Links for Leaders 5/26/17

It’s the weekend (a long weekend at that!). The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Here are 6 articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

If you’re a leader, part of your job is motivating your team. Whether that is an elder team, staff team, or volunteer team. This can ebb and flow depending on the season and a number of other factors. Michael Hyatt had a great post on 6 ways to motivate your team that I think are worth remembering and reminding yourself of as a leader.

Many people and leaders get to the summer rundown and tired. I know I feel like I’ve been sprinting for the last several months with church, life, the end of school for my kids and everything else. I shared recently how to maximize a day off and how to enjoy vacation. Carey Nieuwhof, always a fountain of wisdom on this topic, recently shared 12 ways to recover from burnout, but I think this list has some great applications for leaders as they head into the summer.

As Revolution, the church I lead has grown, I feel like every week is a new adventure. New challenges, new insights, new problems to tackle, but the reality is, it is new. I’ve never been there before. Others have (which is helpful for support), but I haven’t. That’s why I really appreciated this post from Brian Dodd on 8 things pastors of growing churches face. If you’re part of a growing church, you can pray for your pastor about these things because he is facing them, everyday.

We are on the verge of the teen years in our house, so I’m reading more and more articles and books on parenting teens. It is overwhelming but also exciting. Tim Elmore who speaks a lot on parenting and leadership has a great article about the 1 ingredient that moves a teen from mediocre to excellent.

Like many of you, I’m heading out on vacation this summer. We’ve traveled all over the place with kids, whether we’ve had 1 or 5. It takes planning and preparation for it to be relaxing. Here are 7 tips Katie and I have about vacations with kids. Sarah Anderson over at Parent Cue has some great tips and reality checks for parents as you head out on vacation this year.

Leadership is about discipline. Following Jesus is also filled with disciplines. Disciplines help you stay on track, moving towards a goal or an objective. Disciplines help you grow as a disciple. The problem for many leaders is we teach disciplines, but then don’t practice what we preach. Here are 4 (surprising) disciplines that Charles Stone thinks leaders neglect. He’s spot on.

How to Love Your Family

Let’s be honest about families. They are incredible. They bring us love, joy and a ton of great memories.

They can also be difficult, painful, hurtful and wreck our lives (at least a portion of them).

We often underestimate the impact that our families have on our lives and the kind of people we become.

Who we become has a lot to do with where we came from, who we grew up with and what that house and family were like. The person we marry has an enormous impact on our lives and what they are like.

As we think about being a follower of Jesus, loving our family doesn’t often come into our thinking. We hear Jesus say we are to love our neighbor, so we look around us to figure out who to love. Yet, our family members are our neighbors, too. This is one of the biggest missed opportunities to show the love of God and impact lives.

In Colossians 3:18 – 21, the apostle Paul lays out what a family is supposed to be like, what a husband and wife do and what children are to be like. But before he gets there, he lays the foundation in verses 1 – 17 of what a family does and what is the environment of a family. While similar to the list in 1 Corinthians 13 (the famous love chapter), this is a little different.

If we are to love families (and we are), how do we do that?

Paul tells us by giving us a list (so buckle up for all you list people!):

Who are defined by compassion, kindness, humility, meekness or gentleness and patience.

These words should define every family, every marriage and every parent.

Compassion: For the perfectionist who gets mad because family members mess up and don’t pull their weight. Don’t correct them; show compassion. Maybe there’s a good reason they dropped the ball.

This is looking out for the people around you. Do they have what they need?

As I shared in a recent sermon, being holy means that we are to imitate, to image God. What kind of grace and compassion does he show?

Kindness: There is no place for smugness, superiority, anger, malice or contempt in the heart of a Christian and their relationships. No place.

Kindness is caring about the feelings and desires of others.

Humility: Humility is putting the other person or other family members first. Not getting your way. Not always being right.

Humility allows us to serve others without worrying about getting noticed.

