In its simplest definition, culture is the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group. Essentially, culture is the environment in which you live, culture is the environment in which you worship, and culture is the environment in which you work.
But the culture of our home, church, and workplace are not the only cultures we interact with every day. We visit the cultures that we like and avoid the ones we don’t. For example, McDonald’s has a familiar culture. You know what the food is going to taste like, you know the happy meals are $2.99, and you know the general menu options. If you like that culture, you visit it and you buy their food.
My family won’t go to McDonald’s. One, we found their environment “moist” because all too often their buildings are wet and dirty. I don’t want McDonald’s because I think the food will kill you so we don’t visit that culture.
Instead, we go to restaurant cultures that we like, and the ones that we think are safe and friendly. We go to ones where we think the food is affordable and good for us.
This is true for church.
This is true for your gym.
This is true for most places you go.
You go to the culture you like.
Additionaly, at work, at home, and at church, you play a part in creating your culture. And, cultures change. They don’t stay the same. Cultures are dynamic; they’re not static. You get to create the culture that you work in, worship, and live.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re working hard, you’re working safe, you are working steady, and you are working sturdy. This could be home, this could be at work, and this could be serving at church. Good job, but the person beside you is complaining.
“Ugh, this is so hard. I don’t like this. I’m so tired of this.”
Now, one of you is about to create the culture. They are going to create a culture of complaint or you are going to create a culture of something else. You can say, “Yeah, I’m tired of this too,” or you can say, “Hey man, I know it’s hard, but it won’t get any better if we complain. C’mon, let’s do this.”
One of you is going to create the culture, and one of you has the opportunity to be the dominant voice and create the dominant example.
The dominant voice and the dominant example always create the culture. So, today, at home, work, church, or wherever, be the dominant voice to create a culture that is encouraging, inspiring, honoring, and enjoyable. It will encourage and transform the weary and transform your jobs, your church, and your home.
Goals worth hitting are goals worth getting.
Let me explain.
If your goal is a good goal (virtuous, healthy, etc.), then it is worth persevering until you hit it. Obviously, the opposite is true. If it is a selfish goal, let it go.
But what do you do when you have a good goal, but you keep missing it? What do you do when it alludes you? The answer is a simple:
Goodness of Goal + How Much You Love It = Perseverance
8 years ago I decided to run a marathon. I nearly died, but I finished with a 4 hour and 44 minute time (4:44). I then decided that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but I knew that running under 4 hours was the next step. The next year, I ran in the 4:20’s. And finally, on my third try, I learned better training and ran a 3:57.
I was close to the Boston Marathon, right? Nope. With my age, I needed to run in the 3:20’s. Another 37 mins? That’s crazy.
But the goal was good and my love of running was strong. It was worth hitting.
Then there was one big problem. The following two years, my body was racked with seizures. I went from marathons to barely being able to run 3 miles. When I finally completed another 26.2, I barely ran under 5 hours. 5 hours.
But the goal was good, and my love was strong.
Now, I’m closer than ever. I only need to shave 9 minutes from my best marathon to qualify for Boston. I’ve gotten close, and I will give it another shot later this year.
So, what is your goal?
Is it a good goal?
Is it losing weight?
Making more money?
Loving your spouse better?
Whatever the case, don’t give up. If you love what you want, then you will persevere to the good goal, even when it is hard.
Even when there are setbacks.
Even when there are heartbreaks.
Even when there are seizures.
And one last thing: Loving a good goal means learning how to do it well.
Find out as much as you can about how to reach that goal.
That will engender a greater love and greater hope.
So, get out there on those goals. If you don’t have a big goal, find one. You need goals in life to help you have purpose. Those goals can be spiritual, physical, whatever. But make the goal tangible and quantifiable, that way you will know how you are doing and when you hit it.
Get out there, folks.
Goals worth hitting are goals worth getting.
How can listening to your feet improve running and your relationship with God?
On a recent mid-week run, I was cruising along listening to my favorite podcast. There was the typical fatigue that mid-week anything brings, but this run was more difficult. Something else was going on. What was it?
In a rare moment of silence during my 1.5x speed podcast, I heard it. The balls of my feet were striking the ground, not propelling me. The way my feet were landing was actually fighting each step I took (that is a good way to get shin splints btw). The correction for this is easy: correct your posture, swing your arms like pendulums, and elongate your step. The next thing I knew, I was running confidently, faster, and with less fatigue.
I would never have discovered these things had I not listened to my feet.
This is true spiritually as well. In our relationship with God, lows are common, but we often don’t know the source. And just like my running with podcasts, there are too many distractions for us to actually know the cause of those lows.
Recently, I enjoyed leading 7 couples of church officers, future church officers, and their families in a roundtable Q&A about life in church leadership. We talked about time demands, family demands, church stresses, and unspoken expectations from church members. In the evening, my lovely wife helped me process the conversations. She highlighted that I missed stressing the joys of Gospel partnership and instead, over-emphasized the challenges. As is typical, she was right.
