Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

The kiddos have been asking about getting baptized. What a fun topic to discuss with a bunch of 7 year old children! I mean that both seriously and sarcastically, of course. The rabbit trails inherent with any conversation with just one 7 year old, let alone four of them can be challenging in itself, not even mentioning so deep a topic as baptism! ūüôā

Yesterday, since we couldn’t get to church with the icy roads, we decided to “do church” at home, and this seemed as good a time as any to begin the conversation.

My wife and I began studying the topic with them from the Scriptures, but we did not use baptism as a starting point. Rather, we began in the Old Testament, studying the initial perfection of Creation, the subsequent Fall in Eden, and the sacrificial system set up after that. We spent time in Hebrews and Leviticus studying the necessity of blood for the forgiveness of sins.

We talked about the transition from the Old Law and the repeated sacrifices by the High Priest that could never really forgive sin, but rather pay for them for a time until Christ became our Great High Priest and gave the Once For All sacrifice through His blood on the Cross. How through one man (Adam) came sin and death, but through Christ came life and forgiveness.

We discussed the fact that it was God who made both the first sacrifice (the killing of animals to clothe the nakedness of Adam and Eve) and the final sacrifice (Christ’s death on the cross to finally and completely cover our sins).

We didn’t even really get into baptism. We just talked about this foundational theology. Sounds like a lot for some 7 year olds to grab onto, doesn’t it?

I didn’t have high expectations of retention for them at this point, but I quizzed them at the end of our study, and then again last night before we went to bed. I mean, I hit them with some pretty deep stuff. There’s no way they could retain all that, right?


I kept on nailing them, and even threw in a couple of questions I hadn’t really gone too in-depth with them on during our study just to see how they’d answer, and I’m telling you, with every question, they knocked it out of the park!

Our kids are smart…

Or, maybe this stuff just isn’t as hard to understand as I seem to think it should be for a 7 year old.

Either way, we’re pretty proud parents. We always knew they were smart kids, but good grief!

Next up, we’ll talk about grace, faith, works, and how all that plays with baptism, salvation, etc… You know: “What really saves us?” “Is baptism a work or a response of faith?” stuff like that…

It will be interesting to see how they process all that for sure…




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Back in July, I posted about the beginning of a new, healthier lifestyle (tied in with a spiel on setting goals) I was embarking on. Within minutes, I was bombarded with offers from well-meaning friends about the latest and greatest supplement they were taking that was changing their lives and guaranteed to change mine too. Man, these were some seriously awesome products being pitched at me, with phenomenal reports of results!

I don’t begrudge any of these friends offering me their products… I’m sure they have had their lives changed, and are healthier because of their belief and buy-in of those products. However, having started out at the end of July weighing in at 225 lbs on a 6’0 frame and BARELY able to WALK, much less RUN¬†a mile to, at the middle of November, weighing in at 194 lbs (still not to my target, but getting there rapidly) and regularly jogging¬†north of 4 miles at a time, with a personal best distance of more than 7 miles, I’ve found the secret to fitness and weight loss that puts all others to shame. Guys, this will change your life, and make you healthier than you could EVER imagine!

It will make you drop pounds and increase your fitness and cardiovascular profile by leaps and bounds in as little as 3 1/2 months, and make all your friends ask what the heck you’re doing to get so fit!

What’s more, I eat whatever I want. Wanna know where I’ve eaten? Try this list: Wendy’s, Culvers, Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, McDonald’s, D’Arcy’s Pint (the 2000 calorie horseshoe), Chinese Buffets and all you can eat Walleye at Top Cat’s in Springfield…

At home, I’ve eaten spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, steak, and burgers…

I’ve had Red-Velvet cake, I’ve had beer and wine. I even pigged out at the Signature Chef’s Auction for the March of Dimes last week.

All that, and in around 3 1/2 months I’ve lost over 30 pounds!

