A Contrast in Leadership

saul-or-davidOur leadership team recently read the book, A Tale of Three Kings. The book retells the biblical story of Saul, David, and Absalom! Persecuted first by a mad king and then by a vengeful son, the book tells how David resolutely trusted God when he was treated unfairly.

In considering the book and these stories, I was reminded how 1 Samuel 14:35 states that: “Saul built an altar to God; the first one he had ever built.” But fast-forward one chapter to I Samuel 15:12 and we see that, “Saul went up to Carmel to build a monument to himself.” Somewhere between those two verses, Saul stopped building altars to God and started building monuments to himself. At some point, it was no longer about God and it became about Saul.

In looking at the lives of David and Saul, it got me thinking about some of lessons we can learn from these two guys as it relates to leadership in the church. Here are some of those key learnings for leaders to remember…

  1. Don’t play the comparison game. First, you’ll always find someone doing a better job than you and you’ll get discouraged. Second, you’ll always find someone that you’re doing a better job than, and you’ll get full of pride. Either way, you’ll be dead in the water.
  2. Remember success isn’t about numbers. Saul got caught up in the numbers game. And David had better stats. Jesus was successful because he poured his life into twelve people! And like Jesus, we need to invest in the few for the sake of the multitudes. Rick Warren puts it this way, “A church should be judged not on its seating capacity, but on its sending capacity.”
  3. Celebrate your failures. As we see in Saul, insecure people are afraid of failing. Secure people laugh at themselves. They celebrate failure because it accentuates what God can do in spite of us!
  4. Don’t panic. Insecure people get nervous. They give up. Secure leaders hang in there no matter what. David waited patiently for the Lord because he was secure in his leadership and in God’s calling on his life.
  5. Don’t get defensive. How you handle criticism will make or break you. I’ve learned over the years in ministry that you need tough skin and a soft heart.
  6. Surround yourself with the right people. Who was Saul’s greatest asset? David. But if you are insecure, your greatest asset will become your greatest threat. And it will short-circuit your ability to surround yourself with a great team. And it will limit your influence.
  7. Keep building altars to God. Remember, it’s not about you! It’s easy to drift like Saul did and build monuments to ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us of this, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” He is the Potter, we are the clay! He is the Vine, we are the branches. Apart from Him, we can do nothing!

Remembering Grandma Helen

Scan 6Helen Jane Moore was born on September 18, 1914. She was the only daughter of Homer and May, and sister to her brothers, Paul and Richard. Grandma Helen as many of us affectionately called her, passed from this life on December 18, 2013 at the full age of 99! She is survived by her three beautiful daughters Clare, Sandy, and Billie, 10 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great great grandchildren. When you think about it, Grandma Helen left us an incredible legacy, and today we enjoy the blessings of family, cousins and friends because of the sweet love she showed to those that she cared for most in this world.

Born and raised in Danville, IL, Helen would make the most important decision of her life as a 8 year old girl, when at a tent revival, she went forward to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! While she might not have fully understood the implications of that decision until later in her life, it would also be at a church meeting that she would meet her first husband Bill Payton, who was traveling through town as a trumpet player in the Army Band. They would fall in love, get married and began to make a home in Danville. The wife of an army man, Helen would give birth to their first daughter Clare in Danville, and daughters Sandy and Billie in Louisiana. Later this military family would move out to California, spend a year in Germany after WW2 and later return to California, finally landing at Hamilton Field before the marriage dissolved.

As a single parent, Helen was forced to enter the marketplace and would begin working at Albert’s Department Store in San Rafael, which would later become Macy’s. It would be while working retail, that she would meet the man who would later become her doting husband of 45+ years, George Sinnott. Together they would enjoy taking rides along the coast, going to Giants games and dancing. Grandma Helen would retire from the marketplace in 1985 after 30 years with Bank of America.

It would be in her retirement years that grandma would significantly grow in her relationship with Jesus, attending Bible Study Fellowship while continuing to be part of the community of First Baptist Church of Novato, where she attended for 26 years before landing at Valley Baptist Church these past 7 years. Grandma loved Jesus and reading God’s Word. An avid reader, she often exchanged historical fiction novels, with her daughter and granddaughters. And she always loved a good crossword puzzle.

