Keep It Simple

 

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For the past number of years there has been an increasing trend toward minimalism. This has influenced architecture, interior design, wardrobes and even coffee shops. There is an emphasis on quality over quantity. Many are agreeing that simplicity is attractive and that, “less is more”.

I recently heard about a coffee shop that not only prided itself in serving great coffee, but also chose not to make cream and sugar available to customers. After all, why present the option of ruining the perfect cup of coffee? This only makes sense to those deemed, “coffee purists”.

I’d be lying if I told you that I haven’t been influenced by the, “less is more” camp. I would rather pay more money for a quality, timeless peace of clothing that I’ll wear for years to come than purchase a whole bunch of cheap pieces that will need to be replaced way too often. When traveling, it feels good to pack light and only take that which is essential. But also, as I’ve thought about the popular movement toward simplicity, I have started to see how this type of thinking parallels that of the Kingdom.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote to them partly in response to false teachers who had tried to dissuade the church from Paul’s pure and simple teaching of Christ’s Gospel. In Paul’s zeal for the simplicity of the good news he wrote, “But I am afraid that , as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

That God the Father sent Jesus the Son to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God is simply the best news that the world could ever hear! The Gospel is so pure, so simple, yet so powerful. It needs nothing added to it, and may we never subtract anything from it. It is, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people” (Colossians 1:26). 

The Gospel doesn’t require our crafted articulation or spectacular presentation. It works by itself. Paul knew this when he wrote, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

We live in a time when insight and revelation is abundant within the church. This is good, and I pray that it only increases. However, let us not allow a pressure to be profound distract us from the simplicity of the Gospel. May we continually fall in love with the best news the world has ever heard. And, may our response be a simple and pure devotion to Christ.

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Seven Keys for Becoming A Great Leader

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We are all called to lead in some way or another. Whether you are a barista, a church pastor, a stay at home mom or the CEO of a large corporation, you are called to have a positive influence on the people around you. And although some don’t consider themselves “natural leaders”, there are ways that we can position ourselves to maximize the impact that we have on those around us. This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are some thoughts:

1. Show value for people. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. It’s ok to want results, but don’t allow your love for results to become greater than your love for people. Seek heart connection. Get to know the people you are leading. Let them know that you’re thankful for them. It’s amazing what people will accomplish when they know they are truly valued.

2. Be intentional. People rarely become great leaders by mistake. It takes effort. Even leaders who are “naturally gifted” need to continually do things that they don’t feel like doing. Put things in your calendar that need to get done and follow through. Good leadership takes discipline.

3. Never stop learning. The best leaders are the best learners. The moment we feel like we have “arrived” is the moment we will start to level off in our influence and effectiveness. If there’s an area you want to grow in, read a book regarding that area or find a mentor who will pour into you.

4. Exercise humility. Some consider humility to be a weakness. In reality, it is one of the greatest strengths one can possess. Be open to the perspectives and ideas of the people you lead. Don’t think that you have to have all the answers, and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”. People will respect you more for being honest rather than trying to have an answer for everything.

5. Display confidence. There’s a big difference between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance is usually rooted in insecurity and a need to prove something. Confidence, on the other hand is an inner courage that comes from knowing that you are called and equipped for a given purpose. When you show confidence, the people you are leading feel safe.

6. Ask for feedback. I was mentored by someone who continually asked for feedback. When he was finished speaking at a conference he would say, “I want you to tell me two things you liked about what I shared and one thing I could do to improve”. Keep in mind, this was coming from a man who had been public speaking for many years. Asking for feedback communicates value and helps you to further develop as a leader.

7. Get a life! It’s important for leaders to know how to relax and have fun. The more you enjoy life the more people will want to follow you. Recreation also promotes creativity. Make sure you have a day off and do things that you really enjoy. Try not to take yourself too seriously. You may be a leader, but you’re not the answer to every human problem.

Have a great day!

Chuck

5 Simple Ways to Be Others Focused

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Most people agree that those who are most fulfilled are those who are intentional about serving others. We were designed that way – created to live in community. Blessed, so that we might be a blessing. I don’t believe that we can earn God’s love. However, there is something about loving people in practical ways that aligns our heart with His and allows us to experience the joy of being like Jesus. Here are a few small ways to touch the people around you:

1. Send a text message to someone who may need encouragement.​ It’s fun to take a moment and ask yourself (and Holy Spirit) who could use some encouragement. Then, send a simple text letting them know that you’re thinking about them. Let them know what you appreciate about them. It doesn’t need to be someone who is “in crisis”. Everyone needs encouragement, even when they’re doing well.

2. Take someone in your neighborhood a gift, just because. We live in an age when many of us live beside the same people for years and never actually “meet” them. In our last house, we had numerous interactions with the neighbors on our right but most had something to do with asking the other to move their vehicle because it was blocking the driveway. I told Anna, “we should bring them some cookies or something” (which was code for, “you should bake some cookies so that I can bring them next door”). Hey, my heart was right! Unfortunately, those neighbors moved before they got to taste “our” baking. However, our neighbors on the left have tasted it several times. It’s fun to make someone smile and feel appreciated.

 

 3. Show interest in people. I​ remember leaving conversations thinking, “wow, I talked a lot about me and didn’t ask very much about them”. A good way to value people is to listen. It’s not that we shouldn’t have normal conversation and share things that are happening with us, but let’s be conscious about leaving room for the other person to share about themselves as well.

4. Pay for a stranger’s coffee.​ If you go through a Starbuck’s drive through, let the employee at the window know that you want to pay for yours as well as the person’s behind you. They might not know who you are and they may never be able to thank you. Your reward? You got to bless someone in some small way.

5. Have some nonperishable food and drinks in your car to hand out to people who may need it.​ I remember hearing that John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard church planting movement used to have a bag of groceries in his car at all times. That way, when he saw someone in need he could meet their need in a small, tangible way. When Anna and I started seeing a fair amount of people asking for food or money on street corners in our city, Anna went to Costco and bought a large box of granola bars and a case of vitamin water. Then, whether we were in Redding, Sacramento or wherever we had something to give to people. It’s not much, but I would rather do something even if it’s small. You don’t have to use the same ideas that I mentioned, but you’re welcome to. You may have some better ideas – ideas that work well for you.

We love because He first loved us. Let’s display that love in a tangible way.

 

“I’ll be your heart to the ones I meet
I’ll show Your love to the least of these
I would have never known, if You didn’t first love me 

I’ll learn to love when I’m your hands and feet”.

– Michael Ketterer and United Pursuit