Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What are you "Doing" in your life | Do something!

On occasion, I run across a person, a program, a website, a book, or a concept that really makes me stop and think. Something that is really profound. Something that I can get really excited about learning more about and even accomplishing - something incredible, something almost seemingly impossible to Do in my life.

For example, around six years ago, I ran across the book Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, and from that point forward, I will never think the same way about personal finances ever again. Dave's style of teaching, motivation, and humor has made such an impact on my life that I can never go back to the old patterns of thinking about or behaving with money.

A more recent example for me has been the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Every time I need to make a decision about living a life of generosity or selfishness, generosity now wins out every time. My mindset has been totally transformed by the concepts and written words of this "radical" pastor.

Last week, as I was reading a blog post by Tim Ferriss (another example of someone who has transformed my mindset on the topic of time management), I became aware of the Do Lectures. According to the Do Lectures website, their mission is:
The idea is a simple one.

That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too.

So each year, we invite a set of people down here to come and tell us what they Do.

They can be small Do's or big Do's or just plain amazing extraordinary Do's. But when you listen to their stories, they just light a fire in your belly to go and Do your thing, your passion, the thing that sits in the back of your head each day, just waiting, and waiting for you to follow your heart.

To go find your cause to fight for, your company to go start, your invention to invent, your book to write, your mountain to climb.

The one thing that the Doers of the world Do, apart from Do amazing things, is to inspire the rest of us to go and Do amazing things.

They are fire-starters.

David Hieatt - Co-founder of the Do lectures
As I have watched many of these Do lecture videos over the last several days, I have felt a wave of inspiration to Do something bigger than I am right now. I will preface this statement that many of the Doers on this website have what seem selfish, or even altruistic reasons for doing what they have done. I don't want to demean or diminish anything that these people have done, because they have all done some awesome things. Even if some of these people have done some some massively self-centered activities (such as Alastair Humphreys taking 4 years to bike around the world), in the process of Doing something, they have all learned something about themselves as well as how to take on major challenges and become a stronger, better person as a result.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, though, I should ultimately be focused on accomplishing something for the Kingdom of God. The key is to start somewhere like the people at the Do Lectures. In Alastair Humphrey's lecture, he mentions that when he decided to bike around the world, his biggest accomplishment was not completing the 4 year journey. It was when he packed up his bike, got on, and left his home in England. He just got started down the road. He was now finally committed to his journey.

As believers, I think many of us know what we should be doing on a daily basis. We should be spending time in personal worship, so just start. Get up 10-15 minutes earlier in the day and just start. We know we should be giving back to the Lord of our finances. The next time the plate passes in your church, start somewhere. Give something. Anything. Just get moving on down the road. You'll figure out how to get to the ultimate destination if you will just get started.

Perhaps the Lord has planted a bigger mission in your mind. Here's an example. Maybe you feel called to mission work, but feel overwhelmed by the journey. Volunteer once a week at a downtown shelter helping others. Take a one week, short-term mission trip. Start somewhere. Learn more about God's mission for you. In the process, you will learn more about yourself and the person you need to become through God's grace.

God has equipped all of us to Do Something. Your journey in life is to figure what your "Do" is, and then go out and Do it!

So, have you figured out your "Do," and are you Doing It?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Goal setting strategies

Goal setting is one area that I believe many people want to do, but they become so overwhelmed with the process that they never follow through. Or, they do end up setting some goals but they are anemic ones that don't inspire action and accomplishment.

Setting goals isn't something that needs to be very complicated. As you begin the process of goal setting, here are some preliminary considerations:
  1. set up long, medium, and short-term goals. Think 10 years or more for long-term goals. 5 years for medium-term goals. And 1 year or less for short-term goals.
  2. formulate just a few big hairy audacious goals (2-3) for each area that you can get excited about accomplishing.
  3. create small, logical action steps for each of these few goals, then put these together as an action plan on your calendar.
You may have heard about using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. in order to establish effective goals. SMART stands for:
  • Specific. Do you know exactly what you want to accomplish with all the details?
  • Measurable. Are you able to assess your progress?
  • Attainable. Is your goal within reach given your current situation?
  • Relevant. Is your goal relevant towards your purpose in life?
  • Time-bound. What is the deadline for completing your goal?
Over at, Tristan Loo writes the following on SMART goals:
Create Specific Goals

Jack Canfield in his book, The Success Principles, states that "Vague goals produce vague results." There is no place in your life for vague goals. Your subconscious mind will fulfill whatever it focuses on and if your goals are ambiguous or incomplete, then you will achieve results that are also ambiguous or incomplete. You want to make your goal as detailed as possible in order to achieve the specific results that you desire. A specific goal is one that is clearly defined in such a way that anyone could come by and understand what you intend to accomplish. Your goal should contain a detailed description of what you want to accomplish; when you want to accomplish it by; and the action(s) you will take to accomplish it.

