I could do that if…



If I had “that”, I could do “this”.  Have you ever heard a statement like that?  Or more importantly have you ever thought or spoken a statement like that?  I have heard it and I have used it.  In my experience working with people, those that have been most successful are those that have the ability to focus on what they have and put it to best use.  I write on this because I have personal experience on both sides of this topic.

During my 20’s and 30’s I believed many lies, below are 4 of them.

1)  If I made more money I would be able to save – Saving has always been a struggle.  Over the past decade I have seen our family income rise dramatically.  However, our savings did not.  Not until I realized that saving is a way of living, it can be done no matter what the income. Saving money is tied directly to the stewardship of everything else in my life,  My emotions, relationships, desires, and passions.  Saving financially is a by-product of these four areas being in balance in my life.

2)  If I had nicer things I would feel more fulfilled –   Huge lie!  They do bring momentary happiness but never fulfillment.  It can all be gone in a heartbeat.  The best way to enjoy nice things is when your fulfillment is based outside of them. Sharing nice things and giving nice things to others is where the fulfillment comes from.  We more than doubled the size of our home 3 years ago.  It was amazing to be in the first 6 months, after that it just became a house like any other.  I now enjoy this house the most when it is full of family and friends that I can share it with.

3)  If I didn’t stutter I could have more of an impact – verbal words don’t come easy for me. They never have.  This has been one of the greatest struggles for my entire life.  For many years I sat on the sidelines watching.  Waiting for a time that I would not stutter, hoping I would outgrow it or learn to overcome it. Wanting to join in conversations but keeping silent. Knowing the answer to a question but not speaking up.  Finally I began to realize that it would be with me for life.  Instead of seeing the limitations, I began to see that I still could speak,  I just have to work harder, choose my words carefully, and push through those times of speaking what I am thinking.  My stuttering in fact has become an asset.  It has helped people to connect with me in ways I can’t explain.  It has given others hope, and helps to keep me humble.  I may never be an amazing orator but I will continue to keep speaking no matter how much I stutter.

4)  If I had a better education I could be a better leader –  I finished grade 12 but never pursued any further education.  I now lead a multi-million dollar company and have often found myself thinking that perhaps I could do better if only I had a better education.  Instead of dwelling on what could have been, I now focus on the experience I have gained over the past 20+ years and use that to fuel my leadership.  I pursue learning new things, improving my knowledge, and surrounding myself with people that can help me in my leadership in areas that I am weak.

On which side are you?  Do you spend more time wishing you had more thinking you could do more?  Or do you seize upon that which you have and make the most of it?

I leave you with some verses that have been of great encouragement and comfort to me on my journey of learning to use what I have.

Philippians 4:11-13
 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.


Knowing what NOT to do…



What amount of time do you spend focusing on what you should not be doing?  I saw a quotation one time,  it read, “90% of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing what not to do”.  This stuck with me over the years and I think about it on a daily basis.  There are 3 perspectives to each action.  They are, I should not be doing this, I should be doing this, or it really doesn’t matter that I am doing this.   The 3rd one can end up having an unhealthy influence on our success.  Everything matters!

There are 3 key areas in knowing what not to do.
1) Relationships – knowing what not to do in your relationships
2) Wealth – knowing what not to do with your tangible assets
3) Time – knowing what not to do with your time

How do you decide?  You can’t decide unless you have core values.  Core values are just that, CORE.  They are the filter for making all decisions. Core values are not aspirational values, they must already exist within the person, group, or organization.   Using core values in our company enables fluid effective decision making in our process of deciding what not to do.  There is much less trial and error.  We can quickly move past new ideas or opportunities that do not match our core values, enabling us to focus on ideas and opportunities that can be accomplished through our core values. 

Next time you are standing at a fork in the road, instead of wondering what you should do, take some time to first cross off the list what you shouldn’t do.  Keep doing that and you will be left with what you should do.


Behold the Man upon a cross



Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Have a blessed Easter weekend!


Would you deny Him?


Several weeks ago I took a friend of mine to see the movie Son of God.  A few days after, we were attending a meeting and the leader asked if anyone had anything to share from the past week.  My friend spoke up and said the following. ” I went to see Son of God last week.  There was this guy called Peter in it, I just can’t believe that after having lived with Jesus, being taught by Jesus, seeing all the miracles and everything else that Peter would deny Jesus in his greatest hour of need”. You could have heard a pin drop.  My friend was in the midst of discovering who God is and what he did by sending his son to die for our sins.  And in the middle of this journey he simply could not understand how Peter could have denied Jesus.  

Often times we think that if we had more, learned more, saw more, or felt more that we would be more in our greatest hours of need.  The story of Peter is clearly laid out to teach us that our relationship with God is based on faith.  While experience is good and helps to grow our faith, in the beginning, the middle, and the end, all we have left to stand upon is our faith in God and his promises to us.

