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Rock Solid Challenge

Updates from Chuck to Rock Solid Grads

June 2024 - What are you measuring? May 2024 - Time for a mid-course correction? April 2024 - Time for a MRI? March 2024 - It will change your life. Really. February 2024 - What's yours? January 2024 - Cutting our losses! December 2023 - What are your BIG prayers for 2024? November 2023 - Are you locked in? November 2023 - Growing Old vs Growing Up October 2023 - I’m (NOT) free fallin’… September 2023 - When squeezed... July 2023 - Bucket #1 or Bucket #2? June 2023 - Stand Strong! May 2023 - Leading From the Inside Out

Hey, Brother — A few weeks ago, I had the awesome privilege to sit in a room full of Rock Solid grads. During our time together, we talked about KPIs. Metrics. Specifically, how do you measure whether you are becoming more and more rock solid on the inside? 

We tossed around several ways to keep score and then landed on one in particular: You know you are becoming more rock solid on the inside when those closest to you have the highest regard for you.*

We live in a best-foot-forward world in our everyday, public lives. But what about behind the door of our everyday, private lives?

What if someone interviewed your wife? Or your kids? Or your roommate? Or your business partner?

If those questions spike your blood pressure a bit, then more than likely there’s some work to be done.

Truth be told, ALL of us have work to do. All of us are works in progress. The key is the trend line. We are not about perfection, but we are all about progression. 

Sit for a moment in the words of the Apostle Paul penned under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit: 

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. (Philippians 4:12-14 NCV)

What are you reaching for? What are you STRAINING for? 

Let’s make sure that we are scoring well on the KPIs that matter most. 

Let’s show up strong for those closest to us. 

Chuck Olson Signature

For those living in SoCal, be sure to mark your calendar for the next Rock Solid Grad Breakfast: Saturday, September 21 in Altadena.

*Props to Carey Nieuwhof for crafting this language.

Hey, Brother — The other day at the gym—in between tossing around 300 lbs on the bench press 😉—I got to chatting with my buddy Ron. He’s got seven grandkids. I’ve got six. And we both agreed that a large part of our motivation for working up a sweat several times a week is to be able to enjoy our grands by having a measure of fitness to do some of the activities that they enjoy.

In the bigger picture, paying attention to our physical health is an important dimension of what it means to steward well all that God has entrusted to us.

So where are you at?

As you look in the mirror—in this case both figuratively AND physically—what do you see? If you were to retain the same fitness gameplan for the next 10 years what would be the outcome? Would you like the result? Would you have set yourself up well for being fully present and healthy for those God has entrusted to your care? Would you have set yourself up well for having the requisite stamina and energy for God’s call on your life?

Here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Do I eat thoughtfully? Do the majority of my meals throughout the week strengthen my body or just feed it?
  • Do I proactively arrange my schedule to get adequate sleep each night?
  • Do I have an exercise routine that creates vibrancy in my daily life?
  • Do I drink alcohol moderately? Or has it become my ‘escapist behavior’ (as we learned in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership)?
  • Do I faithfully have check-up appointments with my doctor to monitor my health?

And how about a bonus question for those who are married?

  • If you were to sit down with your gal and vet these questions, what would she say? Would you listen wholeheartedly without being defensive? And would you honor her in your response?

Here’s my ASK: Carve out 10-15 minutes to sit in God’s presence with these questions. Invite Him to guide you into whatever mid-course correction He is asking you to make. Write it down in your journal. Share it with one of your Rock Solid brothers. And most of all, do it.

Brother, let’s not misuse the gift of health God has granted to us. 

Let’s not short-change our loved ones and those in our circle of influence by compromising our vitality or our longevity.

Let’s play the long game.

In your corner,

Chuck Olson Signature

For those living in SoCal, be sure to mark your calendar for the next Rock Solid Breakfast: Saturday, September 21 in Altadena.

Hey, Brother — As you know, I love to read, especially about the intersection of leadership and spiritual formation.

