Tearing Down the Important Statues

Perhaps more than the statues themselves, the opinions about statues need to be torn down. The concrete or steel or whatever they are made of when placed along a street or in a park are not nearly as offensive as the stuff that comes out of us regarding them. Keep them or preserve them, it’s all about the heart.

Things that are offensive, especially inanimate objects, don’t have to be. It’s a choice. The security that comes with knowing who you are and being grounded in that identity affords the peace of no opinion. Being grounded in who God calls you and focused on where He is calling you leaves no margin for the distraction of pigeon stands.

Rising up to defend those same objects isn’t anybody’s eternal destiny. The hearts and souls of those that are offended, separated or alienated is in the balance. Every issue is about people and how they are impacted on one side or the other of the divide. Hard stands either way prevents connection, which prevents relationship, which frustrates the point.

Again, this is for Christ followers. If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, none of what I am saying has any weight or bearing. If you are, however, then the invitation to follow Him is at the cost of your need to have opinions on everything but Him. He calls us to care about what He cares about and what He cares about is relationship. Relationship with Him, relationship with each other and relationship with a world needing His hope and grace.

It’s imperative that we maintain First things first while intentionally resisting distractions that pull us towards any seconds. Second things are an enemy of the One thing. Being right, persuasive, passionate or opinionated about second stuff at the cost of gracefully portraying First stuff forfeits relational opportunities that might have eternal implications.

We can care about second stuff, just not much. We can be right about the extras, but we can’t compete to win where there is no lasting victory. Eternal glory is available here and now as heaven and earth collide and the Kingdom of God is revealed. That revelation, however, is not in the competition surrounding issues that divide and don’t unite.

The Benefit of Authority

You know what we all need? A boss. We need somebody to be the authority in our lives. We don’t always want one, but we always need one. I’ve consistently seen the value to oversight and the danger in being left exposed without a covering. Left unchecked, practically all of us will start to divert off course sooner or later.

The value of a boss is that legitimate authority makes a way for us. Submission provides a benefit to the one that is submitted. Where we will come under authority, we have the opportunity to be elevated beyond where we could go without that covering.

The framework of order ordained by God is authority, submission and honor. Without all three, the other two don’t get a chance. In other words, without authority, there is no framework for honor. The framework accommodates purpose that extends beyond our limitations. The framework provides a multiplier to our gifts and abilities that can propel us beyond our ourselves.

Most of us have some bad boss experiences so we wince at the idea that a boss is a good idea. We think we would rather go it alone. If we could just do what we know is right without the hassle of the reports, reprimands, disagreements or other opinions that differ from ours, then we could really get it done. The problem is that left completely without authority, the things that we began with good intentions become distorted by our lack of perspective.

In a corporate setting, authority takes care of itself. In an entrepreneurial or volunteer situation, you may have to be intentional about submitting yourself. Submission doesn’t have to be formal, but it does have to be weight-bearing. To get beyond yourself, you have to welcome the oversight, correction and influence of another. It can be a mentor, assuming you are truly submitted, but that mentor or other influence must be dedicated to your good to the extent that they are not afraid to call out your bad.

Submission is a benefit where there is righteous rule and it is even beneficial where there is unrighteous rule. Where there is righteous rule, authority makes a way for the one that is submitted. Where there is unrighteous rule, authority shapes the character of the one that is submitted. While either can be for just a season, both can propel us on to bigger and better things than we could or would accomplish on our own without the benefit of the framework.

 

 

Get Your Gifts Back

When we see areas of our lives that are clearly not what they are intended to be, sometimes the picture of what is intended is the exact opposite. In fact, the thing that tends to torment us or challenge us the most might be a gift within us which has been perfectly hijacked. In such cases, the best course of action is to step towards the gift even more than trying to stop doing the things that are off course.

When I was younger, I was particularly good at the banter. The sharp, sarcastic jousting that cuts at any weakness was an area of strength for me. When in a room where there was that kind of cutting and slashing, I was a force to be dealt with.

The effort to stay ahead of others to defend myself and attack them verbally is mentally tiring because it’s not God’s intention for the verbal ability He put within me. He gave me language and ability to speak life and encouragement, but instead I was speaking criticism and destruction. The gift that He wanted to use to call out greatness in others was doing the exact opposite. There was no rest in it because there was no eternity in it. The rest that accompanies our gifts is in our agreement with God’s purposes in our gifts and abilities.

Since then, I have seen time and time again where sarcastic and cynical wit is actually a prophetic gift. Prophecy, by definition of 1 Corinthians 14:3, is speaking encouragement, edification and comfort. The hijacking of the gift is discouragement, tearing down and discomfort. Look into the shadow of the gift to find the true intention of design.

The Kingdom is an invitation, not a prohibition. Jesus calls us to follow and be included, unleashing everything He has put in us for eternal purposes. The law tells us to stop doing bad things; Jesus calls us to do powerful things. When we see that there has been a hijacking of our giftedness, the invitation is to step into the power of our design. The hijacking will be corrected when we agree with the purpose of our destiny.

If you’ve allowed your tongue to be hijacked to speak discouragement and dishonor, change your mind. Turn into the purposes of honor and encouragement that God has put within you. If there are other areas that have been off track, what is the track they are intended? Once those areas are released in agreement with their design, the attempt to kill, steal and destroy will be defeated by the life, abundance and creation that sons and daughters are called into.

