Speak Like Your Voice is Gone Tomorrow 

Speak Like Your Voice is Gone Tomorrow 

Words that have been used to describe my speaking style: “enthusiastic… high energy… contagious… passionate.”

If you want to see if this is true, see for yourself…

What I want people to know is two things:

1, This comes from a place down deep in my heart that longs to be an agent of change in the lives of others and;

2, I act like every time that I’m given an audience, it will be my last.

(3, You can make passionate pleas in your own way too.)

With so much going on in the world today-hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, famine, disease and destruction-I can’t imagine another way of thinking.

I take the realities of our world coupled with the hope that I live for (that there is a Sovereign God that is orchestrating all of history and will send his son again one day AND that he will come “like a thief in the night” Matthew 24:42-44) and I think:

I had better get busy living, spreading life by speaking life.

So when you see my passion, don’t be mistaken-it ain’t mindless hype, it ain’t noise and it certainly ain’t because I think too highly of myself.

It IS however how highly I view our message.

How many of us miss opportunities to speak the word we really feel motivated to bring… every day, hour over hour, text, phone call and face to face meeting with family, friends and coworkers everyday?

One of my greatest irrational fears is that I’ll suffer a traumatic brain injury that will result in lack of speech; inability to formulate and communicate ideas.

I know… irrational. But at the same time, accidents do happen… look no further than the motor vehicle we climb into every day. I don’t live by this fear; this fear is not the motivation; real and present danger isn’t either.

My aim is not to drive fear. That’s not our message. Far from it…

The message is this:

With tomorrow not guaranteed, what are we doing with the voices that God has given us?

Fabulous orator or not, we each have a voice and our time is limited (by eternal standards). You don’t have to be a pastor, prophet or boss either, but I urge you:

  • Today, don’t have regrets about holding back
  • Today, share the word (encouragement, life, hope, truth) you have for another
  • Today, use your voice to be a voice for the voiceless
  • Today, leverage your influence by giving voice to life change

Asymmetrical Warfare (The Power Of The Cross)

Asymmetrical Warfare (The Power Of The Cross)

Sometimes I consider the hilarity of how long it takes me to remember that power grabs are never the way to real transformation.

The only real path is to lay power down.

Have you ever felt in the midst of a power struggle? Ever felt like your influence, control or very leadership call was at stake because it was being threatened by other power brokers?

Well let me ask it a different way: have you stormed out of a meeting (internally of course, no one physically storms out of meetings anymore) feeling ill-at ease because you didn’t have voice?

In my mind that’s still a power issue… because your voice is tied to influence and influence is tied to what kind of power you are allowed.

Don’t you just love being fed your own words sometimes? Well it was nearly 6 years ago-my 1st real year in church ministry work-that I began to realize the truth about laying down power.

I can remember even coaching another member of our staff on what appears to be an everlasting principle of ministry leadership and it is this:

The lowest man wins.

The first person who can lay prostrate on the ground, in the face of someone who is grabbing for power, wins.

And I mean this naturally and spiritually.

Naturally… think about your favorite people to work with or be led by… are they pompous, prideful and power-hungry or are they humble and meek?

The lowest man wins.

Spiritually… think about almost every word Jesus said to the very last that bound him to that instrument of torture and death: if you want to be first, you must be last, if you want to gain your life you must forsake your life.

The lowest man wins.

Mike Erre has this incredible podcast about “power over VS power under.” It’s a lovely reminder for us all.

In last week’s post I wrote essentially about humble leadership. That, ostensibly, was not the title or purpose of the post, but that is the precise example put on display by John the Baptist in John 3:30.

Well it turns out that last weeks post, along with that scripture passage, was written and directed for me, to me, about me for the following week (this week).

Somewhere in there I think I even prayed for humility… I’m telling you it’s so stinking true what they say “be careful what you wish (pray) for… cause you might just get it.” Well, done and done… I was put in my place this week.

And honestly, I can say it was good; it was very good.

In Patrick Lencioni’s great book, The Ideal Team Player, he outlines this concept of hungry, humble and smart-that’s the ideal staff, team member, person.

