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5 Myths About Poverty

Recently I talked about 5 Myths About Wealth. Just as there are myths associated with wealth, there are also myths associated with poverty. Some organizations have worked tirelessly to eliminate poverty, and they have made significant progress. The current pandemic has caused some progress to recede, and there is still plenty of work to be done.

To provide some context, 650 million people in the world live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty means living on less than $1.90 per day. In the United States, 34 million people live in poverty, meaning living on less than $35.28 per day. That is a significant difference. It is also probably one of the reasons why there are so many myths surrounding poverty.

For the sake of this writing, I am addressing myths surrounding people who live in poverty in the United States. Some of these apply to other cultures worldwide, and some even apply to people in extreme poverty. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts today on poverty.

You Are Humble

Humility has little to do with resources and everything to do with attitude. People say money only makes you more of what you are. If you are not humble when you are poor, you will not likely be wealthy and humble. Assets do not determine arrogance. Humility is not a natural trait for any person. It is no more instinctive for someone in poverty to be humble than it is for someone wealthy.

You Are Lazy

Some of the hardest working people I know have worked all their lives but have never been able to break out of their poverty. If a person is a hard worker and cannot get out of poverty, there are usually other limiting factors. It could be their ability to handle finances. It could be their physical location that limits their ability to make more money. Multiple limitations might keep a hard-working person living in poverty. Are there lazy people living in poverty? The answer is yes. There are also lazy people who are wealthy. All poor people are not lazy. Some people in Third World countries will never get out of poverty, but they will work hard every day of their life.

You Are Unlearned 

I know some extremely intelligent people who cannot keep a job. Education is a problem sometimes. More often than not, it is an application that is the problem. Lack of education does affect the poverty levels in the United States. Public education is available to all. Education does not make most top ten lists of causes for poverty. As with many things, it is not a knowing problem but a doing problem.

You Are Not Happy

Money does not make you happy, nor does the lack of it make you unhappy. I would contend that some people are more content with less than others are with more. I understand that poverty can bring stress, but abundance brings a different kind of stress. Some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life were people who had so little that I wondered how they survived. Their happiness was not dependent on material things. Poverty is not a measure of contentment or happiness.

It Is Permanent

There are some generational challenges with poverty. There are also some struggles with location and opportunity. But poverty does not have to be permanent. A family may not move from an outhouse to a penthouse in a few weeks or even a few years, but there is an opportunity to improve your place in life. It may require you to relocate or learn something new or find a new circle of friends, but opportunities abound, and new ones appear every day. Poverty can be painful, but it does not have to be permanent. 

If you find yourself on the prosperous side of life, one of your responsibilities is to help bring others with you. Don’t fall prey to believing the myths and not participating in the process. It is not just their responsibility; it is also ours.

5 Myths About Wealth

One of the highest-selling sectors of self-help material is the topic of finances. It is an area where many people struggle. People want to know how to create a life of freedom unburdened with money issues. They want to create wealth.

One of the obstacles is that there are a lot of myths surrounding wealth. When we fall prey to a myth, it keeps us from achieving the very things we can. For my 5 Thursday Thoughts, I want to talk about five myths that surround wealth.

It Comes From Hard Work

Work is usually required, but hard work does not guarantee you will be wealthy. As a matter of fact, some of the poorest people in the world are the hardest working people in the world. There are people in third-world countries who work tirelessly every day yet are never rewarded financially. Some of the hardest working people in first world countries are the lowest paid and the poorest in those societies. There is value in hard work, but its rewards are not always financial.

It Comes From Saving

I know people who are great at saving money. They can find a deal, a discount, or a coupon for almost anything they want. But just saving money does not create wealth. I would even add that just putting money in a secure savings account does not create wealth. You are usually creating wealth for the bank with a savings account, but it is not a vehicle for wealth. Being frugal can create margin, but it is not a good pathway to wealth.

It Takes Money To Make Money

This idea is one of the most propagated myths about wealth. Many of the systems are indeed set up to allow people with wealth to create more wealth. The tax code tilts toward wealth-builders and business owners. But it does not take money to make money. The most recent list of billionaires worldwide shows that 84% are self-made billionaires who started their own company instead of inheriting it. It takes risk and courage to create wealth, but it does not require money to start.

