Insecurity

Portrait of Invisible man in the hood isolated on black

Then there was that time I burned a hole in the back of my bathrobe.

Fortunately, I wasn’t wearing it at the time.

For reasons I can’t remember, but that made perfectly good sense back then, I was up in the middle of the night and trying to read.  For some reason the light wasn’t quite right, so I threw my robe over the lampshade.

A few minutes later I was interrupted by the unmistakable fragrance of stupid. [click to continue…]

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Blocking

There’s no question that Anthony is a leader in the making.  His dad raised him to think for himself and test everything, and fully expects Anthony to outdo him.  And Anthony has accepted the invitation, so to speak.  He’s a visionary, a solution seeker, and has a bias for action, not just talk.

That said, Anthony is young and inexperienced.  At least that’s what he’s told whenever he offers up an idea to Gary the Gatekeeper, Anthony’s boss and longtime mentor.  Anthony does have some experience, and is about to complete his degree in college.  But Gary the Gatekeeper still discredits anything Anthony offers by way of vision for the future.

“When I want to take action,” Anthony says, “I have to go to him and wait a month or more before he even looks at it.  And so I can’t get anything done!”  He adds, “Whenever I offer constructive criticism, Gary acts as though he’s under attack.”  Anthony concludes, “What can you do with a leader who won’t let you grow up?”

It’s a fair question.  How do you respond to a “leader” who spends more time blocking you than leading you?  I should start by saying that such a person is not a leader in the truest sense of the word.  The root nature of mature leadership doesn’t seek just to generate blind, thoughtless followers, but to enflame and empower a new generation of leaders.  And at some point that requires some letting go.

But what happens when the leader has his own growing up to do?  How should Anthony, or any other emerging leader, respond to an insecure control freak who is in a position of power or authority? [click to continue…]

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One of the most famous child self-introductions in history took place in Cincinnati when Martha Taft was asked to introduce herself to her classmates.  She stood and said, “My name is Martha Bowers Taft. My great-grandfather was President of the United States. My grandfather was a United States senator. My daddy is ambassador to Ireland. And I am a Brownie.”

Love it, love it, love it!  What Martha may or may not have known at the time was that she was demonstrating leadership in the making.  With a simple statement she was saying, “I know who I am and where I came from.”  She was wonderfully free to be herself.  And that’s part of the stuff of ongoing leadership.

Nothing to prove.  Nothing to hide.  No one to manipulate.  No one to pretend to be, other than yourself.

Compare that to another group of so-called leaders who were anything-but.  They never lowered themselves to lift one finger to help somebody in need.  Everything they did was for attention.  They basked in the attention of being “all-that” at public functions.  They insisted on being called by their respectful titles in public.

Important?  Yes… every time they looked in a mirror.

Leaders?  Hardly.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, [click to continue…]

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Callie has been seeking the Lord a lot lately.  That’s because not very many people are seeking Callie, and the loneliness hurts.  Badly.  Truth be told, Callie sometimes seeks the Lord to give Him a piece of her mind.  But she has developed the kind of relationship with God where that level of honesty is common.

Callie believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Stephen’s.

Stephen feels as though he’s two steps past the edge of the ledge, and “all” he has to stand on is the promises of God.  But Stephen wants more.  He wants some evidence – a little sight to go with his faith.  He’s willing to do anything for God, but he wants to know exactly what that “anything” is, and feels terribly insecure in the face of an unclear future.

Stephen believes.  But his faith is being tested, almost as much as John and Julie. [click to continue…]

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I have a friend who doesn’t do change well.  I have another who aches for it.  Strangely enough, they both find themselves routinely responding in the same ways.

Both are fiercely loyal, probably to a fault.  They will cling to relationships, to institutions, even to ideas long past what most people would consider healthy or normal.

Both are very deliberate in the ways they go about making decisions – to the point that life sometimes barges in and makes the decision for them.

Both have dreams that seem to escape them while they wait for the circumstances to improve… which they never seem to do.

Interestingly enough, both are people of great faith.  These are not casual Christians.  They are heart-deep in a pursuit of God’s best for their lives.

They also have their differences.  One pushes himself to grow, to stretch, to improve – only to find out the ladder he was climbing was leaning against a bombed out building.  The other refuses to consider that if she keeps doing the same things, she’s likely to get the same results.

One will analyze a situation to death without ever taking action, then analyze what happened when the action took him.  The other will react to situations on the basis of emotions, but typically they’re feelings of fear or regret.

Meanwhile, the winds of change just keep on howling.  To one it feels like a blowing rain.  To the other it feels like a mocking tormentor. [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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What’s Wrong with Religion?

by Andy Wood on May 30, 2008

in Spoofs

First a little Burger King spoofing fun, then a modest little reminder that religion killed Jesus…

Until Jesus returns, we will always have to face the difference between man-made religion and authentic relationship with Christ.

But isn’t religion a good thing?  Nope.  Religious people killed Jesus.  And the “infidels.”  And those they labeled heretics.  And the Anabaptists.  And suspected witches.  And a few churches I know.

Religion is different than relationship.  Religion is man’s search for God.  Relationship is God’s search for man.

So what’s wrong with religion?

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