Archives For C. E. Stowers

What happens when you combine trust, faith, and hope? They produce grit.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.”

In light of the recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, I decided to tweak this definition to be the ability to keep going despite setbacks, even when your efforts are not rewarded.  Grit is what you need when facing dark days and sleepless nights.

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Dark Days and Sleepless Nights

We live in troubling times. Prices are rising while incomes are falling. We’re hearing endless reports of senseless violence, natural catastrophes, and uncertainty in what the future holds.  It doesn’t matter which news feed you prefer, there is little to hope for the future.

Be encouraged because God is never caught off guard or by surprise.  He knows the future.  You are not the only one that…

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We’re all living and working in an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing world.

Succeeding and excelling in today’s world require you to consider certain traits to be effective. In order to thrive in a fast-changing world, effective leaders make and implement decisions, possess agility, and include others in decision-making. Regardless of their respective industry, effective leaders make decisions and implement strategies to carry out their decision.

Making and Implementing Decisions

The critical task of leadership is making decisions. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know the outcome of the decisions we make. Effective leaders must decide where they’re going and how to get there.

Deciding where to go could be considered the vision. Having the plan to get there is the strategy. Once a leader decides where they’re going and how to get there the next critical task of leadership is implementation.

Ask yourself: What decision am I making and what’s my strategy to implement it?

Agility

The challenge of leadership is that we live in a “fast” and ever changing world. That means things happen quickly and to survive, leaders have to get their organizations to react equally quickly – and effectively – when those things happen. The…

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Starting something new is much easier than transitioning something established.

Currently, I serve as lead pastor of the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago. I succeeded my father, the late Rev. Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. who served for thirty-six years. The church I inherited was a traditional African American Baptist Church rich with tradition.

After five years of praying, meeting, teaching, leading, and building supportive teams, we transitioned to a contemporary church. During the process, I almost quit, but decided to pivot and stick it out. It was the best decision of my life. In life, you’ll eventually come to a crossroad. When it happens, you must decide if you’ll stick with it, quit, or pivot. How do you know which choice is best? I chose to pivot.

So, What Does it Mean to Pivot?

I love sports, and when I hear the word pivot, immediately basketball comes to mind. When basketball players stop dribbling the ball, they must decide which foot is their pivot foot. Upon deciding, they can’t switch feet. Pivoting is the term used to define both the act of keeping one foot in place while…

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AdobeStock_108676068-300x214-c010b2f0af19dc95f3ebc18d4cfa8bd125baa167Leading a church in Chicago, Illinois is tough.

It’s even tougher during our brutal winters. So what does a pastor to do when the temperature dips below zero, and the wind chill factor dips to double digits? Cancel service? Oh no! We’re the City of Broad Shoulders, and we don’t dare cancel services due to inclement weather.

Imagine making your sermons stick past Sunday? Imagine a proven strategy to get members and guests engaging with your messages long after Sunday. Are you interested? If so, read on.

My generation experienced the election of the first African-American President, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, Desert Storm, Iraq War, historic government bailouts, the passing of healthcare reform, and the greatest economic downturn since The Great Depression. However, in my opinion, the greatest shifts are happening now!

Our World is Connected

Companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple have one root intention: to make it simpler for people to communicate and collaborate. Of all the tools and websites created to connect people, Facebook seems to be the most popular starting place for many.

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Rejection is powerful.

When I counsel people, sometimes I hear them say, “I don’t care if people like me, as long as they respect me.” When they say that, it’s an “emotional wall they use to block the hurt of rejection,” according to psychologist Marcia Reynolds.

God created us to be social, and if we’re honest, all of us care if people like us. “The feeling of love, affection, and belonging is necessary before we can reach the highest levels of consciousness and wisdom,” according to psychologist Abraham Maslow.  Maslow is saying we all need people to survive. So, how do keep from withdrawing when dealing with someone who doesn’t like you?

Fortunately, you’re not the only one who’s had to deal with this problem. After Nathan had anointed David as the future King of Israel, Saul became his bitter enemy. Like David, all of us, at one time or another deal with people we don’t like and who don’t like us. Perhaps you have people who want to do you harm and see you fail. This is where David found himself in 1 Samuel Chapter 24.

His enemy, Saul, wanted to…

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Have you ever wondered what’s the real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually?

We blame it on the enemy, our busy lives, our careers, children, even the church we attend. The real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually isn’t because of the enemy, busyness, or the complexity of sermons; it’s because we’re distracted. Despite knowing that distractions hamper productivity, most people don’t realize how it affects their spiritual growth.

Barbie distracted while driving

In the few minutes it takes to read this blog post, chances are you’ll pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to your desktop to read an email, or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. And pastors wonder why it is people are not growing spiritually. They’re distracted!

