#206: The Seasons of Life

Seeking God in Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

On the farm where my grandfather lived his life, there were specific jobs that had to be done in each of the seasons.

Seasons of Life

During the fall of the year, the red winter wheat was planted. Winter was when all the equipment got overhauled in preparation for the next year’s work. Spring was when the white spring wheat was planted; weeds were plowed under, and the crops were fertilized. By early summer the harvester would emerge from the barn to be prepared for the work to come.

As the wheat would begin to turn golden brown, everyone knew that harvest was near. Every morning as the sun began to break over the horizon Grandpa would walk into the field, grab a head of wheat, rub it in his hands to remove the chaff, and then eat a kernel or two. “Not yet,” he’d say, “maybe tomorrow.” Farming is a risky business, but Grandpa was one of the best farmers around because he understood the reason for the seasons and did what was needed in each.

God has seasons for our lives as well. So, as we close out one year and begin a new one afresh, it seems fitting to consider what God has in store for us in the seasons of our lives.

Winter: The Season of Storms

In every winter season that I have lived through there have been storms. Regardless of the size of the storm, you can be sure in every winter season there will be storms. Storms tend to come upon you quickly without warning, and then just as quickly they fade away.

In our lives, we will face many seasons of “storms.” When we are faced with storms in our life, we need to seek the shelter of God’s love. When we do, God promises to comfort us and to deliver us. Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a storm call out to God in prayer and know that He has promised not only to comfort you but to deliver you.

Spring: The Season of Growth

For the farmer, spring is the time for planting and nurturing young seedlings. When you are in a spring season, you need to plant seeds. It’s a great time for making changes, building better relationships, focusing on new ministries, new businesses, or developing new habits.

Spring is a time of great energy. It is the best time to renew our perspective on life, review God’s purpose for our life, and praise God for all He has done for us. Remember, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Corinthians 3:7).

Summer: The Season of Waiting

After the seeds are in the ground, there is little the farmer can do. He must wait for the crop to grow. Things like wind and rain are beyond the farmer’s control; he must wait until the crop is ready for harvest.

We have similar times in our lives. We may have planted the seed of a new ministry or a new business, and now we must wait to see it grow. So many times, God tells us to wait for Him, but it is difficult because we are so impatient. The psalmist instructed us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

I believe that sometimes the greatest test of our faith is when God wants us to wait. Remember, God answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is “yes,” sometimes it is “no,” and sometimes it is “not yet.” It’s those “not yets” that challenge my faith. When I am faced with a “not yet” I try to remember Grandpa checking the wheat and saying, “Not yet, maybe tomorrow.”

Fall: The Season of Success

The fall is the time for harvest; bringing in the crop that was so carefully planted and nurtured in the spring, and so fretfully worried over in the summer.

It is in our seasons of success that we must be careful to stay close to God. It is the time when we think we can do anything, a time when we think we are solely responsible for the harvest. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

Celebrate, share, and save. It’s a good formula for business; thank God for the success He has brought, share your success with others, and save for the future.

One Final Thought

God gives us seasons to build our trust in Him and to develop us into better people. During winter storms, we need to turn to Him for deliverance. In the spring, we need to be renewed in mind, body and spirit. In the summer, we need to trust in God, rest and wait upon Him. And in the fall, we need to celebrate our success, share our bountiful harvest, and save for the future.

No matter what season you may be in now, know that God stands beside you ready to comfort and deliver you if you will just trust in Him. Isaiah, referring to God, wrote, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6).

God’s foundation is a Rock, who will never leave us or forsake us. Who better to turn to during the storms of our life? Who better to look to for comfort and deliverance? Who better to build a solid foundation for our lives? Who better to trust and provide rest? Who better to share our love? The answer is simple. There is no one better!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

This whitepaper includes a discussion of God’s seasons in our life and a broader discussion of each season.

You can download the whitepaper here: The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What season of life are you in right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#205: The Disastrous Effect of One Bad Apple on Your Organization

Out behind the farmhouse was the root cellar grandpa built for grandma. It was big enough to store all the delicate fruits and vegetables that needed protection from the searing sun of eastern Washington.

