Thursday, April 24, 2014

Leadership 3/31/14

I am learning about leadership right now.  I am studying it, looking at how to be a good leader.  As I go through this process, I have been looking at different leadership models from organizations and churches. I decided to go and look at the bible and it occurred to me that sometimes I look at the Bible as a book of principles that lead to success.  As in, the Bible is truth, it's God's Word, it's God's laws on how the world works.  So, if I want to be successful in life, avoid the pitfalls, capitalize on good decision making. having the ultimate authority on how the world works, the Bible and it's Biblical principles, defining or mapping out a way to succeed.  Now, I am not saying that following the Bible and studying it and learning it doesn't lead to successful life. BUT, the Bible doesn't guarantee you a happy life.  Secondly, the measure of success is different between what I measure as success and what the Bible or what God measures as success. How ever I do form time to time have  completely inaccurate way of look/studying the Bible altogether.  I would say that in my pursuit for good leadership, in my pursuit to be a better person or a man of integrity, that that's how I looked at the Bible.  I was using it to better myself, like a self-help book instead of a relationship with the Lord; instead of a soul transformation.  Now, here is what I am gonna say, if you pursue your relationship with the Lord, there are chances that you could be successful; it can lead to success.  However, my goal should not be to have success, my goal should be to have a relationship with the Lord.  So, instead of studying the Bible and Biblical principles on leadership to be successful, my heart should be to get counsel from the Bible, to get counsel from God, to ask Him first; what does it look like to be a good leader.  Not so that I can have success, but so that I can be a good steward of what the Lord has given me.

With that in mind this is what I been learning about's such a crazy thing.  You know, I feel like this last two years have been about changing me and making me into a different person.  Breaking me; cleansing me almost, and now I am in this place where I have a team of people behind me.  I have a board of directors, I have an assistant; a project manager, so to speak and I am really working hard on trying to be a good leader.  You know, I have difficulty saying no.  Which is something you gotta be pretty good at as a leader I have realized. I have difficulty setting boundaries which is another thing you gotta be pretty good at to be a leader.  So, those are the things I need to work on, but there is something interesting that I have learned the last couple of weeks.

They always say being a good leader is about being a good servant and I would agree with that.  I think I have to be willing to do or have done what I am asking other people to do on some level.

I'll just start out with a story.  When I was in my 20's, I remember really trying hard to grow in the Lord. Side note God is so faithful. during the that time of my life I was a public success, but a personal failure.  I looked good in the public, but personally I was failing on so many things. The Lord was still feeding my mind and my heart and investing into the future of me.

  Anyways I loved my church, Calvary Chapel Spokane.  That's where God met me.  It's a big church.  The pastor was Ken Ortiz and I remember feeling like this is the greatest thing ever; just so much knowledge.  Great worship.  On Thursday night we had a bible study.  Ken was going through Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6 verse 5, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart just as you would obey Christ.  Obey them not only to win their favor, when their eyes are on you, but as slaves to Christ doing the will of God from your heart."

 I remember the pastor saying, "how do we apply this to our lives today?"  He was equating a slave as being an employee and our masters as being our bosses.  I remember him saying, "do you work hard when your boss is looking, but slack off when he's not?"  But beyond that, the idea of slaves and masters, employees and employers, leaders and followers,always stuck out in my mind. I have always kept those ideas together. Im not sure why but they are all on the same level to me.

 That kind of thought process crossed my mind recently when I was reading a different story about the faith of the centurion.  It's Matthew 8 verse 5

 "When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him asking for help.  'Lord,' he said, 'my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.'  Jesus said to him, 'Shall I come and heal him?'  The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof, but just say the word and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority and a soldier under man. I tell this one 'go' and he goes.  I tell that one 'come' and he comes.  I say to my servant 'do this' and he does it.  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, 'Truly I tell you, I have found no one in Israel with such great faith."  I will stop there at verse 11.

