Archive for March, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 70

70. I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:7).
Is there a connection between this choice and God’s decision to show Solomon kindness because of his father? Perhaps this effort finds its roots in Near Eastern practice, but I find it significant that David treats Jonathan the same way that God ultimately treats David. Is this an example of how God chooses to bless us according to how we bless others? If so, what an impressive reminder that we do reap what we sow. Mephibosheth will need every ounce of David’s kindness, and Solomon will find a deep grace he doesn’t deserve coming from the God of his father David.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 35

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.

Bob Dylan sang, “You Gotta Serve Somebody”–a rocker’s review of the reality of life. We don’t really have all the freedom we want to imagine. In life, you end up serving something or somebody else’s agenda.

Honestly, my grasp of the music scene is pretty limited. I try to maintain enough knowledge to celebrate the achievements of my recording artist son, but my radio dial spends more time on a sports-talk station than anything from a musical genre. If I had been the paradigm for Steve Jobs music creation, he might have gotten by with naming it iTune.

But while Dylan’s fatalistic hit manages to connect with reality, there’s a deeper reality to be discovered. You were made to serve somebody.

In the pinnacle of His creative work, God designed you and I to be at our best when we were serving. No, He didn’t make us to be drones or slaves with no purpose or ability to choose life for ourselves. He just made us to be the best expression of ourselves when we put the needs of others in our windshield and drive forward.

Our individualistic tendencies want to argue against this point, but we know it’s true. We label those who sacrifice for others as heroes. We admire those who give their best to the needs of others. We even reward those who donate their time and resources with tax breaks! And, we try to rehabilitate those who wander off the moral edge with community service– clear evidence that we believe serving others is the best way to live.

Sadly, in order to compel our spending, marketers lure us with self-satisfaction. They know that we’ll spend to be happy or satisfy lusts. When we get focused on ourselves, we run amok, making choices that don’t bring out our best, but sure make a few retailers quite happy.

Putting others first is the real ticket to greatness. Jesus told us that the greatest love is when one lays himself down for others. Those are the best men, the best people.

Self-sacrifice is the second core element of the Brotherhood. Purity gets top billing because it is the critical choice that keeps men from self-destruction. But while purity may speak more to what a man steers away from, self-sacrifice is the battle cry of his running forward.

Live your life to make others stronger and you will become a champion to many.

Notes from the Journey with David – 69

69. Is there anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness (2 Samuel 9:1).
After having solidified the kingdom under his rule, David now turns to an emotional debt he feels he still owes. He wishes to honor Jonathan, one who trusted him and supported him when others didn’t. David has heard God promise to bless his own son’s rule because of David’s faithfulness. Now David wishes to do the same for one who has been faithful to him. It’s easy to move forward so fast that we forget the kindnesses we might extend to those who have walked with us in earlier days. David is determined to honor Jonathan’s name, though the latter has been dead for years. Such a spirit directly connects him to the heart of the God who has blessed him.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

When You’ve Done All You Can…

March 26, 2012 1 comment

This past weekend I had the privilege of worshiping with a small congregation in my home town of Kansas City. Though this was not my home church, I felt like I had walked into a family gathering–a really good one–and I was immediately enveloped into their home. Songs were sang sincerely and we felt connected both to God and one another as we sang. An impressive but simple video helped show how our offerings were targeted toward the needs of the church, community, and world. Even the announcements were delivered in a way that made me want to attend everything this loving family was doing. I think more than half of those attending went out of their way to welcome me, and I was impressed with the clear love for each other that I saw on display all morning.

In fact, everything was wonderful on Sunday, except…well, this great little church isn’t growing. Somehow the million plus people of that great city are missing what’s happening in this wonderful church family. Now, don’t think that they are failing in their efforts. Their calendar is filled with ministries and outreach moments. They are passionate about reaching people and I’m convinced they know what to do with people who need hope and help.

What’s missing? I could argue that their location is a large hindrance. Well off the beaten path, the little church sits hidden in a difficult neighborhood where only a few dozen cars might pass by in a week. If you don’t live in one of the run-down houses that surround the church, there’s really no other reason to drive by. So maybe the location is keeping this little church a secret.

Maybe its the presence of some really large churches nearby with all their amazing programs. Once you get back out to the main road, you don’t have to go far to find a menu of ministry options that a small church can’t offer. Maybe its the big church that’s keeping things small here.

Maybe its the community itself. Seems many cities have a lot of people who want help but they don’t want God. They show up when food’s available, but are less willing to munch down on some truth. Jesus ran into this too so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when we face the same frustration.

What is it that’s keeping this small church small. I’m not sure, but as I sat with the loving couple who pastor this church with such great passion, there were only a few things I could speak into their frustration.

First, when you’re doing things well, don’t stop! Don’t allow thoughts like “this isn’t working” to turn you from the very best behaviors. Loving people, becoming a family, teaching the Bible, and compassionately reaching out to others are all valuable behaviors in a church. Don’t let a lack of growth push you toward gimmicks or fads. Keep doing the best things well–its what is making you a church people will want to attend.

Second, remember that it is God who grows His Church. While we want the Church to grow and we do everything we can to facilitate that goal, God is the real Church Builder in our midst. Keep loving, keep teaching, keep leading, keep reaching and let God turn those seeds and your watering efforts to a harvest.

The Bible reminds us to not grow weary in doing good things. We will reap a harvest if we don’t give up! So if you’ve done all you can…KEEP DOING IT!

Notes from the Journey with David – Part 68

68. David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people (2 Samuel 8:15).
God’s judgment describing David’s rule begins with a single sentence. The focus is on justice for the people. While the preceding verses describe David’s military conquests, the ultimate descriptor of his rule is found here. A king is to bring justice for his people. Against the backdrop of today’s Middle East tyrants, this emphasis provides a stark contrast. Surely the wealth of the region offered David the same potential for abuses of power, but his righteousness wins the day, and that’s what gains God’s approval of his leadership. Modern leaders ought make note of this verse.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 34

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.

Not long ago, I heard my wife challenge a group of women concerning the relationships in their lives. It was good stuff, of course, and I begin thinking about how her advice would be helpful to men as well.

In her talk, she spoke of the need for relationships. We all need the encouragement, accountability, and just plain fun of friendships. Peer relationships are critical because God made us to be connected with others. The guy who stands alone, doesn’t stand for long.

But there are two other types of relationships that we need as well.

We all need someone to follow, someone who is further down the road than us. These kind of people can invest in us, challenge us, mentor us, or basically just show us the ropes of life. There’s little value in having to make all of life’s mistakes yourself. Why not benefit from soneone else’s insights and also learn the things they have found most valuable in life. Sounds like a really good idea.

While someone to follow is a good idea, someone to lead is just as critical. There are people in our lives who need us. For them, we are the one who has traveled more of life. My wife made the point that without people to invest in, we can become arrogant, self-focused, and lose all contact with compassion for others. Someone needs our investment. I can picture a little guy in a Big Brother program or a young man with a lot of big decisions ahead as a likely candidate for such a friendship.

These two types of relationships are critical for healthy living. If we just have peer relationships, how easy will it be to just become self-absorbed and think the world didn’t really exist until we came along? If the only guys we spend time our guys like us, after awhile we start thinking that guys like us are all that really matter. Wow, that sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud…

So, yes, enjoy the good friends who share your life stage and age bracket, but you need to branch out more if you’re going to be the man you can be. Find someone who can help show you the way and find another friend who can benefit from your footsteps. Staying in the middle of these kind of relationships will keep you focused and grounded in a way that makes life the best it can be.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Notes from the Journey with David – 67

March 20, 2012 1 comment

67. In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines (2 Samuel 8:1).
Recently, I have been struck at the idea of how steadiness without mistakes leads to victory. As we are faithful in doing the normal things well, our lives take on a certain incline. While I’m sure the specifics of the battles represented in this verse’s small account were significant, they show a steadiness in David’s resolve to push back the Philistines. In fact, David’s consistent resolve led to the elimination of this threat from Israel’s southwest border. A few decades before, one would have hardly imagined a day when the Philistine threat would become so innocuous. They say you “eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Most people get tired of the taste of elephant long before they get the job done.

Categories: Leadership Journeys