Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking the "stupid cycle"

Breaking the Stupid Cycle
Everything in this life (your life too) that causes guilt can be traced back to the same pattern every single time! So to avoid or eliminate guilt from our lives we must not begin with guilt itself (the product) we must begin with where it all starts.

(For Context Read Joshua 7. Specifically verses 20-21--this observation and cycle is taken straight from the story of Achan)

Change the names, circumstances, severity etc, but where guilt is involved, if you look close enough you will always find what I call the "stupid cycle". For Achan he ended up with guilt and in his case ultimately death but here is how it happened:
  1. I saw--> OPPORTUNITY
  2. I wanted-->DESIRE
  3. I took--> GRATIFICATION
  4. I hid--> GUILT
Here is the problem...there is one highly effective way to break the stupid cycle. Effectively breaking the cycle begins by limiting the opportunity. Don't try to manage your desires. You will lose. Don't try to limit or govern your gratification. You will consume more, go further, do more, take more and ultimately it will control you instead of you controlling it--You will lose. And don't try to medicate your guilt or ignore your guilt. You will lose.

Want a life where guilt is the exception not the rule? THEN spend time carefully monitoring "Your opportunities". Regardless of the cause of your guilt--regardless of what tempts you the most, if you work hard to reduce opportunity you will kill the "stupid cycle" before it begins. This is a simple concept but don't confuse simple with easy! This takes work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why is God obessessed with Respect?

Take a stroll through the old testament and you'll notice quickly that this thing of respect and reverence for God is a big deal. Often the phrase "Fear the Lord" is used. In context this phrase typically carries the idea of respect on steroids. It's the kind of respect that causes you to freeze up or stand up when someone enters the room. It's the kind of respect that causes you to rearrange your day just to spend a few moments with a person. It's the kind of respect that causes you to ask questions, sit, and listen instead of talking. It's the kind of respect that inspires you to action.

So why is God apparently obsessed with respect?
I think the answer to that is potentially much more than a simple phrase but I believe this phrase stabs deep into this apparent obsession with respect. "Deep respect creates a desire for relationship!" Cover to cover the Bible is a story revealing God's interest in personally relating to each of us.

Think about it. One coin--two sides:
  1. I've never met a person that I didn't respect that I wanted a closer relationship with.
  2. I've never deeply respected a person and not wanted to know them better give the chance.
For many of us we have lost or never had a sense of awe or sense of respect for God. Consequently our intimacy has suffered or been non existent. Stop and consider him!! Look at his Creation (start by looking in the mirror). Consider his love for you. Consider the miracles. Consider the peace he offers. Consider his salvation. Consider his power to shape all that affects us. When respect runs deep--the desire for intimacy will likely flourish.

If your intimacy with God is nonexistent or if your relationship with him has seen better days...start or restart by considering who he really is, what he really does (and has done), and how he really loves. Start there--Respect and intimacy are sure to follow!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I failed: 3 lessons to learn

Leadership is a process not an event.
I know some of you saw the failure title and eagerly scrambled to get the juicy gossip on some new scandal. Sorry, no such luck today. But since you're here might as well read on. I believe this truth I'm learning has implication not just for my life but for your life as well.

I read this phrase in Joshua 3:7 where we get to listen in on a conversation between God and Joshua. God said to Joshua "...I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of Israel so they will know that I am with you."

The phrase "I will begin" kept echoing in my mind. I believe that God wants to exalt us (lift us up). I believe that the phrase "I will begin" is a reminder of the fact that God often works in moments rather than just in a moment. God works in decisions rather than in a single decision. God didn't exalt Joshua in a moment. He said today I will BEGIN. The process of making Joshua a leader worth following was one that would be just that...a process. If it was true for Joshua the same is true for you and I!

As a leader that wants to be better tomorrow than I was today both at home and at work this is encouraging news. God's development of me is a process. Each moment; each decision; each failure and success is another opportunity for God to continue that process.

What about failure?
Today I made a mistake that affected several of my staff. It wasn't a moral or ethical blunder. It was just a mistake that affected them and put them in a tough position. It literally bothered me all day. But here is what I'm learning. Our mistakes and how we respond to them are some of our greatest opportunities for God to establish and "exalt" us as leaders. I'm pretty sure I didn't handle it perfectly but I did own it. I know for sure that I wouldn't want to follow a leader that doesn't own mistakes and I don't expect my staff to follow one either! And moving forward I'll fight to make sure I don't put them in that sort of situation again.

Put it all together and here are three lessons:
  1. God establishes us over time not all at one time
  2. God establish us to fulfill his purposes not our own ambitions
  3. Our mistakes are often an opportunity for God to establish us. Own it but don't repeat it.