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3 Ways To Help People In Need

Generosity should be a characteristic of every follower of Christ. Every person has different challenges when it comes to being generous. It is easy to find a way to talk ourselves out of being generous. Some of the excuses I hear are things like:

  • I may need this later
  • They are going to waste it
  • They don’t need it
  • They can get help from the government
  • They are lazy

You are not alone if you have used any of these rationalizations not to help someone in need. Occasionally they may be accurate. But generosity is more about the heart of the giver than the receiver. One of the biggest reasons we do not help others is that we feel like we do not have enough to solve the problem, or we do not have extra resources to give anything away. If you find yourself in a situation where you are struggling to be generous, think about these three ways to help people in need.

Give Them What You Have

They may be asking for money, and you may not have any extra money. But most of us have extra things. We usually have an abundance of food we can offer. We may have something that we could sell to help the situation, or we might consider giving them something that they could sell to raise money. It could be as simple as taking them to work or taking their kids to school. If you have it, it is much easier to give. Helping someone in need is not always about exchanging cash. Most people I know have more things than they need. Be creative, as my mom says. “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” 

Teach Them What You Know

Knowledge is valuable. You may not have extra cash, but you certainly know some valuable things. You might have a skill that would improve their chances of getting a job if you taught them. You may be able to repair something that is broken instead of paying for it to be done. You may know how to create and live by a budget, and teaching them could very well solve most of their problems. You can teach someone how to prepare for a job interview. The list of things that you can teach others is endless. You know something they do not. Teach them. It very well may be the thing that solves their problem long term.

Take Them Where You Go

Barbara and I enjoy taking people’s places. There are things that people learn just by changing their location. Changing locations can create a perspective needed for solving problems. Take someone out with you on your boat or when you go shopping. They may see something, hear something, or meet someone that will be exactly what they need to improve their situation. Being the facilitator is essential. It usually costs nothing to bring people along on your journey. You are probably helping them more than you realize.

Don’t get trapped in a negative cycle that keeps you from being generous. There is a multitude of ways you can help people who are in need. Generosity benefits the giver more than the receiver. It breaks selfish traits that make us more like Christ. Practice generosity today.

Fights, Races, and Temptations

Recently I was preparing for a sermon and a funeral where the same verses in the Bible would be appropriate for both. The verse is found in 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV “I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I have kept the faith.” The writer is near the end of his life and is indicating that he has finished the work he was created to do. He was ready to die.

The application in my sermon and the application at the funeral were slightly different. For the funeral, I was reflecting on how faithful the person had been even in the most difficult of situations. Throughout a life of 100 years, he had worked to live on purpose and to fulfill God’s call on his life. In the sermon, I was reminding people of the challenges that lie ahead in the life of a believer.

That is what I want to address here. The obstacles to being faithful to your purpose and calling in this life. He mentions three specific things: a fight, a race and remaining faithful.

 

A Fight
A fight indicates an intense struggle. It involves confrontation. There may be blows exchanged and weapons used. Fights usually do not last a long time but they require focused strength for short periods of time. They are usually intense. One of the parties usually comes out the victor. Occasionally there is a draw. Rarely does one party walk away without wounds or scars.

Life will bring its share of fights. Intense moments of conflict that challenge our strength and resolve to overcome. We leave these times weary and tired and sometimes with scars that follow us the rest of our lives. There is no way to avoid the fights of life. The only thing we can do is be prepared for the fight. Lack of preparation will usually lead to defeat, or at the very least bring damage to our lives that we could have avoided. Strength to fight is critical. Fighting too much can be deadly. But understanding there are battles to face on your journey will assist you in overcoming.

A Race
Just as with fighting, racing requires preparation. The Bible speaks frequently about endurance. Distance races require high endurance. Training and preparation on the front side followed by a determination to overcome pain and inconvenience to complete the race on the back. In a long distance race, there will be many times when your body and mind will tell you to quit. It is in those moments that perseverance and endurance must win out.

