5 things to start the new year

As school is getting back into the full swing, I wanted to share five things to help us all look at the school year afresh. Even though I have students in mind, these things can apply to anyone, anywhere.

1) Start with God. I know it seems like a given but there’s no doubt that as time, busyness and complacency set in, starting each day with God may become a challenge. It’s important to not only be disciplined in having time with God but also to be directed. What does that mean? It means having a plan. Decide when and what you are going to read and study. Make it part of your homework routine. Use the Youversion Bible app for reading plans and then use a journal to record your thoughts and prayers. You’ll be amazed at how different your days will be!

2) Start praying for your classmates and friends. Inevitably there are people in your classes and friends on your bus…people that you work with who need your prayers. You don’t have to blatantly ask for prayer requests…just listen for needs that you overhear and pray silently about what God wants you to do. He may want you to speak up to help meet the need or He may simply want you to seek Him in prayer over a period of time. Praying for the people around you is a great way to see and be part of what God is doing.

3) Start seeing yourself as an agent of change. Regardless of where you are or how much you like being there, God can and does want to use you to bring about godly and lasting change. He can use you to demonstrate His mercy, grace, kindness, and love if you are willing to be that vessel for Him to pour it through. God isn’t limited by our inabilities but our unavailability. Will you be available to Him to bring lasting and effective change?

4) Start looking for ways you can be involved. As a servant of Jesus, you have to take a position of service. In what way can you help another? How can you serve your school or job better? How about the community? How can you give back? One of the greatest ways God uses us is by being involved in acts of service to those around us. Look for a way to be involved today.

5) Start giving your best. No matter what, you can always give your best to the situation. Remember you are not responsible for what someone else does but you are responsible for you. You can always rise above the gossip, crude jokes, meaningless banter and give the best version of yourself to others and to the Lord. Don’t withhold the good that is in you for fear of standing out. Be all that you can and were created to be and that will bring God glory. Use your brain, your gifts, your talents and your time wisely and give all you have to achieve the greatest good you can. Don’t compare your best with someone else. You’re not in a competition. You only have to answer for you and you and God know what your best is. So start giving your best to everything you do and you will most certainly bring the change God desires and the glory God deserves.

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Three Things Young Leaders Can Do To Increase Their Influence

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Many people aspire to leadership. It’s often a good thing. However, many younger leaders get into a position of leadership and influence and then become overwhelmed by the tasks, responsibilities and falter, causing a domino effect that can not only hurt others but eventually cost them their influence altogether. Here are three suggestions for those younger leaders moving into prominent leadership positions.

  1. Find a mentor. Being that you as a young leader have not been down this road before, finding others who have is one of the first things I would highly recommend. This means that you will have to seek out those who may help you, humble yourself to ask for help and then be determined to learn all you can from them when given the chance. Mentors are not really that hard to find but it does take seeking them out. Young leaders need to ask for the time and make sure to come to mentoring times ready and willing to learn.
  2. Ask good questions. When you secure a mentor, make sure that you don’t waste any of their time not being prepared. Come with a definite goal in mind. Prepare ahead of time with good, meaningful questions. Do you homework, knowing what it is that you feel can best help you given your task or responsibility. It will not only make the most of your time but will lead to better engagement and discussion. Stay curious and inquisitive.
  3. Discipline in reading and study. There is a vast sea of information already available to anyone who is willing to take the time to read and listen. From books, ebooks, podcasts, and videos, the wealth of tutelage afforded to anyone who is willing to learn is immense. For any young leader, my advice would be to make sure you take ample time each week to read and study the scriptures of course but also make it a habit to read other source materials. Learn from all walks of life and you will most certainly increase your influence.

What other habits would you suggest for young leaders? Comment and share below.

4 Of The Most Important Words For Making Disciples

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I had a conversation with a friend today. As we sat and talked about ministry, discipleship and kingdom building, these four words seemed to resonate well within my soul This is not the first time, however, that I have thought about these words, which is why I felt I should include them in a blog format. Sure, there are more words that are important but I feel like these words must become the fabric of who we are as followers of Christ and be treasured values for life if we aspire to make fully developed disciples as we were commanded by Christ.

Intentional.

The older I get, the more this word seems to present itself to me. I have to make every effort to make every moment count. This means I must choose my words carefully, I must choose my timing as perfectly as possible and I must live purposefully wherever I am at any given moment. Time is slipping rapidly through my hand and as a discipler, it is incumbent upon me to engage, pursue and intentionally seek out people who long for deeper more meaningful relationships with me and with Christ. God allows our paths to cross with people for reasons.

