Chase The Lion

Five Great Insights from Mark Batterson's New Book

lion_book_03-1I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s new book, Chase The Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small. Batterson has written several books (including The Circle Maker, All In, and If). What I enjoy about Battersons’ books is his continual three-fold emphasis on faith, courage, and prayer. After each book I’m always inspired to dream bigger, pray harder, and stretch further. Plus, as a church planter, pastor, and writer, I resonate with much of Mark’s story. His stories and experiences are encouraging and challenging.

Chase the Lion is a sequel to In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. It’s the story of Benaiah, King David’s bodyguard, and David’s 37 mighty men. “Chase the Lion” is synonymous with chasing your dreams. For me, five insights from the book challenged me the most.

1. Perspective Changes Everything

Perspective is a difference-maker in life, and as a leader your perspective has a ripple effect in the people you lead. Batterson writes, “If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll always find one. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’ll always find one” (p. 5). So what are you looking for? What’s the default response of your attitude toward your circumstances?

2. Dreaming Big Reveals What You Believe About God

Batterson does a great job drawing the best out of people. He tells stories that inspire, and his church planting experience inspires me to always envision a bigger, better, brighter future. He writes, “The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. Is He bigger than your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest mistake? Is He able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine?” (p. 8) I never want to be guilty of dreaming too small, risking too little, and playing it too safe.

The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. - Mark… Click To Tweet

3. Cultural Impact Matters

I love Mark’s emphasis on the value found in leading and serving in the various streams of culture. He tells the story of a 20th Century Fox producer who called several presidents of prominent Christian colleges in the 1930s, seeking screenwriters who could produce films with a redemptive message. In Mark’s words, “One president wrote back and said he’d sooner send his young people to hell itself than send them to Hollywood” (p. 16). What a missed opportunity. I appreciate Mark’s commitment to rally leadership in every area of culture, whether business, arts, media, government…you name it; it matters. Not many pastors communicate this message regularly and passionately; thankfully, Mark does.

4. Make Chasing, not Retreating, Your Posture

I love the fact that the lion wasn’t chasing Benaiah, but Benaiah was chasing the lion. That’s a powerful and challenging lesson. Batterson writes, “We celebrate Benaiah because he came out of the lion’s den alive, and that’s an amazing feat, but it’s not the most amazing part of the story. It’s not coming out that is courageous; it’s going in” (p. 100). Are you chasing or retreating? What dream has God inspired within you for His glory?

5. Understand Your Greatest Legacy 

Batterson writes, “Your greatest legacy isn’t your dream. Your greatest legacy is the next generation of dreamers that your dream inspires—the dreams within a dream” (p. 13). This is a common theme throughout the book. Mark challenges his readers to honor their upline (those who have invested in them) and empower their downline (those who come after them). This is a great insight, and if leaders embrace this truth it can have profound, generational outcomes. Batterson summarizes this idea when he writes, “Your legacy isn’t your dream. Your legacy is leveraging the dreams of those who come after you. Your legacy is your downlines—those you parent, mentor, coach, and disciple. You may not influence a million people, but who knows? You may influence one person who influences a billion people” (p. 162).

I hope these lessons are as encouraging to you as they were to me. Mark writing is enjoyable, and his insights are helpful, inspiring, and practical. Here are a few more of my favorite quotes:

  • “When everything is said and done, God isn’t going to say, “Well said,” “Well thought,” or “Well planned.” There is one measuring stick: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Faithfulness is not holding down the fort. Faithfulness is chasing five-hundred-pound lions. There is a brand of religiosity that seems satisfied with breaking even—don’t do this, don’t do that, and you’ll be okay. The problem with that is: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right” (p. 4)
  • “Mismanaged success is the leading cause of failure. Well-managed failure is the leading cause of success” (p. 22)
  • “Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?” (p. 28)
  • “Sometimes the greatest opposition to what God wants to do next, comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God did last.” R.T. Kendall (p. 60)
  • “It’s your work ethic plus your prayer ethic that will inch you closer to your dream.” (p. 66)
  • “When we operate in faith, we aren’t risking our reputation. We’re risking God’s reputation! And God can handle Himself just fine, thank you. You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.” (p. 82)
  • “An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny!” (p. 93)
  • “We live in a culture that idolizes success and demonizes failure. But in God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying.” (p. 100)
  • “Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences.” (p. 121)
  • “Don’t seek opportunity; seek God, and opportunity will seek you” (p. 183)
  • “Pride is the first chapter in the book of failure. Humility is the first chapter in the book of success.” (p. 187)
  • “What are you doing today that will make a difference one hundred years from now?” (p. 191)

Check out Chase the Lion today. You’ll be encouraged, inspired, and challenged to dream bigger, go further, and seek God more.

