relationships

I Vote Everyday. What Am I Voting For?

I just took down a Facebook post from an hour ago. I was rather straight-forward about my growing frustration with our political reality. After a few comments I realized my desire to “voice” my heart to defend people who have been disrespected, marginalized and even dehumanized was tangled up in a seemingly no-win debate among people - who really care about our country. Because my desire wasn't to begin a political conversation, creating side-taking banter about candidates or partisan preferences, I deleted my post.

Then, I decided to post what's really key to me. What I’d most like to say - in a political conversation or not. This certainly isn’t complete, but this is my heart…

Lasagne Lessons

If you were in our home last evening, I’m not asking you to send me an email or text or Facebook message, telling me how flavorful pasta can be without enough sauce to call it lasagne. It’s okay. Really. You didn’t fail me by not praising my attempt at dinner.

However, the truth is this: I still want approval. About my cooking, about my training, about my appearance, about my life. I still want the satisfaction and accolades that come from performing.…

Getting to Answers Without Questions. Really?

Are questions better than statements?

Of course, the “right” answer is “yes.” Which is precisely the challenge of asking questions: We think we already know the answer. I admit it. I often do.

When I do, my arrogance spews observations as judgements (This can be especially true with family or others close to me. Ugh.). My narrow-mindedness is expressed as nothing more than biting accusation dressed up as "truth-telling." And my claim to “truth” leads me to directives and corrections with little room for push-back or open human-to-human dialog. This confession is no fun.

Surely I'm not alone in this. 

Look at your own relationships and interactions. In how many conversations - in your workplace, on your team, in your church, in your home - do you actually ask questions? Meaningful questions. Too often our dialogs are a back-and-forth exchange of statements we already share with each other. We craft questions to draw out…

Discipleship as Story: A Shared Journey of What It Is to Be Fully Human

I’ve been to India twice now. On both occasions I took in a trip to Agra to visit the Red Fort and the famed Taj Mahal. I was traveling with my family on the second tour and wanted them to experience all I had in my first Eastern adventure. 

You see, my first tour was with a native travel guide who completely immersed herself in the history and legacy of her country. She told stories about the people and events that had inhabited the sites as though she had experienced them herself. She was connected with the story. She told it as if it was her own. I listened with keen interest, hung on every word. I was invited into her world, her history, her life. I not felt I knew her country and her heritage; I believed I knew her. 

Eager for my wife and daughter to experience the same riveting interaction, we embarked on the two-hour ride to Agra from New Deli. My eagerness waned as…

How to Give a Care

We use this word, care, easily and often throughout the day.

  • “Do you care if I have a cookie?”
  • “I don’t give a care.”
  • “I care, just not enough to do anything about it.”
  • “I care for you.”
  • “Be careful!”
  • “He should be under a doctor’s care.”
  • "I don't care."

Care is defined as a noun: the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something; serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk. It’s also a verb: feel concern or interest; attach importance to something; look after and provide for the needs of.

Maybe it’s just as easy to miss actually caring for someone as it is to say, “I don’t care for...

One Agenda. Only One.

It’s curious to me how many end goals, expected outcomes… or agendas we attach to caring for someone. 

With sincere hearts we create agendas from a sense of obligation, responsibility… even calling. We mean well. We feel an obligation to be helpful. We feel responsible to lead people to hope. We feel called to rescue and deliver. But too often our agendas for an expected outcome get in the way of what we’re actually trying to do

The Lens of Awareness

My wife, Laura, and I shared breakfast at "our" Starbucks this past Friday just before I headed for the airport. As I kissed her goodbye, I looked into her stunning eyes and reminded her: "I'm so thankful you're here...that you are alive." She responded with the same heart-felt expression of gratitude about me. 

And we both knew exactly the journey that led to this depth of thankfulness we share...

Right Where You Are.

A common mantra in the Church about God’s love goes like this: “God loves you right where you are, but too much to leave you there.” I’ve said it too. It’s true. 

Sometimes I wonder if our mantra risks communicating an unwillingness to love people right where they are. 

I talk to others a lot about accepting people right where they are. It’s at the core of the guest services training I do with churches and organizations. It’s what I teach. And yet, I’m embarrassed that I am still learning...

Team: More than Task

This past weekend my friend, Kim Volheim and his wife, Claudia hosted a gathering for our guest services leaders and coaches. Fifty plus men and women filled their home with no agenda. There was no meeting, no objectives to review or sharpen. 

Kim created space. Just space. 

Space to eat lots of sugary sweets and salty snacks. Space to talk. Space to be. 

Most teams get launched and organized around task. There is a vision; there are clear objectives; there is a reason for the team's existence. They are built to get things done. it's how any vision or mission worth pursuing gets accomplished: team.

However, although task brings people to a team, tasks aren't the only glue

Technology & Human Relationships | Take 2

Last week I wrote briefly about the confusion we create or at least cultivate regarding technology and human relationships. Technology isn't merely about the cool factor of an amazing product, it has the ability to enhance our relational experiences. Or not.  

