Week seven (passion)

The reason New Year’s resolutions fade more quickly than the flowers of the field is passion; specifically, the lack of passion. We all know what’s good for us, at least we think we do, but we’re not passionate. That’s why they are resolutions. We are resolving to make changes. We are passionate about lying on the sofa and watching TV, and we are not passionate about going to the gym. So we resolve to change our passions. Most efforts fail…passions are powerful.

The deepest passions are discovered in the heart of the psalmists. I read through the Bible each year. I love all of God’s Word, however, I always find myself more passionate about everything in life as I read the heart of the psalmist. I am currently reading through Psalms. Listen to King David and his passion for the Lord…

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.

O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

(Psalm 30:1-5, ESV)

Now, before I make my main point I want you to understand three things about this passage of Scripture.

#1 David may have been king, but his life was anything but comfortable. Notice the first three verses David is rejoicing in the fact that his enemies aren’t. He sees the Lord as a Restorer and Healer. David had enemies, inside his family and outside his nation.

#2 The Lord wasn’t always happy with David’s actions. David knew what it felt like to receive God’s anger. Verse four and five acknowledge the Lord’s anger which is momentary and his favor which is eternal in David’s life.

#3 David is rejoicing in the Lord, NOT his kingship. Read David’s story in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Read about David’s passion in the Psalms. You will never see David passionate about being king. You will only see David passionate about the Lord.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t see David’s joy in serving as king of Israel. It’s easy to see. David took his job very seriously. David showed up for work and carried out his duties with great zeal and passion. Not because he was king, but because he was God’s anointed and he knew it.

So, here’s my main point. If David would have remained a shepherd and not been ordained by God to lead Israel as king, but ordained by God to simply shepherd a field of sheep, Psalm 30 verses one through five would have been David’s song anyway. Nothing about David’s passion would change. I don’t believe that one word of this Psalm would change whether David is a shepherd or king.

I could give you a progress report this week that included things like strategy, study, and simulation. All those things happened this week. They all pale in comparison to my journey with David through the Psalms and my discovery of passion for the Lord and what HE is doing.

Legacy is only possible with passion. Passion is only possible with the Lord.


Week six (infirmary)

This week was a little harder. It started with a trip to Urgent Care. A shot in my hip and a Z-Pack in my pocket I did the best an old man filled with antibiotics can do. Of course, it was a week filled with meetings. It never fails, just at the time you feel your worst, it’s time to hit the road and visit some big accounts. The meetings were scheduled before I got the croup. It’s too difficult to reschedule so you muster the resources, put on a happy face, and head out in plenty of time to get lost for a few moments. It’s been 20 years since I traversed these roads.

I’ve never been much of a salesman. However, I do enjoy visiting customers. It’s great fun listening to the customer’s needs and developing a solution. I always need to take the salesman type along with me to close the deal. I also need technical help seeing I’ve never spent much time in the fire safety industry. (I’m getting better at the technical stuff)

And the hardest part of all, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and my valentine is 3,000 miles away. That’s tough! You might think that after 32 years of marriage Valentine’s Day could come and go without much hoopla. Not so! My valentine reached out with a bouquet of red heart balloons and a gift card to my favorite morning hangout. (She knows me so well!)  My heart’s cry each night to the Lord is…”being away from my blessed family Lord is costly.” Oh, how I long to be with them.

I trust the Lord to make that happen soon enough. The praise report for this week is…the accounts we called on placed orders today, my family is healthy and happy, and I have a beautiful wife who loves me unconditionally. Who is more blessed than me? Praise the Lord!

Life without walls (part five)

“Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Who could trust a teacher that doesn’t follow his own advice?

This apothegm is a laser focused definition of hypocrisy. One who speaks this way, or better said, one who teaches this way, is likely to see their students confused, angry, and rebellious. As a leader, husband, and father, the most efficient way to build deadly walls in relationships is to live life as a hypocrite.

I realize this brings nothing new to the table. Everyone experiences hypocrisy; from parents, bosses, co-workers, and governments. All react the same way toward hypocrisy, with clenched fists and gnashing teeth.

