Such a good read. I have taken a lot of risk this year and these words have been impactful. So, I am reposting this article By Carey Nieuwhof. You can read this on his website and learn more about his training for leaders. Hope you enjoy. Thanks Scott


The problem with many leaders is that there is a gap between what they want to see happen and the courage it takes to get there.

You dream of a radical new future, but then you answer email all day, go to meetings, inhale caffeine and go home before it’s too late with far too much of whatever-you-did-today (what did I do again today?) leftover for a boring repeat tomorrow.

And if you drill down a little further, you’ll often find that what lurks under the tedium of every day is…fear. It’s just easier to answer email and be in meetings all day instead of making the bold moves you know you need to make to secure a better future.

To put it as eloquently as possible, that pattern stinks.

To accomplish a radically new future, you will have to do radically different things.

This scares the socks off of most of us. After all, risk is for risk-takers, and many of us are not crazy risk-takers.

So the question becomes when you realize fear is holding your back, how do you act? How do you push past your fear?

Well, start with small steps.

Small victories over fear quickly become larger ones because like any good muscle, the more you practice overcoming your fears, the more fear you overcome.


Another way to get motivated to grow bolder in your leadership is to consider the alternative, which is, well, not good at all.

It’s simple. If you fail to take risks in your leadership:

Your organization will experience few breakthroughs and likely continue down a path to decline and irrelevance.

You will leave leadership without any sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.

Here’s what’s worse. From a distance, it’s hard to tell the difference between a fearful leader and a lazy leader. Why? Well, while the motivation is different, the outcome is often indistinguishable.

I believe risk-taking is both a habit and a mindset. Take a few steps toward tackling small challenges, and soon you’ll be up for the bigger ones.

At the same time, if you’re a natural risk-taker, you may feel an urge the older you get to rest on your laurels. Don’t.

Even taking risks like the ones below will prime the pump for future change and transformation, which, by the way, is always in season.

After all, the next generation doesn’t care what you did yesterday.


So, if you want to flex your risk-muscle for the first time or the 1000th time, here are 7 things you can do today to get started:


This can be truly awesome. Tackling things you know how to do is a sure path to stagnation and eventual boredom.

What’s that project at work that scares the life out of you? Start it. Today. And see where it goes. You will figure it out. You will.

Most people who make a dent in the universe had no idea what they were doing when they started.

Why would it be any different with you?


We all have things we’ve been thinking of doing for years that might be doable. But we haven’t started yet.

Just do it. Seriously.

Make the call. Send the text. Clean out that drawer. Write page one of the book you’re terrified to start.

True leaders have a bias for great action, not just great thinking.


Yes, generosity is a risk. Being financially generous when you don’t feel like you have the funds to be generous is a risk.

Being generous with praise when you don’t feel like praising someone is a risk.

In a world where there are a thousand reasons to be stingy, generosity is a risk.

But generosity is the key to developing an abundance mentality. And people with an abundance mentality often end up taking more risks.

So start by thanking someone who deserves some thanks even if you don’t feel like giving it. Or give some money away. You may surprise yourself at what you get back.


The reason you won’t set a daring goal is because you think it’s impossible. Which is exactly why you should set it.

It can be small. When I began seriously and consistently blogging 7 years ago, I set a crazy traffic goal of reaching 100,000 page views a year. I thought it would be impossible. But that goal motivated me to write three times a week, week in and week out.

I had no idea that in my first year full year of dedicated blogging, I would realize 7x that goal…reaching over 700,000 page views. That was in 2013.

Three years later, this blog sees over 6 million page views a year.

If someone had told me that when I started, I would have laughed. The thought still astonishes and humbles me.

But here’s some truth for you: People who set goals accomplish more than people who don’t.


Yes, vulnerability is also a risk.

Bring a close friend in on a struggle you haven’t talked to anyone about yet.

Get over your fear of telling your team you don’t know the answer (I promise you they already know).

Being vulnerable sets you up for accepting the failure that inevitably accompanies risk…that failure you’re so scared of.

Being vulnerable today will prepare you for a bit of failure tomorrow on your way to greater accomplishments.