Apple Attitude

In the back of the cellar was a barrel of Washington Delicious apples. Grandma used to pick apples at nearby farms and store the apples in the root cellar. She would inspect every apple as she placed it in the barrel because, as she told me, one bad apple would cause all the rest of the apples in the barrel to rot. Thus, the wisdom of the saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.”

It turns out the same thing is true for organizations. One bad apple, one person with a bad attitude, can have a disastrous effect on your organization!

How to Recognize the Bad Attitude Apple

Most of us past the age of four can identify someone with a bad attitude. They are easy to spot because their attitude is displayed through their words and actions. They are negative, critical, grumpy, impatient, arrogant, self-centered, and on and on.

In an organization, these are the people who complain about everything. They spread gossip. They talk about others behind their backs. And when the bad attitude is severe enough, they will even undermine the authority of the leadership.

I’ve seen it play out in large and small companies, work teams, non-profit organizations, and even in church groups. No organization is exempt from the decay brought on by the bad attitude apple.

What Causes the Bad Attitude?

It is important for us as leaders to understand what causes a bad attitude. The Bible says our actions reflect the condition of our heart.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).

Solomon taught the actions of a man reflected his heart.

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (Proverbs 27:9).

In other words, a bad heart causes a bad attitude. As a leader, there is very little you can do to affect change in someone else’s heart.

What to do About a Bad Attitude Apple

If you’ve ever struggled with a bad attitude yourself, you know someone else can’t force you to change how you feel. That change must come from inside you. You have to perform heart surgery!

The same is true for the bad attitude apples in your organization; they have to want to change. They have to be willing to perform heart surgery on themselves.

That said, there are three things you can and should do as a leader to help them:

1) Be a coach. A coach is an instructor or teacher. Sometimes people don’t realize how their bad attitude is being expressed so let them know how their attitude is affecting the organization.

2) Be a mentor. A mentor is a trusted advisor or guide. Knowing is different from doing. By mentoring someone with a bad attitude, you can help them recognize their bad behavior and focus on being more positive.

3) Be an example. Most important of all, as a leader, you must be a role model. Your life must set an example of the right kind of attitude. Your attitude, according to Paul, should be the same as Jesus, a humble servant obedient to God.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV).

A bad attitude apple can have a disastrous effect on an organization. As a leader, you can’t afford to ignore the bad apple. You need to take action before their attitude spreads to the rest of the organization. A leader guided by the Holy Spirit can be a catalyst for attitudinal change. Be a coach, be a mentor, be an example, and be the powerful, inspired leader God intends you to be!.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with someone who had a bad attitude? How did his/her attitude affect the organization? How did you deal with the person?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships

 

 

#204: Do You Need a Powerful Influencer in Your Life?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Is there a powerful influencer in your life? Do you even need one?

Powerful Influencer

Moses had one, and his advice dramatically changed the way Moses led the people of Israel for the rest of his life. Moses’ key influencer was Jethro, his father-in-law, who made a brief appearance in Exodus 18.

Many thanks to Barbara K for suggesting Jethro as the topic for this month’s “Lessons from the Lesser Known.”

The Influencer Backstory

Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, met up with Moses as they traveled. Moses recounted to Jethro all that the Lord had done for the people of Israel. Jethro proclaimed the greatness of God and brought offerings and sacrifices to God (Exodus 18:11-12).

The next day Moses resumed his usual activity judging issues between the people of Israel from morning until night (Exodus 18:13).

Jethro the Influencer

Jethro questioned Moses, asking why he was doing all the judging for the entire nation by himself. Moses explained that his role as leader was to judge disputes between the people and to teach them God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:15-16).

He bluntly told Moses his way of doing things was not good because he would wear himself out personally tending to the needs of all the people.

Jethro advised Moses to divide his responsibilities among other trusted men of God. He should appoint men over thousands, hundreds, and tens to judge the minor disputes among the people. These men were to be God-fearing, trustworthy, and hate bribes.

Moses was to continue to personally teach the people God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:17-22).

His final direction to Moses was to consult with God and act if God so directed him.

