To a world He referred to as dark, and to people He said were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd (that’s you and me), the Son of God appeared on the scene, moving at what must have appeared to some at times to be the speed of light.  Unlike any preacher or prophet, rabbi or rabble-rouser they had seen before, He came with a different call – a different invitation.

“Join me,” He said. “Follow me.”

This was not a call for religious people to be more religious. It was not an invitation for unrighteous people to behave righteously.  The stakes were and are far higher than that.  The deep, abiding happiness He offers (“blessed” He called it) are an invitation to move from time Into Eternity. [click to continue…]

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His Dearest Friend

by Andy Wood on January 11, 2013

in Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle

Dearest FriendHere’s a thought question for you.  Did Jesus have a best friend?  If so, who was it?

Aunt Ruth, who was neither my aunt nor was she named “Ruth,” used to say it was Judas.  “Only a friend can betray a friend,” she would say.  I told her she was nuts.

You could obviously make the case for Peter, James and John collectively.  He took them places the other disciples didn’t go, and let them see parts of Him the others didn’t necessarily see.  He also gave each of them nicknames – something guys like to do with their friends.

Individually, Peter and John seemed to have this ongoing competition for who was going to be the closest to Christ.  John even referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  But Jesus said more to Peter directly than any other disciple.  Of course, Peter was also saying more to Him apparently.

I have another suggestion for who his dearest friend was…

…and it was a girl. [click to continue…]

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I keep a list of Darling Words – words that have a lot of charm or inspire the imagination.  “Forever” is one of those words.  It speaks of life.  Grace.  Commitment.  And a long, long time.

Used poetically, Forever speaks of a depth of love that’s supposed to exceed the way we feel about watermelon or melted cheese on tater tots.  It’s supposed to last longer than the latest distraction or the next annoying thing somebody does.

Forever is sometimes used to take a snapshot of a moment or a feeling.  It’s the language of a hopeless romantic or magical thinker, inviting someone to a lifetime of adventure.

But more than that, Forever speaks the language of letting go of the past and starting something new.  It speaks of a lifetime pursuit worth waiting for or something more powerful than death and the grave.

We come by our attraction to Forever honestly.  The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  In spite of the vanity of our fallen condition, we are instinctively drawn to love for the long haul and life beyond this lifetime.  Why, then, is “Forever” such a fleeting thing?  Why don’t connections or commitments last beyond the latest inconvenience or frustration? [click to continue…]

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On Sage Avenue, just north of Airport Boulevard in Mobile, Alabama, you’ll find the still-proud structure of St. Pius X Catholic church, built in 1968.  I’ve never been inside of it for any reason.  But I’ve bragged on it a lot.  Especially to my friends at Mrs. Cobb’s Day Care that met at the Methodist church across the street back in the summer of ’69.

In between using tennis racquets as air guitars to tunes like “Proud Mary” and “Daydream Believer,” and acting out our own living music videos to “Seven Little Girls, Sittin’ in the Back Seat, Kissin’ and a Huggin’ with Fred,” we’d hang out on the playground and I’d brag about “My Daddy’s Company.”

Actually it wasn’t his, but he worked for one of Mobile’s premier construction firms during the time when a boy most wants to be proud of his dad.

Martin Builders had just finished the beautiful sanctuary at St. Pius.  They also built such local landmarks as the Spanish Plaza and Malaga Inn downtown, parts of Bel Air Mall, and the Mobile Greyhound Park (not to proud of that one).  And oh, how I would brag – obnoxiously – about “my Daddy’s company” and what they had done.

My first paycheck came from Martin Builders – a whopping $8.00 for cutting the grass.  That evolved into summer work for a couple of hot, humid summers, where I learned what builders actually do and what they need to get the job done. [click to continue…]

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There’s a well-known philosophy in some leadership circles that leaders never admit their mistakes.  This being an election year, you can expect to see that in full force.

The problem with that philosophy is that being in a position of leadership – formally or informally – puts you out in front of people where they can see your mistakes loud ’n’ clear.  So when you pretend you don’t have any, you look worse than proud.  You look rather stupid.

The biggest issue with mistakes in leadership is not whether you make them, but whether you repeat them.  Show me a politician, a corporate executive, a pastor, or any other form of “leader” who dodges the issue of failures, I’ll show you a leader destined to repeat the same mistakes.

On the other hand, if it’s true that being a leader means being “first learner,” then one of the best places to start is with your own lessons learned the hard way.  Here are 10 lessons I learned by getting it wrong before I ever got it right: [click to continue…]

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Okay I need your feedback.  Now.  Humor me, it’s easy.  Scroll down to the comments section. Or click on the article title if you’re reading this on the feed or email, then scroll down to comments.

When you get there, give me your first response to this question.

Think of someone who is in a leadership position over your life – work, church, nonprofit, political.  How does that leader most often make you feel?

One word answers are fine.  Diatribes are fine.  Rants are fine.  Gushing is allowed, too.  First names are OK.  Give your answer,  then click “submit” and come back to the top.

I’ll wait right here.

(This is me waiting.)

Okay.  Back?  Let’s talk. [click to continue…]

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The call or opportunity to lead is a call or opportunity for conflict.  I doubt if I’m the first to tell you that, but if so, well, sorry.  That’s certainly true on an interpersonal or team level.   It’s also true organization-wide.  Whether you’re leading a church or a business, a nonprofit or an institution, a state or a nation, the bigger they are, the harder they brawl.  Or squall.

If your goal is to avoid conflict at all costs, let somebody else take the leadership roles, because what you’re saying is that you don’t want to influence anybody.

Assuming you’re still reading, let’s assume that the idea of conflict hasn’t scared you off – at least not yet.  I have good news.  Some of the greatest demonstrations of leadership in history took place when someone rose to face the challenge of seemingly impossible conflicts.  So if your organization is facing competing values and visions, wise leadership can help make it stronger and more successful than ever.  If it’s true that conflict is the moment of truth in any relationship (and I think it is), then the way you lead your organization to face those conflicts sets the course of the organization, sometimes for years.

It’s important to remember that the people in your organization have brains, hearts, and feelings, just as you do.  Resistance to your or the organization’s direction is a way of saying you haven’t communicated the vision clearly.  Or maybe you haven’t anticipated their objections or their priorities.  Maybe you have yet to earn the trust of the people.  Or maybe they are insecure in the roles in which you are asking them to perform.

Here are five ways to work with – not against – the members of your organization to turn conflicts into jumping off points. [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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Will You Trust Him?

by Andy Wood on March 5, 2010

in Turning Points

It was a momentous day, and I thought I knew why.  Boy, did I have another thing coming. 

It happened on an early morning in late August 1976.  I was about to enter a new phase in my life called “college.”  And today was registration day.

Preparations for this day had begun several years earlier.  I was blessed to have one of those life-changer teachers in high school who saw it as her mission, partly, to give us a taste of what university life would be like.  And I have to say, thanks to her, to whatever degree I may have dissed schoolwork in high school, I had my game face on now.

This was college.  This was serious.

Advisors and friends had also prepared me for what to expect when freshmen show up at registration. 

“You want what class?  Nice try. That class closed when the sophomores came through here yesterday.”

Nevertheless, I had made out a schedule, and thought it was a good fit for me.  I was excited.  But I also wanted to be teachable and flexible.

Oh yeah, and godly.

So before I left for the campus, I knelt beside my bed and laid out my pre-designed schedule in front of me.  And I began to pray.  My prayer went something like this: [click to continue…]

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I Promise – And I Believe

by Andy Wood on September 4, 2009

in Life Currency, Words

Pledge“I promise.”  Has a certain charm, doesn’t it?  Power, too!  Were there no promises, business or trade in the world would not exist.  Without promises, you would never experience friendship.  There would be no families, no churches, no faith if there were no promises.  Think of what your life would be like without the promises that have been made to you.

“And I believe you.”  Imagine what that does to the one making the promise.  The encouragement to faithfulness!  The linking of two hearts!  The formation of a solid friendship!  The birth of a profitable business relationship!  In Bible terms, we call it, “faith.”  In the real world, we can’t live without it.

Much of our lives are spent making, breaking, and keeping promises.  When we’re not doing that, we’re probably in the process of believing or doubting the promises others have made to us.  Think about it:  [click to continue…]

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