In Acts 26:1-23, Luke, the author the book, Acts of the Apostles, wrote the story about the Apostle Paul and the time he was able to make his case to King Agrippa. If you read Paul’s account it took about three minutes for Paul to highlight his case. He was either prepared or incredibly on point with the Holy Spirit to be able to so powerfully, concisely deliver his message to a very influential man.
I think everyone should be able to deliver their message, their testimony to anyone that asks. If you are prepared, the likelihood of you having opportunities will increase.
Here’s the outline:
Honor the authority or listener by just thanking them for their time and willingness to hear your story.
Give a brief history of how you got to where you are or something unique about your journey. Paul mentions his childhood and says, “Jewish training from my earliest childhood.” That’s a long ways back there, but it was important. He also stated his credentials (you could do that if you’d like), “I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion.”
Insert a question or comment that generally EVERYBODY thinks about. Paul used a whopper, “does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?” Yours might be, “Everyone faces death and taxes; one you survive, but who knows anything about what’s happens after the other?”
Talk about your real life struggle(s) and how you dealt with it. You may have been a “tweaker (druggy),” a warlord or a vindictive person out of control. Share your truth of what you’d become. Paul says, “I even chased them down in foreign cities.”
Tell your encounter with God. Talk about the first time you were aware of who God is and how that had an impact on your life. Many share near death experiences, or horrible situations where a promise to God was made. Others have known God for a very long time, but there was still that moment he became real and you moved towards him. Some have even made decisions to follow God, then ran from those decisions. Talk about how and why you came back to God. The most important: TELL YOUR STORY.
Explain to the best of your ability, what God has asked of you, your purpose or your promise to him to fulfill. Paul’s was amazing! He announced “God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”
Here’s my story (2:52):
I feel honored that you have given me the opportunity to share my story. I know you have heard plenty of people make their case or pitch before.
People that know me are well aware of my chaotic upbringing. I have had two moms and three dads. I have never met my birth mother. I was adopted at four years old into a new blended family where the father was an alcoholic. My adopted father’s issues consumed him and eclipsed his ability to be a good husband or father. My adoptive parents divorced when I was ten and by the time I was twelve, my adopted father took his own life. My adopted mother later married a man by the name of “psychopath Ben.” She then divorced him, then remarried him and divorced him a second time. Do you know what it was like trying to figure out life with such poor role models to go off of? It took five adults to mess up my life and one Jesus to redeem it.
By the time I was fifteen I was a liar and a thief. I was the “smart one” in my thug group of friends, so I picked locks, hot-wired cars and became the lookout when breaking and entering into houses. In February, 1977 that all changed. My adopted mother sent me to a church winter camp. I did not want to go to a church camp fearing I would encounter weird people and they would brainwash me. On Friday night of the retreat I was confronted by the authenticity of students who were genuinely into God with no parents making them behave religiously. They were friendly, engaging and treated me as one of them, instead of an outsider (which I had normally experienced). On Saturday night I was forced to really look at my life, where I had been, who I was and more importantly, who I would become. I knew I was broken, but I did not know how to fix myself. I found a quiet spot under a table in the room where the other students were singing to God. I talked/confessed to God and told him I needed help. I clearly heard a voice say, “if you will give me your life, I will be your Dad.” I argued back, “But I don’t have anything to give, I am nothing.” The voice repeated, “If you will give me your life, I will be your Dad.” I broke, cried and gave my life to God so that he would be my father.
Since that moment until now, I have given God everything I am, everything I own and everything I will ever be. Against all odds I got married (to the Pastor’s daughter), had three amazing children and have been able to break a long cycle of dysfunction in my family history. I realized that a lot of folks buy and sell houses, stocks, bonds, cars and coin. My currency is hope. I am a hope broker and I make daily transactions of kindness and love in the lives of those around me.
I couldn’t believe I was reading the title right. Last March 2018, I began writing down some thoughts that eventually turned into a book, The Pharisee Factory. The book will be released July, 2019.
In chapter one of my book I write about the current crisis bearing down on the church. This is the first time in history that four generations are trying to figure out the future of the church!