When I heard him speak at a conference exactly a year ago next month, I knew instantly which area I needed the development in: humility. And then this week it seemed that God was doling it out in kind.

First I was put in my place organizationally.

Then I realized the scripture, that I thought was meant for someone else (the one from John 3:30-I must become less and he must become more), was actually meant precisely for me.

Then I’m reading in a book about how really leadership is all about adding value to other people’s lives, not how smart I look or sound OR advancing my ends.

Leadership, at it’s best, is literally just about seeing other people win.

So it was left and right-healthy portions of humble pie. And it was cool; because I need it.

You ever been in a fight with a friend? But you realized that it was ridiculous at some point… like how did we get here and what are we even talking about right now?

I got into a little spat with one of my closest friends about a week ago over something that we both care deeply about and have potentially different views about how to approach it.

After we texted back and forth (to no avail in my mind at least), we finally spoke on the phone it was settled in moments. He texted me after and said, I think half jokingly, ‘I’m glad we’re not fighting anymore.’

And it’s so funny because my thought instantly in that moment was this:

I wasn’t fighting you… in fact, I ain’t never fought a man a day in my life.

And here’s the scripture passage behind what I meant:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

As hard as it is to imagine the spiritual realm in today’s postmodern age of ‘trust only what is proven and palpable,’ in an instant I knew this was what was happening; as simple as daylight.

Now an appropriate question would be: what do these 3 stories have to do with each other?

Well whether you’re asking that or not, I’d like to know the answer…

Here are some common denominators:

  • they are my personal learnings from just the past 7 days
  • they are what God is showing me, speaking to me, teaching me
  • they are, I think, all rooted in 1 major point…

And it’s that point that I want to land today.

Here it is: asymmetrical warfare.

Asymmetrical warfare is defined simply this way:

warfare involving surprise attacks by small, simply armed groups on a nation armed with modern high-tech weaponry.

Here’s how I would paraphrase: a war being fought where the seemingly smaller and seemingly insignificant and seemingly easy to overcome and seemingly disproportionate side actually keeps winning.

One of the greatest ploys of the ‘evil rulers’ is power… AND one of the greatest, and most asymmetrical, responses to that ploy is the transcendent power of the cross (through a humble dying to oneself).

If power is the spearhead tactic of the enemy then humility is the power of the cross.

The fact is: there is a war waging all around us and I’d say if you’d like to stop forfeiting more battles, then join me as I learn to take up the asymmetrical power of the cross.

Work Ethic (And How To Hear From God)

Work Ethic (And How To Hear From God)

Have you ever sat there at your desk or workspace, in the car taking calls, in the kitchen while toddlers swirl, tug and scream… wherever the physical places are that you take up work and thought:

What is the point or real value to this tedious and redundant work… Here I am day after day chipping away at this seemingly rote behavior and what’s it all for?

There once was a man who understood the answer more profoundly than most. He was a 17th century dishwashing monk, his name was Brother Lawrence and I only learned of him very recently. But I’m very glad someone pointed me in the direction of Brother Lawrence.

He is best known for the published work “The Practice of The Presence of God,” which only served to present the way this remarkable man lived his very simple life all for the love, devotion and worship of God.

Ironically, it is said that Brother Lawrence, born Nicholas Herman, came to faith whilst in the military. Standing one day in the open field, gazing upon a barren tree-he realized its deciduous nature was a metaphor for human beings-capable of death and new life… it reminds me, squarely, of my last post by the way…

Here is a great snippet from the above link that represents a mantra for how Brother Lawrence lived his life, in which I would LOVE to emulate…

Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.

Anyway, the point is, the memory of this humble man could not have come at a more opportune moment for me as I dwell on purpose, focus and renewal for 2017.

For the week between Christmas and New Years I felt in a scramble to somehow artificially create some spark or revelation about the new year.

The truth is: I felt at a totally unoriginal loss of God’s voice, direction or newness.

