Day Two: July 12th / 10:30pm local time.
Day 2 was amazing! Our kids woke up tired but were immediately energized when we made it to our job sites.
Just a snapshot of our day:
- Mowing a yard with machetes
- Making home visits to shut-ins from the local church
- Playing with kids at House of Hope while their mothers made crafts to sell
- More sanding and painting
- Digging up tree stumps
- Listening to the testimony of a 27 year old women who had spent over seven years of her life as a prostitute. Watching as a few of our girls surrounded her after her story and prayed for her.
- And more stories of service and love.
After dinner tonight we spent the evening in worship at Centro de Fe y Vida Nueva. This event was unique but powerful. The local congregation made us feel extremely welcome. The music was beautiful and the message (shared through an interpreter) was strong!
Each of these leaders are the epitome of “lead by example.” From sanding and painting to simply playing a late night game of cards, these leaders are authentic and available! I am blown away by their love for this group of students. They took off work not to watch their kids serve, but to serve with them! This is a beautiful picture of the Empowered Homes core value our church shares. The kids and I are blessed to have them.
Keep your prayers coming!
Quite often during this time of year, we reflect on our Nation’s Founding Fathers and ponder their service and sacrifice….well maybe we used to. We might mention names like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Henry, Hamilton and many others in the American History Hall of Fame.
Have you ever wished you could ask them what they think of us now? Have you ever wondered what advice they would give us in our present circumstances?
What’s exciting, yet humbling, is that we have a glimpse of their advice to us. You see in the spring of 1777, almost a year after the formal signing of the Declaration of Independence and still over six years away from the Treaty of Paris that would end the Revolutionary War and recognize the sovereignty of our nation, John Adams penned a simple letter to his wife Abigail. In this letter, our future 2nd President sends us a message. Although short it is quite powerful. Here is his message to us.
Posterity! (That’s us – future generations that he can never imagine – future Americans!) You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.
Read it again, it’s worth it.
So what are we supposed to do with this Freedom? What does he mean by “make good use of it?” I believe we can do a few of things (among many) to make good use of this freedom.
I believe we can strive to do what’s just, not what we can simply justify.
I believe we can strive to do what’s responsible, not what’s permissible.
And lastly, I think as we examine ourselves and the actions of those we elect, we can remember that these individual rights we enjoy assume an individual accountability…..to our fellow man and to our God.
Happy Birthday America!
I originally posted this last year. I find myself needing the reminder often….
Every year around May and June, I am routinely intrigued and sometimes entertained at the number of celebrity commencement speakers at universities across our country. Some commencement speeches are dull, some are grandiose, and some get made into Top 40 hits. But some, some are truly motivational. Last year was one of those moments.
In 2014, the University of Texas at Austin invited Admiral William H. McRaven to share his philosophy of leadership with the recent graduates. At the time of his remarks, Admiral McRaven was serving as the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Before commanding all of our nation’s most elite warriors, McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 36-years, had been at the tip of the spear in the war on terror since 2001. He had commanded a squadron in the legendary Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six, and even oversaw the planning and execution of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. On this day, he choose to share ten lessons learned from basic SEAL training. Although all were compelling I found lesson #1 especially convicting.
Lesson #1: “If you want to change the world….Make Your Bed”
McRaven shared that how every morning in basic SEAL training, his instructors would show up in his barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was his bed.
McRaven elaborated, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right…..And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
McRaven’s statement may sound a little far-fetched, but his advice is undoubtedly worth considering: if you want to make an impact on a large scale, you have to be comfortable making it on a small scale too.
This made me wonder: As a parent and spouse, how often do I overlook the importance of the small mundane tasks.
Do I spend more time planning for a great trip or vacation but neglect the blessing of an early afternoon off with the kids?
Do I shoot for the moon on my wedding anniversary but totally miss the target on scheduling regular date nights?
Do I overlook the importance of the hours I have today while focusing on my 5 year plan?
Like Admiral McRaven, I too am convinced that we all need to be reminded that success in most parts of our life revolves around doing the simple things really well.
Do you want to have an impact on this generation…start by making your bed!
(After making your bed, I highly recommend reading the other 9 leadership lessons McRaven presented that day http://news.utexas.edu/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech)
“For every man has a mission to perform in this world which his talents precisely fit him; and having found this mission, he must throw in to it all the energies of his being, seeking its accomplishment, not his own glory.”
Fourteen years ago today, on April 22, 2004, Pat Tillman was killed by gunfire while on patrol in a rugged area of eastern Afghanistan. The unfortunate death of this young man occurred in Southeastern Afghanistan in Operation Mountain Storm—a subset effort of the larger Operation Enduring Freedom designed to weaken al-Qaeda forces and the Taliban government. If you don’t know who Pat is let me quickly introduce you to this soldier.
