Out, Up & ……In????

In the world today, we see organizations of all sizes and varieties looking up to others so they can reach out to others while forgetting about looking in. What I mean by this is quite simple. Organizations of all types, churches, nonprofits, business and groups all seem to have looking up for ideas and direction down pat. This allows the organization to reach out to the community in so many ways that is good for everyone involved.

While this is good; what happens to those inside who are doing the work if they are not getting what they need? Every person in the world needs things. They need love, food, direction and the ability to ask someone for help. In the past few years, we have seen many organizations go through changes that were meant to help the “IN” people when it actually ended up tearing them apart. When we only look up then out, the people in eventually will give up and not continue to see the vision the head of the organization has. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Give me the best factory in the world but take my people away, grass will grow on the factory floor, but leave my people and they will build a bigger better factory.” I think Carnegie had it right and now we have gone from that in America.

We have become more about the programs and less about the people. We concern ourselves with the names of the programs, not the names of our people. We think if our programs aren’t growing, neither are our people. Maybe it’s time we as leaders look at the true root of the problem. I see organizations all over America forgetting about training, teaching and caring for their people. Just sending them on a retreat, to a conference or putting them in small groups won’t always give them what they need. They need the head of the organization and their leaders to reach in to them and find out what they need. We can’t just sit back and wait for people to tell us what they need. We need to know our people good enough to know when they are hurting or where they are lacking.

It’s become a cut here and there so we can have more to spend out rather than in. We have to reverse this thinking. It’s extremely good to see everyone benefitting from others but if we continue to cut out teaching and training then how will we ever be able to keep our people going in the same direction we are going?

So, take a step back from your organization and see if you have a balance between Up, Out and In. If you don’t, I urge you to see how to correct the problem so the people can grow into the people they are called to be. Don’t let the need for being busy on a program or project kill your organization. Just a little more on the IN will produce so much more UP and OUT.

Love you all!!

Curb Appeal or Real??

While cleaning up my yard last weekend, I began thinking. I know it’s scary when I start thinking about anything but here’s what I came up with.

I noticed when we were done cleaning up the yard I was more worried about the front being cleaner than the back. I noticed that there weren’t half the amount of leaves in the front as there were in the back. I noticed that I spent more time and energy on getting the front looking better than the back. After we finished, I sat and wondered why. I thought about it long and hard and finally God gave me something.

He showed me that our lives are much like front and back yards. The front yard appears to be clean and everything’s great. We make sure the weeds are gone, the grass is cut and we have fertilized enough to make everything look good. But in the back, there are weeds, missing grass, things out of place, trash and dogs and kids running wild. I finally started wrapping my brain around this and thought WOW, our lives are like our yards. The front is open for everyone to see. The back is guarded by a fence and in order to see what’s going on back there we have to allow people in. We can’t stop anyone from seeing the front but they have to be invited in or they have to invade our privacy to see what’s going on in the back.

I think this is how our lives are. We have a great showing on the outside (front yard) but inside (back yard), things are chaotic and weeds are growing. Things get out of place here but as long as we can continue having a front that is clean we think all is well. This is not the case though. Even if we have an appearance of the front being clean and perfect, deep down if things aren’t well, we have trouble inviting people in to see who we really are.

On this Thanksgiving, I urge you all to take a look at yourself, outside and inside. It’s easy to have the appearance everything’s good in the front yard but if you never let anyone in the back yard, you may never know anything’s wrong deep down.
Our lives are much like curb appeal. Curb appeal may sell someone to come inside but they may not buy it if you are not real. Are you real or do you just have curb appeal?? Happy Thanksgiving!

Love you all!!

Mission Impossible

No everyone, I’m not talking about the movie. Mission Impossible has been in my life for many years now and I want to explain why it’s important to me and my family. It’s what’s written on the back of the fighter pilot helmet in my house. That’s right, many of you have been to my house and have probably never paid attention to the helmet. Like the person it belonged to, it is pretty inconspicuous and forgotten. Even totally looked over at times. The helmet says mission impossible because it was to be for a Vietnam War pilot named Dennis Graham. Dennis “Denny” Graham, whom I never met, means more to me than I can put in words.

