Leadership Marriage

What is real intimacy?

What exactly is real intimacy? It’s a whole lot more than just sex. A lot of times in our modern culture we use the word “intimacy” as a euphemism for talking about sex. There can be intimacy, non-sexual intimacy in lots of relationships or lots of areas in your life. The developmental phase that you hit in your early 20s is the phase of “intimacy.” This is when you’re figuring out what you want to do with your life. The task is to become “intimate” with a career field. To completely know the thing that you’re going to do for your living, for the rest of your life.

What is real intimacy? I think it is:

  1. Having a cohesive vision, the thing that you want out of life, the thing that you want to do in life.
  2. Having a set of goals that defines how you’re going to get there. Goals are the roadmap for that vision.
  3. Having a set of values that puts boundaries around how you’re going to achieve those goals. The sacrifices you’re willing to make or not willing to make.

In a marriage, this is huge. A shared vision between the two of you. What do you both want out of life? What goals do you have? How are you working toward that big vision? What values do you have that you share that put boundaries around what you will and won’t sacrifice? Then of course in a marriage, you can also add in the sex. Intimacy is just part of a connection. A way of describing the connection between two different people, but don’t limit it to sex. It includes a whole lot more than that.

Business Leadership Personal Growth

What should you do when you hit a project wall?

All right. The last video was, “What to do when you hit a wall in your learning?” This one is, “What to do when you hit a wall in a project, or solving a particular problem.”

Same options as before, you can go over the wall, around the wall, or through the wall. Going through the wall is possible. But it’s not preferable because you might just keep doing the same thing over and over. You might be expecting different results. As we know, that is the definition of insanity.

To get over the wall, you are going to need to build a team. You’re going to need people to help you. That might be people that know more about the problem than you, might be people that are peers. It might be people that you’re mentoring and you’re trying to bring along. They’re still part of the team, and they can help you get up over the wall, finish the project, solve the problem. Whatever the case might be.

The other option, again, going around the wall. Being an introvert and preferring to work by myself, this is the one I prefer. Solve a related problem. Do something that you can use as a stair step to solving the actual target problem.

There’re three options. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Business Leadership Personal Growth

What should you do when you hit a learning wall?

What would you do when you hit a wall in your learning? You’re trying to study something. You’re trying to learn something new. You’re stuck on one concept, and you just can’t seem to get your head around it. Just like with a physical wall, you can go through it; you can go around it, or you can go over it. In the case of learning, going through the wall would be Google that concept as much as you can. Read everything you can that you can find on Google. Or if you want peer reviewed journals, use EBSCOhost or Google Scholar. Going over the wall, you can call a mentor. Call somebody who you think might already know the answer.

Going around the wall, and this is my favorite, study something else for a little bit. I like to study psychology and counseling. I like to study marketing, sales, and business, and I like to study theology, stuff about my faith. There are lots of overlaps there, but you’re just moving to the side a little bit. I can usually even … If I’m trying to solve something about marketing, by reading about counseling, I can tie it back. If I’m working to solve something in counseling by reading about theology, I can tie it back. Just shift the mental gears for a little bit and helps me get through sticking points, get through walls. Just a few thoughts, a few suggestions, let me know what you think in the comments below. Thank you.

Leadership Personal Growth

Integrity and transferable lessons

As we go through life, and we learn lessons in our faith. We build our relationships with our family and with our friends. We manage our finances. We do things for recreation. We move forward in our professional lives, our careers, and perhaps manage a business.  We develop in leadership.

In all these areas in our lives, there are parallel lessons or transferable concepts that go back and forth from one to the other. You can learn something about your management of your finances that you apply to setting boundaries in your friendships.  You can learn something in your relationships with your family that you then apply to something else.

