God is writing a story for our lives and often it goes differently than we imagine. We picture a lot of different things but for me and my life, most of the things that I imagine involve me, myself, and I. Consumed often with what I will get out of the dream, relationship, money, situation, and out of God Himself. After all, it is my dream, so in every area of my life I take the pen back from the Creator of the Universe and write my story.

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Writing my story starts out AWESOME! Avoidance of pain is one of the primary drivers of humans and when I get to be the author of my life I can avoid a lot of pain. I can also seek the other driver pleasure. So in the writing of my story, I seek a lot of pleasure. In our quest for pleasure and avoidance of pain, we move into isolation and the familiar. We settle for a safe life avoiding the Giants and worshiping things we can see. So we sow comfortable and safe seeds. When we write our story, we sow debt, shallow relationships, and nervousness just to name a few. We settle and the settling changes us. When we live a life that is self-seeking, we can’t possibly live a life of fruit. We become these wimpy faithless existing creatures. Then wonder, where the fire is in life? We reap loneliness, stress, and fear in this survival that we often settle for. We become a prisoner to self, empty and alone. It is amazing that some how when I feel this way I blame God.

Chasing feelings and running from fears robs the breath of thriving life from our lives and exchanges it with a shallow breath of scarcely living. Actual life flows out and from God writing your story. When God writes your story, you end up being a giant killer. You take back land from the enemy. You restore what is lost, and bring hope to the nations. Many insignificant things end up having such a ripple effect that have such true meaning and value. You live a story that Hollywood could never reproduce. You live a story different from what you thought you wanted, and somehow there is peace, enjoyment, and fulfillment in it. You live a story that embraces challenges and looks for people to bring along with you. A life wholeheartedly committed to God sees that anything is possible.

When we live for God, we live in confidence. We live in hope. We have no choice but to spread hope. Beacons of light going out in the darkness to change the community. We live in the in between with courageous faith that God will move the mountain. We live in a focused urgency for the Good Shepherd. Our business becomes His. Our families become His. Our very life becomes one that dedicated and consecrated to Him. It is in this surrender that we say, “I don’t know how it is possible, but God this is what you’re calling me too, and I will trust You.” I will wholeheartedly follow You. I will lay down my life so that you can give me true life. And at that moment that we become blessed on our journey.

 

Who’s writing your story?

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This is a guest post by Mary Sauer of Modernize. Modernize is your trusted ally in home improvement—empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big projects. You can connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

When you are self-employed or own your own business, work-life balance takes on a whole new meaning. Being able to work from home, the office, the library, or a local coffee shop is one of the advantages of being an entrepreneur, but it can also be a disadvantage for some. The flexibility of self-employment is great, but some may find they struggle to thrive without the structure of an office or set work hours.

 

At Modernize, we believe that when you work travels with you, it is best to create an at-home office space to encourage structure in both your work and personal life. Whether you devote an entire room to all things business related or you dedicate a few square feet in your living space to this purpose, there are certain advantages to creating set boundaries for your office space.

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Avoid Distraction When Working From Home

If you spend a lot of your work hours in the comfort of your home or if you occasionally bring work home from the office, you need a quiet space to free yourself from the distractions of everyday life.

 

An at-home office space provides entrepreneurs with an escape from whatever responsibilities may distract you from getting your work done. When you can spend more time focused completely on your work, you work more efficiently, achieve better results, and finish up more quickly to free up more time for tackling additional projects or spending time with friends and family.

Close the Door When the Workday is Done

Many entrepreneurs find the flexibility of their work can make it difficult to clock out and take extended breaks from work. If you are constantly in the presence of your work computer, cell-phone, or paperwork, it serves as a regular reminder of the things you could be doing during your time off.

 

An office can serve as a clear boundary between work and your personal life, a boundary that can be very difficult to set if you work from home. At the end of the day, you can literally close the door to your office and reduce the temptation to return a phone call or check your email one last time when you should be relaxing or connecting with your family.

Promote Organization

Staying organized isn’t easy, especially if you are an entrepreneur who has full responsibility for managing day-to-day operations, balancing the budget, and communicating with clients. Creating an at-home office space is a simple way to promote organization in your professional life.

