Category: leadership


patriotism & football

Image result for freedom and football

trying to put into words what’s going on in our country & how the actions of another affect us all…not easy; but necessary.

as you probably already know, a marginal quarterback on a bad team made a statement by sitting down during the national anthem of a preseason football game.  for the record, he did this for the previous 2 games & no one noticed.  also noted on the record, this young man’s outspoken nature on issues of social justice are well documented on his twitter & instagram accounts.  [no, i’m not going to give you all the links, you know how the internet works]

for a moment, let’s set aside weather or not we agree with his action & consider his message, his protest.  what is he protesting?  his assertion is that the words we sing & pledge do not represent the nation we currently live in.  and i’m aware of the fact that the songs & the pledges we make call us, as a nation, to an ideal & a better way.  so when this athlete makes a statement by sitting down what he’s saying, through words he’s later give,  [my paraphrase] we’ve missed the mark.  the inequality that exists in this country is real.

freedom defended & lived out

many, many people have said that for him to not stand during the national anthem is a direct disrespect to those that serve to defend & provide that freedom.  so the qb said that his protest in no way is a disrespect to those in the capacity of freedom protectors.  i think it matters what those in that service have said about the protest.  yes, there have been many that have said it’s offensive to them & the job they have.  but there have been many others that have said, openly, that the freedom they protect is the very freedom that allows him to protest.  let’s remember, this was not a violent outburst; it wasn’t even, at the start, verbal; it simply was an objection to the inequity that exists in our country.  additionally, the minute we’re telling someone how they can protest & what they can or cannot say – that’s no longer freedom.

suffering’s voice

there has been some debate about whether or not a wealthy athlete should have anything to say about suffering & those that are on the bottom.  the idea that because he’s rich, & lives in the pretend world of athletics, and doesn’t understand suffering & struggle, so therefore; “go play your games & shut up.”  the approach baffles me.  in the world at large it’s understood that those who have a platform [wealth, fame, power] should, at some level, use it to speak up for those who have not.  in this country especially, the poor, abused & used have no voice.  we don’t listen to someone who’s down & out.  so it is the job of those who have to speak up for those who have not.  this is not just a “good thing to do as a good person”, but this is a biblical principle.  your life isn’t just about you, and at some level; regardless of position & power, you should pour your life into the lives of others.

“he should have done it differently”

this is something that i’ve heard, you probably have too.  “if he was going to protest, he should have used a different method.”  what should have been the “different method”?  and even in choosing a different way to protest or bring attention to the issues, would it have been as effective?  the road to change beings with conversation & that is what’s been happening lately.  i’ve then heard some say things like, “his message is getting lost in all the conversation about the protest itself.”  if we’re too willing to talk about the protest instead of what the protest was about, that’s on us.  we’re the problem then.  that leads me to this…

the biggest problem

this is my opinion & i’ve not heard much else said about this, but here’s what i think is at the root of our nation.

we don’t want to talk about racial tension & inequality.  we’ll debate about who’s right & who’s wrong.  we’ll talk about guns & police brutality.  we’ll even try to talk about the politics that surround this issue.  but when it comes to racial & gender inequality we will talk circles around it, distracting ourselves with peripheral issues that may or may not be contributing factors.  they may just be things that distract & dilute issues at play.  this is not good!

listening in the midst of disagreement

this is the hardest part.  congratulations for making it this far in the article, i suppose that there are some who may have rushed to the comments section or have found the unlike/unfriend buttons by now.  and if you decide to unfriend/unfollow/delete/rail against that’s fine.  you’re entitled to your opinion & subsequent action.  but this last part is really important:

dialogue is hard because it requires us to listen to the other side before we jump in & try to change their opinion.  to truly hear what’s happening behind the words.

the book of james [bible] speaks to this idea strongly:

"everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" [james 2:19]

man this is hard!  to be willing to listen to someone that you are certain you don’t agree with.  our wheels are greased on this because of the political we find ourselves in.  we find ourselves primed & ready to pounce the minute that someone speaks.  we’ve found an issue or two we agree with & that becomes our point to make.  and we’ve stopped listening & instead are looking for a break in the conversation to speak our mind; finish reading, but not digesting the content, instead racing to the keyboard to get our response on-line.