This is a normal and healthy thing. It’s helpful; it helps us not to over-compartmentalize. It’s tempting say, “Well, that’s my family life, and that’s my social life, and that’s my faith.” We try to separate these things. That isn’t exactly helpful; that isn’t exactly healthy. If we want to be a whole person operating from a place of integrity, then we know that all those areas of life look similar.

We’re the same individual in each of those contexts, in each of those relationships. We can take lessons from each of those categories of life and apply them to others so that we can grow and move forward. Just a thought. It’s a little bit abstract, it’s not something to take immediate action on, but think about it. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Leadership Personal Growth

Metaphors for growing through hard times

Hey, I’m back from Ohio now. Back home, making some time to read and fill the tank. I have been making some time to process things and go through my healing. For anyone else, when you go through stuff like this. The loss of a sibling, or any hard experience in life. If you want to keep a positive perspective, there are two metaphors that I have found helpful.

One is that of strength training. When hard things happen, we are getting stronger even though we are very uncomfortable. When you lift weights, and especially when you lift heavy weights, when you’re in the bottom of the lift it’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be. But that’s also the most important position to be when you want to get stronger.

The other metaphor is chipping away at a rock to sculpt something. You have to take off the raw materials that aren’t a part of the ultimate design to get to the final product. Which is the work of art, the thing of beauty.

In one case, pain is used to add. It’s used to build strength. Then in another instance, pain is used to take away. It’s used to take away things that are ultimately unnecessary or not useful.

I have found both of those metaphors encouraging. I’ve been able to find a little bit of both of those going on through this process for myself. I hope you find those helpful for your challenges in life. Thank you for watching this video. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


How do you fill your tank?

Hey. Right now I’m in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. I’m here on the trip where I’m bringing my brother’s remains home. I’m sorting through his apartment and figuring out what we are going to bring home, what we are going to ship, and what we are going to leave. Not a pleasant trip, but something that’s part of life I guess. I’ve been talking about consistency, I’ve been talking about coping habits. Today, I’m just running on an empty tank, and so it struck me that I normally do a number of things where I’m consuming information, consuming other peoples wisdom and thoughts: my bible reading time, my time in prayer, reading books, listening to podcasts listening to audio books, reading blogs, that kind of thing.Normally I spend a lot of time doing that so that I can then turn around and produce something worth hearing, something helpful. In this season in my life, if I haven’t been doing that, which that’s kind of normal and

Normally I spend a lot of time doing that so that I can then turn around and produce something worth hearing, something helpful. In this season in my life, if I haven’t been doing that, which that’s kind of normal and understandable, and all that stuff. The point is that consumption, consuming all of that information, doing all those things that fill the tank. Not just for the sake of coping, not for the sake of building a stress buffer, but doing a lot of those consumption activities is really a major part of what fuels productivity. Being able to produce content, whether it’s writing or video, but being able to produce stuff.Whatever you’re doing in your life, you’re producing something, you’re working on projects, you’re working on … Maybe all you do is, you go and you punch

Whatever you’re doing in your life, you’re producing something, you’re working on projects, you’re working on … Maybe all you do is, you go and you punch clock, you work on an assembly line, you’re still producing something, you still need to take in something to be able to have the energy to do that. It’s going to be a little bit different for every person depending on your personality type and all those things, but make sure that you’re doing things that fill the tank. Understandably, I’m in a season where I’m not doing a whole lot of that right now, but we’ll get back in that rhythm, and I’ll have more to say, and more helpful things to say in the future.

In the meantime, thank you for watching these videos. Let me know what you think in the comments below. You should find, if you’re on my website, you should find some place where you can subscribe by email if you’re interested. Thank you.

Leadership Parenting Personal Growth

4 building blocks of consistency

Day 3, and I’m still thinking about consistency. Probably because I’m wondering how I’m going to make this habit of recording a daily video consistent, but I said I would try to do it, so here’s 3 days in a row. Here’s 4 ideas for building more consistency in any new habit that you are trying to create. For me, it’s recording a daily video, or writing daily, or reading daily, or whatever the habit might be.

