Deep Imprints

Your Workplace is your Ministry

Page 2 of 19

Are you afraid you stink?

StinkDo you hide the stinky parts of life because they are just too much? We can learn from John 11.

Jesus and his disciples were doing their thing and a messenger came from Mary and Martha. Come quick! Lazarus is sick. Jesus sent the messenger on his way and went back to eating.

Jesus didn’t show up!

After a day or two, he finally decided to go to Bethany to be with his friends. As he and his disciples walked into town, Martha greeted them “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”

So, Jesus and his friends trudged up to the cemetery.

This scene is played out in private lives today. “Jesus, if you had been there, the problems I have wouldn’t have happened. But even now I know you can heal me.”

So Jesus told them to roll the stone away and Martha panicked.

“Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!”

Often times, when Jesus wants to heal our deep wounds, he first has to roll back the stone – dig up the past and expose it to sunlight.

Our response is often:

  • No one will understand. They will think I’m dredging up the past – and people will get hurt!
    • “Master, by this time there’s a stench.”
  • That will cause so much pain. I just can’t go there.
    • “Lord, by this time there is a bad odor”
  • I should have dealt with this years ago. No one wants to hear it now.
    • “Lord, by this time he stinketh.”

When Jesus and the disciples first took off for Bethany, Jesus said to them “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing.”

Is it possible that God knew all along about those areas of your life that needed healing, and when He is ready, He will roll back the stone? Will you let Him?

What Defines You?

Identity What would you say is your identity?

Joseph might have thought he was an administrator, and probably an attractor of problem people. His people saw a leader.

I suspect Peter thought of himself as a fisherman. Those around him saw someone who would go first, someone who asked the ‘dumb’ questions, a champion and a rock.

Our identity is formed by our history, our activity, and our character. The problem is that we see ourselves from the inside. We hold onto those rare moments that someone acts like a mirror and says something we didn’t expect. What if the reason they said something different is because they were wrong?

For Lent I’m reading Alicia Britt Chole’ 40 Days of Decrease. Each day she asks us to fast something. What if today we fasted having to fit in a box – anyone’s box. What if instead, we decided to walk in wonder and discover how God sees us. How would that change your identity?

Dance freely

DanceWho do you dance for?

Fear. Will others approve? Will they misinterpret? What would make me okay? It hits us in so many areas of life – parenting, job performance, social situations…the list is long.

The cure? To dance before the Audience of One. I don’t know where this phrase started, but it means that God is the One you focus on for acclaim.

Who is in your audience today?

Who is in your head that you reflect on as you navigate life?

The girl in the picture above is a street performer. She dances in order to get the attention of others because if she has their attention, then maybe they will give her coins. She needs her audience. She has to modify her behavior to keep their attention.

If we are dependent on the audience of many, we can become pulled in so many directions we lose our identity. There is an inner strength that comes from dancing before the One who defines our purpose and sustains our strength.

Who do you dance for?

A Devotional for Advent

Today, enjoy a special guest post from my friend Charity Rattray. Charity is not only a fabulous artist and author, but a dynamic woman who loves to help people connect with God. You can find out more about her on her blog.


charity

As we going to the holidays it’s important to remain intentional.  Advent season is fast approaching and if you’re like me you’re looking for ways to make things simple and yet meaningful.

 

Continue reading

Sitting in Transition

transitionI put out a frantic text to my cohort. “I can see my life shrinking. Soon it won’t be bigger than my couch.”

This was a critical moment in my recent transitions. We all reach that point – some of you aren’t as dramatic as I was. I knew I was in trouble because I couldn’t see past the end of my nose. I wanted to curl up in bed and never talk to anyone again…ever…unless they had chocolate, then I might say something rude so they’d drop the chocolate and run. 🙂

My grown up brain knew I was in trouble, so I reached out to friends. “Tell me what life is like after the kids move out. Paint a picture for me that brings hope.”

This particular wall was brought to you by my second child moving out to start her own life and live with friends. I was proud of her, and terrified for me. You see, I have 4 kids. We managed the oldest going off to school, moving her residence to CA and then getting married with only two meltdowns. But this is different. My younger three children have always been like dominoes. Where one goes, the others quickly follow. Within a year we will have all college students and above (my youngest will be in Running Start). The future is here!

This is the time I planned for! Since I was 16 I’ve planned for this day. I decided very young that the best years of a woman’s life are 45 or 50 to 70. I saw it coming and every decision I made was with this time-frame in mind. Yet, here I sat, facing a blank wall of the future.  (For those of you who know me, I’ve been “in transition” for about 8 years…but that’s another post.)

Thank God for friends! My girlfriends (cohort) didn’t wallow with me, instead, they prayed. Within a week, I had a plan for transition. I don’t have a clear vision of the future, but I do know that I need to be firmly in transition before the future will show itself. So, here is my plan for transition:

The first step in transition is knowing what you are letting go of, and letting go of it. As a pastor, I found the best way to help a family start the transition involved with the death of a loved one was to have them go through photos, remember together the past. So, I started. I went to the basement and dug through all the boxes, bins and files of childhood I’d saved for my kids – then I sorted it all into bins: one for each child, one for Wes and myself, and one for genealogy (my mother-in-law’s hobby that I’m saving for my children). Then, I went through the pictures, and kept those that might mean something to the kids some day. This phase will be done soon.

The next step in transition is redefining who you are without what you lost. Don’t panic. I know I’m not losing my kids, but I am losing:

  • Social buffers
  • Reasons to interact with others (soccer anyone?)
  • Distraction/Excuses
  • People who force me to choose to be happy/look on the bright side
  • People who force me to create a schedule

So, as I redefine who I am, I am going through the rest of the house and systematically culling (which means to gather from many resources and to “reduce a population (of animals) by selective slaughter”, both of which are appropriate here…, well, not killing animals, but getting rid of the excess stuff) – everything that we don’t have a use for needs to go away. So far I’ve discovered that I have three (almost) identical sets of artists pencils. Every time I go on vacation, I buy a new set. Can you imagine how much space I will have?

The third step in transition comes all on its own. New Direction. This comes out of walking through the first two steps. It isn’t something you can force – yet I find myself reaching…maybe I can do more work here…maybe I should volunteer to help there…what about…?? The trick is to sit. Let the process do its work, and wait for God to show up.

I’ve watched friends go through this phase – and the turn comes suddenly. Within a few days or a week, what was becomes old, and there is a new future on the horizon. So now is the time to settle everything so that it won’t be on my todo list when the new future arrives.

Are you in transition? What is your game plan?

Pivot Leadership by Angela Craig

PIVOT LEADERSHIP Cover Display Mockup My friend Angela has written a book, and you will find it an excellent companion as you prepare to organize your life again this Fall.

We all look for times of renewal and fresh start. For many of us, Fall is the perfect time to refresh and renew.

Angela’s book is your leadership refresher in a box.

“Pivot” works on two levels, first when you hit a wall, don’t stare at the wall, pivot. Next, real change doesn’t come through huge leaps and bounds, but through small, pivotal steps.

Pivot Leadership works as a primer to help you review your leadership and your life to discover ways around the walls, and the small steps you need to find your next step.

In this book you’ll find chapters on the life of the leader, leading in team, and your vision for the future. Every chapter has excellent action steps to help you review and apply each principle.

Need more information? Check out the trailer:

One Word 2015

5032426_sEvery year in late December or early January, I ask God for a word to encompass the next year. I don’t use this word like a fortune cookie, to predict the future, but actually as a mirror. At the middle of the year and the end of the year, I look up what my word was for the year and look back to see what God has been up to.

This year, however, the word did not strike a fun cord for me, and I went back to God three different times to see if He’d change it. Every time, He told me “resilience.” I didn’t like the word so much, that I just posted on someone’s Facebook and tried to forget it. I even avoided making my traditional January post.

Have you ever avoided something because you feared the unpleasant? Then, when you finally followed through, discovered it wasn’t that bad after all? Doing dishes is this way for me regularly.

When I thought of the word “resilience”, I thought of bearing up under pain. It wasn’t until today that I read the dictionary definition.

Resilience

“the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens;

“the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.;

Yet, we are only to March, and you might have heard me proclaim – after eight long years, I am back. I feel like a human again, the pain of the last few years is no longer playing ping pong on my psyche.

There was a time in my early twenties that I avoided church for about six months. When I returned, I expected a long hard climb up the ladder to get close to God again. Instead, from the moment I stood for the first song, God’s Spirit was as fresh and strong as He had been before. There was no climbing back into God’s lap – I was already there.

I feel much the same with my ability to use my gifts. I would expect to have to climb back to ability, yet instead, I find that my abilities have grown in the last eight years, even while latent.

Resilience, it turns out, isn’t the word for the beginning of pain, but the end of a season. It is a good word that provides space to breathe and enjoy what God has done.

Reality Check

rejectionSometimes God is kind to us and gives us a serious reality check. Today was one of those days.

I came out of the restroom, and saw a beautiful woman with perfect hair standing there. Next to her, I felt dowdy. It is not uncommon for me to blurt what is on my mind, and this was no exception.

I looked at her beautiful red hair and announced “I am having a bad hair day.”

She looked at me oddly, then announced in return “Yesterday I shaved my head bald… you see, I’m having cancer treatments.”

