Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you - Proverbs 4:25 ESV
I was channel surfing the other day and came upon a show that discussed how service dogs are trained. It was amazing to watch the process of the trainers taking a puppy and teaching them to ignore all distractions that most dogs would engage in.
There was one scene where the dogs were in a room and the trainers were throwing balls at the dogs in an attempt to get them to chase it. The dogs remained perfectly still and showed no interest in the balls at all.
The big test came when they brought ferrets into the room and let them loose. The ferrets climbed over the dogs and literally walked under the noses of the dogs with no response. The dogs remained focused and were able to resist the urge to engage with the ferrets. The trainers explained that this was an important part of training since the ability of the dogs to remain focused would minimize the chances of their owners being hurt.
I wonder how more effective we men would be if we had the focus exhibited by the dogs described above? Would we be able to achieve greater levels of success in the way of discipleship or leading our families? I, like many of you, am unable to remain focused for extended periods of time.
The result of this inability to focus renders us helpless when it comes to maximizing our potential as children of God. I have seen others with less talent achieve more because of their ability to focus.
Joe Girard, who has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's greatest salesman was asked his secret of success. He stated: "When I eat, I eat. When I sleep, I sleep. When I play, I play. When I work, I work." What Joe was saying is that whatever he's doing, he's fully engaged.
The fully engaged and focused person is not looking at Facebook when his spouse is trying to have a conversation with him. Nor is the focused person thinking about what's the time of the big game while he's playing catch with his kid.
The man that's focused is engaged on the task at hand. This is the type of man that Proverbs discusses in today's scripture. It speaks about a man's eyes being fixated upon the right objects.
The scripture further states 2 important points: 1) forget all things when seeing Christ and 2) take care that you continue gazing upon Christ until you have faith in Him.
Men, imagine what we could accomplish by adopting the mindset that this scripture espouses! The changes that would occur in our communities would be nothing short of amazing. I firmly believe that all of us have the ability to harness this power of focus.
Let me caution you. Once you start moving in the direction of living a focused life, the enemy will present himself. You'll find yourself looking at circumstances and begin to doubt yourself (Peter was an excellent example of this when he walked on the water). When this happens, remind yourself to fix your gaze on those things that are worthy.
Are you having success with living a focused life? Why or why not? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them - Ephesians 2:10 ESV
All of us know that we created by our Heavenly Father to accomplish a specific purpose here on earth. We all have unique talents that were given to us that need to be used to glorify our Father.
I, after a number of frustrating attempts, I have starting walking in that path of my God given purpose (I will admit that the path is a little rocky at times). Here are the 3 benefits that I have realized in walking in the path of my God given purpose.
1. Your relationships become stronger
I have found that when I am on the path to fulfilling my purpose here on earth, my relationship with God is stronger and effective. I am more attuned to listening to what He has to say to me and I am more aware of His presence.
Secondly, my relationship with my family, church and friends has grown more powerful. When you are operating with purpose, you are more able to withstand the schemes of the evil one designed to negatively impact your relationships. Although there will still be instances in which you will get frustrated with others in your life, I have found that I'm better equipped to handle these situations.
2. You become healthier
No, you won't be able to jump right in and participate in a Cross fit class (there may be some of you that can. If so, my hat's off to you). I have found that my frame of mind has become sharper and I am able to eliminate mental obstacles that would have normally paralyzed me in the past.
The improvement of my mental fitness has also had a positive effect on my physical health. My level of stress has decreased since I have identified and start operating in my God given purpose. My number of stress related headaches, aches and pains have become fewer in number. My workouts have also increase in intensity as well (I think the wife likes that!) since I want to ensure that I have the energy level to accomplish the purpose that God has designed for me.
3. You become a role model for others
When you are operating on the path of accomplishing your purpose, people will notice a difference about you. The way that you carry yourself and reflect the light that should be in each of us is on display. You become a walking testimony of what God can do. This provides you with an opportunity to share with others the change that you have experienced as a result of being in tune with your talents and using them for God's glory.
For those of you that are walking along the path of God's purpose, what benefits have you noticed in your life? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Whatever Saul gave David to do, he did it—and did it well. So well that Saul put him in charge of his military operations. Everybody, both the people in general and Saul’s servants, approved of and admired David’s leadership - 1 Samuel 18:5 (MSG)
We came back from our annual Christmas vacation and returned to a cold home. I noticed it immediately when I walked in. The first thing that I did was to go over and look at the thermometer in the home.
51 degrees! I called one of my friends who referred me to a heating and air conditioning guy that he knew. He came over and diagnosed the problem: the thermostat was not working properly. As a result, the furnace was not communicating with the thermostat to adequately heat the home.
Once the thermostat was fixed, it was able to communicate to the furnace the correct temperature and our heating problem was solved.
I often see the parallels between the problem that I had with my thermostat and the leadership that we men are providing to our families.
Men, I have a question for you: What type of leader are you? Are you a thermostat or thermometer leader?
Randy Conley, Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for the Ken Blanchard Companies, addressed this question on his website at www.leadingwithtrust.com. His explanation for the differences is detailed below:
A thermometer reflects the temperature of the environment. It simply reacts to what’s happening around it. If the temperature is hot, it tells you so. If it’s cold, the thermometer reflects that reality as well. It’s a dumb instrument in the sense it doesn’t contain intelligent, multipurpose functionality. It has one purpose and one purpose only.
