Blog Archives

Reaching out to Bees and Moths

Bee attracted to sweet nectar

Sweet nectar attracts bees, and people too!

Bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light. People are attracted to other people who love them, who are kind to them, who truly accept them for who they are. People who shine the grace filled the light of Christ into their lives.

It is sad to me that I still see an exclusive, sectarian, judgmental, even superior attitude in many Christians and churches. Why is this? Do we as Followers of Christ have it all together? Are we above reproach at all times? I know I’m not, and it seems to me that if we choose to believe that of ourselves, and let others believe that about us, then we are no better than the “Pharisees and Teachers of the Law” of Jesus’ day.

Jesus said, “Come to me.” He didn’t say get it all together, dress a certain way, clean up your language, be a teetotaler, etc., and then come to me. He said come to me and let my love heal you, restore you. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

This whole train of thought came about when I recently read the below article by Jud Wilhite.

Neither Do I Condemn You
By Jud Wilhite

I talked to a guy recently who was really lamenting that fact that more pastors aren’t preaching hellfire, brimstone and condemnation. He felt like the problem with Christianity is that everybody just believes God loves you.
Really? As I talk with people in Las Vegas who are not Christians, as well as many who are, I find lots of people who already believe God hates them or at best tolerates them. Like the guy with the tattoo that said, “God hates us all.” To me this isn’t news, it is assumed.
The good news is that God loved us so much he sent his son to die in our place and take the punishment for sin. This is the greatest picture of love and it implies that yes… God loves us!
It’s like one of my favorite stories in John 8 where we read about a woman whose encounter with Jesus teaches us about guilt, grace, and forgiveness. She was dragged before Jesus by religious leaders who angrily throw her in front of him. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
Stone faces and stones in their hands. The woman must have been so terrified and embarrassed. In moments, she was exposed and hurled onto death row. From secret delight to public humiliation. The accusation – guilty of adultery – punishable by death.
This whole scene is fishy to begin with, though. How does one happen to catch someone in the act of adultery? And it takes two to tango – so where is this man? He is equally guilty. Maybe he was paid off to set her up or he could have been friends with these religious leaders. One thing is for sure – the religious leaders were using this question as a trap so they could have a basis for accusing Jesus (John 8:6). Rather than offering the woman help, they set her up. She had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and her guilt was real.
At first, Jesus did not respond to the religious leaders’ accusations. He bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. This is the only record of Jesus writing. People have speculated that he wrote the sins of the religious leaders gathered around. Some say he wrote Scripture. Maybe he just doodled!
As he knelt, the leaders kept questioning him; they planned to snare Jesus in a catch-22. If he sentenced the woman to death, the Roman government would intervene. They alone determined an execution. If Jesus condoned a stoning, he might lose popularity. The crowd had followed him and had been attracted to his compassion. But if he told the leaders to let her go, they would accuse him of violating an Old Testament law.
They thought they had him cornered. But Jesus rose and spoke one of the most profound statements of Scripture: “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then he knelt down and continued writing.
What followed? Silence. A few awkward moments of anger turning to introspection. The rocks fell to the ground one at a time. By moving the focus off of the woman, Jesus had forced them to see their own guilt. He wasn’t concerned about the woman’s innocence, but rather that she was treated fairly. If she was to be judged, the witnesses were to come forth and be just and impartial (Deuteronomy 19:15-19). And the religious leaders were neither of those things. Jesus was not trying to throw out the process of law and legal procedure, but rather exposing the trial as a sham!
Once everyone had left and Jesus was alone with the woman, he asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replies with, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus declared… “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:10-11).
Beautiful words from the lips of a Savior. He came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). He showed her pure, unmerited, undeserved grace. We are quick to judge, but what accusations could be leveled at us? This story gives us caution. Too often Christians, and churches, shoot their wounded. When people fail, they need to be restored with a heart of compassion. It’s too easy to judge people who don’t have our particular sin struggle.
It’s time to show grace. The same grace Christ offers us, despite all of our short-comings. The grace he offers everyone.

Looking at the idea of Grace verses Judgement from a church growth point of view, if bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light, is your church, are you, projecting sweetness and light in a way that says, “ I’m still on this journey too; lets walk together”? Because remember, Church growth is not about numbers, but it’s about seeking and saving the lost.

