“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”

You might need a bigger boat.

One of my favorite movies is Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. And one of my favorite lines is when Chief Brody (played by Roy Scheider) gets his first look at Jaws, the Great White shark he’s come to battle.

Brody backs into the cabin and whispers to Quint,”You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Brody realizes that he and he crew have greatly underestimates the challenge before them. In that moment, Brody realizes that what this trio of hunters has brought to the fight isn’t enough going to be enough to win it.

His is a moment of clarity when he realizes his tactics are going to need to change.

Perhaps those of us starting new things need to ask this question.

If we’re going to plant churches that change the spiritual landscape of our cities, regions and the world, we will need a bigger boar. We need to have a similar a-ah moment and realize that we are going to do things differently if we’re going to achieve our goal.

We’ve got to take a good look at the challenges we’re facing and ask ourselves: am I going to need a bigger boat?

So what about you? Do you need a bigger boat?

Who is Spotting for Hand Grenades?

Hand grenades are loud— really loud. And when they detonate they send smoke and shrapnel in all directions. They’re designed to hurt people — bad. The idea with a hand grenade is to throw it toward the enemy. There’s only one place for a hand-grenade and that’s in your enemies’ lap–not yours. toy-hand-grenade-1__72164.1302741752.800.800

When I was in the Army we trained with hand-grenades. We knew where they were and who had oversight on them. Now we didn’t pay too much attention to them but we always knew where they were. When it was time to train we took them out of the crates and started throwing them.

One afternoon we went to the training range and started throwing them down range. I was in my training bunker when through my peripheral vision I spotted a small dark object flying through the air. It landed with a dull thump in the bunker adjacent to mine.

“Grenade!” the spotter yelled.

I dove over the concrete safety barrier. The grenade went off with a bang and a plume of smoke. I could feel the force on my face.

A guy in our unit had whiffed the grenade. He got so nervous that he threw it the wrong way. Because of the spotter we were able to get out-of-the-way. Nobody got hurt.

When you’re training with hand-grenades you always want to have a spotter. Someone who is looking out for that errant grenades.

Who is watching for hand-grenades in your organization? Systems that you’re not paying attention to…details you’ve overlooked because you’ve got careless…opportunities you’ve missed? Or maybe it’s a threat you’ve refused to face?

No doubt an errant hand-grenade will come your way at some point. It’s best to ensure you have a spotter. Someone who is looking out for it.

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When Things DON’T Go According to Plan

How do you respond when things don’t go according to plan?

Let me explain.

Last week was a challenging week. I was traveling most of it. In hindsight, I tried doing too much. And things certainly DID NOT go according to plan.

In fact, lots of things went wrong.

The weather was a killer. Extreme cold delayed my flights. I drove through a rainstorm on my way to the Seattle-Tacoma airport that was so bad I could hardly see the car in front of me. The drive back from Detroit took twice as long due to a snowstorm. 

Throughout the week, I was late to meetings, rushing around, and struggling to keep up with emails and messages. The delays prevented me  from finishing a project I needed to get done. And I didn’t have time to blog.

At times, I was frustrated and stressed. I normally love to travel but it seemed that no matter how much extra time I allocated, I was still late. 

In the past, I would have let it really get to me. 

But I didn’t.

In fact, I found myself using the time in the car or waiting on a runway to pray about my set-backs and disappointments. I’ve been trying to do that more: giving God my stress. 

It’s not a prayer like, God take this stress. Rather, it’s a prayer that asks: God, help me to keep my perspective on what’s really important.

See, despite my plans, things are going to go wrong. Duh right! 

And what I am learning to go easier on myself. I am learning to trust that the challenges (even the inane ones)  are an opportunity for me to be intentional about the person I want to be. I follow Jesus and that means ALL areas of my life come under his authority, even the snowstorms and delayed flights. When things go wrong, I still have the opportunity invite Jesus into the midst of my frustration and disappointment.

What about you? 

Think about the last time something didn’t go right for you—something didn’t go according to plan. 

  • How did you respond?
  • Who did you blame?
  • Who did you treat poorly because you were in pissy mood?
  • Did you see it as an opportunity to grow?

Here’s the value in things going awry: we get the opportunity to respond. In fact, the more I reflect on this crazy week, the more I realize its the journey that matters anyway.

What really matters in life is how we respond to it. Our character matters to God. God is certainly more interested in how we travel the journey, then we what accomplish along the way.

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When You Need to Fight For Joy

Can I be honest?

