Connecting with Your Kids and the Phases of Parenting

This is a guest post from my wife Katie Reich based off of questions we often get about resources for connecting with your kids.

My life basically smells of dried catsup, loose leaf paper, and essential oils. When you have five kids, even doing “nothing” is busier than the average busy. Thankfully I love my kids and my life.

“Passionate and intentional adventure toward God” is a huge part of our family mission statement. To be honest, that isn’t always easy. With the life of a family of seven, just feeding, schooling, and refereeing can take up most of our day.

Finding resources that fit our family values and schedule is not always easy. About two years ago our church switched over to the Orange Curriculum.

It seemed like a good choice with some great handouts to encourage parent involvement and tools to help kids of all ages take their next step with God.

During that time I read “It’s Just a Phase” and dog-eared so many pages, all the while wishing there was a way to disseminate the information for each of my kids in an orderly and timely way without having to cross reference post-its, highlights and dog-eared pages. Well, Kristen Ivey and Reggie Joiner have done just that plus more in the “Parenting Your ….” guides.

These guides are road maps to helping take what you know about your child combined with others their age, while encouraging you/me to become a more thoughtful and engaged parent.

Do yourself a favor and buy it the week of your child’s birthday….

  • if you don’t know what conversations to have with her.
  • if each year you wish you knew your child better physically, socially, mentally and emotionally.
  • if each year you want book, game and movie suggestions to create connections and a jumping point to help develop his emotional intelligence.
  • if you need a reminder of how long you have until she turns 18 and it scares you just a little.
  • if you want to create a plan to engage thoughtfully with him but don’t know where to start.
  • if life is busy and you want to really notice her and help her to grow.

You can order your copies here.

How the Enneagram is Helping Me Grow as a Leader

It seems like everywhere you turn in the Christian world right now, someone is talking about the Enneagram. There are books, podcasts and blogs popping up everywhere.

I was first introduced to it two years ago as part of a leadership training I did with Katie through Crosspoint.

If you aren’t familiar, here’s a helpful description from Crosspoint:

We are in Christ so that we may become like Christ. (Ephesians 3:17) This is the journey of Christian spiritual formation. It requires a self-clarity anchored in the reality of being created in the image of God and re-created in the likeness of Christ. It involves ‘putting off’ the old way of being and ‘putting on’ the new way of being by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:20-24) Without a greater awareness of the unconscious motivations that impact our decisions and relationships, we remain stuck.

Each personality style carries a particular challenge to Christian maturity. This is what the desert fathers and mothers of the third and fourth century discovered. These spiritual guides were concerned about unacknowledged patterns that kept Christians from a deeper walk with Christ. As they listened and prayed, various patterns began to emerge. The individual Fruits of the Spirit (nine godly virtues) faced the corruptive power of nine specific vices. And it seemed to them that each virtue was susceptible to a particular vice. True sanctification of the heart would be impossible without addressing this subtle but sinful reality.

What I have found most helpful is that at the beginning of taking the Enneagram, it shows you your personality style. The way that you perceive reality, process reality and how you present yourself to the world around you.

In light of that, here are some ways it is helping me as a leader:

Helping me to know the mask I wear. Most adults and leaders are not self aware. Most of the people I meet with do not know how they are wired, how that wiring works, what they are best suited to do or not do. Knowing this one thing helps to save you a lot of heartache when it comes to figuring out a job, where to serve in a church or what would make you excited in the morning.

Many people also don’t understand the mask that they wear. The Enneagram really helped me understand the mask I wear, not only to protect myself in relationships, but also to get ahead. It really does help you understand the sins and tendencies that will bring you down. Sadly, many people will take the Enneagram or any test and say, “Well I’m just this or that, so that’s all there is to it.” That isn’t it or the end, and that is a sad excuse to stay stuck.

Which leads to the next one…

Helps those closest to me challenge me and pray for me. I’m an 8 on the Enneagram, which means I bring a lot of energy and intensity to everything I do and every relationship I have. I often joke that if you want something done and don’t care how it gets done, send an 8. If you want it done a specific way, send a 1. If you want it done efficiently, send a 3.

Knowing how I’m wired not only helps me process what I’m feeling and thinking when things happen, but it helps those around me understand that as well. It helps them to give grace when needed, but also to push on me when needed. They can also point out my blindspots a lot faster than simply guessing if I am that way.

If you are a friend with someone who is a 7, they can very easily be the life of the party, but they can also be impulsive, all over the map and lean towards escapism in unhealthy places. Knowing this is incredibly helpful not only for the person but for those around them.

