categories: Uncategorized, development, personal, time management
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July 6th, 2011

by Craig Groeschel

The Imaginary Deadline

For years I struggled with managing my time effectively. One tool I learned that dramatically increased my effectiveness is the “imaginary deadline.”

If I’ve got a project without a deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate or work halfheartedly. When an assignment has a hard deadline, I start faster, work smarter and focus better.

  • Instead of thinking, I need to have my sermon finished before I preach this weekend, I have a Wednesday-at-noon deadline. It’s not anyone else’s deadline. It’s mine.
  • Rather than saying this video needs to be finished by next week, I complete all videos by Wednesday at 2 pm. Again, this is my deadline.
  • Instead of deciding to read my Bible plan some time during the day, I have mine read before I leave my house.

These are all imaginary deadlines. But when I treat them as real, my productivity and efficiency increase.

I’d love to hear from you if you do something similar.


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categories: creativity, personal, recommendations, spiritual development
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June 16th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

Swerve Favorites: Strategic Disruptions - Disrupt Your Rhythms

[Repost from May 19, 2008]

The longer you do ministry, the easier it becomes to minister from memory. You tend to do what you used to do. It is safe, comfortable, and convenient.

To stay spiritually and creatively fresh, I suggest “strategic disruptions.” Today we’ll talk about disrupting life’s rhythms.

Because people can be creatures of habits, life often looks relatively similar from day to day, week to week, and year to year.

I suggest defining your rhythms—then disrupting them.

  • If you drive the same way to work, take a different road.
  • If you study the Bible the same way, try a different approach.
  • If you listen to the same type of music, tune into something entirely different.
  • If you read the same books, stretch yourself. Read out of your comfort zone.
  • If you order the same thing off the menu, venture out and try something you’ve never had.

By disrupting your rhythms, you may experience just enough to change your perspective slightly. Suddenly, you could be more sensitive to hear something new from God.


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categories: church, communication, leadership, personal, recommendations
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June 14th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Swerve Favorites: Training Your Church

[Repost from April 16, 2009]

If you don’t train your church what boundaries are appropriate, you likely won’t  have many.

If you are the senior pastor, you can set the tone publicly.

I’d suggest a few of the following:

  • Publicly communicate when your day off is. Talk about how important that day is to your family.
  • At appropriate times, explain the challenges of your schedule. Some people think you only work on Sundays. Explaining some of what you face will create understanding.
  • Create some level of screening if possible. Even if you are a solo pastor with no staff, a volunteer could help you with your email or answer phones. Many things you do daily can be handled by capable volunteers. You don’t need to know and do everything.
  • Be willing to “go dark” at least once a year. You might explain to the church that you’ll be away with your family and not taking calls for a week. Ask your lay leader to be in charge. I’d suggest you give a phone number to one person who has permission to contact you with only dire emergencies. You need at least one week a year to disconnect.
  • Don’t feel pressure to reply to emails instantly. I like all emails returned, won’t be slave to them.
  • Protect at least one night a week for dates or family nights. Explain that Monday or Thursday or whatever is the one night you protect. When someone asks for counseling or a wedding rehearsal on that night, don’t do it.
  • Be willing to say “no.” As a pastor who loves people, you’ll say “yes” to many invitations. Don’t be afraid to occasionally or often say “no.” Don’t feel pressure to give an explanation. A simple, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t make it” is enough.

Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the boundaries that will help you go the distance.

What are your thoughts?


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categories: books, personal
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April 20th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

A Peek Inside The Christian Atheist

I’m humbled by so many of you offering kind words about The Christian Atheist. My prayer in writing this book is that people all over the spiritual map would be moved to a more intimate and fruitful relationship with Christ. Today, I want to share part of a chapter that people have let me know they found helpful.

Worry Is not Your Friend

Worry (or not trusting God) has been a significant issue in my life. Although I believe in God, I’ve trusted more in my own abilities than I have in his faithfulness. For Christian Atheists, our worry proves we don’t trust in God as we claim to. We think, I know God’s a good God and all that, but I’ve got this situation handled. And when it turns out we don’t have it handled, then it falls to us — not to God — to fix it.

Worry reminds me of my feelings about snakes. I hate snakes. I hate them worse than Indiana Jones does. It was a serpent that seduced all of mankind into the fall, after all. Coincidence? I think not. Snakes in general freak me out, but bringing venomous vipers into the equation adds another diabolical dimension. My family lives in a heavily wooded area, where we’re basically besieged by poisonous snakes.

One day, when my son Bookie (whose real name is Stephen Craig) was about two years old, he was playing on our front porch. We were all doing different things around the yard when suddenly we heard Bookie squealing with delight. He was jumping up and down, calling out, “My fwend! My fwend! Daddy, look! He’s my fwend!”

I strolled over and asked, “Bookie, where’s your fwend? Is it an imaginary fwend?”

Bookie chirped, “No, Daddy!” and pointed excitedly.