One of the biggest areas of fighting in families centers on: I think I do more than you, and you need to start pulling your weight. I think I should get thanked more than I do, noticed more than I do.

That’s not humility and has no place.

Yes, discuss who will do what in a family, but you should not be fighting over who does what chore and who does more in a family. That’s sin. That’s pride. That’s arrogance.

Gentleness: Meekness or gentleness makes allowances for others. This is grace giving in relationships. This is knowing you will be let down and sinned against and yet giving grace.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have consequences or confront something, but give grace.

In your speech, are you gentle? Do your spouse or kids fear when you open your mouth? Do they fear your presence?

These are words, silences, sighs, eye rolls, your presence.

Here’s a great question to ask on a regular basis: What is it like to be on the other side of me?

Let me give you this challenge. Ask someone close to you today that question.

We underestimate the power of our presence in people’s lives.

Patience: Toe tapping, standing at the front door asking if they’re ready yet. Wanting people to hurry up and get their act together, pick a major, stick with a job, stop being so flighty.

That’s not patience.

Patience says, “I’ll wait. I have time to talk even though all I want you to do right now is go to sleep.”

When our relationships are defined by compassion, kindness, humility, meekness or gentleness and patience, things change. People change. Our hearts soften to those around us, and their hearts have the chance to soften towards ours.

Think about one relationship you have, a close one. Which of these could you apply today that would bring change to that relationship? Not drastic change, although that would be nice. But change. A small step towards each other.

How to Not be Productive on Vacation

Recently I heard an older pastor say that the most important thing to do on vacation and sabbath is to not be productive. As a leader, this is not only hard, but also one of the most important things to keep in mind.

It isn’t decisions, meetings, counseling or preaching that tires me out (although that can do it sometimes), but it is the production of things. The pressure (real or imagined) that I feel to produce something, to prepare something.

To be productive.

How do you stop producing and rest? How can you take a weekend off? How do you turn your mind off from it? From the pressure, the deadlines?

I’ll be honest. On a weekly basis (when I’m trying to take my sabbath day), this is my biggest struggle. I can survive without social media and email, but it is stopping myself from thinking about work. Being willing to not read a book for a sermon or for leadership and just stop producing.

I feel guilty about it.

But it is necessary and important to your health as a leader, to your family and to your church.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned that might be helpful for you this weekend and on your next vacation:

1. Decide ahead of time what unproductive will mean and entail. This might sound counterintuitive, but the first step to being unproductive is to be productive. Set yourself up to succeed.

If you are married, sit down with your spouse and ask them, “If I was unproductive for a weekend, a week, two weeks, a month, what would that mean? What would we do?” One reason leaders struggle to rest is the constant movement of ministry and leadership. It is addicting. As much as my heart, mind and body need a break from preaching, when I do take a break I get antsy and have a hard time functioning. That is not only a sign that I need it, but it’s also a sign that I have some heart work to do around that.

For me, here are some things that being unproductive means: no blogging or writing, no leadership or theology books (I read spy novels or historical books on vacation), sleeping in (or letting Katie sleep in), taking naps, extended game time with my kids, extended time with friends.

Answer this simple question: What would refresh me and recharge me? Are there certain people who will do that? Spend time with them.

Too many pastors work on vacation and prepare for upcoming things (you need to plan that for a different time). Your weekend or vacation is for refreshment, recharging and reconnecting with your family in a different way.

2. Set yourself up for success. If you don’t decide ahead of time, you’ll end up coming back for the fall exhausted.

One of the things we’ve done in years past is for me to take a one or two night retreat at a monastery before we go away. Leaders have a way of crashing at the start of vacation. I’d rather do this alone than crash on my family. It starts your time off on the right foot.

If you are tired of church or have a hard time going to church without thinking about your church (which happens more than you think), take a Sunday off and sleep in. Watch a podcast (but not for ministry purposes).

The bottom line is, if you know and have decided how to be unproductive, it makes it easier to reach it. It increases the likelihood of resting and recharging.

