Archive for December 2008

My Favorite Mistakes of 2008 – Part 3

continued from Part 2, which you can view here

4: Concerns about criticisms from the small minded ensnared me.

That is, in 2008 I got caught up the times in worrying about what other people thought about me. It’s not that all who are potentially critical of me are necessarily small minded. It just so happens that most of them are such! Is it so in your life as well?

There were times in this past year when I was caught up in the notion that a lot of people were thinking some pretty critical things about me. When you take risks, when you’re out on the front lines doing things that are not commonly done by other people it is easy to begin to think that your target of other people’s criticisms. It is easy to think that other people are thinking thoughts of slander, thoughts of, “Man that guy is off the wall. What is he thinking? Why is he doing what he’s up to? Who does he think he is? Somebody ought to tell him the right way to go…” It’s easy a conger up in this inner conversation when you are convinced other people are focused upon you.

At an emotionally strategic time a significant conversation with my grandmother came back to me. She told me, “If you only knew how little other people think about you – you would be liberated to take a lot more risks! If you only knew just how seldom other people think about you in general in life you would be so much more capable of taking risks. I would guess the risk taker in you would be out there jumping on top of all sorts of new ideas all the time.”

This lady, my grandma, went on to explain she was convinced that nearly NONE of us are on the minds of other people. We are VERY RARELY in the thoughts of others. We simply don’t rank that highly. Others don’t have the space to think about us because they are preoccupied with their preeminent thought – thinking continually about themselves every minute of the day. That it is highly unlikely we will ever become so famous that other people are openly critical of you. It is highly unlikely that you are ever to become so famous that other people actually spend a fraction of a second in a given day ever thinking about you and what is it you’re up to even if you are the head of something or other in life. There just isn’t the brain space for them to be caught up with you and your stuff. You just aren’t that important. Get over your preoccupation with yourself.

Then get on board the risk-taking part of life. Start living life the way life was designed to be lived. Let’s move on with it. Life was meant to be lived out loud – boldly, profoundly, sustainably, wonderfully – all the things that we are a incapable of doing when we think other people are preoccupied with us. Guaranteed they are not. Life is a lot bigger than other people’s critical thoughts – how exciting is this!”

Final Thoughts

As we move into the coming year let’s remember the common thread of what we have learned from our favorite miscalculations for this past year.
I wish for you that this coming year- 2009 – be a year not free of mistakes but a year that is enthusiastic as you run not walk toward it.  Possessing more exciting things than this past one. Let’s break into this coming year with the greatest enthusiasm we’ve ever known.

How amazing it is that God allows us to get a brand new year to try out each time Jan. 1st rolls around. No matter how we handled the past one we still get a new one to try out. His mercies really are new every morning – and every year. He is just that kind of God. He is just that kind of Merciful One.

Let’s run not walk into this with heart, soul, mind and strength.

I am excited to share this with you. I do this with you because you are the people who have supported me through thick and thin these many years. I don’t think I could do this without you – nor would I want to or even imagine trying!

My Favorite Mistakes of 2008 – Part 2

continued from Part 1, which you can view here

2: I concerned myself too much with where finances were headed.

Sometimes it’s possible to not necessarily worry about something but to merely focus on it and to haphazardly become negatively ensnared. It’s possible to become preoccupied with a matter that may be neutral then you become waylaid in the process. So it has been for me with money at times this past year. I don’t consider myself to be in financial straits. However I do feel the pain of a lot of people – that just goes with the territory of my current roles in life. I live life as a professional people connector. With that territory comes worry for others. Sometimes I tend to concern myself too much about the things people are going through. Other’s difficulties naturally become my difficulties. Perhaps you go through that to a degree. With me it is increased because of my Tye A and my role in life.

Regarding money, I focused too much about where it would come from especially. I have a feeling this burden was shared by a lot of others in the US in 2008.