Examining this story of Peter many may say they would never deny Jesus if they had been in that position.  Maybe not, but are there other ways that you deny him?  Our actions of self reliance and self experience can speak volumes about our faith in God.  Do we trust ourselves more than God?   Do we deny God the opportunity to work in our lives?  

Denial is meant to be a daily part of our lives,  Self denial, the hardest denial there is.  But also the most rewarding there is.  We live in a world that has eroded the value of self denial, our culture sees it as weakness, not a strength.  Self denial in the pursuit of a vibrant relationship with God is truly life giving. It involves brokenness, healing, humility, perseverance, and love.   It is by denying ourselves that we learn to live our lives in a way in which we do not deny God.

As we approach this Easter weekend the questions I leave you with is what part does denial play in your life?  Do you deny God in how you live and relate?  Or do you seek to deny yourself in the pursuit of God?  When God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross it was the greatest display of self denial by both God and his Son.  They gave it all up that we might have life.   If you don’t know the man Jesus that I am talking about, take some time this week to answer who he is and what he means to you.  Have a wonderful, joy filled Easter weekend!


Have a Sycamore, Be a Sycamore



Most of us are familiar with the narrative of Zaccheaus – the man of small stature who risked humiliation to see Jesus, by climbing a sycamore tree (Luke 19:1-10).

There are entire sermons spoken on those 10 verses – mostly about the character of Zaccheaus and his amazing transformation. However, there is another, equally as powerful presence – the sycamore tree.

Now, you might think like I did originally: “What’s the big deal? It’s just a tree?” Once I looked past that surface assessment though, I began to realize what an integral part of the picture that tree really is.

We recently had a teaching series at my church called “Have a mentor, Be a Mentor.” The title was pretty self-explanatory and the series taught all about different ways this could be accomplished. Well, I was overwhelmed by it. I have never felt qualified to mentor someone – not wise enough or knowledgeable enough to be of any help to them.

When I pondered the significance of the sycamore tree, however, I realized I was wrong. That tree, in a sense, was Zaccheaus’ mentor. It was the means by which he was able to draw near to Jesus. It didn’t offer wise insight or supernatural intuition – it’s only role was simply to be there, in the moment, and provide the support from which Zaccheaus could reach out to discover Jesus.

If all it takes to be a mentor is just to be there and offer some support, like that sycamore tree did, then we are all qualified mentors as long as we are willing. I’m not saying that our bark won’t get scuffed and our leaves won’t get a little tattered, but don’t underestimate the power of your willingness to simply be present. If being a mentor is too overwhelming, be a sycamore instead.


My hope is built on nothing less



Stress… how often do we hear that word?  Seems like I hear it more and more,  It is the go to word or explanation when things go wrong,   As a CEO of a company that has over 50 employees I hear this word in many of my interactions on a daily basis.  A few months ago I began to ask people what they meant when they used the term ” I am stressed”, ” I was just stressed out”, etc…
What I found was something that has definitively changed how I relate to people that say they are stressed. It has also changed my life in how I confront the stress’s I find within myself.

In all of the answers I received to my question about the definition of stress there were 2 common threads .  One thread was the absence of hope.  For every degree that hope decreased stress increased.   The second was the presence of fear.  Stress and fear are intricately connected.  As hope disappears, stress increases,  as stress increases fear also increases directly related to the amount of stress.  Fear and stress will feed off of each other.

Consider this,  You are talking a walk in the woods along a deep ravine,  looking over to the other side of the ravine you spot a rather large bear.  Knowing that the ravine is between you and the bear you have great hope that the bear will not be able to jeopardize your safety.  High hope, low stress and low fear.  As you turn to continue walking down the path you see about 100 ft down the path yet another bear.  There is no barrier between you and the bear, within a split second you imagine the absolute worst things this bear may do to you.  Your hope disappears just as quickly and is immediately replaced with high levels of fear and stress.

This thought process can be overlaid on countless situations in our lives.  Your employer gives you a project and asks that you complete it within 30 days.  Your hope is high in the confidence that you will have it done.  Stress and fear are low.  7 days before the project is due and you have yet to begin, your hope collapses that you will meet the deadline and is replaced with stress and fed by the fear of what will happen.  You mind has no problem conjuring up countless painful outcomes to this situation.

I am not suggesting that we can live stress free lives, live is difficult and unexpected things occur.  I get that,  but I am confident that if we understand where our stress is coming from that we will be able to quell the power it seeks to exert over us.  My question to you today is where is your hope?  What is your hope built on?
There is an old hymn I remember singing as a child.  It has taken almost 40 years to understand the truth of it.

  • My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
  • On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
    All other ground is sinking sand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.

I encourage you to look at what you place your hope in.  If you find yourself continually living in a perpetual state of stress and fear know that there is hope.  Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Be hopeful!

Does truth really matter?



Over the past few weeks I have had several conversations that have pressed me into deeper examination of some convictions and beliefs that I find within my heart. Where have they come from, what do they really mean, and what impact do they have on my life?