Bad example: "I want to write a book."

Good example: "I want to write a book on time management that is at least 200 pages in length and have it done by December 16th. I'll commit to writing at least 2 pages every workday until I reach completion."
Making major goals even more simplistic

Blogger Chris Brogan advocates using 3 simple words to focus your goals. In a 2009 post on setting three word goals, Brogan writes:
Set Three Words as Goals for 2009

If you want to try the process, it works something like this: think of how you want to be successful in 2009. Then, try to think in even broader terms. Extrapolate on the broader terms, and find one word to hang the idea on.

Meaning, don't think as much "I want to lose 50 pounds and get back into my high school pants." Try thinking "Fitness means I'll be able to cover more ground." From there, you can say "ground" might be your word. And then, when you look at that as a word, you see how it can open you up to even more meanings. "Ground" can remind you to get fit so you can cover more ground. It can mean to be "grounded," like someone who feels calm and at rest.

Look for three words that will help you frame your challenges and opportunities for 2009. Don't think about where you are this exact moment. If you're without a job, setting a goal in 09 to get a job might not be very useful. Once you've got the job, then what? Instead, you could think about setting the goal of "Alignment," where you ask yourself, "does this fit with everything else I intend for myself in this year?"

Try setting your three words far out on the horizon, but such that they can lead you to your goals every day. Meaning, can you use the same word to get you started, but have it still be relevant when you're almost at the big goal.
When setting your long, medium, and short-term goals, always remember to frame these goals in the context of your life mission. I have blogged extensively on life mission, which you can read about here.

When you get specific and write down your mission and major life goals, you will join the small majority of the population that have done so. Studies show that only 3% of the American population set goals consistently, and are the wealthiest people in the country. I don't know about you, but that's the group I want to be a part of!

So, have you established long, medium, short-term goals that are SMART, big hairy audacious, and yet simple enough that you can remember? Why or why not?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Balance Sheet Affluent vs. Income Statement Affluent

In The Millionaire Mind book by Thomas J. Stanley, Dr. Stanley mentions two types of "wealthy" families. The first type is the Income Statement Affluent family, and the second type is the Balance Sheet Affluent family.

The Income Statement Affluent looks great on a tax return. They have a lot of income coming into the home, but the greatness ends there. If you dig deeper into their financial situation, they are living on the razor's edge. They are really living more paycheck to paycheck like their middle-class friends. They have the big homes and the fancy cars, but they also have a lot of debt. Their liabilities far outweigh their assets. Their overall net worth is severely lacking.

On the other hand, the Balance Sheet Affluent looks great on a balance sheet. They have great incomes, but they also have little or no debt. They have saved money. They have invested wisely. They have paid cash for their assets. They have very few liabilities. They don't believe in using credit. As Dr. Stanley puts it, they have the "Millionaire Mind."

OK, so you now you're asking the question, "So what? Who cares about the Balance Sheet or the Income Statement Affluent?" The big deal with these two types of wealthy families is that the Income Statement Affluent aren't truly that wealthy. Yes, they have a lot of money coming in, but the majority of it is going out the back door to pay off debt and bills. If this family's income ever evaporates, they will be in serious trouble.

The Balance Sheet Affluent, however, are the true millionaires. If their income ever dips, they can survive financially for a long time without feeling the strain, because they don't live or think paycheck to paycheck. They have been frugal and wise with their finances. They have focused on their balance sheet.

So, now that we're armed with this knowledge, what's the take away for the rich Christian?
  1. Handle your money wisely like the Balance Sheet Affluent. Avoid Debt. Purchase assets and not liabilities. Focus on how your balance sheet reads, not just on how much money is coming in the front door.
  2. Become balance sheet wealthy in another sense - store up your assets in Heaven through living a life of generosity. In the end, this is all that will matter, anyway.
Is your financial focus on your income statement or your balance sheet?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The wealthy and education choices | The public vs. private school debate

When we think of the wealthy and the education choices they have for their children, we often believe that the majority of the wealthy put their children in private schools. We so often hear the stories of our politicians putting their children in prep schools in Washington, D.C., and we think that all rich people act the same way. Wrong.