The article opened with this, “A profound but mostly unrecognized demographic and economic trend is unfolding around the world right now. The average human life span is growing enough that for the first time in recorded history, four generations can routinely expect to be alive at the same time.”
The authors would explore a positive spin on a fast approaching train-wreck. “How we might turn a massive social liability into a common good.” Endicott and Sviokla boldly state,“There has never been a modern society in which people routinely lived into their 90s. The longevity revolution is putting massive strains on all of our major social systems — employment, retirement, education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and food, as well as the environment.”
I completely agree.
I have one question – as an institution, an influence, where is the church in all of this? Answer, who knows, no one is talking about it.
I am calling out Christian leaders to focus on Building a Gen-Gap Bridge. There are many names for generational identity, I chose four: Traditionalist, Boomer, GenX and Millennial. The point isn’t to argue over titles or birthdates, it’s to acknowledge that these completely different perspectives and ideologies are not trying to figure out how to get along or what the future holds for the church. The four generations are each stuck thinking that they know what’s best! I’m begging you, “please look up!” Look up from your past, your opinions, your positions and power – long enough to see there’s work to be done. Who’s going to do it?
The old guard wants to keep everything the same or worse, go back because to them, “it worked,” “God moved,” and churches were full. In the past, older saints would die and gloriously go on to heaven, forcing the church to make a change. The new guard (twenty and thirty somethings) say go forward because the church lost its way, its love, it’s passion for the poor, and the immigrant. The church became all about judging and what it stands against. This new generation wants the church to be known for what it stands up for. A church for justice and compassion.
I believe that longevity and health care has given us longer lives with no tools to deal with the social, cultural, and financial ramifications when people might live to one hundred years old. In 1900, very few lived to eighty-five;in 2010 there were 5.5 million; and in 2050, there will be 19 million. That’s a lot more healthy, feisty, and articulate old people!
This longevity equals tension, and it means that pastors stay in the pulpit longer, and congregants (who are old, but not necessarily mature) stay active and vocal in the church. The power and money dynamic continue to push the current young generation to either rebel against their elders or just vacate traditional churches to start their own churches and movements.
This generation, currently sitting in builder/boomer churches, are just waiting out the leaders until their time comes. And, it looks like that time will never come. They’re staying in the traditional church because they: love their family, love their church, and love their community. That’s good, right?
They’ll eventually leave because the pain of staying will outweigh the pain of finding something where they can have a voice about what church looks like and sounds like. Or, the way money is spent and how ministry takes place outside the church, where there are physical and social needs in their community. Eventually, they will just leave. Why? Because two or three generations above them hold all the power and influence about how the church operates.; because their only input is to volunteer in the “ministries” of the church because the older folks have “served their time, and they’re tired;” and because they are weary of being seen as “kids,” or “youngsters” or just lumped into the the whole “youth” category. Many of them haven’t been a youth or student for over a decade!
Look at the facts.: next-gen leaders are willing to walk away from an established building, a long history of a presence in the city, deep family connections (sometimes two or three generations worth), and tons of friendly, familiar faces just so they can experience a church where they are valued beyond their labor, availability, and “youthful” appearance on websites and church bulletins.
They will walk away because they want to see change lives.
They will walk away because they want to have input.
They will walk away because they want action outside the church building.
The builder/boomer prophetic words of revival and “souls getting saved” or the promise of getting younger board/elder members (like in their fifties) will no longer keep them.
What are you doing to build a bridge?
My wife and I are putting our time, effort, money and connections into young pastors who believe the church can thrive in this current culture. These men and women are not afraid of social media or the political climate, they want to engage with the passion and love of Jesus to embrace a broken world.
I was at a friend’s church yesterday, Jason Neville – Praise Chapel , when I saw this guy worshipping God with his hands raised. Then I saw his watch on his left wrist. Then I saw his watch face on his watch on his left wrist, with his hands raised, worshipping God. I know, i’m not supposed to be distracted by such things like a watch, but I was – so judge me.
