2 Kings 6:1-7
6:1 One day the guild of prophets came to Elisha and said, “You can see that this place where we’re living under your leadership is getting cramped — we have no elbow room. 2 Give us permission to go down to the Jordan where each of us will get a log. We’ll build a roomier place.”  Elisha said, “Go ahead.”3 One of them then said, “Please! Come along with us!”  He said, “Certainly.”4 He went with them. They came to the Jordan and started chopping down trees. 5 As one of them was felling a timber, his axhead flew off and sank in the river. “Oh no, master!” he cried out. “And it was borrowed!”6 The Holy Man said, “Where did it sink?”  The man showed him the place.  He cut off a branch and tossed it at the spot. The axhead floated up.7 “Grab it,” he said. The man reached out and took it.  (MSG)
Why would God care enough about this dudes ax head to make it swim?  Doesn’t it seem a bit trivial and beneath the God of the universe to care about this young man’s ax head?  I have to be honest when I read the story I think to myself well that is cool, and I move on in scripture but the more I think about it the more I realize that God is modeling something for us here and I believe it is a major leadership lesson.  You see the cool thing about God is that nothing is to big for Him.  We all recognize that but do you know what else is pretty cool?  Nothing is too small for Him either!  How awesome is that.  God loves the big things, but He loves the “small” things too!  Nothing is to big for our God and nothing is too small for Him either.  Boy oh boy is there a leadership lesson in that thought.
Many people want to lead but struggle to succeed as a leader.  I watched people in business and the church world stand up in leadership positions and struggle.  I can tell you the reason why you can stand two people up side by side, give them both the same training, resources, and teams and watch one leader have success and another leader with all the same variables struggle…Here is the clearest way to define successful leadership.
SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP- Asking people to do things that they know you are willing to do yourself.
Seems simple doesn’t it?  What that means is no task is beneath you as a leader.  The reason some people struggle to lead is that they are asking people to do things they aren’t willing to do themselves.  That is something that people pick up on.  They know what leader is committed and they know the leader who is just putting in his or her time.  You want people to follow your lead…do the dirty stuff.  Engage the task in such a way that they know there is nothing you are asking of them that you aren’t willing and able to do yourself.  You have to own it if you want others to own it.  Too many leaders aren’t engaging their teams.  Too many leaders aren’t willing to get dirty or bloody themselves and their people know it!  You know what this means?  It means that you can do all the leadership training.  You can read all the right leadership books, and you can apply the principles you learned and people may still not follow you…because you have to be all in!  If you are not people will know it.
God is willing to make the sun stand still, and he is willing to help this guy retrieve his ax head.  So if nothing is above God then nothing should be above you!  I don’t care who you are or what you are trying to do if you want people to follow your lead they have to KNOW you are all in.  I don’t care where you went to school.  I don’t care how talented or brilliant you are.  Leadership is about people.  You can be the greatest, most skilled person alive  and be totally frustrated by the fact that no one will follow your lead.  More often than not it comes down to this one very simple principle.  The best leaders ask people to do things that they know the leader is willing to do themselves.  You want them to own it, you need to own it!  People will follow you if they respect you and know you are all in.  No task to big and no task to small…and the ax head did swim.

what would you be willing to do to survive?

As my profile tells you I am serving in both the spiritual world and the world of commercial construction.  Most of my posts focus on my faith.  This one is more about business and managing.  I’m young, I’m learning and i just thought I’d share some lessons learned today.

As I look back on 2011, the most difficult year of my young life in commercial construction…I am both humbled, and grateful for the lessons learned.  I have struggled with the way the ball bounced in some cases but I am better for the trials of 2011.

It matters to me personally that I do things the right way for my company and that I do so in a way that glorifies God as well.  This is not something I am willing to compromise.  Lately as the economy has continued to decline, it has me wondering if my future is secure as I once thought it was.  I have been adapting to the conditions I’m working in.  It is a cut throat mentality right now in the field.  I scratch and fight and claw for every minute I can have for my men.  We are firing off letters, and delay threats…everything is documented.  It has me wondering if our PM’s are going to need wrist surgery by the time the year is done.  I argue and defend our contractual obligations constantly.  There are no favors anymore.  There are no hand shake agreements anymore.  There is no give and take anymore and in a way that bothers me.  I always believed that a job could be done with all trades and GC’s working towards a common goal together, but today that is no longer the case.  It is kill or be killed and that constant battle can wear me down at times.  I look at my own actions and wonder to myself, am I compromising my integrity to be successful in business.  The breaking point came for me as I reviewed a bill we received from a small contractor.  I was out on the project he was on.  We needed some work done, and I wanted it done as cheap as possible.  I saw a weakness in him, and knew he didn’t have great business sense.  I knew he could be “squeezed” and I took advantage of it.  I got him to do the work for a price that was great for my company, but a price that I knew he could hardly cover his own cost at.  I sat in my office looking at that bill, and asked myself…”Sam, what are you doing?”  It really bothered me, and I had wondered if I had finally crossed the line.  Was I outside of my ethical boundaries?  It was really messing with my mind.

Friday morning I got up and opened my Bible to Luke and read something Jesus said that has really helped me find peace in this process in a story he told about a crooked manager…these 2 verses stood out to me and really gave me the answer I needed!  My actions were more than ok, they are encouraged!  Look at Jesus’ words here…

Luke 16:8 and 9 “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” (MSG)

That same day was our company business meeting, and the one word I kept hearing, over and over and over in my head as I heard of the difficult times we were in was survival.  It really made me think, I would do anything to survive, wouldn’t you?  It’s amazing the different mentality we have when our decisions are based on survival. When you make decisions based on survival they are different than the ones you make when times are good.  When you are starving to death you make the decision to eat garbage to survive.  You would never do such things when times are good.  Decisions are almost easier to make when the driver of that decision is survival.

As I sat there in the meeting thinking this all through, I kept thinking one thing…Why isn’t every day fought with the urgency we have in this difficult market today?  What would happen if we had this lean, mean, focus in the good years?  Moving forward I know that I will apply this mentality to every day, to the tough times and the good times.  Think about it.  How much profit would come in the good times, if we scratched, and clawed, and fought with the mindset that we are starving. Could a great job become a record setting job?  Could a good job become a great job?  How much money could be made for our companies when the driver of every day on that job is survival.  We need to work every day with this urgency, with this mentality, with the passion to survive.

We need to make the decision to work every day with a survival mentality.  When you are trying to survive your instincts are heightened.  You don’t procrastinate on a decision, you act on your instincts.  You do not tolerate inefficiencies of any kind, and you become more focuses and alert than ever before.  The tough decisions are made easier when the driver behind the decision is survival.  It’s not easy to eat garbage when you aren’t hungry, but when you are starving you will do what you need to do.  We need to take this mentality we have in the tough times and apply it to the future and the potential is limitless!

On a personal level, 2011 has helped me big time.  I have realized that I miss interpreted a lot of things.  I was worried about my character, and my ethics in business but as a manager I am doing my job.  At times that will mean confrontations, at times that will mean I won’t be making friends, at times that means I will take advantage of others mistakes and lack of decision making, at times it means I will say “no” when everyone wants to hear a “yes” and at times I will do what I need to in order to survive.  I used to worry that in some way this was unethical.  What I’m realizing and at total peace with the fact that it is not unethical at all.  In fact it means I’m doing my job.  In fact it means I am bringing honor to both God and my employer.  God himself challenges us to be shrewed managers, to be street smart.  It is my job now to take the urgency and lessons learned in the difficult times and apply them moving forward.

JAMES 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. NIV

I challenge you…take the “Survival Mentality” and apply it to every day at your job and you will honor both God and your employer and you will be doing it the right way!  Stand up and lead, and let the driver of your decisions be to survive.  You will gain urgency, you will use all your resources, and you will be successful.  The proof is found in scripture and in your profit margins moving forward!

There are many things I’m learning about this mentality…here are just a few.

Survival Mentality

1-trust your instincts and act on them (you are managing for a reason)

2-you must be strong to stay alive (rest, eat, unplug) ur not being payed to be unhealthy!

3-your decisions aren’t led by your emotions but what’s best for your team

4-there are no favors

5-the word can’t does not exist

6-trust your team

7-never compromise when you know you are right

8-be honest in all you do

9-look people in the eye

10-never over react in front of other company’s or owners

11-time is money every minute counts (owner’s will gladly give you more time…not money)