“Look! My fwend!” And there, directly at his feet, was a small rattlesnake. In case you didn’t already know, a rattlesnake is not your fwend. I jerked Bookie away from the snake, then stomped on the snake’s head and crushed it —  immediately after I first cut off its head with a shovel.

Many of us treat worry like our fwend. We don’t consciously think or talk about it that way, of course, but how we live tells a different story. We clutch worry to our chests like our favorite stuffed animals from childhood. We have many different euphemisms to mask this sin:

“I’m concerned about something.”
“I have some issues I’m working through.”
“I have a lot on my mind.”

Using such substitute terminology makes me sound like I’m really smart, like I’m an important person with big things going on. What they don’t do is make me sound like I’m a worrywart.

But no matter what you call it, worry is still sin. In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. Romans 14:23 says, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” That’s pretty clear to me. Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin.

When we live by faith, we believe that God has everything under control. But if we start to worry, how we live says the opposite. If we are worried about losing our jobs, we are essentially saying that our jobs are our providers. But isn’t God our provider? What if God has something else planned for us? And what if, as unpleasant as it may be to think about, the path to that “something else” is through some pain? Will we still trust in God to provide during that time?

Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It’s choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). In this verse, you could also easily translate “fear and timidity” as “anxiety, tension, and worry.” Fear doesn’t come from God. It’s a tool the evil one uses to distract us from our true purpose here.

In Matthew 6:25,  Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” The Greek word Jesus uses for “life” is psuche (SuE-kay). It doesn’t just mean your breathing life, the force that makes your body go. It actually means every aspect of your life, taken together in total: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. It means your yesterday, today, and future life. Jesus is simply saying don’t worry about anything.

The Christian Atheist may do everything humanly possible to ensure a situation’s positive outcome, and still worry, I can’t just let this sit. I have to do more. But if we’ve honestly done everything we can, by definition we can’t do anything more. And in many cases nothing’s going to go wrong anyway; there’s really nothing you can do about a nonexistent worst-case scenario. So in our powerlessness we settle for the only thing left within our control: we worry.

Worry is a control issue.  People are often obsessed with trying to control their circumstances. And while some things in life are within our ability, many things aren’t.

Just last night I sat on a plane, hoping to make a connecting flight. As we were grounded on the runway, time seemed to fly, chipping away at my chances to make my connection. Even though I had zero control over the situation, I glanced continuously at my watch, consumed with worry — as if my worry had any bearing on the outcome. (In case you’re wondering, after our plane landed, I could have given Usain Bolt a run for his money, sprinting across the airport just in time to catch my final leg home.)

Worry indicates we’re not willing to let God handle certain things —  at least not in his way, and certainly not in his time. Matthew 6:27 asks a practical question: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” I wonder how many hours worry has shaved off the end of my life? (Now I’m really worried.)

Fortunately, God’s power and love have enabled me to genuinely overcome much of my worry and unjustified desire to control. I know I still have a long road ahead of me, but I’m going to share with you some of my journey so far.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy yet, you can order it through any of these booksellers:, Barnes & Noble,, and Mardel


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categories: development, mentoring, personal
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April 1st, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

The Meeting

Once you establish your own personal board of directors, I’d suggest you meet as a group one to three times a year.

(I’ve done this with individual mentors but never had them all together. I’ll be doing it this year.)

If a meeting in person doesn’t work, you might try some form of conference call.

I’ve already got a list of personal questions to ask my board.

What is one question you’d ask?


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categories: development, mentoring, personal
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March 30th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Your Informal Board

Marcus Buckingham implied that all of us have an informal board of directors (“informal” is my phrase, not his). These are the people who regularly speak into our lives (although they may or may not even know it).

  • Some people are helpful. Others are not.
  • Some propel us forward. Others hold us back.
  • Some are objective. Others are dangerously biased.

The people closest to us will often determine our destiny.

Who currently serves on your informal board? Do they know the important role they play in your life?


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categories: communication, development, mentoring, personal
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March 29th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Your Personal Board of Directors

Life Church has a board of directors to oversee the affairs of the church. This board is comprised of three pastors, three lay people, and five staff members. Each person brings a unique set of gifts and perspectives that are invaluable for our church.

Recently I heard both Marcus Buckingham and Ken Blanchard talk about establishing your own personal board of directors. Instead of just inviting great leaders to speak into your church or ministry, why not establish a board to meet regularly to speak into your life?

This week I’ll write about developing your own personal board of directors.

If you currently do this, I’d love to hear from you.


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categories: Uncategorized, communication, development, leadership, personal, relationships
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February 8th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel


Someone said, “Perception is reality except for self-perception.” The first part of that statement is debatable, but the second part is unquestionably true. (Anyone who doesn’t believe it only needs to watch the tryouts of American Idol.)

Accurate self-perception is extremely difficult to obtain—especially for successful leaders.

Instead of becoming more aware of weaknesses and vulnerabilities, flourishing leaders can easily become increasingly blinded.

One would think that success draws wise advisors. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. The higher one rises in any organization, the more likely others will tell them what they want to hear, rather than the truth.

This week we’ll talk about how to become increasingly self-aware so we can grow as leaders and as people.


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