Dave Rave – The 5 Moments That Make or Break You


One of the challenges of life is that most of it happens in the mundane.  You know, like today.  Not much happening today.  Today’s not special, spectacular, not wonderful, really no opportunities to be amazing today. Just get up and do the work.

But that is the treacherous nature of life; it’s that we fail to realize those big moments, those defining moments that come into our lives, and take advantage of them. Here are five moments that happen in the mundane.  And depending on how you respond to them, they’ll make or break you.

  1. The moment of temptation. Temptation sneaks up on you because it starts small.  It attacks your mind. You begin to think about how you’ve been slighted, unappreciated, maybe even cheated.  And all of a sudden you feel justified in cheating yourself, cheating on yourself, quitting your commitments: you know, a thousand different temptations, a thousand different strokes.  It’s how you respond in the moment of temptation that will determine how you can respond in the rest of your life.
  2. The moment of testing. Testing has to do with will.  In the Scriptures it says “we get knocked down but we get up again.”  That’s it, isn’t it?  How strong is your resolve? It will be tested, and how you respond in that moment determines the depth and the quality of your life.
  3. The moment of quitting. Everyone faces a quitting moment. Think about a man and a woman standing at an altar, pledging undying love.  They are married.  But they fail to take into account, you don’t marry a perfect person. You aren’t perfect either and sometimes you feel unloved and unwanted, and the temptation to quit.  That’s when you have to respond.  You go to work and you don’t get the raise, or you’re passed over and you want to quit.  You get discouraged and you want to quit.  It’s pushing through those quitting moments.  It’s the power to prevail, when everything inside of you wants to give up, that makes the difference.
  4. The moment of opportunity. Opportunity is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t come with bells and whistles.  It often comes as one choice among many.  It takes wisdom to know which one is the right one for you.  But it also takes courage to seize the opportunity of a lifetime during the lifetime of the opportunity.  Windows open; windows close.   Doors open; doors close. You have to go through them or the opportunity is offered to someone else.
  5. The moment of choice. Each and everyday, you have ultimate power because you and you alone make your choices.  If you give up those choices, your life is ruled and run by arbitrary forces.  For fear of making the wrong choice, some of us get stuck in a rut.  Wrong or right, a choice needs to be made.  And it’s your ultimate power: the power to choose.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I know what you’re afraid of.  No I am not talking about, bugs, gators, snakes, spiders, all those common things we say we’re afraid of. There are as many phobias, it seems, as there are people who populate the planet.  But I know what you’re afraid of, really, really at the core, down deep inside, in the inner sanctum where only you and God reside.  It’s not the fear of dying.   It’s not the fear of poverty, or even the fear of sickness.  It’s not the fear of being hurt.  It’s not the fear of never becoming a millionaire.  It is, though, the fear that we all share.  And that is, the fear of being insignificant.

You know that fear.  It starts early in life when you wake up to realize that unlike the safe cocoon your parents have provided, the world chooses up sides.  Some people get picked, others don’t.  Some people are beautiful, others aren’t.  Some people have athletic bodies, given to them by nature; unearned but much applauded by those who look on.  The rest of us have bodies that we constantly fight just to keep in line for the rest of our lives.

And as you filter through these emotions you have when you go to school, and middle school and then on to high school, and on to college, you soon realize that your greatest fear is that you’ll be irrelevant, insignificant; that the world won’t be any different except deplenished by the little space you are taking up.

That’s why you want to be listened to.  That’s why you want to create stuff that reflects the inner you; your conviction, your knowledge, your understanding, your views of the way the world should work.  That’s why you want to create beauty.  That’s why you’re unsatisfied with the status quo. That’s why you want to change things and make them better. That’s why you come in to a room and think, “I would have chosen a different color, a different sofa.  I certainly wouldn’t have hung those pictures.”  Is that you being arrogant?  Not at all. That’s you being you.

Believe it or not, we’re all created creative; created in the image of our Maker, the ultimate, generous artist, the One Who creates ultimate beauty, the One Who can take the blackest night and turn it into the brilliance of a sunlit day.  A God Who can take broken lives and mend them and turn them into a song, in to a crescendo of praise and goodness.  That same God created you.  Stuffed inside your human body is a heart and soul, a mind, a unique combination unlike we’ve ever seen before.  And you’re dying to be heard.  You’re dying to let what you know out to inform the world and make it a better place.

The question is, why don’t you?  The answer is, you fear, by everything you’ve seen and heard, that you were one of the unlucky ones, created without significance, without gifts, without talents, without anything to crow about, without any reason to “moo” out loud.

Let’s face it.  Since you were born, you’ve been told to stand in line, behave, wear your seat belt, put on a helmet and prepare for the worst.  Thinking crazy thoughts and drawing weird paintings is ok when you’re in the first, second, or third grade.  But by the fourth grade, you’ve got to get with the program.  And what is the program?  The program to bring you into conformity and convention. Yuck. Just saying those to words leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

If you’re going to “moo” out loud, add your verse, make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to learn to defy convention and conformity. They are not your friends.

How to be Heard Over the Herd

One thing that’s been true with every person I’ve ever met is that they want to be heard.  I mean really heard; not just add to the noise, not just politely stand in line to earn the right to say something.  But to be heard for who they are and the uniqueness that they bring to life.

At the same time, one of the greatest challenges is to figure out how to be heard among the herd. When I run out here in the Tennessee countryside, I pass by about four herds of cattle. The interesting thing is that in every one of these herds, they either have their heads down eating, or they are just standing there with some kind of weird, blank stare.

Day by day, I run past these herds of cows with little or no sound.  But on a brief occasion, I hear a startling sound that comes from one of those cows, daring to extend his neck and raise his head, and giving out a loud, “moo.”  Sometimes it’s a plaintive “moo.” But other times it’s attention-getting.

So here’s what I’ve learned.  It’s hard to get heard among the herd.  It’s those daring, brave souls who lift their heads, stretch their neck, and let out a loud “Moo!” that offer the world her music and reason for living.  The question about moo-ing out loud is not, “Do you have something to say?” It’s, “Do you have something worth saying?”  Are you adding to the load of cynicism, doubt, fear, hate, and trash-talk?  If that’s your “moo,” you can keep it to yourself.  But if you “moo” out loud some idea, some note of joy, some inspiration of grace; if you add to this world your music that helps us turn limping into dancing, sadness into rejoicing, then by all means “moo” out loud.

The second thing you need to “moo” out loud is not just something worth saying, but the courage to say it in your voice.  Yeah, that’s right.  You have a voice.  It’s not like mine or anyone else’s.  To you, it may sound shrill, high-pitched, and squeaky.  But to the rest of us, it might sound like a symphony.

So I dare you.  Stand up and “moo” out loud.  When you write that book, you “moo” out loud.  When you write that song, you “moo” out loud.  When you you go for another audition, you “moo” out loud.  When you refuse to work in a cubicle for slave’s pay and dare to live a life of your dreams, you “moo” out loud.  And when you “moo” out loud, that symphony gives us the courage so that just maybe we too, can rise above the herd.

Still in One Peace

When life hands me a set of circumstances out of which I can make no sense, by God’s grace, I will face it in one peace.

When people that don’t even know me oppose me, I will respond, still in one peace.

When my goals go unmet and my dreams seem to be postponed, when the burden is heavy and the way is uncertain, I will still be in one peace.

When life makes no sense, when the good suffer and the cavalier seem to live with impunity; when the ways of God seemed to be forgotten, ignored, or even mocked, I will still be in one peace.

When everything fades away and God’s word is found true, when all that matters is who God thinks I am and where I stand with Him; when my race is run and my chapters are written, I will choose to dance, still in one peace.

Do Today What You’ll be Glad You Did

It’s no secret I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey.  It’s not just because I like his stuff, but I know the man and have a great deal of admiration for him.  So I listen to what he has to say more carefully than I do most other public figures.

Of all the things that I’ve ever heard Dave say, and one that sticks in my brain most is, “Today I will live like no one else, so tomorrow I can live like no one else.”  And I can say that Dave practices what he preaches.

It can also be said another way. That is, “do today what you’ll be glad you did tomorrow.”

I hate to tell you that’s the definition of discipline, because most of you will run as fast as you can.  You see discipline as some hard, difficult, terrible, nasty thing.  Today’s twenty and thirty-somethings act as though the words “delayed gratification” are curse words or archaic ideas of a Victorian age, thankfully long gone.

So say it this way, “Do what you don’t want to do today.” I’m talking about the things that you know you should do, like exercise, eat with some degree of self-restraint, study, pray, engage; get up off the couch and work hard.  You know those things.  It’s called self-discipline.  You might want to call it self-mastery; that I tell myself what to do.  I don’t let my body and my emotions run my life.  It is through my mind and my spirit that I demand that my body and emotions fall in line.

We do indeed reap what we sow.  And it’s almost always not convenient to do the hard, smart thing in the moment.  But when you can get up, suit up, show up, and do the next right thing, tomorrow is a bright future for you. If you can’t, not only are you going to be stuck, but tomorrow is a sad stream of stories that make you a cautionary tale, rather than someone we write books and make movies about.

Permission, No: Will, Yes

We’re trained from the very earliest in our lives to not make good decisions.  It’s not a conspiracy to keep us down.  It’s just the way we’ve chosen to organize the world.

As a result, we’ve raised a generation of permission-seeking conformists who are looking to plug into the system so they can reap its rewards.

What I’ve learned is that I don’t need permission, I need a will, a want-to, a drive, a passion, a desire; something that will allow me to prevail against the predictable and outrageous adversities that come the way of every person who dares raise their head and see something worth giving their lives for.

A life runs on “will” like a train runs on tracks.  On the one side of the tracks is the will of God.  Even Jesus prayed in His most desperate hour, “Thy will be done.”  The other side of the track is the will that I believe is God-created and placed in our hearts.  So the dual track is simply seeking God’s will and finding it in the will that He’s given me.

I’ve learned that the way God leads me is that He gives me a fire inside, a desire, a passion that leads me alongside the track of His will.  It’s not obscure.  It’s not as hard to find as some people think it is.  It’s there.  And in the pursuit of that great passion or that great will, I’m constantly submitting my will to the will of God so that I can say with confidence, “Thy will be done,” because all I simply do is submit my will to His will and then follow the sustained passion that He puts in my heart.

If you really don’t know what to do with the rest of your life, maybe you need to stop asking permission and start seeking your inner passion.

Help! I’m Overwhelmed!

One of the number one causes of quitting is feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in your marriage, overwhelmed at work, overwhelmed with a new idea that you’re trying to get off the ground, but there are just so many moving parts, you feel like you’re never going to get a handle on any of them.

Here’s my response to that.  Relax.  It’s normal.  All successful people feel overwhelmed.

One of the things they don’t tell you about the creative process is that most of it feels like chaos.  Why?  You’re doing something new in a different way.  You’re spending your hours differently.  You’ve enter into a world that you haven’t proven you can succeed in yet.

So if you feel overwhelmed do this little discipline.  Say to yourself, “Today I will get up, I will suit up, I will show up, and I will do the next right thing.  And after I’ve done that, I’ll do the next right thing again.” And you’ll be amazed that over time, stringing together a lot of “do the next right thing” actions will get you to the goal.

Remember, the great missionary Paul said, “I run with purpose.  And every step toward the goal of the high calling for which Christ has laid hold of me.” Listen.  Get the goal, run toward it, realize that you don’t run alone and without the power of Jesus.

Turning Problems Into Passions

There are a lot of problems that face our world.  We see them reflected in the eyes of the people we meet every day.  And because there are so many overwhelming problems, we are at times, left with the feeling that there is nothing we can do.

I was in my men’s group the other day and the question was asked, “What are we going to do about this?” And it stayed with me and haunted me since then.  And so here is my answer.

I can’t change everything, attack every problem.  As a matter of fact there is probably no problem that I can solve.  But I can focus my passion on a couple of problems that I know I can do something about.

