Archive for June, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 96

6. My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more this Benjamite (2 Samuel 16:11).
Maintaining right perspective is one of the greatest challenges for a leader. Here David processes the cursings of Shimei with a greater understanding than the moment. One of his men wants to kill Shimei, but David responds with an awareness of the true situation. He even thinks that perhaps God has given Shimei these words of cursing. Now some might see David’s depression at his loss and his own unwillingness to stand up for himself. But David is seeing things as they truly are. Why would he expect the household of Saul to bless him now? By maintaining his perspective, David is able to properly discern this moment and not vent his anger and disappointment in the wrong direction.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 48

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.

Guys need other guys.

There’s something about time spent with other guys that refuels a man. Yes, we live for others. We sacrifice for our families. We give our best on the job. But we have a limit to our strength, our capacity, our focus. Men need time with other men to rekindle the energy that it takes to live responsibly.

I felt this last Saturday as I attended a KC Royals game with a bunch of guys. Honestly, I only knew a few of the thirty or so in our group, but the time to relax and just be with guys was energizing. I’m not a real expressive person, so shouting at the guys on the field or doing “the wave” isn’t really me, but still I left the stadium with a little more energy for life. If the Royals had won, who knows how great I might have felt 🙂

But the point is that guys need time like this.

Now some guys go overboard. They use time with other men as an excuse to shirk their responsibilities or avoid the sacrificial live they are called to live. They make time with the guys a regular thing while those they are to love go without their attention. Bad move!

But an occasional opportunity, maybe a once-a-month refueling is a good idea. Those friendships help me see the value of all my other days and let me know that I’m not alone in this life of providing, caring, and serving.

If you don’t have guys you can occasionally spend time with, you may be headed toward an emotional tragedy. Many of the mistakes guys make come from exhaustion or loneliness. They find refuge in places they shouldn’t or just crash after neglecting their own emotional needs. An afternoon at the ball game, sitting on a river bank with a fishing pole, or swinging a golf club may be just what the doctor ordered.

Here’s some advice: Find friends who care about what you care about–guys who are living their lives with similar commitments. You don’t have to get all emotional or talk about feelings and stuff. Just being with guys like you helps you be a better you.

Don’t neglect your own need for encouragement and friendship. None of us are invincible so take an occasional afternoon to find strength in friendships with other guys.

Notes from the Journey with David – 95

95. Today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom (2 Samuel 16:3).
After all of David’s kindnesses to Mephibosheth, the latter decides to play a waiting game in the current conflict to see if he can gain the kingdom for himself. He can’t and he won’t, but his actions show what a leader can expect from a former enemy he has tried to make a friend. Unless determined not to be, people are generally selfish and self-centered. That Mephibosheth eats at the king’s table has not changed his heart or his belief that the kingdom should belong to his own household. When he returns, David will give all that Mephibosheth has to his servant, Ziba, who has shown great loyalty to David in this difficult hour. Mephibosheth had been blessed because of his grandfather. Now his own actions will cost him that blessing.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

How’s Your Church’s Relational Meter?

Spent Sunday at the church pastored by my good friend, Terry. It’s a “mature” congregation–one that’s been around awhile, and many who attend there have been too. I’ve been to several such churches and I know there are thousands more out there. Now don’t get me wrong, every head wasn’t gray. There were a dozen or so teenagers, many riding high after a camp experience the week before. There were families and little children, and…well, it felt like a church.

But there was something about this group that stood out from my normal experience in such places. When the service ended, nobody left. No, the service didn’t end early. I was the preacher on this day and I made sure of that 🙂 In fact, the final amen didn’t sound until five minutes past noon, but still they didn’t leave.

Instead, the people collected together in conversations throughout the sanctuary. People found other people to talk to. I stood back and watched as a congregation proved that they like being together. In fact, by 12:45 a few had moved their conversations outside, but nearly everyone was STILL THERE!

Okay, it’s not NFL season yet and maybe the prospect of an afternoon in the 100 degree heat made the air conditioning preferable. But there was more to it than that. These friends were…friends!

That’s a good sign. If people rapidly flee your property each week, you may have a relationship problem in your church. In strong churches, people find friends that they want to spend time with. They hang around after services, meet up at local ice cream places, and just enjoy growing in Christ together.

Of course, we don’t just want to see our people gather in cliques. We want their friendship circles to be open and available to the “walk-ins” we meet, but we want our people to build deep friendships in the body of Christ. Those relationships become like glue, keeping people together and a part of the church as we help them grow. No friends means no reason to be there.

If you don’t see this kind of relational strength in your church, here’s a few ideas. First, model it. If you rush home after service or hide out in the church office, don’t expect your congregation to prioritize relationships. Modeling means engaging people in conversation, spending time with them, and making your building a friendship place–not just a worship place.

Second, make room for it. Some churches have very little conversation space. They have virtually no vestibule (that’s King James for lobby). And in many places the sanctuary pews run all the way to the back wall, leaving no space back there. If the fellowship hall is downstairs, where will people gather to talk. Sacrificing a couple of back pews or removing some of the table displays in the entrance area may create some conversation space. Wherever you want them to gather, put the coffeepot nearby and watch the relationships evolve.

Third, okay this one may be hard for some. If you insist on people not bring coffee or other liquids in the sanctuary, make sure there is somewhere that’s coffee-friendly. No, not just classrooms, but conversation space for those people who don’t come to your Sunday school classes is important. Remember, people want to be where their friends are so anything you can do to encourage relationships will also encourage attendance.

Finally, make relationships a priority at your church. Fellowship isn’t just something we occasionally do over a pot luck dinner. It’s not an afterthought, after we’ve done all the important stuff. Fellowship is a critical function of the church. Yes, we must plan ways to reach out to those beyond our walls–that’s critical if you’re going to have a healthy church. But we must also provide opportunities for the people already inside the walls to know each other too. Plan a few events for that purpose alone–canoe trips, shopping outings, golf, museums, concerts–there’s probably a lot of stuff you could do together as friends.

Raise the relational meter and keep widening the open door of friendship in your church. Your church will be more healthy–and it’ll be more fun too!

Notes from the Journey with David – 94

June 21, 2012 1 comment

94. But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went (2 Samuel 15:30).
It must have been quite a scene as David ascends the hill. The people are walking behind him as he prepares to leave his capitol city. While the events are tragic, kudos to David for leading his people in this hour of grief. Far too often, leaders hide their moments of heartbreak and they fail to show those they lead how to grieve. Most leaders are so bent on positive energy that they don’t allow others to see them in negative emotions. The result is a shallow people that do not know how to deal with the hurts of life. Sadly many churches operate in this manner and then end up very unhealthy.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 47

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.

When will you be that guy if you don’t start now?

Starting to realize that I’ve reached that point where there’s probably more calendar pages stacked up behind me than still hanging on the wall in front of me. Depressing, yes, but that’s life. 50 may be the new 30 (or in my case 51 the new 31), but they don’t give you 20 more pages for your calendar.

This realization got me thinking about the man I am and the guy I hope to be. Most of us have those thoughts from time to time. You know, someday I’ll be more… or I hope to… Maybe a bucket list still has more than half the entries unchecked. Well, if this is my halfway point (meaning I’ll live to see 102), I better get busy.

Truth is, you and I are becoming the men we choose to be on days like today. The decisions and choices that accumulate today are the ones that make up the life we have and will have. Someday is on the horizon, and if I want to affect that day, I need to get started now.

I think that’s why some guys go through the “mid-life crisis” thing. Yeah, a few get reckless and throw away the best things in their lives, but nearly all of us start looking at life and wishing we could blow dust off some unfulfilled dreams. We wish we would have…well, you can finish that sentence a dozen different ways.

The point is that if we’re ever going to live intentionally, we better start now. Start now being the man you meant to be. Start now being the husband you thought you’d be. Start now being that dad, that friend, that boss, that whatever. Even if you’ve got more calendar pages left than me, don’t waste any more of them being haphazard in how you live.

That’s what I love about the Brotherhood. The four commitments–purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence–remind me every day to live intentionally. Who I am becoming is every bit as critical as what I am getting done. And the older I get, the more clearly I’m feeling that reality.

Notes from the Journey with David – 93

93. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back (2 Samuel 15:25).
David assigns Zadok the task of moving the ark. He has lost confidence that God is with him, likely mired in depression over recent events. Every leader faces times of uncertainty. And part of that uncertainty involves the blessing of God. We simply aren’t sure that He is with us because we’ve made decisions that seem to show we aren’t truly with him. David has known failure and subsequent punishment (Bathsheba and the child’s death). But here, he feels loss and may be uncertain as to why. That uncertainty drives him to a place where he is reluctant to encounter the ark, hoping someone else can help him discern where he truly stands with God.

Categories: Leadership Journeys