I have come to realize that “I” don’t matter when it comes to being a true leader. In the past I looked at leaders as being strong and fearless, like the general charging uphill to lead his soldiers to battle. We have seen this portrait of leadership in books and movies for years but what we don’t see is the reason those men will follow the general in the first place. Just because someone had knowledge of the battlefield, strength to fight and the tools to go to war does not mean he is fit to lead.
A person cannot become a true leader when they are seeking to fulfill their own personal interests. People will not follow a person whom they do not believe have their best interest in mind. This is why “I” don’t matter, what I want and desire doesn’t matter.
Jesus Christ was well justified to come and do whatever he wanted to do with the shameful and sinful people of this world but rather than exhorting his judgement upon us, he suffered himself to the lowliest of lives and took on the judgement of the world in our place. If Jesus Christ didn’t matter, then “I” don’t matter either. Whether I can justify my actions or not, it doesn’t matter. Whether I can prove a point or not, it doesn’t matter. Whether I am right or wrong, it doesn’t matter if I am only thinking of furthering myself.
Being a person placed in a leadership role in life, work and church… The only person who matters is YOU. The person reading this post right now, you matter to me. I don’t know who you are or what you are going through but YOU matter. Jesus said that the greatest 2 commandments are to Love God and Love Others. This means that I must surrender my whims, my desires, my feelings, my emotions, my way… I must decrease because “I” don’t matter.
True leadership begins when one realizes this concept and then builds upon that foundation.
In one of my favorite comedy movies, “Evan Almighty,” Joan Baxter had prayed that their move to Washington, D.C. would bring her family closer together. What transpired after the move had her completely confused. Her husband, Evan felt commissioned by God to start building an ark. Becoming a modern day Noah, he put everything at risk to pursue this venture. The following clip occurs after she has taken the kids and is now having diner at a restaurant. Upset and confused, her unique “server” brings a new perspective to her prayer and the events that have been taking place.
When faced with less than desirable circumstances, we typically can’t see the forrest through the trees. Our perspective gets skewed and meaning gets lost against the overwhelming obstacles in our way. Just as with Joan, we hope and pray for something to give but when it doesn’t come the way we would like, we turn our backs and run away. Often running from the very things we desired.
How we view the world, our surroundings and life situations are directly affected by three simple things. Often times we cannot see the big picture because of how fast we are going, how close we are and who we allow speak into our lives.
In the movie “Batman Begins”, Bruce Wayne learns a very valuable lesson when being trained on a frozen lake. What seems to be a time of victory during a sparing session quickly changes to a losing scenario. Bruce has his opponent in a position of defeat whenRa’s al Ghul says, “You have sacrificed sure footing for a killing stroke,” then taps the ice to break beneath him. Bruce was so focused on winning that he did’t mind his surroundings, which ultimately caused his defeat.
Have you ever taken a ride in a race car, motorcycle or even a roller coaster? At the speeds that you travel, what does your view look like? If you have, you know that your vision gets tunneled to a very small focal point. Much like our picture here, it’s hard to see what’s taking place around us. We are going too fast to look away from the object directly in front of us and our surroundings become blurred. That’s what happened to Bruce Wayne and happens to us on a daily basis. We miss out on vital information because of our haste. Be careful of tunnel vision.
Have you ever been on a hot air balloon, helicopter or air plane? Have you ever stood on top of a high-rise building or the top of a mountain? What did you see? If not, just take a look at Google Earth and find your current location. View it from different zoom depths and notice how small everything looks from afar off compared to up close. The people and structures look so big when up close but so small when zoomed out.
How does this apply to our topic? Well… The closer we are to something, the bigger it seems to be. Sometimes our perspective can overwhelm us simply because we are too close. It’s good to step away and take it all in rather than taking it all on. We often get hit with mind blowing epiphanies after moving away from our situation and scaling it back, that further help us come to a solution.
Our proximity can cause confusion, much like it did with Joan in the video above. She was too close to the situation and didn’t have a clear understanding until she stepped away. At that point she was open to receive an outsiders perspective.
Now I’m not saying that we should take advice from any random stranger but we do need to take into consideration that we don’t have all the answers. It’s a good idea to bring someone else into the picture that is a trusted friend or mentor. Not someone who will simply tickle your ear and tell you what you want to hear or see it from your angle. You want someone who will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. We must consider that we don’t have it all figured out.
I’m going to get personal here for a second. My life mentor is Dave Bunch, he has been with me for the last 15 years. I have given him the authority in my life to tell me the truth without holding back. Sometimes I have to draw it out of him because he isn’t as brutal as I need him to be but he always guides me into a better understanding in the fog of my life. Why do I go to Dave? Well, he has pure motives for guiding me and is selfless rather than self-serving. So, find someone you can trust and give them authority to speak into your life. Examples of other’s who I allow to give me advice are my wife, pastor, dad, mom, father-in-law, business coaches and such. Each having a specific area that can help add to my perspective.
This topic can be unpacked and discussed in many different angles but this is what I felt on my heart today. We don’t have all the answers and our perspective can be distorted. Having the right people in your life to tell you the things you need to hear is key. Taking a step back to see the whole picture will give new meaning to your situation and it’s surroundings. Slow down and take it all in, when we move too fast is typically the time that our life becomes a blur.
Many people today have a misconception about love and what it means to be in love. I have heard it said many times, “I love him/her but I’m not ‘in love’ with him/her.” This has got to be one of the most ridiculous statements that has ever come into being.
Exactly what does it mean to love vs being in love? I have no idea, to be completely honest. For me… I suppose it is loving a friend or family member but not necessarily wanting to live under roof or in the same bed with them for the rest of my life. Many people mistaken being “in love” with the initial attraction to another person, an infatuation. That first sight, heart pounding, stomach turning, palms sweating and mind racing feeling that one gets when attracted to another human being. This indeed is not love, this is something completely different. Even over the course of the next few dates, months and even years later one may have this feeling.
“Feeling of Love”
What happens when that feeling leaves? Well, that’s when many people say, “I have fallen out of love with him/her.” At this point they begin think that one or the other has lost touch, that maybe they shouldn’t have been together in the first place. They feel helpless and hopeless, maybe even begin some new friendships looking for this feeling again. What they fail to realize is that love is not what they thought it was.
Our society makes it too easy for us to give up on our relationships. The divorce rate is higher than ever before and constantly increasing as our culture becomes more selfish. Love is not a feeling or an emotion, love is not a fluttering heart, love is not found deep down in your innermost being, love is not something you find nor is it something you lose. Love is an action, love takes work and love beats the odds. Love is giving 100% of yourself 100% of the time even when the other party gives NOTHING.
True Love Acts
“For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”
In this instance we see that directly following the love of God, there was an ACTION attached to it.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for a friend…”
Again and again in the Bible we see where Love is tied to acts that could lead up to the giving of one’s life for another. This is what love is…
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. Love will never end.
-1 Corinthians 4-8
So then, do you know what love is? Please comment below and share your thoughts.
There I stood, talking with a man that at one time was a mere boy of my childhood. We seem to have drifted through life and landed on completely different planets. Yet, there we were, as if fate had brought the two of us together and the purpose was to be revealed. The casket of a man to young to be in it lay down the aisle of our old church. Family and friends filling the building with stories, sorrow and at times laughter.
I often wonder why we lose touch with so many people throughout the years only to reunite and have little to talk about. But this day was different, this day there was plenty to discuss. He stood there with tears in his eyes and said, “Stephen, if I were to die right now I know that I would not be going to heaven.” I sat there quietly, knowing that my current purpose was to listen. “The things that I have been doing and some things that I still do, I just know that they are wrong,” he went on to say. “What am I suppose to do?”
That’s when I took my cue, “Man I believe that God has placed us together, in this moment for a unique purpose.” I placed my hand on his shoulder and went on, “There is a reason why we are standing here having this discussion after so many years of being apart,” I said. “Brother, you can fix all that right now with one decision. All God requires out of us is to have a relationship with Him. You can make that decision today and allow Him to work on the rest of you.” That is where the process of Finding Faith Among the Deceased began to take place.
There is a life purpose in death. It is a beautiful thing, whether expected or not, we are all given an allotted time on this earth and then our days come to an end. What we do from birth to burial is what counts. We may have lived right by God and man our entire existence or we may have found God and made peace with man in the final days of our life. There is no time like the present, no day like today to make things right. It took the passing of a someone close to open up the eyes of my old friend. If by one man’s death, many are put to life then that death was not in vain.
Whether they lived a good life or had a tragic death, there is always faith lingering to be found. I remember burying a couple of young friends a few years back and the situations were sad. Yet, even in those grim scenarios, life was being restored. My thoughts were that if someone was able to find faith again, live again and become whole again then our friends gave back even from the grave. Those they left behind could have a better tomorrow if we remember that we are not promised our next breath and that is why we must make every breath count. The dead scream out that we need to get things right between God and man.
If you look for it, Grace is found at the Grave. Forgiveness and peace are found among the dead. Today, I lay my paw paw down for the very last time. He will go into the ground, physically, and never walk this earth again. His passing gives me a challenge though. He calls out to me to be a better husband, father and friend. His memory reminds me that hard work, faithfulness and goodness will produce the fruit of long life, if it is the Lord’s will. He lay there, lifeless yet still alive in my heart and inspires me. Yes, my paw paw still inspires me even from the grave. He lived a long and fulfilled life at 81 years of age. This man was humble but at the same time took center stage in many of our lives. If but one of us take a lesson from his passing and better our future then paw paw did not leave this world in vain.
If each of us were to take lessons from those who have gone before us and build a better tomorrow because of what we learned from the the lives of yesterday, then they did not pass in vain. Faith can be Found Among the Deceased. Life can be found at the tombs and the gift of eternity awaits any who wish to take it up.pi
I have found Faith Among the Deceased. This is but a small piece of what is on my mind today. I pray that you find something in this that will inspire you. Maybe from a loved one who has gone on to the next life, maybe their death has new meaning. I know that there is a higher standard that I must live up to. I possess the gift of life here for a purpose and it is up to me to make it count. There is only 1 thing that is eternal and that we can carry with us to the next life, souls. My task from now until… is to touch lives, inspire others and spread the Hope of Heaven that is to come through Christ.
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
Today I would like to share my story of faith with you. Apply it however you would like to life but I feel the push to share this with someone. This is but one of many stories I can share but I believe this one is the most impactful day of my life.
One of Many Stories
Let me not bore you with the background details of my faith but I do wish to share my story about the first time I KNEW GOD WAS REAL. You see, I was brought up in church and participated in everything that my parents could put me into. There was no doubt in my mind that God existed but I personally didn’t know that He was real and at work in my life.
There were times that I felt His presence on and around me but I guess I never realized that He was truly working on my behalf. The day that all changed was when I received a physical healing in my body.
Pain in the Back
When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with degenerate disc disease in my back. That is a condition in which the spongy substance between vertebra becomes dry and brittle, thus making them less pliable and in easier to damage. After scans and x-rays, I was told that my spine looked as if it were 40 years old. WOW!!! This was 25 years older than I was at the time. Throughout the course of the next few years, I went on to discover more problems in my back. By the age of 20, I was suffering from Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylolisthesis, Scoliosis, an extra vertebra, 2 fractured vertebrae and 2 buldged discs.
I remember the knots that formed in my back that were ping pong and golf ball sized. At one point I had 17 knots that caused me to lose my breath regardless of what position I was in. I had my wife, then girlfriend, massage them out using her knuckles, elbows and fists just to give me temporary relief. At one point, the pain was so bad that I loaded up on muscle relaxers and pain pills. I had lost track of how many I took and when I woke up the next day I realized that 10 of each were missing. I say all this to make you realize that I was in bad shape at this very young age UNTIL…
Miracle in the Making
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
As I recall, Bro Morton Bustard was at the church I attended. He is a minister in the gift of miracles and healing. At that point in my life, I assumed that the “power” came from the man. I thought that God gave him a unique ability to touch people and they were instantly healed. I had seen this happen time and time again to people I knew from church and so I just knew he had this superpower. While sitting in my seat, I watched from afar off as he called on different types of people to come and be prayed for.
Finally, I worked up enough courage to step up and go to the man. When I made my way to him, he asked what was I needing prayer for and I told him “My neck and my back.” He laid hands on me and prayed but nothing seemed to happen. The bones in my back didn’t crack and pop back into shape, there wasn’t an instant relief from my pain or anything. I went back to my seat in pain and despair. Why didn’t anything change? Did God not care for me? Did I deserve the pain that I was in? I asked these questions in my head and then the answer came.
There was nothing special about this man’s prayers. He was an instrument of faith building for those who lacked faith. Then it dawned on me that if God could use Bro Bustard then He could use me as well. I placed my left hand on my lower back and my right hand on the top of my neck. Then I said to God, “It is not your will that I suffer and live in pain. I know you can heal me and I claim that this pain be removed from my life in Jesus Name!” There was what seemed to be a bolt of lightning shoot from my neck down to my tail bone and instant relief came.
Ever since that day, I have never felt that pain again. No more knots to massage out and no more medicines to take, God healed my body and I KNOW HE IS REAL!!! Not because of what I assumed some man would do but because I found out what my God could do.
You can argue with a man’s opinion about something but you can’t argue with a man’s experience. You either accept it or reject it but you cannot debate it.
Nobody can tell me that God doesn’t exist because I know He does based on this experience as well as countless others. I have been blessed by miracles of healing, finances, relationships and more. Please feel free to SHARE YOUR STORY because someone may need it today.
…you should watch what the ants do and learn from them. Ants have no ruler, no boss, and no leader. But in the summer, ants gather all of their food and save it. So when winter comes, there is plenty to eat.
ANTS NEVER QUIT
Have you ever tried to stop an ant while it was in route to a destination? If you have, then you know that an ant will never quit. When something unexpected blocks their path, they don’t stop to analyze it, mull it over or cry over the scenario. They simply keep on moving over, under or around their obstacle. They keep searching for another path. So, be like an ant. Never quit looking and quit moving towards your destination.
ANTS THINK WINTER ALL SUMMER
Just as Joseph helped prepare the land of Egypt for a drought, you can’t be so naïve as to think summer will last forever. Ants gather their food in the summer to prepare for the months ahead. Yeah, things look great in the summer but they sense the hard times coming. It is important to think ahead and be realistic.
ANTS THINK SUMMER ALL WINTER
When the days get cold, ants know that it won’t last long. They tell themselves, “summer is just around the corner.” On that first warm day, they start right back up again. Here in the south, it can get warm in the middle of a cold day. The ants will come out and get some work done but dive right back down when the cold settles in. They remain positive though and at the first warm day of summer, they get busy again. Take a lesson from the ant, stay positive even when the weather seems bleak.
Finally, how much food will the ant gather and store up during the summer in order to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can. Do all you can….and more! It’s important to you and every other “ant” in your colony.
As I was passing by Jackson’s room this morning, I noticed that his carpet disappeared and had been replaced with his toys. Upon further evaluation, he was no where to be seen. Then I heard a noise coming from the toy chest and saw his little fingers poking out.
I said, “Come out of your shell turtle.”
Jackson replied, “I’m not a turtle, I’m a dog.”
Sarah saw my puzzled look and informed me that he was wearing a dog shirt today. At that moment I understood why he labeled himself as a dog. In times past he would wear a spider man shirt and say, “I’m Spider Man.” Other times he would have a Mater Truck shirt on and say, “I’m a truck.” He identified with what he was wearing.
Attitude = Identity
As childish as that seems, we too identify with what we wear. You may be questioning my intelligence at this moment and think, “Come on Steve, I’m wearing a Saints t-shirt this morning does that make me a football player?” Of course not! I’m simply using this as a metaphor for our attitudes and perspective about life.
Every day we wake up and put on our attitude. We set our outlook and perspective about how this day will go. Events will take place today, both positive and negative. You may not be able to determine what happens but you can determine your responses.
Things happen – Get over it Quickly
My wife runs an in-home daycare and one of her moms informed her that she would not be bringing the kids today. Being that this is part of our budget and income, it can be frustrating to have unexpected cancellations. We had an attitude choice to make in that moment. We could choose to have a good day or bad day. Regardless of what attitude we chose, those 2 kids would not be coming.
In order to set yourself up for success, you must make the determination at the onset of your day. You must get up and put on the proper attitude. I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase, “Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.” If you start your day with the wrong attitude, then hit the ‘reset button’ and start over. When that mother informed us in the above scenario, we initially became frustrated. Now we didn’t get back in bed and roll out of the other side but we did take a few moments to regroup, gather our thoughts, gather our mind and reset our attitude about the situation. The faster we ‘reset’ the more time we have to accomplish our goals and enjoy our life.
The Choice is Yours
Just as my son, Jackson, identifies himself with the shirt he wears, your identity is determined (both in your eyes and those around you) by the attitude you wear. Make the choice to have a good attitude and good perspective today. Then no matter what happens, good or bad, you will overcome.
Here we are in 2015! I have firmly defaulted on everything that I set out to do just a few days ago. Go figure… It appears to be the same cycle just on a different year.
Today I realized that distractions will creep up quickly in our lives and will go almost unnoticed. Before long, we begin to blame life for our failures rather than taking the responsibility for them ourselves. Today, tonight actually, I realized that I carried over some distractions from 2014 that must be shed if I desire to move forward in life. These ancient distractions that I buried at midnight on Jan 1st and then dug up by noon of the same day!
1) The distraction of others. Last year I spent a lot of time allowing myself to be absorbed in other peoples problems. As if I didn’t have enough going on, I dove head first into the affairs of my family and friends. Sometimes it was solicited but most of the times not. I tend to put a lot of value in my own opinion for everyone else’s life rather than fixing my issues. These last few days, I have found a good portion of my time at up with worrying about relatives and co-workers problems. It is taxing on my already feeble mind and depletes energy levels below empty.
2) The distraction of multi-tasking. For the last few years, I took on the world. I couldn’t let go of micromanaging my employees and attempted to be superman at work. It appears that I love to punish myself. I do believe that I would rather have punched myself in the face for 3hrs a day everyday last year than to have put myself through the headaches that I did. Since beginning the new year, I hit repeat and began doing the same actions that caused me so much grief in the past. Simply training, delegating and having better communication would fix those issues.
In addition to my regular job, I engaged in several direct sales companies from weight loss, fitness, coffee to memberships. Today, I was contacted with a compliance issue from one of my websites in this industry that I no longer want the pain of dealing with. I proceeded to waste about 4 hours worrying about what to do and sending correspondence emails to the company. I need only do 1 thing and that is focus on the ONE company that I want to pursue, all others must disappear.
3) The distraction of stuff. Hello NETFLIX and INTERNET browsing!!! As if we actually have enough time in our day to waste on consuming media. I completely neglected every person I know, intention and goal that I set, every book that I would like to read and anything that could make this year better than last year just to “veg” out and be a zombie. It’s not only detrimental to my brain cells but it’s also a bad example for my children!
Now… what did I learn? That I am an idiot. Completely irresponsible and negligent idiot. If I want this year to be better than last year, then I must do something different. There is no way around it. The only path to success in every avenue of life is for me to do the work it takes to be successful in those areas. I make the choice to be 1) what others want me to be, 2) what I’m comfortable being or 3) what I need to be.
The best way to overcome and avoid distractions is to realize they exist, take responsibility that you allow them to exist and then relinquish their existence by any means necessary.
The inspiration behind this blog was birthed from reading Jon Acuff’s book “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.” As a matter of fact, you can find the phrase “This too shall post” is buried somewhere between the front cover and the back cover (you’ll just have to read it for yourself to figure it out).
It was that very section that brought me to this point. In years past, I have started many different websites and blogs. I really enjoy the blogging experience but never drilled down a focus of conversation. The topics typically bounced from work experiences to religious debates. Ultimately, these were short lived and met their demise before a year had passed. I was great at starting them and equally great at shutting them down. Where I lacked was being consistent and creating something that matters.
While reading Jon’s book, I was able to relate to his experiences (howbeit on a much smaller scale). I haven’t written a book or spoken to large crowds or built an online identity with thousands of followers, but he connected with me on a personal level. From the first page to the last page, we connected. No, I haven’t met the guy and I may never meet him.
My Guide Through Life
Fact is that I have a guide in my life already, multiple of them. My long time mentor and close friend, David Bunch (aka Big Bad Brave Dave, will tell you more about that another day) gave me “Start” for my 30th birthday present. He has seen me start many ventures and give up more than I’ve started (if that’s possible, I did it!) Dave has so much confidence in me reading the book that he included a gift receipt. I’m sure Jon would be proud of you Dave for having such faith in his catchy book cover and equally amazing summary on the inside flap.
Initial Experience of “Wow” and “How”
At one point in the book, Jon talked about the “Wow” person and the “How” person in a marriage. Instantly, I was drawn in… Why? Well because each word described Sarah and I to the “T”. I have always been the “Wow” and she is the ever questioning and dream deflating “How”. As a matter of fact, I reread that section to her while she was driving. The response she gave was 10 minutes of dying laughter (because it described us so well). I almost regretted my decision to read this section while in a moving vehicle because at one point we crossed a 5 way intersection and I could promise you that her eyes closed and tears of laughter were bursting out of them. Not to mention we passed through every yellow light as it changed colors to red. I don’t think there were any green lights on the road during this time.
“This Too Shall Post” Purpose (Or Something)
Okay, so… A goal for this blog… “This too shall post” is a medium to share real life experiences, good or bad, with everyday people. Each post will always answer the same question, “What did I learn from this experience.” We see too many fakes on Facebook and celebrity “Real life” shows. What we really want and need is something that is truly relatable. This is not about me, so please feel free to join up in this venture. Do something that matters, become a contributor and help thousands of other people with your stories. We aren’t professional bloggers, just a bunch of Awesome People coming together for an Awesome Purpose.