Embrace Your Humanity

Something I have really thought about a lot lately. We impose our "either-or" mentality onto God and largely make much of Jesus’ central teaching on grace and mercy an impossible concept to process. It gets worse. We also apply all-or-nothing thinking to ourselves, making the message impossible to obey on any honest level.

As a result, we are forced to pretend, repress, deny, or become a hypocrite, because nothing human is or ever will be perfect enough, worthy enough, or pure enough. It is not so much that hypocrites join religious groups, but that the very structures of much of religion encourages people to act and pretend. This all-or-nothing thinking is a cancer at the heart of so many of the churches and religious movements that we lead, create and join. The result is a gathering of people who are not authentic, never honest and always afraid. It is a harsh and sad reality that we need to own. 

What we really need is a place, a gathering or a community where we can be authentic, embrace our humanity and realize that there is a God who loves us perfectly. God embraced our complete humanity through the grace and love of Jesus! As a result, what should then hinder us from authenticity, honesty and peace?

What would this mean for us? It means we can find rest in simply being; being exactly who you are, and knowing that God loves you completely. It means we could find community among others who are finding that wonderful rest as well. Sure, God may have some rough edges to polish in our lives. Of course, we won't get it all right, and may miss a few "better" options along the way for our lives. But, we can have confidence and peace in knowing that Christ died one time to cover our imperfections and brokenness so that we are no longer slaves to those very things. 

Embrace who you are, who God made you.... warts and all! Some will find awakening, change and renewal. Some will remain vastly unchanged to the naked eye. But, all of us will experience healing, hope, grace and love at the heart level when we discover this truth!

God loves you completely. 

What Defines Great Leaders

Leadership is a complex reality that few people ever understand. I think the primary thing that people equate to leadership is results. Results seem to be the popular measure of great leaders. But, I would challenge that to the point of saying it’s a façade. Real leaders truly are not defined by results and are not responsible for the results. Leaders are not responsible for results. In fact, most true leaders never have a direct impact on the results. Results rest in the hands of the people, the team and the organization as a whole.

So what are leaders responsible for? And, what makes a great leader? 

Let’s start to answer that by first defining what a leader is responsible for. There is one thing that makes a direct impact on the people and the results. There is one thing that determines if your people and team will reach their greatest potential. That one thing is culture. Leaders are solely responsible for creating a great culture! It is culture that will determine the success or failure of a leader. Great culture will unleash the greatest potential in each person in your organization. 

So what creates a great culture? Simple… Relationships. Relationships are the “secret sauce” of any great organization. When your people find out you care, you pay attention to them and you’re genuinely interested in their well-being they will feel secure, loyal and passionate about the organization. Members, employees and volunteers will always give their best when they know you care more about relationships than results. 

When your team experiences these things, you will experience mush less “churn” in your organization. Meaning you will have far less turn over in people. That one thing alone will unleash the potential in your organization. Why? Because the best results come from consistency. Consistency will improve your “customers” experience and interaction with your organization. When your people are consistently present and consistently passionate about your organization your “customers” will notice. That will ultimately generate the results leaders have long believed they are responsible for creating. 

So what makes a great leader? A great leader is someone who makes the hardest transition of all. Great leaders are no longer the people who are “good at their job” but they are the people who now give hope, grace and vision to their team. 

Your greatest product as a leader is not results it is people! 

Great leaders love people, create culture that unleashes their people’s potential and celebrates the wins of others! 

So, as leaders, we would all do well to take a step back and determine if we are good leaders or just people who are good at our jobs!

Hard Seasons

This is one of those posts where I honestly am not sure where to begin. I just felt maybe it was time to be honest and be a bit raw…. As if I am often raw in what I write most eery time! But, lately I have felt that this is something we often fail at doing with others. The world of social media, writing and posting is filled with the high moments, but almost never used to share the low moments. So, I thought maybe I could share a bit of honest, raw and real life. 

I’ve been in a hard season. It’s been a season of trial. change, disappointment and failure. And, it’s been a long season. I’ve done well to share the highlights and keep my head up. But, lately it’s been harder. I am a very resilient person, but even the most resilient person gets tired. Today I am tired. Have you ever been here? Have you felt like you’ve reached the end of your ability to just keep smiling? 

The last 3 1/2 years have been hard. Our family has faced some of the toughest struggles ever. It started with my health as I survived complete Liver failure. It was the worst 5 months of my life physically, and wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy! As I was recovering we had both of our vehicles stolen and are still driving the damaged and vandalized vehicles today. This left my family feeling insecure about our home and safety. Then we lost our business when my partner embezzled everything we had. Within 3 months, we had to close the doors on our church plant. We struggled for the next year through a relocation, starting over and trying to rebuild. During that season my marriage hit it’s toughest moments. And, it has taken everything we have to survive. But, I am grateful to be married to someone who, like me, never gives up! We then made a move to what we felt would be a great new ministry. But, after 4 months, I was fired. It was devastating. We were able to relocate again, the 3rd time in 2 years, and try to start over. But, since that day, I have yet to replace my income and be able to catch up to the cost of so much change. And, the little income I have had, has recently been removed. So, this year, for the first time in 12 years, Allison was forced to give up being a stay at home mom, and go back to work. This has not been easy on me, our kids and especially Allison. It’s been a crazy few years. Not a beautiful season! 

I am tired. I am worn out. And, if I am honest, some days I just wonder if we will ever find security or stability. 

In having to leave a position in ministry, I lost my entire network of friendships. As it turns out, if you’re no longer a pastor, you don’t get to keep your pastor friends. Because of the great changes in our life, we have not had the chance to build great friends. And, the few we still have, aren’t with us day to day. So, often we feel as though we live in isolation. 

The truth is this, I am exhausted. I feel like most days I have nothing left. I feel completely alone. I feel isolated, because the few people who can relate to the things we have faced, will never be honest enough to admit it. 

I have feared sharing this sort of sentiment because I have feared most people will see this as the final blow….. and I may be right! I have great ideas, great dreams and belief in what I am working to create today. But, as of today, after so many ventures, tries and short comings… I am left to venture alone. 

Yet, I don’t want to end this so sour… I have peace! I know that I have a God who loves me without a single boundary. I am loved by God even when I fail, fall and freak out! That has sustained me. I have the healthiest and most secure position in my faith than ever before. I am hopeful that God is not done with me. After all, I truly believe this… “If you’re not dead, God’s not done!” So, I wait with nervous anticipation of what God may choose next for my life. He hasn't guaranteed it to be a happy thing or an easy thing. But, He has always sustained me. He has always made sure I have enough. 

Today, I am secure that I am enough for God and He is happy with me. But, I still find myself at war with my own ego and my emotions. Will I ever find friends I can count on? Will I ever be enough to satisfy the needs of the people around me? Will I ever be able to simply enjoy the fruits of my hard work? Will I succeed as a husband, father and leader? In truth, the answer is likely no…. and the question that really matters is “Will God be enough for me?” To that I am certain, even on my lowest days that I believe it is a resounding YES!

This is not unique to me. This is the story we all face. We will all walk through these seasons. The key component is being honest, being real and being humble. Today I need prayer. Will I be okay? Of course! This is a season, and for me it’s been a long season. I am tired. And, I am am ready for rest I am ready to recharge. I am ready for the next epic chapter in my Uncommon Life! 

What is your story?