The year 2008 was a negative banner year for us as a country. We dug down deep end and not yet found the basement of our emotional house. Most are still digging. For someone to walk past our emotional house they will see the dirt flying out from the basement windows today. The digging will cease soon I believe. It must stop soon. There’s not much dirt left to dig.

It’s safe to say in many of our cases 2008 has been an economic emotional roller coaster.

When it comes to rightly relating to money, we don’t lack information so much as we lack emotional stability. We need a soothing voice that is reassuring us that everything is going to be okay. Right now many are looking to our new president to speak hope and peace to us among other things. We’re looking to the feds to say that to us as. But what we really need is encouragement from God – day after day – in each step of our day in fact. But no president can provide that kind of reassuring voice to mankind.

Ultimately only God can make a difference of any kind in our financial standing. God is the only difference maker when all is said and done.
I’ve heard plenty of sermons about the source of all funds – God on high is our supply. All funding flows from him no matter what the local expression appears. I’ve heard the right information for years – perhaps you have as well. But it’s one thing to hear the right info. It’s another matter to take into our hearts how that works. We need great application wisdom.

Have you noticed that? Just because we have the right information we don’t necessarily get it right when it comes to the outworking of how that works.

I know my heart is thick more often than sensitive especially when it comes to the matter of the resourcing of finances. My heart is more difficult to be gotten a hold of that it is delicate and easily touched by God’s power when it comes to funding.

What I am in constant need of is a touch from God. His touch needs to penetrate my heart. Once that occurs I am able to make progress in life.
God is always ready to penetrate our hearts. His power is sufficient to touch our hearts at the deep down level.  Our God is a God with invasionary power. We must not be naïve about the need for God’s Spirit being present for progress to be made. God’s presence by his Spirit is necessary for us to gain any kind of traction in the realm of financial perspective. God gets our attention first through the pain of finances it seems. Then he gains power in our lives by the presence of his Holy Spirit that allows us to make commitments that we are able to follow up on the gaze of his indwelling Spirit. It’s a simply profound interaction.

3: Concerns about future momentum ensnared me.

The future is headed in a direction that is precisely where God is. If I am spending time and energy connecting with God and working on my capacity to connect with God above all else I am making my strategic moves forward in the right direction. For me to dwell, that is to worry, about the small itsy-bitsy meanderings in the road instead of to stay at the center path of the dotted line in the road I am making strategic errors in my navigation of things.

Amazingly it is easy to see that God has been the author of momentum in my life consistently all these years but this year it was easy to question whether that would continue another year or two down the road.

When I look at the pattern of faithfulness of God it seem ridiculous to question God for even a nanosecond. Yet still I found it difficult to hold off the questioning voices that seemed to return until I “Journaled” them away with the comparisons of God’s faithfulness in the past (as David did so masterfully in the Psalms) to the immediate concerns I have. With this technique in hand I have been able to quiet these clamoring voices.

This has been a year of over concern and under influence. I’ve come to realize that I have been preoccupied with many things I cannot change – at least not now. I’ve come to realize that the future has loomed overly large in my mind and heart. I have had dreams repeatedly about the future. I’ve worried about the future and my capacity to meet the future. What is worry exactly? It is the emotional state I end up in one distressing, emotional state where the inner pressure is more than I can bear and it begins to drain me to a level of overall systemic debilitation. I’m not wired for this kind of emotional configuration. As my focus shifts to this I began to lose it and begin to be draining beyond words description. Ultimately I grow ill all around.

None of us are wired to grab onto the future and steer it way it needs to be steered. When we try to steer what we cannot our lives suffer. The quality of life in our souls grows weak and we begin to fade away.

To simply be alive causes one to be a bit preoccupied with such things. However the thin line of what is reasonable and proper with this and what is over the top is easily crossed due to human preoccupation.

We tend to be caught up with what we focus upon. That is, we tend to become embroiled with the very things that we gaze upon.

