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4 Qualifications for National Leaders

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The book of Exodus reveals to us the beginning stages of the nation of Israel. Until they entered Egypt, they were basically a single family unit. After years in slavery, their numbers had grown to what some people estimate to be over 1 million Israelites that left Egypt for Canaan. Moses was the leader of this group of people and began to reach a point of being overwhelmed. His father-in-law recognizes the struggle that Moses is having and offers him some advice on how to add other leaders to share the burden for this new nation. Initially they would probably be called judges, but they were there to make decisions and settle disputes. The advice that Jethro offered to Moses included some qualifications for the people that he was to choose. In Exodus 18:21 it is recorded But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. There are four specific requirements for these leaders: capable, honest, God-fearing, and hating bribes. Each of these qualifications seem basic to any leadership position that we may need to fill. Let’s take a look at how we may be able to apply these to your own life.

 

Capable

For any leadership position, skills are important. It is very difficult to have influence in situations you know nothing about. It is clear that we should be concerned about the qualifications of leaders, especially leaders of a nation. They must have skills to deal with the complex and difficult issues that arise. These skills may not always be gained in the same fashion. Often we have looked for people with certain military or political experience. Both of these can be beneficial, but may not be necessary. However, it is critical that they have developed certain skills for the job or position they are seeking.

 

Honest

There are many stereotypical jokes about political leaders that could be made here. It is unfortunate that politicians are often viewed as dishonest. Some of this is because they cannot always provide what they said they would provide due to their lack of consideration of the actual reach and scope of their power. Other times it is because their lives are so public that if they decide to change their position on an issue (as all of us do from time to time), it is viewed as a lack of integrity rather than a better understanding of a subject. Then unfortunately, there are other times when they are just truly dishonest. In any case, honesty and integrity should be critical components of the people we choose to lead us. You do not have to agree on issues to have integrity. But to lead effectively and for the benefit of the people, you must have strong character.

 

God-fearing

Depending on your stance where faith or Christianity is concerned, this may or may not be on your list. It is important to me. God-fearing does not always mean that someone believes like I believe, but it does mean that they have an understanding of life and a purpose that is bigger than themselves. It is clear in the Bible that God was able to use men that did not recognize him, at least in the beginning. Cyrus, Artaxerxes and even Herod were men that God used to accomplish his work even though they never believed or feared Him. However, I do believe the greatest good is accomplished when men fear God and work to accomplish the greater good.

 

Hate Bribes

Our country has laws that govern the exchange of bribes for favors. It has never stopped them from exchanging hands and truthfully, many leaders find other ways to exchange favors or decisions without the direct exchange of money. Hating a bribe does not just mean that you will not take money for a specific vote. I believe the hating of bribes indicates you feel so strongly about doing what is right and best that there is no amount of favor or exchange, ever how they may appear, that would deter you from doing what needs to be done. This can often be difficult.  I am convinced however, that if our leaders would do what was best and right, regardless of the cost to them personally, our country would be better for it. Leadership is about sacrifice.

 

It is possible you have some things that you would add to this list. It is clear that Israel started out with leaders that held these as important. As you consider over the next weeks and months who you will choose to lead our nation, take these qualifications into account and see how your candidate measures up.

3 Strengtheners To Help Take That First Step

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In 1960 the first automatic door was installed. It operated with a mat actuator. When you stepped on the mat, the door automatically opened for you. I can recall most automatic doors working only with mat actuators. Most automatic doors today work with some sort of movement sensor that detects when you are close to the door. With either type of sensor, it requires you to take a step close to the door for the door to open. The door will open for us provided we are willing to take the step toward it. The door opening is dependent on our willingness to step.

How often do we see this same principle play out in other areas of our lives? Opportunities that will open themselves to us provided we are willing to take the initial step. With an automatic door, there have been so many people who have tried it before you and you have so many other previous experiences with them that taking that first step is easy. It is a tested experienced that usually has little risk. But many of the opportunities that we are faced with in our lives carry great amounts of uncertainty and some have not been tried enough times to give us the assurance that it will work.

