Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Does Size Matter

It's easy in life to compare. In life we compare the size of house we have, the car we drive or the success of our professional life. It's easy to do this in ministry too. There's publications celebrating the sizes of churches, or the percentage of growth in churches each year. All of these numbers are important because each number represents a person, but is that all that matters?

I was talking with my sister-in-law and I was reminded of the true measure of success. She grew up in small youth group of only a dozen or so and we were talking about what some of them are doing now. She happens to be on staff at Lakewood Church, loves God and has been serving Him for all of her life. Someone else from that youth group is in a very well-known Christian band. What was interesting is that of her small youth group each one of them are still living for Christ. That youth pastor could have said it's only a dozen students so I won't put as much into this, but instead he was a vital part of helping form Biblical foundations that would last a lifetime for those students. As a result some of those students have been given opportunities to be a great influence to thousands more than the youth pastor was. This reminded me of a few simple truths:

1) Treat a dozen as if it's a thousand and give everything all you have – ALWAYS. No matter what we at least have an audience of one.

2) Our goal should be to raise up others to do far more than we ever will.

3) Your impact doesn't limit your influence. You may have a small church, but the impact made in one life could result in that one impacting thousands around the world.

God calls some to lead large churches and he calls others to lead small churches. No matter what church size, He calls every leader to be a good steward of that which you've been entrusted with. So size doesn't matter, but what you do with what He's given you does.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't Look Now

Has anyone ever said, "don't look now"? What's your first response? Maybe you have more self control than I do, but my first response is always to look. Even though I was told not to, I still do it instinctively. I find it interesting that my instincts cause me to go against the grain and defy the request not to look. On the other hand, there have been times I really should have waited to look.

This response got me thinking about the way we make decisions. I believe that each of us has a risk taker in us and this response to "don't look now" is a healthy behavior in decision making. The response that looks is the one that overcomes obstacles, that embarks on new territory and produces results you've otherwise thought not possible. On the other hand, there's something to say about the warning we're given when told "don't look now". In our decision making there's also times to wait. We'll still see the same thing we've been waiting to see, but we need to go towards it with patience.

Some things that help me decide if I should go for it or wait are:

PEOPLE | it's always good to bounce big ideas off of people close enough in your life to not just tell you what you want to hear. Be careful though to not give ear to those who are always negative about your dreams. John Maxwell says there are "fire starters", and "fire extinguishers" in our lives. Negativity kills. Someone can help you see the negative side and still encourage you without being negative.

PRAYER | My pastor, Kerry Shook always says "lead from your knees". Every day decisions, great or small, should be given prayerful consideration.

INSTINCTS | I believe in following instincts. If at the end of the day you've talked to people, prayed about it and still don't know for sure – just go with your first instincts. The best, not the worst, thing that can happen is you'll learn from trying.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Understanding and Less Demanding

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~Victor Frankl

In relationships with our bosses, in dating, friendships or marriage it can be easy to see what the other person isn't. We spend so much of our effort seeing what they're not and trying to change them which leaves us frustrated. This same frustration happens when things aren't working out in our jobs or dreams we're pursuing. When things don't work out it's easy to blame someone else, blame circumstances and point the finger but rarely do we take time to see these frustrations as opportunities to challenge ourselves.

My dad has constantly reminded me that when I go to work for someone I'm not there to change them. It's a simple truth that has been so liberating. It's liberating to know that I don't need to put my effort into changing my boss, or other relationships but instead my focus can be spent on how do I better serve them.


• IT LETS GO OF FALSE EXPECTATIONS - you can't expect someone to be what they are not. Accept who they are and find ways to embrace them, serve them and love them.

• IT MAKES YOU BETTER - when you spend time serving and not changing you become more understanding and less demanding in that relationship.

• IT KEEPS YOU STRONG - Saver your energy and effort for what you can change, not what you can't. There's nothing more draining than when you spend all your effort being frustrated with others and it keeps your from focusing on what you need to focus on.

