What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #7)

One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson.  We knew each other in college, and we were in seminary together at Emory.  He became the pastor of the largest Methodist Church in America at First Methodist in Houston, Texas.  I had the privilege to work with him on a lot of things for renewal in The United Methodist Church.  He retired early to North Alabama; sadly, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bill was a great preacher.  I’ll never forget his telling about lion tamers who go into the cage with lions.  They carry a four-legged stool.  They also carry whips, poles, and pistols, but the purpose of the stool is fascinating.

The lion tamer always holds the stool by the back and points the four legs toward the face of the wild animal.  The animal tries to focus on all four legs at once.  When he does this, a kind of paralysis comes over him, and the animal becomes weak and disabled because his attention is fragmented and is unable to focus.

Too often we try to focus on too many things, and we become victims of discouragement and disappointment, and ineffective living.  A lack of focus is destructive.

One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 12:1-2.  The backdrop is an athletic event, the race.  The writer describes that the runner always runs with focus and purpose.  He says, “We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega of our faith.” 

You never see a runner win who is multi-focused while he is running.  You don’t see him waving to people up in the crowd, or “hot-dogging.”  The runner who wins focuses on the finish line and runs straight towards it.  He  doesn’t look at his competitors!  He doesn’t get distracted.  He is focused!

One of the big differences in success and failure is how well we are able to focus.  Someone has said, “The successful man is the average man – focused.”

When a football team goes out of town for the big game, much of the planning centers on how to keep the team focused.  Play off and championship games carry with them many distractions.  The more focused a team can be, the better it will perform.  Last year a German soccer team immediately changed hotels for its training camp.  They found that a beauty contest was taking place at that resort hotel with 400 Russian models.  Smart coach!

There is a convicting Old Testament story about a guard who was looking after an enemy who had been captured.  His responsibility was to focus on keeping the prisoner secure. 

When his leader came to check on him, they discovered the prisoner had escaped.  The leader wondered how that could happen.  Was the guard overpowered by the prisoner, or did some colleagues come and help the man escape?  He asked the guard to explain.  His explanation was, “While I was busy here and there, the prisoner escaped” (1 Kings 20:39-40).  The guard had not stayed focused on his duty!

Stay focused on your purpose.  A huge traffic jam recently occurred in Alabama where a truck driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a loose tooth.  He crashed his 18-wheeler along Interstate 20.  While he grabbed hold of the troublesome tooth, he lost control, jack-knifed and veered off the road.  He forgot about driving and focused on pulling his tooth.  The highway patrol verified his dilemma when he said, “He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof!”  But that did not untangle the traffic jam or fix his truck.

Remember, a lack of focus can paralyze you.  Stay focused!

What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

Update on my surgery

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all your prayers this past week.  Great news – I am going home!!!!  (As of this publication, John Ed is at home.)

God provided people who connected me with Dr. Todd Sheils at East Alabama Medical Center.  I don’t think there is a finer doctor who could have performed my third hip surgery, which was a challenge.  Every doctor and nurse and administrator was exceptional.  I feel blessed.  It could not have gone better.

I will have some antibiotic treatment and will use a walker as a precautionary measure for a couple of weeks.  I have no pain, and the next time you see me I won’t be limping!!

This experience was a blessing to have doctors and a medical staff pray before they performed their ministry of healing.  What I dreaded turned out to be a blessing!  Thanks for praying for that.

For the Cause of causes,

John Ed

What’s your GQ – Growth Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #6)  Growth is essential in life.  Growth involves knowing how to handle success and failure because success or failure can either negate or fuel growth

We sometimes get into a situation where we think that we can’t go forward.  When this happens, it’s a good idea to stop and see if we are facing in the wrong direction!  Remember, God judges a man not by the point he has reached but by the way he is facing.  God doesn’t judge by distance but by direction.

Growth requires taking a risk in the forward direction.  Someone has said you can approach life in two ways – protect it or pursue it.  When the voice of safety says, “Build a fire in the hearth and stay in where it is warm,” the voice of growth says, “Build a fire in your soul, then go out and pursue your vision with a passion.”  (Tweet this)

C.S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird – it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.”  Life really has two options – grow or die.  What is your GQ?