Moses listened to Jethro’s advice and did everything he told him by appointing leaders over the people, while Moses continued in his responsibility to teach the people about God.

Lessons for us About Influencers

Moses exhibited two characteristics common among type A leaders: 1) he thought he could do it all, and 2) he had lost sight of what was most important.

Many of us tend to exhibit the same two characteristics; we think we can do it all, and in the attempt to do it all we lose sight of what is most important.

This tendency is precisely why leaders need key influencers in their lives. We need someone we can trust to give us honest, sometimes blunt feedback, and keep us focused on doing what is most important.

What Should You Look for in a Key Influencer?

There are at least four important takeaways about key influencers from the example between Jethro and Moses.

  • People who we allow to be key influencers in our lives should themselves be men and women of God.
  • Key influencers should feel free to speak the truth in love, even bluntly when necessary.
  • Leaders should listen to the advice of key influencers and bring it before God in prayer.
  • Leaders need to be action oriented. Once the advice is given and confirmed by God in prayer, act. Do it now!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Is there a key influencer in your life? What criteria do you look for in a key influencer? What role do they play in decisions you make?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances

 

#203: Terrifying Boyhood Adventure Results in Valuable Life Lessons

The searing hot sun beat down us relentlessly that August, but we didn’t care because we were on a boyhood adventure.

Adventure Lessons

August in eastern Washington, where I grew up, is time for farmers to begin the wheat harvest. But for my cousins, Rick and Mike, and I it was two weeks of carefree fun exploring and playing on grandpa’s farm.

I was 10-years old, which means Rick and Mike at 11 were older and wiser when the adventure began.

We knew Grandpa had a graveyard of old farm implements down in the gulley about a half mile away from the main house so off we went. Grandpa’s graveyard of old farm tools was a veritable treasure chest for three boys on an adventure.

Our first find was two sets of iron wheels. We were thrilled to find they rotated freely on their axles. The wheels themselves were open-spoke steel and at four feet high were about as tall as we were.

We attached a rope to the first pair of wheels and slowly pulled them uphill through the soft farm dirt to the main barnyard. Returning in the afternoon, we repeated the process to retrieve the second pair of wheels.

With scavenged pieces of wood, we crafted a magnificent chariot! It was about eight feet long, five feet wide, and set about two feet off the ground.

It was time for a test ride!

We pushed our chariot out of the barnyard and down the gravel road that ran in front of grandpa’s farm. With some effort, we pushed it all the way to the top of the tallest hill on the road. We climbed aboard and off we went. Gravity did its job. We picked up speed and soon we were flying down the hill on the ride of our lives.

It was at that point that I realized our chariot had no steering mechanism.

It didn’t have brakes either!

No matter these design deficiencies. At this point, we were fully committed!

Unfortunately, our chariot started to veer to the side of the road as we approached the bottom of the hill at top speed.

To make matters worse, there was a gully on the side of the road with a ten-foot drop to the field below.

There was no escaping; our chariot was about to become an airplane with a glide path of a rock.

Jumping off our chariot onto a gravel road didn’t seem like a practical solution to our dilemma, so we held on as we went airborne off the side of the road.

Happily, we landed right-side up, still on our chariot, and the soft dirt of the farm land brought us to a slow stop.

What a grand adventure! Being boys we were ready to repeat the ride but wisely determined to make some modifications to our chariot before attempting a second test run.

We pushed our chariot all the way back to the farm planning to make the needed modifications the next day.

At dinner, Rick, Mike, and I regaled grandma, grandpa, and my uncle Dick with the story of our grand adventure of our chariot turned airplane. For some reason, they failed to appreciate the wonder and excitement of our adventure.

The adults expressed, in no uncertain terms, that no further test runs would be allowed. Our chariot was to be hauled back down to the implement graveyard the next day.

Important Life Lessons

A lot of valuable life lessons occur in our formative years. Here are five lessons I took away from my boyhood adventure that hot August week on grandpa’s’ farm.

Life is an Adventure. Our day began as an adventure. We didn’t know what we would find or what we would do. Not having everything determined in advance made the adventure all the more fun. Kids seem to know how to experience the joy of adventure, but as adults, many of us have forgotten how to experience daily life as an adventure.

