Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

My mom was a HUGE William Shatner fan. As a kid I remember her watching Star Trek every night it was on and I was left to endure Captain Kirk’s reflective monologues on a regular basis. The only high light of the show for me was when the crew was “beamed” anywhere. You remember, they were teleported down to a new planet and then back to their ship. I was amazed by the idea of being able to just show up somewhere without having to take the time or the effort to actually make the trip.

My life balloon was deflated at the age of seven when I was told that no you can’t actually be “beamed” up or out or anywhere for that matter.

Still, I think the frustration still lingers for many of us  that want to go somewhere without having to take the necessary steps to get there.

We want a short cut…….an easy button. We want to play without having to pay.

For example: we want a deeper walk with Jesus, but not have to invest the time with Him. We want to be a writer, without the work. We want to lead without having to learn. We want to go global with our faith without having to go across the street, (Insert your desired short-cut here.)

Sometimes this comes from just plain laziness. Other times it’s something much darker……fear.

Fear: of failure, of something not being what we’d thought it be when we get there, that we won’t have what it takes or of how it might effect other areas of our life.

There could be a million combinations of why we we’re not embracing the process that God wants to take us on to get us where He wants. But here’s a not-so-well kept secret: if we got our wish to avoid “the work” we’d be miserable. Why?

You’d  have no story to tell.

An ending is only as interesting as the story that takes you there. Our lives are no different. The challenges, the effort, the work, the process, it’s all the adventure……the good stuff in the middle of our story. To avoid it would mean you could never mentor, never be able to reach back for a much needed overcoming moment in your story for the encouragement to endure your present.

The “becoming” doesn’t happen when you arrive, it happens in the journey….in your story.

There is no easy button. There is no way around the hard stuff. It’s part of becoming.

Pray. Decide. Then get busy writing the story that God has meant for you.

Let me hear your perspective. What “work” are you being called to? How are you overcoming the temptation to avoid the work? Share below.

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This week I met with a brother in Christ who was walking through a difficult time. As we talked I began to hear some similar issues and failed methods that I had walked through in my own life. Like me in my past, my friend had hooked his life up to what I call The Crazy Train. The Crazy Train is when we hook our personal value to the acceptance or rejection of other people and/or our success or failure. It goes something like this.

The train goes up the hill when: someone praises you, accepts you, friends you, recognizes your hard work, invites you, when the opposite sex desires you or needs you, when you win or succeed.

The train goes down hill when: people stop praising you, don’t friend you, stop inviting you, stop giving you recognition, don’t call you, when the opposite sex doesn’t desire you, when it seems no one needs you, when someone’s upset with you, when you fail or lose.

You can understand why people hook up to this train. The highs are surreal. It feels great, as if you could do no wrong. However, the downside to the crazy train is a steep one. If you’re hooked up to this train the valley is horrifically painful when your pipeline of acceptance and love from people or success is cut off.

So what’s the remedy? You can’t get off the track of life. Your life is going to be hooked to someone or something regardless.

Remedy= Hook your life up to Jesus Christ. Your definition in Him isn’t based on your performance or people’s high or low view of you. You don’t have to go any farther than Jesus Christ to find an ocean of love and acceptance waiting for you.

So take it from a guy that was hooked to the Crazy Train for a long time. Pull the pin on the dysfunctional locomotive that’s pulling you up and down and hook your life up to Jesus who is faithful, steady and reliable.

All aboard,

Nathan

Have you ever had a difficult time ending something? It could have been moving past a dream, a relationship, an employee that wasn’t contributing, a strategy or program that wasn’t working, a way you’ve always done something. This last month I started our Elder board on a journey through a book by Dr. Henry Cloud, “Necessary Endings”. In it Cloud discusses some of the obstacles that keep us from “ending” these things in our lives. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to face reality, maybe we don’t want to admit defeat or maybe it’s just because we don’t know how. Cloud points to pruning in a garden as an example of what happens when we don’t prune the things in our life or organization. These situations end up draining energy and resources that are needed else where so there can be thriving growth.  For a Christ follower Jesus is the vine and He points to the “Vine Dresser” our heavenly father who desires to “prune” what is not helpful or necessary in our lives or in the life of a church.

As a pastor I’ve seen churches be so in love with their strategy that they could not “end” it when it was clear that it was not working. Pastor and author, Andy Stanley, states that “we should be in love with our vision but only infatuated with our method. I don’t want to be that leader that can’t see when something needs to end.

I’ve asked our elders to go on a journey with me over the next few months to pray and think through any areas that might need to be “ended”in our lives personally or in our church so that we can thrive.

What about you? What areas in your life are you holding onto that just need to be ended? A friendship, relationship, an employee that does more harm than good, a dream, a goal, a strategy? My prayer is that God would give us the courage to do what’s needed.

Pruning is painful, but necessary,

Nathan

Over the last two weeks I’ve been thinking and praying through an upcoming series on Manhood that we’ll be doing in June. I’ve been wrestling with the simple question why is it that many men have a hard time asking for help. Now, I’m not talking about the stereotypical “can’t ask for directions” or “I can put this thing together without the directions” type issues. I’m talking about what is at the core of a man not wanting to ask for help with his life? Many of these points are found in women as well, but for today I’m focusing on men. Here are some points I’m seeing why we as men can’t say these words:

1. We don’t want to look weak: “If I share this issue in my life, I’ll look weak and people will put me in the “broken” or “freak show” category. There is a mentality that says because I’m an adult….I’m supposed to know what to do here. They have what I call the “I got this” disease. “I got this. I just need more time and more will power and I’ll pull this together.” Here the man refuses to acknowledge that if they could have fixed it by now they would have. They have a hard time saying, I have no idea what I’m doing.

