Skip to Content

Article Library

Start Learning and Growing Today

Subscribe now for weekly insights into family, business and life

Buckshot, Bullets and Bows

I do not hunt regularly. At least I do not hunt game animals regularly. To a certain extent, we are all hunters; we just choose different prey. I have been hunting less than ten times in my life, but I have lots of friends who are hunters. I know about guns and have been around them more frequently than I have been hunting. I have taken a couple of classes to familiarize myself with them. 

Hunters most often use a shotgun, a rifle, or a bow. The game that you are hunting and the season you are in will determine the weapon of choice. Each one of these weapons uses a different type of ammunition. There are variations of each type of ammo, but for general terms, a bow uses arrows, a shotgun uses shells with some kind of buckshot or “shot,” and a rifle uses a cartridge or bullet. Each one has its benefits and requirements. You can’t use them all for every situation. You need to know which one to use for each task.

The same is true of many of our ventures in life. We have to make the right choice of weapon; otherwise, we will spend time trying to accomplish something we can’t do or could be done much quicker and easier if we chose the right tool. Let’s take a look at how this might play out.

Buckshot

A shotgun shell has powder to explode, and it propels buckshot from the opposite end of that shell. The buckshot leaves the end of the gun barrel and sprays or scatters in a broad pattern. This effect is great for small game animals like birds or rabbits but not very effective with large game. It also does less damage to the object it hits. It will have multiple penetration points.

There are things we tackle in life that need a shotgun approach. We need a broader spray field to make sure we hit the target. We may need to be a little more careful with the target, or it may be small enough that we need some margin to make sure we hit it. If the target is small, quick, and not very clear, a shotgun approach to the situation may be the best method. Sometimes multiple options are the best solution. 

Bullets

Rifles and pistols use bullets or cartridges. These are single projectiles that either hit their target or not. A shotgun may have some buckshot that hits and some that don’t. It may even hit and not hit the most vulnerable spot, and the game may move on and never be harvested. A cartridge has more power and can take down large game, but it also requires a higher degree of accuracy. 

Larger projects, goals, and purposes in our lives require more powerful solutions. They have to be focused. If they miss the mark, they can be useless, but they can bring enormous rewards when on target. I see people with big dreams and little skill spraying ideas everywhere but never taking anything down. The most unfortunate thing I see is people taking 50 caliber rifles to a squirrel hunt. They have high skills with low ambition, and nothing in life seems fulfilling. The larger your goal, the more precision you will need and the longer distance it will require.

Bows

Bows have less range and less force. They require high accuracy and skill to use effectively. The variety of animals a hunter can kill with a bow is limited. Bows also offer a more significant challenge to the hunter. A novice should not use a bow, and you do not want to put yourself in a life-threatening situation with only a bow. Bowhunting can offer a thrill to the hunter, but it is not the best device for self-defense. 

Bow adventures are fun in life. They allow us to exercise our skill with an added thrill, but they do not make good tools for building a long, purposeful life. Life should have its thrill-seeking and adventure moments,  but people accomplish great purposes in the mundane daily devotion. Nietzsche calls this “a long obedience in the same direction.” 

Life has lots of situations we must master and conquer. Knowing what tool to use and the requirements are critical for the success of each of those ventures. Every target has its required ammunition if you want to be most effective.

5 Life Changing Statements (Part 1)

Over my life, I have come across various statements that impacted me significantly. Either people told them to me directly, or I gained them from a book, a conference, a sermon, or training. You probably have some of those statements in your own life. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of those statements and why they impacted me so much. Maybe some of them will speak to you. 

You Can Learn Something From Everyone

I was sitting in Claude Hopper’s office in Madison, NC, one night. I was young, energetic, and pretty stupid. I had a lot of life lessons to learn. I was promoting gospel concerts and selling men’s clothing while losing a lot of money in the process. Claude said, “Steve, you can learn something from everyone you meet. You may learn how to do it. You may learn how not to do it. But you can always learn.” I started applying that. I have gotten better at this over the years, and I am still learning from people today. 

You Cannot Change What You Are Willing To Tolerate

I wrote about this statement in my first book. I was listening to a TV preacher who was not particularly fond of late one night. I was struggling through difficult times. He made this statement, and it resonated with me. Part of my struggles came from the fact that I was tolerating some things in my life that were causing me great pain. The way out of my mess included no longer accepting what was going on and what I was doing. I have learned not to blame others when I have the power to fix it.