• IT KEEPS BITTERNESS AWAY - probably the most important thing is it keeps bitterness and resentment from setting in. Proverbs 4:23 says, Above all else guard your heart. We'll lose passion, purpose for others and our dreams once bitterness sets in. Bitterness closes your heart.

This has been something I'm having to remember and practice daily because I'm yet to work for someone perfect, be in relationship with someone perfect or see everything fall into place everyday perfect.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Better Together

I spent some time this morning talking to an amazing artist from Crosspoint.tv, Stephen Brewster. The guy has a ton of passion and some great insights and a really refreshing perspective on the church, design, worship and over all experience. There were a lot of things I walked away with, but I thought I share one thought.

There's a phrase I've been dropping around here a lot this year and that is we are "better together". After talking to Stephen I couldn't help but think of how incredibly large the churches impact would be if we operated with that mentality. Pastors, designers or songwriters – it doesn't matter, we were all created to create, but what we create only gains value when we share it. Stephen says it best, "we don't lose our value in sharing creativity – the value is found when it's shared."

If you're organization, or church is doing something effective share the idea. If you're a designer, or your in marketing and you've found an effective way to communicate a message – share it. The trick then is for those who want to utilize the idea need to realize that it still has to be shaped uniquely for you, your community or organization. Sharing won't create copycats, it will only make for more efficient methods and strategies as they are shaped uniquely for each situation and individual church.

Check out the Crosspoint staff and church. They are doing amazing things under the leadership of Pete Wilson. I've listed a few ways for you to find and connect to the team there.

Pete Wilson - on twitter @pwilson | www.withoutwax.tv
Stephen Brewster - on twitter @b_rewster | www.stephenbrewster.me
Justin Davis - on twitter @justindavis33 | http://refineus.org
Jenni Catron - on twitter @jennicatron | www.jennicatron.tv

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heart or Habit

We've all heard people say "that's just the way we do it." If you're like me you can't stand that phrase and you're always trying to push the envelope and go beyond what has always been done. But when it comes to my own life I had to make sure I had the same drive. Do I accept this is what I've always done so I'll stick with what works? I just wonder sometimes if complacency sets in and we begin to do what we do out of habit and less out of heart?

I like this verse found in Romans 12:11- Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. What really stood out to me is the words never be lacking in passion. Passion is fueled by heart and not habit. Passion is what keeps us looking at situations and challenges with a solution mindset. I guess the challenge for me is am I doing my relationships, my job and my life out of habit or out of heart? With heart comes passion with habit, complacency.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Common Denominator

What do success and failure have in common? CONSISTENCY. As I observe the successes and failures in my life, in relationships around me and in organizations and businesses I can always trace it back to one thing. CONSISTENCY. I either make consistent right choices that lead to success, or I make consistent wrong decisions that lead to failure.

This is nothing new, but sometimes forgotten. I don't think people expect perfection from us, our organizations or relationships, but I do believe they expect consistency. For relationships that may mean one thing, and for businesses another but in the end the consistency is crucial in our lives and organizations.

To be consistent it doesn't mean you don't change. The consistencies should be your core, but the methods in relationships and organizations should evolve to see maximum results. What are your core values, principles or standards? Are you staying consistent with them and evolving the way you execute them?

I'd love to hear any thoughts on this.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roads In The Desert

Our memories are powerful, precious and potentially dangerous. All the good memories of my family are what make me love them so much, and even anticipate the next time we're all able to be together. At the same time, the bad memories have the potential to cause me to build up walls of bitterness, hurt and resentment. As I've been thinking a lot about what keeps me or others from moving forward in life I am continually seeing the power of our past. 

I would say that I'm definitely someone who doesn't live in the past. You can do me wrong, and the next day I'm ready to be friends again. But, every so often I've found myself saying I can or can't do something because of what has happened in my life. If we're not careful we can live defined by our past. Maybe who God has designed me to be hasn't always lined up with my character, but there's hope in realizing that no matter what that doesn't disqualify me. 

