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2/10/09

Who's Your Coach?

Ever play on a team without a coach? I have. You know, a church-league basketball team. Softball league. Flag football. It's not exactly the same as the sports experiences you remember from your earlier years. Back in High School, everyone knew exactly who was in charge. Everyone knew who was calling the shots, determining the strategy and calling the plays on gameday. But, even before that, every day you knew who was in charge of practice. And you knew what his purpose was. Sure, to win games, but also, to make you the best player you could be. After all, that's what makes it possible for him to win games.
My playing days are over, but recently I got myself a coach anyway. Not to help me with my jumpshot or put a few more MPHs on my fastball, but to help me be a better pastor. For the past six months, I've been part of a coaching network, along with some other pastors from accross the U.S. and a few other countries. We have a coach whose sole purpose is to make us better at what we do. He talks a lot, assigns us MP3s to listen to, makes us take notes and send him copies, makes us read books and write about them, and so on and so on. Lot's of extra work. But, I think it's working. I think I'm better. A better leader. A better pastor. A better visionary. After all, that's what he's supposed to do, make me better.
This week I'm flying to Tampa to meet with my coach in person. I'm pretty excited about it. First time to meet in person. Halfway mark of this coaching network commitment. Trip to Florida in February isn't so bad either.
Like any good basketball team (or any other team, but, hey it's basketball season) you need a good coach to be a good player on a good team. Whether you want to be a good ball player or a good math student or a good pastor, you need a good coach to help you get there. In the same way, if you want to be a godly man, a great wife, an awesome grandfather or just a great christian friend, you need a coach to help you get there.
So, who's coaching you? Who's helping you become the best whatever you want to be? You don't want to be playing out your life in the church-leagues. Oh, that's fine for the Friday Night Softball League, but not for your life. For that, you want to play in the Big League. For that, you'll need some coaching. So, do what I did, go out and find one. Just find someone who's got some experience and success at what you want to do well and ask. Take them to lunch. Have coffee. Spend a little time together. Ask questions and listen. Get coached. Everybody needs one.

2/9/09

All Atwitter!

That pretty much sums me up. Why, you ask? Because this week is Valentines Day. I'm pumped! Can you sense the sincerity in my voice?!?! Not!
OK, so, as a typical male, I consider VD (I like to call it by it's initials) a plague on our culture. I truly think it is a communist plot foisted on an unwitting American populace by by Lenin, Stalin, Marx and someone named Hallmark.
Face it! We've been duped. We bit the apple. We swallowed the hook. We.....well, I could go on and on ad nauseum. But, I'll restrain myself.
Here's my question: Why does the calendar or the florist or the card shop or anyone else, for that matter, have the right to tell us we should be romantic towards our mates this one day a year? Why? Who gives them the right? Of all the unmitigaed gaul. Seriously, someone give me an answer.
Well, try this one. Maybe it's because we've failed to do it the other 364 days of the year. Just a thought. Maybe, not even a good one. But, it's a thought.
Possibly one answer might be to whine and moan a little less about VD, and bring home flowers on, say, April 12th. Or, leave a card on the bathroom counter next to her toothbrush on, say, September 22nd. Or here's a good one, take her to dinner (you pick the place, don't just say the usual, "I don't care, wherever you want to go")and a movie for absolutely no apparent reason. Just because.
Want to mess up the entire system and really mess with her mind? Plan a date night EVERY WEEK! OK, I may have overstepped my boundaries. If this is too revolutionary a thought, simply back up a sentence and read no further. But, for those of you ready to start living on the edge, go crazy.
Trust me, it's cheaper than marriage counseling and takes a lot of the dread off VD. (I still think it's a plot!)

2/2/09

ISOLATION OR INSULATION?

I would rather my children die following God's will, than live rejecting His will.
To some that will sound rather harsh and heartless. Nothing could further from the truth. As parents, our role initially, is the protection of our children. "Don't touch that." "Don't run with the scissors in your hands." Don't put that in your mouth. You don't know where that's been!" "Don't play in the street." "Don't hang around with those kids." "Don't drive so fast!" "Don't...Don't...Don't!" "Please be careful!"
So, since it seems like our entire function as a parent has been to prtect our children from harm, is there a point where we release them to God to hear his voice for themselves and follow His will for their lives? If this wasn't confusing enough, God seemingly muddies up the waters by telling us things like, "Without faith, it is possible to please Me". Impossible. Big word.
Our words to our kids are "Be careful. Be safe. Don't take any unnecessary risks." You'd think God would have our backs, but no. Here he comes with this faith stuff. Faith is all about risk. It's totally and completely risky business oriented. Thanks a load, God.
So, how do we sync protecting our kids with God's requirement of faith on their part? I think we have to do several things:

1. We check our motives. Many times we, as parents, say something like, "Please be careful. I don't know what I would do if something happened to you." That's revealing. Oftentimes our children's protection, although important, is more about us than them. In all honesty, we're saying "I don't want anything to happen to you because of what it would do to me." Ouch! Sometimes this honesty stuff sucks!

2. We check our methods. Someone has suggested there are two ways to protect our kids. Isolation and Insulation. One is based on just keeping our kids away from any possibility of anything bad. The latter is more difficult, but much more practical. It places the child in the world, while teaching him how not to become part of the world. Rather than removing every possible bad choice and source of pain, it teaches the chiuld how to deal with possible bad choices and entrusts the child to the protection of a Heavenly Father.

3. We check our faith. Bottom line, do we trust our kids, or our spose or even ourselves to the care of our Heavenly Father? Can He really be trusted?

Let me share the words of a great song by a great man of God, Keith Green:

Well, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel,
And i ask no man on earth to fill my needs.
Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in His love,
And I trust Him, like those little ones He feeds.

Well, I pledge my wife to heaven for the gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, I'd surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.

Well, I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel,
Though he's kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorned.
I will teach him to rejoice, and lift a thankful praising voice,
And be like Him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.

Well, I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven.
I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel.