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Be Yourself

Be yourself. Quit comparing yourself to others. Just STOP. You are UNIQUE. You are RARE. You are SPECIAL. THERE IS, NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANYONE LIKE YOU. God has a plan and a purpose for you. And His plan for this world has a job that NO ONE can do except YOU!

Quit focusing on what others ARE doing and what you’re NOT doing. Start focusing on what God IS doing.

Relax. Take it easy. Slow down. Wait.

Wait.

If you’ve been struggling with comparing yourself to others, or trusting that God has a plan for you, why don’t you pray this simple prayer right now:

Father, I love you. I only want what you want for me. Guide my every step down the path You have for me. Pour Your peace over me as I learn to trust in you completely. Amen.

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Unresolved Issues

I was shocked by a conversation I overheard between two women. They were talking about a divorce one of them was in the middle of. It was a messy, painful divorce between two people who had been married for over 25 years. (I’m not sure how long exactly, but she kept using the term “25 plus year marriage.”)

The part of this conversation that got my attention was when the women going through the divorce said, “We’ve been arguing about this since we were dating. We just can’t take it anymore.”

WHAT!?! REALLY?!? The reason behind this divorce was an issue that went unresolved for over 25 years! Since before they were married!?! It’s almost hard for me to believe.

This couple, who I’m sure at one point were madly in love, let something negative in their relationship fester for over 25 years, and it eventually ripped their marriage apart.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation and here are a few thoughts that I had…

1) Marriage is NOT the answer.

If you’re single, dating or maybe engaged and planning a wedding, please listen to me. If there is a problem in your relationship, an issue that just won’t get resolved, GETTING MARRIED WON’T MAKE THE PROBLEM GO AWAY. Before going one step further in your plans or your relationship, you need to have the hard conversation. Put everything on the table and work it out. And if you can’t work it out on your own or you can’t find another Godly person to walk and pray you through it. DON’T GET MARRIED! Period.

2) If you’re already married, QUITTING IS NOT THE ANSWER.

I believe marriage is a covenant. A covenant not just between a husband and wife, but between a husband, a wife, and the Lord. Your willpower to stay and fight, backed by God’s divine power, CAN and WILL restore ANYTHING. Get that thing you’re dealing with out in the open. Expose it to the Light. Get people around you who will pray for you and counsel you. FIGHT.

3) YOU CAN’T IGNORE THE PROBLEM! Anything left to itself will fester and DIE.

If I had 100 million dollars and used it to build the most magnificent house anyone had ever seen, but then, when construction was over, I locked the doors and never did a thing with it, eventually that house would rot and fall.

True of a house, true of a marriage.

We can’t allow negative issues to go unresolved in our marriages. God is the redeemer. Not just of our lives, but of everything, including your marriage. A problem ignored will not go away, it will grow, and, over time, it WILL hurt you and possibly destroy you.

These were just a few of the thoughts I had while thinking about this conversation. I’m sad for that couple. I’m praying for them. I hope that God works a miracle in that marriage, and in yours.

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Are You Communicating Value?

When dealing with people, everything you do communicates the value you have for them.

Do you keep your word? Are you on time? Are you early? Do you string them along with promises or commitments that are not in your authority to give?

Your actions always speak louder than your words.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on April 5, 2018.

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Smart Versus Wise

Being SMART does not mean you’re WISE. We can go through life learning all sorts of facts. We can learn all kinds of lessons. We can gather all manner of experiences. But that does not make us WISE, that just makes us SMART.

WISDOM comes when we take all that knowledge that we have accumulated, all those lessons we have learned and APPLY it to our lives.

Learning makes you SMART. Applying what you have learned to your life makes you WISE.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on April 2, 2018.

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I’m Not Perfect

Here’s a newsflash, I’m not perfect. I’m far from it.

I make more mistakes in a day then most people make in a week. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times, I can tell you the brand of shoe you’re wearing by the taste.

Because I’m not perfect, there’s a lot of things I’m not good at. In fact, there are more things I’m NOT good at then there are of things I am good at. There are things that I see other people do that I would love to be able to do. But I can’t.

BUT…

There are some things that I AM good at! There are some things that I can do better than anyone else around me.

It’s not bragging saying this. It’s the truth. There are abilities and gifts that God put inside me that He didn’t put inside anyone else. Things that only I was created for.

It’s the same with you!

You have gifts that NO ONE ELSE HAS! You have a purpose and a destiny written by God that’s unique to you.

So why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others? Not just comparing, but selling ourselves short? Why do we (I) always think what others can do, or what gifts or callings they have, are more important than mine?

STOP IT!

THE ONLY THING YOU ACCOMPLISH BY FOCUSING ON THE GIFTS OF OTHERS IS THE NEGLECT OF YOUR OWN.

GOD NEEDS YOUR GIFTS ON THIS EARTH! They’re part of HIS master plan. You’re not here to fill space; you’re here to fulfill a purpose.

God needs your gifts developed, matured and ready.

Focus on YOUR gifts, stop focusing on theirs.

Besides, those people with all those gifts you’re focusing on and wanting might be doing the same thing with yours.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on March 29, 2018.

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Taking Responsibility

You may not have packed the bags you are carrying around through life, but at some point, you have to take responsibility and understand that you are the only one who can begin the process of letting them go.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on March 28, 2018.

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Stay Alert

There are opportunities around every corner to make a difference in the lives of the people and the world around you.

The reason most people don’t take advantage of these opportunities is that they don’t recognize them, and if they do, they aren’t ready for them.

Stay alert. Be ready.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on March 27, 2018.

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11 Rules for Leading Teams

Lessons I’ve learned to get the most from a team while doing the least amount of damage in the process.

I have had the pleasure of serving under some great leaders and a few not so great leaders. (Yes, even serving under a bad leader can be a pleasure if you learn from it and apply what you’ve learned to how you lead.)

Looking back over the many leaders I have served under, I have compiled a list of eleven things that I have learned and that I try to apply to the people I lead. (I say try because I know I have failed many more times than I have succeeded.)

1) Stay calm.

As a leader (You could also insert Husband or Father here.) you live in a fishbowl. Everything you do (and feel) is seen and magnified. That means that when you’re at a six people will perceive you at an eight, which will usually push them to a ten or worse, they’ll overload and burnout. (The truth is no matter where you are your team will probably think you’re at an eleven.)

Bonus Thought: You may feel like you do a good job at hiding your emotions, but you’re human so you probably don’t do as good of a job as you think. Because of this, it’s important to have people around you that will speak honestly and directly to you and help reel you in.

2) Be present

Both physically and emotionally. An absent leader may think they are communicating trust in their team but what they are really communicating is “what you are doing is not that important to me, and since it’s not important to me, it’s not important to the organization.”

Bonus Thought: If the leader is not present how can they see the great things their team is accomplishing and give sincere and generous praise? (see point 10)

3) Don’t try to be Omnipresent

You can’t be everywhere and in everything. You’re not God. (though I have met a few leaders who think they might not be God but they’re the next best thing, but that is a whole different post.) Trying to be involved in every decision is called micro-managing. The only thing micro-managers create is exhaustion. They exhaust themselves and their team.

4) Engage

Don’t just ask for reports, engage in a conversation. Don’t just ask what decisions where made or what was done, ask why. Engage in the thought process. Learn what is making your team tick. This will not only give you information, it will give you understanding of the different personalities and talents of your team and will add value to them. (Unless of course you do nothing but tell them the way they should have done it or how YOU would have done it.) See #8 for more on this.

Bonus Thought: As a leader, you probably have a million plates spinning all at once. So how to you decide what to give your attention to or engage with at any given time? You give it to what is in front of you. There is nothing more frustrating to a team or team member then when the leader who is with them physically isn’t there emotionally or mentally.

5) Give freedom

I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure that when a Pyramid was finished in Egypt, the builders didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment or pride in their work. Why? Because they weren’t builders, they were slaves working under task masters.

Hopefully you’re not a task master and you don’t see your team as slaves. Give you’re team ownership of what they are doing. You can and should set parameters, but let them run in the boundaries you set. Let them work freely in their passions and with the natural gifts they have.

6) Trust

If you can’t trust a team member to make good decisions or accomplish the job they are given, then maybe they shouldn’t be on your team at all. See #3 (Of course, the problem could be that they have not been given the tools or training they need to accomplish what they have been given to do. This isn’t their fault, it’s their leaders.)

7) Cast vision (constantly)

Teams don’t just need to know what needs to get done. They need to know why they are doing it. However it’s not enough to communicate the “big picture” of the organization, teams also need to understand the importance of what they are doing and how without it, the “big picture” can’t be accomplished. (One of the quickest way to lose a valuable team member is to make them feel that what they are doing is not important or they are just “spinning their wheels” with busy work.)

8) Correct and train

Mistakes will always happen. But they will keep happening if they are not corrected. No one wants to make a mistake, and a person can’t correct a mistake if they don’t know they are making one or why they are making it.

The only way to keep a team member from repeating a mistake is to train them on how to do it right.

9) Manage pace

There will be times that you have to push your team. Deadlines are a real thing. But, If the leader has done their job, they have built a team of incredible people who not only believe in what they are doing, they believe in you and your goals.

Passionate people push. They sacrifice. They work hard. They love what they do. A leaders job is to know where their team is, what they are doing and when they are doing too much. A great leader will help motivate their team to get things done the best way they know how but should also strive to keep them healthy.

Not everything has to get done now or tomorrow. A quick way to burn out a team and the families of a team is to allow them to push themselves beyond what is realistically possible.

Bonus Thought: Nothing worth doing is worth doing fast. Anything great takes time. A leader that loses sight on the pressure their team is under is not leading well.

10) Be sincere and generous with praise

Everyone needs affirmation. Everyone needs to know that what they are committing their time and lives to is noticed and appreciated. Always look for ways to praise your team or team members. But not just privately, publicly.

But it needs to be sincere.

Praise for the sake of praise or as a motivational tool is not really praise, it’s flattery. It’s meaningless or worse, it can come across as belittling. In order to be sincere in your praise you need to have a real understanding of what is being accomplished. And you can’t do that if you’re not present (see #2) or engaged with your team. (see #4)

11) Make failure safe

A team that is afraid to fail will be afraid to innovate. Sometimes doing the same thing that has always been done is a good thing, but when it stops working you need people that are willing to take risks and change. People won’t be willing to try new things if they are afraid of the consequences of failure. Remember the response of Thomas Edison when he was asked about his many failures while inventing the Light Bulb: “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Final Bonus Thought: If you are leading well then the people you are leading are not only doing a great job, but are becoming better leaders themselves. This means that more then likely they will grow beyond what they are doing for you.

This is a GREAT thing.

This is why leaders should not see themselves as owners or bosses of a team, but as stewards. Stewardship is being temporarily responsible for something that is not yours. A good steward will strive to take what they are responsible for, and make it better.

(As a pastor I have the privilege of working with great teams of volunteers. The list above can absolutely be applied to leading unpaid volunteers, but if you work with volunteers on a regular basis you should also read: “4 Things Every Volunteer Needs to Keep Their Head From Exploding.”)