4 Ways to Live a More Thankful Life

4 Ways to Live a Thankful Life

Giving thanks is an important part of how we interact with God. Being thankful to God, in a way, is choosing to be vulnerable, releasing our concepts of control in our lives over to him. While giving thanks often takes place around a meal or in our personal prayers, it’s worth thinking about thanksgiving as more than an act, but a state of the heart and constant outpouring. Throughout the Psalms we see countless instances of giving constant thanks with the entirety of the heart.  Psalm 86:12 is a great example—”I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever,”—as is Psalm 9:1. Sometimes being thankful is hard. We have days where we can’t see the good things God has provided for us. We can be envious of what others have and feel like we’re coming up short on things to be thankful for. If we want to live more thankful lives, we need to put a few things into practice.

1. Think of the gospel and evaluate your mindset

Are you too wrapped up in your day-to-day challenges to see the good things God has placed in your life? It might be time to evaluate your mindset.

If you need a place to start, there is no greater thing to be thankful for than the work of Christ on the Cross.

The gospel is larger than your discomforts, hardships, arguments, and short-comings. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” It’s impossible to imagine a more stunning act of love. This, first and foremost, is what we should be thankful for each day.

2. Open prayers with giving thanks

Beginning a prayer with, “Thank you, Lord . . .” is a humbling way to acknowledge God’s work in our lives and our dependence on him. It’s a simple, yet powerful act of gratitude that’s important in any prayer life.

3. Make a daily list of what you’re thankful for

Creating a list of things you’re thankful for focuses your attention and time on identifying God’s blessings and how he is working in your life. Try keeping a list for one week—you might be surprised at how this practice shapes your outlook on gratitude.

Get specific with your list. When you ask yourself, “What am I thankful for?” do you default to broad categories? “Family?” “Friends?” “God?” These are all great things to be thankful for, but what if you drilled down deeper to more specific events, people, and happenings? You can be thankful for your friends, but more specifically, how a particular friend supported you through a rough day and gave you much-needed words of wisdom in the situation. To take this a step further, let others know you are thankful for their friendship, fellowship, love, etc.

4.  Quit the comparison game

Constantly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that’s bound to leave you feeling like you’re coming up short in some way. We were all created with different gifts, abilities, and life stories. It’s inevitable that our blessings, and what we are thankful for, will vary. We are able to have a thankful heart when we focus on our relationship with God and what he is doing in our lives—not what others have or appear to have. Don’t let your focus on someone else’s blessings diminish yours or your ability to see the good things God has provided for you.

  Thankfulness is always in season. If you need a resource to help you focus on giving thanks to God, A Collection of Thanksgiving Blessings is just 99 cents on Vyrso through November 30.

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Enter to Win Catalyst 2015 Tickets and the David C. Cook Bundle!

Through December 1, you can enter to win two tickets to any Catalyst event of your choosing in 2015 and our David C. Cook bundle. Make sure to share this giveaway with your friends—every time you get a friend to click on your link to the giveaway you’ll gain more entries!

You can enter to win at vyrso.com/dailydeals (at the bottom of the page) or in the giveaway widget here:

Learn more about the prizes:

We’ve partnered with Catalyst to give away two tickets to any 2015 Catalyst event of your choosing. That means you could attend one of their leadership events in Atlanta, San Diego, Dallas, or any other Catalyst event around the United States in 2015. Catalyst is planning on having over nine events in 2015, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from if you win. You could select a place close to home or even attend an event on the other side of the country! 

The winner will also receive our 30-volume David C. Cook bundle for free! This is a brand-new, exclusive bundle from Vyrso and David C. Cook with titles from John C. Maxwell, David Frost, Glenn Packiam, Britt Merrick, Don Cousins, Ken Blanchard, and many others. 

The David C. Cook bundle is also available to purchase on Vyrso.com. When you download this bundle you’ll save over $350 on these 30 ebooks! This bundle is only available until December 1.

Enter win the Catalyst Prize Pack and start reading today with the David C. Cook bundle!

