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. 

Things Conveniently Left Out (Jesus’ Miracles-Then and Now)

Things Conveniently Left Out (Jesus’ Miracles-Then and Now)

Over the past couple months I’ve been very slowly working my way through the New Testament Gospel of Luke.

I’ve had a couple revelations going through Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry and one of them has been about how we, in our modern-day practice of faith, seem to have conveniently left some things out.

Big things… if you really read it.

I think there is one great big category of things we leave out today-in our Christian conversation and practice. And that’s:

Miracle work (healing… demon possession… basically God’s authority over all things).

I think we have high levels of discomfort around things like healing and Jesus setting people free from demons

So much so that today it seems we rather use the generalized term of “spiritual warfare.” But see even that seems a watered down disservice to the very explicit references in the Gospels…

Several times there’s a possessed person and Jesus commands the demon to come out.

Jesus doesn’t turn to Peter and say, “hey man how’s your heart?”
Peter to Jesus, “man this work is getting hard, I’m having a difficult time believing, and there’s just so much conflict with these fellow Jews… it’s really bumming me out
To which Jesus responds, “man, well that just really sounds like spiritual warfare to me

No, this was the reality:

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. – Luke 4

Across the Gospels there are at least 25 references to this type of miracle work-battling demons.

Or consider the load of references to Jesus’ healing activity in the Gospels; some say there are 31 unique individual stories with a total of 727 verses that relate to Jesus’ miraculous work in this department!

The final broad category would be Jesus’ myriad examples of control over nature. From multiplying the fish and loaves to walking on water to calming the storm and so on and so forth, Jesus was consistently asserting his authority over the natural world.

So why does it appear in our modern conversations and practice that these topics have all but dried up?

Our first major hang up is that we dodge these topics because they’re hard to digest…

because we don’t see them anymore in our Western expression of faith and community, we easily dismiss them out of hand.

I think Christians are up against one great, big common mistake: we cherry pick scripture for the ones that are “easier to handle” more “feasible to grasp” or “in less dispute”…

The thing motivating that cherry picking is that, again, some things are easier to explain and fit within our modern conceptions of belief and practice.

In short, people-all people believing and unbelieving-have a hard time wrapping their heads around the supernatural… that’s kind of the whole fundamental premise of belief in the God of the Bible!

But let’s take that one step further, even as Christians; and consider this:

Why does it feel like a quantum leap for us to go from belief in a big, sovereign, creator God to belief in the tangible miraculous ministry of Jesus (and that of his disciples/apostles by the way!)?

In failure to take that leap, we will only scratch the surface of the power alluded to there…

My contention is that we can’t preach that way, we can’t live that way.

We either take the Gospel for the full force of what it was and is today or we scrap the whole thing.

We either take Jesus-the man and the ministry-as real and believable today as He was then or we don’t.

We can no longer say, ‘well yes of course we will take his wonderful sermons and confounding parables but the practice-not so much.’

We can’t pick and chose this deal; we must refuse the urge to cherry pick.

But the wrestling match between Christians of every stripe continues: do miracles continue on in our modern age?

That brings us to our second hang up: our perpetual failure to unite the “natural” and “supernatural” in our every day life and experience.

I’ll let Tim Stanford from a 2012 Christianity Today article speak for me:

Everything that happens in creation is pregnant with the power and the presence of God. Nowhere you can go escapes him. Nothing that happens, happens apart from his will. Everything is natural and supernatural at the same time.

I recommend that we go back to the wisdom of Augustine, who understood miracles not as violations of natural law (how and why would God violate his own work?) but as occasions when God walks on unusual paths. They are not more God-inspired than, say, the daily sunrise. They are just an unusual break from the way God ordinarily works, and thus a signal of something important.

Miracles are so unusual that we stop in wonder. By their rarity, their unusual character, they grab our attention. That is what signs do. They stand out from their environment so that we notice them. Otherwise, how could they point?

