Archive for the ‘Character’ Category

Your life is being broadcast

Published by October 22nd, 2008 in Character, Church, Community, Future, Internet, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Technology  2 Comments »  

Wow! It’s been a long time since I made a post, and a lot has happened. Actually, I have like 20 posts in me, but because in the past my being open and honest was not allowed – I was scared – so I kept silent!

I wanted to write about my new job and my new boss, yet, because I knew when I posted a link to Brad’s blog he would find this blog, I kept procrastinating, and now it’s a mute point. Interesting enough, I did not actually realize how toxic some of my last situations were until I tried to function normally in a healthy environment. I mean, who else would have the coolest workplace, and be open to blogging, and open to voicing a difference of opinion than the guy behind – yet I was conditioned for the last several years to not be myself – and it showed, because I was still too scared to be open and honest even though I was in a safe place.

I also wanted to write about control. As I went into this new job I worked extra hard to allow things to evolve around me without any interference by me. We either become control freaks, or become passive, in an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering, yet it is by going through legitimate suffering head on that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It was a great experience going into an organization and not as the boss. Nothing happened “my way”, and I loved every growth-packed minute of it. I actually believe that every mega church leader should go find a small church and work for two weeks each year as a lay person, and not be allowed to influence any decision. Basically seeing life from the other side. Not being the boss for a change was one of the best things that could have happened to me, but that is not the topic of this post.

There is so much that I want to write, and I wish my written communication skills were better so I could effectively communicate all that is my heart. I do regret allowing the oppression of my past situations to continue on into my new life. It’s not their fault, it’s mine! I made the choice to keep quiet, and that was the wrong choice!

What I feel compelled to write about is a change I see as our society becomes more voyeuristic and technology becomes more mobile. Like I said in the last post, I’m sure someone has already touched this topic so I may be behind, but it is very, very important. Now, it has actually come to life for me!

A few weeks back ICFG had to lay off 25 people, and I was one of them. For the record I want to say that although there is no easy way to let people go, ICFG had to make a hard decision, and they took very good care of us. You can tell if an organization has Jesus or not just by how they treat employees that are exiting, and former employees that for whatever reason moved on. Even though my time was short with Foursquare I am extremely impressed with their compassion and forward thinking.

The interesting part to all this is “Black Tuesday”, the day the layoffs took place, was broadcast over the internet via Twitter and Facebook. Some I have selected as a favorite on my Twitter page, which you can read here . Brad was twittering as it went down, and so were a few others in the office. It was weird, yet it is the future of how things are going to be – all of our lives will be broadcast over the internet – like it or not!

I believe the idea of a “big brother” watching us started with George Orwell’s movie 1984, but it’s not the government that is the soon-to-be big participator in broadcasting EVERYTHING, it’s little sister, Aunt Ruby, Johnny down the street, and Yilmaz over in Turkey. As we become more of a mobile technology world, more of OUR world will be broadcast to the Internet – AND NOT BY CHOICE!

As with anything there is good and bad. The good is people who do not have integrity will no longer be able to hide. The new world is all about transparency and vulnerability – everything will be exposed. The bad is there is no privacy anymore – none at all!

No matter if you like this or not, as in the case of “Black Tuesday” being broadcast over the internet, I didn’t have a choice, and neither do you. This train has left the station, and if you are not being real with people, LOTS of people will find out – and sooner than a you can click on a send button!

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My new gay friend

Published by September 16th, 2008 in Change, Character, Church, Life's Lessons  6 Comments »  

For the last two months I have been visiting a local store several times a week and made friends with the kid at the front counter. We have openly talked about church, Jesus, his family, my family and life in LA! The first time I walked into the store I felt like I should share my testimony, which I did. I did so as conversation and was not confrontational. We talk about church and ministry every time I am there.

Here is the interesting part. The store is frequented by lots of beautiful women and last week I commented that it must drive him crazy. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “it does not bother me a bit, I’m gay” WHAT? For almost two months now I have been talking about church and he never once judged me. I was shocked. Not that he is gay, but that he was so cool.

We still talk about church, ministry, marketing and life in LA. He is a good kid and fun to talk to. He is also a great salesperson and besides genuinely befriending everyone he does an amazing job of upselling. Just because he is gay I didn’t start treating him any different and just because I am a Christian he never once treated me any different.

I don’t agree with his lifestyle yet I don’t have an agenda to “convert” him either. In fact, that is what is wrong with most Christians today. We point our finger condemning people as “sinners” which only continues to reinforce the tainted view people have of us, or we separate ourselves because we feel uncomfortable around people not exactly like us. Not just gays but homeless, handicapped, gutter punk kids and others.

