Tag: risk

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my kids

As a family, we spend a lot of time together. It’s a value for us, honestly. Some people would say quality time is most important, but we say that quality time is only found when you spend quantity time together.
And because we spend such a vast amount of time together, we experience a lot of everything: lots of laughs, tears, and joy. Lots of light moments and plenty of teachable ones. Moments of quiet and long stretches of seemingly meaningless noise from the back seat. And while “learning” mostly flows one direction (my wife and I are always looking for opportunities to teach our children truth), the waters flow the other direction from time to time, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned recently from my kids.

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my children

1. Don’t root your identity in what people think

My daughter is a wild child. She vacillates between high highs and low lows, and everything in between…all in the span of 5 minutes. But one thing is certain: she isn’t affected by what you think of her. If you think she’s funny, great. If you don’t, great. If you agree with what she’s doing, great. If not, great. And while some of that behavior we as parents are working on, there’s something beautiful about not being swayed by the shifting thoughts of others.
think she cares what you think? Nope.

think she cares what you think? Nope.

The more you care about others’ opinion of you, the more you find yourself chained by them. What do you see on this spaghetti-smeared face? Pure joy.
Confession: sometimes I care too much what other will think.
Truth: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25

2. Have fun

My son just loves to have fun. Where ever he is, whatever he’s doing, he’s looking to enjoy life, and pull others in to his vortex. Seriously, whether he’s at school, church, or in the front yard, he’s constantly gathering people together to play, laugh, and enjoy life.
Check out the one kid on the left that's dabbing. The. One. Kid.

Check out the one kid on the left that’s dabbing. The. One. Kid.


Confession: Sometimes I get lost in tasks.
Truth: “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes 8:15

3. Take risks

My kids take risks. All of the time. Some   Many of them are dumb. But that never slows them down from taking another risk that might end in them falling flat on their faces. Maybe we could learn something from them. Maybe we play it too safe, under the guise of “I might look foolish” or “I might not succeed.”
Confession: Sometimes I lean towards comfort.
Truth: Where there is no risk, there is no faith.

4. Love quickly

Both of my children are quick to love and trust others. I’ve found that the older I get, the more I’m tempted to be slow to trust. They have a short memory, while mine is a little longer. As I’ve seen my trust of others broken, it makes me a little hesitant. I’m learning from my kids that relational risks are worth the potential downside.
Confession: Sometimes I struggle to trust after it’s been broken.
Truth: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus, John 13:35

5. Tell people what to do all of the time

Oh, wait…that’s just my daughter. And I’m not applying that one. 🙂

Be the expert

If you’re the leader, be the expert.

image credit: Creation Swap user Gabriel Smith

Too many times, I hear leaders bemoaning a lack of knowledge, a lack of skill, and a lack of certainty. Living in and operating out of the weaknesses and insecurities, not out of the grace, strength, and knowledge God has blessed them with. They rest in the expertise of others instead of growing in to the expertise that’s needed of them.

God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

But not if you resist the equipping.


  • Quit it with the insecurities.
  • Quit it with the ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’
  • Quit it with the focus on your weaknesses.
  • Quit it with the, “I’m just not sure…”
  • Quit it with the shirking of vision to others.

Time to own up to your title. Time to grow in to your shoes.

This is not about acting like a pompous know-it-all.

It’s all about being the expert that those you lead expect you to be. Your calling is too important to sit on the sidelines.

Accept your gifts.

Let your passions drive you.

Learn. Experiment. Take risks. Fail. 


If you’re the leader, be the expert.


The #1 way to fight insecurity

Moses is one of my favorite heroes in the Bible. Partly because of the danger surrounding the time of his birth. Partly because he was an amazing leader. Partly because he got to part an entire sea.


The Delivery of Israel & the Red Sea, 1825, Francis Danby

But mainly because I love how real Moses appears. You get to see Moses’ humanity throughout his story. The fact that he’s weak, doubts his call, and still messes up gives me loads of hope that God could use me despite my weaknesses, doubts, and failures.

