Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

What If We Lived Everyone Had A Soul

January 10, 2017

Yesterday I was a little philosophical. But not really if you digest the thought that we are all souls that have a physical body.

What if we took care of our souls like we took care of our bodies? For some of us, that’s not so good. On the other hand, checking out most of the advertisements on TV, magazines, interspersed in your social media “news” streams, and so on, you’d think that we devote hours of thinking about how to get our physical bodies beautiful.

What about our soul?

While I was meditating this morning, I was hit by this vision–what if we treated everyone we meet as a soul loved by a God who dearly wants to draw it (him/her) close?

What if a politician, instead of making an object of an opponent and says things like “it’s just politics”, actually considers that even opponents are human souls loved by God? Maybe despite differing opinions they could work together to solve problems that a government can solve.

Once again while meditating, The Autobiography of Malcolm X came to me. Have you not read that? As a Christian reading it 50 years ago, I was grieved that a black man in the 50s and 60s could not find acceptance within Christian circles but the followers of Islam welcomed him as a brother. Even when he traveled to Mecca.

What if, instead of sitting in our seats in church judging others who come into the room by their clothes or appearance or race, welcomed them as brothers and sisters. Fellow human souls loved by a God who wants to draw them close?

Would that change the way we live each day?

Certainly we must evaluate people and not be led astray by manipulators and people consumed by evil. But how many of those do you meet in a day?

Maybe today I will look at everyone I meet and think about just a little differently.

Do What You Say; Say What You Mean

December 2, 2016

Did you ever end a phone call where the other person said, “I’ll get right on that and call you back shortly” knowing that there was never going to be a return call?

How about when Jesus was walking somewhere and met 10 individuals with a terrible skin disease? He told them to go show themselves to a priest. That meant that they would be healed of the disease and the priest would give them a certificate of cleanliness. And one of them came back to say thanks. And Jesus said, “Were there not 10 who were healed? Where are the other nine?”

One of them returned to complete the loop with thanks.

I was in my favorite little coffee place this week and recalled that a guy had called me and said he’d see me sometime in the coffee shop for some consulting (for free, of course). But he has never come.

The number of people who have said they would get back to me has numbered in the hundreds in my career in business, church work, and non-profit work.

It’s like an epidemic.

Must be one reason why Jesus said at one point, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.

Do what you say; Say what you mean.

A basic rule for getting along in society. Don’t be the person with the reputation of never following up. Be the person who calls when they say they’ll call, otherwise they tell you frankly that it’ll be a while or that they can’t get to it. Better to say “find someone else” than to leave them waiting.

Beware The Yeast of the Herodians, Or Don’t Let Power Go To Your Head

November 17, 2016

This is the third post in a series on a comment of Jesus found in Mark.


Did you ever know someone who got a taste of a little bit of power and let it go to the head? Did it ever happen to you?

Power relationships.

It happens in dysfunctional marriages where one person needs to have power over the other. I see it often in schools where a principal or superintendent has such a need of control and such a great amount of self-absorption that they must exert power over their minions. Happens in business, churches, pretty much wherever people are gathered.

The yeast of the Herodians infiltrated the dough of their (our?) lives.

Herod was “king of the Jews” appointed by Rome to control the region. He knew how to exercise power in the most brutal way. Rome itself was the epitome of exercising power relationships. Remember when Herod ordered all infant boys aged two years and under killed in Bethlehem lest the new “king of the Jews” who was reported born there survive and kick him off the throne?

Even Jesus’ followers at the very last instant just before his arrest and trial were still thinking of the coming kingdom of God in terms of a power relationship where the Jews would rise up and kick some Roman butt. Jesus had other ideas. And the power idea didn’t work very well for the Jews, either, some 40 years later when Rome came in, destroyed the Temple and killed thousands.

But Jesus turned that power relationship on its head. Check out the Sermon on the Mount. The teaching that if a soldier asks you to carry his backpack for a mile (legal) you carry it two. Love your enemies. Washing the feet of your followers.

Jesus was not against power. He was against using power over others. He used power for others.

Where are you in your power relationships? Do you use it to lord it over people? Or do you use it for the benefit of other people? Your choice. Choose wisely.

Evaluating Leadership By The Wake It Leaves

November 4, 2016

Dr. Henry Cloud was recently asked about success and how to achieve it.

Although there is much room for definition of the word, Cloud noted that you need to be competent at something. Go out and learn a skill at something. Then there is the ability for forge and maintain relationships. Building a network of people you can call on.

And he talked about character. He mentioned the Hebrew word translated as virtue in the Bible has the connotations of force. It is as if a leader is a force in the organization.


It’s like a boat going through a lake. It leaves a wake. There are two sides to the wake as it fans out if the boat is moving correctly.

Just so, a successful person is a force leaving behind results and relationships in its wake.

Think of leaders you’ve known who perhaps show results but leave behind a trail of broken relationships. It is symptomatic of a boat going around in circles. Where lies success?

Sometimes we work on building relationships but have no results. Once again this is an unbalanced situation. The organization will fail. The business will close.  But you’ll all be happy–for a while.

Worse is the situation where results are poor and relationships broken. It’s like a boat “dead in the water.” Success is but a dream.

Show me a person of strong moral character who leaves good results and firm relationships in the wake, and I’ll show you success.

Energy Is a Foundation for Leadership

October 28, 2016

A second-rate night club lounge singer from Las Vegas witnesses a mob crime, runs away, and hides in a convent disguised as a nun. She is persuaded to become the choir director, rocks the church, and performs for the Pope.

Who in the world would ever believe a story line like that? Well, it became a move starring Whoopi Goldberg called Sister Act.

I stared at our small collection of DVDs last night for some reason and the red title caught my eye. What was the essential element the Goldberg character brought to that convent?

It was energy. Her energy was contagious. It had been a lethargic and unmotivated group of women. She not only rocked the choir, she also got them involved in a number of neighborhood projects.

Don’t the best leaders you’ve known exude energy?

It shows in different ways.

  • They truly enjoy the work they are doing
  • They encourage everyone around
  • They see things that could be accomplished
  • They are prepared
  • Wherever they go, they promote the cause
  • They may be intense but never negative
  • They are not afraid to try new things, break new ground

Feel the need for some caffeine right now? This energy doesn’t come from chemicals in that manner. But energetic leaders do things such as:

  • Care for their bodies through good nutrition and exercise
  • Care for their souls through reflection, prayer, meditation
  • Care for their minds by constantly reading and learning
  • Listen to other people
  • Develop intense curiosity both about work issues and a variety of outside interests

Energy–the foundation of the universe. Capture some and pass it on.

Facing Doubts, Uncertainties, Fears

October 19, 2016

It is impossible for me to know the depths the struggles, fears, uncertainties of being a woman in today’s climate.

Even though I am by nature empathetic with others, I cannot completely step outside my experience shell to know at a deep level.

Even a simple a thing as running in the park just after dawn where I just run, but women have told me they fear going too far back or even being alone. I said once that I had never seen anything. She said, “I have.”

I first heard about Allison Fallon through Donald Miller’s blog (the author turned marketing consultant). She writes from her deep struggles. She opens eyes to people can perceive (see yesterday’s post). She wrote yesterday On Being a Woman In the World Today.

2,100 years after Jesus showed us men how to treat women and after Paul taught the mutually submissive lifestyle, there remains the struggle. The struggle to feel good in the face of a presidential candidate who rates women on a scale of attractiveness. The uncertainties facing a world where men can violate a woman in America and get off with a slap on the wrist.

Menlo Church where John Ortberg is the Senior Pastor has been teaching “It’s OK to Not Be OK.” Last Sunday Scott Scruggs taught on the book of Lamentations. That book begins by questioning God and ends by questioning God. He looked at “Doubting” Thomas, and how even guys who had lived with Jesus had trouble believing.

It seemed an appropriate teaching after reading Allison. Sometimes we have questions and just cannot comprehend where God is in all that. But then we meet people or find a worship experience where God shows through. Maybe it’s still a struggle. But there is some hope.

The other experience I cannot relate to is on the men’s side–the ones who abuse women and children. How can they do that?

Yesterday I talked about the condition of the heart. Today, it’s more of the same. If only we could reach out and help perform the Jesus type of heart surgery. That would be cool.

Giving In Order To Receive

October 13, 2016

I have been on Twitter almost since it began. More than 3,600 people follow me. Many of those 3.600 follow me so that I will follow them back. Some “game” the system and have maybe 100,000 followers.

They give in order that they may receive.

Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be give; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. –Jesus

There are preachers out there happily proclaiming the “prosperity gospel” using verses such as this in a financial context.

Jesus taught us much about how to handle our finances.

This teaching sounds very like excerpts of longer stories told in other gospels. But let’s just look at context.

He just told the parable of the sower, and explained it to his close followers as a metaphor for the spiritual condition of hearers of the word.

Therefore, we must consider the spiritual meaning of this terse phrase.

This is important. He commands, “Pay attention.” Remember he said, “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.”

In like manner, those who give will also receive.

We know many cynics who game the system. Or they are always out for what they can get.