In reality my new friend taught me a few very important lessons. Mainly to not judge people and allow them to be themselves. Although this sounds simple to most of us, me included, we have to fight past stereotypes and negative predispositions to truly love everyone. Too me, if Christians just started to be friendly instead of weird it would be a huge step in the right direction.

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Real faith is…

Published by August 18th, 2008 in Change, Character, Church, My Big Mouth  9 Comments »  

Again I need to give you a disclaimer. I am not a bible scholar and I am not a theologian. Agree or disagree these are my views on a subject matter that I feel has been greatly abused.

Writing down the make and model of the new car you want to receive and then placing the piece of paper in the center of a room for people to circle around and pray over is not faith – it is magic! For a few years now I have been really confused and frustrated because I see people being taught rituals and not truth. Tithe, pray facing west, fast, make a collage of all the material junk you want, add some scripture, and presto chango God will honor your WORKS.

This type of teaching gives people false hope. For one, if we don’t receive the miracle we are praying for we blame ourselves thinking we did the ritual wrong. We then try and correct our wrong searching for a new ritual instead of resting in Him. People also get hurt because their neighbor was blessed doing the ritual, why not them? Yes, there are testimonies of the “miracle check in the mailbox” that basically result from the law of averages. But the majority of these type “miracle” testimonies are exaggerated, evangelistically speaking that is, to prove to us the rituals work.

I also find it interesting the people that teach these “faith” rituals that borderline on magic are the first to speak out against Harry Potter, or have a medicine cabinet filled with drugs quickly prescribing meds to people for any ailment, or are overly scared of legal action to the point of paranoia. Behind the scenes most demonstrate little faith as if their teachings are all a charade.

When I was homeless I didn’t tithe nor did I pray yet I was delivered from living in a park and homeless shelters to a good paying job and new car. From April 07 to early 08 I had crisis after crisis in my life that made homelessness seem like Disneyland. I not only tithed my offerings were another 10% making my total giving a little more than 20%. I fasted, I prayed, I believed with EXTREME faith, I wrote my needs on paper for others to pray over, I even had the collage on the wall with scriptures just like I was taught, I spoke the right words and believed for the very best. More importantly I became passive, I started to work harder and harder, I did my best to keep my mouth shut yet my circumstances kept getting worse. I was doing everything right yet wrong kept on happening. I became more confused. Why was the magic faith not working? I tried it both ways and life keeps coming at me! Could it be rain falls on the just and the unjust?

My eyes opened this spring while I was dining with a friend at a Chinese buffet in Columbus Ohio. Another opportunity had just fallen through and for the most part I was beat down hard. No money, no food, and it looked like things were going to get worse, which they did! In that moment of clarity I knew God loved me and that as long as I persevered He would take care of me. I might not get the car I wanted, but He had something better, which he did as I type this from Los Angeles, my home, the place where I belong! I never prayed to move back here nor did I sow a seed. The more I surrendered giving up my WANTS and desires the more He gave me just what I needed. That simple and no magic! Just rest in Him!

Please know I am all about positive thinking. Positive thinking, especially changing my self-talk, is what made all the difference in my recovery. Positive thinking is great and needs to be encouraged yet we can go too far and remove reality. We are also not healed by works. Miracles don’t happen because we prayed a certain way or claimed our seed on the offering envelope. All this crap does is mess people up, alienate unbelievers and sell warehouses full of product.

Let’s be honest here. All this faith ritual magic is selfish. People don’t sow a seed for that drug addict or prostitute; they give money in the hopes of receiving a new house, car or other material possession – selfish! I believe that the church will continue to be without any real power and continue to lose people as long as the church focuses on receiving and not genuinely helping others.

Real faith is not magic. Real faith is knowing that God truly loves you no matter how bad your circumstances seem.



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Bless me or bless you?

Published by June 20th, 2008 in Change, Character, Community, Homeless, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, My Big Mouth, Outreach  2 Comments »  

For the last 5 years I have worked in churches that were 75% focused on “bless me bless me” instead of blessing others. It was not until I needed help because I did not have money or food that I consciously saw the fallout from that style of ministry. When people focus on becoming a millionaire their hearts change. When leadership’s primary teaching is about receiving instead of giving, even though helping others is mentioned, giving unselfishly never becomes a priority or a lifestyle. A generous heart cannot grow when a person is constantly praying to receive. 

A short time ago I had to apply for food stamps. Very humbling to say the least! At one point I was down to 3 cans of tuna. I found there are some very unselfish and genuine people in the world and I am in awe of the sacrifice they made to help me out. But none of those people attend a “bless me” church.