Recently, I found great value in Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church. This book is filled with leadership wisdom. In its pages, I found a proverbial goldmine of what the life of a spiritual leader actually looks like. 

  1. His leadership is shaped by faith, not fear. 
  2. He leads out of humility and neediness, not pride and self-reliance. 
  3. He is quick to give grace because he knows how much he needs that same grace. 
  4. He does not love power and position more than he loves God and the people he has called him to serve.  
  5. He is as excited about and committed to the private pastoring of his family as he is to his public leadership work. 
  6. He resists being defensive, and is humble and approachable toward others and quick to confess sin. 
  7. He does not take credit for things he could never produce on his own without the sovereignty and grace of God and in partnership with others. 
  8. He cares more about living and leading in a way that pleases God than about gaining the praise of those around him.
  9. He does not look for his identity in his role as leader but rests in his identity in Christ.
  10. He has such a rest in God’s wise and loving control that he does not need to be in control.  
  11. He leads out of a generous heart, more ready to give and to serve than he is to demand and to get. 
  12. His leadership is marked more by love than by power. 
  13. He is always committed to reconciliation and restoration, no matter how costly. 
  14. He sees his physical body as an instrument of his calling, and because he does, he gives it proper attention and care. 
  15. He is not more irritated by the sin, weaknesses, and failures of others than by his own.
  16. He does not ask of others what he is not willing to do himself. 
  17. He is not jealous of or intimidated by the gifts, experiences, and successes of fellow leaders. 
  18. His public leadership is always connected to and driven by robust personal worship and meditative study.
  19. He is as committed to sabbaths of rest as to the achievement of goals.
  20. Personal holiness motivates him more than leadership position or success.
  21. He does not take advantage of the perks of his leadership for the purpose of personal gain.
  22. He does not crave power but willingly cedes it to others.
  23. He willingly sits under the instruction of others and weighs others’ opinions with humility and grace.
  24. He loves Jesus more than he loves himself.
  25. He longs for the gospel to transform the deepest reaches of his heart, and he is open to the instruments of gospel transformation that God has placed in his life.
  26. He owns his errors and never defends what should not be defended.

As I read (and re-read) this list, I am struck by two things. First, oh my, I’m a work in progress. Lots of room for growth. I fall short…regularly. And second, God doesn’t condemn me in my failings. Instead, He meets me there, gifting me with His enabling and empowering Spirit to rise up. Another shot. Another opportunity. That’s GRACE, Brother!

Leveraging this descriptive list, can I offer a next step?

Bookmark this blog. Open it up tomorrow morning when you start your day in God’s presence. Invite the Holy Spirit to perform an MRI of your heart. Wherever He shines the light, own it. Confess it. And embrace His transforming power and grace in laying hold of your next step in becoming more rock solid on the inside…so that you can be more dangerous for His Kingdom on the outside.

Let’s go!

Chuck Olson Signature

Rs Group Solitude

Hey, Brother — As you know, one of the many highlights of the Rock Solid journey is Solitude Sunday—the spiritual practice of being absent from people and things for an extended time in order to be fully present with Christ. This year was no exception.

After each of us enjoyed out time of solitude, we rallied to debrief.

During our download time, I was reminded of the words of Henri Nouwen: Without solitude, it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.

How true.

In addition to our DAILY rhythm of fellowship with Christ—in His Word and in prayer—we need a REGULAR rhythm (weekly or monthly) when we have an extended time (2-3 hours) with Him.

Why? Because there is a depth of conversation that Christ longs to have with us. Just us.

This time of solitude is certainly a time of friendship. But perhaps also a time of affirmation. Or guidance. Or correction.

It’s a time when we downshift the RPMs. Sit with Him. Stroll in His presence. And listen. 

In short, it is a one-on-one conversation between two intimate friends—who long to be together.

