1. Choose to spend your time doing a few things that really matter rather than a lot of things that don’t. Just because you are busy and working hard doesn’t mean you are managing time well. What matters is how much you accomplish that is truly significant.
2. Choose to stay in your sweet spot. We all do a few things very well because of giftedness, passion, learned skill, and natural talent. The more time we spend doing what we do best the more we will accomplish.
3. People who grumble, complain, blame, and feel sorry for themselves never accomplish much. Stop it.
4. A straight line is the shortest route between two points. The more interruptions we have, the more meandering we do, the more we start and stop a project, the more we get distracted, the less we will get done. People who set goals and write them down, and have todo lists that they check and review often, will always do much better at getting a lot done that matters than those who operate out of their head, from memory. It is like the old days before google maps when a guy refused to look at the map or stop and ask for directions because he was sure he remembered how to get there. Goal setting and todo lists is basically planning your life and activities before you act. Premeditated decision making, thoughtful planning and strategizing, that are written down and referred to often maximize efficiency in our use of time tremendously. Only the proud, the lazy, or the indifferent would refuse to do such a key discipline of effective fruit bearing.
Almost everyone wishes they got more done with the time that they have. There are those very few apparently time management geniuses who get done it appears at least double what everyone else squeezes out. I govern my life on the basis of rules or principles so I can accomplish a lot with my life.
1. I spend most of my time doing things that results in very significant accomplishments. 20% of the things we do results in 80% of the significant accomplishments, so I discipline my choices so I only do those high return activities.
2. I have spiritual gifts,talents, special abilities, and skills in a few areas of life. When I am working in these areas of strength I work with more passion, joy, and energy, and I easily get way more done in these areas because of the fire I have while engaged in these areas.
3. I exercise self discipline over my thinking, and don’t let my mind drift into negative thinking about life or circumstances. In order to get a lot done a person has to work fast which requires energy, and negative thinking is a major cause of weariness. Grumbling and complaining verbally is a result of grumbling and complaining mentally in our thoughts. We all tend towards selfishness so when things don’t happen the way we think they should we react negatively. Most people in our culture and country grumble and complain about just about everything so we will easily pick up that bad habit from those around us. Whenever I hear myself thinking negatively I quote and meditate in my mind on psalms 100, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” Try quoting those 5 verses 10 times throughout the day and see what happens to your thinking and your talking. You will feel happier, more energetic, you will be much more patient with people all around you, and because people like being with happy, positive, high energy people you will be very attractive to others, they will want to be around you and will imitate your life.
Time Management is basically concerned with getting things done. I have over the years written some principles down that I use to govern my life that I have discovered from others that work very well. Most of these guidelines are summed up in a easily remembered motto or “saying”. Let me share a few with you;
1. “The goal is not to just get a lot done, but to get done that which is most significant, most important, that which has the greatest impact on the most people. ” A few significant things done, results in more lasting and important accomplishments than a lot of insignificant things done in the same time frame. People fool themselves into thinking they have been productive because they did a lot, stayed busy, and crossed off everything on their todo list. Choosing to do only or mostly the high impact, and most significant things is very difficult because they aren’t what most around us would choose for us, and we all tend toward pleasing people. Also high impact activity usually requires more thought and planning, more effort, and more focus so we naturally move away from it to the frivolous. A wise and disciplined person who chooses to work at a few very high impact tasks will easily accomplish a hundred times more truly significant things that really matter than the very busy, hard working person who accomplishes a lot of things that have low significance. Another way of saying this guideline is, “Choose to do a few things that really matter rather than a lot of things that don’t”.
2. “I am really gifted and good at a few things, so I major on those activities”. The short, easy to remember motto would be, “Stay in your sweet spot”. God has given us gifts, abilities, temperaments, and talents. Some we were born with, some we acquired as we grew up because of the influence of key people in our life, and some God gave us at the point of our salvation which we call Spiritual gifts. When we work and serve in the area of our giftedness we work with so much more passion and fire. When we are working in the area of our giftedness it is the power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity that is working in us so we don’t get tired as we serve, in fact we often find ourselves getting energized. When I travel and speak in churches the person who is planning the seminar or event will usually ask how many times I am willing to speak, they usually assume 2 or 3 times. But I tell them to work me like a dog, I don’t mind speaking 8 hours a day, the more I teach the more energetic I feel. Working and serving in my sweet spot not only results in a lot more fruit in my life, but I enjoy myself so much more, I have fun.
Tonight at JBC’s Saturday night service Pastor Mike continued his series on “The Things We Fear”, and his sermon was on the fear of rejection. It brought back memories of when I was a freshman in college asking a girl to go to a concert, and she declined because she had to much homework so I went to the concert with three guy friends, and when we sat down I saw the girl I asked there with another guy. I didn’t ask another girl out for anything the rest of that year for fear of the same thing happening. The point of the sermon was if we accept Jesus and don’t reject Him, He will accept us and never reject us forever. In John 14 Jesus tells His disciples that He is leaving and that He will be preparing a place for us so that where He is there’s we may be also, and that He will come back and receive us to Himself so that we will be with Him always, forever. That is an incredible statement of acceptance and love. In His life here on the earth as a man Jesus was constantly rejected by the world until they finally crucified Him. He said that He would take our fears, our shame, our guilt, our rejection upon Himself, that is He would experience it and He would feel it to the max in our place, and when we accepted Him as our Savior and Lord He would accept us, forgive us, give us joy, and peace, and love in spite of what the world would do. It is quite amazing the contrast between the world’s system and the kind of life those who are submerged in that system experience, as apposed to those who follow and love Jesus.
In the last week I have gotten 4 phone calls and 4 emails that were obviously from people trying to scam me, that is trying to cheat or trick me so that they get some of my money, stealing is what it is. On the last one I thought, someone must have written a book on how to do this because they all seem to have a similar approach. Someone ought to write a new book.
It is a strange thing to me that people would attempt to cheat someone else out of their money. I wonder where in their life the moral values were shaped so that they are OK with cheating another person and stealing money from them. Each person has a value system and a developed sense of what is right and wrong. In our younger ages we are not choosing much in regards to what we believe, we are shaped by our parents, other family, teachers, close friends, and church leaders. We are like a piece of clay that someone takes in their hands and molds .
I was very blessed to have been raised by very good parents, family, church, pastors, youth leaders, and teachers. Once a person gets into their adult years they can change that molded moral world view and standards of right and wrong but it isn’t easy and it takes strong influence from other people who are gifted and skilled in influencing people to change. A major factor in people changing is that they are convicted, that is they feel a strong sense of guilt over what they have done and what they are doing. God works on people’s conscience through the Holy Spirit to convict them of wrong and sinful behavior in an attempt to change them. People who are convicted of a particular behavior do one of two things, they either work at changing or they excuse, justify, hide, or blame others. We were born with that bent so it comes naturally.
I want to change and grow to be more righteous and holy every day of my life so I ask God to show me the things that need changing, convict me of those things, and grant me the power and wisdom to make the change as I begin. I also want to be used by God to help other people to change, in fact that is my personal mission statement, “to grow to be like Christ as much as possible in the days I have left, and to influence many others to do the same.”
Back in 1976 when I started pastoring at JBC in Jefferson, Oregon at the age of 28 right off of the dairy farm, I didn’t have a clue how to be a pastor, and my biggest challenge and the greatest intimidation in my life was coming up with a sermon each week that would stir people to live for God and to grow closer and closer to Him. I was constantly seeking out time with other pastors who looked like they knew what they were doing in order to get counsel and advice from them. In one such meeting as I was agonizing over my poor preaching, the pastor I was talking to suggested that I buy cassette recordings of good sermons and listen to them a lot. He said there is the God side of preaching, that is the work only He can do while His Word is being proclaimed, and there is the man side of preaching, that is the responsibility that preachers have to learn the skill of preaching, and to study hard to learn the text of the Bible they are preaching. Then he said this, “God won’t do His part for a preacher that is lazy, unprepared, and hasn’t worked very hard to become a master at the art of preaching. He went on to say “The best way to become a great speaker and a teacher that makes the Word of God come alive is to learn from the best by listening to them over and over. So I began purchasing vinyl folders that held 4 to 12 cassettes with sermons recorded on them. The very first set I bought was 6 sermons by Billy Graham, and I listened to them until I wore them out. I over time bought literally hundreds of cassettes with many different preachers, but that first set had a profound affect on me. As I listened to various preachers, I asked myself, “what is it that makes them good?”, “what is it that they say or do that holds my attention so well?”, “Why do people choose to change after listening to them?” As I listened to Billy Graham I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the content of his sermons, that is the words or theology he said, it was how he said it that gripped me. When he spoke their was a strong sense that he believed every word that he spoke, that it was all true, he spoke with an amazing sense of authority that made it almost impossible not to believe what he was saying. As I pondered how to imitate that part of Billy Graham’s preaching I realized that it was the closeness his relationship with God and his character that was the key to his passion, confidence, and strength. I remember writing, “I think I know what makes him great, but I also think it is going to take some time before I have even a small amount of it, but I will press on and pursue it diligently. Hopefully by the time I am 99 years of age I will have some.
Those who seek wisdom like gold, silver, or great treasure as a lifestyle will find it. The most powerful source of wisdom is the Bible, the Word of God, which is the very mind of Christ. The Bible declares and promises that those who faithfully and systematically read, study and memorize it will be wiser than their enemies, their teachers and the elderly. A key aspect of wisdom is knowing what is true, and in our day where so much information is flying around that is not true, being able to quickly discern what is true and false is a great blessing. Those who faithfully read, study and memorize the Word of God develop an inner lie detector that really does work and is very accurate. When someone hits a wrong key on the piano or sings a little bit flat singing a special in church I hear it immediately, and I am not particularly musical. The discord causes a little shiver to run up my spine. Jesus says in John 8, “If you continue in my Word you are true dIsciples of mine, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free”.
