Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t perfect.
And that should be encouraging to all of us.
I’m reminded of the great prophet Elijah from the Bible. God used him once to hold back the rain. He was fed by ravens. He kept a widow and her son alive — miraculously.
Yet, one of the most encouraging Bible verses about Elijah to me is James 5:17: Elijah was a person just like us.
And, I’m reminded of that when I think of Dr. King.
Dr. King was a person — just like us.
If we aren’t careful, because he accomplished so much, we can make Dr. King something he wasn’t.
He wasn’t perfect.
Wait, don’t throw things. I’m a fan. I’ve studied him beyond his most famous speech.
Was he great? Of course.
Was he extraordinaire? Absolutely.
Did he do great things? Without a doubt.
These lines from his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” alone are grand enough for celebration:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope.
As a pastor, knowing these words were obviously inspired by Dr. King’s knowledge of Scripture, I’m impressed. So inspiring. I wish I could do it that well.
But, was Dr. King perfect?
I don’t think so.
I doubt, based on what I know of his faith as a Gospel preacher that he would even claim perfection apart from Christ. Only Jesus is perfect. Dr. King surely believed this.
We honor his birth because of his impact on our world.
In fact, he’s one of the best examples of leaving a legacy that we have in modern history. His work keeps encouraging, inspiring, and making us better.
We honor him because he was fighting for a perfect dream.
We honor him because he was willingly to sacrificially give everything to achieve his dream.
Yet, sadly, his dream yet to be fully realized. His work is not finished.
This year alone should teach us we haven’t reached the dream Dr. King fought for with his very life. Ferguson. New York. Your city.
Every hill and mountain has not been made low. The rough places are not yet plain. There are still crooked places. The glory of our Lord hasn’t been fully revealed.
Peace has not been achieved.
And, here’s why it matters so much, in my opinion, that Dr. King — the man — wasn’t perfect.
If we see him as perfect, then, those of us who know we are not, (people like you and me) may feel we can never measure up to his standard. That we could never attain greatness, because we don’t have the charisma of Dr. King. Or, the courage. Or, the oratory ability.
In fact, we may not even try. We may not give ourselves the chance for God to use us for His glory.
So, we will dismiss any dream we have as unattainable. Even our efforts to continue the dream Dr. King had will cease because we falsely believe that such acts of greatness were reserved for the one man — Dr. King. Or, maybe a few like him.
But, that’s not true, is it?
Dr. King was great, but only His Savior Jesus is perfect.
The best way to honor Dr. King is to strive for impact.
Strive for a perfect dream. Strive for an end to racism, an end to the fighting, a reality of peace — where all God’s children are able to sing, “Free at last. Praise God Almighty we are free at last.”
Have a dream. A big, hairy audacious dream.
That kind of living honors the legacy.
The fact is that all of us are capable of greatness. If we have big dreams — ones that honor others and make the world a better place — and we do everything in our power to realize them, we can be used of God to accomplish great things.
There will never be another Dr. King. Just like there never was another Elijah.
But, there will never be another you either.
And, we need your dream.
We need your work.
We need your energy and your vision and your passionate attempt to make things better in our world. We need your contribution to the peace and prosperity of our land.
So start honoring Dr. King!
Be brave. Be bold. Dream big. Live strong. Do good things!
Words are powerful.
As leaders, the words we use make a difference. A huge difference.
I recently posted statements Jesus made that are life-giving.
As we seek to be like Him, we have an opportunity within our influence to be people-builders. Speak life-giving words.
For good and bad, my life has been greatly shaped by words shared with me.
I once had a pastor say, “Ron, you’re a giant killer!” He encouraged me to kill giants for the Kingdom of God. It changed the trajectory of my life.
Words are huge. Especially from someone we trust.
I’ll be honest. I’m not the best at it, but I try to pass on encouragement to younger leaders. And, others as I see opportunity.
Everyone needs encouragement.
It takes an intentional effort. I try to make it a personal discipline.
Here are 7 life-giving statements everyone needs to hear:
I’m praying for you!
You can do it!
I love you!
It’s going to be okay!
I believe in you!
I’m proud of you!
I’ve got your back!
So there you go. Words. Powerful words of encouragement.
Who could you add some life to today?
I’m a reflective person. This time of year — when we start to see all the “best of” reflections online and in the news, I like to do my own personal reflection. How was the year? What can we learn from it? How can I do better next year?
Perhaps you need a little help getting started. Take a couple hours over the next week or so — get alone — and reflect.
Here are five questions to get you started:
What was great?
List some of the highlights of your year. What gave you the most pleasure in life? Make sure they merit repeating — sin can have an immediate pleasure — but plan ways to rekindle those emotions in the new year. Most likely they involve relationships. The new year is a great time to plan some intentional efforts to strengthen relationships — spend more time with family and friends. Maybe you enjoyed the times you spent writing. Take some intentional steps to discipline yourself to do that more. Remember how good it felt that day you served people less fortunate than yourself? Well, now you know something you need to do more of in the new year.
What wasn’t great?
Think of some things that are draining to you personally. Again, it may be some relationship in your life. It could be a job or a physical ailment. It could also be that whatever it is that isn’t great has been around for more than a single year. But, chances are you’ve never taken the hard steps to do something about it. Sometimes recognizing those things is the first step to doing something about them. (Your answer may be that a relationship has ended — and there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe this is your year to move forward again — even in spite of the pain.) Could this be the year?
What can be improved?
Sometimes it isn’t about quitting, but working to make something better that makes all the difference. Intentionality can sometimes take something you dread and make it something you enjoy. I’ve seen couples who appeared destined for divorce court turn into a thriving marriage when two willing spouses commit to working harder (and getting outside help if needed). I was out of shape in my mid-thirties. I’m healthier today in my 50’s than I was then. The change began in one year — one decision — one intentional effort. Conventional wisdom says a new habit begins in 21 days, but some now believe it may take as long as 66 days to really get a habit to stick. But, would it be worth it if you really began a daily Bible reading habit? Or the gym really was a part of your life more than just the first couple weeks in January? Maybe this is your year to get serious about improving some area of your life.
What do I need to stop?
Maybe you need to stop caring so much what other people think. Maybe you need to stop overeating. Maybe you need to stop worrying far more than you pray. Maybe you need to stop believing the lies the enemy tries to place in your mind. Maybe you need to stop living someone else’s life — and start living the life God has called you to. Maybe you need to stop delaying the risk — and go for it! Maybe you need to stop procrastinating. Do you get the idea? Sometimes one good stop can make all the difference. What do you need to stop doing this year, so you can reflect on this year as your best year ever? Start stopping today!
What do I need to start?
Think of something you know you need to do, but so far you’ve only thought about it. Maybe you started before but never committed long enough to see it become reality. Often, in my experience, we quit just before the turn comes that would have seen us to victory. Is this the year you write the book? Is this the year you pursue the dream? Is this the year you mend the broken relationship? Is the year you finish the degree? Is this the year you get serious about your financial well-being — planning for the future? Is this the year you surrender your will to God’s will — and follow through on what you know He’s been asking you to do? Maybe getting active in church is your needed start this year. Start starting today!
Five questions. When I’m answering questions like this, I like to apply them to each area of my life — spiritual, physical, relational, personal, financial, etc. Reflect on your life with God, with others, and with yourself.
Try answering them — see how it helps you start your best year ever!
Here’s a simple, step-by-step process to writing a life plan. If you don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that I prefer simple. If it’s complicated or too involved, I’ll opt out quickly. That’s my goal here.
(I actually wrote these posts several years ago and I’ve not updated them — just this summary page. If you find any links that don’t work, let me know.)
I’m praying God allows many of us to realize dreams and goals we never thought possible.
Here are 5 posts to walk you step-by-step through writing a simple life plan:
Of course, all of this should be done by committing your plans to God first. For help and an example of that, you might read this post: 7 Ways to Make Your Prayers More Effective
Let me know how your plans develop.
Do you want to guarantee your success in the new year?
If you could figure out a way, that’d be worth it, right?
Here’s a Biblical example of how to have the best year ever.
The Lord said to Abram:
Go out from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Genesis 12:1-3 (Emphasis mine)
The secret, for lack of a better word, for any success Abraham would ever had would be found in moving from his will to God’s will — allowing God to shake his direction and the outcome of his life.
When the “you” comes after the “I” rather than before, we’ll always guarantee our success.
Here’s a guaranteed strategy for the new year to be a success:
- Drop your agenda — and join His agenda.
- Get off your path — and get on His path.
- Release your ambitions — and embrace His ambitions.
- Set aside your will — and live His will.
Are you ready for a great new year? Let God lead the way.
I deal with people who feel like failures. Everyday.
It could be because of relationships gone bad.
A personal life — that was private — but is not anymore.
Bad decisions intentionally done or bad circumstances — out of their control.
All of that and more — failure.
One reason people seem to identify with my teaching is that I’m not perfect. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I didn’t enter the ministry until I was 38 years old and that was plenty of time to learn valuable life experiences by failure. (And, I haven’t quit making mistakes in ministry.)
Here’s what you need to understand though.
I’ve had failures — but I’m not a failure.
Because I got back up every time I failed.
Along the way — through failure — I’ve gained some insight into failure.
There are some misunderstandings about failing that you don’t necessarily knowing during the failing process.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned about failing:
Not everyone is talking about you. This is a critical understanding, because it sometimes feels that way. As a result, sometimes you avoid people — even though you may need people in your life now more than ever. Sometimes you refuse to get back in the game — even to attend church — because you assume you’re the news on people’s mind. Yes, some people may be talking about you — for a while — but not for long. I’m not saying you aren’t important, but there will be a bigger story out there soon. Trust me. And, yours won’t be the flavor of the month for long. And, for those who do like to talk about others — I’ve learned they are often trying to shift attention from their own failures. (You can also remind them it is a sin to gossip.)
Your attachment to the failure may never fully go away. That’s hard, but it’s true. Rahab was always known as a “harlot” in the Bible. She kept her title. When triggered in someone’s mind, they may remember your failure for years. History books record great failures of people with great success. And, I’m not sure it should be our goal to completely lose that failure reminder. It’s a way we can demonstrate grace. We can be an example to others who have failed — and are seeking hope. God uses our failures as a source of strength for others. But, whether or not people can label you a failure will depend on how you respond to failure — how you proceed after the failure.
God loves you more than you can imagine, even when you fail. In fact, in my experience with failure, whether it was by intentional sin or through no fault of your own, it breaks your heart at some point. My Bible says God is close to the brokenhearted. And, your failure is what makes you a great candidate for grace — something God loves to extend to those who will receive it.
Forgiving yourself may be the most difficult thing. It’s true. The hardest person to forgive for failing is almost always ourselves. We usually hold our failures against ourselves much longer than the world does. And, the enemy loves to use that principle against us too. Why not? It works, right? But, forgiveness is a choice. Receiving God’s grace is a choice. Moving forward is a choice. Choosing your next steps wisely — that’s a choice too.
The best days of your life may be after the failure — not before. Wow! If only I could have understood that during some of my darker moments due to failure. If you refuse to let failure control you and you allow God, by His grace, to shape the rest of your story you may just experience some of your best moments of life in the days ahead. That’s my story. And, for that I’m thankful.
Obviously, no one should ever desire failure so they can learn from it. But, failure is a part of living in a fallen world. The key is to not allow failure to be our dominant identification. That’s determined by what we do after the failure.
What have you learned from failure?
I work with young leaders everyday. I have two incredible young leaders as sons. (Here’s my picture with them a few years ago — taken the day we moved to Kentucky.)
Occasionally, when I am talking to a young leader something becomes apparent. They often think what they are experiencing is unique. And, more surprising than that, they think perhaps their struggle is no longer mine — like somehow I’ve outgrown them.
That’s what prompted this post. I’ve included a few tips for young leaders I’ve learned along the way.
Here are 10 realities every young leader needs to know:
At times you will feel overwhelmed. You know that feeling, right? Like you can’t get it all done and you’re not sure you know where to start. Those feelings don’t ever leave you completely as a leader. There will be seasons where they are stronger than others, but if you’re doing anything of value you will occasionally feel overwhelmed. They are a part of life. Something you’ll never outgrow.
You’ll not always know what to do. You don’t ever get to a point in life where you’ve learned everything. You get better at some things. Okay — lots of things. Wisdom and experience has its benefits obviously. But, regardless of your age — if you’re doing anything productive — you’ll learn something knew everyday.
Seldom will you be 100% certain. You’ll always have an element of risk in your life. You will be forced to move forward by faith. That is a good thing. It keeps you grounded and on your knees before God.
Sometimes it’s just for the learning experience. And that’s huge. If you put all your effort into something and it doesn’t work — or its not as good as you thought it would be — it’s easy to get frustrated. But, the process will teach you something. And, the value of the learning experience is huge. Never miss the life principles intended for you.
You’ll many times feel under-appreciated. There will be lots of things you do that no one will notice. Great things. Trophy-deserving things — and people will act — it will seem at times — like no one noticed and no one cares. And, that may not be true. They may simply be living a full life like you are — overwhelmed like you are — and it just passed by them. But, it leaves you feeling under-appreciated. And, like all leaders, eventually we have to find our reward in the knowledge and personal satisfaction of our work well done as much, if not more, than the public recognition of that work.
People are watching. If you position yourself to lead in any way, you become a target of spectators. What you do. What you say. And, what you post on social media. Some will agree. Some will not. Some will agree just to get on your good side. Disappoint them and they will leave. Some will not agree because they are jealous of a leader with an opportunity. All that said, don’t shy away from people. That’s never the right response. Just be aware. Be gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent.
Learn the words of successful leadership early. As with the previous one, the words of a leader carry great weight. Don’t make it “my” team or your leadership won’t be very successful and no one will buy-in to the team except you. A leader’s words should always be inclusive rather than exclusive. Become a fan of words like “we”, “us” and “ours”. The more you include people, the more they’ll feel included (see how simple this is) and they’ll be more likely to suffer with you for the win.
Sometimes, if we believe in something strong enough, we have to stand alone. That’s a hard reality in a world that tries to force sameness, but if you do anything of value — or believe anything strongly enough — sometimes you have to stand single until others catch on or until you find supporters. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to advisers. You should. You should have mentors and be open to constructive criticism. I never make major decisions without the input from others. But, don’t give up what you know to be right — especially those things you sense God is calling you to do — because it isn’t popular.
Great things start with humble beginnings. Don’t be afraid of starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. That’s still a viable option — and the reward feels greater when you built it the hard way. And, never underestimate the power of a moment.
You have to discipline yourself to decompress. It’s not usually built-in to the system. During the busy seasons of life — when there’s plenty of work to do and time is of the essence — which is most of our life if we set out to be leaders, you’ll have to discipline yourself. To rest. Re-calibrate. Refocus. Rediscover the passion that once fueled you. Re-connect, if needed, to a deep intimacy with God. You have to discipline for that. You’ll seldom have a leader or a system that forces that upon you. And, it’s life-essential. Don’t neglect your soul.
These are obviously random — but in my life they’ve become realities. For some of these, if you don’t understand them, you may think something is abnormal about you. Although, I guess another reality I have learned, is that there something abnormal about all of us.
Let me warn you this is a random post…from my random thoughts.
And, that makes more sense considering my Myers Briggs. Random. Stay tuned.
I have used the Myers Briggs personality profile for years. I even became certified to instruct and administer the assessment a decade ago.
I have shared and talked about my type HERE and have written mostly about the difference in the Extrovert and Introvert preferences. I’m an Introvert.
I’m an INTJ — in case you were wondering.
I think it’s a great tool for leadership development, relationship enhancement, self awareness and career evaluation. I’ve used it with church staff, couples, and with small groups. Everyone is unique — and especially some “types” hate labels that assume they are a certain way — but sometimes this can be a good starting point of discovery into relationships.
I love the application of the assessment, but if I were to rewrite Myers Briggs, I would change a few of the titles. I think at times it has been confusing. Maybe it’s the age of the terms.
If you don’t recall the options — there’s E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P.
Some changes I would make:
I’m happy with the E and I.
E is for extrovert..
Most people can hear that term and have a decent idea what it means — they are more social by preference, although, in my experience, extroverted people are less likely to think they are extroverted than introverted people know they are introverted. These people are more likely to say what they think when they think it. They are generally more apt to engage in conversation — and are energized by doing so.
I is for introvert.
Introverts are desperate for alone time. It’s where they get their energy for life. In years of working with Myers Briggs, I seldom meet an introvert who doesn’t already know they are one. I’ve written tons about introverts — search the blog — but it’s important to know introverts don’t dislike people — they just get energized from their down time.
From this point is where I would want to play with the terms.
The S and N terms can be a little confusing.
S is for sensing.
A sensing person prefers to use the information available, using the five senses, to make decisions. I agree with that.
N is for iNtuition.
And, people with this preference prefer to make up their minds by adding their own information to what’s apparent. (You’ll normally find the creative types here.)
I’d probably leave the S, because that makes “sense” to me. But, I would change the N to the letter R — for Random. These people (like me) tend to have more random thoughts. They’re thoughts are not tied necessarily to one of the senses. They often have the thought before they make “sense” of it.
The T and F cause me problems also.
T stands for Thinking. It’s a preference for making decisions based on the rational facts at hand. This person prefers truth over tact.
F stands for Feeling. It’s a preference for considering the people or values aspect involved before making a decision. It’s tact over truth.
I just don’t think these are the best terms.
In my experience, men often resist being a “F” because of the word “feelings”.
I’ve experienced some women who resist being a “T”, because they assume that means they have no feelings.
And the fact is — there’s nothing wrong with a man or woman being wired with either type….
Also, we all think AND we all feel — just to lesser degrees of each.
So, I’d prefer to title the T – Logic
I’d prefer to title the F – Values
Those seem to fit better for how I see these preferences played out in a personality.
The ones wired for “Thinking” tend to make decisions based more on logic. They can’t dismiss the facts of the matter — the rational, logical, cold hard facts.
The ones wired for “Feeling” tend to make decisions based more on their set of values. That could be people, or it could be a set of principles important to them, but when a value gets in the midst, it affects how they make decisions.
Then there are the last two letters.
The terms J and P — for Judging and Perceiving are, again, pretty confusing terms.
Basically a “J” prefers to have things decided and a “P” would prefer to stay open to new options.
I might change the J to an O for Order
These types tend to prefer a more orderly life — where the future is more scripted. They prefer to have a plan and work from the plan. Everyone procrastinates, but these people stress when they did.
I’d change the P to the letter N for Now
These folks seem to prefer to live in the moment. They let life evolve. They sometimes have less stress too! When they put things off — well — we can still have fun — right?
These are just my observations. I’m sure there are even better terms. Just my thoughts. In this case, I would be an IRLO.
An IRLO. But, now I’m confused. Maybe we should leave things as they were. Carry on.
Have you ever had an official Myers Briggs administered to you? What’s your type?
For those of you who know Myers Briggs talk — what changes would you make?
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about — how’d you make it this far?