This guy’s digital watch had some kind of branding on it. I was several feet away, but I could see it was a letter, like an “F” or something. That’s when it hit me, “wow, I never thought about a branded watch face before.” I wonder if I can do that on my Apple Watch. It turns out, you can!
First I needed an app to design a font. A logo will work, but the watch face is kinda small, so a single letter or similar is better. Yes, you can do color, but that just makes it harder to see from a distance. I needed a simple app that let you control font style, color and background. I already had it and had used it before. It’s called Typorama.
First I used the app’s Watch Face template.
Just tap on the letters to change them in the app. Ignore the warning and click continue anyway – they don’t know what your creative jam is.
Then I choose a letter, mine’s a “g” because I like g’s – I have two of them 🙂
You’ll need to experiment with the app yourself to get the results you’d like. Just a hint, if you want to add the time and date and other info below your branded watch face, you’ll want the letter to ride high on the screen.
I recommend a white letter on black background, but feel free to do whatever.
Save it to your photos, I created a watch face album for organization purposes.
Once that’s done you open your watch app on your iPhone.
And go to Photos at the end of your face selections.
Then click ‘add photo’ at the bottom
Select the photo of your brand (letter or logo) and click done.
Scroll down to add things to your watch face.
And click ‘save as your current watch face’ if your happy with it.
You can’t make lemons out of lemonade, that’s not the way it works.
I say we can and as Christ’s followers we must.
Currently, I’m into the guava infused lemonade. I enjoy telling myself, “It’s the ‘right’ kind of sugar.” Whatevs.
I truly enjoy the magic of an iced cold, freshly squeezed, real glass of lemonade. Romantically, I could be drinking it by the pool (which we used to have), sitting on the front porch after mowing the yard or overlooking Lake Tahoe from the balcony of our favorite rented cabin, number 83. However, its done, it reminds me of simpler days when grandma (not mine though, she was a whiskey sour kind a woman) would bring a tray of iced lemonade for all your neighborhood friends to share.
“Yeah, yeah, I know all about lemonade,” you say. “But, what about the crazy notion of making that beautiful cloudy yellow, lightly pulped, heavenly drink (sorry I drifted off on lemonade again) back into a lemon.”
Oh, yeah. See it would be nice to think that we could just share this illustrious, sugary, wonder of God with friends by taking the shortcut of handing it to them and saying, “here, drink this, its good and it took a lot of work to make it, but I want to make it easy for you so you’ll like it (and me).”
We all know how easy it is to grow lemons right?
WikiHow says anyone can do it. It should only take five to fifteen years, or sometimes… never. [according to WikiHow: Keep in mind that trees that come from seeds are not identical to the parent tree that they came from. Sometimes, the fruit that the new saplings produce is of a lesser quality. Other times, they do not produce edible fruit at all. This does not prevent the young tree from being visually pleasing. Keep this in mind when growing your tree. – https://www.wikihow.com/Plant-a-Lemon-Seed]
Jesus said, “A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” When it comes to people being discipled and growing in their faith, the point of making lemons out of lemonade isn’t to share a refreshing drink by oversimplifying the process, it’s showing people how to grow their own lemon tree and produce their own deliciously tart, tasty fruit (sidenote: I eat lemons right off the tree, sometimes peel and all). That takes time, right? Sometimes years, right? Christianity isn’t about mass production or mass conversion, it’s about mass process of deep change and miraculously difficult transformation. In other words, it’s still a walk and a path not a Uber and a dropoff.
I needed a lemon tree not just lemonade
Sure, when I was young, I loved receiving the cool, sweet-sour elixir of lemon. However, what I really needed was someone to show me how to grow a lemon tree, to one day see, feel, taste and completely experience my own fruit. Maybe sharing our faith isn’t just about giving a cold cup of lemonade in Jesus’ name – its about sharing the lemon seed of the gospel and demonstrating how folks can grow in their own faith.
