Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day! I’ve been hearing that for the past 24 years but haven’t said it since 1986 when my own father passed away. I remember the day when I became a father for the first time and again 5 years later like it was just yesterday. It was a little overwhelming to become entirely responsible for another person and shape how they would turn out. How would my actions permanently impact their lives? There were things that I wanted for them like an annual family vacation and things that I didn’t want them to experience like loneliness. I’ve been blessed to achieve both of these and I am very proud of my kids; they are awesome people who care deeply for others and are good role models.

I’ve often said that good supervisors are like good parents; firm when needed, caring when appropriate, there to help and offer advice and but they know when to let the kids figure things out on their own. My kids used to hate that part; when they would hear from me “what do you think you should do” or “what are the options you’ve considered”. Above all, a good parent loves their children and makes them feel safe under all types of circumstances. The same can be said for a good supervisor, you should love your people but in a different way. They should not fear the workplace or the atmosphere there, they should not feel unappreciated or like they have no say in the current direction or their own future. They should feel safe under your direction while you are seeking to constantly strengthen them.

 

14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:14-15

 

We are all “sons” of God; male or female it doesn’t matter. I’d like to think that my kids feel lucky to have me as their father but nothing like the feeling of being children of God. We aren’t lucky to have God as our Father; we have God’s grace and mercy to be lead by the Spirit of God in our lives. Our free will allows us to accept it or deny it but the Spirit is always with us waiting for us to accept God and our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what we do or say, the Spirit is always present. Just as a parent is always there for their children, our Father is always there for us.

We are no longer slaves to the fear of guilt or the wrath of God; we are free because of our love and belief in Jesus Christ and the triune God. No matter what we’ve done, God forgives all of us. Our Father in heaven sent Jesus to save us from the world we know and from ourselves. The devil wants us to believe that no matter what we do, there is no pleasing God so we might as well enjoy ourselves here on earth. Cry out to our Father and stay strong in your faith knowing that you are forgiven and safe in His care. Your Father in heaven loves you. Like a good parent, He is always there; just call on Him “Abba, Father!”

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What Do You Want From Me?

“What do you want from me?” A phrase often uttered in anger between two people in a relationship. Adam Lambert used this phrase as lyrics for a song by same title in 2010. When I taught leadership classes or coached a new supervisor, I often talked about setting expectations between the supervisor and the employees. Doing this often prevented disappointment and allowed people to function without constant direction. Telling people what you expect of them is often the best way to meet your shared goals. My wife often says “I can’t your mind!” This is another form of missed expectations. I’ve written before about what we call the “order model” in emergency communications. Instead of just saying “copy” when given an order over the radio, the model requires that the message be repeated back to the sender to ensure complete understanding. It works well in high stress situations.

The problem with low stress communications, the ones we have 99% of the time in our lives, is that it often misses the mark. We spent more than a half an hour with a designer this weekend before Lisa and I realized what she was actually talking about. We both assumed we knew and when we started asking questions, the designer got confused because we weren’t all on the same page. The order model would have helped but it sure would make for a long conversation. The bottom line is that we all need to work on explaining what we want or what we need, no matter what role we are playing in our lives – spouse, child, co-worker, supervisor, employee, neighbor, etc. If you find yourself wanting to ask someone, “what do you want from me?” remember that you are half to blame for not knowing the answer. Be humble, be courteous and be direct in your exchange of needs. The results will be peaceful.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

When I read the Old Testament I am amazed by how simply things were being explained to God’s children. It’s easy to give advice to the characters of a story when you know how the story ends. We know that God sent His Son to die for our sins and that we have been forgiven of our sins because of God’s grace. The readers of Micah did not. They ask, “What does the Lord require of me?” We all know the answer to that question – now. The readers at the time had no idea. I could close here by saying, “We know what the Lord requires, faith in Jesus as our Savior.” Too easy, right?

The wisdom that follows the question in Micah is what we should be concentrating on. “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. Now there is some good advice! In the U.S. we hear little about mercy these days, we hear little about humility and we rarely see people acting justly. The national polls continue to show that as a nation, we remain divided in ideologies and things like humility and mercy are left for the liberals. I’m not taking shots at the left or the right in the U.S. political debate; I’m simply saying that the words of Micah should be very meaningful right now as way forward in our quest of unity and healing. My personal expectation as a citizen is that we do all three – always. Since I can’t change the national conversation, I guess that I’ll start with my circle of influence. How about you?

Mercy

The old classic management book: “Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburgers” contains a chapter on time management or as it is referred to – Sacred Time. I’m reminded that when we work too fast or on too many things at once, that none of them are being done well or on time. The authors suggest three – “10 minute time outs” a day that are just for you. Most people will say that their best ideas come to them in the shower or in the bathroom. Do you know why? They are alone without interruptions – no phone, no e-mail, no people.

By now we all know about the game rooms at Google Inc. and the freedoms that come with working in Silicon Valley. Some companies are even letting their employees take off as much time as they feel they deserve or need, but they have to produce results. We have so many things vying for our attention today that we are becoming a society with zero attention span. If you complain that a movie is too long because it’s two hours, you are already on your way to joining the rank and file. Be merciful to yourself and build in some free time on your calendar. Look at your to do list and see what really needs to be done by you and what can be done by someone else. If you reduce your stress, you will extend not only your attention span but your life span as well.

“Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

Mercy has a lot of definitions. If we look at our own sin and our inability to follow God’s commands, we deserve the punishment of death. Our Father however, showing mercy and love and tells us, “believe in Me and My Son and you will be set free”. If He can forgive us for all that we do, how can we not show mercy to those around us?

