Is It Your Problem or God’s Problem?

When I work at home on my laptop, because the house that we live in doesn’t have an extra room for an office, I usually just sit at my kitchen table.

The only problem with working at my kitchen table is the Sun.

We have two big windows in our kitchen, and because of the placement of the room, these two windows are in direct sunlight all day. Sun up to Sundown.

This is a great problem to have. I love natural light in the house. But it also means that while I’m working, I’m either dealing with Sunlight beaming through the spaces between the blinds when they are closed (that seem to always shine like a laser into my eyeballs) or the sunlight glaring off my computer screen.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you work somewhere else?” I could. “Why not cover the windows better?” That might work. “You could re-arrange your dining room so the sun doesn’t hit your table.” That’s a good idea. “You could wear sunglasses.” Wearing sunglasses inside is stupid.

These are almost all great ideas. But here’s the point I’m making that you probably don’t even see coming.

The greatest advice in the world is useless if I don’t choose to act on it, and there is nothing you can do about it.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Watching someone you know make the same mistake over and over again, getting the same result every time? And no matter what you do or say, they don’t listen to you? It begins to feel like your beating your head against a brick wall.

I’ve been there, and if you’re in any leadership position, you’ve been there too.

The problem with beating your head against a wall is eventually your going to hurt yourself, possibly permanently.

How could you hurt yourself permanently? Because if your not careful, your FRUSTRATION could turn into INDIFFERENCE and then you might stop caring. As leaders and as Christians, that can’t happen. We can’t stop caring. We can’t give up on people. We don’t throw people away.

BUT, we can protect ourselves. Here’s how: KNOW WHAT YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES ARE.

Here are two of the most significant lessons I’ve learned as a Pastor:

1) My authority over and my access to a person’s life only goes as far as that person allows.

“But, they are in your church! They should submit to your authority!” Yeah, maybe. But they also have a free will. And most of the time they’re adults, and I’m not their Dad or their boss. I’m their Pastor. It’s up to them to allow me to be their Pastor.

2) It’s not my job to change people. That’s God’s job. My job is to point THEM to HIM.

People may not listen to me. People may even go so far as to ignore or avoid me. But no matter what they do, they can’t stop me from loving them and praying for them. That IS up to me. And it’s a choice I HAVE to make, sometimes on a daily basis. I have to make the decision that I WON’T give up on a person.

When I had those two revelations of leadership, it did something AMAZING in my life. It took the burden I was carrying and put it back in God’s hands where it belonged. And because I know that there’s only so much I can do and that at some point it’s entirely in God’s hands, I can have peace.

And trust me, trying to lead without peace is a road that leads straight to burnout and failure.

So right now, right where you are, take the next 2 minutes and ask God to show you what walls your beating your head against. (You probably don’t need the 2 minutes. You already know.)

Now ask God these two questions:

1) Is there anything else in the natural I can do or say to help breakthrough in this situation? (other than unconditional love and unstoppable prayer)

2) Give me the strength to COMPLETELY hand this over to You, and the peace to know YOU’RE the one in control.

Now, let God handle it.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

One of the best things I’ve read in regards to being a minister. (or person really.)

“Just look for a moment at our daily routine. In general we are a very busy people. We have many meetings to attend, many visits to make, many services to lead. Our calendars are filled with appointments, our days and weeks filled with engagements, and our years filled with plans and projects. There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing.”

– Henri J.M. Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart”

Two Great Books I Read Over Christmas


I took some time off over Christmas to do nothing but unplug, hangout with my family, and not think about anything.

I also read two amazing books. (Seriously, these are great.)

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
 This is the story of Nike from its first day to the day it went public in the 80’s, written by the founder Phil Knight.
 I love books like this because it reminds me that big companies like Nike weren’t instant successes. We see the big company but miss the years of hard work, doubt, failure and in some cases dumb luck that lead to breakthroughs.
 Something I did not expect from this book was how honest Phil Knight was on how empty and frustrating parts of his success has been, and what he lost along the way. (His oldest son died in a diving accident and he is really open about how he dealt with it.) I really loved this book.

“Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik
 Everything we use and rely on is made of something, and that something is made of something else. The screen you are reading right now is made of glass or crystal and that glass or crystal is made of other elements that is made of a combination of other elements (and so on and so on). The author, Mark Miodownik, is a material scientist and is able to explain what “stuff” like glass, paper, or concrete is made of in a very scientific yet simple way that anyone can understand and be completely fascinated by.

I literally read this book in a couple hours. It was that interesting and understandable.

