Missing the Turn

God has a way of teaching us in everyday situations. Today was my day to learn a valuable lesson in following directions.

How many times have we been given directions only to go a different way? Well, I know I have done it more times than I can remember. It is very embarrassing actually. I turned on my GPS to find the quickest route to get home after a meeting today. Like always, I was given the quickest route to get home. I was also shown other routes that could take longer. I chose the quickest route, and I started following the directions. That is until I missed an important turn. I had a couple of options, but the best option was to go up a little and make a legal u-turn. Did I do that? Absolutely not! Instead, I took another turn and went a completely different way thinking that I could bypass the traffic and chart my own way home. It was a very ambitious gamble, but I was willing to take it. The ride was supposed to take us 31 minutes, but it took us almost 1.5 hours! We added on extra time to get home just because I missed the turn.

I added on extra time and did a lot more than I needed to do because I missed the turn. That happens to us a lot in life. We ask for guidance only to ignore it! How silly! After receiving the proper guidance, we take our own turns and try to set our own paths. It makes things difficult and very hard. My wife and I sat in traffic for over an hour and we moved less than one mile due to construction. The GPS set a path for us to avoid the delay, but I decided to go that way anyway. 

The Holy Spirit guides us in the way we should go, but we try to set our own path. We miss the turns we are supposed to take. Instead of making a quick u-turn, we set out to chart our own course and path. We think that going a different way might cause us to skip some of the "traffic" along the way. What we fail to realize is that He put us on a course to avoid all of it. When we ignore His leadings, we are running head-on to what we desire to avoid.

If it seems like you are sitting still in the traffic of life, it might be wise to make a u-turn. Go the direction you've been given from the Holy Spirit, and don't miss the turns of life. Isn't it great that God has given us a roadmap to follow, which is His Holy Word! And He's given us a GPS, who is the Holy Spirit. We can avoid the detours of life if we are obedient and attentive to the guidance we are given. Don't miss the turns! If you have, make a quick u-turn and go on towards your destination!



Molested Men

Molestation is not limited to little girls. It affects children from both genders, all races, different nationalities, diverse cultures, and every background imaginable. It just as prevalent in the inner-city as it is in the countryside. It's going on in low-income communities as well as wealthier districts. It's happening everywhere, and the church is not exempt from it. In fact, many men hide behind religious acts to cover up what's happened to them in their past. 

The consequences of the act can be emotionally and physically destructive. Our community doesn't talk about it--especially in the church, and that's a big problem. What's hidden can't be dealt with properly. It's one thing to deal with many of the contributing factors like pornography, homosexuality, pedophilia, and such, but we must address the rampant molestation that takes place daily in homes, in places of worship, in offices, in classrooms, in locker rooms and abroad. As believers, we cannot be so quick to address the fruit of the tree without identifying its roots. Oftentimes, the root of the issues I deal with as a pastor from men is molestation. It's the deep, dark secret that they've tried to keep hidden. It's the elephant in the room they've tried to cover up. It's the one thing they've tried their entire adolescent and young adult life to ignore, but the effects of what's happened to them still lingers. In fact, what's happened to them greatly affects what has happening in them. It affects their ability to trust, to confide, to befriend, and to enjoy the company of others. Their relationships are shallow. Going too deep with them is forbidden. If they notice you're getting too close they immediately build a wall to block you out. Oftentimes, they find an excuse to end the friendship/relationship, or many just end it cold turkey. Running away is easier for them instead of facing their emotions and fears.

Far too often have I heard the words: "It's my fault!" spoken by an adult male with tears running down his face. The adult speaking those words was a just a child when he became a victim. He tells his story as if he was the problem and the molestation was somehow his fault. In an hour conversation he will experience every emotion from sadness to guilt to anger. It's a difficult issue for him to explore, but it must be dealt with or it will deal with him.