Until next Time:

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 30

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Being Thankful at Thanksgiving

Gratitude

Gratitdude 365 Days a Year

I recently read a story about Charles Dickens and a lecture tour he did in America. The story goes that he told one audience that we here in this country are a bit mixed up. He said we should not have one Thanksgiving Day, but that we should have 364 Thanksgiving Days. The one day left over would be used just for complaining and griping; the other 364 to thank God. He said we tend to do the opposite. We complain for 364 days, and then, perhaps, on one day count our blessings.

That left me wondering; how many of us actually take the time to be Thankful even on Thanksgiving? Or do we get so caught up in the turkeys, pies, cranberry sauce and football to remember why we have the day off. Yes, the Pilgrims had a great feast with their new friends, but the reason they had the feast was to express gratitude. First, to God for blessing them with a great harvest, and also, to thank the Native People who had shared their knowledge and resources with them.

If your answer is no, or you are not sure if you show gratitude on Thanksgiving (or any other day) here is some incentives to change some habits…

Ten Years of Research Shows the Benefits of Gratitude

A growing body of research has tied an attitude of gratitude with a number of positive emotional and physical health benefits. A November 2010 article in The Wall Street Journal summarized the research:

Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy, or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. [Studies also show that] kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches, and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and schools than those who don’t.

The researchers concluded, “A lot of these findings are things we learned in kindergarten or our grandmothers told us, but now we have scientific evidence to prove them …. The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table.”
Melinda Beck, “Thank You. No, Thank You,” The Wall Street Journal (11-23-10)

So this year as you sit down to your feast, remember to be thankful, express gratitude for the blessings in your life, and then continue that gratitude for the remaining 364days of the year.

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can thank God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!     —Bob Russell

The Healthy Church and Church Growth

helalthy church growth

A Healthy Church leads to a Growing a Church

Recently our Executive Pastor, Jared Dunn, sent this great email out to the entire staff. Jared has been with us just seven months and we are already seeing great things happen. His insights below on the importance of a healthy church are fantastic and oh so true.

Becoming a HEALTHY Church

Pursuing church health allows us to focus on the legitimate desire to see our church flourish without some of the impure motivations that might trip us up. As we pursue church health, we’ll most likely experience church growth as a by product. This paradigm shift places the priority on keeping our church healthy and trusting God to do the rest. Church health falls easily within our stewardship roles as church leaders. Church growth is God’s department and the attendance of the church will ultimately grow or decline in accordance with His will. Most would agree this makes intuitive sense and yet how many of us live each day as if both health and growth were up to us?
It can be very freeing to focus on what God has called us to do and let Him bring the people.

Keys to Lasting Health and Vitality:

If you’re looking for church growth principles, here’s one: church growth begins with church health, not the other way around. We see in nature that healthy things grow. It’s that simple! This is by no means a new concept, but it’s still true.

But how do you know if you’re a healthy church? What can you use as a measuring stick? Based on extensive field testing and research with thousands of churches and individuals, we’ve compiled these church health categories and use them regularly in helping churches measure and monitor their own church health:

› God’s Empowering Presence
› God-Exalting Worship
› Spiritual Disciplines
› Learning and Growing in Community
› A Commitment to Loving and Caring Relationships › Servant-Leadership Development › An Outward Focus › Wise Administration and Accountability › Networking with the Body of Christ › Stewardship and Generosity

I encourage you to lean toward the following attributes in pursuit of lasting health and vitality:

› Stay Humble.
Humble people listen, humble churches listen. They are open to what God has to say to them and what other people have to say to them. The day we stop listening is the day pride begins to eat away at the framework of our ministry. The key to lasting health and vitality is to stay humble and grounded.

› Be Teachable.
A life-long learner who is submitted to the will of God has nearly limitless potential. Are you open to learning new things? Do you acknowledge your mistakes or cast blame on others? Are you willing to defer to others who have specialized expertise?

› Exude Gratitude.
Stop regularly to count your blessings. Express gratitude to God for all He has done and continues to do in the life of your church. Regularly show appreciation to those around you who are faithfully serving. People rarely complain of being excessively appreciated.