We see this uncertainty play out in many areas of our lives. It can be seen in a first date, a new job, a new idea or a new business venture. It may be a part of a change we need to make in our life or learning a new skill or moving away to college. Every opportunity we have not tried comes with uncertainty and risk. If we are not careful, we will pass on great opportunities out of fear. If we would just take that first step, we may realize that it is easier than we expected. Just as the automatic door only opens when you step toward it, opportunities are only seized if we are willing to take the first step toward them. Here are three things that can assist all of us in taking that first step toward opportunity.

Educate Yourself
One of the best ways to help you take the first step to any opportunity is to educate yourself about the opportunity or situation. Learning more about any opportunity is wise. It will give you insight into some of the risks you’re taking and possibly reveal additional rewards that may be available. There is virtually nothing we cannot learn more about with the availability of information on the Internet. Much of it is free, but more is available for a small investment. There are YouTube videos, podcasts, college level courses, blogs and more on just about any subject you can imagine. There is no excuse for not being educated about something that we are wanting to do or accomplish.

Find Others With Experience
It is possible that you are the pioneer in an area, but most of the time we are just venturing into territory that is new to us. If you are a pioneer in an area, you can still glean information from related situations and people who can offer feedback and wisdom. If it is just a new venture for you, then you should seek out wisdom from people who have already achieved some measure of success or who are a few steps ahead of you in the process. Get feedback and advice from them. Read books from people who have traveled the journey that you are getting ready to take. It is likely that you already have people in your circle that can be of great assistance. We have to get over our fear of rejection. I have found that people are usually willing to assist if they possibly can, especially when the investment they are making into you is wisdom.

Failure Is Rarely Final
Some people would say that failure is not final. Although, there are a few occasions where failure could be the end, it is a rare circumstance. We should adjust our view of failure. Every time something doesn’t work, it is a learning experience. We gain knowledge that we would not have otherwise. The only people who have never failed at something are the people who have never tried anything. Every success is littered with failures and problems, but they became invaluable in the process of achieving the greater success. Failures and mistakes should be used as steps to making the end greater and stronger than it would have been without them. Don’t be ashamed about failure unless you chose not to learn from it.

Maybe you have an initial step that you need to take today. It could be in a business, an investment, a relationship or some other area of your life. You will probably be surprised at what doors will open for you if you will have the courage to walk toward them.

Honoring and Understanding Your Spouse

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There are many verses in the Bible that single out a man or a woman, husband or a wife, but often these verses can be applied to both sexes or both spouses. This would be true of a verse that one of Jesus’ disciples Peter would pen when he wrote a letter that is identified by his name in the Bible. It says:

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 NLT

Honor and understanding. If we take a few minutes and apply this to both spouses, what can we learn from that? How do both of these words affect our marriage? What does it mean to honor or understand one another?

The word honor implies a good name or public esteem. It lends itself to our reputation. It also means that we offer respect. In the context of marriage it is important for both of us to protect the other’s good name and reputation. Not only with our own actions, but also in the context of how we portray their own flaws, failures and shortcomings to others. We must guard their reputation and not harm them by tearing them down to others, no matter how hurt or angry we may be. But we should also honor and respect them by making sure they are first in our human relationships. When in public, we should acknowledge them when they speak and respect them in front of others. It should be clear to everyone how important our spouse is to us. Often we are unaware of how we disrespect or fail to show honor to our spouse.

To understand our spouse means that we have a mental grasp of them or we comprehend them. Understanding your spouse requires you to be intentional. It is diligently seeking to learn the other person for mutual benefit. We can serve someone’s needs much better when we have attempted to understand them. Often we keep offering things they do not want or need and we cannot understand why they do not respond to us the way we want them to. It is because we have not yet understood them; we have not learned their “why”. Why they were created. Why they act like they act or want what they want. It is to put ourselves in their shoes so that we can better appreciate them as a person and the needs they have. When we understand our spouse, we will be better suited to meet their needs.

Maybe an exercise you can do today would be to talk to your spouse and ask them how you could honor them better. Are there times they feel disrespected? Ask your spouse how they feel misunderstood. Ask them what things you keep offering them or ways you continue to approach them that is not appealing to them. Ask them for a single place they wish you would honor or understand them more. Take turns with this. Then commit yourself to improving. As we learn to honor and understand one another, our marriages will grow and we will be more fulfilled.

