The Light Has Shined

Communication is a true art. Books have been written about how to do it better. How many times have you had a fight with someone only to find out “that’s not what I meant”? We all need to keep communications open with the people that we interact with on a regular basis. For men, we can go months without speaking to a good friend, pick up the phone and call, and then carry on like no time has past. Unfortunately for us, we try this same approach with many of our other relationships and we fail miserably. For leaders, this cab be a problem and we are best served when we engage in what some call “touching base” or “checking in”.

The world around us is changing constantly and people need to know what is going on around them. If they are worried about the latest rumor, they won’t focus on their job and then you’ll be forced into communicating with them under unpleasant circumstances. The old saying “you can’t treat people like mushrooms” is true. Keeping them in the dark and feeding them crap all day just won’t work. People need light and encouragement from their leaders. When we engage people by sharing the facts, regardless of how they “look”, our people will appreciate knowing that they are truly part of the team.

“The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light: on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

Living in the shadow of death without hope of eternal life is unimaginable to me. The sad truth however, is that there are people living in those shadows. They walk in darkness and despair without hope because they don’t know about the light of Christ. The problems of their lives become overwhelming and they sink further into the darkness.

This time of year is especially troubling for some; they need to know that people care. Witnessing to people is one of the hardest things that we can do because we feel so exposed by the possibility of being rejected. Sometimes we’re not confident in our knowledge of bible verses or we simply are bashful and don’t want to be pushy. It takes courage to overcome these fears. Ask God for help; perhaps this blog post is that help. You don’t need to go around quoting the bible or offering street corner sermons. Simply reminding people that there are options and that no matter what they’ve done, God loves them. If nothing else, share your story and talk about how your life is filled with the light of God. We have seen a great light! Now, go and share it!

Pass it on

Today, I’m teaching a weeklong college class for the first time in a very long time. I’m nervous about being rusty and connecting with the students. They are all career firefighters who are taking this class as part of their preparation for a state certification test on Friday. One day, these students will be supervising other firefighters. They will be making decisions that will undoubtedly have life or death consequences. No pressure! I’ve been teaching these supervisory classes for the better part of 20 years but as my consulting work has shifted to organizational matters, my time in the classroom has dropped dramatically. To quote Austin Powers, “Will I find my mojo?” There are so many variables in the classroom these days. Fewer power point slides, more interaction, more technology and more videos. I’m confident that I will be ready and things will go fine, I’m passionate about the subject and about teaching our future fire service leaders. I started my career in 1982 and was taught by a great man who was also passionate. My first Captain was a commanding man, a former Marine, who was very authoritarian yet compassionate. He wanted to make sure that we knew our jobs and could do them well. My first training officer passed along everything he knew and encouraged constant learning. He yelled at you when you deserved it and praised you when you earned it. He always left us knowing what was important. We need more of those people today, ones that aren’t afraid to share their knowledge. Those that aren’t worried that sharing what they know will make you smarter than they are. We all need to pass on what we know, we will be making an impact all around us.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3

Here is another example of a single verse that tells the story of the Bible – Christ died for our sins. Paul was teaching the people of Corinth through his letters. There were no lecture halls, no handouts, no power point slides or videos, just Paul’s letters. He never stopped teaching. He wrote to the Thessalonians, the Philippians and the Romans too. He never lost his mojo or passion for teaching God’s promises and word to everyone he could reach. Obviously, St. Paul’s mentor was a little more influential than a salty old Marine but he understood that keeping the knowledge and wisdom that was bestowed upon him was not an option. He could have kept it to himself and had people coming to him but God was with him and he understood that his role in this life was to share the good news. God uses us in many different ways to do the same. We need to pass on what is the first importance: Christ died for our sins. Make an impact in all that you do: teaching, witnessing, living Godly lives, helping others or sharing the Good news. We can all make a difference if we remember that we are doing God’s work and not our own.