The Dangerous Invitation of Authenticity

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When I was about thirteen years old, I was at a theme park with the youth group from my church. Now you should know that I’m not much of a “thrill seeker” type, but when the group goes on these trips you go along to hang with friends…even if you’re miserable the whole time.

One of the guys in the group was one of those “prankster” types who definitely had a promising future with the guys from Jack*ss. Normally I would have distanced myself from this sort of behavior, flown under the radar, and made it out of there without incident. But not this time. Jack*ss guy was coming for me.

We were all standing around in one of the quintessential “youth-group-outing huddles” (the ones where you talk for twenty minutes about whether or not we want to eat next, go home, or ride more rides then eat and go home), when the aforementioned “funny guy” came up behind me and gave a swift and terrible tug to my cargo shorts. Yep, the fear of adolescents everywhere: I was “pantsed.”

Now, to be fair, it didn’t turn into one of those “everyone was pointing at me and laughing hysterically” moments (like the scenario in the classic “I showed up to work and forgot to wear pants” dreams), but I was pretty embarrassed. What early teen wants to reveal their taste in undergarments (boxer briefs if you’re curious) to the surrounding strangers, friends and enemies (specifically girls)? Not me.

Who knows what kind of deep psychological impact that event had on me, but I would guess that it’s events like this that make being vulnerable later in life so difficult. We learn from an early age to hide who we are because if people see it they may reject us. Before we know better how to handle it, things happen to us that expose our awkward and flawed selves, and we spend much time and energy trying to avoid more painful exposure.

But here’s the problem: we aren’t meant to live fake lives. God made us exactly who we are for a reason and he gets glory when we live fully embracing who he made us to be. This idea has really challenged me lately.

One of the staff values at our church is authenticity, and it isn’t one of those “honorary” values that people say but really don’t care about. It’s real. I keep getting told over and over “just be you,” and it has taken a while to sink in. It’s a godly value that is truly upheld and valued.

But old habits die hard. When you’ve spent your entire life trying to adjust your behavior to the expectations of people around you (think “social norms”), how do suddenly find a way to just “be you”? How do you dig deep and find where the real you begins and the fake you ends?

“Be you” means you have to first “see you” and be ok with it. This is probably the hardest part. For me the challenge is trying to understand the why behind the way I am. I want to know why I do what I do and why the heck God decided to make that thing a part of me.

Some of it seems pointless, like “Really God? Couldn’t you give that ‘quality’ to someone else??” But there is power in the acceptance of who God made you to be. When you believe he loves you as you are, you can begin to love others for who they are, instead of rejecting them for being different or liking the people who are like you (or even worse trying to change people to be just like you!).

I don’t have all the answers, and I can tell you that the process isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. When you start to look for them, there are all kinds of opportunities to go a little deeper in your answer, opinion, or encouragement. There will probably always be a slight sense of hesitation when confronted with the invitation to be authentic and vulnerable. The fear is deep-rooted.

But I have found incredible freedom in the invitation of authenticity. Just as I want to really know others, others want to really know me. If God makes each person unique, we miss out on an aspect of God when we fail to know and be known.

If you’re up for a challenge, try inching your way toward letting people see the real you. Or better yet, ask God to help you see yourself and receive his love. It will be the first step in helping you love yourself and others better. It’s an invitation to a better life and richer, deeper relationships.

Put Your Shoes Out

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These days it seems like everyone is busy. Ask anyone how they are and you’ll probably get something like, “Man…things are good but crazy!” We spend our days busy trying to get all of our work done and, if possible, not take our work home with us. We’re busy with family events, sports, parties, church, trips, you name it. Even our days off are busy.

I’ll admit it, most of the time I feel pretty busy too. I have to fight to stay sane in the middle of lots of activity. It’s hard to prioritize family with a busy schedule. Even though I have to be at rehearsals, events, and special services from time to time, I try really hard to be home for dinner and bedtime as much as possible. I’ve got a long list of people I’m waiting to hang out with (if you’re one of them I’m sorry). Ever feel like you should schedule social events three months in advance? Yeah, me too.

