Category Archives: Storms of life

Step Back to Move Forward

Step back growth

Step back, Re-focus, Move on

On the Australian coat of arms is a picture of an emu and a kangaroo. These animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to our forefathers. Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back. The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail.

I love this illustration; I am all about moving forward, keeping your eyes on the goal, never give up, but I have learned that sometimes you have to take a step to move forward. Everyone, whether it be in business, your personal life, church growth, will hit a slump or get a curve ball. When that happens we get the opportunity to pause and reevaluate. The article below is a great illustration of someone stepping back to move forward.

Efrain Escudero Looking back to move forward
By Jordan Newmark April 08, 2012

When a professional athlete rebounds from a slump or a setback, the easiest conclusion to jump to is that they added something “new”. A change in routine, mindset, workout, technique or anything that has been recently tweaked by the world’s latest and greatest ideas.

For many, this is the case, but for others, like UFC lightweight Efrain Escudero, rediscovering what they did in the past is how they progressed in the future. For “Hecho en Mexico”, the journey back to the Octagon was accomplished by fighting for the reason that originally drew Escudero to the sport: because it was fun. … “I went back and saw my old tapes, my old highlight videos, and what I did in them – I had fun,” states Escudero. “Every time I went to the cage I was having fun. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous, I was ready to have fun. Getting called back up to the UFC, I had fun having to bust my butt again to get back where I belong.” 

Recently, we had a couple of key staff members move on for very positive, personal reasons. When this happened we knew we would have to make some major changes, so we took this opportunity to step back, not to dwell in a pity party, but in keeping our eyes on our goals, to pause, redirect and move forward again. We are truly excited about our new structure and direction. We are expecting great things to happen!

So while we may at times pause and step back our constant direction over time is forward.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Plan backwards as well as forward. Set objectives and trace back to see how to achieve them. You may find that no path can get you there. Plan forward to see where your steps will take you, which may not be clear or intuitive. – Donald Rumsfeld


Embracing the Valleys

down in a valley

Choose to trust in the Valley

Have you ever felt as if you were stuck in mud or worse yet, quick sand. I know I have felt that way many times in my life.  Sometimes, processing the emotion tied to these events in our life is challenging. As a pastor I am allowed to feel down,is it ok for others to see this? I say yes and yes. Does that mean when you’re feeling down or stuck you walk around looking like the world is at an end? No. But it does mean that it is alright to let others know that you are human.  On two separate occasions, I came across these two articles. I feel that they tie together beautifully. The first article is by Jud Wilhite and the second is by Bob Gass.


C. H. Spurgeon is one of my favorite dead-guy pastors. He wrote and led in the 19th Century and wrestled with depression most of his life.
I love this insight from him: “This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry; the cloud is black before it breaks, and overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy. Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a John the Baptist, heralding the nearer coming of my Lord’s richer benison.”
Have you ever thought that your depression or struggle could be preparing you for something greater?

– Jud Wilhite

Refuse to Quit

“In 1902, a 28-year-old aspiriring poet received a rejection slip from the editor of the prestigeous “Atlantic Monthly”. Returned with a batch of poems he submitted was a curt note: “Not one worth publishing.”  That poet’s name was Robert Frost.

In 1905, the University of Berne turned down a dissertation by a young Ph.D., calling it “fanciful and irrelevant.”  The name of that physics student was Albert Einstein.

In 1894, a 16-year-old boy found this note from his speech teacher in Harrow, England, attached to his report:”Hopeless…seems incapable of progress.” That boy’s name was Winston Churchhill.

There’s a message here for you. Even when others offer you no hope or encouragement, refuse to quit! Listen to the words of Jacob, who led King David’s army: “Be strong and let us fight bravely…The Lord will do what is good in his sight,” (2 Samuel 10:12 NIV). Jacob knew that as long as you stay on the battlefield, God can give you victory. But if you quit, what more can He do for you?

Never give up when you know you’re right! Believe that all things work together for good if you just persevere. Don’t let the odds discourage you; God’s bigger that all of them! Refuse to let anyone intimidate you, or deter you from your goals! Fight and overcome every limitation! Remember, every winner – every one of them – faced defeat and adversity; and you’re no different.

-Bob Gass

We all get discouraged at times. We may feel blue, down, depressed. Don’t run from it,or ignore it. Embrace it. Let God do His work in you, and your life.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

When Dealing with Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people

Don't give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard.

Regardless of your profession, you will always deal with difficult people. People that rub you the wrong way, get under your skin and stand on your last nerve. People that bring more joy into your life when they exit the room, then when they enter. The question is not whether you will have these people in your life; the question is how you will handle it?

In dealing with these types of people the objective is not about who is winning or losing or who is right or wrong. The objective is about understanding. Stephen Covey once wrote, “Seek first to understand, before trying to be understood.” These words possess the solution to dealing with difficult people. Because even when a person is wrong, they still felt there was a reason for them to get upset.

Here are a few tips that may help you when dealing with difficult people:

1) Don’t join the fight
Difficult people can often yell, be sarcastic, be critical, and say harsh words to you or about you. Do not join in their game. Don’t give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard. You have to do what’s right even when they do what’s wrong.

2) Let them talk their feelings out

They may need to vent a little and you may need to listen. You may not agree or you may feel they’re in the wrong, but their emotions won’t be satisfied until they’re expressed.

3) Seek to understand
Why is it that they act the way they act? What is it inside of them that creates this problem? Are they insecure? Do they need recognition? Are they hurt from a past relationship? People act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs about themselves. Understand this and it will help you along in the process.

4) Ask them for advice
People love to hear themselves talk and they love it even more if their opinion is being valued. If there is a problem, ask them what they feel the solution is and what steps need to be taken to resolve the problem. Even if their solution makes no logical sense, it will allow them to be involved in the resolving process.