So, there you go. Add these books to your 2017 reading list. (You have already started writing your reading list right?)


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

My Favorite Books from 2016

Last year I listed my top 5 books as well as 8 that almost made top 5. (Check out 2015’s list here)

This year I am going to list my top 5 books of 2016, these are the books that I read and re-read that made the greatest impact on how I live and think, plus 12 other books that I had a hard time not adding to the top 5.

The “Honorable Mention” list are a few other books I enjoyed from the books I completed in 2016. (I don’t finish every book I start, if I get bored or I lose interest I don’t waste my time in finishing.)

All of these books are really amazing. Just buy them all.

Top 5 Books of 2016:

1) “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
 2) “The Way of the Heart” by Henri J.M. Nouwen
 3) “American Icon” by Bryce G. Hoffman
 4) “Humility” by Andew Murray
 5) “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle

“Originals” by Adam Grant
 “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
 “Adventures in Prayer” by Mary Jo Pierce
 “Deep Work” by Cal Newport
 “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg *Re-read from 2015 (Probably should be top 5 since it’s the second year I’ve listed it.)
 “Sprint” by Jake Knapp
 “Finding Eve” by Rita Springer
 “The Wisdom of the Desert” by Thomas Merton
 “The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Church Monks” by Benedicta Ward
 “Sacred Listening” by James L. Wakefield
 “Prayer Primer” by Thomas Dubai
 “The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting” by Talbot W. Chambers

Honorable Mention:

“Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday
 “Poets and Saints” by Jamie George
 “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin
 “The Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sherma
 “The Lives of the Desert Fathers” by Norman Russell


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

Climbing Ladders


When you’re a kid and you see a ladder, you want to climb it. When you see a tree you want to climb it. When you see a mound of dirt, you not only want to climb it, you play “King of the Hill” to make sure no one else gets to the top of the hill before you.

As adults not much has changed. We still have ladders. Only our ladders have become corporate structures and our hills have become title or position.

But what if you’re not built for climbing ladders?

Recommended Reading for 2016

Books that made the greatest personal impact in 2015.


I read a lot. My wife reads more. (She read 63 books 2015)

I was asked the other day what 3 to 5 books I would recommend for someone to read in 2016. Below is a list of the top 5 books I read in 2015 that made the greatest impact in how I think and live as well as 8 books that almost made the top 5.


  1. “Creativity Inc. : Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull

2) “Work Rules! : Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead” by Laszlo Bock

3) “The Year Without Pants” by Scott Berkun

4) “The Orbital Perspective” By Astronaut Ron Garan

5) “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg

“Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words” by Rod Bennett

“Truely Free” by Robert Morris

“Manage Your Day-to-Day” by Jocelyn K. Glei (Editor)

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

“Creating Magic” by Lee Cockerell

“How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle

“Simplify” by Joshua Becker

“Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennen Manning

The Christmas Story

I love this video and the perspective it gives us on Christmas.

Hearing the Christmas story my whole life, I tend to picture Mary and Joseph walking through the streets of Bethlehem with a saintly glow while people around them move aside in awe and wonder. But the reality is, they were two scared teenagers in an unfamiliar city with nothing but a promise from God to hold onto.

I wonder if this was happening today, how would I react? Would I stop and offer them help? Would I welcome them into my home and give up my bed to them? Or would I look down on them, assuming they were two kids who made some bad choices and walk away?

So many times we are looking for God only in the spectacular or miraculous and we actually miss the supernatural. We miss what God is doing around us and the opportunities He has put in front of us because they may seem small or insignificant.

I firmly believe that where it appears God is moving the least, He is actually doing the most!

The birth of Christ was an amazing day that signaled a new hope for the World, but it was not the end of the story. It was the beginning of an incredible plan God has for this World, a plan that is still moving forward, a plan that you and I have a key role to fill. You and I are the instruments the Lord has chosen to spread the truth and love behind the Christmas story. We have been chosen to take part in radically changing the world.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would walk with open spiritual eyes, seeing the hand of God in everything around me. That I would move through this world with an open heart, ready to partner with The Lord to bring life, hope and love to the people I come in contact with.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

Ministry Advice to a Young Leader

Earlier today while doing a live Periscope Q&A for my church with another one of our Pastors, we were asked what advice we would give to young leaders starting out in ministry. The video cut off right before we answered the question, so I thought I would share my answer here. (Hopefully, the person who asked the question will see this answer.)

In short, my answer is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When I was starting out in ministry I took myself WAY too seriously. I thought Pastors were supposed to be serious, firm, and stoic. The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of my personality.