Are you ready for the answer? Just keep scrolling down, because I’m about to give you the secret to changing your life!

Hard work.

Yup, that’s it. Hard work…

I haven’t taken a supplement, shake, or pill from one of these multi-level marketing brands this whole time. In full disclosure, I did purchase a soy-based protein powder¬†that I usually mix with skim milk for my breakfast (and, oh my gosh, it has REAL SUGAR in it! For shame!) and I do take a glucosamine¬†supplement to help with my aging knees. I buy them both at Wal-Mart, folks… Wal-Mart… Doesn’t cost a whole lot.

Also, I religiously log every single calorie, every single day on MyFitnessPal. I religiously log every workout of every kind on MapMyFitness, which then ports those burned calories over to MyFitnessPal so that I have a¬†reasonably¬†accurate count of how many calories I’ve consumed¬†and burned.

In short, it keeps it in front of me. There are days that my Net Calories Consumed exceeds my goal of roughly 2080 to lose 1 lb per week, but more days than not, I come in well under (which explains the more than 1 lb./week average, of course.)

It causes me to think about what I’m eating, and when I’m eating it. If I know I’m going to be pigging out of an evening, I just scale back more during the day… or perhaps I run a little more to help buffer the calories… whatever it takes. It causes me to stay on top of things.

I basically just don’t eat as much of the things I’ve always eaten… And I exercise a WHOLE lot more. Weight loss really is a matter of simple math, no matter what anyone tells you. You have to burn more than you eat. If you don’t do that, you will never lose weight.

I could barely walk much of the time when I started out at the end of a run. I won’t tell you I have no pain anymore, but I’ve built strength in the muscles surrounding my joints, and I’m getting less pain, not more, even though I’m doing more miles than ever.

As I approach my weight goal, I’m mentally preparing for what I view as “Phase 2” when I will still run and do cardio, but I may scale that back a bit to make more time for strength training. Phase 1 for me has been mostly about reducing weight and improving cardio.

The truth is I absolutely hated running before I started this, and I still hate each and every step. However, the immense satisfaction I have at the end of a run makes it worth every single step…

Hard work… yup, that’s the secret. The discipline to tell myself “no” on overeating, and the discipline to get up at 5am (or find time when I might want to do something else) to put in the miles on the pavement when I really don’t want to.

Hard work… I hope you guys will buy a ton of it!

It WILL change your LIFE!


P.S. First: A HUGE thank you to folks who have been encouraging me along the way! I still have a long way to go!

Second: This was not meant to slam anyone who has offered me their products… Please don’t take it that way. I’m just trying to make the point that it’s not so much a “system” you can buy your way into, as it is a decision to change your life. You can use whatever system you like. If the culture of your supplemental company helps you achieve your goals, I think that’s a great thing.

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I’m out of shape… WAY out of shape.

I used to be able to do all kinds of things “fit” people do. Now, I’m a plump, typical, 6’0 tall, 225 lbs. American who really needs to do something about it.

I also can’t remember the last time I ran one complete, consecutive mile without walking through part of it… It’s been a WHILE.

I’ll also soon be entering the last few years of my 30’s. I can feel the clock beginning to¬†tick…

This past week, I decided enough is enough. No more excuses about my (legitimately) bad knees keeping me from running, or that there’s no time to exercise, or¬†that eating health(ier) is just too difficult. So I started doing something…

I started walking.

On Monday, all I did was walk a mile. Tuesday, I mixed in some running (if you can call what I did “running”). Wednesday, I mixed in some more running. Thursday, my body told me I needed to pace myself a little bit and not run so much. Moments ago I just finished Friday’s walk/run. It may have been even harder to get through than Thursday was.

Something occurred to me as I was pushing for one last stretch of running hard this morning: I know that my “ideal” weight for my frame is somewhere around 180-190 lbs. That should be my goal, right? I mean, anything in there would be a HUGE improvement over where I am, right?