God called Moses to lead the oppressed Israelites to freedom from their bondage to Egypt, and Moses doubted whether this would work. After all, he was just Moses. And Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the world.

In Exodus 4, so God could prove to Moses that He is who He says He is, God asks Moses to throw his shepherd’s staff on the ground. When he does, it turns into a snake. He then asks Moses to pick it up by the tail. Not the head. The tail. (For the record, I have some level of faith…but if you ask me to pick up a snake by the tail, I’m out. Call someone else.)

Moses picks it up, then God tells him to put his hand into his cloak. When Moses pulls his hand out, it’s leprous. God instructs Moses to put his hand back in his cloak, and when Moses pulls it out, his hand has returned to normal.

Cool story, no? Crazy miracles, no? Moses had seen two miracles, right before his eyes, but still responded with this:

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” – Exodus 4:10

Sticks turning to snakes. Hands being turned all crazy. And Moses still doubted? Doubted that God could use his bumbling mouth to lead a people to freedom? Doubted that God could do what He said He’d do? Doubted God would come through for him?

Yep. Moses listened to the voice of insecurity.

Because Moses thought he was still operating in his own power.

Insecurity does a great job highlighting weaknesses and isolating you from Truth. Moses was weak, and on his own, he would surely fail. Before the most powerful man in the world, Moses would just curl up into the corner and cry, being constantly reminded of how weak and “unusable” he was.

Good thing for Moses, though, he wasn’t going alone. He was simply a mouthpiece for the living God.

We are Moses

We’re no different than Moses.

We see miracles all around us. We see God healing people (often through medicine). We see God reconciling marriages. We see addictions broken. Hearts far from God turning back to Him. Sons returning home. Fathers owning their responsibilities. Mothers selflessly giving of themselves. Walls coming down.

We even see God using us to bring about change in others. We see God working miracles in our own lives.

Great miracles.

But we doubt. We wonder how God could ever use us. Just like Moses did. We feed our insecurities and doubts, relying on our own strengths. We remind ourselves that we’re

  • weak
  • scared
  • busy
  • tired
  • funny looking
  • dumb
  • failure
  • wounded
  • ugly
  • hopeless
  • addicted
  • lazy
  • bitter
  • worn out
  • shameful
  • too messy
  • still in process

So how could God ever use us?

Because God says to you:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s not about your strength and your gifts and your ability to lead. It’s about you trusting God to do what only He can do.

Your insecurities are a chance for God to show off through you. To remind you that it’s not about you.

Ready to fight doubt? Ready to defeat insecurity?

Take a step of risky faith.

And listen to the voice of God, not men.



Quit planning. Start doing.

Carrying around a megaphone doesn’t legitimize your message.

image credit: Flickr user Hazzat

It just makes your message louder.

Just like talking about your dreams doesn’t mean you’ve taken any real action to accomplishing them.

It just makes your dreams more widely distributed.

We love to talk about our plans and goals and dreams. Sharing your dreams is a great way to keep a conversation going, and make us seem like we’re the forward-thinking, out-of-the-box type.

But just like the guy who writes a blog about how to write a blog about blogging is great at spinning his wheels but creating no real movement, so too are our wheels spinning.

We go in circles trying to justify our inaction.

9 times out of 10, our inaction is driven by our fear.

Faith takes risks, trusting God to truly be a God who loves to do the impossible. You’ll never fully understand God’s power until you have the faith to believe, pray, and act on the fact that our God is a God who loves to do the impossible. (Re: Ephesians 3:20-21)

You can’t experience God’s power if you trust Him with what you, in your power alone, can do. Faith requires risk. Risk to trust God. Risk to fight your fear. Risk to believe and act in confidence that God is who He says He is and does what He says he’ll do.

Instead of writing about marriage, take your wife on a date.

Instead of taking about reaching out to your neighbor, do it.

Instead of leading others to be generous, do it yourself.

Instead of telling others about your dream, start living it.

Don’t write. Do.

Don’t speak. Be.

Don’t dream. Act.



Raising Men

I love being a dad. Especially a dad to a boy.