In the midst of all of this, I am making an effort to be as consistent as possible with hitting the gym. It’s easy when you’re busy to make excuses about why you can’t exercise, but staying in good shape is crucial to your short and long term survival.

Without trying to toot my own horn, I would say I’ve been pretty successful with consistent exercise over the past few months. Most of the time I get up around 4:30 and head to the gym so I’m back home before the family gets up. Going early gets my day going and I don’t miss out on the quality morning time before I have to head off to work. Yes, getting up that early can be tough, but I’ve discovered a little trick that helps me win the daily struggle with the snooze button:

I put my gym shoes and shorts out in the living room before I go to bed. 

Sometimes the most difficult step toward any kind of progress is the first one. But I’ve learned that if you can remove even the smallest obstacle it can make a world of difference.

When the gym clothes are out the night before I have already set an expectation for myself when the alarm goes off. When the sounds of “cascading rain” come crashing into my dreams in the wee hours of the morning, I don’t have the luxury of “well I don’t want to rummage around for my clothes” as an excuse. I’ve set myself up for success. When my plan for the morning is mapped out in 15 minute increments, I know that any delay will start a chain reaction that puts me in catch up mode for the rest of the day.

Turns out this strategy can be applied in many other areas of life. If you don’t want to eat all of the potato chips in one sitting, try dosing them out into ziplock bags before you go for a snack. Portion control is real. Try putting only a few cans of that beverage or soft drink in the fridge at a time and see if it helps prevent you from going for another one. If you don’t want to waste your whole night watching TV, decide a specific limit to your view time (or better yet, don’t turn it on in the first place).

Small victories go a long way. If we focus on “going to the gym for a year,” or “getting in shape,” or “saving for retirement,” we won’t get far. I don’t have to do everything to “get in shape” today, but as long as I lace up my shoes and get in the gym I have won half the battle. If I can do that, I’ll be in good shape.

 

Where I Am Right Now (a life journey update)

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Thanks to Jared Anderson for that phrase, “Where I Am Right Now.” His song by that same title blesses me. It’s all about trusting God where you are instead of looking ahead to someplace you aren’t:

“I’m called to be where I am right now,
In the middle of a storm but I have no doubt
That you are here with me.”

I’m guilty of that, living with an obsessively future-oriented outlook. The truth is, HERE is all we have. I’m not waiting for some future place to “arrive,” I’m not afraid of missing my “big chance,” I want to live content, trusting, and abiding in peace.

It occurred to me recently (as most things do – thanks to my wife) that many of you (my blog-following friends out there) might not know about some of the crazy stuff that has happened in the Vinke’s world in the past year or so. If you don’t really care, you can stop reading now. For those of you with a soul (and some patience – this is a long one), here’s a little update on “the big three” major events of this season of life that have rocked our world (in a good way).

IMG_0654New baby. We welcomed our son Levi Emil to the family on January eighth of this year. We didn’t have as tough a time as many friends, but it was quite a ride getting him here! He has been very healthy and very happy and we are very thankful to God for the precious gift!

New homeIMG_0655We are homeowners! After lots of looking (the Jacksonville market is HOT!), God secured for us a perfect home in a perfect spot for us. Even in the midst of struggle and challenge, he cleared the way for us to get into our own home and we are loving it!


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This is the big one…so a little backstory is required. In July of 2014, we stepped out in faith and moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville to work at a great church on the southeast side of town. The move was a result of a lot of stirring and searching, and was big jump to say the least. We left family, friends, and really the place we called home for most of our lives in order to step out in search of what God has for us.

As you probably know, any move to a new city brings challenges. We didn’t know many people, we didn’t know the area, and the church was…VERY different than we were used to. We were welcomed and loved from the start but the learning curve was steep. The denomination and style of the church were at the opposite end of the spectrum from where we had been in the past.