 

It Comes From Intelligence

Intelligence is not a guarantee that wealth will come. It can be a hindrance. Sometimes intelligence balks at risk because those people desire certainty. Now that does not mean you can be ignorant. I believe wisdom is more important than intelligence when it comes to creating wealth. Intelligence is often specialized, which creates certain limitations. Intelligent people who are willing to partner with people of other gifts are more likely to find success.

It Is Inherited

Some wealth is inherited. I want to leave generational wealth for my family. It is also wasted. Later generations tend to squander what has been left. As stated above with the billionaire list, people who start their own companies create the most wealth. Earned wealth tends to be managed much better than inherited wealth. You don’t have to inherit it. We live in a world where anyone can achieve it.

I am thankful for the opportunities this world affords me to create wealth. Wealth is not evil and can be used to benefit the world around us. Start your journey to making a financial difference in the world today. 

5 Things You Can Do To Survive A Famine

Recently I have been preaching a sermon series on four famines in the Bible. Most famines in the Bible related to an extreme scarcity of food. There were other shortages recorded in the Bible that were called famines. The basic meaning of famine is an extreme shortage of something.

Most of us have experienced extreme shortages of some things. Shortages of paper products. Shortages of certain types of food products. Unavailability of new vehicles because of a microchip shortage. These shortages have created a scarcity of patience and, in some cases, finances.

All of us experience famines in our lives. We may miss affection or communication in our marriage. We may have a lack of money because of a loss of job or health issues. We may feel isolated from relationships, or we may feel like God is a million miles away. You are not alone.

We cannot avoid some famines in our lives. They are a part of the natural order of life. Seasons come, and seasons go. Other situations can be corrected or adjusted, and we can escape the famine much quicker. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts on things you can do to survive a famine.

Reflect

When we find ourselves in difficult places, one of the most effective tools is to reflect. I have found that when I look back, I can see things I could have done differently. Certain decisions I made could be the cause of the difficult time I find myself in. I may not be able to change the current situation, but I can learn from the process to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Consult

Proverbs says there is value in a multitude of counselors. Mentors are great assets-people who you can consult in moments of crisis. They are usually not in the middle of your situation, so they can offer a perspective that you will not have. They very well may see a way out. Consultation should also include prayer. Talking to God can provide you with a divine direction that will guide you in your darkest moments.

Stop

There are two kinds of lists: things you need to do and things you don’t need to do. Most people need to spend more time on the “stop doing” list. Many of the situations we find ourselves in are because we have done too much. We worked too much, and it created trouble at home. We spent too much, and it created financial hardship. We talked too much, and it severed a relationship or cost us a job. We all have things we should find a way to stop and never do them again.

Start

There are other things we should start doing. For most, the best move is to stop certain things. For others, the struggle is to get moving. Starting new things can move you through your famine quicker. It may make you more productive. It might be something you are procrastinating on that has caused your dilemma. Knowing what to start and when to start is a valuable resource when working through difficult times.

Endure

Sometimes you just have to put your head down and push through. You are going through a season you did not create, nor can you change the outcome. You just have to be willing to endure. Endurance is a mark of a follower of Christ. We are told that those who endure to the end will be saved. Endurance is not fun, but sometimes it is the only option we have.

I am not sure what you are dealing with today. Making an application of one of these things may be what you need to make it through. No matter what, know that I am praying for you, and things will get better. 

5 Takeaways from “A Church Called Tov”

Recently, our staff read A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. Tov comes from the Hebrew word meaning goodness. The premise of the book is to help churches create a culture of goodness.

The majority of the book addresses two specific churches and leaders, Bill Hybels at Willow Creek and James MacDonald at Harvest Church. Both of these pastors have made national news due to sexual immorality and abuse in a fear-based culture. 

The intent of the book to create cultures of goodness is needed. The actual writing of the book did not accomplish that, at least from my perspective. I did walk away with some things that helped me be a better leader. I also finished knowing that it is challenging to hide personal agendas. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts about A Church Called Tov.

Every Church Is A Culture

I have heard it said that culture eats strategy for lunch. That is because culture determines almost every action and outcome of an organization. The interaction of the people in the organization creates the culture. As new people come into that organization, the culture that is present shapes them. Character is a critical part of a church’s culture. Lack of character can destroy years of hard work. The church should strive for a Spirit-formed, Christlike culture.

They Had An Ax To Grind

One of the troubling things about the book was that it is pretty clear early on that the writers have an ax to grind. From my perspective, the clear desire to make their points about the failures of two specific churches and leaders dulled much of the good they could have accomplished from the book. It is difficult to accept guidance from someone who appears to have ulterior motives.

Criticism and Notices of Abuse Are Not The Same

Early in the book, they talk about how churches deal with criticism. They then choose to talk about allegations of sexual misconduct. Allegations of sexual misconduct are not criticism. Criticism is a much lower bar. If someone makes an accusation of sexual impropriety, they are not a critic. They are most likely a victim. Allegations and accusations are not a criticism, and shouldn’t be handled the same. It is no wonder victims do not speak up when we call it criticism.

Culture Is Not A Mega-Church Problem

They make the case that bad cultures are more prevalent in mega-churches than in small churches. The church I pastor qualifies as a small church, even though it is relatively large for our area. Typically mega-church refers to churches that average over 2,000 in weekly attendance. I have spent my entire life in and around churches much smaller than that. The majority of them are much smaller than 300. My experience is that toxic cultures and power-hungry structures are much more likely in a small church environment. These churches tend to be cliquish and have male-dominated leadership with usually one or two major power brokers. Megachurches make the news, but toxic cultures are just as prevalent in small churches.

The Goal Is Christlikeness

Ultimately the goal is Christlikeness. The primary role of the pastor is to shepherd people to look more like Jesus. This requires more than just preaching. That is only one facet of it. Becoming Christlike requires us to allow the work of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and the life of our church. If the church looks like Christ, we are successful.

I had high hopes for this book. I was a little disappointed after reading it. As with any other book, there are things I can apply and things I will set aside. These are my thoughts about what I read.

5 Takeaways From “The Film Doesn’t Lie”

I participate in a small group each week with local coaches. Recently we discussed a book by Jimmy Dykes entitled The Film Doesn’t Lie. Jimmy is an on-air personality for ESPN. He has served as an assistant coach for several major college basketball programs and as the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Arkansas.

Coaches are constantly evaluating film, film of their team as well as the opposing team. Jimmy takes the analogy of watching a film and applies it to reflect on our own lives. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts from The Film Doesn’t Lie

The Film Doesn’t Lie

We are who we are. We can pretend we do not act a certain way or that a particular habit or behavior is not a problem, but our actions prove otherwise. Dykes shares about how players can walk into a film room, see what they did wrong, and still want to argue they did not do it. The film tells the correct story. It does not matter what story you are telling in your mind.

We are constantly fooling ourselves into believing we are not how everyone else views us, but the film doesn’t lie. We cannot judge ourselves by our intentions while ignoring our actions.

Self-Reflection Is Necessary

The book offers a quote from Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.” The only way to make the necessary changes is to practice self-reflection. The goal is not for there to be an end but for there to be constant growth. We must possess a constant awareness of where we need to improve and how we can improve. You cannot correct areas you are unwilling to confront. Self-reflection gives us the insight we need to make the necessary corrections.

Celebrity Disciples

Almost every chapter introduces a famous athlete or coach who is walking in a relationship with Christ. Their process of discipleship looks like mine and yours. It requires a consistent relationship with God. It is encouraging to see men and women of such influence practicing spiritual disciplines that allow them to live a godly life and influence those around them. 

Common Struggles

It does not matter if you are a star athlete making millions of dollars per year or an hourly blue-collar employee working on an assembly line; we all have similar struggles. We all must sanctify our minds and our attitudes. Temptations and struggles are common to every single person. Do not believe that if you achieve a certain social or financial status, you will find it easier to become like Christ. Becoming like Christ is a daily discipline that is the same regardless of your station of life. 

Partial Obedience Is Not Obedience

This subtitle is the title of the last chapter in this book. Shortcuts are not a long-term strategy for winning. When we know what to do, fully committing ourselves to it is the only path to success. Obedience is one of the few things we have complete control over. When I know what to do but choose not to do it, I have sinned. Dykes uses the example of running sprints and touching the line before sprinting back. Players will sometimes turn back before touching the line hoping that no one is looking. Not touching the line causes everyone to have to line up and do it again. We repeat many things in our lives, not because we do not know what to do, but because we do not completely follow through with what we know to do. We didn’t touch the line. Full obedience is the only solution.

The Film Doesn’t Lie is a good book for a small group discussion. It is especially suited for men or women who have an interest in sports. It offers a discipleship tool with analogies to the sports world that make it interesting for the sports fan. 

5 Things I Love About Football Season

Football season is in full swing. It is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the only sport that I can watch no matter what teams are playing. 

Since I am an East Carolina alumni, I have season tickets to their games. I enjoy attending in person, but I also enjoy watching on television. I was raised on the Washington Redskins and NC State Wolfpack. I have added East Carolina and the Carolina Panthers to that lineup of favorite teams. 

My wife also enjoys football season, especially the in-person games. She is not as much into the game as the things surrounding the game. There are lots of people that way.

I am glad to have football back. In honor of teams on the field and fans in the stands, here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts about why I love college football season. 

Passion

I love the passion of football season. I find it to be more evident in high school and college football than in professional football. It could be the element of students that makes the difference. The passion of fans is just fun to watch. The way they dress. The volume of their cheers. The amount of time spent in preparation to get to a game. The amount of money they spend to attend a game. People have their favorite teams and they support them. Passion spreads the fun along to others.

People

The people of football season are fun. First, the people I enjoy the games with make it better whether we are watching a game on television or attending a game in person. Then, the power of a crowd is enchanting. The thunder of thousands of people cheering and clapping is moving. After the long absence from those venues, it is even more exciting now. Add to this the people you get to watch. In large crowds, there are always a few spectacles you find yourself laughing at or embarrassed for. The people around football season make it so much better.

Upsets

I love a good upset unless it is my team being upset. There is something about the underdog occasionally winning that gives everyone hope. Watching a team that is completely outmanned figure out how to put a single game together and beat someone they should have no chance against is exhilarating. Everyone wants to believe they have a chance.

Leadership

Leadership is on display year after year. Great leaders produce great teams. Great leaders are not always coaches. Sometimes a single player with great leadership skills can be the difference-maker for a team. Last year’s Super Bowl winner is a prime example with the addition of Tom Brady. Over the years, it becomes clear that consistently good leadership keeps teams at the top. As a student of leadership, it is always a reminder of the power of great leaders.

Competition

I am a competitor. History tells us that people have been drawn to watching competitions for centuries. It is exciting to watch people with high skill levels pit their abilities against one another. All of the stress, emotion, excitement, and exhilaration that competition brings bleeds over to everyone watching. Whether we win or lose, we are usually made stronger when we compete.

What is your favorite sporting season? Who is your favorite team? How do you celebrate during football season? I would love to hear from you. Maybe I will see you at a game. 

5 Observations from Work Rules! by Lazlo Bock

Recently I took a leadership group through a book written by Google Executive Lazlo Bock entitled Work Rules!. Bock led the people to function at Google, which includes all areas related to the attraction, development, and retention of Googlers worldwide. At the time the book was written, that included over 50,000 people in 70 offices around the world. The company is now called Alphabet and has multiple more employees. 

The book walks through how Google hires and retains employees. It offers suggestions that other organizations can implement even on a smaller scale. Pollers consistently rank Google as one of the top places to work in the United States. This book addresses many of the reasons why people love working there. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts about Work Rules!.

Google Is A Verb

Google has become such a part of our lives that we do not even realize how we use the word. We no longer search for something on the internet; we “Google it.” Google has entrenched itself in our daily lives so deeply that we do not even realize its impact on our daily decisions. I tell people that Google knows more about you than you know about yourself. 

Make People Founders

Don’t just have employees. Give them enough responsibility that they feel like a founder. You do not have to start a new company to be a founder. It is more of a mindset. Create a culture where people are invested in the company, and they will act differently than someone who feels like they are just hired to do a job. Creating this culture requires giving employees great opportunities to have a meaningful impact and feel like they are contributing to the good of society.

