Family: What’s in it for me?

Just a few weeks ago, Paula and I celebrated 40 years of life together.  As a part of the celebration, our daughters and sons in-law got together and took us out for a nice meal.  After that, we went back to one of their homes and they prepared a great video, including dozens of people who love us and who make such a difference in our lives.

At the end of the video they presented us with the photo you see here on my blog.  This is a picture of our three daughters, Erin along with her husband Steve, Lindsey along with her husband Aaron, and Paige along with her fiance Dustin. You’ll notice they are holding out their hands.  In their hand is a heart and within that heart is a number. Those numbers represent the year of our 40-year marriage that they entered our lives.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness of my children.

Since that night, I can’t help but think about all the decisions that Paula and I have made during the last 40 years; not the least of which was to have children, to take the risk in the face of questions like: how can we afford it, what will we do about college, what will we do if they hate us, what if something bad happens? Those and ten thousand other questions are really our way of asking, “What’s in it for me?”

So here is my takeaway. Instead of looking at your family as an inconvenience, cost, a bother, people who are either holding you back or keeping you at work late at night to afford the things they want, look at them as an investment.  I’m not talking about a return of dollars, but the return of love; the possibility of a legacy of amazing people who will make the world a better place, who will live their lives to honor God and love people.  Never doubt that what your family costs you is a fraction of what they give back.

If you doubt that or if you say, “That hasn’t been true in my life,” take a look in the mirror.  You get back what you give out.  Pour into your wife,  your husband, your children, to their lives, to their children generously, lavishly.  The Bible is true.  Give and it will be given unto you.

Dave Rave – 5 Things I’m Leaving Behind

daveraveIf you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of lists, blogs, and advice columns telling you the things that you need to start doing in the year 2012.  And while most of them are good, I’d be happy to leave some things behind in 2011.

So while you start some good things, I’m going to strive to stop these by leaving them behind.

  1. I’m leaving behind my disappointments in 2011.  You have them. I have them.  A lot of those disappointments come from people who promise to do things for us, prayers that go unanswered, and just a feeling that we didn’t get enough done. Goodbye to all the disappointments of the past 12 months.
  2. I’m leaving behind my guilt.  If I’m honest, most of the things I didn’t get done last year are my fault.   It’s not that I didn’t want to do more, accomplish more, love more, serve more, become more.  It’s just that I didn’t do it. I have a ton of excuses and if you’ve got time, I can make you a list.  But the truth is, I’m leaving the guilt I feel for not getting more done, in 2011.
  3. I’m leaving behind goals unaccomplished. I set goals.  By that I mean, I write down quantities, dates, really hard stuff.  For example, last year my goal was to run and ride 2,000 miles.  I fell woefully short, something over 1500 miles both in running and riding my bike.  That’s bad isn’t it? But, at least I did 1500 miles.  How many did you do?
  4. I’m leaving behind old attitudes. 2012 is going to be a great year. But it won’t be if I carry the old attitudes, prejudices and assumptions.  That means I’m going to exercise my mind, learn, grow, and change intellectually.
  5. I’m leaving behind my Lone Ranger ways.  Do you have a list of people you’ve been meaning to take out to lunch, to get to know, to build a relationship, and somehow there’s always an excuse why you don’t?  They’re busy, you’re busy, your schedules don’t mesh.  I’m leaving all that behind in 2011, and I’m going to start doing something about it.  As a matter of fact, before I wrote this Dave Rave, I called a friend and we’re scheduled in the morning to have coffee and catch up.

You probably have more things you can add to this list.  Sit around with your family, your group, or your team and ask, “What are the things we’re going to leave in the past that will hinder us in the future?” Remember, there is no future in the past.

Dave Rave – The Five Joys


This is the season of joy, right? The season that we remember how blessed we are. So here are my five joys:

  1. The joy of family.  Thank God for Paula, my girls, my sons-in-law, and all they mean to me.
  2. The joy of my faith-family. The Gathering is not just the love of my life, but my best friends.  I get to serve with people I love and admire, and make a difference in the world.
  3. The joy of my band of brothers.  Thank God for the Eagles, the Holy Smokes, and the other good men who walk with me and support me on a weekly basis.
  4. The joy of meaningful work. Thank you, Lord, that I get to do work that matters and changes the world.
  5. The joy that God knows me, loves me, and has a wonderful plan for my life.

These are my five joys.  How could you add to them?

Dave Rave -The 4 Ways of Rest

daveraveWell, it’s Christmas season and, like it or not, we’re in a mad dash for Christmas Eve.

Often we get overwhelmed with activities and responsibilities and trying to make everything just perfect for the ones we love.  And as good as all that is, you need not give up your sense of peace and being at rest.  As a matter of fact, rest is a big deal in the Scriptures.  It’s such a big deal that it’s, more times than not, how God describes the death of His children.  They enter into His rest.

So here are four ways that I am resting this holiday season.

  1. I am relaxed and at peace.  I’m at peace with God now and forever.  This is my Father’s world.  I’m going to relax and let Him run it and be at peace knowing that all things are right between me and my God.
  2. I am enjoying the now.  In Psalm 37, it’s amazing how many verbs are imperatives about the now: trust, delight, dwell, do good, do not fret, wait patiently.  All of these are insights on how to live in the now.  Living just for the now is stupid.  But living in the now is daring to believe that God has you exactly where He wants you to be, and doing exactly what His love knows should be done.
  3. I’m savoring this season.  Few of us know how to savor. We eat fast, we drive fast, we microwave our meals, and we use texts and email instead of face-to-face conversations. Savoring is slowing down to taste, to breathe in, to enjoy, to notice, to see, to be aware of this beautiful world with all of its colors, and all of its beauty.
  4. I’m trusting God’s timing. In Galations the Bible says, “It was just the right time, God sent forth His Son.”  God’s timing is impeccable, not only on the world’s stage, but in my life and yours.  If you need something, if a deadline is looming, remember God knows, and His timing can always be trusted.

Dave Rave – 5 Benefits of Working With You

daveraveNo one succeeds without the help of others.  And to succeed greatly, you need the help of a lot of people going in the same direction.

Here is a good way to check up on your people skills at work.  Ask yourself,  “What are the five benefits that people receive while working with me and on my team?”

  1. Do they feel challenged? In other words, are you making sure you give them work that matters? Do they see how it is connected to a greater purpose?
  2. Are they growing? Do you give them the tools, the opportunity, and the encouragement to grow intellectually, to get smarter as they work harder?
  3. Do they feel respected? There is great power in praise, appreciation, and calling attention to a job well-done.  The more you appreciate people, the more they’ll appreciate working with you.
  4. Do you make sure that everyone understands the big picture and the noble cause that you’re all working toward?  It’s hard to believe that widgets and products can have integrity, but just look at the example of Steve Jobs and Apple.  It’s work that matters that people give their best for. Your job as the leader is to make sure they understand why what you’re doing matters and how what they’re doing to help make it successful matters.
  5. Do they feel a sense of connectedness?  Not just a connectedness with the people at work, but with you?  Do they feel a part of the team?  Do they feel loyalty, that everyone’s going together on the same page?

Ask yourself these questions and then, if you’re really brave, sit your team down and go through them together.  You might be surprised at how well you’re doing.

Dave Rave – 5 Cans of a Courageous Friend

daveraveLet’s face it.  You only have so many really close friends in a lifetime.  True friendship takes one quality that we often overlook, and that’s courage.

Here are the 5 Cans of a truly courageous friendship:

  1. A courageous friend can be bothered. You know what I mean.  They can go out of their way when you need them.  They can be there.  Not only can they go out of their way when you need them, they can rearrange their schedule.
  2. A courageous friend can be there.  It’s one thing to be bothered.  It’s another thing to get in your car and come to wherever your friend needs you to be.  Email, text, these are all great gifts.  But sometimes you need to be there, eyeball-to-eyeball, to truly be a friend.
  3. A courageous friend can be inconvenienced.  By that I mean they understand that friendship is going to cost you something.  They are willing to rearrange their schedule to meet your needs.
  4. A courageous friend can be honest.  We’re told in the Scriptures to speak the truth in love.  That’s a hard thing to do.  It’s a balance between honesty and compassion.  But a true friend is willing to walk that tightrope, to be honest in a way that he can receive it and benefit from it.
  5. A courageous friend can be counted on. Proverbs 17 says, “a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” It’s easy to promise friendship.  It’s another thing to be counted on when the chips are down. 

How many friends do you have like this?  Are you a courageous friend to someone?  Do they know it? Have they sensed it?

Dave Rave – 5 Ways We Win

daveraveI’ve never met a person who didn’t want to win.  I’ve met an awful lot of people who are confused about what it takes to win.

Here are the five ways, dimensions, or areas of your life in which you need to win to truly be winning.

  1. Winning with God.  A life that is void of your Creator’s blessing is not winning.  To truly win at life God’s way, you need to know that all is right with God and that you understand what He both expects and promises.
  2. Winning with you.  There is no winning outside of good, healthy relationships.  Whether it’s marriage, family, or friends, people make the hard work worth it.  There is no winning if I am at odds with the people around me.
  3. Winning with me.  This means that I know that I’m living up to my potential, that I am doing my best making good choices.  While it is true you can’t earn God’s love, you must earn your own self-respect.
  4. Winning with my mind.  This means that every single day I am learning and growing.  I am not wasting the opportunities to get smarter in what I do.  While things change, I too can change because I can get greater information and insight.
  5. Winning beyond my life. This means I am leaving a legacy, something that will live way beyond me.  That means my winning must matter.  It must be more than more for me.  It must in some way connect to helping, lifting, and building others.

Are you winning in these five different dimensions of your life? All of them are essential.  Use them as a discussion starter with your team, with your family, or in your marriage. You might be surprised by what you hear.

Dave Rave – My 5 Money Mantras

daveraveIt’s been a lot of fun for me to join with Dave Ramsey and thousands of other churches across America these past several weeks, talking about taking back the economy, and stop waiting for someone else to fix us.

In this series called, “Great Recovery” we’ve been talking about the six basic beliefs that can rebuild the nation.  One of those is to deal with money God’s way.  In the process of writing this series, I’ve come up with my own five basic money mantras.  I offer them here for you in the hopes that you’ll write your own.

  1. Every dime, every dollar, every day is a gift from God. I never forget that because I don’t want to take the resources that God pours into my life for granted. The minute I do, pride and hubris threaten my very existence.
  2. I’m not an owner, just a manager.  The truth of the matter is, everything I have; my car, my house, and all my other possessions that I think I own are just mine temporarily.  They are passing through my life, and I’m a manager. My future is not only the fact that I can accumulate a lot of stuff, but I can manage what I have that allows them to be a blessing.
  3. I am blessed to be a blessing.  God has poured all these resources into my life so I can use them to help other people. I’m not just a consumer and a taker, I’m a maker and a creator, a giver. 
  4. I’m only responsible for my stuff.  I find myself related to people who live lives I don’t approve of.  The good thing is I am not responsible for their choices and behaviors.  Yea God!  Neither am I responsible for yours, and neither are you responsible for others – not even your own children.  So the truth is, I accept responsibility for my stuff.  I can’t accept responsibility for yours, or the government’s, or someone else around the world. All I need to do is focus on my personal responsibility.
  5. There will be a test at the end that benefits.  If you believe the Scriptures, and I do, we’re told that there’s a point when man wants to die and after that, the judgment.  I like what Don Henley said. “In the good old days, words like sin and satan had a moral certitude.  

Today, they are replaced with self-help jargon; words like dysfunction and anti-social behavior discouraging any responsibility for one’s actions.”  Amen, preacher Don. I want to be able to stand before God at the end of my life and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Dave Rave – 5 Things Smart People Say

daveraveI made a collection of the top ten things we say that we don’t mean.  You know, crazy things that we say when we’re hurt.  I’ve also noticed that there are things that smart people say.  Over and over and over again, I hear them repeated in successful businesses, growing churches, and thriving families.  I hear them said casually, almost as though it’s become a habit of success. Here they are.

  1. Smart people know when to say, “yes.”  Yes is a good word. It’s a word that we all want to hear.  But it has to be used sparingly, diligently.  And every “yes” has to be filtered through a strategic focus on why we’re here, what we do, and what we’re best at.
  2. Smart people say, “no.” This rivals right up there with the power of “yes.” Knowing what you don’t do saves you a lot of trouble, money, and aggravation.
  3. Smart people say, “What would you do?”  By this they are inviting dissent and disagreement in a positive way.  They are asking other people to offer their intelligence, their skill, and their experience to the issue at hand.
  4. Smart people say, “thank you.”  And they say it often, repeatedly; not just to important people, but all people.   To the VP of marketing and the guy who sells him his hamburger, there are no big I’s and little You’s when it comes to thank you’s.
  5. Smart people say, “I’m sorry.”  They don’t throw it around casually, but they know when it’s appropriate and they are not afraid to use it.

Take these words, apply them to your own team, your family, or your movement and ask yourself this question: “Do we use these words, do we use them appropriately, often, and as a habit of success?”

Dave Rave – 5 Signs it’s Too Soon to Settle

daveraveThere is nothing sadder in life than to see someone who has settled for second best.  We all start out with high hopes, but life has a way of beating us down over time.  Here are five signs it’s too soon for you to settle for mediocre or second best.

  1. You still want it. Desire is key to achieving anything.  Without it, nothing in your life will ever be great; not your career, not your marriage, not your relationships; not even your faith. If you still want it, it’s a sign it’s too soon to settle.
  2. You know what it takes to get it.  It’s one thing to want something.  It’s altogether another thing to understand the price that has to be paid, and the strategy that needs to be implemented. If you know what it takes to get what you want, it is way too soon to settle.
  3. You believe there are people out there of good will who will be willing to help. No one succeeds alone.  Truthfully, no one becomes mediocre alone.  The difference is the people you run with.  If you believe there are people of skill, accomplishment, and goodwill out there; if you could find them, they’d help you, and you know they’d be willing.  Then it’s way to soon to settle.
  4. You’re convinced that achieving your dream, your wants, your goals will help a lot of people.  Paula and I have a goal of reaching a million couples in the next ten years with the message of making marriage fun again, of growing great relationships, children, marriages, and families.  We believe this can change the world.  If you don’t feel similar about what you’re into, you need a bigger vision.
  5. You have a vision for success beyond success.  There’s nothing sadder than someone who has reached their life goals only to sit down and retire and die long before they’re dead.  If you have a vision for how you can stay engaged, growing, and excited for the rest of your life, then it’s way too soon settle.

Don’t settle for mediocre or second best.  Just because you haven’t achieved it so far doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  Persist, continue, never give up.  Life has a way of giving good things to people who won’t settle for less.

Dave Rave – 5 Ways to Sharpen Your Skills

daveraveBecause life is constantly moving and things around us are constantly shifting, yesterday’s knowledge and skill-sets may not work for tomorrow’s challenges. But that’s ok, because we were made to be curious, to learn, to expand; not only our knowledge base, but our skill-set.  Here are five ways to sharpen your skills.

