Don’t Just Feel It, Express It! (Gratitude)

Gratitude is an important component of any leader’s life.  Gratitude keeps you grounded, realizing that the world does not revolve around you.  Gratitude helps you avoid the dreaded “entitlement mentality” – the idea that you deserve all the good that comes your way simply because you are so cute and special.

Gratitude is important for relationships.  People WANT to be around others who are grateful.  Most people avoid those who are ungrateful or selfish.

Gratitude is important for your own mental and physical health.  Did you know:

“A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance.” [The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.]

Some kids’ ministry leaders tell me they really enjoy working in their church with their pastor.  I ask, “When was the last time you told him?”  Sometimes, it’s very recent, but others admit it’s been a long time.

Don’t just feel thankful—express it in a way that communicates your heart.

For appreciation to be received, it must be sincere.  Don’t just go through the motions and hope it works out okay.  If you’re not feeling thankful, take time to pray.  Ask God for eyes to see what He sees so you can overlook some of the difficulties and really appreciate the phenomenal opportunity to reach kids for Christ in your church.

In the past few years, I’ve tried to make gratitude a normal part of my communication.  I send my pastor thank you notes for all kinds of things, and even more, for being a terrific leader and friend.  Sometimes, I give him small gifts to show my appreciation. I want him to know that I don’t take him for granted.  Notes, words, and gifts let him know I’m very thankful for him as my leader and the blessings that come from serving in this church.

How about you?  Do you have an entitlement mentality or an attitude of gratitude?  Do you merely FEEL gratitude or do you express it?  When was the last time you wrote a note, sent an email, or verbally thanked your pastor?  He gets enough negative letters and emails.  Take the time now to send something positive.  Express your gratitude.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear is a reality in all of our lives.  If you say you don’t have any fear at all, either you’re a liar or a psychopath—neither of these is a good option!  Some of us can’t admit our fears because they’re so terrifying we can’t face them.  Denial, though, never leads to growth, peace, joy, love, and strength.

Fear is a barrier between us and the things God is calling us to do.  It keeps us still when God wants us to move, keeps us quiet when God wants us to speak, and causes us to shrink back when God wants us to reach out.  Strong, creative spiritual leadership isn’t satisfied with the status quo.  Leaders don’t focus on excuses for inaction; they look at possibilities for God to do amazing things.  But leaders often have to overcome their fears.

Abraham left everything he had known to follow God into a distant land.  Moses had been tending sheep so long that he lost confidence in his leadership abilities, but God still had a mission for him.  After his initial hesitations, he marched boldly into Pharaoh’s presence and demanded, “Let my people go!” Joshua and Caleb believed God to lead the people into the Promised Land and conquer giants even when others cowered in terror.  David put down Saul’s armor and faced the colossal giant Goliath with a sling and five stones.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to take action in the face of fear.  Every leader has to face very real fears.  The key is facing your fears with the RIGHT ammunition and in the right SPIRIT!  Never forget:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

What is Paul saying?  Crippling fear doesn’t come from God.  Instead, God pours out the solution to fear: power, love, and a sound mind.  So, face your fears in prayer – and let God give you the power, love, and sound mind that He has promised!

(for more on this subject, check out my book, “I Blew It!” chapter 10)

I Can’t Wait! (dealing with impatience)

Our culture breeds impatience.  Most of us have memories of feeling impatient from our earliest years.  You remember how you felt at Christmas, don’t you?  You begged your parents every day to let you open a present days (or even weeks) before Christmas.  You couldn’t wait to find out what was in those pretty packages.

I have to admit that I’m not very patient.  I’m one of those people who stand at the microwave tapping his foot, wondering why the two minutes to cook a burrito is going by so slowly!

I hate to wait in traffic.  I like to move fast.  When I’m driving on the highway, I really move fast.  When one lane starts to slow down, I switch to the one that looks most promising. Then, I switch back.  Airports, doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and high school graduations—I hate them all.

Too often, we’re impatient in ministry as well.  Impatience leads us to hastily make a leadership decision.  Impatience makes us jump to conclusions in a conflict instead of going to the source.

Impatience makes us hastily “borrow” a ministry idea from another church instead of going through the process of receiving a “God idea.”  God may want us to slow down so we can pursue Him, listen to Him, and have our ideas pruned and shaped.  But all this takes time. Impatience causes many of us to miss out on the “God ideas” that could advance our ministry and inspire our hearts.

What’s the cure for impatience?  Wait.  Wait in His presence.  Wait on His leading.  Wait on His voice.

Practice this today.  When you feel yourself rushing – slow down.  When you feel yourself jumping the gun – wait.  When you feel the stress of ministry beginning to take you over the edge – wait.  Why?  Because “those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Giving Away 5 FREE Copies of “I Blew It!”

Hey friends!  We are giving away 5 copies of my brand new book, “I Blew It!”, to five of my Twitter followers (chosen at random).  So, if you want to win – all you have to do is search for @Brian_D_Dollar and follow!  We will choose the winners on Valentine’s Day, February 14th!  What better way to show our LOVE!!???

Wanna help spread the word?  Copy and paste the following message into a tweet:

Giving away 5 FREE copies of the new #kidmin book “I Blew It!” on Feb 14th.  Follow the author @Brian_D_Dollar to be entered. Please RT!

That’s it!  Follow and win!  But, don’t forget that you only have until Feb 14th to join in on the fun!  So tweet, retweet, and let’s get the word out!

Killing The Invisible Gorilla

OK, now before the folks at PETA start picketing my blog – let me explain.

Ever heard the expression “monkey on my back”?  It refers to a problem or irritation that just won’t seem to go away.  A looming deadline, a staffing issue, a recurring problem.  These “monkeys” can be irritating.

However, I am not talking about those little “monkeys” in this blog.  Have you ever woke up with such heaviness, such a weight bearing down on you it’s like a 900 lb gorilla sitting on your chest?  You know that you have something huge to face today – a huge interview, a confrontational conversation, a major report or writing project.  It is such a BIG DEAL that you almost have to give yourself a pep talk just to get out of bed and face the day.

Those “invisible gorillas” can steal your joy, distract your thinking, and zap your motivation.  The obvious answer to kill this gorilla is prayer.  When I hit my knees and “cast my cares upon Him” (Psalm 55:22), I feel that load lift.  God will take the weight of that “invisible gorilla” and replace it with His comfort and peace.  After all, Jesus promised us “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Another secret weapon I have for killing those “invisible gorillas” is music.  There’s something liberating and joyous about music that gets me fired up.  I have one song in particular that has been a “gorilla killer” for many years.  It is Donnie McClurkin’s “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” (click on the link to find it i-Tunes).  Although I am definitely a ROCKER at heart, this black gospel song just gets me revved up – and the invisible gorilla just disappears as I remember that God is in control!!!

What about you?  What do you do to kill the invisible 900 lb gorilla sitting on your chest?  What song do you play that just instantly changes the mood and gets you motivated to slay the gorilla?  Share your comments below.