5) Apologize when necessary
You need to take a hard look inside of yourself and discover if there is anything that is creating a problem or causing difficulty for the person. A good leader always looks in the mirror before they look out the window. What part of the problem might you be contributing?  Is there anything that you could own and take responsibility for?

People are your greatest asset and it’s your job as their leader to keep your people moving forward with optimistic energy. People are going to be difficult, personalities are going to clash, because that is a part of life. But, if you will work hard at working with people, then people will work hard for you!

Until next week,

Chris Sonksen

“Instead of giving people a piece of your mind, give them a piece of your positive attitude.”

– Ben Franklin

Choose to look at what is good

flat growth can be good

Flat growth can be a good thing

I came across this blog entry recently by one of our Celera coaches, Jud Wilhite. As I reflect back on our past year at South Hills, Jud’s words really hit home with me. His is a thought that can be applied to any business or church setting. There is so much negative out their right now; so much that creates fear. I choose to look at what is good…


It used to be that when revenue or growth was flat or declining in both the for profit and non-profit sector, we’d ask, “What are we missing? What are we doing wrong?”

As a pastor, these were questions I would ask when the indicators of health that we looked at were showing signs of weakness.

But things are different now. Reality is different. It is hard to even know what questions to ask with the economy in the state that it has been in. Your church or your business may be taking a hard economic hit and may be doing everything right. We’re still adjusting to what the new reality will be.

Everything I read about my local economy in Las Vegas says that if we get to the end of 2010 and we are at the same place we were at toward the end of 2009 economically, we should do back flips for joy.

Everything I read about non-profits says that if your giving for 2010 stays at levels even close to 2009 you should be thankful.
Flat is the new good.

Here at South Hills, 2009 was financially a rough year for us. And yet we continue to see God’s blessing. Lives are changed, needs are met, miracles happen. Often it is in these rougher times that we are able to more clearly see God move in amazing and unexpected ways. God is good. I am thankful.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears”

– Anthony Robbins

Admitting failure is healthy.

Dominos admits failure

Dominos made the choice to embrace their failure and build on it.

One of the hardest things we face as leaders, or as human beings for that matter, is admitting when we are wrong and making the changes needed to correct the failure. In fact, I have never met anyone who likes to let others know when they have messed up. I think it is time we are all more honest about our shortcomings. After all we all mess up sometimes. I mess up, you mess up. We need to stop pretending that we don’t. Yes, this does make us more vulnerable, but it also makes us more approachable. Below is an article from one our Celera Group coaches, Mike Foster, addressing this very point.


Domino’s Pizza sucks and they know it. In a recent survey of all the major pizza companies, Dominos tied for worst tasting with Chuck E. Cheese.

So Dominos made the strategic choice to embrace their failure and build on it. They just started running a national campaign stating the troubling facts and they are making a public commitment to rebuild their reputation.

When we fail, been exposed, or hit rock bottom too many peeps will respond with the 3 D’s: Deny, Dismiss, and Downplay.

I also see too many organizations and ministries do the same thing. They drink their own kool aid and have a slice of their own cardboard pizza all the while downplaying their obvious “suckness.”

But People of the Second Chance see it as an amazing opportunity to be honest about our shortcomings. And then like Dominos we listen, reinvent, and make the necessary changes.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

A leader’s “Cushion of the Sea”

Leaders and storms of life

This Christmas seek refuge from the Storms of Life in "The Cushion of the Sea"

Just for fun I am starting this post with some fun and/or warm and fuzzy Christmas Quotes…

‘Top 10’ List of Favorite Christmas Quotes:

Favorite Christmas Quotes #1
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
-Burton Hillis

Favorite Christmas Quotes #2
The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart.
-Helen Keller

Favorite Christmas Quotes #3
Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.
-Dave Barry

Favorite Christmas Quotes #4
Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.
-Dale Evans Rogers

Favorite Christmas Quotes #5
This, the spirit of Christmas, that forever and ever endures. May it leave its richest blessing in the hearts of you and yours.
-Author Unknown

Favorite Christmas Quotes #6
Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.
-Victor Borge

Favorite Christmas Quotes #7
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.
-Larry Wilde

Favorite Christmas Quotes #8
From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to each other.
-Emily Matthews

Favorite Christmas Quotes #9
The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.
-WC Jones

Favorite Christmas Quotes #10
Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.

On a more serious note, as leaders we are faced with tremendous “storms”. In addition to our own personal storms, we often are called on to weather the storms of the people under our leadership (our team) and the company itself.  And so often at Christmastime these storms seem to escalate.

I recently learned of a term that submarine commanders use.  It is called the “cushion of the sea”.   The “cushion of the Sea” is when a submarine dives to a certain depth in the ocean and it no longer matters what is happening up top. You could have a tsunami.  You could have a hurricane.  You could have a horrible typhoon, but there’s a certain depth that once you get there, you don’t even feel the storm anymore.  There is this same depth in God that if I would just dive into who he is, and let him be my anchor, that I could get so deep into Him, that when the storm comes, I don’t drift.  I don’t fall away.  I don’t despair.  I don’t get discouraged.  I don’t get all wrecked up, because I’m so deep in who he is, that no matter what storm comes my way, I’m going to make it.

That’s my challenge to you.  Dive into God who as Jesus came to this earth 2000 years ago.  He removes what shouldn’t be on your shoulders… anxiety, disappointment, discouragement, fear, worry, stress, and he exchanges that for His peace, but you have got to make that choice.  I’ve got to make that choice.  As a leader, as a husband, as a father, as a friend I need to dive deep enough into who he is that when a storm comes, I just don’t feel it like other people do, because I’m so deep in Him.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
– The Bible – Isaiah 9:6 (New King James Version)