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:

Warrior Bride

Warrior Bride

Don’t just be “pro-life” on a picket sign. Be pro-life in every phase and in every way. Foster care and adoption is our yes to life. 

Last week our fost-adopt journey turned the corner for a new chapter.

As is usually the case with social services*, slow and sparring information is the only information, so I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised when my wife got a call from the county saying, ‘birth mom is out of prison earlier than expected and she has a visit due this week… can you make it up town tomorrow?’

Classic.

So it is that we were faced with the last-minute audible to gear up and get going.

And so we did.

But not before having a bit of a spiritual-psycho-emotional freak out.

You see up to this point in our fost-adopt journey (on baby number 2; Selah adopted last year, we’ve been licensed for about 3 years), we haven’t had what I would call the typical foster family experience…

We haven’t had to give kids back after years of bonding and attachment; we haven’t had to travel 30 miles twice a week for biological family visits (as some of our dear friends have-mind you with their other kids and family life moving ahead at normal pace/scheduling); we haven’t had to deal with multiple family members and the ups and downs of them making progress, back sliding, court mandating chaos that can be the very essence of foster care.

As I explained it to a friend recently, when you become licensed for fost-adopt your technical title is a “resource family.”

This means that you are like an expendable tool to be used at the disposal of the system, the kids and the biological families needs. This is the lens that you are trained to assume as a foster mom or dad.

Suffice to say, easier said than done.

Herein lies the essence of our spiritual-psycho-emotional freak out: you’ve held, carried, nourished, kissed, swaddled, midnight fed-in short loved the crap out of a being that-in this case-we’ve had since he was 2-days old.

All of this largely “uninterrupted” (meaning: most days, no ones come knocking to pick him up, take him away or even call to check in!). And when it’s like that-very few bio family visits and very few calls/court dates-you begin to really live the illusion that this child is yours.

And then one day you get a call with a stark reminder that, at least legally, that is not the case.

And so we have a  mental shock to the system and the mind begins to reel… ‘what if he is taken away… worse still, what if he is taken away and given to birth mom where he is abused or neglected.’

Stop for a second, imagine if you will that one of your biological kids was dropped off one day and handed to someone you barely know and definitely do not trust (and also has a history of abuse/neglect). Well biological or fostered, we do not know the difference-that is what it feels like.

So doubt, crisis, fear creeps in…

Insert the mental/biblical picture that God gave my wife…

It’s the picture of Abraham laying his son Issac on the altar. It comes from Genesis 22.

You remember the picture

IMG_0148

22 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

It’s gnarly.

So many questions here-I get it… what’s God thinking about? What’s God’s deal? Just flat-out: why? Well besides the fact that I’m not here to talk about all that today, I do think the answer is 4 words into the first verse… God tested Abraham’s faith.

Ironic how that was essentially the title of a sermon I shared just 1 week prior. The one point was essentially this: God is using all things as a manner of testing and preparing us for what comes next. (And prayer, by the way, is our gift for having eyes to see this.)

It’s no different right here, right now with our little 7-month old baby boy.

A second truth paralleled in our lives with this passage is this: our kids are not our own.

Whether our kids are biological or fostered or adopted-not anymore than our past, present or future-do they belong to us.

I allude to the concept of time because that is the dual thing that God is asserting ownership over by the way, in this passage.

You see he’s not only testing Abraham’s faith, he’s not only reminding Abraham that he owns his son, but he owns what his son represents.

And what Issac represented was the hope of another son-Jacob, who was the hope of Israel, whose hope was Jesus, who is the hope of the world.

I digress, except to say this: he holds the people and he holds the plans.

Same is true for us right here, right now.

So hand him over…

That was the bright idea my wife got.. AND the reality we get the chance to live.

Starting today, in the new normal, of driving up to the group home to visit birth mom, making sure that she gets an audience with her son.

And the prayer that helps us navigate this all?

It is prayer no longer for 1 life, but for 2.

That’s the call after all isn’t it? To find whoever we may be diametrically opposed to and love that person, pray for that person?

I fear it is a lost or dying 1st century art form. But in truth, we just so seldom get the chance to meet our “enemy.” Besides the person in the car riding my tailgate, I fear I have never really met the enemy Christ spoke of… until now.

And please understand how I’m using the word enemy. It is not to make biological mom bad, rather it is to explain exactly what I meant when I say diametrically opposed, and the person who has the potential to claim back what we love like it is our own feels like no subtle opposition.

In the end, this post was meant to be an affirmation of my wonderful and amazing warrior bride-Rylee. After all it was the biblical-word-image that God gave her, that she in turn shared with the world via social media, which in turn appears to have been an incredible encouragement for the faith and struggles of others.

When I saw her post I was uplifted and inspired by her… after all she is at the home front with these precious babes logging far more hours than I.
She is the frontline soldier of love-mending wounds, wiping tears (and bottoms!), channeling screams and demands, listening, waiting, loving patiently and graciously.

So in a way it is her baby even perhaps a little more than my baby that is being asked to the altar now.
And so it is her courage and faith and boldness and prayers that emboldens us both now to keep taking one step after the next in faith and preparation for whatever it is that God has next…


*And not to disparage the many incredibly hard-working social workers out there-I am constantly floored by the amazing volumes of work and case loads they carry-and enormously gut-wrenching at times too. These workers match any ministry or church hustle I have ever seen-those who really are devoted and focused that is.

 

Radical Love is a Lonely Business 

Radical Love is a Lonely Business 

Have you ever felt at odds with the world?

Like you were convinced that your chosen path or idea was the one, but support, encouragement and consensus were all so lacking?

I found this picture for today’s post and thought it was just perfect on a couple different levels for conveying the ethos of my message.

First the little girl’s wonder woman costume… In most all superhero stories there is a moment of isolation for them. They are naturally at odds with the world because they are not natural themselves.

The super hero is a foreigner-not endemic to the neighborhood, community or species. So of course their chosen path, their decided way will forever be at odds with those around them… even whilst saving lives and restoring hope, this isolation remains.

And so the little girl sits alone, almost forgotten, relegated to the curbside enjoyment of her dairy confection. Not that the little warrior princess is concerned for calories yet, she seems as if to say, “screw you guys then, I’ll sit here and eat my ice cream bar.”

My wife and I have found a similar truth to hold steady in our lives, in our own pursuit of putting love in action. Our family, truly pushed by my wife’s vision and hope, has been a part of a foster adoption journey for some years now (if you include the time it took us to get licensed and approved.)

Though we had always talked about adoption when we were early dating and even just after getting married, it was a whole different pivot point after having had a few biological kids already. Somehow, some way we managed to get our first placement two summers ago, and with no guarantees at any point, the placement of Selah became official when she was adopted this last December.

You might say: how could anyone have a bad thing to say about that?

But folks will oppose any manner of good thing. Especially if it is other-worldly.

You see the opposition for us in the decision to take on another baby from the county, for example, carries with it a more subtle variety than what some other love pioneers and revolutionaries might receive. People just kind of pragmatically question and doubt and probe… and they often incredulously ask the direct question “foster-adoption, are you sure?!” While there are a ton of outright haters, I will tell you: the share of cheerleaders, champions and voices of encouragement are few and far between.

You can imagine the responses when we decided to say yes to another fost/adopt placement less than a month from when our previous baby was adopted, bringing the grand total of (potential) Applebee children to 5-what is a SHOCKING and, for some, HORRIFYING number to think about by today’s “standards” (whatever that means).

Honestly once again the responses are just kind of dull. If people-our family or friends-have concerns they are largely keeping silent about it.

It’s not as if we are counting on people holding a parade and constantly praising our heroism, but here is just one more example of how our chosen path is just… different, different in the way it is received and understood… definitely different in the way that it is valued.

About two weeks ago Rylee (my wife) got the call for this baby and then drove out to the hospital and picked him up. That afternoon a 3-day old baby boy was added to our family. We picked up a baby. We just went and drove and got a baby. Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

So okay, yes, foster adoption placements like these are probably one of the most hilariously unnatural things around. One moment you got 4 kids and then the next you got 5 and without all the build up of a labor and delivery… and without the pregnancy announcement, without the gender reveal (party, nowadays), without the baby shower, without all the shopping, without all the fanfare, definitely without the maternity/paternity leave.

So I’ll confess, as a result of the overall lack of understanding and value, we are left feeling a little alone, a little isolated… like the little girl and her ice cream bar.

And while it’s not that people try to murder us, imprison us or send us back to krypton, there are days were the lack of support and encouragement remind us of a couple very key principles:

That we are never alone when we are holding fast to God-breathed vision.

That we are never closer to God then when we obediently follow his will.

That we are never living, loving, acting for an audience greater than 1.

That saying yes to giving life, hope and love is a defiant business, but get used to it. For it puts the grandest smile of all on your Father’s face.

If you’ve ever felt this way about any act of love or hope that you’ve taken then rest assured you are in good company. Perhaps the best of company.

Assemble any list you like of pioneers and iconoclasts: the Wilberforce’s, the Bonhoeffer’s, the Rosa Park’s, the Martin Luther’s, the Jesus Christ’s of Nazareth… make the list you want so long as they went against the grain in the name of love.

And I cannot help but leave you with a biblical truth here. Because of course if Christ was going to call you to this work of love he was surely going to outline some words of expectation and encouragement. Here is what Jesus said:

22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. -Luke 6

So what’s your call to action that you’ve been putting off? What’s the God-sized vision that you’ve been called to that has been minimized by the voices of the haters? Or what’s your list of love pioneers and hope revolutionaries?

Where Do You Go For Answers? 

Where Do You Go For Answers? 

I once had a text message exchange with a friend and former restaurant co-worker about why he didn’t believe in God.

Having been raised culturally Jewish, now in his twenties, Jason would probably associate as agnostic or the ever-growing “none” category. And one of his statements was so succinctly telling (it did literally fit in the form of a text message after all).

He said: “what reason do people have left to believe when we now have the Internet?” In essence he was saying: the quest for knowledge and information is over! The questions of life can be so easily discerned from the click of a button and a simple google search!