Surprised By Grandparenting

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In November of 2010, we met our daughter Lauren at McAllister’s in Greenville, NC. She was a student at East Carolina University and closing in on a bachelor’s degree. During the meal she shared with Barbara and I that she was pregnant. That was not in the plans. The timing of it was heartbreaking. Everyone at the table knew the difficulties this would present. School would be challenging. Figuring out her relationship would present other challenges. This would present some financial challenges and the greatest challenge of all was learning to parent. For the rest of the family there would be adjustments and changes and we did not know what they might be.

I was concerned about all of the implications. People would ask as the time of birth got closer if I was excited to be a grandparent. The truth is I wasn’t. I was mostly concerned about all of the challenges that were coming and how everyone was going to respond. I had no understanding of the joy found in grandparenting or the positive way it would impact my life. Then on June 15, 2011, Vandin was born and everything changed. Some of the challenges that I expected were there. Actually, some of those challenges were more difficult than even I had imagined. But the joy and positive change that happened has been so much better than I could have ever dreamed. There are several things that I have come to understand about grandparenting.

I am more patient
Most parents are impatient. We are wanting them crawl. Then we want them to walk. Then we want them to talk. We can’t wait for them to play soccer or be able to go to dance classes. We are anxious when they do not figure things out immediately. We want them to be everything and we want it to be sooner rather than later. We are hurried from one activity to another. Add to that career responsibilities. Their childhood is washed away in a whirlwind of impatience. As a grandparent you have the reflection of knowing how quickly those childhood years passed and you know that patience is worth it. When they want to play, I have no problem dropping what I am doing and playing in the floor with them or talking to them. I don’t get as frustrated or angry if they don’t listen. Patience comes much easier because I have more perspective of who they are and who they will become.

I am wiser
Sometimes that might be questionable, but in general, I am much more wise today than I was when my children were small. I understand the value to time a little better. I am more clear about which values are important and which ones are not. I have come to realize that there are very few things that are not negotiable or should never change. I am much less intimidated by how others do things than I was when I was younger. I do not feel like I have to be like everyone else or do what everyone else does or have what everyone else has. I understand better the value of traditions and family. I have a better grasp of what they need to be prepared for and want to make sure those values are instilled in them. Wisdom doesn’t always come with age, but it should. As a grandparent, I want to make sure they have what is most important. Wisdom is understanding what is most important.

I love deeper
I loved my children when I was a young parent. That was never a question. I am not sure I always understood the value of love. As with many young parents, I was busy trying to create a life that I thought everyone wanted or needed. I worked long hours. I was always busy with some project or idea. I appreciate the love for my own children now better than I did when they were younger. I am more intent on expressing that and experiencing that with them. As a grandparent, I am definitely more conscious of that. I am aware of their needs and how meeting their needs and expressing myself in their language lets them experience love better. I want them to know that I am always a refuge for them. There is nothing they can do that I would not still love them. I am constantly looking for ways to reinforce to them that I love them.

Whether you are prepared or not, life moves on. Surprises come our way. You may find as I did that you are more prepared for those things than you thought. Appreciate the growth in your own life and be willing to share it with others.

 

Why I Took Facebook Off My Phone

 

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Facebook is a juggernaut. The company was launched in 2004 as a way to connect students at Harvard. It would soon spread to other colleges in the Boston area and then nationwide for college and high school students. Today it boasts 1.5 billion registered users worldwide. The company has a market value well north of $100 billion. Because of the wide variety of users, Facebook is popular with advertisers, large and small businesses, search engines and politicians. Facebook has worked to create a self contained community where you can stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, make phone calls, send emails, texts and messages, share or send photos, browse the internet, get news, buy goods and more. Just about anything you can imagine doing online can be done inside of Facebook. Their intention is to get you to their site and for you to stay there as long as possible. Facebook also has millions of users worldwide on other sites they own such as WhatsApp messaging service and Instagram.

