Relationship is the key

A blog i wrote while in Rwanda april of 2008 and never published….

Relationship is the Key….

We just wrapped up our three days pastors conference, it was phenomenal. Lives were changed. All of our team preached, and taught on many different leadership topics. It was life changing for the pastors and their teams and it was life changing for me and our team. We had right at one hundred pastors representing over 50 churches.

One of the things I taught them is a Jon Maxwell maxim, which is to say, “Leadership is influence, and influence comes through relationship. I have just read Pastor Kirk’s notes for this weekend’s services and that is basically what he is communicating. We can lead, “persuade,” “Influence” others without having relationship.

I love it when we are able to teach something and exhibit it all at that same time; it creates such an authenticity that everyone is impacted by it. I have made some great connections on this trip, and begun some great relationships. I have to say Rwandese people are the most resilient people I have every experienced personally. The team and I were discussing one night about the fact that sometimes we in America have something happen to us in life, and it shuts down our future we cease to be functional people, and here we are standing in front of young men and women, who have suffered the worst of travesty’s and they are praising God, they are testifying of His power. They’re not perfect and they have their issues like everyone else, but they just keep moving. Keep your eyes on Rwanda, God is starting something wonderful. I truly believe what is happening there will impact the world.

Like it does usually when you go to a third world country it brings things into perspective and it makes us realize how good we have it, and reprimands us for whining so much. What I am saying is not to de-legitimize real problems In your life or mine, but it is to say, take a look around, you don’t have to look very far to gain perspective.

I taught on relationship and how important it is, and God set me up with some great new friends. Friends that I will have for the rest of my life, young men and men my age who have a heart to change things. These men don’t think like the average person in Africa, they have a new way of thinking, it’s a new breed. Pastor Jackson, the man who worked as our point person for the Rwanda portion of the trip. He is a go getter by anyone’s standards. I say this without equivocation he would put a lot of pastors I know in the states to shame in vision, passion, faith, tenacity and plain old bull dog persistence.

I won’t try to put all of his stories in this blog, but I will put them in later blogs. They will encourage you and build your faith. I also, met a young man who interpreted for me, he is one of the best interpreters in the nation. He is a brilliant young man named Henry, he has stories as well that will make you want to stand up and shout. I also, began a relationship with a young man of 26 years of age who has a real heart for unity in the church and orphans, he is one. His Dad died in the war in Rwanda in 1990, and his mother died when he was born. He has real compassion on orphans. He has an organization called together as one.

I received the great privilege of speaking a special session just for them. I walked in and wanted them to speak to me. It reminded me of our church. They were all young adults and some teenagers, and they are absolutely passionate about making a change. They are renting an office building themselves and they have three goals. One is to evangelize, use their talents of dance, singing and preaching to impact the globe, many of them are orphans. Second, they are working on getting land and building a children’s home. Third they want to bring Christian Television to Rwanda, and with that host and coordinate big conferences. They have already invited me to bring our worship team and come back and speak in the big stadium which they believe they can fill 20,000 people.

They had such passion, such grace and humility, and they are serious about changing the world. I was so inspired! They are not talking about changing the world, they are changing the world. They aren’t victims they don’t think like that at all, they think it is their responsibility to do something and so they are.

My relationship with them, and theirs with our team and the relationship we built with the rest of the pastors, has given us influence with them, and affected them and us. Relationship is key, and if we are going to reach people, if we are going to lead people in a positive way, we must not be afraid, or threatened, or fear to take a risk to have a relationship.


