As some of you might know, I got married last Saturday. I can’t really remember most of it, but I can say that it was truly the best day of my life. My wife, Suzanne, is amazing. In fact, she’s so wonderful that I would like to help you find someone just like her in 71 easy steps…
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?
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.)
So, I’ve become a bit of a recluse lately.
Finishing up a book project, planning a wedding, running a business, working on a masters degree… These are my excuses. Good ones… kinda… not really.
This is the sort of introverted life I lived just a few short years ago. I lived with myself, for myself, and by myself. I was totally removed from any sort of meaningful community. This was a bad way to live. I’m sorry to say that, using the weight of my current commitments as an excuse, I’ve been heading right back into that pit.
Social media has been a good way of keeping in pseudo-touch with the world, but in my case its been just another cop-out. A couple of tweets a day… A blog post here and there… Sporadic Facebook status updates when I feel like it. For me, these have all amounted to nothing but a shallow attempt to cling to meager scraps of visibility in the community.
I don’t want to keep going down that road.
So this is me turning the tables. This is me making a decision to fight my natural inclination to recede into the comfortable complacency of seclusion. This is me doing something bold and probably foolish. This is me going to war against my desire to hide behind a computer screen and pretend like I’m still active in my community.
This is also me asking you to take part in my little crusade…
Over the next 100 days, I’m going to sit down for a cup of coffee with 100 different people. I want to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. I want to learn about their worries and struggles, business or personal, and do my best to serve them. I want to connect them with others who may share a similar story or be able to help. If nothing else, I want to restore a genuine sense of community in my life and the lives of those I meet.
I want you to be one of those people.
Now, I’m not under the impression that I’m someone particularly special or some self-proclaimed celebrity whom you should desperately desire to know in real life. This has nothing to do with ego. If you think so, spend a little more time on my site getting to know me. Shoot me an email and we’ll chat.
So let’s do coffee.
If you’re in the Nashville area (or you will be in the next 3 months) and are interested, leave a comment below with the best way for me to get in touch about scheduling. Of course, you can email me, or hit me on Twitter if that’s easier. If you know of someone whom you’d like me to meet, share this post with them. You can even share it with your friends on Twitter or Facebook.
I’ll write about my experiences along this journey from time to time and let you all know how its going using the #100cups hash-tag on Twitter. Don’t worry, I won’t air anybody’s dirty laundry unless they specifically ask me to!
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.
I have a beautiful 16 week old puppy named Cooper. Here’s his picture. I give you full permission to make whatever ohhh and awe signs that you feel are necessary. He is quite the cutie pie.
As you could imagine, I love this little guy and spoil him rotten as I would imagine most loving dog-owners do. He gets the best food, lots of fun toys, and an ample amount of quality time with Daddy. He’s my little man and, in my house, he is richly provided for.
Big 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.
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.
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.
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.