The Danger of Distractions

The day before I began writing this post, I decided to run a small-scale case study on myself to count the number of times I was interrupted during the day. I did not silence my phone – nor did I disable any social media notifications (e.g., email, Facebook, Twitter) – so I could…

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Alone in a Crowded World

By C. E. Stowers

guy in mask in venicePeople who live in Chicago know this: Our seasons are uncontrollable and unpredictable.

The same is true about life. It’s unpredictable and include good times and bad times. There are four weather seasons, but there are many seasons in the seasons of life, especially the Season of Loneliness.

Some of you are thinking, “I can stop reading now because I’m not lonely.” Keep reading because one day you’re going to need this message. Loneliness in an inevitable season of life. You will go through it many, many times.

What Causes Loneliness

It is not good for man to be alone. Gen. 2:18

Genesis 2:18 says God made us to need each other, that we are made for relationships. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He had every single thing he could want.  There were no stress or problems. God looked at Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” The very first thing that God said is not right about the earth is loneliness.

Change Can Cause Loneliness

Life is a series of transitions. Any significant change in your life can cause isolation. Why? Because every…

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Procrastination

I have a confession to make: I waited until the very last minute to write this blog post.

Why? I work best under pressure. Really? That’s just another excuse I tell myself but in reality, it’s procrastination. No matter how many productivity tips I discover, procrastination still stalks me from time to time.

Procrastination is a Universal Problem

Most of us know what we need to do, we just put it off. The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a way of life, a lifestyle. The more you do it, the better you become at it. Some people are professional procrastinators. They are very, very good at it.

The Bible has something to say about procrastination.

Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17

I know the things I ought to do, and I don’t do them. Here’s why:

Indecision Causes Procrastination

A double minded man is unstable in all he does. James 1:8

Indecision causes procrastination. Have you ever sent a waiter away at a restaurant because you couldn’t make up your mind? Indecision causes you to postpone buying a car, choosing a college, getting married, buying new clothes, or changing jobs.

Perfectionism…

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I’ll admit, as a leader it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision.

It’s natural because as leader’s we’re encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading? Why aren’t they with us?

Do You Like To Fish?

Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank.

Some are still prepping their fishing gear. Some are just starting to launch their boats. Others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and still others haven’t yet even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when you realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help facilitate the transition.

We have a choice to change or remain the same.

John Maxwell in his book

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Recently, I ran across a startling statistic that blew me away.

When it comes to cruel and cutting remarks, 99 percent of the time they’re not from strangers; they’re from someone we know. Let that sink in. Their words are painful and memorable because they come from people who should be the source of love.

It’s hard to admit, but wherever a relationship exists, the possibility of someone getting wounded exists. How do you respond when the people you know hurt you? How do you stop the tears from flowing?  You agree to release the grip resentment has on you.

Depressed and sad man on the couch in the room, covering face and crying in despair.

You can’t hold onto a hurt and enjoy life. You can’t get well as long as you harbor resentment. For your sake, let go the right to get even.  The fact is, you only have a certain amount of emotional energy, and you must determine how you spend it.

One of the most difficult decisions you’ve got to decide in life is “Do I want to get well or do I want to get even?” You can’t do both….

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Do you have a wound that won’t heal?

“A wound that has been present for more than six weeks is considered a chronic wound and may need special treatment,” according to Dr. Prasad Kilaru, a plastic surgeon and director of the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine.

beauty girl cryHave you ever had a cut that required stitches? Have you ever had a surgery of any kind? Deep cuts and surgical procedures leave wounds that often require stitches. Eventually the stitches are removed and the pain goes away. What do you do about wounds you can’t see? How do you begin to stitch emotional wounds embedded deep within the recesses of one’s heart?

Hidden wounds are memories that hurt

Hidden Wounds are Memories That Hurt

Hidden wounds are the recollections from your past that when you think about them, they still cause pain in your life. Some define them as memories of abandonment. Some have memories of abuse. Some even have memories of ridicule, criticism or hatred.

Hidden wounds come from prejudices in society. They come from family members (they are the ones that hurt the most). Sometimes they come from parents, our children, our siblings, and…

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Basic RGBHere’s something you don’t hear at most conferences and seminars: Behind every opportunity are obstacles.

In 1999, I was installed as pastor of the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.  However, as is so often the case, this opportunity came disguised as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  I succeeded my father, Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. as pastor.  I inherited a traditional baptist church that had plateaued.

Based on almost every metric available, I knew I had to do something fast or else our attendance would decline. The optimistic side of me was determined to turn our church around. Therefore, in 2000, I attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference and worked hard to formulate and cast a new vision for the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.

I restructured our church, hired staff, and with fresh enthusiasm, we were off to a great start. I anticipated smooth sailing ahead.  What I didn’t anticipate is that everyone wants change until it affects them personally.  Why?  Growth is uncomfortable and requires change.

Those Who are Comfortable Do Not Grow

Most people are creatures of habit and like predicability.  They may preach the need for change and rally support…

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