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Dream Deceased: and that’s ok

Dream Deceased: and that’s ok

For nearly a decade or seventy percent of one at least, I have wanted a briefcase, and not just any briefcase. No, it was a special briefcase, one in-particular briefcase to be exact; a $700 briefcase ($900 after a price jump last summer) at that. This dreamed about, longed, hoped, and wished for briefcase – a Saddleback Leather Extra Large Classic Brief in Dark Coffee Brown or Tobacco. I have sold some other briefcases and messenger bags, and attempted to save systematically to buy the briefcase; I almost yearly jokingly posted on social media to ask people to buy it for my birthday. I even went as far as contemplating crowdfunding the purchase of my briefcase (fortunately that idea lasted as long as it took me to even type those words). Today, however, I am laying that dream to bed. You see I received an email from the company, (yes I was such a fan that I signed up for and was receiving email updates from the company), that certain items were being discontinued. I was quite certain that my beloved briefcase would not be on this list. I mean the Classic Briefcase is the bag for which this company is most known. I clicked on the link to the full list really out of amusement and there on the second line of the list of items to be discontinued it read rather dispassionately: Classic Leather Briefcase – size: Extra Large. Surely my eyes were wrong, it couldn’t be. Right? They would not make such a bold and drastic move as this. I quickly opened a new tab to Facebook and went to a group page consisting of fans of the company to confirm what I had read. As I quickly perused through the posts and comments I realized my dream was dead. I even emailed my wife to tell her she could be excited about never having to hear about the briefcase again.

So why did I allow this 7+ year dream to die so quickly? To answer that fully I need to go back to why I wanted this briefcase in the first place. Honestly it was about the size way more than the brand or color or style or perceived coolness of the briefcase. You see it is huge; 18 inches wide by 13 inches tall by 9 inches deep. There is a stock photo on the company website that shows a normal size adult man carrying this size of the briefcase and you can quickly see how it dwarfs his body. Ever since high school (especially during college) my mother would complain that I pack my backpack way to full. It is true. I do in fact do this. Many days currently I am carrying two backpacks to my classroom to accommodate two laptops, an iPad, all the associated cords, a couple of notebooks, a planner, a textbook or two, papers to grade, and possibly a book I am reading or three. So if I am honest with myself and others and it truly was about the size and nothing else then why still want a briefcase that might not completely meet my needs. You see I do have a backpack that comes close to carrying all of that. However I wanted the briefcase because it was slightly bigger than my backpack and it was the only briefcase I have found this wide and deep. Plus it is slightly more professional and carrying it by the handle would not wrinkle my suit jacket each morning as I walk from my car into work.

As I have thought about this silly situation this afternoon it has brought some needed clarity to my life. One of the first things I did after seeing the discontinuation of this wanted item was to leave a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to this company. You seem sometimes we can get so caught up in something that we loose touch with reality. Recently I saw a member of one of the groups post that had spent $17,000 just this year (not even a full four months yet) buying new and used bags and briefcases from this company. I mean he definitely is not a public school teacher in Oklahoma with that kind of discretionary spending. You know, I have already felt some freedom from just leaving these social media groups. I definitely feel less pressure to fit some specific mold or meet a certain expectation.

I am now going to examine other areas of my life over coming days and see what I can similarly eliminate. Who knows what other dreams or hopes may die but I would wager they need to expire and my life will be the better for it.

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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


Guest Post – Mark Miller

How Long Is Long Enough?

“How long do you work with someone before you make a tough decision?” This was the question two different people asked me recently. Both had inherited a person who was unable or unwilling to do their job.

Does this situation sound familiar? Clearly, you want to do the right thing. The challenge is two-fold: discerning the right thing and then mustering the courage to do it.

I have no silver bullet to offer you. However, here a few factors to consider:

Look at the person’s history – What is this person’s track record? Is it one of accomplishment or mediocrity? If the person has demonstrated competence in the past, perhaps the current concerns are circumstantial or fleeting.