› Remain Open.
Open hands. Open hearts. Open minds. Open people are pliable in God’s hands. Are you open to feedback and change? Do you let people see your humanity and imperfections or do you lead from behind a rigid, got-it-all-together exterior? Are you open to other people’s ideas or do all the good ideas have to originate with you?

In closing, I am absolutely committed to partnering with you to make South Hills a place that is absolutely healthy, a place where we all can flourish in our gifts and calling, and grow into all that God has for us. I believe in you and thank God for the privilege to serve you!

Much love, respect, and blessings,

Jared Dunn

Until next Time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God’s character as his character has been revealed in his Word.” – Mark Denver

Bill Gates and the power of Vision

Bill Gates Vision

Bill Gates is a man of Vision

Vision is Powerful! This excerpt from my new book, Handshake, highlights the life of Bill Gate and his incredible Vision. He is a man with a highly focused,with a constant vision and an adaptable strategy… What are your thoughts about vision?

Bill Gates and the Choice of Vision

Over the past several years computers have taken the world by storm.  Business people, parents, students and children are using them.  We use them to store information, write letters, keep track of finances, design graphics and send information.  They started out filling entire rooms, but now some can literally fit in the palm of your hand.  And when you think of computers you most likely think of one individual, Bill Gates…

…With a reported fortune of $54 billion, Gates retained the top spot in 2001 Forbes magazine survey of the 400 wealthiest Americans. In 1994, he married Melinda French, a Microsoft employee, and they now reside in a 40,000 square foot home on Lake Washington.  Taking after his mother, Gates claims that he will give away the majority of his fortune through charitable contributions.  His largest contribution came in August of 1999 when he donated $6 billion to his charitable foundation, the largest donation ever made by a living individual.  Recently, it was reported that if Bill Gates wanted to spend his fortune in the next 40 years, he would have to spend $2.74 million every day.  (I sure wish I could help him!)

Bill Gates is a man with vision and the entire world has benefited.  “It is the idea (vision) that unites people in the common effort, not the charisma of the leader,” writes Robert Greenleaf in The Leadership Crisis.  These words could not be truer for Bill Gates.  He is not a charismatic leader but his vision is big and people follow it.

In this chapter you will learn how to create a plan for your vision

Step 1 – Dream without reservation
Step 2 – Put your dreams/vision in writing
Step 3 – Make a plan for your dream/vision
Step 4 – Be committed to do whatever it takes

Your will also learn the step-by step instructions for creating your own personal vision.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“There is something magical about vision.” – Anthony Robbins

Coach John Wooden and the Choice of Character

Coach John Wooden - Character

Coach John Wooden was a man of great character

We are getting closer to the release of my new book Handshake. Chapter Six of Handshake is a tribute to the late, great John Wooden. He was an inspiration to thousands during and beyond his several decades of coaching. His character set a precedent to all who knew him. I look forward to your comments.

Coach John Wooden – Character

Coach John Wooden set a standard for a winning tradition.  He has left a legacy of coaching, teaching and motivating others to become everything they possibly could be.  He is a leader and he knows how to rally people to success.

However, there is one characteristic that has set him apart; one fundamental belief that has served as a pillar in his personal and professional life.  Simply put… Coach John Wooden is a person of character.  He was quoted as saying, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are; your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Think about it for a moment.  There are so many attributes that you could consider when speaking of Coach John Wooden.  You could talk about his winning tradition, the need for possessing a positive attitude, or team building.  You could easily talk about the importance of adding value to others, and lifting the lid of potential to those of whom you associate.  The list could go on and on regarding the qualities found in Coach John Wooden and the lessons we could learn about success.  However, the one that stands out above the rest is character.  You see it’s his character that has become the foundation by which all the other successes have been built.

In this Chapter you will learn the benefits of choosing character as a foundation for your life. Benefits such as…

1) Clear conscience
2) Builds trust
3) Higher quality of relationships
4) Greater success


Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character”
— Warren Bennis

Holding onto Christmas Joy

Focus on Joy

Focus on the things that bring you joy

To continue a tradition that I started last year here are some fun and/or sentimental Christmas quotes:

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars, and open a jar of it every month.”
– Harlan Miller

“There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions.”  – Bill McKibben

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold; everything is softer and more beautiful.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.”
– Bernard Manning.

