Lessons from the @NBA Finals #StephCurry #LebronJames

NBA Finals 2016 Curry LebronAnyone who knows me know that I love the game of basketball.  I always have.  I enjoy watching – it does not matter whether it is NCAA, NBA or WNBA.  Hey, I will even watch the Olympics just for basketball.  It is a great game filled with fun, speed, excitement and passion.

This may have been the most interesting playoffs in the NBA that I have ever seen.  More blowouts and less close games.  The finals were no different except for Game 7.  The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. The Golden State Warriors – arguably two of the greatest teams in the last decade with two of the greatest players.  It was a GREAT game to watch.  The best of the 2016 post-season.

So as I watched all 7 games (even on vacation) I started thinking of some life lessons – here’s just a  few thoughts I scratched down:

  1.  Winning is never guaranteed. You have to work hard.  Winning is not just handed to you.  You can’t expect to win – you have to prepare to win.
  2. Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  We need both in the game of life.  The thrill of winning and the agony of defeat.  They are great teachers.
  3. Losing is painful – in fact, very painful.  I have been on losing teams.  It hurts, but it always has a lesson.
  4. Attitude is everything.  You can’t “lose it” repeatedly.  There are consequences.  Just ask Draymond Green.  Your attitude determines your altitude – it will take you higher or bring you lower.
  5. People on social media say stupid things.  I can’t believe how people attack, slander and curse out people who don’t perform or who are not your “player/team.”
  6. Competition reveals character.  Your character is often seen in the difficult times.  Competition will always show who/what you really are.
  7. There is always next season.  Some times we will lose, even in life, and we have to always keep our focus on the NEXT.  We can’t change what happened, but we can work very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  8. Some things just don’t matter.  At the end of the day basketball is a game, for the players its their livelihood, but for the fans its a game.  I am not going to lose sleep over the fact that GSW lost.  In the scheme of things its just doesn’t matter that much.

Here’s two quotes from two amazing players:

“You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you succeed. You’re not gonna succeed all the   time and I know that.” (Lebron James - 3x MVP)
"I do a little sign on the court every time I   make a shot or a good pass and i pound my chest and point to the sky – it symbolizes that I havea heart for God. It’s something that my mom and I came up with in college and I do it every timeI step on the floor as a reminder of who I’m    playing for." (Steph Curry - 2x MVP)

Ways To Handle Conflict

Everyone faces conflict.  It does not matter what position you hold or life path you choose.  Conflict with people is inevitable.  There will be those who disagree with you and those you disagree with.  You will experience negativity, gossip and the occasional direct attack.  Conflict is inevitable, but we all have to learn HOW TO handle it.

Go to the person.  It is okay to talk to somebody who may help you process “how to” have the conversation, but be careful who you speak with.

Speak to the issue.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Don’t “save it for the last 60 seconds.” Let the person know why you are meeting and then talk it through.

Go into detail.  Leave nothing left to guess work or wonder.  Talk about everything related to the topic to be resolved.

The conversation has to be for the good of the relationship and so each of you can walk out better.  If you are not ready to help them develop you are probably not ready for the conversation. You will get there.

Be very clear what you expect and the outcome you would like.  Especially if you are an employer or supervisor – make sure you tell them the way you will resolve this issue is by _________.  Don’t leave room for the mysterious.

Several years ago I was in a room with Brian Houston and he said, “Sometimes you have to choose what you tolerate.”  So true.  But then there are times when you can’t tolerate the conflict, issues or problems any more.  That’s when it is time to take action.


Legacy. It’s more important than what you know. It is who you are and what you pass on.  My grandparents handed down a legacy. They both came to faith in Christ later on in life.  My grandfather, Leonard Janik, born in 1914 – served in the military and retired from the railroad – and my grandmother, Genevieve Skarupinski, born in 1916 and worked most of her adult life as a seamstress.

They both inspired me in different ways.  My grandfather taught me maturity, wisdom and endurance. My grandmother taught me tithing, a love for God’s Word and reading.  I learned from “those with a good example” how to pattern my life.  They gave us more than an inheritance or a savings account … they passed on to our family a spiritual legacy of faith, hope and love.

Pass The BatonYou and I have the same opportunity – to build a legacy of faith … to inspire the next generation … to create a better tomorrow for everyone who will come after us.  You see, we are called to PASS THE BATON of faith.  A relay team in track only has one person run at a time, but when they finish their lap they must pass the baton to the next runner … that exchange is critical.  The baton has to be passed at the right moment.


I believe we must begin to pass the baton of faith in greater ways to the next generation.  As Keith Shaw, Pastor of Shirley Assembly of God Church says, “The race is won or lost in the exchange.”

My mission as a pastor is to continually pass the baton … to inspire people … no matter their age to run their race … my mission is to pass the baton.  Each of us has a baton to pass to the next generation.  Pass the right baton.

