Learning 5 Leadership Ideas from Pixar Worth Considering

  1. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.
  2. Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas.
  3. You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.
  4. You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.
  5. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil.  They aren’t evil at all.  They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no orignality).

Ideas taken from Creativity, Inc.:  Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Learning to Respond to Injustice with Brooklyn Lindsey

Picture 2I am excited to announce my wife’s, Brooklyn, new opportunity.  She was officially announced yesterday as the Global Justice Advocate for the Church of the Nazarene.  (For the official release, click HERE.)

This newly created position is embedded in Nazarene Youth International in partnership with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. Brooklyn will work to build partnerships with local Nazarene churches and youth ministries around issues of global poverty and justice. As the Justice Advocate, she will focus on developing educational resources, training, and speaking as ways to educate and engage youth in issues surrounding global poverty, as well as promoting discipleship in the Church of the Nazarene.

It seems like yesterday Brooklyn and I were 16 years old attending Nazarene Youth Conference.  We barely knew each other.  It had been maybe 5 days.  But, it was the beginning.

Yes, the beginning of our relationship.  But, more importantly, it was the starting point of Brooklyn’s journey.  Tony Campolo was the speaker that one particular session.  As you would expect, he challenged the 7,000 students and leaders in the room to pursue God’s mission to alleviate injustice.  For those bold enough to accept that kind of future, he invited the students to take their first steps by moving forward to the front of the stage.

Broooklyn and I were not sitting next to each other.  I had no idea where she was in the enormous Phoenix Suns arena.  Both of us ended up taking the those steps.

For years, Brooklyn has remembered that moment as the time God planted in her heart a desire to rescue young women and girls from injustice.  It has been true every step of the way throughout her ministry.  Through youth ministry, Brooklyn has woven the message of God’s mission for God’s people to respond to injustice.

Now, she has been given the opportunity to live it, teach it, and inspire others to pursue it on a global scale.

I can’t wait to learn with and from her how to respond to injustice.  It’s amazing to witness the trajectory of her life that was launched by God at youth conference 16 years ago.  I feel blessed to have experience it this far, and excited to see where it continues to take her.

Learning to Make Lasting Camp Memories

fingernail polishTwo memories stuck with me from my camp years.

I wasn’t thinking about it when I awoke with my family (including my seven and four year old) this morning at 5:30am.  Our scheduled departure is 6:30am.  Our company is 90 middle and high school students, and the support of 30 adult leaders.  Our mode of transportation is two charter buses.  Our destination is BigStuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!

Let’s just call it an eight hour ride.  A couple hundred miles in, my mind finally comes to the realization of what is happening.  Like the smell of sunscreen reminds me of the beach, the routine of getting to camp brings to mind my own camp memories.  One of which I decide to pass on.

Memory #1:  Girls painting my toenails while I am sleeping unaware on the bus.  I had no idea.  We made a pit stop at the gas station to reload with more junkfood and drinks.  As soon as I stepped off the bus, a small group of girls were stared at me with this evil smile.  I had no idea why, but I knew they were up to no good.  Then I looked down.  All ten toenails were adorned with black polish.  I was punked.  Twenty years later, and I still remember that moment.  So, why not pass it on.  So, I did.  On the way to BigStuf Camp, I passed the toenail-painting-while-innocently-sleeping memory along.

Our students probably won’t be reading my blog, so don’t let them in on my secret.  As far as you know, I didn’t do it.

As sticky as the toenail polish memory is for me, it wasn’t the kind that altered the trajectory of my life forever.  The second memory did.

Memory #2:  Responding to an invitation to let God use my life for good.  I wasn’t doing bad things before this moment.  I just wasn’t aware of the significance of God’s power in my life to create good in our world.  My whole life up to this point revolved around hoop dreams.  I was focused on earning a college basketball scholarship.  All of a sudden, a preacher on a stage is asking me to consider how God can use my life to change the world.  Then, he challenges me (us) to step forward as a sign that we are willing to accept that reality for our lives, right now.  I did.  And so did a girl that I barely knew.  Twenty years later, and that same girl and I have spent 16 years as pastors together as husband and wife.

I hope each student this week at BigStuf Camp creates a fun memory that lasts forever.  I also pray every one realizes their true worth and potential in Christ.  I pray each one starts a journey on a trajectory guided by the redeeming love of God.  I pray one experience becomes a defining moment worth changing the world for.

I believe it will happen.  For some.  For many.

What is your lasting camp memory?

 

Learning to Break the Silent Treatment

The “silent treatment” happens when one person in a relationship shuts down and cuts off communication.  It is avoidance in one of its most extreme expressions, silence.  It normally rears its ugly head in a situation of conflict, when one person feels the pressure of demands or lack of trust of another.

According to an article Ban the Silent Treatment in The Wall Street Journal, it is among the “most common forms of conflict within a relationship.”  Based on 74 studies, it is determined to be “one of the most damaging types of relationship conflict and one of the hardest patterns to break.”  And maybe as no surprise to you, the man is typically the one issuing the silent treatment.

I really don’t want to blog on this topic.  But, when reading the article I felt a sense of shame.  It described me.  I acquired the skill of the “silent treatment” at a young age.  In a situation of conflict, my lifelong tendency has been to withdraw.  It has never worked well for me.  It doesn’t solve problems.  It generally creates more.

My reason for writing this post is facing the reality of my own brokenness.  I want to break this negative habit.  If I feel this way, I imagine some of you do as well.

Based on a suggestions from the article and from my own experience, here’s how we can start:

  •  Come to grips with the pattern, and admit it’s there.
  • Clarify with others what makes you feel the need to withdraw.
  • Ask for space to process before it reaches the point of avoidance and silence, then agree to come back together to talk.
  • Don’t let fears of rejection or disproval from others distort what they are saying or asking.
  • Risk expressing your feelings before it’s internalized. 
  • Prayerfully ask God to renew your mind.
  • Attempt to break the habit, first, with someone who loves you unconditionally.

 Is it time for you to break the habit of the silent treatment?  What advice would you give for breaking the habit?

Learning to Pack 7,700 Meals for Kids in 2 Hours

PrintBased on experience, the task seemed too daunting.  Initially, doubt was creeping in.  Can we pack thousands of meals in a short amount of time in a limited amount of space?  We did two weeks ago.  We packed 5,200 meals in less than an hour.

To provide weekend meals for hungry kids in our city, our church normally packs 140 kits which includes 980 meals.  During the summer, we add more of the responsibility.  Two weeks ago we packed approximately 5,250 meals.  This coming weekend our task will include about 7,700 meals.

We can do it in 2 hours.

Here’s how:

  • Our partnership with a local organization called kidsPACK supplies the food and drops it at our church a day before the packing.  To learn more about our partnership, check out my post One way a church can fight child hunger in your community.
  • Committed leaders in our church organize and oversee the packing every other week throughout the year.
  • A strategically engineered system for packing the food maximizes effort and minimizes times.
  • A grassroots movement of people who believe in a God whose people care for the least of these, and are willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to volunteer.

I believe in the power of God’s love to compel people to accomplish great acts of compassion.  Great needs exist, but God’s love is greater.  I like to believe the words spoken to Mary by an angel are true for us today:  “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:27 NRSV)

My question is, How much more is God ready to accomplish through God’s people?

 

 

Learning 7 Preachers You Should Know About

stage

  1. William Willimon.  You can watch one of his sermons here.
  2. Anna Carter Florence.  You can watch her sermon given at Duke Chapel (hint:  skip to minute 44:50).
  3. Lillian Daniel.  You can watch her sermon “Do you have anything to eat?
  4. Grace Imathiu.  You can watch her sermon “Bethany:  A Glimpse of Kingdom Living.
  5. Otis Moss III.  You can watch his sermon “Choose Life.
  6. Michael Slaughter.  You can watch his sermons here.
  7. Margaret Brown Taylor.  You can listen to her sermon “Learning to Walk in the Dark.
  8. T. Scott Daniels.  You watch his sermons here.

What preachers do you think we should know about?

Learning I Won’t Influence Everyone For Good

John7As a pastor, it’s difficult to admit.  I won’t influence everyone for good.  Not every sermon will speak truth into everyone’s life.

As a family member, it’s difficult to admit.  I won’t influence everyone for good.  Not every relative will be changed by the love of God in me.

As a friend, it’s difficult to admit.  I won’t influence everyone for good.  Not every friend will embrace the same values as me.

As a colleague, it’s difficult to admit.  I won’t influence everyone for good.  Not every co-worker will develop a relationship of mutual respect and support with me.

I’m learning I won’t influence everyone because Jesus didn’t.  Read John 7:25-31:

25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah27 Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” 30 Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

At the same time some tried to arrest Jesus, some believed in him.  His life and message influenced some, but not all.  Yet, neither distracted him from pursuing his purpose of initiating God’s Kingdom reality on earth.

Like Jesus, I may not influence everyone for good.  But like Jesus, it shouldn’t distract me from trying.

I need this reminder from time to time.

 

Learning To Recognize God’s Love Despite Destructive Patterns

Judges6Why did they do it?  Why did they keep turning away from God and back to evil?”

I was asked these questions within an hour of preaching a sermon on the book of Judges, chapter 6.  It was a response to a pattern I recognized and called attention to in this particular book of the Bible.  I said, “The Israelites, God’s people, are living a 3 part pattern:  (1)  They did was what evil, (2) They cried out to God for help, (3) God chose someone to deliver them.  In the first 6 chapters, the Israelites repeated this pattern four times.”

Fighting his own struggles, the person standing in fronting of me demands an answer.  “Why did they go back to it four times in less than four chapters?”

I have no answer.  I don’t know why.  I could give a Sunday school answer and say, “sin.”  I could blame it on free will.  Or there is the possibility for some to explain it away as a part of “God’s plan.”

But, I couldn’t.  I asked a different question.  “Why didn’t God give up on them?”

As much as the story is about the Israelites’ failures, it is about God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  From one angle the situation looks hopeless.  From the other, it seems full of hope.  The destructive pattern of life runs deep.  It is seemingly impossible to break.  And, we learn it is, without God’s help.

Without God’s love and mercy, our patterns would cease being patterns.  They would stop at part two.  Our cries for help would be futile.  We would be trapped in sin.  Stuck in destruction.  Lost forever.

Whatever the destructive pattern, God loves you.  God’s mercy is offered to you.  God will redeem you.  God break cycles.  God gives new life.  God never fails.

Are you aware of the destructive patterns in your own life?  Do you trust God’s love and mercy to deliver you?

Learning You Shouldn’t Overlook the Verse before Philippians 4:13

Phil 4.12Most of us are familiar with Philippians 4:13:  “I can do all things through him (God) who strengthens me” (NRSV translation).  But, do you know what Paul wrote one verse before?
Philippians 4:12 is written:  “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need” (NRSV translation).
By overlooking Philippians 4:12, we miss the “what” of 4:13.  Verse 12 defines the “all things” that requires God’s strength to do.  “All things” are the two opposite realities of living in poverty or living in affluency, having little or having plenty.  Paul realizes it is God’s strength enabling him to live in either circumstance and still do what’s right.
I like how E. Stanley Jones states it his book Ghandi:  Portrayal of a Friend:
A man is weak if he can stand poverty only, or prosperity only.  He is strong if he can take either one that comes and use it for the purposes for which he lives. 
A strong Christian is someone who pursues what is right regardless of the weight of your purse.  Poverty is not a sign you have failed.  Wealth is not proof you have succeeded.  Strength is found in you when neither situation holds you back from doing what God is leading you to be and do.
It’s a holy contradiction.  You can’t become complacent in your poverty or your affluence.  God empowers you to be okay with having little or having plenty.  No amount of finances can steer a strong person away from using it for God’s purpose.
Would you consider yourself strong or weak?
 
 

Learning 3 Reasons You Should Give a HUGE Thank You to a Teacher

Yearbook-Kirra First GradeREASON #1  Teachers don’t give up easy.  I was reminded of the perseverance of our teachers when I rode up on my bicycle to pickup Kirra from school.  The sign at the entrance read, “Thank you Mrs. ___________ for 39 years of service.”  That’s right, thirty-nine years of teaching.  Amazing commitment and dedication!  Teachers like her deserve a HUGE thank you.

REASON #2  Teachers love your children.  Kirra was sad when I picked her up from school yesterday.  She said, “Daddy, I won’t get to see Mrs.  ___________ at school tomorrow because we are staying in our homeroom all day.”  Tears of sadness welled up in the corners of her eyes.  Mrs. _______________ was standing a few yards away, so I said, “Let’s go say goodbye, right now, then.”  We stopped our bike next to Mrs. _____________, and I explained Kirra’s sadness about not being able to see her tomorrow.  She responded by giving Kirra a hug and saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow.  Don’t worry, honey.”  As we rode away, I asked Kirra, “Will you miss Mrs.  ___________?”  She said, “Yes, she is my favorite.”  In that moment, I knew Kirra was loved this school year.  Teachers like her deserve a HUGE thank you.

REASONS #3  Teachers inspire tomorrow’s leaders.  In Kindergarten, Kirra loved to read and didn’t really care much for math.  Math was kind of just “blahh” for her.  First Grade has changed everything.  Her First Grade Math teacher has inspired in Kirra a love for Math.  She loves it, now.  Last year she cried at the sight of math homework.  This year she laughs.  Somehow, her teacher planted a seed of desire to learn math in Kirra that didn’t exist before.  Teachers like her deserve a HUGE thank you.

THANK YOU to all the teachers like these.  Your commitment to educating our children is worth your effort.  You are appreciated.  I need to say and show it more. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

I am sure you have stories of great teachers that need to be told.  I would love to hear them.  Please share them with us in the comment section below.