“You know you’re getting old, when Santa starts looking younger. “ – Robert Paul

“The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” – Johnny Carson

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
– Hamilton Wright Mab

“He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree.”
– Sunshine Magazine

Holding onto Christmas Joy

We all have circumstances in life that have the potential to rob us of joy.  Whether it be personal, career, business, political, etc. we all face things that if allowed can shift our focus to things that will rob our joy. Princeton University did an extensive study in 2004 that showed that most joy comes from focusing on what you already have rather than what you lack.

I don’t know what circumstance you’re facing.  I have no idea, but I do know this.  You have a choice.  Is the situation going to rob you of joy?  Are you going to let it steal from you?  Consider Philippians 4:8 which says, “And, now, dear brothers and sisters one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  I can be full of joy for this reason, because I can focus on what I have, rather than what I lack.  I can focus on a God who no matter what I go through, He will always be right there with me.

I heard a story a while back about a missionary who lived in China. The missionary heard about a village that was tormented by a gang of bandits.  The bandits went into the village and they burned everything. They burned, they beat up, they raped, and they ruined. It was an ugly, ugly scene.

The Missionary decided he wanted to go there and hope and pray with the people. When he arrived he found a little hymn book with some Christian songs in it, and he said it was all burned except for one line on one page.  And it said this… “Joy to the world.  The Lord has come.” He showed that to the pastor of that village, and the people of the village all began to sing the song together.

He said tears rolled down his face, because of this reason; he said, “I could not believe that these people would sing out, ‘Joy to the world.  The Lord has come.  Let earth receive her King.'”

He said, “Here it is.  They’ve been robbed, raped, some murdered, and yet they’re still in the middle of it saying ‘God, we’re not going to let the circumstances push us away.  We’re going to let the circumstances pull us closer to you.'”

Here’s my challenge to you is this; don’t sell your joy for anything.  Don’t let anything derail you from joy. Commit to hanging on to Christ; decide that you will not sell Him out for anything.  We’re all going to go through circumstances, it’s how you respond to it that makes all the difference.  Let every single circumstance push you closer to God.  Remember this… the Lord is my shepherd, and he’s not going to let you go.

Merry Christmas!

Until Next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  – Philippians 4:4

My New book…HandShake

Handshake

Let your handshake reflect confidence

I am currently in the finishing stages for a new book titled Handshake: What the Great do that Others Don’t. As I stated, we are in the finishing stages, and plan to have the book completed early in January 2011. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing excerpts with you from the book, and I would love your feedback.

The book highlights different characteristics or choices associated with “the great” by examining the biographies of various highly successful people. Today’s excerpt is a glance into Chapter One and the reason why the book is titled Handshake. I sincerely look forward to your comments.

… After a few months of working with Brown’s Janitorial, my boss asked if I would be willing to work on a Saturday morning.  Needing the extra money, I said yes.  I met my boss at his home, and together we got in his truck and began to drive to a different location.  I had no idea where we were going until we pulled up to this large home and I asked him, “What are we doing here?”  He responded “This is Frank Colapinto’s house, and he hired us to help him move some items out of his garage today.”   Up to this point I hadn’t been thrilled about working on a Saturday, but knowing I was about to meet Frank Colapinto made it all worth it.

We got out of the truck, and Mr. Colapinto greeted us at the front of the garage.  He shook the hand of my boss and then looked to me.  He stuck out his hand, and I quickly responded by putting my hand out to greet him as well.  As we proceeded with the handshake he looked at me and said, “Frank Colapinto.”  I had never had anyone greet me by saying their first and last name, and I also have never heard anyone say their name with such confidence, self assurance and pride.  It was just a “Handshake” but it changed my life forever.