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The Five Traits of a Hard Worker

The Pathway to Becoming a High Performance Achiever

Almost everybody would consider themselves to be a hard worker. After all, who wants to admit that they’re a slacker, or the weakest link on a team. The reason most people perceive themselves to be hard workers is because of the number of hours they put into their job. And yes, many of us put in many hours. But are hours the only indicator of what it means to be a hard worker? Does how you work, not just how many hours you work, contribute to what hard work really looks like?

As I’ve reflected on what it means to be a hard worker, certain qualities come to mind. Each of these qualities are more than stand alone traits, but rather part of a pathway to becoming a high performance achiever. They exhibit the core of a strong work ethic, and the ability to get things done.

The Hard Worker Pathway

Hard Worker Pathway

1. Priorities: Begin with the End in Mind

The Hard Worker Pathway begins not with the path, but with the ultimate destination. Being a hard worker starts by having the right priorities. It doesn’t do much good to work hard toward a destination that doesn’t matter. When we don’t begin with the end in mind, we end up in a place we never had in mind.

When we don’t begin with the end in mind, we end up in a place we never had in mind. Click To Tweet

To help you establish the right priorities, practice the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule says that 80% of your outcomes are the result of 20% of your causes. In other words, 20% of your activity will deliver 80% of your impact. Or, 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales. Or, 20% of your products and services will account for 80% of your profits. Or, 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the value you add to the organization.

To practice the 80/20 Rule, create a list of everything you do at work (there may be dozens of activities). Then, choose the 20% of the items on your list that have the greatest impact on the organization. Finally, invest as much time as possible in the top 20%, realizing they will likely produce 80% of your results. If you’re trying to figure out how to identify your top 20%, ask yourself three questions:

  • What are my organization’s top priorities?
  • What are my greatest strengths?
  • What activities provide the greatest return on my investment of time?

Where your answers to these three questions intersect should give you a clue to your top 20%. Look for ways to delegate or outsource the remaining tasks. Many of them may simply be time-wasters that you should stop doing.

5 Words of Wisdom for Graduates

Insights to Guide the Next Chapter of Life

Graduation is always a great milestone in a person’s life. Regardless of your age, graduating from high school, trade school, college, or grad school is worth celebrating. But when the celebration ends, and you wake up the next morning to start a new chapter in your life, let me encourage you to take to heart a few simple words of wisdom.

Graduate Words of Wisdom

Featured Download: Get your FREE copy of my resource, The Young Leader’s Guide to Building Influence. Click Here to Download.

1. Graduate School but Don’t Graduate Learning – Learning should be a lifelong goal. In fact, authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner call learning the Master Skill. It’s the skill that opens the door to future opportunities, future growth, and ultimately the person you want to become. Today might be the day you graduate school, but the day you graduate learning should be the day you draw your last breath.

2. Pursue the Boredom of Success – I know that sounds like a strange statement, but I believe it is one of the most important things you can do. Behind the glitz and glamour of success is usually a very routine, even at times boring, set of disciplines. What allows a person to reach their goals and experience success is what is done behind the scenes day after day, week after week, and year after year. It’s the everyday disciplines that make a person successful, not the 15 minutes of fame you see on YouTube. Pursue the Boredom of Success by establishing daily disciplines that will produce longterm health in key areas of your life.

Behind the glamour of success is a very routine, even at times boring, set of disciplines. Click To Tweet

3. Avoid the Attitude of Entitlement – Graduating school is a great accomplishment, but keep this simple truth in mind: nobody owes you anything. I know that’s not what you want to hear on graduation day, but people aren’t handing out jobs like lollypops. You have to prove yourself. You have to bust your butt. If you have a vision for the next chapter of your life, it has a price tag…and nobody but you can pay it.

