3 Things I’ve Learned in the Past 4 Months

Connie & I have been in Holland, MI for just over three months, married exactly four months today(!!!!) and I have been the Youth Director at Calvary Baptist Church for just over three months. Things are still pretty fresh and new for us, but there are a few lessons that I have learned, and have had to learn quickly.

1. God is so good.

This is not a new lesson, but it is one that has been repeatedly revealed to me over the past few months. Somehow a large number of people have gotten it into their heads and hearts that God is not good, that God makes bad things happen, that God is hateful and harsh, that God is legalistic and oppressive. I’ve never experienced that God; that God is not the God of the Bible. The God I know is a loving Father, who disciplines at times when it is necessary, but Who desires to see His children walk in His ways. He lovingly corrects and extends so much grace and mercy toward me that I can’t even begin to understand how it is possible.

2. Establishing good habits is a non-negotiable.

What I mean by this is if I don’t establish habits of loving my wife well and dating her, taking time to listen to her, making a habit of prayer and Bible study, habitually eating well, sleeping well, exercising well, then I will quickly exhaust myself. Poor habits are a quick road toward less effective days and may even lead to sin in our lives. Satan likes to use poor habits to make us unaware, distract us, and detract from the work God wants to do through us. So, good habits are a must. If you happen to be struggling right now with your energy during the day, motivation at work, being a light and showing others Christ in normal, everyday ways, then I would encourage you to look at your habits. I know for me, when I let my habits slip, that is when I become complacent and tired and just want to sit at home watching tv or playing video games all day (not that these are bad–but do they help me live out my calling well?).

3. I am selfish.

I don’t think it is possible to realize how selfish we really are until we get married… When I was living at home with my parents, even while I was seriously dating Connie, I was not as aware of my selfishness as I am now. But now, married to an amazing, beautiful, godly, wonderful friend and wife (Mrs. Connie Lynne Marshall :)), I am so utterly aware that I am selfish. And yet Connie is so good and forgiving, and helping me work through my selfishness :) We grow in our relationship every single day, and one of the main areas of growth is putting aside my own wants and my own apparent “needs” for the good of US and OUR. I now better understand why a relationship with God is described as a marital relationship. Selfishness has no place. A relationship struggles to grow and struggles to be a quality, encouraging, mutual relationship when selfishness is present. We each need bring our full selves, not 50/50 but 100/100, to this relationship. God is faithful and offers His fullness in exchange for all of me. I surrender myself in order to experience fulfilled and abundant life through faith in Jesus Christ. Selfishness is so utterly defeated that we can echo with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is the marital relationship. We become one; so intimately and intentionally connected that there is no I or me, but it is US and WE.

There are many other things I have been learning, but this is the highlight reel. As time goes on, I’m sure I will list other things that I have been learning. I hope these will be an encouragement to you, and will challenge you to think about what God has been teaching you lately. What are some things you have learned over the past few months? I’d be excited to read them in the comments below :)

Harris III – Tonight & Tomorrow night!

Harris III is coming to Calvary Baptist Church (517 W. 32nd Street, Holland, MI 49423) tonight and tomorrow night!!


You will want to be a part of this outreach event! Bring your friends and family members! Check out a quick promo video below to see what Harris III is all about!


“The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do” Part 2

 share_05I read The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do this week in preparation for the 10th Anniversary release of Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller’s book. It was a great read! I would highly recommend it to anyone who is in any type of leadership capacity, whether leading in the home, in your school, at your job, at the gym, on the field, wherever life takes you!

All of us have the capacity and ability to lead because we all have influence somewhere in our lives. You may not be the boss or own your own business, but you can influence your co-workers by how you act and react at work. You may not be the teacher or the star student, but you can influence your teachers and fellow students in the words you say and the attitudes you bring.

So, on to the book! This was a very different style leadership book than I had first anticipated! I think I first expected it to have tips and skills and advice on how to be a good leader, particularly on how to be a servant leader because that is what Mark & Ken are all about. But, when I began reading I entered into the story of a woman who was learning herself how to be a quality leader. She had the potential, but that potential had been untapped. She started in over her head, overwhelmed, busy, and trying to keep her head above water. In the end, her team was successful, she was happy and had a healthy work life, and she had risen so much in leadership skill and quality that she was promoted to a higher position.

This book is an easy read, and well worth the read. The style of the writing makes this an engaging book that brings many application points and really identifies with readers. You can almost see yourself in her situation and identify well with her struggles, pains, and desire to improve and make things better. The secret did not come from making those under her leadership do more, did not come from quitting, did not come from some seminar or three-point sermon. The secret came from changing her perspective and outlook.

The secret is to SERVE. When you read the book, you will be able to see what each of these points means, and see them fleshed out in the life of the woman in the story. Servant leadership is not the norm in our culture today–but it works!! When people see you genuinely care about them and are willing to serve with them even when your position places you over them, that is good leadership.


Serve those who are under you. Jesus Christ was the greatest example of this. In position He was the Son of God, sent to take away the sins of the world through His sacrifice, and after His death Jesus Christ went to sit at the right hand of God. Positionally He was far superior to the disciples following Him. However, He tells us that He came to serve, not to be served, and He gave an amazing example of that as He got His hands dirty and washed the feet of His disciples.