He showed us a few things that he wanted done and then he left to run some errands.  The man I had admired from a distance said only two words to me but I will never forget them.  Not necessarily what he said, but how he said it.  A few hours later, after we were done with the work, I remember driving in the truck and thinking to myself, “could this be it…could this be the reason for his success?”  Could it be that the only thing that separated Frank Colapinto from many others was confidence?  Can something that small make that big of a difference?  It was the only conclusion I could come up with, so I did it.  I decided right then that from now on, when people asked me my name or I was introducing myself to someone I would say with confidence, “Chris Sonksen.”

For some strange reason that handshake made me believe that greatness was possible for anyone who wanted it.  That it wasn’t reserved for the elite or the upper class, but that what separated the great from everyone else wasn’t necessarily talent or skill, but it was choice.  For Frank Colapinto it was the choice of confidence that he displayed and a belief in himself.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

Peter T. Mcintyre quotes

“What are you Learning?”

 

keep learning

Leaders Keep Learning

 

I have said it many times, and I will keep saying it… if you want to be a great leader you must be a great learner.  I personally love to be stretched by learning something new. I find it boring to do the same thing over and over, never adding new knew knowledge or setting out on new adventures. Learning and doing new things keeps life fresh interesting, and exciting. It keeps your brain alert, and your body invigorated. Below is an article from Dan Reiland regarding continual learning, and while his focus is on church leaders the principles apply to anyone who wants to grow as an individual or as a leader.

“What Are You Learning?”

A couple days ago, I changed from a PC to a Mac. I didn’t get any younger or cooler, and maybe became a little slower, for now. But I have increased what I’m learning – and discovering a new way to do things. That alone has great value.

Going to a Mac after a PC is not like learning to ride a horse for the first time, it’s more like learning to ride bareback after being very comfortable in your favorite saddle for a long time. It’s a wild ride a first, a lot of slipping and sliding, with potential to fall, but there are some new freedoms that are pretty cool. (Not to mention I haven’t hit a blue screen or had a freeze up of any kind.) I suspect that in time, I may find myself in a comfy “Mac-Saddle” if I don’t continue to learn, so that’s what I intend to do. That’s the secret. It’s not PC or Mac, contrary to the propaganda, it’s whether or not you keep learning.

I think we all like comfortable saddles, and learning takes us out of our comfort zone. After 25 plus years of leadership I could slip into a zone that allows me believe that this is the season of my life to invest what I know in others. Part of that is true and good, but if I don’t continue to learn, I will quickly become of little value to any leaders I pour into.

Three important questions about learning:

1. How you are learning?

I live in a suburb about forty miles northeast of Atlanta and there are several ways to get there from my house. Its difficult to say which route is best because a number of factors affect that choice. Anything from time of day/traffic patterns to special events like a Falcons game can have a huge impact on my ability to get to Atlanta. So I like as many options as possible. The same is true for how you and I learn. The more options the better.

In the context of this article, I’m not referring to your preferred learning style such as visual, auditory or kinesthetic. I’m talking about the ways you approach and experience learning, and the life contexts within which you learn.

Do you resist or embrace learning? Don’t answer too quickly. I talk with church leaders on a frequent basis that say they love to learn, but when I ask them what they are learning new today, they fumble for an answer. I’m won’t say these leaders openly resist learning, but they resist by default. They haven’t created time and space to learn, so therefore, in effect, they have resisted learning.

Here are some ideas to help you learn.

• Get pushed.

Create a reason that forces you to learn. I asked Tony Mimms, our IT Wizard at 12Stone Church, to cut off my life-support to my PC and force me into the deep end of the Mac learning pool. I was trying to tip-toe into the shallow end and learn my new Mac when I had a few minutes here and there, but I never had time. Once all my files were transferred to my Mac, it was show time! I had to learn! In this case I pushed myself, but I also have a couple guys on staff that are eager to teach me the secrets of the dark side – I mean, how to navigate successfully in Mac World!

Coaches are needed to push you in areas you need to learn, especially in leadership. Do you have a leadership coach? Is there someone or several people you can, on occasion, have coffee with, call or email, who can “push” you in your leadership so you have to learn? Lot’s of people can simply answer your questions, and that is helpful, but you don’t learn as much that way. Being pushed to learn (required / held accountable, challenged) by someone who knows how to guide you is transformational and truly invaluable.

• Try something new.

