Mentors

Mentor defineA big brother. A father. An uncle. A grandfather. A best friend’s father. A youth leader from church.

Every person, but young men especially, need an older man to pour into their lives. We need someone to help us learn how to be a man. In our society, we put a lot of pressure on young women but there is also a lot of pressure put on young boys to become manly men. There are certain things that men must know. Things it is expected as a man we are aware of. There are also expectations for men which will dramatically change the world all of the men on the planet would get it right. Once these boys develop into men and then as they take on the roles of husband and father, the expectations only get higher.

How do boys learn to be men? How to boys learn the critical ‘man-stuff’ they need to know? The same way any of us learn anything – someone teaches us.

We need someone who will teach us how to treat women. Women are to be treated with dignity and respect, not as objects for our use and abuse. Boys and young men need someone to teach them the proper way to speak to a woman. The proper way to treat a young woman. I am not necessarily a supporter of the whole idea of courting, but certainly something has been lost in the way our youth and young adults are approaching dating. It has lost the special-ness and wonder it once had. It is now a commonplace, ordinary thing and not something that is special. We have lost to excitement and mystery of entering into a relationship with the opposite sex. There are a myriad of societal issues that could likely be traced back to this… that is a discussion for another time! As boys we need someone to teach us how to treat girls and ultimately women.

We need someone to teach us the mystery, wonder and exhilaration that is fire. This is essential to being a man. Other men will immediately gauge the usefulness of a man based on whether he can build a fire. Whether you use raw elements, a flint stone, lighter fluid or straight gasoline a man must be able to make a fire. This ties into a man’s overall outdoorsyness. Men are supposed to skilled outdoorsmen, too. How good of an outdoorsman can you be if you can’t start a fire.

We need someone to teach us how to properly grill meat. Any meat. Dead animal cooked over open flames is quintessential manhood. Without this ability, is a man really a man? Grilling is more than utilitarian preparation of food, it is an art form. It is something special.  Magic happens when meat is grilled.

We need someone to teach us sports. Almost without exception, it is not possible for a group of men to arrive at a park, field, friend’s house or church without some sports equipment. It could be as simple as a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or a baseball and glove. It would seem as though men are hardwired to play sports. In a group of dudes, even the ones that aren’t ‘athletic’ will find themselves getting drawn into the exhibition off sports. While we seem to be inherently keyed into sports, we still must have someone take the time and interest to cultivate the athlete inside of each of us.

Who teaches us these critical life lessons? It is often our father. Sometimes it is an older brother. It can be an uncle. Maybe a grandfather. Maybe it is your friend’s father. Or it could be a youth leader from church. Or maybe it is all of the above. As boys and young men we need someone to teach us important skills and lessons we need in life. We need someone to mentor us.

We all do. We all need someone to pour into our lives and help us to grow. It doesn’t have to be a perfect mentor. It just needs to be someone who cares about us enough to walk through life with us for a season. Mentors change. Seasons and times of our lives change and what we need out of mentors change. But, no matter the season of life we are in we need mentors.

Who has been a mentor to you? What have they taught you? Who have you been able to mentor?

Captivity

ColossiansThis morning I was reading Colossians 2 and verse eight stood out to me. This verse has been highlighted in my Bible for years now. Many years ago, as I spoke with a friend who was leaving his wife this passage came to my attention as my friend used all manner of worldly thinking and ideology to justify and explain to me why he had suddenly lost interest and was no longer in love with his wife. He used philosophy and so-called wisdom based on the elemental principles of the world as his basis for why what he was doing was not only ok to do, but the only right thing to do. I believe was taken captive by a philosophy which was unable to provide any legitimate substance or foundation for rational thinking.

We have to tendency to lean towards philosophies or ways of thinking that allow us to justify our actions. We tend to use our desires and actions to interpret Scriptures, rather than allowing Scripture to interpret how we should live. This is what my friend did. This is why Paul cautions us to not be taken captive by hollow, empty, deceitful philosophy. That sentence was very loaded. Let me try to break it down.

Paul warns us to not be taken captive. In the original Greek language, which Paul would have written this, the idea is to not be robbed. He says, look out, keep watch so that you may not be robbed. Don’t let your clear, rational thinking be taken captive or robbed from you. Do not let your thought processes be hijacked and stolen from you. Use your critical thinking and rational thought skills (which I would argue are inherent, built-in aspects of our existence thanks to being made ‘in the image of God’ who possesses critical thinking and rational thought) to see through the empty philosophy.

Paul says, what has taken us captive is empty or hollow. The word is empty, meaning there is nothing to it. No substance. Hollow. Valueless, no merit, nothing inside. As I glance across my desk I see my coffee mug. It is empty. There is nothing inside it. Right now, that has no value. It has nothing in it. At 0646, the mug might as well be dead to me. The mug has zero value to it, because the value it brings is contingent upon Empty mugwhat fills it. Philosophy, a word we get by through the combining of one of the Greek words for ‘love’ and the Greek word for ‘wisdom’, so the loving of wisdom must have substance to it. The philosophy or the train of thinking about wisdom have be full of something, not hollow or it is useless.

Paul goes on to describe the philosophy which has taken us captive as deceitful. In the original Greek text, the words empty and deceit follow each other. The text literally reads, empty deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world. There is much here, but I want to focus on the deceitful aspect. What makes it deceitful? Its emptiness. The fact that it is hollow and promises what it can not deliver. Just like my coffee mug is deceiving into thinking it has value, when it does not because it is empty. So is the philosophy which has bewitched us. It promises big, but delivers nothing. It is deceit because it has no value or substance to it.

It would be presumptuous for me to speak for you, but I don’t want to be taken captive by anything let alone anything which is empty or hollow. Imagine waking up one day, years from now and realizing you have been chasing a hollow, empty dream. Your whole life, everything you put into that pursuit is wasted, all for nothing. Paul is giving us a wake up call to pay attention to the things we place our trust in and what we rely on. Are we trusting in philosophies which are empty and deceitful because they are empty? Are we placing our trust in something of value, something which is not empty? Clearly, Paul is making a subtle argument for placing one’s faith and trust in God and relying on him to find the values and meaning we need to navigate through life. Trust in God is the only thing in the end providing the lasting meaning we crave. There is no other philosophy or tradition providing meaning and purpose equal to what God provides, because God has no equal.

We need to heed the warning and not allow ourselves to be taken captive by empty, deceitful philosophy. We need to place our faith, hope and trust in God each day. We need to allow the Word of God to light our path and direct our steps. (Bet you didn’t expect a theology lesson this morning!)

What empty, deceitful philosophy do you let creep in and distract you?

Bible is lightsaber

Mystery

The church we go to is in the middle of a sermon series titled, “Identity Crisis.” We are working our way through the book of Colossians. I have read Colossians, heard sermons on it and likely even preached a sermon from the book. However, I haven’t spent the kind of time in study of the letter like I am right now. One of the epic things our church does (Grace Orlando) is they write and provide these handy dandy sermon guides. They are packed full of tons of great stuff – background info on Colossians like what was happening when Paul wrote it, what are the main themes, where Paul was when he wrote it, etc. This provides a holistic approach to the book we are studying. The guide also provides space to take notes during the sermon and a handful of thought-provoking questions to guide personal reflection time and our community groups for further study/discussion.

Over the last month, I have been following up the sermon and studying Colossians in my personal Bible study time. Today I read from the end of chapter one and the beginning of chapter two. As I read, the word ‘mystery’ stood out to me. Paul talks about the mystery of God. He goes on to say the mystery of God is Christ. This can be kinda confusing, but at the same time simple. The mystery of Christ is how mysterious, wonderful and strange it is that the God who created everything would take on the form of his creation, live among us a sinless life so he may die in our place taking our punishment so we may be presented righteous before a holy God. This is a mystery. How did this happen? I daresay, the details of how exactly the incarnation works can not be known by us mere humans. It is a mystery.

As I read this, it occurred to me in our digital age we have lost some of the mystery that is mystery. Maybe I should clarify, I have lost some of the mystery that is mystery. I suspect you may be the same though. In a time when we can pull a handheld computer out of our back pocket and ask Google anything and in a fraction of a second have a more information at our fingertips than was previously possible after hours of research at a library a decade a half ago, we have lost mystery. Mystery is about not knowing all the information. It is about having missing pieces. It is about having to think through and figure out the missing details and connect the dots. We rarely have to do that anymore as Google will accomplish all the hard work for us. We get consumed with information and details and facts and knowing the whole story.

On one hand, this is very attractive to me. I like to know the details. I like to know what is going on. I like to know as much information as I can. I like to know what is happening. I don’t like surprises and I don’t like to be surprised. I have a need to know. So, for me having a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips is a great resource… but at the same time, it breeds an inability to not have all the facts.

In some ways, it reduces my ability to have joy and satisfaction. It robs me of the pleasure of surprise. It takes away the excitement of not knowing. The exhilaration of the unknown. The unknown brings with it a sense of adventure and wonder and excitement that I often miss out on because I am so consumed with having to know all the details, every little piece, every aspect, all the facts.

But sometimes, the facts and information can’t be known. Won’t be known. Shouldn’t be known.

Mystery brings with it a sense of awe and wonder. No matter how awesome something is, once we figure it out it is difficult for it to carry the same power of awe and wonder. Fire is amazing. But it doesn’t hold the same awe for us who know it is simply a combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give our bright light, heat and smoke. It is amazing, but it doesn’t hold the same sense of awe and wonder since we have figured it out. Travel over long distances doesn’t hold the same sense of awe it used to. We live in a global reality where we can be anywhere within a matter of hours. Our communities and commutes have grown exponentially over the last 200 hundred years and we now live farther away from our jobs than many people traveled in their whole lives. A 30 mile commute takes an hour in traffic when 100 years ago it would take 10 hours or more to walk there or about 8 hours if you had a horse to ride.

In some ways, the digital age has inhibited our ability to be awed and wondered. Again, maybe I should correct myself and say it has inhibited MY ability to be awed and wondered. Not entirely. There are still things that awe me. Creation never ceases to awe me. Looking at the magnificence of what God has created… it is awesome. As I get older and adjust work/life schedule to better accommodate family, it is harder for me to go run at night, which happens to be my favorite time to run for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons I enjoy running at night, is looking up to the stars and being awed by the vast expanse that is space. I;m not much of an astronomer, but I know enough to know you can tell what time of year it is based on where the Orion constellation is in the night sky. Mountains always awe me. Their hugeness and greatness towering over the landscape is moving. Most of any existence of water on the planet awes me. With the exception of the plethora of retention ponds we have everywhere in Florida (A funny side note, when Ronda and I first started dating and would visit her family in Florida I would ask about why there were so many retention ponds everywhere. She answered me one day, ‘to keep the alligators from coming back.’ I took it as Gospel. I didn’t realize until years later when I said something to her about this that she was joking. They do serve to collect the excess water so as to keep Florida from becoming a swamp again and therefore sorta serve to to keep the gators at bay… but not really.) I Waterfalls amaze me. Springs amaze me. Rivers and creeks amaze me. The beach amazes me. How the moon affects the beach amazes me. Rocks amaze me. Hahaha, I sound like a little kid with that one! But it is true. Trees amaze me. Creation amazes me.

My wife amazes me. She amazes me for more reasons that I could justly articulate. But her commitment and love for me amazes me. Her devotion to God amazes me. Her warm heart and caring soul amaze me. Her never-ending service to me and the boys amazes me. Her strength amazes me. She amazes me.

My boys amaze me… and not always in good ways! They are fantastic, wonderful humans who are amazing. Their caring spirits, good hearts, imaginations and laughter amazes me. Who they are becoming as men amazes me.

I am amazed by the wonder of a God who created me, provides for me as a father and who died for me so I can spend eternity in his presence. The mystery of how he did that is not lost on me. I don’t understand it. I can’t understand it. But I accept it.

Let’s not lose mystery from our lives. I live technology and I love the world I live in, the digital age I wouldn’t want to give it all up… but I equally don’t want to give up being amazed by mystery.

What is mysterious or amazing to you?

Stay Connected

 As he approached the cliff’s edge he was very shaky and nervous. He looked down and slightly tugged on his harness to make sure he was hooked in. He was. He visually inspected the carabiner and figure eight to ensure they were properly attached to his harness. He had gloves on. He bang to slowly inch backwards towards the edge of the cliff.

The closer he got the more nervous he became.

He got to the edge. He froze.

He called back from the edge and begged to be pulled up. He started to go again… stopped and once more begged to be pulled up. It was the point of no return. He was over the edge. He couldn’t go back up.

Back he couldn’t go down either.

He was frozen. Neither able to go up or down. Stuck.

He was going do stay on the cliff face until he died… which fortunately wasn’t going to be long!

Before he knew it he, was rappelling down the cliff. He was still afraid, but at least now he was moving… down.