 

A common piece of advice for keeping a home clean is, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” and the same is certainly true when you are running a business. With an at-home office, you can create specific locations for everything you need to run your business from your home.

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When you are ready to begin planning your home office, consider both the efficiency and the decor of the space. You will be much more likely to use a space you enjoy spending time in, so design in a way that feels true to your personality and you’ll be more happily productive than ever.

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Smiling at everyone as I walked in the doors with my well dressed and put together family. “I’m good. How are you?” “Good.” The response always comes back. Person after person smiling face after smiling face the responses always the same. A church full of people who are doing Good. My wife and I drop our kids off at Sunday school and we take our places in Church. Singing along to “I surrender all” and many other songs that frankly I am singing words and that is it. But no one knows that. No one knows what is going on underneath the surface in my mind and heart. I must maintain the good little boy image. I must not admit to any struggle. I must have it all together.

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In the Church or at least in my own heart we are free to admit the need of a Savior before we except Christ but afterward that is a whole other matter. After the acceptance of Christ we fall into the lie that we are now perfect. We wouldn’t say it like that but we forget that we will never arrive. We forget that we will always need a Savior.  We often take this beautiful gift we are freely given and morph it into a show of falseness.

A few years ago I had enough and got to the end of myself. Though it didn’t fix me I now have an authentic vibrant relationship with my Heavenly Father and His broken followers. I’m still tempted to hide but the freedom of authenticity is too great to ever go back. There are many areas of my life that are not “fixed” and I have become ok with that. These 3 steps are key to an authentic Christian walk.

Honesty. Admitting the problem is always the first step. The first point at which we are cleansed is the point that we admit there is something to clean. Removing excuses and being real about where you are is the only way to true change. It is not saying your struggle is ok but just being authentic about where ever you are. Admitting that you are powerless against a struggle is the only way to allow God to work.  He will always work when you are honest though it may look different then what you think it will. Honesty is needed to live an authentic walk.

The Cross. If you accepted Christ it always has been and always will be about the cross and the redemptive power of it. In surrender to God all things are possible the problem is that most of us Christ followers start to rely on our strength and might instead of staying in a place of reliance in God. The redeeming power of the blood of the lamb is enough for what you did before Christ and all that you have done and will do after. The price is paid and it does you or Him no good to beat yourself a little longer.

For years, I thought that beating myself up for my imperfection was part of the retentive process. The main problem with this is that it takes our eyes off of God and puts our eyes on our humanity. This form of sin repentance leads to hiding and a false humility.  Believing the Cross is enough is crucial to an authentic Christian walk.

Confession. I wish that confession was not part of the solution but unfortunately it is. From experience, this never gets easier. The more hidden and ashamed the sin the harder it is to look into another person’s eyes and admit where you come up short. In James 5:16 it states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Confession to a small group of trusted individuals is part of the healing process. In this moment of confession I am the most aware of dying to flesh. In those moments I think we say I care more about my Relationship with my King then I do about what other people think of me.

An amazing thing happens when we confess sin to people going the same direction as us. They hold us accountable, grieve with us, and tell us who we are in Christ. They remind us that the sin does not define us but our relationship with Christ that defines us. Confession is necessary to a vibrant authentic Christian walk.

An authentic life is part of the freedom that God gave us. You will never be perfect but in a state of perfecting until you die.  We are made righteous in Christ but many of us confuse this with perfection. Trust God to shape and mold you into His image and embrace the fact that arrival is a myth. Embracing our imperfection is part of enjoying the journey God has you on. You and I will always need a Savoir and we will always fall short. Be real and honest this is something God can always work with. Be blessed on your journey.

Do you struggle with being authentic?

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In a sluggish daze, I slowly opened my eyes. I could hear my three-year-old saying, “can I get up know?” Startled out of my sleep is the way most days have begun lately. I haven’t risen early but have slept in an hour more to wake up to one of my kids posing the question. My jolting awake has usually been followed by the non-verbal actions of me rolling out of bed and unconsciously staggering toward the coffee maker.