Helps me to appreciate others wiring and give grace to them. Most people know that everyone is not wired like they are, but we rarely live like that is true. The Enneagram has really helped me understand how others are created, how they process and see things and how they protect themselves. 1’s are incredibly hard on things, they love things to be done well and perfectly (to their standards). They are also 10 times harder on themselves than on those around them. Knowing this has allowed me to extend a lot of grace to 1’s and help me understand the frustration they experience.

If you are friends with a 2 on the Enneagram, they love to help people and are often right in the center of helping to make things happen. But they also struggle to know what they need in a situation because they are often so focused on helping others and meeting their needs. Knowing this is enormously helpful to know how someone needs to pace themselves and make sure they have strong boundaries for rest and rejuvenation.

This matters in relationships because many times we will look at how others see the world and dismiss it because it is different than our viewpoint, or we will see how someone struggles with something and if we don’t struggle with that, we can easily look down on them or wonder why that is such a stumbling block to them. I feel like understanding this has raised my ability to give grace in situations that in the past I would’ve given up on someone.

Helps those closest to me understand my reactions and how I process the world. While the Enneagram has been a help to me in relationships, it has been a help to those closest to me as well as we’ve discussed what we’re learning together. This one point was one of the biggest aha moments for Katie and me in our marriage.

If you’re married, do you know how your spouse processes the world? You might know their reactions to things because you are so used to it by now, but do you know why they react that way? Where that comes from?

Most people don’t, but that one piece of information is incredibly important and helpful. Your spouse might get angry easily, but do you know why? People get angry for different reasons. That is how they process the world. Your spouse might shut down emotionally, but do you know why? They might look at the world through lenses of fear, melancholy, co-dependence, or being focused on their image.

All of those things matter and are important. And knowing these helps with the next one.

Helps me to know if my reactions or processing are sins. Getting angry isn’t always a sin, but sometimes it is. Isolating isn’t always a sin, but it can be. Being incredibly helpful and others-focused is a great quality, but it can be a sin. Getting things done is incredibly important and will make you very successful, but it can be destructive.

It is understanding yourself in the light of the person God created and called you to be that you are able to understand if something is a sin.

Being able to articulate that this is my childhood wound, this is how that has affected my life, this is how I have found redemption from it, is crucial in our journey to being whole in Christ. Being able to know this is why I’m fearful, anxious, frugal, emotionally sensitive, and what parts of those feelings and actions are sins or not is really important. I think it gives a bigger picture of humanity.

It keeps you from imploding. The last thing the Enneagram has helped me with as a leader is protecting from implosion. Now, the reality is that all of us are a choice away from wrecking our lives, but the Enneagram has helped me know what can wreck my life, what struggle can bring me or another person down. And they are different.

Another important aspect has come out of talking to counselors who have been using the Enneagram, and it is this: What made you successful in your 20’s and 30’s can often be the thing that brings you down in your 40’s and 50’s.

We have all seen this. The hard driving 28 year old who starts a business and “makes it happen” quickly becomes the tyrant no one wants to work for when he’s 42.

The person who is always helping others early in life who becomes co-dependent in relationships, and now they don’t know who they are without people.

The person who is the life of the party and the one you always want to have around because of how spontaneous and fun they are, but in their 40’s they are irresponsible and too impulsive as they switch from job to job.

Knowing the resourceful and non-resourceful side of your personality is crucial to knowing what will bring you down and the road to health.

Links for Leaders 12/8/17

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

I’ve also begun a new hobby, a podcast with my good friend Casey Cease called Leadership ConversationsOur goal is to have the conversations leaders wish they could have or have in their heads so that they can win at leadership. I’d love for you to check it out.

Now, onto some of the posts I enjoyed this week:

Christmas is almost here, which means time for gifts and some time off. If you’re a leader, this is a great time to grab a great book. Here are 18 books Brian Dodd thinks every leader needs to read in 2018 (I’ve read some of these and he’s right).

Christmas is a challenging season for everyone, but for pastors it can be especially hard if they don’t plan well and think through it. Chuck Lawless shares 10 things for pastors to do differently this month that I found to be really helpful.

Sleep is a challenge for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, sleep is crucial not only to health and longevity, but effectiveness. In fact, as one blog put it, sleep is a gift.

This article by Brian Jones on Inside the mind of a disgruntled church member is a must read for any pastor or person who attends a church.

December is a busy month for everyone, but especially pastors. What can you do? Tyler Reagin has some great insights on how to lead and rest during the holiday season.