patriotism is a delicate & valuable thing.  & when it’s challenged we want to push back; and we should. but we should also remember that the founding fathers believed in an ideal of what it meant to be a nation; where privilege isn’t dependent upon social status or wealth, where speaking up should not be censored simply because we don’t like the message or method, where dialogue matters & challenges to the system are in our roots.

so listen well, think hard & speak with wisdom…

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in a new learning opportunity through udemy i’m taking a course with seth godin as the facilitator.  if you’re not familiar with him you should be…if you’re interested in learning & thinking about things in new ways.

part of this course if an interaction with others through the on-line community, both that we’re already connected to & a new community of those that are also taking the course.

the first session is distinguishing the difference between leadership & management.

the prime difference here is that management maintains the direction that a group or organization is already heading.  so managers are important, very important.  leaders are different though.  they are the ones that have an idea or a new approach to something.  they may not know how to get there but know that it needs to be pursued.  godin says that it’s even possible; likely even, that they don’t quite know how to get there, to that thing that needs to be done.

so one of the questions posed to us doing the course work: is leadership a choice?

i do believe leadership is a choice.  any of us can choose to follow the lead of another, and we often do just that; again, nothing wrong with that.  i sure don’t want to  have to discover everything on my own, i want someone to show me which car to buy & where the best new place to eat is located & what to order when i get there.

but there are places that i desire, very much, to seek out the thing that hasn’t been done yet, the new thing, the refurbishing what was once discarded, understanding a new direction.  i could look at those things, which are difficult & filled with potential problems & chose not to engage.  but i make a conscious choice to jump in & pursue what others may set aside.

another part of this is that leadership is something that’s done in concert; there are those that come along with you; and without them the new thing, the unattainable, the impossible remains just that.

i love the communal aspect of this, that together we do something that cannot be done alone.  if you work alone, godin says, you’re an artist.  but it you engage in something that requires the addition of others then you’re a leader.

oh may i be a leader…

gracerecently i had a very interesting conversation with some people about grace & its activity in our lives.

i think that we often define grace through it’s rescuing nature.  that the grace of God shows up in times of our great need & delivers what we need when we need it.  and this understanding of grace is apt & accurate.  we love the pictures of a rescuing God & doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  so the understanding of Jesus on the cross for our sins is the greatest demonstration of grace [among other things] we have & is the thing that all of humanity hinges on.

but there is another aspect of grace that i think we don’t always consider.  that is that grace isn’t always rescuing…

that is to say or clarify, grace shows up in the desert, the wilderness & simply delivers the ability & strength to continue to walk on.

there are loads of examples of this kind of grace in the bible.  one we could look at is that of moses.  he’s called by God to lead the people.  but before all this he kills an egyptian because of how he was treating some of his country-men.  so he does what many of us would do, he runs away to escape certain punishment, ridicule, maybe death.  in his time away is when God speaks to him & calls him into a place of leadership.

this is the instance of grace that we sometimes read past.

tim keller once defined grace like this:

it’s when you’re welcomed into a place you don’t have a right to be

&

it never given out of obligation

before things were right with his fellow hebrew people, possibly before even things were right between moses & God…

yet God calls moses out of his wilderness.  grace shows up sometimes in the place where rescue hasn’t shown it’s face yet.

IT’S ABOUT JESUS…

something else about grace – it’s rooted in personal relationship with Jesus.  if we don’t have this relationship as a guide for life the offering of grace to others is going to be impossible & the receiving of grace will be equally difficult.  because grace is when you stand in a place you don’t have a right to be & it’s never offered out of obligation.