In the wake of several “religious” movies released recently the inevitable debates of how accurate or truthful they are has been the topic of many posts, tweets, and conversations. This is not a a review of any of them, however, I wanted to mention something that has stood out to me.

In a large percentage of the conversations, tweets, or posts I have read there is a comment that seems prevalent. That comment is “at least they are talking about God”. At first that may seem like a very good thing. But upon a deeper look is that really a good thing? Is that enough to just be talking about God? Where is truth? What is truth? Does is matter?

Take for example, your child is taking math at school, he comes home and tells you that his teacher told him 2 + 2 equals 5. You immediately call the school, take them to task for having a teacher that is using his own interpretation of the fundamentals of math. The school responds, just be happy the teacher is talking about math, would you except that?

Before you jump all over me for comparing religious beliefs to mathematics, I am simply stating that truth should matter, It should matter to you and I , and we should in kindness, love, and mercy stand for the truths we know, teach the truths we know, and live the truths we know.

Throughout the new testament Paul gives us repeated examples in teaching us how to live in truth. Don’t give up the battle for truth, John 8:31-32 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


Margins: Not just blank space


When I was younger I used to think that margins were a waste. Every waking minute was meant to be filled with activities to minimize boredom or “wasted time.” There was never a time when the TV wasn’t on or I wasn’t working. I liked to stay as busy as possible.

The older I get, the more I realize that those quiet moments – or pauses between scheduled activities – should be cherished. Sometimes I will deliberately create them and go off to a quiet corner of the house.

Within those margins I can meditate, read, and explore God’s leading in my life. I can reflect on past and present experiences. I can soak in some scripture or maybe some inspiring music. Even sitting in complete silence, allowing my mind to “shut down” or wander can be very therapeutic.

It is in these margins where I find I can grow as a person. It’s hard to stop and analyze myself when I’m in the thick of it but to really explore my motives and decisions when the pressure is off, has been quite beneficial to me and my personal growth.

I challenge us to take advantage of every opportunity for margins, as they are sometimes few and far between. They are investments in ourselves and our well-being.


Whats your perspective?


Have you ever sat at the end of a day and wondered what happened?  How it seemed to all go wrong?  Why did everyone seem to misread, misrepresent, and misinterpret most things you said and did?  I have had more than one of those days,  in fact I think I still have a lot of them.

As a leader my struggle in days like these is my desire to have positive reactions to my decisions and ideas.  When I make a decision or bring forth an idea and receive negative reactions,  I can immediately begin to second guess my decision or idea.   This reaction on my part usually leads  to my becoming defensive and reactionary to emotions in the situation.   Over the years I have battled to control my emotions, with mild success.  What has helped though,  is to learn to change my perspective.  After all, our emotional responses are so often rooted in our current perspectives.

More important to me above anything else is my relationship with God through faith in Him.  In my faith I also believe that God is the creator of and sustains all things. He cares about even those things we may seem to think of as beneath Him.  It is with this in mind that I actively seek to have God change my perspective to be in alignment with His. God’s son Jesus Christ said he was here to do His father’s will and nothing else,  Jesus also said we were to imitate Him,  therefore we are called to the purist of God’s will.  There are men far more skilled and qualified to write on God’s will so I will not enter into those waters,  but I will say that even in my small understanding I have come to realize that God’s will includes me and the events of my life.

The clutter of confusion falls away for me when God aligns my sight with His perspective of my daily situations and how His will is active in each of them.   I see opportunities instead of obstacles,  lessons instead of mistakes, freedom instead of bondage, possibilities instead of inevitability, people instead of problems, and purpose instead of pain.

Be challenged to examine your perspective!


Paying attention isn’t free


I struggle with paying attention.  My life coach once told me,  “Winston you have the shiny ball syndrome”.  I can be in the middle of a deep conversation and I see a shiny ball bounce by and it immediately captures my full attention.  I refer to myself as the rabbit hunter, as I so often find myself wandering down yet another rabbit trail.  

One of the definitions of attention is the action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.  There is a cost to paying attention to someone or something.  It requires our willingness to put things down, adapt our schedules, learn new things, widen our horizons,  at times putting others needs above our own.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone while they were texting on a phone or typing on a computer?  

Few things send a more dramatic signal to someone than not giving them your full attention.  Unfortunately some pride themselves on multitasking and think it a skill to be able to participate in multiple things at once. It is in fact becoming a commonly accepted trademark of our culture rarely challenged. For me the more important skill is being able to give someone my full attention.  Letting them know that what they are about to say to me is important and that I care.  It also shows up in my work,  giving my full attention to one task results in better quality and higher efficiency.  

Examine your relationships, conversations, your work.  What attention do they receive?   When someone comes to you to have a conversation can they be assured that you will give them your full undivided attention?  When you are given a task to complete will you truly give your full attention to that task?  Challenge yourself and those around you to focus your attention, put down the phone, turn away from the tv, stop what you are doing.  May your actions be that of taking special care of someone or something.