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to take social media and email off your phone. In fact, on vacation Katie changes my passwords so I can’t even get on them in a moment of weakness (which never happens).

At the end of your week, finish things up. Set up some kind of ritual at the end of the day or week that says, “I’m done. I’ve done all that I can, the rest is in God’s hands”, so that you can be done mentally and emotionally.

3. Give yourself grace. Because you are a leader and are trained to be productive and critical, you will struggle to not be productive and critical. When you think about work, a person, a situation, give yourself grace and then move on.

On your weekend, when you start to think about work, write it down and let it go. Give yourself a moment to reconnect to being off and be okay with that. Your weekend or vacation isn’t ruined in that moment. It can be if you let it, but it isn’t yet.

4. Get out of town. This isn’t always possible, but get out of town. There are so many retreat centers and housing for pastors and their families that you can do this inexpensively. In fact, we have stayed at the same place in San Diego four different years, and each time it was free. Just plan ahead (and Google pastor’s retreat) and start making calls. Our kids look forward every year to vacation because we’ve planned it. This also means we don’t do things during the year for this time to happen, but we got out of town when I was making less than $500 a week (and working four jobs) planting our church. So you can do it!

On your weekend, find fun things to do if that will recharge you. Go swimming, take a hike, go to a fair or a market. Get moving. You may stay in your town, but get out of your house. Changing the scenery is crucial to resting and recharging.

5. Your church will be fine. Many pastors fear leaving their church as if they are the glue that holds their church together. Now if you are a church planter, you are the glue for much of your church but not all of it. You can get away for a long weekend or a week and everything will be fine.

Too many pastors live with the pressure that if they take a week off, someone will be mad. They might, but you’ll live. They get vacation time, too.

Often pastors will ask me, “What do I do if I don’t have someone to preach?” Simple, show a video sermon of someone. Go download a Tim Keller, Matt Chandler or Craig Groeschel sermon and show that. Better yet, download four and take four Sundays off from preaching.

This Matters (A Lot)

Let me tell you why this matters. I’ve led my church since 2008, and being unproductive for a little bit of time is not only good for me and my family, but also for my church. A refreshed pastor leads a refreshed church.

A tired pastor leads a tired church.

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

A few weeks ago I had a plane ride coming up, so I looked through my stack of books trying to figure out what to read. Nothing jumped out at me until I got to Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m not sure why it jumped out at me. I don’t feel burned out. Katie and I live at a sane pace and do our best to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things.

But one of the things I’m learning about reading as I get older is that I am reading less and less to find out something new or learn something I didn’t already know. I’m reading more and more to remind myself of truths I already know and stay on track with the decisions I’ve made.

That’s what I found most helpful about Reset.

Also very helpful was the layout of the book, how he moved from one topic to the next and built on them in a cohesive way. It really feels like a course you are walking through with a counselor, which it is. The reality check portion on pages 24 – 31 is worth the price of the book. He lays out a dashboard for your life, how to know if you are burning out, past burnout, how tired you are and where your tiredness and burnout are coming from.

This was incredibly helpful and something I’m going to use as a dashboard in my life, leadership, family and heart.

What Murray does that sets this book apart is, before getting to any practical tips, he lays out the theology of why what he is talking about matters. This is crucial, especially on the chapter about medication and the chapter about food and your body. Very few Christians have a theological way of looking at these topics, and I think it is hurting many of them.

Here are a few other things that jumped out to me:

  • Every problem I see in every person I know is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life. -Brady Boyd
  • Few things are as theological as sleep. Show me your sleep pattern and I’ll show you your theology, because we all preach a sermon in and by our sleep.
  • Contentment is a wonderful cure for insomnia.
  • Whatever we focus our hearts on first thing in the morning will shape our entire day. -Tony Reinke

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially if you are a leader and/or over 30.


Why Loving Your Family is So Hard

Let’s be honest about families. They are incredible. They bring us love, joy and a ton of great memories.

