The Surprise of the Inspirational People Who Surround You

Today I got a request to sign ten copies of my new book, Fully and Creatively Alive. The request came from a friend who read it and wanted to share it with many of his family and friends. An author can’t ask for more than that: someone who likes your book and wants to share it. So he sent me the names and descriptions of the people for whom he wanted me to sign. It is, to say the least, an inspirational list.


Here is some of what my friend said about his favorite people to whom he wanted to give a personal gift (edited for clarity and to protect anonymity):

  • For my inspirational pastor who a creative thinker and preacher. He has the heart of 10 men and always looks for ways to reach people and grow them up.
  • For my other inspirational pastor. He is creative and gifted in music and fine arts. He and his wife have served several years on a national youth leadership team.
  • For our 24 year old son, who graduated from college with an engineering degree. He works for a large corporation in Fort Collins, CO and is learning how to work really, really hard. He has thought about studying for the ministry, but I hope he stays in the industry for a while and really learns lots about life. Love that kid!
  • For our 22 year old daughter. She will graduate from college this December with an engineering degree. She would love to work for Disney, but has failed to get any attention so far. She is creative and loves theatre. She is on the hunt for a job, and excited to be finishing soon. Love that kid!
  • For a former co-worker, and frankly the real reason I went to work at the organization. She is on fire, dynamic, passionate with a background in journalism and worked for Warner Brothers, ABC, and who knows, before coming to our organization. She left a year and half ago to launch her own creative, marketing, and production company. Lord, she hit it out of the park. Actually, she already sold her company. However, they retained her and her whole team. She is also charged with developing tools for missional churches. Tom, she is really amazing.
  • For a  friend that I’m helping write his first book. He has a business mind that is second to none. He is an evangelist in his business world. I think he will be a consultant one day, and conference speaker. He could really be a blessing, and has 2 or 3 books in him.
  • For a writer friend who lost her job. She is thinking about launching a web presence that helps to support young moms. Just an amazingly positive and uplifting person.

I wrote my friend back and told him I’d like to meet and/or work with every single one of these people. They are inspirational in so many varying and different ways. I’m so happy that I might have the opportunity, through my book, to be just a small inspiration to each and every one of them.

In fact, the way my friend writes about each of these people makes him an inspiration to meHe’s a person that inspires others. He’s a person others want to be around. I’m certain that he’s an inspiration to the ten people he’s gifting with books.

What if you had to write down the ten most inspirational people in your life right now? Who would they be? Why would they fit in that category? Why don’t you tell them? Maybe even share a little gift, like a book, with them?

Why don’t you take a moment right now to write down the ten most inspirational people in your life at this very moment?

Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Fulfilling Life (2016)

What does it mean to be fully and creatively alive? Tom Eggebrecht tells us through the stories of real-life people who pursued their passions and followed their dreams in many and various ways, and have done so successfully.


You’ll read about:

  • Tanner who uses spoken word poetry to get a message across.
  • Megan is designing hip (and modest) clothing for women.
  • Morgan creates one-of-a-kind pottery.
  • Mikaela discovered a gift for photography.
  • Claire is a comedian who rides the waves of social media.
  • Riley is a sound engineer who has traveled all over the world.
  • Lauren calls herself a visual storyteller.
  • Judson is a graphic designer who dreams of branding upscale food products.
  • Emily makes jewelry and teaches women in Honduras how to start their own self-sustaining jewelry businesses.
  • Patrick tells stories with his photos.
  • Larry has created a business built around his love of live music.
  • Cadence is a brilliant writer who also presents storybook dinners for strangers who come together to get to know one another.
  • Daniel uses his business skills to serve artists who don’t have such skills, while exploring his city from the seat of his bicycle.

The powerful insights and practical suggestions from these stories propel us on our journey to know our own unique gifts and express them well — both personally and professionally.

Purchase your copy here.

The Lesson Politics Teach About Being Personal

Throughout this political season I’ve been watching with interest the emails I’ve been receiving. I’m still on the mailing lists of some of the politicians I supported when we still lived in Wisconsin. The techniques they use to get you to open an email or to read through it are fascinating. They attempt to make it personal.


One of the things they do is send an email “from” someone who only uses a first name. For instance, they’ll send you an email from “John.” It makes you want to open it. Then when you do, the email opens with “Hi, Tom…” or “I’ve been thinking, Tom…”

That’s all well and good until you keep reading and discover, of course, that they know nothing about you. It was all just a “come on” to get you to read the email. Then they hope you’ll click on the link that sends you to a site where you can make a donation to the candidate.

All their emails were wasted on me. First of all, I don’t live in Wisconsin anymore. Secondly, I’m not making donations to any candidates this election season. Finally, their faux friendliness was just that: faux. It wasn’t really personal.

We live in a technological, social media world that presents a kind of false dichotomy. It has brought us closer to people all over the world, or even across the street. On the other hand, we are often hidden behind our computer screens.

We’ve got to be even more intentional today to be sure that we reach people with a genuine human touch. We’ve got to be more intentionally personal.

So before you post on Facebook, send an email, or tweet at somebody:

  • Think about the person on the other side of the screen
  • Write something specific to that person
  • Don’t send emails to people who haven’t given you permission
  • Engage in a real conversation
  • Ask for feedback
  • Give away valuable content

As a personal thank you for reading this post, I’m going to send a free copy of my book: Fully and Creatively Alive to the first three people who email their address to If you don’t reply in time to get one of the free books, I would be most grateful if you check out the Amazon page for the book and consider acquiring your own copy.

In the mean time, I’ll be here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday providing content on this blog that I hope is helpful and valuable to you. 

And, I hope, personal, too.

How do you keep things from becoming impersonal and anonymous online?

Tapping Into the Real Potential of Possibilities

This weekend some good friends of ours when to visit their daughter who’s in college. She attends a university out of state. It really made me miss the days when I got to do the same thing. Fall reminds me of college visits as our kids contemplated where they would go to school. In the end, both of our children went to college out of state, each nine hours away, in two different directions. We missed them greatly when they left. But it was so very much fun to help them decide on schools, and then to visit them when they were in the midst of their studies. Part of the fun was to think about all the possibilities that lay ahead.


The potential of possibilities has always excited me. It should come as no surprise. Strengthsfinder 2.0 tells me that one of my strengths is that I am Futuristic. It says, “People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.”

That’s why I loved encouraging our children to dream. It’s why when we visited colleges we wouldn’t let them think about the money…just the possibilities. It’s why when they were in school we encouraged them to dream big as they thought about future careers. “Only an ant says I can’t,” I would say.

Those college “possibilities” have now turned into careers for our kids. But they still live under the idea that most anything is possible if you set your mind to it and work hard. I try to instill that same mentality in everyone I coach or lead. People ought to live life knowing that roadblocks may come and go, but possibilities always present themselves if you will only keep your eyes open.

Yes, I miss those cherished years when our kids were in college. But now the whole idea of possibilities has gone to a whole new level in our family. Our daughter, Ashlyn, and her husband, Josh, are expecting their first child in early January.

Talk about possibilities. Here’s a whole new life to encourage, lead, guide, meld, and mold. I know Ashlyn and Josh will do it in amazing and refreshing ways. That’s just who they are as people.

I want to encourage you today to dream of the possibilities that lie before you:

  • Don’t give up.
  • Work hard.
  • Dream a little.
  • Dare to think of the future.
  • Keep going.
  • Invite others to come along.
  • Write down your vision.
  • Doodle.
  • Have a plan.
  • Brainstorm.

Possibilities are one of the great gifts of life. Don’t be afraid of them. Embrace them. Then do what it takes to make them happen.

You just might be surprised.

What possibilities are running around in your mind right now?

Every Organization Needs an Energetic Difference Maker

The Thursday Night Football talking heads love to make their predictions for the big game. Not only do they predict which team will win the game. They also predict whom will be the “difference maker” for the winning team. Every analyst predicted that my Green Bay Packers would win the game and beat the Chicago Bears. The Difference Makers they selected were interesting choices.


Every organization needs an energetic difference maker. I’ll give you two examples:

  1. Community Event Difference Maker. Six churches in our area, including ours, are putting together a “Funtoberfest” for our entire city. One of our local pastors dreamed up the idea. He asked the other churches to come alongside. He runs the meetings. And He makes the connections in the city that make a real difference. Advertising is indicating there may be upwards of 2000 people at the event. No one church could have done this on their own. Nor could all of us have done this together had we not had a true Difference Maker.
  2. Church Event Difference Maker. Our own church recently put on a Trivia Night fundraiser. We had a great committee, effective meetings, and many people doing many different jobs. But our church’s business manager was the catalyst that kept things moving on a day-to-day basis. She paid attention to detail at the event. Then, after the event, she took the initiative to write thank you’s to the many people who helped us out.

It’s difficult to do much of anything in an effective manner if you don’t have a Difference Maker. My wife is the one in our family who is an organizational genius and has always kept us on task. Our daughter is a Difference Maker at her job where she oversees many people and keeps them on task.

Our son-in-law has stage managed numerous plays and musicals. He’s the glue that keeps it all together. I once sat in the booth with him during a show. In the middle of the first act one of the actors got sick and left the stage. I witnessed the way he calmly assessed the situation and took care of it. No one in the audience knew what happened.

Difference Makers really make a difference.

How can you be a Difference Maker today in your home, at work, or at church?

Why You Should Skip a Night’s Sleep Every Now and Then

You don’t realize how important sleep is until you find yourself deprived of it. Last night I got one hour of sleep. I laid awake all night. You know how it is. You lie there thinking that any moment sleep will take you over and you find yourself in dream land. But it didn’t happen for me. The first time I looked at the clock it was 3:08. The next time I looked it was 4:22. I almost got up, but thought it would defeat the purpose of ever getting to sleep at all.


In retrospect I probably should have wandered around the house. Eventually I fell asleep at around 5:00 a.m. My wife’s alarm went off at 5:55. Since one of our cars is in the shop I had to take her to work. So there was no making up at least another hour or two of that precious unconsciousness. I had to get out of bed with only about an hour of zzz’s.

Sleep deprivation is not fun. I found myself more cranky throughout the day. My attentiveness was less than sharp. My mind wandered often. I daydreamed of what it would be like when I would get to crawl back into bed and make up for that precious lost sleep. And, of course, this happened to be on a day that I had an evening meeting. Thankfully I made it through OK.

But here’s why you should skip a night’s sleep every now and then:

  1. It makes you appreciate what a gift a decent night’s shuteye really is. There’s good reason we’ve been given this gift by our Creator. It’s a natural way of reviving both our body and our spirit.
  2. It gives you reason to research ways to get better, more consistent nightly rest. I found this article about gadgets that’ll help that very process.
  3. It makes you sympathize with people who have a consistent problem with insomnia. I don’t know how people survive without consistent nightly rest. If you are one of those people, please know that I pray for you.

I’m sorry this is such a short post, but I’ve got to get to bed. Here’s hoping for a better night’s sleep and for sharper, more awake and aware Tom tomorrow.

How do you cope when you have insomnia?

Five Things Many Pastors Fear

October happens to be Clergy Appreciation Month. After a wonderful celebration for my 25th anniversary in the ministry, and recognition in our worship today, I feel very well appreciated. I serve a congregation that loves me and honors me more than I deserve. It can most certainly be debated whether a whole month should be set aside to “appreciate” clergy. Other professions deserve just as much, if not more, appreciation. In addition, it seems like we are called to do our duty and nothing less. And yet the very existence of things like Clergy Appreciation Month and the high demands of the vocation cause fear in some pastor’s hearts.


Here are five things that some pastor’s fear. Some of them are founded. Others are unfounded. But they all are a legitimate concern for many pastors at one time or another.

  1. Losing members. Pastors shouldn’t take it personally. But when someone leaves the church they most always do. They feel as though it’s a personal judgment on their ministry.
  2. Low attendance. When attendance goes down many pastors ask, “What am I doing wrong?” It may just be a combination of many factors such as natural transition, people moving, deaths in the congregation, or the time of year. But pastors are passionate about the Gospel and want people to hear it on a regular basis.
  3. Missing someone’s need. As much as some might think, pastors can’t read people’s minds. They fear missing a hospital visit or some other kind of personal need. But if they don’t know what the need is, they can’t meet it. Tell your pastor what you need. He* will be happy to respond to the things he knows about.
  4. Inadvertently offending somebody. Sometimes decisions are made for very good reasons, and due to human nature a decision offends someone. I can assure you that there is hardly ever (never?) any intent to offend someone when a decision is made. But the fear is that when someone is offended a member will be lost or attendance will go down (see #1 and #2), and the pastor will feel personally responsible.
  5. People who are unwilling to be themselves. Pastors love people. And since pastors are sinners just like everyone else, they know we’re not all perfect. Pastors really appreciate it when people are comfortable enough to be themselves without putting on a front or facade. Be who you are. Your pastor loves you for who you are.

The key to overcoming these fears is to remain confident in the One who drives out all fear. Our God give peace to all people, even pastors. He assured it by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He forgives all those who offend or are offended. He covers all misunderstanding and sin with His grace.

What fears do you have in your vocation?

*I intentionally use this pronoun because it is the accepted practice of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, of which I am a member.

What Would Happen If You Gave Out Personal Awards?

I went to one of those banquets tonight where they give out awards. The organization that hosted it does this on an annual basis. They give awards for humanitarianism, unity, and service to the community. The people that received the awards were all certainly worthy. They exemplified the reasons for which the awards were given.


Sitting there watching the ceremony and listening to speeches being spoken gave me an idea. What would it be like if we all had the opportunity to hold a banquet and give out personal trophies to people in our lives? Which people would most deserve it?

I’d give:

  • My wife the Undying Support Award for standing with, in front of, and behind me through thick and thin, night and day, year in and year out, no matter what.
  • My dad the Father of Creativity Award for bestowing upon our family a love of the arts and all things creative…especially theatre.
  • My mom the Bookworm Award for being the one who’s always reading, recommending, and purchasing the perfect books as gifts for the people in our family.
  • Our daughter the First One to Give Us a Grandchild Award, coming sometime around early January.
  • Our son the Living Out Your Creativity Award for being the only one in our family actually making somewhat of a living off of his art.
  • My friend, John, the Friend Who Loves Me Despite My Faults Award for sticking with me no matter the years or miles that separate us.
  • The people I work with the Give Until You Can’t Give Anymore Award for going well above and beyond the line of duty, even when it’s not noticed or appreciated, and sometimes even in the face of criticism
  • My church’s leadership the Forward Thinking Award for being willing to plan, dream, and cast vision, all the while being helpful and supportive.

So many people in my life deserve awards. If I were monetarily rich I would give them their due. But in the mean time I’d simply like them to know just how much I appreciate them. I’d like them to know how much their love and support mean to me.

We weren’t meant to go through life alone. I’m so glad God has given me the people with whom I get to journey through this season and time.

What awards would give? To whom?

The Weekly Routine I Use to Write a Sermon

It may come as a surprise to you that creativity doesn’t come easily to me. And yet I’m supposed to make creative output each and every week in the form of a sermon. Sundays never stop coming. They occur once a week. And every time they return I have to be prepared with words that inspire and engage. So I have come up with a little system that helps engage my creativity.


Just like there are a myriad of ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to produce a sermon. Here are the steps I take most every week:

  1. I ruminate on the text. Monday is my “day off,” so on Tuesdays I look at the text. I read it slowly. I look at it in the original language. I peruse a few commentaries. I may even chase down some Bible dictionaries or word studies.
  2. I pay attention to ways the text is speaking into my life, and the life of my congregation that particular week. For instance, this past week the text was the story of the ten lepers Jesus healed, with only one returning to give thanks. I happened to run across a video of teachers thanking their students for inspiring them to get out of bed every day and go to work. It made a very real emotional connection. And it applied perfectly to the text.
  3. I write down on a piece of paper with a pen the theme of the text. It always starts with the words: “Every member of Ascension will…” Sometimes its an enabling proposition. Other times it’s a persuasive theme. It’s focused on a faith goal or a life goal. Something about pen to paper makes my creative juices flow.
  4. I write down at least two (usually more) ways the goal will be achieved. There is always a key word, like “blessings,” or “promises,” or “values.” The key word is the way the sermon will move toward the central theme.
  5. The sermon is always centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. If that’s not the point of the sermon, there’s no point at all in preaching it. I keep it in mind throughout the process.
  6. I type out a manuscript. Ideally, the manuscript includes the following: It has an introduction that draws people in. It centers on the theme. There are key words that move the action along. Illustrations make connections with the hearers. The Gospel is at the center of it all. It concludes with a way for people to remember what was said.
  7. I practice with the manuscript, but allow myself the freedom to deviate. I don’t want to be tied down if and when I am moved in the moment to expound on something or go in a slightly different direction. But I’m always thankful to have the structure of the manuscript on which to fall back.

What structure is there to your creativity?

Lessons I Learned Riding Out My First Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew has come and gone from central Florida. He wasn’t quite as bad as some predicted. But he did leave behind some lessons for this first-time hurricane rider.


  1. The hype can be compared to snow storms in the upper midwest. You know how those northern weathermen and women get all excited when a snow storm is coming? The same thing happens in the south when a hurricane is on the horizon. Suit coats are taken off. Sleeves get rolled up. Beads of sweat appear on foreheads.
  2. Floridians are more scared of losing air conditioning than anything else. There are horror stories from past hurricanes of people losing their power for more than a week. The weather once again gets hot and humid. When it happens they have to go to malls and movie theaters just to stay cool.
  3. Hurricane force wind sounds pretty scary in the middle of the night. Actually, I don’t think what we got ever made it to that force. But there were very strong gusts that actually shook our house. I can only imagine what sustained winds of that force can do.
  4. Neighbors come together. Just like the aftermath of snow storms, the aftermath of hurricanes finds neighbors pitching in to help one another.
  5. Hearing the power go out in the middle of the night is not a good “sound.” You have no idea when power will be restored once again.
  6. Hurricane prep is kind of fun and exciting. I went to Target Thursday morning to pick up just a couple of things we wanted before the storm hit. People were in generally good moods and there was a hustle and bustle in the store that almost seemed like holiday shopping. And, yes, there was not one loaf of bread to be found in the store.
  7. It’s amazing just how accurately forecasters predict the timing of the storm. Sure enough. It hit us just when they said it would and was gone just as predicted.
  8. Hurricane parties are a thing. They can take place before, during, or after the storm, or all of the above. Alcohol sales skyrocket when a storm is predicted to hit.
  9. Coverage of the storm supersedes all political news. Whew. Woohoo.
  10. It’s always better when a hurricane “wobbles” away from the coast. That’s what happened with Matthew. And just in time. It spared our area a great deal of destruction. Sure there was loss of power, scattered debris, and trees down, but it could have been much, much worse.

And for that we are thankful.

Have you ever ridden out a hurricane?