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Ministering from a Place of Rest

be still

Take time to rest

At our most recent Celera Roundtable, one of the coaches, Dave Stone, was speaking to us about “ministering from a place of rest.”  Picture this, a room full of pastors from across the country, most of them lead pastors, hearing the passionate plea to take time to rest. If you are a pastor of a growing church, or any church for that matter, you know the irony in that.  Dave broke down several areas that he takes time for rest in his own life. First, he makes sure to take a day off every week. Not a half day or a few hours here and there, a whole day. That was the first area of conviction for me. Then he made the jaw dropping statement that he, Dave Stone, pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, takes the entire month of July off! You could hear the collective gasp in the room.  Not only does he take the month off, his board of Elders forbids him to even step foot on campus during that month.

Some time after that conference I was speaking to my executive Pastor, Jared Dunn, and it was mutually decided (actually Jared insisted) that I take the month of July off. After some initial reluctance, I agreed. So for the first time in my life I took an entire month off from work, and it was fantastic. I had some great time with my family, and a lot of great time to rest and gather my strength (physical, mental and spiritual) for the push ahead.

I am back now and ready to take off running. I came across this article on Focus on the Family, and I wanted to share a portion of it with you. You can read the entire article at Focus on the Family. These are principles that can be applied not just to pastor or people in church leadership, but in every area of life.

The pastor’s need to rest and retreat

Written by Jerry Ritskes

When you get asked how you are, do you find yourself proudly (but with some frustration) answering that you are “busy”? There is a world to win, programs to organize, people to train and a church to maintain. No wonder ministry is so busy. We are short on finances, people and time. It seems the only way to make it is to work a little bit harder.

Eugene Peterson, in his book The Contemplative Pastor, makes this almost absurd statement “that the adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a  banker.” Can he really mean this? Isn’t busyness a sign that I’m making a difference for the kingdom? Isn’t it proof that I’m being a good and faithful steward? I don’t think so. I believe that busyness takes pastors away from what they are truly called to do.

Driven to busyness

I have often been so busy with “doing ministry” that I have no time to be with God. How silly is this? Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, identifies this as one of the top 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality – “doing for God instead of being with God.” Driving ourselves into busyness could be a sign that we’re trying to earn God’s approval, counter poor self-worth, quieten the negative self-talk we’ve been listening to, or we feel that saving the world is our responsibility. For whatever reason, we keep driving ourselves into doing more – and it makes truly hearing God’s voice very difficult.

Sabbath

The principle of the Sabbath is extremely important. Sabbath is a time to stop our work, not when it is completed, but when we need to stop. It is pacing our lives and recognizing our human limitations.  Sabbath frees us from the need to obtain God’s acceptance by being productive. It is resting from our efforts, and trusting God’s.

Our congregations not only look to us to teach them with our sermons, they are looking to us to as an example of what it means to walk with Christ. When they see us going “mach 10 with our hair on fire,” they interpret that as what a believer should do. We inadvertently teach that it is somehow not enough to enjoy being a child of God.  As a pastor, when I take time to slow down or even stop, this reaffirms to others that “there is a Saviour, but it is not me.”
Listening

I love the word-picture Ruth Haley Barton gives us in Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Our lives are like a jar of river water – agitated and murky. As soon as you stop moving the jar and let it sit, the sediment begins to settle and it becomes clearer. When we take time for quiet, the sediment in our lives begins to settle, and the things God is trying to tell us becomes clearer. When we take time to listen to God’s voice, He helps us to find perspective on what He is calling us to do, rather than on what we feel compelled to do.

Making the time

I’ve often said “I’d like to take a breather, but I can’t seem to make it happen. It’s just too busy.” While there are seasons in our schedule that require more time and attention than others, there is still the need to keep ourselves in tune with our Creator. Here is a “low-tech” but effective way of making time for rest and listening: Plan it. All you have to do is put it into your schedule, like you would schedule any other demand on your time, and then keep it. When something comes up that conflicts with the time you’ve planned, you can say “I’m sorry, but I’m booked then. Can we find some other time?” Unless we are intentional about taking time to be quiet before the Lord, and unless we can do it without feeling guilty, we will never really find the time to do it.