Sexual abuse, a silent and deadly evil, walks with the child well beyond his adolescent years. It follows him into adulthood. He works hard to hide it. He covers it. He doesn't want to talk about it. He tries to drown his sorrows and fears in addictive substances. I've seen this happen before my eyes. I've even experienced this truth personally. I can tell you from experience that pornography and alcohol won't drown out the "voices" in your head. Seeking prostitutes, seeking lovers on sex sites, or seeking peace in drugs won't heal you. Drinking an alcoholic beverage until it's empty won't fill you. You'll feel just as empty as the bottle you've emptied. The embarrassment of being found out is too much for many men to consider. They'll do all they can to kill that part of their life. The thought of facing their attacker(s) is just as scary as facing their emotions. It could be that they've tried to confront their attacker(s), but they weren't successful. To escape any accountability for his actions he must work hard to forget them. If forgetting doesn't work, then he must live in secrecy. If secrecy doesn't work, then he must discredit the credibility of this victims. To be discredited by someone you probably trusted is heartbreaking and has the potential to send the victim(s) in a deeper downward spiral. The victims try to move on, but the "demons" in their head won't allow them to live in peace. Their public persona doesn't match their private struggles. No matter the cost of their suits, the number of women they sleep with, their position in the business firm, or the amount of money in their bank account(s), they cannot seem to put to their past to rest. They were sexually abused, but you'd never know it. Like many other boys, they were molested. Their innocence was stolen from them. Now, they find themselves suffering silently especially when curiosity comes face-to-face with temptation and opportunity. They're wounded men, and they need help. They must realize they were victims. If they do not, then they could potentially continue that cycle of victimization. 

Whether you were raped, a victim of incest, or any other forms of sexual abuse, I recommend you seek help immediately to address the trauma of sexual assault. If you're in a position where your attacker used his or her position of authority to silence you, you must speak up. Please do not live in fear. You must resolve the feelings of guilt, shame, fear, depression, and anger. Continuing to suppress it is not healthy. I encourage you to begin this journey of healing by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. All sin, no matter the degree, is punishable by death. This means we are all sentenced to die and inherit eternal damnation. However, Jesus Christ has become the sacrifice needed to redeem us from the damnation. He gives us life (John 10:10), forgives us of our sins (1 John 1:9), makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and redeems us from wickedness (Titus 2:14). Healing beings with Him. Then, I would suggest forgiving your attacker(s). I realize this can seem difficult, but it's important. Ephesians 4:32 reads "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." If you desire to be forgiven, then you must forgive others. Consider the other scenario. If you don't forgive, then you aren't forgiven. You'll also carry the weight of what happened to you, and that's too heavy a load to bear. Thirdly, I'd recommend seeking help with a Spirit-filled therapist and spiritual leader so you'll have the opportunity to confess what has happened to you. James 5:16 reads "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." Confession is healthy; hiding is dangerous. Finally, find a Bible-teaching, Spirit-filled church where you can be taught the Word of God and serve faithfully.

And if it sounds like I'm speaking from a place of experience, I am. Just know that the same God that healed me can heal you! Now is the time for healing. Deal with the issues before they deal with you. God bless.



re: USA Presidential Election

We elected a new United States President in the early hours of the morning. This is not new to the American people, and the emotions felt by all are not new either. One clear issue that we all face as a nation is severe division. Politics can bring out the worst in people and can cause great division. Elections can unearth many of the issues that some thought were no longer embedded in our republic. I want to remind you that before any of us are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and etc. we are Christians! Our devotion to Christ isn’t negated during a presidential election. As your pastor, I humbly ask that you refrain from unhealthy, vengeful rhetoric that divides instead of unifies. Please remember that our main objective is preach the Gospel, but most importantly, we are called to LIVE IT!
I am a lover of politics, but I must always remember that Christ is still King no matter who sits in the Oval Office or who stands in the chambers of the Senate and the House. You must remember that as well.
Based on Psalm 125, we must pray that those who trust in the Lord will not be shaken. Based on Romans 12:12, we must rejoice in our confident hope and keep praying. Based on 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we must pray and intercede for all those in authority so we can live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Based on Psalm 22:28, we know that kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations. Based on Proverbs 21:1, we can rest assured that the leader’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, and He turns it however He desires.
Please keep your mind stayed on the Lord! Remain prayerful and stay focused on the Great Commission! It would do you well to go pray and realign your focus back on Jesus Christ. Don’t allow for your Christian witness to be tainted because of loose and reckless conversation. And please examine your heart to make sure this election, a particular candidate, and/or a particular party hasn’t become an idol in your life. If you find yourself speaking more about the election today than you do meditating in the Word and sharing Christ, then it’s safe to assume that it’s become an idol that must be destroyed.