COMMUNITY MATTERS…

and here’s the last part of this discussion;

there isn’t a person on the planet that doesn’t want something about them to change.  we can look at our weight, our eating habits, our job, our family situation, etc. & say; “i wish that were different.”

some of us take steps toward that difference & some of us just wish.

when we talk about wanting different things that is a conversation about transformation.   the desire for transformation is a part of our humanity & the kind of transformation that lasts is done in community.

when we have others around us pushing us on to higher goals & talking through the struggle it is easier to achieve those goals.

i know this though the simple fact that recently i was getting back into the gym & there was a guy that i bumped into as i was leaving & he was coming in.  we talked for a little bit & decided that we could adjust our schedules & start meeting a few times a week at the gym.  we did that for about a month & his summer schedule got crazy busy & he hasn’t’ been able to make it recently.  you know who else hasn’t been going?  me…

grace & transformation are linked & cannot be experienced alone.  the beginning of true transformation is when we admit that something needs change, that requires a willingness to be honest about what’s broken in our lives.  when we admit that we’ve got some broken pieces to our lives that opens us up to judgmental attitudes, or  a lack of grace.

my hope is that the churches i’m leading, as we talk about grace, that it’s not just a conversation about what we “ought” to do.  but it’s a reality that we’re really doing something significant.  that we’re the kind of people that exhibit grace, that we’re a group of people that are experiencing transformation, that we’re a community bonded together through Christ.

so in my considerable drive time that i log each week there are times when it’s very ordinary; “look, there’s a deer, there’s a turkey, there’s a whole family of turkeys!”  seriously, one sunday morning i could have taken out a whole family of turkeys as they were just standing in the road.

other times it’s profound; other times i feel like God must be sitting in the seat beside me.

not long ago i was thinking about the group of pastors that i have breakfast nearly every monday & the close bond that we share.  it’s truly an unusual thing for pastors of different churches, different denominations, different ages & experiences to share this kind of closeness & friendship.  i know this because i have seen the other side of this kind of relationship & have heard stories of disconnectedness & competition between pastors.  so i’ve become well aware of the uniqueness of this shared friendship & shared ministry.

one sunday of driving from one church to the other, feeling like God is riding with me, i was thinking about these friends of mine; and then the thought hit me that there are times that i am intimidated by the closeness.

if  someone is too close to me the chance of me hiding the dark corners of me from them goes way down.  i can’t hide as easily as i’d like if they’re too close.  and i don’t really have any deep secrets that i’m keeping from them, but what if i did?  what if there became something i didn’t want them to see?  kind of hard to hide if they’re all a little to close.

let me be clear; it’s not them, it’s me.  more on that in a minute…

just recently i was speaking out of hebrews 11:6

“without faith it is impossible to please God…”

originally had always thought & taught from the angle that this statement would have been a world-changer for the 1st century Christ-follower.  for them, & for us still in many ways, pleasing God was about adhering to the law.  “complete these tasks & God will like you better” was the thought.  and we, in our enlightened way of doing life still live like this to some degree.

Jesus comes along & reminds them [& us] that it’s not what we do that gets us close to God but our belief in Him & belief of His desire to save us…our faith in Him to do these things.

for the record, i still think this is a legitimate way of teaching this passage.

but the monday after teaching that passage, in that fashion & with those points made, the meaning took on a new color for me.

faith, at it’s core, is about a belief that God is going to do something with the future that we can’t yet see.

back to my friends & why it’s about me & not them…

the reason we don’t like to get too close to people is rooted in our insecurity.  we believe that if people saw the real us we’d be out on the street with nothing.

they’d find out that we’re not really all that great,

we’re not that good a friend,

we’re not that good at our job,

we’re not that great a parent,

and the list goes on & on & on…

insecurity about who we are & how we’re defined by others & ourselves can cause great havoc.

this ties to faith & what i believe about God & what He does to & through me.  specifically, my faith is revealed in how close i let people get to me.  it’s a faith issue because of what i believe about what God is doing, that He’s always in the process of refining & reshaping me & my life.

do i have the kind of faith in God that even as i get close to people that really trust, that He’s already been involved,  that and grace & mercy are at work in their lives?

do i have the kind of faith in God that i trust Him for the future in those relationships?

