Episode 8, The AWP: Two Things you Must Tell Your Leaders every Week (Vision & Affirmation)

Episode 8, The AWP: Two Things you Must Tell Your Leaders every Week (Vision & Affirmation)

Another really personal topic for me this month: leadership identity.

The truth is: in the constant swirl of self-doubt, negative self-talk and overall mental negativity bias, we all need to hear the following words early and often:

Who you are as a leader is worth multiplying.

Fresh & passionate leadership lies at the intersection of consistent vision and identity affirmation.

If you have even one person in your life who counts on you, a child, a friend, a co-worker or mentee, then you are a leader. You have tremendous influence. And the “stuff” that’s inside you-all the character and competency and heart and faith-is worth multiplying in the next generation of leaders.

I hope you are encouraged by this month end post.

As always you can have a listen using the following two platforms:

MP3 file

Or

iTunes

Here are some application questions and links for further support:

Application Questions:

1, Who is one person you may have overlooked calling out the best in?

2, What is one thing you can do to begin building the habit of offering consistent vision & affirmation for your people?

Episode 7: Millenials, Marketing and Morality Feat. Skylar Chaput

Episode 7: Millenials, Marketing and Morality Feat. Skylar Chaput

I’m really excited about this months first episode featuring a co-host and a topic that is relevant to all!

Inspired by a recent read “Friction” by Rosenblum, we (my co-host and favorite Millenial-Skylar Chaput) take a look at the generations profound impact on the marketing and business practices.

It’s the contention of the book that-as the most researched and largest living generation-Millenials have had a profound influence on the way companies market themselves.

I take that premise one step further and suggest that there are broad sweeping economic and historical implications because not only has the generation forced ethics and social justice matters onto companies, but an entire generation is giving rise to the most moral but least spiritual people of all time.

I’m interested in asking the question: what impact might this have on the Church and American culture rit large!

Here are the respective links for listening:

MP3 file.

iTunes podcast app.

Do me a favor and rate, review and share this episode!

Application Question:

Are you attempting to reach the next generation why or why not? How might this value impact your investments (of all kinds: time, talent and treasure)?

References from today’s show:

Episode 5, The Applebee Way Podcast: How To Raise 7 Kids

Episode 5, The Applebee Way Podcast: How To Raise 7 Kids

First episode (of 2) this month is devoted to a listener question: how exactly are we able to keep up with 7 kids under the age of 7.

It’s also the first episode with a special guest star-my very own Rylee Applebee.

In this episode we talk about intentional practices, family values as well as the intrinsic strengths that make us who we are!

If you’re not on iTunes please use this link to listen here.

And if you’re an Apple user, please us this one!

Thanks for listening and 2 quick things:

  1. Let me know what content you’d like to hear more about!
  2. Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes/podcast app!

Entering the Podcast Space!

Hello my faithful blog subscribers!

I’m super excited to announce this new development in content.

I hoping with the new addition you can take this encouraging content on the go with you!

Yes another podcast. But not really… because if I didn’t think it offered something unique AND if I thought it wouldn’t be worth the time (HELLO! We have 7 kids now; if anyone appreciates the value of time well spent, its me!)  I wouldn’t do it!

Do me a favor if you are going to the trouble to actually click on the podcast link (provided below!) please

RATE AND REVIEW!!!

If we all do that it gives the podcast better position for ‘best new podcast’ category (which is really all about reaching and encouraging more people!)

Here’s the run down:

2 posts a month.

No more than 25 mins each.

About family life, leadership and faith.

The point is to better get through stuck and plateau seasons. I GUARANTEE if you listen you’ll be encouraged and inspired.

I would not, will not post content that is worthless! The sound of my voice is not that great! But if you could use useful anecdote from my life and the wisdom of great leaders I’ve come to know, then tune in!

And if enough of you ANDROID folks are interested I’ll put it up on your favorite podcast platform too!

