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The Brotherhood – Part 31

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

What do we look for in a leader?

Just about any political season spawns this question (at least for me). As candidates crisscross our television sets in search of votes, the question of leadership and what it entails moves center stage.

In the political arena, apparently leadership tries to connect us to shared ideas. Sure, there are the warnings against the extremes of rival candidates, but debates and the better ads focus on issues. And the candidates seemingly try to position themselves in an electable posture. They speak where the majority speaks in hopes of gaining a majority of the votes. If candidates have ideas that are less mainstream, they tend to keep those thoughts under wraps as such a revelation could sink the campaign.

Is that what leadership is? Find the most popular thoughts and make them your own so people will follow you? Perhaps that’s the only place a democracy can lead, but most of us are looking for something else in a leader–integrity.

The ability to be trusted is often the most popular response when answering the question of leader traits. If you think of your most-admired leader list, likely everyone near the top is someone you think you could trust. You are certain that in every situation, these leaders will do what is best even if it proves difficult or causes them to sacrifice. The best leaders do what is best no matter what.

Now I’m not sure we can infuse election season with such thinking, but we can align our own leadership to such an ideal. In our homes, on the job, in our church, and wherever else we are asked to lead, we can serve with integrity. Who I choose to be is my decision. I can’t make such a choice for anyone else, no matter how I might wish to impact their path. But I can choose integrity for my own life.

If your wife and kids are listing their most-admired leaders, don’t you want to make that list? There’s really only one way–be the leader you admire!

Notes from the Journey with David – 61

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

61. To this day the place is called Perez Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:8).
David’s effort to move the ark to his capitol was flawed from the beginning. While he knew enough to respect the ark’s value, he hadn’t researched the proper means of transporting it and his failure to act responsibly cost Uzzah his life. But David blames God for the failure. In his desire to please God, he failed to consider how God would be pleased, thus proving that right motive is only half the battle. Doing what is right is the critical next step. Like many, David blames his failure on God when his own shortcoming caused the troubling response.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Yes You Can

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Honestly, I have a hard time not writing on this subject every single week!

I spent this past weekend, with a group of churches in Northwest Arkansas as we wrapped up a year-long journey, strategizing for their future. Wonderful people who are determined to make a difference in their communities.

As I listened to their completed plans, I was again struck by the creativity of God as He makes one congregation to be so unique from another.

I was also amazed at the confidence these friends showed as they spoke their dreams. No one said, “I wish we could…” but every point was punctuated with a “We will!”

I have come to see that one of the critical pieces of church health is the discovery of what we can do and do well. The bookshelves are full of ideas, and most of us acknowledge that we can’t accomplish most of them–at least not with the same prowess as the one who wrote the book. Sadly, many leaders let this reality teach them that the road they want is one they cannot walk.

Don’t forget God!

The creative King of the Universe has assembled your congregation and invested gifts in them that He intends to use for His glory. His eternal plan didn’t skip over your group! So there must be something you can do well–something that can make a loving dent in your community. Find it and give it your absolute best effort!

There is a CAN for every church. Your strength may not mirror the church down the street or match anyone’s book, but there’s a story for you to live (and maybe write) too.

I sat amazed at one small Arkansas congregation after another as they spoke words of faith and hope–some for the first time in quite awhile. They’ve taken the time to discover who they are, how their hearts align, and how their gifts can gel together. Now they know what to do and it’s not something that’s beyond their reach. They are stepping into things they CAN do, and I’m confident that great things will result.

You CAN too!

Notes from the Journey with David – 60

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

60. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees (2 Samuel 5:24).
Hard to imagine the intensity of this moment–waiting for the trees to rustle before rushing into battle. David and his men are poised and ready, anticipating a sound that signals God’s presence–a sound! Of course, God’s advice is to wait for His signal or the sign He will give to Israel’s king. I wonder how many western leaders would wait? How easy is it for us, in our desire to achieve, to wait for God to signal us into battle? Like David, each of us must learn to wait for that sign. It’s a lesson even the Biblical leaders had to learn again and again.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 30

February 22, 2012 2 comments

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Is chivalry dead?

Okay, in fairness to those of you who’ve yet to reach 30, how can you keep something alive if you don’t know what it is. But chivalry is an old word to describe the extra effort a man will go to in order to help a woman–holding the door for her, allowing her ahead of you in line, carrying her books, etc. It’s the stuff that many of our dads taught us.

As a general rule, I manage to live my life with a reasonable awareness of opportunities to show this kindness to the fairer sex, and I’m generally oblivious to whether or not others do the same. But this weekend I was stunned at what occurred when the wheels touched down on my last flight of the evening.

We were waiting for the airplane door to be dislodged so we could all head home. It was late and there are few more tired moments to be experienced than when you crawl off an evening flight after hours in the air travel industry. Still, the behavior of a man in the row ahead of me managed to stun me enough to wake me out of my near snooze.

As the rows began to file out, the man pushed past the young woman that had been his seat mate, grabbed his overhead luggage (grazing her forehead with his bag) and then proceeded to tromp down the center aisle toward the door. Had he treated a man that way, he could have expected a hard elbow or a few words one shouldn’t repeat, but instead his rude behavior was exacted on a quiet young woman who meekly let him pass before reaching for her own carry-on.

“Really?” I couldn’t stifle the exclamation and noticed other passengers equally appalled at his behavior. Words like “jerk” were mumbled by others, but the young woman smiled one of those “It’s okay, I’m alright” smiles and we all headed toward the exit.

As I walked up the jet bridge, I began hoping the man had some sort of crisis that might explain his behavior. Maybe his wife was being rushed to the hospital that very moment or some other circumstance was occurring that could justify his inconsiderate conduct. It seemed odd to hope that he had a crisis, but I didn’t want to think someone could be that brusque.

After retrieving my bag from the “too big for the overhead compartment” group, I made my way through the airport, ready to find my car in a distant parking lot and drive home. And there he was! Sitting at the airport bar/counter, already coddling a drink and playing with his iPad. No emergency in sight…the word “jerk” returned to my thoughts.

Now I don’t know how you live, but my dad would smack the bag of my head if I didn’t make the effort to show the simple kindnesses of chivalry. And I’m a dad to two boys and would likely respond the same way. My mind says there’s just no excuse for being so self-absorbed that I disregard others.

Of course, some will say it’s all the fault of women’s lib stuff. “Hey Mike, women don’t want you to hold the door” or so the excuses say. Well, that may be the case for some, but my wife appreciates it when I show her such kindnesses, and I’m guessing that most women feel the same way. If by acting nice, I inadvertently offend a woman, well…I guess there’s no better way to offend her.

The point? If you’re the kind of guy that some folks would call a “gentleman” keep it up! If you’re not, you should talk to my dad…or somebody’s dad, ’cause people may be muttering “jerk” as you rush by.

Notes from the Journey with David – 59

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

59. So David inquired of the Lord (2 Samuel 5:19).
The landscape had changed. David is no longer on the run from Saul and a friend of the Philistines. Now he is king in Israel and the Philistines present a major threat. It’s hard to be sure why the Philistines are mobilizing against him. Perhaps they intend to demonstrate their strength and hope for David to yield. But David inquires of the Lord–good plan. And God’s answer is to attack. It won’t be long before the Philistines are weakened to the point of never rising again. The work David started with Goliath will soon be complete.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

How Do You Know if a Church is Healthy? Part 2

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I wrote on this subject last week, and didn’t have any plans for a Part 2 until I visited a very unique little church this past weekend. Sunday morning I found myself worshiping with 28 other friends in a small community in the Northeast. Now, I realize that a small church in a small town is not in itself unique. But this one is…

As the guest speaker for the morning, I arrived a little more than an hour before service time and entered the small sanctuary where a prayer meeting was taking place–a prayer meeting led by high school students. Now the fact that 18 of the 28 people attending that morning came to pray for an hour before their service is remarkable enough, but a full dozen of those were students, and three or four others were among those that joined us at service time.

It was great to be in a Sunday service dominated by students. But even more impressive was the connection I observed between the adults and these kids. A senior adult couple stepped into the mix with the wisdom and love of grandparents. A young couple hugged and encouraged each of these committed young people. And the pastor and his wife nestled right into the middle of the group like enthusiastic shepherds, cheering the energy of their young sheep.

Now you might think that a small, declining town and a high mileage building offer a less-than-healthy opportunity. You might wonder if a strong church can grow in such a limited place. But anytime young and old are genuinely connected by hunger for God and the purposes of the Church, something healthy is definitely growing.

Few might immediately think that a small, rural church on a cold, snowy morning is really the place to be, but any place where love is breaking down cultural walls, well…that’s a vibrant, healthy church!