Decision Making

Row American Flags Half Mast Washington DC USA

Here we go again.

Another day.

Another crisis.

Another call for leadership.

Another round of half-mast flags…

Another set of news-bite wags…

A fresh supply of new #hashtags…

And another call for leadership.

More outrage at this

More outrage at your outrage at that,

Another mad rush of the gun shop owners to the bank…

And another call for leadership.

What do we mourn when we bemoan the lack of leadership?

Do we really know what are we calling for? [click to continue…]

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Start your engines

It’s hard for Alex to force himself to go to work these days. The honeymoon there is way past over, and the only reason he shows up now is a paycheck.  He compares himself to others who have gone way too long without any job, and feels guilty for complaining.  But this work situation is starting to affect his health, his relationships, and his confidence.  He’s been looking, but no other possibilities have presented themselves.

What does Alex do? Does he endure or does he walk away?  Does he press on, or does he “step out in faith” in search of new opportunities?

Tyler and Jennifer have reached a similar decision, not about work, but about the church they attend.  The congregation has been hit hard with splits, neighborhood transition, and pastoral changes.  They have been a part of this fellowship since they married, and have faithfully served.  But they have moved to another neighborhood themselves, and it feels harder and harder to go back to what feels like a sinking ship.

What do they do? Is this a time to be “steadfast, immovable,” and all that? Or is it a time to “mount up with wings as eagles” and fly away?

(Yeah, you can make the Bible say just about anything you want it to in cases like this.)

These kinds of questions are common for any believer… [click to continue…]

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Flying Paper Airplane

Anytime something feels amazing, or meets a deep desire, it’s only natural to crave more.

It changes your state a little.

It alters your mood.

In short, you’re intoxicated by it.

And “it” can be anything… [click to continue…]

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If you just read the title of this and are still reading, you don’t have time for cute stories or complicated formulas, so I’ll just get to the point, if that’s OK.

If you are in a situation where you are at a complete loss as to what to do, it’s because you need to reset your glance and your gaze.  You have allowed your gaze – your long-term focus – to become set on your circumstances, your prayer request, your frustration, your pain, your desperate desire for change, or something other than the Lord.  You’re glancing at God, asking Him to fix whatever you’re gazing at.

Nice try.  I understand why.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Reset your gaze on God, and your glance on the world around you.

That’s what it means to wait on the Lord.

That’s what it means to praise, or to worship

Yes, that’s in the Bible. [click to continue…]

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The other day I turned left out of a parking lot and started heading south on Avenue Q, between 19th and 34th Streets in Lubbock, where I live.  If you’re not familiar with that stretch of road, it’s a seven-lane thoroughfare, with three lanes each heading south and north, and a turn lane.  Big.  Wide.  Sprawling.  Busy.

It was in the afternoon, around 3:00 or so.  I was talking on the phone with Joel, my son.  Traffic was busy enough, but not nuts.  I was in the middle lane, with cars pretty much all around me – left and right, front and back.  I was probably about a quarter mile from the 34th Street intersection when the strangest thing began to happen.

I went blind. [click to continue…]

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Ask an adult to define leadership, and sometimes you’ll get a blank stare, or a wad of contradictions.  Ask a child to do it, and he or she will often have a much easier time.  The leader in a kid’s world is the one who can get his friends to do what he wants them to do.  Or leadership may begin with the words, “Hey, you know what would be funny?” 

One thing adults should know that kids often don’t, however, is that anybody can lead.  That skinny, awkwardly-shy girl in third grade may be a corporate CEO or trailblazing missionary in the making.  That boy who’s always picked last for the kickball team may own a sports team one day.

Everybody is a potential leader. Leadership is not synonymous with talent or personality types.  Leadership ability is not always obvious.  And it sure isn’t the same thing as authority.

Leadership is influence.  And influence – especially good influence – can be taught.  And here’s the really cool part:  You can teach a child to influence others without them knowing that’s what you’re doing.

So whether you have kids of your own (works for grandchildren, too), or you work with children in some capacity, here are ten ideas for fostering leadership in the kids in your world. [click to continue…]

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Okay this post is interactive, so get a pen and something other than your outgoing mail to write on.  Or do what I did and pop up your word processor.

Here’s the challenge:  Watch the 46-second video below and see if, based on that, you can think of at least one adjective that begins with each letter of the alphabet.  (Confession:  I had to watch about five times, but I got it.)

Why this video?  Only because I saw it the other day and thought it was way-cool.  Here’s the back story:  A missionary had distributed Gideon Bibles to a village in Malawi, Africa.  These people were so happy to get their hands on their own Bibles, they spontaneously broke out into song and dancing, worshipping God in gratitude.  (When was the last time you did that when you got a new Bible?)

So click on the “play” button and start listing adjectives.  See how many plays it takes for you to get a full list.  I’ll show you my list after it’s over and you have yours.

[click to continue…]

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bad leaderLast week I was having a “what do I do” conversation with a youth pastor in another city.  Seems he found himself at an impasse with his boss – the senior pastor of the church – over what leadership was supposed to look like.  His take on it:  the “leader” isn’t leading anybody.  Not him, not the others involved in the problem.  Nobody.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a frustrated children’s pastor about a supervisor who was repeatedly letting important details fall through the cracks.  It got so bad, the  entire church leadership team was hindered in getting their work done.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve counseled or consulted with employees or constituents – inside and outside Church World – who are crying out for visionary, heart-based leadership.  All they get instead are insecure emperors, oilers of the machinery, or absent-minded trips down memory lane.

Whenever I hear yet another story of position holders who are failing the people they’re supposed to be leading, I have two knee-jerk reactions.  First, I want to take up the constituents’ offense.  I want to bark and growl and roll my eyes and look incredulously and fuss and fume.  Second, I wonder if anybody could issue the same complaint about me if they were completely honest.

Just for laughs, why don’t we stick out necks out and try on an idea.  Leadership failures aren’t the result of somebody setting out to ruin an organization or to make your life or work miserable.  (Hey, I said “try it on”… if it doesn’t fit, we can fuss and fume some more later.)  Assuming that’s true, then, where do we go wrong?  How do leaders begin to suck the life out of people or organizations?  Here are 10 things to watch for: [click to continue…]

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candle-smokeTense Truth:  Jesus, the Light of the World, will sometimes allow us to experience seasons of darkness in order to teach us to trust Him, not guarantees.  But He warns us not to turn back to that other kind of darkness – a world of evil or self-initiated “light” in order to find quick-fix relief.

First I’ll give you the pieces, then I’ll put them all together.

  • A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend and he made a profound statement: “When your world is dark, the temptation is to turn deeper into the darkness for relief.” So true. And yet it makes about as much sense as digging your way out of a hole.
  • Someone once asked me if I’d ever had a midlife crisis. I blurted out instantly, “Yeah, I’ve had about a dozen of ’em.”
  • I’ve noticed a recurring pattern lately. I’m dealing with a significant number of professional men, all of whom could be classified as successful. In fact, they’re geniuses at what they do – so good, they can do it without a lot of thinking. And yet they’re bored, restless, or even depressed. Before my very eyes, they’re starting to act dead-before-they-die. In fact, my most common deep spiritual advice to them is, “You’re not dead yet!”
  • Have you ever noticed that people who are living “in the darkness” are also the loudest to predict a dark future? Wonder if that’s just a coincidence?

More than once somebody or something has rocked my Zippity-do-dah world and faith and, for lack of a better way of describing it, “turned the lights off.”  What’s ironic is that it didn’t happen because I’d screwed up or was somehow running from God.  In fact, the darkness happened while I was pursuing the Lord and, by all accounts and purposes, growing. [click to continue…]

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LaughterI mentioned in my previous post that it’s possible to live in such a way that laughs at the future. Just so we’re clear, we’re in “life hack” territory.  We’re talking about what to do with your money, your time, your relationships, your attitudes, and your spirit.

Look at this biblical description:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

What is it about this woman that put her in a place where she wasn’t wringing her hands every time somebody predicted the end of life as we know it?

1.  Establish trust in those who know you best.

“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life” (v. 11-12, NLT).

For years I assumed that her husband trusted her in a moral sense, but this is much deeper.  This man trusted her with his business, his family, and his money.  She had earned his trust.  How?  By adding value to his life.

By doing a little more, being faithful to tasks assigned, or by keeping the trust of those who know you best, you create a compelling future.  Take it from somebody who has both earned and betrayed trust:  it takes months and years to earn trust, and you can destroy it – and your confidence in the future – in a matter of minutes.

2.  Buy like an investor, not like a consumer.

[click to continue…]

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