Some days are easy. Other days are challenging. The race of life will have moments when the ground is level, the breeze is blowing and you are cruising. There will be other times when things feel like a steep hill with the sun blazing. Completing the race of life requires you to overcome the moments when quitting appears easier. The times when it doesn’t seem worth all the work and the moments when everything in you says stop. Matthew 24:13 tells us that the one who perseveres to the end shall be saved. Anyone can quit. It takes endurance and perseverance to finish the race.

Faithfulness
Faithfulness is constant, long standing commitment to something that you have pledged yourself to. The easiest illustration is marriage. Marriage demonstrates our willingness to remain faithful to a covenant we have made a vow to. The value of faithfulness is seen in the long term benefits of remaining steadfast. When you see someone who remains faithful to anything over a long period of time, it does not indicate they were never tempted to change direction or to quit. It just signifies they made a choice one time and then continually repeated that choice over a long period of time.

When it comes to following Christ and living a life that remains faithful, it will require a decision to start in that direction and continued decisions to fulfill that commitment over an entire life. There will be many temptations. Temptations to turn away. Temptations to disobey. It is in those moments when the decision to remain faithful must be reaffirmed and the choice made again to do what needs to be done. Remaining faithful, or keeping the faith, will require the same decision to be repeated numerous times throughout your life.

It is in the end when we see the value of these things. It is sometimes difficult to see the benefit of fighting a good fight, running a race and remaining faithful throughout our lives. But as we near the end, we can see the importance of following through in these areas. Funerals are much easier for people who have fought well, ran well and remained faithful. Make that your life determination.

4 Things To Do When You Can’t Fix It

I am a problem solver. I want to see problems solved. In my experience, it doesn’t take nearly as much effort or talent to identify a problem as it does to solve a problem. I may not solve the problem, but I will find the resources to help bring the needed resolution. 

The issue arises when it is something that is beyond my control or ability to resolve. In those situations, when I am unable to fix the problem, how should I respond? Here are four things that may help you the next time you find yourself in a situation that is beyond your control.

 

 

Do What I Can Do

I always have a responsibility. It may only be how I respond to the situation, but there is still something I can do. Sometimes when we can’t wholly resolve a problem, we default to doing nothing. That is never acceptable. You can rest in knowing that you have done everything you know to do.

Pray

As a person of faith, this is a vital part of my response to any situation. Even if I can control and work out the issue, prayer is necessary to make that happen. In the times that I cannot solve the problem, prayer gives me peace in my own heart that God will work things out.

Don’t Run

For many, their first instinct is to abandon ship in the face of trouble. People walk away from relationships, jobs, churches, and dreams because things do not turn out exactly as they expected. The only way to achieve real success in life is to walk in the right direction long enough. There are some situations you may need to abandon, but most of the time, what you need is the fortitude to stick it out. 

Be Patient

There is a saying, “time heals all wounds.” I am not sure that is entirely accurate, but I am sure that many situations can resolve in time. Not only do you need the fortitude not to run, but you need the patience to allow things to work themselves out. Sometimes what you thought was a problem needing fixing, in reality, is a shift that needs to occur for you to succeed. Patience is a virtue, and it requires practice.

There will be things in your future that you want to fix but do not have the ability to do so. Practice these four things. It may not fix it, but it will undoubtedly help you.

Staff Retreat Thoughts

We recently had our annual church staff retreat. Each year we rent a house somewhere, and our families spend a week together. We eat together. Play together. Pray together. Work together. Most of our general planning and vision casting for the coming year happens during this week.

More often than not I am one of the first ones to leave at the end of the week. I usually have something back home requiring my attention. This year I had planned a couple of days off following the retreat. I had not been away from church on a Sunday since February. That is a really long stretch for me. Even though I didn’t preach every Sunday during the pandemic, I felt I needed to be there. Having the extra couple of days allowed me to reflect on some things from the previous week. Here are four of them I want to share with you.

 

What If We Lived With The People We Work With?

We usually live in the same community or town with our co-workers, but rarely do we live under the same roof. When work was over each day, there were the same people. There are things that can only be learned in the closeness of living under the same roof. There are considerations that must be given that might not happen otherwise. Conversations take place that only happens in a home environment. There are things we learn about one another that help us adjust the way we work with them. I am not suggesting we should, but living with the people we work with would certainly change the work environment. 

