The Caution of Working with Friends

I believe in being friends with the people with whom I work.  I consider the people on our staff to be friends. I hope we never hire anyone I could not also claim as a friend.  Part of building a healthy team environment is getting to know team members and building close relationships…friends.

That is the disclaimer statement, because this post is not about working with friends.  Actually this post is the opposite. This post is a warning against working with friends; especially close friends.  Well maybe not a warning, but definitely a caution.

Here are a few cautions when working with or supervising friends:

  • Sometimes leaders allow the vision to be sacrificed to protect a friend, but that approach is never good for the organization or the friend. Relationships should not get in the way of accomplishing vision.
  • Friendships create a fine line between what is fair for the organization and what is fair for the friend.
  • Close friendships within an organization can sometimes cause others in the organization to feel left out of private conversations or inside jokes, creating tension in the working environment.
  • When a friend is disciplined or fired it can be difficult for the friend who stays with the organization to continue respecting leadership.
  • When a friend is under performing many leaders have a harder time addressing the problem if that worker is a friend.
  • Friends sometimes assume unqualified job security.  Some leaders are afraid to fire a person if that person is a friend, but again that approach is never good for the organization or the friend.  There are times when a friend is no longer a good fit for the position or even for the organization.
  • If a friend no longer is a fit for the organization and is asked to leave, it can become more difficult to maintain the friendship.

As I said at the start, I love working with friends.  I would not want it any other way.  It is important, however, that friends recognize the risk of working together, knowing that the vision of the organization, at least in the work environment, trumps the friendship.  The bottom line is that doing the best thing for the organization often involves making hard decisions. Leaders should not be held back because of the level of difficulty.

I realize that even this post will create division among readers. Some readers will say that friendships are more important than the vision, but I would disagree.  If the vision is a worthy goal then the vision is worth protecting and friendships should not get in the way.

Have you seen close friendships affect the work environment in a negative way?  Would you rather you did or did not work with friends?

Great Things Often Come In Small Packages

1187603_98883611Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Psalm 117

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117. I have often wondered what was going through the Psalmist’s mind when he recorded his thoughts for this Psalm.  Was he finished?  Did he get interrupted?  Was there something else he wanted to say?  Was he satisfied with his work?  (Obviously God was.)  This shortest chapter has huge meaning.  If we were to memorize just these two verses and implement them in our life, I think it may make a difference in our perspective on the world and the situations in which we find ourselves.

We often think that for something to be grand it must be huge, but that is not the complete definition of the word grand. (For a definition look HERE.)  Shortest or smallest does not always indicate lack of importance.  Many times it is the smallest detail that determines success or failure with a project.  The shortest moments of time can often cause the greatest and the most horrific life changes.  In my life the shortest words of encouragement have often had the biggest impact.

Are you concerning yourself with the small things that matter most?

The Value of Facebook and Twitter Combined

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I love the combination of Twitter and Facebook. Now that Facebook has usernames it will be easier to connect the two. I use the two differently, but both have value in my ministry.

Here are some of the ways I use the two:

Twitter:

  • Twitter allows me to make quick connections/network with people who encourage, inspire or teach me.
  • Twitter allows me to get things out quickly that I am processing in my mind. As someone who is always processing, this is a needed mind dump at times.
  • Twitter updates my Facebook, which makes gives me two platforms to connect with people at once.
  • Twitter connects me to people I would never meet otherwise.
  • I have written more about Twitter HERE and HERE.
  • If we are not connected by Twitter find me HERE.

Facebook:

  • Facebook has become the most frequently used way that my church stays in touch with me. People feel they know me personally because of my consistent updates. That opens the door for more personal contact via Facebook emails.
  • I get to know my church better through Facebook. It helps me remember names, connect faces to people and I actually feel a part of people’s lives that I only see once a week.
  • Facebook allows people to see my family, connect with Cheryl, and realize that I am just a real person. With a large church it keeps me from seeming like just a person who shows up on stage to speak and I believe people listen most to people they trust and feel they know personally.
  • Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with friends I have not seen in years. I am getting to know them all over again as well as meeting their families all while online. I almost feel that I am in high school or college again at times.
  • If we are not connected by Facebook find me HERE.

I love the two social mediums working together.  How do you incorporate the two?  What other tools do you use to connect with people?

Geese: Are they a pest or a pet?

Canadian-GeesePerhaps two stories (worlds) need to collide this week.

In one story Geese are flocking to a Knoxville Krystal’s restaurant because the employees feed and care for them.

You can read that story HERE.

In a similar story, at least about geese, New York City plans to kill about 2,000 geese because they are interfering with air flights.

You can read that story HERE.

Is it just me or do these stories seem ironic when compared to each other? Also, just curious, which story would you rather be a part of, getting rid of a nuisance or feeding some strangers?

I Danced At Church Yesterday

I danced at church yesterday.  I did not dance alone, Cheryl danced with me, but I did dance. Several people indicated they would never believe it until they saw it, so here is the proof.

We are in the middle of a family series and I was talking yesterday about marriage and specifically the need to commit ourselves to making marriage work.  My co-pastor Chad and his wife sang while Cheryl and I danced.  It was a visual picture of the leadership of the church admitting that marriage is tough, but our commitment to make it work is what can make a marriage strong.

You would have to listen to the whole message for it to make complete sense. You can do that HERE.  I also share a few tips to protect your marriage in this message.  For other thoughts on marriage, check out that category of this blog HERE.

I am thankful for a church that allows us freedom to express Biblical truth in creative ways.  What a joy to pastor at Grace Community Church.

What plan do you have to protect your marriage?

Worship: Nothing Else Matters

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41 NIV

That word “terrified” here is probably better translated “fear”. It doesn’t mean fear like to be afraid of something.  It literally means of those startled by strange sights or occurrences; or of those struck with amazement; or to treat with reverential obedience.

It really means a reverent awe.  Its like we may say to someone who has done something remarkable, “Wow, I’m scared of you!” It is more of a worship reaction than a reaction of terror.

The disciples, when faced with the incredible truth of Christ and His power, had no choice but to worship Him.  That is what worship is: ascribing worth. They had no choice but to ask, “Who is this guy?”

At that point, perhaps more than any other time, they realized with everything in them that This WAS Jesus.  Did they understand Him completely?  NO. Would they question Him again?  YES. Would there be other storms?  Of course!

For this one moment in time, however, nothing else in all the world mattered.

I had a time like that recently.  I was praying for different people in our church, reflecting on some of the amazing things happening there, when I simply became overwhelmed at Jesus. I started to tear up and soon my eyes were flooded with tears.  It was a great time of worship, in awe of who Christ is and what He is doing.  Honestly it gave me a different perspective on the day.

Could the solution to your current problems be a time of worship?  Do you need to get alone, separate yourself from every other distraction, and fall on your knees and worship?  Is that the missing piece in your life right now?

Worship, like nothing else we do, takes us to the other side with Jesus and builds in us the full reality of His love.  Find a moment this week to worship the Living Christ!

The Things You Do For Love

DSCF7001Today was my long mow day.  I have to mow my lawn at least once a week, but about once every three or four weeks I have to get my push mower out and mow places I cannot get to with my riding mower.  One of these places is under the Magnolia tree in my back yard.  This is Cheryl’s favorite tree in the whole world, but it is the tree that may one day cause me to lose my Christianity.  We have been told it may be the largest and one of the oldest Magnolia trees in the city.  I think that means it has lived a good life and it is time to let it go. She thinks that means it is even more special.  Cheryl does not want me cutting any branches on it and it is almost impossible get under to mow, even with my push mower.

As I was mowing today, here are the random thoughts that were going through my mind:

  • I hate this tree.
  • Cheryl takes less time to enjoy this tree than the time it takes me to hate this tree.
  • One time Nathaniel wanted to take a branch from our state tree to school for extra credit. I sent one of these branches. The problem was that our state tree is the Tulip Poplar and this tree is a Magnolia.  Oh well, he didn’t get extra credit, but I did get rid of a branch.
  • If I die early it will most likely be as the result of trying to mow under this tree.
  • If we cut this tree down I could plant a garden.  Cheryl loves fresh tomatoes.
  • I keep obeying Cheryl’s wishes by not cutting this tree.  It seems to me another man once listened to his wife about a tree…let’s see, it was in a garden…and it seems to me the world was never the same again.  Just saying…
  • We have neighbor girls who sometimes like to climb this tree.  Someday they could get hurt. Cheryl hates to see anyone suffer.  Just saying…
  • Magnolia trees are not even that pretty and their flowers have no smell.  Just saying…
  • WARNING: If our youth group ever decides to do another prank at the pastor’s house it would not be a good idea to cut down this tree as a joke.  It would not be funny.  Yes, we are Grace Community Church, so we would forgive you, and I would most likely pay to clean it up, and it would be an impressive prank, but please do not cut down our Magnolia tree.  It would not be funny…but just so you know…we would forgive you.  If you choose to do this in spite of my warning, just remember I told you it would not be funny.
  • I keep mowing under this tree, even though I hate this ugly Magnolia tree, because I want nothing more than for Cheryl to be happy.  If I die trying to please her it will be a worthy sacrifice.  Just saying…

Thanks for sharing my random thoughts with me.  Do you have any situations like this in your marriage, where you do something you do not like to do just because you love the person who wants it done?

Do You Still Have “NO” Faith?

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40 NIV

I always find that verse interesting.  These were the disciples.  These guys had left everything to follow Him.  Jesus gave them authority to cast out demons.  I don’t have that authority.  These guys had a front row seat to all the best of Jesus’ teachings.  Some of them wrote books of the Bible.

Yet Jesus asked them if they have “no faith”?  What’s up with that?
I think it was because Jesus really does not feel our faith is complete until we are removed of any doubts.  I am not suggesting we will ever get there on earth.  I am certainly not there yet, but I do think that should be our goal.  We should strive daily to continue to grow in our faith and trust in Christ.

We will have days where our faith is so clear we feel we could move mountains and other days where we are barely hanging on to our beliefs, but over time, through a consistent and persistent walk with Christ He molds us into the person He wants us to be.

What would have to occur in your life today for you to take the next step of faith in Christ?   Is He calling you to a deeper level of trust?  Would He be more likely to say to you today, “Do you still have no faith?” or “Well done my good and faithful servant.”?  I realize that can change daily, but we should consider our lives in seasons and examine whether over time we are growing to trust Him more. Are you?

Walking The Talk of Authentic Christianity

I love this teaching Jesus did for the disciples, especially in the Message Version.

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. Matthew 23:1-3 The Message Version

I do not know about others, but I want to see authentic Christianity lived out in the lives of others. I do not want to follow someone who teaches God’s Word, but does not live it out in his or her personal life. Jesus seems to say here that some people talk a good talk, but they do not really “get it” in their hearts. They know all the right verbiage, but their actions do not mirror what they say.

One example is how we may teach a Gospel of love, but then we spew so much hate out in the way we treat others. It is okay to denounce sin, in fact we should, but when the sinners who practice the sin we are denouncing do not believe that we love them, then I am not sure people hear our message, because they cannot get past what they see as condemnation.

Jesus had a way of building a relationship with sinners, without condemning them, giving them an example of holiness, but fully convincing them that He loved and cared for them as individuals. He is the guy I want to follow as my example.

How about you?  Do you long to see authentic Christianity?