Then I realized I was wrong. Living a healthier lifestyle should be my goal. Let me explain:

Living a healthy lifestyle is not an end result. It is a series of habits, activities, and choices one develops¬†and adheres to as a part of who he or she is. The end result of having better health (i.e. target weight, lower blood pressure, etc…) will naturally flow from that.

Am I saying I should never think about getting to that 180-190 lbs mark? Absolutely not! It’s something to strive for, to be sure.

However, whether your goal is for your company to reach $1,000,000 in sales for the first time (or $1,000,000,000 for that matter) or whether it is for your family to spend more time together doing meaningful things instead of watching TV, or for you and your spouse to spend more time in prayer together (another thing I need to do a better job leading in), I’d like to offer up for consideration that perhaps your daily focus is in the wrong place if you are focusing solely on that end result.

Once you know where you want to go, I submit that it is better to focus on the daily habits and activities that will get you to where you want to be. There are SO many things that can come up to get in the way of your ultimate end goal, that you ARE GOING to fall down, perhaps many times, en route to it.

Larry Bird didn’t become the greatest free-throw shooter in the history of basketball because he focused on the end goal… He focused on shooting more free-throws every morning before most people even wake up. Apple didn’t become the juggernaut it is because Steve Jobs focused on becoming the highest grossing tech company in history. No, he focused on making sure that DAILY, he and his team were focused on delivering the greatest customer experience possible.

I’m trying to keep this in mind as I think about where I am right now. I’m not looking to be the next American Ninja Warrior (right now, anyway). I’m not even focused on running a half-marathon. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to focus on getting back down in that 180-190 lbs range.

But what I realized today is what my commitment must be. I am committing myself to stay focused on making better daily choices to lead me down the path to a healthier lifestyle. I will stumble – sometimes due to circumstance, and sometimes due to choice – but overall, I will get better at this day by day.

At some point, weighing 185 lbs (or becoming the next Ninja Warrior) will come.

In your personal, family, spiritual, community, and professional life, what are you focusing on? The end result, or the daily activities that get you where you want to be?

Both are important, but the latter is far greater than the former.




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“It is in the difficult times that we learn what we are truly made of… and in those times, we may find it is time to refine our substance.”

I have no idea who said that, or if I just came up with it on my own – but it came to me sometime last week. It has been a constant thought as I have been going through this professional transition over the last few months.

As a believer, husband, father, son, friend, business man, and all around citizen of planet Earth, the “stuff” I am made of is going through a time of refinement right now.

In reality, we should always be seeking to grow and refine our substance, but you know what I mean – There are moments on the timeline of each of our lives when we get to make some defining choices as to the kind of person we are going to become over our lifetime.

A phenomenal business leader in my community says all the time, “If you’re not green and growing, you’re brown and dying.” If he happens to be reading this, he knows who he is. I don’t have his permission to use his name here, but he should know that the things he’s preached to me and others over the years “sticks” with us. At least with me, anyway.

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (ESV)

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” – Proverbs 17:3 (ESV)

In times of waiting patiently, searching for what’s “next” professionally, or in any other area of life, it is natural to begin to wonder “Why, Lord? Have I done something that is deserving of a refining time? Is there something in my character that needs to be purged?”

While the answer to that question is always technically “yes” (All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory – Rom. 3:23), it would serve us well to remember that Job had done absolutely nothing “wrong” at the time of his testing (Job 1:8), yet he experienced sufficient difficulty to last several lifetimes.

God has in NO way promised us ease and comfort in this life, and any “gospel” you hear that promises riches, comfort, and ease, should be met with immediate skepticism and rebuke. (John 16:33) The Christ-follower’s reward is not in this life, but in the life to come (Matthew 5:12).

