Love Like a Lead Apron

Love Like a Lead Apron

Have you ever felt the peace and total stillness of a moment…?

Like before you’ve had caffeine one morning (and before caffeine headache has set in), when you’re feeling totally healthy and whole, your mind is not filled with a thousand to-dos, next steps or the day ahead…

and you’re just able to sit…

in a nice reclining chair…

in a pleasantly painted (think easter or baby girl pastel colors) corner of a room looking out the window…

at the dentist.

And I’m dead serious… for me there’s a moment and a part of the dentist (probably right before those rigid square films are jammed into the soft under-belly of your tongue and just after the metal raking of the gums) that I TOTALLY look forward to. 

I mean, take, for example, that moment where they lay that massive weight of a lead x-ray apron across your chest, stomach and hips…

Assuming you are comfortably dressed, the thermostat in the room is appropriately set and you’ve got yourself in the right position in the chair… to me, this is a beautiful moment…

Its like a security blanket. Well, okay, it IS precisely a security blanket… but I mean it in a different sort of way. 

There’s something soothing, reassuring if you can just relax, still every portion of your body from your head to your toes and then just take that heavy blanket of love upon your body. 

You know that’s a fitting metaphor for Christ’s love, by the way…

That despite the stressors and anxieties, even pains and discomforts, despite the seemingly methodical rhythm of everyday life-HIS love surrounds, engulfs, envelops and protects you like a lead x-ray apron. 

Take this particular morning at the dentist as a case and point… my oldest son has been throwing up for 24-hours, my wife is spiraling trying to cordon him off  while caring for 3 other screaming kids. And then what do we do… sit and wait in fear for the inevitability of the next kid dropping with severe gastrointestinal spasms?!

But not now. Not for the moment. Because right now, I’m in the recliner dental chair with my lead apron of love on, and nothing can reach me here.

I mean just take this one classic verse for example:

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. -Ephesians 3:17-18

 3 quick things about his love that should astound you and me everyday that we draw breath:

ONE: you are lovable. 

Despite all our short-comings, despite all your human brokenness and frailty, despite every insane thought, you are loved.

No one person too tough for it and no one person too undeserving of it. 

TWO: only true protection is found here.

This kind of love can be your daily, everywhere, every place sort of love. Not just the window view, pastel colored, recliner chair dental room. 

You can find temporary love in physical intimacy. You can find temporary love in a bottle, community of friends or some hobby, but the only truly safe place (for this life and the next) is within the love of the Father. 

THREE: this love is enemy-love.

You see, what this post should be about is how dreadful and painstaking a dental visit is-how all dentists are the enemy. And yet somehow, I find it not to be the case with a little “other-worldly” perspective. 

Its the same (that is to say, radically different) in God’s economy. In his way, the way of Jesus, we are called to love the one we are wholly opposed to. The one that could not be farther from us-physically, ethnically, ideologically. The one that it not only different but the one that is opposed, the one that is: enemy. 

My hope and prayer is: wherever this post finds you today, that you would take one single moment of pause, deep breath and realize… You’re squashed by a big, fat, huge, heavy blanket of the Father’s love. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of The Best Things I’ve Heard All Year (and 3 Tools for Getting Unstuck at Work)

One of The Best Things I’ve Heard All Year (and 3 Tools for Getting Unstuck at Work)

Have you ever wondered why you felt like you were in a total rut at work? 

Like no matter what the task or season that you were just generally unsatisfied with your work, position, vocation…

I bet one of the major reasons was because you have felt or are feeling that you are playing a losing game.

Last summer I had the privilege of listening to author, speaker and organizational strategist, Chris McChesney at a church conference and within the 45-minute firehose of big ideas, one major thing stuck out to me-been chewing on it every since. 

He said two things that shook me to the core:

“People play differently when they know someone is keeping score” and; 

“Do your people know they are playing a winnable game?”

I just thought to myself, ‘holy crap! that absolutely MUST be why so many people feel stuck, immobile, purposeless, passionless and just outright defunct in what it is they do for a living!’

Some context:

You have to understand that this guy was not merely talking about competition or supervisory accountability or introducing more fun in the workplace…

His broader discussion was about establishing goals and execution toward those big huge goals. But MOST IMPORTANTLY that these goals and how to achieve them should be clear and visible for those who are actually in the game!

Now… I’m in no position to tell you how to establish goals or even measure them (that whole conversation is most times confounding to me-I’ll keep you posted as learnings develop on this front). But what I can speak to is the passion in execution. 

So here are my 3 tips for replacing “stuckness” with passionate execution in your work.

1 What you’re fighting for (the cause, the why, the purpose, the end goal)

If you don’t have clarity and vision around this then go get it! Either from a supervisor or boss or if you work for yourself then do some soul searching-in my opinion-daily on what it is you’re working for and why it all matters. I suggest a daily declarative statement centered around the mission and vision of your work (again this is not like a daily task mission and vision this is like THE BIG WHY.) 

2 Remember that your position in the process/organization is just as mission critical as anyone else in the entire org chart

Yes, this is about self value, positional value, how you think about yourself and your role but its also about understanding the fundamental nature of an organization. Just take the picture of the assembly line… assuming none of us are robots or replaceable (and we really won’t be if we commit to this last point)

3 COMPETE!

…Against others-sure; but even against yourself. Around work we have a saying, “better your best”…. better YOUR best… no matter how old you are or what stage of life you’re in you can always sharpen your own skills, your own knowledge and therefore your own execution! Regardless of what the person in the lane next to you is doing. (Though I admit, I, personally, am extremely motivated by competing with them too-FOR THE EXPRESSED PURPOSE OF MAKING THEM BETTER IN THE PROCESS!…and hence raising the level of the organization as a whole). 

I get it-not everyone likes to compete while loading and unloading the dishwasher or their kids in the car as I do; not everyone feels like they have something to compete for… But EVERYONE has something to fight for. 

My encouragement to you is to find what that is. Keep it in front of your face-daily. And remember your place within the organization matters because everyone’s a leader-right from where they are. 

 

 

 

 

Err on The Side of Action (2 Things Leaders MUST Do Every Week)

Err on The Side of Action (2 Things Leaders MUST Do Every Week)

Who you are is worth multiplying.

I’ll say it again, though that usually only works from the stage, on the chance that you missed it the first time and should probably say it out loud and repeat it AND change the wording up a bit so its first person.

Say: who I am is worth multiplying.

In the Church world we have this idea of discipleship-it’s the multiplication of believers. It’s what Jesus did with the 12. It’s what the disciples did with those after them. And it’s how the church goes from 12 to 150 to 3000 back then to a couple billion worldwide today.

Whether you work for a faith-based organization or whether you’re in the private sector, here’s what I’d like to argue: as a person of character, what you have, who you are, today, right here, right now-it’s worth multiplying.

At our organization, one of the absolute biggest aims is to invite people into partnership with the church. One way this happens is by becoming a committed volunteer.

Here’s some of the language we use around volunteering… “if you only ever just attend your church, you are only ever experiencing half of what God has intended for you;” “volunteering at your local church is as much about what you can do for the Church as it is about what God wants to do in and through you.”

And with every interaction, every single touch point with this incredible group of world-changers we seek to press two agendas: vision and affirmation. 

1.Vision.

I have had the unique honor to sit with two separate groups of about twelve volunteer leaders (we distinguish a “leader” in this case as someone who is actually charged with leading other volunteers) once every month for training and development.

These folks are giving of themselves over and above their normal work week and family time and so we had better be prepared to maximize whatever they bring to the table for this training.

One of the ways we do that, as leaders, is a relentless, minute over minute, entry to exit vision cast. It is about calling people to something higher. It’s about giving them the “big why” and drilling it down through conversation, creative exercises and general teaching moments.

Why?

Because vision leaks. (AKA: People forget “the why”).

Again, people have their own stuff going-constantly; literally thousands of hours concerned with other key relationships, deadlines and the ever-increasing swirl of the stressors and anxieties that is daily life!

And it’s our job to remind them with smokin’ red hot passion that A) what they do matters; and B) what they are a part of is the highest of causes.

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Student Ministry Leaders, the Literal Heroes of the World

2. Affirmation

It’s that first part about reminding people that what they do matters a great deal in the lives of others that brings us to the second thing.

I firmly believe that most people forget this. In the world-wind of self-doubt, negative self-talk, a raging “inner judge” and a natural tendency to believe that we are not good enough or at least not special-most people walk around every day believing quite the opposite.

And when you affirm someone-a leader that you’re training or developing in some way-you must make absolutely certain to look beyond the things they do, the stuff they accomplish, the product they produce and instead look to affirm their fundamental core, their identity, natural strengths and talents.

And that’s what happens when you call out in someone the worthiness of multiplication. When you affirm someone beyond their results-oriented work product. It’s when you call out how they did it and where it came from within them that makes lifetime leaders out of someone.

This week, I challenge you to A) think about who you’ve been missing calling out the best in them and; B) give them an affirmation that strikes at the core. 

The Other Woman (and 2 Things I Love About Her)

The Other Woman (and 2 Things I Love About Her)

There’s this woman that I’ve read about 2 or 3 times now and I find her story so completely moving that it nearly brings me to tears every time.

I love and respect this woman (who, as you’ll see in a moment, is not my wife).

I find myself moved and convicted by her story.

I learn a very many leadership lessons from this woman.

She is, in fact, the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with fine perfume in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7. You can find the story of this woman-who is simply referred to as “a certain immoral woman” (NLT version of the Bible)-in verse 36.

The story goes something like this: Jesus is invited to dinner with some religious folks. You see while these are the type that Jesus quarrels with the most, I do believe that it is because they are actually some of the ones who are closest to Jesus in terms of their belief and yet somehow furthest from Jesus because of how they practice their belief.

Anyway, the point is: Jesus will break bread with pretty much anybody. They are having their meal when in walks this woman.

Just for the sake of capturing a real picture, imagine a modern day woman in her late 30s or early 40s in garb that looks a little tattered from living on the street, hair disheveled, generally dirty and perhaps a little “off”-in personality or general mental state.

She walks in. Makes a B-line for Jesus. She doesn’t go for this big embrace. She doesn’t try and sit next to him. She doesn’t even ask him a hundred questions.

On this day she has one objective and one target… Jesus’ feet.

She, a certain immoral woman, proceeds to lavish Jesus’ feet with 3 things:

Tears. Kisses. And fine perfume.

Now this, for many reasons, leaves the religious elite around the room and table pretty incredulous-for lots of reasons, but mainly because the woman is thought to be “unclean” and the religious elite of Jesus’ time were pretty “anti-unclean” to say the least. But that’s a different story.

There are two things that strike me every time I read this story.

There are two things that move me nearly to tears every time I read this story.

And these are the two reasons why I simply love this woman, want to be like this woman.

  1. She has a remarkably keen sense of self-awareness.

What I love about this woman is that she is so hopelessly and completely self-aware!

She knows her weaknesses, her shortcomings and here history of unwise decisions, you don’t have to tell her… you don’t even have to judge her… her inner judge is doing a fine job. In fact, its probably in overdrive at the moment because she feels that the only place that she is welcome and worthy is at the feet of Jesus. (His feet were probably disgusting by the way-wearing sandals in the desert-they could have been caked with mud or even animal feces).

She’s self aware and as leaders we must seek to emulate her tenacity. With laser like focus, we must attack our own shortcomings and our weaknesses and carry an incredible humility in owning those and growing in those. We can only do that, by the way, if we have help from others in pointing them out! (hint, hint.)

Bottom line is this: a highly acute sense of self-awareness is key for leaders because our growth (and hence our influence/impact) lies at the intersection of intimate familiarity with our shortcomings and the passion to do something about it.

2. She is filled with overflowing passion (literally overflowing into the whole room). 

For as dirty and emotionally messed up and “sin-filled” as this woman might have been-you must give her credit for being quite smart.

Because not only has she found the secret to new life (in being brutally self-aware), she’s discovered the physical embodiment of new life-in the true identity of the man Jesus.

And when you discover the source of growth and new life, you had better believe that smart people chase after it with insane levels of passion and intentionality.

And that’s what gets me every time I read her story. She acts with such awe-inspiring passion and humility that always (literally always-1st in the margin of my print Bible years ago and then again I inadvertently wrote the same note in the notes section of my digital Bible years later) makes me ask one question:

Do I have she same levels of passion and honesty about myself to do what she did? Do you?