In the ground-breaking book The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph. D., Stanley debunked this myth by surveying 733 millionaire families. Stanley discovered the following:
It isn't true that all millionaires are oriented toward private school and are averse to public school education for their children. Not really. The majority indicate that the quality of public schools was a significant factor in making a "neighborhood" decision. Nearly eight in ten (79 percent) stated that an important decision criteria underlying their home selection process was:

Seeking a neighborhood that has excellent public schools.

It isn't difficult to appreciate the relationship between wealth, home values, and the quality of public schools. Just consider for a moment how much it costs to send three children to a private school. The typical millionaire has three children - why would he want to live in a school district that necessitated the patronage of private schools? He doesn't. He even prefers paying high first-cost prices for homes located in the neighborhoods that have quality public schools (p. 332).
So, what can the rich Christian learn from America's balance-sheet affluent millionaires?

First, buy (or even rent) the best home that you can reasonably afford in the best school district in your area. Most people do the opposite. They buy the most home they can mortgage in areas of town that contain more reasonable housing prices. Unfortunately, though, these parts of town don't always have the best school systems. When the parents realize this after the home purchase, they then consider private schools for their children. I am often amazed in observing a number of Christian families in which both parents will work like crazy just to send their children to private school. Some of their kids turn out great and other kids not so great. There's no guarantee that private Christian schools will assist you in raising Godly children.

Second, the Christian family may be better off financially, spiritually, and socially to send their children to the best public schools and keep the mother in the home. Thousands of dollars in tuition can be saved and directed to giving, saving, and investing. The children can learn from their parents what "real life" for the Christian should be about - being salt and light in their sphere of influence. The parents can't rely on a private education to take their kids through difficult spiritual issues. They must work hard and engage their children in their education in the home. Parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for their children's education. We as parents can't rely on the schools to solve all of our education problems.

Third, even though public schools have a fair number of issues such as evolution and sex education that need to be addressed within the context of the Christian home, public schools have a number of opportunities available to students in areas such as sports and music that private schools do not. This should be taken into consideration when making education decisions.

Here's my own personal take on the issue. I am the product of both the public and private school. I attended public school through the fourth grade, and when sex education was brought into the schools, my parents moved me to a private, Christian school in the fifth grade, and I remained at the same school until graduation. I am grateful for my Christian school education and the sacrifices my parents made to send my brothers and me to private school.

As I grew older and developed an interest in music, my parents ended up paying more money to get me out into the community for more musical experiences that I couldn't get within the private school. I even remember my mother talking to me once when I was in high school about the possibility of switching me back to public school so that I could partake in their stronger music programs. I know that she seemed to regret that I didn't have the opportunities that other musically gifted kids had. Fortunately, everything worked out well for me moving into adulthood. I do believe, though, that because of my strong value-driven upbringing in the home, I could have personally survived and thrived in the public schools.

In conclusion, the majority of wealthy people make wise spending decisions by purchasing good homes in areas that have the best public schools. This typically insures a good return on investment when purchasing the home, as well as allows the wealthy family to keep mom at home and send their children to quality schools. The parents don't have to work themselves to death to send their kids to a private school. They are able to maintain balance, margins, and sanity into their family's lives. In today's fast-paced world, this is most likely the better choice for the family.

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:5-7, NIV).

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Corporate Experience

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).

Whenever His people gather and worship Him, God promises He will make His presence known in their midst. On the other hand, where God's people consistently neglect true spiritual worship, His manifest presence is rarely experienced. - Ralph Mahoney

When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do not worship alone, we worship "with all the company of heaven." - Marianne H. Micks

Corporate worship, the weekly assembling of the local church, is essential in the worship experience of the rich Christian. The ideal church would have all of its members engaged in private worship Monday - Saturday, and then a coming together to worship the Lord as a united body of Christ.

Unfortunately for us in America, we now live in a secular-progressive, post-Christian society where regular church attendance is no longer valued. In the past, even secular society would honor Sunday as a day to cease activity, rest, and allow time for worshipers to attend church. Today, it's a different story. Every secular activity imaginable is scheduled on Sundays so that families struggle making choices between good things and the best thing. In the end, though, believers are the ones who are making these poor choices because they don't understand the value and importance of the corporate worship experience.