So if you don’t know anything else about me and my commitments, know this: that for the rest of my life as God gives me the ability, I’m going to own two problems.

One, the problem of the American church and her inability to reach out and make a difference. I care about this.  I believe in the church.  I am a follower of Jesus.  And while the church isn’t perfect, it is created in the heart of God and owns a special place in His affection.  As a matter of fact, Jesus said that He would build His church.  And what is a church?  It is a gathering of messed up people who have found that the grace of God and the love of God has loved them not only back to eternal life, but to the life here and now.  And so I own that problem, creating a church for people who don’t want to go to church because they’ve been to church. And that’s why our mantra at The Gathering Nashville is that we specialize in God simple, not church complicated.

The second problem that I own is the miserable and deteriorating state of marriage in America. I firmly believe that the one best thing we can do to turn our country around is to raise the value of marriage, and teach and mentor people not just how to get married, but how to be married and stay married over time.  That would mean that we would have great marriages.  We know that the economy would be stimulated, that great kids would be raised, families would be happier.  And the greater families we have, the greater society we would have.  And the greater society we have, the greater America we will have.

So for me, the church and marriage are my two problems. They are the issues over which I have a sustainable passion.  I know they are dear to the heart of God, for He created them both.  As a matter of fact, they’re the only two institutions that He did create.

So the question to you is, “What are your problems?” What two problems will you own, embrace, and hold yourself responsible for making a difference?

You Don’t Really Think Anything You Do Really Changes Things, Do You?

When we start out in life, we are curious, daring risk-takers. But over time, with the guidance of our fearful parents and the faithful, diminishing effects of education, we get in line.  We finally see our lives as something small and insignificant.  We’re a customer, a number, a name, a statistic; someone to feed the machine.

We’ve lived that way so long that we wind up at mediocrity.  Mediocrity isn’t just half measures or lack of commitment.  Mediocrity is a world view.  What it basically says is, “What I do doesn’t really matter so why does it matter how I do it?  My marriage doesn’t matter.  It’ll wind up a statistic.  My children don’t matter.  No matter what I do, they’ll wind up hating me.  God doesn’t matter because no one really knows if there is a God or what He’s like.  And if He’s like a lot of the religious people I’ve ever met, I think I’ll pass.”

Here is my call to all of my fellow renegades out there who have gone into hiding.  Come out, come out, wherever you are.  Let your light shine.  That’s what Jesus said. We’re light and salt, that people are to see our good works and realize that something bigger, bolder, and more daring is at work in our lives.  How can they do that if they live small, mission-less, passionless, beige lives?

One of the best things you can do for yourself during the 21st Century and the transition of the new economy, while house prices are low and unemployment is high, is to change your core belief; that one life matters and it can change the world. Think of the names of ordinary people: Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Babe Ruth, Bart Starr.  I know, I am wandering, but you get the point. Names of people who have stood out from the crowd: that could be you.  You can live a life that is memorable, that is truly amazing.

Amazing people do amazing things.  Average people do average things.  You know, average, broke, sick, addicted, miserable, lonely, angry – you get it.  Amazing, happy, joyful, energetic, on mission, making tons of money, giving tons of money away: that can be you.  But you have to believe fundamentally, at your core, that you can change the world.

A Word of Warning to Pastors and Church Leaders in America About the Dangerous People Hiding in Your Organization

Churches, organizations, businesses, anyplace where there is a mission and a passion to extend that mission and its influence, are places populated by people, at first, just a few true believers.  And as the mission takes hold, and as you grow larger and larger, more and more people begin to populate the organization.

There are two kinds of people that hide in every church in America that will ultimately take you down. One, the bad person; two, the bored person.

There are bored people in all organizations.  These people really don’t know what to do, except they do know what they want.  They want credit.  They want attention.  They want power.  But they don’t know how to get it.  They can’t perform.  They don’t add anything to the organization.  The problem with them is they look good, sound good, smell good, and they interview great.  If you’ve got bored people in your organization, get them out now, today, tonight. They will try to overthrow you.  I know.  I’ve had it done, and it’s painful.