People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

The first person I ever heard say this was Zig Ziglar. I have heard it in numerous places since, and I have used it regularly myself. People will listen to you if they believe you have their best interest at heart. But even the best advice is not heeded if they don’t think you have their best interest at heart. Care about the people, and they will care about your advice.

Everyone Is Not For You

I am not sure where I first picked this up. I learned it younger, and it helped me develop a thicker skin. Sometimes we are only concerned about the people who are against us. These people are usually easy to spot. It is the people we assume are on our team but are not our supporters. We make assumptions based on their silence or empty compliments, only to realize they are weights in our lives instead of helpers. Judas kissed Jesus while John rested on Jesus’ shoulder. Both showed affection, but both were not for Him.

Leadership Is Influence. Nothing More. Nothing Less.

This title is a John Maxwell statement. There are probably hundreds of statements I could give you from him, but this is number one. It drives everything he does. It set the tone for my leadership as well. I understood that I am a steward of my influence and cannot lead unless I have it. I quickly learned that I did not have to influence everyone, but I did have to influence the right ones. I will struggle to connect with some people, but if I can influence someone that will connect with them, I get the same leadership benefits. We are all leaders because we all have influence. The question then becomes how we will use it.

This list is a start. These are the first five. If one specifically encouraged or challenged you, share that with me. We can all grow together.

4 tips for better sex in marriage

I am going to tackle a subject that is not typical for my blog – sex. Sex is one of the most important parts of marriage. It is the most intimate expression between a husband and a wife. Too often, it becomes a matter of tension in marriages because we have not been intentional about it. Life pushes it to the back of our priorities. It was probably central to the early part of the relationship, but those days are a distant memory. 

Recently I preached a sermon on sex in marriage, and I gave six reasons for sex in marriage. You can catch that sermon here. Today I want to offer some things that we have found to be important in keeping sex a priority and less of a tension. Maybe some of these will help you in your marriage.

Mutual Expectations

One of the questions that I ask in premarital counseling is, “How often do you expect to have sex?” People have expectations, even if they have never expressed them or given much thought to them. Subconsciously we have ideals that we bring into the marriage. We have the ideal sex life. The problem happens when the two parties’ standards do not match. If his perfect sex life is three times per week and hers is one time per week, trouble is on the horizon. If sex happens twice per week, he is frustrated while she thinks she exceeds expectations, and neither can understand why there is tension. Our entire married life, my wife and I have had mutual expectations about the frequency of sex. This one solution removed pressure about sex from our relationship. 

Talk About It

The most common time when couples discuss sex in marriage is during conflict. Something has created tension, and so there is a discussion. If you want to improve your sex life, have conversations without stress. On a date night, make that the topic of conversation. Talk about your likes and dislikes. Discuss ideas you have. Find code words that mean something sexual to only you and your spouse. Anything that you talk about will become more of a centerpiece to your marriage. 

Be Creative

Sex is not just for the bedroom with the blinds closed. Solomon wrote about having sex in a field. Try a different room in the house. Have sex at a different time of day instead of the last thing at night. Make a lunch appointment to both come home from work. There are many ways to be creative with your sex life that might be the very thing that brings the transformation you desire.

Understand The Value

Understanding the value of sex in marriage is an essential piece of this. God made sex pleasurable, but that is not the only thing that makes sex important. The Bible tells us that sex is for knowledge, oneness, procreation, protection, and comfort. Sex should not only be limited to the times we are stimulated and want to enjoy it. The value that it brings to the relationship means we go out of our way to make it a priority. Sex does not solve everything, but it does solve a lot of things.

Writing this was not nearly as awkward as preaching about sex. Don’t allow life to squeeze out one of the most valuable parts of marriage. There are enough other pressures in life that we cannot control. Don’t let sex be a constant area of tension in your relationship.

4 Things I Am Learning Right Now

I desire to be a lifelong learner. Things change, and I need to continue to change as well. Sometimes those changes move at a faster pace than other times. Being aware of what is going on around you and in you allows you to recognize the growth that is taking place or that needs to take place.

There are a few things that I have noticed recently. Some of them are not new, and I may have even acknowledged them previously. They just seem to be at the forefront of what is going on in my life at the moment. Here are four things I am currently learning.