“without faith it is impossible to please God” because, in part, we will try & hold all the details of life in our own hands; trying to control the pieces on the game board so much that we’re not exercising any faith & not trusting God for a future that hasn’t yet arrived.

so in spite of the occasional encounter with turkeys & the struggle to be real with my closest of friends i’m trying to figure out how to let go of my own insecurities through the growing of my faith:

the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen

so this issue, that moral truth is highly subjective & cultural, has been a talking point for people for quite some time.  it’s on the lips of political candidates [when it suits them], it’s water cooler talk [if there is such a thing anymore], &  it can be a dividing point for many people.

but, in a recent article by johnathan merritt, he explores the possibility that it may be, at least for now, in a downward trend [good read, he is a very engaging writer].  his premise is built on the cultural trends in media; movies, social circles & the like.  and i think there’s some verifiable merit to that line of thinking.  but my thoughts went down other paths as i came to the end of the article.

if the culture is bent, for now, on setting the boundaries [to some degree] of what’s good & what’s tolerable, what’s right/wrong or otherwise; that seems like a precarious situation.  my belief is that when God isn’t involved in that process it can lead to some pretty dark places.

one caveat to put out there – when we seek the unadulterated truth for the sake of truth we end up with God at the center point.  if, on the other hand, we’re seeking something that looks like truth to simply validate our line of thinking or behavior then we’ll concoct any belief system that props it up.

now back to the larger point…

as a follower of Christ i firmly believe that love is our greatest asset & the one that Jesus uses consistently in His life on earth.

so if the world at at large is beginning to rejoin the moral truth conversation again, i know that i must be very careful to not react too harshly toward their desire to reconnect to the unchanging truth of what truth is; God-mandated, Christ-centered, relationally-bound, and a host of other hyphenated words we could list here.

i’m convinced that if i, as a Christ-follower respond with the love of Christ that eventually people will find God at the end of the road.

yes, there are times & places when the truth is spoken in louder tones.  but it is never spoken with hate & discrimination as it’s fulcrum.  there are times when love is confrontational.  but never at the expense of someone’s dignity, devaluing them as less than whom God-created.

this premise of mine, love as the highest value, is one that i’ve written about before & firmly believe that this is the cornerstone of God’s church being a more vital part of the cultural landscape, a relevant stop of people as we continue to figure out what this life is supposed to look like.

do be someone that’s full of grace, a person of great hope & one who leads with love.

love as the highest value?love value [blog]

in the non-church world i think many would agree that this could be the highest value to pursue.  i have a working theory that in the world, in america specifically, we care more about money than we care about anything else; but that’s another conversation.

so love, that makes me feel all warm inside, & YES!! we should pursue love above all else.

but in the church…as followers of Christ…is this the highest value?

shouldn’t the pursuit of Christ be the highest value?

what about worship to God?

how about correct doctrine & theology, that’s certainly most important?

the list could continue for a while…

while it’s true that sound doctrine & theology are important,

and worship of God & all that He is matters greatly,

and we should always find ourselves in pursuit of Jesus Christ in all we do.

if we simply look at the life of Jesus [dangerous] we see that all He does is motivated by & through love.

the woman at the well…

zacchaeus’ redemption…

His walk to the cross…

i think sometimes that we get concerned about making sure the “whole” story of God is told.  and when we focus on something like “love” aren’t we then leaving out some important details about what God wants from your life & mine?

i think that can happen.  which is why it’s so important that the church you’re a part of is teaching the totality of God’s word.  but a beginning point, a motivating factor & daily, life-long pursuit is the love of God & how that impacts the world we live in.

i’m a firm believer that when we, no matter the station of life we’re in, pursue truth we end up at the feet of Jesus.

if we’re looking for a way to justify our lifestyle, we’re not seeking truth.

if we’re trying to find a way to do something that stands in direct opposition to God’s word, we’re not seeking truth.