A man went back to his alma mater for his 50th anniversary of his graduation.  He had accomplished many things in his life as a physician.  He served as a surgeon in a large hospital, he was decorated as a military hero in World War II, and he was an accomplished bicyclist, a devoted husband, father and grandfather. When he went to his school, the old graduate was interviewed by a student reporter who asked, “What is the most important thing you learned in college?”  Without hesitation, he replied, “How to go on learning for the rest of my life.”

Life is a process of learning and growing.  Oliver Wendell Holmes was studying Greek at age 94.  When somebody asked him why he was studying Greek at that age, he replied, “My good sir, it’s now or never!”  I heard a good friend often say, “What matters most is not the years in your life – but the life in your years.”  (Tweet this)

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived out this concept.  When he was way up in years, his hair was white as snow.  A friend asked him how he sustained his vigor and zest for life.  This person wanted to know how he could keep on writing so beautifully.

Longfellow pointed to a blossom on an apple tree and said, “That tree is very old, but I never saw prettier blossoms on it than those which it now bears.  That tree grows new wood each year.  Like that apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year.”

How much new wood are you growing this year?

The Bible says, “We grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s plan for our lives” (2 Pet. 3:18).  “We are to grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15).  “You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you” (Col. 3:10).

I believe God tells us like He told Israel – “Clear lots of ground for your tents!  Make your tents large.  Spread out!  Think big!  Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.  You’re going to need lots of elbow room . . . Don’t be afraid – you’re not going to be embarrassed.  Don’t hold back – you’re not going to come up short” (Isaiah 54:2-3 MSG).  Don’t get discouraged when you don’t have immediate growth in every situation.  Growth isn’t always consistent, but it must be evident in measurable increments.

What is your GQ – Growth Quotient?

Update on John Ed’s surgery

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for your prayers on behalf of John Ed.  He had his hip surgery this morning.  Dr. Todd Sheils, his surgeon, was able to replace the cup and stabilize John Ed’s mobility.  He reported unexpected infection was present and will require 6-8 weeks of aggressive antibiotics.  He will stay in the hospital until the first part of next week as of now.  Prayers are still needed for the infection to clear up.  Revisions in John Ed’s schedule will be forthcoming.
We appreciate your support and continued prayers.
Lynn Mathison and Family

What’s Your QQ – Quit Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #5) One of the most incredible sports stories occurred 30 years ago in the state of Alabama at Troy University.   This 30-year anniversary will be celebrated at Troy by the young men and their families who participated on the 1987 championship baseball team.  Let me tell you about Warren Arrington, a young man who played a significant part in making that championship possible.

In the 1980’s, I went each week to Jeff Davis High School here in Montgomery to meet with different athletic teams and speak to them.  It was a rich experience for me.  For about 10 years I witnessed some state championships. 

One of those outstanding athletes was a football and baseball player named Warren Arrington.  He had great athletic skill and a great attitude about life.  Warren went to Troy University on a baseball scholarship. 

In 1987, Troy was in a one-game playoff to determine who from their conference would advance to the college playoffs.  Troy was trailing by 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs. 

Warren Arrington was the batter.  He hit a routine grounder to the 3rd baseman who could throw it to 1st and Troy’s season would be over.  But Warren was fast and ran as hard as he had ever run to 1st base.  The 1st baseman juggled the catch, and Warren was safe.  Instead of being the end of the game and season, Troy had new life!  With 2 outs, the next 3 batters got base hits.  Troy scored 3 runs and won the conference title!

This sent them to the regional playoffs where they won and then went to the national championship game at Patterson Field in Montgomery.  Troy won, and they were crowned national champions.  It’s so important to never give up! 

It all goes back to that one play, 2 outs, trailing by 2 runs, and most players would have run routinely to 1st base ending the game.  But Warren’s “never quit” attitude was that he still had a chance – and he made good on that opportunity.  Because of that, Troy has a national championship, and Warren was named an All-American.  As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win!”

