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?

 

2 Reasons I Won’t be Voting For Either Major Party Candidate

2 Reasons I Won’t be Voting For Either Major Party Candidate

Character character character… one major reason I will not be voting for either major party candidate.

Bottom line: I don’t trust either one of them any farther than I can throw them…

While I don’t care for either candidate and honestly I haven’t landed on who I’m voting for-of course as a matter of privilege and freedom-I will be voting, the following is my personal litmus test for any candidate of any elected office: pure leadership character.

And I will go on to site many examples from the Bible-yes, the Bible, on matters of character. Because regardless of whether you believe in it or not, it is one heck of a good truth, standard, measuring rod for all people-not just pastors and Christians.

And I would highlight just a couple of the following principles as a judge of leadership character. Not ultimate judgement. Not salvation. But leadership character-the heart and integrity of a man or woman.

  • Matthew 12:36, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgement day for every idle word you speak.”-from the mouth of Jesus. Bottom line is this: crazy stuff flies out of both of their mouths. Stuff that is far from becoming of a leader with high levels of character.

And both candidates fall short in the above just like I fall short in the above!

So that’s why it’s not the biggest reason…

Here is the reason: recently Trump was quoted in this Bloomberg article, “I had to put up with the anchor and fight the anchor all the time on everything I said,”  Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. “What a rigged deal.”

Here are two principles:
 

1.You can either make excuses or you can make progress but you can’t make both 

This is ultimately an issue of taking ownership and responsibility. Great leaders, at any level of the organizational structure, say: “I am the throat to choke or the back to pat.”

And with how many businesses that trump has had a stake or partial stake in, I’m amazed that he’s gotten as far as he has with this type of mentality. But Hillary is no different. Take, for example, when things have gone real bad under her leadership within the State Department-I’m sure she wasn’t always the first to say, “yep, that was me, I take full responsibility.”

Great leaders don’t make excuses or post blame. They own.

They don’t even make excuses about things they can’t control, circumstantial or “atmospheric” conditions like tough economic times, change in consumer demand or even government regulations!

Great leaders find a way to win and a way to improve… day over day, week over week and quarter over quarter.

Whether it’s the current woes of a Wells Fargo, the next car manufacturing flub or really any group or organization led by some person, great leaders take it on the chin and get to work on progress, not excuses.

This leads us to point number 2…

2. Great leaders are repulsed by a victim mentality.
 
Here is the deal: all “politicians” or “businessmen” running for large offices of power seem to enjoy invoking and indeed preying on a sense of fear in people.
 
It’s a classic ploy… make people afraid or make people victims and suggest that you are the answer to their problems or their woes.
 
At the top level of any organization-government, private sector, church or non profit-ultimately the personality, character and make-up of the leader will spread to the rest of the organization.
 
It’s leadership contagion. (And it’s basic influence, by the way.)

 

Having said that, the way both of these candidates have pushed the agenda of the “victim” and appealed to this great sense in all of us is frightening to me.

Because that’s “very bad for the spirit of our country” within us all.

And how have they done this you may ask…

Well I tend to think anyone who says (or appeals to the sentiment in others), “we’ve been screwed… or we got a bad deal… or we deserve… or it’s someone else’s job to…”

All of the above represent someone to me who is A) falling prey to victim or fear mentality B) posting blame for their circumstance or general lot in life and/or C) focusing so much on the problem they forgot about what it means to be a part of the solution-not waiting or begging or yelling at someone to do it for them.

Perhaps the most profound issue I take with these folks-again who are running for the absolute highest level leadership position in the country-remember that’s what it is… its not the “best politician” or the “most successful businessman” its the absolute best leader.

The issue I have was said best by Don Miller-author, leader and marketing expert of Story Brand. He contends that all people are busy living a story. And, using the common movie narrative as a metaphor for life, he posed the challenging question: who would you rather be: the victim or the hero?

It begs the question: in our daily personal lives and at a national level: how have we settled for being the victims or the heroes of our very own stories?

Turning 30 and 3 things Every Leadership Blog Should Have

Turning 30 and 3 things Every Leadership Blog Should Have

This summer I turned 30. I told people that for the first half of the year (my 29th year), I went through the typical identity crisis issues. You know… “who am I?… what am I doing?… where am I going?… what have I really accomplished?… how many things on my bucket list have I gotten even remotely close to crossing off?”