Here is the link for iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-applebee-way-podcast/id1360268888

Here is the podcast website link (for those not using Apple products):

http://www.buzzsprout.com/145440

 

 

Porn, Covenant, Intimacy and the Answer to our Broken Sexual Worldview

Porn, Covenant, Intimacy and the Answer to our Broken Sexual Worldview

It’s every week for months now that another high-profile figure is engulfed in the next alleged sexual assault scandal.

This last one regarding comedian and actor Aziz Ansari finally struck a chord and I’m connecting the dots.

First, my heart breaks for any person who has every felt intimidated, pressured, trapped  or manipulated into a situation mental, emotional or physical. And I can only imagine the isolation that ensues from feeling voiceless-before, during or after such an episode. For those, I simply say: 1, I am glad if you find voice or advocacy for your voice; 2, solidarity of any kind is good and; 3, God is close to the broken-hearted.

Now here is my proposition. This issue, while not new by any stretch-but finally proliferated from an uncovering standpoint-originates from 3 fundamental societal shortcomings.

1 The pornification of society.

These men-and I can almost guarantee you (though there is obviously no possible way to prove this) that every single one of these accused men has been addicted to pornography.

And while I will not list all the objectively and quantifiablely destructive aspects of pornography I will simply highlight a couple relevant issues and cite what is one of the best articles ever published on the topic.

The bottom line for me is this: an insane number of-yes, mostly men-are addicted to porn; they are becoming exposed to porn at earlier ages and there are AT LEAST two horrifying side effects: 1, boys and men come to view woman as objects and 2, after a certain level of exposure to porn the type and degree of porn gets more and more graphic and grotesque.

These and many other notable objections are posted here for further reading; if you even know a person of the male variety, I HIGHLY recommend checking this article out.

2, The distortion of true intimacy

When I was still in student ministries we did a series on dating and sex and here was the big idea from 4-6 weeks of teaching on the subject: the definition of intimacy is to know someone fully and to be known by someone fully.

The basis is trust, security and in-depth knowledge of one another. And, biologically speaking, boys tend to be more wired for the pleasure of sex, while girls are wired for the real ethos of intimacy: to be known, cherished, trusted, wanted, valued and LOVED!

In the article I read about the Aziz Ansari accuser, you want to know one of the parts that stuck out to me the most? It wasn’t the graphic and very sad sexual advances. It was the part where they sat down, she had expressed discomfort and she imagined that perhaps he would rub her back or play with her hair… THAT is the very personification of intimacy.

Note that those gestures could have been accomplished by a father figure rather than a sexual partner. That may sound odd, but which one is trusted, honored and cherished more: the father who raised this young woman or the one night stand super star?

3, The lostness of covenant

Though an intensely Biblical word, I would define covenant as compact, contract, agreement, vow, commitment-all powerful words that evoke a mutual promise. A mutual promise, by the way, that forms the bedrock for ALL ELSE in a relationship-of any significant kind-romantical or otherwise!

When I was a freshman in college, I had my first major breakup where I had been intimate with the girl. Without going into too much detail, she was the one who had a breach of trust and for days and weeks I pouted about like a real victim! And then something rocked me to the core.

My dad-in no uncertain terms-said something to this affect, ‘Ben, sooner rather than later you are going to have to admit at least equal fault because you actively engaged in a relationship where there weren’t really any terms…’ It was a sort of the “alls fair in love and war” comment, but he was saying so much more than that…

He was saying that apart from covenant, it’s all up for grabs… cheat, lie, makeup, “open relationship,” sleep around, commit, don’t commit… nothing is truly defined so nothing is truly agreed upon.

So listen: does cheating and unwanted sexual advances still happen within the covenant of marriage? Sure, I suppose so. But without that starting place, without that foundational piece, without that plan you are playing a losing odds game that I just do not think is worth the human heart.