Chuck Olson Signature

Hey, Brother — Circle back with me to when you took Rock Solid. It’s Gathering #7. Our prep includes reading chapter 4 of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. In the middle of the download, one of the brothers calls out his big takeaway by reading a portion of page 68. From the storyline of Moses and the burning bush, the indwelling Spirit reaches down and divinely ‘connects the dots’ for you with laser-like clarity: 

For a leader to take time to turn aside and look is no small thing. In the rush of normal life, we often blow right past the place where God is creating a stir to get our attention. But at the heart of spiritual leadership is the capacity to notice the activity of God so we can join Him in it. Amid the welter of possible distractions, an essential discipline for leaders is to craft times of quiet in which we allow God to show us those things that we might otherwise miss. We need time for the chaos in our soul to settle so that we can turn aside to look at the great sights in our own life and seek understanding about what they mean.    

Did you see it? Did you catch YOUR job #1? 

Amid the welter of possible distractions, an essential discipline for leaders is to craft times of quiet in which we allow God to show us those things that we might otherwise miss.

While God’s job is the work of transformation, our job is the work of creating space. At the end of the day, life change is essentially a dynamic cooperation between the transforming work of God’s Spirit within us AND our proactive choice to create the opportunity for Him to do that work. Make no mistake: He does the heavy lifting, but we still have a pivotal part to play.

Brother, there is always a next faithful step in creating space for God’s work of transformation in your life and in your leadership.

What’s yours?

What rhythm/habit/practice is God inviting you to engage more deeply so that you can show up strong in your circle of influence, looking more and more like Him?

Chuck Olson Signature

BTW #1: If you live in or close to the San Gabriel Valley, join us for the 2024 Rock Solid Solitude Sunday at Eaton Canyon in Pasadena on Sunday, March 10. All Rock Solid grads are invited! Here are the details.

BTW #2: We have a couple more spots available for Rock Solid NEXT: Road to Character. Here are the details.

Hey, Brother — It’s impossible to navigate life without regrets. Impulsive decisions made that needed more thought. Hurtful words spoken (that seemed justified in the moment) that deeply damaged a relationship. Fill in the blank…

While we can’t erase the regrets of the past, the good news is that going forward we can change the game. We can write a better script.

To that end, I want to encourage you to listen to this message by Jon Tyson. It’s both thought-provoking and convicting. He talks about how regret happens, the consequences of regret, how to avoid regret, and how regret can be redeemed. 

Allow this teaching to set the stage for a year where we live intentionally, generously, and reflectively.

Let’s go!

Chuck Olson Signature

Before you go, I’ve got two more items to put on your radar:

  • Book Notes. If you want to dive deeper in the topic of living life with fewer and fewer regrets, check of these Book Notes from Andy Stanley’s book Better Decisions/Fewer Regrets.
  • Solitude Sunday. If you live in proximity to the San Gabriel Valley, plan to join us for Solitude Sunday on Sunday, March 10 from 2:30-5:00 PM at Eaton Canyon Park. Here are the details.

Hey, Brother — I’ve got a set of Bible verses that I am memorizing so that I can intentionally have God’s Word available in my daily life. One of those Scriptures is John 14:12-14:

I tell you the truth,
anyone who has faith in Me
will do what I have been doing.
He will do even greater things than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in My name,
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
You may ask Me for anything in My name,
and I will do it.

Wait a minute! Run that by me once more…

You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.

To state the obvious, there’s a lot in these verses. But in the short, when it comes to prayer, my job is to ASK—and to do so in the name of Jesus, that is, in sync with His purposes, His will (check out 1 John 5:14-15).

No question but that I want IN on that promise. Pretty sure you do too.

With those truths ringing in our ears, can I tee-up a challenge for you to complete in the next few days?

Here it is: Would you join me in writing out your BIG prayers for 2024?

Where do you need God to show up with His limitless power in your life and in your leadership in 2024?

  • Step 1: Write it down. Be specific. And make it BIG.
  • Step 2: Pray it out. Boldly (see Hebrews 4:16 for a reminder).

