Category Archives: Leadership

My name is Stafford, and I’m a workaholic

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here I am sharing with you my problem; I work too much.

Sure, there are lots of reasons (read: excuses) why I work too much. I could blame my parents who were small business owners for 25 years who taught me a strong work ethic and demonstrated the hard work required to be so. I could blame my experience of being forced to work all the time while in school – a family of (at the time) 4 plus full-time school and the need to earn money required that I work a lot (either on school work or my job). I could even blame my current position in ministry where the mantra sometimes echoes in my head, “the work of the LORD is never done!”

But all those are really just excuses that let me off the hook for being responsible for my own actions.

The truth is, I’m insecure.

I’m worried that a job done to less than perfection is a poor reflection of who I am.

I’m worried that it will reflect poorly on my wife and kids; that they have a husband/father who can’t accomplish much.

I’m worried that unless I knock it out of the park all the time, my job might be in jeopardy so I at least make it look like if something fails, it isn’t my fault, because I have been working so much. (I should also point out that in no way have I ever been made to feel by leadership that my job has ever been in jeopardy)

I worry that if I ever get caught relaxing, it would damage my ministry.

Luckily, I have a loving wife, an understanding leader and a community around me that is able to stop this before it gets out of control and damages my family!

This past weekend, I exercised the discipline of not working and am much better for it! The next few blog posts will follow the theme of being a recovering workaholic, and truths I’ve begun to realize about it’s impact and the lies that damage your family. I am by no means an expert, and my boundaries are still blurry at times, but who knows, perhaps there is something in my journey that you are able to learn from!


New Year, New Goals

Steps in achieving your goals

So it’s a new year and with it brings a time where we declare we’re going to start doing something different, stop doing something else, and ‘resolve’ to something even more vague like “be nicer.”

I don’t like resolutions. They stare at you. Mock you when you slip up. They cost you lots of money (don’t believe me, how much have you used that treadmill in the other room since you bought it?). They are always ready to condemn you for every misstep.

I much rather prefer, goals.

Goals are measurable. Goals give you a framework to succeed. Goals change behavior.

A big difference between goals and resolutions is direction. A resolution requires an abrupt end to specific behavior that, for many of us, is born out of habits, worldviews, and routine, and to simply resolve not to do something is often setting ourselves up for failure because we simply can’t rewire our behaviors or thinking that quickly.

Goals, however, give you a step-by-step plan to reach your end result. They don’t demand perfection; they DO demand action.

As a parent, what are some of your goals for 2013? We all want to do a better job at raising our children into Christ-following adults. So grab a pen and paper, grab your spouse and spend some time writing out your goals for your family for 2013. Here are a few tips for you:

  1. Make sure the goal is something that you actually want; not something that sounds good
    You don’t want to labor at a goal if the result is not something you want in your life! What do you want your family to be characterized by? Prayer? Service? Hospitality? Name it and set out to do something about it!
  2. Write your goal in the positive, not negative
    Use: “Eat supper as a family 5 out of 7 nights” instead of “stop missing supper with my family.” This gives your subconscious a positive next step – positive is always better at achieving a desired action
  3. Set your goals high
    Trust me, it is so much easier to blow off a low goal as something that doesn’t really matter than it is to blow off a high goal that will require sacrifice and determination to reach. Don’t be unrealistic; it’s impossible to run a marathon without training, so set the date of the marathon that you’ll run in and train appropriately for it.
  4. Use your own goals
    Don’t take someone else’s goals for their family – what are YOUR goals for YOUR family?
  5. Write it down/Be specificIf it isn’t written down somewhere, you’ll forget about it quickly. Put it somewhere important that you’ll see every day and be specific about what actions and behavior is required from you.

Got a goal that you want to share? Let us know in the comments!

Stay away from these mistakes!

Dreaded Tuesdays

Mondays are good days – they’re my day off with the kids.

Tuesdays are a bit tougher.  Not only are they the “start” of my workweek, they are filled with meetings.

I actually don’t mind the meetings, they are filled with people that I love and whom I love to do ministry with, but at the end of the day, it seems like my pile of to-do stuff never gets accomplished.  If you’ve ever worked at a job where you need to attend meetings, you know exactly what this is like.  “Death by Meetings” is a real hazard for anyone in a workplace environment.  Historically, they are often long, boring and ineffective at accomplishing much and seem to place unneeded stress on the lives of employees/volunteers.  I try to limit the meetings that I host because I know that many people are simply scared off my the simple mention of the “M-word.”