They can also be difficult, painful, hurtful and wreck our lives (at least a portion of them).

We often underestimate the impact that our families have on our lives and the kind of people we become.

Who we become has a lot to do with where we came from, who we grew up with and what that house and family were like. The person we marry has an enormous impact on our lives and what they are like.

As we think about being a follower of Jesus, loving our family doesn’t often come into our thinking. We hear Jesus say we are to love our neighbor, so we look around us to figure out who to love. Yet, our family members are our neighbors, too. This is one of the biggest missed opportunities to show the love of God and impact lives.

In Colossians 3:18 – 21, the apostle Paul lays out what a family is supposed to be like, what a husband and wife do and what children are to be like. But before he gets there, he lays the foundation in verses 1 – 17 of what a family does and what is the environment of a family. While similar to the list in 1 Corinthians 13 (the famous love chapter), this is a little different.

Before getting there, let me ask you a question: Who is the hardest person in your family to love?

As Paul tells us how to love and live, he does so by comparing two kinds of people: those who are dead in their sin (not followers of Jesus) and those who have been brought into new life in Christ.

This takes away our excuse about loving difficult people, because Paul shows us that through Jesus we have been loved. And we are difficult to love. Apart from God’s grace, we are broken and sinful.

In light of that, Paul tells us what should be true of our relationships and what should not be true of our relationships.

First, the negative side (what shouldn’t be true):

Sexual Immorality: He starts with sexual immorality, impurity, lust and evil desires. Sexual desire is hardwired into us as humans, but because we are sinful we distort our sexual desire.

Whenever the phrase sexual immorality is used in the NT, it is a junk drawer word. It means anything outside of God’s design for sex within the confines of marriage.

Why? Is God trying to ruin our fun?

He knows that when we distort sex and sexual desire we end up hurt and broken. In dating relationships that become sexual, the couple simply feels closer than they actually are, and that covers up issues that should be dealt with.

Greed: Greed refers to the belief that everything, including people, exists for your own personal purposes. Do you see how that would be destructive in a family?

We so easily fall into thinking that our family, spouse and kids are there for our benefit, our pleasure, to build us up and to make us feel good.

We look to them to complete us, to fix us. We look to them to complete them, to fix them.

Think about it like this: Most people love that they aren’t alone instead of loving the other person in the relationship. This is a crucial question to ask: Do you love your spouse, kids, parents? Or do you love not being alone?

The answer to that will determine how you treat them.

Don’t believe me? The next one he lists is in so many relationships.

Anger: We reserve so much anger for those who are closest to us. We will say things to them that we wouldn’t even say in the comfort of Facebook. We are brutal to our family sometimes.

Anger refers to a chronic feeling, not simply outbursts of rage.

It is an attitude, a contempt you feel towards someone.

This happens when we feel and act superior to someone close to us. We put them down. We tell them they are too emotional, too stupid, too needy.

This is when we pull away to get our way, to get what we want.

You might say, “But I’m not emotional. I’m a non-feeler.”

Do you know one of the reasons non-feelers get angry? To avoid being vulnerable. This is why we get up from a conversation, slam a door, storm out, fold our arms and shake our heads. We do this so we don’t have to engage a feeling, and it is dangerous.

Here’s a way it shows up in a family: When one person feels like they do all the work and the other person (spouse or child) doesn’t pull their weight. You work so much and they don’t do as much as you think they should.

Being judgmental and critical. We do this with family members more than anyone else. Why? Because they are stuck with us.

How does wrath, malice and anger show up in families? Through resentment and bitterness.

Words: The last thing Paul talks about is our speech, our words.

It is interesting how much the New Testament talks about our words.

We say the worst things to the people closest to us.

Words carry enormous power in our lives.

We don’t normally tell another person we hate them or never want to see them again. We rarely tell our friends, “I’m afraid I’m going to be stuck with you. You’re too emotional. You’re too controlling.”

Yet, we say those things all the time to our kids and our spouse.

