Archive for May, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 88

88. Instead he devises ways that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him (2 Samuel 14:14).
Joab’s woman from Tekoa uses deceit to show David that he must bring Absalom back to Jerusalem. Absalom was “on the lam” after his murder of his brother Amnon. But the woman speaks of God who makes a way for the banished. It’s a great picture of the grace that God extends to each of us. The problem, at least in Joab’s eyes, is that David has yet to extend such an opportunity of grace to his own son–arguably his favorite son. David’s hesitancy to forgive will bring its own ugly harvest in Absalom’s ultimate rebellion.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 44

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.

Who’s on your team?

Cub Scout Baseball was my first opportunity to be a part of a team. As a 7-year old, I walked onto a nearby field to join a group of boys that would become important in my life. My dad got me the gig, promising the coach that I would the shortstop he needed. I was the smallest guy out there, partly because they were mostly 8-year olds, and partly because I was smaller than every 7-year old I knew too. But, I was so close to the ground that picking up ground balls was easy, and I was the only one who could throw the ball accurately to first base from the shortstop position.

I’m not sure if I was the answer my dad promised, but I held down the shortstop position for the next three years–two of which were championship seasons that landed our pictures in the paper (I still have copies).

I think men were made for teams.

Over the past few nights, my son and I have watched a Discovery Channel series that follows a group of guys climbing Mt. Everest. Now that’s an amazing team in action. Last night I saw the guys on Deadliest Catch work together to save the life of one of their crew. Then I watched the San Antonio Spurs dismantle my favorite NBA team in the playoffs with amazing team basketball.

We were simply made for teams.

On a team, we find our best performance. With other guys (okay, girls too) at our sides, we can seemingly accomplish more and certainly have a lot more fun than when we are working on our own. Teams can tackle challenges that individuals cannot meet.

So for a day, think about the teams you’re on and how valuable they are to your life. And, if you’re not on a team, find one. Sure you can probably find one at the local bowling alley or you can sit on your sofa, nestled under your team’s logo comforter, but I would suggest something a little greater. Find a team that’s doing something important and join in. Be a part of greatness.

My favorite Cub Scout baseball photo is one of me and Harry Justvig (the first baseman that shagged my occasionally errant throws). In the photo, Harry and I are lifting our cans of grape pop in the air in triumph, toasting the game we had just won. Over the years, that jersey has shrunk to where it would fit my 18-month old granddaughter, but I still remember the moment. It was a moment of victory, where winners celebrated together.

Be a part of a team…and win some moments that really matter.


Notes from the Journey with David – 87

87. And the spirit of the king longed to go to Absalom (2 Samuel 13:39).
Why didn’t he? Absalom is hiding from his crime of revenge against Amnon. But now three years have passed and David’s mourning for his wicked son Amnon has certainly abated. Why doesn’t David go to Absalom? Why doesn’t he initiate the needed restoration? Now there may have been various political implications, but David is king and his actions need no explanation. Soon Absalom will plot an overthrow of David’s kingdom, largely because he fels marginalized by the king. One wonders whether David could have stemmed Absalom’s tide of rebellion had he made the effort at this point in the relationship. The underscored point is that relationships must come before political expediency.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Small Step…Big Result

May 28, 2012 1 comment

Not long ago, I spent half an hour on the phone with a pastor who was looking for a growth strategy for his church. I could tell early in the conversation that he thought he was missing something, that there was one thing he could do that would send his church into the orbit of growth like the churches he had read about. Frankly, it’s a bit difficult to talk a pastor off of that unrealistic platform. But no such “magic bullet” actually exists.

Virtually every author on church health and growth will tell you that the key to getting to your church to the next level is the congregation’s increased involvement in ministry–no matter what level you’re after. The more people you have who are using their gifts to serve others, the more people you can reach. It’s simple math.

So, I tried to convince the pastor to do what Jesus did–to begin investing in a handful of people who really want to make a difference. Meet together regularly and grow them into disciples. Three to five people is a good place to start (you can’t handle more than that at first). After six months to a year of consistent investment, you will have a core group from which to mobilize leadership. Then start another group, and keep it up.

You see, that’s the pastor’s primary job. He is to equip others, not grow the church. The church will grow as people are growing, but you can’t grow the church by yourself!

Pastors tend to spend all their time on the front lines of ministry–reaching out to the lost, helping the broken, caring for the saints (and trying to keep them happy), and trying to handle the whole overwhelming list of people-need around them. No wonder they have no time for developing leaders!

The better strategy is for the pastor to work toward spending 20% of his time on the front lines and 80% developing leaders and people who can join him. Now you don’t get to that number overnight, but you start with a group of 3-5, pour your heart and some training into them, help them discover their gifts in God’s kingdom, and mobilize them–providing regular times of encouragement and evaluation.


You don’t need another program to manage, but use Tuesday’s lunch hour or a Friday morning breakfast at a nearby diner time to pull your group together each week, and just build disciples. Some will become leaders, others will be faithful laborers, and nearly all will come to share your heart for serving Christ and impacting your community.

Another benefit of this approach is that as your church begins to grow, you will already be developing leaders. Too often, this is the missing piece for the local church, but you’ll already have a process in place for this critical work.

No, the growth may not come overnight, but if you develop people that growth will come. And, it will come in a healthy manner that you can manage and lead.

Notes from the Journey with David – 86

86. This has been Absalom’s expressed intention ever since… (2 Samuel 13:32).
The palace isn’t surprised at the news that Absalom has killed Amnon. Absalom had made it clear that someday he would avenge the rape of his sister, Tamar. So again I wonder why David didn’t intervene in Absalom’s plan or why he intentionally turned down his own invitation. David’s failure to act sealed Amnon’s fate. While David might have thought this a just punishment for Amnon, his own inaction has forever damaged his relationship with Absalom as well.

When a leader doesn’t deal with problems in his organization, those problems will become increasingly destructive. Pretending not to know what’s happening doesn’t keep anything from happening!

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 43

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.

Have you ever found yourself beginning a sentence with, “Honestly…” I often say that when I feel like I’m sharing some important information or revealing my real thoughts on an issue. Like, “Honestly, I think my Royals need another pitcher,” or “Honestly, I don’t want to eat that.”

In such moments, I’m telling the truth, but when I say “Honestly,” I seem to imply that what I might have said previously could have been less than honest. If I have to tell you that what I’m about to say is the real truth, what about the stuff I said before that? I suppose that I give you the right to question my truthfulness in those times when I don’t say “honestly,” and, honestly, that’s not my intent. Do you know what I mean?

Now my point isn’t to insist that we should stop starting sentences with words like “Honestly.” Instead, we should speak and live in a way that makes those kind of words unnecessary. Words we speak can be serious or not serious, but they shouldn’t be either honest or dishonest. They should always be honest!

Truth is handled carelessly in modern times. Many people say what they need to say to get what they want. They over-promise to get the sale or leave out certain pieces of the truth to cover themselves or to get what they want from others. Some only tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth under duress. They have to be trapped in their lies before they come clean with the truth.

What kind of life does that build? Does playing games with truth really lead to lasting benefit. Sure, we may get the sales commission or avoid the immediate payment for our failures, but are we really winning? Aren’t we just building up to a bigger, more devastating loss someday?

In the Brotherhood, we make promises–purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. But what good are promises if the mouth that speaks them cannot be trusted? And if some of your words are true and others are deceptive, how will we know which mouth you’re speaking with when you make your promises?

You can’t win every game. You don’t get every sale. You won’t avoid every moment of trouble. But if you live dishonestly, then a day of losing is on the horizon where the cost will be greater than you think.

I’ve discovered that often in life, the right decision costs me something in the short-term but really pays off in the long-term. People who live dishonestly, play the game backwards. They trade the future for things today that don’t last very long.

When in doubt, tell the truth. When you’re not in doubt, tell the truth then too!

Notes from the Journey with David – 85

85. The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” (2 Samuel 13:26).
It had been two years since Amnon’s violation of Tamar and David knows things aren’t right between Amnon and Absalom, so why does he not see the likely confrontation in Absalom’s request. He wants opportunity to kill Amnon. Surely David senses trouble, but since he had not dealt with Amnon’s sin, he’s hardly in a place to deal with Absalom’s rage. David’s avoidance of such things could be related to his guilt over the Bathsheba encounter. The truth is, if a leader doesn’t do what is right and doesn’t hold those close to him accountable for their actions, his ability to rule anyone is compromised. That weakness in David is about to take over his leadership efforts.

Categories: Leadership Journeys