 

if anything gets in front of our ability to love, we’ve begun the descent into a life, a church, without Jesus at the center.  we’ve decided that our preferences are of greater value than the people Jesus loves…the people that we’re supposed to love.

so love as the highest value, pursue it!

so recently, after a series of worship & teaching gatherings at church, someone said to me something along these lines; “i’m just sad for the people thatrotator_0005_community-togetherness chose not to take part in what we had.”  she was telling me, along with a few other people that the recent gatherings we’d had were among the most meaningful in recent memory.

i try to be careful & not hang too much of my ego on these kinds of things, because i can start to believe the hype & begin to think, “i am pretty great aren’t i?”  thin ice, very thin ice!

but as she said those things i was recalling the way we evaluate our attendance at such events & gatherings.  more to the point, the reasons we have for not attending.  and i am in no way wanting to discredit our attending or not attending.  i know that some of the reasons we have are highly legitimate & valid.

part of the struggle comes down to our expectations on what we think will happen at such events.  then there’s the expectation we have on what it will cost us.

at the event/gathering

some of us are so trapped in our thoughts & memories of what used to happen & what was that we can’t see it being any better than what it was or it’s going to be just at bad as it ever was.

the memory of yesterday can be a difficult one to shake.  if you’ve ever had  a bad church experience; well, let’s just say “if you’ve ever been to church for very long at all…” then you probably have an association with a problematic situation, person or event.  and that memory can easily cloud everything else.  just think about names for a newborn baby.  make a suggestion & anyone who’s ever had a “bad association” with that name & you’re going to hear about it.

so our imagination can struggle to keep up with the “reasons why this is thing here, is going to stink.”

so we choose not to attend.

the day of the event/gathering

there’s also the struggle with the energy we have, knowing that it’s only so much.  and when the energy & strength is gone we know we need rest.

it’s so true that we need to be aware of the limited time & energy we have on a given day/week.  so many people have taxing jobs with deadlines & things that must be done & we don’t have much to give or attend to at the end of the day

because of these expectations there is a fall-out.  we don’t end up making it a priority, it never makes it to the calendar & we end up missing out entirely.

those who may also attend

if we’re aware of who else might be there, and we have a difficulty with that person/family/group that becomes the dominant issue keeping us from being a part.

“i don’t like the way i was treated by them.  i’m not a fan of that person.  we had a little blow-up a while ago.”

overall i also believe that we’re trapped into thinking in very limited terms.  

the limitations aren’t confined to just us.  i also believe that we end up limiting God in what He can do for & through us.

we end up thinking & then believing in very human terms.  meaning that our actions are built out of the limited world we live in.  and so we don’t allow the limitless power & scope of God to enter our decision-making paradigm.

here’s how it’s played out in my own life:

“i’m so wiped out tonight, i don’t think i can go.  i just don’t have the energy”

“i’ve been to one of those before & it just wasn’t that great.”

and the list of reasons continues to pile up.

and as they pile up we become more and more convinced that there is just no way that we should be there.  and that’s the human dynamic of this life.  but as people of God shouldn’t there be a supernatural component to our lives, that connection with God that supersedes our humanity.

i’m not talking about something that you make up or play make-believe with.  but the activity of God in your life that reminds you that you’re not in charge & that He’s the one who’s really “got this”.

out of that sprouting a belief that God can meet you in the midst of your tired, weary body & spent emotions;  and restore you so that you end up receiving something powerful.

that in the midst of the failed programs of the past God can do something brand new, and that it might just need your involvement & connection to make it new & beautiful.

a belief that maybe, just maybe God can restore broken relationships.  you can receive healing where you need it.  and that you will have the courage to offer healing to those that are in need of it.  because remember, in broken relationships there are 2 people that have participated to some degree; and you’re one of those people.

it’s critical that we realize that the communities that wed’re a part of need us & that we need them; in all of their flawed, failing, difficult, messy, beautiful & God-revealing wonder.  so get in there, stop standing on the outside waiting for the right moment.  that moment is now…

 

this issue has been brewing in me for a while now…bill-of-rights there are a host of difficult issues at play with the activation of the religious freedom act.