He ends with, don’t lie to each other. Be truthful.

Do you see any of these things in your heart? In any relationships you have?

So, what do you do? My next post will unpack how to love your family and those closest to you.

Thursday Mind Dump…

  • It’s been a whirlwind of a week in the Reich house.
  • Katie had to be in Phoenix Monday and Tuesday for something and I had to be up there yesterday.
  • Made for a hectic week, but it’s done!
  • It was really excited to be in Phoenix with the other Acts 29 pastors in Arizona and some SBC pastors as we talked and prayed about how to plant more healthy churches in our state.
  • Loved everything about this circle.
  • I also got to spend yesterday doing another interview in the process of hiring a new pastor at Revolution and made 4 reference calls.
  • It is a great (and holy) opportunity to interview people.
  • I love the potential this role has not only for our staff team, but more specifically to help the people entrusted to our church for them to grow.
  • I am also grateful I don’t interview people for a living.
  • Thankful those people share their wisdom in books and blogs though.
  • We’re getting so close to hiring someone, so keep praying for us.
  • Every week our staff team and team leads share celebrations with each other that we are able to share with our teams.
  • I was simply blown away this week.
  • Story after story of people taking next steps.
  • I shared a few of them on Facebook live yesterday.
  • I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready for June.
  • Ready for a new rhythm for a bit to catch my breath.
  • The other night we showed our kids Remember the Titans for family movie night.
  • The conversations about race were really interesting.
  • Watching our kids process the history of our nation, as they look at the makeup of our family.
  • I’m hopeful they have a deep understanding of the pain of racism but also how to fight against it.
  • Next up in this journey for them is Hidden Figures.
  • Leaders are always asking me what I’m reading.
  • Here’s my list right now for sermon prep.
  • I’m working on a series we’ll start at Revolution on July 23rd called The Bible. 
  • We’ll look at 4 questions: How do we know the Bible is True? What is the main point of the Bible? Why should you read the Bible? and How do you read the Bible?
  • So excited for this series.
  • I’m also pretty excited to jump back into a book of the Bible on May 21st and do a series on Jonah called When God Doesn’t Make Sense
  • Anyway, back at it…

What to do When Someone Close to You is Hurting

Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, we can brush it off and often move on. We can be tough, ignore it, deal with it or get even (although that rarely helps), but something changes when it is our spouse, kids, a close friend or a family member who is hurt.

We feel powerless in that moment.

Especially if our spouse is hurt because of someone else’s sin or mistreatment. When our spouse is wrongly accused or betrayed by someone, those wounds cut deep. They often cut deep into our heart because of our inability to protect our spouse and to help them.

We can’t jump into a conversation, we can’t go to our spouse’s work place and defend their honor, it is difficult for us to jump into a relationship we aren’t a part of and defend them or shout about how they’ve been mistreated.

This is especially true in ministry.

I took one counseling class in seminary. I don’t remember anything from it but one thing. The professor said, “When people are hurt in their life or have been hurt by an authority figure (a boss, spouse, parent, coach, teacher) and they can’t do anything about it, they will take it out on the closest authority figure to them. Often that person will be a pastor, a boss or a coach. If they can’t find an authority figure, they will simply take it out on the person closest to them that they are jealous of.”

At first I brushed it off. I was 24 and hadn’t really experienced much of leadership or counseling at that point.

Now that is one of the truest and most applicable statements I have heard in my entire life. I have watched that play out so many times in our church and in relationships.

For example, when I meet with someone who is leaving our church, almost 50% of the conversation has to do with their spouse, a past hurt our church had nothing to do with (usually a father wound) or something else in their life out of their control that has nothing to do with me or our church. But they are mad and it gets directed at me and our church.

Back to your spouse or kids that are hurting and you feel powerless. What do you do?

  • Pray for them.
  • Listen to them.
  • Give godly advice, not advice that makes you feel justified for them. That is a crucial piece.
  • Ask good questions when it is appropriate. This comes after listening to them.
  • Help them see through the fog of their hurt to what God is doing and how He is trying to use this. I’m often amazed at how God brings about new possibilities through what seems like an impossible situation.

How to Lose Weight as a Leader

Every month I hear from a reader of this blog, a fellow pastor or talk to someone who wants to lose weight. I get asked about my weight loss journey on a weekly basis. For most Americans and leaders, weight and health are a struggle. And it gets harder the older you get.

I get two common questions from people, especially leaders, about weight loss. One is from pastors themselves asking me about how I lost weight and how they can, too. The second is from their wives asking me how they can make their husbands lose weight.

The first question I can answer. The second one is ground I don’t walk onto.

For me, I got miserable enough to lose weight. I weighed 300 pounds when I got married, had a 42 inch waist and finally at the ripe old age of 29, got fed up with it.

If you are a leader, being healthy and losing weight becomes incredibly difficult. You have a lot of stress, a lot of things to do, a lot of meetings to sit in and a lot of meetings at restaurants. Throw in traveling to conferences and you are looking at a life filled with minimal activity and a lot of temptation when it comes to food.

The journey of losing weight and keeping the weight off is similar.

If you work for a living (or if you don’t), these are some ideas that will help you to lose weight and keep it off:

Know what you’ll eat wherever you go. One of the easiest ways to lose weight when eating out is to not get sucked into the menu. When you go somewhere, you should always know what you are going to eat. This will help to keep you from remorse about your food purchase.

Plan for exercise. Before you travel somewhere, know where you will exercise. I have chosen hotels on trips based off of the gyms they have. Find a gym you can walk to and get a guest pass. Once Katie and I were in LA for four days, and we got 3-day guest passes to a gym.

In your workday, know when you are going to exercise. If you don’t attach a minute to it, it won’t happen. Your day will get away from you, and you will find yourself not exercising.

Order first everywhere. At a meal out, always be the first to order. This is an idea from Tom Rath at Gallup that talks about how the first person to order sets the tone for the table. If the first person orders an appetizer, everyone looks at the appetizer and your meal just added at least 1,000 calories to it.

Drink lots of water. Everyone knows soda is bad for us, and yet we keep drinking it in ridiculous amounts. When you travel and when you sit in meetings, drink lots of water. Especially when you are flying somewhere, this will help you to avoid dehydration and help to keep you more alert.

Go to bed first. Sleep is the secret weapon for every leader. It is the secret weapon to every athlete, and yet we treat this poorly. I watch a lot of pastors when they travel somewhere stay up until 1am hanging out with friends and then running ragged because of it. Turn off Netflix and go to bed.

Stand and walk as much as possible. If a lunch meeting is less than a mile from your office or a meeting, try to walk. Just move. Get up out of your seat at least every hour and move around.

Don’t eat dessert. No one ever eats dessert and is glad they did. In fact, if you eat an entire dessert at a restaurant there’s a good chance you will hate yourself after the fact. Share one if you are going to get one, but I’d encourage you to fill up on some real food.

While this isn’t a complete list, these are just a few ideas that might help you get started on your weight loss journey or keep moving.

Wednesday Morning Mind Dump…

  • It’s been a whirlwind of 3 days.
  • Sunday right after church, I flew to Reno for the Acts 29 West Conference.
  • Which was awesome.
  • Then got up at 4:30 Tuesday morning to fly home so I could be here for Katie’s birthday.
  • I was dragging through the Reno, Vegas and Tucson airport.
  • But it felt so good to get home.
  • One of the things I love about Katie’s birthday is surprising her with her summer reading list.
  • I think one of the best ways a husband can love and serve his wife is get her good books to read that fill her heart and soul with some gospel goodness.
  • And some funny/sad/moving memoirs.
  • And yes, I got her other stuff too.
  • Speaking of summer, now’s a good time to start thinking through your summer reading list.
  • Summer is a great time to grow, give your brain a break, think through a new project or dream.
  • It’s a great time to reset something and start over halfway through the year.
  • It was incredible being in Reno and hearing all the things that God is doing, not only in Acts 29 West, but around the world.
  • I love being a part of a global network that is planting churches and seeing lives changed.
  • One of the things I was most excited about when I left Reno were some of the ideas me and the other pastors in Arizona have for partnering together to plant more churches in our state.
  • Can’t wait to see them unfold.
  • On the plane, I got to read David Murray’s new book Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture.
  • So helpful.
  • If you are a leader who is over 30, this is a book you must read.
  • I’ll share some book notes soon.
  • My birthday is Saturday so Katie and I are celebrating our birthdays with friends next week.
  • It is one of the advantages of having your birthday the same week as your spouse’s.
  • Well, I’m a day and a half behind on my sermon.
  • Back at it…

