On this Thanksgiving, as we meet with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest, many of us will pause and think of the hunger of those less fortunate.  For some, these thoughts turn into action as they make donations of food or their time serving those in need.

In 2003 we went on a missions trip to Lima, Peru. Our mission purpose was to share ideas on leadership and team building that would strengthen and encourage pastors to reach the hearts of the Peruvian people and prepare them for the Harvest to come.  These pastors came from the mountains of the north, the cities of the south, from the metropolis of Lima, and from the Amazon region to the east.  They were Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Charismatic, Assembly of God, and Presbyterian, among other denominations. 

These pastors knew something about teamwork that is often lost in other countries, and notably so in the U.S.  They know on whose team they belong.  They know that they are on the team headed by Jesus Christ.  They did not bring dogmatic or theological disagreements to the conference.  They knew that the Harvest Day is coming, and they understood that any intellectualizing would prevent them from working together as a team.

These pastors were hungry.  Many of them traveled literally hundreds of miles to reach the conference in Lima.  They came by car, by bus, by train, by foot, or by boat, to have the opportunity to sleep for four nights on cots, fifteen and twenty people to a room, take cold showers, and eat box lunches.  During each session, we often only saw the top of their heads.  They had their heads down, eagerly writing down every thing that they were hearing, so that they wouldn’t miss anything.  By contrast, I recently led a one-day seminar in the U.S.  I asked the participants why they were there, what there purpose in attending was, what did they hope to receive from the seminar.  One woman replied that it was an easy way to get out of a day at work.  Not surprisingly, she failed to return after lunch.

These pastors were hungry.  If you have attended conferences in the U.S., you have seen the excitement of a thousand like-minded people at an opening session. You have also probably seen how the enthusiasm wanes on each succeeding day.  As a professional speaker in the U.S., I always hope that I am not the last speaker on the last day of a multi-day conference.  You know the attendance will be low, and that those who are there will be leaving early to catch a flight home.  The Pastor’s Conference in Lima began on a Tuesday and concluded on Friday evening.  Attendance was at its peak at the Friday evening session, and when it was over...no one wanted to leave...especially us.

These pastors were hungry.  Two of the other speakers, Jim Cymbala from Brooklyn Tabernacle and Kemp Holden from Harvest Time Tabernacle, called on the pastors to step out and present themselves at the altar if they needed prayer, if they were struggling, if they wanted more of God’s blessings.  This may seem a bit unusual, pastors calling pastors to the Altar of God, yet each time the call was made, hundreds and hundreds of pastors stepped out of their seats and rushed to the altar for God’s blessings.

We spent a week with people who truly live, love, and lead with a servant’s heart; among people who truly are hungry...hungry for God.  These pastors are changing the nation of Peru, bringing millions to the Lord, preparing them for His Harvest.  It isn’t often that we get to do great things.  Mother Teresa said, “I can do no great things.  I can only do small things with great love.”  Please know that your prayers and your generosity can play and important role in changing a nation.  Because of you, these pastors will reach people you will never meet, and prepare them for His Harvest.

Latin Equip is a driving force behind this movement of God in Peru. Leadership training is Latin Equip’s primary function. Each year, thousands of pastors and leaders are trained in national conferences, regional conventions, and personal consulting throughout Peru and elsewhere in Latin America. Because only 10 percent of pastors in developing nations have received formal Bible training, Latin Equip puts tools into the hands of these laborers for ministry. If you want to be part of this amazing work of God, prayerfully considering making a contribution to Latin Equip at: http://latinequip.org/donate/

On this Thanksgiving, as you pause to give thanks for the harvest, and as you remember those who you think are less fortunate because of their hunger, remember the pastors of Peru and pray to be hungry like them.  I know I do.

If you’ve led anything for any length of time, you already have some regrets. You wish you could get back some situations, redo some moments and, in some cases, start over again.

Why is that? If you look for common threads, you’ll often discover the problem was not in the situation, it was in how you responded to it.

Challenges come and challenges go in leadership. The difference between great leaders and poor leaders is often how their character responds to crisis.

Great leaders adopt practices, attitudes and positions that they quite simply "never regret." And that’s the key: There are some things you do as a leader that you’ll just never regret.