Patrick Daniel Tillman was born the oldest of three brothers in San Jose, California. He played linebacker for Arizona State University, where during his senior year he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. In 1998, Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. He became the team’s starting safety as well as one of its most popular players. In 2000, he broke the team record for tackles with 224. In May 2002, Tillman turned down a three-year, multi-million-dollar deal with the Cardinals and instead, prompted by the events of 9/11, joined the Army along with his brother Kevin, a minor-league baseball player. The Tillman brothers were assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington, and did tours in Iraq in 2003, followed by Afghanistan the next year.
In today’s world of instant gratification and selfishness, it might not make sense for a man to leave a profession that pays him about $1.2 million a year for a new career that pays about $20,000 a year. However, it makes complete sense when you understand who Tillman was.
Here is a man that was defined by words like loyalty, honor, passion, courage, strength and nobility. He was a low-key guy. By the time Tillman enlisted in the Army in 2002, after four years in the NFL, he understood how the media worked. Still, he decided not to talk to any of them about his decision to enlist. When Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis asked Tillman how he was going to announce leaving the NFL for the service. Tillman’s reply was: “I’m not. You are.”
What is interesting with the Pat Tillman story is the two narratives that typically accompany it.
The first and probably the most popular theme presented assumes that fame and money is the highest mark of success and happiness; therefore we then refer to Pat’s detachment from it as the “ultimate sacrifice.”
The other narratives assumes Pat was naïve for trading the riches of a professional football career to chase Osama bin Laden.
Both are wrong….
I think the narrative that should follow Pat Tillman should simply communicate the story of a man following his calling…his purpose. The money, the fame, even the military service are all secondary to this point! As his former head coach said, “Pat Tillman represented all that was good in sports. He knew his purpose in life and proudly walked away from a career in football to follow his calling.”
To most of America, Tillman is symbol of patriotism.
To others, he is a hero for choosing service over wealth.
To me he is a man who followed his heart….and it led him from the football fields of Arizona to the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
Pat Tillman discovered his calling, his purpose, his mission and he was willing to risk and sacrifice everything for it. Do you pursue your calling with the same energy?
Mom and Dad – get ready to swallow a tough pill – here we go – A time will come when you and your child will need another adult in their life besides you. Did you catch that….I’ll write it again, “A time will come when you and your child will need another adult in their life besides you.”
Now before you leave this page let me ask you a quick question? How many contacts do you have in your phone? Weird question, huh? Go ahead and look……
I have something like 700 contacts in my phone. You might have double that, or half that. My friend Josh has like 3,000. It’s just the world we live in.
But even if you only had 100, you wouldn’t really know each of them well. Not deeply. Not personally. You couldn’t. Our relational span just isn’t that big. If I were to be honest, there are really only about three to five that I call or text all the time. These are the handful of people closest to me.
These few folks know me inside out…my good points and not so good ones. My dreams and my struggles. My favorite and least favorite things. They’re the ones who are not only great friends, but great advisors.
I’m sure you’ve got those people too.
But do your kids?
When your kids need to talk, who do they talk to? I mean beyond their friends and beyond you as a parent? Friends are of limited help. As a former youth pastor friend used to say, “Sometimes the last thing a 16-year-old needs is advice from another 16-year-old. And sometimes the last person they want to talk to is a parent.”
I’m sure there are parents who say, “My kid will always want to talk to me.” But let me ask you something, did you tell your parents everything? Exactly!!
So who do they go to? To whom can they turn?
I would encourage you to spend some time over the next few months identifying people your kids can build a trusting relationship with. My guess is between small group leaders, neighbors, family friends, uncles, aunts, grandparents, coaches and teachers, you will find a few who will be willing to spend a little one on one time with your child periodically.
Widening the circle doesn’t have to be a sneaky parent move. Let your kid in on the conversation by brainstorming people your family knows best. Then answer the questions: What can each person do well? What can I learn from them? How can they help me? How can they be a part of our family’s circle?
As author Reggie Joiner states in his book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, “You are the most influential person in your child’s life, but do your kids (and yourself) a favor and widen the circle of influence with trusted adults. When that day comes, you want to make sure the right people are in place to support your kids.”
I am thankful for some great family members and some wonderful friends that continually pour into both my boys.
They come to sporting and church events.
They take them fishing.
They play basketball in the drive way with them.
They coach their teams.
They sit by them in church.
I could go on and on…..
Simply put, their actions say, “I am here for you.” And my family is better because of their influence.
Did you know, according to data from The Harvard Business Review, the time spent by leaders and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more over the last twenty years, and almost three-fourths of an employee’s day at most companies is spent communicating with colleagues?
