Hug a Soldier!

Have you hugged a soldier today?

You may not be able to hug one, like I’ll be able to do at church today, but you can say a prayer for one (or many). You can thank God for those who gave the ultimate price for freedom. You can never forget that someone (many) died so that you can worship freely.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Thank you God, for freedom, to worship, to live, to know you!

Who are the soldiers, present or past, you are thankful for today?

Short question…Long Answer

People ask simple questions frequently. Sometimes I have a simple answer. 

Many times, however, there is a much longer story than I can answer quickly.

How did the church start?

How did you get into ministry?

How did you two fall in love?

What brought you to this church?

Why did you make that decision?

What makes you say that?

How did you learn that principle?

With almost every simple question that is asked…

I can give you a quick answer, but it’s almost always a longer story.

Are there some “long stories” in your life? 

My Job as a Mission Field

What if I saw my job as a mission field?

Okay, maybe my job is not a good example…fair enough…

Obviously my job IS a mission field.

But, what about you?

What about you who are not in a paid “missionary” role?

What if the church sent missionaries into the world? The real world…

Into the marketplace

Into politics and government

Into Hollywood and the film industry

Into manufacturing

Into the service industry…

What if an assembly line in a factory became a warehouse of faith?

Imagine a plumber shows up at a house, not only to fix a pipe, but to share a kind word on behalf of Jesus…

It’s a radical idea I know…

But what if?

What do you think?

My “Favorite” Bubba Joke

In honor of Bubba Watson winning the Masters golf tournament today, I thought I’d share my favorite Bubba joke.

There once was a guy named Bubba.

Bubba once told his friend “I know everyone in the world. I really do.”

His friend replied respectfully, “Now Bubba. You know a lot of people, but there’s no way you know everybody in the world.”

“Yes I do. Pick anyone.”

“Okay, I bet you don’t know the mayor”

“Sure I do. Go ask him”

“Okay, I will”

So, he went to see the mayor.

“Excuse me mayor, but do you know Bubba?”

“Oh, Bubba, sure I know Bubba. I’ve known Bubba since we were kids”.

So the friend went back to Bubba. “Okay, Bubba, I didn’t think you know the mayor. I guess you do. But, seriously, there’s no way you know everyone in the world.

“But I’m telling you I do. Try me again”

“Okay, I bet you don’t know the governor”

“The governor. Of course I do. Go ask him”

“Okay, I will”

So, he went to see the governor.

“Excuse me governor, but do you know Bubba?”

“Oh, Bubba, sure I know Bubba. Bubba is a great friend of mine”.

Surprised, the friend went back to Bubba. “Okay, Bubba, I didn’t think you know the governor. I guess you do. But, seriously, there’s no way you know everyone in the world.”

“But, I keep telling you I do. Name someone else. Anyone”.

“Okay, I want to try someone away from politics. What about Tom Cruise. I be you don’t know Tom Cruise. You obviously know a lot of people, but there’s no way you know Tom Cruise.”

“Oh, Tommy boy. Sure I know him. Why don’t you ask him?”

“Okay, I will”

So, he was able to go to where Tom Cruise was filming a new movie and made his way to the studio, where he was able to briefly approach him.

“Excuse me Mr. Cruise. I know this is an awkward question, but do you know Bubba?”

“Oh, Bubba, sure I know Bubba. I’ve known Bubba long before I became an actor.”

So the friend went back to Bubba shocked an amazed. “Okay, Bubba, I didn’t think you would know Tom Cruise, but I guess you do. But, seriously, these are just coincidences. There’s no way you know everyone in the world.”

“But I keep telling you I do. Name someone else.”

“Okay, but this one is going to be a stretch. I bet you don’t know the President of the United States.”

“Oh, that’s easy. He’s an old friend. Of course I do. Go ask him”

“Okay, I will”.

Through a series of connections, the friend was able to have a brief encounter with the president.

“Mr. President, I’m so sorry to bother you, but one quick question. Do you know Bubba?”

“Do I know Bubba? Well, is this a trick question? Because that’s too easy. Of course I know Bubba. I’ve known Bubba since long before I got into politics.”

The friend was stunned. He went back to Bubba and said, “I really am surprised. You clearly appear to know just about everyone. You knew the mayor, the governor, Tom Cruise and the president. But, seriously, it’s a big world. There’s no way you could know everyone in the world.”

“Try me”.

“Okay, one more test. If you pass this one I’ll assume you know everyone in the world. I bet you don’t know the Pope.”

“Oh, the Pope. Of course, I do. That’s easy. I knew the Pope before he was confirmed as a Catholic”

“Well, I’ll have to see it for myself. This time you’re going with me.”