 I think there is something interesting about what this leader, this centurion did.  He says here in verse 6, "My servant lies at home paralyzed and suffering."  My servant. I thought about Ephesains 6. About servants and masters.  He(the Centurion) is the leader and he has a servant that is in pain,struggling having a hard time.  He goes out of his way to find Jesus and ask him to heal his servant.  That's the kind of leader I want to be.  The one that cares deeply about the people that are around him.  That puts the people first.  Puts the team first.  Not sacrificing my team for success.  Beyond that, going out of my way to take care of them.  To go to the Lord for them.  To be praying for them.  When they in a hard place, to go to the Lord.  This is what I have been learning about leadership lately.

The point I am trying to make here is  this. The Centurion was the leader and his servant was struggling so he went to Jesus and asked to heal his servant.  I love it, it's beautiful.  I wanna be that kind of leader.  I wanna care about my team like that, and I do.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Sweetest Friend 4/5/14

Sitting in an ugly yellow leather chair at a Panara bread restaurant. I grab my hat and pull it low over my eyes and look down into my lap.  My phone is on the armrest, my IPod is on my left leg  and my Kindle Fire is on my right leg. tears are streaming down my face.  I look up and in front of me is a bigger lady checking her glucose level. for a second my mind drifts to what it would be like to have diabetes.  She's got a polka-dotted shirt; at her table are two other people and they are eating lunch.  My IPod is playing a song and it hits me so hard.  The chorus is

"How can I serve You, my sweetest Friend.
 I'll never go back, now I know.
 My eyes looking forward to You instead; desperately waiting..."

 Tears flow down my face every single time I hear the words "how can I serve You, my sweetest Friend."  It just touches my heart in the deepest places.  This whole morning as I have been sitting here, trying to prepare for speaking events all this week.  I have two tomorrow morning, one tomorrow night.  Speaking at a school next week.  I have been speaking two to Four times a week for the last month.  In all of that, somewhere along the line, sharing the Gospel; sharing the story, I haven't had an honest moment with the Lord.  I haven't had an honest moment with just me and Him and things cloud my mind; fears, sins, things from the past.  They always come forward in those moments to condemn me and to change me and to destroy my heart and my mind.  I start looking at them, start condemning myself; feeling a ton of shame.  "All I want to do is serve You, my sweetest Friend."  I grip the chair and just let it ring out in my heart, the voice inside is screaming the words. Just thinking those words, "How can I serve You, my sweetest Friend?"  The tears are flowing even harder now.  I look to the left and I see a lady staring at me. "I need to get out of here."  I start collecting my things and throwing them in my bag and as I try and rush out of the Panara Bread, My eyes fixed on watching my own feet. I don't want to make eye contact with anyone and i don't want anyone to see me. I swing the door open way too wide and almost hit a lady. I don't stop. I cant.  I get in the car and I turn it on and I turn up the music as loud as I can and I sing as loud as I possibly can to the Lord, "How can I serve You, my sweetest Friend?  I'll never go back, now that I know."  It is so hard to not go back to the past; always condemning myself.

All that leads up to this; I am ready to get back on the road.  I miss those times when I am out there on the road and it's just me and the Lord.  I've come to depend on that alone time with Him and I didn't know it.  I don't know how it happened.  I don't know when it happened.  I don't know when I got far away, or I got distant or I stopped listening.  Even in the midst of all this ministry, of all of this sharing, of all the speaking, of all the amazing things I have seen, somewhere in the last couple weeks I've gotten far...I've gotten far.

But how wonderful is the Lord to always draw us back in. I wasn't trying to get close.  Trying to hear something from the Lord.  I was Looking for anything to get me ready for  my week ahead. I was Looking for anything to prepare me. Inspiration. I wasn't looking for a relationship with my God and king  But this song; the Lord had to deal with me.  I couldn't just get information to share.  I couldn't just get inspiration.  The Lord had to bring me to the foot of the cross.  He had to open my eyes and say, "You can't just be a good speaker.  You can't just use the Bible, my love letter to you as information; as a topic to speak on.  You need Me."