Studies reveal clearly that children will be more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol and drugs, and live in a host of other harmful ways if they grow up observing their parents doing the same. It’s not effective teaching your children the dangers of tobacco with a pack of cigarettes in your pocket.

Again, this is nothing you didn’t already know. It’s nothing you haven’t already experienced. It’s obvious.

There is a type of hypocrisy, however, that is less obvious. Paul warns the church in Corinth:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

(1 Corinthians 13:1-2, ESV)

This is one of the most amazing statements in the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Think about what he is saying. As a leader, you have studied to the point that your knowledge is vast. This knowledge is truth and it is powerful. It is building faith in you that is strong enough to move mountains. Yet, you lack the one thing that makes it all valuable; “LOVE”. How can this be?

Listen to what R.C. Sproul Jr. stated in a recent blog to pastors,” It is more important to us and our sheep that we would learn to believe more, than that we would find more to believe.” 

He continues saying, “Divinity is not a body of knowledge to be mastered like geology.” The Bible is not a book to be dissected like Moby Dick. We don’t go to Scripture to study the Word, but to begin to learn to have the Word study us. We go to pursue not advanced degrees but the fruit of the Spirit. We go to lose our reputations, not to gain them. We go not to be thought wise, but to learn what fools we are.

The people that you lead don’t simply need more information. What they need more is someone to lead them, to show them the Way. They need to see you repenting. They need to see you wrestling with your sins. They need to see you preaching the gospel to yourself, not because you like the sound of your voice, but because you hate the sin that yet remains, and you need grace. They need to see you rejoicing in the fullness of His promises, and mourning both sin and its fruit in your life.

As we relate to one another, I am convinced that the single most powerful moment on earth takes place when a father repents before his wife and children; when a leader repents before his employees. So, is the knowledge in your life under-girded by love? If it is you will live a life repenting before our Holy God. This is the litmus test of love. This is a life free from hypocrisy.

Be strong and courageous

You are a leader. I may be writing primarily to CEO’s and Entrepreneurs, but that statement is true for all Christians. You are a leader. The statement made previously, “we have been awarded responsibility [by God]” (see Life without walls (part three)), stirs our hearts to understand the gift. The Lord, by His choosing, has awarded us the gift of authority.

Due to corrupt understanding in the early church, Paul teaches the Body of Christ regarding gifts from the Lord, better known as spiritual gifts. Let’s take a look at Scripture:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

(1 Corinthians 12:1-7 ESV)

One could write an entire book centering on these seven verses. For now, let’s focus on verse seven. The point of verse seven is straight forward. You have a gift, and that gift is for the “common good”. In other words, authority is a gift for others, not for you.

As a leader (patriarch), this gift of authority is not designed to build self-confidence, but God-confidence. Your actions should point your family and your employees to the only source of confidence; God. (verse 6)

The most important work that a leader can do for the sake of those around him is to be converted; placing faith in Christ alone. The most important strategy for guiding those around him is to become a new man in Christ—whose hope and happiness and confidence are in God and not in himself.

Leaders, what you ARE in relation to God is far more important than any particular management/parenting technique you try to employ. Will your people hope in God if you hope in money? Will your people be happy in God if they see that anything in your life is a happier experience for you than worship? Will your people be confident in God if your whole demeanor communicates the desire to be seen as self-confident?

There is a peculiar role that the Scripture gives to leaders, husbands and fathers. Fathers bear a special responsibility for the moral life of the family. Leaders bear the same for their employees. So I urge you to take that responsibility, leaders, and that you be the kind of man who gives hope and happiness and confidence to those around you because you yourself have found your hope and your happiness and your confidence in God.

Week five (Honeymoon’s over)

Week five comes to a close. Actually it was a very short work week. I returned from my visit with family Wednesday evening and reported for duty yesterday (Thursday). Two days at work and now settling into a weekend with rain/snow and cold.

Here’s the cold hard facts of starting a business; doing the planning is like going on honeymoon. Dream dreams, talk about a bright future, set goals, and even calculate a budget…all without dealing with the nitty-gritty details called life.

Thirty-two years ago Shelia and I were married; married on Saturday, setting on a beach in the Caribbean on Sunday. While on honeymoon I didn’t pay a single utility bill, cut a single blade of grass, or change a single poopy diaper. On the contrary, we dreamed about the future while experiencing the moment.

Two weeks later, we were moving furniture, paying bills, and calculating mortgage payments. My daughter soiled her first diaper fourteen months later. The honeymoon was over…well, I still think of Shelia as my honeymoon bride. Every Valentine’s Day I always think of that moment on the airplane heading to our honeymoon destination. She was setting in the window seat back-lit with the setting sun. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe this beautiful woman agreed to marry me!”

Ok, ok, back to my point. Yesterday and today were filled with the down and dirty details of getting a business entity created. No more dreaming about the business, just get it going. That means talking to the IRS, State of Arizona, and the Fire Marshall’s office. As one might well imagine, I am overwhelmed with government documents and demands for the mundane, boring facts of life. I need to study regulations and take tests to gain licenses and certificates so I can knock on the first potential customer’s door.

I suppose if it where easy everyone would be doing it.

Life without walls (part four)

The Servant-Leader

When I say “industry leader” who comes to mind? Quick tell me! Some shout Donald Trump, some Lee Iacocca. These two men, and many others like them, are somewhat famous in our culture. After all, they get a lot of press. Household names come to mind first. While I acknowledge the charisma, savvy, and success that these men exude, if industry leadership is measured by market performance they don’t hold a candlestick to men like Darwin Smith and George Cain.

Darwin…George, who? That’s right, you’ve never heard of them unless you study industry at the micro level. Darwin Smith was CEO of Kimberly-Clark and George Cain CEO of Abbott Laboratories.

Smith and Cain outperformed Trump and Iacocca in nearly every category, especially the ones that really count. Smith and Cain outperformed the market nearly 15:1 and built companies that are still known as legacies. Trump and Iacocca performed at market standards and when they walked away not much remained.

Jim Collins in his book, “Good-To-Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t”, unwinds an amazing study regarding industry leaders. Collins simply utilizes data to make his point; he’s not interested in opinions. That’s why I love this book and highly recommend it.

Collins allows the data to define what makes a good leader like Trump and Iacocca and what makes a great leader like Smith and Cain. There are several reasons that can’t be presented here in this short article. Collins defines leaders like Trump and Iacocca as effective visionaries and hard driving performers who care more about their own image than the companies they lead. They are charismatic leaders surrounded by a thousand “yes men”. They are unreachable leaders that build large walls. They simply bark out orders from the tower and expect to see results.

Collins goes on to define leaders like Smith and Cain as men who build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They live their lives as an open book. They are consistently open to everyone around them. They are quick to give credit for success to those outside themselves and quick to personally accept responsibility for failure. They are always more concerned about the company and its employees than themselves.

The good-to-great leaders never want to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspire to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They are seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.

If an icon-ish pedestal is your goal, you’ll need to hide all your flaws; that will require walls. If greatness is your goal, your flaws will guide you toward someone outside yourself; no walls required.

Week four (warm-up)

I have the pleasure of writing you from sunny Arizona. It really wasn’t frigid West Virginia that drove me home. This planned break is a time for reuniting with family. One month in the record books. I am very pleased with the progress. Week four was full of documentation; job descriptions, employment agreements, work flow charts, and more. It was also a time to get out in the field more to interact with customers. (Cold weather, warm receptions.) I enjoyed time spent with customers.

Best of all January numbers are nearly complete; it is a record month! The changes we began making last October are in place and working. I know morale inside the company is better. The work environment is improving. It has been a process of getting the right people on the bus, and then getting the right people into the right seats. We are breaking the mold when it comes to hiring practices. We hired a new service technician to further expand one of our best territories.

The goal is still to refine and duplicate. We are building a system that allows the right employee complete freedom to be successful. Once the majority of bugs are worked out, its time to make another start, hopefully somewhere in the phoenix valley.

Well, enough writing for now, it’s time to go enjoy family! I will be traveling back in 5 days, one thing’s for certain, time is short.