Unplugging this Week

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Hey friends. I wrote this blog post yesterday. Today and for the rest of the week, I’ll be at a spiritual retreat center totally unplugging. They don’t have internet or cell phone service. It’s just me, God, my Bible and my prayer journal. Please pray that God would speak clearly to me. Thanks!

 

*** Also Happy Birthday to my son, Tommy, who turns 12 today. It’s been amazing to see God work in your life over the past two years. I’m so glad we had a wonderful day of celebration  yesterday. You’re a great young man and I’m proud of you.

My kids first day of school Aug 2014

Please Pray for Me

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I’m entering into a season of fasting and prayer for the next two weeks. I’m praying about God’s direction for my life and interviewing with some churches. I’m praying God would lead me to the right fit and my family and I to the right community. Would you join me in prayer during this season of seeking God? You can read about my transition out of Christian Media Magazine here.

Traveling Back to South Carolina

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Many of you know I’m from South Carolina. Today, I fly back (with my daughter Grace) to speak at a worship conference there. The good news is that I’ll get to spend some time with my family, in addition to speaking at the conference Thursday and Friday.

If you’re going to be at the Christian Supply Conference this week, contact me and let me know. Also, come by my workshops. I’ll be teaching on Church Leadership Essentials and my new book Strange Leadership. See you next week!

Stop Trying to Be a Super Leader

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I know what you’re thinking? What’s wrong with excellence and trying my best at leadership? Nothing. We should strive to lead with excellence. What I’m referring to is going to an extreme where we try to be SuperMan, SuperMom, SuperLeader, SuperPastor, etc.

I came to this realization last year when I took a sabbatical and God opened my eyes to my pride. You see, I took pride in being a SuperPastor and thought that no other pastor was as dedicated as me. I would meet with men in my church that needed counseling and a listening ear until midnight or 1am (leaving my wife and kids at home). I thought I was an amazing pastor and super leader.

The truth is this unhealthy practice of late nights helping others fed my ego, made me look down on other leaders/pastors and was a horrible example to my family.

When I returned from my sabbatical I wrote a declaration that I only showed to my wife, that put my foot down and vowed to work within established boundaries and office hours. If someone needed to talk to me, they could make an appointment and meet me in my office (during the day). Of course we all have those midnight phone calls with emergencies (deaths, accidents, etc.). I’m not talking about these situations. I’m talking about things that can be handled during the normal work day, leaving the rest of the evening and night for me to be at home with my family (my first ministry).

Do not overwork yourself just to become wealthy; have enough sense to know when to quit. – Proverbs 23:4 (Voice)

Later, I’ll write more about signs you might be trying to be a Super Hero. For now, what are some boundaries you have placed on your time, life and career to protect your health, life and marriage? Is this something you struggle with?

Celebrating Our Dependence

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I’ve tried to practice what I preach and take off this week to relax and vacation with family. We are preparing to celebrate the 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day. I was reflecting on that and thought about the last chapter of my book Strange Leadership.

In the last chapter (Ch.40 titled Desperation) of Strange Leadership, I write about our need for a desperation for God. A desperation for God to move on our behalf. The key that I write about is a desperation that leads to a dependency on the Holy Spirit. This is the key to the connected Christian life. To be truly in sync with God and move when He moves, we need to be desperate for Him. Not only that, we need our desperation to lead us to a dependency on the Holy Spirit.

So as we celebrate Independence Day this year, let us also remember our ever present need for God and live lives that are dependent upon our great and good God.

Happy 4th of July!

How to Get Rid of Being Overwhelmed Once and For All

How To Get Rid Of Being Overwhelmed Once In For All

After what I posted on Monday and what I’m feeling in my heart these days, I thought this would be a timely and appropriate guest post. Take heed:

Is your life insanely busy? Are you overwhelmed with everything going on in your life and want to change it? Do you want get rid of your stress and worries, create a sense of balance, and restore some margin too your insanely busy life? Do you want to be more productive?

The Productivity Myth

The fact is that becoming more productive will only solve some of these issues. This is because no matter how productive you become, there will always be more to accomplish than you have time available. The only way to get control of your time and your life is to stop doing some of the things that you are currently doing, and focus on the things that will make the most difference in your life.

The good news is that there is a solution.

Get Your Priorities Straight

You are overwhelmed because you are doing too much. Your schedule is too busy, your life is not balanced, and you don’t have any margin in your life.

How do you know when you’re doing too much in your life? How do you know when you’re out of God’s will? How do you know if all the things you’re doing are what God expects you to do or you just put those expectations on yourself?

The answer is simple: You’re overwhelmed. It is not God’s will for you to be overwhelmed. God never intended for you to go around carrying an overwhelming load.

In Matthew 11:28-30 (TEV), Jesus said: “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying your heavy loads and I will give you…” … more to do? Is that what it says? “I’ll give you more projects to complete. I’ll put more appointments on your schedule.” No, He says, “I’ll give you rest.” The yoke I will give you is easy and the load I will put on you is light.’

What’s got you burdened? Why are you carrying more than He has asked you to carry? Why are you burdened with unrealistic expectations? Are you trying to prove that you matter?

You don’t have to prove you matter to God. You matter to God because He created you, not because of anything you can do. Because you matter to Him, He wants to remove your burden. He wants to help you to focus your life on what really matters.

What Really Matters In Life

If you are a Christian man, God has given you two assignments that only you can do. That’s it! Two assignments that only you can do. The rest of the stuff that you are focused on can be accomplished by someone else. Anybody else!

Do you want to know what these two assignments are?

First, you are to be the best husband that you can be. Second, you are to be the best father that you can be. That’s it! You are called to be a husband first, and a father second. Nobody else can be a husband to your wife or a father to your children.

If you are a Christian woman, you are called to be the best wife and mother that you can be. That’s it!

Everything else that is on your to-do list is not as important as your spouse and your children, and anything else can be done by someone else.

Seek God’s Help

While focusing on these two assignments might sound simple, the truth is that it is not really that simple to do. The only way to successfully accomplish these assignments is with God’s help. Fortunately, the Bible is full of God’s promises to help us accomplish any task that He gives us.

I think that these three promises will help us get control of our life and focus on what matters most:

Seek Him First – Matthew 6:33-34 says, But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.  So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. If we seek God and His way of managing our time and our life, He will meet our needs for today, and today is all that really matters.

Ask for His help – Jesus says, “Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” (John 16:24 NLT) Why does God want you to ask? So he can give you what you need. He not only wants to meet your needs, but wants to fill you with his joy. All that you have to do is ask using His name.

He Will Meet Your Needs – Philippians 4:19 (NIV) tells us that “… God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in

Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t say, “He might meet your needs,” it says, “He will meet all your needs.” It doesn’t say, “I’ll meet some of your needs.” It says all. He never promises to give you everything that you want, but He will give you  everything that you need.

God created you to make a difference in the world. He calls you to serve your spouse and children before He calls you serve others. He calls you to be the leader of your family before He calls you to lead others.

God has promised to meet all of your needs if you seek Him first, and ask for His help. Reduce your overwhelm by giving Him your burdens, asking for His help, and putting God and your family before all of the other stuff in your life. Let Him help you create a sense of balance, and add some margin too your insanely busy life.

Is there anything holding you back from accepting God’s call to serve Him by putting your spouse and children first?

 

* Photo credit Flickr

 

About Steve Spring

Steve Spring is the author of Live Your Life On Purpose, where his goal is to help you restore a sense of balance and create some margin in your insanely busy life.

A former management consultant, Steve loves coffee, sailing, and being near the ocean. He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, and entrepreneur who loves his family, friends, and helping others achieve all that they were created to be. Check out Live Your Life On Purpose or find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Taking Time to Be Still and Reflect

Two Sundays ago my laptop crashed. It’s been in the shop for a week now and probably will be for another 2 weeks. I didn’t have access to my files and my blog, so I just took a break from blogging. It was nice and needed.