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photo by: KCNewman photography

As the aroma of coffee began to fill the house I had a sudden thought I could not shake. Are you a Jackass or a race horse? Saturday was my first day off in a month, and I wrote this off as an exhausted mind making things up. I certainly felt nothing like a race horse.

This season has been a busy one I am running two stores and now have come on staff at my church as the Life Groups Coordinator in charge of 48 groups. I have been overwhelmed and gotten into Martha mode. Hustling the wrong way, exhausted and empty.

I went back to sleep at ten in the morning this day for a couple of hours. Then woke up for an hour and then again at one in the afternoon laid back down. Crashing in a heap mentally and physically depleted. The whole day I couldn’t get out of my mind, jackass or racehorse you choose. That was it, my day off turned into a random question and sleeping. At nine that night I was ready for bed and I slept hard yet again.

The next morning I got up and tied my running shoes and went for a run. Jogging back up my driveway I felt charged up and alive. Ready to take on the world! Have you seen race horses at the starting gates? They clamor and bang on the gates waiting to go. Chomping at the bit, nervous energy flowing through their body. If you open those gates, they are going to charge out.

The donkey not so much. Stubborn most of the time holding its ground. Anchored in position the master will try and pull the rope attached to the bridle and tug to no avail. Pulled into action against its will. It fights against instead of charging out like the race horse.

I can be the racehorse but often I am so tired I am like the jackass. Abstinent and defiant begging to not go. Worn out and exhausted I am resting from my work. We are called to work from our rest. We are called to fill up so that we can pour out. We are called to flow out from the Sabbath, but it’s hard. It’s hard because we look at the tasks and put that above all. It’s hard because people will always want your help. It’s hard because when we rest sometimes, it gives space for us to think about our failures. Rest is just hard for the go-getters. God whispers to rest, and I will give you what you need to accomplish, yet I fit as much in and try to find time to rest.

Are you feeling like a racehorse? For me, I had forgotten what that felt like. I hadn’t had space to let go and be still. Here are some things to check to make sure you keep energized and focused.

Sleep. You need to know how much you need and stick to it. If you have young kids, and you need more sleep go to bed earlier, that is the only way that you can get more. They will wake up with the sun if they are like mine.

Extrovert/Introvert. Know which you need. I love people, but I need to be alone to recharge. I was not getting my time in the morning before the kids were up and this was a factor in my burn out. Know which one you need and be proactive in it.

God. Prayer, reading the Bible, and just sitting at the feet of Jesus is necessary to having a healthy life for any Christian. The One that knit you in your mother’s womb knows what you need. Ask God and move on what He says.

Patience. Lack of patience is the root of burnout for me. I am trying to make stuff happen, and I want it to happen NOW. Charging out of the gates has served me well, and it has also led to burnout. Look at all you are trying to do and ask someone that is further down the path then you are. They will tell you if you’re trying to eat an elephant in one bite.

Lead from health and rest and look around so that you can enjoy the journey. When we rush seasons of our lives we can miss the beauty in the very moment, we are trying to work past. There will always be another mountain and always another challenge to overcome. We forget the most basic of things sometimes. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Be blessed on your journey.

Do you struggle to rest?

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The drift is destroying your life!

I have watched friends get addicted to drugs. I have seen others destroyed by affairs. One family friend stole thousands, and another convicted and in jail. Real people who I respect going the wrong direction until it all falls apart. It breaks my heart as I watch families torn apart by the drift. Lives cast aside and ruined. Though to us on the outside these acts seemed sudden, I know better. We don’t one day destroy something; it is a slow fade a drift that builds negative momentum. We don’t start at these tragic points, but sometimes we don’t recognize the extent of the drift until those wake-up calls.

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Photo by: KC Newman Photography

In my life, I run marathons. I have been on mountain tops physically, stretching the limits to what I previously thought possible. But I have also experienced the fade. I needed my eyes opened to recognize that I was fading recently. Slowly but surely wandering down a path until I didn’t recognize where I was.

Last year,  at this time, I was running the Eugene Marathon. I was set to break a personal record and finished the run with energy. Twenty-six point two miles and I ate it for lunch. Four months ago I was still doing training runs up to sixteen miles getting ready to run another marathon. My health excellent, as well as my energy.