So, they went to see the Pope, but when they got to the Vatican, the Pope was scheduled to speak to the crowds of people. Bubba said, “Look, it’s been a while since the Pope has seen me. I don’t want to startle him. Let me go in and say a few words to him and then I’ll introduce you.”

The friend just knew he had him. He knew Bubba would go in, get the Pope to go along with his story and try to make him believe they already knew each other, but, he decided to let him go.

A few minutes later, the Pope came out on the balcony to speak to the crowds. Who would have guessed, but walking closely behind the Pope was none other than Bubba.

And that’s when the friend passed out.

Bubba rushed down to check on his friend. He woke his friend and said, “Are you okay? What happened?”

“Well”, the friend said, “I was okay until everyone around me started saying, ‘Who’s that guy with Bubba?”

My father told me that joke the first time. I had the same reaction you just had.

I Missed the Party, Because I’m an Introvert

I was sitting in a restaurant at the Atlanta airport. The people around me were laughing, joking, story telling. Obviously, they had a layover like I had and decided to grab a bite to eat. In addition to filling their bellies with food, they found a way to make it fun. They appeared to have a great time talking about March Madness, politics and life. They didn’t know each other, but they formed some common bonds and passed their time by building temporary friendships.

It looked like a lot of fun.

But I missed the party.

I watched. I laughed. I said nothing.

I missed out.

It happens all the time. It could be in a coffee shop, at a party, or any social setting.

My introversion won’t allow me to break the ice. Sometimes I do and when I do I have a great time. I’m always glad I did. But, most of the time, I keep eating my soup alone, admiring the party from the distance. Sometimes that’s okay, because I like my time alone, but in this case, I had things I wanted to add to the conversation (even better thoughts than were being expressed…at least I thought) :) , but I couldn’t push through the introversion to share them.

I can wish it weren’t true, but it is.

I missed the party, because I’m an Introvert.

Anyone else like me?

True Confession: I’m An Expert. So Are You!

It’s been an interesting week in the world of football. America watched as Peyton Manning chose to go to Denver, rather than Tennessee…or any other team. It was honestly disappointing, because I’m a Peyton fan, having watched him as a University of Tennessee player.

I felt sorry though, thinking of what it meant for current Tennessee Titans quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. Reading THIS article in The Tennessean was difficult, because I felt his pain. Yes, he handled it with class (I understand he’s a committed believer), but he knows he was second choice in quarterbacks. As strong as he is as a Christian and man, I’m certain it still hurt. It may have hurt even worse for his family.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“This is Peyton Manning,” Hasselbeck said Thursday.

“There were no guarantees I was going to be back,” he said. “If Peyton Manning had come to Tennessee, you know, I wouldn’t be playing for the Titans next year and that would’ve been unfortunate in my mind. My family and I have fallen in love with Nashville.

“But at the end of the day, I get it with the Peyton thing.”

I get it with the Peyton thing, also, Matt.

I get it, but it still hurts.

Have you ever been second choice?

The reality is Hasselbeck is still a good quarterback. In fact, of all the people in the world, Hasselbeck is a great quarterback. One of the best if you compare it in sheer numbers. Compare him to me (or you) and how good is he? Pretty good, huh?

But Hasselbeck is not Peyton.

And, guess what?

I understand.

I’m no Andy Stanley when it comes to preaching either.

I’m not Matt Chandler when it comes to dissecting a Bible passage.

I’m not John Maxwell when it comes to leadership.

Let’s be honest, if I ever write a really good post people think I stole it from Seth Godin.

The point I’m making is that in our system of comparison we may not measure up to someone else. There will always be someone who can do something better than we can do it.

We can even argue about who is “best”.

But, I’m not sure that’s the best method of comparison.

The good news for me is that God doesn’t measure like the world measures. (1 Samuel 16:7)

In the eyes of the world, I’m probably not an expert at anything.

In the eyes of God, I’m an expert at being me.

Be honest…

Have you been trying to be someone you’re not?

7 Leadership Lessons from the Gambler, Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers made a song famous a few (quite a few) years ago called The Gambler. Perhaps you remember it. If not, check it out HERE. Beyond a catchy tune, the song tells a story of a young man learning as he watched a season gambler.

I heard it recently and thought there were some good leadership lessons in the song. Some I’ve learned by experience…the hard, but valuable kind of lessons.

Here are 7 leadership lessons from the Gambler:

You got to know when to hold ’em – There are sometimes in leadership when you know you’re right, even when everyone else thinks you’re wrong. In those times, follow your heart, your gut, and the Holy Spirit of God. And, remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear.

Know when to fold ’em – You can’t win every battle. I’ve learned this one the hard way. Sometimes you are better to forfeit your right to control a minor issue so you retain your right to control a major issue. Don’t lose your leadership credibility over an issue of little lasting consequence.

Know when to walk away – There are better people on the team than me to make certain decisions. Recently there was a situation where I was asked to make the final call, but what didn’t make sense to me is I know little about the subject. I walked away, giving over the decision to others on the team.

Know when to run – There are times to run away from something and times to run to something. When it comes to issues, such as moral improprieties, get away from them as fast as you can. Avoid the appearance of evil. On issues where you know God has clearly called you to something, run to it fast, by faith, regardless of your fears or reservations.

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table – You do the best you can to plan for a Sunday, an event, or a project. Give it everything you’ve got. Then don’t worry when you get there if the crowd is less than expected. Deliver everything you planned to deliver if the crowd was twice or four times the size.

There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done – There is a time to evaluate. You should always ask what you could have done better. Never settle on a plateau, but keep getting better. The gambler always did. (You know he practiced that poker face in front of a mirror.)

Knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep – Leadership includes a lot of balance. You have to discern good from bad, better from best. You have to choose the right leader for the right position. You have to judge timing for change and know when to spur momentum. It’s often the weighing of options. It often seems “every hands a winner and every hands a loser”.

What lessons have you learned in leadership that you could share with my readers?

This comment is for legalists in my life: Please understand I’m not endorsing gambling, just using it as a backdrop for a post on leadership. Love ya! :)

3 Problems with Unresponsiveness

I met with a young man in our church recently. I love his heart. I baptized him a few months ago and have taken a personal interest in him. I see such kindness in him, that I asked him to serve in our children’s ministry. He was delighted.

After we talked about the opportunity, he said he filled out a card asking to serve in our preschool ministry a year ago and never heard anything. He assumed we weren’t interested in him. I was devastated. Hopefully, he simply fell through the cracks of our system, but this type of thing frustrates me more than just about anything.

Responsiveness is paramount in ministry and leadership. Whether it’s an email, a phone call, or Facebook message, most people expect some sort of response. I realize busyness makes this difficult, but it’s an important enough issue to address. I encourage leaders to figure out a process that allows for diligent responsiveness.

Here are 3 problems with unresponsiveness:

It makes a person feel unappreciated – When someone doesn’t get a response back, the person feels they aren’t important enough. They wonder what they’ve done wrong or why they aren’t good enough.

It makes a person feel unloved – Like it or not, unresponsiveness is translated, especially in the church setting, as an indicator of love. If you don’t respond, you must not love them very much.

It makes a person mistrust you or the organization – People will only tolerate unresponsiveness a few times. Want to wreck an organization’s credibility? Become known as unresponsiveness.

So what do you do about it?

  • Make responsiveness an extremely high value in the organization.
  • Leaders should lead by example.
  • Answer all emails and return calls promptly, even if you don’t have an answer yet.
  • Have a system is in place to respond to all queries.
  • Never ignore a request.

Even in the best environments, situations like the example above will happen. People will feel they’ve not been listened to, that no one cares, or that they are unloved. They’ll take it personal enough to leave the organization.

The more you can do to avoid it the better you will build an atmosphere of genuine trust.

How does it make you feel when someone doesn’t respond to an inquiry?

Advice to Young Leaders: Don’t Try to Make it On Your Own

I’ve met with numerous young leaders recently who want the opportunity to “make it on their own”. I’ve seen it in my own two sons. They want to get their first job without the help of others. They want to stand on their own merits. They want to attain a level of accomplishment without the help of their parents, their parent’s friends, or any connection they didn’t make personally.

I understand. I felt the same way when I was a young leader.

And, I love the ambition. I simply don’t agree with the practice. That’s based on experience it’s taken me years to understand.

My advice:

Don’t try to make it on your own.

For one thing, we weren’t meant to live life alone. We are designed for fellowship, with our Creator and with other people. But, also, it simply doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a self-made person.

Everyone gains success with the help of others. Failure to realize that leads to false pride.

More than ever before, knowing the right connections can help you accomplish your goals. I’ve told my two boys they will most likely never have a job in their lifetime where they didn’t know someone who helped them obtain it. If that person is your parents, or people your parents know, so be it.

I’m not suggesting you don’t try and I’m not releasing you of responsibility. You are ultimately, under God’s authority of course, responsible for charting your own course. You can’t expect anyone to give you something you aren’t willing to earn.

I am suggesting that you shouldn’t be timid or feel bad about using the connections and networking relationships you’ve been allowed to make or those connections of people who know you and care for you. Those relationships may be as important as any skill you bring to the table.

Does it bother you to rely on help your parent’s offer you?