In my theoretical/theological brain, I could see lots of value to the tradition and preferences that were priorities in this tradition; my wife, who wired quite different, struggled quite a bit. To say we had a lot of “discussions” about this would be an understatement. We wrestled through a lot together and are better as a couple because of the experience. I worked hard to bring positive change in the church and add as much value as I could. Even so, after about fourteen months we knew it wasn’t the right fit for our family.

It’s hard to accurately (or briefly) summarize what our life was like in that season. It was multifaceted and complex as life often is. There were so many blessings that are hard to quantify. You won’t find a more generous, loving and hospitable group of people; I was given an incredible amount of opportunity to learn, grow and express my gifts (for which I’m forever grateful); we formed some new friendships that, Lord willing, will be lifelong. It was a gift!

In the midst of all of this blessing, there were some undeniable and inescapable realities that I had to face. The culture just wasn’t a fit for our family long term. As hard as my wife worked to get “into it,” the priorities of that particular style of worship just weren’t resonating with her. We needed room to run fast, be really challenged, and be around like-minded people. It was a hard and painful decision, as transition decisions almost always are. But I knew the right thing to do.

Image-1In the fall of last year, I had no idea what God was going to do. We knew we needed to step out once again and felt pretty open to going just about anywhere.  But God had other plans. In a way that only God can do, I got a “random” call from a friend I about a church here in Jacksonville called the Church of Eleven22. I reluctantly agreed to have lunch and hear about God was doing.

To say I was skeptical is a slight understatement; at every step, I thought, “there’s no way this is going to work out.” But (easy to see now) it did work out. Every meeting with every leader was encouraging, intriguing, and led me to take another step forward. It was like the door just swung wide open, and the timing was perfect. Perfect timing…that sounds like someone I know…

It’s hard to describe the sweetness of stepping into a season that feels as natural as a birthday. After you are ten, you turn eleven. That’s just the way it goes. I love it when God takes us into seasons like that, when we get to see that every step we have taken before has led us to this point. Like finding random keys in your garage over a series of years, only to find that they open the door to the house down the street you didn’t know was yours.

In case you haven’t noticed, those three events are top of the list of big-time stresses on people–and we experienced all three within a period of six months! We need your prayers!

But God has been so good. I’m so grateful for his hand on our lives, that he cares enough to lead us through every season with such great care. He is lovingly preparing us for each next step, even in the midst of seasons where the greatest thing we can do is be ok with where we are. I want to be the kind of person who can say,

“I am yours and you are mine,
You can move me any time,
I’m resting in your perfect peace,
Where I am right now.”

 

To Be Hunted

260f7c21241f149e84fc30fc8087e844I’m pretty much a nerd. At best I’m an old soul. I guess that’s why I really enjoy watching the BBC’s many fantastic documentary series’ on animals and nature. Planet Earth and The Human Planet were both incredibly beautiful. Most recently I’ve been watching Life Story, a series focusing on the different phases of life within the animal kingdom.

In one of the episodes, an unsuspecting impala is stalked by two young cheetahs. The impala is exhausted after the weeks of fighting that precede mating season and seeks a moment of repose in a stunningly beautiful patch of trees (imagine the dramatic music starting to build).

In the quintessential stalking scene (which are of course the favorites in nature documentaries) the stealthy cheetahs creep steadily closer to the grazing animal. He picks his head up once or twice to look around but doesn’t seem terribly bothered, not knowing he is in his final moments of life. The cheetahs strike and…well, you know the rest.

I love these shows because they move me to worship. For example, did you know that meerkat colonies have a leadership structure based on those with more wisdom and experience? Or that hermit crabs line up by size and do a “house trade” for bigger shells when a new one washes on the shore? How about an octopus that can use an abandoned coconut shell as a shield against predators? I watch all of these creatures with their complex patterns of survival, leadership and courtship and think “Wow…God designed all that!”

