3 Ways My Parents Taught Me To Love God And His Church

FBR t-shirtLoving His Church

In the month of September, my church has been celebrating our love for our church. We’ve been wearing special “I love my church” T-shirts on Saturdays all around the Metro Kansas City area. We’ve been taking “selfies” of ourselves wearing these T-shirts around town. We’ve been writing social media posts about why we love our church. We’ve even been hashtagging our love on social media with the hashtag #loveFBR on these posts and pictures.

As we have celebrated our love for our church over the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting back on my childhood and how I learned to love any church I’ve ever been a member.

The reason I love God and His church is primarily due to the example of my parents. As a boy growing up in my parents’ home, I learned to love my church through watching my parents love their church in 3 ways.

3 Ways My Parents Loved Their Church

  1. They gave of their time. They viewed church attendance as a priority, so anytime the church doors were open, we were there. On Wednesday nights, we were there for Awana ministry. On Sunday mornings, we were there for Sunday School and worship service. We would go back for Sunday night services. We also would also attend special missions conferences and revivals (remember those?). And now, as an adult, I’m at church almost every day, because I work for a mega church!
  2. They gave of their talents and abilities. My dad is an artist – he paints and sculpts, and he used those talents to help the church on various projects. He also served as a club leader in the Awana program. I can still remember him wearing his uniform and us kids having to wear those bright red neckerchiefs and the little plastic slides that held them in place. My dad also drove a bus for bus ministry, picking up kids and bringing them to church. My mom is a singer, and she sang solos as well as sang in the choir. She gave me a love and passion for using my musical abilities to serve God and His church in worship.
  3. They gave of their financial resources. My parents taught me how to give at the level of 10% of my income and beyond. Every week, my parents would write their check, place it in a giving envelope, and take their envelope with them to church and drop it in the offering plate. Now, as an adult in an age of electronic giving, my tithes and offerings are automatically given online each week.

In Romans 12:6-8 (NIV), we read these words:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

We demonstrate our love for God and His church through giving of our time, talents, and finances.

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:

Questions: Do you demonstrate your love for God and His church on a consistent basis? Are you giving faithfully of your time, talents, and finances? What talents and abilities has God given you that you could invest back into His Kingdom?

Who Else Wants To Raise Children, Successfully?

Photo by Jose Roco

Photo by Jose Roco

My Daughter’s Essay Was An Important Reminder

“Well, Daddy, I wrote about you.”

My oldest daughter and I were having a quick phone conversation right after school about how her day went. I asked her my usual questions, “How was your day? Anything special happen at school?”

She probably told me that not much exciting happened. Then, I probably asked her a few more questions about some specific subjects. These questions led us into a conversation about an essay she had to write in one of her classes. The assignment was to write about a person you know who has set goals and accomplished them.

She chose to write about me!

Actually, I was somewhat taken back when she said this. A tear showed up in the corner of one eye. We’ve never had any kind of “official” conversation about goals or goal-setting that I can recall. I’ve never shared with her any of my life goals.

I have been a goal-setter pretty much my entire life, though. Somehow, my daughter picked this up from me without words. Over the last 13 years, she’s been observing my actions.

She then went on to tell me my list of goals that I had accomplished from her viewpoint as my daughter. I was totally blown away.

At the same time, I was also reminded that what we do in front of our children has a bigger impact than we truly realize.

Actions Speak Louder

We’ve probably heard this statement a million times, “actions speak louder than words” or “more is caught than taught.” I am still amazed, though, at the number of parents who don’t seem to understand that what they do in front of their kids each day makes a HUGE impression on them, way more than words do.

Your words either support your actions, or they contradict them. Unfortunately, I suspect that many parents have words and actions that are complete polar opposites.

Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit. They listen to what we say, but more importantly, they watch everything we do.

Get Into Alignment

If you struggle in this area of right words but wrong actions in front of your children, then there is no better time to change this aspect of your parenting than today.

The best time to make any kind of parenting change is now; not tomorrow, or when the sun, moon, and stars line up.

Start with a change in just one area. Begin by making just one single positive action in front of your children. Then when that takes hold as a habit over a few weeks, then add another positive action and follow the pattern.

Small changes over time have a greater success rate than trying to change everything about your parenting all at once.