I like what it says in Isaiah 43:18-19 

The LORD said: 
18Forget what happened long ago! Don't think about the past. 19I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it?  I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands. 

Our past often leaves us feeling like we've destroyed what was supposed to be. It leaves us feeling sometimes like we will now have to settle when it comes to our dreams, our relationships and our purpose. But I love what this verse says, and I believe all of those things in our life that seem dead and destroyed from our past decisions, can be made new again. 

Your past is not your qualifier, or determiner... God is. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't Fear Failure

In the past year or so I've really felt challenged on many levels, but I've felt so fulfilled at the same time. It made me start to think about what has been rewarding in the midst of the challenges I've faced. As I thought about it, I realized I haven't feared failure. I've stepped into things professionally and personally knowing all I can do is give it my best and learn from the mistakes along the way.

One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis where he says, "Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement."

I will say not fearing failure isn't easy, but one thing that has made it easier has been to work for leaders who believe in me and allow me to grow and make mistakes. It's made me realize that as a leader I hope to always create an environment that allows mistakes and learning from those mistakes.

A few thoughts on what happens when we fear failure:

1. we stay comfortable
2. we stop growing
3. we limit ourselves

I will always set out to succeed, but I will embrace the opportunity to learn from my mistakes along the way so I can be even more successful the next time around.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Better To have and lost, than not have had at all

Here's a note from my brother as we had to say goodbye to my niece just 20 days after she was born. She's with Jesus now, but missed by her Uncle J a ton already. She held a special place in all of our hearts before she was even born and will always.

Rori Christianne Keller
As many of you may recall, at the birth of our daughter Michela, she introduced herself to the world via an e-mail message. My intention was to have her introduce her sister to the world in this e-mail. Unfortunately, this announcement doesn't carry the same joy and excitement.

This morning, March 22, at 12:30am, Rori Christianne peacefully passed away in her sleep. Since many did not get a chance to share in the life of Rori, I want to give you an opportunity to share a piece of the joy and journey we experienced.

Our story really began on January 26. Our doctor had some concerns that Rori was underweight. We had a few procedures done to find out what might be causing the problem and Rori was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. This is chromosomal defect where there is the presence of 3 copies of chromosome 18 instead of 2 in each cell. Although this is a very common chromosomal defect, most babies miscarry in the 1st or 2nd trimester and the children that deliver unfortunately have a very low survival rate past the age of 1. Upon this diagnosis, the doctors gave us the option and encouraged us to have her delivered right away if we wanted to see her alive and maybe in their mind since there wasn't a medical reason that she would live. Despite that report, our choice was clear, we would give Rori a chance at life and let her go full-term and if we were so blessed to have a miracle, then she would need our strength, faith and love.

On March 2, at 7:42am, Rori Christianne graced us with her beautiful cry. She was a lean 4 pounds 8 ounces and 17.25 inches long, we had been blessed with the gift of life. She had amazingly gained over a 1.5 pounds in the last 5 weeks by us choosing to have her go full-term and getting her to a healthier weight. There were certainly a few moments early on that were scary as parents, but Rori continued to fight and show her heart of a champion. We were so blessed to bring her home with us on March 7. She needed the aid of a little bit of oxygen and still had a feeding tube in her nose, but she was with us.

Over the following 2 weeks we certainly had our challenges as parents, balancing an active 16 month old Michela, sleep deprivation and noisy oxygen machines, but thru it all Rori continued to show improvement. She gained 11 ounces in the first 8 days of being home and we had increased her feedings by 20%, something the doctors didn't expect for a month. Needless to say, we as well as our doctors and nurses were very encouraged by her progress and surprised by this the events of today.

Early this morning, March 22, at 12:30am as we woke to give her a feeding, we found that she had peacefully died in her sleep. We had known that this was a possibility and common way of death for Trisomy 18 babies, but we never thought about it or lived in fear of it happening.

