Freeze Frame

First, this post is not about the 80's hit - although if you need something to make you laugh today, you should watch the video. The effects, concept, hair and clothing are a great reminder of why we all love the 80's.

Rather, this is a quick post to get you to consider this thought:

If someone were to watch a video clip that lasted 30 seconds from your day today, 
what would they say about you?

Like many of you, I've spent my fair share the last few months enjoying college football. However, as I was watching the BCS games the last two nights (Florida vs. Louisville and Oregon vs. K State). I was captivated by the occasional camera shot of each coach on the sideline. Here's what I observed:

  • One coach was the perfect picture of being poised - go ahead, look at the first two definitions.
  • One coach was frantic, infuriated and almost panicky in his play-calling. When his team began to lose, his anger became a smug smirk as if everyone was against him and "he'd show them."
  • One coach was "head's up" - always aware of what was going on in the game. He was fully engaged in the plays, the players and the moment. Even with the thoughts of "what's next" on the horizon, we were never left to believe anything other than this was his moment, he was here and this was what mattered most.
  • One coach seemed to always have his head down. Perhaps he was looking for the next play on his clipboard, but I saw one camera shot where the coach was looking down AS his offense ran a play. 
Here are three leadership takeaways for when you lead a team:
  1. Be present. Know who's in the game, who's playing hurt, what the score is and where you are on the field. There is no destination (preferred future) if there's no understanding of origination. Every play starts somewhere - and where you start determines what you'll do next.
  2. Be ready. Calm leaders exhibit and exude confidence to their team. There are some who like to see the coach get fiery on the sidelines - there's a place for that. It's just a place you need to visit when it's needed, not reside. Besides, I'm not really sure it's helping your team and it's certainly not helping your health.
  3. Pay attention. Hoping "it" will go away, or believing everyone's against you/your team is leading from a place of defeat - in fact, I'd say it's not even leading. Don't bury you head in the sand.
I have the utmost respect for all four of these men and the young men they lead on their teams. I'm sure that they are great leaders - they must be because they are being paid a lot of money and have the support of a lot of people to do what they do best. This is not a verdict against their leadership, only some simple observations from my recliner. Perhaps, if I walked in their shoes and carried the burden they carry, I'd behave the same way. Or, perhaps, the momentary glimpse pointed out by a producer in a video truck is part of a bigger picture. 

If someone were to watch a video clip that lasted 30 seconds from your day today, 
what would they say about you? 

The 2012 Rearview Mirror

So I'm a little late - most people post there "reflective" blogs toward the end of the year or on the first day of the new year. I wasn't quite ready because I was still reflecting.

Below was one of my favorite views...more later (not my picture, original found here).