It is our duty in this life to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8) regardless of our circumstances. Much like the apostle Paul, whether in times of plenty or in times of need, we must learn to be content with our circumstances in the Lord. (Phil. 4:11-13)

In no way do I suggest that you or I should not strive to better ourselves or to attain personal or professional goals. What I do suggest is that nothing is guaranteed, and when everything falls out from under us, whether it is wealth, health, or relationships that fail us, we should walk so closely with our Lord that He is always enough to satisfy the longings of our hearts. To know that He may not always provide our wants, but He will always provide our needs. (Phil 4:19)

O Lord, that my substance would be wholly of that nature, for it is not. I confess there are times that I find my heart longing for other things. Things that cannot satisfy eternally. Only You, O Lord, can satisfy the hearts and souls of humanity.

What’s your substance, friend? You may or may not be going through a “refining time” right now, but perhaps you need to pray for it to come. Perhaps your substance needs to have the dross removed, and the impurities burned away. It can be intimidating to face such a time, but to become the best version of ourselves, we must face these moments from time to time.

I’m not just talking about the accountability to progress we should all engage in… I’m talking about a special time of extraordinary refining… a deep cleansing… a purification.

What do you want your substance to be? What are you willing to go through to make it the best it can be in this life?

The path to greatness is through the fire.

Beneath His Mercy,


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Before I get started, here’s the view from my chosen “office” this afternoon. I won’t always have a view like this, but for today, especially on a day like today, it’s absolutely perfect.:


Well, now for a much needed break from my day and week to reflect as I look out over the mighty Ohio River this afternoon and prepare for an interview…

Have you ever read one of those books that just absolutely inspires AND wrecks you all at once? I’ve done it many times, but the most recent time was last night. It was a quick read by anyone’s standards – just over 150 pages, but I cannot remember the last time I read 150 pages so quickly…

The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly is the book I’m referring to. Wow! What a great book! I can’t believe it took me so long to read it!

But man, it is convicting. This book describes what I’ve basically done for clients over the past decade. And, I’ve loved doing every minute of it. Helping others put together a plan to achieve their dreams is one of the best feelings you can possibly imagine! It gets me PUMPED UP!

But, it’s been wrecking me since I closed it last night at about 10pm. I’m a guy who loves to see other people win. I cheer the underdog on, and I want to see the guy or gal who always win keep on moving up to higher and higher levels of excellence in his or her personal and professional life.

The reason it has been wrecking me is because I know that right now I’m a little limited in my impact and reach to people, and for the past couple of months, I just have not been living my passion.

I’ve not intentionally neglected that area of my life, but that’s just the point! In the hustle and bustle of identifying my next full-time career pursuit, I’ve simply not been intentional about helping other people dream, and make those dreams happen.

And THAT’s what I mean by the “Ying and Yang” of leadership development. It’s a good thing. It inspires, and it challenges. It motivates, and it causes you to reflect on your flaws. It’s a great thing.

Good leadership books and other types of leadership media do both. They don’t just pump you up… They cause you to reflect.

The waters outside my “office” today would be a poor place to reflect, because the winds have made them quite choppy… but then, my life has been kind of choppy lately, so maybe they’re the perfect waters for reflection right now.

It’s time for me, regardless of my circumstances, to get back to what pumps me up… helping other people be the best version of themselves. God wired it into me, and I’m thankful for this.

What is going on in your life that needs reflection, motivation, and challenge to take you to the next level? What are your dreams?

Well, off to my next interview. Blessings to you!

Embracing Life,

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It’s Friday… Whoever you are, & whatever you do, today is your last chance to make a positive mark on this week.

The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret. Make the day count. You are only given so many heartbeats, & then you’re done. What will you do with the breaths you are given this day?

Embrace Life!

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I don’t know if I’m the first to word it this way, but something occurred to me this morning, so here’s a new quote for you to carry with you if you are in a position of leadership:

“An entrepreneurial spirit without entrepreneurial discipline is a dangerous combination.”

Just a thought… Plan your work and then work your plan!

Embracing Life,

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