Integrity

The Unselfish Leader

by Andy Wood on October 8, 2011

in Leadership, Life Currency

Disciple:  Oh wise one, why do people put others up on a pedestal?

Guru:  Target practice.

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Leadership is in the crosshairs these days, and it sure seems as though everybody has an itchy trigger finger.  The most hated man in the world is the President of the United States – whoever he is.  Change the name and face, we just paint new targets.

And Congress?  Ha.  First of all, they aren’t elected leaders; they’re elected representatives.  Second, until we can vote for all 435 offices, we’ll always love ours and hate everybody else’s.

But our hostility to leaders isn’t limited to government.  Whether in business and banking, sports and entertainment, churches and nonprofits, or pretty much any other endeavor, leaders are perceived as self-serving – even at the expense of employees and the good of the organization itself.

Is that fair?  No and yes. [click to continue…]

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Picture a couple of goldfish in a cartoon.  Only instead of a fishbowl, they’re holed up in a blender.  One looks to the other and says, “The stress here is killing me!”

We had that cartoon at a place I used to work.

We also had that kind of stress.  We never quite knew when somebody might show up and punch “Puree.”

Morale was hard to come by in that environment because we presented one set of values to the public, but lived by a different set behind the office doors.  Information was available only on a “need to know” basis, and most people, most of the time, didn’t “need to know.”  Accountability ran down a one-way street.  Underlings were accountable for everything, including their email accounts and their bank accounts, while “leaders” answered to no one.

Oh… did I mention that this was a church? [click to continue…]

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An interesting op-ed headline appeared in The Chicago Tribune a few days ago.  It read, “Govern like a leader, not a politician.”  The author, Mike Lawrence, proposed that the current financial mess in Illinois would only be solved by politicians who had the courage to do unpopular things (raise taxes, I presume) rather than trying to please people.

Oh… leadership.

Ooh… politics.

Can they ever really coexist? [click to continue…]

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Think fast.  Salvation aside, if you were to lose everything you own – visible and invisible – what would be the most costly to replace?  Your house?  Your land?  Your health?  Your friendships?  Your family?  Your valuable antiques? 

Tough question, isn’t it?  But it’s an important one.  After all, we spend a great deal of time and money protecting ourselves against possible losses.  That’s what the insurance industry is all about.  And just as insurance underwriters have a system for determining “replacement value,” we also need a clear sense of what is most valuable.  The Bible gives us some direction for that in Proverbs 22:1:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Your most irreplaceable possession cannot be bought or sold.  It isn’t a commodity – like family or health – that can be earned or borrowed.  Your most precious possession is your integrity.  Your good name!

I can hear some of your brains now.  “Oh, THAT!  Yeah, I guess so.”  

But think about it. [click to continue…]

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Not My Problem

by Andy Wood on March 7, 2010

in LV Stories

I know about as much about car transmissions as I do about clouds (which for some reason I never studied in school).  I know it makes the car go, and if it ain’t working, your car won’t be going anywhere.  At least, not in the manner to which you’re accustomed.

Now since I’m completely clueless, I’m also at the mercy of somebody who isn’t if something goes wrong with my car-goer.  So when I need transmission service, that’s when I call the folks at A-1 Transmission.

(Ewww.  Does this sound like a commercial or what?)

Seriously, this isn’t about transmission service.  It’s about LifeVesting.  And how a little transmission shop on 34th Street invested in my life in more ways than one.

A couple of months ago my wife reported that we had something major wrong with her vehicle.  Sure enough, when I drove it, it jerked badly when it finally shifted gears, and when I would stop, it took forever to downshift back to first.

Ugh, I thought.  Transmission.

But I did know who to call.  I had gotten good service at A-1 in the past, and so I heaved and jerked over there one afternoon to show them I had a transmission problem.

Crazy thing was, he didn’t take my word for it.  Can’t imagine why.

“Let’s go for a ride,” he said, and asked for the keys.

We drove through the neighborhoods of central Lubbock and it didn’t take the expert long to arrive at a diagnosis. [click to continue…]

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true-heartTense Truth: God gives you desires you can never satisfy and makes demands you can never fulfill.  He then goes about bridging the gap, doing for you what you can never do for yourself.  Your primary responsibility is to trust Him to be Himself – to rest in His faithfulness.

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Have you ever felt like God was somehow playing a joke on you?  You hear people talking about being forgiven, and you feel guilty for, well, feeling guilty. You read the stories about miracle-working power, and wonder why you got left at the station.  You learn more and are less happy; work harder, but feel weaker.  You’ve learned to speak “Christianese” and go through the motions, but sometimes you just feel like a fraud.

What if I were to tell you that God has a glorious answer?  Something more liberating than a self-improvement project or yet another string of self-disappointments?

David’s Truth Discovery

For nearly a year, David had played the role.  The psalmist of Israel, the beloved king, had gone through the motions, mouthed the words, and tipped his hat to the man he once was.  Very few knew people the real story:  David was just a shell of the man he once had been. [click to continue…]

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munutoliAwards season is in full swing.  The Golden Globes, Grammys, and Emmys are history.  The Oscars are approaching.  That can only mean one thing:

Michael Minutoli is probably close by.

Michael Minutoli is a party crasher, and without a doubt one of the best.  For more than 15 years, this man has boldly gone where few of us would dare, and he never had a ticket.  You could find him at movie premiers, awards programs, concerts, and backstage parties.  Have tux, will travel.

He moves with such congruence, he blends right in.  And he has the pictures to prove it – more than a thousand of them.  You can find disposable camera prints of Michael with his arm around the likes of Harrison Ford, Katie Couric, Britney Spears, Paul McCartney, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, President Bill Clinton, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, Madonna, and Bruce Willis.  Just to name a few.

And boy, does he have stories to tell. [click to continue…]

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This is a picture of a man’s brain.  And a Western man’s brain at that.  What you would see if you could see it the way we live it, is a vast array of little compartments.  Little drawers, all subject to the man-brain rule:

Never open more than one drawer at a time.

Women are generally different (surprise!).  Their brain resembles a large, open chest, where everything is integrated into one.  Open up her heart or brain, and you’ll find the kids, the husband, the friends, the fictional relationships she has with TV or book characters, money, God, dinner, shopping, home stuff, and whatever else – all wonderfully blended into a single life and heart.  That’s why women multi-task so well.

Men?  Forget it.  It’s not that we can’t

Well, yeah, it is.

Back to the drawers.  Imagine that each of these represents a different component of a man’s heart and brain.  There’s a God drawer.  A sports drawer.  A sex drawer (it’s spring loaded).  A kids drawer.  A money drawer (usually diametrically opposite the God drawer).

When a man is at his flesh-worst, he compartmentalizes.  That’s why a man will tell his wife with a straight face that he loves her (and mean it), while at other times, when another drawer – an illegitimate one – is open, he may act like he isn’t married at all. [click to continue…]

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The Stepmother

by Andy Wood on July 28, 2008

in Turning Points

 (A Turning Point Story)

Stepmother“Reverend Wood?”

I always know two things when somebody starts a conversation with that.  First, something interesting is sure to follow.  Second, whoever it is doesn’t know me very well.

It always feels a little awkward when somebody asks, “What should I call you?”  I never have liked the “reverend” thing; the only time I put it in front of my name is when I’m signing a funeral book.  I once had a reason for that; now it’s just habit.

My Baptist heritage made me “Brother Andy” to most people.  To me, that’s a higher life form than “reverend,” but still felt a bit, I don’t know, dated or preachy or something.

Whenever my wife hears the Abraham-Sarah story, she enjoys calling me, “My lord.”  “What would you like for dinner, my lord?”  She thinks it’s really funny.  I haven’t a clue why.

Since my move to Texas, I’ve been “Pastor Andy” to most people in church.  That’s OK.  “Andy” is even better.  I’ve always liked the simplicity of just being me.  But after watching people stumble over all that title biz for a while, I finally took a cue from one of my college professors:  a simple “Your Majesty” will do.

Anyway, “Reverend Wood” is at the bottom of the list.  And on this day the conversation that followed was interesting, to be sure.

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MemorialOur family keeps an oral tradition of famous lines spoken by somebody.  Today’s edition comes from Joel, when he was about seven or eight:

“Daddy, when you die, can I have all your tapes?”

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I want to be like Abel.

Not so much the rock-upside-the-head part.  I’m talking about legacy.

Hebrews 11:4 contains a fascinating description of Abel’s life:  “By faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”

Here’s a guy who could be famous for the things he never did:

He never preached a sermon.

He never started a church.

He never wrote a book.

He never engaged in an argument to defend the faith.

He never had his name plastered on the side of a building.

He never had a wife or children, much less succeeding generations.

He never was elected to any office.

He never fought for a cause or a nation.

He never was on TV, or interviewed by the press.

He never had God give him a song (all rights reserved, of course).

He never made a YouTube video.

He never made a financial fortune, that we know of.

He never rescued anybody in distress, except maybe for a sheep or two.

 

Yet long-dead, Abel still speaks.  And so can you and I.  It’s what the LifeVesting Principle of Legacy is all about:

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