Category Archives: Risk


Over the Christmas break, I wrote down a few goals and plans for 2012. One of those goals was to read 50 books between January and December 2012.

Yesterday, I finished my 49th book. I am inches from reaching my goal. In fact, I should cross that line sometime tonight or Friday.

How did I do it?

First, as I wrote last week, you can gain a lot of momentum in your reading when you choose the RIGHT kind of books to read. For me, I read books on Theology, Philosophy, and Best Practices. This way I am making the most of my time and energy and avoiding books that might not stretch me mentally or professionally.

Secondly, at the outset of the year I listed about 30 books that I wanted to read. Some books on my list are ones that were published in years previously and some are books that I know will be published later this year. Some are books I have always wanted to read but have not had the opportunity. I have since edited and re-edited that list but I believe by laying out a plan and choosing individual titles to read it set me on the path to achieving my goal early. It took the guess work out of choosing my next book and it kept me from blindly groping for any book to read next.

I also make time to read DAILY. On Monday morning when I get to the office it is “all sermon prep, all the time” from the minute I sit down at my desk. This is the day I’m reading scripture, commentaries, articles, you name it in order to prepare for next Sunday’s message. I take a break from around 12-2pm for lunch and a mentoring call. I wrap up my sermon prep for the day and then I make sure to spend about another hour reading from my list. There once was a time when I would have said, “I’ve been reading all day” and I would have made an excuse that I had already “read” for the day. No more. My goal is to read no less than one hour a day. Monday is just an hour. Other days I can get in more. Each day brings with it it’s own troubles and obstacles. If you want to read more books that will develop you personally, intellectually, or spiritually you have to commit to reading each day. No matter what!

Next Steps
The point isn’t for you to read 50 books or 100 or whatever. Reading has impacted my life greatly and I want to see it make a difference in your life. One of my favorite quotes is from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones when he says, “Ten years from now you will be the same, except for the books you read and the people you meet. If you read one more book this year than you did last year you will be better for it and you will be better equipped to lead those around you. So, ready to set a reading goal? Here are some next steps you can take:

1) Today, make a list of the categories you would like to begin reading. Do you want to read more books on history, more literature, business books, foreign languages? There are thousands of books out there from a thousand different categories. Pick a handful of categories that will help you grow and that you will find enjoyable.

2) Next, list at least 5 books that you want to read in the categories you’ve chosen. Then begin reading from your lists. My list for this year is in Evernote. Next to each book I’ve chosen I have a check box and as I read each book, I check it off the list. Some books, after closer inspection, end up getting dropped from my list or moved down the list in order to make room for something that I need to read or is a better resource. Once your list is in place, you can stop worrying about what your going to read.

3) Pull out your calendar and find at least one hour a day in order to read from your lists. It doesn’t have to be all in one sitting. 30 minutes at lunch and 30 minutes before bedtime is manageable. Instead of watching that 3rd and 4th episode in a row of Diners, DriveIns, & Dives (guilty!), read. You have time to read- I promise. Get creative about making time. Make the hard decisions. Sacrifice the things you love in order to do the things you love more.

Don’t just sit there- get reading!

Question: What is one book you’ve read that you would recommend over and above any other book? (Leave your answer in the comments section.)


Poor Management

One thing that I have always prided myself on is my ability to manage my schedule in a healthy manner. I’m no where near perfect but I have been acutely aware of the need to schedule and manage my time while in full-time ministry. I do not want to burn out early and I do not want it said of me that I ran a poor and short race (ha).

It is easier to manage my schedule in the fall and spring. The students are in school. Athletic events and church events are usually scheduled months in advance and so I can work around these things. I try and find moments to disengage from my ministry hat and proudly wear and display my husband hat and my Micheal hat.

I covet Thursday nights with my wife and place fortified barriers of reminders to all that I am devoting this night and this time to my family. Years down the road it is things like this that will help me prioritize my family over my ministry.

For myself I do a lot of reading, personal development, movies, conferences, and concerts. I am a sucker for all of these things and they each help me relax, focus, and lead more effectively.