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Bringing Hope to a Toxic Environment

Creating a Better Workplace

What do you do if your workplace environment  is toxic, rife with conflict, and there isn’t an easy way out? Most of us have experienced an unhealthy atmosphere whether it’s been a sports team, in the workplace, or even within the church. Maybe you’ve experienced a boss that has been a bully or had a desk next to the office complainer. When we encounter these situations what do we, as Christians, do?

In Tim Chester’s ebook, Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be, he says, “Conflict is an opportunity to repent of selfish desires or demonstrate grace.” We often want to blame other people within our organizations as the instigators of the conflict or toxicity, but we rarely want to acknowledge our contribution to the situation. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”  One of the quickest ways to infuse change in unhealthy workplaces is to first change ourselves, our actions, and our reactions. By repenting and extending grace we’ll be able to help change the culture we’re in.

If you find your response to toxic situations is less than admirable and want to understand more deeply what is happening in you, Tim Chester suggests you ask yourself these four questions:

1. When do you respond badly in the workplace? Is there a specific trigger or pattern?

2. How do you respond badly? This is the perfect opportunity for you to refine your own reactions and repent.

3. What happens when you act badly? James 3: 13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By His good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Was someone else hurt by your snarky comment? Did you throw someone else under the bus to protect yourself?

4. Why do you act badly? What do you really want? Pray for the wisdom to identify the desires and humble yourself before God.

By humbling ourselves before God and understanding how and why we respond negatively, we can begin to change not only our hearts, but our actions and responses. We can then bring hope and change to toxic environments by modeling uplifting, level-headed, and godly behavior for others.

Want to read more from Tim Chester on work environments? You can get his ebook, Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be, on Vyrso today. 

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3 Reasons to Vote Today

3 Reasons to Vote

Voting is complicated. Decision making is difficult when the media and our conversations (and even our Facebook streams) become saturated with opinions that prove to be more vague and loud than honest and helpful. Oftentimes we see voting as an inconvenience—did you remember to turn in your ballot on time or to fill it out at all? The answer to this difficulty is not inaction. Today is Election Day in the United States—so why should we vote?

To keep leadership and government accountable

Governments and the governed are meant to be accountable to one another. That’s—ideally—why we vote. In Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason, author Dr. Amy E. Black writes, As part of a political community, we can and should pay attention to what elected officials are doing and speak out when government appears to veer off course. But we need to do so while still showing respect for those in authority and the offices they hold.” The act of voting is a respectful way to keep elected officials accountable to their responsibilities. 

To care for one another and seek justice

While it’s important to understand the limitations of government, voting can enact change that can better the world and care for the people that God created. Isaiah 1:17 tells us to do good, seek justice and correct oppression. It’s easy to think about how a policy would affect us personally, but it’s worth thinking about how policy helps “secure the common good,” Black writes, thinking about others who are more vulnerable than ourselves. A typical ballot may not always contain policy that directly decides the fate of the oppressed, but with the resources at our disposal to voice our opinions, it seems foolish to pass up the chance and privilege to influence policy in a way that fulfills our calling to care for others.

To avoid apathy when it comes to complex problems

Voting, itself, is responsive. It is a step towards finding solutions to the complexities of government policy. Instead of tapping out when issues get complicated, we need to choose to lean in a little further. What if no one had stepped up to ensure voting rights for all citizens of the United States regardless of race or gender? The 15th and 19th Amendments may seem like no-brainers today, but at the time they were landmark pieces of legislation for American culture. Fast-forward to this year’s elections. We still encounter complex social and economic issues on the ballot, but that can’t deter us from voting. Conduct your own research and take the time to make a decision.

Voting is important, and we need to remember to pray for our political leaders. You may not agree with all policies and stances from your current political leaders, but prayer shows the respect that God asks us to have for leaders and government. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, Paul writes “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. . . .”  In a culture where we expect instant gratification and change, it can be difficult to remember that prayer has the power to change things.