The current baseball coach, Mark Smart, played 2nd base on that championship team.  Recently I was speaking to 400 baseball coaches at their annual convention in Birmingham, and I didn’t know Coach Smart was there.  He was pleasantly surprised when I used this illustration in my talk on never giving up. 

I talked with Warren Arrington recently, and I asked him about that historic moment.  He said he was always coached to “never give up.”  He said, “You have to give it all you’ve got until it’s over.”  That’s a great attitude toward life.  That attitude helped produce a national championship and a championship life!

Never quit!  Don’t include the word quit in your vocabulary.  I like what someone said about Napoleon – “He didn’t know the word quit – he didn’t know English!”

Never quit!  “Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit” (Psalm 27:14 MSG).  “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate . . . the reward is life and more life” (James 1:12 MSG).  “Staying with it – that’s what is required.  Stay with it to the end.  You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved” (Luke 21:19 MSG).

What is your QQ – Quit Quotient?

Special Prayer Request

February 14, 2017

Dear Friends,

Our Board wanted you to know that John Ed will be having hip revision surgery at East Alabama Medical Center on Wednesday, February 15.  Dr. Todd Sheils is his doctor.  This is the hip that was replaced in 1998, and it received a new liner in 2003. 

Please pray for John Ed, his doctor, staff, John Ed’s family, and all those involved. 

You will continue to receive his new blogs each week as John Ed has prepared those in advance, and he has recorded his one-minute radio and Facebook spots for the next few weeks.

In His Service,

John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Board of Directors

What’s Your WQ – Winning Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #4 – There’s an old comment often used in sports that says, “It’s not over till it’s over.”  This statement could not be more true than what we have experienced in 6 major sporting events in the last year.  All 6 were considered to be over, but they weren’t over because the opponents came back and won.  The WQ – winning quotient – was small but decisive.

The Australia Open is one of the four major tennis tournaments each year.  This year, the finals featured two surprise players – Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.  Those names are very familiar, but neither one had won in quite some time.  Both of them had sat out the latter part of last year with injuries.  Their match went five sets.  In the 5th set, everybody thought it was over when Nadal broke Federer’s serve.  But it wasn’t over for Federer until he won the last point!  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The Big Dance – college basketball’s best 67 teams – was really something.  In the finals, North Carolina hit an unbelievable jump shot to go ahead with 5 seconds left.  Everybody thought the game was over.  However, Villanova hit a long 3-pointer that won the game 77-74.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The NBA finals featured Cleveland going for its first professional sports basketball championship in many years.  Golden State jumped ahead 3 games to 1 – everybody thought it was over.  But Cleveland came back to win 2 games and tie it 3-3.  The final game was played at Golden State.  The Warriors were ahead, and everybody thought it was over, but LeBron James made an incredible block of a shot and Kyle Irving then scored a basket to win.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The World Series featured the Chicago Cubs.  They hadn’t won a World Series in more years than anybody could remember.  The Cubs were down 3 games to1.  They came back to send the Series to a 7th game.  At different points in the 7th game, one team went ahead, and people thought it was over.  The Cubs came through with a 1-run win in the 10th inning.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The national college football championship was a rematch from the previous year.  Alabama and Clemson battled hard, and one team took the lead and then the other.  Alabama went ahead with little time on the clock.  Everybody thought it was over, but Clemson scored with 6 seconds left.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

In the recent 51st Super Bowl, Atlanta jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead.  They increased the lead in the 3rd quarter to 28-3.  Everybody thought it was over.  Atlanta had an 8-point lead with 4 minutes left on the clock, and had the ball at the Patriots’ 20-yard line.  All Ryan had to do was run the ball and kick a field goal.  Everybody thought it was over.  The Patriots tied the score then won in overtime 34-28.  It’s not over till it’s over!

Sports ought to teach us that nobody should ever give up on any thing or any body.  It may appear to be over, but it’s not over until it’s over.  Don’t ever give up on the possibility of winning!  Expand your WQ!

What are you engaged in that you might think may be over?  Are you facing something where you think you can’t succeed?  Are you praying for somebody without seeing results?  Are you facing a situation that seems hopeless?  Remember, it’s not over till it’s over.