Facing Your Fears

Fear can be paralyzing. It can keep us from moving forward in life. It can keep us from finding freedom from past hurts, past sins. It can keep us from reaching all the things God dreams for us to accomplish, and ultimately it can keep us from living. Why? Because fears will often make us run and hide.

One author said, “Fear is the silent destroyer of dreams.”

Where this really comes out is if you are pessimistic in your life. Maybe you are always making situations out to be worse than they are, expecting something to not work like it should.

This is one reason I have always identified with the book of Joshua.

The name Joshua means, “God is my salvation.” So, in the name of the book, and my name, is this reminder of where salvation comes from. What is interesting is that God seems to say, “Joshua, fear not.” “Joshua, don’t be afraid.” Always followed by, “For I am with you, I am your God.” It seems to be on every other line of the book. Sometimes it feels like that line is on every other page of my life.

Throughout the book we see over and over how God is with Joshua, keeps His promises and ultimately is his God and his salvation. In chapter 12 it lists the names of the Kings Joshua defeated in battle.

31 kings defeated in battle.

I wonder if we often miss what God has done in our lives. The power He has shown when we don’t know where He is in a situation. I often think God brings us through hard times so they can stack up as a reminder, something to look back on to say, “Remember how God brought us through that before? I believe He can do it again because we didn’t know if He could before. We didn’t know where He was before.”

Then in Joshua 13 it lists what lies ahead for Joshua.

Once we are able to exhibit faith, show our belief in God and not be paralyzed by fear, we are able to move forward and get to work. As long as Joshua is paralyzed, he won’t move forward.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1.   What are you afraid of?
  2.   What do those fears reveal about you?
  3.   What do those fears reveal about what you believe to be true about God?
  4.   As you look at the answer to #3, does that line up with what the Bible tells us about God?

If we aren’t careful, we will allow fear to become the lens through which we look at life. I know I can very easily do it. I can start to make decisions out of fear, live my life and relate to others out of fear.

If you tell a Christian about fear, they will often point you to Joshua 1.

Why?

Because God tells Joshua to be strong, to be courageous, to not be afraid.

But why? How is Joshua supposed to do that?

Joshua is supposed to be strong and courageous because God says, I will never leave you or forsake you.

Stop right here.

Many of our fears can be traced back to this verse and our inability to believe it.

What is interesting to me is how Joshua is supposed to know that God will never leave him.

God tells him to look at what He has done in the past. We can see this not only in our lives as we look back to see God at work, how He has answered prayers, rescued us, done things we were unaware of, but also in the lives of others. God tells Joshua to look at the life of Moses, but He also tells him to meditate on His word.

Day and night.

This is more than a simple reading of a verse or devotional thought. This is taking a verse or phrase and thinking on it throughout the day, stewing on it as you turn it over and over in your heart and mind. Asking God to show you how to be strong and courageous (or whatever you are facing).

The antidote to fear is faith, faith through meditating on God’s word. Day and night.

Making Christmas Special for Your Family

December is a unique, special month.

There are parties to attend, gifts to buy, cards to send, food to make and eat, and memories to be made. Kids will be off from school, parents will be off from work, Christmas specials will be on TV.

If you plan ahead as a parent, you can make December a special month.

Here are some ideas:

Listen to Christmas music. I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. If you know me, this isn’t news. However, starting at Thanksgiving we listen to it almost non-stop until Christmas. Why? It is a good tradition. The songs are about Jesus, and my kids love music. I look for Christmas music we like and create a playlist that I load onto all of our iPods and iPads so we can listen to it wherever we are. The kids listen to Christmas music as they go to sleep. This helps to change the mood of the month and communicates that this time of year is different. It has its own music.

Take your kids on a special daddy date. Go to a park, go to Starbucks to get a treat and play a game or whatever they decide (within reason). In December I like to do something special. Usually on that daddy date I’ll take them to the store to pick out a present for their siblings. My hope is they will learn generosity and thinking of others as we talk about why we give gifts to others.

Record Christmas specials and watch them together. Kids love Christmas specials. At least my kids do. So, record them and watch them together.

The tree. Whether you go out and cut down your tree, buy one or have a fake one (like we do here in AZ), make putting up the tree special. Build it up, plan it, make your own ornaments, tell stories about the ornaments you are putting up, and listen to Christmas music while doing it.

Do a special outing as a family. Some families go caroling or sledding. Some shop on Black Friday together. One of our traditions is to go eat at the Ethiopian restaurant (one of our sons is Ethiopian) and then go look at Christmas lights.