Here are seven of the important highlights from 2012:
  1. At the end of February I was invited to represent a gathering of Pentecostal leaders, NextGen leaders and Scholars at an event called Converge21 (I'm not a scholar and would love to think I was NextGen, but we know better). Little did I know that this would begin the reinforcement of a theme that would be developed throughout the year - the priority of relationship. Along with that theme, came a lot of understanding regarding the priority of relationships. I'll blog about that in coming days.
  2. In March I ministered alongside several close friends at a men's retreat called "Bold Venture." The focus of Bold Venture is relational discipleship (click the link for a better understanding of that phrase). The impact this event has on me has always been catalytic for God's calling on my life. I always leave challenged, with a renewed sense of optimism for those who follow, and encouraged in the authenticity and humility of so many of my brothers in Christ. I look forward to speaking in this year's event in October.
  3. In April I had the opportunity to serve alongside a missions team in Belgium. This particular mission trip was a combination of service and ministry. The highlights of this trip were the Leadership Roundtables and ministry in the Filipino churches. As well, the relationships which were developed would open a door for me to return later last year for another trip to Europe to encourage ministry leaders, pastors and congregations.
  4. In June, our annual Summer Conference was the best ever. This event, which brings leaders and churches together from all over the state, continues to improve each year. This year's teaching and worship services were the best they had ever been. 
  5. In July I rejoiced as my son placed 3rd nationally in the Short Sermon category at our national talent competition. Of course, I think he should've won, but I'm extremely proud of him and the way he preaches the word with passion and authority. You can view his sermon by clicking on this page.
  6. August held our annual School of Mission in Chattanooga, TN. This was a unique trip in that I was able to take my daughter along with me. She made a lot of great friends that live all around the world and they genuinely minister to MKs (thanks to friends of ours who serve - you can find out more about them here). We also had a little free time so we were able to enjoy downtown 'Chat Town." It was during this time that I hit my lowest point of the year - not to worry, it was planned! We traveled 1120 feet (by elevator) under the earth's surface at Ruby Falls. It was a great, memory-making, trip for both of us and a great ministry trip for missions.
  7. In November, I returned to Europe. This time I arrived ahead of a team by a few days, ministering to leaders, churches and pastors in Belgium. Again, the relationships developed and the ministry time was rich. I especially loved ministering to pastors, encouraging them to "Embrace the Journey." After a few days in Belgium, one of our local missionaries traveled with me to France where we made final arrangements for the team that would come and serve our local IPH Church in France. Of course we had one day to partake in the typical "touristy" things in France, but the ministry and worship in the local church far exceeded that experience. I left with a real burden to pray for France and the believers in that region.
In all, 2012 was a year full of travel, gaining a lot of experience across varied cultures, and connecting/reconnecting with friends and ministry colleagues. Across the months, there are several themes that the Lord was teaching me. They were:
  • Relational Discipleship
  • Priority of Relationships
  • God's Sovereignty
What did you learn in 2012?

An event is not an experience until it's been reflected upon.

What event from last year is demanding your reflection?

You're Selling What?

I was driving to a nearby city today - much larger than the one I live in - actually, most cities are larger than the one I live in. As I drove in on the U.S. road with multiple lanes of traffic entering and exiting this university city, I caught a glimpse of a marquee sign. You know the ones, they usually highlight the same genres of merchandise: milk, bread, gas, bait (this is rural Georgia), beer.

Today's sign, however, featured a snack product - let's say it's hypothetical name was, "Little Dorothy Honey Breads" - you can probably figure out the correct brand name and product. And, the best news of all, you could buy it today on their "2 for 88 cents" special.

I couldn't believe my eyes...

  • many thousands of vehicles travel this road daily
  • it's placement is at a strategic intersection
  • Competition nearby consists of one other major grocer and one major drug-store chain
Then, I thought to myself...
  • That's the best you can do?
  • You're selling what?

Because the majority of my time is spent in dealing with churches, pastors, etc., my mind immediately shifted to that frame of thought...

  • We have the greatest message in the world
  • We have the greatest opportunity in the world
  • We have the greatest amount of resources in the world (God owns it all!) 
  • We have the greatest hope in the world
What have we brought to the attention of the world?

Are we focused solely on our special project or promo so that we have perhaps missed the single greatest opportunity to connect and bring real hope, real change, real life and real love?

Here's the bottom line:
  • Everything we do communicates
  • What we communicate indicates priority
  • The way in which we communicate indicates passion
  • The timing in our communication indicates urgency
Have we taken the greatest opportunity, 
the greatest strategic positioning, 
the greatest hope 
and placed it in the back room 
so that we can highlight our "2 for 88 cent" special?

My parting advice for leaders:
  • Think about what you will say
  • Think about how you will say it
  • Think about when you will say it
  • Think about what you won't say
I once worked with a pastor who meticulously thought through and penned every "talk" he did. Whether it was a 2 hour teaching/lecture, a 45 minute sermon, or a 5 minute address to parents - he planned.

Have you thought about your next message/talk/sermon/meeting/announcement/promo in terms of the audience?

Think it through...every word counts!