Go the extra mile – Truett Cathy once told me, “No one builds a career terminating people. You build a career by helping people be successful.” These words have always driven me to go above and beyond when dealing with serious performance issues. One of my questions in these difficult situations is, “What else can I do?”

Explore other roles – This is tricky. If you are not careful, a poor performer can move repeatedly throughout his or her career without growing or changing. This “moving the problem” is not what I am advocating. Sometimes, a person just ends up in the wrong job. He or she may be extremely gifted in some other area. If you can discover that sweet spot, I am all in favor of moving someone to help them thrive.

Consider the person’s potential – This may seem controversial to some. Yes, I acknowledge the worth of every human being. At the same time, I know our time as leaders is our most precious asset. We must steward our time wisely. To over-invest in someone with limited potential doesn’t make sense. What do you believe this person’s long term impact can be if you successfully navigate the current difficulty?

Don’t forget the impact on the team – Always remember poor individual performance is cancer in a team. If it is allowed to persist it hurts the performer, the team and the leader. The team has to carry the burden of under contributing members; while the leader must focus valuable time on the individual.

Seek council – Hiring decisions are too important to be made by any single individual and so are termination decisions. Who are your trusted advisors for situations involving serious performance issues? Do you have counselors inside and outside your organization? In the world we live in, it is never a bad idea to seek legal and human resource professionals to help process your decision.

Be courageous – I know this is easier to say than it is to do. However, leaders must be courageous if our organizations are going to reach their full potential. In the case of a poor performing team member, we have two equally important factors at play – the life of the person we are working with; and our own credibility as a leader. Jim Collins challenged our leaders to respond with courage, “If you don’t you will steal a person’s life.”

So, how long is long enough? Hard to say. My best advice for you is something I heard from Jimmy Collins as he addressed our leaders many years ago. He said, “When dealing with performance issues, err on the side of grace.” Just not too much grace…


Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


You Can’t Lead – Guest Post From Mark Miller

This post was originally published on Friday, May 16, 2014 at




I was recently asked the question: How do you tell someone they are not a leader – without crushing them?


I have several ideas that may help with this question, but first, I want to relieve you of the anxiety you may be feeling regarding how someone will receive truth. You cannot control, nor should you assume responsibility for, their response. Your role is to share truth in love. They choose their response.

With that backdrop, I have four suggestions…

Always show honor, dignity and respect. Choose your words carefully. Try not to inflame the situation with trigger words or exaggeration. Even if the person cannot lead, they still possess immense value as a human being. Being in the wrong role does not diminish a person’s value. Treat them accordingly.

Ask thoughtful questions. Find out what they believe about their leadership quotient. You may be surprised. They may already be aware of their leadership gaps. It’s also possible they have huge blind spots. If they do believe they are leading well, ask them for their definition of leadership. Ask them to give you examples in which they feel they’ve lead well.

Pinpoint the issues and concerns. After you know where they stand on the issue, be prepared to share your point-of-view. Be specific – vague statements such as, “You just can’t lead,” are not helpful. If you have a clear point-of-view on leadership, it’s much easier to pinpoint your concerns. Is the predominant issue a skill gap or have you detected issues regarding their leadership character? Both can be addressed, however, the action plans are very different.

Tell the truth. Your integrity is on the line in this conversation. Don’t sugarcoat the truth – that’s just another form of dishonesty. When we choose not to tell the truth, we ultimately hurt the person, the organization and our own leadership. If a person is on the wrong career path, you do him or her a great service by redirecting them. Truth is a leader’s best friend.

What’s next after a conversation like this? You get to decide. Your next steps will be affected by how far along you are on this journey. Is this the first time you’ve discussed the issue with this person? Is it the third time? If you’re early in the dialogue, you may want to help the person build a development plan to close the leadership gap. If you’re late in the game, you may need to talk about a transition plan.


mmMark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.

