Category: Leadership

Why Don't I…

This is me at the intersection of knowing what I need to do and actually taking concrete action…

  • I know that the guy selling the homeless newspaper on the street corner can make a lot better use of a dollar than I can, so why don’t I just buy a paper?
  • I know that my business will grow and my student loans will disappear if I just spend a little more time looking for work, so why don’t I pick up the phone more often?
  • I know that my sense of intimacy with God will deepen if I would devote myself more heavily to prayer, so why don’t I hit my knees a little more often?

Immerse Yourself and Win a Free Kindle

Immerse Yourself Free KindleIf you’ll stick with me through the end of this post, I’ve got an incredible opportunity for you below as well as the chance to win a free Amazon Kindle!

In my former life as a musician, I started my career out very insecure in my skills. Sure, I could sling my guitar pretty well, but I didn’t really feel like I was a professional. To be honest, I really felt like I was an impostor.

Insecure in my own skill set, I was regularly humbled and petrified when put into playing situations with truly talented musicians. (You know; the kids who, at age 2, were able to sit down at the piano and perform the Mozart their parents played for them in the womb.)


Elephants and Arguments

Elephant Room

Tell me if this situation sounds familiar…

You hear it through the grapevine that a friend of yours, lets call him Johnny, said something you don’t quite agree with. Wether he was talking about politics, theology, or sports it doesn’t really matter. From Johnny’s point of view, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was acting in accord with his convictions and had the best intentions in mind. In fact, we can assume that most people would actually have agree with what he said.

In your point of view, however, he was wrong. Now, rather than going to the source and asking Johnny about it, you “discuss” Johnny’s statement with a few other friends who just happen to share your point of view. Before you know it, you’ve built out this elaborate explanation of what Johnny’s convictions are, why he would say what he did, the implications of his actions, the darkness of his heart and mind, and so on.

Fast forward to the next time you guys are in a room together. You’ve got a few options here:

  • Leave the Room – This is classic avoidance at its best. Instead of dealing with the tension surrounding your disagreement, you’d rather remove yourself from the situation. This is certainly the most comfortable thing to do, but can we really spend our entire lives avoiding confrontation?
  • Keep Your Peace – Now we’re talking about suppression. You’re seething on the inside, but rather than start a ruckus, you bury your anger/frustration. This will keep things mellow, but don’t be surprised when all of these suppressed emotions start to color the way you talk to and interact with Johnny.
  • Rip Johnny a New One – If you’re the opinionated and confrontational type, this one’s going to feel great. You can take all of the assumptions that you’ve built up about Johnny and really let him have it. Just don’t plan on having much of a relationship after that.

So here you are, sitting in a room with Johnny looking at 3 pretty terrible options. You’re stuck. You don’t know what to do. There’s an elephant in the room.

Church leaders are not immune to this kind of misunderstanding.

Last year, a senior pastor in North Carolina decided to have the church’s worship team play AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” at their Easter service. In his mind, he was using culture to convey a powerful Gospel message. In the minds of many other church leaders, he profaned the worship service, watered down the Gospel, and used culture in a way that culture should not be used.

Standing on a faithful view of Scripture, both sides find plenty of justification for their judgement. All of a sudden, two camps form around the issue and you’ve got churches, even denominations, set against one another. Everybody’s mad at everybody. Nobody seems to understand the other side, nor do they want to try.

Again, it seems as though there are 3 options: Avoid, Suppress, or Fight

Aren’t we missing an option, though? Can’t they just talk about it?

Yes they can. Yes they should. Enter the Elephant Room.

The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.

These are conversations about the most Christ honoring ways of building a church.  Our goal is unity, however a true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth nor can it be won among those who prefer sectarianism to the unity Jesus prayed for.  To advance Christ’s call to unity we must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each other’s beliefs and methods.  Fidelity and fruitfulness, both matter.  No one has a corner on the truth and methods must do more than ‘work.’

I watched last year’s videos and was encouraged, inspired, and enlightened. If you want a bit of a taste of what its all about, check out these videos from last year. (One of them features the Highway to Hell discussion.)

The Elephant Room 2. January 25th. You should go.

