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Pressures Crisis Places On The Family

Everyone is under pressure right now. Pressure to make decisions. Pressure to perform in an unknown environment. Pressure to care for people who are sick while putting their own life at risk. Financial pressure. Relationship pressure. And not least of all family pressure.

There is probably no place that is experiencing the effects of this worldwide pandemic like the family unit. Kids are out of school and parents are having to juggle other responsibilities with trying to help their child stay on pace and prepared for next year. Many people are working from home putting more people in the house than normal. Some people have lost their jobs which affects the family unit. Not to mention families that are actually dealing with the infection of a family member and possibly even death. 

Crisis causes us to deal with things we were not prepared for while at the same time revealing things we had no idea were there. Each person responds differently to pressure, but even the best responses reveal things that are sometimes ugly and even painful. I am not sure what you are seeing in your family right now, but here are a few of the things people are talking to me about.

Crisis Exposes Our Weak Points

We do not get to choose how we respond in crisis. We respond out of who we are. Response to a crisis is automatic. Whether we know it or not, we have been preparing how we were going to respond for years. It is in those moments of crisis that we are revealed for who we really are. There is no time to prepare or repair at that point. We are just exposed.

All of us have areas of weakness. Whatever those weaknesses are they tend to be front and center during difficult times. Crisis does not make a person as much as it reveals a person. Sometimes we are shocked because we thought we had dealt with certain things long ago. Others can be surprised because they find out things about you that you had been able to keep hidden in times of normalcy. Things that are not defined ahead of time are hard to define in crisis. In battle, a weak point that fails can put the strongest forces at risk. When our weak places are revealed it often invites fear and frustration into our lives and our family.

Normal Roles Are Challenged

Most likely your family has some fairly defined roles. In our home, there are things I focus on and other things my wife focuses on. It does not mean that we do not help each other, but it does mean we depend on one another to carry their weight so the other one does not have to worry about certain things. Almost every organization works this way from businesses to churches to government. We are dependent on everyone else filling their roles for things to operate smoothly.

In a crisis, it is an all-hands-on-deck mode. Roles get fuzzy and responsibilities start to bleed. We are trying to survive. The problem is that we end up doing things that we do not enjoy, things we are not sure how to do or things that we are just not good at. This tends to make us frustrated and irritable which only adds extra pressure to our family unit. Understanding that this is not permanent can help us chip in for the short term to make things work smoothly.

Intimacy Fades

When crisis comes and routines fade one of the first victims is intimacy. Stress is one of the greatest inhibitors to physical intimacy which seems strange because physical intimacy is one of the biggest relievers of stress. In crisis, we tend to use all of our energy trying to keep things together and we forget that we need intimacy with one another. In the current crisis, the lack of intimacy is heightened because the normal hugs, handshakes, and high fives are no longer a good idea while we practice social distancing. People need intimacy. There is never a time you have to be more intentional about intimacy than in crisis.

Grief From Loss

In this crisis, there are people who are grieving from the loss of a loved one. We are all familiar with the grieving associated with death. But in this crisis, there are many things people are grieving about, sometimes without even realizing that is what is going on. 

People are grieving the loss of a job. Almost everyone is grieving not being able to gather with others and share the relationships we crave so deeply. We are experiencing a loss of freedoms for a while. We have lost certain pleasures like taking trips or going out to eat at a restaurant. Grief creates sadness and brokenness. Give the people in your house some space to grieve whatever they have lost. Support and encourage one another. Grief should always be temporary.

There are so many other things I could discuss here. Things like how we get defensive when our weaknesses are pointed out or how we can overlook things in small doses but when we are together 24/7 it seems like the worst flaw in the world. Understand that everyone is feeling some pressure right now. You are not alone. Your family is not alone. Your marriage is not the only one. Know what the pressures are. Work at alleviating them and then be intentional to come out of this a better unit than when this started. Crisis does not have to crush you. It can grow you if you allow it.

