Start S.M.A.R.T. in 2017

“Do you see a man diligent in his business?  He shall stand before kings.” Proverbs 22:29


For many, a new year means new goals, new dreams and new desires. A new year gives opportunity to a fresh start. It gives opportunity to get back on the right track and to make things right. Personally, I love the new year. I love the idea of planning, goal setting and evaluating the previous year.

Success rates for new year resolutions are consistently low, with a high percentage of people sliding back into old habits by the time February hits. For the culture we live in, failure is the norm. As humans, we prefer the path to least resistance. Being stretched, doing difficult things, being disciplined and living diligent lives is not what we prefer. Rather, we prefer instant gratification. Thus, mediocrity and failure is a standard most settle for.

Recently, I started reading The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth and Happiness. Within the first, several pages, I found myself challenged, convicted and motivated. Steven K. Scott makes the argument that less one in a thousand people fully utilize the skill of diligence. He defines diligence as the following:

DILIGENCE is a learnable skill that combines: creative persistence, a smart-working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest quality of excellence. – Steven K. Scott

After reading the book, I decided ‘DILIGENCE’ would be my ‘ONE WORD’ for 2017. In the past, I have always made goals for the new year. While my goals were good, they often were focused on me — my career, my health, my finances, my hobbies. If I’m honest, the process of determining my goals was often self-centered and rarely involved other people in my life. In other words, there was very little accountability. There was no one to share my journey with, no one to celebrate with when a goal was accomplished and no one to encourage me to be creatively persistent when I got off track. I rarely ‘attained a result that was pure and of the highest quality of excellence.’ Therefore, I rarely lived a diligent life.

I made the decision for 2017 to be different. I am striving for diligence. I want to forget about the path to least resistance. I want to go down a path that will stretch me and make my soul come alive. I’m ready for adventure. Will you join me?  

Below is a simple model to think about and apply to your own life as we start 2017 with a bang!

1. Use the 5 F Model to determine your personal goals. I find it beneficial to keep my career goals separate from my personal life.

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Finances

2. Get away. Don’t sit down and write out goals just for the sake of setting goals. Find space. Fight for quite and solitude. Pray. Sit in God’s creation. Turn your phone off. LISTEN! Seek God and invite Him into the process.

3. Keep it simple. Strive to have no more than 2 goals in each category. In some cases it’s okay to have 3. The point is to set yourself up for success, not failure. 

4. Think of others. Your life isn’t about you. It should be about others. Be abundant in your thought process.

5. Be S.M.A.R.T. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to read more” are great ideas but terrible goals. “I want to lose 30 pounds by September 1st by working out Monday, Wednesday, & Friday at 6:00 am” or “I want to read 1 book per month by reading for 30 minutes each morning before work” are S.M.A.R.T. 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

6. Frame and hang your goals. Hang them where you will get a reminder each morning. 

7. Get accountable. Share your plan with your wife, mentor, brother or close friend. Schedule regular meetings with these people in order to review your progress. Give them permission to be tough on you.

8. Execute. Anyone can sit down and write down goals. Planning is easy. Executing is difficult. Execution is the difference between diligence and mediocrity.

I’ve included my 5F goals for 2017 as a sample to follow. I trust it will help get you started in the right direction (*Note – I have 4 goals listed under ‘Family’).

Garret’s 2017 Plan for Diligence

1. Faith

  • I will find 1 day of solitude per month by having the last Monday of the month blocked off
  • I will memorize and recite 24 Bible verses by 12/31/2017 (2 per month)

2. Family

  • I will pray with my family every morning before I go to the office
  • I will date Eden (my wife) 1x per month and will plan 2 marriage weekend get-a-ways
  • I will date Kendall (my daughter) 1x per month
  • I will put my phone away every night at 8:00 pm

3. Friends

  • I will write a letter of gratitude to men who have positively impacted my life by 4/1/2017
  • I will plan and host a friend celebration with Eden by 6/1/2017

4. Fitness

  • I will go to bed every night by 10:30 pm
  • I will wake up at 4:45 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to work out

5. Finances

  • I will revisit and plan a new monthly and annual family budget by 1/31/2017
  • I will establish and follow a monthly cash budget for my family

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Failing? You Are Adequate!

It’s been five years since transitioning from corporate America into full-time ministry and a non-profit lifestyle. The last five years have been interesting, to say the least. There have been moments where I felt like a conqueror standing on top of a mountain, and there have been moments where I felt like I was in a valley, almost ashamed to show my face. I have experienced success, but I have also experienced failure. Some of the most dangerous and lonely times have come in my seasons of failing.

