Blessed are the peacemakers…

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I think all too often we seek justice at the expense of reconciliation.  We want to feel vindicated, but not restored.  We want someone to feel our pain, not experience our hope.  Reconciliation is hard and often reveals hurts we either forgot about or did not realize were there.  But the gospel is about reconciliation.  And as people of the gospel—people who have been reconciled to God—we are to pursue reconciliation even if it is not reciprocated.

So whether it is a night club in Orlando; or an African-American man in Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Baltimore, or Minneapolis; or Police Officers in Dallas; or wherever the next news story breaks may we be marked as peacemakers who champion the Gospel of Reconciliation because we are all created in and bear the image of God.

 

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3 Ways To Not Be A Leader

In the battlefield drama, We Were Soldiers there is a mountain training scene a little more than fifteen minutes into the movie where Lt. Col. Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) looks to Sgt. Maj. Plumley (Sam Elliot) and says:

Moore: Now that young man is a leader. (referring to Lt. Geoghegan, played by Chris Klein)

Plumley: Yes sir. (looking through binoculars in a different direction)

Plumley: But that other fella. That big strong one there.  He wants to win medals.

Moore: (Picks up the binoculars and looks at Sgt. Savage, played by Ryan Hurst)

Moore: He’s eager.

Later in the movie, the men get dropped off behind enemy lines by helicopters. As they set up an initial field base, the battlefield is eerily still, the enemy attacks from what seems like every direction.

Lt. Col. Moore, in the thick of the fire fight tells his radio operators: “Hey! Hey! Calm down! Understand the situation and communicate clearly!”

I believe that is a message that any leader, whether in the military, the schools, corporate world, or church need to take to heart.

Calm down. Understand the situation. Communicate Clearly.

Let me suggest three ways to not be a leader…

1. If you want to not be a leader, sabotage your credibility with social media posts

In some ways I am sure that every modern President is jealous of Franklin Roosevelt.  The reality of his life bound to a wheelchair hidden from public knowledge.  That’s just not true today.  We know when the President makes a run to Starbucks or to grab a hot dog.  We know how many rounds of golf he has played and how many vacation days he has taken.

The technological revolution coupled with the explosion of social networking has had an unavoidable impact on the platform of our public leaders.  Political, athletic, entertainment, or religious leaders all feel its impact.  Think about some leaders who have fallen due to social networks.  Anthony Weiner, Ray Rice, David Petraeus, and more come to mind.

Might I offer three suggestions?

  • Ask yourself: “Am I saying something publicly that has the potential to affect my personal influence?”
  • Recognize that the things you say have the ability to alienate someone from your church/ministry.
  • Remember to check who/what you follow…because it is a reflection upon yourself.

2. If you want to not be a leader, act like Chicken Little

Do you remember the story of Chicken Little from elementary school or bedtime stories with your kids?  An acorn falls from a tree hitting Chicken Little on the head.  He surmises that the sky is falling and sets off to warn the king.  On the journey to the king, he warns everyone he comes into contact with.  In the more popular renderings of the story, a fox lures the group journeying to the king into his lair and eaten.  Because Chicken Little panicked and no one stepped up to lead, people died–ok, that may be a tad on the dramatic side.

Here’s the thing, even if the building is on fire, leaders don’t panic.  When leaders panic people get hurt; people get lost; people get left behind.  Solomon reminds us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV).

One final note, in the book Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley notes that leaders need: Competence, COURAGE, Clarity, Coaching, and Character.  Courage is not the absence of fear, it is moving forward in the face of fear.  Courage is not panicking.  Even if you have to manufacture courage, do it: fake it, ’til you make it.

3. If you want to not be a leader, always never be grateful 

I should begin by acknowledging this is perhaps the area where I need to grow the most.  I need to thank my volunteers more…we all do.  Think about it: when someone thanks you for doing something, how does it feel?  Why would it feel any different for the people you lead?

I don’t have the research to back this up.  But I think it’s safe to assume that there is a direct correlation between the gratitude you show towards the people you lead and the rate of retention you experience.

I believe that these two words will transform your leadership platform more than any others: Thank You.

Say it often. Say it sincerely. Say it publicly

Let’s wrap it up this way:

  • Leaders have integrity
  • Leaders have courage
  • Leaders have gratitude

The Other Side Of Love

A few weeks ago in my time with our students during our weekly mid-week worship service we were asking the question “Why Love?”  We answered that question with: “Love is not about getting, love is about giving.”  A few days later I was in 1 Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter.”  As I was reading through the passage I began to wonder what the other side of love (in this chapter) would look like…

Paul’s words to his friends in Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13.4-8a NIV84)

 

My words, “The Other Side Of Love”:

Love is not impatient, love is not cruel.

It enjoys others, it is humble, it is meek.

It is gentle, it is others-focused, love reconciles, and love forgives.

Love seeks justice and invites authenticity.

Love always defends the defenseless, always holds onto faith, always believes, always endures.

Love always wins.

 

 

Like A 2×4 To The Face

This year in our life groups I have the privilege of leading my seniors. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the guys and girls better. This Saturday I will watch them graduate from high school. I can’t help but think of that awful purple cap and gown with gold trim that I wore over ten years ago (I feel old writing that).

At the beginning of the school year I let them choose what book of the bible they wanted to walk through on Sunday mornings. They told me their choice was Revelation. They did that to see my reaction. They saw it. Laughed. And told me they were joking. They were serious when they said Romans and I smiled a bit inside because this book is no cake walk.

Several months ago we got to chapter 4 of Romans. Personally, I have been stuck on Romans 4.17 ever since. I can’t shake it. It consumes my thoughts, imaginations, wonderings.

The last part of Romans 4.17 says, “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

I knew that. I knew both parts of that verse to be very true. I have read through Romans and studied Romans personally and academically. I had never seen chapter 4, verse 17 before. It was like a 2×4 to the face. It connected two key dots. That Sunday we were to cover chapter 4, we actually just covered verse 17.

Stop. Go back and re-read verse 17. Now do it one last time. Sit there. Let it soak in. Now, think about it, ponder it, delight in it. That smile that you feel on your face, it’s ok. That quiet laughter in your soul, it’s ok, too. Now let’s look at the last part of Romans 4.17: “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

Our God is the God who brings dead things to life. Literally, God has the power to bring dead things to life. He has the power and ability and history of bringing physically dead people back to life. Don’t believe me? Go read John 11 and the story of Lazarus; or Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 to read about Jesus’ resurrection. God also has the power to bring spiritually dead people back to life, look at the Apostle Paul, or me, or perhaps yourself. The result of my sin was my spiritual death and separation from God. But God fixed that through Jesus.

The last phrase of that verse says that God is the one who called into being things that were not. Literally, God created everything out of nothing. He is the God who spoke into being everything that we know and see in six days and rested on the seventh. He is the God who put the sun and moon and stars in the heavens. Who created the universes and galaxies that are beyond our comprehension and that we are still discovering. He put the birds in the air, the fish in the sea, and the animals on land. He is the God who took two fistfuls of dirt, molded it, and breathed life into it to create man. Then he caused man to go into a deep sleep, took a rib out and fashioned woman. He is the God who has created e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

When life spirals out of control…
When you’re compass leads you to the wrong north…
When the GPS doesn’t get a signal…
When the fog becomes normal…
When 2 + 2 = 5…
Then delight in the God of Romans 4.17; the God who is in charge, who creates, and who gives life.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15.16

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” Isaiah 40.12

Which part(s)of God do you delight in?