July – The Second Start of the Year!

July is the beginning of the second half of the year and there is no better time than to evaluate the health of the most important areas of your life.

I love that we start the year with fireworks for New Years and then halfway through the year (in America) we get another day of fireworks. This along with many other details of July remind me that time is flying by and it is so important to manage my year well. So, what are the most important things that we need to consider and evaluate this time of year?

Are you spending time in God’s Word?

I love the YouVersion app. Except on the days when I break my streak!! Today is day 185 out of 365 in my 2019 Bible In One Year Plan, and I am almost halfway through the year. I do have a few days that I have missed that I still need to catch up on, but I love being able to track that I have had 17 perfect weeks in the Word this year and 173 Days in the Bible! What’s the secret? I was convicted earlier this year about getting on facebook before anything else… I made the decision that I would not go on Facebook until I have spent time in God’s book!

Are you spending time with your Family?

We went on our first real family vacation this year. It was wonderful. We went with some great friends to Washington DC. Everyone had a wonderful time. We made memories for a lifetime! We will be heading to Rhode Island to spend some time with Katie’s family later in July. We have been blessed with some rich family time this year, and especially this summer. So thankful!

Are you spending time doing things that you love?

I love spending time with friends and family. I love being outside! I love running and cycling. I have done well with some of this and not well with other parts. I have been able to manage my weight, but I would still enjoy more time running and cycling during the second half of this year!

Are you spending time working hard?

I believe that both I and my team have been working hard. We have been in a major transition and that has brought a whole new set of difficulties to work through. We are excited to get back to a normal schedule and a normal task list, but for now, we are working through whatever comes our way. Dreaming about the future and how we can serve Jesus better!

Are you spending time learning and growing?

I took two classes in the fall working towards my Doctorate of Ministry in Worship. I have one class in the second half of the year, but I have also been reading non-stop and even taking a personal course on music theory. I love learning. One of my favorite things that I have learned this year is Everything Enneagram. I will do some posts about these in the days to come.

What other areas should we evaluate at this halfway point?

Thanks for reading! Share your own thoughts below!

And remember, This is the start of a Great Second Half!! If you have not started well, you have time to turn this year around! If you have started well, keep at it and finish strong!

The Importance of Advanced Education

  About two years ago my amazing wife encouraged me to look into beginning my next postgraduate degree. I will never forget the words that she said: “Lee when you are taking classes, you are the best version of yourself.” Wow! That is a strong statement, and I was so challenged and blessed to hear it from her.  I have a few thoughts about why, and will quickly share these, and then finish with a final thought about how I will invest in my future staff if ever given the opportunity.

I believe that taking college classes makes me the best version of myself because:

1. It forces me into a life that requires great discipline.

  When I am taking classes, I do not have time to waste. Every moment is planned and organized because there is so much to accomplish. Between work, family, and schooling responsibilities and demands, discipline and organization are absolutely necessary.

2. It helps me appreciate everything more.

  When I am on a diet, and I get in the habit of saying no to things that I love to eat, I create a new level of appreciation for those foods when I finally do get to taste them. Often times, they even seem to taste better than I remember. For example, one Oreo after two months of eating no Oreos tastes so much better than they do when I eat one every day. I don’t necessarily understand the science behind it, but I have experienced it, and the same thing is true with my time while studying. When I have every day open to spend with my family, I fail to use that time well, but when I am working hard on school work and ministry all week long, I find that I value and invest my time with family, in rest, and recreation so much more wisely and effectively.

3. It helps me stay sharpened

  When I am taking classes, I am constantly reading new things, learning new things, and talking to new people. Each of these habits keeps a steady flow of new material rushing into my life. Much of it, I will probably forget, but that doesn’t matter. Some things will stick and it is my responsibility to take and apply and use the things that I am learning. During my last course, I studied The Theology, Philosophy, and Methodology of Worship. During this course I was powerfully challenged to add scripture into my worship leading, I was also challenged to remember the necessity of prayer. It was incredible to also see how the Lord aligned my private quiet time in His Word, with the lessons I was learning in my class. I believe that not only have I been encouraged and sharpened by the things that I have learned, but our entire church has benefited from the work that the Lord has done in my life.

That being said: Here is why I felt the need to post today:

  Someday, if the Lord gives me the opportunity to lead in a capacity where I am able to make decisions about my staff’s education, I will make it a priority for our organization to invest into the advanced education of my ministerial staff. I believe that this is one of the best investments that a church can make.

  Many secular organizations make the investment to pay for their employee’s education because they understand and value the sharpening and the discipline that it will add to the lives of their workers and ultimately to their business. And honestly, many of those same organizations already pay their employees much better than the church pays their staff. I digress, Advanced education for the church staff member is a worthy investment.

  If the Lord ever gives me the platform, I want to remember to invest in the education of my staff. There will be accountability and even a standard of required grades and investment in return, but I want every pastoral staff member to have the opportunity to grow and learn in an academic setting. It is so important and so valuable.

Here is the simple summary: I am making a great financial, time, and energy investment in my education, and as a result, my church and ministry are reaping a great benefit from my personal investment. I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to do this and I want to remember to make this investment into others in the future. Advanced education provides an incredible return on investment for the individual and for the church!

Thank you, Katie, for being willing to invest in making me the best version of myself.