Let’s not sit on the sidelines with those who “have not because they ask not.”

Let’s rise up, Brother! 

God IS the Way-Maker.
Light in the darkness.

Here’s to a year like never before!

Chuck Olson Signature

Hey, Brother — Each November, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, I like to call a pregame huddle for every Rock Solid grad to be ready to maximize this significant holiday.

As a Kingdom leader, Thanksgiving provides a Grand Canyon-sized opening to lead well, serve well, and love well as you gather with family and friends.

Knowing that you may be the go-to person in your respective Thanksgiving gathering, what’s your game plan for leveraging your leadership that day? 

Let me jumpstart your thinking by uploading some considerations:  

During or after your feast, what if you were to…

  • Have each person pray a blessing over the person seated next to them. Consider using the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 as the lead-in to this time.
  • Seated around the table, give each person a blank sheet of paper with their name at the top. Then pass the paper around the table for each person to write down a few words of why they are thankful for that person. Have each person read aloud what was written about them.
  • Tell a Stone Story (Joshua 4). Invite your loved ones to hear about a challenging season in your life, sharing with transparency and also calling out how your faith-walk deepened as a result.
  • Bring a photo to the table from the family archives of someone who has gone ahead, reflecting on how your family is different/better because of their legacy.
  • Tee up a provocative question that shifts the conversation from everyday talk to eternity talk. “Over these past months, here is something that I’ve learned about life and about God…”

May your initiative as a leader create space for the Spirit of God to visit with you and your loved ones in a way that moves it from mundane to meaningful…from ordinary to extraordinary.

Chuck Olson Signature

Hey, Brother — Some people grow OLD, but sadly they never grow UP.

While aging is inevitable, maturing is totally optional. 

In his must-read book The Road to Character*, best-selling author David Brooks tackles the topics and values that should shape our lives, including what it means to be mature:

The person who successfully struggles against weakness and sin may or may not become rich and famous, but that person will become mature. Maturity is not based on talent or any of the mental or physical gifts that help you ace an IQ test or run fast or move gracefully. It is not comparative. It is earned not by being better than other people at something, but by being better than you used to be. It is earned by being dependable in times of testing, straight in times of temptation. Maturity does not glitter. It is not built on the traits that make people celebrities. A mature person possesses a settled unity of purpose. The mature person has moved from fragmentation to centeredness, has achieved a state in which the restlessness is over, the confusion about the meaning and purpose of life is calmed. The mature person can make decisions without relying on the negative and positive reactions from admirers or detractors because the mature person has steady criteria to determine what is right. That person has said a multitude of noes for the sake of a few overwhelming yeses.

In reading Brooks’ comments on maturity (and taking the conversation directly to SPIRITUAL maturity), I am compelled to ask:

  • Is spiritual maturity more important to me than my platform or my position or my portfolio or my accomplishments?
  • Does my life reflect a settled-ness of purpose that shows up in my daily decisions?
  • While I may do it ever so subtly, do I live and long for the approval of others more than God Himself?
  • Does the trend line of my choices in life reflect progress in maturing as a follower of Christ and as a leader of others?

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, 

take care that you are not carried away 

with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

–2 Peter 3:17-18

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

*Shout out to LWYL board member Jim Howe for putting this book on my radar. I’ve asked him to lead a Rock Solid NEXT on this insightful resource in Q1 of 2024. More info to follow.

Hey, Brother — The math is simple: Breakfast burritos + Krispy Kremes + Rock Solid brothers = Good times! 

Last Saturday was fabulous as all the local Rock Solid brothers gathered for our annual breakfast. (Check out a few snaps below).

Our morning culminated with a chance to talk about how to break a ‘free fall’…what to do when you feel like the proverbial pinball ricocheting off the seemingly endless bumpers of life. What to do when our lives lack focus and intentionality…and those who live downstream from our leadership are footing the bill.

From there, we called out the words of our Lord in Jeremiah: “Stop at the crossroads, and look around. Ask for the old, godly way; and walk in it.”

