When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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As busy individuals, we all can appreciate the value of planning. We make plans every day, whether it’s what we’re going to wear, what we’ll eat for lunch, or how we’ll get from point A to point B. In fact, we’re so accustomed to making plans that we often don’t know how to respond or react when things don’t turn out the way we planned.

When Mary was approached by the angel Gabriel and told that she had been chosen to be the mother of Christ, it’s hard to comprehend how she must have felt. Likely, Mary had her own plan for the course of her life, but God had a greater plan. God’s plan wasn’t what we might see as convenient, comfortable, nor comprehensible. His plan wasn’t on human terms nor timing. On the contrary, His plan was perfect.

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be according to your word’” (Luke 1:38, ESV).

The Lord had been promised. And now, the Lord was proclaimed to Mary. As shocking as it must have been for Mary, she chose to trust the Lord’s plan. And God worked in and through Mary to fulfill His great promise.

Consider your own life. As Christ has been proclaimed as the one who “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12), have you embraced Him as your Savior? As you’ve witnessed God’s hand working in the midst of your own life, have you—like Mary—given Him your complete trust in His greater plan for your life? Whatever your own plans may be, always trust God’s perfect plan.

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When Family Hurts You

 

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“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” – Mario Puzo

Ever felt hurt or betrayed by family? Or maybe someone you love or held in high esteem suddenly became untrustworthy or strangely deceitful in behavior? 

At some point, we all experience it. Disappointment in family choices and behaviors can cut deep to the heart like nothing else. When you feel like you truly know someone–his or her heart or intentions–and then witness disloyal or secretive behaviors from them, it can leave you feeling abandoned, confused, and ultimately bitter. In the end, it’s the legacy of family who’ve gone before us that gets tarnished when one or more remaining family members are disloyal.

As I’ve wrestled with this topic in my own life recently, I was reminded of God’s picture of family loyalty and good stewardship throughout His Word. The Bible is clear that loyalty to God demands that we be loyal to others. Here are just a few Scripture passages on loyalty and responsibility:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

“He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise” (Proverbs 11:29).

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live” (Proverbs 15:27).

“Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

“And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48).

“It is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

“If people say, ‘I love God,’ but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars. Those who do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have never seen” (1 John 4:20).

It’s obvious that God desires for us to be loyal. It’s also obvious that He desires us to be good stewards of what we’ve been entrusted. When family is involved, these principles should take great priority over any of our (intentional or innocent) selfish desires. As decent, moral human character seems to be a lost concept in our world today, we must fight all the harder at staying true to who our Creator designed us to be.

Lord, may I never be disloyal to family, but rather an example of godly, upright character and selfless love. May I always put the feelings and needs of others before myself. When entrusted with much, may I honor You in my management and leadership. And ultimately, God, may you receive the glory for it all!

Need a Boost in Team Morale?

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Morale. It’s so important to a team’s success. Chances are, we’ve all experienced a lack of morale at some point along the way. Even if a team is composed of weak or unskilled players, strong morale can be the one important factor that keeps them focused and in the game. Similarly, a team of MVPs can fall to defeat when morale is low.

So what causes low morale?

In the cases when I’ve most often observed low morale, there’s usually a consistency in either a lack of passion from leadership, a mistrust of leaders in place, or patterns of constant change or instability. Team members need passionate leaders and coaches who are present and accessible (within reason). The most trusted leaders are those who cast strong vision, empower the players’ talents/skills, encourage and affirm team progress, and invest in the players. And obviously, a team in constant transition of players, policies, and practice techniques will almost always struggle with low morale, based on the sheer fact that healthy teams need time to bond, train, and grow together for chemistry and balance.

More importantly, how can one work to ensure a steadfast state of high morale?

Whether or not any of the above factors are in play within your organization, the power of maintaining a strong team morale is essentially in your own hands. Consider these 3 tips for boosting morale.

  1. When you start to see a drop in morale, maybe it’s time for you to step up your game and lead from within. Can your teammates see your passion? Remember that it often takes just a small spark to ignite a giant flame. Also, be on the lookout for ways to fan the flame of other teammates’ passions.
  2. Don’t trust your current leadership? Maybe it’s time to get to know your leader better. Ask him or her to lunch (if possible). Read his or her blog. Send them handwritten notes of encouragement. Often, what leads to a lack of trust is a lack of understanding. Get to know your leaders.
  3. While change is inevitable, consider its benefit. Sure, we hate to see players leave the team. But sometimes a strong player’s exit can open the door to strengthening your own weaknesses. What new talents and skills can you bring to the team that was previously being repressed? And, with time, we often find that new players sometimes bring that missing ingredient for your team’s success. Give change a chance.

Are you currently seeing a dip in morale within your team’s environment? If so, what are some other causes or trends you’ve observed in contributing to the lack of morale?

How do you contribute to maintaining high team morale? What advice would you give to others dealing with this within their organizations? 

DON’T BE A “SELL OUT”! OR DO?

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Our culture has transformed the term “sell-out” into a negative quality. When musicians or actors submit themselves to the going trend, they are often coined as “selling out” to the popular crowd…often compromising the original attributes that gave them the credibility and appeal for which they’re best known. But is “selling out” always a negative thing? Not in the game of baseball! In America’s favorite pastime, “selling out” is described as sacrificing one’s body for the good of the team.

For many leaders, “selling out” or sacrificing personal goals for the good of the team has become optional. But the truth is, some of the best leaders of all time have been “sell outs.” When it came to the success of the whole team, they put aside personal gain, compromising toward a greater purpose. And most often, when such a sacrifice is made, a leader then gains the listening ear and trust of his or her team that can give them the platform to re-introduce those original goals or plans that set them apart from the beginning.

What do your sacrifices or compromises look like in your leadership role? Are there areas in your role that might require you to “sell out”?

Here are 3 signs that might indicate it’s time to “sell out” in your leadership role:

1. When your current vision isn’t producing positive results
2. When your team isn’t passionate or “on board” with your vision
3. When your followers start to slowly disappear