Culture Over Strategy

I have heard this statement numerous times over the years: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can have the best ideas and hire the best people, but if the culture they are immersed in is not healthy, they will become a product of the culture instead of changing the culture. Culture is one of the most difficult things to change in an organization. Bock says, “Give people slightly more trust, freedom, and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’re not nervous, you haven’t given them enough.”

Hiring Is The Most Important People Activity

Every single person you hire should be above average. Some of that has to do with how much you pay employees. If money does not matter, every baseball team would have a 3% chance of winning the World Series. That is just not the case. Some teams can attract and retain better players. Some teams can pay higher salaries. Other teams have fantastic farm systems. But the teams at the top all have a system for hiring, recruiting, or drafting the best people. If you hire correctly on the front end, the work will be easier at the back end. 

Pay Unfairly

Bock makes the case that it is okay to pay two people completely different amounts for doing the same job. Your best people are better than you think and worth more than you are paying them. Stop trying to be fair. Most companies design compensation systems that encourage the best performers and those with the most potential to quit. According to Bock, “Fairness is when pay is commensurate with a contribution. As a result, there ought to be tremendous variance in pay for individuals.” The reason you are losing your best employees might be because you are paying them like you pay your worst employees. 

If you have any responsibilities for hiring or managing employees, I highly recommend this book. Every organization wants to recruit and retain the best people possible. This book will offer you significant insight into how to do that.

5 Things I Am Struggling With Right Now

I have goals and dreams. There are so many things I want to accomplish in this life. Every year I make goals for the coming year. This year was no different. I try to review them at least once per month to see what progress I am making. Some I am crushing, others I am making progress, and some I just cannot get any traction.

For my 5 Thursday Thoughts this week, I will share some of the things I am struggling with right now. At least three of these were on my list for this year. Two of them are not goals, but they are things that are frustrating me at the moment. I am sure you have those things too. Here are five of mine. 

Eating

I am not struggling to eat. I am struggling to moderate my intake. One of my goals this year was to get to 220 lbs. I am pretty consistent exercising every day. I have tried some intermittent fasting. I just love good food. Even when I narrow my consumption time to 8 hours per day (intermittent fasting), I still eat more than I should. I think about it when I wake up, and it is one of the last things I think about before bed. I will get it figured out, but I am struggling to lower my food intake. 

Screen Time

I use my phone for just about everything. I talk with people, and I send lots of emails and texts. I connect with people on social media, do sermon research, read, keep up with my favorite teams, keep records, read my Bible, and journal. This list could go on. I use my phone for many things, but I need to put it down more than I do. I am on it from early in the morning until late at night. It is on my goal list, but I have not made much progress. I am hoping the last few months of the year will be better. 

Recording Videos

For about five years, I did at least three live videos per week. This year I wanted to make some changes to how I recorded and delivered them. What happened instead was I have just not been doing videos. I have not done the live videos as I was previously. I have not recorded and edited videos in a studio as I planned. I have allowed the lack of a new video setup to keep me from doing any videos. This will change soon. 

Unanswerable Questions

As a pastor, people look to me for direction at times. Sometimes it is a spiritual direction, but many times it has nothing to do with the spiritual lives. It often centers around family, finances, and careers. With a worldwide pandemic, people added more questions to the list. Should I get vaccinated? Would Jesus wear a mask? Should I put my job at risk? Is it safe for me to come back to church? Is ___________ (the latest conspiracy theory) true? There are no clear answers to these questions. I am not even qualified to have an opinion about some of the questions being asked, much less have an answer. I want to help people. 

I get it. The world is facing things to which there is no clear response. It is a massive change all at once. I do my best to guide when I can. At the moment, I feel a little overwhelmed. I want to help every single person in every situation. I just can’t do it. 

Division Among Believers

I am not sure what is to blame. There are multiple facets to this. For some, it is race-related. For others, politics is the driving force. Currently, vaccinations are the divisive tool of choice. It is not just opinions, but complete fractures in people groups. Differences and divisiveness are not the same. There will always be differences; that we can expect. Divisiveness is dangerous and often demonic. One of the calls for believers is to find unity. When we are participating in the division of Christians, we are walking a dangerous tightrope.

What are your struggles right now? You are not alone. All of us have places we want to see improve. I will report back to you on the first three later in the year.

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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.