2. We don’t know we need help: This would seem like a no brainer, but it’s worth saying. How many times have you encountered someone that’s had a huge “blind spot” in their life? They didn’t see the wake they were leaving behind in their life so they “didn’t know what they didn’t know.”

3. We Don’t Want Accountability: This one is straight forward. They don’t ask because they don’t want accountability. If you let someone in on the issues you’re walking through, all of the sudden you’ve let someone “in” and they’re going to ask how you’re doing in that area. Men that are in this place hide their issues because they’ve bought into the lie that they’ve got their secret freedom to do what they want, but deep down they wish they were free from that issue.

The loving gospel of Jesus speaks to everyone one these issues.

1. Level Ground:  Jesus through the beautiful cross exposed all men as being weak and in need of him. If all men are weak without God that means “your normal.” Jesus comes to give men his strength as they bring Him their weaknesses. Owning your weakness is the first step toward repentance.

2. The Divine Mirror:  The Holy Spirit points to all truth. If you ask for God to reveal to you area that you are not seeing. He will: through His word, through others and by His Spirit. Here’s the catch: what will you do with what he shows you? (See #1)

3. Band of Brothers: Every man needs an ally. Someone to be in the foxhole of life. Jesus not only brings men to himself, He brings men together. Allow God to help you step out in bold friendship with another guy to trust, to share, to encourage and to do life together.

Say it with me…”I….need….help”,

Nathan

When I assess a leader or someone that desires to be in leadership, I always ask them what area do you need to grow in. If they can’t give me a clear answer I know right away that the person has a self-awareness issue. They’re blind to their weaknesses as a person. While a person might have some natural  talents and abilities you cannot continue to just run your leadership on these alone.

If you desire to grow in leadership you cannot continue to sit on your hands and wait for a “Super Ninja Mentor” to come ask you if he/she can mentor you. Take ownership of your own development. Here are 3 ways you can make some growth happen:

1. ASK: If you don’t know what areas you need to grow in; ask someone. Go to someone that has seen you in action and ask them to give you some feedback.

2. Grow through reading: This is a great way to have mentors at a distance with some of the best minds in the world.  (Side note: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”)

3. Seek Out Mentorship: Grow through getting together with someone that’s farther along the journey then you are. Maybe take them to lunch or buy them coffee and ask for help. Good leaders want to invest in up and coming leaders like someone invested in them.

Go Grow,

Nathan

>Every now and then I get a blunt reminder that not everyone is part of the Nathan Rouse fan club of life. For someone like me who has in the past looked for validation externally, it can be hard to hear, read, and see that not everyone likes me. I sometimes really wish I was that person that could care less what so and so thinks and just keep moving forward, but for me it’s not that easy. It’s even harder if you’re putting yourself out there in the area of leading, teaching, writing, etc. Whether it’s people that just misunderstand you, whole heartily disagree with your positions or just don’t like you, I believe there are some principles that can help us when receiving criticism.

Don’t get defensive: Set your pride and ego aside and genuinely hear what the person has to say. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Don’t always feel you have to respond right then. I sometimes take notes (if I can) so I slow myself down and process what they’ve said later.

Ask yourself “Is there ANY truth to what’s been shared?”: I believe we can learn from anyone, even if the criticism is not shared in the most mature or kindest fashion.

DO make adjustments if needed: If out of the criticism you see something valuable that needs to be adjusted in yourself or leadership…DO IT! Don’t allow your ego to keep you from learning and growing.

Move Forward: Many people when running into criticism allow it to paralyze their lives, plans and leadership. If you feel what you’re doing is biblical and you’ve prayed, sought wise counsel, and feel this is the best course then stand firm and move forward. Don’t water down your message or plans out of fear of upsetting others when you know it’s the best course of action.

Value the Relationship: Our immediate reaction to someone being critical is to want to withdrawal from that person by either avoiding them or just not talking as much to them. While we cannot control their actions we can control ours. Make it a point to continue to reach out to them even if they might not receive it. The apostle Paul said for us to “live in peace with one another.” We should make every effort to do so!

Go Grow,

Nathan

>Something I hear often from people that have left a church they’ve attended or from those considering leaving their church is “we just feel we’re not being fed.” I’m sorry “What?”. What do you mean you are “not being fed”? It’s almost always people that have had a relationship with God for a long time. A new believer NEVER says, “I’m just not being fed.”

What they mean is that they don’t feel like they are being challenged or nurtured spiritually at a church. Can the local church be failing at this sometimes? Answer: Yes. But my first question when talking to someone who makes this statement is: “What are you doing to feed yourself”? Daily reading of your Bible? Regular intimate prayer time? Are you proactive in your Christian educational growth by attending classes and reading?Are you serving the Lord by serving in your local church or are you just “consuming”?

When we attend church services with the desire to be entertained we’re committing idolatry.

Realize that a pastor speaking on a Sunday is speaking to a wide spectrum of people from those just initially seeking God to those who have known Him for decades. As we grow in our maturity in our walk with God our role should be changing from just consuming at church to serving and leading.

Let’s Grow Together,

Nathan