For my friends in Nashville, the simulcast will be aired at Cross Point Nashville on January 25th. If you’d like to attend, click this link to register. Enter this code: ER10DOJAN12 and receive $10 off your ticket.

For everyone outside of Nashville, you can find additional locations here.


Show Your Work

Show Your WorkBig thanks to Joey Strawn for teasing this long overdue blog post out of me this morning…

I’ve always been good at math. Something about my right-brain sees numbers and situations and enjoys making sense of them. My problem, however, is that my right-brain is so fixed on solutions and results that I tend to completely neglect the process.

I’ll get you the right answer, but good luck getting me to show the work. This is the reason why my 12th grade Calculus teacher absolutely hated me.

Exit the high school and enter the big classroom that we call life; this approach is great for getting things done, but terrible for experiencing any sort of meaningful growth along the way. It’s a fantastic way to get to the destination but a miserable way to enjoy the trip.

Does this sound like a fun way to live?

Not really. When we fix our eyes on the destination to the exclusion of the beauty and wonder that occurs around us in every moment, we miss out on all that God would want to show us. Don’t get me wrong, as adopted children, we do have a destination that has been fixed from the foundation of this world, but there’s a whole lot of lifetime that separates us from that destination and we can’t simply ignore it.

A Different Path

For those who would believe, we all possess this common destination of glory. The beauty of our individual stories, however, comes in the journey to get there. Although we all may have the same destination, we’re all getting there by a different path. This path is rocky and full of obstacles, yet every detail of it has been laid by the sovereign God of the universe and every our step has been ordered through the Son whom He sent to save us.

If your life were a math problem, you’ve already got the solution in the perfect, finished work of Christ. Now its on you and its on me to work out that salvation that God has worked within is. Set your hope on the promised result, but don’t forget to pay attention as you walk down that path.

As you walk and encounter other wearied travelers, don’t just show them your answer.

Show your work.

Quit Hitting Yourself

Quit Hitting Yourself

When we were kids, my brother and I used to fight from time to time. He was great at this one particular move where he would grab my arm and proceed to beat on me with my own hand. Surely enough, he’d taunt me with these words, “Quit hitting yourself!” I know you know what I’m talking about.

Remember the story; it’ll come in handy later on.


What Tetons and Babies Can Teach You About Success

Tetons, Baby Steps, and Business Success

Building a successful business, non-profit, or ministry can be about as imposing as staring up at the highest of mountains. Small steps of faith, however, are the catalytic moments that allow us to accomplish more than we could ever imagine.

Snow-Capped Intimidation

About 7 years ago, my unit went on a “secret mission” to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting his vacation home and we were there to secure the airspace while he was in town. As glamorous as that sounds, I promise you that it wasn’t.


Serve the Best Wine

Serving the Best Wine

Religious or not, we’ve all heard the story before…

  • Jesus gets invited to a first century Hebrew wedding.
  • The party rages on.
  • The last box of Franzia runs dry.
  • Some servants bring Jesus 6 bottles of Aquafina.
  • Jesus changes the water into a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux.

How’s that for contextualization?

If you want to read the story for yourself (please do) check out John 2:1-12. As I was reading tonight, this truth hit me: Everybody knows that Jesus turned water into wine. The part that often gets left out, however, is that he changed it into the best wine. [John 2:9-10]


What I Learned While Dodging Pretend Bullets in Southern Idaho

Dodging Bullets in Idaho

The poignant words of a salty old combat training instructor still ring in my head…

“For good or for bad,
decisions need to be made.”

Playing War in Idaho

I was on a long training exercise in the middle of southern Idaho. Our combat communications unit conducted these exercises pretty regularly. A couple of times a year, we’d practice heading out into the desert, setting up our radar site, and developing a defense perimeter around it.


Exciting News: From Obstinate Blogger to Accidental Author

Blogger to Author

People ask me why I blog. Sometimes I ask myself.

  • Why would I spend 10+ hours a week laboring over my laptop?
  • Why would I attempt to invest in the lives of faceless digital strangers?
  • Why would I commit to sharing so much of myself with no promise of any return?

These are the questions I ask myself as I stare at a blank computer screen. These are the subtle and dangerous cues from an enemy who would gladly snatch the words from my fingertips.

This is the wall that I’m forced to climb every time I sit down to write. This is my resistance.