Why is weekly corporate worship attendance so important?
  1. for God's honor and glory.
  2. to experience His manifest presence on a regular basis.
  3. to be obedient to His Word.
  4. to give and to gain encouragement from our fellow believers who are on the journey with us.
  5. to be a witness to the community.
  6. in order to use our God-given talents and abilities to serve Him and others.
  7. because the church is our spiritual family. I know in my own church, church members that have gone through difficult times in their personal lives have been surrounded by members of their various small groups and given help at a time when they have needed it the most. Meals have been cooked. Childcare has been provided. Home repairs have been completed. Money has been given. This is the family of God in action to support one another!
  8. to go deeper in our knowledge of Almighty God through sermons, small groups, and other Bible studies.
  9. the church is the vehicle God has provided for the believer to give back to Him in tithes and offerings.
  10. to be spiritually renewed in order to go back out into the world and be salt and light in our various spheres of influence.
So, are you going to church on Sunday?

Friday, March 19, 2010

God owns everything

The beginning of worship for the rich Christian is the acknowledgment that God owns everything.

We as humans are naturally selfish beings. We may give lip service to God's ownership, but our behavior and actions tell otherwise.

Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we are (or should be) asking Him to be Lord of our lives. As I see it, the Lordship component of salvation is an element that many believers don't comprehend at first. It seems to me that this concept takes time to develop in people as they mature in Christ. The apostle Paul writes about the Lordship of Christ in this way:
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ... (Titus 1:1a, NASB).

... You are not your own; you were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a).
Paul considered himself as Christ's bond-slave. Webster's Dictionary defines a bond-slave as:
A person in a state of slavery; one whose person and liberty are subjected to the authority of a master.
A bond-slave is the rebellious type. The kind that wants to run away. So, the master has to chain them up and lead them around where he wants them to go. This is the picture that Paul paints of himself as a believer. He's so rebellious that God has Paul in chains and leads him around where He wants Paul to go. The strange thing, though, is that there is freedom in being a slave of Christ. Our only option is to do exactly what He instructs us to do and to go exactly where He wants us to go.

When we really understand God's ownership of us as believers, then we get that He is God and we're not. We become joyfully obedient to giving back to Him and to others of our time, abilities, and money, because they're really His to begin with. We invest our lives into others because He first loved us. We follow God's leading in His mission for our lives. We desire to be focused on productive, meaningful work. Finally, we want to win for eternal awards that wait for us in heaven.

So, where are you at today in your worship of Almighty God? Do you acknowledge His Lordship of your life? Are you being obedient to where He wants you to go and what He wants to do? Enjoy the freedom that is experienced in being a bond-slave of Christ.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Living for the line, not the dot

A few days ago, I was listening to an audio lesson by Randy Alcorn from a Generous Giving conference. In Randy's session of the conference, he made an interesting analogy about life: the dot and the line.

Randy said that we as Christians need to "live for the line, not the dot." Unfortunately, though, most believers have life backwards. We live for the dot and not for the line.

The dot represents your life here on earth. The line represents eternity in heaven.

We are consumed with the cares of this world: how big of a house we can mortgage, how nice a car we can drive, what the latest fashion trends in clothing are, and how big we can build our retirement account.

In His Word, God gives us a much better investment plan than our 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRA, or Keogh plans. He wants us to think beyond the end of the dot and on to the line.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20, NIV).

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward (Matthew 10:42, NIV).

Whatever money and possessions we have here on earth will stay here. We really can't take it with us when we pass from this world on to the next. The cool thing is that we CAN send our wealth on ahead of us by investing in God's Kingdom here on earth. God wants us to live with a sense of "enlightened self interest." American Christians are among the wealthiest people on earth, and we can use the wealth God has given us to invest in God's retirement plan - treasure and rewards in heaven that will last for eternity.

Unfortunately, living for the line is hard because we live in the bubble of the dot. All we can see is this life and the cares of this world. It's difficult to see beyond this life and into the next. This is when faith comes into play for the believer.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see... By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:1, 24-27, NIV).

So, let me ask you this: Are you living for the dot or for the line, today?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do you make major decisions without consulting God first?