You wanna makes some lemons outta lemonade with me? Jesus tip: “just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” – Matthew 7:20 NLT
Three months ago Robin and I experienced something that has never happened to us before – I was terminated from a ministry transition plan (succession plan). Short story, the church leadership did not want to move forward with me. I mean, honestly, there have been a few times I could have, should have been fired from ministry before, mainly because I was being a turd. This was different. I wrote a blog post about What Happens When You Fail? a couple days after our last Sunday at the church.
I would love to tell you that the experience was humbling, but it felt more like humiliating. We experienced pain at levels of betrayal that we had not experienced before. I know you’re thinking, “haven’t you been in ministry awhile, this couldn’t have been your first heartbreak?” Actually, yes, this is our first major blow to our core. Go figure! I mean, Robin was raised in church, and as a Pastor’s kid she has seen a lot of crazy stuff. I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home, so yeah, I thought Churches were more… hmmm, morally responsible, and that sort of thing. However, I’ve seen plenty of situations where power and immaturity in the church has made for combustible confrontations. Thank God I never let that reflect on my love for Jesus or His love for me. Idiots happen. Bullies happen – #dealwithit.
After a few days of grieving, spinning and feeling like zombies, I started getting phone calls, emails and texts from friends. They would say, “hey, can we get together?” I would say, “sure, I’ve got some time on my hands, why not?” The first few friend meet-ups really got a earful of grief, just plain ol’ “this ain’t pretty” kinda stuff. There were a lot of tears – which is super embarrassing to have a couple of guys in a restaurant bawling, “could you please bring some more napkins,” I would say to the server. Then one by one our amazing, kind friends would do what friends do – just listened and loved on me. One friend said, “I just wanted to look you in the eyes and make sure you were okay,” (cue more tears). Come on! How much more biblical can you get than that?
It didn’t stop with just a few meals. For a solid two months I got texts, emails, phone calls and a calendar full of local friends for meals. It has been very overwhelming to receive that level of love! For forty years we’ve been on the giving end of love NOT the receiving end – not to this extreme. We have people praying for us constantly. I think that’s the only thing that has sustained us. It’s folks reminding us that they are praying. I told God, “Hey, a lot of our friends are watching out for us, you gotta come through on this one.”
So for those of you who want to know how we are doing, we are still believing forward and restlessly leaning on the grace of God.
So to wrap up the lovetour, let me just tell you, from Robin and myself, THANK YOU for your friendship, love, kind words and prayer. You are the best! You have shown us the meaning of Sympathize with One Another.
If we are truly listening to the signs in our culture, politics, education, healthcare and even religion, its all there in the full inglorious-cacophony of our own humanity – we’ve lost our minds.
Our conversations have been reduced to name-calling and sound-bitten tweets hoping to go viral (like a disease). It feels dire and divisive even within our specific tribes.
However, are things really that bad?
I’ve been reading an amazing book, Introduction to The History of Christianity (3rd Edition, edited by Tim Dowley) and came across SEVERAL hundred chunks of history, spanning the two thousand years since its beginning, where the Church flourished in the absolute chaotic environments of political and cultural upheaval. I mean absolutely horrible periods of persecution, death and societal ostracizing.
I’m not trying to say that we are NOT living in difficult times or that we are NOT living in the “end times” (although the Church has had more “rapture alerts” than Trump’s had lawsuits), its just that I hear people say, “It can’t get any worse.” Really? Just a quick glance at the past tells me, “oh, it HAS been worse – much worse!” Maybe it’s just that I feel so ill-prepared to face the challenges ahead and so helpless in finding handles of truth. Shouldn’t I be content to simply label these times as INSANE? And I mean that in the most non-PC, insensitive way – WE ARE CRAZY. I know you’re fighting the urge to say, “I’m not crazy… it’s THEM – THEY’RE crazy.” Sure, but who’s “they or them?”
Modern Day Peace Meets
I just read this morning that there was a Congress of Christian Leaders (CCL) to “Bridge the Divide in Evangelicalism,” like a good ol’ modern-day Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. It seems that word “divisive” is synonymous with Christian. We need a new apostle Peter (they called him the bridge-man between Paul & James) to come in to pray some sense into the saints or a neo-Paul to stop and drop some Ananias and Sapphira raca on folks.
