Podcast: Be A Noticer

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

When was the last time you noticed your team? Not just on a surface level like saying hello in the hallway, but really truly paying attention to what’s going on with your team. Noticing is easy to do, but it does require you to spend time doing it. It’s impossible to see what your team is doing locked inside your office, so get out there and notice!

  • [0:17] Kids on the playground demonstrate an important leadership attribute.
  • [1:43] Leaders sometimes get too engaged in their work—how do we keep this from happening?
  • [3:48] People are dying to be noticed!
  • [6:17] What happens when we do or don’t notice the uniqueness of our teammates?
  • [9:54] Leaders need to know the difference between windows and mirrors.
  • [13:25] How our teams reciprocate for their leaders who notice them.
  • [14:45] There are some huge and lasting benefits when leaders create a culture of curiosity.
  • [17:11] Greg challenges leaders to learn a leadership lesson from Jesus.
  • [19:20] We need to build noticing into our weekly schedules.
  • [21:07] One group that all of should notice and celebrate: Our veterans and the family members of fallen vets.

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Should Christians Debate?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating… (Mark 12:28). 

The “them” in this verse are the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and Jesus. Mark especially loves this Greek word syzeteo, using it six times in his Gospel. Neither Matthew nor John uses this word at all. Luke uses it four times: twice in the Gospel of Luke and twice in the Book of Acts. This word appears nowhere else in the New Testament. 

Syzeteo is a compound word that means a joint pursuit. Check out some of the ways this word is translated: 

  • debating (NIV) 
  • arguing (NASB) 
  • disputing (AMP) 
  • lively exchanges of questions (MSG)
  • reasoning together (NKJV) 

The phrase “reasoning together” may sound familiar to you. It appears in the Old Testament when God says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). This is just one word in Hebrew (yāḵaḥ), which is defined as making something clear by demonstrating or proving. 

Whether in the Old or New Testaments, this is not considered to be one-upmanship, or attempting to get the knockout punch, or trying to prove one’s superiority. It is a legitimate journey of discovery—asking good questions, truly listening to the answer (not just listening to respond or counter), and then processing the other’s words before responding. Plato defined syzeteo as seeking or examining together. 

The teacher of the law noticed “that Jesus had given them a good answer.” He then asked a follow-up question. After hearing the reply from Jesus, he said, “Well said,” and reiterated Christ’s answer. To this Jesus noted “that he had answered wisely” and said to the teacher, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:28-34). 

The word “argue” used to mean the presenting of premises that led to a conclusion. Then the other person would perhaps challenge one of the premises to maybe show a different conclusion. These arguments or debates weren’t screaming matches and they certainly weren’t intended to be over trivial matters. 

So should Christians debate? I would say yes IF all of these conditions are true:

  • IF this isn’t a trivial matter which has no impact on eternity. 
  • IF I can ask good questions and truly listen to the other person’s answer. 
  • IF I can have an attitude of journeying together toward the truth found in God’s Word. 
  • IF I can humbly receive the truth that is spoken to me by the other person. 

True Christian debating is not bantering with the other person, not attempting to score a “gotcha!” against the other person, not wanting to win an argument. The only true win comes when both parties arrive at the truth given to us in Scripture. This is true reasoning together. 

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Podcast: Transition Gracefully

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

Accepting a new position is a very exciting experience! Whether it’s a promotion in your current organization or an opportunity elsewhere, it’s very tempting to want to immediately throw your full attention into the next project. In this episode, Greg and I discuss the necessity of maintaining a balance between that excitement and recognizing that the people on your team now still need your leadership. This might create more work for you in the short term, but the long-term benefits of transitioning well will be huge for you! 

  • [0:33] Any fresh starts for leaders have to be handled thoughtfully. 
  • [1:32] We need to work hard to make sure we are leaving our previous position well.
  • [2:44] Leaders of integrity give their best effort all the way to the end.
  • [4:08] How can we maintain a humble attitude when we have been selected to be promoted to a new position?
  • [6:08] There are different things to keep in mind when moving to a new position in the same organization vs. moving to a new organization.
  • [8:02] Both of us share stories about friends who benefitted by leaving their old organizations well, and they identify what the true litmus test for leaving well is.
  • [10:14] Greg also has a negative example to share.
  • [11:03] How do senior leaders handle coworkers who leave poorly?
  • [13:06] How do we keep ourselves from being distracted by our new position while we attempt to finish well in our old position?
  • [16:15] How do we arrive well in our new position?
  • [18:35] We need to always keep in mind that we are leaving or joining a team of many—we aren’t a team of one.
  • [22:57] Finishing well is a compliment to the organization you are leaving, and beginning well is a compliment to the organization you are joining.
  • [26:03] We would love to help coach you through these types of changes—whether you are the one leaving for a new position or you are the leader who is losing a team member

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Podcast: Leading Difficult Peers

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

No need to call anyone out, but when I say “difficult peer” at least one person probably comes to mind right away, right? So what’s the solution: ignore them, scream, tear your hair out? Greg and I think there’s a better solution. In this episode, we walk through how we’ve dealt with difficult peers in the past and give actionable advice on how your leadership and coaching can help them improve.