Watching Children Bond Is A Teaching Moment

Children are all about having fun. Watching them spend a week together and the dynamics of their early relationship development could teach us as adults. They are not without conflict, but they are without grudges and bitterness. The adults are more likely to hold grudges about something with their children than the children are. As adults, we could learn to have more fun and get over things quickly. 

I Missed Them When They Were Gone

Before leaving, one of the little girls came and hugged my neck and told me bye. As she walked away, I thought about how I would miss having them around the house playing after they left. A couple of my grandchildren were there, and I knew I would miss them. What I realized is that I missed everyone. I missed the noise. I missed the laughter. I missed the meals and conversations. I work with these people, but I also love these people. We were meant to be in relationship with each other. Isolation is dangerous. It doesn’t take a long look around to find the dangers of loneliness. 

Worship Is A Bond

We have been doing a time of prayer and worship live on Facebook each Wednesday evening. Since we were all together, we decided to gather around a piano in the house and sing together and pray. It was a powerful moment. A single focus of worship overcame job titles and responsibilities. It overpowered differences of opinion and expectations. Worshipping together brought us together in a way that nothing else could. It just reinforced one of the things we had to talk about during our meetings.

I encourage you to take time to reflect on things in your life. Don’t walk away from a conference or a retreat and check it off your list. You will benefit very little if you do. Take the time to allow certain things to rise to the top and then see how you should move forward. 

5 Tough Questions Families Are Facing Today

The current times are putting enormous pressure on families. Calls to counselors, divorce attorneys, and domestic violence hotlines are on the rise. Everyone is navigating new territory every day. That is evident in the family unit. 

Families have had to adapt to schools closing, job furloughs, and summer plans changing. Many are frustrated by the rapidly changing landscape. Families have so many decisions to make, and all of them have consequences. Family units are asking questions and struggling to find the right answers. Even the smartest people in the world appear to be guessing. Here are five questions I am hearing families are trying to work through. 

 

 

Do I Send My Children Back To School?

For some families, this is not an option because their school system is not returning to in-person learning. Other school systems are allowing parents to choose between in-person education and remote learning. This puts parents in a difficult spot. In a home where both parents work, there is concern about who will take care of and teach them. This decision creates even more questions like “Will they be safe in the school environment?” or “What will they miss by learning from home?” This question creates a tough decision for parents that has long term implications.

Is The Financial Model Of Our Family Healthy?

The most recent statistics suggest that 78% of American families live paycheck to paycheck. If one of them loses their job or needs to be home with a child for education purposes, those families have no idea how they will survive. Is there a better way to move forward in making choices beneficial for our family? This may be the time to pursue becoming debt-free or to adjust your budget. Financial flexibility is critical in uncertain times.

Who Do I Trust For Guidance?

As I mentioned earlier, even the most brilliant minds seem to be guessing right now. What was a fact yesterday has changed because of a new discovery or a different understanding? Add to that the people who are intentionally trying to mislead people. We have access to so much information. Virtually anyone can post information and make it look like official news. Almost every voice has a certain angle they want to promote, which compromises their integrity. Having the discernment to know which voices to guide you is a challenge for every family unit. 

What Does The Future Look Like?

“I can’t wait for things to get back to normal” is the cry of everyone. No one knows when that will be or what “normal” will look like when it does. Is remote learning here to stay? Will I have a job in the future. Are certain parts of our culture changing? We want to plan for the future, but it seems less predictable than ever.

What Does All Of This Mean?

The virus. Racial tensions. Political division. Murder hornets. Saharan dust clouds. This is an endless list. All of these things seem to be converging at once. What does it all mean? Is it the end of the world as we know it? Are their spiritual implications? Is this the end times? We should be learning from every situation. There is something for us to walk away with from all of these circumstances. No one can tell you how things will turn out or what the result will be. What we can do is be open to learning so that whatever the result is, we are prepared. I can’t tell you what everything means. I can tell you that I must keep learning and growing. 