A thermostat, on the other hand, regulates the environment. It sets the desired temperature of the room and actively works to maintain it within a given range. If the temperature rises above the goal, the thermostat signals the air conditioner to crank up and cool the room down. If the temperature falls below the goal, the thermostat causes the heater to turn on in order to warm the room up. The thermostat is intelligent in the sense it’s always monitoring the environment, and if the temperature gets too hot or cold, it decides what to do to correct the situation.
A person that's a thermometer leader let's his environment dictate his mood and how he responds to things. A thermometer leader does not inspire a level of commitment in his people.
If you are a thermostat leader, you will instill confidence and trust within your family. They will emulate you as instill in them the importance of following God and obeying His commands.
David was a thermostat leader as evidenced by the opinion held by the servants in Saul's household. Because of David's leadership qualities, he was able to win over those that would have normally viewed him as a threat and been jealous of his ascent as a military leader.
We would be wise to adopt the leadership style exhibited by David as we attempt to lead our families.
So how are you going to respond to this question? Are you are a thermostat or thermometer leader? I would love to hear your responses. Please comment below.
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them - Matthew 18:19-20 ESV
In 2007, Zack Snyder produced a film named 300. It was based on the Battle of Thermopylae and centered primarily on the role of the Spartans in this famous battle.
Several years earlier, the Persians under king Darius I had invaded Greece, primarily in order to punish the city-states of Athens and Eretria. These city states had supported the cities of Ionia during their revolt against Persian rule. The invasion ended with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
King Darius began raising a huge new army with which he intended to return with full force, to obtain revenge for his devastating defeat.
Darius was killed in battle and his son Xerxes ascended to the throne. Xerxes, determined to avenge his father's defeat, launched his offensive upon Greece in what is now known as the Battle of Thermopylae with an army of some one hundred and fifty thousand men and a navy of six hundred ships..
The Battle of Thermopylae took place over a three day period. The Greeks were able to hold their position against the Persians over the first two days.
The tide turned when a member of a Greek tribe showed the Persians an alternative route that would take them behind the Greek force. This gave the Persians a competitive advantage.
Once King Leonidas (the commander of the Spartans) realized what had been done, he made a monumental decision – rather than abandon their position and withdraw to the south before the Persians arrived, Leonidas relieved the majority of his army.
The only ones left to fight were the 300 Spartans (the main focus of the film), 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans.
Of course, we know the battle ended with the total annihilation of the remaining force. The defeat of the Spartans at this battle served two purposes. The first was that it gave the army that Leonidas had dismissed an opportunity to escape. Secondly, and more importantly, their heroism boosted the morale of the surviving soldiers .
The remainder of the Greek army went on to defeat the Persians in the Battles of Salamis and Plataea, which effectively ended the Second Persian Invasion.
My brothers, there is a lot that can we learn from the efforts of the King Leonidas and his allies.
A group of like minded men that are united by a common goal can change the world!
This has been proven over and over again throughout the ages. Take a look at scripture and examine the efforts of Paul, Mark and Barnabas as they spread the gospel during the early stages of Christianity.
Look at God's handiwork in the 7th chapter of Judges where Gideon's army of 32,000 was reduced to 300 men and the Midianites were delivered into their hands.
Of course, there is the widely known example of Jesus and the 12 disciples.
Men, I challenge you today to pray to God for His wisdom and guidance to identify a group of men that will be willing to come together for the purpose of changing the world.
As scripture promises, where there are two or three that are gathered in His name, He will be there among them.
Has God been tugging on your heart to start or be a part of a group of men committed to make a change? Let's start a conversation below.
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted - Job 42:2 ESV
On February 1, 1960 four young black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now known as North Carolina A & T State University) walked into a Woolworth's in downtown Greensboro, NC.
At this time, they were denied service because the official policy was to refuse service to anyone except whites. These four students- Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil sat quietly at the lunch counter even though they were not served.
The police were called, but did not take any action since the four did not provoke anyone during their protest. The four students stayed at the counter for the entire day until the store closed.
The students, now known as the Greensboro 4, returned the next day with even more students that they had recruited from local colleges. Despite the increased number of participants, Woolworth stated that they would maintain their segregated policy.
By February 5th, approximately 300 students had joined in the protest at Woolworth's. This action paralyzed the business of Woolworth's along with those of other local businesses. In order to keep the protest going, the students organized their schedules so that someone would always be there to occupy the counter.
The momentum generated by the Greensboro 4 spread to 55 cities in 13 states. As a result of their efforts, many dining facilities across the South started integrating by the summer of 1960.
The success of the movement was rooted in the fact that the students persisted in their efforts until they reached their goal. They had a purpose and focused on attaining it.
Men, what is it in our lives are we called to do? What is our God given purpose that we are called to fulfill? If you have a purpose that God has called you to do, rest assured that it will happen. How do I know? Let's look at what Job experienced.
Job knew that God, with his unlimited power, knowledge and dominion provides man with all that he needs to accomplish His will. Job knew of God's power beforehand, but could attest to this power even more after his experiences.
My brothers, this power is available to you as well. I think of times that I was truly convinced of what my purpose was, but shrank from the challenge because of my perceived inability to accomplish it. It was only when I realized where my true source of power originated from, was I able to start moving toward my purpose.
It's not easy to maintain the focus of accomplishing your purpose. I admittedly veer off of the path to living out my purpose from time to time. It is during these times, that I have to recalibrate and tap into the power that God provides for you to persevere.
Like the Greensboro 4, you have the ability to focus your efforts on a worthwhile purpose and make lasting change.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are a number of you reading this that are sitting on the sidelines. You possess the ability to make positive change in this world if you start living out your purpose.
Have you identified your purpose? If so, are you living it out? If not, what's keeping you from doing so? Please engage in the conversation by commenting below.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.