When 3 million Israelites reached the Red Sea, they told Moses they wanted to go back to Egypt because they thought it was over.  But Moses knew that when you follow God’s guidance, it’s never over!  Moses’ WQ prevailed!  Read Exodus 14.

What’s your WQ – Winning Quotient?

What Is Your EQ – Expectation Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #3)   IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient.  IQ is important.  But also extremely important is EQ – Expectation Quotient.  While we are not able to change our IQ much, I propose that we can, with God’s help, change our EQ dramatically.  We can lift the level of expectations for life.

In June 2014, Ken Houston received a Hall of Fame ring at Redskins Park.  It was almost 30 years after he had actually been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He lost his first ring.

From 1968 to 1979 Ken Houston appeared in 12 straight Pro Bowls.  He had clutch interceptions and tackles and was the backbone of a potent Washington Redskins defense.  They say that Ken Houston redefined the way the safety position was played.  During his career Houston scored on a blocked field goal, a returned fumble, a punt return, and returned 9 intercepted passes for touchdowns.

Ken Houston holds the records for the most intercepted passes run back for touchdowns in a single season and in his career.  He also shares the records of interception touchdowns in a single game. These are 3 unique records.  When he was asked what was the secret of holding these records he replied, “Every time I put on the pads, I expect to intercept a pass and run it back for a touchdown.”

EQ –Ken Houston expected to intercept a pass and run it back for a touchdown every time he put on the pads.  He expected – and expectation became reality.  His expectant attitude created the possibility of experiencing football records.

One of the great basketball coaches of all time was Adolf Rupp from Kentucky.  The EQ for basketball at Kentucky has always been higher than the EQ for football!  When Bear Bryant was the football coach at Kentucky, and won the Southeastern Conference, they only gave him a watch.  Adolf Rupp, the basketball coach, had a mediocre season and they gave him a new car.  Bear decided it was better to go somewhere else, and he eventually wound up at Alabama.

I have heard that Rupp often commented he could make an All-American out of any basketball player.  Rupp believed in EQ.   One day in Lexington he was challenged by a group of reporters.  The reporters made a friendly bet with him that he could not make an All-American out of a new freshman Cotton Nash. Rupp took the challenge.

Every time Rupp spoke to Cotton Nash he referred to him as my All-American Cotton Nash.  Nash didn’t know he could be an All-American.  He just lived up to the EQ of his coach.  It became his EQ.  And guess what – Rupp won the challenge and Nash became an All-American!

EQ, with God’s help, might determine results more than IQ!

My challenge:  I dare you to do something every morning for the next week when you wake up.  Read Romans 8:18, 19 (Phillips) – “Whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us.  The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own!”  So – get out of bed, stand on your tiptoes, and expect the magnificent future God has planned for you!

It’s easy to live life on your heels when you dig in and prepare to stand firm or retreat.  My challenge is to live on your tiptoes looking forward and expecting God’s “magnificent future!”

What can your EQ be?

What’s Your TQ – Team Quotient?

(Second in a series – Quotient Quizes)  You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your TQ – Team Quotient?

Bear Bryant said, “Individuals win awards – teams win games.”  He always emphasized building a team.  He knew about winning.

This was illustrated in the recent National Championship football game between Clemson and Alabama.  Both are great teams and had a lot of high-profile players who are going to the pros.  But one team executed perfectly the last play.

That decisive play occurred when two guys, who are evaluated on the opposite ends of the spectrum of talent, worked together to win the game.  Deshaun Watson was a five-star recruit and at Clemson was a two-time finalist for the Heisman Award.  With six seconds left on the clock, and trailing by four points, he threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrew, a “zero recruit.”

Hunter was described as a “five-foot nothing” receiver.  He drew no attention as a prospect when he came out of high school.  He turned down a scholarship to play at Appalachian State because he wanted to play at Clemson.  He walked on.  Renfrew looked like he would fit in better with Clemson’s Computer Science program than performing at a football facility.

