7 Ways to Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado
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I’ve just finished reading Max Lucado’snewest book, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference, and I feel… challenged! The premise of the book is that we have a choice to do things that will make an impact that outlasts us. Life is a temporary assignment, but the effects of our lives are permanent.

Lucado begs the question over and over again, what are you doing to outlive your life? What are you doing that matters in eternity? How are you investing yourself and giving yourself away? And as I read through each chapter, I was faced with new questions and new issues. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many ways to outlive our lives, including…

  1. Pray. A lot. Prayer affects eternity. As Spurgeon said, “prayer moves the arm that moves the world.” Do it without ceasing.
  2. Be hospitable and welcoming. Welfare and food stamp programs can help assuage the physical problem of hunger, but opening ourselves to others addresses much deeper issues.
  3. Stand up for Christ, even in the face of persecution and criticism.
  4. Loosen your grip on your goods. It’s not that you have to give everything away, it’s that everything needs to be available at all times since it all belongs to God anyway.
  5. Come out of your shell. It’s easy to pull a mental curtain around us so we can block out the images we see of suffering, but we need to open our eyes to the hurt and pain of the world.
  6. Always be investing in someone.
  7. You can dine in and give your steak dinner money to buy a meal for someone.

When it comes to helping people in need, we do all kinds of things to protect ourselves from having to open our eyes and our hearts. We have our stock answers ready… well we can’t help everyone… those people should help themselves… I’m not going to enable them… they’re probably criminals… But when Peter and John met the lame man at the gate called Beautiful, they didn’t run a background check. They also didn’t give him any money. They healed him, in Jesus’ name, and watched him leaping and praising God as a witness to other hopeless people.

This is a tough post to write. Why? Because I’m not doing enough to outlive my own life. So I’m taking a bit of a risk in having readers question me on what I’m doing, and I might very well come up short. But here’s the thing, I’ve never met a truly generous, giving person who spent time questioning the giving of others. Challenging others to give? Perhaps. But let each one of us look within and ask, what is God leading me to do to outlive my life?

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book for review, but was not asked to give a positive review. And the Amazon links above are affiliate links. I would earn a small commission from any sales generated through them.

Always Be Investing In Someone


Call it discipleship. Call it mentoring. Call it whatever you want, but one of our kingdom assignments is to gather people around us and invest in them. Jesus did it with the twelve, and even more with the inner circle of three. Paul did it with Barnabas, then Silas, then Timothy. Barnabas did it with Paul, then John Mark. John did it with Polycarp and Batman did it with Robin.

I read an amazing story over at Danny Brown’s blog today about the boy with the bread. He tells the story of a young boy who made an investment in others that came back around to his ultimate advantage. You should read Danny’s post.

We never waste time investing in others. You and I can probably remember conversations we had with mentors that changed our lives. Sometimes one of those conversations is worth a semester in college when it comes to hardening our wills to press on in the right direction. You need mentors like that, and somebody needs a mentor like you.

The challenge is simple. Provide bread for somebody else today.

photo credit: Emily Carlin

Recommended Reading: John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization is a great resource on this topic.

Communication Is What We DO

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This post is a bit of a rant, but not a mean one. I spend a LOT of time on the phone and on the internet connecting with church leaders. I’ve observed, in the wild, the communications strategies of hundreds of churches, and I keep noticing that the very basic principles of messaging and communication are often missed. Let me give you some examples of what I mean…

I see church websites that are poorly designed. It isn’t just aesthetics, which on the whole tend to be a decade behind modern web design trends. It’s also the communication strategy. Information is poorly arranged with no logical order. Events are out of date. Contact information is missing or old. Navigation and menu structures are often… shall we say discombobulated?

I see logos and identity design that reeks of “I paid $99 bucks for a box of templates and slapped our church name on one.” The vision, values, culture, and identity of the church is rarely captured in the imagery. Symbols are used that are only familiar to the deeply churched and never explained anywhere.

I see content published on websites and blogs that seems to target no one other than fellow ministry leaders, not people who have huge questions about God and spiritual things. When I search Google for answers about divine questions, I see that the cults are killing us on search engine optimization. In other words, we aren’t intercepting those questions. We’re allowing false teachers to catch the passes instead.

I so want to grab church leaders by the ears, albeit gently, and persuade them to do just a brief and cursory reading about how to use content to reach people, how to build a usable church website, and how to design great brand imagery to represent your church.

Does that mean every Pastor needs to become a communications expert and buy design and coding software? Absolutely not. Pastors need to be in the Word (unless, like me, tech stuff is just your thing). But every Pastor with a message worth spreading needs enough of a grasp on design and communication principles to either empower or hire the right person for the job and then inspect the work along the way.

If I could throw out some random tidbits of advice to church leaders about communication practices, here are a few of the things I’d say based on recent observations…

  • Make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Have a nice website optimized for search engines, especially for terms like “churches in Anytown.”
  • Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. A contact form, a phone number, and an email address are all essential. Which of the three is best? It doesn’t matter. Publish them all to catch everyone.
  • Do things that are remarkable, like preaching the timeless gospel, without compromise, in the midst of an often crooked and perverse generation. People will talk about you, which is the goal.
  • Do more things that are remarkable, like getting outside the walls of your church and getting engaged with the problems of your community in the name of Jesus.
  • Make it easy for people to share stories of all the remarkable stuff you’re doing. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, and you’d see it as an optimum mission field. So open your eyes and look on the fields…

I’m not looking to argue with anyone over whether we should “market” the gospel or not. I’d rather just use different words instead – words like “preach,” “proclaim,” and “publish.” It’s the same process with less controversy. God wants the world to hear about His Son, so communications really ought to be one of the church’s highest priorities. It’s what we (the church) DO.

Where does preaching, proclaiming, and publishing fit in your church’s priorities?

photo credit: x-ray delta one

Seven Reasons Pastors Ought to Get Together

Today I had the privilege of joining in with a local Pastors’ gathering hosted by Christ Church of the Valley and Shepherd of the Hills Church. I led a roundtable discussion on the topic, The Internal Battles of Even the Best Pastors.

Pastors Gathering at the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference, 2011
Pastors Gathering at the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference, 2011

One of the issues we talked about was the huge need for Pastors to minister to one another. We tend to avoid this because we’re busy doing our own thing at our own church. Most Pastors struggle with self-inflicted isolation and we all hurt as a result. There are issues Pastors face that they can’t always explain to a congregation or even their spouse. So we need one another.

I often issue the challenge for Pastors to adopt another Pastor or two and intentionally minister to them. That can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling them once every few weeks and having prayer with them about whatever the might be facing. It’s vital that Pastors meet with one another and lean on each other. Why?

  1. Because even though we speak to crowds on the weekends and make visits and calls all week long, we still tend toward isolation. Yep, we’re a bit dumb and ought to know better, but we spend too much time alone.
  2. Because we can learn from the experiences of others, including the mistakes of others, which is far less costly than making all of our own mistakes. Somebody has been through what you’ve been through.
  3. Because we are more real when we work on a relationship with each other. There’s something less mystical about all the other Pastors out there once you get to know them. We’re all a little insecure, not just you.
  4. Because prayer changes things. It works. It’s an active force. God promised to respond to prayer, so His leaders need to pray with and for one another.
  5. Because the other guy needs it. Does the thought of “opening up” or “reaching out for help” give you a funny feeling? That’s okay, the other guy needs your help, and you’ll need his sooner than you realize.
  6. Because other Pastors will laugh at your jokes when everyone else (even your wife) just rolls their eyes.
  7. Because “iron sharpens iron.” Everybody needs a friend, and who better than other people in the trenches?

Want an opportunity to meet up with other Pastors? Join our Pastors.com meetup group. Our first meeting is this Friday at the Refinery at Saddleback Church at 10:30 a.m. PST but we hope to set up meetups all over the country.

Want me to come and speak to your gathering of leaders and/or Pastors? Drop me a line.

Blog Action Day: Give the Gift of Water

Cup of Cold WaterIt’s Blog Action Day, which is a web-wide event in which bloggers and media companies give attention to a significant need in the world. Today is all about water.

Water is everywhere. I live next to the Pacific Ocean, which is one big part of the world covered by water. Sometimes, looking across the surface of the sea, you forget just how precious clean, drinkable water is throughout the world. That’s true in the United States (in places like Las Vegas), but it’s far more pronounced in other places in the world. Did you know that every week, 38,000 children die from unsafe drinking water?

Wars are fought over water. Nations collide over boundaries, wells, and water rights. The most common substance on earth is also the most precious. We need it for crops. We need it for life.

Thankfully, there are people who are doing something about the issue. Two such national charities are charity:water and water.org. But I also have some friends who run a ministry to the people of Haiti. Bill Moore gets his hands dirty with germ-filled water on a regular basis and has devoted himself to providing clean drinking water to the people of the northern mountains of the poorest country in this hemisphere.

Aid For Developing Countries is a ministry that makes regular trips to Haiti to deliver supplies, offer medical care clinics, construct and repair clean wells, and most importantly, offer the gospel – the good news that God loves Haitians and wants to save them for all of eternity.

Jesus said this in Matthew 10:42…

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (ESV)

I think we should be obedient. Give to a national charity. Give to Aid for Developing Countries. I have a friend who is running in a 5K for water and I gave to him. Take action and give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name!

photo credit: jenny downing

You Need to Know David Chrzan (@dchrzan)


I was minding my own business one day in January of this year when I received a brief email from one David Chrzan (pronounced Shawn) who called himself “Chief of Staff” at Saddleback Church. Three weeks later, I was sitting in a roundtable discussion with him and some magazine Editors about social media and online publishing. We began talking about Pastors.com and the potential for utilizing the social web to minister to today's church leaders and now I work on the team David leads at Saddleback Church.

I'm not using this space to flatter my boss. I'm using it to highlight an unsung man of wisdom. We can laugh with and at each other easily, but there's a serious side of David I've been learning from. He speaks with tremendous wisdom and clarity. He manages a million tasks at a time and acts as an air traffic controller for Rick Warren, helping Pastor Rick land all the right planes in the right order each day.

I've learned about authority from David. I've not had a “boss” per se in twelve years, but it's been a delight to answer to David because he understands what great leadership looks like. He doesn't blog. He doesn't write many articles. He doesn't dominate a social network, and that's all according to plan. David's role isn't an up front, center stage role, but you need to know David Chrzan nonetheless. 

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