Cultivate a Spacious Life

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Tuesday January 09, 2024
The Radical Decision Every Leader Must Make in 2024

Leaders in 2024 are facing pressures and challenges greater than any other in my lifetime.

Elections, wars, rumors of wars, economic pressure, global instability, scandals, artificial intelligence, etc.

This may seem overwhelming, but there is a unique opportunity before us. As leaders, this will require the decision to radically re-align ourselves to God's purposes and plans in the world today.

On today's podcast, I share some personal reflections on what I believe "radical realignment" looks like and then offer 3 specific invitations from God in this season.

Archives:
Tuesday February 20, 2024

As leaders, we know that PRAYER is the heartbeat of life in Christ. But often, our vision of prayer can become lop-sided, leading to a heavy weight on our shoulders.

For my first 17 years as a Christian, I had a one-dimensional view of prayer. I thought prayer was a tool I was supposed to use to make God's kingdom come. So I would devote 6-8 hours a week in prayer meetings, interceding for revival and believing that unless I prayed, God wouldn't come. I thought that was what Jesus called us to.

But over time I learned to see something different in the prayer life of Jesus. The gospel of Luke highlights a way of being with God that is less about striving and more about attunement.  It is true that prayer DOES require perseverance and devotion, but for reasons different than we think.

In today's podcast we explore the prayer life of Jesus and what that means for us today.

Tuesday February 06, 2024
Leaders in a digital age face a unique pressure to always be in front.
Our social media platforms entice us to be seen, to be recognized, and to be liked.

Underneath this is a lie that to be hidden is to be forgotten, and to be unknown is to be unloved. This is why one of the greatest temptations leaders face is self-promotion. 

Even Jesus faced this very temptation in the wilderness, yet rightly perceived it as a deadly trap from the evil one. Like Jesus, we must resist the many ways we are tempted to elevate our name and ministries into prominence.

  • Is all self-promotion really sinful? 
  • Aren't we called to reach people?
  • How do we live and lead publicly without being robbed of joy and contentment?

I address these questions and more on today's podcast episode.
Tuesday January 23, 2024

In 2024, church leaders will be sifted left and right.

Mature from immature.
Wise from foolish.
Substantial from surface level.

This I know – the most effective leaders (and the ones worth following) will draw a line in the sand and put a full stop to accepting a rushed, cluttered, and constricted life.

They will reject speed, crowds, and noise in favor of a graceful, unrushed way of life. I call this lifestyle "spaciousness". It's one of the secret weapons of true spiritual mothers and fathers of the faith.

On today's podcast, I explore the theme of spaciousness, making applications for how leaders can resist the way of the world, and decisively shift into a new way of life with Jesus.

Tuesday January 09, 2024

Leaders in 2024 are facing pressures and challenges greater than any other in my lifetime.

Elections, wars, rumors of wars, economic pressure, global instability, scandals, artificial intelligence, etc.

This may seem overwhelming, but there is a unique opportunity before us. As leaders, this will require the decision to radically re-align ourselves to God's purposes and plans in the world today.

On today's podcast, I share some personal reflections on what I believe "radical realignment" looks like and then offer 3 specific invitations from God in this season.

Tuesday December 26, 2023
As we approach 2024, there couldn't be a better time to revisit your discipleship strategy. Here's why...

In North America, we are ramping up towards another election year. For most Americans, this has become a time of increased anxiety, stress, and relational volatility. As a culture, we lack the tools to have difficult conversations (especially political ones) without resorting to blaming, name-calling, avoiding, and "dirty fighting."

Sadly, we do this in the church as well.

For the first 17 years of my Christian walk, this was all I ever knew. I simply mirrored what I learned from my family of origin. My mother yelled and screamed. My father was an appeaser who later exploded in anger. I learned to become an appeaser, which cost me dearly in my marriage, leadership, and church.

For both Geri and I, we had to completely re-learn what it looks like to fight (and negotiate differences) in the new family of Jesus. We now call this skill "Clean Fighting Vs. Dirty Fighting".

I'm convinced every pastor, leader, and church needs this one skill to flourish in 2024.  
 
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the ins and outs of "Clean Fighting", the final and most important skill of Emotionally Healthy Relationships
Tuesday December 12, 2023
We're in the thick of the holiday season – a time full of joy, yet jam-packed with people, parties, and productions.

This season has a dizzying effect on everyone - but especially leaders. One temptation is to put a smile on our face while skimming over the frustrations, disappointments, and other inner workings of our souls.

We have people and situations that are bothering us at a core level, but rather than leaning into difficult and heartfelt conversations, we choose instead to avoid them. When we do this, we step out of integrity.