While I haven’t gotten every situation right in leadership (far from it), I took some time to make a list of 21 things I’ve never regretted doing as a leader. My guess is when you’ve done them, you’ve never regretted them either.

And if you and I keep doing them, we’ll have far fewer regrets moving forward.

21 Things You’ll Never Regret

1. Throwing your heart into whatever you do
I’m increasingly convinced that a fire burning in your soul is one ingredient in businesses, churches and other organizations that are doing an outstanding job these days.

Far too many leaders are phoning it in. If that’s you, hang up. "Being enthusiastic and fully engaging the task before you with all your heart" is one of the best shots you’ve got at making an impact.

Take your best shot before you run out of ammunition.

2. Taking the high road
It’s easy to get pulled down into mud … arguing, jostling and getting caught up in cheap accusations that lead nowhere good.

Don’t. Take the high road. You know what that is. Be kind. Don’t fight back. Prepare to be misunderstood. Forgive. Show grace.

The high road isn’t the easy road, but it’s the best road. 

3. Saying you’re sorry
It’s easy to apologize when you’re new or just starting out. Everyone expects you to make mistakes.

It’s harder when you’re the leader. It’s hardest when you’re a successful leader who’s been leading a long time. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re above reproach. You’re not. In fact, I think the leader should be the FIRST to apologize 

So apologize.

4. Praying for your team
You will never regret praying for your team. Pray for them by name. Ask them what specifically you can pray for.

A leader who prays for his team is a leader worth following.

5. Pushing through your fears
It’s not that great leaders have no fears. Pathological people may have no fears, but otherwise we pretty much all face them.

Great leaders push through their fears.

6. Smiling more
You’ll never regret smiling more. I know I look grumpy unless I remind myself to smile. I’m actually not grumpy most of the time … I just look that way.

So smile.

7. Saying an encouraging word
Very few people I know would say they are over-encouraged.

OK, no one I know has ever told me they’ve exceeded their lifetime dose of encouragement. Encouragement costs you nothing as a leader but it means everything to the person you’re encouraging.

Think about that.

8. Saying thank you
Ditto with thank you. When a leader starts acting entitled, followers lose heart.

Treat everyone—including staff—like they were volunteers. Thank them regularly and sincerely.
Even your staff have other options. They can quit. And if you fail to show gratitude, they will.

9. Helping someone who can’t help you back 
Leadership ushers in responsibilities, but it also brings some perks.

At some point you might command a slightly higher salary than others, have access to expense account others don’t, or even have more control over your time. Don’t use the perks of leadership solely for your benefit. Help someone who can’t help you back.

Buy them something. Be generous with your time. Open your home. Give them access to something or someone they couldn’t gain access to without you. Can they pay you back? 

No, they can’t...and that’s the point.

10. Finding a few great mentors 
Leadership can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding mentors is something you’ll never regret doing.

Look for leaders who are a stage ahead in life and who are the kind of people you want to be.

11. Developing some replenishing relationships 
Leadership, whether in business or ministry can be draining. You give all day and often go home exhausted. Being exhausted at home is probably not what you or your spouse want or need to grow your relationship.

Consequently, my wife and I realized years ago that we need to have some friends who truly replenish us … the kind of relationships where time passes quickly and you leave energized and feeling better than when you came.

12. Determine your priorities in advance
I am amazed at how often I have to re-establish priorities in leadership. Deciding ahead of time what you will do and not do, when you will be off and when you will work, with whom you will meet and with whom you won’t, will help you keep first things first.

If you don’t do this, you will never have enough time and will always be disappointed with your results.

13. Adopting a fixed schedule 
One of the best leadership moves I made was moving to a fixed schedule.

What I mean by that is I follow the same rhythm to my work every week with very few exceptions. I pre-determine writing time, e-mail time, phone time, meeting days and more.

A fixed schedule, oddly enough, gives you flexibility when the unexpected arises.

14. Discovering what fuels and drains you
Ever wonder why some days you go home feeling excited and other days you go home exhausted—and yet you worked the same number of hours?

Some activities drain you and others fuel you. Figuring out which does what can greatly change the effectiveness of your leadership. Great leaders will spend more and more time on the things that energize them and less on the things that drain them. 