“Everything that happens in creation is pregnant with the power and the presence of God.” The sooner we take on that lens as a trademark of our worldview, the better it will be… for our personal faith, our community of believers and for those who are watching from outside.

One thought-provoking idea to end: as to the question, always, of how might this impact our leadership?

Just think how much better your odds are at influencing others who you think might never change, never grow into their potential or leading whole organizations no less that you hope might impact or influence the world… bold aspirational goals like these are so much better imagined when we maintain the faith in miracles… right?

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

4 Leadership Learnings From United Airlines

This past week another major leadership and organizational failing was put on display for the world to see through a 2 minute viral video (these days captured from multiple angles).

It was painfully sad to watch; hard to believe that something like this could happen in a developed, civilized, modernized, progressive, etc etc etc type of society.

But alas it did happen and with pretty immediate and broad-sweeping repercussion.

Stock values plummeted in the millions, thousands of people nationwide speaking of boycotting, celebrities make their typical noise-the whole thing very bad for business.

I want to address the learnings from this international faux pas by connecting with how United lost their way in 4 key areas.

1. They forgot that the customer is the hero.

That is to say ALL customers should be treated like they are the hero of the story.

I mean you could say they fell pretty far, pretty fast from “hero” and forgot altogether they were dealing with people… human beings, PAYING HUMAN BEINGS!

LEARNING:

If you want to get new customers, create loyal customers and generate repeat customers, your best bet is to create a narrative with the customer at the epicenter.

2. They forgot to train their people around ownership and autonomy.

The best startups these days focus on hiring and training people who can adopt company values, execute on company vision and all at the same time think for themselves the best way to serve the customer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning where one of the most legendary hotel executives of all time was saying that he would empower his staff (cooks, cleaners and managers) With $2k in discretionary allowance for serving the guest as they saw fit!

LEARNING:

The best companies do this; they devolve powers. And they can get away with that kind of trust because they have taken the time to create value, vision and buy in.

There are countless illustrations for this from Zappos and Amazon to even hospitals and mom and pop shops who have learned the beauty of training employees to make the best independent decision for the customer (patient, parishioner, etc) sometimes regardless of the employee handbook.

It’s clear from reading any one of the myriad headlines from this week, but this company (its senior leadership and thus its employees) had their heads so buried in handbooks and even unspoken standard operating procedures that they forgot what really matters!

3. They forgot what it means to hustle, innovate and determine what success looks like.

I’d be willing to guess that one reason that this company, (its CEO and thus its employees) arrived at this place, this major public screw up, is because they became fat and happy.

As you can read from this article and so many others like it, the airline along with 2 other major ones handles nearly 85% of the total market share… that right there will leave you pretty out of touch with reality.

It’s what made the idea of a so-called “boycott” so ironical because it was very clear that, at least if you want to fly in most major cities, you won’t have a choice.

LEARNING:

Can you imagine what kind of debilitating affect this has on the lifeblood of an organization?!

It’s like Craig Groeschel always says: the biggest threat to future success is current success.

They got lazy, lackadaisical and then they just got flat-out rude.

4. They forgot how to communicate like they were actually in the people business!

This is how, from a PR standpoint, the CEO can mess up 3 more times before finally getting it right.

He was so out of touch with having to defend and protect (let alone polish!) the brand that he made it worse before making it better. It took almost the entire week for him to arrive at, “I’m sorry, we were wrong, here’s your money back.”

LEARNING:

This last one affects everything from marriages to multi-national conglomerates because it’s fundamentally about ownership and repentance. The fastest way to mend a broken bridge is to call it was it is: BROKEN!

But #4 and #3 are intimately connected because when you’ve so lost touch with your vision and your customer it’s a very natural slide into forgetting even how to apologize for a gross and basic wrong.

Which therein lies the undergirding principle of every item on this numbered list: a total and complete loss of vision for what serves people best.


What’s a recent leadership learning of yours? It’s easy to point fingers at big targets like United (on blast via viral video), but it’s another thing to practice personal introspection for your last 3 screw ups and determine your course of action for proactively getting better… so I’ll ask: where are your growth opportunities?

Coaching For Tenure: 5 Things My High School Coach Did That You Should Too

Coaching For Tenure: 5 Things My High School Coach Did That You Should Too

The other day-completely out of the blue-I met some random guy at a birthday for toddlers who knew my High School volleyball coach, who is a coach himself in the region and had nothing but good things to say about my former coach.

Then, literally, that night I got a text message from that very same coach-my coach from High School!

So he was just reminding me (and I imagine maybe over 300 others) about an upcoming alumni volleyball match, but I responded and then we had a back and forth over the next hour…

It was the weirdest and coolest thing and it got me thinking about rock solid, tenured coaches… and what makes a great coach.

The first confession I have (besides to humbly confess being a totally hopeless glory days guy) is that I have a huge respect for people who have committed to their calling, piece of work or particular endeavor really for any length of time over 10 years, but when you start getting into the 20+ category I’m just kind of awed.

To do something, to do one thing, do it well and do it for a long time…to me, this is one of the ultimate tests of legacy. And this applies to all given commitments: work, family, faith… over time we may become legacy leaders in them all. 

Having that chance encounter with an old coach, mentor, leader made me think of his traits… I’m hoping they are transferable for us all.

So what made Conti so good…?

He cared about character and integrity…

It was apparent to me that Conti’s main objectives were not necessarily success, winning, producing or even championships. His aim seemed to be deeper than that… he was up to something-almost like he was trying to get at something-he was a miner of character.

To this day (after 10 years!) I have no idea what his religious affiliation is, but he is one that I would put in the category of: he seems more Christian than some Christians I know. 

While I’m not laying out some form of “he was just a really good guy” moral relativism, what I will say is: you could see his heart, you could see the value he carried and his consistency in it all makes you think, geeze if only so-called ‘Christ-followers’ were as much a shining example in the world just imagine what kind of influence we could garner

The beauty of this principle is for 99% of my readers-who are not clergy by the way, who don’t work for an ostensibly faith-based organization-is that from wherever you are, you can make the intentional decision to let your standard operating procedure reflect huge amounts of character and integrity. (Which, by the way, can be an explosive platform for having faith discussions!)

He made us work our freaking tails off…

At the time I seldom ever enjoyed it, but it resulted in a section championship our senior year amongst many many other intangibles. We had 6am weight training, work in the sand in the afternoon in the off-season. And when season was in high gear it was 3-4 hour practices each afternoon/early evening. It was sprints, it was strict enforcement, it was limit-testing, it was challenging and competitive, it was a brilliant environment for testing and building grit.

I’m not a fan of over-working folks and no one is a fan of forcing people into burn out seasons, but the principle here is this: when you build the discipline and grit of ‘go long’ seasons you carry a certain resilience and character that will inform every other area of your life.

He was, and is now, simply tenured…

He’s worked for my alma mater for 22 seasons now that has produced 6 sectional championships (runner-up in another 7) and 2 state championships. But its what’s behind the facts and figures that make him the man and coach he is today: consistency and commitment… above average amounts of it I would say.

The attribute this makes me think of is follow through. As I’ve mentored men over the last couple years it’s actually been one of my favorite mantras of real manhood. I’ve tried to inspire in others the basic principle which is simply that a defining character trait of real men is keeping their word and seeing things through.

Being where you say you’re going to be, keeping commitments, showing up consistently well over extended periods of time. That’s a legacy to stand on.

Great leaders have excellent follow-through… it’s the hallmark of a tenured coach, mentor or people developer.

He kept his cool…

I don’t ever remember him becoming emotional in any kind of ill-tempered way, he never raised his voice above what a mid-game, high intensity moment required.

I have come to learn (as I’ve worked under great leaders and, conversely, seen the negative tendency inside myself) that all great leaders and coaches have a tremendous ability to remain unemotional.

And I do not mean that they don’t have or express feelings. I’m talking about crossing the inappropriate bounds of becoming angry or impatient (and hence partial, irrational… perhaps even nonsensical!); this includes the passive aggressive in us all too.

Conti wasn’t that way… In fact, what I have also learned about myself over the years is that I want to appease people through my achievement and performance. 

I, like maybe some of you, have a chronic fear of somehow ending up in my supervisor’s cross hairs of rebuke or criticism, because I did something wrong. And one of the few times that I ever I got called out on that team was when I became too emotional in the middle of a game-lashing out at another player for their mistake.

Great leaders are emotionally strong this way. Not guarded and impenetrable, but they don’t ‘go red.’ I think you get the metaphor, but actually it was a personality inventory that I was reminded of recently… it explains the processing pathway of all people when faced with pressure or stress. Everyone has different pathways and stages of arriving at an emotional level. It’s just some people flash much quicker and more directly to ‘red’… as leaders we can’t let that be us.

He took the long view…

He clearly must have understood that his job was about developing minds and young men far more than any win or championship, because even in our most rivaled and playoff losses it seemed like he had something else in mind.

It was never just about the game, it was never just about winning. It was about the journey, the development and the learning. When we showed up to practice late, we’d have a punishment but we’d also have a principle… Coach would say, “do you think when you get a real job one day they’ll just let you come in whatever time you like…?!” That was about developing us into young men, it was about preparing us for future realities. When you take the long view, it’s understanding that all this work on the ‘here and now’ is really an investment in the ‘then and there.’

I’ll put it this way: our legacies as ‘people developers’ is in the small moments. The pressing ‘here and now’ stuff in the traffic of everyday life is never just about that moment. It always has the potential to build into something much bigger, broader, deeper.

Know Your Blind Spots (3 Things All Leaders Must Work On Now!)

Know Your Blind Spots (3 Things All Leaders Must Work On Now!)

The other day I realized something about myself that isn’t really the greatest…

I was merely walking to the ATM to deposit a check when I realized how much I prize efficiency and simplicity.

From the walk up to the ATM-no one in line-to the way I pressed the buttons on the touch screen, to the way the check was seamlessly deposited then onto how I grabbed my card out of the machine smoothly and with ease slid it back into my wallet, turning and walking away from the ATM (with no time to read the “goodbye, thanks for using” message at the end)….

It was then, at that moment, that I realized how much I cherish efficiency and simplicity.

Everything about this very small everyday occurrence fulfilled my expectations for how things should be quick an easy.

Now you may say to yourself, ‘well I don’t know if those are necessarily bad things are they Ben?’ To which I would reply, ‘it depends…’

You see, if you value efficiency so much that it impacts the aggressive nature in which you drive your motor vehicle (speeding, swerving, giving nasty glares to people who somehow don’t understand basic efficiency driving etiquette), you may have a problem of over-valuing efficiency.

I’ve decided for myself, as an example, that when I get like that on the road it’s not just because I’m impatient or need to control or have ‘road rage’… it’s because I value efficiency in all things. When people, places or things become a hindrance in this smooth functioning, I feel the need to assert myself so things will get back into working order.

And it’s the same for simplicity I would say…

If you value simple things such that you are not willing to do the hard, grinding work in the office that is required for creative problem solving, system development or program implementation all because you think it has to be simple enough to explain to a 3rd grader, you may have a problem (like me *wink emoji*) of over-valuing simplicity.

Still don’t buy what I’m selling? Well then think about it in terms of the following principle (that I am 100% convinced is true for all human beings)…

Every strength, gift, talent taken to an extreme may become a weakness, problem, blind spot.

You’ve probably experienced this or watched it in someone close to you, but here’s what I mean…

We are all naturally hard-wired with a certain set of gifts, talents and strengths. One of mine, for example, is energy. I’m a naturally energetic person. I don’t really require coffee most days. I drink it anyway because its delicious and amazing, but I could probably go without it.

This energy when managed well can lead to all sorts of fruitful activity. It’s useful for leading and motivating people when it’s at its contagious best. It’s good for getting stuff done in a timely manner. It’s good for spreading passion and building culture… all at its very best.

However, in some of its more unfavorable forms this “talent” of being an energetic person can look like: A.D.D:
-the inability to focus for ver long on one task and see it through to excellence…
-talking to other people in the office (double whammy-now you’ve taken out 2 people!)
-working harder when all that’s needed is smarter…

We have a saying at the church (which is what my supervisor would be looking for from me by the way), it’s “impact over effort.”

You get the gist, but the point is that I need to spend less time spinning my wheel, running all over the office, completing this laundry list of tasks (when these maybe aren’t even the right tasks by the way!), just because it expends lots of energy (that may give the false appearance of momentum by the way)!

What I need to do is harness that energy for focused action that leads to impact, excellence and results.

Here’s the principle: we all have these blind spots. If we’re not careful they’ll go from personal blind spots to bad culture creators, momentum barriers and organizational ceilings!

So here are 3 things I recommend you do…

ONE…

Build in feedback loops... This could be 360 degree style where people (below, across and above you) are asked to assess and review you.

This could be setting up a blind feedback link where co-workers get an email then fill it out anonymously and you see the results.

Whatever you choose, it just needs to be early and often (hence the “loops” part, by the way, that means it’s build it, it’s frequent, it’s quarterly) and it has to be that way if you’re going to be healthy and growing.

This could also be hounding your significant other or friends who know you well to give you something that you can work on… their view from a ‘non-work angle’ might be the exact type of emotional feedback you need that affects every other relationship and context!

None of us no matter the age or tenure as leaders, at least leaders as lifelong learners, can say ‘we don’t need this… we are past this… or we’ve already heard all the feedback.’ The moment you resolve yourself to that type of thinking, you’ve just cemented that organizational ceiling right then and there.

TWO…

Work your plan... In other words, once you receive that feedback (which is just data-by the way-cold, hard, FREE data and you’d be a fool to reject free data), begin the difficult work of leading change…

One of my favorite quotes that we’ve picked up over the last 6 months at our organization is that, ‘you don’t need a new plan, you just need to work the plan you have!’

The suggestion is: we know something is broken within our organization and simultaneously we see a plan or system that’s working “over there” so maybe we should implement their style or plan…

The truth is: you already have a plan and it’s tailor-made for you and your organization, you just simply have to build the guts and discipline to work the plan right where you are.

Get your feedback. Work it into your plan.

THREE…

Give yourself (and others!) grace... This whole process is about humility-a very worthwhile humility because of what it will produce in all of your staff and organization-but humility is also painful. So give yourself and those around you an immense level of grace when rolling out this process.

When it comes to giving and receiving feedback, you’re really turning the corner for a healthy workplace. And around that corner, down the hall is the break room and that’s the place where people can get mean and nasty if they are not fully bought in to how this whole humble honesty thing is going to work. THAT’S why the delivery system of feedback must be grace.

When/what was the last piece of constructive criticism or feedback you received? Have you done anything in the way of self-improvement? Why or why not?

Captain Fantastic and the Need for a Big Family Vision

Captain Fantastic and the Need for a Big Family Vision

We watched this Academy-award nominated film last week and boy it was really something to behold…

It wasn’t our favorite because of the philosophical statements on society/humanity. And it wasn’t our favorite because they have this big righteous brood that seems wild and free (though that was pretty cool). It wasn’t our favorite because of the writing or screenplay or picture or costume.

It was our favorite because of how it puts a highly intentional family on display.

The family has its mission, vision and values pretty well laced up.

Although one of the major points of the film is the unraveling of the dad’s perfect family plan, you can see the sharp discipline and buy in of this family on a mission.
And THAT is awe-inspiring.
THAT is something that all families, the American family, most certainly the God-fearing family must embrace… (and like as soon as humanely possible by the way…!)

You see the problem is that, in our families-as in our personal lives, in the absence of intentionality there is drift.

When I say drift I mean in our character, in our spirituality and in our identities. So the first question I have is: do you think its worth it to leave those things up to chance… in ourselves or the kids we have the privilege of leading?

Without a plan, without a clear-cut and ruthlessly pursued vision there is just merely default mode. And the next question I have for you about “default mode” is this: is that really how you want to lead your family?

If you’d like to take just 1 or 2 positive steps in the direction of intentional family planning (and out of drift/default mode) then I suggest you consider this:

FIRST…

Consider the vision you have for you, your marriage and your family. I would define vision here merely as a picture of a preferred future.

What’s the destination? What’s the hope? This is most commonly illustrated by how our kids turn out. Now as much as their hearts, their character, their spirits are formed by the sovereign design of God and the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit, we still have a profound role as their parents and leaders.

And we all have known that child who we, frankly, hope to God our kid does not turn out to be like. We see the attitudes, traits and behaviors of that student in our kids class, that neighborhood kid or kid from church and think, ‘man, I hope that’s not my kid one day…’

Well I have news for you: all the “hoping” and “finger-crossing” in the world is not going to move the dial on your kid’s heart and mind if you are still living in drift/default mode!

The principle I’m trying to elucidate is this: you know very well how you would like your kids to think, act, operate and carry themselves and you know how you would like them NOT to think, act, operate and carry themselves. The question, once again, becomes: what are we willing to do, today, to see our preferred futures realized?

You have to think, seriously, for a moment: what kind of child, what kind of family are we producing right now? Every 1 day we are given is a building block for our character and development that produces an outcome-one way or another.

When your child is 12, 16, 21 you will not have a “take-back.” Once again, nothing is “too big” a job for the movement of the Holy Spirit in your son or daughters life, but the point is not living on a prayer (to shamelessly draw on the scripture of Bon Jovi for a moment), the point is to intentionally draw your family into a preferred future shape!

SECOND…

Consider the values that you believe must be baked into everyday living in order that your odds of reaching this preferred future picture are maximized.

As the above illustration shows, it’s not enough to just have the vision of your family’s preferred destination. You must now begin charting a path forward for this vision to be realized.

Your family needs some software.

If the current state of your family’s values, programs and “standard operating procedures” is vacuous, then you might be in a state of drift.

In the movie, the audience is meticulously reminded of the systems and standards by which this family carries itself. They work out together, they hunt together (yes, hunt together) they cook and clean together-it’s systemized with everyone willingly contributing and it’s beautiful.

But there’s this one scene where one of the daughters, when asked how she is enjoying her book (a book in a series of pre-defined curriculum the father has apparently laid out for all the children) answers, “it’s interesting.”

The dad and 2 or 3 of the siblings blurt out almost like sirens saying, “that’s a dead word… she used a forbidden phrase!” And the young woman is encouraged to find the real nuance in her evaluation of the book.

I mean that may seem like a pretty small example but think about the power of words for a moment. This family had a plan and a system and a value in place for what kinds of words are allowed in their family or not.

We can allow words in our house that breed a victim-mentality, guilt, shame and greed or we can bind those words, correct those words and redirect those words toward the underlying emotion. And in so doing we forge the responses that breed the type of mentalities and character we hope to see!


If we would like to make the move from drift to intentionality we have to start today.

We have to create, first, a vision because vision drives it all. It’s our anchor, it’s our guiding light and it’s our destination.

Then we have to set about the tough work of baking values into our daily lives at home, in the car, at the dinner table, when we are out and about with play-dates… everywhere there is the potential for relating or communicating, there is an opportunity to see values lived out.

TIP: start by writing it down. Sit down with your co-lead and prayerfully consider what those founding documents might look like.

I’m curious: what are the visions and values that have served and guided your family? How do you find this article to be true or not as experienced by you and yours?