And then it happened 2 or 3 days after New Years, where things were coming into focus and it was only THEN that I realized:

‘how hilarious it is… that we somehow believe that God’s revelation is dictated by a holiday or a ticking clock or a year-end or really any of our amusing human expectations.’

The revelation centered around three things, and it’s how, at this point in my life, I’ve learned to acknowledge God’s voice:

a word from a friend/mentor

The whole reason I’m even talking about “Brother Lawrence” is because of Jerry. While praying with me the other day, Jerry mentioned Brother Lawrence as, “the one who washed dishes if only for the love of God.”

Instantly, rather distractingly while he was still praying, I thought, ‘whoa, what the heck is he referencing right now?? Is that an author or a book I need to run out and purchase right now?’ There was just something that, in a brief utterance, struck me immediately about a person writing about washing dishes for Jesus that convicted me in that moment.

In other words, it spoke to me. It spoke to me in the way that the comment intersected with a personal need. I believe that is probably how God operates when he speaks. In fact, somewhere else I was reading recently that if only we could stop acting like we need to somehow drum up the activity of God and instead join the work that he is already actively creating on his own, we would be just fine.

That’s at least one way he speaks… if we are only willing to be patient and put ourselves in a position to listen.

a word from a movie

The next place I met with God, heard his voice, felt that conviction was after my wife and I went to see the movie La La Land. In short, it’s a musical about a struggling musician (Ryan Gosling) and a struggling actor (Emma Stone), who must fight to keep their dreams alive.

At this point I’m starting to see the constellation of aha moments that I’m chalking up to the actual voice of God. My conviction, what I now believe God was speaking, was patience and faith in the midst of waiting for action and next steps within doing God’s work.

Do you think it’s strange that God could use a ridiculous blockbuster film to speak to you? Well he was fond of using burning bushes, donkey’s, fire and all manner of natural forces… why couldn’t he use a hollywood movie? He will use ALL means by which he intends to fulfill ALL ends.

a word from a podcast

Next, rather I should say first, as this was earlier than the other two occurrences (but it’s funny how the first one doesn’t come into focus until it has been reinforced by 2-3 other things, moments, messages), was a podcast called Robcast (by Rob Bell).

In it Rob interviews Scott Reynolds, one of the key writers on the show Dexter, who shares his amazing slog of years at an L.A. bookstore before finally earning a position with a team of writers and then years still before he got his big break writing for Dexter for 7 seasons.

Now… now, this is not tenuous, this is not thinly veiled… this is thematic. And you cannot underrate God’s voice in the thematic.

And so yet again I’m hearing: patience, presence, take delight in the work that is in front of you, take nothing for granted, devote yourself to the very worthy work that you’ve already been given.

a word from my brother’s chosen profession

Finally as a connection-almost a thread that was woven between all of the above-I walked away from the film that day thinking of my brother David.

Dave has worked very hard to land a steady job in the film industry working in animation and effects, but his aspirations lie much bigger within the creative realm… directing.

And it was David, who saw the film too and we debriefed the meaning of the film, who made me think of the directors chair (you know that vaulted, boom directors chair typically with that guy sitting in it wearing a hat, glasses and headphones around his neck… whose never under 40 years old.)

I wondered to myself: ‘how many directors are there currently under the age of 50?’ I’m guessing not many. And for my brother David, just 28 this past December, how long of a road does he have yet ahead of him to get even close to a role like that?

Here I am thinking I should be the boss and run the world before I’m 30. What kind of wasted energy and thought leadership have I expended not fully devoting myself to the task and day at hand when so many others are patiently toiling?

But one of the key things in all of this is:

I almost missed it.

If I had not been paying attention, if I had not (very recently!) been trained to know who I am and what God’s word says, if I had simply be going my usual foolhardy speed in life… I could have missed it.

I’ve said it before, but one of the hallmarks of a strong leader is being a life-long learner.

Learn from my wrong behavior and attitude: don’t miss what God is speaking to you…

What connections can you make in your life right now that you’ve been avoiding or numbing, turning down the volume on? What do you feel God may be speaking to you by any means necessary?