Next, we trotted out what the “old, godly way” looks like. Specifically, we circled back to our respective season of Rock Solid to recount three practices/rhythms of a leader who is on point: 

  • Daily time alone with God.
  • Weekly time of Sabbath.
  • Monthly time of solitude.

At minimum, each of us NEEDS these rhythms for two reasons. First, they are means to cultivating a vibrant, life-energizing relationship with Christ, who is the ultimate treasure. And second, to the extent we have this kind of relationship with Christ, is the extent that we show up strong with godly leadership for those who count on us to do so.

Brother, would you join me in looking in the mirror? What do we see? What would the Spirit of God want us to see?

Let’s celebrate our wins, our progress. AND let’s make any course corrections needed to break a free fall. 

A lot of people (that you care about deeply) are depending on you to do so.

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

Hey, Brother — Several months ago, Pattie and I started The SixPack Bible Reading Club. 

The what?

Long story short, we are encouraging our six grandkids to read the Bible daily.

Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Read the selected passage ten days in a row. We have them read it in their OWN Bible because we want them to see their Bible as a normal part of their daily life.
  • Step 2 (my favorite part!): FaceTime Oly (that’s me!) and talk about the passage.

Pinch me! Having a convo with my grandkids about the Bible–what could be better?!

What I want for my g-kids is what I want for myself. As it says in Colossians, I want the Word of God to DWELL RICHLY in me. I want God’s truth at home in my heart. When squeezed, I want it to ooze out of me. I want to be much more conversant about the Scriptures than newsbreaks, the latest Netflix series, video games, or even college football!

You get the picture.

Maybe it’s time to launch your own Bible Reading Club. With some family members? With some colleagues at work? With a couple Rock Solid brothers? 

The ROI will be bullish. Guaranteed.

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

  • For all those in the SoCal area, our annual Rock Solid Breakfast is set for Saturday, September 23 in the backyard of Carl and Sharon Clauson, 1199 E. Calaveras Street, Altadena, CA. RSVP at FYI: Breakfast Burritos will be served! 🙌🏼

Hey, Brother — For those who follow Christ, decisions come in two buckets. 

Bucket #1 are decisions in life that are UNCLEAR, calling for the need for WISDOM.

Bucket #2 are decisions in life that are CLEAR, calling for the need for OBEDIENCE.

Bucket #1 decisions are matters of discernment because there is no go-to ‘chapter and verse’ to anchor your decision. Things like what job do I take, what car should I buy, who should I date/marry, etc.

But Bucket #2 decisions are a different breed. These decisions DO have a ‘chapter and verse’ that provide undebatable guidance for what to do. Things like do I report all my income to the IRS (Romans 13)? Can I ‘enhance’ my resume to increase my marketability (Colossians 3)?. Can I sleep with my girlfriend (1 Thessalonians 4)?, etc.

Brother, as a follower of Christ, and even more so as a Kingdom leader, we need to be men of obedience—saturating ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and then living it out without compromise.

Over the years, my counsel has been this: If you want God’s BLESSING, then position yourself as best as you can to receive it. 

As I review the game film of my own life, it’s our self-serving will that too often gets in the way.

“Father, today I once again surrender my will to Yours. But I admit, it’s a struggle. The fight between the flesh and the Spirit is real…and at times, fierce. Empower me, embolden me to rise up to live a life of obedience—for there I find health and wholeness. Your path of righteousness always leads me to soul-satisfying places. Thank You!”

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

  • For all those in the SoCal area, our annual Rock Solid Breakfast is set for Saturday, September 23 in Altadena. Details to follow later.

Hey, Brother — You will recall from your Rock Solid journey our conversations about the priority of sexual purity in the life of a leader. In reviewing the storyline in Genesis 39 of Joseph’s refusal to the advances of Potiphar’s wife, I am reminded that every major moral compromise is preceded by a string of small ones.

How are you doing in the area of sexual temptation? 

