Monday, May 25, 2009

The Inertia of Attitude

“The greatest resistance I face is my own comfort zone and the inertia of attitude and low faith thinking that works to keep me there. You?” - Gary Wood, Christian Executive Coach, from May 10, 2009 Twitter post

This recent Twitter post from my cyber-colleague caught my eye a few weeks ago and in an ironic demonstration of its sentiment, it’s taken me a while to respond to it … despite the fact that I’ve actively thought about it several times since.

Although I think we could all say we’ve had moments that would fall within the parameters of Gary’s question, I very recently experienced something very specific that made it resonate for me….

My oldest son had recently come back from a retreat with his church youth group and as he filled the room with spiritual fire in the telling of his trip, the Holy spirit filled me with a charge to show my gratitude and appreciation to our church’s youth pastor for all the hard work he’s put into this challenging ministry and for the impact he’s had on my son’s life and spiritual growth.

I hesitate to use the cliché “Devine Inspiration” but it’s the simplest and truest explanation for what came next.

Despite the fact that I hadn’t picked up my guitar with any regularity for over 10 years and hadn’t penned any music in over 20, a full 5-verse, multi-chorus, bridge, melody and chords came to me in a manic flash that found its way to half a dozen large sticky-notes from my bed stand.

So did I run right out and play the inspired tune for this youth pastor? If course not. The excuses ranged from doubting myself “this isn’t ready yet, maybe I should work on it more” to doubting the Holy Spirit “maybe this wasn’t what I was supposed to do with this message.”

For two months after the song was finished, several perfect opportunities presented themselves for me to share the song with the youth pastor for whom it was written, yet I seemed to miss each one. On one occasion I even blamed the devil for throwing obstacles in front of those opportunities to prevent me from presenting my offering of appreciation.

But all the while I felt the hand of the Holy Spirit pushing me outside my comfort zone (although sometimes it felt like I was being lovingly shoved into oncoming traffic) and demanding my obedience. Rest assured the song finally found its vehicle… I’ll choose to believe it was the one intended by the Holy Spirit, rather than the last of many missed opportunities.

Lord, give me the strength and follow Your will, even when … or especially when, it pushes me outside my comfort zone. My faith in You is strong, but help me have faith in myself when You are clearly trying to use me to fulfill your purposes.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Yak about “The Shack”

It’s hard enough on any given day to make sure I’m spending regular time in The Word – to commit to a work of fiction is rare, to say the least. I still haven’t started my “The Busy Epidemic” DVD series and I’ll get CEUs for that!

A couple months ago a colleague of mine recommended the book “The Shack” to me. It’s mighty rare in my office for someone to even approach a faith-related topic, so I took it as an opportunity to engage in a spiritual conversation through a book discussion.

My colleague’s recommendation of the book was, for the most part, because it helped her “gain greater perspective and understanding of the Holy Trinity” as three, but also one. This was certainly intriguing … yet concerning to me. I have no expectations that my limited earthly brain is capable of understanding the full mystery of the Trinity and approached the book with caution. It seemed unlikely that a piece of “Christian fiction” should be the proper medium of greater understanding – shouldn’t scripture be the first resource?

Refocusing on the opportunity to have a spiritual connection with someone outside the church, I started on this book “the Shack.” Remarkably, I got a lot out of it, but not what I expected.

Yes, it certainly offered a unique perspective of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as One. It got me thinking about it and it created a desire to dig through scripture to find references that validated or invalidated the concepts. If it inspired half the people who read this “best seller” to open their Bibles, I think this great fiction could have great spiritual value. My fear would be that the other half, with no other authority to draw upon, might take the explanation at face value and it become a “truth” for them that is repeated and reinforced as fact (Da Vinci Code anyone?).

The richer message I took away from it was about hope … hope for healing and the comfort of God’s loving hand in our lives during the trials of life. It was a well articulated sermon on how God does not “cause” the bad things to happen - our sinful nature and fallen world does that – nor is it His role to prevent them all, but rather that God can and does use those hardships to demonstrate his unconditional love for us.

If you’ve experienced a tragic loss or trial in your life and asked the big “why” … if you know someone who’s personal trial has put a wedge in their relationship with God, rather than drawing them closer to Him – buy them a copy of “The Shack.” It is certainly no replacement for scripture, but it may be just what they need to lead them back there.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sighs and Sobs in the Silence of Cyberspace

Although my personal blog has suffered great neglect between the time I started it two years ago and my renewed commitment last month to actually post something on it, I’ve had plenty of exposure to listservs, blogs, webcasts, podcasts and now Twitter at work.

Creating content and writing for work comes easily to me, but as I tried to figure out what I wanted to write about my personal blog, I decided to start by reading the blogs of people I know. At first, I didn’t even realize most of them even had blogs until I saw them being “followed” by bloggers I knew of.

As I searched and read and searched and read, I came across the blog of someone I worship with – someone who has had a significant spiritual impact on my family – someone who was sighing in frustration in cyberspace and was met with digital silence. This brother in Christ (more like the favorite nephew you look forward to seeing at family get togethers, but really don’t know as well as you’d like) had blogged - nearly a year before I had stumbled upon it – about a frustration he was experiencing in his ministry at our church.


Not only were there no posted comments by other readers, but it occurred to me that his post was just about the same time he was probably having the most impact on our family through this ministry he was so frustrated with.

Where was I?

Not knowing he was discouraged or that he was venting about it on his blog is irrelevant. We were a beneficiary of his blessing and should have been an encourager in his life and reached out to show our appreciation.

It got me thinking about this cyber-comms medium and how easy it is to share of ourselves in a quasi-faceless format… is it diminishing our accountability to engage with actual people face-to-face? For me (and for my MBTI followers) I’m an INTJ, so it’s no great surprise to you that the introvert didn’t seek out someone they don’t truly know well to say “thank you for your ministry.” Yes, yes, my Myers-Briggs-“Type”-talkers, it’s not an excuse, merely an explanation.

I have expertly and successfully held myself accountable at work to exercise my non-preferences and “Extrovert” and “NF” at-will for the sake of corporate leadership… it’s time I held myself accountable outside the boardroom and break out of my “comfort zone” to serve the will of my Heavenly CEO and be the encourager in action that I am in my introverted thought-life.

So, Christian, today, let me (belatedly) bless you.

You are gifted and you are a gift. You are creative, strong and determined. Your leadership and your ministry have been instrumental in the spiritual transformation of many, but specifically to my family and no volume of belated thank-yous could equal the value and importance of your ministry in our lives and our church.

Lord, help me to reach out to others and be an encourager … beyond the post, but at least I’ll start here.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Too Busy for "The Busy Epidemic"

A week or so ago I ordered a small group DVD series from the American Association of Christian Counselors called "The Busy Epidemic: Conquering Stress & Anxiety." I had looked at it several times in the past - it's a part of the AACC's Fresh Start Recovery Series for small group leaders. I've always found their content to be rich, on target and often convicting. I expected no less from this series.

I've never been one to shy away from examining my shortcomings - professionaly, it's an opportunity to work on them, turn them into assets. I do a lot of executive coaching in my secular work and one of the things I frequently work with my clients on is helping them see the value of really owning what they don't do well and soliciting feedback from others to give context to the impact of those shortcomings.

Although ultimately I ordered "The Busy Epidemic" as a resource to bring to a small group at some point, my expectation was that it was going to be an opportunity for self examination as I previewed the materials. I already know I'm "busy." I already know this is having a negative impact on my life and likely the people I love. But I fully expect to be convicted in areas I wasn't ready to own as I go through this series.

But now that I have DVDs in hand (4 of them) I can't seem to find the time to watch them. How's that for irony? Okay someone reading this is thinking "creative avoidance" but it's definitely not that. I typically play these in the car to make the most of my 2 hours a day commute time, but my travel DVD player is having an issue. (No I don't drive and watch DVDs, I close the screen and just listen - like talk radio.)

Every once and a while I wonder if the devil's hand is in things like that ... creating a convenient obstacle that's just enough to keep us from following the path God has planned for us. Pray for me that all obstacles may be removed from my path, that I may get from this series what God would have me learn and provide me with opportunities to bring comfort to others plagued with a busy epidemic.

Bookmark and Share