12-back your team members

13-watch who you copy in an email

14-never forget the weight your position carries in the field


We all have heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how courageous they were.  How they stood up to the most powerful man in the world and obeyed God.  You know there is one particular phrase found in verse 27 of that story that really stands out to me.
Daniel 3:27  So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.  NIV
Did you ever feel like a writer of the Bible just went out of his way to write certain details into the story?  I can’t get past this one little phrase lately…”there was no smell of fire on them.”  I keep thinking about my own life.  I keep thinking about the tough moments, where I get hurt by someone or walk through a tough situation.  I usually come away from that moment and play it over, and over, and over in my mind.  I try to forgive, I try to move on…yet for whatever reason I come out of the fire and I can smell like smoke.  Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks, and sometimes for years.  What is up with that?
Check out this quote…“Every winner has scars.” Herbert Casson.  I think it is an awesome quote, and a very true statement.  Every winner has gone through pain and tough times.  Every leader will pay the price to stand up and lead.  But here is the key, you learn from the hurts, and then you move on.  You don’t wear them.  You don’t let yourself get stuck in that moment.  You learn from it and move on.  We need to make sure we don’t smell like smoke when we come out of the fire.  The funny thing about the human body is when you have a wound, you develop scar tissue.  If that scar tissue is taken care of it can actually keep affecting you all of your life.  I am about to have a surgery done to my arm that comes from an injury that happened when I was 5 years old!  Thirty years later the pain is unbearable and I can’t use my left hand properly!  The scar tissue of that old wound over time is choking out the nerves that feed my left hand!  I know the wounds of our heart can do the same thing.  It is really important that we check on these wounds, and on these scars because if left unattended the smell of smoke, the scar tissue around the woundings of your heart will continue to choke you out, they can eventually take you out of the game.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV

What scars do you have in your life?  What fires have you walked through?  Do you smell like smoke?  Have you taken care of the wounds of your heart?  The most important thing you can do is guard your heart!  I was recently listening to a podcast by an awesome leader named Andy Stanley and he went through a series of questions to check out the condition of our hearts.  I think this is a really big deal.  There is nothing more important than guarding your heart.
Take a moment today and answer these 8 penetrating questions to check on the condition of your heart.  This is a great heart check tool, thank you Andy Stanley for giving this to us!
1.  Is everything ok in your heart?
2.  Are you mad at anybody?
3.  Are you waiting around for someone to come to you to make things right?
4.  Have you had any extended imaginary conversations with anyone lately?
5.  Do things come out of your mouth on a regular basis that you have to apologize for?  That embarrass you?  That make you wonder where did that come from?
6.  Have you secretly celebrated someones failure in the last few days?
7.  Got any secrets eating at you?  Anything going on that you hope no one discovers?  Is there a question you help no one ever asks you?
8.  Have you lied recently to someone you love?
So here is the deal, you answer the questions and you see, wow I really do have some hurts, my heart is all out of whack.  It is time to address these issues.  It’s time to stand up and face these hurts.  Because as a human being you will walk through tough times.  You will get hurt.  The key is to come out of those moments of pain, yes with scars, hopefully with lessons learned but not smelling like smoke for the next 30 years.  Solomon was the wisest man who ever walked the earth.  He tells us that above everything else, we must guard our hearts.  I’m not saying you forget it and walk away, what I am saying is that we…well “I” need to stop walking away from tough moments stuck in those hurts.  The condition of your heart is a really, really big deal.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV

How Do You Do Life?

Posted: October 14, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

The above video is one of my favorite images for how many walk through life.  Francis Chan does an amazing job here.  It makes me think a lot about how I do life.  You know, if I’m very honest I am not a careful, or safe person.  I’m a risk taker by nature, so I understand that some people will be like “Sam, shut up…it is easy for you to engage life to the full. ”  That is fine, but when I watch this I get excited.  But I also know that engaging this life he’s talking about does come with a price.  What Francis is challenging us with here, is the Christian life that Jesus asked us to engage into.  It is not safe.  It is not easy.  It is not boring.  It is dangerous.  Investing in people is hard.  Loving others more than yourself is not easy.  Being a Christian is more than just clinging to the balance beam of life, it is about giving it your all.  It is about bringing your best to the world, and to people and you will pay a price for doing so.  I know that really isn’t the nicest push for Christianity but to fully invest in the life that Jesus lived and called us into is difficult.  I know on a personal level, lately I have just been exhausted.  I have felt busy, cluttered, and just beat down as I try my best to bring my best to my family, work, and church.  Life is not easy.   Trying to bring your best to your family, to your coworkers, and to this world is difficult.  Yes you will put your heart out on the line.  Yes, when you do that you can get hurt…let me rephrase that you will get hurt, but Jesus calls us to make disciples, to invest in people, and as we watch what he modeled you clearly see that he stepped right into our mess and loved on people.  I think we can see different times in scripture where we see how much weight he was wearing, and just how tiring engaging and loving on people really is.  Notice how at times he goes up on mountains or out in the woods to just be with God and get away from people.  Notice how he sits down at a well and has his disciples go get him lunch one day.  This was even tough on Jesus at times.  Engaging in life to the full is difficult, there will be moments of pain.

