Archive for August, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 114

114. They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father, Kish (2 Samuel 21:14).

The final phrase in this chapter says that God prospered the land again. Why? Because wrongs had been righted. Saul’s sin against the Gibeonites had now been atoned for and Saul’s own bones were now buried appropriately, instead of lying where his enemies had struck him down. In spite of the years that had passed, the impact of injustices remained, but once they were righted, God blessed the land again. If God will one day make all things right, can we think He will allow us to leave justice undone?

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 57

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.

My youngest son and I were discussing a commitment to excellence this morning, and I think we hit on an important idea. The difference between excellence and inferior performance can often be the result of purpose. Let me explain…

When I do something wholeheartedly–you know, give it my best because I really want to do it and care that I do it well–my best capacity for excellence emerges. But when I do something just to get it done–the ole “gotta do this so I might as well get it over with” idea–well, excellence seldom emerges.

When I am just trying to meet expectations and get things off my to do list, I can be tempted to cut corners, skip over the fine print, and generally fail to pay close enough attention to the important ways to do that task well. Just getting by is the mantra for many people. They seem content to meet the minimum standard and get back to their lawn chair and iced tea. And these folks never experience the value of what they do or the joy of having done a job really well.

Conversely, those who take the time to give their best, to pay close attention, to engage their work fully, these are the people who end up with a very different life. They discover their true abilities, they find what they do really well, and they do it really well. And, not surprisingly, they enjoy life a lot more.

Now for those who cut corners, doing things with excellence seems an unnecessary exercise in hard work. Nothing beats inside them to do better. DON’T BE THAT GUY!

Reach deep inside yourself with everything you do and find the passion to do it remarkably well. You’ll love life more and you’ll enjoy the work and relationships you engage in more than you ever thought you could.

Give your best, and you get the best!


Notes from the Journey with David – 113

113. He handed them over to the Gibeonites who killed and exposed them before the Lord (2 Samuel 21:9).
Seven of Saul’s descendants are put to death for his crimes against the Gibeonites. What a tragedy! One mom lost five sons on the same day! It’s hard to imagine the mental and emotional anguish and the attitude this generation must have had toward Saul. I wonder how many might feel similarly toward the ancestors who launched their families down a tragic road. Our steps do matter, not only for our lives, but for those who follow after us. Each individual must be careful that he’s not sowing seeds that will destroy future generations.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

And now for a few announcements…

Announcements are a part of nearly every church’s time of worship. After all, we have to let people know about the other stuff we’re doing, and Sunday morning seems like a great time to get their attention. Right?

Honestly, the plan may not be working.

Truth is, in a setting where we focus people mentally and emotionally on key elements like worship and hearing God’s Word, people often need to take a mental break–and guess when they do that! You’re right! In those few minutes where you read to them from a bulletin in their hands.

As a pastor, I was stunned at how frequently people didn’t know about the events we’d just spent worship time promoting. Pastors often like to think that saying it once gets it done (an idea that isn’t true in our sermons either), but the facts tell us otherwise.

So, here’s a couple of ideas about announcements:

If you’re going to make announcements during your service, make them stand out. Try changing up the routines. Many churches have good success with using a vibrant person on a video to change the look of announcement time. While PowerPoint slides get the message out, if people aren’t listening they’re probably not reading closely either. If you have limited resources, you can make an announcement video with your camera phone and it will be unique enough to get people’s attention. I’ve seen other churches have someone make announcements from another part of the platform. Just moving people’s eyes from the pulpit they’ll watch all morning can help people pay better attention. Whether live or on camera, just be sure the person making announcements acts like they want to attend the events they’re promoting. Make it fun!

Also, limit how many announcements you try to make. Three announcements is probably a maximum. Keep in mind that there’s a point when another announcement means I will forget the previous ones. Also, don’t put a really critical announcement in between others. Just like in preaching, make your first and last points your most critical.

Keep in mind that a pulpit announcement isn’t always he best strategy for communication or use of worship time. If the announcement is really just for a Sunday school class or a boys group, have leaders use the phone or email to get the word out. Only use worship time to announce things that large groups of people are invited to attend–like everybody, all the men, or all the parents and children. If you make an announcement that doesn’t apply to me, you’ve given me another reason to tune out this part of the service.