When Failure Shows Up.

failure-is-success-in-progressOver the last 43 years of living and 20 years of leading I have had my share of failures.  I have tried things that did not work out, attempted new ideas that bombed and pushed a direction only to discover it was a dead end.  Leaders will always experience failures.  In fact, if you have not failed at anything you are probably not leading anything.

Failure is the partner of success.  They work together.  You really can’t have one without the other.  No one is immune to failure.  There is no known cure for it.  But you don’t have to just endure it … you can learn from it.  Failure can become the greatest teacher.

What do you do when failure shows up?

  1. Take responsibility.  Own what you need to own.  Was there something that you did that contributed to the failure?
  2. Reject blame.  Take blame yourself for unseeable outcomes. You don’t know everything. Some failures come because life changes too quick.
  3. Learn something.  What lesson can you learn?  There is always something to learn in every experience we face.
  4. Find a new way.  Be a problem solver.  Discover a new way to build, attack or achieve what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t let failure stop you.

The worst thing you can do when failure shows up is hide.  Get in the open.  Be more visible.  Stare failure in the face.  Failure is not final.  Step into your new season and next direction.  God just sent you on a new journey.  Smile.  Enjoy the ride.

Leadership Happens Behind The Scenes


I have discovered that most leadership decisions, actions and movements happen behind the scenes long before it is scene in the spotlight.  Public ideas come from private thoughts.  Public achievements start in private dreams.

There are too many people who ONLY want to lead in public eye, but they have a hard time figuring out that leadership happens behind the scenes.  It is seen in what others cannot see.  The hours of strategic planning, creative thought and personal prayer.  You see, a lot of people what to experience the public success that others have, but they are unwilling to pay the private price.

When Mary and I first started Church Unleashed in 2008 I started to catalog the hours of prayer that I have prayed for our church.  I stopped keeping the log … but I the last time I logged I figured out that I had prayed 8,776 hours for Church Unleashed.  Wow.  Behind the scenes prayer has led to what we are seeing today.

Pastor Brandon Ball said, “Everyone wants the XYZ’s of ministry without the ABC’s of faithfulness.”  How true is that?  We want everything for nothing … we want the promotion without the hard work.  We want what someone else has without doing what they have done.

Never think that public success comes without personal sacrifice!  Start leading behind the scenes!

6 Commanded Blessings of Giving

Give The word GIVE appears in the Bible 921 times – that’s almost as many times as FAITH, HOPE and LOVE combined.  It is mentioned more than any other subject in the Bible … 2 times more than Heaven and Hell combined.  3 times more than love.  7 times more than prayer.  8 times more than belief.

In fact, 17 of the 38 parables that Jesus spoke are all about giving.  Here’s the crazy thing: 15% of the Bible talks about giving, gifts, finances and/or tithing.  Wow! I guess you can say, “God’s Word is also a financial roadmap.”

God said in Malachi 3, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies” (Malachi 3:10).

The prophet Malachi reveals SIX … count them … SIX commanded blessings when you give/tithe.  These are only released through the act of giving.

Here are the commanded blessings of giving:

  • Overflowing blessing  (“… so great you won’t have enough room …”)
    God wants to bless you in greater ways.
  • Increase of resources  (“… your crops will be abundant …”)
    God wants to increase your financial health.
  • Protection from attack  (“… for I will guard them …”)
    God wants to protect you from the enemy.
  • Perfect timing (“… from the vine before they are ripe …”)
    God will meet every need and reveal His will at the right time.
  • Reputation of abundance (“… all nations will call you blessed …”)
    Other people will recognize God’s favor on your life.
  • Happy homes (“… your land will be such a delight …”)
    God will flood your house with real joy.

Let me just say, “If you don’t sow it, God can’t grow it.”  God has to have something to work with.  Start giving today … watch God release His commanded blessings on your life and family.

Leadership is born out of vision.

Too many leaders today are looking for a following, but they do not have vision.  There is no specific direction they are heading.  I have learned that people are looking to follow someone with an a seeable vision.  Something that they can grab hold of.

You see, your leadership level is born out of your vision.  The greater your vision the stronger your influence becomes, but the weaker your vision the less influence you will have.  So, if you are looking for a larger platform – don’t seek a bigger venue – increase your vision.

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained …” (Proverbs 29:18 – NASB). That simply means they move without direction.  They want more, but they don’t have someone to lead them there.  Vision.  It is what everyone is looking to follow.

Someone asked me one time, “Where did you get your vision for Church Unleashed?”  It was a pretty simple answer – “In prayer.”  Mary and I spent 7 days in prayer.  We asked God for the vision, dreams and goals.  He unloaded a big one on us.  It’s bigger than we are, but we trust God’s amazing dreams!

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever believe that God would open up the doors He has opened … why?  Because of the vision.  The vision has led us to where we are.  The vision has brought more people in our lives than we could imagine.  The vision has changed lives.  The vision has changed us.  And that vision is from God.  It is His vision for our lives.  Our leadership and influence was born out of God’s vision for our lives.