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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Leadership, Uncategorized


What Is Biblical Theology – James M. Hamilton Jr. – A Book Review

I was excited to read What Is Biblical Theology? By James M. Hamilton.  My excitement was not met with disappointment.  This short book gives a great introduction to anyone of how to read the Bible theological and to understand the overarching narrative of the Bible.

Hamilton does a thorough yet succinct job of explaining the Bible’s storyline by examining the symbols, types, imagery and patterns.  This is such an important topic for all believers to know, and Hamilton tackles it with brilliance.  This book is must reading for anyone wanting to take Bible study seriously and to deepen their understanding.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  The book is a quick and easy read but also very deep in its knowledge and insight.  It takes a scholar that is still connected to the average church member to do this and Hamilton shows great acumen in this.

So basically if you want to increase the depth of your Bible study read this book.  It will greatly bless you.

I received this book in from the publisher, Crossway, for the purpose of review with no requirement to write a positive review.


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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


The Pastor’s Justification – Jared C. Wilson – A Book Review

Some books I really look forward to reading more than others.  The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson was one of those books.  It did not disappoint at all, rather it far exceeded all expectations.  I want to start off by saying that I have liked and learned much from all of Wilson’s books that I have read.  I did still read this book very critically though.  I have been through some tough times as a pastor and I did not want to read another trite book chock full of pat answers.  I wanted something with meat and depth and written from a place of understanding and to have this all come from the Scriptures.

This book gave me exactly what I was looking for and so much more.  I was challenged to go back and revisit some of those low moments as a pastor.  I had to reevaluate them in the light of the Gospel and the truth that I may have been very wrong in some of if not most of those instances.  I was able to do this not with a heavy heart full of conviction but rather with a heart built up through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

If you are a pastor, read this book.  If you are on a church staff, read this book.  If you are feeling called to ministry, read this book.  If you have a pastor, read this book.  Basically you need to read this book.

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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Book Review, Uncategorized


Laughter & Tears

A post from several years ago about where our focus is and where it should be.

37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:37-43

I cannot help but laugh as I read through this passage the first few times. There are so many humorous things in it. Yet as I read it more those same things become sad and troubling.

Jesus and three of the disciples follow Jairus to the house. They get there and notice a large number of people crying and mourning loudly. It was a very common practice in those days for professional wailers to be on the scene shortly after someone died. Some commentators speculate that not enough time had elapsed for the professionals to have been summoned, but others say that they would have been on stand by for someone of this importance. I believe these were the professionals and not just friends of the family because of both how harshly Jesus responds to them and how quickly He sends them away.

I find it so weird that people were paid to go around and cry for strangers that had died. I know the cultural differences between present day America and 1st century Palestine are vast, but still I think this has to be one of the oddest practices ever. I believe Jesus was not all that impressed with it either. Maybe it is because I am so sarcastic at times, but as I read Him saying, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”, I see a somewhat sarcastic tone. Then He sends them away. Now perhaps He does this because He wants this particular miracle to be intensely private and intimate. Maybe, just maybe, though He only wants those who truly believe that He can bring the girl back to life present.

It is at that thought that my laughter turns to sadness. These people, these professional wailers, are prostituting themselves out to people in the midst of grief. They are taking advantage of those who are in despair. They are hired guns, and quite frankly if the girl is not dead and is just asleep as Jesus says, then they are out of some money. I think their laughter is a nervous laughter, because they are hoping that this Jesus man crazy and out of His mind. I do not know how much a professional crier made, but I am sure they probably stood to profit much more from the death of a leading official’s daughter than of someone from a peasant’s family. They were focusing on their wallet and not the glory of God.

I doubt many of you are working as a professional mourner today, but perhaps your focus is as misguided. I urge you not to miss the amazing glory of God because you are looking only at how it impacts you and your circumstances and not at what it can accomplish in the lives of those around you.

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized