Saturday, May 30, 2009

A few days ago I was at my local McDonald's. While I was there I decided to do some people-watching. In my observations I honed in on how many decisions a typical customer makes just to satisfy a Mac-Attack.

My conclusion? Ten. A man (or woman) makes on average ten decisions in the brief time it takes to purchase a run-of-the-mill fast-food lunch:
  1. Purchase inside, or drive through (Inside. I have a personal need to attend to.)
  2. How can I help you? (I'd like a Big Mac, please.)
  3. The meal, or just the sandwich ? (It's lunchtime. I'll take the meal, please.)
  4. Would you like your meal Super-Sized? (No thanks. I'm driving.)
  5. Would you like an Apple Pie with that? (Sure, why not. Doctor says I need to add some fruit to my diet.)
  6. Is this for here, or to go? (To go, please.)
  7. How would you like to pay for this? (Cash.)
  8. (Do I break a $20, or dig in my pocket for exact change?) (Break the $20. It's faster.)
  9. (Should I put the coins in the box for Ronald McDonald's Charities?) (Nah, I might need the change later.)
  10. (What to drink?) (Diet Coke. It will balance out all the bad stuff I'm about to eat.)
I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned from this, but I'm just not seeing it. For now, I'm lovin' it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whom can I trust?

I've had some recent circumstances in my life that have weighed heavily on my mind. I could talk about them here in this post, but that would mean exposing my emotions to the World Wide Web, all over the internet, for anyone to read. That's a pretty scary prospect, so I'll think twice before I share.

Why? Why won't I talk about personal matters on the web? Well, for one thing - the main thing - I don't trust my secrets with just anyone. I have to trust you first.

Now, I know that some of you reading this know me pretty well and have known me for many, many years. Some of you who follow my blog or are reading this Facebook may know me from over 20 years or so ago. Some of you hardly know me, if at all. To share with one of you in this format is to share with all of you.

We're all adults. Can I rely on you to keep what's told to you in confidence, or will you go to a mutual friend that I haven't shared with because he violated my trust in the past? Do you really think that I'd want to risk being hurt in that way again?

Many of us have had similar circumstances and have our own advice to share. If I share, will you tell me how to fix my problem right away, or can I trust that you will hear me out, probing me to go deeper to the root of the problem, before you walk with me through the valley? If you do offer to walk with me, how do I know you won't flake out?

If I do trust you, it means that you tell the truth in love, without sugar-coating what needs to be told. You keep your promises. Honesty is one of your core values. Integrity is your middle name. If you say you'll do something, you do it. This is how you are not just with me, but with everyone in your life.

I'm not naive. I know that any man or woman who I put my trust in to any degree will eventually let me down, as I will ultimately let down each and everyone who places their trust in me. To those who have failed me, I offer forgiveness. To those I have let down, I ask that you extend forgiveness in kind. For those whom I continue to trust, and you know who you are, I deeply thank you. I would be a different person without you in my life. I love you for that.

For those who are not yet one of my most trusted confidants, perhaps someday you will be. I pray that you have someone in your life that you trust in that way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pass The Baton

Many times when we think of the word "leadership" we think of the qualities of a leader: innovation, integrity, persistence, the way they relate to people, having earned respect of others, things like that. But what good is a leader if he don't have followers? And more importantly, what does it say about his leadership if none of the followers do what he is leading them to do, without his being around to lead them?

While it is true that for a period of time a leader will need to provide training and mentoring for followers, there ought to come a day when the leader can leave for an extended period of time while "business as usual" not only continues, but flourishes in his absence. But he can't leave his life's passion in the hands of ordinary followers. This is because without a leader, ordinary followers don't have anyone to follow, or worse, will follow just about anyone.

So, what's a leader to do?

Chances are, if you are a leader you were once a follower who at some point "caught the dream" of your leader and adapted it to some degree as your own. You went out of your way to feed your hunger for knowledge about your newly inspired passion, wanting to know what your leader knows so you could do what he does. And at some point your leader identified you as a potential leader and took you under his wing, guiding you toward becoming all you can be.

The Bible has several examples of this kind of nurturing, this passing the baton from one leader to the next: from Moses to Joshua; from Elijah to Elisha; from Jesus to the twelve disciples. The fruitfulness of a leader is bringing forth new leaders.

God does not want his people to be lost, like sheep without a shepherd. If you have influence in the life of another person, you are a leader. What are you doing to to inspire leadership in the ones who are following you?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Life outside the window

Do you ever have days where you feel like you live your life just looking out the window, dreaming about what you think you might be missing? Are there times that you know that there is more to life than what you can see, but feel trapped because your life is lived according to what is within your view?

Thinking of this makes me think of the Disney princess Jasmine, from the movie Aladdin.

Here is a young woman, a princess, who has everything at her beck and call: wealth, servants, opulence, a full-grown tiger for a pet, princes from around the globe wanting to woo her and marry her. Who wouldn't want her life?

Yet Princess Jasmine is miserable. Her experiences have been limited to life within the palace compound. She lived her life restricted to the confines of royal life, yet yearning for the freedom that she sees through the view of the palace window.

Of course Jasmine's story doesn't end there. But for too many people, it does. Oh, they don't all live in an Arabian palaces with untold wealth, but they do spend their lives just looking out the window, feeling trapped by their circumstances. The widow whose children won't call. The alcoholic who wants to be free from the bottle but just can't. The housewife who is frustrated with her couch-potato armchair athlete husband.

What sets apart the widow, the alcoholic, the housewife, and the couch potato from our young princess is this: The princess accepted an invitation to live life more fully. Someone asked her, "Do you trust me?" She took a step of faith, and began an adventure that changed her life.

It's difficult to take the first step to change. It's scary, unless you can trust that there is something more out there, a confident expectation of something better beyond the view from the window. For the widow, relief from her feelings of being forgotten; for the alcoholic, sobriety; for the frustrated couple, a renewal of the love they shared when they first married. But until they take that first step, life is limited to the view from the window.

But what does it really mean to "trust"? To trust implies that you believe in and rely on someone's integrity, strength, and ability. On a personal level, there are many people who put a certain degree of trust in me. But for someone to completely rely on my integrity, strength and ability would be utter foolishness on their part, because sooner or later I will surely let them down!

There is only one person whose integrity and strength and ability we can fully rely on, and that person is Jesus Christ. Scripture confirms time and again that Jesus lived a life of faithfulness and integrity. He is worthy of our trust. He stands at the door and knocks, extending an invitation to put our trust in him. When we accept, we are no longer "trapped" in our palaces. We are set free! And perhaps for the first time in our lives the windows are thrown wide open. We were once afraid to step forward, because we were alone. Just like Jasmine and Aladdin's magic carpet ride, when we walk confidently with the Savior, we walk with exhilaration on the adventure of our lives!