In 2012, Facebook began to follow the growing trend of mobile phone usage and in doing so spent an enormous effort on their mobile apps and how to better monetize those. As the use of smart phones began to explode, more and more people were migrating their time on Facebook from a desktop to the mobile app. Though it is not the only culprit, Facebook has certainly been a driver in the control our phones seem to have over our lives. You see this everywhere…at dinner tables, in living rooms, at offices or sporting events, and yes even in church where it’s really not important. If phones are present and service is available, people are looking at their phones. One of the largest consumers of time while on mobile devices is Facebook. There are other apps, and especially social media apps, that consume people’s time, but based on statistics, Facebook is a large part of that.

Recently I began to notice how much of my own time it consumed. I would go on Facebook to look for something specific and find myself watching useless videos, laughing at silly memes, scrolling through vacation photos of people I barely knew and becoming irritated at what seemed to often be unnecessary posts or irrational viewpoints. I started to look at some of my statistics on my phone such as how often an app was opened or how much of my battery life was consumed by specific apps and I noticed that Facebook was at the top. The interesting thing is that I was only there to consume. I use a different application (Hootsuite) to manage the majority of my posts to all of my social media accounts. I did gain some benefit from my Facebook feed. I learned of certain prayer needs people had. I was able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with friends. I could offer encouragement in difficult times. Besides sharing the personal and spiritual growth articles and quotes that I use my social media for, I also found some things that challenged and encouraged me. However, those things are in the minority.

As a part of a larger goal for 2016, I chose to remove the Facebook app from my phone. I am not leaving Facebook. I will still post about 4 times per day with Hootsuite. I will still be able to check my newsfeed on a tablet or computer. But I will no longer have Facebook on my phone. I do not want my phone to control me. It is a tool and has many great uses, but smartphones are consuming people instead of people consuming them. So as of Monday, January 4, 2016, I do not have the Facebook app on my phone.

If I could sum up the single reason why I made this choice it would be this: I want to make sure the people or work in front of me is more important than the people or work that is not in front of me. I do not want it to be a distraction from loving my wife, children and grandchildren. I do not want to be absent from conversations of people at dinner or in a meeting. I have many things I want to accomplish. I have sermons, blogs, and books to write and leadership lessons to prepare. I have a wife to love, a family to grow and friends to enjoy. Facebook may assist with some of that, but I cannot afford for it to detract from those things. If I choose to consume it, that is acceptable. If I let it consume me, then it is destructive.

I am not asking you to join me, but I will ask you if Facebook or any other social app is distracting you from accomplishing more important tasks. If so, consider removing it from your phone. You don’t have to leave social media. Just use it as a tool instead of allowing it to use you. Your purpose in life has to be bigger than the funniest Hillary or Trump meme. Live your purpose. Let other things be tools to accomplish those things. The world will be better off and you will be more fulfilled.

Christmas Memories

 

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My recollection is that it was the Christmas of 1982. Two significant things happened for me that Christmas that have had an impact on me for over 30 years. I was 15 years old and we were living in Washington, NC. I believe it was our first Christmas in Washington. My dad was a pastor and this was the first house we had ever lived in that was not directly located by the church. It was probably the first house that ever felt like our house. My brother and I had the upstairs to ourselves. It is possible that all of this could have been the following year in 1983, but the impact and the lessons are still the same.

I don’t recall every Christmas or the gifts that I have received over the years, but I remember a few prior to 1982. One year, my dad bought us a CB radio base station. My brother and I “found” it before Christmas and he made us pay for it. He bought us a 16 ft. jon boat one year. I remember that gift because of some memories we made with it. We got a go cart one year in the 70’s that my mom had slipped up and told us about before Christmas. I recently came across a ceramic figure that my aunts made for Christmas one year when I was a boy. I recall traveling to both grandparent’s house each year during the Christmas season. On both sides, we were the only grandchildren that came every year so they spoiled us. I’m sure that you have a list of Christmas memories as well.

The reason that 1982 sticks out to me is because of the two things that I still carry with me today. Maybe these two things will help you look at Christmas a little differently and allow you and your family to better celebrate Christmas.