But Renfrew became a vital part of Clemson’s National Championship team.  In that championship game, Clemson ran 99 offensive plays.  Renfrew was on the field for 98 of them.  (Don’t know where he was on that other play.)  Clemson teammate Artavis Scott refers to Renfrew as “just a little sniper.  When you look at him you think, ‘who is this white receiver?’  He lulls people to sleep, and he’s an amazing guy.”  Teammate Wayne Gallman, said, “He’s just one of the greatest receivers I’ve seen at Clemson.”

The win came because everybody functioned together as a team.  Read I Cor. 12.  The coaches had to call the right play.  The rest of the team on the sidelines was cheering.  Eleven players on the field executed together.  The offensive line blocked, and the five-star African-American player threw a pass to a white walk-on – all of them together.  Teams win.

Two guys walked out of Raymond James Stadium as national champions.  They both are strong Christians and gave credit to what God was doing in their lives, and they gave credit for the victory to their team mates.  Deshaun and Hunter come from different racial backgrounds, different talent evaluations, different sizes – but they both were important parts of the team.

Together gets it done.  Someone has said, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”  And that’s not just a picture for athletics and business, but for the Church and for life.

When you read the book of Revelation, you see described a lot of great music in Heaven.  You don’t find any solos – it’s all the company of Heaven as a great chorus singing together.  Life is not a solo – it’s a chorus, a team, a group of folks who win together. (Tweet this)

What’s your TQ – Team Quotient?

What Is Your CQ – Change Quotient?

First in a Series of Quotient Quizes:

You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your CQ – Change Quotient?  How do you test in your CQ?

Regardless of who you pull for, you have to recognize that Alabama football has been at the top of the ladder for the past few years.  They have won four National Championships out of the last eight years.  Some people are referring to it as a dynasty.  But it didn’t happen accidentally.

There were two high-profile college coaches at the beginning of the 2016 season.  One was Les Miles at LSU, and the other was Nick Saban at Alabama.  They both had National Championship titles and incredible records in the past.  At the end of the 2016 season, only one of them was still coaching his team.

Les Miles was fired.  How did this happen?  Most experts say he refused to change and adapt to the way football is played in 2016.  He repeatedly was told that there had to be some innovative things in offense, but changes did not occur.  Some people even described him as “stubborn.”  His outdated style of football cost him his job.

On the other hand, Nick Saban was always “in the process” of changing.  About four or five years ago he began adapting to the way football was being played, and his “process” was not something cast in stone, but something that was flexible to relate to the best way to play football.  A few years ago he was one of the biggest critics of the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.  He soon saw that the no-huddle, hurry-up offense had a lot to offer.  Today, his process has changed to incorporate often the no-huddle offense, and in most games Alabama runs more plays than the opposition!  That’s a change.

Recently Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was asked, “If somebody told you six years ago Nick Saban would be going no-huddle and tempo, would you have believed it?”  Pruitt said, “Ah, no, probably not.”

OJ Howard, the most valuable player in 2016’s National Championship game, said in a recent interview that he was amazed at the transformation of the Alabama offense from the power run and attack his freshman year to an offense that features the improvising talents of freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Howard said, “It’s crazy to see how much we have changed since my freshman year. If you were to pitch to me during my recruitment that we would be running this type of offense, I wouldn’t have believed it.  It just shows the process of Coach Nick Saban and his willingness to change is what keeps him successful.”  He changed his CQ.

Whether it’s football, business, church, or life – if you don’t know how to navigate change, you won’t be successful or keep your job very long.  The challenge of change is to change rather than challenge the change. (Tweet this)  It’s always easy to challenge it, but the real challenge is how can we use it best!  Improve your CQ!

The wise man Solomon said, “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas.  In fact he looks for them” (Prov. 18:15).  Someone said “if you’re not standing on top of the wave of change, you will find yourself under it.”

Start the year by analyzing what things you need to change – and change them.  Remember there are some things that never change, such as the message of hope from Jesus.  Paul said, “Let me remind you brothers, for it has not changed – it is the same good news I preached to you before.  You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message” (I Cor. 15:1).  God’s message of hope and redemption never changes.

What is your CQ?