Having married into the family, I always enjoyed spending time with Grandma Helen. And she always made me feel like one of her own grandchildren. She had such a sweet disposition and I loved to hear her laugh. There was also this playful side to grandma, she was a bit of a jokester and prankster, as you’ll see evidence of in some of the photos from the life in pictures. Grandma also loved her sweets. And I will never forget one time at Nancy’s when grandma was beginning to slip into her dementia that I watched her eat four pieces of pie at one of the Warfield get-togethers. She would look around and see if anyone was watching her, and quickly grab and eat another with a huge smile on her face. It was hilarious. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.

What a life Helen enjoyed. For many of us, we have no clue of the type of world Helen was born into in 1914. Born just a few months after World War I began, parents back then worried significantly when their children came down with high fevers and bad coughs. Statistically speaking she was expected to live to the age of 59, if she survived the perilous years of infancy. But Grandma Helen survived two World Wars, and other countless challenges to live to the age of 99, which even in this day is well above the average life expectancy.

Much of Grandma Helen’s world, was lived in what we could call today, “off the grid.” In her early years, she likely had no phone, no electricity, not even plumbing. But during her life, she witnessed the evolution of much of what we take for granted today…the first  movies with sound beginning in 1935, the evolution of television from black and white to color, the dawn of the internet, email and the modernization of America. And at 99, even as a former bank teller, I doubt she did a lot of online banking, nor did she have a Facebook page, but she was definitely was part of one of the greatest generations ever to live.

We loved Grandma Helen and she loved us. And I am grateful for the legacy and memories that she leaves us. However, the greatest legacy she would want to remember her by is that she was a lover of Jesus and she would want us all to know this hope and reality, because while we may grieve her passing today, we can grieve with hope knowing that the actual date of grandma’s death is probably not written down in a record book that we can easily get our hands on, you see the date on the obituary refers to the date that her body ceased to function. But the real Helen, the part of her that lives on forever, died many years ago when she heard the call of Jesus upon her life.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away behold new things have come.

New things have indeed come to Grandma Helen! And that is our hope!

A New Tradition…Remembering

P1000083My wife Jennifer recently wrote this article and I thought it was a wonderful read worth repeating on my blog…

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.  – Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Well, whether we’re ready or not, 2014 is here! It’s hard to believe that 2013 is over! Time goes by so quickly and the blessings of the year are often so easily forgotten. The arrival of the new year is a great time to start tracking God’s faithfulness and a fun and simple way to capture God’s blessing throughout the year is to create a memory jar. To start the fun, take a large jar (or other container) and place it somewhere your family can easily access. Whenever you have a blessing you want to remember, a prayer that is answered or an event you want to capture, simply jot it down on a small slip of paper and add it to the jar. Encourage every family member to participate and contribute. At the end of 2014, on New Years Eve perhaps, gather the family together and read those slips of paper. Not only will this be a great walk down memory lane, but it will give you the opportunity to focus on God’s faithfulness and unfailing love.

Memory Jars, and memorials in general, are not new concepts. In fact, memorials are God’s idea. Over and over again in Scripture, God instructs his people to remember His goodness, power and provisions. Start a new tradition this year and thrill in the Lord as you remember what He has done.

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever. – Joshua 4:21-24 (NLT)

In Memoriam: Billy Hardwick

1452215_10152408124337222_1751868859_nThis past Saturday, my Uncle Bill, a PBA Hall of Famer and two-time PBA Player of the Year died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

In what is described by the PBA, as one of the greatest turnarounds in professional bowling history, my uncle, Billy Hardwick went from a rookie PBA Tour season in 1962 failing to cash in a single event, to winning four titles and becoming Player of the Year the very next season. His first major title came in the 1963 PBA National, which was followed by a PBA Tournament of Champions win in 1965 and the Bowling Proprietors Association of America All-Star (now U.S. Open) title in 1969. He won a then-record seven PBA Tour titles in 1969 to earn his second Player of the Year crown. Over his professional bowling career, he had 18 PBA Tour titles, three of which were majors that earned him PBA’s Triple Crown. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1977.