And please do not forget about the exhortation given last Sunday. This is the time to pay off the debt we've accumulated and store up for the drought that's to come. Let's be wise.
Remain focused!
-Pastor Cornelius

Walking with a Cane

Some months ago I had the honor and privilege of praying over a woman after I preached who was walking with a cane. She slowly walked to the altar as if there was a new surge of pain with each step. But there was hope and determination in her eyes. Her faith was sure, and she was confident that God would heal whatever was ailing her. After prayer she turned around and walked away, but she was still leaning on and using her cane.

Some months had passed. I had forgotten about the entire situation until one Tuesday night when I saw her sitting in the audience while I taught in our bible study. After I finished teaching and put the podium away, she stepped forward towards me. Something was different about her. She was missing something that she needed to have before. I couldn't quite make out what was different until she walked up, gave me a hug, and asked me if I remember praying and believing that God would heal her. I couldn't help but continue to think what was missing. Then she asked me to look over where she was sitting. There sat the cane she needed to use to walk. She said she hadn't used it in weeks, BUT she continued to carry it with her just...in...case.

We rejoiced for a moment over what Jehovah Rapha had done. What stuck out most wasn't that she didn't have the cane, but what she said following her admission that she no longer needed it. She told me that she lived in another state, but she needed to be close to her family for support since she couldn't get around as well as she'd like. She was afraid that something would happen to her if she was alone because of her physical condition. She desperately wanted to return home, but her lack of balance kept her from having the confidence to return.

I thought her physical healing was what we were after, but it was something much deeper for her that God needed to heal. She ended up telling me that she was finally ready to return home! Why? Well, her knowing that she no longer needed the cane healed her of fear and grew her confidence in God. She no longer felt like she was alone. She wasn't returning home with just a healed body, but she was also returning with a healed mind.

Oftentimes we go to God expecting Him to do one thing, but He has mind on doing something we weren't thinking of. The lady went to God for healing for her body, but she returned with much more. This is the God we serve. We go to Him with our brokenness, and He restores, renews, and returns us in a better condition than how we came. He is more valuable than the all the galaxies combined because the creation is never more valuable than the Creator. Therefore, you can only imagine the value ascribed to those He touches with His mighty hand. I'm convinced that God placed His hand on the lady, and she was healed. The cane she once needed to walk and lean on has become a reminder of His grace, love, and mercy. God removed the object with Himself. He became the strength in her steps, the balance she depends on, and the cane she leans on.

I don't know what your cane is in your life, but I do know that God still heals. And you can fully expect that He will heal whatever is dis-easesed in the body, and He will transform your soul as well. He will heal your mind and lead you back to the paths of righteousness. Cry out to Him. Have faith in Him. Then serve Him all the days of your life.


To My Fellow Pastors:

You are not alone. There's a certain reassurance and confidence that churns within us once we finally realize we aren't alone. I'm sure that we've all felt like Elijah as he sat underneath the juniper tree regretting the day he was born. We've had our victory moments on the top of Mount Carmel, but those moments are oftentimes few and far between. It's the process between those victories that can seem lonely and difficult. Many quit and give up. Many of our soldiers have fallen by the wayside. They lay motionless on the battlefield refusing to continue moving forward. Their wounds are many and their sorrow is overwhelming.

It's important for you to know that your diligence and sacrifice isn't in vain. I know what it's like for the congregation to expect more of you than what they expect of themselves. We are oftentimes told what we do wrong while rarely being celebrated for what we do right. I know they expect you to ask nothing for yourself while they ask everything of you. I know what it's like to feel trapped between the feelings of being unappreciated and content with God's reward for your private works. I know what it's like to smile during the tough times because that's what expected of you.

