What will happen?

Today is the first day of senior year of college for my daughter. This time in a person’s life is filled with much anxiety and joy; happy for it to be near the end but anxious that it actually is near the end. What will life bring when these two semesters are done, will there be a job waiting and can I support myself? We all face times of uncertainty at one point or another. Sometimes its short-lived and other times it lingers. I would suggest that when you have been uncertain times, someone close to you was there to help. More likely than not, it was family or a close friend. College students today face real challenges but their’s are not unlike many others. People who have lost jobs or received a medical diagnosis face the same anxieties; just different questions. In order to help each other, sometimes we just need to recognize that others are in need. Even when we are in need, simply helping others may bring clarity to our own problems. It is so easy to focus on ourselves that we start to fall into self-pity and depression starts to creep into our lives. Once we let it in, it’s very hard to get rid of it. The key is to keep it out. We don’t know what will happen with the problems in our lives or how long they will be with us. Instead of worrying about the problem, we should be searching for the message or lesson that is contained in them. We don’t know what will come of them but we do know that everything happens for a reason and that it is all part of a bigger plan; we just don’t know what it is.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2

God has a plan. We hear it over and over in the bible. We hear people say it a lot. This verse reminds us of it – “what we will be has not been made known”. God is in control, ordering things in our lives to help us. He is not directing or creating single paths; we do have free will to choose. The key is recognizing what is part of the plan and what is the work of the devil. Our world is so complicated and we are left with anxiety about the “right” path to choose, remember – “what we will be has not yet been made known.” We all have little patience because this world moves at such a fast pace but God does not. We become impatient and look for quick fixes (provided by the devil) and then the trouble starts. Slow down and remember that “We are children of God” and then celebrate that! God has His stamp on your heart, mind and soul. Would He let you down? Stop searching for quick fixes and answers to questions that do not exist. Instead, look for God in all things and for the lesson he has presented to you. He loves His children and does not give us more than we can bear. Rejoice in the fact that God is giving you a trial to work through, He is preparing you for something better and wants you to be strong enough to enjoy it.

The Challenge

Its not often that I get drawn into a fad or into something that “everyone’s doing” but this weekend I witnessed an amazing “fad” and I wanted to share it. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been bouncing around the world on the Internet and through social media. It is really about raising awareness and money for the disease ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis leads to complete paralysis and results in death within 2-5 years of diagnosis. As of Aug. 17th, the ALS foundation has raised $13.3 million. If you haven’t heard about it, Google – Ice Bucket Challenge but as the name implies, you pour a five gallon bucket of ice water over your head and donate $10 or skip it and you’re supposed to donate $100. After you complete the challenge, you are supposed to challenge three other people. What was amazing this weekend was that a friend from NY challenged my wife. Anyone who knows Lisa knows that she accepted. At first it seemed silly but our kids got into it right a way; one went to the store to get the ice and the other got a towel. I got the ladder down and supervised the ice water making; otherwise she would have been hit with a huge block of ice. We filmed the event, posted it on Facebook along with the challenge for three other lucky people and wrote a $100 check. The amazing part was how doing this silly “stunt” energized a family into doing something special for those that needed the help. The other amazing part was that Lisa did not hesitate one second at the thought of accepting the challenge; she has such a fun spirit. What would move you?

“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the Children of God.” Romans 8:14

We often hear that we are children of God and for most of us it means that we are His. God works in our lives everyday much like a parent is at work in a child’s life. Whether its helping a toddler get dressed in the morning or talking to our adult kids after they get home from work, we are always there for them. God has the ability to do even more for us. He orders moments or people or actions in our lives that give us the ability to live to His glory. The downside is that the devil is also working to put opportunity in our lives so that we might sin. The difference is knowing which one is at work and understanding that God’s spirit in your life is most trustworthy. I have no idea what inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge but it has God’s spirit written all over it. In my wife, I saw that spirit and how it ignited a passion in our kids. There is no doubt she is led by the spirit of God everyday. This challenge was born out of God’s spirit and will undoubtedly do great things for the ALS Foundation. Can you recognize the spirit within you? Take time to find it because the world is a difficult place and letting God work in your life makes it much better.

Leadership

This is my first weekend home from the exercise in Indiana with the Army. By all accounts, it was a successful training exercise for the soldiers who were able to practice their technical skills and for the Command and Control Headquarters elements to work out their processes. My role was to function right in the gap between fantasy and reality or as we refer to it, between the White cell and the BlueFor. The white cell is where the exercise is controlled. This is where the documents are created, the themes are established, and where plans are created based on player actions (BlueFor). My role is particularly unique as I interface with the BlueFor, gather information from the actual units in the field and report it up into the White cell for confirmation or what is referred to as the “ground truth”.

I’ve got to pay attention to everything that is going on so our team can provide the right information to the BlueFor to drive the exercise in a particular direction. The White Cell that I worked in is under the direction of a retired One Star General who runs in tight formation. During a briefing to the active duty Two-Star General, he provided information that was contradicted by a different white cell whereby making it appear that we were in the wrong. At our shift change, he lit us up like a Christmas tree about how we were not providing the BlueFor the correct direction in the field. It has been a long while since I’ve been in that type of situation. At the conclusion of the shift change, we provided his staff with the “proof” that we had been following the “script” all along and that the other White cell was wrong in their assessment. At the next shift change, he displayed something that is very rare among leaders; he apologized for calling us out. I was shocked to see genuine leadership by someone who I imagine is rarely mistaken. He could have swept it under the rug or simply chalked it up to the rage of war but he didn’t. He stood tall and admitted his error.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1

It takes a lot of courage to step into a leadership role. The whole debate about “are leaders born or are they created” fails to recognize the courage component. If someone steps into a leadership position without a little fear, they are stepping on thin ice. I’ve said before that leading is a privilege and an honor that we should not take lightly. People are putting their faith in that person and in some professions, their lives. Leading is more than telling others what to do or having a rank/title. Leaders are accepting the faith that others are placing in them. It is a noble task. Timothy is describing those who wish to lead the church and is reminding them that it isn’t about the power and prestige that comes with it but the honor and responsibility that does. Jesus knew His role as the leader of the disciples. He knew what God was asking of Him and gladly accepted His fate. He charged us all to be “fishers of men” by teaching us how to live better lives, be examples for others to follow but most importantly, to rely on God for the wisdom and strength to carry out our daily lives. Leadership is a noble task and it is not to be taken lightly. People are putting faith in you. Rely on God for your wisdom and strength and you will always have their faith.

Delegation

While I am gone on this exercise, I had to appoint someone to fill my role in a contract. I had conflicting commitments/contracts and one had to become subordinate to the other. It was a negotiated agreement up front so there were no issues. When you delegate to someone, you are typically delegating the decision-making authority but you remain responsible for the decisions. They have the authority but I have the responsibility. There are a number of benefits to using delegation as a professional development tool – it allows the leader to do more and, it increases the morale, confidence and productivity of subordinates. Having been the recipient of delegated tasks, I can attest to the growth that I experienced because someone delegated to me. It is important for the leader to pick people who are ready for the added work – set them up for success. Leaders need to give them the freedom to complete the job but follow-up enough to keep the task on target, have a clear set of goals and be consistent in your oversight and, never delegate projects that YOU are absolutely supposed to do. When a delegated task is completed, take the time to review the project with them to see how they felt it went, what they learned and what they might do differently but most importantly, praise them for their work.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18

This verse makes me wonder what the disciples thought when they heard this. They knew that Jesus was special but to hear Him declare His authority must have been powerful. The difference between this declaration and delegation is that God did not delegate His decision-making (power) to Jesus – He was in Him. The Lutheran Church teaches “With the universal Christian Church, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches and responds to the love of the Triune God: the Father, creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death and Satan; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.” (lcms.org) There is no delegation here. Jesus needed to tell the disciples that He had the authority. It wasn’t until after His death that they began to understand the meaning of what He was saying. In a retrospect, they took the time understand what they learned and did it with Jesus in the days before His ascension.