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Are you Helping or Hurting?

ripples

I begin this piece with a confession of the sin of pride, “My frustrations with most any process or person stem simply from their refusal to do it my way.”

I love working with teams and I’m blessed to work with good-hearted and skilled people in both the arenas of work and church, yet even in such company I can narrow my focus to just a portion of a process or a single person’s response and allow it negatively affect my entire attitude. Thru confirmation bias and my ability to extrapolate this single instance into a microcostic proof of why this matter at hand is dreadful I then begin to act selfishly and in turn spout poison into the process and the people.

Many times it isn’t even a conscious act because words grown out of pride are natural to the human condition. Left unchecked the negative attitude spreads and we find ourselves racing toward a toxic environment.

So how can we begin to identify and modify these attitudes?

I find it helpful to return to 3 basic re-orienting questions:

  • Am I working with good people? (if the answer is no you have a larger problem at hand)
  • Am I working toward good goals?
  • Am I trying to help?

Consider Paul’s words to the Ephesians

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Perhaps we should more often pause, breath, count to 10 and ask ourselves if the words we are about to say are corrupting or building words.

Helping vs Hurting. Simple but not easy.

Blame is easy. Seeing the worst in the situation or a person is a trivial task. We master actions originating from perceived hurt or frustration by age 2.

Rather, let us seek to build up, to teach, to encourage, and to humbly listen.

The end result might look a lot more like Philippians 2

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:3-4

or in other words like Jesus.

{image credit: gezelle}

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Simply Lead – Takeaways from Chick-fil-a Leadercast Part 1

ChickFilALeadercast

It’s a daunting task to attempt to share the highlights from a seminar so packed with wisdom and actionable content but there is gold in those hills and I must try to pass it along.

Today I had the great pleasure to attend the Chick-fil-A Leadercast (CFAleadercast) conference because the wonderful people at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention hosted the seminar as a simulcast site. It’s my 2nd year to attend the CFAleadercast and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The next CFAleadercast is May 9, 2014, put it on your calendar and find a host site near you. You will be so glad you did.

(This will be part 1. Breaking it up into sections will help me actually publish without being overwhelmed. I hope you’ll find the info useful.)

Simply Lead

This year’s conference focused on the Simplicity of leadership, from vision to behaviors. It’s a topic that really resonates with me as I easily drown in a world of clutter and unfocused thrashing. As one speaker noted

Every leader needs an escape hatch. A retreat to the core values that helps you center yourself and in turn your organization around what matters.

Center then forward. Exactly! So where is that escape hatch?

You have know the simple answers to the following questions

Know Simply

  1. What are we doing? (Vision)
    1. What is your mission? What is the life-blood of your organization? What does your business do?
    2. If you don’t have a simple answer you haven’t worked on it long enough.
  2. Why are we doing it? (Vision)
    1. What is your motivation? Ask “If we disappeared tomorrow” what would be different or lost? Revisit why you were founded, someone had an impetus to drive them to build the company you work for. Find that impetus, center there.
  3. How do we get there? (Execution)
    1. What are the standards that define our actions? Do we own them? (Rules are external and top down, Standards are internal and owned from bottom up).
  4. Where do I fit in? (what is your crucial contribution or core responsibility)
    1. Write a 1 sentence job description.
    2. Andy phrased it as, When you are in an emergency, crisis, overwhelmed, confused, break glass and read it. (I’m paraphrasing)

Andy Stanley brought out questions 1,2, & 4. I added 3 to incorporate Coach K’s standards and behaviors talk and Welch’s talk.

I’ll share more about creating space and the great lessons from Maxwell and Condoleeza Rice in days to come Below you’ll find my full set of notes and great nuggets shared via the #CFAleadercast twitter stream.

Notes from Chick-fil-a Leadercast 2013

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WayPoints for May 2, 2013

waypoints_on_the_journey

waypoint noun \ˈwā-ˌpȯint\ – a reference used for purposes of navigation.

I often like to share items that inspire, encourage, or challenge me along with a bit of commentary or context. Twitter doesn’t allow me space to share these dispatches and I’m mindful of the ephemeral nature of social sharing, so I’ll be bringing the best recommendations to my blog.

So welcome to WayPoints, recommended stops along the journey.

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Faith that made Jesus Marvel
by Jon Bloom (@BLOOM_JON)

Consider for a moment the persons of great faith that we learn of in the New Testament. Which one of those disciple’s or Rabbi’s faith made Jesus marvel? Mr. Bloom’s article is so powerful I refuse to even excerpt his powerful final paragraph. So I’ll end with this beautiful teaser,

It is a gospel irony that the only person recorded in the gospels whose faith made Jesus marvel was a _____ _______.

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The Complementarian Woman: Permitted or Pursued
by Jen Wilkin (@JenniferWilkin)

I had so much to share about this piece it turned into a blog post.

End the culture of permission and you will dispel the stigma of submission. We are not usurpers, we are the possessors of every capacity you lack and the celebrators of every capacity you possess.

Brothers, don’t permit us. Pursue us.

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The Sanctifying Work of Parenthood
by Christina Fox (@toshowthemJesus)

My true need wasn’t to find the perfect ‘get your child to sleep’ system or the best potty training program or even the top ten ways to get my kids to clean up after themselves, rather it was to see my desperate need to rely on the grace of God. Many times I sought joy and contentment in how perfectly behaved my children are or how smoothly my day went. Yet God knew that what I needed most is only found in him.

That hits a bit too close too home.

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Watch Me

A powerful short film intended to encourage discipleship. It’s also a strong gut check to consider saying those 2 words. (via Wyman Richardson)

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Ask them to speak

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To this day I can remember the 1st time I heard a woman invited to pray aloud during a Sunday Service.

It was Mother’s Day in the early ’90’s when our Pastor asked Sister Peggy to pray. Even as an adolescent I recognized how startling and powerful the moment seemed. I waited many a following Sunday and Mother’s Day to hear it happen again. It’s been nearly 20 years and I can’t recall it happening again.

Permit vs Pursue

Then I discovered Jen Wilkin’s (@jenniferwilkin ) article “The Complementarian Woman: Permitted or Pursued“,

Imagine if we swapped the language of pursuit for the language of permission in our church bulletins: If you need community, you are permitted to join a community group… Now consider if we applied the language of pursuit to the way we speak about women’s roles. We would have to alter our speaking—and our thinking—rather dramatically… It is one thing to say women are permitted to pray in the assembly or give announcements, and quite another to ensure that they have a voice on the platform.

Where are the models of female champions of faith within our church bodies? I can attest it is certainly not because they don’t exist. We think ourselves progressive due to our willingness to allow women to serve and speak yet we are not intentional about pursuing them. My daughter might easily surmise that she is permitted to serve in the nursery, as a children’s teacher, or a Women’s Bible Study leader but I’m concerned that the primary female champions of faith she would routinely encounter are the names of Dixie Jackson and Lottie Moon. (Mission offerings on Christmas and Easter.) Where is the model which introduces the radical notion that she could follow in the footsteps of Dixie Jackson and Lottie Moon?

But doesn’t the Bible say…

I don’t propose to understand the full interpretation of Paul’s instructions regarding women’s appropriate roles in the church. I do believe that based on the qualifications found in scripture that Women should not serve as Pastors or Deacons but as for the rest….

  • 2 of the better studies I’ve ever had the pleasure to lead were penned by Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.
  • 1 of the best testimonies I’ve ever heard was given by a lady in our church at a Women’s conference (where I was gratefully running sound).
  • The insights I hear from the ladies in my small group and our Pastor led study on Wednesday nights are an incredible blessing.
  • I know I get a thrill each time it is a ladies time to read our Psalm during the Sunday AM service.
  • I know that it probably takes more faith to be a missionary, missionary’s wife and mother to 3 in Papua New Guinea than it does to be a man that goes alone to translate the Gospel. (Kel I stand in awe)

Further to go

This is not an indictment upon your church or mine but rather a call, even an aching, that we might more intentionally pursue the Godly women in our midst and edify them. I long for the day when my girl sees a woman pray, serve, or testify in a manner that causes her to expand what she previously considered possible through Christ.

I think the church needs it more than my daughter.

{image credit: spare tomato}

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Words about dead men

A friend of mine attended the funeral of a kind and faith-full man yesterday and later he remarked about how we speak about people that have passed on. He said have you ever thought about what kind words we say about the dead? Truly some folks have earned those kind words but,

“I don’t want people to lie at my funeral”

In other words don’t candy coat who I am. I know and Jesus knows, so let my life be a testimony not to me but to him.

My eulogy should read something like,

He was not always kind. He was often gruff, unmerciful, unloving, and selfish.

He failed his wife and kids on a weekly basis.

His witness was hesitant.

He made ever mistake in the book.

He struggled with being lured by the vain things of this world.

Jesus loved Him anyway. If Jesus can love and use someone like Keith just think what he can do with you.

 

While I know I’m a work in progress the truth is there is no reason to lie at my funeral either. Feel free to tell the other broken, struggling, and messed up people in the room that Jesus came to seek and save them.

On this Good Friday I’m mindful of one other eulogy uttered by a Roman officer after seeing a Jesus die, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matt 27:54

Take a look at the cross today and place your faith in a dead man. The Lamb of God that was sacrificed in your place. Stick around cause this story ain’t over yet.

 

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this is about the coming

I turn often. Turn away from my sin and my self but too often I don’t continue walking toward Him. After a few days of seeking and surrender (and to be honest a lot of human effort) I find myself frustrated that every thing didn’t change over night. The discipline breaks down and within a few days I slip into the same struggles that I tried to lay at the altar. Those failures lead to despair, guilt, and giving up. I end up where I started.

As I prepared myself last night to observe Lent I read the following from my friend @jnswanson,

“Repentance happens inside us. With an about-face, we find our lives changed, a turning from the way we were going.

We make much of the turning, of the repenting. Jesus doesn’t make much of the turn itself, of the moment of turning. He doesn’t say “Stop going there.” He says, “Come to me.” He speaks of rest, of humility, of burdens being lifted, of gentleness. More than lamenting the lack of repenting, He is encouraging the coming.” 1

At the top of my paper where I’ll gather my reflections for the next 47 days I wrote 5 words,

“this is about the coming”

These next 6 weeks it is about the coming. It may be slow and stuttering at times but I’m trying to to be mindful of the overall direction. The movement toward Him.

I’ve envisioned it as if I were walking along the road slightly behind Jesus and the disciples. Quietly listening. Wondering. Beginning to follow closer.

As I took pause this morning I encountered Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” That sense of self examination married to movement and direction. Yep that’s where I’m starting.

Where do my steps lead? In examining them what do I need to lay aside? Do I like where I’m going?

Closing thoughts

If you are new to Lent, you are in good company this is only my 2nd observance in my life, allow me to suggest 2 starting points

  1. Should Baptist Christians Observe Lent? by @WymanRichardson – A thoughtful and reasonable examination of the observance
  2. Lent for Non-Lent People by @jnswanson – A profound yet very practical set of readings for Lent.

I’ll close with a Lenten Blessing that resonated with me and that I pass on to you

May the Wind of God drive away impurity and bring fresh and vigorous possibility to your soul. May the freeing Spirit unbind those places within held captive by hopelessness, anxious thoughts and internal discord. And may you find a middle place of awareness, between the blowing and the stillness,o feel and watch the movement from old to new.

 

1. Swanson, Jon (2013-01-31). Lent for Non-Lent People: 33 Things to Give up for Lent and Other Readings (Kindle Locations 532-536). . Kindle Edition.

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Unplug

Perhaps its a confirmation bias but I seem to see more people than ever speaking to the need of our “Always On” connected society to be intentional about slowing down and occasionally unplugging. From the “slow web” movement to the spiritual disciplines of seeking silence there is a universal theme that sometimes we need to just disconnect. In that spirit may I suggest you consider participating in the National Day of Unplugging as a great way to start.

The goal is simple:

Unplug for 24 hrs, Sunset Fri Mar 1 to sunset Sat Mar 2.

Take the pledge and consider challenging one friend to join you.

I unplug to "Be Here Now"

I unplug to “Be Here Now”

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Visual Quotes

I’m fond of quotes.

Especially quotes that challenge and inspire me. I keep them on my desktop and I have an Evernote notebook dedicated to them. I use them as reminders and even starting points for meditation. So when it was time to remove my Christmas themed Facebook banner I decided to take a few of my favorite quotes and turn them into images suitable for display.

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I’d appreciate hearing what you think. I did not watermark the images because if you like them I want you to use and share them freely. Link back here if you like.

What are your favorite inspirational or challenging quotes?

Please share in the comments. I hope to do more of these.

Download them all

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A Rally for One

Whether it stems from brashness or ignorance I cannot say but I am compelled to share some thoughts on this most polarizing issue of US domestic policy. I ask that you greet these words with an open mind because their goal is initiate consideration and in now way to disparage or inflame. Grace to you.

This week marks 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe vs Wade that there was a nationwide right to abortion. In my community of faith this is a time of mourning and awareness of this ongoing issue of a “Right to Life”.

An Inescapable Question

It might surprise you to know that this is one of the issues where I have changed positions in the past 15 years. Being a staunch defender of liberty and individual rights I once held that while I was against the act of abortion I defended the right of a woman to make that decision without government interference. Then in my early 20’s I was intellectually and spiritually confronted with a single inescapable idea.

“If that which lives inside a woman is a human there is simply no justification for the taking of human life.”

As Pastor David Platt (@plattdavid) shares it is the central question of this debate that puts all others in perspective.

As I seek to serve an Almighty God then I’m compelled to stand for life without reservation.

So what now? How do I make that stand?

A Rally for One

Today many folks in my community of faith will join together at the Arkansas State Capitol steps for the annual “Arkansas Right to Life” March. I have dear friends and family that serve in the “Arkansas Right to Life” organization and many more friends and brothers and sisters in Christ selflessly marching today. I absolutely support their stated mission and commend their action but I must confess,

I don’t understand why we march.

  • Is it awareness? Who is unaware? Yes, I concede that American society largely ignores the staggering effects of Roe vs. Wade but I’m convinced that we do not create converts by atrocious statistics.
  • Is it issue advocacy? How does this march serve to further change people’s minds?
  • Is it to rally the base? A worthy goal but I question whether that action alone will save a single child.

Perhaps I’m prematurely resigned to the conclusion that this issue is settled on a national level for decades to come. When I hold American domestic policy up in comparison to Word of a Holy God I see a growing divide not an alignment. (To my Christian friends let us be reminded that the spiritual condition of society is the responsibility of the preservative salt and rests solely upon God’s people. As @MichaelCatt reminded us this morning, “Revival begins in the church house, not the White House.”).

Personally I’m presently more concerned about real action that stands against abortion. I’d rather encourage people to volunteer and support organizations like the “Promise House” that stand in the gap on the front lines where the battle for the lives of these children are tangible not platitudes.

I’m as guilty or more so than any of you reading this post but I’m moved to examine my own participation and perhaps stir us to prayerfully consider where Jesus would have us serve in opposition to abortion. I’m not sure I have the answer but I hope I’m beginning to ask the right questions.

So if we choose to rally today for the many let us consider how tomorrow we might rally for the one.

A Small Start, Will you join me?

Perhaps you can find a crisis pregnancy center or adoption ministry to help support with your time or funds.

Today I’ll begin by choosing to donate $40 to the “Promise House” to memorialize the day. It’s miniscule start but what if a 1000 of you joined with me today.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Declaration of Independence

We can make our own plans, but the Lord  gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord  examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord , and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:1-3 NLT

As always I invite your polite commentary and if you have something to save but would prefer to do it privately just email me.

 

 

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A Matter of Focus and Faith

A few years ago I instituted a “digital fast” for one week the beginning of January and the first week of June. I wish I could tell you that over the past 2 years I’ve become a master at this practice but the truth is I still struggle with the practice. I easily find myself dreading it as it arrives but as the hours grow short to the time of fasting I begin to reach a peace in considering it’s purpose.

It hasn’t changed much since when I first wrote about the fast in 2010,

I’m seeking balance, perspective, discipline, introspection, and quietness. I have issues with that whole “be still and know that I’m God” idea and that is my focus for this week.

You might say I’m a slow learner.

As a approach this time of tuning out I’m mindful of a few areas that need some attention,

A Matter of Focus

I need more airplane mode time

Airplane mode is an action and mindset taken from the setting on your iPhone that disables all connectivity. It’s the practice of putting your smartphone into airplane mode and focusing on just being present. As my friend @sarabethjones would say,

“Real people, right here”

I do pretty well about being in airplane mode in the evenings at the family dinner table but its a practice that is easy to let slip. I need to be more conscious about putting the thing down and stepping away.

Savor the “downtime”

A vast majority of my downtime is consumed with my iPhone. Twitter, Facebook, news, etc… Instead its time to pick up something that will matter much more in 6 months. A writing journal, a book, a Bible, or just pause and be quiet.

The truth is: I have a habit of running away from quiet.

It’s probably the impetus for this season of fasting in my life. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts instead of considering how to frame them into 140 characters. The moments I capture on Instragram are instead enjoyed by pausing and individual appreciation.

This fast always reveals how easily I reach and swipe this precious tether to the world. It’s also the reason I do it 2x a year because I so easily forget the lesson.

As I approach 2013, and turning 35 this June its time to seize the day on some areas that have been too long neglected.

  1. Sleep – The sad fact is so many things in my life hinge on having enough sleep that I can arise early and seize the day. Medicine and CPAP masks have helped tremendously and now its time to put more value on a regular and adequate sleep pattern.
  2. Health – I’m weak and fat and I’m beginning to feel it. I weighed myself and holy smokes that was a scary number. Not to mention I’m not getting any younger. First some small steps but its time I start looking at lifelong practices that give me more strength and vitality to enjoy life.
  3. Mind – The list of books I have to read is way to long. I’d like to read 24 this year but to set attainable goals we’ll start with 3 books by Mar 1.

So why do I share all of this?

  1. I share about my digital fast because I’ll be disconnected for 8 days and I want people to know why. (No screen time that isn’t req’d for work, so call or txt me if you need me.)
  2. Simply put our rate of technology adoption is often faster than we can learn to use it well. I hope it may encourage you to evaluate how and when you connect and converse and see if the practice of unplugging might help you.

and you don’t have to take my word on it…

“I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.” – Adam Brault

A Matter of Faith

And since this is as much a matter of faith as it is focus I’d be remiss by not mentioning the spiritual principle of solitude. Richard Foster wrote the following in “Celebration of Discipline” (one of the most magnificent and challenging books I’ve ever read, I highly recommend it).

“Our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. We keep up a constant stream of words even if they are inane.”

There is great precedent in the life of Jesus for the discipline of solitude (40 days in the desert, many nights spent alone praying, etc…).  Solitude is not about isolation but a focus a listening. Inner quiet is needed for realignment. Foster calls it “reorienting our lives like a compass needle.” I wander off track easily and use noise as way to ignore that which I should be listening to… namely the voice of Truth. Truth about myself, truth about this world, and truth about what it means to follow Jesus and seek to glorify God.

My spiritual focus this week is Matt 5-6 as it will be for much of 2013.

 “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him” Matt 5:1

May those last 5 words be true of me this week and every week following. God Bless.

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