Fast forward to three weeks ago, I had a doctor’s appointment where they said my blood pressure was high. I haven’t run as much but still maintained my eating habits while training. Today I could run six to seven miles, and that’s it without exhausting myself. Without the blood pressure check, I would have ended up back at ground zero. From Personal records on marathon time to high blood pressure and average fitness. It feels like it happened overnight but it didn’t.

I slept in a little more and ran a little less. I chose snooze instead of my running shoes. I had my running accountability move away. I stopped putting in the work that had gotten me there and took my foot off the gas. I counted on history for today’s success. That’s not how it works. Rory Vaden says, “Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.”

I am getting my health back and saying no to the fade. But it won’t be easy, you and I will not fix the fade overnight. However, we can start to take steps toward restoration. The further you have faded the longer it will take to restore. Damage is always done by the decline, and it takes time for others or our self to heal. Follow these simple but not easy to stop the fade and gain traction.

Admit failure. We can’t change what we don’t take personal responsibility for. You have failed, so have I. We have broken promises and let down ourselves and others. We can only heal when we admit that there is something to heal from. Acknowledge that the mark was missed to restore what was broken.

Set the Mark. If we are not aiming at something, the fade will happen quicker and will be less noticed. What does your ideal health, marriage, vocation, friends, service, and ext. look like? If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. Mark a destination to slow the fade.

Why? You need to write down why you are aiming at that target. It has to be authentically you or you won’t sustain the momentum that you are creating. Methods will change along the way but your why should be so cemented on your heart so that it will get you through the distractions, disappointment, and disinterest. Cement your why to slow the fade.

How? Though your how will change throughout time you need to come up with an action plan. You need to set a course of action. If you want to accomplish a healthy marriage what steps will you take. As much as possible, the how should be measurable. It is much easier to see a fade when you have measurable actions that you know you did or didn’t do. The point is not to be at the hands of a taskmaster but to have a recognition of fade or growth.

Fades are beatable if you refuse to quit when you fall. If you aim at improvement instead of perfection on your journey, it will be much more enjoyable. When you fall and you will, remember that tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to pay the rent of success. Be blessed on your journey.

What areas of your life are you fading in?

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An Uncommon Marriage

Zechariah Newman —  April 25, 2016 — 1 Comment

Standing up front sweating in a tux it was 90 degrees out, and I was wondering how I could get any hotter. But there I stood in front of family and friends waiting for my high school sweetheart. We had been dating for one month shy of five years and with college behind us we were ready to start our lives together as one. Watching her walk down the aisle with her father I remember thinking, what a lucky man I was that I got to spend the rest of my life with her.

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photo by: KC Newman Photography

In these moments, it’s easy to love. In these moments, it’s easy to see what I appreciate about my beautiful bride. Over the years, we have built a great life together. Three great kids, two businesses, great friends, and many more blessings. It has been a fun almost twelve years of marriage full of adventure, laughter, and tears.

 

Routine

Overtime in marriage habits get set. Subconsciously or maybe pen and paper together, chores, responsibility, and life becomes divided. This routine is not bad. It saves many arguments in a marriage. After a while this routine gets your relationship into a nice groove. Life starts to fly by until it gets interrupted by surprises like little ones. Then it takes a while to get your feet under you as you adjust to the new normal and the new routine.

Danger

Routines are great until they are not. Routines serve a purpose, but there are dangers to this repetitive life. Marriage can get stale at times and we often start to take our partner for granted. Your wife does the dishes every day and you stop telling her how much you appreciate her doing the dishes. Your husband always does the laundry and you stop appreciating not having to do it. After all, it’s their job so you save it for them. If you’re not careful you can feel alone even in marriage. Routines can cause your spouse to feel underappreciated, unloved, and disrespected. The one you use to pursue is now forgotten to your predictable life. Really routine can give way to self and a marriage focused on your own wants and desires is one that is headed for disaster.

Hope

What if you pursued your spouse like you were trying to win them? Little acts of love add up into momentum in your marriage. Being specific in praise, writing a note, surprising them with a small gift, doing “their” chores, messages, etc. What if one night a week you turned off the T.V. and talked? In all reality, it is not hard to make your husband or wife feel special. The problem is usually we do one thing and then expect an immediate response. This is not love. It is manipulation. Love is laying down your life for your wife men. It is showing your husband respect when he may not deserve it. It is thinking the best of your partner not the worse.

