Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2016)

A few years ago I received a request to lead a workshop on how to set and achieve goals in a church.

I asked the person requesting the appointment if the elders and preachers set goals as individuals. He replied in the negative.

I told him I wouldn’t ask the congregation to do something their leaders weren’t doing. I asked if they’d like to learn how to set and work toward goals as individuals. If that was helpful to them, they’d be ready to encourage others to join them in a practical discipline.

I’ve been setting written goals since 1971. I haven’t reached every goal, but I think I’ve accomplished more than if I’d never aimed at anything. Suggestions from previous post: Planning to Grow as a Leader.

The best book I’ve read on goal-setting was published this year. It gives suggestions to plan and work toward accomplishing the life you believe God wants you to live.

Here are some “mustard seeds” I found encouraging:

As we said earlier, most people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than identifying what outcomes they want to see in the major areas of their lives. Is it any surprise when life doesn’t turn out the way we want? (Kindle Locations 565-567).

Pull power is essential to reach our goals. You need to see a future with such clarity and desirability that you will go through all the uncomfortable things life throws at you to attain it (Kindle Locations 670-671).

The problem is that most of us are so caught up in our moment-to-moment activities, we don’t stop to ask ourselves, Where is this all going? How is it going to end if I stick to this same path? (Kindle Locations 719-720).

Our legacy comprises the spiritual, intellectual, relational, vocational, and social capital we pass on. It’s the sum total of the beliefs you embrace, the values you live by, the love you express, and the service you render to others. It’s the you-shaped stamp you leave when you go (Kindle Locations 746-748).

I encourage you to plan your life, and live toward the “worthy ideal”: buy the book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, and follow the plan to use every resource God has given you to be the servant God wants you to be.

What have you found helpful in setting and reaching goals?
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Should Decisions Be by Minority or Majority?

when everyone doesn’t agree, how do you make a decision?

We value unity. We believe in consensus. We have unanimity on every decision. We never make a decision unless everyone is in agreement.”

The way it’s been presented to me: it’s more spiritual to have consensus, every person agreeing on every decision, than to go with the majority when one or two hold a contrary view.

[tweetthis]It’s my observation each eldership has a majority or minority rule.[/tweetthis]

Either the group works with the judgment of the most — they make their choice on the wisdom of the majority — or they surrender to the opinion of the least. They have minority rule.

I’ve seen it in elderships of three, five, and seven. An issue has been discussed and debated. They’ve prayed and asked God for wisdom. Each man had an opportunity to express his views. They gave their reasons for and against the topic. Perhaps it’s been on the agenda for several meetings.

It’s time to make a decision. All but one says it’d be best for the church to move on this issue. One elder is set against the proposal and shows no sign of changing his mind. What happens next?

Let’s suppose we’re observing the eldership of seven. Here are some questions:

  1. Does one with the contrary view have more wisdom than the combined wisdom of the other six? Who arrived at that conclusion? Whose wisdom determined one person has better judgment than six other elders?
  2. Is it the same person each time? How long has he been setting or stalling the course of this church?
  3. What action is this one person starting or stopping by overruling the other six?
    1. Failing to send a missionary?
    2. Not starting a plan of outreach that might touch many people?
    3. Failing to provide more resources to carry out the mission of this congregation?
    4. Prohibiting making contact or continuing discipline for a wayward sheep?
  4. Who came up with the principle it’s more spiritual to let one or two elders set the direction of the church than to go with the majority of the eldership?

“But, we must have unity. We must speak as one to the congregation.”

I think there’s strength in a united voice in leading a group.

[tweetthis]Is it necessary for the majority to surrender to the minority to produce unity?[/tweetthis]

I read of a church with a rule to deal with this tension. When a matter came before the elders, they thoroughly discussed it. They presented reasons for and against the proposal. If they needed more research, they did it.