What questions are you asking right now? How are these times affecting your family? I would love to hear from you.

3 Things I Am Seeing As A Leader More Than Ever

Leadership is a process of learning and growing. If you are not learning and growing, you will not lead effectively. We face challenges and changes that test where we are on our leadership journey. The pace of change and the problems that it can bring reveals new challenges to us almost every day.

We are currently facing a worldwide pandemic. There are shared experiences with leaders around the world that we have never had before. I see things every day that I have never before seen. I am reminded of things that I had long forgotten. I see certain things becoming more prevalent than they were before. Over the last couple of months, I have noticed three things more than ever.

 

 

There Is No Perfect Solution

Every single organization is trying to deal with the current situation to the best of their ability. Most of the leaders I talk to are frustrated because every week changes are needing to be made. There are new government directives every week that challenge the most agile organizations. Everyone keeps talking about “normal”, but no one is sure what normal is or what it will be. There is no single person or organization that has a perfect solution. If you are waiting for the perfect solution, you are probably wasting valuable time. Perfection is just a fancy word for procrastination. 

People Choose The “Right” They Are Most Comfortable With

Everyone has their own version of right. I find it interesting the hoops we can jump through to justify a position we have. We have groups of people who believe the government can’t tell you what to do with your body therefore it should be a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion while at the same time they believe the government should tell everyone to wear a mask. We have people on the other side who believe abortion is not a choice, but that the government can’t tell them to wear a mask. We want tolerance while we shame people that do things we cannot tolerate, all the while justifying our tolerance and our shaming with intellectual theatrics. Justifying our behaviors while judging the actions of others is nothing new. In the current, it is more exaggerated than ever. 

Progress Is More Important Than Perfection

What do we do now? If you are waiting on “normal” to return before you attempt to move forward, there could be nothing left to move. Challenges are facing everyone and every organization right now. The question we have to answer is “how do we make progress when it will not be perfect and the situation is not ideal?” Children are at risk if they go to school, and many are at risk if they stay home. There is no perfect solution. What can be done that moves students forward, even if it is not perfect? Those are the type of questions everyone is dealing with. From families to businesses to government, the challenges are real. If we want to keep leading, we will have to choose progress over perfection and keep moving things forward.

What are you noticing right now? Wherever you are leading and whatever you are dealing with, remember that you are not by yourself. Keep leading. You are needed now more than ever. 

7 Things Contributing To The Current Climate Of Divisiveness

People are divided right now. I have not found a single person who would disagree with that statement. The difficulty is finding someone who believes they are a part of the problem. The current state of affairs didn’t appear overnight. This divisiveness has been slowly growing over a number of years for a number of reasons. In recent years there are certain things that have accelerated the division and deepened the divides.

Awareness of the things that are creating division can help us avoid some of them. It can also make us more aware of how we may be part of the problem and how we can participate in the solution. Here are seven things I see contributing to the divisiveness around us.  

 

We Have Lost The Ability To Disagree

We use cliches like “we will agree to disagree” but virtually no one really believes that. We are intent on convincing the other person they are wrong. If we do not agree with each other, we tend to separate. We group with people who look like us, think like us and want the things we want. We no longer just disagree, we divide.

Inflammatory Rhetoric By Leaders

Leaders are not ignorant of the fact that people are choosing division over a disagreement, so they create raving fans by appealing to the extremes. They believe it is better to have a few raving fans than a lot of lukewarm followers. These leaders will say whatever is necessary to excite their fan base while ignoring those not fully committed to their cause. What they say doesn’t have to be true or wise, it only has to appeal to a certain bias.

Analysis Over Information

There has been a lot written over the impact of the 24-hour news cycle and news networks on society. 24-hour television news networks are made for profit, not for information. The only way they can profit is to create raving fans which require them to appeal to a certain bias. These outlets have become purveyors of opinionated analysis over information. On any given network they will give you a few seconds of information followed by a panel of three to eight people telling you what they believe that information means. There is an abundance of biased analysis and very little unbiased information. On the other hand, the local news stations have limited time so information tends to be more important than analysis. 