 FEAR

both sides of this issue have fear as a motivating factor.  for those that believe on one should be with-held services because of their sexual orientation through the lens of religious belief the fear could be placed at the feet of the question; “what’s next?  who are they going to bar next?  don’t i have the right to eat & sleep where i want?  isn’t this a free country where no one shall be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their nationality, creed, etc.?” the fear coming from the other side of the issue may sound like this; “if we, who morally object to this lifestyle, are forced to set aside our beliefs what’s next?  what will they take away next, our right to freely gather, our right to worship our God without mistreatment & persecution?” for the follower of Jesus the conversation, for me, begins in the wrong place. Jesus tells His disciples [and us] to not be afraid.  to let go of our fear, to trust in Him.  i kind of wonder, as one who is a follower of Christ, that our fear [Christ-followers] is a simple lack of faith that God has all things under His control.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

-mk.4:40

 something’s that at stake here for us all, is the answer to this question:  will you & i live in fear with what might happen if…? if we get under the surface at all that’s much of this is all about.

“are we headed back to segregation?”

“what will the government make us do next?”

“is this the end of religious freedom?”

“is this the end of my personal freedom?”

WORRY

are you, am i [as a follower of Christ], willing to trust in God that He has it under control? Jesus was very explicit that if we followed Him it would get tough [putting it lightly – He actually said we could die].  but that struggle, difficulty, persecution doesn’t mean that God had let go of the wheel & mayhem is on the loose.  it simply means that the struggle continues & government, no matter it’s form or goals, does not have the last word. “but what about the WORD of God standing tall?  don’t you want that?”   of course i  do.  but judgment is best reserved for God and God alone. accountability for actions is served best in the context of relationship.  picket lines & petitions don’t allow for any relationship & draw lines of one side against another; and i’m just not that interested in doing that.  i’m more interested in the love i show & how it reveals the work of Christ in me, broken & hypocritical as i can be.

 LOVE

as followers of Christ we are continually walking a thin line between demonstrating the love of Christ & doing whatever we want.  i saw a facebook post earlier this week from a friend when he simply reminded us that Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors & those who partied too much.  and in the eyes of the religious elite, ruined His character. Jesus’ time here on earth was spent with those that the “church folk” didn’t want to have anything to do with.  and all Jesus does is spend time with them, offering them a chance to have a relationship with God. a God they may not have known. 1283-Indiana-Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act-Frequently-asked-questions a God they may have felt abandoned by. a God they were not invited to know. we all have a tendency to get our rights all mixed up in all kinds of things.  as a follower of Jesus my rights take a back seat to the real call on my life; to love well.  Jesus tells us that how we love communicates whom we follow, so He says love others in the same way He has loved us.

 there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. the one who fears is not made perfect in love.      

1jn.4:18

 so our worry & fear stand in the direct path of God’s working in the midst of the muddy, murky water of life.

 FINALLY

the whole truth of how this all plays out is yet to be determined, but i have said this for a long time.  i believe that it’ll be settled by the wallet & not much else. we like money more than we like almost anything.  and this decision will have a financial impact on indiana more than the religious or LGBT community. when our wallets are affected we become different people, almost entirely regardless of our beliefs & convictions.  we have placed a great deal of importance on money & the false security it provides…

…but that’s probably a topic for another time.

so in the mean time love well, in the manner that Jesus loved. lay your worry to rest; and don’t let you fear be your spokesperson.  that guy gets enough air time.

neuroscience

i was just reading an article in leadership journal, it was from summer 2014 [i’m a little behind in my reading!] & the cover story caught my eye.  it’s one of those God-moments that you best-not ignore!

recently i’ve been drawn back to some thoughts & next steps for the churches i lead & it’s all been revolving around the issue of discipleship; & the question “how do we do this better?”

that question really is at the heart of it all is related to size & depth.  i have no interest in leading a church of 100, 150, 200 or more if we’re spiritually shallow.

have you ever tried to carry a cookie sheet [one with short edges; you may have to go back to your grandmother’s cupboard for it] filled with water?  not easy, darn near impossible!  it’s not a lot of water, but it’s so spread out on the cookie sheet that the smallest mis-step spills the water all over.cookie sheet & water

 

that’s a picture i’ve had with me related to spiritual depth of a church for a while now.