Legacy is Created by Personal Investment

chuckI learned through Facebook that a soccer coach and mentor of mine from middle school died last week. Although we had not been in touch for decades, I grieved when I heard of his death, which was described as “unexpected.” It caught me off guard that the news impacted me like it did.

When I texted my sister of his death, she texted back, “That so sad; he was a great man.” I agreed with her and wondered further about how we both concluded that despite our disconnection from him for such a long time. I concluded that our disconnection actually affirmed his greatness as the connection that was present decades ago had that kind of lasting impact.

Chuck Blische not only coached soccer, he invested in people. He connected on a personal level and gave himself away. At least that’s what he did for me. He gave me what he had; he gave me himself.

I also remember spending extensive time with him as he prepared me, trained me and worked with me as a soccer referee. I started to realize that the lessons he delivered via soccer have carried over into many other areas of my life.

I was a 14-year-old kid learning how to officiate soccer games on a small army post in Germany. Chuck taught me more than the rules, he taught me leadership. He taught me that the referee has to be in control of the game but the game can’t be about him. He taught me that authority did not equate to arrogance and respect for others would bring greater results than the whistle and a red card. He not only told me these things, but he modeled them and he released me to exercise and grow in them.

Greatness is determined by what we do with people. We will be remembered, or not, by the people we invested in or didn’t. No matter who or what you invested in three decades ago, there is somebody in your life today that needs what you have. Don’t just tell them; show them. Take time with them and let them try. When they try, cheer them on and when they are ready, release them to do without you. You aren’t only investing in them, you are investing in your legacy. Just like Chuck did.

Thanks, Chuck. I miss you more now than I did for the past three decades and I realize now more than ever what you have done for me.

How We Change a Nation

united-states-map-hi

There is an opportunity we have day in and day out to make a difference in our specific environments. The difference comes in honor. Where we can honor despite our disagreements of belief or preference, we will find favor. Where we have favor, we have influence.

There is a maturity required for cultural impact that exceeds the conviction of belief. Belief for yourself to govern your choices is useful for your personal transformation. Broader impact to be instrumental in the transformation of neighborhoods, workplaces, communities and groups we are associated with requires greater humility to honor. Humility to honor despite disagreement with or rejection of the beliefs which have been instrumental in your personal transformation.

In the book of Daniel, we see Daniel consistently honor authority even where his personal convictions prevent adherence to an unrighteous rule. His stand is not carried out with arrogance or rebellion, but reliance on the truth and faithfulness of God. As a result, he faces severe trials but God rescues him and is glorified in the process. Daniel enjoys promotion and prosperity but God gets the glory (Chapter 6).

2 Peter 2 says that those that “despise authority” are “presumptuous, self-willed . . . not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” even though angels of greater power do not bring accusation.

We live in a divided nation. There are things that happen on a national level which are easy to be concerned about and presumptively declare right or wrong. Yet, the call to the mature believer is to get small. Quit working from Yahoo news and allow the truth of the Gospel to first work within our own soul. Then, serve where we are called with humility and honor with an excellent spirit. We will find favor despite the trials and when our God is faithful, He will get the glory.

No matter which side you are on regarding the issues, a Facebook post or break room rant regarding the president of the country or president of the company won’t change a thing. The mature character of Christlikeness will, however. The humility of excellence in serving others no matter their agreement will provide an opportunity to put the faithfulness of God on display. That display will likely come through your influence which is meek and honoring. The net result will be transformation beyond what any one of us can accomplish in our own limited convictions or wisdom.

Grace on Display Puts Identity in Focus

romoThis post isn’t really about Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys so don’t let that prompt a premature judgment. I have to say that because I am acutely aware of both the pride that can be taken in following that franchise as well as the disdain others have for everything associated with it. This, however, isn’t really about that.

Tony Romo is a quarterback in the latter part of his career who has battled injuries for the past few years. He has, at times, had tremendous success and led the team exceptionally well. He has also occasionally been involved with failures or mistakes that have come at critical times late in the season.

He was injured early this preseason and unable to play. The team’s backup quarterback also got hurt and the net result was that a mid-round draft pick who was passed over by every other team became the starter. That unexpected starter is Dak Prescott. Dak has performed incredibly well, for a rookie or otherwise, and the team is winning.

He’s ready to come back but this kid and the team are on a roll. Do you give the job back to the loyal and talented veteran or stick with the hot hand? Tony ended the debate this week with an unprecedented press conference. He stood in front of microphones and shared that Dak has earned the right to keep the job. As he read his statement, you could feel his emotion. This wasn’t easy for a man who likely still believes he is the best quarterback on the team.

Tony’s grace, honor and security were what caught my attention. Cowboys fan or not, Tony Romo fan or not, take note of what honor looks like. Take note of what security in your identity sounds like. Take note of how grace interacts with others.

I don’t know Tony’s spiritual condition, although I hear through the grapevine that he has an active faith and attends an excellent church in the area. What I do know, however, is that he looked like a son of God this week. He looked like a man who knew who he was and, despite difficult human emotions, rested in the provision and promotion of a Father who has plans for his future. He looked like a man who knew what it was to rest in the Father’s promises and not scramble and strive to make a way for himself.

Sometimes we need to see what it looks like to be reminded of who we are. I was reminded of who I am this week by a man that I’ve never met. He showed me the strength of deference and the power of humility. It’s good to see and be reminded.