As I was watching the poor impala in his imminent demise, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking. He may just be a creature of pure instinct, but I wonder if there was a thought in there somewhere. Did he know he was being hunted? Did he think about the danger that was lurking? Does an animal’s life flash before his eyes in that dramatic chase?

As modern Americans, most of us don’t face the daily reality that we may be killed by hostile predators. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like physically, but the Bible does tell us that we are being hunted by a powerful enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” I don’t know about you, but don’t often live like that is real.

There are seasons, however, when the reality of the prowling lion comes piercing through. You know the lion is real when you’re running for your life. Recently I have felt that spiritual weight in some ordinary situations and some (painfully) unusual ones. To be a Christian is to be hunted. Signing up for God’s work means you have a target on your back.

The good news is twofold: (1) we know we have an enemy so we, unlike an instinct-bound animal, are able to discern when we are being stalked and take the appropriate action; (2) we have a victorious Savior who has already decisively and finally defeated our enemy. Thus we can fight (or sometimes flee) without fear of being completely destroyed.

I guess you never know where God might speak to you, even in a nature documentary. So don’t forget you’re in a fight. Take shelter in the only Hope you have for survival.

 

The Courage to Get Back Up

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Blogging is a lot like life. In fact, if you do it right, blogging is a great representation of life. Maybe that’s why we connect with people’s stories shared through blogs.

Have you ever promised yourself you would do something and then fell off the wagon? This happens to me a lot. Maybe it’s because I’m a “routines” kind of guy. My routines seem to make or break my life. If I want to get something done, usually I will create a routine to make it a normal presence in my life.

The problem with routines is that they are always going to be challenged. There’s always going to be an interruption, an irregularity, an exception to what’s normal. If enough time goes by, it gets harder and harder to imagine starting again. So how is it possible to keep on keeping on? The answer, I think, is courage.

It’s not that we are afraid of change (although many of us are), but that we are afraid we don’t have what it takes. Failure scares us because it temps us to believe the doubts we had before we even tried. “See, I knew this would never work,” is what failure whispers to us. And facing that fear takes guts.

It comes down to having the courage to get over yourself and your inability to be perfect. We (or maybe it’s just me) want a perfect record. We want to have it all together. We don’t want to admit our failure.

But failure is part of learning and part of life. The muscles we build aren’t from just doing the same things over and over again, they are built by overcoming the resistance to do it again.  Tweet: The muscles we build aren’t from just doing the same things over and over again, they are built by overcoming the resistance to do it again.

This is the concept often called “failing forward.” Anytime we set out to accomplish a goal and don’t measure up, our ability to take what we have learned and get back up and try again is what really makes the difference.

Whatever you have done in the past but are lagging (exercise, writing, reading, journaling, creating), here’s your sign to get back into it. Don’t take on the world all at once, just try to ease back into it. Success is just a long line of little victories.

Warring Desires and Self-Denial

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In the season of Lent, many Christians (myself included) choose to fast from some type of food, drink, or activity as an exercise in spiritual discipline as a preparation for Easter.

Historically in the church, Lent has been a season of preparation for baptism–the final push for catechumenates (Christian converts in training) was a fast that ended in an all-night vigil and a glorious baptism service on Easter morning. Christians who had fallen out of fellowship with God or the church would also fast during Lent and were re-admitted into the fellowship of believers at Easter.

Today many churches don’t usually restrict baptism (or repentance) exclusively to Lent, but it is still a great time to practice self-denial as we prepare for the highlight of Christian celebrations (Resurrection Sunday). These practices have tremendous spiritual benefit. Self-denial helps us remember that Christ is Lord and we are not slaves to anything, especially to those things that we so naturally go to for comfort. We remember that we are weak and that we desperately need the help of God’s Spirit to walk this Christian journey–a power that Christ’s Resurrection has purchased for us. It is an act of war against our flesh, that sly and sticky force within us that wants so desperately to rule our lives.