This woman gave me such a gift today. Her wig was gorgeous. I compared myself to her – and failed to see what was really going on. She could have given me a superficial answer and walked away, but instead she opened up and told me the truth.

When I shared this story with my youngest daughter, she quoted her youth pastor. “Pastor Shaun says that we often compare our worst to other people’s best.”

Are you comparing yourselves to others?

You might be missing an opportunity to minister – and you might not be seeing reality.

What is God trying to show you today?

Why we need each other

21168240_sI’ve written extensively this year on the role of church. One of the foundations that sits in the background, but has not yet been expressed is the need for women in church leadership. The doctoral program that I am in has worked extensively on understanding the theology of women in ministry. Today I’d like to look at the practical aspects of this discussion.

I walk into this discussion with deep humility. I am well aware that the issue is complex, and many highly respected men and women do not agree with my viewpoint.

However, as a recent article in Leadership Journal points out, our femaleness and maleness both demonstrate parts of God’s nature, and “the core divide in humanity is across the genders. If the way that we’re manifesting the gospel within our churches is not addressing this primary divide, we’re not truly reflecting what the gospel asks us to do—bring reconciliation to the world.”

So in this article, we will address some of the basic aspects of what it is to be male and female through the lens of brain science.*

Guarding the Organization

How do men and women approach life and leadership differently? And why should any leadership team be comprised of both sexes?**

First,  let’s consider the way that men and women guard an organization. Men, whose brain chemistry moves toward action under stress, tend to be systems protectors. Women, whose brain chemistry focuses toward conversation under stress, tend to be process protectors. One can easily visualize how these two stress responses work in tandem to help a church.

Many churches have started a large change campaign only to find a good portion of their membership has jumped ship part way through the process. The system was being protect by change, but the process did not ensure that the people stuck with the system.

Other churches face the painful transitions caused by pastoral moral failures.

Personally, I believe that men need women at the table as colleagues in order to avoid this sort of devastation. Women colleagues can help a leadership team move forward with integrity. Women will tend to bring a different view. In general, men focus on the goal, women focus on how we get there. When women are given an equal voice at the table, they will be able to help steer an organization to avoid pitfalls, and provide new insights to avoid failures.

How we view leadership

The second area to consider is how men and women view leadership. (I’ve spoken on this some in recent weeks.) Men tend to view leadership as boxes in a hierarchy. Women tend to see leadership in net-like (or web-like) structures. This may be is the physiological reason that men don’t connect with women in leadership – they can’t see them. In other words, when men look for a colleague, they look for a suitable box while women are working with nets. In fact, when I took this language to women co-laborers, they didn’t even want to talk about a web of multiple boxes. Instead they viewed themselves as wearing multiple hats. We are mom, wife, cook, pastor, writer, speaker, coach, etc. each as a different hat. When women are asked for their occupation, they may find it very hard to define one specific “box.”

Therefore, education of both sexes is vital. Men who understand the need for net-like support within the organization will look for net-builders; and women who understand the need to be clearly identified within a hierarchy will work to bring definition to their life and calling beyond the structure and nature of their relationships.

The dual approaches of men and women in leadership situations complement each other and enhance our work. An organization that raises up women to work alongside men in leadership will be stronger, more self-aware, and better protected – not just from the outside, but from the inside as well.

So what do you think? Please use the comments section below to add to the conversation.


*It is important to understand that the statements herein are generalizations and thus stated as absolutes. Individuals may place themselves closer to the center, as no two brains are wired exactly the same. In fact, Gurian and Annis suggest that women who have been trained to male leadership roles operate more as a third sex – a mix of both male and female leadership tendencies.

**(For more information on this, you can read the book Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business. by Gurian and Annis)

 

Sometimes it’s all about me

CommunityThis week I’ve been floored by how much of my Christian life is all about me.

I’m certain that I don’t see this reflected in scripture, yet

  • A huge number of my “worship” songs are about what God does for me.
  • My giving has as much to do with the good feeling I get as it does helping others

1 Samuel 30:6 says that David “encouraged himself” (KJV) or “found strength in the Lord” (most of the rest of the translations).

I think the different ways of reading this might show us the different parts of our humanity. Do we come to God to make ourselves okay – to get the happy highs – or do we come to God to be strengthened, be repaired, to become more like Him, and to help those around us get a glimpse of who He is?

I think there is a balance. We need to admit that sometimes, we need to remember that God loves us personally. However, as North American Christians, we can certainly spend more time being strengthened in order to make a difference.

In truth, when we give, we open the floodgates for God to fill us with more. So, is it all about me? Do I give to get, or do I give because God called me to?

 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Deep Imprints

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