Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Last week, I admitted to some folks that I was completely unprepared for Lent this year. Psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually unprepared is probably a best description. I had programs in place, people lined up, and events planned – but largely, I was unprepared.
I’ve been saying recently that life sometimes gets in the way. Things happen that cause us to become distracted or sidetracked from our journey or spiritual disciplines. Just the other day, I spent a good amount of time bashing icicles from our building. Two days later I was doing the same thing from our parsonage. I wasn’t doing it just for the thrill of it (although it can be rather cathartic), but I was concerned about leaks and damage, insurance, and all the stuff that goes along with freezing water.
Life was getting in the way. If I were to leave a place for you here to describe all the ways in which life got in the way for you, there would be plenty of space and items that we could list. Doctors visits, medication dosages, bad news, car wrecks with deer (yeah, that was me again), job concerns, mortgage payments . . . you name it and it would be an example of how life gets in the way of our discipleship.
Life getting in the way of our discipleship is probably the single most important reason for us to observe Lent. Lent is a time for us to refocus ourselves on the things that are above and refocus our attention on our relationship with Christ.
I like those words from Paul, “seek the things that are from above.” It is a reminder that we must intentionally turn our attention to the things that are from above. It’s an admission that it is not easy – it takes work. Repentance for the forgiveness of sins takes an intentional change, or redeployment of your entire being. Above all things, Paul reminds us that we should do it with love, letting the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
There is a passage that I often read that reminds me that we should not worry so much about the earthly things. I think you’ve heard it before. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will ring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I think those words of Jesus should be a reminder that we shouldn’t let life get in the way of our relationship with God and most importantly with the sustaining love of Christ.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
When we got to the lookout, off in the distance was a spectacular bull and several cow elk. We spent some time just watching in amazement. After some time, we left that lookout to venture to another. While we didn't see any at the other vantage point, it was good just to see the range and habitat of the elk.
Because the other location offered the best vantage point from which to see the elk, we returned, and was I glad that we did. Faintly in the distance, I could hear a most spectacular sound - the sound of a bull elk calling (bugle). As we told the kids to stop and listen, we watched and waited as the elk moved and spoke in the distance.
I imagine that some would think it odd to drive that far with only the possibility of seeing. But I wonder how many would even try to stop and listen.
Are we the same about our faith? Are we unwilling to travel to great lengths to just get the glimpse of our Lord and listen for the voice of God? I'm glad that I did - and I'm glad that the girls were there to hear.
"For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!" Psalm 95:7
Friday, August 14, 2009
A lot of theological language has been used to describe how people should view the situation. And yet, in the midst of the story is much controversy. Should a person who has been convicted of such a heinous crime be given a second chance?
I found myself asking such questions and even going as far as saying that he should be offered another chance, "but not on my team." I have a lot of sports reasons for that, but I wonder if they are founded in sports or some other deep seeded thoughts.
Do we do that in the church? Do we think that people should be offered bread, but not in my backyard? Do we believe in justice, but just not here? Do we believe in redemption, salvation, reconciliation, and even grace - but just on our terms?
I see a lot of churches (and pastors) claim that they believe a lot of things, but they don't always play out that way. I believe in the "forgiveness of sins," so will I practice it on my field of play?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
- Outrun Change. Don't take refuge in denial that change is happening. Confront the realities of the world around us and the churches we serve. Face the facts head on and question your practices. He was clear that we should not question our core beliefs and creedal systems, but that how we live out of them must continue to be questioned. Hamel encouraged us to listen to the renegades.
- Generate strategic options. Make change look cooler than standing still.
- Deconstruct what we believe, ask questions and compare yourself with others. Don't be in the business of replicating what is happening down the street, but attempt to brand yourself. If there is a program that doesn't work or hasn't changed, ask why.
Hamel pointed out several businesses and organizations that have done exactly what he was advocating, noting that without change and adaptation, these companies would have been gone decades ago. For me, it was a nice connection to Jim Collins book, How the Mighty Fall.
One of the most powerful statements for me reminded me of how easy it is to be comfortable. I continue to think about it and wonder if I'm not living in this situation. Hamel said, "The longer you are in a trench, the easier it is to mistake the edge of your rut as the horizon." He likened the places that we reside as quite often ruts that are hard to get out of. We need to focus on getting out of those ruts so that we can be on a smoother path to meet the needs of those around us.
Maybe what we need, Hamel suggested, was a good healthy dose of "unorganized religion." We need to deconstruct the patterns and behaviors that are continuing to set us behind the curve of society and commit ourselves to mobilize, connect, and support one another.
Sometimes there is a disconnect between business and leadership models, and the church. In the past, I've sometimes felt as if "faculty" at the Summit would burden themselves to make the leap and try to connect the two. It feels awkward and forced. I didn't feel that way with Hamel who was able to use his business experinece as a way of thinking about leadership in the church.
I am looking forward to diving into Hamel's book, The Future of Management. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up some of the details that were missed by this fast paced and dynamic look at the future of leadership in a changing society.
Monday, August 10, 2009
On Friday, Bill Hybels was interviewing David Gergen. Gergen is a political analyst for CNN and PBS, as well as a noted leader and advisor to four of our past Presidents. He is currently the Professor of Public Service at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and carries with him a lifetime of practical leadership thoughts.
Maybe it was my political science background or it could have been the interview forum, but I really enjoyed this conversation. They talked a lot about practical leadership skills and principles, leadership styles, and even dabbled in communication. They also talked about being a “reflective practitioner” or being the kind of leader who doesn’t simply lead, but also takes time to reflect, learn, and grow.
Being a “reflective practitioner” is why I think I enjoy the Summit so much. It causes me to reflect on myself and my leadership sometimes more than other things can. This year’s Summit came at a time when I needed to do a little self reflecting as well as some continuing education.
As Hybels and Gergen continued their conversation that morning, they began to talk about personal habits. Responding to whether or not leaders need to be up at 5 a.m and in the office before anyone else, Gergen noted that the type of habit or routine was not as important as the self-discipline that goes along with one’s daily routines. He used the example of Churchill taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon. The nap wasn’t a liability, but part of the routine for Churchill.
Gergen made it clear that personal habits and self-discipline are very important in leadership. One’s health was also part of that self-discipline. Being physically fit and healthy allows us to endure the hard tests when they come.
Gergen continued by saying, “Those who let their bodies go flabby will often let their minds go flabby.” Realizing that this is not an absolute statement and a generalization – it resonated with ME.
It resonated with me because as I reflect on my past, the times that I am less healthy, or gaining weight, or struggling physically, I am most often also struggling mentally, spiritually, and intellectually. When I am at my best and sometimes at my worst, there is a direct relationship, a correlation between the mind the body and the spirit of my soul. Three years ago, I was at my greatest weight, and possibly at one of my lowest points intellectually. I was feeding my stomach, and starving my mind.
There have also been times when I am pouring out every fiber of myself in leading. I may be sharp, but the physical side begins to take its toll.
But the other part of reflecting is the realization that I am not always at my sharpest, even if I am healthy physically. I must be aware of my overall health and self-discipline on a regular basis making sure that my habits are all in check. I can’t neglect any one part of it, or I won’t be ready for the hard tests. I have to be whole in Mind, body, and Spirit.
Just because I am reading, doesn’t mean that I can have that entire sleeve of Oreo’s.
“So, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance.”