Building momentum in marriage is not easy, but once you do it man it snowballs. Once you decide to love uncommon, you have an uncommon love. Extraordinary love takes dedication, sacrifice, and at times long-suffering. Decide today that no matter what your spouse does, you will love them like you were dating. A marriage that is thriving is made up of two people discovering, exploring, and loving each other. A marriage that is two becoming one until death. Be blessed on your marriage journey.

How can you serve your spouse this week?

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War for your kids, not against them! We need to see them as they will be, not as they are. The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. This powerful reminder reminds me to be careful with my words towards my children. When my kids are acting out sometimes, this is the last thing on my mind, but I should be more aware in the hard times to call out the good. Parents continue to call out what is right and good inside of them. No matter what contend for their future.

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Too often as fathers, we forget that we help to determine our children’s identity and beliefs about God, others, and themselves. Many things out of our mouths firmly imprint on our children. We have a tremendous responsibility to speak life over them and speak the good in them that we see. In moments of failure and depression later on in life, the encouraging words of a father can help reestablish the truth about them. Like a compass bringing your children back to true north.

Speak these six things over your children

I love you. Our kids need to know that our love is secure. No matter what our kids have done or will do we love them. Our love will not be based on performance or a particular standard but love that is unchanging and steady. Consequences are real to actions we make, however, lost love is never one of them. “I love you,” must be spoken in your house often.

God makes you righteous. Our kids need to know that it is God and God alone that makes us righteous. We all fall short, and we all don’t measure up, but in Christ we do. We will never be perfect, but righteousness is given as a gift when we accept Christ as our savior. Identity in Christ is something that needs to be taught to our kids.

I believe in you. Letting our children know that we are for them and not against them is crucial. That they have a deep knowing, they are capable and able to overcome. Sometimes when we are low and don’t believe in ourselves we have to see what others see in us. Knowing that their parents think they are capable gives them the strength to get back up when life knocks them on their backside. Be that physical force that encourages your kids to reach higher in life. Let your kids know you believe in them.

God has a plan even when you can’t see it. This world gets murky, and it can be hard to see what God’s plan is in our life. Most of the time following God is like driving through fog. We can only see a few feet in front of us instead of the whole picture. We must move forward believing that sooner or later the fog will lift, and we will be able to see. Until then your kids will need to know to keep moving and taking steps of bold action. Speak the truth that God has a great plan for their life.

Everyone is valuable. No one is more valuable than someone else. The great commandment is to love God and to love others. Loving all is only accomplished when we see value in every person. We all have different talents and abilities, but no talent is greater than another. Treat every person as valued and treasured gift. Teach your kids to see everyone through eyes of value and love.

God is always with you. God is with you always, not for one second will He leave you. He does not leave you if you pick the wrong path or screw up. He does not depart from you but encourages you to go deeper in a relationship with Him. The Word says that we will experience heartache and walk through the valley of the shadow of death but that God will be with us. No matter how bad it looks, God is always walking it out with you. Let your kids know to look to Jesus when times get hard and lean into Him.

The job of a parent never ends no matter if your kids are young or adults we must speak light and truth into them. In a world that drags and pulls you down, we need to be that encouraging force that draws them back to Jesus. He makes them able. He makes them beautiful. He makes them worthy. He is everything they and we could ever need. Keep saying these six truths until hearing becomes knowing. Be blessed on your journey as you parent well.

What are you speaking over your kids?

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Eyes fixated on my strengths and weakness I sit here wondering if I am able.

The unknown

photo: KCNewman Photography

I am scared and scarred.

I bear scars from others and myself. Words have scared me spoken in anger or jealousy. Actions have cut deep whether they were intended to or not. Thoughts of unworthiness consume my mind. Wishing I was someone different, maybe stronger or bolder somehow. Wishing I was able to do what I feel God calling me toward, but with my eyes; I don’t see how it’s possible. I can’t see it, and I get tempted not even to try. Fearful and used, I don’t see how He can use a broken vessel like me. Sure I see Him use others, but I am different.