Oftentimes we the shoulder the weak and weary while the physical shoulder we're to lean on is absent. I know what it's like to feel reluctant to trust others because of the hurt from many. You give your time, money, and energy for others, and there's oftentimes nothing given in return. It is true that your reward awaits; yet, us men in mortal bodies have to tussle with the desire to be appreciated. And the criticism can be distracting. I know that so well. I know what it's like to be criticized unjustly and labeled prematurely.

I also know what it's like to till the soil of a field that doesn't feed you. Your mouth has been muzzled while you plow the field. Many assume your life is lived based on the congregation's giving. What they fail to realize is that many of them don't give. We have nothing to steal from the church seeing that there isn't anything to steal. The needs are many, and the righteous preachers seek to meet all of them. I know what it's like for the accounts to be low, but your faith is high. The only problem is that the electric company doesn't accept payments of faith. I know what it's like to wait at the jailhouse for hours until one of your congregants is bailed out. I also know what it's like to plead with a couple not to go to the courthouse to sign those divorce papers. I know what it's like to sit with the mourning and laugh with the joyful. Funerals are no fun, but seeing the birth of the babies is a joyous occasion. You are a mediator, counselor, friend, confidant, janitor, cook, community organizer, and so much more. Your responsibility is heavy, and the burden doesn't let up just because you don't feel like carrying it. You consider shutting everything down and becoming a "pew-seating Christian" where demands aren't asked of you. You know you'd be the best support staff of whatever church you sit in because you'd be willing to give what you know you sometimes lacked--support.

I know what it's like to have financial hardship both personally and in the church. While many come, only a few believe enough to actually give to the house they are fed in. They receive spiritually but usually give nothing of their own substance in return.

I even know what it feels like to wake up to hateful, terroristic messages that are meant to invoke fear and dread. My life has been threatened more times than I can count. Yet, we continue to plow. Our hands don't let go even though we feel drained and worn out.

The support system for the shepherd is almost nonexistent. And oftentimes shepherds can be spiteful and discouraging towards one another. Instead of edifying, some tear down and instead of reconciling, some expose. Instead of being a band of brothers, we're like a bag of loose leaf tea--bound as one but loose and separated within. The sheep herd, but the earthly one that stands with the rod and staff is alone. At the end of the night he returns to his chambers with his family oftentimes filled with sorrow, pain, bites from sheep he was trying to feed, wounds from the attacks of neighboring shepherds, scratches from attempting to rescue fleeing sheep from the thorns, bite marks from fighting wolves, and the scars brought on from deep depression. When you're tired few people actually know. When you express your weariness you're told to rest, but what they fail to see is that you're emotionally drained and depleted. A vacation doesn't refresh you. This is because ministry follows you wherever you go. You cannot turn it off. Unlike a profession, this calling lasts until you take you last breath. You can't escape it, and you don't resign from it. 

Just know your labor isn't in vain, your value isn't found in the size of your congregation, and those who stand against you aren't as many as those who are with you. When God asked, "Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?", you answered the call. Many heard the voice, but you responded. You didn't put the responsibility on someone else. You heard, and you answered. Don't doubt it. The greatest office in the land isn't the president, but the preacher. The president handles what's temporal, but the preacher handles that which is eternal. You're loved and appreciated. From one Pastor to another, THANK YOU. Please don't quit! Be encouraged. 


Family Altar Time

Building an altar in the home is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Unfortunately it’s one that is not practiced as much as it should be in our society today. Many see it as form of legalism, and some would speculate that it’s a form of idolatry. However, it’s really an attitude of the heart and simply creating a place separated for worship, communion, and Bible study. This time helps to reassure the foundation of Christ in the home. It is for the single wo/man, the newly married, the married couple with children, and so on and so forth. Don't think that you not having children disqualifies you from this time. Prepare now so it's just a continuation later on.