Finally, be intentional with what you announce. Only use worship time to announce those things that are a true reflection of your church’s vision and values. Choose announcements that show people who you really are as a church and what you believe really matters. If you’re passionate about relationships and community, then help people connect the dots during your small groups announcement. If your announcing an outreach event, tell me why this is important to the church and why I should make this priority in my own schedule. Announcements are a great time to let people see what truly matters our church, so every announcement should reveal the most important priorities of the church. A camping trip for the boys’ group sounds fun, but…

So bottom-line: trim the number, make them fun, and use your announcements to reveal your church’s greatest priorities. That’s what it means to be intentional during announcement time.

Notes from the Journey with David – 112

112. It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death (2 Samuel 21:1).
One of Joshua’s mistakes, making a treaty with the Gibeonites, had been violated by Saul centuries later and God sent a famine as a punishment. Hard to argue that our promises don’t matter to God, isn’t it? Saul’s disregard of the promises made in the past brings judgment in David’s time? That’s not the way we usually perceive God’s actions. But that’s what God does. Since God’s Word is truth, it is clear that He expects our words to be followed carefully as well. We are His people and the reflection of who He is to this world.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 56

August 23, 2012 1 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.

Whatever happened to superheroes?

Okay, you may be thinking, “C’mon, Mike, didn’t you see the new Batman movie? And what about the Avengers? And the Green Hornet? And the…” Okay, fair question. And yes, I saw some of those.

But something I’ve noticed in recent years is that all the Captain America’s, Fantastic Fours, and Super Friends have gotten a bit long in the tooth. Truth is, we haven’t found a new superhero since Underdog showed up in 1964! That’s right! This year, X-Men’s Wolverine celebrates 50 years since he first appeared on the scene. He’s the same age as Thor, Spiderman, and the Incredible Hulk. Iron man’s a year younger. Batman’s a year older than my dad (and far less psychologically sound).. The Fantastic Four? 1961  – same year that I arrived on the planet, though I was never invited to their early meetings (I could have been number five, though I haven’t figured out my superpower yet).

My point is more of a question. Why have there been no legitimate superheroes in nearly fifty years? You may think that the rise of television took some of the steam out of the comic book market or you may want to argue over whether to count the Incredibles, but I have to wonder if it might be something deeper.

Could it be that the heroic is more of a memory than a current reality. Could it be that we wish someone from a simpler time would save the day? or could it be that we’ve lost hope in someone measuring up to the sacrificial exploits we read about in our childhood?

Regardless of the cause, it’s clear to me that there’s plenty of room for the heroic today. There’s room for men who embrace a heroic cause with heroic passion. There’s room for those who put others first and give themselves for someone else’s protection and future. There’s lots of room.

But are there men who will step forward? Today’s Clark Kent is more likely to avoid getting involved–to decide that it’s someone else’s job to make a difference. And when they don’t, he quickly dismisses any thought of sharing in the blame.

There’s plenty of room for heroes. There’s room in your neighborhood when a kid spends his evening hours alone because mom is working and dad’s not around. There’s room in your kid’s school when all the volunteers are moms. There’s room in your church when your pastor needs someone to understand what he sees and feel what he feels. There’s room on your job when someone needs to care about more than a paycheck. There’s even room in your backyard when a ball glove shrivels up from lack of exercise, and a lonely boy is shriveling with it.

In the Brotherhood, we know that self-sacrifice is our greatest moment. We are always at our best when we are laying ourselves down for someone else. You may think such sacrifices go unnoticed or are no big deal, but to those you help, you are more than human. You’re a hero, even a super one!

Notes from the Journey with David – 111

111. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance (2 Samuel 20:19)?
Joab’s bloody journey continues at the town of Abel, where he is ready to destroy the city in his effort to kill Sheba. Fortunately, a woman stops him, promising to toss him the head of Sheba if he will relent from destroying the city. While we are unaware of what took place inside the city, Sheba’s head is tossed down from the wall and the city is spared. Now it may be difficult to find a moral point here except that Joab’s rampage had him making destructive decisions beyond his true goal. When emotions run high, people kill flies with grenades. The path of their destruction is much wider than it need be and greater damage is done for the long term.

Categories: Leadership Journeys