More Talking And Less Listening

Everyone has a platform so they are talking and not listening. Social media has been the largest contributor to this. Everyone has the ability to tell everyone what they think and so they do. Every opinion gets equal billing even if they are not equally informed. Normal personality rules do not apply either. Even people who are normally quiet in a public gathering or meeting, or who normally go to great lengths to avoid conflict, will be overly confrontational on platforms where there is no face to face contact.

Points Over People

Our point reigns supreme. We are more intent on making our point than we are having a relationship with people. We will go to great lengths to prove our point no matter the cost to the relationship. You learn quickly in a marriage that there are times when being right is not nearly as important as having peace in the relationship. Sometimes we should seek peace with people over making a point with people. 

Politics Over Principle

People are more committed to their political parties than to their personal convictions. There are way too many people who refuse to address certain issues because they are afraid people will identify them with the wrong political party. Live your life by principles, not politics. 

Separation

This is relatively new on the scene but is accelerating the division. During the current pandemic, many gatherings have been eliminated. People are working from home. Kids are not going to school. Families are not going to church. The isolation insulates us from people who are different from us so we start to believe that our way must be right. Lack of community in any situation will inflame division. Some of the separations may be helping us stay physically healthy but it is quickly eroding relational health and there are long term implications that a vaccine will not repair. 

We can be part of the solution if we choose to. We must first be aware of how each of these things is affecting us then we will need to be intentional to seek health in our relationships.

When My Life Looks Normal And Yours Doesn’t

Over the last few months, much of my life has looked more normal than ever. In my role as a pastor, I was still at church each week even though we were preaching to an empty room. The fact that we could not meet has created some extra things that I needed to attend to on a daily basis.

The business I own fell into the essential category and with restaurants closed, many of them were updating their places so we have been busy. A couple of things we were doing for some major retail chains continued so all of my employees were working more than ever.

On the other hand, my wife’s life looked a lot different. She was not able to go to church each week for a couple of reasons. One, we were only allowing staff and necessary volunteers in the building.

Second, since we were not having church, the grandkids needed somewhere to be since their mom also works at the church so they stayed home with Barbara. Barbara is normally at the door greeting people each Sunday and making sure the cafe at the church runs smoothly. She speaks to local organizations about human trafficking and those events have all been on hold.

During the week, the grandkids were out of school so they were at the house more than normal since mom was working. I was often busy, so a house that was usually quiet during the day had lots of activity. Even TJ Maxx was closed so she had no retail therapy outlet.

There would be times I would sense her frustration and she would tell me that my life was continuing as normal while most of the things she did on a regular basis had come to a complete halt. I have to admit that I had little empathy. I was busier than ever and it was difficult for me to appreciate how different her life was looking at that moment. 

Things are beginning to change a little as restrictions ease up, but it caused me to reflect on how easy it is to discount other people’s problems because our life looks normal. We are naturally self-absorbed and selfish people. As long as everything is good in our world we assume that everything is just fine for everyone else. In reality, that is never the case. There is always someone in your life whose life is turned upside down.

They may have lost their job or a loved one has passed away. They may be struggling in their marriage or just trying to figure out how to be a parent. Their job may be stressful or their finances may be in turmoil. They may have received a bad report from their doctor and are not sure what the future holds.

We have all been there. We have been in a place where our lives were turned upside down while everyone else acted like life was normal. It was to them. You would think because we had walked in those shoes we would pause for people and be empathetic about their situation. That is usually not the case. Most of the time if our life is good, then we live as if everyone else is living the good life as well.

Right now someone in your life is struggling. They may not have communicated it well and it may not appear to be very bad from the outside. They could use someone to understand. Just to sit and listen while they empty their struggles for a brief moment. You may be so busy right now that you haven’t stopped to be there for them. But you can relate and you should let them know.

Just because your life looks normal does not mean that everyone else’s does. A little empathy for their plight would go a long way to helping them deal with these times. It will create a stronger relationship and you might even find they will be there for you when the roles are reversed. 

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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.