An altar is a special place designated for worship unto God. You don’t have to worry about getting a fatted calf or bringing the ninth heifer to the altar to sacrifice for your sins. We know that Jesus is and will always be all you need. The altar in the home should be a place that represents holiness. It’s not the place of holiness, but a place that represents it. It’s a place of refuge and comfort from the trouble of the world. It’s a place where God is glorified and you and your family are edified through prayer, Scripture reading, and edifying conversation.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 is a great reference on the importance of teaching the commands to your children. Verse 7 instructs us to “impress them on your children.” This means the conversation would have to be consistent, persistent, and intentional. Our teaching doesn’t stop in the home. We’re instructed to teach in our going in and our going out. This means you make every opportunity in life your classroom. For example, take the children outside to teach the principle of sowing and reaping. Use fertile soil in a small flower pot to teach the benefits of planting in good ground. Then get soil that is dry to teach what to avoid. Water the seeds together to teach persistence and patience. Then enjoy the fruit of the harvest with one another. Even better, teach the value of giving by allowing your children to gift what they have grown to someone else in need. Jesus was a master at this principle. He taught while standing beside the fig tree, while standing at the well, in the city street, and on the mountaintop. His life was His mission field, and we must practice this same principle at home with our children.

This special family time, which we refer to as “family altar time,” is special because we designate time for our first ministry--our family. It becomes the place where the family gathers together for the purpose of teaching, edification, loving reproof, fellowship, praise, communion, Scripture reading, and prayer. It’s a designated time just for them, which makes it extra special. No one or no thing can take the place of that time. We oftentimes allow others to come in to our special time, but we do not make a habit of it. We also do not allow for our family altar time to take the place of regular church attendance. I wouldn't recommend planning your family altar time around the same time as the services at your local church. Your entire family needs to attend those services to promote fellowship, social interaction, corporate teaching, corporate worship, and maturity with the brethren.

Before designating a special place in the home for family altar time, we should make sure our heart is pure and our desire is to truly seek God for ourselves and for our family. Make sure you are one with Christ so your family can follow. Command your household to put away any foreign gods, to be purged and purified, and to take off whatever they’ve put on that counters the teachings of Christ as Jacob did in Genesis 35:2. Remove anything in the home that is anti-Christ. Then boldly declare that you and your house will serve the Lord. That declaration is both personal and collective. It tells them that you will serve the Lord, and they must follow.

If you are in a situation where your spouse doesn't want to participate with the family altar time, do it anyway. Add him or her to your prayers, and win him or her over with your quiet, gentle Spirit. Don't be rude or demeaning. Be inviting and thankful for each step he or she takes to participate. If there are children in the home with the inactive spouse, make sure you do not seek to demonize the other spouse for his or her inactivity. Rather use it as an opportunity to pray for the "entire family" without singling out just "your mom" or "your dad." Demeaning the other parent can be counterproductive to the time together that should be marked with love, forgiveness, patience, longsuffering, and gentleness.

In my house we like to have our family altar time at dinnertime. This is our special time around the table where our family discusses our day, reads Scripture, and prays together. As the patriarch of the house, I lead the discussion, the prayer, and the teaching. I have two young children so I seek to relate the Gospel in a way they will understand. As they grow older I will assign them things to study like faith, hope, love, communion, salvation etc. so they can lead the discussion, Scripture reading, and prayer. It is important for them to read, study, and teach so they are prepared and feel comfortable enough to duplicate their actions in their home with their family. Our goal is to teach in a way that they’re able to teach others. My son is old enough to lead prayer, so we allow him to do it. His prayers have grown tremendously since he did it the first time. Seeing that growth means so much to me.

Family altar time is a great time of conversation and edification. Don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Start somewhere. Nowadays the television is the focal point of the home. Family altar time makes sure Christ is the foundation and priority.

Here are some important things to consider for family altar time.

1.     The most important subject to teach them is the Gospel! Tell them the bad news is that their sin is more than what they can pay. Then tell them the Good News is that Jesus has paid the price for us. Explain how sin kills, why God is to be revered, and the greatness of Christ. This is the most important lesson to teach. If you have to teach it over and over again, do it. Teach it until they understand it and are able to communicate it to others.