It’s a risk to trust others with something you care about, isn’t it? Which is why you need to do it.

Pick an opportunity you were personally going to do and invite someone else to do it. This will not only help you be more generous with your leadership but this will also position you to create a stronger team moving forward.

As the saying goes when it comes to accomplishment if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go with a team.


When you’re afraid, you think about quitting, don’t you?

So take it off the table. Just decide you’re in for the long haul and get moving.

It’s riskier to stay and try than it is to quit and leave.

By Carey Nieuwhof.

Handling Success


How should we handle success?

There ARE times of SUCCESS. You lead with effort that works. Pay off that credit card. Help lead an organization in a strong direction. For me… you might… You might preach a great sermon.  No matter how it feels, success, like anything good, needs to be handled with great care.  It is easy to become “full of ourselves.”  It is easy to forget the “sweet and pain.”  It is easy to miss humility.

I have had successes but have not always handled success with care. I have not always been a good steward of those “success moments.” Pride… you know. Why for me? Because I have missed that success is not the end. I naturally think success is the end because it is, in some way, a remedy to fear of failure and insecurity.  Really!

So, what is it like to handle success with care.  It can’t be my end.  Success will always leave me wanting for more.  It does not satisfy my heart.  It does not satisfy my cravings. And that sucks. Because it would be much easier.    I am starting to learn that success is in the CHARACTER AND the OTHERS of life. Success is not WINNING.  It is not about what you have accomplished BUT WHO YOU ARE!  There are plenty of people that have a lot and find it is not the answer.  Jim Carrey said it best ““I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”   

Success is not the answer when it comes to the stuff we accumulate or the accolades we receive.  The answer, I am starting to understand, is WHO AM I BECOMING?  Do I love others well? Do I serve others well?  Do I want my life to be shaped by money and stuff? OR can my stuff and my influence… not so much be about being full of myself but rather BE FULL of OTHER-SELVES?  Can the gifts that I have received – be a gift for others?  I think, in part, that is about BECOMING a better version of myself!  I believe that is success… in the most beautiful form.

That is what I have…

Here are a couple others:

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

— Albert Einstein




“We can do not great things, only small things with great love. What is important is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.” -Mother Teresa


When was the FIRST time that you realized that what you were feeling was fear? Strange question?

It struck me this week that I can remember learning to tie my shoe for the first time (an older girl taught me when I about 3 years old).  I can remember the first college basketball game I attended (Memphis State and Keith Lee).  I remember my first concert (I am a little embarrassed to say it was Steven Curtis Chapman… now, my second was RUSH and they opened with Tom Sawyer… Epic.)

There are a lot of FIRSTS that I can remember. BUT I cannot remember the FIRST time I FEARED. 

I definitely remember fearful times in my life.  The first day of Kindergarten was terrifying.  I cried.  Singing a solo at church when I was 8 ended with a disaster.  I forgot the words and went mute while the taped accompany played on. In my adult life, my first panic attack. I thought I was having a stroke.  We were in a new city and so my wife tried to find the hospital.  We couldn’t…  so, the first responders met us in a Kroger parking lot.  They had me breath into a brown bag to get my hyperventilation under control.  Wow.  Yes this happened.  And they said “sir, we believe you are having a panic attack.”

Fear. I remember the events well but the FIRST fear?

Why is the FIRST Fear so hard to remember?  I believe it is because fear is so prevalent and apart of our normal psyche. We live with it daily.  We are either overwhelmed by it. We ignore it.  We stuff it. We might even try to counter it with various forms of entertainment, food, sex, drink.

Why does fear have this effect?  Fear defined is an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  It has been said that 95% of the things that we fear don’t even occur.  We all know FDR’s famous statement “The only thing we have to fear Is fear itself” But we FEAR.

Fascinating.  Fear is caused by the BELIEF of someone or something that is dangerous.  A BELIEF.   It is not something that has actually come true.  It is a BELIEF!  So, where is the relief?  How do we find hope in our fear?

The Scriptures call us to BELIEVE differently.

