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My friend and colleague Dr. Eric Michael Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be. Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here. I’m delighted to have Eric as my guest on the blog this week!

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:15-17)

For some of us, we read that exchange between Jesus and Peter and think: “Yeah, Peter, feed your sheep! I need someone like Peter in my life to feed me! I need a church, a small group, a mentor to feed me! I need other people to care for me!”

After reading this story in John 21, Erwin McManus, a mentor in my life then asked this question: “When Jesus says to Peter ‘if you love me, go feed my sheep.’ Why do we always see ourselves as the sheep? Why don’t we see ourselves as Peter?”

Have you ever considered that others are looking to you as their shepherd?

Your children, your spouse, your roommates, your friends, your employees, your co-workers, your neighbors, those in your church ~ they all need you. Some pastors are paid to equip. However, most pastors are not paid, and their role is no less valuable or important ~ especially to those they oversee and serve.

You are more ready and prepared than you could imagine.

Maturity does not mean knowing everything about the Bible.

Maturity means obeying what we know from the Bible.

Stop waiting, step out, and find someone to love & serve. YOU are the shepherd God’s been looking for.

To download your own copy of Eric’s book, A Fruitful Life, just click here.

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I’m honored to have my friend Bob Hudson on the blog this week. Bob is the founder of the Cross Ministry Group and creator of its two flagship retreats ~ Men at the Cross and Women at the Cross. If you’ve never experienced these life-changing weekends, do yourself a huge favor and go! You won’t regret it.

Miraculous births can mess with the mind! In fact, most anything that has to do with God’s action in our lives messes with our minds! In the 1st Chapter of Luke, two angelic baby announcements evoked interesting reactions. When Gabriel told Zechariah that he was going to be a father to a prophet his response was, “How can I be sure of this?” ~ “We’re too OLD!” Apparently, this was not the correct response because he got a good lecture from the angel and then lost his voice for nine months.

Compare this experience with Gabriel visiting Mary and the good news that she was going to give birth to the Son of the Most High. She was troubled by this and asked: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Notice there is no lecture from Gabriel and a “simple” explanation is forthcoming.

What happened here? Zechariah and Mary both asked a basic question, yet they received two very different responses from God’s messenger. This story is a lesson in how to approach God and life with our minds. For Zechariah it was about control. He wanted to be “sure.” He needed to have confirmation that it was going to happen and needed to understand how it could even be possible. For Mary, it was about curiosity ~ rooted in wonder and amazement. There was openness in her that did not reject the possibility even though she could not understand how it was possible. “How will this be?” The angel’s response was “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” Now, that’s helpful! When has that happened before in this way?! But, it was enough for Mary.

She could have gone the way of Zechariah and fired off her list of questions: “You know how babies are made and this doesn’t make sense. How is the Holy Spirit going to impregnate me? How does that work actually? Besides, who am I anyway? I’m just a regular girl. Why me? How am I supposed to raise this child? How do you raise ‘the Son of the Most High?’ And then, what about my family, the neighbors, and Joseph?! Besides I’m not good enough. I don’t understand how God would do this for me.”

Thankfully, she stuck with wonder and amazement and responds: “May it be to me as you have said.” She yields to a mystery. She does not give in to control ~ the need to know how it can be, but surrenders her soul, her body, her entire being to God. She had space within her to receive the promise.

What about your mind? Is it surrendered enough to allow God to perform the miracle of being filled with him and his love? Or is your mind “filled up” with the need to control by demanding to understand? Are you willing to let go of all the arguments (judgments) about yourself and your circumstances that fight against the wonder and amazement of God’s promised love for you?

This week, practice curiosity instead of control. Hold your curiosity loosely. Make room in your mind for the mystery of God, and be open to the wonder of God’s power and love for you.

Where do you have the most trouble letting go of control and practicing curiosity instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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I want to say something about this:

“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

“’What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’
—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

“these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-13 (NIV)

I see in this passage four signs or indicators of a mature faith leader:

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“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ~ Revelation 3:21-22

The word translated as “overcome” in the passage above (and all similar passages in Revelation) is the Greek verb “nikao,” which means to conquer, to prevail, to gain the victory.

 

The word implies battle.

Perhaps it’s better to say the word assumes there is a battle, and that you and I are in it. Likewise, the English word “overcome” connotes a sustained and difficult struggle against some kind of resistance ~ be it an obstacle or direct opposition ~ until it is fully conquered.

Whether we describe it in terms of battle or struggle, we all know what it’s like to come up against resistance in our lives. Resistance is that wall you slam into on your way to your dreams coming true. We’ve all been knocked flat by it at one point or another, most likely on multiple occasions.

Resistance is that wall you slam into on your way to your dreams coming true.

One of the basic questions we ask in coaching is this: What does it really take to win your dreams? In my experience, it takes more than wishing it were so, consciously “attracting” it, or passively praying God will hand it to you all wrapped up in a nice pretty bow. It takes rolling up your sleeves, mustering your courage, and jumping into the fray.

There are many things that contribute to being (or becoming) an Overcomer, but as I watch my clients overcome obstacle after obstacle in their lives, I’ve noticed these 7 qualities showing up again and again. How are you at practicing these “overcoming” skills?

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I just got back from spending a week in St. Paul doing some coach training with a terrific group of PhD candidates at Bethel Seminary. My co-leader Eric Bryant and I had an amazing time helping each of these world changers dig deep into their own unique God-given design ~ giftings, passions, skills, values, strengths, and more ~ with a view to uncovering how each could best leverage himself to advance the Kingdom. Amazing, right?! I love this work.

Through our many discussions over the course of the week, I was reminded again how indispensable it is for leaders to develop proficiency in both the HEAD and HEART skills of leadership. Being competent in just one of these is not enough.

What’s the difference between Head and Heart skills? In broad strokes, I mean…

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My friend Eric Bryant has a new project coming out today called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

You may know of Eric from his work at Gateway Church in Austin or at Mosaic in Los Angeles or from his previous book Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World .

I asked Eric to tell us about his new project and what makes it unique. Here are some of his thoughts:

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“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” ~ Dr. Maya Angelou

What will the message of your life be?

Once you are gone and those who experienced you look back and say “Here’s how he impacted me” or “Here’s how her life changed mine” ~ what will they say?

What do you want them to say?

What is the legacy your life will leave in its wake?

What is the mark you want your life to make on the world? How will you know you are making it?

With the recent passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, I’ve been pondering questions like these lately. She did such an impressive job of knowing her unique purpose, and living it out in a singular and focused way, with all the courage and grace she could muster. Her life has impacted millions. I myself can honestly say I am different because of her life and writings.

So in her honor, I offer you 5 great thoughts on Purpose, and a beautiful video short story that asks us all to consider: If you wrote a final letter to those who come after you, what would it say? What do you want the message of your life to be?

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