Experiment. It can be as simple as taking a new route to drive across town or eating at a restaurant you’ve never eaten at before. You will always learn something new if you have your eyes open. The experiment can also be complex, such as launching a new way to connect new guests to your church or a new approach to small group ministry. Driving new routes and eating at new restaurants can be done randomly and spur of the moment. But obviously something like a new method for doing small groups must be done with strategic attention and planning. But all these things are, essentially, experiments. In other words, you aren’t locked in for life if it doesn’t work. The key outcome is what did you learn? Success is the goal, but whether success or failure, what you learn is what matters most.

• Rub the right shoulders.

This isn’t about giving someone a back massage. Rub shoulders with people who love to learn and continually learn. One of the things I love about John Maxwell is that is he is a voracious learner. When John travels, from current business culture to ancient history, he’s learning all the time. John is always asking questions, reading, absorbing, and processing. I love it when he comes back and asks me, “Did you know” questions, and then of course tells great stories. I enjoy the stories, and love learning from what he’s learning.

You know the difference between leaders who continue to do things the same way year after year after year; and the leaders who are constantly doing research and development, trying new things and learning daily. Rub the right shoulders!

2. What you are learning?

My family has played trivia pursuit for years. It’s fun but after awhile there is a limit to how many useless factoids we can endure. At some point we all want to connect with information that matters. The literal content or substance of what you are learning makes a difference. You have limited amounts of time, and I’m sure that you, like me, want to make it count.

• Strategic focus.

What are you learning that aligns with achieving your goals? What are you learning that helps you become a better leader? What are you doing that is new and improved in such a way that advances your church and helps those around you become more effective leaders?

• Creative energy.

What are you learning that is fun and keeps the creative juices flowing? I’m taking guitar lessons, something I’ve been doing off and on for a long time. One teacher popped off toward the end of a frustrating lesson (I just couldn’t get it) saying: “I sure hope you preach good!” OK, so I’m not a gifted musician, but it allows my creative side to stay fresh and alive. It’s a creative learning outlet that is fun and allows me to think in a very different realm.

• Intentional effort.

What are you learning that requires intentional effort, but it’s not mandatory that you master it? In other words, it’s not a required part of your job. For me, its technology. When the 12Stone staff read this part, they will snicker and make tons of wise cracks. Technology is not my specialty, but I’m going after it! The interesting thing about any learning pursuit is that you quickly demythologize the subject. When you look behind the curtain you realize there is so much that is attainable if you will make the effort. There are, of course, profound and complex levels of technology that I will never understand, but I don’t need to. Guys like our Tony Mimms, Steve Gimbert, Matt Haff, Doug Irvine and Josh Cash can lead the way! These guys, and others, are the wizards behind the curtain, and help the rest of us learn!

3. What you do with what you learn?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Application is everything. If you don’t use it, even by a lateral connection, what’s the point? When you attend a conference, for example, how did you learn, what did you learn and how are you applying it? Let’s be candid, if you are not applying it, why did you go? We live in an age with overwhelming amounts of information, but you don’t need it all. Here’s my suggestion. Try a little less input and a little more application and experience the difference.

Today I found iPhoto and Photo Booth on my Mac – next is Garage Band . . . soon I will be dangerous!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.  ~Chinese Proverb

An Example of Encouragement

Tony Curtis encouragment

Tony Curtis was a great encourager

As leaders and as human beings I cannot stress enough the importance of encouraging the people in your life. Your words have the power to lift people up in a far greater capacity than you may may have ever imagined. They literally can breathe life. I encourage you to actively seek ways to encourage each person in your life. Your spouse, your kids, parents, friends, business partners,staff, the grocery clerk, the waiter, the guy who changes your tires, the flight attendant, they all crave encouragement. I am not talking about empty flattery, I am talking about true compliments and encouragement. What are you grateful for in that person? What do they do well? What do they do that makes your life better?  It may not always be easy to do with every person, but if you look deep enough you will always find something good to say.  Below is article by Jud Wilhite regarding the amazing lesson of encouragement he relieved from the late Tony Curtis. encourager

TONY CURTIS

Tony Curtis, the legendary actor, passed away in the Las Vegas area this week at 85. I only had a 15 minute snapshot of him, but it still inspires me to this day.

Two Christmases ago after a service, he came backstage to our green room at Central in Vegas. He wanted to see me. I came around the corner, and he grabbed my arm and pulled me down to him in is wheelchair. He told me two or three positive things that he loved about the message. He told me I had a great smile on the platform that put people at ease and helped them open their hearts. He told me I touched him, and he thanked me.

Then the host/MC walked through for that weekend. He grabbed him and told him a couple very specific things that he liked. Then he turned to some volunteer band members and remembered specific things they had done during the service and praised them personally, legitimately, uniquely. THIS IS TONY FREAKING CURTIS. He’s made about a zillion movies like Some Like It Hot and Spartacus.

We only saw him for 15 minutes, and he had poured so much courage into each of us. He gave us life by his words. He never made it about him for one moment. It was all about loving and encouraging others. When he left, I prayed that God would make me more like that.

It is amazing the kind of impact you can have in 15 minutes when you make it about others and pouring into them. Find somebody to encourage today!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”  -Proverbs 16:24
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”
-Jim Stovall

Higher Ground Becomes Shaky Ground Without the Balance of Solid Ground – Part 1

time in balance

It is important to keep your life in balance

Excerpt from In Search of Higher Ground

I am one who believes in the human spirit, and that everyone is loaded with potential and has the ability to accomplish great things. I believe in people’s abilities so much, that I have dedicated my life to helping individuals discover the possibilities that lie within each person. However, I must admit that over the years I have met many people that have pursued their personal Higher Ground, and have reached a level of success that many others would desire, but they are not happy. They have a business that’s thriving, financial security, and have many personal achievements, but their life still seems to be lacking. Why is that? Why is it that some people seem to have it all, but still seem to have nothing?

Probably because most people connect the word “success” with the word “money.” When you see someone who is financially independent, there is an automatic feeling that the person is successful. There are a lot of enjoyable things that money can buy, but success cannot be limited to these things. Success must include the things money cannot buy.

It has been said that money can:

1. Buy a bed, but not sleep,
2. Buy affection, but not love,
3. Buy company, but not friends,
4. Buy a wedding, but not a marriage, and
5. Buy a house, but not a home.

I was recently having lunch with a friend who shared with me some sad news regarding a mutual friend. We’ll call this friend of mine “Mike.” Mike has had a great level of success in many areas of his life. He was not born into a wealthy family, but decided at a young age that he was going to make something of himself. In his early 20s he began working for someone else on the weekends while running a small retail business. Over a few years, this business began to grow in such a way that he was able to quit his weekend job and devote himself entirely to his business. He worked hard, dedicated his time and efforts, and year after year it continued to pay off in great dividends.He expanded his small shop and began to build his own place. Soon he was operating his business from a 35,000 square foot shop in which he began to see his business hit a new level of success. Over time he diversified into multiple projects including real estate, and each project brought him success. Everything he touched turned to gold. Mike was an entrepreneur and an icon in the city in which he lived. The sad news that was shared with me at lunch was that Mike had been diagnosed with a disease, and his chance for survival slim. After being  told this news from my friend, I drove back to my office and began to think about his life.

Death always causes you to think about life.

I asked myself, “Was Mike a success?” Then I realized, you can’t answer that question until you define success. So first I thought about his finances. Undoubtedly he is a success when it comes to money. He is a multimillionaire and has enjoyed all the things that life has to offer.  Then I began to think about his personal life. He had one failed marriage and his current marriage is on the rocks. Mike seemed to have worked so hard to make a living that he had forgotten to make a life.

I began to also think about his children. Each of them have shared in their own personal struggles. Drug abuse, illegitimate children, a low standard of values and morals are all part of the story behind Mike’s children. I am not saying that Mike was a bad parent or that his children don’t love him. What I am saying is that, to a certain degree, Mike did not fulfill his parenting obligation by raising his children with a deep level of character. Regarding any spiritual awareness, there has been none in his life and nothing passed on to his children.

Then I thought about the disease that is taking over his body and I couldn’t help but wonder what words would be said at his funeral if he should die. I wondered about the legacy and heritage he will leave. Has there been anything done in his life that will outlast him?