Those who give of their time to help others, seem to always have someone around when they need help. Or those who give generously of their money or resources seem to have enough to live on and more to give away.

Those of us  who just give because of the condition of our heart will be blessed. No matter what the social darwinists–survival of the fittest–believe, it’s not all about me. It’s about the condition of my soil which bears fruit in others a hundred times over.

The Secrets Will Be Exposed To Light

October 12, 2016

Is a lamp brought in to be placed under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen.  –Jesus (Mark 4)

In America any boy can grow up to be President. That’s what “they” said when I was young. It meant we had a somewhat egalitarian society where preparation and hard work could get you to the top–if you were a white male, that is.

It was later in my life when “they” changed the boy part to person. And now we have an African-American President with a woman who stands a good chance of succeeding him.

But seriously–would you want to be a candidate for President? Or even US Senator? Maybe even county Commissioner?

Do you want your secrets to come to light? In front of the entire world?

Maybe yes if you did your good deeds in secret and they were exposed.

Give me dirty laundry.  –Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd nailed it many years ago. People like to hear about and read about other people’s dirty laundry. And political campaigns where the candidate is trying to portray themselves as perfect, well, they are an easy target for sleaze.

Let’s bring it closer to home. What if your dirty laundry were aired in public? I have seen numerous people who slept with someone other than their spouse. It became public knowledge in the town, church, business, or wherever. I’ve seen some react angrily that their dirty laundry became public. Well, what did they expect?

I’ve traveled over much of the country on business. Many times I’ve seen people I know from back home. Had I been with another woman (not a business associate–you can tell the difference easily), it would have been exposed even though I were 2,000 miles away from home.

And what about God? Think that your secrets are not plain for him to see?

I wish we were all perfect. Lacking that, we can take Jesus’ words for what they mean and try to live like we’re following him. And our shortcomings will be less.

It’s All About Trust

July 11, 2016

Once upon a time I was entrusted with thousands of dollars from two soccer referee associations. There were few checks and balances. That always bothered me. This is not a confession. I was careful with the money. But one of my colleagues many years ago made off with tens of thousands of dollars before it came to light.

There’s a lot of cash floating around in our economy. Much of it flows to organizations that operate with volunteer leadership. The New York Times recently ran an article about people who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from their youth sports clubs. It can happen in churches, service clubs, school support organizations.

These are trusted people. But they got into personal financial trouble. Often due to gambling. Sometime personal circumstances–divorce, lost job, medical bills.

Leadership begins with trust. But trust must be earned again every day.

Every story of leadership and leadership theory I read has trust as the foundation–whether explicitly stated or not.

It goes deeper. I’ve talked with many people in the aftermath of affairs. Many of those don’t realize the damage done to their trustworthiness. See, it’s not just money, but when you are trusted in a relationship, too.

How would you like to have a job like a policeman where you have trouble trusting anyone? With all the guns carried openly, how are they to know if they can trust that the gun won’t be turned on them? Or us, when we see the guns around?

You’d like to trust everyone. Many of us grew up in small towns where trust was the cement that held the society together.

I’d hate to live life as a cynic, distrusting everyone. On the other hand, if I’m in an organization, I would want to see trust with oversight. Just to be responsible.

Speaking About What We’ve Experienced

November 17, 2015

Coffee lovers have come to the opinion that their drink must be incredibly strong to be good. That is the power of advertising and peer pressure where you go to places that must over-roast their coffees to make up for the variation in the quality of the beans. In process control it’s called compensating for the variables of the input material.

When the quality of the raw material is more carefully controlled which can be the result of the way the coffee is purchased from the farmer, then the roaster is free to bring out the true flavors of the different varieties of the bean. The result is a coffee that is more pleasing to the palate.

We cannot help from speaking about what we have seen and heard. — Peter and John recorded in Acts 4

Christ-followers call it “witnessing.” Originally it meant “speaking about what we have seen and heard.” For us it is speaking from experience.

Sharing an experience is powerful. It is your story. But it is a story that can relate to other people. It is a story pleasing to the palate.

Followers of our faith for centuries have given us a bad name by coming on so strongly like that overpowering cup of coffee. They try to force feed their beliefs–often emphasizing peripheral beliefs ignoring the central belief that we have experienced new life as a Jesus-follower after coming to belief in his resurrection.

I’m thinking about Galatians 5 and Paul’s description of changed lives. And also of the especially powerful first five chapters of Acts.

Think of the growth of the early church and the lives that were changed because they:

  1. Shared what they had experienced
  2. Served others with no thought for themselves or their own well being

And we wonder why we’re not growing and thriving.