Thoughtful giving
The first lesson I learned that Christmas was to be a little more thoughtful in my giving. Both of my parents grew up in poor homes and never had a lot of possessions. Though our parents were adults and had teenage children at this point, my brother and I inquired of them what was one thing they wanted for Christmas that they never received. Our mom wanted a baby doll and our dad wanted a gun and holster set. My brother and I didn’t have a lot of money because neither of us had jobs, but we took money we had received as Christmas gifts and bought mom a doll and dad a toy gun and holster set. It was not something they could find useful at the moment, but it was thoughtful. I knew it meant a lot to them then, but not until recently did I understand the fullness of its importance. While helping my parents move, we came across that gun and holster set. He never got rid of it. When we are thoughtful in our giving, it has an impact on the recipient. People’s hearts will hold on to the things with meaning long after they have forgotten the things without.

Tradition
Every year we would travel at different times to our grandparent’s homes and we had spent several Christmas days away from home. That year though, dad said we were going to start a tradition of using Christmas Eve as our family Christmas time together. In the living room of that home in Washington began a tradition that I don’t think we have missed now for 33 years. I look forward to being with family, eating a meal together and creating a massive amount of Christmas-paper trash. We will take home gifts, but they will not be treasured as much as the time we will spend together. This tradition is established with my own children as well. To always be with our family on Christmas Eve is the only thing I’ve ever asked them to promise me.

This Christmas will be better if all of us could learn to practice these two things. Learn to be a thoughtful giver and create traditions for your family. Give from the heart to the heart and make memories. The memories made together will be greater than the gifts that lose luster over time. Enjoy the splendor and beauty of Christmas with the wonderful relationships you have been blessed with on this earth.

Jealous of Mastery

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The reigning NBA World Champions are the Golden State Warriors. As of this writing, they have started this season defending their undefeated title of 23-0. (Once writing this they lost their first game of the year after starting 24-0) Last year everyone was excited for them because they were the new team on the block and there were other villains to pull against. They have two of the best three-point shooters in the history of basketball – – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They are nicknamed the “Splash Brothers” for their prolific shooting expertise. Over last season, people were amazed at their ability to consistently make 3-point shots from any place on the floor. They were a highlight reel every night. But enough is apparently enough.

No team in history has started 24-0. That is not supposed to happen. A 6’3” skinny, well-mannered young man who almost never approaches the lane, much less the rim is not supposed to be the most dominant basketball player in the world. No team should look like they are toying with every other team night in and night out. Basketball should be played the way it has always been played. Driving to the basket and dunking with occasional outside shooting from a kick out. Big men defending the basket and getting rebounds. Offenses designed to get the closest, easiest shot possible. Every team in the NBA is built that way. Until now….and now there is an exception.

Now, current and former players, coaches and sportscasters are all criticizing the way the Warriors play. Their argument is that the game is not meant to be played that way. A team has taken the rules and mastered a portion of the game that no one else chose to master, and now the rules need to be changed or play should be condemned because no one else made the same effort. The 3-point shot has been a part of the NBA game for 25 years. Why is it suddenly not the way the game is supposed to be played? The biggest reason is the curve is too steep for every other team. Someone chose to master something that no one else had mastered and now the rules need to be changed.

Basketball is not the only place we see this. We find the same thought process in almost every other area of life. We are happy with the rules as long as everyone is attacking the problem the same exact way. Let someone find an unusual solution or master something that everyone else has chosen to ignore and things change. Once they begin to dominate, people will get upset. We resent anyone getting too far ahead of us or gaining in places where we did not think to go. When the gains show up in the form of money or influence, which is where most people want more, the green-eyed monster makes his appearance. The jealousy of mastery shows up in business, families, churches, politics and almost every area of life.

Our criticisms of these masters range from calling them lucky to criminal. We are often unwilling to accept the fact that someone chose to put in the time and energy to focus on something and master it. We create new rules and pass new laws all in an attempt, at least in our own minds, to level the playing field. This methodology works until someone masters something new and the process starts all over again. Instead of criticizing everyone that has the energy and commitment to excel, why not use that time and energy to become a master of something ourselves. Anyone can criticize and find fault. It takes a special person to focus those efforts on improving and gaining. We need a world that is less jealous of other’s success and more determined to make their own.