When they had all the information they needed to decide, they voted. If there were one or more in the minority, they immediately took another vote. According to their operating procedure, those in the minority could either vote with the majority, giving a consensus, or they could resign their position. Then when they stood before the congregation, they could honestly say, “Here is our decision and it was unanimous.” They had learned and applied the principle: not everyone gets his way, but everyone gets his say.

What have you seen with majority-minority rules in elders’ decisions?
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3 Tips for Time Management

is there any way in my busy life to do everything I need to do?

I’ve never been busier — church, family, work, children, grandchildren, and other things coming up. I just don’t have enough time.”

How does a busy person exhibit excellence when there’re so many choices and chores? Is it possible?

Here is the thesis of my post:

If a job, ministry, task, or project is something I need to do, there’s enough time.

We may discuss in another blog post about doing things others need to be doing. That is challenging. But in this post, we’re looking at having time to do something I believe God has given me the ability, opportunity and responsibility to do. Now where do I find time?

1. If God has called me to a task, He’ll provide the time.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Read Paul’s promise:

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NKJV).

After a study of time in God’s word and preaching seven sermons in the series, I came to the conclusion: according to Philippians 4:19 and the rest of the Bible: God will give me all the time I need, all the people I need, all the wisdom I need, and all the money I need to do all He wants and expects me to do.

Consider Alexander Strauch’s observation:

Some people say, “You can’t expect laymen to raise their families, work all day, and shepherd a local church.” But that is simply not true. Many people raise families, work, and give substantial hours of time to community service, clubs, athletic activities, and/or religious institutions. The cults have built up large lay movements that survive primarily because of the volunteer time of their members. We Bible-believing Christians are becoming a lazy, soft, pay-for-it-to-be-done group of Christians. It is positively amazing how much people can accomplish when they are motivated to work for something they love. I’ve seen people build and remodel houses in their spare time. I’ve also seen men discipline themselves to gain a phenomenal knowledge of the Scriptures (Biblical Eldership, by Alexander Strauch, Lewis and Roth Publishers, © 1995 by Alexander Strauch, page 28).

You and I have the same amount of time each day, month, and year as Jesus had when He was on earth, the President of the United States, or Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc. One or two of those examples have more things on their to-do list than I have on mine.

[tweetthis]God will give me all the time, people, wisdom, and money I need to do all He wants and expects me to do.[/tweetthis]

2. Learn a plan to do what you need to do with the time God’s given you.

The best plan I’ve read is in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

He lists five steps:

  • Collect. Get everything out of my head, my inbox, notes (on my desk, car, and coat): scraps of paper, notebooks, electronic lists. There’ll be stress as long as I’m putting pressure on myself to be sure not to forget something important. I’ll be reviewing, listing in my mind, and wondering if I have forgotten what I need to remember to do.
  • Process. After everything is emptied, I need to have a collecting place where everything is assembled I need to
  • Organize. Now it’s time to put everything in the lists on the calendar and into a time management app to appear at the time it needs to be done. Years ago, I wrote everything in a DayTimer book. Now I use OmniFocus, an app on my iPhone. It’s a way to get everything out of my mind, stored in something that’ll be there when I need it, and backed up in case one of the lists is corrupted or lost.
  • Review. I need to read what I’ve written. Some recommend weekly reviews. I like to start every morning with nothing in the PAST list. If it was due yesterday, I want to delete it if it’s no longer needed or transferred to a day when I plan to do it. Now, all I have to do is look at today, which I have arranged according to schedule and importance.
  • Do. Getting into motion, accomplishing something is the last part of time management.

3. Do what you’ve planned to do.

Action is the key to getting the most from my time. Planning is good — essential. But only what I do counts.

What happens when I’m overwhelmed with so many things I don’t see a way to get accomplished? A “mustard seed” I picked up from a blog or podcast recently:

[tweetthis]Do the next right thing.[/tweetthis]

That’s all we can do — the next right thing. If I’ve assembled, organized, and evaluated all I need to do, what I need to do next is the next right thing, regardless of the number of things I have to do.

What has helped you manage time better?
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