The ability to think clearly, logically, without prejudice, or bias, is rare. Most people think about a problem, or difficult situation with a host of paradigms that have been programmed into their thinking for a bunch of years by a bunch of different people. Thinking is a discipline. Most people think in reaction to their circumstances, and their thinking is not proactive during most of their day, that is they aren’t thinking about solutions to the problems that have come into their life, instead their thinking is simply a conversation with themselves as spectators of events around them. This self-talk generally moves quickly to self-pity, blaming others, and becomes circular rehashing in their mind of the events and how bad they were. Most think like this because that is the default setting that we were born with, and to change that kind of thinking into wise, positive, focused on others kind of thinking takes major, big time discipline and self-control. To be a wise person we have to constantly listen to our thoughts, and ruthlessly identify foolish thinking, that thinking that has been programmed into or brains by many other people who are fools. The discipline of being a wisdom seeker, one who thinks like God, is a 24/7 kind of lifestyle. When I listen to sermons and read books, at the beginning I am asking the question, “is this speaker or writer wise or are they just giving me the stuff that is the most recent fad that sells”. Once I arrive at the firm conclusion that the speaker or author I am engaged with is a truly wise person I read or listen to all I can find that they have authored.
one of my goals every year is to “do something I have never done before”, and also to “learn something I have never learned before”. 10 years ago the new thing to do and learn about was to totally rebuild and restore this 1949 Ford Pickup. I read volumes on how to restore old classics, and I learned how to do every aspect of the restoration project including the body work and painting. I have learned how to keep bees and had two hives for several years before giving them to my son -in-law, and grandson. I learned how to make soap using honey, goats milk, oat meal, and olive oil. I learned all about aquaponics, built a greenhouse, and had 300 tilapia fertilizing grow beds with spinach. This year I am building a 24 foot dory boat to fish in the ocean with. One of my rules is that when I add new things I have to get rid of old things. I want my adventures, projects, and challenges to be renewing, not burdensome or a drain on my time or finances. So, though it was a hard decision to make I am going to sell my F1, at least try. If I can’t sell it for enough to help out financially with my new projects I will keep it and make it my daily driver, it really is a fun rig to drive.
We are created in the image of God, so much about us as people is almost infinite in potential, but it is easy to fall short of that potential through apathy, laziness, and indifference. I have purposed that I will be a lifelong learner, and new projects established by goals keeps that desire to learn new things hot inside of me. In our day and age with the internet, You Tube, and Kindle a wealth of information about anything is readily available to anyone who wants to seek for the information, and spend time reading, listening, and watching. Life is so much more enjoyable to the person who is mentally growing stronger, embarking on new adventures and challenges, and becoming a stronger and more mature person through learning.
I aspire to be an influencer of people so that they believe in God to the point that they want to serve and obey Him, that they believe in Jesus, not in the historical person, but Jesus the Son of God, who is God, who became flesh, who took our sins upon Himself and died for them, died for us, so that we might live with Him forever. I want, really want to influence many, many people so that they turn away from the world, turn away from selfish living, turn away from the carnal pull of their own heart, and turn their lives over to Jesus Christ as their Savior and King. I am consumed with becoming a person who is an influencer of people to the degree that many choose to change and be fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Any person who truly wants to be, can become such a leader by a series of choices, sacrifices, and disciplines. The choices and disciplines needed to become a great person of influence require much sacrifice, diligence, faithfulness, endurance, and passion to the level that very few choose to take the journey to become a world changer. The greatest barrier for most to even begin this journey is the shear volume of issues, conflicts, and problems in our world today so that our thoughts are, “who am I in the midst of all this, I have virtually no chance of making even a little dent in what is happening, I can’t fix anything, change anything, my voice will be totally drowned out by the noise and chaos of our world, I think I will just watch TV.”
Jesus says in John 14:12-14. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” So I can do greater works than Jesus. What does it take to accomplish these great works? (1) Truly believe in Jesus and follow Him as Lord of my life. (2) Have a very strong desire, a burning desire to do something that matters, that will make a difference, a huge difference. (3) Have the faith that I can indeed be that kind of leader who does greater works than Jesus. (4) Pray everyday and ask God for the strength, the desire, the vision, the passion, the endurance, the faith, and the wisdom to change the world. He promises to answer that kind of prayer.
A major problem at this point is that we pray and ask God to change the world. He isn’t going to do it, He gave us the job. The promise of John 14:14 is that if we pray He will give us the strength and all that we need to do the changing. The promise is that we will do greater works than Jesus. We will do the working, we will do the leading, we will do the influencing, we will make the plans, we will do the teaching, and we will exert the effort. “If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it”, this promise to us is made in the context of us doing greater works than Jesus. I can become a Samson, I can become a Daniel. I can become a Paul, a Peter, or a John if I pray and ask God to make me a champion for Him. Greater works than Jesus, greater works than Jesus, greater works than Jesus, I believe I can do that.