I asked in last week's article for feedback: Does social media and the technology that makes it possible really improve our relationships or does it distract? I'm about to make the first comment to my own question (I'm not bitter. Not very. A little. Maybe. No, I'm not.).

From my own personal experience over the last couple weeks, my family and I have been blown away by technology and the three little app icons pictured above. 

Two weeks ago my lovely wife, Laura, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Apple & the Technology of Human Relationships

Maybe the title above is an oxymoron. Apple made a statement about it in their recent "designed in California" ad. Maybe it was intentional. Hopefully it wasn't. 

The ad opens with: “This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a product.” 

Mark Wilson observes in a Fast Company article that an appropriate edit should have corrected the opener to: “This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a person.” Watch if for yourself below. 

Customer Service Training Starts at Home

Don't you sometimes wish you had the silver bullet for finding great volunteers or staff for your team? Whether it's guest service peeps on your volunteer church team or your sales staff at your retail store, a silver bullet for finding "stars" would be awesome.  

In his book, A Week at the Airport, Alain de Botton notes the following about British Airways:

The Power of a Satisfied Customer

satisfied-customers.jpg
 
  • From the archives...

As I read the Scriptures, I tend to latch onto a few verses at a time and gnaw on them for a while. Sometimes days at a time. I don't think it has anything to do with "maturity" or godliness; I'm just slow, thick headed. 

So, I'm reading through Matthew's account of the story of Jesus again. In chapter 8 Matthew tells the story of this untouchable, ostracized leper who approaches Jesus for healing.

Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, "Master, if you want to, you can heal my body." Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. (verses 1-3, MSG)

If I've heard one discussion about this request, I've heard dozens. "If Jesus was willing to heal this man, why isn't he willing to heal me?" It seems to me that our "take away" from this story stops right there. Some end up thinking, "He just doesn't want to help me." while others conclude "I found favor with God - he was willing."

We tend to talk about this story from a consumer mindset. "I'm the consumer, I'm the customer. I have a need. You've made a promise. You should deliver." Right...

But there's more to this passage. Jesus gives this man some instruction. Precise instruction.

Jesus said, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." (verse 4, MSG)

I've not heard nearly as many conversations about Jesus instructions to this man. There are plenty of speculations about why Jesus asked this man to keep it under wraps.

  • Jesus wasn't ready for wide-spread popularity yet.
  • He didn't want conflict with the Jewish high priest or Pharisees.
  • He was a Jewish Rabbi - of course, he'd honor the ceremonial expectations regarding an "unclean" condition like leprosy.

But, maybe there's something more here. Maybe as Eugene Peterson infers, Jesus was challenging this man to live life with gratitude. Maybe Jesus was reading the human heart and wanted to guide him away from our tendency:

  • ...to expect more
  • ...to give others the "formula" we followed for our answered prayer
  • ...to turn our God moment into a universal doctrine to "prove" - not God's holiness, but our proper steps - to figure out God
  • ...to talk about a well-understood experience from 6 months ago, 16 years ago... rather than live out gratitude inside an on-going relationship of wonder and mystery

Satisfied customers. Hardly the language we want to use to describe those whose lives were touched by the risen Christ. And yet, maybe, just maybe there's something here for us to consider.

You see, some time ago when I was on the search for the "right" cell phone and the "right" carrier with the "right" plan, I wanted "proof" from satisfied customers - people who are happy and grateful for the service/phone plan they use. I really didn't care about what process they used to secure their contract. I didn't care about what language they used to negotiate their deal. I wasn't looking for what they did "right". I was looking for satisfied people.

Maybe the bigger point of this story in Matthew 8 isn't how, when or who Jesus chooses to heal. Maybe the bigger point is that Jesus invites us to live our lives gratefully. Let people see our joy, our gratitude... our satisfaction. Maybe, too often, when we open our mouths to state the truth, argue our case or validate our choice to follow Jesus, we end up talking too much about us. About me.

Maybe Jesus knows that if people see us live our lives grateful for Him, grateful for his grace, that people will look at us and know it's not about us... There must be something, Someone else at work in our lives.

Life-Sucking Silos, Part 2

In Part 1 of "Life Sucking Silos" I outlined a few primary ways we focus our staff and volunteer leaders on the main thing, preventing silo ministries or teams who operate as stand-alone entities within the local church (read it here).

 

Don't worry about relationships; focus on ministry. Don't take the time to get to know people. There are goals to accomplish, souls to serve. Who has time for relationships?

  • Fail to build relationship with your leaders and you'll have a

Still Crazy After All These Years

This is my bride, Laura, of 31 years. No, today isn't our anniversary. But, I'm celebrating her anyway. We met 35 years ago in high school. I had my eye on her for a couple of years, but she was beyond me. No way she'd want to date me. She was a good friend of my sister, so I finally avoided all risk and begged my sister to tell me what Laura thought of me. Would she go out with me?

Like I said, that was a couple decades or more ago.

Today, we're best friends and passionate lovers (with each other!). Here are 27 reasons I'm proud and grateful to be your husband, Love: