Blog Archives

Choices that Guard your Heart and Help you to Grow

balanced life

A balanced life is a key to spiritual growth

At Celera we are truly blessed with some of the best leadership and church growth coaches in the world. These are men and women who pastor at Mega, Mega churches, author best selling books, strategize for the likes of John Maxwell, and are innovators to the extreme.  One of our newest coaches, Richie Hughes, is no exception. Richie has been in leadership at one of the biggest churches in country, and has now authored his first book: Start Here Go Anywhere. Recently, Richie was a guest writer for Dan Reiland (another Celera coach) for The Pastor’ Coach, and the article tied in so well with my last post regarding the importance of rest, that I wanted to share the article with you here.

“Moving Forward in Your Spiritual Life”

by Richie Hughes

“I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead. I’m here to declare to you, my past is over. In YOU, old things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ, I’m moving forward!” The lyrics to this song by my good friend Ricardo Sanchez have transformed many lives, mine being one.

As leaders, we are constantly reviewing and analyzing data that is critically important, but in reality, it is all yesterday’s news. Don’t get me wrong. As a former executive pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA and Irvine, CA we must be somewhat obsessed with data. An old basketball coach of mine used to say, “The stats don’t lie!” I found that to be so true. Churches like businesses must be into numbers. Our budgets, attendance, baptisms, etc. all measure the growth or lack thereof in our ministries. The growth of the church is important, but what about your growth, and most importantly, your spiritual growth? There are no hard “stats” for that, so how do you know when you are moving forward?

I remember when my Senior Pastor, Jentezen Franklin informed me that we were going to launch a church in Irvine, CA. Wow! (A bunch of guys from the South doing church on the West Coast? Really?) My mind began to spin, not with fear or doubt, but excitement! I wondered aloud, would our ministry model from GA work in CA? How would we transition staff to our new location? How are we going to pay for all of this? Ok, maybe just a little bit of apprehension rolled in.

Make no mistake, God can do anything He wants and no group of men can ever take credit for what God has done at Free Chapel, but as I was reminiscing with a close pastor friend just recently at Cornerstone in Athens, GA, God always exceeds our expectations when we give Him all of ourselves in our effort. So how do you give Him all of yourself? In our staff coaching sessions, I often share what I believe are three critical components of moving forward in our own spiritual lives:

1. Preserve YOUR Individual Identity.

We must be ourselves, plain and simple. God knows we all wish we could communicate like Andy Stanley, John Maxwell or Rick Warren, or maybe our voice fill the room like Mac Powell from Third Day in the worship experience. But I have found that God loves not only those guys, but He loves you and me just the same. More amazingly to me, He likes us! Now, I’m not talking about a Facebook click for a like, but God really enjoys our communication style, our worship style and everything that makes us who we are. We as leaders don’t have to be the most creative pastor in town. Yes, God loves creativity and people appreciate the preparation, but think about this: as a former high school basketball coach, I never called plays for my team to run with the intent of showing how smart I was as a coach. I called plays to win the game! Likewise we should not start new programs, campaigns or teaching series to show that we are more creative than that “other” church down the road, let’s do series and programs that reach people, change lives and win the game! I remember a reporter asking my friend and Atlanta Braves pitcher, John Smoltz what was his “best” pitch? I loved his answer: John didn’t reply my 96 MPH fastball or my 90 MPH slider or my incredible change up, he simply said, “The one that gets the hitter out.” John got it right! Leaders, do we understand the ultimate goal? How about our staff? In the midst of all this, it’s important to be yourself!

2. Realize the importance of Real Relationships.

As I travel from church to church, this issue is the one I see so many leaders doing poorly. To stay fresh and continue our personal growth in Christ, it’s important to:

Find a hobby. You might think, “I don’t have time for a hobby.” I hear it everywhere I go. You need to find time. Take up running, fishing, golf or the latest craze I have seen is at the shooting range. I’m not going to say what the virtual targets are and it troubles me a little to see so many “gun friendly” pastors who get a little crazy out there! But I am a firm believer that without a release, your effectiveness as a leader and even a communicator will suffer greatly. Be careful though, my competitive spirit will sometimes overtake me and I may just “accidentally” throw a club on the golf course when the breaks don’t go my way. Note to self: That could be hazardous to your testimony! Stop throwing clubs.

Find close friends outside your church body. The conversation has got to be about something other than the church all of the time! During my time as an executive pastor, I intentionally had a small core of about four people that were my “best” friends. Of the four, only one attended our church. We enjoyed friendships with parents on the soccer field and basketball court while watching our children compete. Of course my golfing buddies were patient enough to hang out with me on my day off. The bottom line is to find a release, it makes your time with God that much more special.

3. Preserve and Protect your Personal Passion.

One of my favorite worship leaders, Israel Houghton wrote a song called “Go back to your first Love.” When I listen to the lyrics, it reminds me of my personal salvation experience. Do you remember that moment? Of course you do! Are you still as passionate in your personal relationship with God, or are you spending so much time and energy leading others that your personal time with God has diminished? Admittedly, I am guilty! When I started as an executive pastor at a mega church, I was so consumed with the church and the people that in my first three months in that position, I was hospitalized with ulcers. I had to evaluate some things and in doing so realized that my personal growth in Christ was suffering, not to mention my body.

Maybe you are like I was, reading every leadership book, blog, etc. and doing your best to keep up with the latest trends in ministry. Here is what I determined: ask and believe God. Time in prayer and devotion will always trump overworking, over downloading, and over-analyzing the things we do constantly as leaders. I’ll say it like I heard it from the Lord, “Who do you think inspired all of those leaders to write those thoughts? Those thoughts came from me!”

Lastly, I am reminded of what helped bring me back into spiritual growth and development:

1. My personal worship time.

I hope as leaders that we participate in the worship segment of service. Like you, my cell phone stays hot with texts from department heads and volunteers and we seem to find ways to put out fires throughout our weekend services. But what about the fire in our hearts? Do we allow ourselves to just take a moment and experience God? Our church must have something pretty good to offer or no one would come. I encourage YOU to worship in the service you have worked so hard to plan for others, as much as possible. Other times for me are when I worship in the car blaring out worship tunes and most days when I run, I fill my ears with worship music and carelessly sing along just enjoying my time with HIM. Find your space and time to worship.

2. Read the Bible for pleasure, not just for sermons or teachings.

Wow! I remember when someone told me that. It was like a bucket of cold water in my face! Probably like you if you teach, I usually sit down with my Bible, pen, paper and laptop all at once. This advice was good for me. Sometimes we need to just read the Bible. Period! No agenda, just out of the pure joy of reading the greatest book ever written. Will you get sermon ideas? Yep, but that is a bonus, not the intent. Life Church’s YOUversion has made it possible to read the Bible anywhere, anytime. Download the app to your phone and just enjoy the Word of God.

By practicing just a few things I’ve shared, you as a leader can not only increase productivity in yourself, but teaching these principles will have a trickle down effect in your leadership of others. More importantly, your personal relationship with God will grow and become, or return, to that level of passion that God seeks from you and seeks for you.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control. – Martin Luther King, Jr.


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.


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.”

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


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

Connecting to Your Church through Social Media


Facebook and Other Social Networking Tools are Great Resources.

In today’s world we have so many amazing technologies at our fingertips to help in growing our churches and staying connected to those already attending our church.  My church (South Hills), Celera Group, and myself are all staying connected with people via Twitter, and Facebook. There are other great ways to get and stay connected such as Yahoo groups and blogs. Following is an article written by Bob Mayfield called “Facebook and Sunday School” found at The principles here can easily be applied to a small group scenario or even to your church as a whole.

