Daily Must-Dos

Following up on yesterday’s post, Personal Growth Plan, I’ve been thinking about the things I think I need to be doing (virtually) every day (while similar to a post I wrote a year and a half ago, Routines, this post focuses more on the *everyday* routines).

I came up with a list of five daily must-dos …

  • TWG: Time With God (prayer and Scripture, primarily)
  • TWF: Time With Family (quality and quantity time)
  • Reading & Listening (leadership, ministry, and/or spiritual formation)
  • Sabbath Time (I’ve heard that the root word for Sabbath means, “to catch your breath”)
  • Exercise (walking and weights)

I certainly haven’t mastered these five daily must-dos. And I’m not even sure it’s possible to do all five equally well everyday. Some days it’s hard enough just to do most of ’em! But it’s a *reminder* of the important things that I need to be doing, that if done as consistently as possible, will make a big difference over the long haul.

TWG keeps me connected and growing in my relationship with God. TWF strengthens family relationships (including the ongoing bonding with Ethan and Sarah) and maintains a healthy living environment. Reading (as well as listening to leaders/communicators via podcasts or DVDs) stirs my heart and mind and also keeps me learning and growing. Daily Sabbath time (perhaps my biggest challenge on this list) will provide some healthier balance and will make the other daily practices more effective. And exercise releases stress and gives me energy (I include “weights” here even though it’s been a missing component since bringing Ethan home two years ago; hoping to change that soon, though); exercise creates a healthier environment where learning and growing can happen more effectively (in other words, it fills my tank; see Tank-Filling Activities).

What are your daily must-dos?

Personal Growth Plan

I have written about the value of learning and personal growth before. See Shaping a Learning Culture, Lifelong Learning, and even Still Learning from last week.

One of the people I’ve heard talk about having a personal growth plan is John Maxwell. I don’t remember where he writes about it — maybe Developing the Leader Within You or The Success Journey — but the idea is that learning isn’t accidental; it has to be intentional!

John Wesley was a huge proponent of personal growth. I remember reading somewhere that he challenged his preachers to read/study five hours per day. That’s pretty intense!

And as I’ve quoted before, Proverbs 19.27 says, “If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know” (CEV).

Recently, I jotted down the things we try to do intentionally for personal growth, including …

  • Books, journals, and online resources.
  • Leadership Summit DVDs (we recently picked up a few collections from previous years on clearance from Willow Creek).
  • Various continuing education opportunities for leadership/ministry development (next up is the How to Reach Unchurched People in Your Community in a few weeks).
  • The Provisional Membership process that we’re in is a required part of our growth plan.
  • Audit Classes at Asbury Theological Seminary (probably after ordination in 2011).

Personal growth is important for everyone. It’s vital for followers of Jesus, who are “disciples” (a.k.a. students, learners, apprentices). And personal growth is absolutely imperative for leaders, too. I’ve always loved Rick Warren’s statement that “Leaders are learners; the moment you stop learning, you stop leading!”

In the next few days (hopefully), I plan to write a couple posts on (1) Daily Routines (those few things that I believe I must practice every day (or at least most every day), and more immediately, (2) a specific growth plan for the season of Lent, which begins next week on Ash Wednesday.

I realize some of us are more planners than others, but what do you do to make sure that you continue to grow?

Ethan’s Second Gotcha Day

Two years ago today, while in Seoul, Korea, we welcomed Ethan into our lives. Two years ago, we “got” Ethan. In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s *only* been two years — it feels like he’s been part of us so much longer!

Ethan began the day with a couple chocolate chip muffins, blowing out two candles on the first one. Then, we went to Chuck E. Cheese in Altoona where we ate pizza and played games.

This year, we were able to give a little more explanation to Ethan on the importance of the day than last year (last years posts: Gotcha Day and Gotcha Day in Pittsburgh).

At the end of the day, we read a new book we got for Ethan, In Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado.

Finish Strong

On Super Bowl Sunday at Centre Grove, I focused on the theme, “Finish Strong,” wearing the Saints’ Finish Strong t-shirt from Finish Strong. “Finish Strong” was the motivating theme for the New Orleans Saints this season. But it’s also an important theme for followers of Jesus!

Here’s a sampling of sports references from Scripture …

1 Corinthians 9.24-27
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Philippians 3.13-14
13 … but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

2 Timothy 4.7-8
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Do you hear the drivenness in Paul’s language? He’s driven to finish strong! The truth is, nobody accidentally finishes strong. It takes drive to overcome one of our biggest enemies: apathy/complacency.

Only the driven finish strong!