It as if I forget who I serve. I remember this morning that I serve Jehovah Rapha (The Lord that heals). I forget that He heals the sick and comforts the broken-hearted. I forget that He makes the weak strong. I forget that it is Him who heals ME! That He whispers for us to step out of the boat with our scares and all. Throwing our leg over the side and locking eye with Him. Not even conscious of the impossible feat but focused on His goodness, grace, and mercy. Stepping out of the boat and walking on water, yet simply strolling with the King. Walking on water should be impossible, yet Peter did it.

He whispers to YOU to see the invisible and do the impossible. He takes our scares and says, “Give it to me! Stop holding on to what I have already redeemed. Stop trying to do it on your own or earn your way in. Stop trying to be worthy. Just follow me.”

It never was mine to bear, and it is never yours. We will never be able to do what He calls us to. We will always need Him to walk on water, yet He is always whispering for us to get out of the boat. Over our heads without Him and that’s what we are made for.

We are not supposed to be in this box. The box is put there by us. Not near the shore but out in the reckless waves. We are not meant to be in the comfort and confines of our strength but in this area that we shouldn’t be able to do in a million years. We are called to slay giants, to restore the land. Called to seek and save the lost. That doesn’t happen when we are focused on fear and failure but when we are concentrated on the one that makes us able.

Work on your strengths know your weakness but don’t forget the goal. The goal will always be Christ, and He crucified. We fill our lives up and chase the mission instead of the mission provider. He is our all, and He is everything. When we forget that we get out of alignment and feel nothing but scarred and scared. It is in Him that all is made new. It is in Him that all is made able. Trust Him and you will be in a state of awe on your journey. Because after all the journey isn’t about you…

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I want answers, and I want them now. As I sit on the precipice of a major life decision I want reassurance from everyone and no discouragement.  That’s why we ask so many people what we should do. Searching for the answers on the outside and not looking inward at what God has been speaking. Can’t trust myself and what I feel God saying I need a second, third, fourth, and hey a thousand agreeing voices really would be nice. Then if something happens, I can blame them. Look all these people thought it was a good idea. Like a child wanting someone to blame, to remove my responsibility. “Go through the process,” my pastor keeps telling me. I hate the process. The process sucks!

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

Reaching my arm out slowly wanting to grab hold but afraid to let go. I’m stuck in the middle between faith and fear. Frozen like a deer in the headlights, between safety and adventure. Standing in the in between, I am about to go splat.

Like, could all the lights to go green before I take a step. Can I get a stamp of guarantee?

That’s what I want to know, the beginning to the end. Is that too much to ask? A little god-like power would be nice.

No mystery, no trust needed.

The reality of calling and following Jesus is much different than my no trust plan. Often it is like driving through fog. We are moving along feeling are way around not able to see more than a few yards in front of us. When driving in fog, you don’t stop because you will get rear-ended by others struggling to see. You don’t go fast either because you could run into someone or venture off the road. You simply plod along waiting for the dense fog to lift. Eyes fixated on what you can see. No thirty thousand foot views here. We only think that this is the way to go, and we are trusting God for the rest. Fixated and dedicated to the little bit we can see, we do our best on what is right in front of us. We trust Him that eventually the fog will lift, and it will all make sense. We must live through the principles to get to the promise.

Why do God’s principles have to be the opposite of what I want? Sow then reap. Believe then see. Give your life to get one. Make yourself a slave to Christ to be free. Die to self to be born again. It is always the principle before the promise. But at least, there’s a promise. Do you know what is on the other side of emotion?

Nothing!

If we trust emotion, we are deceived. Emotion makes us foolishly wonder around zigzagging from one excitement to another. Emotion causes us to quit right before the fog lifts. Emotion causes us to settle for safety instead of PEACE. Emotion confuses lust with LOVE. Emotion mixes up happy with JOYFUL. Emotion leaves us empty and wanting more. However, there is a promise behind every principle

Here are a few promises of God:

He promises to be with us.

He will give you wisdom if you wisdom if you ask for it.

If you bring your request to God and refuse to worry, you will have peace that transcends all understanding.

