Monday, October 24, 2011

What Have You Done for Me Lately? - Discipleship 153

In the fast-paced disposable society we live in today, there is a deep craving and longing for consistency. We may not be aware of it at times, but this yearning is a large part of what motivates us to consume.

Think about it for a minute. If you cell phone service provider isn't consistent in the support that they give to you, there is a high probability you will simply check out a new provider that promises what you crave. We may only shop at particular stores, or look for certain brands of clothing, or order the same dish at a restaurant not because we despise variety, but because we are looking for consistent quality.

The same can and should be said of our relationships. Now I know that relationships have their ups and downs, but I believe that any relationship can be measured by the component of consistency. In the case of relationships consistency simply means availability. Are we available to be there for the people we claim to love?

I look to Jesus as the perfect example of consistency. He had 12 close friends. For His friends, Jesus was always available. Jesus took the time to connect with them, to be with them...He was a consistent presence in the life of His friends.

I heard a story today of a father who expressed his desire to be finished with parenting once his youngest child entered high school. Needless to say, his relationship with his youngest child is strained. This is an example of what happens when we remove the quotient of consistency or availability from the equation of relationship. This same principle applies to all structures of leadership. If the supervisor or overseer is unavailable or inconsistent with his or her employees, the employees begin to feel devalued, unappreciated and can become bitter towards the leader over time.

There is a lot being said about carbon foot printing in our world today. Think of your life as a relational form of carbon foot printing. What sort of impression are you leaving on the lives of other people? Does your life, your friendship taste good to others? Or are you leaving people with the question of 'what have you done for me lately' far too often?

Work on being consistently available to those who love...and watch your relationship with them begin to grow!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Case of the Mondays - Discipleship 152

There is a classic line in the movie Officespace that I'm sure most of you have heard before, "Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays."

I don't know about you, but this is often the case when Monday rolls around. Motivation and inspiration seem to be distant memories, and all that is left is a pile of work to get done and the question of where to begin.

The crazy notion is that these blah moments happen in relationships as well. It's in these seasonal blah moments that many people choose to give up, give in and/or walk away. A good friend of mine once told me, "Never make a major decision on a Monday." I thought he was crazy...but now I understand what he meant.

My Oma (means Grandmother in German) was famous in our family for encouraging us not to give up when the going gets tough, but to dig in until you have a clear understanding of where you are. In our modern, convenient, disposable society, pushing through adversity is almost a lost practice. The fact of the matter is that life does happen, and life is not always beautiful, or easy, or even fun. The choice that each of us faces when we are in a "Case of the Mondays" moment is this: Will we allow this circumstance to define who we are, or will we be defined by something greater than a difficult circumstance?

It's Monday...and I will not be defined by something less than who God has created me to be. What about you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where No Man Has Gone Before - Discipleship 151

I have a confession to make (and an online journal seems like the appropriate place to do so...GASP!!). I may have at one point in my life been a closet Trekkie...there I said it. For some unknown reason I was captivated by the character of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the starship enterprise. And alas, I subjected to myself to hundreds of hours of television in pursuit of fascination.

One famous line that has always stuck with me is the "Where no man has gone before" that is utilized in the opening portion of the TV show. As I now devote thousands of hours to my other predominant pursuit, discipleship, I've come to the conclusion that there is a lot to be said about the polarized connection of these two subjects.

Discipleship is about becoming like someone else. In the case of Christianity, it's about becoming more like Jesus...not about becoming more like the other person who may be mentoring you or the community that may be walking life alongside of you. In the manner of parenting, there is an element of beginning to reflect the nature of your parents (values/passions) as younger children and then discovering your own uniqueness as you mature into adulthood.

Going where no man has gone before, on the other hand, is all about perceived adventure and challenge.

The issue with combining the adventurous portion of life alongside of discipleship is when the mentor or disciple-maker is unwilling to journey with the disciple, or when the disciple-maker asks the disciple to go somewhere where he or she hasn't been. As Timothy Keller writes, "one cannot traffic an un-felt truth." When we are focused on making disciples (followers of others) we must be willing to answer the question of whether or not we are willing to walk the journey together with others.

Sometimes I wonder if our pursuit of program dominates the Christian mandate to make disciples. Are we focused on getting the best experience, or are we focused on building relationships and establishing community?

As you continue thinking about how your life is going to impact the world, I hope you consider what sort of inspirational wake your life is leaving behind for others. Are you inviting people to walk with you, or are you simply pointing them down a road that you yourself are unwilling to travel?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Champion - Discipleship 150

A champion is someone that is the top of their field.

In discipleship, a champion is someone that not only talks the talk, but is also able to walk the walk. Warren Bennis says, "Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality." This is the perfect definition of a champion.

As a leader (a dad, a mom, a friend, a sibling, etc.), how can you be known as a champion? Do people see love in action by the way you choose to live? Do others know that you believe in them and are willing to walk alongside of them?

Our world is in need of an emerging wave of champions...people who are passionate about tangibly demonstrating love for God and for people. What other qualities should a champion possess and strive to develop?

Talking to Walls Week #1

Sometimes it is just difficult to pray. Maybe it's because we've never really done it, or maybe it's because we don't believ...