woulda, coulda and shouldas don’t count

Much of the wisdom my father tried to impart to me in my life is only finally starting to make sense. I suppose this is what happens to most men as they age. Suddenly, the realize their fathers weren’t complete idiots.

One of my Dad’s favorite lessons was that woulda, coulda and shoulda doesn’t count in life.

My Dad told me this not long after I resolved to quit the soccer team after the coach started making me play goalie. If you stop playing soccer now, you’ll never play again. He was right and I played – and can still play.

My Dad told me this after I almost didn’t invite my brother Mike to my wedding. It’s a long story but I didn’t want him there. My Dad convinced me and now that Mike is gone, I am really glad he came to my wedding.

My Dad told me this when I had decided to join the Army. He thought it was insane but he knew if I didn’t, I would always regret it. He was right.

What my Dad meant by woulda, coulda and shoulda thinking was that regret never helps. And it always causes trouble.

We know this but it’s hard to keep at it. If you’re like me, regret seems so easy to wallow in.

Let’s you and I make a pact right now – no woulda, couldas and shouldas anymore.

  • Trying is better than not trying.
  • Failing is better than never trying at all.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

You know all of the cliches. Use whatever one gets you moving again. I just want to get you moving again.

My Dad wasn’t the wisest man in the world. My Dad was never super-successful in business. He made some huge mistakes and at the end of his life, confessed his myriad regrets.

But this lesson has stuck with me fall of these years. And I am glad for it.

Regret is dangerous.

Remember, woulda, coulda and shouldas don’t count.


It’s OK to ask for a do-over.

  • It’s OK to try again.
  • It’s OK to admit your first attempt didn’t work. Seriously, it didn’t.
  • It’s OK to admit you need to try harder this time.
  • It’s OK to admit you need a better plan.
  • It’s OK to admit you didn’t have a plan.
  • It’s OK to set a new course; that your first one was all wrong.
  • It’s OK to admit you didn’t understand what you were doing.
  • It’s OK to push yourself to get it right this time.
  • It’s OK to reshuffle the team.
  • It’s OK to ask for help this time.
Even if you try again, you might need another do-over anyway. It’s OK!

Church Planters: Keep Your Blogs Current

mocha-dad-shakespeare-blog-cartoonIf you’re church planting and keep a blog great. We want to hear what you’re learning.

But if you keep a blog you need to keep it current. Nothing screams–don’t bother like old content.

You don’t need to blog everyday. But if you’re keeping a blog you need to write at least once a week to keep it going.

Now, you’re gonna say–but I am so busy.

Then don’t make your blog public. Keep it private until you’re able to write at least once a week.

People are gonna check out your blog and they want to see that stuff is happening. It’s simple, either keep a blog or don’t. But you can’t do both.

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PS: I am eating my words here. These past few months have been a disaster for my blog. I am posting this to remind myself about this truth as well.

How to Help a Businessman Plant a Church

It shouldn’t be a surprise when a businessman expresses an interest in church planting. If you’ve built a serious reproducing culture then people should be asking you how they can start something new for the Kingdom.Nextsteps

Not long ago a friend of mine invited me to breakfast and told me he was really interested in church planting. My friend is a family man and a business professional and the notion that God would call him to plant a church was unnerving and exciting at the same time.

While he has never been on staff, he contributes in his local NewThing church and has apprenticed as a leader in several ministries.

During our conversation I answered his questions as honestly as I could. He asked great questions and I enjoyed our time together. I encouraged him to keep dreaming and then we prayed.

I wasn’t sure if our conversation inspired him or discouraged him? And then several weeks later he contacted me and said he was ready for another conversation. This time he wanted help discerning whether God was really calling him to plant.

Since our second conversation I’ve been praying for my friend. I am not sure where God is leading him but I am convinced that unless we (and I mean the church planting community) encourage him to learn and explore the Kingdom will miss out. For him to even consider church planting is a HUGE win for the Kingdom.

So here are several next steps I gave him. He’s not ready for formal assessment or residency but he does want to do something.

You might say these are next steps for someone who is interested in church planting but has little to no vocational ministry experience…

  • Pray! I told my friend to pray and make his prayer-time a priority. I also suggested he take a prayer retreat for a day and really try to hear from God.
  • Interview church planters. I suggested he talk to as many church planters as would meet with him.
  • Read books and blogs authored by church planters. I provided him several lists of essential books and blogs on planting and encouraged him to take his time reading them carefully.
  • Lead where you are! In many ways, this is the most important next step. I encouraged my friend to lead strong where God’s got him. It would be a series mistake to want to lead a church without ever having some serious leadership experience. I encouraged him to lead wherever and whenever he has opportunity (That’s why apprenticeship is so important!)
  • Attend a church planting conference like Exponential. This would be a great opportunity to hear from planters, thinkers and practitioners as well as network.
  • Be patient. I encouraged him to be patient with God, himself and the people around him as he tried to discern his next steps. Planting a church is a long process.
  • Talk to his spouse. I reminded him that God calls both spouses to church planting. My coaching was that he spend lots of time talking through his dreams with his spouse and give her space to process it all.

What about you? What advice would you provide a businessman who is interested in planting a church? 

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And thank you for reading–I really appreciate it! 

“Wanna Play Catch?” (Learning to Stay Available)

I admit it, I am not the world’s biggest sports fan.

I love soccer and a distant second is baseball. I’ll watch football but I am usually bored by halftime. I wish I liked sports more. I don’t. And I am OK with that.

I am more of a solo sport guy. Running is my kind of thing. Cdcatch

But I have a problem. My sons are taking to sports more. Cormac (my 9 year-old) loves baseball and my son Declan (13) is taking an interest in basketball. So I am trying to be a good Dad and find ‘sporting’ ways to connect with them. We’ve gone to Sporting KC games and have even got in a Royals game already.

Speaking of baseball–since the start of the season, Cormac is always asking me to play catch. Just the other day he came inside the house and said, “Dad, it’s time to play catch with me.”

Now, truth be told I was reading a great book and had no desire to go out. (Did I mention it was a really good book?) But I have this rule that whenever my kids request to spend time with me, I drop whatever I am doing and do it. So we grabbed out mitts and headed outside.

While we tossed the ball back and forth catch, Cormac admitted he was really scared about the school talent show.  He passed the audition (he’s singing the Bruno Mars tune “Count on Me”) but now the reality of singing in front of the entire school terrified him. He wasn’t sure he wanted to do it anymore.

So I asked him questions and tried to affirm him. I told him he has a great voice and that he’s already proven his courage by trying out. And I told him how proud I am of him for trying.

This unexpected opportunity to play catch with Cormac was also an opportunity to step right into the middle of his life. I wasn’t expecting to deal with his fears that evening. But while we tossed the ball back and forth I affirmed him and encouraged him.

Sure, I might have overheard that Cormac was afraid of singing in the talent show from my wife. (The kids tell her everything anyway.) I could have sat down and talked to Cormac about his fears. But our conversation wouldn’t have been as open and fluid and honest. It would have been on my terms, when it was convenient for me. Not his. And it wouldn’t have been the same.

At the end of our conversation he told me he wanted to stay in the contest–at least for now.

So what’s all of this got to do with church planting?

I am learning to stay available to the people around me and I’d encourage you to do the same. We must make space to “play catch” with the people on our teams or people we serve. We must always choose people over our agendas and programs and to-do lists. Sure it can be hard, but we must never forget that people are the point of everything. People matter to God. mitt and glove

The people on our teams need to be encouraged and affirmed. They have stuff they’re dealing with and they would love your insight. But they’re not going to call and ask you to sit down and talk about it. You need to be available play catch with them and give them the space they need to talk.

What about your? When do you just make time to listen to people on your team? Maybe you should find time to simply play catch?

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