Motherhood

“Blessed are you among women…”

Some chuckle when they hear me call my wife ‘Mom’. It usually happens at home, and I say it without thinking around our guests. That started when the kids were small and we did it for their clarity.

Somehow the title became namesake, and now sticks. Rarely does my wife hear her name in our household. I hope she still remembers it.

Having lost my mom in my teens, I consider regularly how much a blessing one is. Not to be taken for granted, and no greater calling to be found. To me it seems a high honour for those who live up to the title.

I think I like calling my wife mom around the kids because it reminds me that it suits her. She lives the calling, and we are blessed.

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Mom in the rockin' 80's

Bigger Fish to Fry

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I’ve always loved the comment regarding setting priorities, that I have bigger fish to fry. As though somehow you are wasting your time preparing a smaller fish while the bigger one is being ignored. Or maybe it is an entrepreneurial statement, like you are settling for the smaller fish when you really should be putting the hook back into the water.

I realized the other day that it can be a statement on perspective as well. While I use it to mean I cannot burn energy on one thing when I am missing the need to focus on a much larger problem, it could be all about my POV. If it is about a problem or an issue, maybe it could be about how I view what is at hand, not necessarily the size of the matter in general.

If I focus too much on the stumbling block before me, I might forget to take a step back and realize that it could be much bigger or much worse. Too often instead I walk closer and become fixated, losing focus of the size of the problem in comparison to the surroundings. There really could be bigger fish to fry.

Random Genius Test

There’s the story of this homeless

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eccentric fellow living near where I grew up, who was a genius to those who knew him and crazy to those who didn’t. He seemed totally aimless as he wandered through town talking to himself. The day the gap between crazy and genius was bridged for me was when someone told me to strike up a conversation with him.

“Be sure to tell him your birth date.”
As a young kid that seemed like a ‘stranger danger’ moment, but I trusted who I was with and did so. Turned out this guy was kind and had a unique style of intelligence. In a single moment he told me what day of the week I was born, and my opinion of him was changed.

Are we enamored with politics or genius?

Sometimes we are fixated on things which market well at all cost. Occasionally we should spend time with people who look a little crazy, but do not sacrifice the truth to look otherwise.

Freedom of Speech

“…right?”

I used to frequently end my sentences with that modifier. My wife told me to stop it. No one liked it and it was not really a question I was asking. It was just a way to get a response to a statement.

She is very wise.

I recent conversation got me thinking again about the power of our words. More importantly, what we expect as a return on the words we share. Rarely do we expel words with nothing meant in return. They solicit a response, an action, a direction, a feeling. We want our words to be meaningful.IMG-20140321-02673

Kenneth Gangel directs those in leadership to define the expectations of their message, and this definition is often based on the impact we desire. This desire is often shaped by what we expect those around us to do. It sounds so mechanical, but consider a day’s worth of your conversations and statements. Consider including all those whispered under your breath, and even those said in your head as a response you chose to feed your personal demons.

Gangel would say you need to consider 2 things: Understanding and Agreement.

My ‘…right?’ addendum sought agreement. Many times when we speak we desire to find agreeability. It makes us feel good. It deters conflict. It means we can commune. Or at least that is what we think we are achieving. Usually it means we are hoping that everyone can achieve an enjoyable status quo in the setting. Often people will find just enough separation from the matter to maintain an attitude of congeniality without cost.

That does not mean we are on the same team, we just avoid putting too much weight on the balance of the relationship.

The other option is gaining understanding. This takes more time, more energy, and can cost us a lot more in the long run. Being understood is important. It is not the be all and end all of a relationship, but it is vital for long term communication. It can sound very business-like to assert understanding over simply agreeing to save the face of relationship, but clarity builds respect and trust. It allows people the space to knowingly disagree, remove themselves from a greater commitment, or better yet, engage in open dialogue.

I say I love the ideal of people speaking freely, but I know that is not always true. I desire agreement and the feeling of a unified spirit with others. Often that can come at the cost of others withholding their investment in the bond being formed.

I love it when people agree with me. But I am learning to love it even more when we understand one another openly.

The Imitation Game #leadership #discipleship #mentorship

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)IMG_20150307_154531411

I have been engaged in a number of conversations on leadership lately. Many different perspectives, many different levels of thought. In this process, as with many topics we engage in, I realize that some of my language becomes ambiguous. You know how it is, you use one word often enough and it suddenly drifts in meaning. It morphs into other arenas and directions than we first intended.

Having conversations with those of a different persuasion is a good thing. It sharpens our own understanding.

Leadership. Discipleship. Mentorship.
All three of these ships sail together in my language and understanding. They all require investment in others and seeking to create new understanding within a given context. That new understanding usually means change and transformation. Even in small ways, observed from the exterior, are marks of leadership. I would affirm that within all these conversations and observations the latter three ships follow the first.

In light of the above verse, leadership is really a mark of being a chief imitator.
A person recognizing they are being shaped by the one they follow, and in doing so realize they shape those who seek their example. And let’s not kid ourselves, we are followed in all facets of life. Some just ignore this or choose to not acknowledge it.

All three ships recognize that we impact, influence, and instruct the lives of others. Intentionally doing something about it makes Christlike leadership stand out. It gives us the opportunity to bless another with how they ‘walk in the way of love’, and we are also blessed as we acknowledge that others are doing the same for us.

I am reminded that at all levels of imitation I have three key groups developing me as a leader:

1. The ships before me. Those who have shown me how to sail, and continue to do so. I acknowledge them by name and recognize how God has placed them each uniquely in my path.

2. The ships behind me. An increasing number that I must allow to keep pace with me and are actively learning from the navigation I have chosen before them. God has entrusted these to me to direct back to Him, through Him. By not acknowledging this I diminish the importance of my actions turning into instruction and guidance for those who have chosen to learn and grow.

3. The ships beside me. There are always a few that we must recognize are moving in the same direction, possibly the same pace, and are kindred to us in their current place of growth. These friends are God-given and are needed to gird and encourage as I move along.

Have you recognized the people in your life that fit into all three of these ships? Where would they place you?

Picture or a Portrait #faith

So some local cult proselytizers stopped by our house today. They wanted to make sure we got to heaven. They are always so nice.

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National Geographic: "Lincoln" (April 2015)

We try to be nice as well as we politely decline their invitation. Occasionally we will engage the comparisons with Christianity, which tends to end with them politely declining our invitation. Only the most devoted could be convinced to go to all their neighbours homes to share their convictions.

As I watched them through the window, moving on to the next home, big smiles on their faces, it made me wonder: What picture do my neighbours have of Christ in my life?

I wonder what they think of how Christ is portrayed?

It reminds me of a line my grandpa used to share when people came by asking if he was a Christian:
“Go ask my neighbour.”

After Easter #Leadership

The greatest example of leadership I have ever followed was someone I never met in person.
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While most leadership manuals and ideologies have been based on momentary success, his has proven timeless. Many of the best books on the matter I have sitting on my shelves do mostly that, sit. They share glimmers of true leadership, but they are only partial truths. Leadership tends to get a little myopic as it is taught, being that it can get a little focused on a singular setting. The example that has spoken to me best has been both counterintuitive and countercultural. On a secular level he is pure genius. On a spiritual level, he forces me to think outside my level of comfort. Amazingly, no matter what the situation or scenario, he is relevant. Controversial at times, but when he gets people talking something he has said sticks with them. That is a pretty impressive record as a leader.

Of course I am talking about Jesus.

Easter changed everything, and Christ’s mark on lives after the fact is evident through history. If leadership is influence, then he has shown us how to lead. I would never boil the life and work of Christ down to some simplistic leadership axioms, but it is evident that the effect of Jesus on lives is leadership. And through what he has done we lead in our circles. No, that is not limited to ‘boss’ language or some archaic hierarchical understanding of leaders and minions. It is influence and change.

When the one who came from heaven so the world come come to him impacts us, we impact the world. No matter how small we perceive the world to be around us.

We lead in care.
We lead in healing.
We lead in forgiving.
We lead in community.
We lead in accepting the broken.
We lead in grace…

We lead because that is how he leads us. He was broken so we could be healed. In our brokenness he is made visible. We do not lead out as though we have it together, rather we are leaders in taking people to our leader. Life is your ministry, and you lead it.

How will what you celebrate at Easter change the way you effect your Monday through Friday?