When I take time to rest and listen to God’s voice, what happens? I begin to hear His calming voice that tells me I’m His beloved child. I begin to find a “Holy balance” to my life. I become more of who He made me to be, and not nearly so concerned with performing to gain people’s approval. As The Message paraphrases Matthew 11:28-29, I begin to live “freely and lightly.”

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. – Mark 6:30-32

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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

Loving and Leading the youth of the “Next Generation”

happy teens

Reach out to the youth in your community and encourage them to Thrive


On the Weekend of July 3rd and 4th South Hills Church vibrated with a new energy, an energy and vitality that comes from youth who are on fire and passionately following Christ. For it was on that weekend that “Remnant Youth” took over all of South Hills services. Beginning in our Saturday night service and carrying through all of our Sunday mourning services, the youth and youth staff took over or assisted in every aspect our services.  From ushering, to leading worship, to announcements they were there, and not just physically but in a very real, connected, vibrant way. Finally, our fabulous Youth Pastor Chris Harrell (affectionately known as PCH) gave the message. It was an amazing weekend!

So now you may be asking, why? Why would we trust our weekend services to a bunch of kids and a youth pastor? There are several reasons.  First of all we take reaching out to the youth in our church and our community very seriously, and the reason for this is…

  • Research from Barna states “That young adults between 17 and 35 make up approximately 35% of our population nationally, but within our churches, most are lucky if they average 10%.

Secondly, teens and young adults are passionate and want to share that passion. Under the right leadership that passion can be directed to do amazing things. Here at South Hills we have made having the right leadership a very high priority and now have an amazing team of staff and volunteers to love on and guide these kids. Their passion in our services is contagious, with their uninhibited praise of the God they love. Also, most often youth thrive when given responsibility. When they are trusted with something big and given the right tools and guidance to complete the task, I have seen truly great things happen.  This 4th of July weekend was no exception.

I asked Pastor Chris Harrell to sum up the why and how of Remnant Youth, and the following is what he had to say…

Remnant: A group that remains after the majority no longer exists.

At South Hills, our youth or Next Generation ministry (this includes Jr. High through the 20 something crowd) is called Remnant. We, as Remnant, desire to be what is left from what Jesus originally asked of His followers. Most of what is thought of Christianity or ‘church people’ isn’t really biblically accurate. We want to redefine what our culture believes about Jesus and His Church… and by church, we do not mean the building, but the people who enter the doors. At Remnant we call our ‘services’, gatherings, because it’s a ‘church’ that is gathering rather than a ‘service’ they are getting. At South Hills, our leadership believes in raising up the Next Generation and actually gave us COMPLETE freedom over an entire set of weekend services. I can NOT bold, underline or italicize how much of an impact this had on our young people. They KNOW they are believed in, supported and encouraged to be all God has them to be.

It is our goal at Remnant that we will be known for our love above all else and we will celebrate everyone because everyone matters!

We believe Jesus meant it when he said to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “They will know you are my disciples when you love one another” (John 13:35)

For too long the message of love and grace has not been found amongst Christians, but instead the opposite was to be expected… hate and condemnation. We have made this our priority; to love without judging, no strings attached. Our generation (teens, tweens and 20s) is seeking truth, seeking transparency, seeking that which is genuine. And so we are transparent, we offer truth, and strive to be genuine.

We have found that when you offer unconditional belonging to a generation who is used to circumstantial love, that walls will fall, voices will be heard and hearts will be opened. This is where the church must invite people, including the youth, to come to and then be ready to journey with those who come.