Therefore, I should look at each relationship prayerfully and seek what God wants me to contribute to it. As followers of Christ, we are to build others up and seek to help establish them in the faith. Being intentional with every visit, with every question, with every interaction with people will not only ensure disciples are being made but will add fruit and satisfaction to our lives. It certainly has to mine!

Available.

In our busy, chaotic world, this is near impossible. With schedules as they are, we rarely have time for people without an appointment. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with scheduling people in. But is this the way relationships form and deepen? No!

As followers of Christ is imperative that we make ourselves available to a certain few people that we feel God wants us to disciple and make efforts to share life together with them. Jesus wasn’t available to everyone but for three years He was very accessible and available to His disciples; and especially Peter, James and John.

Being more available to the people in my life is not only going to produce more fruit for the kingdom but it also going to create a greater sense of satisfaction with life as a whole. God intends for us to have meaningful, purposeful relationships. Are you available to the ones around you?

Yes.

In camping, we tell our leaders to have an attitude of “yes”. This means that for campers, we want to try to say “yes” to as much as we can. We are in a service industry and thus saying “yes” is important to satisfy the client’s needs and desires. Is it any less important in the church?

But it is a little different…

What I have found to be the case is that most people do not have the “yes” mentality. There seems to always be excuses for all the things we have the opportunity to do. We are too busy. We have other obligations. We have other priorities. I must ask: are these things that take precedence over saying “yes” to discipling another as important to God? What is it that you can cut from your busy schedule to be more available and intentional? What is it that you need to say “yes” to in order to fulfill the Great Commission?

If I recall, Christ told us to go and make disciples. This is something we are to say “yes” to. There are people who are hungry, looking for someone to pour into their lives and that could be you, if you’d just say “yes”.

No.

If you are going to “yes” to the best, you have to say “no” to the rest. Sadly, we have many people who are saying “no” to the eternal investments because those take time, usually involve many thankless hours and are not as grandiose as “winning” someone to the Lord. I won’t lie; it’s very exciting to see someone commit their life to Christ! As it should be. But it is imperative that we have people who disciple them and help them become fully mature in their faith. Many Christians simply care more about their 401K than the eternal reward or seeing someone become a fully mature believer. Without people discipling others, our churches and our communities will soon become, if not already, shallow and incapable of bringing transformation to the world. Is it any wonder that teens are leaving churches for good once they leave for college? Could it be because they have no meaningful relationships within the church? We have said “no” to the wrong things!

If we are going to truly make a difference in the Kingdom of God and if we want to have a life that really counts for something greater than ourselves, learning to say “no” is an important discipline that we must master.

What words do you feel are essential to equipping this generation become wholly devoted disciples of Jesus?

George Profile George Lockhart

What’s Jethro Got To Say? 3 Pieces of Advice From Moses’ Father-In-Law

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Moses was a great and wise leader.  This is greatly punctuated  when Moses hears and heeds advice from his father-in-law, Jethro. Read the story here: Exodus 18 . May I offer three critical pieces of advice from an old mentor to new leader?

Don’t Do Everything.

Moses was selected to lead a nation. He had his brother Aaron beside him most of the time however, Moses was the one dealing with all the decisions, direction and discipline within the camp. As God’s choice, he was carrying a load of responsibility and doing almost everything himself. As Jethro comes for a visit, he notices quickly that Moses needs a break and must employ others around him.

Jethro’s advice: Leaders must be very careful to not get bogged down in daily affairs which can be handled by other competent leaders. Let others lead with you.

Delegate Wisely.

Moses already had some trusted friends and family surrounding him helping him speak and lead on occasion. In Exodus chapter 17, he employed Aaron and Hur during a battle which Joshua fought. However, Moses was not using other people very well in ordinary and common affairs. Jethro quickly surmised that much of Moses’ energy was going to things that could have been done just as well by other leaders around him if Moses would simply delegate wisely. This meant that Moses had to seek them out, equip them and empower them with authority.

Jethro’s advice: Put wise people in charge, even if it’s “common” or “ordinary” daily tasks because power and pride are strong. Use humble people to serve others.

Deliberately Listen.