That is a lot of time working with others!
There are numerous reasons for this rise in teamwork and collaboration but I think it is common understanding that for many tasks, working in teams encourages faster innovation and better problem solving.
Just this week, a team I am a part of read and discussed an article on Google’s Quest to Build the Perfect Team. In 2012, the tech behemoth launched a venture called Project Aristotle, which gathered data by analyzing many studies and actually observing the way people interacted in a group.
Turns out, the key to successful groups isn’t in the personalities or skills of the individual team’s members at all, but comes from the team’s “group norms.”
So what are “group norms?”
Group norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.
Based upon the study, here are a few examples of group norms categorized by healthy or dysfunctional teams:
Common group norms for dysfunctional teams were:
– You must prove yourself. One is not necessarily a part of the team to accomplish a task or complete a project but to further their standing within the organization.
– Competition among peers. Because I must prove myself, my success and recognition is more important than the goal of the group.
– Zero tolerance for mistakes. Very few risks are taken therefore the new or good ideas can only come from the top.
– No outside social interaction. Simply put, team members do not enjoy each other’s company.
– Vision focused. The accomplishment of the mission and vision trump individual performance. If one succeeds we all succeed.
– No competition or judging. An atmosphere of “safety” is present…where ideas can be shared and discussed without the fear of intimidation. Everyone has a voice in the discussion regardless of title or role.
– They have fun!
– They cared for each other.
So what does all this mean for the leader? Easy answer: If group norms are the key to successful team building, guess who can directly influence, change, and set those group norms? You!
As a leader, ask yourself (better yet – your team members) the following questions:
– What are the group norms of our current team?
– Do my actions and example support or hinder a healthy team?
Who knows, maybe you’ll build the perfect team!
We had a saying in the Marine Corps, “We have been doing so much with so little for so long that we can practically do anything with nothing.” Translation: “Marines do more with less.”
One of the most important skill sets of any great leader is resourcefulness. It’s about realizing that you can do more with less because you and your team have more potential than you may have thought before.
It’s about how hard we look to find its replacement or to solve the problem at a difficult, maybe even overwhelming moment.
For our businesses or ministry, it doesn’t mean just exhausting every option, but finding new options that never previously occurred to us.
History shows resourcefulness has separated ordinary people from those considered heroes. It has been applied to get people out of tight spots, as in the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission. It has also been applied to change the way we travel, as demonstrated by the Wright Brothers. Scripture too provides us with some great examples of resourcefulness. When a paralyzed man could not be brought close enough to Jesus because of a large crowd, a few of his friends put their minds together and devised a plan. Luke tells us they climbed atop the roof of the house in which Jesus stood and cut a hole in it. This band of determined friends then lowered their buddy down in the presence of Jesus. And whose faith did the Lord praise? Not the man with the infirmity. The resourceful characters who may have ruined someone else’s roof received the acclaim. They evidently understood what was more important than anything else at that moment in time….Jesus Christ.
In part, I think resourcefulness is a matter of attitude rather than access. A true leader wants to redefine the possible: extract greater results from the same hours or minutes, cut through the clutter of to-dos and focus on how to get real results. Because for a leader, there is no such thing as limited resources, there are only opportunities for innovation and self-realization…like cutting a hole in someone’s roof for the sake of a friend.
There’s no way to overestimate the importance of learning from the people around us. When we’re open to learning from others, we benefit from their experience as well as our own and we can inherit their wisdom and knowledge.
I learn a lot from my friends and teammates. Recently one of them, Ryan Cook, wrote an article for LEAD 222, an international coaching and mentoring ministry. In this article he shared his 4 keys to team building. Here is an excerpt from his piece:
*Wherever you are and whatever capacity you serve in I’m going to bet you became very aware, very quickly that leadership is kind-of a big deal. Either because you experienced good leadership or you experienced bad leadership. The health of any organization, ministry, or team will rise or fall on leadership.
Early on I saw the huge impact of leadership and began wrestling with questions like:
What does a good leader do?
Am I a good leader?
Can I effectively lead others?
Can I build a winning team?
So here are a couple things I have tried to do to lead my team:
- PRAY – I serve with a great team right now. It has taken four years to build and lots and lots of prayer. I asked God to bring leaders of leaders. Then I waited patiently and didn’t move until He said to.
- VISION – You have to lead with vision rather than tasks. Leaders follow vision and workers accomplish tasks. Invest the time to pray and seek God for His vision for your ministry. Learn how to cast vision effectively – too big and the team can get demoralized, too small and the team is uninspired. Find ways to celebrate little wins along the way and always keep the vision in front of your team. Vision leaks so YOU have to fill it up again!