But this aggression seldom goes unanswered. I find that when I fast, no matter what I fast from, the desires in my heart rebel with great force. This always surprises me (although it shouldn’t). Whether I’m denying myself sweets or television or social media, I invariably start to notice the restlessness of my heart rear its ugly head. I didn’t think I cared so much about the thing I gave up…until I started to say “no” to its beckoning cries. The things that seek to take first place in my heart begin to bare down with white-knuckled desperation. Then I remember I’m fasting…this is Lent…and it all starts to make sense.

This is the nature of many spiritual battles in our lives. We don’t notice them until we are right in the thick of things. Without disciplines like fasting we are all like the frog in the pot, slowly and ignorantly boiling to death in our own desires. When we say no to the things that seek to rule us, we are remembering that Christ actually rules our lives (and the universe). Spiritual disciplines snap us awake and help us see reality.

This is one of the reasons I love worship. Worship orients us to reality, as the psalmist writes about in Psalm 73. He, like so many of us, gets fed up with the (apparent) effortless and consistent success of wicked people (v. 4). The voice of arrogant scoffers is overwhelming at times…especially in an election year. The psalmist almost gets lost in his frustration until he goes into God’s house and sees the truth: they are destroyed in a moment (v. 19) and those who are far from God will perish (v. 27). What was the turning point? Worship. Drawing near to God broke the cycle of bitterness and frustration and helped the psalmist remember that the highest good is to be near to God (v. 28). It doesn’t get any better than that.

So a word of encouragement: If you are (trying to) practice self-denial and are finding some surprising thoughts, desires, or habits rearing their ugly head this Lent season, take heart: Christ has won the battle! Saying no to little gods can be a challenge, but nearness to God is worth the fight.

 

 

Image credit: Getty Images, http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/sport-spare-time-boys-at-a-tug-of-war-1933-vintage-property-news-photo/542940737

Pages

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Have you stopped to consider the power of a page? The page is full of possibility, beckoning us to work out our life, a story, a song or a plan. Often intimidating, the blank page is an invitation to change.
Whether made of paper, a digital display, a scrap of napkin or the first blank spot inside a book cover, we lay ourselves out on pages and something happens. We etch the things we learn on blank space and the shapes and lines shape us.
Sometimes I spend an hour or two in front of pages and walk away a different person, like I have learned something about myself that I almost knew but never could have if the page hadn’t helped me.
I read a quote recently in a book by John C. Maxwell:
“Experience isn’t the best teacher; evaluated experience is.”
As we draw near the end the calendar year, find a spot amid the binge-watching re-runs of “Friends” and driving your RC cars around the house and do some reflecting. Find a comfy seat and remember all the gifts you have received, not just the ones you unwrap on Christmas. Think about how you might have open eyes to see the gifts in the coming year. Ask God to help. Find a page and say “yes” to the invitation. Adventure is waiting.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.
(image credit: http://img09.deviantart.net/50e5/i/2008/285/d/f/blank_page_black_and_white_by_spenc3rr.jpg)

The Why of Worship

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I believe that no matter who you are, your personality, age, disposition, preferences, circumstances or situation, worship is what you were made for.
Worship is the highest goal and noblest purpose of every created thing in the universe.
Worship produces the highest level of life satisfaction and reward possible.
There is no situation which cannot be redeemed through worship.
All things can and must be enjoyed as worship. The choice is worship or idolatry.

I’m reading a fascinating book by Simon Sinek about the power of why. He argues that it isn’t the thing you do that inspires people to act or to follow, it is the reason you do it — your belief, your value, your core motivating force that draws people to you.

It isn’t enough to just tell people what they should do, people need to know why. In business this principle is powerful: don’t just tell me you manufacture a nice car, tell me why I must have it. What will it say about me? Why will it change my life? Why has far more power to motivate that what.