4. Develop a Healthy Perspective of Success and Failure – Don’t let success go to your head and don’t let failure define you. As you move into a new season of life, you will experience both. That’s part of the journey. The difference-maker is how you respond when success and failure come. Celebration and humility is a great response to success. Reflection and learning is a great response to failure.

5. Match Your Books Smarts with People Smarts – It’s quite amazing how many people are extremely smart in school but extremely dumb with people. They’ve got the books smarts, but they haven’t learned how to work with people. They lack emotional intelligence, the ability to build trust, and the skills to make people feel valued. Your book smarts might get you hired, but your inability to connect with people will get you fired. In fact, attitude issues and poor people skills are among the top reasons people lose their jobs.

Book smarts might get you hired, but your inability to connect with people will get you fired. Click To Tweet

If you’ve recently graduated, or your graduation date is just over the horizon, I encourage you to take these lessons to heart. If you’re a young leader, I’d also encourage you to check out 10 Words of Wisdom to Young Leaders.

Featured Download: Get your FREE copy of my resource, The Young Leader’s Guide to Building Influence. Click Here to Download.

Enlarging Your Growth Environment

How Your Environment Shapes Your Development

The longer you lead, the more intentional you have to be about your personal growth. It’s easy to slip into a mindset that uses expertise as a license to slow your appetite for growth. But the truth is, the longer you lead, the more difficult growth becomes.

I recently heard author and pastor Matt Keller compare the first 90% of growth to the next 1% of growth. Keller notes that all of the energy, effort, and resources it takes to grow your leadership from zero to 90% is the same amount of energy, effort, and resources it takes to grow your leadership from 90% to 91%. Maybe that’s why it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you are considered a true expert – somebody at the top of your game – in your specific field or industry.

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One of the keys to closing this leadership gap is to broaden your growth environment to include mentors and coaches. It’s one of the prices tags of growth. It’s so easy to hang around the same people, go to the same conferences, read the same authors, and listen to the same podcasts. After a while, everything looks and sounds the same. It can quickly lead to the leadership disease of mindless mingling.

Last year I found myself reaching this place of “sameness.” I needed to expand my leadership and get around a more robust growth environment. So I took a leap and signed up for a coaching program with a small group of pastors from around the country. Each month I flew to Atlanta for a couple of days to engage in leadership discussions and coaching. We talked about everything from spiritual growth, to effective leadership, to organizational development.

The Three Forms of Teachability that are Critical to Your Growth

Are You Curious, Coachable, and Correctable?

Many leaders pride themselves on their commitment to personal growth. They recognize the connection between personal growth and organizational growth, and they understand the importance of learning new methods, embracing relevant strategies, and staying up to date with best practices. In a word, they might describe themselves as “teachable.”

Teachability

That would be a true description. But over the years I’ve come to realize that teachability has three faces to it. If you’re going to become the most effective leader, you have to embrace all three forms of teachability.

The Three Forms of Teachability

1. Curiosity

The first form of teachability is a self-directed curiosity. Curiosity reveals itself as a deep desire and commitment to acquire knowledge. Curious people are never satisfied with what they know. They have an insatiable appetite to learn more and expand the width and depth of their knowledge. If you want to know how curious you are, ask yourself these questions:

  • What have I learned since I graduated school?
  • Do I regularly read books, attend conferences, listen to podcasts, and participate in webinars where I will stretch my thinking, learn new ideas, and acquire fresh insights?
  • Am I personally driven to learn, or do others have to continually prod my development?
  • Do I have a plan for personal growth?

This form of teachability focuses on the acquisition of information. It’s like adding files to your file cabinet of wisdom. While self-directed curiosity is essential to a growing leader, it’s also the easiest form of teachability. By easy I don’t mean it doesn’t require effort, discipline, or commitment. I mean it’s contained within the mind of the leader, and therefore is usually void of dialogue or accountability. Basically, the learner decides if they’ll do anything with what they’ve learned. There’s nobody to push back, challenge thinking, or confront assumptions. The individual ultimately determines if they like what they’ve heard, read, or watched.