- EMPOWER – Surrounding yourself with the right people allows you to manage lightly. I sit down with my team members each month and ask 4 questions – How are you doing personally/spiritually? What have you been working on the last month? What are looking ahead to the next month? What do you need from me? We always end with prayer. Checking in more often feels like micromanaging and checking in less often feels like neglect.
- STAFF FUNZIE’S – Ministry is a grind. Set aside one time a month for your team to do something fun. It could be a simple lunch, a day trip, a conference, an overnight get away or dinner at your house. Make memories and build community. Right now we have the “Year of the Burger” – so we are going to lunch once a month at a new burger spot in town. Simple but fun.
There are so many other things, but this is a good start. Leadership is a life-long pursuit. Grow as a leader and you will build a winning team. Lead with wisdom and humility and God will honor that and ministry can be a lot of fun. *
Ryan is spot on…whether in the workplace, ministry, or your local community, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others. Team building is both an art and a science and the leader who can consistently build high performance teams will accomplish more than he could ever do alone.
My challenge for you today – take a few of Ryan’s keys to team building and give it a try. I think you’ll find it worthwhile!
“It doesn’t matter if the world knows, or sees or understands; the only applause we are meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands.” Ron Owens (former Director of Worship at the International Mission Board)
80 years ago today, on January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound. Today there are over 300 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The overwhelming majority of us will not end up in any hall of fame; however there is something intoxicating about the power of our fellow man’s applause. Maybe it is just me, but deep down most of us love it….the affirmation, the sense of worth, the praise. It can become addicting.
As a leader, parent, or spouse, consider how many decisions you are called on to make in any given day—some in private and some in the public arena. Every day presents multiple opportunities to make applause-generating decisions. However when our daily self-worth and identity come primarily from the applause of those with whom we work or live, we are finished. Why? Because (1) it will never be enough and (2) it will one day go away.
One of my wife’s favorite singers is a young lady named Francesca Battistelli and one of her favorite songs is titled, “He Knows My Name.” Consider the lyrics to Francesca’s chorus:
I don’t need my name in lights / I’m famous in my Father’s eyes / Make no mistake / He knows my name / I’m not living for applause / I’m already so adored / It’s all His stage / He knows my name
There is something freeing about no longer working for the applause of man. You still strive for excellence…you still steward your gifts and talents well…and guess what – the applause still comes…however your motivation is based simply on the fact that you are already fully and completely accepted by Him!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to seek first His kingdom. What do you seek first? The applause of others? The affirmation of man? The answer to this question will determine the legacy you leave behind.
Have you ever watched the TV series Myth Busters? It is about a couple of guys who take well-entrenched cultural beliefs or adages and test these things to see if they have any basis in reality. Pretty cool show. I wish I could tee up a concept for them to test…the balance of life.
There are a lot of definitions of balance but I like this one best: It is a point of equilibrium between two or more countervailing forces. A point of equilibrium – it’s neither going this way or that way.
So we’ve got forces wanting to push down or pull up or twist sideways, but our lives somehow are supposed to find this perfect point where it all balances out.
Maybe it is just me on the hunt for this thing called balance…where our work, leisure, family, and all these things come into some lovely equal poise? You know, where it all floats around elegantly, delicately like a little mobile. These things never clash against one another and they perfectly weigh out against the other. Isn’t everybody looking for that, balance? I hear it all the time. I’m just trying to live a balanced life. I think it’s a myth.
Do you have in your head what I call the “if-only,” and the “as-soon-as” clauses? The “if only I had more money,” or “if only I didn’t have this job,” or “if only I lived in that house.” Or we also say things like “As soon as I’m done with this season of my life,” or “as soon as these three weeks go by and this crazy time is over.” If-only and as-soon-as derive their authority from this sense of something like “in three weeks my life will become easy.” Has that ever happened? No…why? Because balance is a myth.
I remember years ago once listening to a sermon on this very subject. To paraphrase the Pastor: “Can you think of one person in Scripture who lived a balanced life? When you think of King David, do you think, Oh, there’s a man who has got it all together? I mean, whether that guy is living in caves or he’s ruling the kingdom, he is a man after God’s own heart right? What about Nehemiah…spending twelve years busting his chops to accomplish what God called him to do. What about the Apostle Paul, does he strike you as somebody living a balanced life? Jesus came myth-busting, didn’t he? I love when he routinely says, “You’ve heard it said … But I say to you.” He uses this statement to drive home the truth. To bust myths!
In Scripture and in Christ what we see modeled is not balance but a great deal of consistency, a great deal of peace, a great deal of certainty and purpose in the midst of some pretty dramatic and out-of-whack circumstances. Simply put…A great deal of surrender!
My challenge to you…don’t worry about a balanced life. Instead shoot for a surrendered life. Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God.