  • [0:16] We are continuing our series about leading difficult people from wherever you are in your organization. 
  • [1:24] Our goal as leaders should be to figure out why a particular peer is so difficult to work with.
  • [2:00] A warning about the least productive thing you can do when you are frustrated with a coworker.
  • [3:44] A great example from Jesus for those striving to be servant leaders.
  • [5:17] Some questions to ask ourselves to determine if our difficult teammates are coachable.
  • [7:31] We need to learn the best ways to communicate with our teammates.
  • [9:18] Where does mistrust play a role in these difficult situations?
  • [13:13] Leaders at every level need to learn the art of diplomacy.
  • [15:02] Where does defeatism come into play?
  • [17:03] A shepherd’s heart must be cultivated for us to lead well—especially leading difficult peers.
  • [18:45] “When you’re ready” is a great posture for a leader, but it must be lived out.

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Different Types Of Healthy Rest

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis while his podcast partner Dace Clifton was on sabbatical. 

There is a profound truth in a simple observation about how Jesus grew: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Jesus was healthy in all of these areas. That means He had the proper work-rest balance in each of these areas too. 

We should learn from this example and find different ways to rest and recover mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally, just as Jesus did.  

I encourage you to take a listen to this part of our conversation.

How can you take a mental rest? Perhaps by reading or listening to something uplifting, or maybe simply taking time to think about what you’ve been thinking about. 

For physical rest, you might take a nap, schedule a vacation, or contemplate changing something in your diet. 

For spiritual rest, you could sing a worship song or quietly meditate on a passage of Scripture. 

For relational rest, you could have breakfast with a good friend or go for a walk with your spouse. 

And don’t forget to tap into the wisdom and expertise of others in these areas. Talk with a mental health professional about your mental health, see a doctor about your physical health, visit with a wise mentor to discuss your spiritual health, or see a counselor about your relational health. You don’t have to come up with all of the answers on your own. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership, I take five chapters to unpack how we can improve our health in all four of these areas. I encourage you to check it out by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

I am really looking forward to a new series of sermons that I am launching this Sunday. This will be a once-per-month series for the remainder of the year and it’s simply called A Christian’s Mental Health. If you don’t have a home church in the west Michigan area, I would love for you to join me in person, but the sermons will also be posted on my YouTube channel.

T.M. Moore has an outstanding post called The Essence of the Lie. In one part, Moore writes, “Thus the lie claims to be the truth, but, at the same time, it insists that truth is personal, relative, pragmatic, and utilitarian. Truth, from this perspective, is not absolute, but dynamic, changeable rather than fixed. It is conditioned by circumstances of time and place. At the end of the day, people are the final arbiters of truth, and truth is whatever they find to be useful for their purposes. Ultimate truth is that which people impose on others by one or another kind of force, whether intellectual, political, or physical.” Check this one out!

Harvard University has been studying a group of individuals since 1938 to try to determine the main factors that contribute to a long and healthy life. The director and assistant director of this study just published an article that sums up what they have learned over all these years—“[If] we had to take all 85 years of the Harvard Study and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a variety of other studies, it would be this: Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period. If you want to make one decision to ensure your own health and happiness, it should be to cultivate warm relationships of all kinds.”

“The battle for control and leadership of the world has always been waged most effectively at the idea level. An idea, whether right or wrong, that captures the minds of a nation’s youth will soon work its way into every area of society, especially in our multimedia age. Ideas determine consequences.” — The American Covenant 

“The storms of life are no longer our point of reference when [Jesus] is our focal point.” —Dutch Sheets

John Stonestreet was intrigued by a street reporter asking, “What are men good for?” There were a lot of soft, ambiguous answers given, but John quipped, “Men are good for fathering, protecting, loving, providing, leading, fighting for what’s right with their lives if need be, and obeying, in a masculine way, the creation mandate of the God who made us male and female and declared both ‘very good.’ Was that so hard?” Amen!

Dan Reiland identifies four common mistakes that will cause your church to struggle.

When leaders quit growing, they in essence have “quiet quit” on their team. If the leader’s not growing, what is the incentive for anyone else in the organization to improve themselves or work hard? Leaders quiet quit long before their teammates do! Check out the full conversation Greg Heeres and I had on avoiding quiet quitting by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

Let’s celebrate others 🎉 Don’t just rattle off, “How are you?” and not even listen for the answer. Let’s ask more specific, meaningful questions to help people celebrate what’s good in their lives. Check out my latest Monday Motivation video, and then please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Dan Reiland has a great post “7 Guideposts to Lead Yourself Well.” Dan wrote an endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership, and we share the same passion for godly leaders to lead well.

Speaking of Shepherd Leadership, I received another really nice note this week from a pastor who has benefitted from reading it. If you are a pastor (or if you love your pastor), please take advantage of the special offer I have going for my book.

This post from the Institute for Creation Research is an excellent reminder about the importance of context when interpreting the Bible. This post is specifically talking about biblical passages related to Creation, but the points in this post pertain to all biblical interpretation. You may also be interested in a previous blog post I wrote called Context Is King.