If we are not careful we will fall in love with the very things that intimidate us. We can become enamored with the things that scare the daylights out of us. Thus we have a love-hate relationship with things in life. How maddening is that? I do not know about you but I am not all that interested in having it any more such relationships. My life has been drained already by such arrangements. I’m ready to move on and have just strong love relationship the rest of my days.

continue on to Part 3, which you can view here

My Favorite Mistakes of 2008 – Part 1

At the end of each year I spend time reflecting on my 11.5 months of making as many mistakes as possible. I look back upon the year that has passed and its miscalculations with a degree of glee. With a bit slight demented smile I sit down, a pad of paper in hand, a good pen as my companion I narrow down a long list of misfires into something I can relate to others as my favorites of the year.

I say “Demented” because not all people relish the notion of seeing in positive the things we don’t do all that well. In my case I have grown accustomed to reflecting upon these faux pas in a positive light each year. I see my misfires as opportunities for learning. These are a means for growing ever smarter, more emotionally vigilant as I move into each coming year.

This year life is no different. These are now akin to the coming year of attractions in the theater of my life. I’ve done a decent job of continuing to make a sufficient number of mistakes that provide ample opportunities to fill the pages and a few minutes of what you’re about to participate in.

Maybe we are a little bit genius in our dementia – perhaps in our capacity to look back with the flow of positivity to it we have something going for us. It is in the positive reflection regarding mistakes that we learn our most powerful mistakes / lessons.

So for a few minutes let’s learn sit back, listen up and gather together to see what God has for us.

1:  I concerned myself with the notion of the small-minded idea of “Excellence” instead of pursuing what God calls  “Greatness.”

I’ve learned that as we pursue matters that begin with the notion of excellence we are in all likelihood going to talk ourselves into thinking of something that is utterly impossible for mere humans to accomplish.

Some things are attainable. Excellence is something humans talk plenty about. We chat about it as though it is something we can set our sites upon then persevere on our “To do” list then to simply get there by human effort. No so. In fact, never so. When we begin to chat about excellence and we must understand what stands behind that notion – it is a notion that appeal to our lower, broken nature.

The concept of excellence is not biblical. Instead of the “E” word we are wise to align ourselves with the biblical concept of “Greatness” – a word God repeats many times in the scriptures and holds high as a concept that describes his character and that which he calls his people to develop as we walk increasing dependence upon him.

What is greatness? It is a location in our orbit of nearness with God where we realize that our life is making a difference because we’ve done all we can do – we’ve said all we can say – we have aspired to all we can – and now all that is left to happen is for God to show up and make the ultimate difference in things. He is God and we can never fake his works. A person who attains greatness has an ever-increasing notion of the vastness of the power of God.

What is greatness? What does the Bible mean when it holds up the word “Greatness”? It is the quality of having an enduring life. We do what we can do in human faithfulness. We walk as disciples of Christ – little replicas of the life of Christ. We do what we are capable of doing. We lean into the strength of God with all our hearts. We have done all we can do. All that is left is to trust in God – to see God show up to do what he and he alone can do.

We know from lots of Bible promises and biblical stories that God majors in the notion of holding high the theme of showing up in the nick of time to show himself strong in our lives. When he is called upon, and when we cannot go forward but by the appearance of God himself, God loves to show up and prove himself to be all he promises in his word.

Then greatness begins to happen at the next, deeper level in our lives.

In greatness God proves himself as the deciding factor. If God does not show up there will be no greatness. We show up in human faithfulness. Then there is the mere possibility of greatness being attained. But in the end that is still left up to God. We cannot control the will of God. God is God and we are not. We cannot force Gods hand. God will do as he pleases and only what he pleases. We can pray. We can show up on time we can do our part to be faithful. But the rest is left up to God Almighty. If God so wills greatness will occur.

There is a real problem today among many, myself included, with our times of operating on a small picture of God. My challenge is the same as yours I suspect. I operate continually on a too small picture / notion of God. It’s easy to become chummy with God and miss his grandeur. We are destined to be blown away by the amazing vast size of God on a continual basis. When I have a geeky itsy-bitsy picture of God in my mind and heart and I am operating that way in my dealings with him I run the risk of anticipating that at all times I can do things myself. I can anticipate that he will of course always do things that will cause me and my system and my church – all the works of my hands in fact – to be seen as something that is fantastic. It doesn’t work that way folks. The way that it works is it is left to God’s hands to decide how things land. Sure, I can do things to cause a crowd to come together but that does not mean that greatness attained. I can do lots of things in an attempt to jury rig the surrounding circumstances to make God do something that he may not desire to do. In the end nothing will be changed whatsoever. I will have done nothing to change anything. Things will continue exactly as they were from the beginning. “Same as it ever was” as David Byrne wrote.

Excellence works that way. Excellence is an attempt to manipulate the end of things without taking into account the totality of the equation. Not greatness occurs because we operate in our strength only. My role is to give God my best, my highest then to lean back and say “God do with this what you will as you will and I will be satisfied.” He tends to take us at our word when we pray deep prayers of honesty from the heart.

continue on to Part 2, which you can view here

Make A Difference In The Next 100 Days

New and established leaders alike are in the same boat as our new new president steps into office. We need to establish ourselves afresh in the new year to make it clear we are moving forward with momentum.

The following points of demarcation are especially poignant if you are new to a role. You need to establish a few things with as much clarity as you can as you set out to change your territory with the mark of greatness.

Go With Momentum From On High

The only things that will endure are those that God has established. Try as we might, all our great efforts will amount to burnt hay and stubble apart from the lasting touch of God’s Spirit breathed upon things. God given intuition shows us what is established by his strength each day. The same shows us what we are to lend strength to on a weekly basis as we survey the horizon of a multitude of projects we could lend our efforts to. Only the things Jesus breathes upon will endure past the moment though.

The only real success is what God deems as enduring – those things that last. Those are the things that hold people in high esteem, that value the people that God loves to highly he sent his Son to die for. Programs that are void of showing value to people are not all that great in the eyes of God – not when they don’t esteem people.

For success we aim to build momentum by reading the signs of God’s hand is upon. We cannot fail by doing what he is doing.

God grant us the ability to see clearly that we can understand what is important and what is passing. Otherwise we are prone to losing track of the vital and wasting our lives on what is probable of going down the garbage disposal of life.

Lead With Humility of Heart

We need the presence of Big God if there is hope for success. We can do nothing apart from his intervention among us. With his presence there is nothing on the positive ledger that cannot happen. It all begins as we get walk in rugged honesty.

Walk in Abounding Hopefulness

We can be hopeful because we are aware of the source of our hope. We are aware that our hope rests in the notion that God is in charge and he is a good God who is for us in all things.

In All Things Show Clarity

“The best is yet to come!” To the degree we can we provide it we must allow invested people to look over our shoulders to what will be coming around the corner. We all know that without a vision people scatter and driven to the four winds. They are also scattered when they are unclear on what is up when they have need for enough information. They don’t require an advance read of the newspaper before it all happens. But to be kept in the dark simply will not due. People are will not tolerate the mushroom treatment – up to their shoulders in stinky stuff and kept in the basement in the dark. Let’s let the light in and get the right information flowing. This is not a card game with our unique hand kept close to the vest. We are not playing in the World Series of Poker folks. Get over the notion that you have special information that must be kept from the people. For their good and yours inform them of what God seems to be up to. Share in humility. Share with enthusiasm what you believe to the the path God has you on. Share what you understand and share it with those words. Then listen to them clarify to you what they see happening. You will learn a lot in the returning conversations.

How To Rekindle Things

The popular digital readers from Amazon, the Kindle, is getting a revamp. If you thought of ordering one for Christmas it’s too late. They are sold out completely. That is bad news if you were holding out for one for the holidays. It is great news in that the new version will be released around February 1 and the price will perhaps be a bit lower than the current $350 U.S.

Since Kindle is refashioning their design at the end of the calendar year, maybe the handwriting is on the wall for the rest of us as well. We need to rethink our ways as well. We need to “ReKindle” if you will.

I have labored for years over the colliding topics of originality versus effectiveness. I ran a piece on this blog two years ago this week that parlayed its way into a front page article on the Wall Street Journal. Suzanne Satteline penned the eventual lengthy piece as an interview take with me and a number of other voices who have input about matters that have been relegated in the past to the catch-all of “Plagiarism.” But all of that is changing. Creativity in the Information Age is a new animal. “There is nothing new under the sun” has more relevance now than ever since Solomon first penned those wise words thousands of years ago. Complete creativity is difficult to claim by any of us these days in light of our exposure to such a vast array of things at various places hither and yon.

The original piece was something that appeared on this blog. That small introduction ended up being cut down and posted on Rick Warren’s Pastors.com site. I made the mistake of taking a mere blog entry and allowing it to be used as a representation of my thoughts on a very complex issue. Not surprisingly, the critics came out of the woodwork. As well the fans of my line of thinking gathered around to warm themselves by the fireside and found that there are lots of people who don’t necessarily think in a bifurcated way regarding the origins of creativity. I was not surprised to discover that nearly all of the critics came from the realm of theological institutions, specifically professors of preaching.

The original intent of the blog I did was to take a deep and long look at creativity. I still hope to encourage the greater look at this by each of us. If you are stuck in the middle of a drought of creativity lack look the below over a bit and see what comes of it. You may just snap out of it.

1. If you’re not ADD already become that way immediately.

That is, began to practice thinking quickly with fast and cogent thoughts. The day of slow, deliberate and drawn out thought-processes is long gone. We are not returning to the age of left brain thinking. If you’re a left brained thinker — if you’re way of coming to conclusions is by slow deductions and continual non-intuitive constraints that are long and drawn out and take enormous amount of time your future is sealed. You are going to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as an extinct species probably in the next two or three issues of that large and ever-increasing book.

2. Start to hang around idea people and you’ll probably become an idea person.

At least it’s more likely you will become an idea person. For Pete’s sake stop criticizing idea people just because you are not to the same degree an idea person as they are. Resist the temptation to come against those who are different (sometimes the opposite) than us. This is at times as difficult as not blinking when air is blown into our eyes.

The rule of thumb is we all become like the people we spend time with — both for better and for worse. That is a scary reality check. The “For Worse” part does not necessarily mean harsh, degraded ways. I wish it were that simple. We can be drawn down in ways that are simply not for our betterment. At the same time those ways are not going to stir us up to love, good deeds and expansion in the ways that God has called us to walk out our lives. In other words, are you spending time with people that Jesus has brought into your life to cause you to grow? Or are you spending time with people that are simply comfortable? If the second is more your case, stop here and pray for one thing: Courage. God loves to bring courage to those who are willing to receive it. He will certainly answer that simple plea in an instant.

3. Stop paying attention to matters of criticism — start paying attention to matters of encouragement.

It is a universal truth that what we become what we pay attention to. What we talk about with our mouths is the manifestation of our inner conversation. If we are critical of others we are making it clear that we have first been critical with ourselves. There is no momentum to be gained with self-criticism. We do this naturally enough to at least a small degree. What’s the point of becoming even better at this toxic task?

If I had all to do it all over again I think I would start today to give everybody I know a much wider break in life.  Pretty much everyone I know is trying about as much as they can in an effort to do as well as they can in life. Today especially it is true that most can’t do a whole lot more or a whole lot better than the job they are presently pulling off. Let’s join forces in giving one another a break in the journey and see what comes of it. I think together we can begin to make a difference.

Creativity is gained by God showing up in our lives.  Let’s give God the credit in advance for what he alone can do.