10 Commandments of Social Media

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Over the last 10 years, social media has become a big part of our daily interactions with other people. From the early entrants of MySpace and Facebook to newer models like Instagram and SnapChat, people of all ages have adopted some form of social media platform. As with any new idea that comes along, there are problems and abuses that follow. There is a learning curve on how best to use them and discerning their most useful purpose. In the Bible, the 10 Commandments were not given to be a set of rules of oppression, but were given so that the Israelites that had been set free could continue to live a free life. The use of social media seems to require such a set of rules. Social media has so many benefits. Many of which can only be appreciated when these mediums of communications are used properly. So here are my 10 commandments of social media.

Conversation over accusation
Social media implies we are meant to be social. In most of our relationships we engage in conversation when we are face to face with people. But for some reason, social media tends to bring out accusation instead of conversation. Everything we say is to make a point about something that we hold true; everything from politics to religion. Things that may be a small part of our personal conversations become the overwhelming part of what we have to say on social media. Because of limits in words and the difficulty in communicating emotions, we tend to divide instead of grow our relationships while on social media. Many of the issues that we are trying to reduce to a meme or 140 characters are much more complicated than that. Even if you disagree with someone, try to engage in a conversation and not make it about accusation.

Would you say that in person?
If the person you are talking to were standing in front of you, would you say what you are saying on social media? Often the answer is no because if we had said it to them personally, there would be no need to say it on social media. Cyber-bullying is a real problem among youth. We have a misguided belief that it doesn’t matter if they are not standing in front of us. Recently, I was watching a movie and one of the children on the movie was being bullied online. His dad made a statement that when he was in school, he at least escaped bullying when he went home. Now, it goes with you everywhere. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, social media is not the place to say it.

No gossip
If you are not sure it is true, don’t share it. If you are sure it is true, and saying it will not help in anyway, still don’t say it. Gossip needs to be removed from our conversation on and offline.

Don’t embarrass yourself
Keep your clothes on. Watch your language. If you share it, it can be shared and with your name attached to it. More employers are using social media prior to hiring. Would a prospective employer hire you based on your profile?

Don’t let it just be about you
One of the purposes of social media is for people to stay in contact with you and to know more about you, but don’t let it be just about you. Share words of encouragement. Let it be a place where others benefit from your presence. Share your own personal insights or something that is challenging you to grow or change in hopes that someone else can learn along with you.

Eliminate drama
Some things are personal. Keep it that way. It needs to stay between you and your spouse or children. It needs to stay in your workplace. It will never be solved on social media, so just keep it to yourself.

Think about it before you post it
One of the ways to eliminate drama is to think before you post. If you are angry or hurt, take a few minutes, or maybe even a few days, before you post something. If you have a question, ask someone completely uninvolved with the situation whether it is appropriate or not. As a follow up to that, if you have to ask, it probably isn’t.

Not the place to win an argument
Social media is a place to engage people in conversation. It is acceptable to disagree with others. It is not the place you will win a debate. Often, you will end up looking like a menace or a bully instead of making your point. Conversate. Debate. But stop trying to be the winner. It is not the place to win.

It’s a tool, it’s not your life
I view social media as a platform. It is an extension of who I am any other time. It is a tool I use to continue to influence people, stay in touch with people and allow other people to stay in touch with me. It is a tool, but it is a small part of my life. Almost all of my posts are scheduled early in the morning to post throughout the day using Hootsuite. I have to work not to get sucked into unproductive time watching videos and reading memes. Use social media. Don’t let it use you.

Don’t allow it to be your only means of communication
In relationships, nothing beats being face to face. Relationships flourish in person. Social media should promote those times, not eliminate those times. Don’t allow social media to be the only way you communicate with people. Let it be a tool to assist those relationships but try not to allow it to be a replacement. 

Maybe you have some other suggestions or “commandments” for social media. I would love to hear them. Share them in the comment section. Let’s make social media great.

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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.