But now it is summer! Mission trips, camps, and late nights have pushed my schedule to the max. I have been forgetting that I must manage my time or it will manage me.

Last week I left on Wednesday for the Unplugged conference. The plan was to return home mid-evening Friday and then drive my teens to camp in Arkansas. What really happened was the my flight was delayed. I returned to Dallas late-night, drove to Arkansas the next day, and taught 12 classes in four days. We drove home Thursday evening. Whew! I was tired all week. These were all good things but I could have planned better for rest.

Instead I agreed to play golf early Friday morning! Great time with friends, my poor playing, but good putting all made for an enjoyable morning but still I was beat.

Then I had scheduled a fund raiser car wash for our mission trip. All saturday morning. In the heat. Under the sun. We met our fund raising goal (praise God!) but the thoughts of weariness plagued me all afternoon.

This was just two weeks of my summer. Could you imagine what would happen if this continued for another couple of months? What if I kept up this pace and this schedule for the rest of the year? This type of life is unsustainable. The human body is not meant to go this hard and this fast for extended periods of time. When I am this tired and worn down I am unable to be fully present with the people and events in my life. I’m on auto-pilot and I fear that I am missing out on important connections.

How are you managing your time? Are you giving where you need to give? Are you taking time to receive from God? Your family?

Youth ministers aren’t the only ones who suffer from over scheduling. Like Dave Ghrol of Foo Fighters asks, “Is someone getting the best of you?” If the answer to this question is “No” then take a long hard look at your schedule and see what need adjusting, what needs more focus, or what needs removing.

You Get What You Ask For

When I posted my statement last week about taking risks for God and for my faith and for my ministry I had no clue that God was going to show up at the conference challenging me head on with this idea.

I feel a little like Neo tonight. I feel as though I’ve been offered a red or blue pill.

I can take the blue pill, enjoy the conference, sing the songs, jot some notes, board the plane home, and say “Well that was nice.” Of course, nothing will change. I’ll be just as effective as I am today. My faith will remain just as listless. My ministry be “good enough.”


I can take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes.

I think God is telling me something:

Yesterday Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, TX, challenged me to take a risk by focusing on spiritual transformation and being honest with people that the Jesus way is a sloooooooow process. He likened spiritual growth to a baby taking its first steps. No parent watches as their child does the initial step, step, fall and then berates their baby for the poor job of running. No they celebrate because the child gets back up and keeps stepping. We go wild with joy when a baby tries and “fails” but we freak out (not in a good way) when a disciple takes two steps and falls. We write them off as hopeless. Shame on us. Transformation is life-long process. In ministry it is a risk to be that honest with people. People want transformation and growth instantly and too often we tell them that they can quickly “get right” by reading their Bible, praying, and reading their Bible. Risk challenging people to go deeper.

This morning Andy Stanley challenged me to risk my influence just as Jesus did by washing the disciples feet. All power was given to Jesus and he willingly laid that power down to serve. It is a risk to lead like Jesus.

Rick Warren challenged me to surrender my identity and my ministry to Him so that He can make it come alive. In essence, risk losing control. Rick also challenged me to pray the most dangerous prayer in the world, “Lord, Use me.”

Finally, Francis Chan challenged me to risk seeing my ministry as more than a job. It is a divine appointment. I need to risk seeing my life and ministry as the intentional way that God created me before I was born. I love my teens and their families. They are more than a job to me. I have been appointed to lead. Will I do it because of duty or out of a deep seated love? I know which one is a bigger risk.

I have so much to process right now but I keep seeing God’s hand holding out this red pill of risk to me.

Am I willing to risk it all for the sake of the Gospel? Am I willing to say “God, you are in control. I surrender it all to you. Success, failings, heart and soul. It’s yours.”? Am I risking it all to remain faithful to the things that God is calling me toward? Do I care more about my safety, my status, my reputation, my tradition than I do about seeking after the glory of God?

It all comes down to risk.