As we all know, it is one of the most powerful weapons of our enemy to blow up our lives and our leadership. Too many Kingdom leaders have been sidelined by caving in to the temptation of sexual sin.

When it’s all said and done, the reality check is this: Spiritual leaders refuse the passing pleasures of sin in exchange for the lasting joys of honoring God

So I leave you with this question: In this season of life, what mid-course corrections do you need to make in order to accumulate a bank account of wise, everyday choices that position you for success in a moment of temptation? 

Bring those corrections into the light—both with Christ and with the like-minded brothers with whom you do life. 

Don’t waste your time on useless work,
mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness.
Expose these things for the sham they are.
It’s a scandal when people waste their lives
on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see…
So watch your step. Use your head.
Make the most of every chance you get.
These are desperate times!
Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly.
Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
—Ephesians 5:11-17 (MSG)

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

  • For all those in the SoCal area, our annual Rock Solid Breakfast is set for Saturday, September 23 in Altadena. Details to follow later.

Hey, Brother — Rock Solid is the foundational ministry initiative of Lead With Your Life with the mission is to equip Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.

Which begs the question: What does it actually mean to “lead from the inside out”?

Glad you asked…

Below you will find a collection of statements I’ve curated over the years. They serve as an ongoing north star for me personally. Additionally, they serve as my own personal annual ‘performance review’. 

Before you read them, can I tee-up a recommendation? First, do a personal inventory by jotting down a rating after each statement. And second, next time meet up with some Kingdom-minded leaders, perhaps in a Huddle Group, share the statement that you most want to see cultivated in your life and leadership. 

  • I lead with my life when I allow God to move me from my agenda to His. ___
  • I lead with my life when I show up to serve out of the overflow of my walk with Christ. ___
  • I lead with my life when I refuse to let my stage outsize my soul.___
  • I lead with my life when my service for God is not based on the applause of others. ___
  • I lead with my life when I embrace the reality that in a season of wilderness—
    with all its pain and disorientation—that God is doing a deep and needful work in my soul. ___
  • I lead with my life when I recognize that leadership is a posture, not a position. ___
  • I lead with my life when I serve out of a deep sense of my identity of who God says I am versus the twisted messages of the world.___
  • I lead with my life when I seek the wisdom of like-minded brothers. ___
  • I lead with my life when my leadership flows from the weekly rhythms of Sabbath and solitude. ___
  • I lead with my life when those who live downstream from my leadership feel loved, valued, and served.___
  • I lead with my life when I live this life in anticipation of the next.___
  • I lead with my life when I set aside my personal preferences in order to meet the needs of another.___
  • I lead with my life when I recognize that the power of Christ is made perfect in my weakness. ___
  • I lead with my life when there is a remarkable consistency between what I say I will do and what I actually do. ___
  • I lead with my life when I first sit in God’s presence before I act on His behalf. ___
  • I lead with my life when I pay attention to how God is preparing me today for what He has in store for me tomorrow. ___
  • I lead with my life when I leave a legacy larger than the heritage I was handed. ___
  • I lead with my life when there is congruence and authenticity between my public life and my private life. ___
  • I lead with my life when I set the temperature rather than simply taking it. ___
  • I lead with my life when I care more about my character than my credentials or my accomplishments. ___
  • I lead with my life when I embrace my leadership role as a sacred stewardship not as a self-serving entitlement.___
  • I lead with my life when l care less about position, and more about influence. ___
  • I lead with my life when I refuse to let my work for Christ replace my communion with Christ. ___
  • l lead with my life when I deal honestly with my past—its pain and its baggage—so that I might more fully embrace the future. ___
  • I lead with my life when God’s active presence is the distinguishing mark of my leadership. ___

Fighting for the hearts and souls of Kingdom leaders,

Chuck Olson Signature

  • As a reminder, if you’d like to pull up some of the Rock Solid resources, you can go to: Rock Solid Grads Resources online: Rock Solid Notebook, Personal Profile, etc.