Once upon a time, long ago a man was sent on a mission. His responsibilities were clearly laid out and for a while he kept them. But one night he went for a walk and found himself lost.
And in the domain of a foreign kingdom.
He was hungry. He was tired. He no longer had the resources provided for him by those who sent him. So he asked for help from the kingdom where he was a trespasser.
That didn’t go well. [click to continue…]
Look behind you.
Not literally; behind me right now is the back of a chair.
Metaphorically speaking, look behind you, and you’ll probably find somebody following you. They may be following your instructions, following your example, or even following your dreams. They may be following your words and images on social media, but that’s not the same thing.
Look beside you and guess what? You’ll find people following there, too. They may position themselves more as friends or colleagues, but they make sure to stay in your orbit. In NASCAR they call this “side drafting.” And people are probably side drafting you, whether you realize it or not.
Let me pause here to roll my eyes and tell you – again – that even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader, you are. Everybody influences somebody. Somebody looks to you as the person to obey, the example to follow, the partner to collaborate with, or the sense maker in their times of uncertainty or confusion.
That leads to the Big Question then… Where are you leading them?
All you need to do to find the answer to that question is look ahead. [click to continue…]
(But I’ll Bet You Haven’t)
It was a harsh and hostile time, filled with great uncertainty. Public favor seemed to rock back and forth. One minute they were praised and celebrated, and the next they were vilified. A generation earlier a ragtag cast of characters had electrified the world with the testimony that Jesus Christ, who had been crucified outside Jerusalem, had risen from the dead and was alive to this day.
But what started in a supernatural flurry of worship and wonder soon turned ugly. [click to continue…]
I wasn’t going to do it this year.
I was tired. Really tired.
Frankly a little lost.
In a year filled with sorrows, disappointments, and a little health scare of my own, I had about decided to forego the attempt to frame this year around a central theme – my one word. (You can read more about the idea as a substitute for New Year’s resolutions here.)
Previous years saw themes emerge such as Lean, One, Advance!, and Renew.
Cynical candidates for this year included such cheery themes as Coast, Surrender, or Vegetate. Nothing else really seemed to resonate, so I had decided, despite a couple of really good suggestions from my daughter, to pass this year. That’s when I decided to take a walk yesterday.
And about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “Yes. Walk.” [click to continue…]
As your heart gathers around memories of Christmases past and delights of Christmas present, as the busyness and stillness collide in something called “holiday,” I pray that like all those involved in the first Christmas, this would be a day of wonder for you.
I pray you would embrace joyfully the beauty of mystery – knowing that the mysterious is a cousin to the miraculous – and you are gloriously free from being able to explain everything in 140 characters or having to control any and every outcome. [click to continue…]
This photo from December 2013 – People scatter rose pedals during an interfaith graveside memorial service.in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Suppose you were hosting an event for a crowd north of 1,400 people. Where would you have it?
That’s a pretty serious venue. Unless your name is something like Biltmore, you can probably scratch the back yard or dining room off the list. But hey, your local hotel ballroom may fit the bill. Depending on the nature of the event, a few church houses or large theaters or auditoriums would work.
When was the last time you were part of a crowd that big? I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve got to tell you, it was noticeable. Parking was a bit of a challenge. The venue was a little crowded. The energy was palpable. Lots of noise and excitement.
And no, I’m not referring to a Black Friday sale at Walmart.
But I want to tell you about a different kind of assembly. One where 1,430 people came together and hardly anyone noticed. Parking wasn’t a problem. Noise wasn’t an issue. In fact, all was deathly(!) quiet, at a venue that was shockingly small.
The location: a mass grave. [click to continue…]
He’s this year’s first round draft choice. The Player to Be Named Later. If you’re keeping score that’s number nine for us, and the eighth boy in a row.
Yep. It’s Baby Maybe season, and the landing gear is down. He can be here at any time.
Now the official due date is sometime around the end of the month, but all indications point to a potential early arrival. So we’ve made ourselves ready to go when the word goes forth.
We’re living with a sense of imminence. And it’s affecting every part of our lives. [click to continue…]
This just in… Thanksgiving is staging a comeback. After several years of retail retreat from Black Friday, creeping into stores opening sometime on Thanksgiving Day, retailers seem to have gotten the message either from employees or the public. More and more are again choosing to close on Turkey Day.
Oh. I mean Thanksgiving.
But this isn’t about retail habits or family traditions. In fact, it isn’t about holidays – American or otherwise – at all.
It’s about giving thanks. [click to continue…]
Someone once asked General Norman Schwarzkopf the secret of his success. His reply was simple: “I never walk past a problem.”
That’s the difference between a leader and a politician. Between a leader and a poser. Between a leader and a follower. Between a leader and a talker.
Leaders – those who influence people to take massive action to accomplish a goal or mission – expect problems. But rather than moan about them or wring their hands over how complex they are – rather than kicking the can down the road with Band Aid fixes so a future generation can deal with the real issues – leaders approach problems with the expectation and commitment to solving them.
Anybody can point out problems. Influencers – real leaders – produce solutions. Better still, they challenge others on the team or in the organization to solve problems. So how do you recognize a problem-solving leader or potential leader when you see one? Here are five ways to tell – even if you’re looking in the mirror to find one. [click to continue…]
(A re-examination of a previously-published post from 2007)
It was a poignant conversation that probably ended too quickly. I’m sure it called for a little more tenderness and empathy than I was offering at the time. But hey, at least it was honest.
“I was saved at age 6, and Spirit-filled at age 9,” she said plaintively. “Now I don’t even know there is a God. How do I get my faith back?”
I blurted out an answer that distressed more than blessed…
“You start by showing up.”
I’m sure that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. But I still think it’s true.
When it comes to peace or healing or restoration or growth, human nature has a tendency to self-destruct.
Withholding or running away from the situation.
The myth is that:
- Church is for people who have God all figured out.
- Marriage is for people who remain magically in love and intimate.
- Financial planning is for people who have all the money they need to do what they want.
- Friendships are for people who never get disappointed by other people.
It may be time for a healthy dose of reality. [click to continue…]