And it’s that last one that motivates the creation of this blog. Because for years now I’ve been that really annoying person who, when asked: what are your dreams or aspirations, always quips, “yeah I’d like to write a book some day…” (emphasis on the ellipsis).

And its annoying because the person (in this case, me) never does anything about it. Well I really would like to write and publish a written work and it seems pretty straight forward that if you’d like to write a book, one must first become a disciplined writer…. You could call this the ancillary purpose for starting this blog.

This conversation about writing a book brings me to the first real purpose for this blog and an attribute I believe every blog should have, and thats influence. I’ve always thought that writing a book requires a certain level of pretentiousness, narcissism or need for self-advancement. Degrees of all of those I willingly confess.

However, just because we’re flawed, often nearsighted and self-absorbed does not preclude the need and indeed commitment for a bigger purpose or mission. It is my firm belief in a bigger mission that brings me to writing, the desired outcome of which is to stimulate influence!

Another word that could easily replace the way I’m using is it would be: leadership. You see every single person in the world is a natural born leader. Whether it’s merely leading themselves; so-called “self-leadership” (as popularized by one of my favorites Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor of Willow Creek Church, IL), whether its leading others below or above you as boss, employee, husband, wife, mother and father…

The simple fact is: no matter who you are, you have leadership responsibility and you have someone for whom your words are big in their ears. If I can help someone, ANYONE, realize and maximize their influence then I’m game.

The 2nd thing I think all blogs should possess is a motivation for emotionally moving others. Another way I would say that is: to ignite passion in all people.

Over this past summer we did a teaching series for students about purpose. After sitting with a group of about a dozen high school seniors (about to graduate) I sensed from all of them a deep sense of “I don’t know who I am or where I’m going or what I’ll be when I grow up” mentality.

We’ve all been there.

But from my lunch with graduating seniors a teaching series was birthed on the topic of purpose. I wanted to remind students that should they ever be stuck in that same position that there were a few “if/then” statements that they could use to definitively answer the question of “what’s my purpose in life.”

So, for example, “IF you have a passion, THEN you have a purpose; IF you have a strength, THEN you have a purpose; IF you have a story, THEN you have a purpose and so on and so forth filling out the summer schedule.

I found myself sharing with the students one night that I literally never had a firm grip on what my really central 1-3 strengths, talents, gifts were until long after college. And the main reason I finally figured it out was because I connected the dots about what people would consistently say about me.

In middle school it was the “Mr. Hustle Award” from Coach Imus the PE teacher; then it was leading music in High School and it was constant reminders of people saying, “boy you have a lot of energy” or “man, you energize me.”

And then, one day, I left one church to go work for another in the same city (more on that later) and as a parting gift the staff gave me a plaque of what they saw were my top 3 strengths. 

The plaque read: “passionate; contagious leader; energetic.” Regardless of the word choice all these people, coaches, friends, bosses, fellow pastors and volunteers, they were all saying the same thing: “you are naturally filled with passion and energy… and… that ignites and inspires something in me.”

But it wasn’t really until this last year (my 29th) that the idea of truly owning this natural, inbred propensity toward passion began to crystalize. I started thinking to myself before any and every speaking engagement or meeting: ‘this could be your very last encounter with this person or this crowd, you had better absolutely lay it all on the line like you’re gonna be gone tomorrow.’

I figured: anything worth doing is worth going absolutely all out on. Giving anything less is a God-given waste of time and talent.

I say again, if I can inspire even a single one of you toward leading more passionate lives, then I’m game.

The final, and perhaps most important, purpose for this blog is: impact. There is a pastor, author, leader named Andy Stanley (Northpoint Church, Atlanta) who once wrote a book on preaching called, “communicating for a change.” In this timeless piece, he lays out all the different goals for why preachers might preach.

Some might just cover every book of the Bible from cover to cover throughout the year and at the end of the year those folks might have a better understanding of God’s word, and that’s great. Some might use 5 points in every message they preach and people might remember all 5, odds are they won’t remember a single one.

Eventually Stanley gets to the thrust of the book, which is the one and only reason for communicating can only be: communicating for life change.

That is, after all, the business we are in as pastors… leaders… people. So while I understand communicating from the pulpit is a heck of a lot different than a bottom shelf blog, I believe that the common denominator in ANY form of communication just simply must be: life impact.

And by that I simply mean that you, the reader’s, life gets changed for the better and if that were to happen even in a microscopic, incremental, daily way then, once again, I’m game.