The first idea is to stack it with something that you do daily. I hope most of you shower daily or brush your teeth daily, or something like that. Hopefully that’s part of your morning routine, it might be part of your evening routine, whichever. If you want to build a new habit, pair it with one of those things that you already do daily, and maybe even do it before you do that daily thing. That way, it’s reinforced by something that’s already a habit. Commit to it publicly. Those of you that are watching these videos or are reading the emails, you know that this is a goal that I have and I’m trying to do this because I’m hoping it’ll help somebody.

Make it measurable. Making one video a day for however long I decide to do this, that’s measurable. Walking 10,000 steps a day. If you wanted to do that, or drinking 2 liters of water a day, or whatever habit you want to establish, make it measurable just like would a goal. Also, reward yourself, do something that feels good to you, that is reinforcing and rewarding for being consistent. Doing what you said you were going to do, following through on your commitments. Maybe it’s a snack, maybe it’s, you get an extra coffee, do something to reward yourself, whatever it is.

If you appreciate these videos, if you like this new format, where things are going, please comment below, that is helpful right now. Tomorrow is going to be a harder day to make a video, it’s the day that I’m traveling, starting my trip to Ohio, to go and pick up my brother’s remains and bring him home. Not going to be a fun day, but I’m hoping that I will still be able to come up with something that is useful for anybody who is interested in seeing this. Thank you, and have a good night.

Leadership Parenting Personal Growth

The Power of Consistency

Skylar: I won’t laugh until you’re done.

Dan: You won’t laugh until I’m done? Okay. I’m recording with an audience of here. This is day two, and the reflection, or the thought of the day, is the power of consistency. On Saturday I was listening to Jeff Goins podcast, he calls it “The Portfolio Life”. He’s talking about, “If you write just a few words everyday, a hundred words, two hundred and fifty words, or three hundred words everyday that overtime you’ll end up producing, not only more content but a greater quality of content. As opposed to, if you just spend three to five hours writing as much as you can whatever you can think of every Saturday, you’ll just end up with more content, more and better content.”

Today, I was home. We were having some work done on our house and I was talking to an inspector and having general conversation. I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m making enough money that I can afford to pay somebody else to do the work on my house instead of having to fix it myself. He asked me what I did, I said, “Well I’m a marriage counselor.” “Oh cool, any one sentence advice?” I said, “Date night. Have a consistent date night.” Saying that partly because tonight was the once in a blue moon that Skylar and I could get out for a date night. We haven’t had very consistent date nights. Then the contractor was just coming up the stairs at the same time and he heard me say that, and he said, “Oh, so that’s why my wife and I have made it eleven years.” He thought that was pretty funny.

At our dinner tonight, Skylar and I were discussing different stuff and where we’re at with some of the things that have gone on for us, and there was a contrast. I’ve been in a very consistent bible study with pretty much the same group of guys for, at least, the last six years and I think maybe even the last nine years. Kind of fuzzy when I started going to that bible study, but it’s the same group of guys. We meet every Thursday morning at 6:30 unless it’s Thanksgiving, or Christmas. I think we’ve met on New Years one year. We’re very, very consistent.

Consistency is one huge thing. That discipleship … The way that I’ve been disciple and mentored by that group of guys, it’s been huge, been a huge blessing. We noticed that there’s not a women’s group at our church that has been as consistent, so the discipleship that my wife has received is lower over time. She’s got some pretty deep relationships with some really awesome people, but the total amount of discipleship is less because there’s lower consistency.

Tonight as we’re driving home from picking up our daughter and our son from the in-laws, we’re doing bedtime prayers which is one of the very few consistent things in my life that has, at least, survived recently. Our bedtime prayer routine is really really simple. “Keaton, what are you thankful for today?” Sawyer’s not quite old enough to participate, doesn’t talk yet. “What are you thankful for today? What did you learn today? Who did you help today?” That’s something … When did we start that, about a year ago babe?