So, no matter where you are in life, SERVE those around you. Serving goes a long way in relationships and opens up so many opportunities to then share the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is so true what so many of us have heard, that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show people how much you care because we are the hands and feet of Jesus, and He cares about all of us!

Also, go and pick up or order this book online. It is so worth it. You won’t regret reading this and learning from The Secret what it means to be a good, effective leader wherever you are.

Guest Post: Mark Miller

Today’s post was originally published on Friday, June 6, 2014 at http://www.greatleadersserve. org


Have you ever considered the cost of turnover in your organization? To recruit, select, orient and train new staff can be extremely expensive. Not to mention the opportunity cost associated with having staff in place with no organizational memory. How do you reduce turnover?

I’ve been asked this question more than any other over the years. The reason may be our retention rate – we have historically hovered around 94 – 95%.

My answer to the question is simple – but it is not easy. I believe our outstanding retention rate is driven by the rigor of our selection process. If you get the right people, in the right role, you greatly increase the chance of the person staying with you.

Here are a few principles to help you think about your selection process.

  • The more clarity you have about the role, the better your selections.Do you know what the role requires for success – specifically? If you do, don’t select anyone who doesn’t have what you need. If you don’t know, stop the interviews until you do.
  • Selection decisions are too important to be made by a single person. Involve multiple interviewers whenever possible. Listen to all concerns. For years, we wouldn’t select anyone without complete agreement. We’ve lowered our standards a bit in this regard, but we still listen to everyone who interacts with a candidate.
  • If you select for the long tenure, your decisions will improve. If you believe you’ll have to work with someone for years, or decades, your standards will rise and so will your retention. We know people may not work with us forever, but if we act like they will, we make better decisions.
  • We’d rather lose a candidate than an employee.For decades, one of our practices has been to try and talk people out of accepting a job on our staff. If we can talk them out of it before they start, we believe they weren’t the right person to start with.
  • If you don’t invest time in selection, you’ll waste time on turnover.To do selection well requires more time than some organizations are willing to invest. However, it’s a classic case of “Pay me now or pay me later.” You’ll pay less if you get it right in the beginning.

When Peter Drucker was asked, “What’s the most important decision an executive (leader) makes?” His response: “Who does what.” We believe Dr. Drucker.

A word of caution… Don’t fall in love with retention. It’s a critical health indicator and the merits of high retention are obvious. However, if you become obsessed with retention, it may cloud your judgment when you do make a bad selection, and you will. When you realize you’ve made a mistake. Do the right thing for the person and the organization and make the hard call.


UntitledMark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.



“The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do” Part 1


Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.

In honor of his belief and the book he co-wrote with Ken Blanchard, they are re-releasing a 10th anniversary edition of The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. This book will be released everywhere on September 2, and it is a solid book that everyone should read! Later on I will be publishing a guest post from Mark Miller, and some resources he has for the 10th anniversary edition of this wonderful book! I will also be sharing a book review and some picture quotes from the book!

No matter whether you are leading your family, your friends, or an organization, this book can be a powerful tool to help you lead well! Pick up a copy on September 2!




This picture is great because it’s easy to believe great leaders just one day showed up and became that way…but really it is perseverance in the mundane of day-to-day living that makes great leaders what they are!


What kind of power do words have?

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder about the words that I speak. I wonder, “Does what I say matter?” “Does what I say have any affect whatsoever in the lives of the people I am talking with?” “What is the purpose of what I am saying?” Every week I have the opportunity to speak to youth, but does what I say carry any weight? Does it help change anyone’s life? Is it encouraging or is it beating them down? Does it challenge and encourage them to reach their potential or does it require impossible things from them? These are not easy questions to answer, but they, and many more like them, are what I can’t get out of my head.


I constantly think about the way I communicate. You should too. Why? Because we all communicate every day! 


Right? Communication matters. The words we use on a daily basis can change the lives of the people we are talking to, working with, or hanging out with every single day. Your words can also change you.

The Bible says:  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

So cool, the Bible says it, but what does that matter? What if I don’t believe in the Bible? What if I don’t care what it says, or it’s not relevant to my life?

Put those questions aside for a second and think about the content of what the verse says. Think about the words you can use each day: do unwholesome, crude, mean words help anyone? Do encouraging, strengthening, uplifting words benefit those who hear them? I think the answer is yes.


We have a choice, you and I. We can use our words for good; or we can use our words for evil. Unfortunately our mouths don’t come with instruction manuals on how to use them properly. I think a lot of problems could be avoided if we were all able to better use our mouths to speak well.

Throughout my 24, almost 25, years of life, I have been a first-hand witness as to how destructive words can be to a person’s self-esteem and image. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced hurt at the derogatory words of someone else, and you’ve seen others beaten down by someone else’s words. Why not be the change? We can use our power for good! We can speak life!

If Peter Parker can learn this lesson from Uncle Ben, we can too: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Words contain great power. We have a great responsibility to use them well and to realize the kind of power that come through what we say–even those things we say that we don’t think matter.