So really there is two ways to live life…one way is to cling to the balance beam, play it safe and stand before the judges…clean, relaxed, and with plenty of energy.  No risks, no mistakes, no harm no foul right?  The other way is what Jesus asked of you, to engage life.  To make disciples.  To love on people who may not give you the same back in return, to help others find and fulfill the plan God has for there lives.  You will stand before the judge someday tired, beat up, it will be hard to even pull your self to your feet but you will stand there knowing that you gave life your all…and finally hearing what every heart on earth desires…”well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Check out this quote from Vince Lombardi…“But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, his greatest fulfillment of all he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”  Vince Lombardi



Matthew 6:31 “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.”  MSG

I’m finding so many moments in my life where I’m seeing how selfish I can be when it comes to God.  It’s subtle, it sounds right to say I’m seeking wisdom, clarity, and to hear from God clearly.  It sounds so right…but is it?  In the end should it be about what I get out of my relationship of God or should it be simply about God?  Yes we strive towards holiness.  Yes we engage God and seek His face.  Yes we want to keep maturing, and engaging the scriptures.  My question is why are you doing it?  Is it for what you need and expect to get from Him, or are you simply engaging Him out of love and worship of Him?  Am I splitting hairs here?  Maybe, but to get down to the core of it all…Christianity is not about what we do or get or achieve…Christianity embraces this truth…we couldn’t get it, achieve it, or earn it.  SO JESUS TOOK CARE OF IT FOR US.

Who is your relationship with God about?  Maybe it’s supposed to be more about Him than it is about us.


As a person who has invited Jesus into your life, you literally are fighting from the stance of victory, not for it. That is a really big deal. Have you ever really thought about that? Many people struggle with the spiritual battle being waged against them. The reality is you do have an enemy. That enemy hates your guts and wants to take you down. He can’t stand the fact that you are a child of God’s. Your enemy is real. But the reality is we don’t HAVE to take anything from him. Many people walk through life beat down, in a defeated mind set. Many people think that it makes them more spiritual to be taking these beat downs from the enemy. It sounds so holy doesn’t it, to tell everyone how the enemy is beating on you and you just keep drudging through life. Well it may sound super religious but honestly it’s a bunch of nonsense. Jesus wants us to live life to the full, not wallow in a defeated spirit. Not just pull yourself through another day. Jesus went to the cross, died for our sins, rose again. He won. He paid the ultimate price so you don’t have to live that way anymore. The battle has already been won. So why walk in a spirit of defeat? Why let your enemy beat you around like a human pinata? You are fighting from the winning side. Jesus did the fighting, Jesus did the winning, Jesus did it…not you. You don’t win or lose this fight, you simply ask Jesus into it, to walk through life with you. He won. Read the rest of this entry »

Ezekiel 16:49-50

” ‘ Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:  She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before me.  Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.  NIV

You know in the end God has called us to engage, to put ourselves aside and serve others.  We are called to defend the defenseless.  When I read this passage in Ezekiel it shook me to my core.  Probably because I feel like God is describing the world I live in to a “T.”  Christianity is not about sitting comfortably in our homes and feeling good about ourselves because we show up at church on Sunday morning.  It’s about defending the defenseless, it’s about serving others.  It’s about action…and I think it’s time we take notice to what God is saying in scripture.  We need to think this through.  It’s time we start acting on the words of scripture, what does that look like for you?  I know I am going to figure out what it looks like for me.

The idea that the city of Sodom was destroyed by God because she was arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; not helping the down and out.  This is a real wake up call to me.  It’s time to move.  It’s time to engage.  It’s time to realize that we are God’s arms and feet in a dark, dark world that needs God’s love, and needs us to engage it!  What does that look like for you?

Grasping Grace

Posted: July 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Understanding grace is a really big deal.  I’m not sure we will ever fully understand God’s grace, and truly unconditional love.  If you are like me, you still have a hard time comprehending grace.  Jesus tells us that there is a way to learn what grace is all about.  That is spending time with Him.

Matthew 11:29,30

“Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

That my friends sounds awesome, to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace…to live freely and lightly.  It only happens when you spend time with Jesus and place Him first in your life.