Now that you have a clearer picture of Mike, what do you think? Does the word “money” make him successful?

Don’t get me wrong, money is a great thing and can be used for great purposes, but you cannot classify money as the means for success. You see, Mike had a dream. He wanted to create a successful business and make lots of money, and he did. However, one thing Mike forgot to do was to keep his feet on “solid ground” while reaching for Higher Ground. Mike had forgotten the golden rule behind the principle of Higher Ground. The rule is, “Higher Ground becomes Shaky Ground without the balance of Solid Ground.”

Consider the courageous people called tightrope walkers. They stand on a thin rope suspended high in the air, and they walk across from one side to the other. The key to the entire success of that tightrope walker is one word… “balance.” His entire life is dependent on his ability to keep things in balance. The same is true for anyone seeking Higher Ground. Their entire success is depending on this one word:… “balance.”

Imagine if you will a large wagon wheel that has various spokes coming out from the center. The ability to make a wheel roll properly lies in the balance. The strength and success of that wheel relies on the spokes being in balance. Let’s pretend now that your life is that wheel and the spokes in the wheel represents various areas in your life. These areas include personal, financial, relational, physical, emotional,professional, mental, and spiritual. The success of your life depends on your ability to be successful in each of these areas. In this chapter I want to break down the first four elements for you and provide some practical ideas that will help you raise the bar of excellence in each category.

PERSONAL

The first spoke in your wheel is the spoke we call Personal. This is your character, this is who you are when no one is looking. It is the premise of your true success as a person, leader, worker, spouse, parent or friend.

Some people may think character doesn’t matter. If it’s only what you are when no one is looking, then who cares? It won’t affect my business, my family, my finances, nothing will be affected by character because it’s who I am when no one is looking. Nothing could be further from the truth! If character doesn’t matter, then tell it to the person who just found out their spouse is having a secret affair. Or tell it to the person who just discovered their accountant has been skimming from the top, or that their business partner has left the country with all their money. I promise you this, character matters to those people.

Remember, there are many things in life that others can take from you, a family, a fortune or even health, but character is the one thing that cannot be taken from you…only you can give it away.

FINANCIAL

The next spoke on your wagon wheel is Financial. Finances are a big part of our society and are often used as a measuring stick for where you’re at in life. Finances are not everything…but they are something. Your Higher Ground may not include finances. It may be to raise wonderful children, to learn a second language, to develop as a leader, or to be the founder of a non-profit organization. Whatever your personal Higher Ground is, you must include the powerful benefit of properly managing your finances. I strongly encourage you to discuss your Financial future with an expert. Develop a plan for your future, your retirement, college education, to pay off your home, and any other dream that requires finances. You might be saying, “But I don’t make a lot of money.” It doesn’t take as much as you think. Sit down with Financial planner and you will discover the power of budgeting your finances and consistently investing for your future.

RELATIONAL

We now arrive at the third spoke in the wheel that will help keep your life in balance, your relationships. All the personal success in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have someone to share it with. Unfortunately, people pursue their personal Higher Ground at the cost of their relationships. Marriages lose their romance, children lose touch with their parents, and families become fragmented under the guidelines of success at any cost. We are a society who is in desperate need of turning our attention to the family. What good does it do to have all the money in the world if your marriage is failing, or to have a thriving and successful business at the price of becoming more of a guardian than a parent?

In the course of my life I have seen people speak with deep regret. Regret for not nurturing their marriage, regret for not spending enough time with their children and regret for not having enough people in their lives they call “friends.” Although relationships are only one spoke in your wheel of life, it is an important one. Keep your life in balance by keeping in mind what really matters!

PHYSICAL

Let me just say that I am by no means the expert on Physical condition, but I do try my best to stay in shape and eat right. I have got a long way to go, but I am working on it. One thing I will say is that exercising and eating right does affect your approach and perspective on life. It gives you more energy, boosts your self-confidence, and causes you to embrace and enjoy life at a higher level. Oddly enough I seem to get more done with less hours on the days I work out.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

Quote of the Day:

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others,
to leave this world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have  lived, this is to have succeeded.”   – Ralph Waldo Emerson