So why worship? Why spend all your waking hours obsessing about one subject that most of the world seems to dismiss? I’m glad you asked.

You know what I love about my life? I get to live for the best cause imaginable. I believe that worship is the greatest central value of all of life, that all of reality revolves around the principle of worship. Everything exists for something, and that reason is worship. Things exist to tell us something about the One who made them. Worship is fundamental to existence, just as matter and protons and wavelengths are the nuts and bolts of the physical world.

All things worship, some by default and design, others by decision. Asteroids and ants worship by design. They were made to express the pleasure and greatness of God in their uniqueness, detail and magnitude (or lack thereof). The interesting thing about humans is that we worship by design and by decision. As the crowning glory of the creation of God, human beings express God’s incredible power as the Maker and Master of all life. The body and brain still baffle scientists with their capacity and capability to connect and conceive. But the human heart and will can choose, we can express our praise and worship to God through our choices, through all that we do and think.

I believe that when we are made alive in Christ and surrender our lives to putting God first, we step into the thing we were put on this earth to do: worship. How much time, effort and energy is spent trying to find “our purpose”? Here it is: put God first (worship).

You don’t have to be a good singer, a sappy poet, or a deep theologian to be a good worshiper. Worshipers put God first. Period. I believe that the experience of worship is surpassingly greater than any other experience. To worship is to be in the presence of God Almighty, the One who created me (and the universe) and receive his love, lay my burdens down and his feet and get peace, wisdom, insight and encouragement. Nothing compares to that. It can happen anywhere and at any time. It’s what I’m made for, and I’ll spend eternity doing it. We worship because it is right, but also because it is rewarding. I enjoy worship, and I enjoy everything in life more when everything is done as worship.

The worship experience can take many forms. For some, worship may be experienced best through song. For others, prayer or quiet meditation. The balanced ledger or the swish of the ball in the net strike a chord of the rightness of what God has made. The power and presence of God that I feel at times when I read his word are overwhelming. So it doesn’t matter if you are artsy, young, old, rich or poor. You were made for worship, you were made to put God first. You were made for a constant, mindful, thankful communion with God. The worship mandate isn’t a stifling command to somehow stop enjoying accounting or writing or flowers or whiskey. It is an invitation to see the hand of the Maker in all of life, to delight in him in all things.

So yes, I lead worship on Sundays in a church. I play guitar and lead rehearsals and go to meetings and write blogs. But that is what I do, not why. I love my life because worship is what we are all made for. I get to spend my time finding ways to express to others how everything in life is better when it is worship. It just so happens that I do this in a ministry context, but the why motivates an infinite number of whats and hows. Would you like to join me?

Worship and Leadership

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I have three passions in my life apart from my faith and family, summed up in the phrase that has become my life purpose mantra: Teaching worship leadership. 

I am a teacher because I am a learner. My personality makes me gravitate toward a constant influx of new information, researching and seeking to understand things that surround me or interest me. Because I love to learn, I love to teach. Teaching the things that I have learned not only helps me further absorb them, it gets me more excited about learning. I’ll admit this sometimes gets me into trouble. Not everyone likes learning the way I do, and not everyone would like me to be their teacher. Also, the phrase “nerd alert” comes to mind…

Worship has been a passion of mine since my early teens. A profound experience in prayer led me to pursuing a ministry path and ultimately career in worship leading, one that I plan to follow until I can’t anymore. At first I thought that a calling in worship meant that I’d constantly be in front of people with a guitar in my hands, but that has only been partially true. Education and experience has deepened (and widened) my understanding of what worship is. Worship is much broader than music, singing or a Sunday activity. When we see worship as a way of life, a perspective-orienting posture before God, it changes everything from our thinking, our work, our relationships and our priorities.

I owe the focus on leadership to some years spent in an incredibly rich leadership culture. My time on staff at 12Stone Church has made a tremendous impact on how I see my life and various roles, helping me to understand the importance of skilled, intentional leadership over myself and others under my care. Leadership skills are some of the most fundamentally important skills one can ever learn, and they have the power to change your life completely.