Words cannot express the hurt of this loss of our daughter, but in the 20 days that Rori brought joy to our lives, we learned so much. Behind the oxygen and feeding tubes was an absolutely beautiful baby. Her perfect little nose and lips were noticeably attractive and of great resemblance to her sister Michela. But the lessons that Rori taught us will never leave us.
First of all, we learned to take life one day at a time. Making plans for the future is okay, but love, cherish and live each day for what it is, the good, the challenges and opportunities. Tomorrow, if we are blessed with it, will have its own time, but live out today.
Secondly, you never know what someone is going thru in their life. If someone doesn't greet you with a smile, is seemingly distracted or just isn't driving fast enough ahead of you, do we know what a day is like in their shoes. Most of you did not know what a day was like for us and by our choice, this was a journey that we were on and we took each day one at a time.

We would never wish what we went thru on anyone but we do feel great compassion for any that have lost a child, it is a loss and pain that I never imagined possible. But we say beyond a shadow of a doubt, "we would rather have had and lost, then never had at all." The 20 days with Rori are never going to be enough, but she is always loved and never forgotten.

We want to thank the family members and friends that have tirelessly stood by our side in faith, in love and in presence. We are forever grateful for the compassion that you showed us.

We would like to invite you to a memorial service for Rori Christianne that will be held on Thursday, March 25 at 11am. Service will be at Geo.H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home at 1010 Bering Drive, Houston, TX 77057.

We Miss you Rori!!

Andrew & Danielle

PS: Pics are Rori at 8 days and Michela (I love to do laundry) at 16 months
Rori Christianne (8 days old)
Michela Kay (16 months old)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling Awkward

I once heard my pastor, Kerry Shook, mention that sometimes we need to risk being awkward in relationships and in life in order to get the breakthrough we want. I didn't think about it much until I started training a couple weeks ago for a shorter distance triathlon. I found myself training in ways that I hadn't trained before. I used to go to the gym and do what I was comfortable with while looking like I knew what I was doing. But this training is different and I'm having to risk being awkward to get the results I want.

Here's a few thoughts that I'm taking away from this experience that I think can apply to a lot of areas in life where we want to see new results.


The first time I got in the pool I soon realized that I am not a swimmer and if i'm going to swim almost a mile I better get good. I noticed someone better in the lane next to me and humbly asked if they could train me. The first lesson with her made me feel like I was 4 years old learning to swim all over again. ( yes it was a girl which was even more humbling for me as a man ) What is it that you need help with? ASK.


Stretching yourself requires you to go beyond "comfort level". I could easily do just enough, but instead I'm stretching myself in order to remove current limitations. The first week I felt so much pain, but as time goes on it's getting better and better. When you get done with 1 mile in life why not see if you can do one more.


The one thing that's helped me stay motivated is having someone to train with. I used to train alone and that way I was the only one who knew my weakness. Training with someone exposes the truth about where you are and allows you to have someone in your life to push you past that.

All of these things can transfer into any area of relationships, life and leadership. I definitely have a long way to go in these things but I'm at least enjoying the rewards of being a little awkward.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Street Sign Design

I found a lesson to be learned in all the road signs on the freeway during my drive down to Houston yesterday. The thought behind those signs, and the purpose they serve are great reminders to designers and communicators.

Here's 3 principles they made me consider:

1. Clear Communication
Road signs provide clear communication and eliminate any confusion. Does your design or message clearly communicate, or cause confusion?

2. Guide the audience
Road signs are very intentional in guiding you even to the point of telling you exactly which lane and when you turn. With good design and communication the same applies and you have the ability to guide the audience where you want them to go.

3. Provide Purpose
It seems simple, but every sign has a purpose. In design their should be purpose/value to what you do. Choosing elements carefully and not filling a page just to fill it. The same is true with communication and being selective with the words we use.

This isn't really anything new for most designers or good communicators, but it was a simple reminder for me yesterday from something I see everyday.