the health & impact of a church on its community is largely tied to its spiritual depth & health; not just its size.  it’s true, size matters, but depth matters more.  we could be a mile wide & and an inch deep; and with that you’re not getting anything of significance done!

 so back to that article i was reading…

it was written by john ortberg & entitled “neuro ministry – how brain science informs discipleship

we now understand more about the brain than we ever have in human history.  we understand the way the brain works & categorizes things, creates patterns in thinking & doing tasks.  and these understandings can have profound impact in many facets of life…if we take note.

here’s one of the big take-a-way’s i had from this article as john was talking about patterns & habits that we form:

 “a habit is a relatively permanent pattern of behavior that allows you to navigate life.  the capacity for habitual behavior is indispensable…learning to type or tie shoes, drive a car is hard;

so many little steps.  after you learn, it becomes habitual.”

 these patterns of doing the little, everyday things neuroscientist call “chunks”.  we operate, largely out of chunks of info. & patterned behavior.  this has a huge spiritual dimension to it as well.

ortberg  goes on to reference paul in romans 12:2

“…the renewing of your mind.”

he suggests that paul; without really knowing precisely what he was talking about when he wrote that phrase, but informed by the Holy Spirit; hit the nail on the head!

when we allow God to renew our mind we are, in effect, allowing God to “re-chunk” our habits & patterns.  surrendering those bad habits, destructive relationships, poor decisions & the like to God.  replacing them with habits that honor God, tap into the health of a deepening relationship with the Creator.

coming back to that God-moment of recognition, as God is calling me to till up the ground of discipleship, it’s paramount that we understand that we’re heading into a time of re-working our physical efforts & drawing people into intentional conversations.  but there is some serious “brain work” that’s going to happen as well.

so the big question for us is actually quite simple:  are you willing to allow God to do some “neuro-work” in your brain?

the decision to remain the same & not change is an easy one; your brain doesn’t have to do anything new.  the decision to experience change & shift requires new thing; new “chunks”.  the question is, will you allow new neurons to fire & then change the course of your life & the lives of others?

50/50

friendshpin a recent conversation with my wife we were talking about a difficult situation where a leader had misused his power & influence; and had mistreated several people in the process.  the story goes that he & some of the people he leads had been overlooked in the midst of an accomplishment.  it was, from what i could tell, an honest mistake; but a mistake none-the-less.  this guys response was less than gracious & he really went after the people responsible.  what makes this worse is that some of those he went after were high school students.

this is all, of course, very disappointing.  but it spurred an interesting conversation with my wife & i.  and let me just say, she is very smart!  what she said, i think, we’ve talked about before but she immediately hit the nail on the head.

she said this:  “i’ve learned that it’s only about 1/2 of what you actually know [in your given field] & the expertise that you bring to the table that matters in how well you do your job.  the other 1/2 is how you treat people.

i know, brilliant!

i do believe this is absolutely true.  the measure of who we are as people is reflected in how well we treat others & the respect that’s given.  and here is the thing that takes it up a level:

the strength to consistently do this; give respect to those that we work with & give them space for mistakes to be made, this is found in a consistently deepening relationship with Christ.

if we’re going to try and do this; treating one another well, dignified & filled with grace we’re going to eventually tire & just scrap the effort.  because we will tire, we will grow weary, we will decide it’s all too hard, we will decide it’s not worth it.  the only way to battle that is finding that Jesus is the strength in our weakness.

Jesus’ mission statement [if we could call it that] can be found in john 10:10,

“i’ve come to give you life to the full.”

if we look at the whole of Jesus’ ministry we can see that this is the way that He lived.  He consistently gave dignity to people that had none in the social circles.  gave grace to those in the greatest need.  offered freedom to those that felt trapped.

so as we roll through this season, and really year around, are you offering life to those you’re in contact with?  a life connected to Christ, showing that He is the reason you act & live they way you act & live?

do you demonstrate that your skill-set; in whatever it is that you do, is only 1/2 of the things that matter in your life?

do you show that the people around you matter more than simply completing the job?

if not, make sure that changes today.