It’s that simple.

15. Investing in your personal leadership development 
You can think of conferences, coaching, books, courses and development programs as expenses, or as investments.

If you think of them as investments, you will become a far better leader.The best leaders never hesitate to invest in their personal development.

Becoming better is never a waste of money.

16. Taking meaningful vacations 
Even when my wife and I were starting out and we had no money, we found money to take even a simple annual vacation. It’s one of the best investments we’ve made over the years.

I say meaningful vacations because you’ll be tempted to cheat. You’ll be tempted to say “three days is enough.” No it’s not. You’ll be tempted to say, “We can just stay home and relax.” And maybe you can. But I just want to catch up on household projects when I do.

Taking a meaningful vacation doesn’t mean you have to drop thousands on Europe, but it does mean you need to rest and recharge.

17. Developing a hobby you love I could almost be a ‘work is my hobby’ guy. Maybe you could be too.

I love what I do and even writing this blog and doing coaching, training and speaking are “hobbies.” Work just doesn’t feel like work to me most days.

But I also realize I need interests outside of developing business and ministry leadership. At least if I’m going to stay healthy and balanced. Lately, I have taken on gardening as a hobby which grounds me in another kind of growth.

Despite what you think, you need a hobby.

18. Becoming an early riser 
While there’s some debate about whether early risers really do get the worm, I’m sold on getting up early, and so are some of the world's most well-known leaders. (Think Bill Gates or Richard Branson.)

I think you’ll never regret becoming an early riser because you simply get one to three hours to accomplish things when no one is texting you, bothering you or slamming your inbox.

I think one of the keys to success is simply beating the patterns most other people follow. For me, getting up at 5 gives me (and you) a two- to three-hour advantage over almost everyone—and everything—else.

Try it.

19. Getting to bed on time 
I am also a sleep evangelist. Having cheated sleep through my 20s and 30s, I repented. I try to get as close to eight hours of sleep I can every night. I really believe sleep is a secret leadership weapon.

There’s evidence that people who are sleep deprived operate with a similar impairment level to people who drink too much.

Leaders who are rested always bring more to the table than leaders who are tired.

20. Eating better 
Diet can have a tremendous impact on mental clarity, alertness and even your quality of sleep.

Sugar and carbohydrate crashes happen to far too many leaders. Cutting down on sugar and carbs has helped me not only lose weight, but feel much better throughout the day.

21. Working out 
For years I resisted working out, but in the last 10 years I’ve taken exercise more seriously.

It’s about discipline, but most of the productive leaders I know take their health and working out at least somewhat seriously.

BONUS Carving out a daily time with God Why is that the first thing to go in the lives of many Christians is our time with God?

Anchoring myself in scripture and prayer at the beginning of every day is a discipline I’ve never regretted.

You lead better when you hear from God.

You really wouldn’t regret any of these, would you? And that’s the point. Sometimes the key to a better future is simpler than we think.

If you need an accountability coach, we can help. Contact us today.

“Learning to combat this infection can be the difference between a healthy soul and a broken one.”

Spiritual dehydration can creep into our lives in many ways, but learning to combat this infection can be the difference between a healthy soul and a broken one.

1. Do away with comparison.

Don’t compare your inch to someone else’s mile. Everyone is on their own spiritual journey, and the reality is that none of us are going to be on the exact same page or chapter. We’re all going through different things, experiencing God in different ways and trying to wrestle through different questions. Do away with comparison, as it will do nothing but get you down and make you feel inferior compared to the accomplishments of others. Comparison is a game you will never win at.

It’s not fair to compare you own life with that of someone else. All of us were uniquely made for a different purpose and to experience different things. I’ll be honest in admitting that I constantly find myself comparing the accomplishments of others to my own. It’s not healthy, nor does it help my current spiritual journey either. Human nature yearns for the approval of others, and much of that is found within the weaving of comparison. We compare in hopes of being better, in turn making us feel better about ourselves. Regardless of what side we’re on, comparison is never healthy nor does it help progress our spiritual well-being. Do away with comparison.