The type of meeting I don't want to be a part of

Luckily I don't experience meetings like this!

“Death by Meeting” is not something I dread at the church – I actually like them because it means I get to spend more time with my coworkers.  While I am always drained of energy on a Tuesday evening, and a little frustrated at the lack of accomplishment of my to-do list, I am so very grateful for them down the road.

Without meetings, discussions and hard decisions being made in the safety of a meeting, our church would look very different.  Ministries would be fighting for space in a very busy building, frustration would abound when communication breaks down and so much energy would be spent trying to clean up relational damage caused by poor planning and misunderstandings.

Because of meetings, our ministries benefit and grow.  There are clear goals that serve as a filter to the things that PAC chooses to do or not to do and we keep each other accountable.

When is the last time you had a family meeting? Heck, even a meeting with your spouse? If you haven’t had one in more than a month, you need to.  What is your family doing? Why are you doing it? How are you spending your leisure time? Your money? Your energy? Is it God-honoring?

If you don’t know where to start, begin with something like this with your spouse: “What do you think is the goal of our family?”

Narrow it down with questions like:

  • “Is how we’re spending out money honoring to God?”
  • “What activities are we saying yes to that we should be instead saying no?”
  • “How can we build into our children more?”
  • “Are we intentionally inviting people into our lives for the sake of Jesus’ Kingdom?”
Don’t fear the meeting.  Fear the long-term repercussions of not having a family meeting.

Catalyst is over

Well, the conference is over, the flights are done, the last hotel is checked out of, and now we’re piled into the rental van driving home from Minneapolis and I’m left to my thoughts and ideas from a great couple days.

The theme of the conference was “Be Present” and the whole thing began in a very powerful, yet understated way reminding us that everyone of us is 1) busy and 2) very busy and that while we are physically present in our lives we miss out on so much because we aren’t really present. We were all urged to slow down our metronome of life and worship in the presence of God.
We were then exposed to fantastic teaching of Andy Stanley, Jim Collins, Dave Ramsey, Francis Chan and a handful of other presenters and worship leaders (including Hillsong) that continually assaulted us with wisdom… and that was only day 1!
Day two also treated us to Mark Discol,  Dave Kinneman, Priscilla Shrier (who really brought the thunder in her preaching… I mean, wow!), sprinkles of other people, and capped it off with Andy Stanley again.
My default mode can be cynicism of the size of the event, the strangeness of the Christian business in the concourse (I mean, there is a bank only for Christians and health care for Christians), the facade of the worship (totally projected on them by my poor attitude) and focus on leadership instead of Jesus.  This was not the case this time; God disarmed me quickly, showed me his presence and matured me for the sake of his name.
My most practical take-home of the event came from Priscilla Schrier who told of finding her old journals that she wrote of a kids and realized that she had not been present through whole seasons of her life.  Each journal through different years of her life went something like this:
“I can’t wait until I’m finally a teenager so I can grow up and be allowed to date…”
“I can’t wait until I’m an adult so I don’t have to deal with my parents rules and be treated like an adult…”
“I can’t wait until I’m married so I can have a man and start a family; then life will be better…”
“I can’t wait until I have a child then our family can be more complete…”

By always looking to the future, waiting for the next thing, the next stage of life, you are essentially refusing to be present in your current life and sending everyone message that who they are right now is not worth enough for you to stop what you’re doing and be present with them.  Are you guilty of this in your life? Are you waiting for your baby to head to preschool? For your 8-year-old to be old enough to watch themselves? For your preteen to join youth group? For your next promotion?

Be present in your home.  With your kids.  With your spouse.  With God. Because you are missing out on the blessings that God is wishing to give to you by always looking to the future.

Summer Reading Material

Here’s the summer break reading list I’m tackling – can’t wait for the postal-mail-carrier to arrive with the “preciouses”

It’s a bit of a reading list, but I’m in the zone to soak up this kind of stuff.  What have you been reading lately? When’s the last time you read a non-fiction? Or a non-fiction book about God? Don’t forget to supplement your faith with knowledge!