You see, Denny fought and died for our country in the Vietnam War and like so many other veterans, has been forgotten. Denny said in 1963 when he left to fly the F-111A, he would never return because the plane was not combat ready. He knew the plane was at least 30 years ahead of its time and he turned out to be very correct on both parts. It’s my understanding that Denny was an amazing pilot and had planned to return after the war to begin astronaut training. He was a graduate of Texas A&M University and he knew what his goals were. It must have been amazing knowing this man. When my parents received that dreadful call that his plane was shot down over Cambodia, my parents couldn’t help but think of his words. He did not take his job lightly when he received the call to go he did. He went to Vietnam with a plane not fully combat ready but did it willingly because it was his calling in life. Following this calling was so important to him that he died for it. That’s honor no matter how you look at it. Honor for him, his family, his country but above all, for his God. It was God that put his calling in his heart and for this, God’s Glory was fulfilled in Denny’s life.

The reason Dennis Graham means so much to me is not because he was my dad’s cousin. It is not because he is a war hero in my family. It is not because I think I have to have him on my heart. It’s because every time my name is said, part of him is honored. My mom and dad had enough respect and love for this man that they named one of their sons after him. It’s about a legacy. A legacy passed to me because of His calling in his life. My parents thought so highly of this man and what he stood for that they gave his name to me.

But it’s more than a name to me, it’s something to treasure and try to protect. It’s something to remember. To remember that God has placed a calling on my life and it’s up to me to seek it out and go in the direction God wants me. To lead my family in the Godly direction instead of wandering in the desert for years looking for it. And finally, to answer the call no matter what it is or where it is. Answer the door when God knocks because I will never know the fullness of the blessing He has for me, unless I answer that call.

Yes, it’s very fitting that the helmet says mission impossible. For Dennis Graham, the impossible mission was merely going to Vietnam with a bum plane but the reality of finding his calling was the true mission and was possible. It doesn’t have to be an impossible mission to find God’s calling; it only has to be a mission you accept.

Love you all!

Stand Up or Shut Up, Revisited

Well, thanks for the responses to the last posting, Stand Up or Shut Up. I did however have one question that seemed to come up and I promised someone I would answer it for them. That’s what I said I would do, so here it goes.

The question was; if you stand up for what you believe and you are told to shut up, then what do you do?

Let me start off by saying this actually crossed my mind and I wanted to include it in the previous posting but I wanted to make sure there were others this has happened to. I do find that no matter what you believe you will always have some that just blow you off for whatever reason. However, you MUST stand your ground. If there’s one thing I have learned over time is that people may not like it when you stand your ground but they will respect you for it, even if you don’t immediately know it.

Herein lies the problem. What if the people who are telling you to sit down and shut up are people who either don’t respect you or don’t really understand your position? For whatever reason they are always correct or they just feel as if you are overstepping boundaries or trying to make them look bad. This creates a whole new group of problems but you have to be ready for opposition. If you firmly believe you are correct, back it up with facts. If you have the facts and they still tell you to sit down and shut up, then please don’t get discouraged and walk away. Find someone to talk to this about and begin getting counsel from those you trust. Maybe it’s you who is actually wrong or maybe you are going about it in the wrong way. Whatever you do though, don’t ever jeopardize your faith or values. This will lead to people seeing you as a flappable person and it will be hard to ever gain the respect of those around you.

Another point is that your opinion can always be questioned. Remember that opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and at times, they really stink. You have to allow yourself to be questioned on your opinions. There are times people question you only to find out more about you, the situation or to see if they can help. This also allows us to gain understanding and it also allows us to grow. Please don’t misconstrue your opinions for standing up for a known fact. And please don’t let anyone try to convince you of something that is against your values.