Be sure your actions support the words you speak to your kids. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Questions: Do you struggle in this area of alignment between your words and actions with your children? If so, what small change could you begin with today that would make a huge impact on their development over time?






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8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile

linkedin_logo_11I Love LinkedIn

I was recently accused by a buddy of mine of having too slick of a LinkedIn profile. With a sly wink, I said “No way. I’m sure mine’s a pretty basic profile.” I was exaggerating though. Over the last few months, I have purposely put a lot of work into creating an above average profile.

I love LinkedIn for a lot of different reasons. It’s a great social web platform that allows professionals to make professional connections instead of just friends or followers. These same professionals also publish some great articles as well as post links to articles out on the web.

It’s also a great place to have a quasi-home base platform to showcase you as a professional. I view a quality LinkedIn profile as an online resume on steroids!

8 Characteristics Of The Best LinkedIn Profiles

Over the last several months as I have been designing my own LinkedIn profile, I have read one book, scanned several web articles, and viewed the profiles of other professionals. I believe the following 8 characteristics represent the best practices of stand out profiles.

  1. A recent, decent photo of yourself. Now, you would think that this small, basic item wouldn’t need to be included, but there are a lot of boring profiles with no photos. C’mon people. Uploading a simple digital picture of yourself is not that difficult. People that want to make a connection with you would really like to see what you look like. Just do it already!
  2. An interesting summary. What makes you, well you? What unique qualities do you bring to the professional world? Don’t just list a bunch of certifications you have. Really tell us what makes you an all-star employee, writer, business person, etc.
  3. Quality recommendations. If you’re a half-way decent, friendly person and have enough pull with people, you can politely ask several of your best LinkedIn connections for a recommendation. Ask them to focus their recommendation on your personal character and specific, best work practices.
  4. Projects. See if you can add 3-4 larger-scale projects in which you have been heavily involved. Also, try to link up fellow team members who are also on LinkedIn to these various projects with you.
  5. Link up projects and recommendations. Link the proper projects and recommendations to the appropriate positions of experience you have held or currently hold.
  6. YouTube videos. If you have any decent video clips of you doing what you do, then you need to get these uploaded to YouTube and linked up to the appropriate work experience. I recommend using Apple’s iMovie to edit your videos as needed. So, for example, if public speaking is part of a particular position or passion, then you need to put a video of you speaking in public. If you’re a musician, then you need to get a video of you playing your instrument, and so on.
  7. Publications. In the information age, you should be known for publishing something, anything, whether it’s your personal blog, business writing, ebooks, or traditional print publishing. Get these listed and add samples and links to your work wherever possible.
  8. Get some endorsements. A unique quality about LinkedIn is that people can give you quick, little endorsements on your various skills and abilities. I put this last on the list, because personally for me, it’s just way too easy for people to endorse you for any and all areas of skills and expertise. I have a bunch of endorsements from people who barely know me, so I question the overall credibility of them. But, there are others out there who believe they are useful to get a snapshot of your best skills and areas of expertise.

My Profile

My personal “front door” profile can be viewed at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joneswlarry

You can view all 8 of these characteristics on my own profile if you are connected with me on LinkedIn. If you are not a connection, then I extend an invitation to connect with me.

Questions: So, what do you think of my list? Am I missing any additional important characteristics of a quality LinkedIn Profile?

How’s your profile looking? What do you need to add or fix to your own profile?

5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life

Photo by Qrodo Photos

Photo by Qrodo Photos

What Is Elegance?

The clean dismount of a gymnast from the balance beam. The smooth playing motions of a professional cellist. The foil handling of a fencing expert. The passionate speech of a CEO. The fluid hand motions of a symphony orchestra conductor. The graceful walk of a model down the runway.

When I consider elegance, I think of these types of activities.

The classic definition of elegance is as follows (from Dictionary.com):

elegance or elegancy (ˈɛlɪɡəns)

  • dignified grace in appearance, movement, or behaviour
  • good taste in design, style, arrangement, etc
  • something elegant; a refinement

The origin of the actual word is French (élégance) from. c.1500 and means tasteful, correct, harmonious, choice, of speech or prose.

In days gone by, people of means and “refinement” went to finishing or charm schools (mostly girls) to learning the fine art of the social graces.

While many of these types of schools are no longer functioning today, I believe something can be said of the importance of living a life of elegance. There are so many crude and rude people in today’s society. This makes no sense to me, especially living in the modern age of the 21st century. I would like to think that we as a society have grown beyond crude and rude, right?

In this post, I’d like for us to consider living a life filled with more elegance, more grace, and more refinement.

5 Ways to Live With More Elegance

  1. Dress up more. Today’s society has gone too far over into the casual appearance. If you really want to make an impact with those around you, consider “suiting up” on a regular basis like Barney Stinson. Also, wear quality clothes that fit you well. If yours currently don’t fit very well, then get them professionally tailored or budget for more that do. Be classy and dignified in your appearance.
  2. Watch your table manners. Using your hands to eat, licking your fingers, and wiping your dirty hands on your shirt will probably earn you a bad rap, especially in a professional setting. Consider using the “old school” table manners with your napkin and left hand down in your lap. Use the proper silverware to bring the food to your mouth. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t speak with food in your mouth, and so on.
  3. Float across the room. Do you walk like a trucker? Do you slouch? Do you hang your head and look down at the floor? Watch how today’s “power people” walk into a room. They walk with confident grace and ease.
  4. Speak with dignity. Have you ever recorded yourself speaking? Does your speech sound stilted, or do you have a pleasing tone and flow to your speaking? You might consider working with a vocal coach or joining Toastmasters International.
  5. Listen to more elegant music. I think some of the most elegant, intelligent music ever written comes from the Renaissance and Baroque time periods. Dial these two stations up on Pandora occasionally for a great “ear break” from today’s pop music noise. I’m listening to these two stations as I write this post.

Are You Living A Life Of Elegance?

How elegant is your life? Do you dress for success? Do you watch your manners at power lunches? Do you walk into a conference room with grace and ease? Do you have a pleasant speaking voice? Do you listen to quality music?

I would contend that living with more elegance in these five areas can dramatically improve your professional as well as personal life.

How about you? Do you have additional areas that you strive for elegance in your life? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.






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How Do You Define Excellence For Yourself Or Organization?

Photo by Chandra Marsono

Photo by Chandra Marsono

Excellence Is Subjective

Excellence is a moving target. Depending on the time of day, our physical health, how rested we are, as well as a number of different factors, we will perform at varying levels of excellence.

Also, depending on how well we have prepared ourselves as well as the people around us, this will determine how excellent we can perform in a given task or project.

Typically, though, we end up measuring our excellence through the prism of a model or mentor. Let me give you two examples from my world.

Models And Mentors

For many years now, I have conducted volunteer church orchestras. Whenever my musicians need to learn a new piece of music, I normally play them a very clean, solid demo recording of this new music. This gives them a “standard” from which to learn the song. My orchestra now has a “benchmark” for which to strive for to play the song with excellence.

Now, will my volunteer orchestra ever hit the demo recording level of musical excellence? No, probably not, but at least they understand how a particular song should sound. They get the sound of it in their musical ear, and they will do what they need to do to try to reach that same level of excellence. Even though they probably won’t reach the same level of excellence as the model, they are at least inspired to a higher level as a result of having a model to compare their playing ability to.

Let me give you another example.

Photo by apgroner

Photo by apgroner

As an orchestra conductor, I have had a number of excellent teachers, mentors, and role models. I have learned a tremendous amount about conducting from all of them. I have practiced really hard to become at least as good of a conducting musician as they are. They have served as a benchmark of excellence for me. They have pushed me to at least their level and beyond.

A really cool thing happens though, when you start moving beyond demos, models, mentors, and benchmarks. You and your organization start blazing a new trail of excellence in whatever you do. You become the standard everyone else is trying to reach!

Best In The World (or pretty darn close)

The ultimate goal for you as an individual or as an organization should be to become the best in the world. Why settle for third or fourth place? If you believe that you have the capacity to become the best in your area of expertise, why not go for it?

As you strive to become best in the world, be on the lookout for those who have already established themselves as best in the world. Hold them up as your standard of excellence.

Then, see if you can meet and surpass their level of excellence. Look for unique ways you can differentiate your level of excellence from theirs. Take your personal or organizational excellence up to the next level so that you can stand out from the crowd. Move into the arena of best in the world and watch others follow your leadership.

It’s a cool place to be. Go for it and see what happens!