I’d love to tell you all the stories. I’d tell you about girls who were Atheist and now believe in Christ, and are learning how to walk their mom through her fight with breast cancer. I’d tell you of the cutters who have given us erasers and blades as a surrender to the healing power of Christ. All would say they thought church was so outdated, irrelevant, or just not for them. But love is for everybody. So at Remnant, they realize that the church is for them, and they are for the church. Countless students who wanted nothing to do with God or church, have again found themselves surrounded by a love they could not explain… and months later have discovered what it means to be a part of a family. Students have walked away from addictions, girls have found their identity as daughters of God, relationships have been healed, and young men have learned who they are in Christ instead of how cool or popular they are at school. It’s not a perfect group of people…quite the opposite. That’s how we know that it’s healthy….alive…moving….and changing lives.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12


Valuing Small Groups

church small group

Small groups promote an environment that is created to draw closer to God and others.

At South Hills we have found that it is just as important for the church to grow smaller as it is for the church to grow Larger. Another way of saying this is, as churches grow in attendance they need to grow in connection. Over the past few years South Hills has exploded from just a handful of people meeting in house to nearly 3,000 each weekend. As this has happened we have found the need for creating a church that can connect with people in a smaller setting outside the weekend services. Shaping the church into smaller communities for greater impact has become our focus. I don’t just promote groups as one option among many other activities; I promote small groups as a non-negotiable. I let people know that sharing life together takes priority over fulfilling a weekly calendar item. Small groups promote an environment that is created to draw closer to God and draw closer to others.

I have found that small groups have had a tremendous impact on our church members regardless of what level of spiritual maturity they are in or regardless of the study they’re covering. One of the common statements I hear over and over is how members have realized that they’re “not alone”. Group members realize how others face similar problems to the ones they’re currently facing. Group members find fulfillment in being able to use their experiences, talent, and gifts to lift up and encourage others. I have seen groups rally to care for each other, whether it be bringing meals to someone who is ill or has just had a new baby to helping planning funeral arrangements for a loved one. I have heard the stories of groups making sure one of their member’s bills get paid, or making sure the family who is out of work has enough to eat.Another exciting thing that happens in small groups is being able to see the bigness of God through other people’s eyes. Faith gets stretched, group members become accountable to one another, and everyone encourages each individual to grow.

For us, small groups have become a way of life, not an event. Small groups make a large church feel like a small intimate church. This is certainly true of South Hills. These groups are a place where a journey is shared, joys are shared, struggles are shared, and growth is shared. Romans 12:5b NLT says: “Since we are all of one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” The word body is often used to describe a group of people connected for a purpose. It is innate to desire to be connected as a body or group. God has designed us to be a part of the body of Christ. It is built into our DNA to be devoted to one another and to honor one another. Romans 12:10 NIV says: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

The development of meaningful relationships, where every member carries a significant sense of belonging is the essence of what it means to grow smaller and larger at the same time. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do small groups. Find the method that works for your church. You may even use more than one method. That’s ok too. Remember, the one consistent trait of all successful small groups programs is the support of the lead pastor. I whole heartedly support our small groups and our small groups team. I encourage every person who attends South Hills to be a part of a small group. Yes, the church is meant to grow in attendance, but it should also grow in intimacy. Small groups were the example used in the early church as is still the example today.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:44-47

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.

DEPRESSION PRECEDES BREAKTHROUGH

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

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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)

It’s not all about me!

God's will in church growth

His Kingdom come. His will be done.

I was recently reminded while reading one of  Mark Batterson’s blogs of some fabulous and sometime painful truths.  I know that we as pastors (myself included) sometimes have an idea and try to drive it home in our own timing and not allow for God’s timing (or His completely different plan). The phrase “it’s not all about me” comes to mind.

I am also reminded that we are all in this together. There should be no competition between churches.  We should be ecstatic when another church grows even if the church is just down the street from ours, and not be jealous or resentful. We should learn to join forces to reach our communities for Christ. Does it really matter whose church a new believer attends as long as they attend one?  With that said here is the post from Mark Batterson.