2.     Use the time to edify and encourage with Scripture, teaching, prayer, and conversation. It’s not a time of tearing down or trying to expose what someone doesn’t know. Pride shouldn’t be allowed in your altar time.

3.     Be consistent. Consistency is key to breaking through. Allow your family, especially your children, to see that you’re consistent in your altar time. They may not like it at first, but they must learn the importance of it. An important part of discipline is teaching, so be sure to teach them the importance of it. Make it interactive for them. It doesn't have to be stale. Have some fun with it. Just remember the importance of it.

4.     Don’t allow technology to take over the time. It’s easy to substitute human interaction and communication with a recorded sermon, a children’s video online, or a phone app that reads the Bible aloud. While those things can be wonderful additions, they shouldn’t take the place of your teaching, singing, praying, studying, and conversing. The children will appreciate dad much more than a recorded sermon. Possibly listen to the sermon from your pastor every Friday together. I'm not seeking to make a rule here. Instead, my goal is to point out the importance of more human interaction. Put the phones away, turn off the television, and speak with one another.

5.     It’s still possible to make time for your family altar even if your children do not live in the same home. This means you will have to be a little creative. The important thing is to establish a consistent schedule of communication and conversation. It could be a daily video chat, a biweekly conversation over ice cream, or sitting with them during their lunch. Be creative. Just remember the objective is to impress the words of God on their heart.

6.      Remember that "family altar time" is simply the designated time for family Bible study, worship, and edifying communication. It's not a time to tear down or ridicule. Spend the time focusing on the fullness of Christ. Children are having less interaction with Scripture nowadays with prayer taken out of schools. Just don't allow for that special time to be taken out of your home. Take this time seriously.

7.      Teach the importance of prayer by demonstrating it. Ask your children who and what they would like to pray for, and make special opportunities for them to pray. Teach them to pray for their family, their pastor, their church, missionaries, the sick and shut-in, the unsaved, the neighbors, our government leaders (no matter their political affiliation), and provision.

I pray these things assist you on your journey of starting a special time of edification in your home. For some, this will be the beginning. For others, this will be a continuation. Be encouraged never to stop. Ultimately, be led by the Holy Spirit.

I'm praying for you and your family.


For more information on this subject, please check out one of my sermons on building an altar in the home. Click here.

The Spirit of Division

Division is a tried and tested tactic of the enemy. He seeks to divide and conquer a unified body of believers. God calls us to be unified with one faith, one baptism, and one hope. There is only one body and one Spirit. We serve one Lord, and our service is to be sure. {Refer to Ephesians 4:1-6.} It is the devil's duty to destroy the bridge that links us together; to tear down families bonded together in unity; to ruin the relationship between husband and wife; to spoil the unity between parent and child. First Peter 5:8 tells us that he roars around like a lion seeking the weak and feeble to divide and devour. He stirs the body with strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances. We must be alert and vigilant to his ways or will risk being victims to his divisive practices.

There are many rogue churches today that were formed by angry, bitter, and rebellious persons. The enemy uses these divisive ways to bring confusion, which ultimately leads to division. He intoxicates the congregants that sit under his spell with pride, jealousy, lust, pettiness, gossip, and slander so they will be destructive with their words and unloving in their actions.

Families are not exempt from his tactics of delusion, division, and destruction. He has been working a plan for years to destroy the healthy image of the family. Ephesians 5:23 tells us that the husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church. It's a common practice of war to cut off the head of the enemy whenever he is captured. The enemy practices this by cutting of the strength, respect, presence, and activity of the man so the rest of the body, which is represented by the wife and children, goes lifeless and headless. He knows that destroying the head will ultimately kill the body. And the enemy knows that he can influence the church by dividing the family. He confuses the communication and intimacy between the husband and wife, which causes tension and strife. He confuses the communication between the parents and children, which causes disunity.

Division is dangerous. It's violent. It's unfortunate! It makes the body fight against itself. It turns husband against wife, children against parents, church against church, family against family, preacher against preacher, sheep against shepherd, and so on. It creates an environment of "us" versus "them".

