Game Changers! Bring change to the way you think and live

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.”   Proverbs 1:5

Over the years in my various leadership positions of coaching, mentoring, pastoring, counseling and parenting, I have had the privilege of facilitating and participating in many leadership learning initiatives. I’ve done my best to add to my learning and to get guidance as the above proverb states by utilizing my two ears and one mouth in that ratio. If you know me, you know that’s hard for me sometimes, but I’ve tried. As I’ve listened to many people, I’ve also collected a lot of chicken scratch notes and have quickly jotted down thoughts and ideas which would pop into my head while reading or engaging in a great conversation.

This resource contains a compilation of these impromptu jottings as well as some truths I’ve known and taught for years. I’ve given the title of “Game Changers” to this collection because that is what they’ve become to me and countless others. Whether they’ve brought about clarity, touched on a next level nerve or simply changed the momentum of the final outcome, many of them continue to help change the way we look at ourselves and the people in our spheres of influence.

I must say that I do not claim authorship of all the content. While some of these writings are original with me, others are a form of someone else’s idea or thought process, often drawn out from a group discussion. Regardless, they collectively mirror the truth found in Romans 12:2 which says, “…Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” It’s true, when I think differently, I act differently. And ultimately, my actions become the words to my life’s story.

I invite you to start a Game Changers Study Group in order to learn together and to get the most depth out of the content. This works best by covering one section of “Game Changers” per session.

“Game Changers” is perfect for:

  • Leadership groups in the workplace
  • Coffee shop study groups
  • One-on-one Coaching
  • Small groups at school or church
  • Staff development
  • Family discussion starters

All the best,

Bruce

 

Insights to Live By….

I’ve always told our teenage boys, “Don’t peak in high school.” However, with all the hoopla and attention we adults give to this age group, it’s easy for them to believe they’re celebrities. The more I’ve unpacked this over the years, I’m convinced this is more about the adults feeling good about what “their” kids can do for them than anything else. The teenage years are “seed years” and are meant for trial and error, for lumps and lessons and for growth and development into the young adults they will become. They don’t need more hoopla and attention, they simply need Unconditional Love from their parents and other caring adults.

 

Grace Driven Holiness

As we think about celebrating the birth of Christ this Christmas, we can’t help but think of a stable and a manger. But this Christmas, all I can think about is a cross. I think we can all relate when I say that the human condition lends itself to trying to earn God’s acceptance by what we “do”, by meeting expectations or by our performance. Our focus can become self-centered and we can be driven by keeping rules, a check-list of what we are or are not doing. Some of us may hope our good deeds outweigh our bad, some of us may fear failing or the disapproval of others. Some of us may deal with perfectionism because doing it “perfectly” makes us somehow more pleasing. I think all of us at some time or another have a fear of being “found out” that we’re really not that great and therefore, we will be rejected by God or by others. We feel we have to “do” something to “be” something. What some of us may have never thought about is that we may profess Christ, but basically, by being self-sufficient, we are saying that we don’t need God. The truth is as hard as we try, we will utterly fail living this way- because it’s impossible to do it good enough. We’re just not capable. If we continue trying to earn His acceptance, we will live weighty lives of despair, joyless living and emptiness. But of course God in His grace has provided a rescue, and there’s hope for all of us– because there’s Jesus and the cross.

I’ve heard it said that the illness we’re experiencing matches the remedy we need. For a headache, we pop a pill, for something more serious like cancer we take chemotherapy treatments. So when we think of Jesus’ back being filleted open, “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness…” (Isaiah 52:14), what must have our sin looked like? If the remedy demanded the very life of Jesus, how significant was our malady? Jesus paid the price of our sin through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. He forgave our sin, and gave us His righteousness; He restored us to right relationship with the Father. We have been accepted in Christ. We have been declared holy in Christ- we have been set apart for Him. Christ is the hero, not us. Christ’s performance is the focus, not ours. We who were His enemies, guilty and condemned with blackened, sin-stained hearts have been declared innocent and set free! What a reason to celebrate! What joy that He knows all about us and still accepts us in our brokenness. Apart from Christ there is nothing good in us but in Christ we are made new!

Christ has become our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). His grace is at work in us transforming us to be more like Him, not only providing us pardon, but providing His power! His Holy Spirit’s power lives in us providing the strength to do what He’s called us to do. Out of our new identity, we live. We are, therefore we do. Our call to action to love, to reach out, to choose life, all springs from who He’s made us to be and what He’s done for us. Let’s be stunned by His love for us, that we would fall head over heals in love with Him. Let’s live from an unending gratitude for what He’s done for us. Let’s continue to follow Him and grow, not striving to earn His acceptance- again, Christ already accomplished that for us with His finishing work on the cross (Hebrews 10:14). In Christ, we are already holy. But we are also called to practical holiness, to live it out, to grow to be more and more like Christ. So let’s choose Truth and Grace and not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1), self-sufficiency, and trying to earn His acceptance by our performance.

God’s grace was poured out on us from the cross. May we never forget what we were saved from, the incredible price Christ paid for us and the completeness of that cleansing. May we not forget His grace or become immune to it but instead, live from it and share it with others so that He is seen and glorified!

Merry Christmas!

Secure to Serve

Our teenage son is a coach through and through. When he sets a goal for himself, he is disciplined and committed to reach it, no matter what it is. He works hard and puts the time in, and because of that, he sees results. Because he is wired with leadership ability, he motivates others to set goals and follow through. When he heard me talking about working out, he felt compelled to create a plan for me for the next two months. He would ask me every day if I had done my workout, giving me an encouraging word if I had followed through.

One evening after it was already dark outside, I sat in the kitchen talking to him as he finished doing the dishes. As usual he asked if I had worked out that day. I sheepishly responded with a “no.” He asked me what my reasons were, and with each one I gave, he shot it down with truth. “No excuses” was his motto. Commitment was in order, despite the hour of the day, the weather, or my emotional state. There was a goal to be reached, a bigger picture to be realized. I had to chuckle as I sat there, a thirty-nine year old woman, being held accountable by a thirteen-year-old young man, who was absolutely right. He was young, but the next words out of his mouth were wise and spoken from the heart of a servant leader: “Mom, get your shoes on. I’m doing it with you.” And so we did. I ran that night better than any other time before.

In a much greater way, we have our Coach, our Leader, the Spirit and essence of our Savior within us. He not only came up with the plan and the purpose for our lives, saying, “Go, do it,” but He also says, “Get your shoes on. I’m doing it with you.”

God’s heart is one of passion and justice, and it is one of gentleness and humility. Jesus took off His robe and grabbed a towel for His disciples that day in the upper room (John 13), but when He lay on the cross, He took off His robe and grabbed a towel for you and me. Where we once may have felt threatened to lift up others and help them get ahead, we can now live in security. We can serve with joy because we are chosen through Jesus, because we have found a place to belong with God, because we know where we’re going….We can’t do it in our own strength, but He can. How abundant our lives can be because He gave us His! Every day we can choose to rest in His divine life living in and through us. Take heart, there’s hope for change. Because of Jesus in us, we can choose serving others over serving self- and love it! (Excerpt from Can You Tell This is a Knockoff: Finding Your True Identity in Christ (Horsfall & Hamsher, Barbour publishing)

Servant leaders derive their security from their identity in Christ, not from performance, position or people. This is imperative because we will always lead from who we are. What’s inside will come out in our leadership. If we are insecure, we will lead that way- our leadership will be self-focused because we will continually be trying to prove ourselves. But if our security lies in Christ, a peace and stability comes forth enabling us to keep our focus on Christ and the purposes He’s called us to.

In decision making that affects others, a secure/servant leader will put the best of others before their own wants. Rather than hold people back out of fear, servant leaders will develop and empower others and help them get ahead. They will not only walk in front of others to provide clarity of vision, but will walk beside others and ask, “How can I help?” Servant leaders show how… they go first. They won’t expect others to do what they won’t but especially in times of adversity, they will serve in the trenches along with their team. They will get their shoes on and do it with them. That speaks volumes to a team who’s tired, hurting and in need of hope to persevere.

To move from a place of insecurity to security, let’s discover our identity in Christ- the security He provides for us. Any fear that lies in failing, appearing wrong, helping others get ahead, losing our place, being less valuable or being overlooked or forgotten are empty threats. When we root ourselves in Christ and the birthright He gave us of “secure and complete in Him,” we will soon taste the joy and freedom that encouraging and empowering others brings.

Blessings,

Jocelyn

 

 

Cravings and Contentment

Unfortunately, we all have the natural tendency to deal with a “rabble spirit,” eyes that look to the negative and a heart of ingratitude and self-sufficiency. Exploring the OT story of Numbers 11, we see a generous God who gave everything the Israelites needed, but they continued to want something else. It’s a lesson that challenges our own hearts, but we can find hope and the solution to combating our grumbling in learning contentment. Join Bruce and Jocelyn as they explore “Cravings and Contentment.”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cco-craving-and-contentment/id623366602?i=345394868&mt=2

“Have To” or “Get To”

(Adapted from Jon Gordon article)

Who knew that two simple words could change one’s mindset, perspective and approach to work and life? Just two words have the potential to enhance joy, productivity, performance and change a complaining voice to an appreciative heart.