The Stretcher

I tweeted this earlier this week: there is a fine line between “my kingdom come” and “Thy kingdom come.”

Can I be blunt? I think it’s easier for some pastors to pray for a church that is four states away than a church that is four blocks away.

I feel like I’m living in the tension between two verses this week. They are stretching me like one of those medieval torture devices that dislocated the limbs. I think they were actually called The Stretcher. Sorry for the visual image but that is what is happening in my spirit. Two verses are pulling in opposite directions.

How do we “increase” as in I Cor 3:6 and “decrease” as in John 3:30?

I desperately want God to increase NCC as we plant and water, but I also know that I need to decrease like John the Baptist. Bottom line? I want to stay out of the way of what God is doing at NCC. It’s just hard to do both of those things at the same time! Thus the tension. I want us to grow but it cannot be about the numbers.

Word to pastors: it better not be about you. In fact, I think we need to find ways to intentionally decrease. How? For starters, we better not take any credit for what God is doing. God will not be robbed of His glory! Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain! I think one of the greatest dangers that growing churches face is this prideful temptation: “look at us.” Why? Because we’ve been saying “look at me” since we were two years old. That is our default setting. But when we follow Christ there is a paradigm shift: look at Him.

May His Kingdom come. May His will be done.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. -1 Corinthians 3:6(NIV)

He must become greater; I must become less. – John 3:30(NIV)

My Trip to Haiti

Convoy of Hope Haiti

Despite the media’s retreat, Convoy of Hope continues to provide aid in Haiti.

I just had the privilege of journeying to Haiti. It was both one of the best and worst trips of my life.  I went there with the knowledge of the devastation caused by the recent earthquake coupled with the absolute poverty on the nation, but even that foreknowledge in no way prepared me for the reality of what I saw.

I went on this journey with a few other pastors in partnership with Convoy of Hope. Thankfully Convoy of Hope was already in place in Haiti when the quake hit, and therefore was able to quickly respond. We had the privilege of helping in food distribution. Thousands of people gathered to receive food, and I was elated to give out the food purchased with the funds our church had raised. We had enough food to feed 18,000 people from that one container. I was feeling pretty good about what we had done.

Then the food ran out.

There were still thousands waiting for food. There was nothing left. And I stood there with this little six year old girl pulling on my pant leg looking for some thing to eat, and I had nothing to give her. I didn’t feel so good anymore. It was numbing to be there. The devastation and death were absolutely unfathomable. Nearly 300,000 have died. Human trafficking and child slavery are rampant. Millions are homeless.

I have come home with renewed determination to make a difference.  And I encourage each of you to respectfully use your positions of leadership and influence to make a difference. Find a way, be creative. I just read this story about a seven-year-old boy in England who has raised more than £60,000 ($110,000) to help the people of Haiti.

“Charlie Simpson was so upset by the devastation wrought by the earthquake that he told his mother he wanted to do anything he could to help. The boy set out to raise £500 for Unicef’s Haiti appeal by riding his bike five miles around his local park – but the schoolboy’s efforts inspired hundreds of people online who donated a total of more than £60,000 in just one day.” source: www.telegraph.co.uk

I am haunted by the image of that little girl pulling on my pant leg. I will do more. I have to. I am reminded of James 2:14-17 which says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

If you already have a trusted place to donate to, fantastic! If not, I urge you to trust Convoy of Hope with your contributions. I completely support Convoy of Hope. I have seen them in action, and I know that 94% of every dollar they bring in goes directly to the people they feed.

www.convoyofhope.org

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The purpose of life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.  Only then have we ourselves become true human beings.”

— Albert Schweitzer

“Out of the box” thinking Part 2

Thinking Out Of The Box

Thinking Out Of The Box

Last time we began an article entitled “Out of the box” thinking.  We learned that true leaders are those who desire to grow and move forward.  In addition, we learned that the only way to grow and move forward is to embrace the idea of “Out of the box” thinking.