Lately I have been searching for ways to articulate the connection between worship and leadership, two of my biggest passions. At first it seemed incredibly difficult. What could Good to Great and Engaging With God possibly have in common? I thought, maybe I just have two things that I’m passionate about that are basically unrelated. It wouldn’t be the first time!

But more reflection has shown me I was wrong. There is, in fact, a very strong connection between worship and leadership if you take a closer look.

Worship is essentially about glory. God is glorious, THE only being in the universe whose essence and character are so magnificent we could spend eternity (literally) captivated by all he is. Even attempting to write a description of God’s glory seems feeble at best. In corporate worship, we gather as the people of God to celebrate and proclaim God’s glory in prayer, songs, preaching and proclaiming the scriptures, and by participating in the sacred acts of the Christian church (baptism and eucharist). Worship reenacts the Story of God’s creation, our fall into sin, God’s redemption, and re-creation of all things. These activities are both participation and proclamation that God is glorious, the Greatest and most Beautiful One of all.

Human beings were made for God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17, CS. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory) and thus made for worship. It is a self-verifying truth that glory is of paramount importance to the human soul. Humans everywhere are drawn to the ocean, the mountains, spectacular sporting events and feats of human skill and achievement. Why? Glory. When we worship God, we experience his glory by experiencing him and experiencing what we were made for.

Leadership is essentially the right ordering of ourselves and our relationships. It is intentional stewardship of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. God has created a right order for our lives and for our relationships, made clear in the Bible. Leadership teaching (well, let’s say good leadership teaching) is the distillation of the principles of self-leadership and right relationships that God has designed.

This brings us to the connection point between worship and leadership: righteousnessRighteousness simply means “right-ness,” the proper order of things in the world. God sits on a throne of righteousness and justice (Ps. 89:14) because he makes things right and just. When I live my life to God’s glory, I am essentially living a righteous life, living the way that God intended me to live according to his design. He has designed me to behold his glory, and as I gather with his people and sing and pray and kneel, my eyes are opened. He has also designed me to be disciplined, to be honest, and to live in right relationship with others. If my life is meant to be lived to the glory of God, then my leadership of self and of others will be expressions of worship. Leadership as worship takes worship from the church building and puts it in my calendar and my conversations.

I love to be out in nature. There’s nothing quite like climbing to a higher altitude and looking out across the space below. There’s nothing quite like a sunset, a clear starry sky or the pounding surf of the ocean at high tide. These sights remind me that God is glorious and powerful and has made a world that is very good. In the same way, seeing a man or woman seeking to live life to God’s glory, working hard to make the best use of the time, talent and treasure they have been given, reminds me that God is glorious and his creation of humankind is very good. He has made humans to be the crowning glory of his creation, and we have the chance to display his glory when we live in righteousness.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!”
Ps. 150:6

 

Image: http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/guests_photos/5001422.jpg

 

Traffic

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Traffic jams are the worst. Ok, there are worse things, but who likes traffic?

Traffic is the product of a bunch of people trying to get to the same place the same way.

When it comes to success, there are lots of people trying to get there, but the only roads that are crowded are the “easy” ones, the quick-fix routes that don’t take a lot of discipline, thought or diligence.

In reality I’d say the road to success is less like a backed up freeway and more like a Mt. Everest basecamp. What’s holding you back is not a bunch of people who can’t (or won’t) get out of your way. It’s actually just you. Doing the right thing isn’t overpopulated, it’s just difficult. It takes a lot of work to get there.

Before you start honking your horn and blaming all the idiots on the road in front of you (we’re back to the metaphor), try looking in the mirror. How can you train yourself to take the hard steps to achieve success? It’s highly unlikely that luck (or, “missing rush hour”) has made the difference in those who have reached their destination. 

 

(image credit: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7058/6952295112_46da082194_b.jpg)