Dancer posing in ornate gown

(A Truth Story…)

“Why won’t God just let me die!?” she asked in pained exasperation.

“Because He’s still waiting for you to get saved!” I retorted.

There you have it.  Now you know the kind of stuff Aunt Ruth and I used to talk about.

Aunt Ruth was neither my aunt, nor was she named “Ruth.” I named her that, and was the only person to ever use it. But she seemed to love it. And beneath her crusty exterior and sharp tongue she loved me. Except, of course, for the times she was laughing hysterically at me.  Or trying to teach me one of her “mysteries,” as she called them.  Then she was just being cruel.

Aunt Ruth was wise.  I’ve never had a relationship with anybody quite like her. We could talk about just about anything; that was rare for me in those days. I was a young pastor with an image to create and maintain. Aunt Ruth cut through all that like Sherman through Georgia. [click to continue…]


(A Conversation)

InterviewDon’t confuse your business with your delivery system.

What do you mean?

Your “business” is the value you bring to people. Your delivery system is the way you deliver it.

Okay… I’m still not sure I get what you’re saying.

Okay, let illustrate it.  Let’s pretend it’s the year 1900, and you own one of the dominant businesses of the day – a railroad company. What’s your business?


AAAANNNNK!  You lose. Twenty years from now you’ll be out of business and replaced with trucks.  Anyway, who gets up in the morning wishing somebody would give them a bunch of steel and cross timbers?  Let’s try it again.  What business are you in?

Uh, transportation?

Good.  You may survive this after all.

Okay that makes sense, I suppose.  But I’m not a business owner.

Of course you are. [click to continue…]

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(A Conversation)

GrouchI don’t know.  I just don’t get it.

Get what?

Why I feel so… I don’t know… alone, I guess.

Alone?  You’re married.

Yeah, she’s stuck with me, I suppose.

You’re a leader in your church.

Well, even there I more on the outside looking in.  It’s like people see me coming and turn away.  One time I smelled my pits to see if I had B.O.

I think I can help you.

Oh yeah?

I think so.

So what?  There’s some big secret that everybody knows but me?

It’s no secret.

Well what is it? [click to continue…]

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Man  and his dog reading newspaperIt was one of the early flashes of her wicked-strong sense of humor.  I was taking the twins to school during their sixth grade year.  We passed by the big-chain hotel on South Loop 289 when all of a sudden I heard Carrie bust out laughing from the back.

What was so funny?

The welcome sign at the hotel read, “Welcome Pest Control.”  Obviously it was some kind of meeting of some organization in that industry.  But I’m not sure that’s what you want to trumpet to the rest of the potential guests.

“I’ve heard of roach motels before,” she said, “but they must be desperate.”


Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.  [click to continue…]

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(A Conversation…)

Disappointment GuiltYou can’t do that.


You can’t disappoint God.

What do you mean I can’t disappoint God?

Just what I said.

Well I don’t think He’s too pleased!

I didn’t say you can’t displease Him.  That’s a different conversation.  I said you can’t disappoint Him.

Okay, why do you say that?

Because to be able to disappoint Him, you’d have to be able to surprise Him.  And whatever else He is, He is not surprised.

He knew this would happen?


He let this happen?

He gave you a choice.  And you made it happen.  But none of it caught Him by surprise.

(Silence… wheels turning…) [click to continue…]


Be the fly on the wall for this conversation…

It’s not that life here is so bad right now.


It’s that life is so busy.  Urgent all the time.

I can relate to that.

And not even that it’s urgent, but that I don’t feel as though I am responding well to the urgency I do have.

What do you mean?

Nothing ever gets completely done.  Or so it feels. My weekly schedule is pretty busy as it is.  Then factor in anything else that has been added to the schedule lately, and I’m having a hard time breathing.

I think I know what the problem is.

You do?

Yep.  Your Urgency Response Index is low.

My what?

Your Urgency Response Index.

Sounds serious.

It can be. [click to continue…]

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What do you do when you come to the edge of something you want but can’t get there?  How do you handle it when you have a clear sense of who you want to be, what you want to be able to do, or what you want to have… but only come away frustrated and defeated?  What do you do when you want so badly to push past your limitations and weaknesses, but can’t ever seem to find a way?

You do the one thing you actually can do.  And if you’re like most people, you probably won’t, because it sounds so simple.

Check out this snippet of conversation: [click to continue…]


Tell them I said “hi.”

Will do.

Tell them I’m praying for them.

Okay.  Do you want me to tell them what you’re praying?

That would be great.  Tell them I’m praying that they may stand complete or perfect.  And that they would stand fully assured in all the will of God.

Is that it?

Yeah, but that’s quite a bit.


Yeah.  These days it’s pretty much all I do since I have all this free time on my hands.  It’s  basically become my job.

Your job? [click to continue…]

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(Giveaway alert:  Keep reading to learn how you can win a free copy of John Smoltz’s new book, Starting and Closing.)

When I was in Virginia Beach a couple of weeks ago, I had a happy surprise.  That Sunday afternoon I watched the Braves finish off a sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis in what may be their last win of the season.  I especially enjoyed having a chance to hear John Smoltz as one of the broadcasters.  I told my son later how impressed I was that this man, who our whole family has enjoyed as a professional athlete, had brought that same professionalism (and humor) to the broadcast booth.

Imagine my surprise when I’m roaming the hotel at midnight in search of something not made by Pepsi, and there, 928 miles from St. Louis, is John Smoltz, having a midnight burger and fries.

“Andy!”  he said.  “How long has it been?”

“Forever, dude!” I replied.  “I just saw you on TBS this afternoon!  What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for an interview in the morning.  Hey, I heard you spoke at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.  How’d it go?”

“It went well, I think.”

“That’s awesome.  Hey, I’ve been keeping up with the LifeVesting blog.  I read it every chance I get.”

“Seriously?  Man, that’s awesome.  Did you tell Tommy we named our cat after him?”

“Yeah, he thinks that’s hilarious.  Says you ought to name your next dog after Maddux and call him Mad Dog.”


Okay, so… um… it didn’t exactly go like that.  [click to continue…]


Bahar:  You guys from around here?

Igal:  Not exactly.

Palti:  It’s complicated.  Who wants to know?

Bahar:  Name’s Bahar.  My family and I are on our way to Jericho and I think we made a wrong turn back there at the watering hole.  I thought maybe you could give us some directions.

Igal:  Well if you don’t mind me sayin’, it looks as though you brought the whole caravan with you.

Palti:  This isn’t a trip to see the in-laws, is it?

Bahar:  No, we’re looking for a new home.  There are rumors of a foreign invasion and I hear that Jericho is the safest place in Canaan.

Igal:  Oh it’s safe, all right.

Palti:  Biggest walls I’ve ever seen.

Bahar:  So you’ve been there?

Igal:  Not exactly.

Palti:  It’s complicated.  We sorta saw it from a distance.

Bahar:  So how do you get there from here?

Igal:  I’d try a camel.

Palti:  My friend thinks he’s a comedian. [click to continue…]