It can be  a difficult task for a leader with such responsibility that Moses had to listen to another man…especially if he has been hearing from God as much as Moses had. However, Moses was not foolish enough to dismiss his father-in-law’s advice. Moses realized that Jethro had been God sent and he took advantage of the advice regardless of where it was coming from. Family can be some of the hardest people to glean advice but they can also be some of our greatest resources. Taking time to deliberately listen to the people God has sovereignly placed in your life is a great lesson to learn. Moses heeded his father-in-law’s advice and his life was much better.

Jethro’s advice: listen to the people God puts around you, even if it’s family. Learn from everything and listen for God in every conversation.

How has God used a family member to teach you an invaluable lesson? Comment and respond and let us hear from you.

What Does It Take To Make A Disciple?

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As I have been actively seeking what it takes to make disciples over the years, here are 5 things I have found essential if we are to have disciples like Jesus did.

Making disciples takes a disciple.

Anyone who desires to be part of God’s plan in making disciples must first be a disciple of Jesus themselves. Only a disciple of Jesus can make a disciple. We must realize our own need to draw close to Christ and follow in His steps if we are to encourage or be used by God in discipling others. Paul said: “Imitate me AS I imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 A disciple of Jesus is the one who will make other disciples of Jesus, as commanded and empowered to do through the great commission. It’s a disciple to make other disciples.

Making disciples takes time.

The natural birth of a child can take up to 9 months.However, teaching the child to walk, talk, eat, and function within society can take a lifetime. Growth is a process accomplished only over time. But time will not slow nor will it be hurried or rushed. It is only through spending concerted and disciplined time with individuals in close proximity and relationship that they become fully mature believers and followers of Jesus. Being that discipleship requires a timeframe and consistency, it is imperative as disciplers to set up a plan, strategy, and framework for people to be discipled because time is ticking away.

Making disciples takes various investments.

Having a child costs upwards of $235000. This is no small amount for anyone. But it will take more than a financial investment to form true, deeply rooted disciples of Jesus. Qualities like love, hope, courage, and faith are some of the intangibles I am speaking of that disciples need to receive from their mentors. Making these kind of investments will force the discipler to be vulnerable, approachable and transparent, none of which was lost on Jesus. Jesus invested Himself in His disciples.

Making disciples takes commitment.

With over half of marriages failing in our country one can easily see that commitment is not a huge value any longer. Sadly this lack of commitment has spilled over into the church in various ways and certainly in committing to discipling people. If we are to disciple people like Jesus did, we must be committed to our students, friends and families. When times are hard and progress seems slow, we must remain steadfast. Through endurance and perseverance disciples are forged and launched forward because of the commitment kept. Disciples must commit to their disciples and all disciples must commit to Christ. Luke 14: 25-27

Making disciples takes love.

Finally, it takes a lot of love to make a disciple. Love covers a multitude of sin. 1Peter 4:8 Disciples are just people who are seeking to be more like Jesus, and yet we must remember they are human. If we are to effectively make disciples, we must love people right where they are and help them become all that God has created them to be. Not only must love be our motivation, it must also be our end. Ultimately discipleship is helping people express love to God and to others.

These are just a few things I have discovered over the years of discipling students. Maybe you have some others things to share? Please comment and join the conversation.

The “X” Factors: 5 Keys To Discipling Like Jesus

The x Factors Discipleship PicThere are many factors that go into a healthy mentoring and discipleship relationship. Jesus not only called us to make disciples but he showed us how to effectively disciple through his ministry years on earth. I call these the “X” factors since “X” in the Greek Language signifies Christ. As we briefly explore these factors, consider how they apply to your own life experience and then feel free to comment at the end.

1) Pray.

Jesus didn’t undertake this life-impacting relationship lightly. If we are to disciple like Jesus we must spend time prayerfully considering whom it is that the Lord would have us invest our time, energy and resources. There are many times when Jesus addressed the “multitudes” however, much of His ministry time was spent with a certain 12 people. Discipleship at it’s purest level is a one-on-one relationship operating with a teacher/student dynamic. Jesus did not disclose everything to everyone but He did share His heart, experiences and life for 3 years in close proximity to the 12. Pray about the person (s) God would have you share your most intimate times, stories, and life.

2) Seek.

The Lord went and called people to “follow Me”. These disciples were not out looking for someone to follow, they were simply engaged in their own lives and work. To disciple like Jesus means that we have to not only pray about the people the Lord would have us invest, but we must seek them out. As a discipler, we have to initiate the relationship. We have to pursue “students”. Some of these people are in our lives already and we just need to define the relationship and provide some structure. However, there are also many people who have never been pursued or engaged in any kind of discipleship relationship and thus are floundering in their faith. As you pray, ask God to bring people into your life that He would have you disciple but be willing to pursue and initiate the relationship. Don’t wait for them to seek after you. Jesus showed us that we have to pursue the people we are to disciple.