Eat special (and bad for you) food. I’m a health nut about what I eat. At the holidays I ease off the gas pedal on that. Eat an extra dessert. Have the same thing each year to create a tradition. At our house on Christmas Eve, we make cream of crab soup and have chocolate fondue for dessert. We don’t make it any other time, so it is extra special.

Read a special book together. This year we are working our way through Lord of the Rings. We are taking extra time this month to read through it, and it is sparking some great discussions about who God is, who Jesus is, what humans are like and why we need Jesus, and who we are like in the story. Communicating the gospel to our kids doesn’t have to be difficult, and we can use books and movies to do so.

Make hot chocolate. You don’t make hot chocolate a whole lot any other time of the year. This is when you do it, and it feels extra special because of that. Load it up with marshmallows and whipped cream.

Celebrate Advent. This year our family is using a daily devotional, Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional. So far it is great.

Give your wife a break. Our church closes its offices between Christmas and New Year’s so our staff slows down and has a break (and there’s a good chance you’ll have some days off or work not quite as hard). During this time I am able to give Katie some downtime to get out without the kids, take an extra coffee date with a girlfriend, or take a nap. This is a great time for you to serve your spouse. You might also pick a time in the month of December for her to sit at Starbucks alone, get her nails done, or send her and some friends to dinner.

Slow down and be together. Years from now your kids will remember very little about life as a child, but they will remember if you were there. So will you. Don’t miss it. Work isn’t that important. That party isn’t that important. Shopping for one more thing isn’t that important if it keeps you from being with those you love. I’ve been reminded recently by the illnesses of close friends of the brevity of life. If your kids ask you to snuggle or lie down with them, do it. One day they won’t ask.

8 Ideas to Make Your Christmas Eve Service Memorable

Christmas Eve is coming, and millions of people will walk into a church to experience something. But what will they get when they walk into your church or mine?

For many of those guests, this will be the only time they attend church this year. They are coming for all kinds of reasons. Some are searching, some were drug along by a family member, and some can’t tell you why they are there. But they are there.

What will they feel? Experience? Hear?

With that in mind, here are a few last minute tips for your church and mine:

Be you. I think many churches over blow big days and try to go all out, and then when someone comes back they are disappointed. The old saying, “What you win them on is what you keep them on,” applies greatly to Christmas Eve.

Be you. Don’t try to be a different church. If you are a small church plant of 50 people, use that to your advantage and don’t try to be the megachurch of 3,000 that puts on a huge production. Be you.

Keep it simple. The church I lead strives to be a simple church in all we do, and that extends to special services and days. We want the people who walk through our doors to experience a great service, but we also want them to know this is what it is like every other week of the year.

Be friendly. Every church thinks they are friendly and most are not. So try to be friendly. As a pastor, walk around before and after the service. Be visible. Have greeters ready at the doors and walking around saying hi and engaging guests. If you find someone who doesn’t know where to go, show them, don’t point them. Walk them to where they need to go, don’t say, “Go through that door, take two lefts and then a right and walk backwards.”

Thank people for coming. I’m blown away that churches don’t say thanks to people who show up. They didn’t have to come to your church. They could’ve stayed home, but they didn’t. Say thanks. Give them a thank you gift or verbally thank them for spending the holiday with you.

Invite them back. Again, this is something many churches don’t do or don’t do well. Tell them, “We’d love to have you back.” And make it sound great. Tell them what you are inviting them back to.

Talk about Jesus. This might seem obvious because it is Christmas, but many pastors will not talk about Jesus and miss the whole point. Tell people about Jesus, regardless of what the topic of the service is. He is why you are there.

Give them a clear next step. At the end, give them a clear next step. It might be becoming a follower of Jesus, coming back next week for that brand new series you are starting, talking to someone, or something related to the sermon. It might be giving to your Christmas offering or some other response, but have one.

Keep it short. A Christmas service should be under an hour. Period. Keep it short and simple. Thank them, invite them back, talk about Jesus, give them a clear next step and say, “Merry Christmas, I’ll see you next week!”

Links for Leaders 11/24/17 [Holiday Weekend Edition]

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

Now, onto the articles I came across that I hope will help you:

When we think of leaders, we often think of hard driving, goal oriented, take no prisoners, climb the hill kind of people. And that can be good in certain situations, but over the long haul, a leader must learn to be softer and gentler as they lead. Brian Dodd gives a helpful list of 17 Ways To Be A Kinder, Gentler Pastor And Leader.

As the year ends, many people will make resolutions and goals (which I love) but it is also helpful to review your year before you look forward. Here are 3 things I found helpful from Rusty George to do before the end of the year.

If you’re a leader, you know when you are hitting on all cylinders and when you aren’t. But it is easier to know what to do when things are going well. What I’ve found to be helpful is knowing indicators I’m heading for a crash (physically and emotionally) before I get there. Here are 3 helpful indicators for you.

My kids are on the verge of the teenage years (I know this because they tell me everyday) and with that is a lot of anxiety and excitement about this next stage. If that’s you, this podcast on parenting during the teen years is invaluable. I love the idea of coaching as a parent, such a helpful picture.

Many leaders will make goals for their personal lives at the end of the year, but it would also be helpful to make some goals as a church and one of those goals should be around relevance. What does that mean? Here are 5 ways to know if you’re church is becoming irrelevant.

Creating a Rhythm of Sabbath Rest

On a weekly basis I’ll hear things like, “I have too many things on my calendar” or, “At the end of the day I don’t have energy for my spouse, kids or the people who matter most to me.” We are a tired, overwhelmed and rundown bunch of people.

One of the questions that has been helpful to Katie and me is, Am I living in a way that is sustainable and will help me thrive tomorrow?

Why does this matter?

God calls us to be healthy. Healthy spiritually, physically, relationally, emotionally, and mentally. God created, us and all of us are meant to glorify Him.

This is a question that pushes on wisdom. In your life and your family right now, are you living in a way that will help you be healthy and thrive tomorrow? Is it sustainable? In churches, many times people burn out because they overload their calendars. We say yes to too many things. I have friends who are in four Bible studies a week, run their kids to ballet, orchestra, baseball and football, and serve in six ministries. Now, once you ask the question are we living in a sustainable way, you will often cut things out of your life. This is a good thing. However, the problem appears in the cutting. The second part is what will help me thrive tomorrow. That answer is harder. Not harder to discern but harder to apply. Most of the time I’ll see people cut God or church out of their lives in favor of hobbies or their kids’ sports. That won’t help you thrive tomorrow.

So what is the answer? What is our hope?

Learning to see and live with Jesus as our rest.

Tim Keller helps us with what this looks like:

God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.

Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul. We need rest from the anxiety and strain of our overwork, which is really an attempt to justify ourselves—to gain the money or the status or the reputation we think we have to have. Avoiding overwork requires deep rest in Christ’s finished work for your salvation (Hebrews 4:1–10). Only then will you be able to ‘walk away’ regularly from your vocational work and rest.

What does that look like practically on a day to day basis? Here are a few ideas:

1. Let go because Jesus has this. As our Sabbath rest, we need to let go and give Jesus our burdens, stress, and anxiety and rest in Him. We know we will have burdens, stress and anxieties because Jesus tells us we will, and we are to give them to him. Because of Jesus’ work, coming from heaven to earth, we are able to accept our limitations. Because Jesus is limitless, we can rest in Him. Not only that, seeing Jesus as our rest is about trusting and enjoying Jesus as better than what we are running from or running in.

2. Schedule rest and recreation. It won’t just happen. Hebrews 4 tells us that we are to enter God’s rest. Exodus 20 tells us to, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” There is an active move on our part as it relates to rest. Sabbath throughout Scripture is an intentional thing, not something that is thrown together at the end.

The reality in being intentional also comes into play when it comes to our calendars and how we spend our time. Our lack of rest, while we often blame others, really comes down to our problem of stopping, trusting God and being okay with not doing certain things.

You’ve heard me say that everytime you say yes to one thing you say no to something else.

Maybe you should take your kids out of activities so you can spend the evening together. The number one complaint I hear from people is, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time for hobbies, sleep, my marriage, relationships, kids, reading my Bible.” You do, you just gave that time away. You give your time to the things that matter most. So what gets your time is what is important. This is why taking control of your calendar matters. If you don’t control your calendar, someone else will.

3. Learn how you rest best. What does enjoying God look like? I think there are some basic principles, but each of us will do this in unique ways. If the goal of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, Sabbath rest is a great way to do this.

For all of us, this will also include the reality of place. Place matters when it comes to glorifying God, enjoying God and resting in God.

Place is all throughout Scripture. Adam and Eve were given a garden, the nation of Israel was given a land, the church is given a city in Revelation. There is a place where rest, connecting to God, feeling closer to God happens for each of us, and it is important to think through that. For some it is a farm, the woods, a mountain, a city, a beach, but figure it out.