While our family didn’t often see my uncle, due to his travels and our families geographical distance, he still made his way into our living room each week as we watched him bowl on national television. Rated #12 in the Top 50 PBA Bowlers of all time, he bowled with an elite group of bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber and Nelson Burton Jr..

Yet despite the fame, my uncle’s life wasn’t an easy one. He had early onset rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to leave the PBA Tour at an early age. In addition, he lost two children, who both died as infants. However, in the last couple of years of his life, he seemed to find contentment and make peace with his past.

My Uncle Bill will be missed. Our family loved him. And he made us proud. Today my thoughts and prayers go out to my dad, my aunts and my cousins. I pray that the God of all comfort would bring us all peace, as we remember and give thanks for Billy Hardwick.

How Do You Manage Your Digital Life?

digital-worldI’ve been trying to achieve something that may be impossible…creating a way to synchronize my digital life and my real life, so that I can meaningfully accomplish things in both areas. Now I consider myself a bit of a techie. And I’ve usually been an early adopter to technology. I opened my Twitter account back in 2007. I joined Facebook in 2008. And I am usually the first in the office to update software. But lately, I’m struggling with how to manage learning curves that come technological advances like an iOS7 update, as well as managing social media and the different ways people communicate.

Perhaps I’m just getting old, but consider this. Today, I had a senior citizen from the church call me on the phone to talk, I had a millennial texting me with questions and information on my cell phone, I had instant messages on Facebook from friends and family, I was inundated with emails, I received two direct tweets from friends and I had a Skype conference call with a church leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, because as a former communications major, I love all the various ways and methods to communicate. But as you can see, generationally and professionally we all have different preferences of communication. Notice the inclusion of the demographics associated with the preferred styles of communication above. The professional wants everything documented, so they email. The millennial doesn’t want to answer my call, but will text instead. The senior citizen doesn’t have email and prefers to call and talk over the phone.

So, here is my question…how are you all managing all this? Seriously, with so many ways to communicate, what have you found to be the best way to navigate all these various platforms…voice mail, email, texts, letters, etc.

Along with that, I am desperately trying to move away from paper and integrate meeting notes, task lists and streamline things to be more productive. However, I am finding the apps I’m using don’t necessarily sync well between my computer, my tablet and my phone. I’ve tried Evernote and Wunderlist, but so far not wowed by either. So I would be interested to hear what you’re using and what’s working for you.

Long ago we were promised that technology would make our lives simpler. And in many ways it has. But it has also made our lives a whole lot more complicated. However, as hard as we try to hide from technology…it is there, staring us in the face. So what’s working for you? I’m curious. Give me your thoughts!

If You Want to Walk on Water…

6a00d8342086bb53ef0120a62425fe970c-320wiIt’s one of the greatest pictures of extreme discipleship in the Bible. Twelve men out on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the night, being buffeted by the waves. In their distress they see what appears to them to be a ghost. Out of fear, they cry out and in that moment Jesus responds, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” We don’t know how the eleven responded to that voice, but Peter recognizes that God is present, so he blurts out, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

Knowing Peter’s impulsive ways, it’s surprising that he didn’t just plunge right into the water in pursuit of Jesus. Instead he shows restraint and asks Jesus for clarity, in order to discern what God was up to. And by doing so, he is invited to go on the adventure of his life. But in order to walk on water, Peter had to demonstrate faith, get out of the boat and make the commitment to move toward Jesus. However, when Peter’s shifts his focus from Jesus unto the storm, reality begins to sink in, he becomes fearful and plunges into the water.

There are many wonderful lessons in this story. In our lives, God is calling us to commit to him, to join him in life’s adventure, but we often choose the comfort and safety of the boat over joining Jesus on the waves. The choice to follow Jesus takes faith, commitment and determination. To go into uncharted waters with Jesus involves risk, and yet like Peter, we fail to recognize that Jesus is in our midst, so we quickly turn our attention to the storm around us and demonstrate just how little faith we have.

Faith takes trusting in the One who calms the storm and who walks on water!  He has promised to be there and to pick us up. By spending time with the original water walker, our faith muscle grows and we learn to trust him more for the details of our life.

Something More

One man’s life changed the course of history for billions of people across the globe. He is both revered and reviled, famed and feared and you know who he is without a single mention of his name. His name is Jesus! Do you know Him?

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