How did I miss that? I love preaching the Gospel. The Gospel is the basis solution for everything we do and the drive of my ministry. The answer? I hadn’t taken time for silence to hear what was going on in my own heart. Upon reflection, and in a bit of silence, I realized that I was struggling with ministerial disappointment and with my expectations with God. That struggle affected the tone of my leadership in that conversation.
So, whether in running or relationships (with God or family), listen to your feet. Where are you dragging them and where are you stumbling? That time to listen will teach you much about your heart and will teach you where to make changes.
Thank you for the incredible response. Now, you can purchase the limited edition, two-in-one “I am my father’s son” and “Bedside: A Memoir of Care” hardback in honor of Thom and Ann Duncan just by clicking the button below or the photo to your right. Thanks.
Commemorative Two-in-One Hardback Editon of “I am my father’s son” and “Bedside” entitled “I am Bedside” Available Now
Last night, as Amy was settled in and as I was comfortably asleep, my oldest daughter, Meredith, gently walked into our bedroom with tears in her eyes. She had just finished reading my edit copy of, “I am Bedside”. This is a hardback combination edition of the book I wrote for my father, “I am my father’s son” and the book I wrote for my mother, “Bedside: A Memoir of Care”.
She approached our bed gingerly (as I don’t wake up gingerly), crawled in like she used to do when she was little, and snuggled. She told me she loved the book, she missed her grandparents, and that she loved me and Amy. Then she went to bed.
That was all the affirmation I needed. I wrote each of the books for my parents as an opportunity for me to celebrate and remember who they were, but I also wrote them to remind my children and others of Thom and Ann Duncan so that their memory will never be lost.
I’m excited that Gospel Rich Books is releasing this commemorative hardback edition of both books in one entitled “I am Bedside”. This will be a limited run of 250 copies and available for a limited time.
Thanks to all who loved Sam and Ann. Thanks to all who have purchased these books. Thanks to everyone who loved them as much as I did and still do.
You can purchase copies here, and please leave a note to let me know if you enjoy it.
Introducing, sharing, and explaining our faith in Christ to our children is the desire for many parents. How do to that is not always that easy. Additionally, the structure of families is not always consistent. Some families don’t have children. Some families include grandparents, many have step-parents, many are solo parenting, and a few have both mom and dad.
In light of all of those intricacies, how in the world do we introduce and deepen the faith of our families?
While each of the described above deserves its own book, this one is designed to help families with children. And since, the makeup of those families may look different in every household, we will typically just address “parents” and allow you to customize it as you read it.
But the central idea is to create a simple, easy to approach book for you and your kids. So towards that end, “Family Philippians” was created.
As you work through these pages, you and your family will walk through these steps. Each chapter will give you a section of Philippians to read, there will be a brief paragraph to explain and deepen an understanding of the passage, there will be a few questions to answer, and then, there will be a guided prayer time. At the end of the book, you will have covered the every verse of Philippians.
Ideally, each chapter should take no more than 10 minutes, but hopefully, that investment will last a lifetime. As you undertake this adventure, please know my prayers accompany your efforts, and I would love to hear from you about how it all goes.
You can find “Family Philippians” as a pdf download here, and also at
I’m thankful that I know a bunch of Godly, Gospel-grounded, and bright pastors. I also have the privilege of bumping into some incredibly wise and astute folks in my congregation and in the day to day. You guys have a lot to say, but beyond Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, very few people get to hear your wisdom.
Since, I have been publishing for the last year or two, I wanted to encourage and enable lots of folks to join me in writing and publishing beyond social media.
Don’t get me wrong; social media is strong, but the larger population often misses out on your practical wisdom because of their lack of access to it.
To bridge the gap, I’ve published a little $.99 book, 5 Steps to Publishing Your Own Books.
The goal is to encourage and promote my wise and gifted friends to begin publishing books easily and more often. This book will walk you through how you can go from manuscript to publication to promotion. And as you do, lots of folks (including me) will benefit from your efforts.
You can find 5 Steps in two formats:
If Samson were alive today, he would have a million Twitter followers, tweet things like “great #honey last night what a blast lol”, and the world would love him. That is, the world would love him until he made every mistake under the sun and TMZ started covering him.
With those things in mind, one must wonder what relevancy does Samson still hold?
Is he a picture of what believers can be when they trust from the Lord and turn from their idols?
Is he a picture of what will happen if men pursue their lusts and thus an antitype of say, Joseph?
Is he a foreshadowing of Christ?
Unfortunately, many practical devotional writings pull Samson out of context and teach purely an exemplary exegesis that treats Samson as a model that can be followed or avoided. For example, Henry Blackaby in his Experiencing God devotional uses Samson’s life as a pattern to be followed when we have lost spiritual power. Relating to Samson, he says, “Those around you who have relied upon your strength are discovering that you are not as helpful as you once were.” To remedy this, he encourages, “If you walk with God in this manner, you will grow in spiritual strength (like Samson) and be used mightily by Him.”
Another example is Steven Lawson’s Men Who Win. He talks of the great victories that God has brought, “Samson slew the Philistines. David fought Goliath,” but warns, “Our battles are just as real. The Canaanites outnumber us. The Goliaths are waiting for us to grow weary and falter. The Delilahs are lying.”
Truly, whenever we see a biblical character succumbing to sin, the believer should be on guard lest he fall. Whenever we see a biblical character achieve victory, we should rejoice that God is gracious. But these kinds of examples miss the point of Samson, nearly completely.
The takeaway is that God moves, enlivens, empowers, and delivers despite the sinfulness of His people.
With these thoughts in mind, please check out “A Once and Future Samson” available as both a Kindle Single and PDF download. It is a simple, concise, and hopeful look at God’s work among even the worst of us.
Excited for the arrival of “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” in all formats. Amazon has it listed as the #1 New Release for men, and thanks to all of you, it is already in the Top 50 of both Men’s Issues and Church Leadership.
The design of “Good Man” is to enable invidiuals, families, and churches to develop and sustain efforts to identify and train Godly men. The book focuses on four areas: Home Life, Thought Life, Church Life, and Community Life. I hope this is a simple, helpful resource. If so, please let folks know about “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?”.
You can find “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” in several different formats.
Why another book about men, Godly men, training Godly men, elders, and all of that stuff? The simple answer for another book is that we need to keep looking at the scriptures, looking at what we’ve done (and not done), asking good questions, and then we need to look at the scriptures again.
And hopefully, in the process, we will see Godly men grow, be raised up, and reproduce themselves for the church, for the good of everyone involved, and ultimately to the glory of God.
This book is a humble attempt at just those things. Available July 9th everywhere, “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” hopes to be an honest confession and guidebook to help us get there.
The cover art was designed by the ridiculously talented Jay Holmes, and any errors within are mine. I’ve included the Introduction below to give you an idea of where things may go. Thanks for considering this.
I’ve been through leadership training in a bunch of different arenas. I’ve been to public school teacher training. I’ve been to sales meetings. When I managed an eye doctors’ office, I went to the optometric national conference every year. As a seminary student, I was trained to death.
In the church, I was trained to be a lay ruling elder and a pastor teaching elder. All of those involved tests, both written and oral. Once I became a church planter, I was entrusted with the task of training elders and deacons.
I don’t tell you all of that to say that I know what I’m doing. I tell you because at this point and time, I wonder if any of us do.
But this book is my attempt to explain things as I see it, and I hope that it will be of some benefit to you, to my church, and to the larger church nationwide. You see, throughout pastor training (both for me and to others), I’ve noticed a couple of temptations:
Churches often ordain influential, successful men thinking that their earthly success and wisdom will result in spiritual success and wisdom. That’s possible, but it doesn’t always work out.
Another temptation is to completely focus on doctrine thinking that a right thinking man is a Godly leader and shepherd. That is possible, but that is not always the case (and it doesn’t always work out well).
Sometimes elders and leaders move from one city to another and think that they should already be made leaders in any new church that they attend. Again, it might work out, but that kind of assumption doesn’t take into account context or mission.
So what do we do? What do we emphasize while seeking to be fiercely biblical?
Well, in my humble opinion, I would suggest three essential qualities and one really strong recommendation in a Godly elder. Now, let me say this. These should be qualities that every Godly man aspires to, so they should apply to deacons, leaders, and men in general, but this book’s emphasis is on elders.
First, that man must have a personal holiness that enables him to lead his family in a self-sacrificing manner like Christ led the church. We will call that Home Life.
Secondly, that man must have a firm and deep theology that is consistent with the body to which he hopes to lead. We will call that Thought Life.
Thirdly, that man must have the ability to perform the office to which he aspires. If he seeks to be an elder, he must be able to shepherd. If he seeks to be a deacon, he must be able to serve. We will call that Church Life.
And finally, I would suggest from both practical and Biblical example that that man should have non-wavering agreement with the specific mission of that church. We will call that Community Life.
To get us there with these thoughts, we look at the biblical qualifications of a leader in scriptures. Those qualifications will expound on the ideas surrounding our first two qualities (Home Life and Thought Life). Then we will look at the ability to shepherd (Church Life), and then we will conclude by discussing the mission of the church (Community Life).
Hopefully, in the end, we will all walk away with Godly men who lead their families well, have a firm and consistent theology, who own the mission of their church, and have the ability to live out the office to which they take vows.
Thanks for taking the time to even consider these things.