  1. You sharpen your skills when you read good books. What a great day for publishing, for authors, and for those who need the content they create.  E-books are available almost instantly.  And even out of print books can be acquired without much work or effort.  If you’re not reading, you’re not growing.  And if you’re not growing, your skills are not only not expanding, they may very well be diminishing.
  2. You sharpen your skills when you attend a training event.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to show up in a place and time with other people and learn new skills.  I’ve been doing this for over four decades.  I’ve traveled across the country and paid lots of money to sit for days and listen to people smarter than me and more accomplished than me teach me best practices.  There’s something about being there that helps you focus on the new skill-sets.  And being around other people also helps you find practical ways for implementing them.
  3. You sharpen your skills when you teach.  I can’t tell you how important it is to develop the heart of a teacher if you’re going to be a leader.  If you’re going to do anything of significance, you’re going to have to teach.  And one of the best ways to sharpen your skill-set is to do the hard spade-work of study and preparation that is required of teaching.  If all you do is receive, there is only so far you can go.
  4. You sharpen your skills when you enlist a coach or mentor.  The most successful people I know constantly employ the services of people smarter and more experienced than they are. We call them coaches or mentors: the people who come alongside for a period of time and actually transfer their knowledge and wisdom without us having to make all the same mistakes ourselves.
  5. You sharpen your skills when you engage in conversation. Unlike any day in our history, we now have the privilege of talking to people all over the world, instantly through email, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Linkedin, we can actually reach out and find knowledge, and research a subject with the click of a mouse.  There’s no excuse for you not knowing everything you need to know about how to master a subject for which you have a sustainable passion.

What are the things you do to sharpen your skill-set?  What would you add to this list?

Dave Rave – 5 Things You Should Get Good at Quitting

daveraveFor all the advice we hear about not quitting, there are some things that we do over and over again to sabotage our future.  Here are five things we should all excel at quitting:

  1. Let’s quit placing blame.  You know what it’s like.  It’s always someone else’s fault; the economy, the government, my mother.  The dog ate my homework.  You spell blame, B-LAME.  It doesn’t cure anything, create anything, or solve anything.
  2. Let’s quit making excuses.  There are all kinds of reasons why we can’t do something.  We call them excuses.  And I’ve heard some doozies.  I simply don’t want to be the one excusing myself from living the best life I possibly can.
  3. Let’s quit delaying. The Scriptures are very clear that our life is like a vapor, a cloud.  It is here and then it is gone.  None of us knows what a day, a week, or a month might hold.  So the good we’re going to do, we at least need to start doing it now.
  4. Let’s quit listening to the crowd. Though we live in a democracy, remember it is a republic, which means that the crowd is almost never right. We need the wisdom of sober, saner, more experienced minds, oftentimes.  Listening to the crowd may very well lead you astray.
  5. Let’s quit being afraid. Every day ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  If you can accept that, then launch out in faith, enthusiasm, with great anticipation that every purposeful step you take today leads you closer to your life goals.

Dave Rave – 5 More Things We Say We Don’t Mean


Last week in our Dave Rave we talked about the five things we say we don’t mean. Here are five more.

  1. This will never change. This is a way of expressing unmet expectations.  But it doesn’t communicate why you’re upset, and why the needs weren’t met.  It only frustrates the hearer because you’ve not told them what needs to change; just that it will never change.  And if it never changes, then there is no hope.
  2. I hate you. This is usually reserved for the people we love most.  Isn’t that exciting? We very rarely say this in work environments but we say it all the time to our friends and especially to our family.  These are powerful words and they cut deep.  You really don’t hate them, you love them.  And that’s why you’ve been so deeply wounded.
  3. I’ll never get over this. Well the truth is, the sun will come up tomorrow and you will be able to move on.  It may not be easy, and it may not be preferable, but you can get over this.
  4. I can’t go on. This is a cry for help but it doesn’t give me a handle on how you need or want to be helped. It simply frustrates the listener.
  5. It’s over. Be very careful how you drop this nuclear bomb into any environment. The people who hear it might just take you seriously and you’ll end up on the street without a job, without a family, and without a friend.

Take each one of these points and discuss them with your team, or your family, in your marriage.  Do you use any of these?  Look at last week’s Dave Rave and see if you’re guilty of saying these things we don’t mean and make changes.  It can make all the difference in your future.