Don’t believe me? Test it for yourself: go ahead and continue serial TBD relationships and report back if it leaves you feeling more fulfilled, more known, more satisfied and happier or not… because if year over year, guy after guy, girl after girl you wind up with the same results isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Conclusion:

The thing is: all 3 of these are intertwined… the pornification leads to a demented sexual worldview, intimacy-in any significant sense-is a foreign term AND this leaves (mostly) women at a loss for a man who knows how to really unlock the needs of her heart.

The lack of covenant leads to the brokenness of serial sexual encounters-damaging both parties ability to give and receive love. The lack of covenant love-making leads to a hunger to fulfill that need elsewhere and we are back to square one (porn or getting sex wherever we can)!

As a father, husband and man I will keep my prescriptions brief and pointed. I put the onus squarely on the shoulders of other men: father a young man (spiritually or biologically) and be bold and courageous enough to teach them the biblical worldview of intimacy, sex, purity, the dangers of porn and, of course, what it really means to win a woman for life… to lay your life down for her like Christ served the Church.

Take the book of Ruth as a beautiful starting place if you want a Biblical example of BOTH intimacy AND covenant; Ruth 1:16 says (from one widow to another),

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Do me a favor and share this; I think this message needs to go out… to the hurting and those doing the hurting alike. Share and challenge others to break free from the broken cycle of repeat sexual encounters and/or porn consumption. Real and lasting intimacy is not found in those places. It’s found at Calvary-where a covenant was offered to give life and meaning and hope to any and all future covenants. 

Are You a Leader that People Love to Follow?

Are You a Leader that People Love to Follow?

I have exciting things coming in 2018 that I can’t wait to tell you about but for now let me leave you with this question…

Are you a leader people love to follow?

As 2017 comes to a close, we all find ourselves at the wonderful intersection of looking back and looking forward.

(Don’t miss that part by the way-looking back. There’s learnings and lessons and all the good with the bad; you’d be a fool if you didn’t devote a serious portion of your thought life and let all of that inform you goals, hopes and dreams for 2018).

As you look back and look ahead, I want you to ask that question and I’ll be doing the same.

To get you started, I want to give you a surprisingly beautiful picture of why, of all the questions, this should be the question for you in 2018.

And I want us all to be reminded of our legacies in this picture. That’s what the end and beginning of each year builds anyway-our lifelong legacies.

It happened early this month watching (for the first time) the mid-century classic White Christmas with the wife and kids.

There’s this opening scene on the front lines of WWII and if you know anything about the film, of course, the guys break out in song.

It is the content of this one old Hollywood musical classic that is haunting me… and it goes like this:

We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go

Long as he wants to go opposite to the foe

We’ll stay with the old man wherever he wants to stay

Long as he stays away from the battle’s fray

Because we love him, we love him

Especially when he keeps us on the ball

And we’ll tell the kiddies we answered duty’s call

With the grandest son of a soldier of them all

I mean part of it is a satire because they only wanna follow him so long as he steers clear of any danger, and yet we all know that part’s not the picture of real life-hence the satire.

Real life is a battle; you’ll face foes both spiritual and natural-this was true in 2017 like it’ll be true in 2018. The defining moment for every leader is the repeated facing of decisions through conflict. Those who fought in WWII and any conflict since then would assuredly attest to this.

So if you can take the satire for what it is, then it’s: “We love him… we’ll follow him wherever he goes…”

That’s influence you cannot buy.
That’s a leadership built on love.
That’s a legacy of fear-no-evil followership.

The romantic side of me loves the military allusion and respects the character required to attain the rank of General (who this song is devoted to).

The Jesus-follower in me understands the fundamental difference between leadership by power, force, merit, rank or even pay and leadership by humility, compassion and peace-brokering martyrdom.

Which one inspires you more? Which one would you give your life for?

You think the disciples felt that way about Jesus? I bet you they did. Every last one of them followed him all the way to their own gruesome deaths. All for the leader they loved.

Can and will your people say the same? Your kids… your staff… your team… your employees… your church?

Man I sure hope so.

And because I know I’m not there yet, I want to be willing to have the passion, grit and discipline to do the things necessary to get there… starting today, tomorrow and 2018.

What are some of your hopes for 2018?

Viva Las Vegas? What Jesus Says in the Midst of Tragedy, Chaos and Pain

Viva Las Vegas? What Jesus Says in the Midst of Tragedy, Chaos and Pain

This morning in my Bible time, I feel that God spoke to me… (and I was moved to blog about it… naturally).

This morning I was in Matthew 14, which is a chapter most noted for 3 pretty sizeable events: the death of John the Baptist, Jesus Feeding the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water.

At first, I caught myself thinking: man this is a weighty chapter for Jesus and very clearly you see him-every other paragraph-trying to steal away… to be alone, still and quiet. When you read the Gospels carefully, you’ll see this remarkable trait of Jesus’ and it’s our first marker for what I want to talk about today.

You see Jesus was in anguish… I mean just generally speaking he was-think about it: the weight of the world on your shoulders-literally to carry the burden of every human being’s brokenness all around you… painful, unimaginable. This is, perhaps, one reason why he was in constant pursuit of alone time with the Father.

But then when we find him in chapter 14 he’s also in a degree of specific anguish I imagine. In the preceding chapter he’s coming home and I’m just amazed how quickly the scene changes here in verse 57…

54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

And even though he goes on in the rest of that last verse saying, ‘yeah well typical… a prophet is never well-received in his home town’ as if he had already anticipated their response (duh, he’s Jesus), but still: these are his people, his hometown, his neighborhood, his original community. And please don’t underrate the community ties of 1st century Palestine… they did not have the same universally accepted norms of individuality.

So he’s coming off of that slap in the face and goes right into hearing the news of the mortifying death of his dear friend, cousin and, in his words, (Matthew 11:11) the most enviable man who ever lived.

That happens, he tries once again to get some solace and yet people find him, track him down, follow him and even here (in feeding the 5,000) he’s very moved (in anguish) for these people-and no, not just because they’re hungry, but I would venture that he was ‘moved with compassion’ for their spiritual hunger… they were ‘sheep without a shepherd.’

It’s what happens next that interests me the most as a teachable moment for what we are going through in our country and our world RIGHT NOW…

The disciples are caught in a storm and here’s what happens…

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

And here’s the radical perplexity of a life oriented toward Jesus and Kingdom-living:

Yes, even in tragedy, even in tremendous loss and sorrow, even in unimaginable pain-these may all be used as an invitation to experience the real and living God.

So when it may seem callous and untimely to suggest, ‘yes all things do happen for a reason’ it is nonetheless the truth of what we believe, the hope of what we live for:

that all things may be redeemed
that all things can be used for good
that all things are a means for showing us and growing us in something

So here is what I want to say:

For you out there where it’s 3 am and the waves are pounding in depression and anxiety…
For you out there where it’s 3 am and the waves are pounding in your marriage or parenting…
For you out there where it’s 3 am and the waves are pounding feeling isolation, lonliness or rejection…
For you out there where it’s 3 am and the waves are pounding in sickness and death…

For any of these, Jesus is very present, very real and he bids you come…

To the person who says, ‘keep your prayers’ HE says YES COME
To the person who says, ‘why does God let this happen’ HE says YES COME
To the person who says, ‘why God, how God, Where’s God’ HE says YES COME

I’ll leave you with one more proof for this as God’s operation in the world.

There’s a wonderful passage from Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah-God’s messenger-brings a word from the Lord to his chosen people-the Jews-who are in captivity (again, 3 a.m., darkest hour) and while there’s a hugely popular part of the passage in verse 11 (for I know the plans I have for you says the Lord…), what I love is what comes next in verse 13: “if you search for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Do me a favor and repost/share this with anyone in you life who may be struggling in this way and if someone reaches out-good, bad or otherwise-send them a direct message, setup a phone call or coffee date and really lean into it with them… it’s worth it and it might just change a life.