If there was a Hall of Fame for the people of faith, Hebrews 11 includes a list of those who might be among the first enshrined into the Hall, people like Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Enoch, as well as a number of others.

In Hebrews 12.1-3, the writer suggests that this list of incredible people of faith ought to inspire us to finish strong.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12.1)

Of course, the greatest example of someone finishing strong is Jesus. The writer adds …

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12.2-3)

All these people of faith, as well as Jesus, himself, should inspire us to stay the course and finish strong. It takes motivation to strip off every weight that slows us down, to run with endurance, and to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we may finish strong!

Saints’ coach, Sean Payton, used this idea of a “crowd of witnesses” the night before the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Coach Payton projected “great moments in sports history went by in rapid-fire order” while Aerosmith’s “Dream On” blared through the speakers.

King describes it …

Babe Ruth homering, Michael Jordan scoring, Pete Maravich floating, Roberto Clemente fielding, Tiger Woodsfist-pumping, Eddie Robinson coaching, Wayne Gretzky scoring, Jim Valvano leaping, Larry Bird shooting, Muhammad Ali punching, the Bears Super Bowl–shuffling, Doug Flutie passing, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team celebrating—on and on, as goose bumps rose to the pulsating chorus: ‘Dream on, dream on, dream on….’

And when the lights came up, there was Ronnie Lott, a four-time Super Bowl champion … and said, ‘What I wouldn’t give to have the chance to go out there, just one more time, to do what you’re going to do tomorrow. To become a champion again.’

The images and stories of those who’ve gone before us have a powerfully motivating effect on us.

On Sunday evening, the New Orleans Saints definitely finished strong. They were outscored in the first quarter (they were outscored in the first quarter all season), 10-0, but in the other three quarters, they dominated, 31-7, to win the championship game, 31-17.

I think it was the “finish strong” attitude that made the difference in championship game.

During the regular season, when the Colts were 14-0, they stated that a perfect season wasn’t one of their goals (according to team president, Bill Polian, having the longest regular season win streak and the most wins in the decade were more important to them :roll:).

Incidentally, resting players hasn’t worked out real well for the Colts, historically. As I understand it, the one year they won the Super Bowl was the year they couldn’t rest their starters at the end of the season because they had to play all 16 games to get into the playoffs. It could be argued that because of that, they maintained their momentum/intensity until the end and finished strong that year. Peyton Manning’s post-season record is now 9-9.

On the other hand, the Saints, at 13-0, publicly stated that they were going for a perfect season. While they didn’t achieve that goal, that finish strong mentality was evident.

People who exhibit tremendous drive inspire us to be driven, too. As the Scriptures illustrate, we should learn from their example and be equally driven in our quest to follow, and be like, Jesus!

Still Learning

Shortly after we graduated from seminary in the mid-1990s, while serving in our first church, we found ourselves using the phrase “learning and growing” to describe what we were experiencing at the time. It’s a phrase that has stuck with us ever since!

This morning, I was explaining to Ethan why our responses to he and Sarah are different when they do things they shouldn’t do (e.g., climbing up on the TV stand and/or touching the TV, etc.). I essentially told Ethan that Sarah is still learning.

In a somewhat somber, matter-of-fact tone, Ethan responded, “I’m still learning” (he added that he was still learning to talk as well).

Ethan is indeed learning. Some good things, of course. But some not-so-good things, too, like the fact that Sarah’s crying and/or screaming seems to work with Mommy and Daddy (why shouldn’t it work for him?). And some funny things. Apparently, we’ve used the phrase, “This is not a toy” with Ethan somewhere along the way. Sometimes, when Sarah is playing with one of his toys (like a toy hammer or any number of other things), Ethan will sometimes say, “No, Sarah. This is not a toy!”

For almost as long as we’ve had Sarah, Ethan has been saying things like, “I’m growing up!” or “I’m getting bigger.” One morning, Ethan came into our room and climbed into bed. He said to me, “You have a big nose.” Then he said, “Mommy has a bigger nose.” But apparently, he wasn’t comparing, because he added, “I have a bigger nose, too!” 😆

Sarah is learning new things as well. One of her favorite things is watching Ethan. It will be interesting to watch her development, to see how having an older, active brother impacts her development. One thing I’ve noticed is that when Sarah crawls up the steps, she’ll often slap the step in front of her with one or both of her hands two or three times. Ethan showed her that once, which came from something he and I did a few times back when he was crawling up steps.

Anyway, ongoing learning is important. I love Proverbs 19.27, which says …

If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.

We’re all still learning and growing. But this week, we’re simply hoping everyone (i.e., Mommy, Sarah, and Ethan, so far) gets well and over their colds, etc.