I say all that not to criticize the “bless me” churches, but to slap myself in the face! Thank goodness my original Christian foundation came from an outreach focused church because I continue to always put others before me, yet I am not proud of what I did or who I became these last several years. I compromised what I know to be right in so many ways.

Last week a couple handed me a large envelope of cash.  The week before someone filled my fridge and another person paid my mortgage. When I told my best friend he said “God blessed you” yet I disagree! God does not bless with a new car or a fat check. God blesses with challenges that help you grow. We are confused. We all run around seeking “blessings” from God that are for the most part material stuff we’ll end up selling on craigslist. The new car only blesses for a short time as you show off to your neighbors. We are being trained to be selfish “bless me bless me” so we perceive, for the most part, that the only blessings from God are material or financial.

In my adult life the biggest blessings I have ever received where 1) homelessness 2) divorce 3) unexpected unemployment. Why would I say that? Because in each situation I grew to be a better person – I was truly blessed!

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What I really wanted to say!

Published by June 20th, 2008 in Change, Character, Community, Customer Service, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, My Big Mouth  2 Comments »  

Ahhh the feeling of freedom after being repressed. 

For some time I was not allowed to be myself. To be completely honest I was employed at a place where people are not allowed to be honest and have to say things like “we are receiving our healing” instead of saying “I am sick” or “I have a cold”. Although I completely agree with positive thinking this type of environment is far from positive. People are scared to be real and it encourages people to be superficial. Even though the assumed intent is to create a positive workplace it actually produces the opposite since honestly is repressed!

When I wrote this post what I really wanted to say is:

If the local drycleaner cares more about people, genuinely cares more about people then the local church – there is something seriously wrong with the church!

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Shunning is horrible

Published by June 17th, 2008 in Change, Character, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, Ministry, My Big Mouth  Comments Off on Shunning is horrible  

Shunning is not of God. It is a form of manipulation and it is wrong. Usually people who shun others justify their actions with rationalization. “We’ll allow God to work” is one.  Truth is by shunning you are limiting God by only allowing one solution to an issue. Just maybe God wants to teach a person how to have healthy confrontation and to communicate openly and honestly. Another reason people shun is to avoid confrontation.  It is easier to avoid then to deal with an issue or person.

If you are a leader in an organization that shuns people – stop it! It is wrong. Learn to have healthy communication with people.

If you are an employee in an organization that shuns people – run away as fast as you can!

If you are a member of an organization that shuns people – leave immediately!

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slowly coming back – topic: strategy

Published by June 14th, 2008 in Change, Character, Fundraising, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Managment, Marketing, Media, Ministry  1 Comment  

Here is part of the great post Phil Cooke wrote about strategy:

But I’m shocked at the number of people that just keep doing the same thing year after year as if the direction of the ministry, audience numbers, response, income – whatever, will magically change.   But getting from point A to point B doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens through a well thought out plan.

And by the way – when it comes to churches – changing graphics, cool music, lighting effects, or dumping the choir robes isn’t a strategy.  That’s just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.   You need a fundamental re-think of what story your church or ministry is trying to tell, what that means to your audience, how to connect with that audience, and why it’s absolutely urgent they respond right now.

I could not resist posting a comment. I am really getting the itch to blog again so even though I am not taking life just yet, I thought I would get a fix. Here is the comment. Please know this is not negative. It really is positive because if more people would actually have the courage to be honest then the church would become self-aware and actually be effective.

Personality driven church leaderships unconscious need for control always seems to override what is the right and quite possibly the most effective choice. They will say they want growth, yet in reality they just want to be the boss. More often than not these authoritarian style leaders hinder their own church growth.

It is not uncommon for the pastor’s wife to gather together a team of people who have no real experience in fundraising to sit around for an hour or more to “guess” out a strategy. No data is gathered and there is no research – just verbal guessing as to what may be effective. Everyone gets pumped up because they now feel important and heck, this stuff must work since they saw it used on TBN. The only real requirement to be included in the team is that the person will NOT be completely honest since the last thing leadership wants is the real truth. Even the selection of the team is a guessing game so several of the people chosen have no business being in a strategy meeting. A time and productivity waster all around!

Although a plan is made it really just sends the organization into busy mode wasting resources and time. If success happens it only is a result of the law of averages and luck. A proper strategy crafted by professionals would not only save time and money it would achieve the desired results quicker. Unless the desired result is to feed control issues than the ego would be bruised if a professional is consulted and Lord knows the King can’t have that.

