Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Perseverance and Perspective

April 25, 2014

Sometimes I like to touch on leadership issues. Several months ago, I took on a couple of leadership roles where some roadblocks popped up on the path. I’m still fighting through some. But I was reminded of two words that have stood me well over the years.

Perseverance. Perspective.

Someone asked me earlier this week how one of the roles I had undertaken was going. Moving along, I replied. I guess you just need perseverance. Sometimes you just have to keep moving, no matter what. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. — Henry Ford.

Perspective means keeping the scope of live in mind. What does it all mean in the timeline of your life? There are things I’m taking on where I’m re-evaluating what the situation means in the scope of my life. Is this what I want to be doing? What is the importance relative to other things I’m doing?

I often ask the perspective question to dads and coaches (and sometimes moms) in youth soccer. The result of the 10-yr-olds game is not going to mean the difference of a World Cup draw seeding. Mostly they perspective of the kids is on the ice cream at the end of the game–win or lose.

Perspective will help your perseverance when your goals are aligned. When you are doing what you feel called to do. It will keep you going when obstacles seem like barriers rather than problems.

Facing Conflict

April 11, 2014

Facing conflict in a positive manner is a skill that many of us fall short of possessing in sufficient amount.

The situation most often arises when you have teenaged children. Work situations are full of situations where conflict can fester and grow. Conflicts within groups in your church or other non-profit volunteer work are often difficult.

Some of us shy away from conflict for fear of making things worse or rupturing a relationship or out of regard for the feelings of others.

Some people, on the other hand, love creating conflict. These are abrasive, pushy, argumentative types.

Thinking about this, both of these types are self-centered approaches. Neither is healthy.

I’m reading in the Gospel of John these days. John builds his story around conflict. Almost every scene shows Jesus in some sort of conflict with the authorities (Jewish, not Roman). What can we learn from John’s description of how Jesus dealt with the constant conflict.

  • Strong resolve that the direction you’re going is right. You must have confidence that you’re doing the right thing and moving the organization ahead in a positive manner.
  • Understand the Other. Aren’t we often guilty of ascribing motives to other people that they, in fact, do not have? We assume facts not in evidence. Some of us are very good at reading people’s motives. Others of us need to ask a few more questions.
  • Understand yourself. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Know where you need help–and ask for it.
  • Speak softly, firmly, with confidence. I would say speak clearly, but if we follow Jesus’ example, we’d speak in riddles at times. But for us, clear communication spoken with a firm but quiet voice is most effective.
  • Don’t doubt your own authority. If you have the authority that comes with leadership, then use it. But don’t abuse it.

The world needs good leaders. Be one.

David and Goliath

October 23, 2013

The underdog little boy defeats the giant warrior. A story about how the underdog can win. David and Goliath.

I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s TED Talk about his latest book, “David and Goliath,” on my drive from Chicago yesterday. Gladwell tells a good story. He hits on a point that I’ve often thought about. But then he falls into the storyteller’s trap when it comes to fact by going off on a rabbit trail of speculation.

There is a saying, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Gladwell is right that in some ways it could be considered that David brought a “gun” (that is, sling) to a fight that was expected to be fought closer together–a knife fight.

I’ve wondered since I was small how we could consider David that much of an underdog since he had a significant weapon that obviously gave him a huge advantage. Sure, he was an adolescent not completely filled out into adult musculature. But he never seemed that much of an underdog to me.

David had two things going for him. One of them Gladwell ignores for the point of his story–or maybe his theological leanings. The first thing is that having guarded the family flocks for years, David was accomplished with a weapon–the sling. The second thing is that David had unswerving faith in God.

Any of the “sling-ers” in Saul’s army could have done what David did. But, they didn’t. Why not? Because they did not have David’s faith. It took both elements for David to succeed. Gladwell ignores the latter.

If you listen to the talk that I linked to, watch for the transition when he says (in effect) many medical researchers speculate that Goliath suffered from “giantism” (or the medical terms I don’t know). When a story teller goes off into the realm of speculation, we have left reporting and entered the world of fiction. Interesting story, but not scholarship.

And if you read the book because you think it’s cool that a popular writer chooses a religious subject–be on guard.

The real moral of the story of David–know your strengths and have faith in God.

Peace and Strength

July 29, 2013


Our six-year-old grandson is visiting–his first time alone with us. Somehow he and his grandma got into a conversation of peace. “What’s peace?” he asked. “The absence of conflict–when there is no war,” she replied.

That is certainly one definition of peace. But contrast to another conversation during a small study group of adult men. We are studying a book, “Not a Fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus” by Kyle Idleman. The subject of inner peace came up. Someone said, “Inner peace will see you through the bad times.

Peace can actually be sort of like an action verb. Not something defined by what is missing (absence of conflict). It is actually something that can be practiced. It is part of living with God (or Jesus, or the Spirit–as far as I’m concerned it’s all the same thing). It’s something that comes along for the ride when you practice the Spiritual Disciplines of study, meditation, prayer, worship, celebration and so forth.<br>

But when someone mentioned that it is a force that will see you through tough times, I immediately thought about strength. There must be a relationship between the two.


We think of personal strength as muscle force–or in my case lack of. But another way of looking at strength is that resolve that keeps you going through adversity.

Someone who battles cancer and emerges a victor we call strong. Someone who can hold onto their moral values in the face of a group that wants to do something against those values we call strong. Someone who can face any enemy–illness, opponent in conflict, a bully, a nasty boss, whatever–with calm and resolve, we call strong.

Work together

I believe that Eastern martial arts teach that you need that inner peace and calmness to fight well. Your mind must be calm. You have practiced sufficiently that you are confident in your muscle responses. You have absolute focus in the moment and on your opponent.

Paul often used sports analogies. I think he would have thought the same thing when he described the inner peace that comes from being at one with God (or God living in you). God works with your strengths that you might even not realize you have.

I think there is a Bill Gaither song that goes, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” Paul would have like that. That’s what he did. And that’s what he intended for us to do.