As he unclipped from the rope, he realized he had conquered his fears. He was still afraid of heights, but they had not won this battle.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The first activity of this trip was a rock climbing trip. This portion of the trip was going to push their limits and challenge their fears. If you have never gone rock climbing or rappelling before, you must pay singular attention and your focus must be on the task at hand. One of the things you learn very quickly, is being connected to the rope is critical… lifesaving.

If you aren’t connected to the rope you will die.

Hands down. There is no way around it. Losing connection to the rope, while on the rock face will end tragically. Over the course of the weekend, one of the conversations I had with the guys was as a man the very real need to stay connected to a community… but more than that, the need to stay connected to God. We are not able to navigate this life on our own. We simply can’t do it. And too many times, we men view asking for help or relying on others as weakness. It isn’t weak to recognize where you need help and then ask for help. Being a part of a community, having a support network allows us to draw on a larger range of experiences and resources to navigate the rough waters of life. Having several other dudes who care deeply about you, allows you a built in accountability network as well as confidants and friends to carry you through the tough times.

But more important than all this, is of course the connection we have to have with God. Having a community of other men is highly beneficial, but we must be connected to the ultimate source. God should be the foundation for all we do and all we are. Relying on him in tough times. Turning to him in good times. Trusting him no matter what is swirling around us in life is essential to being successful. Other people will disappoint us. It’s a matter of when, not if they will. Being connected to God allows us to manage through the times other people let us down.

I encouraged our guys to stay connected to a community, but more importantly to stay connected to God.

Adaptability


White water rapids are created when water in a river flows over an obstruction under the surface of the water. I’m not an expert hydrology, but I understand the dynamics of what takes place in a river when water is forced to flow over a rock or something else… I understand the basic premise of this obstruction underwater changes nature, course, speed, direction and behavior of the water. The more water, the bigger the obstructions, the faster the water flows and the more extreme the rapids are.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The second activity of this trip was a white water rafting trip. On this rafting experience we saw first hand how a rock, or other obstruction, underneath the surface of the water impacts and changes the course of the river. The river must bend its will and purpose to the rocks underneath it. The water will flow over the rocks, altering and impacting the rocks as well… but the rocks will tell the river where and how to flow.
No matter how much water flows over it, around it, under it or how much pressure is put on the rock by the water… it will always be a rock. Its shape may change, how the rock looks might change. The rock will be shaped by the water, but it will not be defined by the water. It is a rock, because it is inherently a rock and not because of the water it interacts with.

After we observed this, and we sat around the campfire later that evening we discussed how we are like the rocks under the surface of the water. Life will come over us and even overwhelm us at times, and we will undoubtedly be shaped by the pressures of life. We are like the rock lurking under the surface of the water in a river.

As life flows over us, we will be shaped by life… by the circumstances, stress, pressure, situations happening to us. But we are not defined by them. Who we are at our core is not affected or changed by life. At our core, we are children of an Almighty God. We are his precious children, whom he loves enough to die for our sins. That will never change no matter what experience, challenge, hardship or difficulty we face in this life. We will certainly be shaped by life, but not defined by it.

A key to surviving life, or making it through ‘successfully’, is to be adaptable… fluid… willing to change. Able to make adjustments. On a personal note, I do NOT change well or easily. I hate change. The only thing I hate more than change is surprise change. I need to know what is what. Adaptability is essential in this life. The landscape of our lives is constantly changing and shifting as various aspects or pieces of our lives change. Jobs, relationships, living arrangements, transportation situations, school… most things in our lives are in a constant state of flux. Being adaptable and able to meet the new challenges, to rise to the occasion are critical.

The rock under the water doesn’t change who he is when more water comes down the river bad. He allows his shape to be molded to meet the water. But, he remains a rock. When we face a difficult scenario in life, we must adapt or be shaped by it and meet its demands… but we can not sacrifice who we are at our core.

Dogfight Alley

  
A couple of blocks from our house, there is a park with a variety of attractions. There’s and off leash area for dogs. A BMX bike trials area. A mountain bike trail through the woods. Open fields for running & playing. 
This afternoon, I took the boys up there to ride their bikes & for some soccer drills. At one point, they rode off to the water fountain and I kicked the soccer ball at the boys. Don’t worry, my aim is terrible so I didn’t hit anyone. But as the ball rolled towards the bikes, I was reminded of dogfight alley. 

Abe & I would ride our bikes to this parking lot and proceed to kick a soccer ball whilst we rode our bikes. I don’t recall if we ever named the sport, but it became vicious at times. Imagine full throttle bike riding & kicking a ball. There were times the ball didn’t exactly pass safely between the tires of the bike. Wipe outs were had. Scars were earned. 

As I think about this game, this experience it occurs to me this is the stuff of life. Creating new games, dangerous games. Games bringning to the brink of death. 

Epic tragedy possible at every turn. 

The very essence of existence. 

This is what it means to be alive. This is the quintessential experience of being a child. Of being a boy. Creation & destruction all wrapped into one package. 

As we grow older, we sometimes lose sight of the awesomeness that is being alive. As we grow, we get bogged down by reaponsibility and adulthood. Life takes hold of us and there suddenly things ‘more important’ than this life of fun & adventure. Excitement & creativity take a back seat to responsibility and work. Wonder & awe are traded for rules and regulations. 

For those of that are parents, we are caught in the middle. Caught between the reality that is life as an adult and the reality of living with growing, developing human being who haven’t matured beyond simply viewing everything in life as a place to have fun. As a parent, I confess, I am too often concerned with the rules and don’t focus on the fun. If you know me at all, this may or may not perplex you but it is true nonetheless. 

I prefer order over chaos. I prefer rules to anarchy. And children are nothing if they aren’t chaos & anarchy. (Especially my 3 boys) They are the antithesis to everything I hold valuable. 

So there is a struggle… can I break free from the chains of adulthood and allow myself to step back into the world of my youth and experience the creativity, wonder, awe, excitement and adventure that is being a child? 

More importantly, can I allow myself to allow my boys to have the fun get so desperately crave? I don’t always. 

But I always wish I did. 

So here’s to being a little less uptight & and more like a child. 

FIRST 3/2 Training

  
The other week I embarked on a new running training program, the FIRST 3/2 program. It is an intensity based program focusing on speed and split times. A unique component to the plan is the 3 Key Runs – Track Repeats, Tempo Run, Long Run. That’s it. 

Three runs. 

Deceptively difficult. These key runs come with prescribed split times based on your current running ability… or desired race time (if your current ability supports it). 

I’m training for a half marathon at the end of March, the Tomoka half. It’s 16 weeks from when I started the training… the length of the plan. My fastest half marathon is 1:46:45. I would really like to beat that time. By how much? I’m not real sure what is reasonable. I set my sights on 1:30, but the training runs for it were impossible for me. I’m just not that fast. Never have been. I adjusted to 1:36. Still too fast. I’m currently working off a target of 1:40… and I am still having to work my tail off to make the splits. 

As I prepared for this training plan and in the first couple weeks of it I have come to a stark realization about myself as a runner. I’m a lazy runner. Don’t misunderstand me, I run far. I just don’t work very hard at my running. I run far… but not with much intensity or purpose. I’ve been what I would call a runner for 11 years now, and I ran my first tempo run last week. I impressed myself as I was able to keep a good tempo pace. This was partially due to me doing bad math and therefore I set my pace times faster than I intended. 

What I’d like to do is share some of my thoughts each week on the training I experienced running. In addition to the 3 key runs, the plan calls for 2 cross-training days. Those days are either cycling, swimming or rowing. I am going to throw some strength training into the mix for good measure also. 

My hope is that I will evolve as a runner and get better at it through this plan, as well improve my overall health. On Sunday, I began the nutritional component of BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix. I’ve begun to portion control and be purposeful and intentional with my eating habits. I will likely share my thoughts on this too. If I journal (Are dudes allowed to use that word in connection with ourselves?) through this experience I hope it will assist me in getting more out of the whole thing. I am not old and I am not unhealthy, but it’s not a bad idea to become more disciplined, purposeful and intentional about my health to minimize the potential health risks as I get older. 

Here we go. The stage is set. I’m on this journey and I encourage you to follow along, cheer me on, join with me or watch and laugh at my pain and discomfort. 

Razor’s Edge

  
Maybe it’s just me, but I find I live life on a razor’s edge. 

What I mean is this: each day has the propensity to be a good day or a bad day. It all depends on which way I lean. Which way am I going to go. Which direction do I allow my day to be taken. 

If I allow my day to be dictated to me and don’t specifically take steps to make it a good day, it won’t be one. It’ll be a bad day. This shouldn’t be surprising to us. We live a world marred and broken by sin. We live in a world where selfishness and sel-gain are the order of the day. Our world is broken and leads towards destruction. So it shouldn’t be surprising that our days can easily become bad days full of pain and suffering. 

On the other hand, if I wake up and determine to make this day a good day it is more likely than not thT it will be a good day. I know what you are thinking, some days are always going to be bad due to their circumstances. True, but our perspective incredibly affects our outlook on life. Perception is 9/10 of the law, right? We can’t always make everyday an epic specimen of existence, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Here’s four practices I utilize in my efforts to make everyday a good day:

  1. Remember today is a new day. P.O.D.’s song Alive starts with the words, ‘Everyday is a new day, I’m thankful for every breath I take’. I often find myself reciting these words at the conclusion of a tough day or at the beginning of the day. Everyday is a new day. Today doesn’t have to be like any other day you’ve ever had. 
  2. People depend on me. I’m a dad, husband, boss, mentor, friend and role model. People are looking to me to gain insight on how to handle their lives. People are looking to me to learn something. People are relying on me to be strong and consistent. I am not an island. People need me to be the best I can be today. 
  3. God has blessed me beyond what I could ever deserve. Even in my darkest moments, my life is favored and blessed. As a child of God, I am in dwelt by the Holy Spirit and therefore have found favor with God. He loves me. He watches over me. He is preparing a place for me that is free of pain, suffering and hurt. 
  4. The last practice is somewhat more practical in nature and may qualify as more than one practice, but whatever. I use everything at my disposal to make each day good. Counseling, prayer, reading the bible, wise counsel from friends, self-help articles and books, time with my kids, video games, anything. God has blessed me with a myriad ofresources at my disposal to make my day good, all I have to  do is reach out and use one of them. Surprisingly, God doesn’t want me to be miserable. 

I still have bad days. It happens more than I want. But those are the days when I let life happen to me and not the days when I happen to life. Decide today to be more than conquerors and Almagest today a good day. 

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

It’s all about People

baby eliw

I’m not the best dad this world has to offer.

I’m not the best husband this world had to offer.

I’m not the best brother or son this world has to offer.

I’m not the best friend or co-worker this world has to offer.

 I’m not the best director or supervisor this world has to offer.

But what I am, is implicitly aware one of the things that matters most is relationships with people. People matter more than most other things. The relationships we build with people matter more than most other things. In my line of work, building authentic and trusting relationships are critical. It is the bedrock upon all of what I do is built. I am in the business of people. And people want to know you care about them. People want to know they matter to you.

I have learned there are three sure-fire ways to torpedo a relationship and totally destroy a chance to make an impact in someone’s life.

  1. Sarcasm – This is tough for me, because I fancy myself a sarcasm expert. My ability to use sarcasm extends beyond the average person’s ability. I am really good at it. I can use sarcasm in every scenario. There is no situation where a healthy dose of sarcasm isn’t warranted. Sarcasm is cutting, injurious and it tears down instead of building up. It is the antithesis to building relationships.
  2. Belittle them – This is easier to do than you would think sometimes. It is easy to answer with a short, terse answer that hurts. Belittling comes in many shapes and sizes, but it often looks like treating them, their experiences or ideas as stupid. When we do this, we communicate they are not valued and their ideas aren’t valued. Belittling someone makes them feel small and insignificant.
  3. Dismiss them – Dismissing others tells them they don’t have value. Not just their ideas, but they themselves aren’t valued, aren’t important, they aren’t relevant, that they don’t matter.

On the flip side, I have learned there are at least three ways to build any relationship, deepen it and show those in it you care about them:

  1. Put people first – No matter else is going on, what the heat of the matter is… focus on caring more about the person than the issue. Issues will come and go and aren’t want really matters… people do. Show people you care by placing them above whatever the issues at hand is. More than that support your people. Let them know you have their back and this issue is in no way going to affect your relationship.
  2. Be humble – If you are like me, this is hard. Not because I’m overly prideful (although I am at times), but because this includes a significant amount of vulnerability to admit when we are wrong or to allow others to speak into our lives for purposes of improvement or to offer advice. Humility says, I don’t have all the answers and maybe you can help. Humility is keeping a proper view of ourselves and out limitations. Humility doesn’t have to be right or have the last word.
  3. Put yourself in their shoes – Trying to understand their perspective will go a long way to building your relationship. Being able to consider their side of the story or to see where they are coming from will help you to put them first and remain humble. Understanding their side helps us to understand why they are acting the way they are, it helps us to know their heart.

People are important. People need to know they are important to us. We have to make efforts to ensure people know we care about them and that we are committed to building an authentic, trusting relationship with them. Will you take the extra effort and focus on the relationships with the people around you?