Skylar: Maybe two years ago.

Dan: Maybe two years ago? Okay. We started that a while ago and it’s very important to Keaton. She will throw a fit or cry if we don’t do bedtime prayers, and of course I don’t have a problem with that because that’s something I want to pass on. It’s part of passing on my faith. Four things, talking about consistency and how that makes a difference in our lives over time. We produce more over time. We’re more poured into over time by things being consistent. That begs the question, well how would you build more consistency in your life?

A little while ago, I wrote about how to form and hold new habits. The things that I thought of then were: Start with something small. Start with a set of things that are sequential, they go in order. Make sure that each thing that you add is sustainable. You don’t add something that you can’t sustain for the long haul. If you want to do something really big, it has to be scalable. You can’t just be able to do it one time, you have to be able to do it ten times or a hundred times over the long haul.

That’s about consistency. How to build consistency, and as far as the change in format going from writing to video, this is a little bit of practicing what I preach. I’ve been telling a lot of people who struggle with writing to start with video, just talk on a video, transcribe it. I’m practicing what I preach doing that, and then also just because of the recent loss of my brother. This is easier for me. I can get in the space to record a video for five, or ten minutes as opposed to trying to sit down and write an article length piece of content. If you like this, let me know and thank you for your comments and your support.


Business Faith Leadership

Business is Ministry – The Worship and Love Inherent in Fair Exchange

Business owners can be just as pastoral and missional as paid ministry staff. When you run your business with integrity, your work is an act of worship to God. It is also an act of love to your neighbor (or customer).

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… – Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

The work we are called to do every day is an important part of our image-bearing nature and stewardship. As human beings, we were created to do things. In this sense we are not only human beings, but we are also human doings. – Tom Nelson

This post comes out of a conversation about two years ago with my dad. As I was struggling to describe my long term goals, I was using terms like

  • business of ministry
  • business and ministry
  • business as ministry

I was even writing them down and using a Venn diagram to try to describe what I was getting at. Finally, dad just said, “Okay, so business IIIS ministry.” Loudly emphasizing and drawing out the word, “is.”

How did I miss that? It had been right in front of me the whole time. I think that I missed it because I was afraid. I often hear things like “selling is stealing.” (Bernie Sanders supporters, anyone?) Even in circles where people would deny that claim, it is common to fear to charge fairly for what you do.

I think that fear is what kept me from seeing what was right in front of me. Once I acknowledged the fear and got past it, I felt more comfortable charging fairly for what I do.

What is Business

In modern English, the word “Business” means many things. It can be a euphemism for bodily functions. (Skylar and I had just loads of fun potty training Keaton, now we’re in the diaper phase again with Sawyer.)

It can refer to what some of us do to bring home a paycheck. It can apply to things we do at home like keeping a calendar or a budget.

In this case, I am using it mainly in the economic sense. What we do to bring home a paycheck.

What is Ministry

Some people think that “ministry” is only done by religious professionals. People like pastors or rabbis. Some people think “ministry” is only done by religious leaders. They add elders or deacons to the list. Others think that “ministry” is only done when it meets basic needs. Like food, shelter, or the spiritual need for a Savior.

Others recognize that all Christians are to be doing some sort of ministry. Everywhere. At all times.

In this case, I am using it in a way that recognizes that spiritual and basic physical needs can be met…

  • by unexpected people
  • in unexpected places
  • at unexpected times
  • in unexpected situations

I think that ministry is preparing to meet people’s needs. Not just spiritual, and not just the basic physical needs. Ministry meets people’s needs in a way that leads to human flourishing, in this life and the next.

Business of Ministry

“Business of ministry,” usually refers to business aspects of running a church or nonprofit. Thinks like accounting, leadership meeting agendas and minutes, filing taxes, etc. In this case “business” is more like what we do at home with our calendars and budgets. It is less like an exchange based economic issue. It’s mundane and routine, a necessary evil.

This term is somewhat helpful. It acknowledges that there are necessary business functions in any ministry. Yet, it is problematic because it creates an artificial separation between business and ministry. It conveys the idea that ministry can never overlap with business.

Business and Ministry

For some absurd reason, we put little economic value on vocational ministry. Pastors, missionaries, church staff, nonprofit executives and nonprofit staff are obscenely underpaid. Because of this, bivocational ministries are increasingly common. “Bivocational” just means having two vocations.

Bivocational ministry is not new. It’s what Paul did (he built tents for people so that he could be a missionary).

There some great things about bivocational ministry:

  • It provides for the financial needs of religious workers
  • To outsiders, it breaks down the sacred/secular divide
  • It keeps ministers connected to culture outside of the “Christian bubble.”

There are also some not so great things:

  • It excuses and perpetuates low pay for ministers, missionaries, and nonprofit workers
  • To some insiders, it highlights or reinforces the sacred/secular divide
  • It’s hard to excel at more than one thing
  • It divides attention

Business as Ministry (or Mission)

Now we’re getting warmer.

Sometimes Missionaries need a cover story to go places they could otherwise go. A business provides an easy cover story that is difficult for governments to turn away. It’s a great way to get the gospel into places where missionaries aren’t allowed.

The problem is this. Business as Ministry perpetuates the sacred/secular divide in closed countries.

Business IS Ministry

To avoid being misunderstood, Ministry IS NOT Business. It doesn’t work the other way around. Evangelism and missions are done to save souls and glorify God, not make a profit. But making a profit does not exclude evangelistic or missional activities. Making a profit does not preclude caring for souls and basic needs.

In business, we have opportunities to serve people that may not attend a church. We set a positive example when we:

  1. Are open about our faith
  2. Run our business with integrity

The internal ministry of a business

Business leaders can care for souls by having meaningful relationships with their teams. Business leaders can care for basic needs by investing in their teams, not just by paying them. To invest in their team, leaders must have meaningful relationships with their team members.

To have meaningful relationships with team members, leaders must:

  • Know their team members on a personal level
  • Know, at least generally, the home or family environments of their team members
  • Know, at least a little, the personal growth struggles of their team members
  • Be willing to support team members’ personal growth
  • Be ready to provide support in ways other than with money
  • Be prepared to provide financial aid at unexpected times

The external ministry of a business

Businesses can care for the souls of their customers by caring for the souls of their teams. Customer interactions may not lead to salvation. But they must not lead away from it. When you care for the souls of your staff, they will have a much easier time doing their work as unto Christ. If they are not Christians, they will still have an easier time keeping a good attitude. Customers will notice the real attitudes of your staff.

Businesses meet the basic needs of their customers by … doing business. It’s easy to see how any business that sells food or shelter meets basic human needs. Whatever you sell helps to solve a problem, or you would not get paid. Solving problems leads to human flourishing.

The fundamental principle of a fair exchange is that both parties place a higher value on what they get than what they give. The apple I just ate from a local farmer’s market was worth more to me than the money that I paid for it. The money was worth more to the apple grower than the apple.

A few weeks ago I heard an interesting spin on the Lord’s Prayer on the radio. It went something like this:

Father in Heaven, may your name be made Holy.

May your Kingdom come, and your will be done in my life, as they are already in Heaven.

Give me today my daily bread. And thank you for the grocery store cashier, water, and electrical utility workers, that work to provide for my daily needs. Help me to see opportunities to provide for the needs of others.

Forgive me as I forgive. And thank you for the pastors, counselors, and mentors that help me work through the process of forgiveness. Give me a hand to see the hurts that I haven’t forgiven.

Lead me not into temptation.

And deliver me from evil – and thank you for the police, EMTs, and firefighters who will come to help if I need them.

