Where to Begin When You Have a Long List of Tasks…

Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves. Dale Carnegie. 

If you are like me there are seasons when my list of things to do seems to be never ending. If I am honest, there are times when I can get a little overwhelmed as scroll through my task list trying to decide what needs to be done. What about you? Ever get overwhelmed?

To do list

A few years ago I read a great little book called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. The book is full of 21 great ways to be more productive and efficient. However, there is one nugget of wisdom that has changed the way I get things done in my ministry and home life…

What I used to do: When faced with a long task of things to do, there is a tendency to tackle the easiest ones first and try to check off a number of tasks quickly and easily. You would think that a few easy wins would build momentum and give you the enthusiasm to tackle the tougher tasks right? Wrong! Waiting to tackle the hardest tasks later becomes a form of procrastination of priorities and ultimately leaves the harder tasks hanging over us. Psychologically speaking, it can easily cause us to stump our enthusiasm and slow our productivity. Here’s what an excerpt of the book says:

There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Using ‘eat that frog’ as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life. 

In other words, once you have tackled the most challenging task of the day, all the other tasks seem easier and more attainable to accomplish. As a leader, I find this to be so true. It’s so essential that I devote my time to the tasks that will impact my ministry the most and bring the greatest return. These are often the most challenging and perplexing tasks however. But ultimately, a leader who tackles the most challenging tasks each day will him or herself a cut above the leaders who are quickly checking off the easy tasks each day.

What is your greatest priority today? What have you been putting off that you need to tackle today? What is the biggest ugliest ‘frog’ you can eat today that will make all the other tasks seem easy? 

Phil <><

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A Crucial Leadership Failure Learned from President Obama

President Obama

This is not a political blog post.

This is not an opinion about whether one side is right and the other is wrong.

This post is an observation on leadership from an independent British guy who has lived in the United States for the last fourteen years. (As a green card holder, I can’t even vote)! 

David Letterman has a point! Recently, following the elections David Letterman made the following observation:

“This is what happens when we have the midterm elections. The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama. That’s a lonely, lonely gig being president, ladies and gentlemen.
“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”
He’s got a point doesn’t he? Forget for a moment about what many of us know about other policies and decisions.
Most presidents would give their right arm arm to walk into an election with this scenario! Gas under $3 a gallon, unemployment is the lowest in a long time, and yes, the stocks have rebounded!

So, why is he so unpopular on both sides? 

TRUST

Trust has been lost. I don’t know where you fall on the political spectrum, but I think most people can acknowledge that there have been many things that have been said that have not come to fruition. Perhaps the greatest example is with healthcare reform:

“If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan…” 

As millions of people have discovered, this simply is not true in the reality of what we have had to do. It does not matter whether you support him or not, instances like this have caused both sides to doubt. I believe the heart of his lost influence as a president stems more from a lack of trust than the policies he has created.

Trust was lost in a similar way. Remember when there was “clear evidence” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? (Recently, with the uprising of ISIS, I have heard that there is concern they will come into control of such weapons). Regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction have been found since the Iraq war, this was not the case when troops occupied Iraq.

Suddenly George W. Bush found himself isolated and alone as a leader. Once again, support was lost. Why? TRUST.

The Bottom Line: It’s an enormous task of leading a country in comparison to how most of us live and lead. However, here’s what we can learn from President Obama and George W. Bush.

No matter how successful a leader is in accomplishing goals, their influence and ability to lead people will be lost when they lose the trust of the people. People only follow the leader when they trust his or her words. Once trust is lost, a leader will lose the support of the most avid followers. 

Practically Speaking. So here are a few things to consider in your context of leadership:

1) Surround yourself with people who give you accurate information.

2) Surround yourself with a wide bandwidth of leaders who represent the people you are leading. Avoid listening only to the “yes” people.

3) Don’t make promises you cannot fulfill and avoid spinning the facts to make a case for your plan. Use your words very carefully! 

4) Be prepared to eat humble pie and admit when you have made a wrong turn!

Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s essential you and I learn from world leaders.

Sometimes this means learning from their mistakes in order to avoid them in our context. It’s also imperative that you and I humbly understand that the role of the president is probably the most challenging role any human being can undertake. While we can learn valuable lessons from President Obama and George W. Bush (and leaders like them), its essential that we learn with a spirit of humility and avoid becoming just another critic. After all, there are already enough cynical critics in the world today…

Phil <>< 

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Living with a Healthy View of Fear with C.S Lewis

Facing Fear

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not that hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. C.S Lewis. 

I love this quote by C.S Lewis from The Problem with Pain. So often we go through life making it our goal to make our path easy and our burdens light. However, that’s not real life. If you have been around for a while you will already know that “there always seems to be something to worry about,” or “life seems to have a way of throwing curveballs our way.” This is a reality of living in a fallen world. This is the reality we must face. Instead of trying to eradicate fear, it’s essential we hold onto our faith and trust in a God who is mighty and powerful and knows us by name.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

As you go through your day, consider how God is looking to draw you close to Him in the midst of fear. Today you can face your fears knowing that God will strengthen you and help you through it.

What are you afraid of? Face it with God today! 

Phil <><

 

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When You Don’t Have Enough Time… What to do…

We have 24 hours every day…

There’s always more to do than we have time for…

What can we do when there is more to do, and not enough time?

Time Clock

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1: 35-39

Where did Jesus go? Can you picture this setting? Practically the whole town arrives at the house to be healed by Jesus and he’s not there! It’s like Black Friday shopping as everyone gathers waiting for the stampede when the doors open! Can you imagine the disciples frantically looking for him as they search the house wondering what to do with all the people outside? Talk about a stressful situation! And then one of the disciples find him…

“Don’t you Realize Jesus?” Do you catch the tone of voice from the disciple who caught up with Him? “EVERYONE is looking for you!” Not a few, but everyone! In other words, “Jesus, I need you to understand that this is a BIG deal. I need you to come and take care of this crowd of people…” And what is Jesus reply? He doesn’t even acknowledge the need, he simply points His disciple to a greater purpose: “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Knowing what to say “yes” to. Right after Jesus has spent time with His Father, he is confronted by a great need. Yet, it is after spending time with His Father that He is able to be clear about what to do next. While there were many pressing needs for Him to contend with, He knew His purpose so clearly that He was able to say “yes” to preaching elsewhere, which ultimately meant He was saying “no” to something else.

Jesus, God in flesh had limitations and could not be everywhere, for everyone, and do everything…

You and I have greater limitations than the Son of God. We cannot be everywhere, for everyone, and do everything…

As a husband, parent, and pastor, I have come to realize that there is ALWAYS more to do. There are always many good opportunities awaiting me, but I cannot say “yes” to every need. Because of my limited time, every time I say “yes” to a need, I am usually saying “no” to something else. In times like this, it’s essential that I follow in Jesus’ steps:

1) Find a solitary place to seek God’s wisdom and direction. 

2) Discern the God-given opportunities over the good opportunities. 

3) Take specific steps to say “yes” to God and stand confidently in the things you are letting go of.

Now, this is easier said than done. However, I have discovered that time away with my Heavenly Father is the only sure way to find clarity in a busy and blurry world of frantic schedules and fast-paced families.

If we want to set the course for our lives with confidence and purpose, we need to get away from the busyness and seek God in the quietness.

How are you getting away to hear God’s voice in your frantic schedule? Where is a place of solitary for you? How has God shaped you for a purpose? What are some of the priorities that need to be reassessed in your life, family, and ministry? 

Phil <><

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