Today is a good day for change. Election Day in the United States is about more than turning in a ballot and getting an “I Voted!” sticker. It’s about speaking up in a way that respects our leaders and seeks government accountability, justice, and progress. If you do anything today, make sure to vote. Make your opinion count.

Not sure where to vote? Use this handy tool to find a location near you.

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Free Leadership Titles For a Limited Time

be-all-you-can-be-a-challenge-to-stretch-your-god-given-potential

I’m really excited to announce that two of our top leadership ebooks are free today! John C. Maxwell’s Be All You Can Be is free today only, October 16, and The Heart of a Leader by Richard Blanchard is free through October 17. You won’t want miss out on adding these two ebooks to your collection!

Here is some more information on the two titles:

Be All You Can Be:

America’s leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, gives you the tools you need to be a more effective leader. In this powerful book filled with easy-to-grasp truths you can put to work right away, you’ll discover the principles of success that can really help you succeed. Maxwell will guide you through four key steps:

Know: Discover the principles for fulfilling your God-given potential.

Show: Learn how to model the principles so others can see them at work.

Go: Roll up your sleeves, get out into the world, and live what you’ve learned.

Grow: Experience living at your full potential, continually assessing your progress.

As a result, you’ll gain considerable hope for the future, which in turn will give you power to overcome in the present. Successful living and leading starts now: Accept the challenge to Be All You Can Be.

The Heart of a Leader:

Arranged with your busy schedule in mind, this book offers you Blanchard’s most important concepts in an accessible format. You can reach for instant motivation and insight on a daily basis or soak it up in one reading. Powerfully challenging and deeply inspiring, The Heart of a Leader will enable you to develop the courageous heart of a true leader, master key attitudes and actions to impact lives around you, and enjoy the profound wisdom that only Ken Blanchard can deliver.

Get Be All You Can Be free through October 16 and The Heart of a Leader free through October 17. Pick up your copies today before these limited-time discounts expire!

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Act Like a Shepherd, Not a CEO

Be a Shepherd

When I think about leaders, I think of people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Oprah, and U.S. Presidents—all well-known, influential individuals. John C. Maxwell once said, “I have come to this conclusion: Leadership is Influence. That’s it. Nothing more; nothing less.” 

I think this is true. But it’s not the whole picture. 

While influence is often the mark of a strong leader in politics, business, and industry, regard for influence alone ignores the driving force behind it—the relational work.

Halee Gray Scott, PhD, builds on this famous quote in her book, Dare Mighty Things:

“Biblical leadership is not just about influencing others toward a goal, for the task of the shepherd-leader is much more comprehensive. It involves knowing the flock, their limitations and their needs, knowing the goal or destination, and knowing how to get them there.”

Scott writes that shepherds in the ancient world were not regarded as influential people, yet over and over again the shepherd is seen as an illustration for leadership of the highest esteem.  We read, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1-3), Jeremiah 3:15, John 10:11, and many, many more instances of this powerful illustration.

The shepherds of the ancient world had four main duties. Shepherds:

  • Were in the physical proximity of their flock and actively aware of what was going on around them
  • Protected their flock with vigilance
  • Provided for and met the needs of their flock
  • Guided the flock with consideration of the flock’s abilities and limitations

When it comes down to it, a shepherd wouldn’t be able to do their job without intimately knowing their flock, knowing its strengths, abilities, and limitations. Relationship and understanding have to come before influence.

If we want to become better leaders, we need to take a lesson from the shepherd’s duties:

  • Be present with the people you lead—make small talk, actively listen, and be there in times of need.
  • Be an advocate and a teammate, don’t leave your team high and dry.
  • Be attentive to the needs of others not only in a work capacity, but on a personal level.
  • Guide others with consideration of their abilities and limitations—presenting opportunities for growth, not setting people up for failure.

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Halee Gray Scott’s ebook, Dare Mighty Things, is now available on Vyrso. How can you be more like a shepherd in leadership? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

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Building a Better Workplace

Creating a Better Workplace

Many of us—over 119 million people in the U.S.—are employed in some shape or form, whether it is a part-time job flipping burgers or a high-end career in law. It’s safe to say that most of us go to work on a regular basis.