How to Grow in Holiness


If you attend church, you have heard this word. You have heard that you are supposed to be holy as God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

But why? Does anyone want that?

Two reasons. One, we are called to it as followers of Jesus. All over the Bible we are told to be like God.

The second reason is because it is the path to life and freedom.

Everyone is attracted to Jesus, and in Jesus we see the person who lived the freest and fullest life and did so without sin.

How do we grow in holiness, though?

Once we determine we want holiness and see that as the path to freedom and life, Peter gives some crucial steps in 1 Peter 1.

1. Live out of your identity as a child of God. The New Testament letters contain a lot of commands about how a follower of Jesus is supposed to live. All of those come after the promises and assurances of God’s grace towards us. It happens in the Old Testament, too. Take the 10 commandments. Before giving them, God reminds them that He rescued the nation of Israel and set them free. Then He tells them how to live in that freedom.

Peter does this in chapter 1. He spends the first 12 verses laying out the truth of God’s grace towards us and our redemption found only in Jesus. Then in verse 13 he says, “Therefore.” Because of this, in light of this, be holy.

Live out the truth of your new identity.

Sinclair Ferguson said, “Holiness is a way of describing love. To say ‘God is love’ and that ‘God is holy’ ultimately is to point to the same reality. Holiness is the intensity of the love that flows within the very being of God.”

2. Prepare for it. Holiness does not just happen. In fact, very little “just happens” in our lives. Holiness takes intentionality. So does sinning. You plan for sinning simply by not choosing not to sin. You put yourself in situations that make sinning a possibility or easier to fall into.

To be holy you must prepare for it, choose it and pursue it. This term is a military, athletic term. Training for a sport, a marathon or a long hike does not just happen. You have to plan your training, when it will happen and how it will happen. You schedule your nutrition and your sleep. All those preparations go into it. The same is true for holiness.

And this is where most of us fall off track. It is easier to prepare for sin than holiness. Sin is easier to fall into than holiness.

3. Focus on Jesus and His return. Throughout the New Testament, when endurance or obedience is commanded, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, to look toward eternity and the promises of God we have in Jesus. Jesus is our only hope in life and death, and we must through the power of the Holy Spirit and the promises found in Scripture, keep our eyes focused on Him. Peter uses the word “fully” or “completely.”

This means identifying the things that will take our focus away from Jesus. What idols, desires or loves will put our eyes and heart from Jesus? We must know what those things are and continually battle those to keep our eyes on Jesus.

4. Be conformed by obedience, not by your past life. Following Jesus is a constant battle of moving forward. It is easy to fall backwards, to look back. Our past is what we know. It is comfortable, like an old shirt. We know those places and those people and can easily slip back.


Holiness says freedom and life aren’t found there.

Conformed in 1 Peter 1:14 is a shaping word. We are shaped by our passions, by our loves. They determine who we are, who we become and ultimately where our lives end up. Sinclair Ferguson said, “Knowing whose you are, who you are, and what you are for, settles basic issues about how you live.” That is what Peter is talking about here.

If our former passions shape us, they determine where our lives end up. If the holiness of God, the way we are called to live, shapes us, that determines what we love and where we end up.