Pelicans and Leadership

Recently, I had the privilege to join some friends (Thanks Shelby’s!) at their bay house. It’s a beautiful place and a perfect place to “get away” a bit.

I don’t think I’ve ever really sat and watched pelicans diving for fish before. They fly up high to get a good wide perspective and scan for prey. When they see something they circle to get a good angle and then dive with abandon. Recklessly even. They aren’t very graceful – just effective. In order to survive, they must do this regularly – every day even.

I wonder what leaders can learn from pelicans? Do we escape our normal routines and seek out “high places” where we can get good perspectives? Do we continually scan for new opportunities? Do we work to get a good angle and then dive recklessly? Are we so afraid of being ungraceful that we just continue to circle without ever diving? Do we get comfortable enough that we stop working this process or do we do it daily?

Road Trip Rules

Summer is the season for road trips and so I thought this little post might be helpful – Or at least a little fun. I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I load the car, I start feeling a little like Clark Griswold. “We’re all gonna have so much . . . fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our . . . smiles.” I think it’s a dad’s job to make sure the family has some fun, whether they like it or not!!

Anyway,  here are some of our rules for road trips. I’d also love to hear your ideas. You could make our family road trips better this year!


Rules:

1. Daddy is in charge of music.

2. Kasen & Kesleigh choose movies which supersede any music choices daddy has. (Well, sort of. Daddy could override but chooses to give Kasen & Kesleigh preference out of his GREAT love for them. . . OK – maybe it also has to do with mommy and daddy’s sanity.)

3. Bathroom stops must be at least 2, NO! wait . . . 3hrs apart. Kasen is still being potty trained and so he can stop and pee on the side of the road whenever he chooses. Kesleigh can pee in her pull-up. Miranda can stop drinking Dr. Pepper!

4. Bucee’s is the best choice for a pit stop. All other rest stops are inferior. (One exception: The Czech Stop south of Ft Worth on I-35. Their kolache’s are amazing.)

5. Cherry Sours are vital to daddy’s road health. Judson-Atkinson are the best! (Thanks to my friend Jason Hess for the introduction.)

6. If you must travel with your dog, one should use extreme caution when navigating the “mine field” found in the Bucee’s patch of grass.

7. Good food choices for places to stop include but are not limited to: Arby’s, Braums, and Chickfila if they have a playground.

PS – Louisiana Exit 80 on I-10 used to be on the list, but evidently has a new less cleanly owner.

8. NO STOPPING IF BOTH KIDS ARE ASLEEP!


Extra Rules added by Miranda:
1. Car must be loaded down with Capri Suns, Fruit Snacks, and Dum Dums for kids.

2. Milkshakes should never be placed on the center armrest and then immediately elbowed onto the floor! (My bad baby. I’m sorry.)

3. Country music must be allowed on beautiful sunny days. (Can I veto this one?)


What other rules would you add?

Jesus: True and Better

Love this video.

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.

“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.”

The Mystery of God

“I have observed the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight–when you can explain to me the mystery of the watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God.” ~ William Jennings Bryan, famous for his role in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial

Thanks to Mark Batterson for this post.

The Wind

After church today, we came home and went outside in the back yard. Here’s the conversation I had with Kasen. (3yrs)

Kasen: Daddy, where does the wind come from?

Me: I don’t know Kasen. We can’t see it, but we can feel it.

Kasen: We can’t see Jesus, but we can feel him too.

Wow!! We’ve had a similar conversation before, but I didn’t think he’d remember it all so clearly. I told Miranda about it and she said she had talked to him about it as well. It makes me so excited to see him understand so much about God at such an early age.

The sermon today was from John 3, where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about the work of the Holy Spirit and relating it to the wind. Seems like the wind is what God is wanting us all to remember today. I love it when His voice is so clear!!

Integrity

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another.

As a teacher, I witness my students’ lack of integrity every day. When they misbehave, I follow our classroom procedures to reprimand them. They almost always say, “I’m sorry.” However, I’m not sure they really are. Often, their words don’t really line up with their subsequent actions. There’s an integrity problem.

I’ve heard that integrity is “being the same person all the time” – no matter who else you’re around or what situation you find yourself in. “It’s who you are when you’re alone.” These definitions are centered around “consistency” which is also what I was taught in my Leadership Studies @ the College of Biblical Studies:

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another – it’s how consistent you are in each of these areas.

Integrity is the “white” section.

Where our words, actions, and beliefs all agree with one another.


Here’s what it looks like when someone has a lot of integrity:


The first type of integrity problem is that of the Liar:

People lie. Sometimes we can do the right things and believe the right things, but peer pressure (or some other pressure) causes us to lie in the moment. (I guess it also works the other way – We can believe the wrong things and do the wrong things, but lie to make ourselves look better.) When we lie, we compromise our integrity. Even the “little white lie” can be dangerous. Each time we lie (no matter how small), we make ourselves more comfortable with lying. We must also remember that others are watching us. When the phone rings and a 3yr-old hears daddy say, “Tell them I’m not here,” he is learning something from his daddy.


The second type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Coward.

The coward says what he believes, but just won’t actually take any action. He’s too scared or too busy to follow through. I’ve certainly had this problem. I believe I should do a lot of things and even talk about doing them, but often get too scared to actually take the necessary steps to move forward. It easy to say that I’m just too busy, but ultimately, maybe it really is just simple fear that paralyzes us all.


The third type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Politician:

The politician will say (words) and do (actions) whatever it takes to get what he wants regardless of his own values or beliefs. He might have great beliefs, but they don’t have any deep roots. He is willing to compromise them at the smallest temptation. In general, he is simply out to fulfill his own desires regardless of anyone else. He is a dangerous person to be around.


The final type of integrity problem is the most inconsistent. You never know what you’re gonna get with these guys. They are often out of touch with reality and clueless about themselves. They have no integrity at all. (At least with the others, there are 2 of the three which line up. You might be able to predict something based on those two areas.) With the final type, there’s no predicting anything.

Notice that there is no integrity(white area) at all.


I hope my little exploration of integrity has been helpful. This information is all stuff I learned from my Biblical Leadership classes at the College of Biblical Studies.

Miracle

Eric and I playing a Concert

I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.

There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!

OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally. It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.

I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?

Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”

God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)

Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!

PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Quote: Doing or Being?

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.”

– Thomas Merton

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It has always bothered me that in this world I am valued based on what I can do for someone else. The truth is that my value should be based on my relationship to God. The most important thing I can “do” is simply to “be” with God. In this way He is able to transform me into His image and create new thoughts, dreams, attitudes, and desires within me. It is by “being” with Him that I actually become more valuable. My efforts, the things I “do,” often end up as a “chasing after the wind,” but I have never regretted my time of “being” with God.

Bands I’ve seen Live

Rock

Mutemath

U2, Muse

Texxas Jam 1985: Deep Purple, Scorpions, Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, Bon Jovi, Grim Reaper, Victory

Texxas Jam 1986: Van Halen, Dio, Loverboy, Krokus, Keel, BTO

Night Ranger – Six Flags Over Texas

Damn Yankees

Ratt, Twisted Sister, Mama’s Boys (My First Concert)

Journey (1986)

James Taylor

The Eagles

Joe Walsh

Club MTV Tour 1989 – Paula Abdul, Tone Loc, Milli Vanilli, Information Society, Erasure, Was not Was, Lisa Lisa

Van Halen (1986 Tour)

Kenny Loggins

Contact

Guitar Players

G3 – Eric Johnson (shook hands with him), Steve Vai, Joe Satriani

Brad Gillis

Michael Hedges

Leo Kottke

Phil Keagy

Folk/Rock

David Wilcox

Steve Forbert

Shake Russell

Trout Fishing in America

Jazz

Stanley Jordan

Maynard Ferguson

Count Basie Band

Jon Faddis

Steve Morse Band

Bela Fleck wand the Flecktones

Cornell Dupree with Lou Marini

Kenny G (I’m ashamed, but it’s true.)

Christian Bands

Stryper (in the 80s and for their reunion in 2001)

Chris Tomlin

Deliriou5?

David Crowder

Robbie Seay

Nickel and Dime

Lloyd

Inhabited

Matt Redman

Hawk Nelson

Five Iron Frenzy

Jeremy Camp

Mercy Me

Third Day

Pocket Full of Rocks

Chasing Furies

Shane Barnard, Shane and Caleb, Shane and Shane

Jennifer Knapp

Audio Adrenaline

Newsboys

Supertones

Skillet

POD

Larry Norman

Waterdeep

Clear

Phil Keagy

Vigilantes of Love

Festivals

Texxas Jam (1985 & 1986)

Cornerstone Music Festival (twice ??? & 2001) – Too many to Count

Ichthus Music Festival (2006) – Too many to Count

Festival Con Dios (2001) – Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Supertones, Switchfoot, Skillet, Earthsuit, PAX217, T-Bone, Luna Halo, Superchick, Pillar, Cadet, The Elms, Benjamin Gate, Phat Chance, Tree63

Festival Con Dios (2002) – Audio Adrenaline, Toby Mac, Mercy Me, Out of Eden, Benjamin Gate, Tree63, Pillar, Aaron Spiro, Jeremy Camp, Sanctus Real, Everyday Sunday

Club MTV Tour 1989 – Paula Abdul, Tone Loc, Milli Vanilli, Information Society, Erasure, Was not Was, Lisa Lisa

Friend’s Bands

Contact (Steve Dowdy – guitar & keys)

Mike Briscoe

Greenhouse Effect

Blake Rampy Band

Evan Godbold

Throne Together (My old band)

Josh Gumienny

Chris Montes

Gatlin Elms (Andrew Gay – guitar)

Country (I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve seen these.)

Oak Ridge Boys

Alabama

Alan Jackson

A bunch at Billy Bob’s in the late 80s/early 90s. (Jerry Lee Lewis, Collin Raye, Lorrie Morgan, etc.)

Multi-tasking is a Myth

John Medina, author of Brain Rules, explains that multi-tasking is a truly a myth. The way that the brain works doesn’t allow for it. Although the brain can do multiple things simultaneously (You can walk and talk at the same time or breathe and read a book.) the conscious brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Our tendency to listen to music, answer the phone, and send e-mails or text messages, while trying to write a paper or finish a project at work is not productive. A focused concentrated effort can go a long way to help manage our time.

Here’s how Medina explains: “Research shows that we can’t multi-task. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich input simultaneously.” Without going into the neurological details, Medina goes on to explain that there are 4 steps that the brain must go through each time attention is shifted from one task to another – four more when attention is shifted back. The process takes several tenths of a second each time. It doesn’t sound like much time but it adds up quickly and maybe more importantly, the distraction hinders the more complicated processes of the task at hand. If you’ve ever found yourself losing track of previous progress, or heard yourself say things like, “Now where was I?” then you have experienced this problem. Medina says, “Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to accomplish a task. Not only that. He or she makes up to 50% more errors.”

This means that if we would put our cell phones on silent (or God forbid – turn them off), close the layers of applications running on the computer, shut the door, and give our tasks a focused effort, we could probably accomplish much more during the day and have fewer errors in our work. Our minds are just too crowded by all the messages competing for our attention. The immediate gratification of our “information addiction” is hurting us. Maybe we should just choose to ignore a few things. All of this thinking reminds me of another post which was inspired by the phrase, Selective Ignorance.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a student, I was a procrastinator. (OK – I probably still am.) But when the deadline was approaching, I would stop everything else and focus on the project. Although I had weeks to work on it, I was able to get it done in a couple of hours with focused effort. Based on my own experiences, I believe know Medina is right.

What would my life look like if I fasted from multi-tasking? Would my kids get more of me? Would I be more present in the moment? Would I get more done? Which messages/projects would I choose to ignore? Would I have to ignore them at all if I had more time ’cause I was getting more things done?