Interestingly enough, a majority of people don’t like going to work.

In a study released early this summer by the Conference Board, fewer than half of American workers indicated that they were satisfied with their jobs in 2013. Over the past three-year period, U.S. employees have never been more dissatisfied with their work. Why is that the case?

I believe that a large portion of this dissatisfaction stems from the lack of quality leadership within organizations. Good leaders can see places that need improvement in their sphere of influence and take purposeful action to make improvements. How can we improve this statistic to build a happier workplace?

It can be as simple as showing gratitude and brightening someone’s day at work, or as complex as asking the right questions to learn from others. Here are three activities you can start doing today to create a more enjoyable workplace for others and yourself:

1.   Pray before every meeting or phone call

This doesn’t have to be an incredibly fancy or intricate prayer. Just simply ask that God would be with you in the meeting and that you’d be open to hearing him speak and move in the meeting. The key here is to listen and watch for where Jesus leads!

2.   Thank one person—every day—for the work they do

You can simply send an email, write a post-it note, or even thank them face to face! Even go the extra mile, maybe get them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. When we take the time to show that we value our co-workers, employees, and bosses, people’s attitudes improve and they know when they’re doing great work.

3.   Ask questions

 In my opinion, the best leaders ask great questions. They know how to let you think that you’re providing the answers—even if they already know the answer themselves. Questions also indicate interest in what others have to say and a willingness to listen and learn. Ask questions of your superiors, of those who report directly to you, and of your family and friends. This will force you to listen in on the conversation rather than dictate it.

What is one simple task that you do every day that has improved your leadership this year? Leave a comment below!

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Five Traits Found in a Good Leader

Five Traits of a Good Leader

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend some time with our friends at the Catalyst Conference, an annual conference focused on addressing topics specific to the next generation of leaders in the church. I’m really excited about the work they’re doing to make an impact and stir up excitement in the hearts of leaders. A ton of Vyrso authors spoke at the conference, including Mark Batterson, Andy Stanley, Christine Caine, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Tim Keller, Craig Groeschel, and many others. As Catalyst wraps up today, we’ll be ramping up our emphasis on leadership for the month of October. All month long we’ll be highlighting content, featuring titles, and sharing thoughts about leadership. We’ll emphasize what it means to be a leader in your home, workplace, and church. As I sat in Catalyst and listened to the amazing speakers, I couldn’t help but think of how important it is for leaders to focus on improving their skills and pursuing growth. With that in mind, I’ve outlined five traits that I believe make up a strong Christian leader. 

1. Availability

A good leader has to be available. To be a Christian leader, we first need to be willing to go wherever God tells us to go, even when it seems like a huge stretch. Sometimes this means traveling to West Africa to work with relief efforts fighting the spread of disease, but it can also mean staying right where you are located. One of the most challenging aspects of being available is being willing to do unpleasant and unseen work. If you’re not available, you’ll most likely miss the opportunity to learn something or to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

2. Rooted in the Bible

This one seems like a no-brainer. Without a firm foundation in Jesus and the Bible, the Christian leader will not be able to sustain growth. But how often do we overlook this trait and chalk it up as a daily task to check off? If we want to grow a church, business, or community, we need to get our encouragement from the Bible. We might sustain growth for a short season without this, but eventually our efforts will crumble.

3. Open to change

To be a change-maker you need to be willing to be changed first. We all have shortcomings and weaknesses, and good leaders are willing to identify these points within themselves and make active changes before expecting others to do so.

4. Strives for progress

A leader loves progress, not only in their own lives but in the lives of the people around them, their surrounding community, and in the world. A leader loves seeing the effects of their work and the work of others. They rejoice at progress, even when they don’t get the credit or attention!