In Isaiah 57:11 God calls his people to believe differently. Whom did you dread and fear, so that you lied, and did not remember me, did not lay it to heart?  Have I not held my peace, even for a long time, and you do not fear me?”  God was calling Israel away from idolatry and into Himself. Why? Is this a power play?  I would suggest not.  God was simply calling them and us away from reflected glory to the source of glory and grace!  This is a repeated call.  In Isaiah 43 God says “Do not fear… I am the holy one of Israel… your savior.”  The refrain of scripture is to call us away from making the created our savior and seeing God as our hope.

But notice the progression of redemptive history.  In the NT, God does not just call us to Himself but in Jesus, we have God come to us.  He comes to us in the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection.  God invites us to lay hold of Jesus. It is a call to our fearful heart into His love, peace and rest.  1 John states There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear.  

What an invitation to a different kind of belief.  Instead of masking our fears we are invited into the one who faced the fear of the cross for you and me.    Personally, I want to continually grow in this kind of hope and love!

Hymn writer E.E. Hewitt wrote:

My faith has found a resting place
From guilt my soul is free
I trust the Ever-living One
His wounds shall plead for me.

I need no other argument
I need no other plea
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me



I was reading, this morning, the story of Noah and the flood.  In v9 it said “Noah walked with God.” It got me thinking.  What would we be remembered for?  Probably a number of things or maybe a few things.  Possibly our accomplishments, our humor, or our character.

BUT What if we where remembered that we “walked with God?”

What is it to walk with God?

What is it to walk with the immortal, invisible God only wise?  What is it to walk with the God, as the Westminster Catechism defines, “infinite, eternal, unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

What is it to walk with God?

I STRUGGLE to walk with GOD. I am a pastor and struggle.  Now, here is what I have found.  This struggle is not isolated to only me but it’s common to all Christians.  It is a challenge to be with our Maker and our King.  We are impatient.  We are always on the go.  It’s hard to carve out a time, place and where to start in God’s word.

This past week, in my staff meeting, one the staff shared about her struggle and said “I struggle to listen to God because I don’t wait long enough to hear from him.”  I appreciated their honesty.

Over the last year, while I struggle, I have found a great deal of joy in what it is to walk with God. It has come as I have considered more deeply the wonders of the cross of Christ.  Knowing his intimacy through the incarnation and living in our broken world, knowing our plight, knowing our impatience, knowing our struggles and going to the cross to bring hope through His life, death and resurrection is amazing grace.  Our walk with God starts with growing in a deeper knowledge of Jesus’ immeasurable goodness to us through his sacrifice.  He lived a perfect life to soften and to bring to life our cold hearts.  Simply, It is God’s goodness that propels our faith and repentance.  It is God’s goodness that empowers our walk.

So, how do we walk with God in His goodness and Grace?  It has to be through the GIFTS of GOD.  1. The Gift of the Gospel. The Scriptures from start to finish is about the pursuing grace of God for sinners.  The Old Testament longed for the Messiah. The New Testament witnessed and shared Christ.   The Gift of the Gospel is God’s word. Lately, my devotional time has been reading single passages for weeks at a time.  It has for me been like looking at a diamond to see the light shine in different ways.   2. the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt is our power.  He is our counselor and Guide.  He points us to Christ!  He intercedes for us in prayer.   3. the Gift of Community.  The community of saints is a gift as humble beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.

May we walk with God in the hope of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in community.


If you want to improve your guitar chops and master some old hymns at the same time, this course is for you!  I love Blayne and he is a great music leader/teacher.  This is an online course for a great price!

He teaches his favorite chord shapes, fingerpick/strum patters and “riffs” to help play & sing songs like “Amazing Grace” “Be Thou My Vision” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”  “Fairest Lord Jesus” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and more… BTW He does a great job with up-close video angles to help grasp and master the licks. Check it out!

Click here to visit his site…Screenshot 2018-05-15 22.29.00.png

Happy playing!