No more need for an out of touch, out of sight, out of relevance God when we are now living in the wildly proliferated Information Age!

I thought to myself: holy crap that’s so true for people isn’t it… When it doubt, when facing a crucial intersection in life, when down on purpose or understanding go to google, not to God.

And then just look at this headline that proves EXACTLY what I’m talking about…

People don’t want to go to God to find the right candidate;
People don’t want to consult the bible to discern what makes a great leader and;
People DEFINITELY don’t wanna go to church to hear what some windbag preacher has to say… So what do we do…?

We Google it.

Google after all is not just a proper noun (the name of a search engine tech firm) it’s a verb!

You know what else is a verb and a noun? Faith. We have it and we do it.

Or at least that’s the aim… What of my greatest fascinations and really convictions is the divergence between those two things though: having it and living it. 

As a person of faith, as a Christ follower I’m shocked and awed by my relative inaction and lack of faith practice and I see it as a historical epidemic as well.

From the time of the 12 disciples right on into today, we Christians seem to oscillate between flashes of brilliance and acts of outright lemming-like foolishness! 

You see where we go for answers matters because we will always act on the information that we find. The article is timely once again: we Google how to vote and then… We vote… We vote Donald trump right into the highest office of leadership in the world. 

Craig Groeschel is fond of emphasizing that leadership is so much based on how we think. Pretty basic really: how we think will determine how we lead. He puts it like this:

Think higher (for this determines who you become)
See broader (determines where you can go)
Care deeper (determines what you can be trusted with)

Basically the way we think determines the way we act and the way we act determines how we lead!


I would contend that we need a more developed, nuanced and overall higher context way of thinking in order to lead well and honor those we influence especially in this “just google it” era we are living in.


Take this last weekend for example, my relatives were in town from Texas (yes, very conservative politically) and we engaged in a lively political dialogue. It was fun, for me at least, because I don’t claim too many political allegiances; I’m content to consider all angles and remain in process AND more importantly I hope to give others the space to do the same. 

However it was clear that my uncles angle on every topic was, for lack of a better word, shoveled.

Do you know kind of what I mean? Kinda like, ‘holy cow are you aware that every single thing that flies out of your mouth seems like a canned response that one or two news sources sold you?!’

Now am I saying that I’m smarter or better because I get my news from literally 100 different places and I don’t necessarily couch myself on either polar end of the political spectrum? 

No.

Hers what I’m saying:

Be a Learner (a life long learner)

Kinda messed up of me-I know, but I encourage you not to be “that guy” (my uncle): like it’s an oversimplified, open and closed case lined with narrow-mindedness! 

Be filled with passionate convictions yes absolutely I highly recommend it… In some areas…

So long as there’s still a place for humble learning and the admission of “having not arrived” in other areas (that will, after all, only serve to authenticate our points of passion when we do speak up!)

Consider Gods voice and the truth of his word

(This approach is ALWAYS going to be more trustworthy than mere knowledge and information alone… Remember you can live your whole life, go all the way to your grave with a full head and an empty heart, but is that REALLY how you want to be remembered?)

Here’s one thing I’ve always said about the Bible: what was true for people thousands of years ago (our struggles, our emotions, our decisions and our predicaments, even our hopes and dreams) is true today.

There is nothing new under the sun. It’s just the Bible has more authoritative and exclusive truth to offer than Google or any other source for that matter. It (the Bible) is “God-breathed“… why wouldn’t you at least test it out for yourself?!

Take meaningful action on what you find 

How you think determines how you act and how you act determines how you lead and how you lead determines, literally, how others live. 

Don’t believe me or think that too dramatic? Look, this blog is about impact and influence. If you still don’t believe that people have the ability to change (due to the leadership of someone else) then consider this story…

My wife and I had the privilege early on in our marriage to travel the world on service “mission trips.” We shared plantains with remote villagers in the jungles of Peru, we saw poverty and a war-torn nation in Sri Lanka.

It was all learning by immersion.

(SIDE-NOTE: this by the way is one of the most potent forms of learning-when, seeking better knowledge or understanding, you venture across your yard, across your street and across the country or globe to see for yourself AND THEN make judgment claims.)

This is also why I refuse to listen to another white person wax on about their opinions or deductions about why we have a problem in inner city Chicago, Harlem or DC until they’ve been there, done that.

They could have read every academic book and listened to the most scholarly pundit but until they’ve actually sat down with someone in that place, then I’ll continue not trusting them any farther than I can throw them.)

In our travels we also saw discarded, forgotten and neglected babies and children. We knew from early on that we would like the chance to adopt one day.

We had babies of our own while getting licensed through the county for foster care and adoption and one day we got a call. Though we could have never known it then, less than two years later that baby girl would be legally our child. 

Now remember my point : be a learner then act on your learning and you will change a life.

For us as leaders of a family…

we saw.
we learned.
we said yes.

And now a baby girl whose mom was on meth and whose dad had 27 criminal counts against him has at least the potential of a better life. 

Don’t take my word for it. Try it out yourself