5. Courage

Finally, leadership takes courage—courage to take bold leaps and pursue things that are outside your comfort zones. Courage encompasses big and small acts and decisions. This could mean something as big as moving to a new country or as small as walking across the room to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Both situations take courage, and without it positive change and progress can be hard to come by.

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What is one trait you find essential in Christian leadership? We’d love to hear your thoughts— leave a comment below!

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Get the Newest Ebooks for Less with Pre-Orders

the-leadership-handbook-26-critical-lessons-every-leader-needs

This month on Vyrso we’re excited to announce that we have a number of pre-order titles available at discounts you’ll only see on Vyrso. We’ve lined up 25 of the best pre-order titles shipping in the next 5 months from authors like John Ortberg, Andy Stanley, Trip Lee, John C. Maxwell, David Platt, and more! I’d like to note that these aren’t titles that have been out for months or years, these titles will be the ebooks you’ll hear people talking about for the next six months. Titles like The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating, Jesus Swagger, and John C. Maxwell’s newest ebook The Leadership Handbook are all great reads that are sure to spark lasting conversation among your family, friends, and church. These discounts won’t last long—they’ll disappear on October 31, so make sure to reserve your ebook at the lowest price today! Unsure of how pre-ordering on Vyrso works? The process is simple—click pre-order, we’ll lock in the price, and once the product is ready to ship we’ll remind you that your credit card will be processed. Once the product ships, your ebook will automatically appear in your Vyrso app! Here are the 25 titles we’ve discounted, exclusively on Vyrso:

Pre-order your favorite or all 25 titles to lock in these discounted prices!

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Just Added to the 99-Cent Sale: Dekker, Peretti, and More!

99cent

I love the pace of a good thriller, the suspense that an author builds, and how most of the ebooks end in a nice little bow at the end. But maybe the suspense/thriller category isn’t your cup of tea, and you’d rather enjoy the beautiful character development that is woven into a heart-warming romance novel. Whatever type of fiction you enjoy, I recommend perusing our wide selection of titles included in our 99-cent sale. You won’t want to miss out on these limited-time savings!

As we approach the end of the 99-cent fiction sale (September 26) I wanted to highlight a couple additional titles that we added late last week, including titles by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti.

Here are 5 new additions:

Showdown: A Paradise Novel by Ted Dekker
Welcome to Paradise, a sleepy town that quickly becomes energized with the talk of a black-cloaked man who promises to grant any unfulfilled dream—he is irresistible. Seems like bliss, but is it? Is hell about to break loose in Paradise?

Heaven’s Wager by Ted Dekker
Kent Anthony is a brilliant software engineer who is living the ideal life, with thoughts far away from theft and murder. He’s left his past far behind, or so he thinks.

Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins
Annie Kingston moved to Grove Landing for safety and quiet, but she quickly comes face to face with evil when her neighbor Lisa Willet is killed. Asked to question the daughter of the deceased, Erin Willet, Annie finds herself begging God, whom she doesn’t believe in, for help. Join Annie and Erin as they travel to the brink of death trying to find the real killer.

Thunder in the Morning Calm by Don Brown
Former Navy JAG officer and action officer in the Pentagon, Don Brown pens an action-packed thriller that is full of credible and compelling details. Join Lieutenant Commander ‘Gunner’ McCormick as he assembles a three-man commando squad on a suicide mission into North Korea to search for his long lost grandfather rumored to be held in a secret prison camp.

Hangman’s Curse by Frank Peretti
Frank Peretti introduces Nate Springfield, his wife Sarah, and their two children Elijah and Elisha as a part of the Veritas Project team. The family travels the country aiding the FBI in busting drug rings and solving mysteries. In Hangman’s Curse, the family goes undercover in a small town high school—where a mysterious curse has turned several football players into lunatics.

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If you haven’t been keeping up with our posts about the sale, I recommend reading our post outlining 5 ebooks to read this fall, Creston Mapes’ post on The Power of Story, and Michelle Griep’s post on Addiction.  There are only a few days left to take advantage of these huge savings so make sure to get them today before time runs out!

What is your favorite type of fiction to read?

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