It always amuses me that church leadership will contract an accounting firm because they see the worth in hiring a professional for those tasks, yet when it comes to marketing most believe they are “gifted” so they chose to shoot themselves in the foot. One pastor I know contracted a web designer and just told him to make the site. The designer lives in another state and has never been to this church. He is given no information at all yet instructed to make a “cutting edge” website. When I brought this up over dinner conversation the pastor said he didn’t have time and it was the web guy’s job anyway. I tried to explain the importance of a web presence and the ignorance in not giving the designer any direction or data, yet it fell on deaf ears. Another ministry I know sends out direct mail each month for two separate campaigns yet gives no information to the writer. The writer just guesses on content twice a month. Yup, true story. There is no strategy, no measuring effectiveness, and they continue to send out two mailings each month simply because “that is what ministries do”. Even though the ineffectiveness and the amount of money wasted has been brought up in the past they continue on as is. Same with TV, thousands of dollars spent each week for a show that has no direction. It is just there and the correct decision is either to put resources into the show or get off the air. Of course, the occasional ego boost the pastor receives in public keeps the show on the air. The sad part is this is not just one ministry but many.

Pride and ignorance don’t see themselves in the mirror. For the most part these are good men and women who are just blind. Can you just imagine how effective we could be if we had the courage to be completely honest with ourselves and became self-aware?


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Whatever God!

Published by March 12th, 2008 in Change, Character, Future, Homeless, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Personal, Personal Growth, Recovery, Remarkable  1 Comment  

As I was driving to Nashville in a crazy snow storm to speak at NRB I received a devastating phone call. Well, it should have been devastating since I was being delivered some very bad news.

For about the last 10 months I have been through hell. I have been beat down to where there is absolutely no fight left in me. Everything that has happened, all the misunderstandings and whacked perceptions are so weird I cannot even explain it.  The end result is I am now back in extreme debt and I am very close to losing everything – again!

When I was homeless I had nothing to lose. The stress this time is insane and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the fear sometimes is almost paralyzing.  I don’t dwell on the fear and I always do my best to stay positive, but sometimes it just slaps me in the face.

Now here is what is interesting (at least to me).  As I was driving through that snow storm this past Friday, and hung up the phone after receiving very bad news, I said out loud, “whatever God” with a smile on my face. I had peace about my situation. It was as if I completely surrendered and raised the white flag. 

The National Religious Broadcasters Convention, I thought, would be all business. I never expected to get anything spiritual from the event. I was wrong! Saturday morning a friend talked me into going to hear Phil Vischer speak. Phil is the original creator of Veggie Tales and to be honest, talking vegetables have never done anything for me. I would have never gone to hear Phil without some coaching.

It was amazing and just what I needed to hear.  Phil had everything and then lost everything yet God continues to do an amazing work in his life. There was a God purpose in everything! He has now started Jelly Fish Labs. The name alone is worth going to the session. A jellyfish cannot completely control where it moves. Phil’s talk is encouraging and spiritually enlightening and I highly recommend you buy the CD. RB-S01 Reach Keynote Session – Phil Vischer.

While driving I also listened to a leadership series by Andy Stanley that is probably some of the best teachings I have ever heard.  If you are going to only buy one teaching series in 08 make it this one! It will change your life. Buy it for your pastor, leaders and friends. The church is changing. Leadership is changing! Everyone needs to hear this: The Best of Catalyst – Andy Stanley Buy this teaching and share!

I don’t know what is going to happen in my life. God has stripped me of everything before so I would pay attention and let Him drive. I don’t know if that is the case here, but this last week, in the face of severe darkness, I was blanketed with a peace that could have only come from God.

Whatever God, although scary, is a very good place to be!

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I am normal after all – continued

Published by February 26th, 2008 in Blogs, Change, Character, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, Marketing, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Personal, Personal Growth, Remarkable, Vision  Comments Off on I am normal after all – continued  

Tony referenced a great article by Andy Stanley that EVERYONE should read. Oh my goodness, it’s titled Challenge the Process and it is so good I will post some (ok most) of it:

I think there’s something in every leader that yearns to try things in new ways, to test the status quo–to challenge the process. If you’re a leader, you’ve probably had similar experiences all your life. Leaders are constantly evaluating and critiquing the world around them.

When most people are moved by a message, we leaders are busy examining the structure of the presentation. Where the average person enjoys a great conference, we’re fixated on the methods that made it successful. There’s something in every leader that seeks to understand the process at work behind the scenes.

The rest of the world is quite the opposite. In fact, it’s human nature to gravitate toward the familiar. And left to themselves, virtually every person and organization is in a subconscious pursuit of the status quo. Eventually they will find it. And they will work very, very hard to stay there.

In a changing world, familiar is no measure of effectiveness. And the status quo is no benchmark for long-term achievement. That’s why the world needs leaders to venture boldly into the unfamiliar and to embrace the uncomfortable–because the best solutions are often found in unfamiliar, uncomfortable places.

The instinct to challenge the process is a fundamental quality of every leader. When God created leaders, he equipped them with an unsettling urge to unpack, undo and unearth methods. This explains your tendency to question everything around you.

It’s the reason you have such strong opinions–and such a strong desire to share them. God wired you that way. Deep in your heart you may feel that if you were in charge, things would not only be different, they’d also be better. This is not a problem of arrogance or pride. It’s simply the way God wired you. It’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, your zeal for improvement isn’t always appreciated out in the real world. As a matter of fact, your natural bent for leadership sets you up for resistance from virtually all sides–including other leaders.

And unless you understand the nature of these dynamics, the very instincts that qualify you for greatness can also lead you to disqualify yourself and sabotage your opportunities. Effective leadership means learning to challenge the process without challenging the organization. There’s a fine line between the two. But it’s a crucial line.

The first line of resistance the leader faces is the organization itself. As we’ve already mentioned, organizations don’t like new ideas. It’s enough of a challenge just figuring out the old ones. So the last thing an organization wants is someone suggesting that we need to start all over again with a different process. Your supervisors, advisers, elders, deacons and staff all feel pretty much the same way. Since human nature is to seek a place of equilibrium, change is seen as a disruption of progress.

The second line of resistance you face is from other leaders. You might think you’d find an advocate in this group. But, by nature, when you challenge a concept, you challenge the conceiver. You don’t mean it that way, but that can be how it’s often perceived.

Many talented leaders have “led” themselves right out of a job because their desire to challenge the process was misunderstood, or perhaps even threatening, to those in charge. While on the other side of the spectrum, many skilled leaders have resigned themselves to conform to the status quo, squelching and squashing their natural instincts because there’s no obvious opportunity to be who God made them to be.

As leaders, we must keep a sense of diplomacy without shrinking from our scrutinizing nature. When you stop challenging the process, you cease to be a leader and you become a manager.

I have been sitting here for several minutes in awe. I don’t really know what to say. This is such a great article. Thank you Tony for posting this. And thank you Andy Stanley! Thank you! 

I was at the Outreach Convention in San Diego this past November and I started to be convicted about something I was feeling and doing.  My wakeup call started when Pastor Craig Groeschel spoke. He told the story that starts in Mark chapter 2 where four men dug through a roof to get a disabled person to Jesus. Pastor Craig went on to ask “when was the last time you went through a roof to bring someone to Jesus?”

That really hurt me. Honestly it was a hard slap in the face. See, for the few months leading up to that trip, I was apologizing for being so zealous about doing ministry with excellence. I started to become passive, even allowing mistakes to happen just so I could fit in and keep the peace. I was actually starting to feel bad about the passion I have inside me.  It was a new and strange feeling to me because all of my life I have been rewarded for my passion and work ethic.  I was even starting to hate my gifts but now at least I have some understanding.

God did an amazing work in me. I don’t want to believe it was for me to simply step aside and become stagnant. I was the type of guy who would go through the roof and face any challenge to bring Jesus to people. That guy is coming back. I will never again feel bad that I am so passionate about ministry and excellence!

You can buy the entire Challenging the Process message plus 5 other great leadership messages on CD by clicking here or here! I just ordered mine and I cannot wait to hear the whole thing.

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I am normal after all

Published by February 25th, 2008 in Change, Character, Just Me, Leadership, Managment, Ministry, My Big Mouth  Comments Off on I am normal after all  

Thanks to Tony Morgan’s great post:  Why do I always find myself critiquing?. I now feel that I am normal after all. I especially like what Jim wrote in one of the comments:

Being critical is about seeing what is “wrong” and declaring what seems inadequate. Being a critical thinker is about viewing the environments around us and constantly asking how things can be improved. Critical thinkers are problems-solvers. Critical people just point their finger at the problem.

The challenge in being a critical thinker is most people fight change.  They like things the way they are and don’t want to hear improvements can be made.  Usually the motivation behind fighting change is pride or laziness. Sometimes I see my gift as a curse because of the strength it takes to influence positive change. Change has a price!

I know in both my professional and personal life the critiques that I needed to hear the most, the critiques that stimulated remarkable growth – were the critiques that caused me the most pain

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