The truth is bored people are easy to identify.  Every bored person in one of my organizations that has ultimately hurt me I could have identified and dealt with. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to be viewed as a bad guy.  And ultimately, that’s exactly what I was viewed as, because bored people have to justify their behavior by demonizing the leader.

The hard person to identify in your organization is the bad person. For those of us who are Christians, it is hard to find it in our heart that there are really any bad people.  I am not talking about people who are lousy at what they do.  I am talking about people who are corrupt at their heart.  They have no motives.  They are not motivated by power or recognition.  They are just bad.  And the only thing they care about is tearing things down and sowing discord, distrust, and dissension.

You probably have some bad people in your organization, at least one.  If it’s a large one, maybe several.  You need to guard yourself against them because they are like a cancer. They spread and they infect other people who are otherwise happy, excited, and on mission.

This is a call to my pastor brothers and leaders of America.  Please don’t be naive.  Be at the wheel, diligent and alert. For just as much as the Sunday morning service is your responsibility, so is the well-being of the organization, and weeding out those who would harm it.  At the end of the day, it is not about the leader. It’s about the people; providing a place where they can find God, grow, and reach their full, God-ordained, God-blessed, God-given redemptive potential.

As You End the Work Week, Consider the Iron Law of Organizational Demise Because it Might Not Be the Economy

One of the most popular trends in a down economy is to blame everything on the economy. If business is bad, the future looks bleak, we can sit around and comfort ourselves knowing that everyone else is sucking wind because, of course, it’s the economy.

But the problem with that is, some of the greatest innovative companies have arisen over history during the bleakest of economic times. Even today new start-ups are gaining traction, and innovation and service are going to new levels in some sectors of course, not all.

As you end your work week and you’ve had conversations about how bad the economy is and when things might turn around, I have something for you to think about.  And I call it the Iron Law of Organizational Demise.

Here it is.  There are two groups of people in every organization, at least initially.  The first group are those who thought the whole thing up. They are the ones who had the dream, who wrote the vision on the back of a napkin, who dared to launch when everyone thought they were crazy.  And against all odds, their church, their organization, their business caught on.  And all of a sudden people and money start flocking in like there is no tomorrow.

And what do these visionaries do?  These people who have worked their butts off to get this thing off the ground.  They want to keep the growth going, so what do they do?  They seek out and hire organization experts, whatever they are.  And before long, the organization is populated by two groups of people: those who are passionate about what the organization exists to do, provide, create, or innovate; and the second group of people who are passionate about the organization itself.

Over time – and listen to me, I know what I’m talking about – over time, the group late to the organization wins.  Why?  Because in part, those who started the organization stopped trusting the genius of the mission, the vision, and the passion that created the thing in the first place.

This is what I’ve learned the second time around, starting a brand new church: a church with about a thousand-plus people in it, with a very small staff.  Years ago I started another church that had thousands of people in it and a big staff.  And here’s what I’ve learned.  Those who come late, those who populate the organization, those who write their procedures, and policies, those who administer the whole thing will eventually win.  They will throw the visionaries out and seize the assets, and slowly, but surely, over time, that group, that thing, that company that existed on the cutting edge becomes the same old, same old as everything else, and everyone else.

If you are starting a company, a church, anything, trust the genius of your initial passion.
Be careful who you allow in the inner circle.  Are they vision/passion people who are willing to do whatever it takes? Or are they organizational people who only would sit in a beautiful leather chair, in a nicely-appointed office?

Have you ever put the look of wonder and amazement on your daddy’s face? If not, why not?

I make it a point every year to be in front of the television when the acceptance speeches are given by the seven inductees to the Football Hall of Fame.  Not just because I like football a lot, but because there is always a lesson in human achievement.

This year, the recent induction of Emmitt Smith into the Hall of Fame was especially poignant.

By all accounts, Emmitt is one of the good guys.  Named after his father, and his son also bears the same name, Emmitt, this young phenom from the projects of Pensacola, Florida reached the pinnacle of his profession as a football player.  The leading rusher in the history of the NFL, Emmitt has gone on to achievement after he hung up his cleats, in business and in such things as “Dancing With the Stars.”

