Category Archives: Personal growth

What am I supposed to do?

Teach-Girls-End-World-PovertyI recently had a fascinating conversation with a sharp young leader. They had just returned from an amazing vacation in the Caribbean. The food, the scenery, the weather, the company; everything was perfect. They were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy this vacation of a lifetime, but one they were overwhelmed by the economic gulf between them and the people who served at the resort. The shacks, the broken down roads, and the abject poverty were heart breaking. They could not shake the disconnect of experiencing opulent luxury surrounded by crippling need. They stopped in the middle of sharing their experience, looked at me with deep sincerity and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

Their perspective is refreshing. They aren’t mired in the guilt of having more. They aren’t caught in the misguided trap of feeling better than or worse than the people they met. They see a need and know they must act. Rather than ignoring the pain or reacting to the cause they are simply asking, “What am I supposed to do?”

I saw this look on my wife’s face when she returned from her first visit to a school for AIDS orphans in a tiny village in Kenya. Everyone on her team was moved by what they saw, but my wife knew she had to act. She could not simply send money, or make return visits, she had to make a difference. She had to answer the question, “What am I supposed to do?” She formed a board for the school, revamped their sponsorship program, revitalized the fund raising and changed the future trajectory of the school.

Every day we are inundated with need. Children in Africa, refugees in Europe, immigrants in America. It is easy to become deaf to the cry of human desperation all around us; we can’t help everyone. But we can help some. Jesus didn’t heal all blindness, but he gave sight to the blind man on the road to Jericho. He didn’t restore every crippled limb, but he healed the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. He didn’t raise everyone from the dead, but he brought the widow’s son back to life. Rather than being callous or overwhelmed Jesus always cared for the one in front of him.

Imagine the impact, as we see needs both overwhelming and insignificant, if we asked that simple question, “What am I suppose to do?” You may decide to sponsor a child, or start a ministry, or volunteer at food bank. You may decide to raise money, or start a prayer chain, or tutor a middle schooler. The reality is that we can all do something in Jesus’ name, and together our force for good is overwhelming.

What AM I supposed to do?

Saying Goodbye to a Dream

960x0I had a dream for many years. It doesn’t matter what the dream was, its mine not yours. I always thought this dream would happen, it was just a matter of time. Several times it felt like I was at the edge of the dream being fulfilled only to see it fall away like dust. Soon I was 40, then 45, then 50 and the dream never materialized. The hardest part was this wasn’t something I just passively hoped for, I did everything I knew to do to work toward the dream. And it wasn’t a pipe dream, many trusted friends and mentors confirmed that they believed the dream was in my wheelhouse, something I was wired up to do. I finally realized, however, the time for this particular dream was over. I don’t know why it never happened, but it was time to move on.
 “Sorry for the tears, never thought it would happen.”
And then on Sunday afternoon I caught the final few holes of the Shell Houston Open (SHO). The SHO is a relatively minor tournament, Its basically a tune-up for The Masters, the Super Bowl of golf tournaments, which is played the week after the SHO. When I tuned in Jim Herman, an unknown journeyman, trailed seasoned pro Henrick Stenson by one stroke with three holes to play. Herman had no chance against a player like Stenson. But then he did the unthinkable, he chipped in from the rough on the 16th hole, a birdie that put him ahead by one stroke. Keeping his nerves in check he parred the final two holes to win his first PGA Tour tournament at the age of 38. No one wins their first tournament at 38, the top golfers seldom win at 38. When an interviewer asked him afterwards how it felt to win and qualify to play in The Masters next week he teared up. “Sorry for the tears,” he said, “[I] never thought it would happen.”
 “Give me my mountain.”
Herman reminded of Caleb who dreamed of a home with a mountain view. He walked faithfully by Joshua’s side for more than 40 years, but his dream never came to fruition. Finally, at the age of 80, Caleb went to Joshua and said, “I’m as fit as I was when we spied out the land all those years ago. I’ve done what I’ve been asked, I’ve fought by your side, now give me my mountain.” Well past the age when men make new starts Caleb marched to his mountain and saw the fulfillment of his dream.
So if 38 isn’t too old to win your first golf tournament and 80 isn’t too old to build your dream home, maybe 54 is too young to abandon a dream? Maybe I gave up too soon.
 What dream have you given up on?
What about you? What dream have you given up on? What did you think God would do in your life by now? Maybe its too soon to give up. Maybe God is still at work and isn’t concerned about your timetable. Maybe you should continue preparing for the dream instead of hanging it up and moving on. It may be delusional to think that it could still happen, but Jim Herman never thought he’d be teeing off Thursday at Augusta National either.

Why people doubt your leadership

Matthew 28:16, 17 (NIV) Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
doubtThese eleven men spent three years, 24/7, with Jesus. They saw him feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. They were there when he gave sight to blind men, cleansed lepers and set demon possessed people free. All eleven stood at Lazarus’ tomb as the stone was rolled back and a dead man walked out. A few days before they saw Jesus’ body hanging lifeless on a Roman cross, but before the weekend was over Jesus walked out of a sealed tomb and joined them for lunch. And in spite of all they had experienced some of them doubted. How is that possible?
 Doubt is baked deep in the heart of all of us
It is possible because doubt is baked deep in the heart of all of us. Adam and Eve hung out with God in the garden, but they doubted his warning about the tree. Moses met God face to face, but doubted God’s instructions on getting water. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, but he doubted Jesus was the Messiah. Doubt is a part of the human condition.
It is reassuring to know that doubt is something we all struggle with. Sometimes I find myself preaching on faith and struggling with doubt at the same time. I feel like the man who said to Jesus, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” I used to hope having enough faith obliterated doubt. Now I understand that faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. I can be honest about my doubt without destroying others’ faith. I can stand on the mountain worshipping while I struggle with doubt.
 Evidence doesn’t always overcome doubt
I have also come to understand that evidence doesn’t always overcome doubt. The men standing on the mountain with Jesus had more evidence of his divinity than anyone who’s ever lived, and yet they doubted. That is why arguing with 21st century skeptics is often fruitless. Atheists like Richard Dawkins Christopher Hitchens challenge us to prove there is a God, and laugh when we join the debate. Faith isn’t something based on irrefutable evidence; faith is confidence in what we hope for, evidence of things we cannot see or prove. I love to study apologetics, but skeptics are seldom converted through argument, they are more likely to be overwhelmed by love.
 There is a leadership element to doubt
There is a leadership element to doubt as well. It is a challenge to be a confident leader when the people you lead doubt your ability, your vision, or your heart. So we read countless leadership books and blogs that convince us the reason people doubt us is we suck as leaders. While that may be true, it is more likely people doubt our leadership because people doubt leaders. If the disciples of Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God of the universe, doubted his leadership there’s a pretty good chance the people we lead will doubt us as well. If we want to lead a team without doubt we should probably buy a dogsled.
The amazing thing about this story is that these eleven men, doubters and all, left that Galilean mountain and started the most transformational movement the world has ever seen. God seems to always do incredible things through people who doubt. Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Saul all doubted God and doubted themselves, and God used them anyway. I doubt you and I are up to something great, but what if we gave it a try anyway? To quote the famous doubter Jonathan,
“Perhaps God will act on our behalf.”