Further Reading

Add Your Voice (comment below)

  1. What divide or unity do you see between business and ministry?
  2. How are you keeping a ministry mindset in your job or business?

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Leadership Personal Growth

Blame helps no one. Change Yourself.

There is conflict in marriage. There is conflict in society. Blame only escalates conflict. The same principles apply to both conflicts, and the same skills solve the problem. This is not an oversimplification. The societal issue is only more complicated because there are many more people involved.

It surprises me sometimes how often couples come to counseling with both people wanting the same basic thing, yet because of a communication breakdown, they have conflict. Either both people fail to be clear, or both people fail to deeply listen. They blame each other, and the conflict escalates. Then they end up in my office.

I think there is something similar going on in this whole BlackLivesMatter vs. AllLivesMatter thing.


This is true. Every human being is an image bearer of God. All men and women were created equal.

And the most effective lies contain mostly truth, and only tiny bits of lies. Rat poison is 99% good rat food, and only 1% poison.

In the media conversation going on right now, some on the AllLivesMatter side are ignoring the realities of poverty, oppression, and injustice that are right in front of them. I am a conservative, white, capitalist. And I acknowledge that many like me have perpetuated these problems. Some, like me, have worked not to perpetuate the problem, but out of ignorance may have perpetuated the pain that came from them (keep reading).


This is true. Every black person is an image bearer of God. All black men and women were created equal to men and women of any other skin color.

A wrong way to hear this message is to think it means that only black lives matter, or that black lives matter more. No. That is not what is meant by it.

This movement is not about making black better than any other color. It is about getting whites and others to see black as equal.

Staying in My Lane

I am a counselor. I am not a policy wonk. I am not a social worker. There are many levels of this divide and problem that I am not qualified to speak to. I believe that the first step toward reconciliation and unity is for both sides to really listen to each other.

Listen without Judging

This phrase is often misunderstood. I use this as a prompt with couples to get them to focus on the emotions the other person is expressing, not on the merits of their logic or the underlying facts. The logic and facts can be addressed once both parties recognize that they have the same basic needs and wants.

History is a large ship to turn. In terms of human history, 1964 was not that long ago. A historian mentor of mine often says it takes at least 100 years after an event to judge its full impact. It has only been 52 years since the passage of the civil rights act. We have made progress. And it has come slowly.

In marriage counseling, many couples have perennial conflicts that keep coming up. A powerful question for these never ending topics is “What changes have you noticed since the last time you talked about this?” Each person in the relationship has emotional triggers that send them into the past, even if the present is better – objectively speaking.

There seems to be a similar emotional trigger for black people in the US. Every young black man that is killed by police takes them back to a time when things really were worse. The objective fact that we have made progress does not overcome subjective pain. We can cite statistics that indicate that black men in gangs kill more black men than police do. We can cite statistics that indicate police kill more white people than they do black people. It doesn’t matter. (Both of those stats can be found in this video).

If we cite those current statistics as if they are all that matter, we are effectively saying “you have no right to be hurt by this.” How obscenely callous!

However, it is equally callous to be willfully blind to progress.

Here is a frequent example in marriage: A husband has stopped looking at pornography and still has a wandering eye in public. His wife is hurt because he still has a wandering eye. He is angry because she doesn’t notice or appreciate his progress. Both have a right to their emotions. Both emotions are grounded in objective facts.

Emotionally speaking, there is something similar underlying the current divide in our society. One side of the divide is stuck in the present, with no remorse for the past. Another side is stuck in the past, with no respect for the present. Unless both sides come together, there is little hope for future progress.

Do your part

Blame helps no one. As long as AllLivesMatter points at BlackLivesMatter and says that only blacks need to change, there will be no progress. As long as BlackLivesMatter points at AllLivesMatter and says that only those in power need to change (which includes some blacks), there will be no progress.

We cannot control other people. We can only control ourselves. Do your part. Change yourself first. Lead by example.

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