All of the speaking events went amazing. I really felt lucky to be apart of what the Lord is doing but even more than that I'm am grateful to have him cares about me. Want to be close with me. more over wants me to be close with him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Rockies Game

I am looking down at my phone using the maps app looking for the closest REI.  I need to get new gear; mostly new shoes.  I had a gift card that was given to me by my friend Chirs.  It was a kind of a going away present.  You know it is time for new shoes when you can smell them while they are on your feet and you are are walking in the open air. The odor is a mix between baby vomit and rotting whale carcass.  Don't ask me how I know what a rotting whale carcass smells like. I take a mental picture of the map in my head, turn off my phone, put it in my pocket and keep walking.  I take a left off of Colfax and go into a neighborhood.  I am trying to avoid the busy streets right now, trying to get out of the spotlight a little bit.  LeeRoy and I stop at an empty house that is for sale.  We sit on the porch.  He eats the grass.  We both kinda lounge in the shade for a bit.  I have noticed something about myself.  It's like I look for trouble.  I will go through a season of good behavior, so to speak, and then I will find some way to get myself into trouble.  I think I get overwhelmed, or maybe let my guard down.  Maybe even beyond that, especially with all the attention, I self-sabotage.  That sentence went through my mind and I just shrugged my shoulders and went "huh."  I picked up my backpack and LeeRoy and I started heading east again towards Bronco stadium.  (It's hard to be transparent again.  Writing these blogs is not easy).  Eventually we ran into the stadium and had to take a left.  As you come from west to east, you can kinda look down on the city at about 20 blocks out.  Once LeeRoy and I get a few blocks past the stadium, we hang another right and follow the road over the freeway.  Just before you hit the bridge to go over the freeway,  the neighborhood just seems to disappear and you can look on downtown Denver.  The first thing you see as you cross the bridge is the aquarium.  Just beyond the aquarium, you can see the river start to flow and then the tall buildings.  Crossing that bridge felt like a big mile marker for me.  Just past the bridge, the road curves to the left.  I can see the REI sign.  Then, there is just that excitement; that pep in my step.  You keep walking and walk right into the REI.  I spent a lot of time on the patio of a Starbucks.  About the best Starbucks in the world for a guy like me. I mean, it’s attached to an REI!  And I love that. At the edge of the patio there is a bunch of grass and trees. LeeRoy is half under the patio keeping out of the sun. It's really great because it makes him hard to see so he’s not attracting a lot of attention.  Looking south there is a river.  It seems to run east to west and just on the other side of it is the center of Denver.  In the river is a little man-made island where people go and play in the water. Families, couples and a few single moms are spread out across it.  There are a few rowdy kids running around. My favorite kind of kid. A few business people are trying to get out of their work cubicles and into the fresh outdoors. They were eating their lunches on benches and random places to sit on the island. Reading books and escaping from the mundane life they have. You can almost see them get lost in their books.  I can only imagine what it would be like to have been working in a cubicle for 15 or 20 years of my life. I would hate that.  There was a time in my life when I was on that same path.  As soon as lunch would come around I would punch out and go outside and just want to scream; and cuss; and kick stuff and spit.  Say Christian cuss words like "I hate this dang job; and I want to freaking quit." In fact I remember this one job I had. I worked at a hospital for a few years doing different jobs over the years. One of the responsibilities I had was to verify insurances. I would sit in a cubical all day and check the insurance information on the web. Within the first few hours of my day I would be about to lose it. On my lunch I would go to the top of the eight story parking garage and just stare at the city. I would day dream of some other life. MAN am I grateful for what I do now. As I stare at the business men and women reading their books, I snap out of it; that was a dark place.  A heavy dose of reality of what could have been.  Some people love that and can enjoy that and they want that, but not me.  I need freedom.  I am a wild stallion and I hate fences. Haha.    I sit there and people-watch and try not to stick out like a sore thumb. As I'm watching the people I notice every second person is just staring down at their phone.  A thought jetted through my mind. THEY ARE MISSING IT. And then I literally laugh out loud as I look down and see my phone firmly gripped by my right hand.  I have been surfing Facebook most of the morning.
 I had been in Denver for a couple of days now, and today was all about meeting up with friends. Long before I started this walk I had been in a band and toured through here quite a few times. I was really excited to meet up with them and tell them all about this new adventure I was on so I contacted a few of my local friends to let them know I was in town.  Only one of them came out. My friend Liz.  She was somebody that has always been around.  We ended up staying at her house during a tour eight years ago.

I thought back to the last time we hung out. The band I was in had a few days off in Denver. A group of us ended up going to a swing dance club. It's located in downtown Denver somewhere in an old brick building. It was the only thing that hadn't been torn down in the neighborhood. The brick building was on the northeast corner of the block surrounded by parking lots. The bottom floor was a restaurant that was split into two parts. The entrance to the building was on the corner. I walked in and on the first floor there was a poetry reading going on. It was dripping with teenage emotion and not pretentious words, but just people that are trying way too hard to be cool.   I stood there for a while before going up with the rest of the crowd to the swing dancing on the second floor. I was listening to the people basically trying to rap without music.  It literally was the most awkward thing I had ever heard. 

 "I have a flower
 a gray flower
it is my heart 
 It is wilting from the sun of your hatred
 Sometimes I drive on the right side of the road 
sometimes I don't
 Emotions are heavy
Let's have a tickle fight."

  I stood and stared at the overweight kid wearing skinny jeans and a polo, a beard, glasses and he had kind of like a fro thing going on. Standing there on stage, the shape of his body looked like an ice cream cone. He definitely was the flavor of sherbet in my mind.  After subjecting myself to the most awkward thing on the planet, I couldn't choke down another bite of this ice cream cone and eventually went upstairs for swing dancing. 

Yeah, that's right, I can swing dance. Liz was there. We danced a few times. Liz is quite a bit taller than me.  I have to stand on my tippy-toes to do some of the spins.  That's no lie.  But back to the story.  Liz and I sat inside Starbucks and caught up. She's a super sweet girl.  While we were talking we decided to check out a Rockies game. We got a goat sitter; a place to take LeeRoy and we went to a Rockies game.  It was great to hang out with Liz and catch up and share stories.  She is a missionary now, well not a missionary, but something like a missionary.  She does work for the Gospel and raises support for it. So yeah, I guess she is a missionary. Anyway, it was a great time. The Rockies lost which I am okay with.  They lost to the Marlins.  Their mascot is a fish.  Like, I don't get it.  Is the Marlin a wild attacking fish?  I don't get it.  The Marlins beat the Rockies; sad day. I gotta say, maybe one of the most uncomfortable moments in my life happened at that game.  There was the most annoying guy behind me yelling the whole time; totally inappropriate stuff; socially awkward situation.  The Marlins hit a home run into our section.  A pregnant woman catches the ball and she keeps it.  Now in some stadiums there is a tradition.  If the guest team hits a home run and a fan catches it, they throw the ball back onto the field out of disgust.  You are not allowed to keep it for a souvenir.  This guy behind us stands up and starts yelling at this pregnant woman.  He starts chanting  "Throw it back, throw it back"  She doesn't want to throw it back.  But this guy won't stop yelling at her.  And now he is getting the crowd to start chanting at this woman.  Now, I am the most uncomfortable in these situations.  She takes the ball and sits down in her seat while everybody is chanting at her and she shakes her head no.  In my head I am thinking, at what point do I stand up and say shut up to this guy, leave her alone?  I glance back at the lady and I notice an usher coming down to tell this guy to leave her alone and to quiet the crowd.  The only problem is that she is a 70 y/o woman and she can hardly yell at all. She comes down the steps to his row and she is saying something, but you can't hear her.  I had to do something.  So with the emotional courage of five teenage girls, I whip my head around, throw my hands up and yell in my sassiest voice, "come on, leave her alone!"  I don't know how effective that was, but I certainly felt more uncomfortable and awkward by the second. As the crowd eventually starts to die down and watch the game again, I definitely have to give up some man cards for not being stronger in the situation.