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Podcast interview – scroll to bottom to hear the interview

Last week I had the opportunity to join the MAST. team in their studio in Longmont, CO to record a podcast about Spiritual Freedom in leadership!  14 years ago I helped co-found Grace Church in Fort Collins, CO.  I remember someone saying that church planting is a lot like building a 747 mid-flight.  That is true. It is putting the pieces together in reality … not in a lab.  It has its joys but also fears.  There is the possibility of great success and failure.  But for many of us, with all that soul care, there is not a great deal of self-care.   With all the strategy, people and projects, we pastors, find ourselves physically and spiritually exhausted.  Our spouses exhausted. Our children on the back burner.

It is hard to know spiritual freedom in our leadership.  It is hard to be transparent.  It’s a challenge to reveal our needs.  It is a challenge to do self-care while serving so many people every week.  And so, many times, Mondays come around and pastors are depleted. They need to be reenergized. Refilled.  That is what Mast. is all about!

Now, there are lots of resources out there.  And I am excited to have this resource that Michael Behmer (owner and founder of Aspen Christian Counseling in Colorado) has created for soul care professionals.   MAST.   MAST. is an audio journal, written, recorded, produced and delivered monthly to subscribers working in ministry, missions and various forms of soul care. 

Every month since the first of the year I’ve gotten an email from MAST. letting me know there’s an new journal, full of entirely new content, available for me to listen, read, take from, and repurpose as I see fit.  It is fantastic.

Here are a few Issues to check out:

You can subscribe today


There is not a week that goes by, in my life, that’s not marked by a struggle with control, fear, empty joy, and trying to prove myself to others. This week I was reading from the book Everyday Church and was encouraged by these following liberating truths set out by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis



Excerpt from Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

By Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

The following four liberating truths about God (“ four Gs”) target nearly all our sinful behavior and negative emotions.

1) God is great, so we do not have to be in control. We often want to be in control, so we dominate, manipulate, or overwork people. Or we fear things being out of control, so we worry. But God is sovereign. He is in control. Things may not always go the way we want, but God is in control, and he uses everything that happens to us for our good.

2) God is glorious, so we do not have to fear others. We often sin because we crave the approval of other people or fear their rejection. The Bible calls this the “fear of man” (Prov. 29: 25). We live to please other people, or we are controlled by peer pressure. The Bible’s answer is the fear of God. God is the glorious one whom we should fear. He is the one whose approval matters most, and he is the one whose approval we have in Jesus Christ.

3) God is good, so we do not have to look elsewhere. Sin often leads to pleasure, but its pleasures are empty and temporary. Only God brings true and lasting joy. The pleasures of sin are quick and immediate. So we need faith to turn to God for lasting joy.

4) God is gracious, so we do not have to prove ourselves. Many people act out of a desire to prove themselves. On the surface they may look impressive because they achieve many things or live good lives, but when things go well they are proud, and when things go badly they are crushed. They may look down on others because this makes them feel better about themselves or become bitter when their hard work is not rewarded in the way they want. It is also this desire that makes us determined to win an argument. The good news is that, while we can never justify ourselves before God, God has justified us through Jesus Christ. Jesus has done it all, so we have nothing left to prove.



Living Hope

“The resurrection of Jesus doesn’t leave us passive, helpless spectators… We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet, given new breath in our lungs and commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world.”

-N.T. Wright

Lord, our efforts at faithfulness are fraught with failure more often than we care to admit. Thank you that your love for us is never wasted. Keep us rooted in your word, eating at your table, and praying by your Spirit, so that we may remember when we fail that we are part of your family not because we deserve to be but because you want us. Amen.

Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

The Gift of Lent

by Scott Lowe

Lent is funny. The season of Lent often feels like the red-headed stepchild of the church calendar. Nobody counts down to Lent, as we do with Christmas, saying, “There are only 2 weeks to Christmas.” Or, “We better get those Lent gifts for the kids on Amazon.” There are no Lenten dinner parties or company Lent bonuses. Nope. None of that.

Lent is a season of fasting, and fasting is not the most desirable activity. Delayed gratification is not a popular notion in our culture. We see this in how we handle money and debt. We see this in our sexualized culture. And this is true of our Christian life. One particular author noted in his study that he could not find a single book on fasting from 1861-1954. That is nearly one hundred years. More has been written about fasting recently, but the list is not long. I believe, much like the subject of money, it’s a discipline or habit we reject because it reveals the things that control us.