He Cared

As a preachers Kid I grew up in church. Yes, I’ve seen a lot of things; I’ve seen the positives and negatives in people and church life on extremes, most good, but some bad. I’ve seen imperfect people behaving imperfectly. I’ve seen the same thing in families, on jobs, and in neighborhoods that I’ve lived in. It’s human nature.
To help people get into a relationship with Jesus we don’t have to be perfect, non Christian people are not expecting perfection from Christians, they’re just expecting honesty. Wanting us to be true to who we say we are. They are looking for authenticity and sincerity. It’s ok not to be perfect, but it’s not ok to be pretentious.
I’ve seen hypocrisy and pretension at its height in my life growing up, and in my adolescence I was confused about my identity, who I was, or what God really wanted for me. All I knew for sure, I wasn’t going to be a phony or a hypocrite.
I just didn’t understand grace. Grace is the idea that if we choose to live in relationship with Jesus and commit our lives to Him, He will give us the ability and power to live our lives for Him, Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, unearned blessing and favor of God on our lives.
When I was a sophomore I had a turn around. I decided to give my life to Christ. I was lost and self destructing, truthfully my life was spinning out of control, and it was getting worse. (You might say, how bad could it be, when I was so young, but I had some horrible influences outside my family). Somehow God arrested my attention, and so I made a commitment to Him, and began to follow Him. I started bringing friends to church, and they started bringing friends. Many young people made decisions for Christ in our church. We were actually filling up pews with young people.
Most of the teens who made decisions for Christ were coming without their families, so they didn’t have parental support for this new decision. With no support structure they slowly disconnected and left the church. I gave into pressure and slowly disconnected myself, and decided I wasn’t going to live for God.
I never stopped going to church, thank God, because it was ingrained in me, but I backslid with a vengeance. I attended church consistently but was fading off into the spiritual distance and needed help before I would disappear into a future disconnected from God.
Thank God for a friend named Terry, he was the high school Sunday school teacher in our church. He wasn’t perfect, but he cared. Other people didn’t know what was going on with me, and to be honest wouldn’t have done anything anyway, because it’s intimidating to try to connect with the pastor’s kid, whose messed up, but Terry would call me, and ask me to come to his house and hang out with his family. He cared. He would encourage me, or hug me, or ask me how I was doing. He just wouldn’t let up. He saw I was lost, and he knew I needed help. He saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. Terry cared.
One day I couldn’t take it anymore. I just made a decision, “God, I want to live for you, If you care for me so much that you’re talking to Terry about me, than you must have a purpose for me.”, and from that time until now, I have lived my life all out for God, and trying to do for others what Terry did for me. He cared.
So today, find someone, who has never had a relationship with Christ, or maybe someone who is a prodigal like a was, running from destiny, confused about identity, frustrated about hypocrisy and trapped in sin. All it takes is for someone to care. I’m not perfect, but I am living for God today, because my friend Terry cared about me. Who will you care about today? Over Twenty years later I still Thank God for Terry.
I have a terrific family, an incredible church, a wonderful life, and have been blessed to have the opportunity to minister to thousands of people with the grace and love of Jesus in spiritual and practical ways. All because Terry Cared. I can’t imagine where my life would have gone without his influence.
My life is not perfect, but Gods grace is sufficient to give us victory in every situation.


Leadership Lesson 4 while training for a marathon

Failure, beyond your control.

I haven’t blogged in a while, its been a busy time. I believe we can learn leadership lessons in just about everything we do in life, especially challenges we face while working towards a goal. Failure is hard for a leader to contend with. We would like to believe that every goal we set will result in success. Yes we will face challenges, yes there will be obstacles but ultimately we will succeed. When failure comes at times we act as if we are shocked that we could fail. The question is not will we fail, its when will we fail? Our failures should not devastate us but teach and train us.

When I begin to train for a marathon, I had some definite thoughts about how I would succeed, and when. I did have some natural concerns. I realized I’ve never run this far, at that point I’d never run 10 miles, but definitely not 26.2. I had thoughts that maybe it would be to much for me, just not have the resolve to finish,not be disciplined to push back the pain, and had I been stumped by those things I would have said I failed because I couldn’t do it and gave up, but what do you do when you have no control of the reason for failure.

I had been training, and we reached the 15 mile mark, it was hard my body wanted to stop but I kept going, I pressed through, my friend Andrew pulled me through. At the end of the run however I got extremely sick. Not just normal, felt like I had a bad flue, I won’t go into the details too graphic, but it was bad. I marked it off as a single event and kept training. I made some adjustments to help the sensitivity of my stomach and kept going. When the next long run came I think we ran 13 and I felt pretty good till the end and then it happened again. If I ran up to 10 or 11 I would be fine but every time I would get in that 12-15 range it would happen again. The marathon date we were shooting for was getting closer and closer and we were not able to get more long runs in so we had to wait and we missed the mark.

I was very upset, I thought I could deal better with just not being able to cut it rather than being stopped by something I couldn’t control. So what do you do when you fail, because of something that’s not your fault, or out of your control.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned.

1. You are only a failure if you give up entirely.
I am going to a sports doctor after first of the year see why my body is reacting this way and what I can do about it.

2. Reset the goal, missing one goal is not the end of the world.
I said I was going to be in the best shape of my life before I turned 40, well 40 has come and gone, and I didn’t make the marathon, however, I’ve never been able to run 15 miles before in my life.

3. Celebrate the accomplishments on the way to the goal.
Even though I didn’t reach the marathon yet I have overcome weight barriers, fear barriers, and I can run over 10 miles consistently.

4. Be a learner.
Serious goals require you to learn about what it takes to reach them, and knowledge goes a long way towards success. Avoiding the hard questions only paralyzes you from future success.

5. Taking more time is not a crime.
Its funny the tricks that time plays on our minds. Sometimes we just need more time. Its ok to take it. How many people have not hit a goal in the time they thought they should and just quit all together, think of how ridiculous that is. What shame is there in pushing the time back in order to succeed.

6. If there is something you can do, do it, if there’s not move on and don’t obsess.
Failure can put your entire life on hold if you obsess over it. I read an article on Michael Jordan once and he said one reason players aren’t well rounded is because they obsess over failures. If they make a mistake on the offensive end then they are thinking about it on defensive end and make another. He said, “if I make a mistake, I say to myself, I won’t do that again, and then I forget about it.”. Do what you can, then move on.

So I am continuing to run and train, I am gaining knowledge about my situation, and I am taking the time and setting a new goal.

Hope this helps, failure is only final if you give up, its just the beginning if it becomes your teacher.