I like to have fun. I’m a goof-off, a smart aleck and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times I can tell you the brand of shoes you are wearing by the taste. That’s who I am. That’s who God made me to be. (Though, I am getting better about the foot in mouth thing. Sort of.)

I take the CALL OF GOD on my life VERY SERIOUSLY. I take my position as a Pastor VERY SERIOUSLY. I just try not to take myself too seriously.

I believe that one of the greatest things a Pastor can do to spread the Gospel is lighten up and have some fun.

The Gospel is literally translated “Good News”, and it is our responsibility to share that “Good News” with everyone we come in contact with. How can we effectively share the Good News of the Gospel, if when we show up, it’s BAD NEWS to everyone around us.

*This applies to all Christians as well.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

Misplaced Priorities

In our first year of marriage my wife worked double shifts waiting tables and I made $1000 a month doing “ministry”.

She worked, she sweated, she worried about our bills. She worried about us.

I didn’t work and I didn’t worry. I sat at Starbucks every day reading books, magazines and my Bible… because I was called to “ministry”.

I put my marriage and my wife’s mental stability aside for my own desires.

Why did I do it?

I forgot that my first call of ministry, every husbands first priority of ministry is his family.

No exceptions.


Originally published at Niles Holsinger.

On Working on a Team

One of the hardest but most important parts of working on a team, is letting go of the need to be right… and in some cases, heard.

Pride must be shelved.

A healthy team is made up of individuals who trust one another, and understand that it does not matter who has the last word, or whose idea ultimately becomes the team’s idea. What matters is the whole team working together towards the greatest result.

Unity rules.

Even if the team results in failure. Failure together can be just as powerful as succeeding alone.

I’m Tired of Being a Leader

When I was younger, just starting out in ministry, I desired to be a great leader. I wanted to command people, lead them into “battle”, and be respected by others for my wisdom and skill.

Leadership became something to attain. Something that positioned me over other people. It drove me to be in charge, to pursue what I thought was right even at the expense of what others wanted or needed. It lead me to become dismissive, cold in my communication, and ultimately alone in what I felt God was calling me to do.

In short, my definition of leadership was unhealthy. It fed my pride and I became a very selfish, very lonely “leader”.

Now, I’m a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and I’m much more interested in being the best teammate, the best servant I can be.

Jesus said it best in Luke 22:24–27:

“Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

Ministry Advice to a Young Leader

Earlier today while doing a live Periscope Q&A for my church with another one of our Pastors, we were asked what advice we would give to young leaders starting out in ministry. The video cut off right before we answered the question, so I thought I would share my answer here. (Hopefully, the person who asked the question will see this answer.)

In short, my answer is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When I was starting out in ministry I took myself WAY too seriously. I thought Pastors were supposed to be serious, firm, and stoic. The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of my personality.

I like to have fun. I’m a goof-off, a smart aleck and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times I can tell you the brand of shoes you are wearing by the taste. That’s who I am. That’s who God made me to be. (Though, I am getting better about the foot in mouth thing. Sort of.)

I take the CALL OF GOD on my life VERY SERIOUSLY. I take my position as a Pastor VERY SERIOUSLY. I just try not to take myself too seriously.

I believe that one of the greatest things a Pastor can do to spread the Gospel is lighten up and have some fun.

The Gospel is literally translated “Good News”, and it is our responsibility to share that “Good News” with everyone we come in contact with. How can we effectively share the Good News of the Gospel, if when we show up, it’s BAD NEWS to everyone around us.

*This applies to all Christians as well.

On Working on a Team

One of the hardest but most important parts of working on a team, is letting go of the need to be right… and in some cases, heard.

Pride must be shelved.

A healthy team is made up of individuals who trust one another, and understand that it does not matter who has the last word, or whose idea ultimately becomes the team’s idea. What matters is the whole team working together towards the greatest result.

Unity rules.

Even if the team results in failure. Failure together can be just as powerful as succeeding alone.

I’m Tired of Being a Leader

When I was younger, just starting out in ministry, I desired to be a great leader. I wanted to command people, lead them into “battle”, and be respected by others for my wisdom and skill.

Leadership became something to attain. Something that positioned me over other people. It drove me to be in charge, to pursue what I thought was right even at the expense of what others wanted or needed. It lead me to become dismissive, cold in my communication, and ultimately alone in what I felt God was calling me to do.

In short, my definition of leadership was unhealthy. It fed my pride and I became a very selfish, very lonely “leader”.

Now, I’m a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and I’m much more interested in being the best team mate, the best servant I can be.

Jesus said it best in Luke 22:24-27:

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”