Lessons from DAYS in Jury Duty… PART 1

Well, last week I was able to fulfill my highest civic duty. At least that is what they told me. Action Jackson began by telling me that more than likely, I would be done by the afternoon and would only have one day of service which made me even more optimistic as I was called away from the masses in the very first group.

I was placed in a pool with 130 other jury candidates and escorted to a beautiful court room. The jury candidate questions began, and to make a 4 day long story short, they asked us question after question, after question, and then countered those with even more questions. In the end, I was praising the Lord because I was not selected to be in the jury. If one day of likely service turned into four days, then who knows how long a four week trial could last. Needless to say, I was ready to get out of that courtroom, but not without a few important observations and lessons along the way. I figured I would take the opportunity to share those thoughts here on my blog. Thanks for reading, I will try my best to be brief.

 

 

This Too Shall Pass

There were so many moments that I was ready to leave that courtroom, but as I reconsider the details today, I thought for just a moment that I would love to be back in that room with those people again. So often we long to be out of our current situation and in doing so, I wonder if we don’t miss out on what God is revealing to us in that moment. Yeah, it may hurt, I know I was sore from that wooden bench after all those hours. Yeah, we may be bored out of our mind. But, a wise man once told me: BLOSSOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.

Application: Even in Jury Duty, God can work in your heart. Instead of trying to get out of something lame, difficult or painful, it is probably wiser to seek the lessons that can be learned and the people that can be served.

People Love To Talk About Themselves

Anyone that reads that title may immediately think that is a completely negative statement, but I don’t think it has to be. If people love to talk about themselves, then they especially love it when you listen to them talk about themselves. While we were in the courtroom, we were allowed to do nothing. I mean NOTHING. No phones, no laptops, no electronics. The guy beside me got busted for sleeping. So, on break I walked over to the Downtown Library to get a book, and before I got to chapter three, I was informed by the Bailiff that I was not allowed to read a book either. What was left? Nothing but sitting and listening. As I listened, I learned so much about many people. It made me wish that I could be assigned to jury duty with the people that I see every day at work, and church, and in my neighborhood. Maybe then I could truly get to know them.

Application: I need to find ways to engage in conversation with people. It is likely that they like to talk about themselves, so if I am ready to listen without distraction, then I may learn a lot.

Four Days Together and We Feel Like Family

This was probably my greatest takeaway. I spent four days with these people, and I honestly felt love towards so many of them. Sounds crazy, I know. But I know their faces, I know their stories. I know where some of them live, their favorite restaurants. I know many of their jobs, and even their spouses job. I know a lot about their personalities, I know the ones who shake when the judge asks them to speak in public, and I know the ones who go on and on and on… 🙂 We spent four days, and I felt like I was at summer camp. These were my new friends and TRUTH: It was sad to say goodbye on the last day. Spending time together with people is a gift, it is a game changer for relationships.

Application: I am so thankful for the time that I get to spend with my family. It helps me  know my kids better. Time reveals so many details about their life, their desires, their heart. I also love the time that I get to spend with people in ministry, and this week made me ask the question: How can I spend more time, significant time, jury duty style time, with new friends, with my choir and the people I lead in ministry, and so many other people in my church that I long to feel like family with.

In Conclusion:

I learned too much for one post, but this will be the first part of my experience and it can be summarized in one word. People. They can be pretty awesome. Jesus thinks so. We should get to know them, serve them, and love them.

A Call to Blog Again… From Canada

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So last week I was sitting at home resting when I received a call on my cell phone that was from Canada!! I was absolutely sure that it was some type of sales call and so I rejected it to voicemail and finished my nap. After a little while I decided to check the voicemail that was left, from Canada, and I was shocked, it was a real person, and they were not calling about business.

I listened to the voicemail and immediately proceeded to call this gentleman back. When I called, Doug answered the phone and said, is this Lee? I responded, yes it is, and he asked, are you the guy that wrote the blog post about Passion vs. Arrogance, I thought for a second and considered, this guy can’t be asking about a blog post that I wrote in 2011 can he? Indeed he was.

He went on to explain that he was doing some research about being a passionate individual and being perceived as arrogant and when he searched those things on google, my little old blog popped up there in the search results.

Later I went back to read the blog and realized that the blog really had no answers, just some transparency about my own struggles and a request for advice from anyone who may have mastered this struggle. If you would like, you can read the blog here: Passion Vs. Arrogance.

So Doug took a few minutes to ask me what I have learned about this struggle. I explained that I didn’t have all the answers, but I am constantly trying to balance my passion with humility, and a sincere desire to listen to others and learn from them. Doug then took a few minutes to share his experiences and then we went back on our separate ways to face our passionate endeavors again.

The one thing that I took away from our phone call that night had nothing to do with passion, or arrogance, but it had everything to do with the importance of sharing the lessons in life that I am working through and striving to grow from. Not only did it encourage Doug in his pursuit, but it encouraged me when I went back and read that post from 6 years ago. I have learned so much since then and while I have not arrived, it is very encouraging to see the growth.

So, here is the moral of the story in one simple phrase, I am going to get back to blogging. Not necessarily for you, although you are more than welcome to join me in my transparency and maybe learn something here and there, but mainly so that I can track my own growth and share the things that I am learning.

In the last week I have thought of so many things that were worth sharing, so I am going to be disciplined about this, and I hope that I can encourage others and at the very least, encourage myself in 6 more years when I consider all the lessons that I have learned and recorded. I am very thankful for a call to blog again… ALL THE WAY FROM CANADA! 🙂