Emmitt’s speech was unscripted, he spoke from the heart, and it was powerful.  The people he thanked, the lessons he gave, the explanation of what he did as great as they were, paled in comparison (at least to me) to the one thing I am not sure I ever did, and know I’ll never be able to do.

What was it?  It was the wonder and amazement; the look frozen on the face of Emmitt’s father of joy, of love, and of gratitude.  You’ve gotta go find a picture and see it.  It’s beyond description: stuck in the moment, probably recounting in his mind every big and small sacrifice he made for his son, knowing it was more than worth it.

I know a lot about Emmitt Smith because of his records and achievements.  I can look it up on Wikipedia.  But I know everything I need to know when I look into the face of his father: a happy, satisfied, joyous, jubilant dad looking at his highest achievement – the success of his son who became a great man.

The greatest achievement in my life or yours is reflected in the eyes of our spouse; then reflected again in the eyes of our children.  When you look into the eyes of your wife, men, do you see joy and energy, longing, and desire?  Or is there a dead space where this woman has been allowed to dry up on the vine because from you, all she gets is draining, bullying, and nagging?

You want to be great?  Let it be seen in the eyes of those closest to you.

The Dark Secret Jerry Rice Revealed at His Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech That Should Have Shocked the World

What I’m getting ready to say, I say not as a pessimist, not as someone who sours on life, but as someone who wades knee-deep in the pain of average people every day.  Too many of us allow the stresses, strains, and anxieties of life to rob us of our ability to enjoy today. Continue reading “The Dark Secret Jerry Rice Revealed at His Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech That Should Have Shocked the World”

Once You Lose, You Want to Stay Lost

I just came from a lunch meeting with a really great friend; the kind of friend who comes into your life and makes a huge impact.  As we were talking through what’s been going on in our lives, we finally got around to discussing how much weight we had lost and how we did it.

As I thought about our conversation I realized, it’s really hard to lose weight.  It’s hard to change your behavior significantly to lose a significant amount of weight, particularly when you’re an adult, and almost every waking hour of your day is committed to something.

But here’s what hit me.  Once you lose, you want to stay lost.  Once you get the weigh toff, once you break the bad habit, once you move your life to a better place, it’s being there that helps you develop the habits that will sustain you being there.

Here is the “Aha” moment for me.  The struggle is not in losing the weight, gaining the skill, changing your lifestyle or habit.  It’s once you get there, realizing that the happy benefit of the hard work is the inner motivation to develop lifelong habits that will sustain the good thing you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

So remember this.  The pain and struggle of losing weight lasts only for a little while.  The benefit and motivation: a lifetime.

Working for the Weekend: Why Can’t it be Different?

There are three basic issues in life, it seems to me.

  • The internal me who struggles to be happy, whole, and excited about who I am and where I am.
  • The relational me, the personal me, how I deal with navigating the relationships in my life.
  • The public me, my work.

Since we spend so much time in our work life, why aren’t we enjoying it more.  Are we?  The people I am talking to seem to be caught in a catch-22.  One, they are glad to have a job, even if it is not a job they love or feel particularly rewarded by.  Or they have lost a job and hesitate to go back to an industry or career for which they have no passion.

I just finished reading a book called Crush It! Easy read, simple idea, said in a fresh new way, “Find your passion and have fun the rest of your life.”

Working was meant to be fun, I’m convinced of it.  It wasn’t meant to be difficult, drab and boring.  But boy, howdy,  is the space in which we work changing!  And changing for the better for those who have a passion: a passion to help people, a passion to lift, to love, to help other people get the life they want.

Here is my challenge.  Maybe you don’t have any fun at work because you don’t see how what you do is connected to helping other people get what they want and need in life.

You can never be great doing mindless, pointless work.  You need to know that what you’re doing makes a difference in the life of another person.

Here’s what I’d like to hear.  Some of you tell me what you do, and why you love it and have fun doing it; so much fun that “retirement” doesn’t even enter into the equation.