3) Commit.

Jesus was committed to His disciples. This is no easy task, to disciple people, especially in our current society. People are far less committed to anything than ever before. With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it is easy to see that the value of maintaining a committed relationship over the long haul has changed in America. This is no different in a discipleship relationship. Even after Jesus was betrayed by His own, He loved them and pursued them. He forgave their mistakes and welcomed those who doubted, fled and denied Him. He was committed to the person, not their perfection.As we engage in discipling others, we most certainly can expect to endure hardship, trials and errors but we must remain faithfully committed to those we have prayerfully entered in with this relationship. With time being such a commodity, be careful of overcommitting. Jesus was committed to 12 but He was also the Son of God. You may only be able to commit to one or two people and effectively disciple them. That’s ok. Just be committed to those one or two.

4) Teach.

There were many times when the disciples just didn’t get it. They may have heard what Jesus was saying and even had an inside track to his heart, mind and ways. But that didn’t mean they understood what He was all about. Time after time, the disciples had to ask for explanations and further insight from Jesus and Jesus gave it to them. He was patient, gentle and consistent in His teaching of His disciples. He pulled them aside and explained to them things that seemed to baffle them and He also gave them special teaching times as they traveled together from place to place. As a discipler, make sure you teach the scripture and find ways to make it applicable to daily life. Jesus employed the use of parables or “stories” to help his disciples get His lessons. He took advantage of His surroundings and used analogies and metaphors His disciples could understand. He had a timeline He was operating from and yet was more committed to developing the core of the disciples rather than making sure they got the “answers” right.

5) Live.

Jesus “lived” with His disciples. I’m not saying to bring 12 people into your home and do everything together but I am saying that sharing as much “life” together is the best and most effective factor in discipling others. From trips to the grocery store to spiritual retreats, going places and doing things together is the best way for you to teach your disciples. Allowing them to see you from the inside out is what will truly transfer your faithwalk into something tangible for your disciples. Jesus knew this and He employed this strategy by inviting all disciples on some travels and yet limiting some experiences for a trio of disciples. As you live out your life in front of your disciples, they will glean lessons and impressions that no classroom outside of life could teach.

Are there other “X” Factors you can think of? Comment and join the conversation below.

Life Lessons: Car Prep

Because I travel a lot, here are a couple things I would highly recommend someone to keep in their car to make their travel more pleasant and safe. I have not included some items like phone chargers/ipod chargers because I feel like almost everyone should know these are a must. But here are a few things that maybe you might not feel are as important or haven’t thought about.

Jumper Cables

Being that I have had dead batteries often for no apparent reason, having a set of jumper cables has proven to be worth their weight in gold. It’s been interesting to note how often I have needed a set but I didn’t have them nor did anyone I approached for help. If you keep a set in your car, then all you need is a kind soul to open their hood.

Gas Can

I have only run out of gas a couple times however, the first time should have been enough for me to realize how important having a gas container in the car would be! You won’t be sorry if you have one on hand if and when you ever run out…especially on the highway.

Flashlight/Glow Stick

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying use your silly phone to illuminate your engine when you really need a flashlight. Just get an LED flashlight and you’ll be able to see so much more and you won’t run the risk of dropping your phone and breaking it, which will only make things worse.

Extra Clothes

Having a spare pair of shoes/sandals in the car is always a good idea, simply because rainy days or days at the beach or something crazy could always happen and then you are stuck without. You’ll never regret having dry shoes, socks or clothes. It’s never a bad idea to have a spare shirt and shorts in the car; it can be invaluable in an emergency.

Toilet Paper

Not trying to be gross but I would never recommend leaving home without it. I’ve been on enough mission trips and with enough people to know that Mother Nature doesn’t always wait until it’s convenient.

Napkins

Make good use of the napkins you pick up from fast food restaurants. Instead of trashing them, keep them in the glove compartment. You can always use them for clean ups, sneezes, etc.

Notebook With Names And Numbers

Again with our reliance upon technology increasing, we have less and less memorized. When your phone battery dies on the road, what will you do? Having a small notebook with important numbers, names and addresses can be a lifesaver for yourself or be very helpful for emergency works in the event of an accident. Make sure you have working pen in the car too!

These are just a few things I’d recommend. Maybe you have some advice…what do you recommend we keep in our cars?