Sometimes I can be careless with my words. When I am tired, when I am not thinking, when I am busy, when I am annoyed, etc., I don’t always think about what I am saying, how I am saying it, and the power of the words that are coming out of my mouth. I have seen the great power of these careless words, and have seen the damage they have done. The careless words weren’t worth the damage they caused..

Remember that your words, all of your words, have power!

Where is the hope?

Life isn’t easy. If you take one look at the news–at recent deaths and shootings and suicides, constant wars and killing–see the statistics for cutting or bullying, it becomes pretty clear that life is full of difficult circumstances that often don’t make sense and could hardly ever be labeled as “fair.”

Robin Williams, the most recently publicized suicide, is evidence that appearances can be deceiving and that life can sometimes be hard, even when we are doing something we love. Robin Williams often made people cry because they were laughing so hard–his was the life of a comedian, full of laughing on the outside but deep pain on the inside. It seems like there could have been so many who would’ve done so much to be there and encourage him through the painful times, but, for reasons we will never know, Robin Williams took a different route than many of us would have encouraged him to do. There is no simple explanation for things like this.

I don’t know where your life is at right now, I don’t know where your life has been, and I don’t know where your life is going. I don’t know what you struggle with, what your family is like, how your friends treat you, how you treat others. But, there is one thing I know. There is always hope, and that hope is found in a person.

Jesus Christ is the Game-Changer. He is the Difference-Maker. He is the Hope-Bringer.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Here is where the hope comes in–Jesus brings the hope! The hope of a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17), a fullness of life (John 10:10), a freedom from the penalty of sin (2 Corinthians 3:17), a relationship with the Creator God (John 1:12), and a Rock (Psalm 71:3) and Refuge (Psalm 119:114; Proverbs 18:10) in times of trouble.

Jesus Christ loves the outcast, loves the hurt, the loser, the lost, the confused, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, the bullied, the depressed, the loner, the one who thinks he or she could never be pretty or desirable or loved. Jesus loves us all and shows so often in the Bible where He is loving and caring toward those who don’t even know Him yet (Romans 5:8).

But, He doesn’t stop there; He doesn’t just love people. He wants to know you. He wants to know you. He wants you to be overwhelmed with wonder at who He is (Mark 9:15), because He is full of love and grace and mercy.

So, if you want to know Him, discover who He is. Feel free to ask me, or read the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John specifically) to discover who He is. That is Jesus Christ.

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say that He will make our lives easy. He doesn’t say that He will take away the depression, or take away the bully, or make it easier for you to make friends, or make your parents love each other again–in fact Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So, your situation may stay the same. Your problem may not go away. But, when you know Jesus Christ and confess and believe in Him, He lightens your load. You don’t have to carry it all on your own. You shouldn’t carry it all on your own, because let’s face it, can we really carry everything ourselves? I know I can’t, but I also know I often try to do it on my own, and inevitably fail. Again, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” He won’t necessarily take away the burden, but He will help you carry the load, He will lighten the load, and when things get really tough He becomes our Rock and our Refuge; when everything around us is shaking, He is our still foundation.

God loves you and you are precious in His sight. I love you because God loves you. We are all His creation, and He wants us to be a part of His family. Join in His family and it will lighten the load because you will never again be alone.

Pointing the right way

What are you really good at?  What is something you really like doing?  It must be a part of human nature, right?  That we all have such a great desire to communicate to the people we are around, whether our family or people we work with or friends, what we are good at. We enjoy doing the things we are good at, and we often talk about our “greatest exploits”! It’s just something that comes naturally.

If you catch a huge fish, why wouldn’t you tell everyone about how awesome that was and how big it was?! If you make a great goal in soccer or score a touchdown in football or make first chair in band, why wouldn’t you tell everyone you know about it? Those are proud moments where you did something pretty awesome and want others to know about it! I am the same way! It’s fun to succeed in things and then point to that success and tell everyone you can about it. But are we pointing in the right direction?

Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.'”

This verse reveals the things we should boast about, and the things we should tell everyone about, doesn’t it? We should boast about God, that we know Him, that we have talked to Him, that God hears us, that He speaks to us in His Word, that God is real and we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, His Son. These are the things to boast about because when we really think about it, these are amazing, life-changing things. The Creator God cares so much about us that He sent Jesus Christ to live on this earth, to experience temptations and evils in this world, and He was victorious through them, sacrificing His perfect self on the cross so that we could experience victory and freedom from the cost of our sins. It’s an amazing thing! What is more incredible than this to boast about?

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, agreeing with Jeremiah, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”

So what does this mean? It means that we can remember our priorities in life; that God is greater than our athletic skills, our musical talents, or our intellect. If we are going to brag about something, why not point the way toward Jesus Christ?

We have the blessed opportunity to be a light in this world, to be salt that seasons and gives flavor. We can point everyone we see or talk with toward Jesus Christ just in the way we talk. It’s a big responsibility, but we are all capable.


The challenge? Go and do it. James 1:22 says, “but be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” So we should go and live out God’s Word. Go and boast about who God is and what He has done in your life.