4. Fight against technology. A few practical things help me: resting from social media once a week, not having phones at the table so I can enjoy family time and conversations with friends, not checking email at night or on the weekends. The sad thing is that study after study says that as we become more and more technological as a culture, we become more and more distant and lonely.

5. Review your day and week. In his helpful book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan says that at the end of your day ask: Where did I feel most alive, most hopeful, most in the presence of God? And where did I feel most dead, most despairing, farthest from God? What fulfilled me, and what left me forsaken? Where did I taste consolation, and where desolation? This helps you to see where God is moving and at work. Part of Sabbath rest is celebrating that God is in control, resting in that, but also celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.

 

Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good

Last night was date night for Katie and me. Over the years, we’ve made it a habit to go to the same places for things: grocery store, coffee shops, places to eat.

We do this for the purpose of meeting the people who work there and building relationships with them. Learning their names, hearing their stories, and building trust.

At restaurants, we always sit in the same server’s section so we get to know them.

Over the years, we’ve had some amazing conversations as people have opened up about their lives, shared some incredibly heartbreaking and amazing things.

We’ve walked with people through divorces, loss of family members, breakups, career shifts.

These are incredibly holy moments as you sit in gyms or other places of work.

Last night, one of those conversations happened and we were able to invite one of the managers we met to church on Sunday.

When I sit at conferences or listen to sermons, pastors always make sharing your faith sound easy. I met this person one day, told them about Jesus and boom. They become a Christian, on the spot.

It doesn’t always happen like that, sometimes it does, but most of the time, it is slower.

I’m reminded this morning of Galatians 6:9 that says, Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Today, you have a great opportunity to do good, to love people, to listen, to show them God’s love and the power of Jesus. But it can be tiring. People are hard to love, can be unresponsive or simply difficult. You are also tired and don’t want to do those things sometimes. Keep going.

For in the proper time, God will reap for us through His power and our faithfulness and presence. What a powerful reminder.

How to Stay Passionate as a Leader

Starting something is easy. Getting married is easier than staying married. Starting a new company or church is often easier than maintaining one or turning one around.

Yes, it takes a lot of work and effort to get something off the ground, but the dreaming phase, the launching phase, is often incredibly fun and exhilarating.

Why?

Passion.

Passion can take you incredibly far in life.

We don’t follow people who aren’t passionate, and often passion is what will keep you going when the road gets long and hard as a leader. Your passion to see a dream come true, a marriage survive, a child succeed. Our passion can carry us.

But no matter how passionate, energetic, or optimistic we are,

passion also drains and runs low.

There are times when we are simply showing up, going through the motions and trying to survive.

The passion that got it off the ground is hard to maintain.

Sadly, when this happens, many people quit. They give up. They throw in the towel, or they keep going through the motions, which kills them and sucks the life out of them.

Why stay?

One author said, “You will be most tempted to quit moments before the critical breakthrough.”

How do you raise your passion when it gets dry? Here are some ways:

1. Ask God. Our passion and calling come from God. He has wired us with it. When it is waning and not burning hot, ask God for the desire and original passion He gave you.

2. Go back to where you started. Place is important in our lives. For many of us, the dreams we have or the things we started began at a place. I can take you to the seat in an auditorium where God called me to plant a church when I was 21. I can take you to the banks of a lake where I knew at 18 I was supposed to be a pastor.

Many people have sat in conferences or gone on mission trips that have changed their lives and perspectives.

Go back to those places. Sometimes the return to a place ignites a passion in us.

3. Look for small wins and celebrations. Too often the reason our passion is waning is because it isn’t as big or as great as we imagined. It also goes slower than we expected. Most successful people have walked a long winding road to their success.

Look for the small ways you’ve moved ahead. Celebrate the little things that have happened.

4. Get around passionate people. You and I both know passionate, optimistic people. When your passion is waning, get around them. Ask them what they’re dreaming about. This is a great opportunity to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

5. Be honest. This might feel like a downer when talking about passion, but a lack of passion might be the end of your time somewhere. All things come to an end, and that is okay. The reality is that it is possible that when our passion wanes in a job, it is a sign of the end, and that is okay. God will often speak through passion or lack thereof.

This is why it is crucial to have a team or friends who can help you and talk with you about your passion level, where it went, why it is down and how to raise it back up.

If you’re a leader, this matters. Not only for your sanity but for those around you.

If you’re a pastor, your church will feed off your passion, whatever level it is.