I know this is probably more than this question needed but I wanted to play a little CYA (cover your assets) with this one. Just know that when you stand up for your beliefs, there are people watching and admiring you. Even when you don’t see it or hear it, know the support is there. People can’t help but notice when the words that come out of our mouths match the way we live. Hang in there and continue standing tall and strong for your beliefs. But please do remember that if you won’t take the action, then don’t bring it up. That way nobody can tell you to shut up.

Love you all!!

Stand Up or Shut Up

So as most of you know, I’m a news and talk radio junkie. Over the past 6 weeks we have heard that our country is in the worst economic times in over 100 years. You hear that people are losing their jobs and homes at a record pace and the unemployment is at levels not seen in years (14 years to be exact). The dollar is not strong and consumer confidence is low. The media and many politicians, including President George W. Bush and President Elect Barack Obama, have said this country is actually worse off now that it was during the Great Depression.

Hearing all of this just pisses me off and here’s why. My Grandparents actually lived through the Great Depression and trust me, we are nowhere close to being where they were. My Granddad Rivers told me 4 days before he died as we went through some World War II stuff that he hoped and prayed that our country didn’t get into a war or go through tough economic times because we didn’t have the leadership to lead us or the desire to work through it. He also let me know we were the softest Americans in our country’s history.

When he told me this, my ears really perked up becasuse I was afraid he was right. At that time, we were not in the Iraq war and the economy was booming. He told me not enough Americans knew the value of work, love, giving or honesty. He lived in a time when people not only talked about change but they actually stood up to change things. And they also used to stand up for their beliefs and shared them with people.

This brings me to today. I can clearly see what Granddad Rivers was talking about. We do have the ability to change things. The American people are still the hardest working and brightest people in the world. The problem we have in America today is that we have all of these ideas and changes we believe need to be made but it seems people don’t want to stand up for their beliefs and actually make their ideas come to life. We talk about change as a slogan instead of a something to do. We throw it around and really can’t say what change we want, we just want change.

I for one, am guilty of this. I have become the “typical” American here in the 21st century and I know all of my grandparents would be disappointed. I have sat around and griped but done nothing. I sit and talk with friends and family about my ideas but don’t bother to call my congressman or senator about it. I see things at church I don’t agree with and until very recently, sat back and did nothing. I believe things at work should change but don’t feel I should say anything. This has happened to all of us and America has lost it’s mystic and respect the Greatest Generation and others fought for becasue of this.

My granddad told me we would fold up and just take it. He did not feel there was any way good people would stand up for their beliefs and we would coutinue taking our country and freedom for granted. We have become a very spoiled and soft country. We are the richest people in the world financially but have become the poorest people in standing up for what we believe in. We can’t take the bloodshed of war that is sometimes necessary. We can’t take it when the economy goes down and feel sorry for ourselves when we have to go and flip burgers or clean a toliet to pay the bills. We really have no idea what it means to do without. When times get tough would rather moan and groan than do something about it.

We have to remember that living in this country is a blessing and we have to respect those who have fought to keep it a blessing and free. Voting is not a right but a responsibility and so is knowing about every candidate, not just the one the media is in love with. We have to love our children and grandchildren enough to leave them the country our grandparents left us. They left us a tough, prosperous nation. They left us values and ideas and showed us it’s okay to stand up for what we believe.

Here’s what I ask. If you want things to actually change, will you as an American stand up for your beliefs? Will you raise your children as you were raised or will you do it like a book says to do it? Will you get back to the basic principles set forth throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament, or just use the “feel good” Jesus churches want us to know? Will you and your family sit down at the dinner table and talk through the problems and triumphs of the day? Will you let your faith be passed to your kids or will you be the last generation in your family for the Kingdom?

We can all be part of the solution or part of the problem. It’s your choice. You can either stand up or shut up. Your country, family and God needs you to stand up no matter your beliefs. If you can’t stand up, then do us all a favor and shut up.

Love you all!!