One Change Can Create A Multitude Of Changes

Recently I sold a large portion of the business I owned. It was the piece that took the most energy. I just did not realize how much energy. In only 30 short days, the freedom it has brought to my life has been incredible. It has sped up the pace of change in several other places. I have more energy to devote to conversations in my marriage, with my friends, and in the church. It has allowed me to do more writing than I had been doing for the last several years. I have lots of new ideas that were just looking for a way to get out of my head. I recently had a chance to stay an extra day on vacation and took it without stressing, where I was usually trying to come back a day early. That one single change has been the catalyst for many things that are breaking through in my life. 

Presence Over Presents

Two recent trips have driven this point home. I spent six days with my wife in the Florida Keys. Then I took a day trip with my grandson to New York City. On each occasion, they both remarked how enjoyable it was to just hang with me. We all want to say we know that presence is more important than presents, but we don’t always practice it. Most of us are guilty of trying to overcome our lack of presence with extravagant presents. Don’t stop giving gifts. That says something. Just make sure you are giving your presence. It is the best gift you have.

Every Family Has Struggles

I have been preaching a series on family and marriage since the first week in January. Every week I get feedback from families about how a particular topic spoke directly to their current struggles. Or about how a personal illustration I shared encouraged them because they felt like they were the only ones with that problem. All families have issues – every single family. Some hide it better than others, but they are all wrestling through issues. You can find encouragement in the fact that you are not alone in the deep end. All families are working through their pain and shortcomings. Don’t feel isolated. You are part of the biggest club in the world: the imperfect family.

You Can Find An Example To Support Any Point Of View

There is a statistic for every theory or belief system. There is an example for every idea. There is an outlier for every issue. Finding an example does not make your case. Many of the hot button issues today are around politics or the pandemic. Most of the time, they are intertwined. Examples for and against masks. Statistics for and against a vaccine. Similarities between Hitler and the Democrats or the Republicans (depending on which point you want to make). I have no intention of making a public proclamation for or against a vaccine, but people still want to have conversations with me. Here is an example. Recently someone asked my opinion, and then they shared an example of someone who had a severe reaction to the vaccine. That was all of the information they needed. I asked if they took ibuprofen. They said they did. I then asked if they were aware of the extreme reactions of some people who have tried to take ibuprofen. They were not. I told them to look it up. Some people cannot take ibuprofen because it is dangerous to their health. I said you could find an adverse example for any kind of medicine you want. You may be able to take some medicine freely that causes other people to suffer. It makes no sense to use a single example to refute everything. 

I am learning. I am growing. I hope it is something that never stops. Be aware of what is going on in your life, and learn to grow from it. If you don’t, you will pass by a lifetime of opportunities. 

Barriers To Rest

From the beginning of creation, rest has been critical. The Bible tells us that God rested on the seventh day from all of His labors. When He created the law, a day of rest was a part of those commands. Rest is necessary for our bodies and minds to function correctly.

For most people, there are some challenges when it comes to rest. Whether we are looking at our daily need to sleep, a weekly time to rest and relax, or a block of time set aside to get away from the everyday routine, some things keep us from resting properly. 

I see four common barriers that keep most of us from resting as we should. Usually, one of these is dominant in our lives, but they can change depending on our situations. Identifying your current barriers may open the door for better rest in your life.

 

What Needed To Be Done

Successful people have things they are working on every day. They probably keep a running list of things to do. Most of us get to the end of our days without completing everything on our list. We attempt to rest, but our brain will not shut down because we are thinking about all of the things that did not get crossed off the list. The same is true for a day off or a vacation. We end up wallowing in guilt about the things we needed to do instead of appreciating the time we have.

What Needs To Be Done

Let’s say you completed all of your tasks for one day or one week. The next thing that happens is to think about the things you need to do. They may not have made your list for this week, but they certainly will be there next. We stress about Monday on Sunday or, worse yet, Friday. We spent the first two days of a vacation worrying about what we should have done, and we are spending the last two days consumed with what we will need to do when we return. Don’t let tomorrow’s to-do list rob you of today’s rest.

What Could Be Done

This one can be helpful at times, but it can also rob you of needed rest. I notice this most when I am away for a few days. My mind begins to clear. The new location opens up thinking that might usually be blocked. I start to think about all of the things I want to accomplish and the organizations that need my participation. Unlocking new ideas and creating new visions can be critical for your life and your health. But so is rest. If you are not careful, an idea to jot down for consideration at a later time will turn into a four-hour brainstorming session, and the rest starts to disappear. One way I try to work around this is to record the idea or thought immediately with a reminder for a day when I get back. I gain the idea but don’t lose the rest.

What You Are Doing

This one robs most of us. The food we eat affects our rest. The time we waste affects our rest. What we do just before trying to rest affects whether we can or not. Our phones are usually the last things we look at before closing our eyes. All of these things affect our brain and our body’s ability to shut down and rest. Having a nighttime routine or a vacation routine where you wind down before sleeping or leaving can elevate the rest you get.

Rest is a medicine; medicine for our brain and our body. It can also be medicine for relationships and organizations. You are much more valuable when you are healthy and rested than you are ragged and worn.

The Power Of Margin

I did not realize how much life-space some things were taking. I recently wrote about some reliefs I felt from selling my business. One of the clear things for years was the lack of margin I had in my life. This included the margin in just about any area, from time to finances to stress or focus. The last few years were especially difficult.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized even more of the things that the lack of margin was crowding in. My family. My spiritual life. My leadership ability. My work at the church. The relief has allowed me to think about things I had not thought about in some time. Margin is powerful.

Margin is an unused space. Margin in printing or typing leaves blank space around a large area that makes it easier to read. It allows you to know where the text begins and ends. It is space to add things that make an impact or note to remember something important. It also allows the machine space for a slight error without the page missing something.

Margin in your life is unused space. It allows there to be some definition about where some things end and other things begin. It provides space to think about things that have just happened, or that is getting ready to happen. It leaves room for changes and slight errors without there being significant damage. It gives you time to recover and to appreciate what is going on around you. It is empty so that if something needs to bleed over, it can without harming something else.

Margin applies to almost every facet of our lives. We need margin in our finances. We need margin in our time. We need margin in our relationships. Margin with our careers and jobs and places that we lead. Margin in our spiritual walk. No area will not benefit from some clarity and clean space.

Instead, we live in a culture that thrives on busy and runs on coffee. We no longer respond to the greeting “how are you?” with “fine.” Instead, now the standard reply is “busy.” We feel useful in busyness. The truth is margin could make us more effective instead of just feeding our useful ego.

I believe I will see some significant benefits of margin in the coming months. I have already seen some of it in my home and family. I encourage you to create some margin. Instead of packing every second, give yourself a little time to breathe. You might find the benefits of space are better than the hustle of busyness.

3 Reliefs From Selling My Business

Recently I sold a division of my business. I had owned a retail business that sold new and used foodservice equipment for over 30 years. We also have a division that does auctions and liquidations for major chain stores. Over the last couple of years, I have felt it was time to sell the retail part. It was the most time-consuming part of the business. I could handle everything else in blocks of time.

Over the last twelve months, we developed a plan to sell the business’s retail portion to one of our employees. That was a tedious process, but late in December, we signed the paperwork, and he became the new owner effective January 1 of this year.

People have asked me how it felt to be free. The truth is I still have plenty to do with the other things that we own, and there are loose ends to tie up from the sale of the business. I am going to find something to do regardless. But at the end of the first week, I noticed three things that were missing that were a relief. If you are a business owner, you most likely can appreciate these.

 

No Overhead

Selling equipment is a high overhead business. It is challenging to sell it if you do not have it. Foodservice equipment is large and takes up a lot of space. We had over 50,000 square feet of space, and it was packed full. We had five full-time employees. Rent and payroll costs were around $20,000.00 per month. This cost did not include any other regular expenses, only rent and payroll. People had asked about my new-found freedom, but the first Friday with no payroll was the first time I felt it. Some weeks were no problem, but it was stressful to make sure the business could pay everyone and still operate. That was the first relief I noticed.

No Scheduling

I am still consulting with the new owner to help guide him as he starts. A recent conversation we had over the weekend was about scheduling. He needed three things done on Monday, but there were only two trucks and two employees to do them. He was trying to determine what was most important and efficient. Money also played a factor. Those scheduling headaches can be challenging to manage. Everyone believes they are the most important, and telling them they have to wait an extra day or two can create tension that no one enjoys. I was glad I didn’t have to make a choice. 

Less Bookkeeping

I am a professional procrastinator when it comes to bookkeeping. It is not that I cannot do it, it is the fact that I tend to be a sales side person, and if it does not generate income, it usually gets put to the back of the line. That can cause some pain at times, and I have learned some expensive lessons by not being more diligent. With no payroll and no day to day transactions, the overall bookkeeping load is way down. I have been catching up on things that I had put off for over a year. It is almost exciting. My accountant will be happy.