Check out my exclusive Patreon video teaching on this idea of the lessons that can be learned whether we are delivered from trials or whether we go through trials.

Book Reviews From 2022

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2022. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Cary Grant

Contending For Our All

Father Sergius

Hank Greenberg: The Story Of My Life

Living In A Gray World

Out Of The Depths

Roots Of Endurance

Simple Truths Of Leadership

Spurgeon And The Psalms

Susanna Wesley

The Holy War

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy

The Poetry Of Prayer

The Self-Aware Leader

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

Here are my book reviews for 2021.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Forgive Like You’ve Been Forgiven

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Jesus said that the devil’s agenda was to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). We see this on full display in the aftermath of the first sin in the way relationships humans had with each other changed. 

God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Dr. Henry Halley commented, “The last two lines of this verse could be paraphrased, ‘You will now have a tendency to try to dominate your husband and he will have the tendency to act as a tyrant.’” And to Adam, God said that he would now have to work harder than ever before to harvest the food he needed for survival, which undoubtedly caused stress in his relationship with Eve. In the very next chapter, the strained relationship between Cain and Able resulted in the first homicide (Genesis 3:17-19, 4:1-8). 

In these relationships, intimacy was stolen, closeness was killed, and life was destroyed. 

An irreplaceable tool for avoiding this heartache and destruction that sin causes in our relationships is forgiveness. 

Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). In reply, Jesus told a story about a man who owed the equivalent of 20 years of a day laborer’s wages and a man who owed about three months of a day laborer’s wages. The first man who owed so much was forgiven entirely of his debt, but he wouldn’t forgive the paltry amount that was owed to him by the second man. 

To the forgiven but unforgiving man, Jesus said, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (see Matthew 18:22-35). 

That should be our standard: Not how others treat me, but how God has treated me! Not how much others owe me, but how much God has forgiven me!

Do I want God to put a quota on how many times I can be forgiven? Do I want there to be a limit on how big of an offense God will forgive in me?

Of course not!

That’s my standard. I must show the same mercy to others as I have been shown by God. 

If my forgiven sins are forgotten sins (and they are), then I need to treat my brother and sister the same way. This is why Jesus told Peter to stop counting the number of offenses. We are to treat every offense as though it was the first and only offense.

The man who owed so much money asked for more time to repay his debt. But the master did more than that: He forgave the debt—he wiped it off the books completely, as though it had never happened! 

When God forgives our sin, He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. He keeps no record of the offense ever having occurred (Psalm 103:10-12). 

This is to be our standard too. We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Forgiveness will restore intimacy, closeness, and life to our relationships. 

This is difficult to do. As Peter pointed out, a brother or sister—someone close to his heart—had sinned against him. But this is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12). Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrases that verse in The Message, “Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others.” 

May the Holy Spirit help us in this important work of ongoing, complete, and restoring forgiveness!

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God’s Pleasure In Our Relationships

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week we talked about God’s pleasure in our good work ethic and our good attitude about work. We have a God-implanted craving to do excellent work because God is an excellent Worker. 

We also said that although we would all like to have the job that was wonderful, even the crummy jobs deserve our best attitude and our best effort.  

This is very much the same for our relationships. We would all love to only have relationships in our lives that are energizing, fulfilling, and win-win. But the reality is that many of our relationships may be the exact opposite of this. 

Jesus said our love for others would show the world that we are His disciples. Oh yeah, and the love we show is supposed to be a “10” on the Jesus Love Scale (John 13:34-35). Why? Because that’s how Jesus loved us:

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 AMP)

Remember we said that God is Love? But love needs to have both a lover and beloved—someone reaching out and someone receiving. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so God is Relational. The Father loving the Son and Spirit, the Son loving the Spirit and the Father, the Spirit loving the Father and the Son. All loving and promoting the Other. 

God is also Happy in this Relationship. 

Because we are created in God’s image, we have a God-implanted craving to love and to be loved, to have meaningful companionships (Genesis 1:26; 2:18). 

Remember that Jesus was all-in for us so that we could have this love relationship with God.  This same passage calls us to have the same attitude as Jesus had. But we can also back up just a couple of more verses to find out what fuels the relationships that satisfy our craving for companionship and please God (Philippians 2:1-11). Those characteristics include:

  • being like-minded in striving to find agreement with others 
  • having the same love as Jesus demonstrated  
  • being one in spirit—this unique Greek word reminds us we all have immortal souls. As C.S. Lewis reminded us, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations.”
  • being one in purpose  
  • giving up selfish ambitions as we trade “me” for “we” 
  • not indulging in vain conceit, but thinking more highly of others 
  • being humble 
  • always striving to find the win-win 

When Alexander Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers his Musketeers have been given a famous line: “All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” This is actually quite biblical because the Bible only has saints in the plural form, never in the singular. And the apostle Paul reminds us, “And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members share in the enjoyment of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 AMP). 

God is pleased when our attitude about our fellow saints is all for one and one for all—when all the saints love and nurture the individual saint, and when each individual saint loves and supports all the other saints. 

We were created for this. We crave this. God is pleased when we live and love like this. And this is the only way we will experience the joy of God’s favor on our relationships.

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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