Often leaders make the mistake of thinking that if they do things the same way that somehow they will get different results.  Or they start off with excellence in mind, but soon excellence isn’t worth the hassle if acceptable will do.  The result is that mediocrity is only a breath away.

The first two steps we looked at in becoming an “Out of the box” thinker were…

1)  Embrace change…don’t reject it
People have to be willing to change and accept that it is the pathway that leads to success.  Change is inevitable if you want to grow.  Rejecting change is a form of surrendering to the concept that ‘this is the best it will ever be.’

2)  Adapt and grow
You don’t have to remind your body to grow or for some of us, your head to lose hair.  These are natural circumstances that take place in the growing process of life.  We are engineered to grow.  In the same fashion society is engineered to grow and change.  Unless you adapt and begin growing you will be left behind.

Here are a couple of more tips to help you in the “Out of the box” thinking process…

3)  Find your time wasters
Most people never recognize that the real enemy in progress is the inability to sort through the clutter of what use to work, but isn’t effective anymore.  We waste time, energy and finances on programs and ideas that produced results years ago, but have long become obsolete.  Clear the clutter, if it isn’t working, find a new way of doing it, or stop doing it all together.  Quit spinning your wheels on projects that aren’t rolling.  By clearing the clutter you will be forced to become an “Out of the box” thinker.

4)  Focus on the reward
Often we avoid change because it requires pain.  The pain may include:  Evaluating your personal performance, being honest about your progress or looking deep into concepts you have pioneered.  The change may require the pain of letting go, eliminating projects, removing individuals or saying goodbye to a tradition you have held onto stronger then you should have.  The fact…change is difficult.  However, if you will learn to focus on the reward of change it may help you in the process.  Keep your eye on the results that lie ahead.  When you begin to see the results you have wished for, the pain will seem minimal in light of the reward.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“Small problems are difficult to see, but easy to fix.  However, when you let
these problems develop, they are easy to see but difficult to fix.”
Niccolo Macchiavelli

Chris Sonksen is a celebrated Motivational Speaker and Published Author; the Lead Pastor at one of America’s fastest growing churches (South Hills Church in Corona California); and the founding member of Celera Church Strategy Group. Celera offers pastor support, teaching, training and mentoring programs that equip pastors who want to learn how to grow church attendance through evangelism using proven church growth techniques.

“Out of the box” thinking Part – 1

Start Thinking Out of the Box

Start Thinking Out of the Box

True leaders are thinkers, at least those who want to do something significant.  If you desire to grow and to move your team or organization to new levels, you must begin to think in new ways.  Often we fall into the trap of doing things the same way. This method may produce results but eventually it will bring you to mediocrity or even lower.

Author and speaker Charles Swindoll noted:

“Competitive excellence requires 100 percent all of the time.  If you doubt that, try maintaining excellence by setting your standards at 92 percent.  Or even 95 percent.  People figure they’re doing fine so long as they get somewhere near it.  Excellence gets reduced to acceptable and before long, acceptable doesn’t seem worth the sweat if you can get by with adequate.  After that, mediocrity is only a breath away.”

This powerful statement describes the pattern of many leaders.  They start off with the idea of “excellence” but end up with mediocrity.  Quit often this results from limited thinking or lazy thinking.  The fact is, if you want to move forward and upward your thinking must become outward.  You must think differently if you desire different results.
Here is the first set of steps you can take toward “Out of the box” thinking…

1)  Embrace change…don’t reject it
Often in organizations people fall into the trap of “same way” thinking.  They have always done it this way and so they will always do it this way.  It has worked in the past so it will work in the future.  Unfortunately this type of thinking will create a downward spiral in any company or organization.  People like Henry Ford learned this in the early years, when other car companies began to adapt to the needs of the customer, but Mr. Ford was resistant to change.  Computer companies like IBM and Apple struggled when people like Microsoft hit the market.  WHY?  Because they were unwilling to change.