I remember sitting in my office staring at my goal sheet for Men of Iron in December 2012. It was the end of the year, and I had not accomplished the goals I had set for our organization. It wasn’t just one goal I didn’t accomplish – it was several – financial goals, growth goals, etc. I sat there dumbfounded. I had always gone above and beyond my goals in my previous career. I sat at the top of our team in my previous career. Now, I found myself sitting at the top of an organization trying to come to grips with how I had failed so miserably. I began to isolate myself. I remember thinking, “God, why did you send me here? Is this really what you want me to experience?” I started to believe the lie that I was inadequate to lead Men of Iron and began questioning whether working with churches and men was what I really wanted to do with my life. Fortunately, my wife, family and friends encouraged me to quit feeling sorry myself and to quit relying solely on myself to build Men of Iron. I was reminded that Men of Iron wasn’t my organization or ministry. Men of Iron was a vision from God, and He would make it what He wanted it to be.

Failure is inevitable. Regardless of the type of journey, failure will rear its head and gnash its teeth. Unfortunately, many of us allow our failures to define us. Allowing failure to define our manhood results in isolating ourselves and feeling inadequate. When we isolate and feel inadequate, then more failure resumes. It’s a crazy, dangerous cycle. We’re not the only ones who suffer. Our families, communities and churches all suffer when we allow failure and feelings of inadequacy to define us.

Men – you are adequate to lead effectively! The Bible highlights a truth concerning your ability to lead others. The Holy Spirit will help you when you feel inadequate.

Jesus encourages the people in Luke 12:11-12 when He says, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

When failure seems to be rearing its head and gnashing its teeth, do not worry about how you, alone, will defend yourself. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will teach us at that time what we should do and say. Our families, churches, communities, businesses, careers, money, gifts and talents – they aren’t ours. God has blessed us with all of it. It’s His, and He will teach us how to lead each of them. Stay positive, keep your head up and lead with excellence!

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Lead With Excellence

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29

I have experienced the difference in influence between good and great leaders. From my time in the corporate world to my last 5 years in full-time ministry, I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside passionate visionaries. These men are often organized and effective in communicating how to move a plan forward. It’s inspiring to be around people who know how to lead with excellence. I wouldn’t hesitate to go to battle with a leader who takes initiative and leads courageously.

On the other hand, I’ve also experienced working alongside people who are afraid to make a decision. They lack the courage to take initiative, and their thoughts are unorganized. They are full of excuses as to why the plan isn’t being executed. Their communication style is sometimes bland and boring. There’s no confidence, and as a result, I have often scrambled to find my way out of the commitment.

One of our core values at Men of Iron is ‘Leading With Excellence.’  It was inspired by one of Craig Groeschel’s values for We state, “We will lead with passion and professionalism. Excellence honors God and inspires people.”

Our world is in desperate need of honorable men who will step up to the plate to lead with excellence.

Referring to Proverbs 22:29, are you leading in a way that honors God and inspires people around you? Are you leading in a way that reflects Jesus Christ? Are you leading in such a way that people view you as a man skilled in his work? It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re married or single or how much money you have. Proverbs 22:29 should be a challenge to all men to be skilled in the way you are leading!

Below, you will see the three areas in which we believe men are distinctly called need to lead with excellence. Take some time to evaluate your skill of leadership in each of the three areas:

  • Leadership In Your Family
  • Leadership In Your Church
  • Leadership In Your Community

Where and how do you need to step up with excellence as a leader?

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Do You Have Internet Addiction?

Written By: John Grant, Mentor @ Idlewild Baptist Church

John Grant is a Strong27™ mentor at Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, FL.  John was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1980-1986 and was a Senator in the Florida State Senate from 1986-2000.  He was also an attorney and partner of Harris, Barrett, Mann & Dew, P.A. in St. Petersburg, FL.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.– Matthew 6:13

If you can’t go for an hour without checking your email…if you email and text during church…if you panic when there is no internet connection or wifi capabilities…then you might have internet addiction. The internet has become a part of our modern day life. We use it to get our news and communicate with others. It is our all-time companion.

Internet Addiction Disorder is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior, which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment. Internet addiction has been called internet dependency and internet compulsivity. Has it become your idol?

Don’t get me wrong. There is much good about the internet. I use it as my Bible and devotional. I use it for my business livelihood.  I try not to let it grab hold of me. In fact, you are probably reading this online, however, the internet can also be filled with darkness and distractions. I’ve seen it pull men away from the abundant life we are offered through Jesus.

We have to use the internet with reasonable wisdom. We have to disconnect and make sure that the internet is not becoming our idol.

Is you phone bill greater than your tithe? Do you check social media or email during worship services? Do you spend more time scrolling on your phone than you do with Jesus?

If you spend more time on the internet than you do with Jesus, then you have internet addiction.  Don’t let the internet become your God.