Romans 16:17-18 encourages us to stay away from divisive persons. It commands us to avoid them so we do not imitate their behavior. We are commanded to live at peace, be peacemakers, and be unified. And we must remember that those with this violent tendency are many, but we should never allow their destruction ways to keep us from seeking to be at peace through Christ. For those who repent, we must practice the ministry of reconciliation while celebrating the divisive spell of the enemy has been broken over them. We do not war against the person, but rather the spiritual principality and rulers of darkness in high places. The person is being used to spread a message of disunity and destruction. We must be vigilant and watchful.

For more on this subject, check out my sermon entitled: "The Spirit of Division".

5 Tolls of Leadership

The cost of leadership isn’t cheap. There are many tolls you must pay. I’ve either paid these five tolls or I’m paying them now. You cannot go around them. You must go through them, pay the fee, and drive on. Staying back to negotiate the cost is a poor use of your time. Pay the toll and move on!

1.     Toll of Being Misunderstood. You can work hard to be all things for all people, but they will always find something to convict you. They will work hard to find evidence to validate their claims against. Their objective is to find fault in you. You become their whipping post; their target; their idol. Critics need a large enough target to aim at to fire their hate-filled shots. For many, YOU ARE THE TARGET! Let them fire at will, but resist the urge to fire back. The childish and immature look for someone or something to blame. Like children pointing blame at their parents, they will point it at you to deflect the attention away from their actions or lack thereof. Giving them a stage will make them think it's okay for them to perform. And as a father of two young children, trust me when I tell you that you don't want to sit in the audience of a drama-filled tirade. Your time and focus is best spent elsewhere. You can either focus on the critics or continue helping others. I choose the latter. It takes thick skin to lead. Many of them believe they could do your job much better than you. You cannot focus your valuable time and energy trying to prove or validate yourself to them. You must realize that you will be misunderstood. You will never be enough to them, and what you do will never be enough to please them. THAT CANNOT BE YOUR FOCUS! You must remain faithful to the calling you’ve been given and the people you are called to serve. And you must never forget that you cannot truly serve people if you’re in bondage to how they feel about you. Feelings are fickle! They change like the wind. Those who like you today will hate you tomorrow. You must mature above their ability to move you. Pay the toll of being misunderstood and move on.

2.     Toll of Sacrifice. To sacrifice is an act of love. Jesus became the sacrifice we needed for salvation. He is sufficient. We need nothing or no one else. I want you to think of a sacrifice as if it was an offering you’re surrendering for the betterment of someone else. Oftentimes the main thing you’re sacrificing is your time. As a leader you must be willing to sacrifice your time and energy for the betterment of others. You must be willing to put your plans to the side when duty calls. This is my reality as a pastor. I’m on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have a wife and two children. I also host several annual retreats and conferences, lead several businesses, and run a non-profit organization that’s focused on empowering men. I’ve had to sacrifice my time, money, and energy. I've had to go without sleep and food. It's the price we pay. This is a toll you’ll have to pay daily. Pay it and move on.

3.     Toll of Teaching. This is a toll many don’t realize they must pay, but it’s one of the most important of them all. Teaching others makes sure the information and legacy lives on from generation to generation. Throughout history traditions were passed down orally from generation to generation. They knew the importance of teaching the younger ones so the information and legacy would live on. A failure to teach is a dangerous mistake. Recognize those that want to learn and teach them. I know that I’m not effective as a leader until I have taught and trained others. Without successors the organization is destined to crumble. Develop a strong teaching plan, and do not abandon it. Some will fall away. That's fine! Just fill the gap, keep teaching, and move on.

4.     Toll of Standing Alone. This is an expensive toll to pay. It’s one that challenges you mentally and emotionally. God created us as relational people. Many aspects of life are centered around relationships like our relationship with Christ, our relationship with others, marriage, parenthood, mentorship, and so forth. Relationships are important, but there comes a time when you must stand alone! I’ve had to pay this toll several times. It’s when those around you abandon you. Even the Apostle Paul dealt with this when he stood before his accusers alone. There will come a time when you will stand alone without the support of those around you. Although this toll is costly, it teaches you to truly trust in the Lord. Pay it and move on.

5.     Toll of Being Focused. Distractions are everywhere. I’ve seen some of the most skilled leaders leave their posts because of the distractions around them. Oftentimes we as leaders are tempted to take on more than we can carry. We try to pick it up the slack of the idle while being weighed down by our own responsibilities. Being focused requires you to discover your strengths and operate in them while continuing to staff your weaknesses. My time is valuable, so I’m willing to delegate certain tasks to others so I’m able to remain focused. The inability to keep your priorities and remain on task can cost you more than what you’re willing to pay. While driving in Puerto Rico I went through the same poll three times. There was a side street I was supposed to exit off, but I missed it each time because I wasn’t focused. I paid that toll more than I should have. My prayer is that you remain focused so you don’t pay it more than you should.

Pay the tolls and move on! There's work to do.


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What's More Important?

My son, which is my 3-year-old mini-me, has been a gift and joy to me since he was born. He’s adventurous, witty, daring, and wants to wrestle multiple times a day. What strikes me is how similar we are in so many ways. He is my twin with the only difference being that he’s more outgoing then I was as a child. I attribute it to him being more active than I and having more of my support as his father, which was not something I had at his age. Nonetheless, he teaches me something new daily. He helps me to see things about myself that I’ve never thought of or things I never realized. On this particular day he taught me something that I will carry for the rest of my life.

I work from home. It has its highs and lows, but the highs definitely outweigh the lows. One of the greatest highs is the opportunity to be present in my home. I see my children daily, and we can spend the day together. We’re homeschooling our children, so we will get a lot of time together. And that’s a good thing. One of the many disadvantages about working from home is being able to be disturbed easily. My office is on the same level of the house as my children’s playroom. This means I am interrupted a lot. There’s nothing like being on an important conference call and your son bursts in the room to announce that he has pooped and needs someone to wipe his butt. Those moments are both embarrassing and priceless.

This particular day changed how I saw things in my relationship with him. While working in my office my son burst through the door like he always does. And I don’t want you to think my office is off limits to my children. They have access to me at all times no matter what I am doing or whom I am with. They take full advantage of it. On the day in question my son bursts in my office and lets me know that he wants me to play with him. Unfortunately I had deadlines to meet. It was important that I finished the project by 6pm that afternoon. It was 4pm when he burst in my office. I felt the pressure of what would happen if I did not finish. Having my son stare me down did not help the anxiety. I sat behind my desk fully focused on what I was doing. I looked over to see my 3-year-old son standing in front of me with his head down. He had his little lip stuck out. He was pouting. He continued to ask me over and over to play with him. I was fully focused on my work though. I told him I needed to finish my project. He turned away from me and proceeded to walk out the door. It was not five minutes after he left that I was convicted. The question I had to ask myself was, “What’s more important?” It was in that moment that I chose my work over my child. I put my assignment over him. That is never how I want my child, or family for that matter, to feel. I don’t want them to think they come behind anything. I quickly put my computer to the side, got up, and proceeded to go play with my son. I had to realize that I remembered those moments when I desperately desired for my dad to play with me as a child. I couldn't dare put my son through that same feeling.

My challenge for you is be present in every moment of your life. Take a day to ask yourself what’s more important. Consider all of your activities. Ask yourself what are you giving more value to. What are you choosing over your family? What’s more important? I know what it is like to feel like you’re not valuable because it seemed like your father chose something or someone else over you. That is not a good feeling at all. I believe many of my insecurities are a result of it. You may have a similar story. Please don’t allow the cycle to continue. Ask yourself what and who is more important in your life. Value them. Love on them. Give to them. Be present with them. Be active with them. As for me, I had to get up from my desk and wrestle with my son. After I allowed him to beat me a few times I took time to affirm him. I needed him to know that my work—no matter what it is—will never be more important than he. That goes for my wife and daughter as well. So, what or who is more important to you?