Cool Church History Stuff
I came across a refreshing letter written during the second century (that’s like in the 200 A.D. range) that tries to defend Christianity to a possible official (secular or saint). The letter is so simple and elegant in its description of what is supposed to “set us apart.”
“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
I’m still exploring the different ways the first and second century Church dealt with strange beliefs, cultic practices and powerfully charismatic leaders who were off their Biblical rocker. You already know the main ways, excommunication, branded a heretic and sometimes even put to death. It was pretty messy. If I find anything interesting in Church history (which is ALL OF IT), I’ll let you know. So, if I get in some cultural knock-down-drag-out-fight over something, I’m going to remember to do this, “A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult.”
I drove my wife, Robin, to a speaking engagement in San Diego last Saturday. It was a Mother’s Day gig, so after saying hello and huggin necks of some friends, I checked out of the large room with estrogen-laced decorations and headed over to a friend’s borrowed office in the church (Thanks Megan).
As it got closer to lunch I decided to act on the rare but delectable option of getting a Carnitas Burrito from Del Taco. So, I googled up the closest one and headed down the highway.
Arriving at Del Taco I noticed a “rough” looking guy stalking the side entrance. Wanting to avoid him, I tried going through the front doors, but they didn’t have any handles! OMG, they did not want people using these doors to enter (only to exit). I wasn’t going to allow one unsorted guy stop me from getting my Carnitas. As I rounded the corner I was grateful that he had left, or so I thought.
As I entered, the man I’d seen outside, mumbled, “something, something, blah, blah MONEY?” I lied to him, “no, I don’t have any cash.” Sometimes I stash my allowance of a $20 bill folded in my wallet for “emergencies” (which rarely happen). I wasn’t going to give a crazy guy twenty bucks. Two steps later, I felt guilty and I gave him the line I always give. “I won’t give you money but I’ll buy you lunch, what would you like?” I urged him, “come on up with me and order what you want.” Oh, I knew he wouldn’t like ordering at the front anymore than Silvia (my cashier) wanted to take his order. But I wanted him to get what he wanted. He ordered, I ordered, then I paid.
I turned and started to sit close by until our food was ready. I saw the man sitting as far away from the register, close to the side doors, as possible. He was just waiting for his benefactor to deliver his food. I walked over to him and in my quirky mood and quest for carnitas, I asked him if I could join him for lunch. “Can I eat with you?” What was he going to say?
“Hi, I’m Glenn, what’s your name?” I asked. He said, “I’m Andy.” Poor guy, he just wanted to do his thing, eat his food and be left alone. But no, that wasn’t going to happen because I wanted something from him.
“So Andy, what’s your story?” I said, sounding like a swanky journalist covering the “needs of the street people” segment. Andy just looked back at me with a blank stare. I ignored Andy’s social cue as if he were saying, “really, you’re going to make me do this?”
Between bites of burrito I peppered him with questions about his life and life on the streets. It didn’t feel appropriate to ask him about being homeless because Andy was clearly a more savvy street guy. He wasn’t “homeless,” the streets are his home.
I said, “so are you from around here?” Which is supposed to be a question about being born and/or raised in Southern California. Andy again, just stared. I pushed, “Where were you born?” Andy replied, “I don’t really know or maybe I just don’t remember,” He was starting to get the hang of what it’s like to have a conversation with someone who is just naturally curious about people. I snapped back, “What? Are you serious? You don’t remember where you were raised?” I tried another line of inquiry, “What about your first memories of being a kid? Where was that?” “Oh, here in California,” he said with hesitation, “I think.” I changed the subject, and trying to sound socially cool, I said, “How long you been on the streets?” Andy gave me a straight answer on this one, “fifteen years.” My voice raised with unbelief, “No Way!” I said, challenging his honesty. “Yeah, its been fifteen years.” “Andy,” I retorted with delightful surprise, “You’re like a professional street guy, how in the world have you survived on he streets all these years?” He didn’t know how to answer that. It was a rhetorical compliment anyways. “How old are you by the way?”
Now, I need to tell you that Andy was pretty grimy from head to toe. He had on a 2007, Mount Olive Baptist T-Shirt and a beat up San Diego cap that just said, “SD.” His hands were absolutely stained with deep, dirty dirt to the point that his fingernails were black – but it wasn’t nail polish. He had a scruffy beard and a shaved head. All of that went along well with his cloud of stink, he reeked from nicotine. The strangest thing about him was his teeth. Andy’s teeth were just about the best lookin set of chompers I’d ever seen.
So when he said, “forty three,” I was floored. “Forty three!” I laughed back, (I’m sure he was tired of me repeating everything back to him with suspicion) “You are NOT a young man anymore! But you’ve got the nicest set of teeth I’ve ever seen!” With that said, Andy flashed a brilliant, disarming smile that instantly changed his entire demeanor. “You are a living miracle my friend,” I declared.
After a few minutes he continued eating his combo burrito meal and I discovered a little more about his family, his circumstances growing up (Utah Youth Authority and a stint in a Mexican Prison). The most fun fact was his nickname on the streets – Cynik. We laughed about his nickname. “How did you get that?” I asked. Through a smirky smile he said, “I don’t know, my friends just started calling me ćinico (Cynic), but I spell it with a K.” “Yeah,” I agreed, it sounds “more gansta with a K.”
Just in case you think I was just taking advantage of Andy or making light of his story – that’s not it at all. I was honestly interested in how Andy makes life happen on the streets and I bartered a few minutes of his time and his story for a combo burrito, large fries and drink. BTW, he mixed Iced Tea with Sprite! I enjoyed my lunch with Andy. I asked permission to take a picture with him. He agreed. The first picture I said, “ok, smile Andy,” thinking he’d flash those winning teeth again. Then I said, “come on Andy, really smile.” And that’s when I got the second picture. Both of them look like he’s in pain, but I promise he’s not in pain. We had a great lunch and I made a friend.
I often think about what it would be like to grow up being the younger brother of Jesus. Talk about sibling rivalry! How could you EVER pin the “who put the donkey dung in sister’s bed?” on your brother? But after siblings grow up and mature they look back and see the threads of good, smart, gifted traits of their brother or sister. At some point siblings should be able to reflect back and see things more holistically. You know, James did NOT believe his brother, Jesus, was the messiah until after Jesus’ death and resurrection – right?
I believe that James writes not only from his own experiences but also from the authority of having known Jesus his entire life, from James’ earliest memories.
When I read in James, I don’t just see the power of an Apostle, I see the culmination of life experienced through his half-brother, Jesus, as well. What other author can write from that perspective?
James gives us this amazing process, filter or checklist when it comes to looking for (and I believe giving) wisdom.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
James 3:17-18 NIV
Before giving wisdom it’s a good idea to sift through motives before moving to action. This is the kind of wisdom that is sought. Wisdom that is pure and thoughtful. This is what people are looking for when they need wisdom or advice.
Below is a great checklist I can go through BEFORE opening my mouth and espousing a flow of circular suggestions filled with trite tid-bits or cute colloquialisms.
When I’m asked for advice and consideration on a matter, am I willing to mentally walk through this little soul-check to see if I am just blowing wind or truly being helpful?
A friend asks, “Hey, can I get your thoughts on something?”
Is my motivation pure and not filled with self-interest or self-gain?
Am I willing to seek peace, resolution and restoration not trying to conquer, control or win a pithy-point to make me look better?
Can I put myself under authority of another or be willing to yield my own rights?
Can I imagine their pain or remember the experience of being broken, desperate or alone and apply a healthy amount of mercy as I think through the situation with them?
Am I able to see an outcome that will produce beautiful, delicious, flavorful fruit for all involved?
Will I focus on being neutral, impartial; to be moved by compassion but not be swayed by reactive emotions? And can I consider all sides or seek the other half of the story if possible?
Will I remember to be real, authentic and human only bringing honest experiences to the discussion not quick, trite, social media driven platitudes?
Most often, people do not want advice as they want someone to listen. They want someone to hear there thought processes, help organize those thoughts for them and then repeat back what you really hear them saying or asking. However, if someone truly wants input, this checklist helps me center on them, not me.
So, from a nine on the enneagram, take my advice on James’ advice on wisdom.
If it’s a plan to do lunch with a friend and they cancel, you just reschedule and try again.
If it’s a succession plan to follow a founding pastor and it falls apart AFTER you’ve dedicated a year of your life, love and time into the people you believed you were called to serve, then you were “ALL IN” and sold your home and moved to the city you planned on investing in – well that’s a whole different kind of failure.
You go through the checklist: Did I miss God? Was I blind, stupid or just over zealous? Didn’t I see the warning signs? Didn’t I get input and advise from friends? No, No, Yes & Yes. Check, check, check.
So, what happened? We took a risk and it didn’t turn out like we thought it would. We jumped and landed on a familiar, foundational platform of faith. We weren’t in control (we thought we were and then realized- we’ve never been in that kind of control). We have lived by faith and trusted God for over 35 years. Each leap turned out really well (and we’ve had several) – this one didn’t… yet.
So, we are grieving, trying to gracefully end our relationship with the church and pivot to what God has for us next.
So how can you help? Praying for us is awesome. Believing with us is affirming!
I told a friend last year, “I want to fail more.” Of course, I thought it would be more along the lines of the “cancelled lunch” type. I needed to fail more because I was so afraid of failing. I remember hearing Laurie Beth Jones (who wrote Jesus, CEO) talk about failing forward. That moment you realize you failed while MOVING. You were taking ground, pushing the boundaries of your own insecurities and inadequacies – not half committing, not playing it safe.
If I had played it safe I would have stayed where I was and wondered, “but what if.” You may have read all the success quotes about Thomas Edison, Henry Ford or even Ray Kroc. It’s different when you live it and not just read about it. I wanted to live it.
So we’ve got some new boo-boos which will turn into scabs and then later, scars. But remember, they are all on front side of our body. Because, we failed forward.
The thought of being a father some day always frightened me. I wasn’t afraid of being a “bad dad,” I was terrified of being a destructive dad. Bad dads are aloof, uncaring, disconnected and discontented with their own life.
A bad dad is a self-protective dad who can’t rise above their own past, problems or personality. Bad dads just can’t get over the pain or they become trapped by consequences or addictions of previous decisions. Bad dads can still be excellent providers of the necessities – roof, food & stability.
I was positive that I would become a bad dad, but I thought I would eventually become a destructive dad. A destructive dad takes poor parenting to the extreme by hijacking their children’s ability to be healthy.
A destructive dad isn’t selfish, their purposeful to inflict pain on everyone around (specifically family). When a destructive dad sees their children pulling away to find “normal” or “beauty” or “love” they proactively sabotages those opportunities, friends, connections. They hold their children hostage to fulfill some dark game they play. Two of my dad(s) were bad dads- one out of struggle, one out of pain and the last was destructive & wicked. One time I told him that I forgave him for the way he treated my mother and my sister. He just laughed in my face. That weird, deep kind of laugh that sent chills down my back.
If you’re are wondering how or why I would ever be fearful of being a Dad (having children). It’s because I didn’t have anyone tell me different. I thought I was destined to be what I had seen and heard and felt. Jesus made the difference. It was only by His promise and a chance to trust Him that I began to change and eventually trust enough to get married and agree to have children.
Looking back I’m embarrassed that I was so fearful and, if you know my wife and kids, you’d probably agree that it was an unwarranted reality. All I know is those thoughts and feelings were very real to me at the time.
So am I grateful to be a Dad? Absolutely! Jesus changed my heart and mind and then I married the most wonderful girl ever. After fathering Dave, Matt & Janae most would say it looked “easy.” That always cracks me up! Yeah, they are amazing adults today. However, I can promise, it wasn’t easy and it took God, a great wife and a Church family to make it happen.