2. Stop trying to do things on your own.

Spiritual dehydration can take root in our lives in many different ways, but one of the most common is when we try to do this whole God-thing on our own. You know, as if we’ve got it all under control. The beauty of God is that not only is he a spiritual companion, but he is the creator of companionship itself. Humble yourself completely, drop the facade of perfection and allow God to intervene in every facet of your life. Doing so will completely revolutionize your heart, soul and spiritual awareness.

When we give God the room he deserves, our souls will be refreshed and our hearts will flow with his presence. We were created for the partnership of God. We were created to do life hand-in-hand with the one who created us in his image.

3. Don’t allow a routine to become mundane.

There is nothing wrong with having a routine. In fact, I’d encourage you to make prayer, reading your bible and experiencing times of worship something you do habitually. What you don’t want to do is allow these things to become a mundane routine, something you do just for the sake of doing. Prayer must be done with intention, studying your Bible must be done with tenacity and worship must be done with passion.

When a routine becomes stale and mediocre, it’s time to do away with it and recalibrate your direction. Routines are great because they form habits, you just need to make sure those habits don’t become dry and without purpose.

4. Make prayer a priority, not a last resort.

Prayer is spiritual dehydration’s biggest enemy. When we truly discover the importance of prayer, we will see that it not only replenishes the soul but also keeps us in tune with the current condition of our heart and mind. Prayer is common among those who are hurting and in quarrelsome situations, but one must not allow allow prayer to become nothing more than a last resort. Pray first.

Make prayer a priority, a part of your life and something that is interwoven into the inner-being of your character. You my friend are destined to be a prayer warrior. Combat spiritual dehydration with the awe-inspiring communication God has so graciously given us through the art of prayer. Share your feelings, your burdens and pains. Share your frustrations, your joy and your discontent. Share until you cannot share anymore.

5. Equip yourself with spiritual mentors.

It’s always a good idea to have people in your life that you’ve given permission to keep you accountable, call you out when you do something idiotic and keep you on track with your spiritual journey. Whether it be in person, over the phone or even Skype, give permission to men and women who are wiser than you to speak life into you.

Humble yourself, learn from their direction and allow your heart to be guided by those God has put before you. Your spiritual welfare depends on constant evaluation and refining.

-Jarrid Wilson
Reposted from Church Leaders

Recently a teacher friend of my wife spent Sunday with her husband planning for the start of school the next day. She had been at school the previous week attending several professional staff development sessions, and was excitedly looking forward to her first day of classes with students in attendance.

When Monday morning came she awoke with a severe headache, and decided reluctantly to take a sick day. She called her husband at work to let him know that she was staying home and he decided to leave work and come home to be with her.

Her headache continued and they finally decided to go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Within hours, his wife, who on Sunday was looking forward to the next day, was dead on Monday.

Many people have experienced this in their own lives where someone they knew well, died unexpectedly by accident or a sudden onset of health issues. We know intellectually that we are all going to die. In Scripture Proverbs 27:1 says to "not boast about tomorrow, for we do not know what the day will bring." James 4:13-14 says this and also tells us that it can happen at any time. Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit;" whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

All of this ought to raise questions in your mind. What is your life? For what is your life? Are you really alive or are just pretending to be alive. 

Viktor Frankl in his ground-breaking book, Man's Search for Meaning stated that having a "raison d'etre" or a reason for being is what keeps us truly alive, God created every one of us for a reason, with an assigned mission, whether we have discovered it or not. How can you discover your reason for being? It is fairly easy when we are intent on finding it. In working with my coaching clients, they are generally able to figure it out in 20 minutes or less.

But the truth is, most people are afraid to make this discovery. They are uncomfortable with it, because they fear it will require change in their lives. They are right. It does require change and it will make you uncomfortable, but that discomfort is nothing compared to living daily knowing that your life is being wasted minute by minute..

Keep in mind that there is every possibility that the mission for which you were created is meant for you alone. And if you don't fulfill your mission, it will forever be left undone.

So what are you waiting for? Life is sitting in the palm of your hand, sparkling like a diamond, and melting like a snowflake. It is time to discover what your life is for, to discover your reason for being. It is time to begin doing something that makes you feel truly alive,.

Of course you can always wait for tomorrow...