in the car… in fact, I couldn’t even bend over far enough to put my own socks on! All my plans for the day were shot.

But here’s what I learned: my day wasn’t shot. My plans may not have worked out, but it was still a good day. Pain has a tendency to refine what’s really important out of the trivial stuff.

  • A day in pain and immobility reminded me of just how blessed I am to normally have good health.
  • It prompted me to pray for others who are confined to a wheelchair or their beds.
  • It gave me greater empathy for those who live in chronic pain.
  • It made me more thankful that I have access to medicines and caregivers, things that some people find only rarely.
  • It let me see more clearly the love my family and friends have for me.
  • It gave me more time to pray.

Now here’s the tricky part: to live with these things close by even when I’m not in pain.

Here’s what C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem Of Pain

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal [or back] pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, send this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my own real treasure is in Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over — I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.

With God’s help I’m going to avoid running back to my “toys” today. I’m trying to keep the most important thing in the forefront of my thoughts today.

Have you learned any lessons from pain? If so, please feel free to share in the comments.

Allen Iverson and My Friends

Ball-hog or championship-maker?

Allen Iverson: Ball-hog or championship-maker?

So the Detroit Pistons traded a couple of fairly decent players for Allen Iverson, a very prolific scorer. As the news broke, friends emailed me and posted comments on Facebook: “Great move!” and “Lousy trade!” It’s nice to be able to banter about something which has no lasting impact on my life. Whether it was a good move for the Pistons or not, it really doesn’t have any bearing on my life. Some people call AI a ball-hog, some say he makes other players elevate their game; some people say “The Answer” only seeks to pad his personal stats, while others are convinced he pushes himself and his team to win championships. Either way, my life is not really that impacted.

But in trading playful barbs with my friends, I was reminded of the value of those friendships. I recently called on some friends at the last minute to give up their Halloween night to help us “Light The Night,” and they answered the call without hesitation. Another friend drove over 90 minutes roundtrip just to look at Betsy’s van to figure out what was wrong… and saved us a lot of money in repair bills in the process. Another friend gave me some really honest (and painful, at the time) feedback, and it helped me grow. I don’t know if AI will help the Pistons, or if he’s only in it for himself. But I do know that I am awfully blessed to have some amazingly faithful and generous friends who truly love me.

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