Facebook and Sunday School

Years ago, Bible study leaders discovered a new way to connect with the people in their class… the telephone! Yes, Bible study leaders discovered that they could call every single person in their class in about one evening if they wanted to. They might receive a prayer request from a group member, and then call the rest of their group to share the request. A teacher could contact absentees to see how they were doing. The telephone became a vital part of Sunday School ministry.
Today, another powerful method of communication exists. The tool is the internet and one of the fastest growing ways to contact others and stay in contact is through a social network, specifically Facebook. I am going to take few moments and encourage you to seriously consider using this tool to connect the people in your class. We will also look at some practical ways to use Facebook in your group’s ministry.
How can Facebook help your class or small group? First, it provides a central point where people can go for information. Have a fellowship this Friday and a class member has forgotten what time it starts? Go to your group’s Facebook page and look it up. A Facebook page can be a great place just to put information about your group.
Use Facebook to help you teach the Bible. Do you want your group to do some study or some work before this week’s lesson? Put your questions or requests on your group’s Facebook profile. Perhaps you want the group to follow-up on this week’s study. You can post follow-up assignments on Facebook. You can post some preview information about the week’s study so that your group will be better prepared. Bible memory verses can be shared with your group too.
Post discussion questions on Facebook. You might want to generate some discussion about a particular topic. Post the question and then let your class members interact with it during the week. The people in your group will not only interact with your question, they will also interact with each other’s responses.
Post prayer requests. Using some reasonable restraints, you can post some prayer requests and also answered requests on Facebook. A class member who has been unemployed has found a job. He can put that answered prayer on the group’s profile himself! A parent of another member that the class has been praying for made a profession of faith in Christ! That member can share this great news and answered prayer with the entire group with just one post.
Email everyone in the class at once. A feature of Facebook is the ability to email all of your members with one simple email. Reminders about the upcoming class breakfast before Sunday School can be sent, as well as other needs or reminders. The emails you send are not part of your group’s public profile, so non-group members cannot see them.
Write on your wall or in your group’s discussion box some encouraging notes, meaningful Bible verses, etc.
You can choose if you want your group to be open, public, or closed. Which you choose is determined by how you want to use Facebook. An open group let’s anyone post on the discussion board. A public group lets others view the group’s posts, but only members can write a post. A closed or private group means that only group members can view or write on the group’s profile. If you want to use Facebook as an evangelism tool, obviously the private option is not the best.
Facebook is not perfect, but neither is the telephone. Facebook can be a powerful tool to help you quickly communicate with your group and also provide a way for them to network with each other. By the way, although Facebook is heavily used by young adults, research is showing that the largest growing segment of users on Facebook is women, ages 55-65!
An essential thing for you to remember: if you really want to use Facebook to help network your group, then you must make posts on it frequently and often. The more you use it and refer your group members to Facebook, the more valuable it will become.
A great e-book that you can download for free is: Facebook for Pastors. Yes, it is written to pastors but you can peruse this e-book and learn how Facebook works and also some practical ideas about how to use it.

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen


“The best ideas are common property.”
– Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

Simple Ways to Get More Done In Less Time

Get more done in less time.

Get more done in less time.

Have you ever found yourself saying “If there was just more time during the day.”  Or, “If I could just have 8 days in the week instead of 7.”  I am sure you have felt this way more then once in your life.  So much to do with what seems so little time.

The interesting thing about time is that we are all given the same amount.  From the President of the United States to a factory worker in Wisconsin, everyone is given the same amount of time.  It’s how you spend that time that will make all the difference.  What separates the good from the great can often be found in how they spend their time.

Here is a list of things you can do that can help you to maximize your time:

1. Do easy jobs while on the phone
If you’re on hold for a descent length of time find something productive to do.  Sign papers, organize your desk, and check your e-mail. However you should never do this while talking with someone otherwise you will fall into the habit of not giving people your full attention.

2. Develop a plan for screening calls
Most calls are not urgent.  They can be handled by someone else just as good as they can be handled by you.  Try to develop a plan that will help you take the calls that only you can handle and leave the rest to someone you designate.

3. Establish a phone call return time
Try to establish a time when you return calls.  Maybe it is one hour during the day that all your calls will be dealt with.  If you do this you will need someone to screen your calls. Someone that understands what your policy is and can inform the caller when they could expect a call back.

4. Make a to do list
Don’t just do the things that are easy to get done or are more fun to do.  Get the things done that you may not like to do but you know you have to.

5. Handle paperwork properly
Try to handle a piece of paper on your desk only once.  Once you have read it, do what needs to be done and remove it from your work area.   This will help you avoid papers piling up on your desk and it will help you prevent letting issues slip by without any response.

6. Use waiting time wisely
If you are going to be waiting in a lobby area or waiting room sometime during your day, be prepared to use that time wisely.  Read, plan, study, review or write, but find something productive to do.

7. Isolate yourself
When you are working on a major project find a place where you can be alone, possibly a restaurant or coffee house. Any place where you can spend uninterrupted time working on the project at hand.

These are just a few VERY PRACTICAL ideas that will help you maximize your time.  Try one of them out this week and see how it will help you get more done in less time.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered,
you will never grow.”
Ronald E. Osborn

Time Strategies

Strategies to help get you out of the Spiral

Strategies to help get you out of the Spiral

The most precious resource for any leader is TIME.  The question isn’t how much do you get of it throughout the day, because we all get the same amount.  The question is what do you do with the time you are given?  Are you productive?  Do you accomplish the tasks before you?  Do you lay your head down at the end of the day with a satisfied feeling that you have maximized each moment?

If you’re like most people in America you can always use a little more help in the Time management area.  Here are few “Time Strategy” tips that can help you produce the greatest results in your day:

1)  Be more focused
Know what you need to accomplish and get it done. Work at a faster pace and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.  Don’t try to accomplish several tasks at one time.  Complete a project and then move to the next.  If you want to be productive you cannot be shooting your arrow in three different directions.

2)  Minimize procrastination by being more decisive
We are a culture that has mastered the art of procrastination.  We continually put off what we know we need to do.  Be more assertive and decisive with your day.  Attack your day with vitality!  Go after what needs to get done.

3)  Beware of perfectionism
Procrastination is never starting, but perfectionism is never finishing.  There are many people who never want to complete a project or advance a project until it can be done perfectly.  Although you want to pursue excellence you cannot wait for perfection conditions, if you do, you will never get anything done.

4)  Buy in to the concept that it is easier to be “organized” then “unorganized”
I would venture to say a lot of time is wasted simply because we haven’t taken the time to get organized.  It may take a while to build the habit of an organized life, but the results will pay off.  You will get more done in less time if you choose the path of an organized life.

5)  Eliminate time wasters
There are meetings, appointments and unnecessary paperwork that we spend hours on during the week.  Stream line your life to the items that you are best at and that give you the greatest results.  If someone else can attend the meeting or accomplish the task as well as you, then let them do it.  You spend your time on the areas that will give you the greatest return on your investment.

Until next week,

Chris Sonksen

Quote for the week

“The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words
‘I did not have the time.”
Franklin Field

Your road to success is paved by your habits Part 1

 Develop a healthy work ethic that becomes part of who you are

Develop a healthy work ethic that becomes part of who you are

Success and failure is paved by one word “habits.”  The habits you create today will shape what you become tomorrow.  If in the future you are rich, poor, healthy or unhealthy, happily married or unhappily married, experiencing victory or defeat in your career it will most likely be a result of the habits that you have developed.

Abilities, talents, skills and gifting do not separate the average and the above average near as much as habits.  If you develop great habits in your life, then you are more likely to experience success.  If you don’t, you are more likely to experience failure.

Successful people simply discipline themselves to do the things that other don’t.  It’s not that it’s easier for them, but they are willing to pay the price now so they can reap the benefits later.

Here are a four good habits that you can begin to build into the fiber of your life:

1)  The habit of hard work
I am not saying to burn yourself out by overworking, but learn to work harder and smarter with the hours you do have.  Refuse to be a person who lives by the clock, putting in only the minimum, enough to keep you out of trouble. Develop a healthy work ethic that becomes part of who you are.

2)  The habit of personal growth
Develop the habit of continually pouring into yourself.  If you want to stay motivated, you have to be inspired and that comes through continual growth.  Make it a habit to read books, attend seminars and listen to tapes.  Take time and make the effort to meet with an accountability group or a life coach.  The habit of personal growth is one that is worth developing.

3)  The habit of being on time
T.V. personality Dr. Phil says “It is arrogant to be late.  When you are late you are saying that other people’s time doesn’t matter.  That your time is more important than theirs.”  Being late is a horrible habit to fall into.  If you are someone who is chronically late, change today.  Begin developing the “good” habit of being on time for every appointment, meeting or event.  Let others know that you value their time as much as you want them to value yours.

4)  The habit of staying organized
You must convince yourself that it is easier and takes less time to be organized than it does to be disorganized. It may take you a few weeks to restructure your office or home, but by being organized you will save time and get more done in fewer hours.  Make it a habit to stay organized.  It won’t be easy at first, but it will be worth it.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Do What Others Won’t Today, So You Can Have What Others Can’t Tomorrow.”
By Steve C Wood

Soaring with your strengths

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it

Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest your time in it.

Maybe you have heard the saying “people don’t burn out in their strengths, they burnout in their weaknesses.”  This is true! When you and I love to do something we usually don’t burn out in that area of our lives, it’s when we involve ourselves with areas of weakness that we are quick to be drained.  When we participate in areas that we don’t have a natural gifting or passion we find ourselves burning out and trying to figure a way out.

My son loves to play baseball and as many American children, has high hopes of playing in the Major Leagues.  He is not interested in any other sport except baseball.  He would play baseball day and night if he could.  I have also noticed that of all the other sports he has sampled, baseball is where he is most naturally gifted.  It is where his passion is strongest!  Now because he is passionate, loves the game and has some gifting in the area of baseball it is rare to see him burnout and say to me “Dad, I don’t want to play baseball.”

In any organization, church, company or team it is important for the leader to discover the areas of strengths for themselves and for the individual team members. The last thing you want to do is to have you or any of your team members spending a large amount of time on something your not good at and that you don’t even like to do.  Below are two simple rules to follow that will help you to move in the right direction of placing you and your team members in areas where you will receive the greatest amount of results.

Rule #1 –  Discover what you love to do and do it with all your heart
When evaluating where you or your team members spend the majority of your time you must ask yourself “What do I love to do.”  What is it that brings the most joy to my life? What I suggest is that you take out a piece of paper and write down your “likes” and “dislikes.”  Exhaust everything that comes to your mind and write it down.  You will find that there are things that you love to do and that you couldn’t imagine ever burning out in those areas.  For me personally, I love to communicate but I don’t love to administrate.  I love casting vision, but I don’t love carrying out the details.  The more I place my energy in the things I love the happier I am and the more effective I am!  Find what you love to do and spend more time doing it.

Rule #2 –  Discover where you are naturally gifted and invest the majority of your time in it.
Michael Jordan is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  He is most known for his career with the Chicago Bulls and the incredible ensemble of players they had in the 90’s.  But do you remember when he retired from Basketball and tried his skill at Baseball.  In his own words it was the worst mistake of his life.  He is a Basketball player not a Baseball player.  He has a God given gift in a specific sport and he does his best when he stays within his gifting.  It is important for you and your team members to operate inside of their gifting.  What is it that God has designed you to do…what is your gifting?  You and your team members will be happier and more successful when you operate in your area of strength.

Chances are there is two or three things that you do very well and most importantly you love to do.  Discover those areas and spend the majority of your time doing them.  Your personal life and the life of your team will reach its potential when it operates with these two thoughts in mind…what do I love to do and what am I good at?

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen


“When you’re passionate, you’re focused, purposeful and determined, without even having to try.  Your body, mind and spirit are all working in unison towards the same goal.”                                                                   Marcia Wieder

“Out of the box thinking” Part 4

Get out of the Box for some Creative Thinking Time

Get out of the Box for some Creative Thinking Time

“Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts.”  These words shared by Benjamin Disraeli exemplify what I have been sharing with you in this series of blog entries.  You will never go higher than your thoughts, so it only makes sense to think outside of the box.  Creative, innovative and forward thinking is what separates the highly successful people from those who excel at being average.  If you want to raise the bar in your life, you must first raise the bar in your thinking.

Let’s take a moment to review the first six steps to becoming an “Out of the box” thinker:

1)  Embrace change…don’t reject it
Remember that if you reject change you are ultimately rejecting your own success.  Let change be the catalyst that achieves your dreams.

2)  Adapt and Grow
Accept that society is changing and there is nothing you can do about it.  Your best decision is to adapt to the changes and grow from it.  Change your method but nor your message.

3)  Find your time wasters
Find the programs and events that no longer bring you the desired results and either change them or stop them all together.  Don’t waste time on unproductive events!

4)  Focus on the reward
When you’re making change, there will be pain.  Focus on the reward and the pain will be easier to deal with.

5)  Think like an entrepreneur
Remember that small thinking produces small results.  If you want to see greater results in your life and organization you will need to start thinking bigger.

6)  Be resourceful
Take a hard look at your organization and the goals you want to accomplish and get resourceful.  If you put your mind to it, you can figure out how to achieve all that you have dreamed.

Now let’s take a look at the final two steps to becoming an “Out of the box” thinker:

7)  Creative time
One of the best things you can do is to set aside some time in your calendar for creative thinking.  I  began to do this some time ago and it is enhancing my personal goals and vision.  You simply cut out four-six hours in your calendar and go away to think.  You can go to a park, coffee house or a restaurant, but find a place where you can get alone with a pad of paper and a pen and begin to spend some time in creative thinking.  You will be amazed how many ideas will be birthed as you strategically plan out some thinking time.
The Creator made you to think, so slow down long enough to exercise your mind and watch what happens.

8)  Take action
Knowledge is not power, it is the application of knowledge that is power.  All your creative ideas mean nothing unless you put them into action.  As you begin to become an “Out of the box” thinker you will also need to become a “get it done and then some” person.  Otherwise you will have great ideas with no wheels to make them roll.  Surround yourself with staff and leaders who can help you carry out the creative ideas that are lying deep inside of you.  You can do it!  Create, dream, believe and achieve.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“One of the reasons people don’t achieve their dreams is that they
desire to change their results without changing their thinking.”

John C. Maxwell

“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


“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.

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

“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.