If you seek Him, you will find Him.

Trust and faith are needed in the principle before every promise, and it’s not easy to trust sometimes. We have been let down by people and wonder if God will do the same. We have are eyes on the result all the while God is asking us to be formed and molded in the process. We are invited into trusting the process. Into allowing Him to mold you and shaped you. He promises to finish the good work that He began. Will we embrace the process and trust God on the journey? Trust the One who knit us in our mother’s womb. Trust even when we think it sucks. Only then can we be blessed on the journey.

Do you struggle to move?

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As a small business owner, I have around twenty-five people that I employ. In business, the lower the turnover and the more independently your staff can perform with you the greater profits and freedom you have.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

My industry of quick serve means that many employees this is their first job. On top of this minimum wage employment is a high turnover industry. Within my restaurants turnover is minuscule compared to the sector average, and I have a few employees that have been with me for ten years.

I have acquired the skill and talent of turning low performers into some of my best workers. It is not easy and requires patience, but it has its rewards that make it worth the effort. There are a lot of diamonds in the rough that with the right heart attitude and training can become the most loyal and awesome employees.

A lot of employers make assumptions with low performers that employees don’t care or aren’t hard workers when the problem and solution look much different. I have found that as employers we think we are much better at communicating than we are. If you have an employee that is a struggle walk through these steps before firing them.

Baseline The first question that needs to get addressed is whether the “problem” employee has a head problem or a heart problem. If you are unsure, you can ask them. Employees will let you know if you have built a rapport. Here is the difference, are they missing the skill and knowledge to do the job or the motivation to do the job?  Do you need to train them or motivate them? Often managers and owners assume an awareness that is not there and the employee doesn’t even know they are nut cutting the mustard. Establish whether it is a head or heart problem and follow the three steps accordingly.

Head:

Winning. What does winning look like? You have taught the skills. However, have you been explicit about the expectations you have? We say a lot of things that aren’t specific such as hard work or clean? Don’t assume common sense and in detail describe what that means to you. Define priorities and how high the bar is set. Being on time, working fast, and independently are things that need to be stated. Make it measurable and measure it often so that there is no doubt if expectations are being met.

Why. The task itself is not enough. You need to explain the why behind the task. The why enables thinking. The why fends off going through the motions and missing the meaning behind the task. When I go into my local Subway, they say, “Welcome to Subway” every time. The problem is they are usually saying it in a monotone voice not giving eye contact. I feel so appreciated. The words have been taught, but the reason is missing. It is to make the customer feel welcomed. Eye contact and tone of voice is way more important than the words. Keep the why first in its proper place.

Growth. Opportunity for growth within the company and growth mentally is crucial to keeping your employees engaged mentally. As humans, we are either growing or shrinking. Make sure that your team members are learning personally and within your organization. Keep an environment of growth to help your employees to stay engaged and to expand their skill and talent.

Heart:

Their passion. What are the goals of their life and how can your company help them? Change the training as much as possible to their inner cry of their heart. One of my employees wants to be a missionary. Everything at the point of sale we teach her as it will help her in the mission field. Even food cost numbers can be shown as far as controlling finances for a small budget. Teach with the understanding of their passion to get the heart engaged.

Their skill. Put the people in the right places on the bus as Jim Collins states. You need to set up your employees into a position to win. They need to operate with their talent and skills. There is nothing worse than doing a job you are bad at. One that you never can thrive in.  If you don’t have a spot to let your employee work in their skill, you need to let them go. Skill is an area you should hire slow and fire fast.

Your heart. Your staff needs to know you care. Caring can be faked temporarily but in the long run it can’t. If you don’t care for people and their future, you will never be great at leading. If you do care, you need to show them. You need to reward them and encourage them to be the best version of yourself. In supporting them and caring for them, they will care for you. You will be more than just a boss but a leader and friend how they will come to long after they work for you.

Engage your employee’s mind and heart if you do your business will never be the same. It will be so much more than making money. Money is a byproduct of having rock star employees that care for your company almost as much as you do. Don’t put the pressure of caring on the same level as you. But do demand excellence. Teach your employees heart and mind and you and your business will be blessed on your journey.

How do you guide your employees into being great?

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