So often we say things like, “I have to take the kids to practice.” “I have to go to this meeting.” “I have to finish this project.” “I have to have the conversation to clear things up with them.” “I have to go to work today.” “I have to take care of this customer.” “I have to share these new ideas of change with my team.”

We act as if we don’t have a choice. As if we are imprisoned by life, maybe a paycheck and the expectations of a world that forces us to do things we don’t want to do. But in reality we do have a choice. We can choose our attitude and our actions. We can choose how we view our life and work. We can realize that every day is a gift. It’s not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do.

We get to live this life, right now, today, while so many have left this world seemingly far too early. We get to drive in traffic while so many do not own or are too sick to drive a car. We get to go to a job while so many are unemployed. We get to raise our children even if they drive us nuts at times.

We get to breathe the oxygen which has been provided for us and we get to experience the sustaining, life-giving qualities of the sun that never forgets to shine and keeps everything alive.

We get to interact with our employees and customers and make a difference in their lives. We get to use our gifts and talents to make a product or provide a service. We get to eat three meals (or more) a day while millions of people are striving to eat just one meal a day. We get to work on projects, answer phone calls, serve customers and work together as a team. We get to participate in meetings, design, create, share, sell, lead and suit up every day for the game of life.

Yes there will be challenges and life isn’t easy but each day we wake up we get another opportunity to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. We get to uplift, inspire, encourage, and impact others. This life is a privilege. Let’s make the most of it by remembering that life is a gift, not an obligation…and that we actually “get to” live it!

List several things you “get to” do today and let it change your perspective.                                                   

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Bouncing Back from a Failure

Many of us are afraid to fail which can hinder our growth and even paralyze us in making decisions. But take into account these words of wisdom from psychologist, Dr. Ryan Dunn.

Everybody fails…. With things big or small, sooner or later, in private or (embarrassing) in public, with projects or relationships, we all fail. So the skill of bouncing back from a failure is one that is important to develop, to help us get back on track over and over and over….

A recent study in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping, found the most effective ways of bouncing back are positive reframing, acceptance, and humor. These helped people recover the fastest and still feel most satisfied at the end of the day.

Positive reframing is thinking about a situation differently – this may include deliberately thinking about what you can learn from the failure, estimating the tangible cost of the failure (“how does this actually change my life?”) rather than how you feel about it, and what positive things might come from the experience.

Acceptance is deliberately seeing the failure as a normal part of life, something to be gone through without being a reflection of your value, reminding yourself that everyone fails at things, and that you have failed before and will again as a normal part of life, but still survived.

Humor is deliberately finding any funny or ridiculous aspects of the situation. One of my favorite techniques is magnification, where I deliberately exaggerate my negative view of my failure until it becomes ridiculous and usually humorous, which helps me change perspective and feel better. For example, “Yes, that was terrible. Reporters are probably rushing to print headlines about it now, my wife will divorce me, and the mobs will be gathering soon to stone me. People will shun me in public, and Walmart will probably tell me I can’t come back.”

Using these techniques can greatly help deal with failure. Interestingly, coping techniques that made people feel worse were talking with others about it, denial, venting, behavioral disengagement (shutting down and not doing anything), and self-blame. Try and avoid these!

Remember, failure is a part of learning, growing, and developing new skills and abilities. The only people who don’t fail are already dead. So get out there and fail at something! Then bounce back well and keep growing.
Ryan Dunn, Ph.D.

TTG Leads: Servant Leadership Focus Group

PrintThe purpose of Toward the Goal Ministries is to, “Meet individuals’ spiritual and emotional needs through coaching, mentoring and servant leadership training.”  As an extension of our stated purpose, Bruce and Jocelyn will be launching a new initiative in 2015 called TTG Leads. One of our desires is to lead as Christ modeled, knowing it’s the right way to lead, the most effective way, and the most life changing — for the leader as well as those who follow. Because there is an ongoing need for more leaders in our homes, churches, work places and community, this group will provide an intentional time of learning, growth and development for participants in the area of servant leadership. Biblical principles of leadership will provide the core and foundational teachings of the sessions.  Several planned initiatives include:

*Public Speaking training sessions which will include presentations by participants

*DISC personality assessments given by a certified instructor

*EQUIP Leadership program curriculum

*Interviews with current leaders and presentation of findings

*Servant Leadership: The Upside of Down curriculum

*Books and articles pertinent to servant leadership will be read and discussed. We will be meeting weekly for ninety minute sessions, February-October 2015 with the class size being limited to ten persons. Participants will be stretched, will grow and will be equipped with a multitude of resources for their personal and professional growth.

Ways to partner with us:

*Participation – Sign up yourself or nominate a person you feel would benefit from the training.

*Prayer – Commit to praying weekly for this group as we meet and learn together.

*Sponsorship – Give a gift to either sponsor a participant or to help with the cost of resources/expenses.

Contact Bruce or Jocelyn via email or phone if you have more questions and/or would like to participate or partner in this exciting training opportunity.

bruce@towardthegoal.net  330-231-7277                                                           jocelyn@towardthegoal.net  330-231-7121

Planning to Have Faith

Most of us confuse faith with a plan. In other words, we have faith that our plan is foolproof and will work, leaving little margin for faith from the very beginning. With a plan, we use logic and reason and get all our ducks in a row. We then have faith that our plan will happen…but seldom do we plan to have faith in the process from the very beginning. With true faith, we don’t know all the specifics from a human perspective, but our plan includes a trust and belief that God’s got it and will eventually reveal it.

In reading through Hebrews Chapter 11, we see over and over the words “By Faith…” By Faith… Abraham, Moses, Noah, Isaac, Jacob acted in obedience to something God had called them to do. In each of these situations and in countless others in scripture, we see a similar pattern. To test to see if it’s an act of faith, here are four steps to take.

1. Believe when you don’t see it. We must be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith is trusting God and is seeing the invisible with spiritual lenses.

2. Obey when you don’t understand it. Too often, we need to understand everything and then we “obey” our limited understanding of it. This is the complete opposite behavior of true faith. We must obey first, trusting the understanding will follow. Because faith always involves risks, God desires for us to trust Him first.

3. Persevere when you don’t feel like it. The waiting period to see what God will do becomes very hard at times. However, it’s true that growth occurs when we live our lives by commitments rather than by emotions and feelings.

4. Thank God before you receive it. We must be confident enough in God and His Promises that we can thank Him in advance, even before it becomes a reality.

When our plan succeeds, we are seen, esteemed and glorified. When faith is lived out, God is seen, esteemed and glorified…and people say, “Wow, only God could’ve made that happen!” Amen.

Jocelyn and I recently shared the above teaching at The Church at Carter’s Orchard in Dover. Here is a link to the complete message: http://www.cartersorchard.com/blog/files/podcast_69.mp3

Life Isn’t Fair….But God Is

Meeting with a 15 year old whose good friend gave in to depression and committed suicide reminded me once again of the many silent sufferers in our midst. As this young man and his friends were trying to come to grips of the realities and aftermath of this traumatic event, two truths came to mind that I was able to share with him.

1. I’m not convinced that anyone in their “right mind” could ever commit such an act. Many people need medication to help with bodily organs like the heart, liver, kidneys etc. However, when it comes to all the physiological connectors in the brain not connecting, causing the brain to not function properly, the “mental health” stigma often wins out and we’re slower to receive medicine because of what people might think…or because that would mean “I’m crazy.” It’s not weak to take medication and we’re not spiritual giants because we don’t need it. Sometimes our brain needs help. Medication doesn’t mean we just “pop a pill” and become magically better. It simply regulates the brain, brings things into balance and puts us in a position where we can make better decisions.

2. I believe that God never intended for us to feel the kind of pain that death brings with it. In the Garden of Eden, we were to freely worship God in all of perfection and to enjoy all of his goodness, with no guilt or shame. We were intended to live forever in this state of being, but since mankind chose to “partake of the fruit” (read Genesis), we now live in a state where everything that is living is on its way to death…every plant, animal and human being. Thankfully, God is so gracious that He’s also created a Second Perfection (Heaven), and thankfully His Son, Jesus came to Earth to become our sacrifice for sin and provide victory over death and sin once and for all.

When things happen that we can’t comprehend or understand, let’s all be careful to not blame God. In the situation above with this young man (and in 1,000 other head scratchers), God was just as sad, if not more so, than any human being was. Let’s all remember, that “Life isn’t Fair…But God is.” Please keep this young man’s family and friends in your prayers as they continue to grieve and process things.

Bruce