Change is difficult.  It requires work.  Challenges thinking. Threatens egos.  Creates friction among the teams and their leaders.  Simply put…”out of the box” thinking is hard work.  However, it is a path that must be taken by any leader desiring to improve his or her organization.  The world is moving and it will move with or without you.  Embrace the change or reject it, but understand your choice will have serious consequences.
2)  Adapt and Grow
Do you have to tell your body to change?  Do you have to inform your cells on what to do?  Is getting old something you have to work on or does it happen automatically?  Do you have to force yourself to get wrinkles or lose hair?  Of course not!  These changes happen by natural circumstance.  We are engineered to grow, to expand beyond today; physically, mentally and emotionally.  The moment we lose sight of this,  the instant we convince ourselves that change is bad, we begin limiting ourselves.

Those who attempt to fight what is natural fall behind.  Do yourself a favor, do your organization and team a favor.  Learn to adapt to the changing culture around you and grow from it.  Don’t settle for the way things are set your sights on the way thing could be!

Until next time,
Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“When the mind is expanded, it never returns back to its original formation.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Chris Sonksen is a celebrated Motivational Speaker and Published Author; the Lead Pastor at one of America’s fastest growing churches (South Hills Church in Corona California); and the founding member of Celera Church Strategy Group. Celera offers pastor support, teaching, training and mentoring programs that equip pastors who want to learn how to grow church attendance through evangelism using proven church growth techniques.

Be Productive not Just Busy (A lesson on Time management)

 Abraham Lincoln once said “Time is everything; please act in view of this.”

Abraham Lincoln once said “Time is everything; please act in view of this.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that your bank told you that they were opening a new account for you and that every morning they were going to credit the account $1,440.  The only condition to the account is that whatever amount you didn’t use each day would be taken out of your account.  No balance would ever be carried over!  In other words “use it, or lose it.”  What would you do?  Of course, you would take every dollar out and use it to your best advantage.

There is such a bank that deposits into your account, except it isn’t money they deposit it is time.  Every day of your life there is 1,440 minutes placed into your life.  Whatever number of minutes we fail to invest is lost forever.  Time is an amazing thing because it is completely an equal opportunity lender…every day, every person will get the same amount of time…what you choose to do with that time is up to you.

Here are three things you can do this week to begin maximizing your time:

1) Be time conscious – Abraham Lincoln once said “Time is everything; please act in view of this.”  Time is everything and what you make of it matters.  You need to have a simple awareness of time.  It is easy to squander it throughout the day on projects that don’t help you reach your objectives, on co-workers who just want to shoot the breeze or re-organizing your office because you lack organization to begin with.  Be more time conscious and it will help you to manage it better.

2) Choose the most productive projects – Often I find myself having to choose between what is good for my life and what is best for my life.  I may be asked to do something, speak somewhere or be a part of a board or committee.  When approached on these subjects I ask myself “Is this the best thing for my life right now.”  You see the project may be a good one; it just might not be the best one for me.  Know what you want, what you need to accomplish and choose the most effective way to get there.

3) Place deadlines on yourself – One of the greatest tools I have learned is to write down what I need to get done, what date I need to get it done by and then I have someone hold me accountable to that list.  Often this can be done through a staff member or a colleague. By placing a deadline on your projects and by someone holding you accountable you will force yourself to monitor your time more efficiently.
Once again, remember that time is your most precious commodity, use it wisely, for when it passes it will never return again.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“Time is like a coin, spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.”                                                                             Lillian Dickson

Chris Sonksen is a celebrated Motivational Speaker and Published Author; the Lead Pastor at one of America’s fastest growing churches (South Hills Church in Corona California); and the founding member of Celera Church Strategy Group. Celera offers pastor support, teaching, training and mentoring programs that equip pastors who want to learn how to grow church attendance through evangelism using proven church growth techniques.