Without the “curiosity” form of teachability, leaders will get stuck in old paradigms, become lazy, and slide into ruts that inhibit personal and organizational progress. At the same time, if the only form of teachability a leader embraces is curiosity, they will fail to mine the gold and confront the gaps that the other two forms of teachability offer. Curiosity is an essential starting place, but there’s more. 

My Top Posts From 2015

At the end of each year, I post a list of my top read posts from that year. Below are my top posts written in 2015. Enjoy!

1. The 10 Price Tags of Growth

2. Four Dimensions of Jesus’ Personal Growth

3. Seven Reasons Our Prayers are Unanswered

4. How to Silence the Voices of Insignificance, Inadequacy, and Insults

5. The Four Stages in the Cycle of Pride

6. The Six Metrics of Church Health

7. Heart Failure: 7 Lessons One Year Later

8. Seven Great Assessment Tools to Use with Your Team

9. Four Reasons Leaders Can’t Execute

10. Ten Ways to Lead Up

Ditching the Five Excuses that Paralyze Progress

Excuses are a common fixture in the landscape of life. CareerBuilder released a list of the most unbelievable excuses bosses have heard from employees for why they couldn’t come to work. These are REAL excuses heard by their sample of 2,203 hiring managers and HR professionals:

10. Employee just put a casserole in the oven.

9. Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right.

8. Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood up, she fell and broke her ankle.

7. Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning.

6. Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.

5. Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.

4. Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.

3. Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.

2. Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.

1. Employee accidentally got on a plane.

No Excuses

Excuses come in all shapes and sizes, but they often scream the loudest when we start a new year, set a new goal, or envision a new dream. Perhaps they’re most common when God challenges us to do something brave, something selfless. Take Moses for example.

One day God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and called him to go back to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews out of slavery (Exodus 3:7-10). This is the same Moses who had already tried once (in his own wisdom) and failed miserably. His foolish attempt led him on a run for his life to the land of Midian.

I find it ironic that God would call Moses to do the very thing he failed at years earlier. Therein lies an important truth: Never underestimate God’s ability to call you past your past. Your past may be riddled with failures, disobedience, and regret, but God can call you past your past into a future full of divine purpose. Learn how to respond to regret.

Never underestimate God’s ability to call you past your past. Click To Tweet

Moses wasn’t so confident. In fact, after his burning bush encounter with God, Moses rolled out a list of five excuses to God for why this was a bad idea.

The Five Excuses That Paralyze Progress

Excuse #1: Insignificance: I’m Not Important Enough

Exodus 3:11 says, “But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (NLT). Moses was essentially saying, “God, I’m a nobody! Why would you pick me God? I’m not important enough. I’m insignificant. Pick somebody whose name is in the headlines.”

A couple of years ago Karen and I visited the Newseum in Washington D.C. The Newseum is a museum of the news, and features newsworthy stories of yesterday through the eyes of the media. Over 800 newspapers from every state in the U.S. submit the front page of their newspaper to the Newseum every day.

One of the most unique aspects of the Newseum is the News History Gallery. I remember walking through this gallery, which features more than 300 historic newspaper front pages from every imaginable news story you could think of: Presidential wins, World Series championships, major historical events… you name it, it’s there.

While the headlines were remarkable, I was nothing more than an observer from the newsstands of history. Thinking back to that experience, I’ve asked myself, “How many times do we do that in life?”

How many times do we read the headlines of the brave, but we never write our own? How many times do we read the news, but we never make news. Please hear what I’m NOT saying. I’m not talking about being famous, getting your name in lights, or seeing your face on the news. I’m not talking about how many followers you have on Twitter, how many views you have on YouTube, or whether or not you have a bestselling book.

How many times do we read the headlines of the brave, but we never write our own? Click To Tweet

I’m simply posing a question: How many times do we watch the brave without ever being brave, because we believe we’re not good enough? That’s the excuse that paralyzed Moses. He started there, but he didn’t stop there.

Excuse #2: Incompetence: I’d Don’t Know Enough

Exodus 3:13 says, “But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” (NLT).

Moses was saying, “God, I don’t know enough. I don’t have the spiritual knowledge that your people have. What if they ask me a question that I don’t have the answer to? God, I’m too incompetent for this task.”

Ever used that excuse? I have! My lack of knowledge has paralyzed progress and kept me from doing what I should have done.