This was how I operated for years as a pastor. I had people that were getting under my skin, but no tools to communicate what I was feeling in a healthy way. I chose instead to pretend I was feeling one way when secretly I was angry.

Take a moment to reflect. Is there a situation that is bothering you? 
  • A staff member is chronically late to team meetings
  • Your children are texting during a family meal
  • A volunteer is saying they are doing their role, but they clearly are not
  • A church elder or board member is living a non-exemplary life
  • Someone dropped the ball on getting out promotions for your Christmas Eve service.
Chances are, you have plenty of other examples.

To live and lead with integrity, we must be able to disentangle our emotions and values so we communicate them to others in a healthy way.

This is why my wife Geri and I developed a tool called the "Ladder of Integrity". It's a series of questions that we use to identify our emotions, values, and hopes. This allows us to communicate to others with clarity and kindness.
 
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about climbing the Ladder of Integrity, an essential skill of Emotionally Healthy Relationships
Tuesday November 28, 2023
To be an emotionally healthy leader requires many skills, practices, and rhythms. Over the last several weeks, we've explored many relationship skills that are non-negotiable for leaders.

But if there is just ONE skill I'm convinced every leader must master, it's "Incarnational Listening."

David Augsberger wrote, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”

When you master this relationship skill,
  • Your spouse and friends will feel seen and heard.
  • Your staff and volunteers will feel like you get them.
  • Your church will experience you as compassionate and present.
  • Your love for others will grow exponentially.
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the skill of "Incarnational Listening" that is a part of Emotionally Healthy Relationships

I want to encourage you. This is one of the toughest skills to do well, but when you stick with it, I guarantee you it will change everything.
Tuesday November 14, 2023

For the first 17 years of my Christian life, my emotional life was completely divorced from my spiritual life.  Or so I thought.

When sadness, anger, or disappointment surfaced from my soul, I did not see them as gifts. As a leader, I saw my emotions as interruptions to "my real work" – moving the church forward and reaching the lost!

As a result, I was not present with myself, with God, or with others. I saw my sadness as something to be overcome through prayer and Scripture. I would declare, "the joy of the Lord is my strength!" while ignoring the deep cries of my heart.

The truth is that emotions never die. They are only buried alive. They always resurface, leaking into other parts of our lives and relationships. 

It took a work of God for this to change in my life and marriage. When my wife Geri and I discovered the permission to explore our emotional life, it was like opening up a dam. The world went from black and white to color almost overnight.

Emotionally healthy leaders see their emotions as invitations, not obstacles to the mission of God.

The fruit of this journey leads to less anxiety and more freedom in our lives, leadership, and relationships.

In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the skill of emotional discovery we call "Explore the Iceberg" in Emotionally Healthy Relationships
 
Bottom line, your emotional life is a matter of life and death!

Tuesday October 31, 2023

Leaders, by definition, are captivated by the future – moving forward, making progress, and changing the world.

But what many leaders fail to appreciate is that we are all anchored in our past. In other words, none of us are "blank slates". We each bring the blessings and curses of our families of origin (Exodus 20:5) into our relationships, churches, organizations, and businesses. 

Emotionally healthy leaders understand that you cannot go forward without first going backward.

That is why the GENOGRAM is one of the core tools in both parts of the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Course.

When I became a Christian, I believed I was a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17) and that I no longer needed to deal with my past. However, when I discovered the genogram tool, I found a new way to bring all of the baggage of my family of origin to Jesus to be changed. 

The truth is – you cannot change what you are unaware of.

In today's podcast episode, Geri and I share our history with this powerful tool and how it helped us name the reality of our past to catalyze the transforming work of Jesus in our lives and leadership. Don't miss this one!

Tuesday October 17, 2023
When was the last time someone let you down?
Or can you think of a recent moment where YOU let someone else down?
I'll bet the catalyst of these disappointments comes down to one thing -  unmet expectations.

The truth is – unclear and unmet expectations have the power to rip apart relationships, divide staff teams, blow up families, and sink entire churches. That's why expectations are a matter of life and death!

There are 4 primary ways expectations go wrong:
  • Your expectation is unconscious. You didn't even know you had an expectation until it was violated.
  • Your expectation is unrealistic. It is not reasonable given the person or circumstance.
  • Your expectation is unspoken. You did not clearly articulate your expectation to another person.
  • Your expectation is un-agreed upon. The other person never agreed to follow-through with your expectation.
The good news is – this can all be remedied by learning the life-saving skill of Clarifying Expectations.

On today's podcast, I'm joined by my wife Geri, as we explore the third of 8 essential relationship skills that every leader must adopt in order to love and lead like Jesus.

Take a listen to today's podcast.