The men of Israel sampled their provisions, but did not inquire of the Lord (Joshua 9:14, NIV).

As the young Israelite nation went about the process of taking over Canaan, they ran into a slight problem. The people of Gibeon (part of the Canaanite territory) came up with a plan to trick the men of Israel. They disguised themselves as travelers from a faraway land. They brought with them moldy bread and worn out wineskins and claimed that these things were all fresh and new when they started their journey. The Israelites inspected their provisions and believed the Gibeonites' story. They went ahead and made a treaty with them, anyway.

When God gave the Israelites the promised land, he commanded Moses and then Joshua to destroy all the inhabitants of the land. There should be no treaties made with any of the Canaanites. When the Gibeonites showed up with their fake story, the men of Israel knew that something was not quite right, but they failed to take the time to consult the Lord.

Unfortunately, I believe many of us as Christians make the same mistake when it comes to major financial decisions. We get the desire to move up into a bigger home. We need to replace our older, broken down car, and we don't take the time to think things through. We get "stuffitis" or we find ourselves in a difficult situation where we think we need to move quickly. We fail to stop, think, wait, and pray. God wants us to come to Him with matters great and small. He wants us to seek His wisdom and provision. We often settle for second best when we could have God's best. Second best often brings with it a high price to pay.

Patience is the companion of wisdom. - St. Augustine

Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing; God alone suffices. - St. Teresa of Avila

Have you ever made a really poor financial decision by failing to inquire of the Lord? Or, have you ever made a really excellent decision after consulting the Lord and His Word? If so, I'd love to hear your story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Always choose the better option, even if it costs a little more money

In my last post, I mentioned my recent experience with an online software purchase and hidden fees. What I failed to mention is that I should have made a better software choice to begin with. That way, I wouldn't have purchased an open software program that didn't even work properly on my computer as well as accidently purchasing a monthly service plan I didn't even want.

You see, from the very beginning, I knew that there was a better choice in software to purchase, but I decided to go cheap and try out an open source software option. Once I made this purchase, I could never get it to run properly on my laptop, and at that point, I knew I had made a mistake. I made a poor choice, and for only $50 more, I could have had the best software for the job. I made a $44-50 mistake by trying to go with second rate.

After I made the poor choice, I immediately recognized that I needed to just cut my losses and find a good deal on the software I needed on eBay. Sure enough, I found exactly what I needed for $100 and made my purchase. Within 2-3 business days, I received my software in the mail, quickly loaded it onto my laptop, and it worked perfectly.

By going second rate at the beginning, I ended up spending almost $150 to accomplish what I could with $100. I got an a hurry. I had been impatient and cheap.

Have you ever made a second rate purchase and regret it? Did you end up spending more money to fix your second rate mistake?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Watch out for hidden fees on website purchases

A few weeks ago, I was given a rude reminder to always be on the lookout for hidden fees, especially when making online purchases. This reminder came in the form of a monthly technical support charge that is automatically added to your bill unless you purposely opt out of it at the time of purchase.

I was on a software website to buy and download one piece of software. I went through the entire shopping cart experience and came to the final confirmation/submit page. I quickly scanned the page for the purchase information and final bill total. Everything appeared to be correct, and then it happened. As I moved the mouse to the submit button and clicked on it, right below it I saw a small box with a check mark in it. My first reaction was that they purposely opted me in to their email database which has happened to me on other websites. But then I started to read the fine print of what I was automatically subscribed to and I knew that I just screwed up by moving too quickly on my purchase. I had been forcibly subscribed to a monthly technical support charge of $9.88. Before the submit page fully loaded, I tried opting out, but it was too late. As soon as the transaction took place, I should have immediately called the company to remove that fee, but I waited instead to see if that charge would happen.

Sure enough, as I was reviewing my bank account transactions last week, I saw this fee charged to my account for the month of March. This time, I did not hesitate. I immediately called the company and cancelled this monthly service fee. I had felt violated for being forced into an upsell purchase that I didn't want. Seth Godin would definitely give this company a verbal spanking for bad business marketing practices.

So, I learned a $10.00 lesson last week: always, always, always, read and reread the final confirmation/submission page for online purchases. You never know what you are agreeing to if you hurriedly just hit the submit button.