God is teaching me to slow down, be still and be ever dependent upon Him. I don’t know when I’ll blog again, but know I’m resting and being obedient.

Here’s a Scripture that I share in my new book Strange Leadership. I hope you’ll pray this with me this week:

SL prayer and Scripture

Why Things Ahead Are Far Greater Than Anything We Leave Behind

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I’ve found myself sitting in a big, reclining leather chair. It’s one of two that face a large window that overlooks the back patio of my parent’s house. If you were sitting next to me, you’d see a little stream that trickles through the middle of their back yard and pours out into Thomas Creek.

It’s a beautiful site and a scene I’ve witnessed countless times: the towering trees that cast deep shadows across the property, the stream that widens into the creek, and the sense of peace that comes with each breath you breathe.

But as I look out the window tonight, I see none of that. I see a window filled with darkness, as it’s slightly past midnight and the night seems to have stolen nature’s beauty. At least for a time.

Earlier in the day, I brought my kids down to visit my mother for her 54th birthday. We surprised her with a small party, just a few of us gathered at my parent’s house and we had a great little celebration. Now, as I sit in this comfy leather chair many hours after everyone has gone to bed, I marvel as the small light from the corner of my parent’s living room breaks the darkness and illuminates the faces of my children as they sleep scattered across the floor.

I marvel because I am reminded just how incredible life, and the time in which we have to live it, really is. Truly it is. The living, breathing, life-giving spirit that moves within us. It’s fascinating.

And yet, as I look down at their beautiful faces, I struggle envisioning their future, seeing them not as they are now but as they will one day be. Their characters are developing and I can see their personalities shining through every smile, but as for the choices they’ll make, the paths they’ll choose, I have no idea.

When I think of their futures it often forces me to examine my own life and the choices and decisions – some really dumb decisions – I’ve made along the way. Things that have caused myself and others much pain. I think of all the time I’ve wasted on things that haven’t mattered and my heart breaks. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I’ve made. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better son, and a better child of God and I want to be the best example I can possibly be.

But I feel helpless at times. Lost, if I’m being honest. I struggle with the future because the past can be so messy.

Maybe, if I could give myself some advice, I’d say that what I do today is far more important than what I did yesterday. And, as C.S. Lewis once said, There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Maybe I’d take advice from an unlikely source, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise:

Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives, but I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.

Maybe I should stop looking out this window in front of me, the one in which the darkness has stolen the light, and heed the apostle Matthew’s advice and let the Lord take care of the future:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

Living Out of a Suitcase

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I returned home Friday night after my son graduated from his month-long treatment program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. I packed another bag and headed out early Saturday morning to Amarillo, Texas to consult with a church on Sunday and do a secret shopper visit (I still do those and am booking for the summer. Click here for more details).

I’m home today doing laundry and packing a new suitcase. I leave tomorrow to go to Chicago for the week to speak at the Moody Bible Pastors Conference. This will be my 8th time speaking at Moody! If you’re going to be there, stop by my class and say hello. You can also get my books signed. I look forward to meeting you.

I should return to a semi-normal life next week for the first time in 5 weeks. Thank you for your prayers.

Being Present: Put That Phone Down!

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Last night I took my son to see the Kansas City Royals play as a reward for all the hard work he’s doing in his treatment program and to have some special father/son time. I decided to be fully present and fully engaged, so I took two pictures of us with my phone (one before the game and one after) and the rest of the game, my phone was in my pocket.

There were two different Twitter chats going on Tuesday night. I simply scheduled a tweet via Buffer that said, “Sorry I missed tonight. You guys have fun.”

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Why do I mention this? Because it’s hard to be unplugged. I constantly struggle with being present and giving my full attention to my family when they need me. I think we all must be aware of the magnetic pull that mobile phones and social media has and set proper boundaries. So let me just encourage you today, friends. Tonight when you’re home with your family – put that phone down and be present!