I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing…I’m learning every day, and I’m loving the journey.

At the mall just the other day, I heard a dad telling his son,

No. No. No. Be careful. No. Don’t jump off of that bench. It’s not safe. No. No. Be careful.

And it rubbed me the wrong way.

One thing I’ve learned is that raising a boy often goes against your natural instincts. Especially my wife’s natural instincts.

A parent’s natural instinct is to protect their child. Which, no doubt, has prevented countless tears in my house alone. Parents want to protect them from

  • falling
  • jumping off of things
  • jumping into things
  • climbing things
  • eating things
  • putting fingers in things
  • putting things in the trash
  • getting things out of the trash
  • coloring the wrong things
  • going outside
  • rolling in that
  • touching that

But if you’re going to raise a boy to grow into a man, you’ve got to fight against your natural instincts at times. Here’s a principal I’ve learned in the 3 years I’ve raised my son:

If you say ‘No’ or ‘Be careful’ more than you encourage your son to take a risk, you’re limiting your son’s potential.

Boys long to be dangerous. They want to take risks and be adventurous. They have a God-given desire to do things that could very well cause them bodily harm.

And in a flash, your God-given reaction to protect meets his God-given desire to risk.

We want our children to feel the freedom to innovate, try new things, and take risks when they get older, right? To not be held in bondage by social norms and cultural expectations. We want them to be willing to take bold and courageous steps of faith. No?

I understand that those risks need to be shepherded, but they need not be stifled. ‘Be careful’ shouldn’t be the two words that come out of your mouth more than any other. Next time you’re getting ready to say, ‘Be careful,’ try inserting the words, ‘Let’s do this!’

Instead of forbidding them from taking risks, be with them and encourage them while they take the risk. Show them that it’s okay to be dangerous sometimes. To go on an adventure. To do something that momma may not approve of. To try something they’ve never seen anyone else try. To attempt something that may not pan out.

I’ve seen young boys that are scared to death to take even a small risk. They’re afraid of falling and hurting themselves. They’re afraid of failure.

So they never try.

It’s sad, really.

Boys aren’t meant to just be caged up. Boys are testing out the ropes of manhood. Don’t cut those strings.




If you want accountability in your life, you’ve got to take responsibility.

image by Cassandra Security

Nobody will do that for you.  Others can pour into you, teach you, model for you, and share resources with you.  But if you want accountability, you’ve got to take that responsibility on yourself.  I’ve asked people to help me with certain aspects of my spiritual life.  Sometimes it’s “worked.”  Many times, it hasn’t.  But I’ve learned some principles along the way that have helped ensure success.

8 principles in seeking spiritual accountability

1. Ask for it.

If you don’t ask, nobody will respond.  You need these deep relationships that help you with your personal spiritual growth.

2. Help define what it needs to look like.

Don’t just assume that if you ask someone, they’ll instantly know what accountability needs to look like for you.  You have to help set the paramaters.  How often?  What will you talk about?  What questions should they ask you?

3. Be vulnerable and share your story.

Otherwise, how can someone else help?  If they don’t know who you are, where you’ve been, and the weak spots in your life, they’ll have no idea how to help you grow.

4. Take a risk.

You’ll never know if the person on the other end, that you’re asking to step into that relationship with you, is 100% trustworthy.  This is  a step of faith, not a step of pre-knowledge.

5. Remember that accountability is a two-way street.

This isn’t a cure-all solution.  You’ve got to be doing the difficult task of working on yourself and your own shortcomings.  Having someone “hold you accountable” doesn’t assure you’re accountable.  You’ve got to continue to actively pursue that relationship, and be open and honest with where you are at all along the way.

6. Give the other person the room to say, “No.”

This is a big responsibility that you’re asking someone to.  Give them the freedom to say that this is not the right season for them.  Forced accountability rarely works.  Both parties have to be willing to step in and do the hard work.

7. You have to continue to drive the relationship.

Don’t expect that you can ask once, share your story, and the other person will then magically follow up with you exactly when you need it.  You’re the one asking for accountability.  You need to be the one driving this relationship.

8. Ask for grace.

Since accountability isn’t a cure-all, there’s a good chance you’ll mess up again.  In a big way.  And this is where many “accountability partners” fall apart.  If you’ve messed up, you think, “I can’t possibly be honest about this with him now.”  And he’ll think, “I guess I’ve failed at holding him accountable.”  What needs to happen is what happened in the beginning: grace.  Set out from the beginning this idea that if failure happens, grace is the knee-jerk response.

You need someone to spur you on. (Hebrews 10:24) You’re too weak on your own to fight sin, insecurities, and the battles that rage against you doing what God’s calling you to do.  You need someone who’s got your back.  You need someone who is going to encourage you on the good days and the bad.  You need a warrior who won’t give up on you, who knows where you’re headed, and is willing to walk through the dark and the light to help you get there.

So encourage each other and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do you have someone who’s intentionally encouraging you and helping hold you accountable?

Have you seen this kind of relationship misused?  Where one (or both) parties expected too much?


Do something

Doing something is much more important than doing nothing. *

My son tries new things all of the time.  He tries climbing something new.  Saying something new.  Eating something new.  Playing something new.

But what I’m challenged on is that he’s not afraid to try something new.  Even if that means failing.

Something happens when you start getting older.  You start aiming for “safe.”  Working to not rock the boat, keep the status quo, and not try anything new.

Don’t lull yourself to sleep.  We need you. We need your new idea.  Your insights.  Your excitement.  Your creativity.  Your passion.  Your failures.

Bring them all to the table.  And don’t hold back.

I talked with a good friend the other day.  He’s just become an elder at his church.  Here’s what he said,
I just don’t want to be the new guy that comes in with all kinds of ideas and shakes things up right off the bat.
And while I, at one level get it, I challenged him:
Be that guy!
They’ve brought him on as a young elder (yes, I see the play on words there…hang with me) because they believe in him, and he believes in his local church.  They trust him.  And these elders need to be challenged!  Be the guy that doesn’t take, “We’ve always done it like that…” as an adequate answer.

Faith does.  It doesn’t sit back on the sidelines and wait for someone else.  It takes risks.  Moves forward.  Follows its King.  (see Hebrews 11)


If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:16-17

Doing something is more important than doing nothing.
What do you need to do today?

* I know that wisdom sometimes says, “Wait.”  But that period doesn’t have to last very long.  It lasted 40 years with God’s people in the wilderness, yes, but remember…that was a form of discipline/sanctification, not a way of “wisely” choosing to wait.



Harnessing courage

My son is a running, jumping ball of courage right now.

  • He rides his 4-wheeler down our front steps.
  • He jumped down 3 stairs the other day…measuring at least his height.  He hit the floor, tumbled a little, and kept on running and laughing.
  • Yesterday, he rode down our driveway (a fairly steep hill) as fast as he could on his little plastic truck…which was definitely not intended to be ridden as fast or as hard as he was riding it.
  • He’s not afraid (usually) of talking with a complete stranger.
  • He jumped off of his bed.  It’s taller than he is.

He just has this courageous spirit in him.  And I fight my hardest to not discipline that out of him.

Because seeing my son do courageous things thrills my heart, and I know it’s a expression of his God-given spirit of adventure.  And it would be easy for me to discipline that out of him in the name of safety and order.  I could demand that he not run amuck, that he play it safe, that he walk (err…jump) a more careful path.

But I am convinced that that’s not best for him in the long run.  That’s simply what’s good for me and my sanity in the short-run.

I want to encourage my son to continue to take risks.  Stand up to challenges.  Do things nobody else is doing.  Blaze his own path.  Follow his dream.  And live out the calling God’s placed on his life.  I want to teach my son to live dangerously. It’s much easier to rein that courage in, and point it towards Christ, than to re-program a man to live dangerously. I want to encourage him to be courageous now, and reward those small feats.

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

Have you ever been encouraged to live dangerously?

Disagree with the idea that boys (and men) living dangerously is a good thing?  Feel free to push back!  Click HERE to jump in the comments!


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