Create Alignment Around a Vision. As soon as we found those wheels we all envisioned our magnificent chariot. Most truly breakthrough discoveries are the result of a team of people aligned to a shared vision.

Live your Passion. If we hadn’t been passionate about the prospects of riding our chariot down the hill, we would have found a million excuses for why we wouldn’t be successful. That negativity would have doomed us before we even got started.

Determination. We would never have struggled to pull those wheels up through the dirt, build the chariot, or get it out on the road for a test ride if we had not been determined as a group to see the work to completion.

Courage/Risk-Taking. You never know how things will turn out when you’re doing something you’ve never done before. Living life as an adventure takes courage and the willingness to risk failure.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What life lessons have you learned through childhood adventures?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Vision

 

#202: Resolutions Are a Complete Waste of Time!

And So Are Most Goals...

Resolutions are a complete waste of time. And for that matter, so are most goals we set for ourselves!

Resolutions

If you’ve followed me for at least a year, this proclamation probably comes as a surprise since I’ve written about goals here and just last week here. Don’t worry; I am not against setting goals. I do it for myself every year and have for many years. But they have to be the right kind of goals!

Resolutions are a waste of time because of the 62% of American who set resolutions, 25% give up by the end of the first week! A full third of people give up in only two weeks!

Those that set goals are no better. A whopping 92% fail at whatever goal they set!

Why aren’t more of us more successful at achieving our goals? The answer, I think, is that we usually set the wrong kind of goals.

Michael Hyatt identified three kinds of goals: goals in the comfort zone, goals in the discomfort zone, and goals in the delusional zone.

1) Comfort zone goals are ones you know you can achieve. Nothing truly meaningful happens in the comfort zone. I bet some the goals people report achieving were right smack dab in the middle of the comfort zone.

2) Discomfort zone goals are goals that will stretch you. You may not know how you will achieve them, but achieving them will make a big impact in your life.

3) Delusional zone goals are the goals that are never going to happen, and you should know it! I have never played a round of golf scoring under 100, so a goal to play on the senior tour is downright delusional.

Goals that will make a difference in your life and mine are not the comfort zone or delusional zone goals. The big difference in our lives will always come from achieving discomfort zone goals. Life changing goals are somewhere between the comfort zone, “I got this” and the delusional zone, “You got to be smoking something.”

SMART Goals are the Best Goals

The SMART goal acronym has been around in business circles for a while, but if you are unfamiliar with it, it stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific. A goal to “lose weight” is not specific. How will you know if you have succeeded? A goal to “Lose ten pounds” is specific.
  • Measurable. A goal to “lower my golf score” is not specific enough and it doesn’t quantify success. Is a lower score of one stroke success, or is a lower score by ten strokes success?
  • Achievable. A goal for me to play professional baseball is not achievable (anyone who saw me play high school ball would agree). A goal to “lose 100-lbs. in 30 days” is specific and measurable but it is not achievable.
  • Relevant. A goal that is relevant to me is one that will support the accomplishment of other goals, or at a minimum, not distract from your ability to achieve other important goals.
  • Time-bound. A goal with a deadline has a sense of urgency. Without a deadline, a goal could go on forever and never be accomplished.

Accountability and the Why of My 2017 Goals

Along with establishing SMART goals, another aspect of people who are more successful in achieving their goals is to have an accountability partner; someone or several people who can hold you accountable for your progress. Once I’ve established my 2017 goals, I will share them with a couple of people I trust who will hold me accountable for my progress.

The final aspect of successfully increasing the rate of goal success is to know your “why.” Your “why” ties you to your goal. I didn’t achieve my weight goal last year because I lost track of why I wanted to lose the weight. If you don’t know and internalize your “why” you are doomed. This year once I have written out my SMART goals I will include a statement that reinforces the “why” of each goal. This will help remind me of why I set each goal when I get into a slump and feel my motivation waning.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. If you set goals for yourself which zone are your goals in? Do you set SMART goals? Do you know the “why” of each goal?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Personal Development | Priorities