Well, each year I try my hand at giving up something for Lent. I have fasted television, sugar, beer, and other things over the years. I will never forget giving up television. A few days in, it hit me…“What was I thinking? March Madness?!” I remember even trying to make concessions. “I’ll make it up for catching that game.” Ha. Funny. And to be honest, Lent became my own red-headed stepchild.

How can Lent be a joy and a gift? First, we have to address our mindset. Lent is not a second chance at our New Year’s resolutions. And it is not simply finding something to give up. Rather, it is more about what we “take up.” It is the joy and gift of “taking up” Christ. Richard Foster said, “Fasting is feasting… Fasting reminds us that we are sustained ‘by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4).” Lent is about centering our hearts on the ONE who sustains us. The things that we have, eat, or consume often serve to cover up the real struggle and need within us, and many times keep us from the hope that comes in Christ. Fasting helps brings this to the surface.

Second, we must know that fasting is not about making God like or love us. Any habit or discipline can easily become legalism. And that legalism is crushing because it is filled with guilt and shame. The power of practicing our faith is found in Jesus from start to finish. In Philippians 2, we are told that Jesus gave up heaven to go to the cross for our sin so that we might be rescued and forgiven. So, as we follow Christ Jesus as our example, we must remember as Scott Sauls said in a recent post, “More than coming to be our example, Jesus came to be our rescue. Without his rescue, his example will only crush us. But with his rescue, his example will inspire us.” Christ is our joy and our gift! May this season of Lent be filled with joy in our fasting as we are inspired to “take up” the beautiful sustaining grace God offers us.

by Scott Lowe

I recently took a personality test that revealed some things that I have been aware of for many years—I struggle with fear and anxiety. My fear can rear its ugly head in a couple of ways, such as rehearsing worst case scenarios and listening to negative thoughts that tell me I have very little value. At the end of the explanation of the personality test, the counselor said that the words most helpful for someone with my personality are “You are safe. Everything is going to be okay.” Whew-I could feel my shoulders drop when hearing those words. Yes, deep down I long to know that things are going to be okay. I long for security. I long to know my family is thriving.  I long for Grace Church to continually grow stronger as a community and in its understanding of the Gospel.

If you are like me, you long for these same things in your own lives. The season of Advent offers us hope in the midst of our worries, fears, and anxieties. Advent is the season to remind our forgetful hearts that, in Jesus, everything is going to be okay! When I want to run from my worries and fears, I am reminded that Jesus does not run away; He enters. God, in the person of Jesus, in a manger, and ultimately on the cross, enters our lives and promises to make everything that is wrong right.The hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” says, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” True peace comes as we are reconciled to our God and King through Jesus. And Jesus’ coming and entering our world tells us that God is serious about making wrong right. He is serious about bringing peace to our anxious souls. My prayer this season is for all of us to know more fully this peace that God offers. In Christ, everything is going to be even more than okay. He has entered our suffering,worries, and fears to give us His everlasting peace!



To walk alone is possible, but the good walker knows that the great trip is life & it requires companions. -Bishop Camara

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.

The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Despite all these benefits, however, there are too many forces conspiring to keep us from applying the disciplined pursuit of less but better, which may be why so many end up on the misdirected path of the Nonessentialist.”

McKeown, Greg. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (p. 7). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Freed to Love Others

There is not a greater challenge than to love those different than ourselves. But to not love generates the opposite characteristic… Hate.  C.S Lewis captures the end of this cycle so well in Mere Christianity. 

The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become—and so on in a vicious circle for ever. 

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.

 What drives your compounding interest? Love or Hate?

Great source for daily devotionals. #spiritualformation


“The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust.  This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like ‘I screwed up,’ ‘I need help,’ ‘Your idea is better than mine,’ ‘I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,’ and even, ‘I’m sorry.'”

“At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the collective good of the team.”

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni



L E A D E R S H I P ::: When we face the prisons of pride, fear, anxiety and worry in our lives we begin a new path of leadership freedom.