Keep Some Routine Even In The Midst Of Crisis

How many words can you think of to describe what is going on in the world right now? Chaotic. Unprecedented. Uncharted. These are certainly unusual times that are requiring unusual measures. No sporting events. Limited church gatherings. Stores and businesses closed. Schools are closed. So many of our daily routines have been thrown to the side. Some of that is useful. We need to have our routine disrupted occasionally to shake us out of the ruts we’ve found ourselves in. But in times of crisis and uncertainty, some sense of normalcy is needed.

The first few days after things started to change, my daily routine had to be set to the side. It became early mornings and late nights talking to people, writing, thinking through some issues, having meetings and just trying to prepare for what was going to take place. This crisis was affecting the church I pastor and the business I own as well as my family. My entire day is rarely planned out, but I have a morning routine that I do my best to guard.

I am usually up no later than 6 AM. I read my Bible and pray, read at least one chapter in a book, exercise, spend some time writing and three days a week I do a live video at 7 AM. I rarely take appointments prior to noon. All of my sermon prep is done during the mornings. I try to guard this time. Whenever it is disrupted it can affect the rest of my day. My goal is to have done by noon anything that has to be done so that I can deal with what someone else needs done for the balance of the day. Even on Sunday, I have a morning routine. Though we have not had people in the building, I have still preached for our live stream and I have kept the very same routine.

Once it became clear that this crisis was going to last for a period of time and that there would be challenges to deal with every day, I determined that I wanted to make sure I kept my morning routine. I wanted that part of my life to look as normal as possible so that I could deal with the abnormal things that were coming at a rapid pace. I cannot control many of the things that are changing around me, but a little normalcy in my life will allow me to deal with the things I cannot control a little better.

I am sure much of your daily routine has been upended as well. I encourage you to find parts of it that you can keep. It will bring some normalcy to your life when you need it most. Everything doesn’t have to change. Some things can and should remain the same. Some of your life may need disruption but some may also need to remain steady. It will offer a strong foundation for the changing days ahead.

 

3 Good Things That Can Take Place Right Now

Strange. Challenging. Unusual. Unprecedented. All of this and more. There are so many ways to describe the time we are experiencing in the world with the Covid-19 virus pandemic. Especially here in the United States where we think we are exempt from things like this. Almost every area of our life is being affected by the current challenges.

It is easy to find the bad and talk about the stress, but what good is taking place right now? What things should be taking place that could be beneficial to us? Here are three good things that could be, and should be, taking place in your life right now. 

 

 

Stretch Yourself

Whether you like it or not, you are currently being stretched. You are having to learn to work from home or be a school teacher for your children. Things that just a few weeks ago were not on your agenda. Most of us are learning just how little control we actually have on the things going on around us. We are being challenged relationally, either because we cannot visit the people we love OR we are forced to spend more time with our family.

This is a perfect time to stretch yourself. Instead of complaining about working from home, learn some new methods that make you more productive. Learn a new language or skill with the extra time you have been given. Improve a skill that has gotten rusty. Work on that relationship issue that has been overlooked for years and is now the elephant in the room. Read a book that is out of your normal genre. If you don’t read at all, just start reading. Things that are regularly stretched stay pliable and can usually adapt more easily in times of difficulty. Things that do not regularly stretch become brittle and often break with the slightest movement. Stretching is good and it is better to do it by choice than to break by force.

Prepare for What’s Next

When we come out of this, things are going to look completely different than they do now. The job landscape will be different. The economy is going to be different. Many people are going to be without jobs. Why not prepare for that now. Some people hate the job they have. Why not use this time to prepare for a new one? Learn a new skill or cultivate a new relationship in a place that you want to be.

There are going to be opportunities coming out of this crisis. Opportunities to invest or start something new. Most people’s finances are going to look different than they did pre-quarantine. Are you looking at that and preparing?  Instead of hiding in the dark, use some of this time to prepare for the sun to rise again. It will. What will you do when it does?

Refocus Your Priorities

It is always amazing to see how priorities come into focus in crisis. I asked a question recently on social media: “What one thing are you most looking forward to in the future?”. Overwhelmingly the responses had to do with seeing family or being with family again. Just a few weeks prior the answers would have centered around an event they wanted to go to or a life goal they hoped to achieve. Crisis suddenly revealed the priority of the family. Teachers suddenly have great value as parents work through trying to work with them at home. Even the appreciation of a simple thing like toilet paper seems to rise to the top of our list.

In the busyness of life, it is easy for our priorities to become misguided. Jobs take precedence over family. Time gets compromised. Relationships get pushed to the back burner. What we really need in life takes a back seat to the things culture thinks we need. Now is a perfect time to realign your priorities and develop ways to keep them first, even when things return to some normalcy.

There is no question we are all facing challenges. These are not easy days. But there are some good things that could be and should be taking place right now. Be determined to grow when others are falling apart. Good things can happen even in the worst of times. 

3 Things We Can Find Anywhere In The World

This past week we took our third trip to Argentina to teach church systems and leadership in a partnership with Hacienda Iglesia. We are working with pastors in the cities of Salta and JuJuy. We go there to share knowledge and experience with the pastors and their leaders. Inevitably, we walk away having learned some things as well.

I have found this to be a universal theme when I travel to different places: there is always something for me to learn. One of the dangers of staying so close to home is that we believe everyone and every place are completely different. What I usually find is that we are more alike than different. Though the people we work with in Argentina speak a different language and live on a different continent, their lives and their homes look much like mine. Here are just a few of the things I observed on this trip.

 

We Have The Same Struggles

The first place this came to my attention on this trip was at dinner one evening. Their dinner ritual is a little different from ours where timing is concerned. They normally eat between 10-11 PM on weeknights and around midnight on the weekends. It was around midnight every night when we ate. The pastor and his family took us to dinner on Thursday evening. He has two children ages 11 and 8. The 8-year-old boy wanted to look at his father’s smartphone and he would not let him so he was upset. Perhaps due to preference but more likely in protest, he did not want to eat the food at the restaurant. His mother went down the street to get him a hotdog. This made me chuckle because I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a very similar situation play out with our grandchildren or other families in our area.

On the last night we were there we were having another late dinner. While we sat there and talked, the pastor’s wife shared a place where she was struggling and how broken she felt. It was a situation that all of us have dealt with before and had all experienced the brokenness of the same situation. We were able to comfort and encourage her right at that moment. Even with the language barrier, the pain was obvious. No one in any part of the world is exempt from life’s challenges and struggles.

There Is Beauty Everywhere

South America is filled with old churches. Wherever I travel I love to visit old churches and sit for a while. I like to think about the people who have come through those churches and sermons that have been preached. We visited a couple of churches on this trip, but this time we had a full free day. The pastor took us on a drive into the mountains to a little town with wineries called Cafayette. The town was a beautiful little place, but the scenery on the drive was breathtaking. It looked so much like Arizona and Utah in the US. Beautiful mountains and canyons with incredible colors. There is beauty to behold in every part of the world. Anywhere we go we can experience the beauty of God’s creation. We just need to open our eyes and see it. 

The Same Spirit

On Thursday and Sunday night I was able to share with a local congregation. One was a leadership event and the other was a regular Sunday service. Both times they opened with worship music. Some of the songs I knew and could sing along in English. Others I did not know. The one thing that was clear is that the same Holy Spirit I experience when signing in English in my home church was the same Holy Spirit I experienced thousands of miles away in a language I do not speak. The beauty of taking communion with the people of God who have also been redeemed by Jesus Christ was the same. That closeness you feel when you are assembled together to worship is just as true in Argentina as it is in the US. You can experience the presence of God anywhere at anytime.

I am thankful that I get to have these experiences. It allows me to grow as a leader and appreciate the Body of Christ worldwide. If we open our eyes when we are traveling, we can learn to appreciate how much we have in common instead of believing that there are so many things that divide us. We live in a big world but we serve a bigger God.

10X GrowthCon 2020 Day One Favorite Quotes

Last year I was introduced to Grant Cardone and the 10X movement. One of my mentors, John Maxwell, was speaking at this conference; that was the first thing that got my attention. I also have a couple of friends who attended this conference last year, so my interest was high. When tickets went on sale I purchased two for my wife and I. This environment would be completely different than most conferences I attend, but I am a firm believer that you cannot grow in your comfort zone. So we made hotel and airline reservations and scheduled to attend.

There were many famous speakers scheduled to be there as well as some I did not know. Some of the more recognized names were Magic Johnson, Scooter Braun, and Kevin Hart. There would be some unadvertised speakers show up like John Travolta, Dana White, and Usher. As with every conference, the three days were packed with information. I will write a separate blog with quotes for each day so here are my favorite takeaways from Day One.

Grant Cardone

  • The top of the food chain looks for help. Everyone else looks for excuses.
  • When you don’t find the right help, the wrong help will show up on its own.
  • Don’t read 10 books. Read one great book 10 times.
  • Finding help will make your life easier.

 

 

Magic Johnson

  • You have to help yourself
  • Know your customers. Know what they want, then over-deliver to them.
  • Protect your reputation.
  • Don’t have poor dreams.
  • Partnerships
    • Have partnerships. It is the only way to multiply.
    • Get the right partners with the expertise you do not have.
  • Pass success on to your children.
  • Money will not help you unless you learn how to use it.
  • Work for growth and sustainability.
  • Keep looking until you find someone who will help you.

 

Elena Cardone

  • You cannot afford to be petty when you are growing something.
  • Every decision either creates or destroys.

 

Scooter Braun (my favorite from day one)

  • Success and failure live next door to each other.
  • If you 10X and do not have your priorities straight, it does not matter.
  • Fame doesn’t change you, it highlights who you are.
  • Don’t let money be a prison. Allow it to set you free to enjoy life.
  • Find your genius. Everyone has a space where they excel.
  • Stop counting everyone else’s money. Comparison is a trap.
  • Network horizontally and grow together.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire.
  • The only great deals are where everyone wins.
  • Maintain your word and your integrity.
  • 10X is freedom in your soul (the preacher loved this one).
  • Your goals are your goals. Who you are while you are going after your goals is what matters.

 

 

Dany Garcia

  • If you are going to do something that has never been done before there may not be a process. You may have to develop the process yourself.
  • People respond best to you when you are your authentic, best self.
  • Hire people who are better than you at something.
  • Your face is going to be in the wind if you achieve success.
  • You cannot do it all, so do what you want and what you love.

 

Dana White

  • The big battle is knowing what you want to do.
  • Life is too short to be miserable.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect time. Don’t be afraid to take your shot.
  • Hard places require you to creatively think to survive.
  • If you are a miserable person, you will be one thousand times more miserable with money.

 

Brandon Dawson

  • Every life has breakpoints. You either break up or break down.
  • Thoughts and actions will not continually contradict each other.
  • You cannot influence if you are not an example.
  • Money flows to problem solvers. The bigger problems you solve the more money will flow.

 

 

I got excited just reading some of these notes as I typed them. You can’t apply all of these but take one today and put it to use. Start the process of changing your life 10X. More to come in the days to follow. 

My Favorite Quotes from the 2020 XO Marriage Conference

The 2020 XO Marriage Conference was fantastic. My wife and I sat with over 50 other couples at our church to learn from some of the best speakers on the topic of marriage. Attending conferences can feel like you are drinking from a fire hydrant. One of the best ways to retain the information is to review my notes a few times in the days that follow. Another way to improve my retention is to write about some of the things I learned. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the conference.

 

 

Jimmy Evans

  • You can only be intimate in an atmosphere of safety.
  • If we could reach our own potential God would not have given us a spouse.
  • Lukewarm Christians are a bad advertisement for a great God.
  • Any relationship that is not growing is dying.
  • Selfish people are brutalized in marriage.
  • God doesn’t use shame. Satan does.

Michael Todd

  • The place of burial and the place of planting look the same for a season.

Robert Morris

  • God created marriage to kill you. (Some context would help here. You cannot be one in spirit without first dying to self)

Mark Driscoll

  • Everything God tries to build Satan tries to break.
  • If you do not lead your family, Satan will.

Bianca Olthoff

  • God rewards those who just don’t give up.

 

Dave and Ashley Willis

  • No possession is worth sacrificing the peace of the home.
  • Don’t punish your spouse for being wired differently.

 

Though these were spoken in the context of larger lessons, maybe one of these quotes will speak to you about something you can be working on in your marriage. Every one of us can have the marriage of our dreams.