I know over the next few months, there will be other moments when I recognize new freedom. I know my mental capacity is much freer already, and I am excited about the days ahead. I pray for the new owner. I pray for other business owners. Many people think it is all freedom and wealth. I know that it is often stress and debt. But they are fulfilling what they believe they need to be doing, and many of us benefit from their sacrifice. I am thankful for the relief I am experiencing, and I look forward to channeling my energy in other places where I feel called.

We Need Better Men

I feel confident that someone took offense to the title of this blog. I hope you will read on. This is not an anti-woman post. I have some limits to my ability to address issues of the opposite sex. I know my limitations and weaknesses, and many of them I share with most other men.

Men excel naturally at some things. Other things we have to work at while others we retreat from because of social pressure. I want to address a few areas that I believe will make men better, including myself.

Spirituality Is Not Feminine

The majority of church attendees are female. In some cases, churches have 70-80% women in the adult attendees. But this is not just about church attendance. Women tend to take the lead at home, teaching their children about the Bible, or praying with their children. Men abdicate their spiritual leadership to mothers. 

But statistically, when men are involved in their children’s spiritual formation, the percentage of children that continue those practices in adulthood goes up dramatically. To pray, worship, and teach your children about the Bible doesn’t make you feminine. It would probably raise the bar in your marital relationship as well as impact your children infinitely. 

You Can Be Bold and Kind

One of the flaws many men deal with is the belief that they cannot be gentle and kind while being bold and strong. This presumption is a myth. You can be bold, speak the truth, lead your family, offer correction and discipline, and be gentle and kind at the same time. Unbridled boldness leaves unnecessary destruction. It causes harm and wounds to people. Kindness, coupled with boldness, allows other people to join you on your journey instead of alienating others and forcing them to follow you because of position instead of connection.

Financial Provision Is Not The Only Provision Your Family Needs

Men are to provide resources for the welfare of their families. Multiple Bible verses emphasize this. One of the temptations is that it becomes the only thing we provide. We work hard, sometimes too hard, to provide the things our family wants and needs. We do it in the name of providing for our family. But our family needs other provisions; they need our time. They need us to teach them the things we know. They need our love and compassion. They need conversation. They need time to relax with us when nothing else needs doing. For most men, providing financial resources comes naturally. It also comes naturally to allow it to become our identity, and we fail to offer other things our family needs.

Transparency Is Strength

Somehow we believe that to be a man means nothing hurts. Somehow we are invincible, and there is never a problem. We even make our children pretend, as well. They fall and get hurt, and we tell them, “you’re not hurt, just shake it off” or “be a man.” We mask our pain and internalize our shortcomings, making us toxic or blindsiding those we love with random reactions, and no one can connect the dots. Men, some things hurt. You are not stronger because you deny it. Being transparent about the pain will make you stronger and strengthen the relationships you have. You are not strong because you say nothing hurts. You are strong because you are transparent, and others are aware and know how to respond accordingly.

Words Are Not Just A Woman’s World

Some studies say that women use 25-35,000 words per day, while most men average around 10,000 words per day. That being the case, many men have exhausted their standard word capacity by the time they see their wife and family after a day at work. For your family to be successful, some of those words must be committed to conversations at home. Wisdom for your children. Comfort for your wife. Expressions of emotions and concerns. Don’t leave all of the talking to your wife. Good communication requires two dedicated communicators.

Apologies Do Not Make You Weak

Men usually find it difficult to say I’m sorry. Some view apologies as a weakness. We have even had leaders in recent times who boasted that they had never asked forgiveness. Apologizing is one of the most healing things you can do. It will reduce tensions faster than just about anything you can do. I recently read this quote: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” Be brave, not weak. Learn to apologize sincerely.

Integrity Is Not Perfection

Integrity comes from a root word that means whole. Having integrity does not mean you are perfect; it means wholeness. When things are not perfect, you can acknowledge and find solutions that make the situation better. Pretending we are perfect only sets us up for huge disappointments when everyone finds out the truth. We are not superheroes. We are not God. We are men. We are not perfect, but we should have integrity.

The world will be a better place if we have better men. You can be a better man. I can be a better man. Take some of these things to heart, and let’s be the men our family and our world needs us to be. 

Connect on Facebook?

Products

Tweet Feeds


About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.