“I forgive you”, three powerful words that are the opening to mercy. Christ taught us about compassion and love but it was the Father that taught us about mercy. God wants to be close to us despite our failings, so He sent Jesus to take all of our sins with Him in death on the cross. He then bought eternal life for us all by rising to heaven to sit with the Father. “God so loved the world…” the ultimate show of mercy. No one asked for your son but Luke suggests we be merciful to each other like our Father is toward us.

Praise

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, no matter where you are. After a week of prayer and thanksgiving for all that we have, I thought focusing on praise might be a good follow-up. There is so much negativity in the world these days. Even the President’s daughters couldn’t escape being criticized for making faces; they are teenage girls after all. Black Friday sales brought angry shoppers pushing for the few sale items or upset people who missed the deals. Not to mention the scores of people of who complained about being with their families on Thanksgiving Day. A day set aside for thanks and there was an awful lot of complaining. Where was the praise? My sister had most of our family to her house for dinner. She cooked all day, made more than enough food (which was delicious by the way) and even opened her house to friends without their family nearby. She did a great job and we all had a great time. When we left, everyone said thanks and kissed her as we walked out the door but it was not what I think of when I say praise. Sure, we could have heaped on the accolades but to truly praise her is to call a day or two later to thank her again or even send an old fashioned “thank you card”. What about the other people in your life, how well do you praise them? Try praising people that you work with or serve you somewhere or help you out. Don’t just say “thanks” give them some praise with a specific reference like: “You did a great job on that special project, it really made the difference for us” or “That was the best service we have had anywhere in a long time, you did a great job”. A little love and praise can carry someone a long way in this world of negativity.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” Isaiah 52:7

God loves it when we thank him for all that he has done for us but he also likes the praise that should precede it. He is the one who makes all things possible. God is the giver of life and in Him, all things are possible. He is controlling everything and we have a hard time understanding or comprehending that we are not in control. Without Him, we are simply left to die a lonely short existence here on earth. We can do nothing that will earn us a place in heaven; no amount of good works or tithing or kindness can earn for us what God has already given to us through His grace and mercy. Our salvation is found in one thing – faith in Jesus Christ as our savior. God sent His son into the world to save us from our sinful nature and our selves. Without God’s grace, we would not have salvation. For us this means giving praise for the awesome things that God has done by bringing the good news to others or simply demonstrating the love that God has shown us. We do good works and give our tithes not to win God’s favor but as a demonstration of His love for us. As we enter this season of joy and gladness, lets remember to praise the one who made it possible.

Giving Thanks?

This week the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving, a time that Pilgrims were thankful for the help that they received from the Native Americans. The Pilgrims were known for offering a prayer of thanksgiving following a blessing such as the end of a war or a successful harvest. Thanksgiving became an official U.S. holiday in 1863 during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln declared a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. For Americans, this is day for the three F’s – family, feasts, and football. It is also the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. Each year, the local paper in Stoughton MA prints the list of things that local leaders are thankful for; a nice reminder of the holiday. For many of us, this holiday is an opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in our lives much like President Lincoln had intended. I hope as the year has passed, that you have taken the time to give thanks everyday for the blessings in your life and that you aren’t saving up your thanksgiving for this one day. You should have noticed that I started this post, as I usually do when there is a holiday, “this week in the U.S. we will celebrate…” I do that because I am blessed by having readers all over the world. The power of the Internet is unbelievable but I believe that it wasn’t the Internet that connected us, it was God. Above all, I am thankful for my relationship with God and that He has chosen me to be share His word and be the source of some insight into it so that you too can have a stronger relationship with Him.

“Mercy, Peace and Love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1:2

This chapter actually starts with: 1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ”. Jude 1:1. He offers this message of hope for all of us. Conventional wisdom tells us that Thanksgiving is about being thankful for the blessings that we have received but we rarely acknowledge where they come from. President Lincoln knew whom to thank but as a society, we’ve lost sight of that. I would offer that this simple verse is what God wants for each us – mercy, peace and love. If we have more than this, we are abundantly blessed; most of us are. There is no promise of good health, big homes, great jobs, fine clothes or anything material. God wants us to have peace, know mercy and feel love. We can find all of these things in His word given to us through the bible. We should remember that our needs are small and that God provides what we need, everything else is overabundances given by a society that has forgotten the one who gave it all to us. Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving thanks, remembering who made it all possible and seeking the comfort found in the gifts from God – mercy, peace and love. Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh Mercy!

I just read a chapter from and old classic management book “Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburgers”. The chapter on sacred time reminded me that when you work too fast or on too many things, they aren’t really getting done right or on time. The authors suggest three – “10 minute time outs” a day just for you. Most people say that their best ideas come to them in the shower or in the bathroom. Do you know why? They are alone without interruptions – no phone, no e-mail, no people. Google Inc. has shown us all how taking a break fuels greater productivity and creativity by putting video games and ping pong tables in their offices. We have so many things vying for our attention that we are becoming a scatter-brained society with no attention span. If you complain that a movie is too long because it’s two hours, you are already on your way. Be merciful to yourself. Build in free time on your calendar. Look at your to do list and see what really needs to be done by you and what can be done by someone else. If you reduce your stress, you will extend not only your attention span but your life span as well.

“Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

Mercy has a lot of definitions. If we look at our own sin and inability to follow God’s commands, we deserve the punishment of death. Our Father however, showing mercy and love, says “believe in Me and My Son and you will be set free”. If He can forgive us for all that we do, how can we not show mercy to those around us? “I forgive you”, three powerful words that are an opening to mercy. Christ taught us about compassion and love but it was the Father that taught us about mercy. Jesus took upon himself all of our sins and bought for us eternal life by rising to heaven to sit with the Father. “God so loved the world…” the ultimate show of mercy. No one asked for your son but Luke suggests we be merciful to each other like our Father is toward us.