It Is Not Just Money

I consider generosity to be one of my core values. It is also one of five core values for the church that I pastor. Usually, when we think of generosity and giving, it is in terms of money or resources. Though it should never be our motivation, I believe that we always get back more than we give. Unfortunately, this has been taught in manipulative ways to make people believe if they give $10 they will get $100 or $1,000 back. That very well may happen, but there is no formula for this.

Sometimes the return for giving comes in a completely different form than what we gave. There will be some people who will argue that you cannot plant an apple seed and get oranges and thus if you give money then you will get money back. But it is so much more than that. You do not plant an apple seed and get an apple. You first get an apple tree long before you get an actual apple. A tree that provides shade. A tree that gives rest to birds. A tree for beauty that everyone can behold. Before there is any fruit to enjoy, there is a tree that brings pleasure to many. What we get in return for our generosity may provide so many other things before we realize there is a financial blessing.

One of the verses that gets quoted frequently about giving and receiving is Luke 6:38. It says, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38 NLT). Is this about money? Well, it can be. If you give I truly believe you will receive more than you ever give. But I do not believe it is just about money. As a matter of fact, the two previous verses tell us some other things we can receive in return. They say, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or  it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:36-37 NLT) If we judge, we will receive judgment. If we condemn, we will receive condemnation. If we forgive, we will receive forgiveness. The principle of giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, applies to just about anything in your life. If you want to receive something, one of the best things we can learn to do is give it.

So today, practice generosity. Practice giving what you want or need to receive. Learn to offer mercy and forgiveness. Learn to pass on judgment and condemnation. Don’t stop giving money. Just learn that giving and receiving is not just about finances. It is a principle that applies to everything in life. What you give will always return more than you gave.

Marriage and Death

I recently had a very unusual day. Nothing really unusual happened, just a few things that fell into place at the same time that caused me to think about some specific things. One of the things I had been preparing to attend for a while, the other is hard to prepare an exact time. I had planned to attend a wedding. What I had not planned was attending a funeral the same day. The two events together caused me to think about how they relate to our relationship with Christ and what life is really about.

Weddings

Weddings are very symbolic in the Bible and in our relationship with Christ. Jesus’ first public miracle was performed at a wedding feast. Paul chose to use marriage as the symbol of Christ’s relationship to the church. As a matter of fact, the believers are called the Bride of Christ. Marriage is important to our relationship with Christ. There is no other earthly relationship that will mirror our relationship with Christ as a Christ-like marriage will. We are told that we find sanctification in marriage. Husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves the church. Love is such a powerful force in marriage.

I do not think we realize how much these two relationships are tied together and how much of our spiritual walk is impacted by our relationship with our spouse. The two cannot be separated. Our relationship with our spouse and our relationship with Christ look very similar. As one grows so does the other. As I watched the young couple walk down the aisle, I doubt becoming like Christ was at the forefront of their mind, but it certainly was mine. I was challenged to continue to see the transformation continue in my marriage and in my relationship with Christ. 

Funerals

A funeral is the final earthly celebration of a life well-lived. At least that is what we all hope for. The funeral was for a gentleman who was 90 years old and had been married for 68 years. 90 years is a long life. 68 years of marriage to one person is extraordinary. Imagine the sanctifying work that can be done in that period of time; the things that come to the surface that you thought you had dealt with long ago or that you never even knew were an issue. By all accounts, it was a powerful work. The stories told at the funeral of his strength, wisdom, and steadiness were reminders of the work that Christ wants to do in our lives.

Funerals really should be a celebration of how much we have become like Christ while on this earth. The stories should be testimonies of the work he has done in our life. The thing that had me thinking the most was that everyone in that room was talking about how this gentleman looked like Christ on this earth while he was already celebrating being with Christ in eternity. He had finally achieved full transformation.

We should all strive daily to become more like Christ. We should allow every situation to reveal in us the things that resemble Him and challenge the things that do not. There is no other relationship that will do that like marriage. We will never achieve complete transformation on this earth but our goal should be to resemble Christ as much as possible so that the stories told at our funeral will reveal Him to the people in the room while we celebrate the complete transformation of eternity.

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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.