I am struggling to write. write

Everything was going so well. I was writing regularly and had found a rhythm I could keep without sacrificing too much in the other areas of my life. I was posting to my blog and had begun writing an outline for a book.

But that all changed when I moved back to Chicago and started a new job. In fact, over the past couple of months I’ve experienced several major life stressors:

  • Our daughter went off to college.
  • We moved.
  • I started a new job.
  • My boys started new schools.

Some of my friends have suggested that these stressors are the causes of my recent writer’s block.

I don’t agree. In the past, I’ve always been able to write-through the hard seasons. In fact, when life gets challenging, writing helps me cope.

Writing is really important to me. I guess you might say it’s somewhere between a hobby and a discipline that helps me stay mentally healthy. I am more creative than I let on and so writing is a way for me to let my inner artist loose. I am also passionate about helping church planters start movements. Writing is one of the way I can do that.

No doubt, writing has always provided me great joy.

So what I’ve realized is that I need to be intentional about writing again. I admit it–I need to fight for the joy that writing provides me. And that means I need to be intentional and disciplined about writing again.

Here are some things I am doing:

  • I will write at least TWO Pomodoros a day. (Pomodoro is a system I’ve used to help get things done.)
  • I am reading other blogs and finding I am inspired by all the great stuff out there.
  • I am reading a book on writing.
  • I will read more novels and poetry. (I love reading fiction and poetry but seldom make time for them because I am too busy reading books on church planting.)
  • I am praying for the strength and focus to re-engage as a writer.
  • I asked my wife to help me stay accountable to my writing goals.
  • I am making writing a priority which means I am getting up earlier to do it.
  • I keep a post-it note on my desk that reads: ‘Write because you love to write’ to remind myself why I want to do it.

I know I am not the only one who needs to re-start something that provides joy. Maybe it’s exercising, or painting, or playing an instrument. Whatever it us, may I challenge you to re-start it.  Take another run at it. After all, the things that we like doing are the things that give us joy. As long as these things honor God, we should make space in our lives to do them.

So what about you? What’s the thing that once brought you joy? What’s it gonna take for you to fight for it?

Thanks for reading my blog–I REALLY appreciate it. (You can SUBSCRIBE for regular updates.)

10 Ways to Overcome Your Challenges

What’s the challenge you’re facing today? What’s the thing you woke-up thinking about that if you don’t solve it you might just quit.challenges

It may be a big challenge or it may be small. Either way, you’re investing your emotional and intellectual energy on it. That means you’re experiencing stress and not working on the opportunities around you.

It seems to me we try to solve our challenges in several ways:

We ignore it. We move it down the to-do list or better yet, dump it off on some unsuspecting peer.  While this may seem like a good idea (and it might provide you some relief) our challenge is still there waiting for us.

We work harder.  We clear our calendar, grab another cup of coffee and sit down and try to knock it out. No lack of effort here. Sometimes hard-work does get the job done. But more often we dig in only to find that you simply don’t have the ability and/or resources to come up with a solution.

We invent the wheel only to realize the wheel has already been invented. This happens all the time doesn’t it? We invest hours in a solution only to find that someone has gone ahead and figured it out already.

Whether it’s ignoring the challenge, over-working ourselves, or refusing to ask for help, we seem to forget that we have a fourth option: Outsourcing.

The fact is you can ask others and/or hire them to help you solve your challenge. Whether it’s people on your team or businesses, there are solutions available for your challenges. You just need to fight your bias to do everything and ask for help.

Here are some questions that might help you outsource your current challenge:

  1.  Is it even your challenge? If not give it to whoever needs to own it.
  2. Is it a challenge? I mean is there something obvious you’ve missed that can fix the problem?
  3. Is it a real challenge or do you have faulty expectations?
  4. What’s the urgency of the challenge? Do you have time to solve it in a unique and creative way or does urgency demand you just get it done?
  5. Is there someone on your team whose gift mix can solve this challenge?
  6. Who can you hire to help take the burden off of you?
  7. What business or businesses already do what you’re doing? Can you leverage their expertise? Can you hire them to help?
  8. What have others done in similar situations? How can you learn from them?
  9. What solutions/best practices does your network and/or coach have to offer.
  10. Who can you ask to help you think through (brainstorm) solutions.

My point is to be creative in the way you seek to solve challenges. There are more solutions available than you realize.

What about you? How do you go about meeting some of your challenges? Please leave a comment. 

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