Have you ever been duped into an upsell online or in store purchase like I was? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Website Update | Reorganization of Topics

Happy Monday! Today's post is just a quick note about an update on the blog.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post titled What makes the Rich Christian blog different from other Christian personal finance blogs. In that post, I mentioned that I believe there are 7 investments that believers who are rich in Christ participate in. All of my posts relate in some way to these 7 investments.

Over the weekend, I reorganized all of my post labels for the last 18 months based on these 7 investments. For those that are interested, this should make topic/label navigation much easier and cleaner to use.

For simplification, there are now only 8 labels to navigate:
  1. Worship: Investment #1 - Invest in your relationship with God.
  2. Generosity: Investment #2 - Invest in God's Kingdom.
  3. People: Investment #3 - Invest in relationships.
  4. Yourself: Investment #4 - Invest in focused thinking.
  5. Money: Investment #5 - Invest in financial education.
  6. Action: Investment #6 - Invest in productivity.
  7. Attitude: Investment #7 - Invest in winning.
  8. Background: these posts are anything that are background material to the 7 investments or about the blog in general.
I hope you find this reorganization of the site much easier to navigate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Success is a journey, not a destination


I believe most people want to be successful in their lives, but struggle on the vision of success. They view success as a destination such as:
  • a million dollar net worth
  • becoming president of the company
  • owning a $500,000 home with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and a tennis court.
  • building a multi-million dollar company
  • owning a vacation home in Belize.
  • being married to a supermodel.
And you know what? Some determined people can really pull this off. They want this stuff so bad that they work their tails off to get it. After they attain their own definition of success, though, they then start asking the question, "Is this all there really is to success?" They missed the boat. They made the mistake of defining success as a destination rather than a lifelong journey.

In The Success Journey, author John Maxwell defines success in this way:
Success is...
knowing your purpose in life,
growing to reach your maximum potential, and
sowing seeds that benefit others.

You can see by this definition why success is a journey rather than a destination. No matter how long you live or what you decide to do in life, you will never exhaust your capacity to grow toward your potential or run out of opportunities to help others. When you see success as a journey, you'll never have the problem of trying to "arrive" at an elusive final destination. And you'll never find yourself in a position where you have accomplished some final goal, only to discover that you're still unfulfilled and searching for something else to do.

Another benefit of focusing on the journey of success instead of on arriving at a destination or achieving a goal is that you have the potential to become a success today. The very moment that you make the shift to finding your purpose, growing to your potential, and helping others, successful is something you are right now, not something you vaguely hope one day to be.
So, let me ask you this. How have you been defining success? Have you viewed it as a destination or a journey? Do you know your purpose, are you growing to your potential, and are you helping other people along the way?

Are you successful, today?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Investing in God's Kingdom begins with an eternal outlook

The picture on the right is an eternal clock which gives us a visual picture of time going on forever and ever. Do we as Christians really live our lives as if we believe this clock represents reality?

Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case. If we truly believed that this life is just a brief period of time before our true lives really begin, then our churches and we as Christians would look different. Our lives would be radically transformed by an eternal outlook.

I believe there would be more pastors, more missionaries, more short-term missions trips, more lay leaders, more budget giving, more missions giving, more giving to the poor, more outreach into our communities, more sacrifice, and in general, more love.

In the book Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan addresses this issue when he writes about the "profile of the lukewarm." Chan writes,
Lukewarm People think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C. S. Lewis writes, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."

Lukewarm People will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.

Lukewarm People give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?

Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's Kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?
I don't know about you, but I fall under conviction after reading statements such as these. I am compelled to reexamine all of my motivations in my life here on earth: what I am spending money on, who I am spending my time with, and what I am expending energy on.

So, what do you need to do to have a more focused, eternal outlook?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Let's Do Lunch

Lunchtime is a great opportunity to strengthen old friendships, build new relationships, mentor others, and even be mentored, yourself.

I'm the type of person who likes to save time and money wherever I can. I typically eat a brought lunch at my desk in order to save work time and budget cash. You know, there's an old saying that "a brought lunch is better than a bought lunch."

Over the last several months, though, I have been in need of counsel, information, and wisdom in both my personal and work life. So, I have purposely sought out people who have the experience and knowledge I've needed to help me. After identifying the people in my "who network" who could assist me, I set up lunch appointments with these friends by email or phone. I always come away from these luncheons extremely thankful that I made the time to do it.

Lunch meetings are a great way to meet with others in order to learn and grow. With whom do you need to schedule a lunch appointment with this week?