We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there.Continue Reading...
Archives For action
There comes a time when you just need to act. For quite a while, I’ve been challenged by a disconnect I perceive between my own faith and how I live my life. It’s time for a change.Continue Reading...
How bad are things? Does it seem we’re getting further and further out of control? Is our trouble escalating or are we simply focusing on the problems rather than the solutions?Continue Reading...
Do you measure up? Do you ever catch yourself finding excuses for inaction? Striving for perfection can make us better or it can paralyze us.Continue Reading...
“Why?” can be a challenging question. Do you use it as an excuse for the past or as a reason for the future? Does the answer to your “Why?” hold you back or launch you?Continue Reading...
Memorial Day causes me to consider the sacrifice given by others for my freedom. Captain Miller’s charge to Private Ryan from the movie Saving Private Ryan challenges me every year.Continue Reading...
I’m looking forward to the US election. Well, actually, I’m looking forward to its passing. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my right to vote; thankful for the chance to live in a free nation and participate in the greatest experiment of self-government in the history of the world.
But recently Vicky and I cancelled our land telephone line. We don’t want the automated recordings and the unsolicited spam. Fortunately, we’re intelligent enough to make up our mind without the surreal, unbelievable amount of money and energy spent by both parties to try to convince us to vote for them.
In fact, the more each candidate does to try to sell me on voting for them, the less inclined I am to do just that. The reason has little to do with what either stands for. In fact, they spend so little time talking about their own ideas, if we were to choose based simply on what we could find in mainstream media, we should end up depressed, if not suicidal. According to each, the other is the single worst person to vote for, ever. If the other is elected, the world may come to an end, or at least America will cease to exist as a free nation.
I’m reminded of a quote by a politician from 100 years ago.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910
Personally (and officially on the Lead Change Group blog, too!) I’m not going to join the criticism party. Leadership requires that we not simply point out the problem. No one wins when every comparison is designed to negate the other. Leadership demands that we bring ideas and solutions instead of criticism and discord. We must argue for our ideas, rather than against the others. Nothing is gained by criticizing the other people or ideas, but by visualizing, collaborating and moving toward the future.
I’ll vote in this election, but my energy and my support will have to be reserved for a future election; one where each candidate talks only about themselves and their ideas. My ideal candidate is the one with the courage to lobby for their future without criticizing their competition, be it a candidate, an idea or a vision.
Leadership is about the future. Use the past to create the future, not to criticize your competition. Remember, it’s not the critic who counts.
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Have you ever considered the areas where you are most prone to act? How about when you see someone asking for change by the side of the road? How about when you see someone with a flat tire? For a time when I worked downtown, I caught myself avoiding the pan-handlers. After a while, though, I felt like a coward. I wasn’t making a difference; I was simply reacting. Once I committed to act every time I had the opportunity, the fear went away and I began to notice people and find ways to make a difference. And that difference expanded beyond the people who were asking for handouts, to my coworkers and my family too.
When you feel responsible for something, you are more likely to act on that responsibility. But don’t be fooled, being responsible is a commitment. Thinking about a problem, working on a problem, “taking a stab at” a problem or “giving a try” are all significantly different than accepting responsibility for a problem. Look at your life carefully. Are there areas where you consistently fail to act? Judge yourself honestly today.
In the book The Noticer, by Andy Andrews, the main character, Jones said, “Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? I intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you. ‘I intended to bring you flowers, but I didn’t.'” Intent without action is an insult. Our best always lies on the other side of action. Thoughts and intentions won’t get it.
So back to the question; where do you consistently give yourself a pass? Can you think of one? What will you do with that information?
Leaders act. Leaders see a problem and take responsibility. On whose behalf are you ready to act? Is it your family, or your neighbors, or your team? What about the poor or the neglected people around us? What about taking responsibility for some part of improving the quality of life in your community? Do you believe you can make a difference at that level? Or, what about the future… the next generation of leaders? Are you taking action about the problems you see in our world or are you just complaining about them? Where do you draw the line when it comes to taking action?
If you began or renewed a commitment to be more responsible and act, take the first step now and make a note in the comments. It won’t kill you. And who knows, you’ll probably make a difference to someone else.
Photo CC by Puzzler4879 on Flickr
As a Christian, when you think about your church, what do you think of? Do you think of the place, the people, the singing, the preaching? Do you think about the activities, or the classes, retreats, “ministries?” (What is a ministry anyway?)
Do you think about the overseas or cross-cultural activities that members of your church community participate in? Maybe you think about a ministry to people in another country or people in your local area who are in prisons or hospitals or homeless shelters?
Or do you think about the kids, Sunday school, lesson plans or youth events? Do you think about people getting baptized or making changes in their lives? Do you think about people who leave their jobs, temporarily or permanently to “go into mission work?”
Some questions have come to me over and over in the 10 and a half years since 9/11. On September 11, 2001, I was busy in the pursuit of worldly success in a company that was trying to capture the wealth and potential of the telecommunications industry at that time. I had been a believing Christian for almost 14 years, but that day the eternal became much more real. There was much more going on in the world than just my job and my pursuit of money.
September 11 woke me to the idea that I had subordinated my dream to make a difference to my desire to improve my circumstances. I rationalized it by thoughts like “I can make a much bigger difference when I’m wealthy or when I’m the boss.” But in the weeks after 9/11, I realized that my time was short and if I was going to make a difference, it would be in my circumstances, within my present limitations. No more delaying until the time is right. “Now” is and always will be the right time to make a positive difference.
In my community, it seems few think of our jobs as a place where we can make a difference for eternity. We don’t see our jobs as where we go to serve others and proclaim the glory of Christ (my simple definition of a mission field). In my community, everyone acts pretty much like a Christian, so all of the really important work to make an eternal impact must be somewhere else. Generally, in my community, if you haven’t killed anyone or been jailed for anything, you’re probably a Christian so I don’t have to worry about you at all. Nope, I have to plan my next trip to wherever or go to the bake sale or fireworks store at my church to give my money to “missions.” There’s no significant work for me to do, unless I can take some time off work and go someplace else.
When I think of church, I think of the rest of us that go to work every day. We listen to the Pastor and we sing the songs, and we do the things we’re asked. I think of what we could do if we were organized and mobilized in our jobs. What if we went to work every day intent on giving our lives away in service to our co-workers just so they might see the love of Christ? I wonder what our world would look like if that group of people in every church were mobilized and equipped to show off Jesus in the workplace.
I’m convicted too, that I don’t do this very well. If you’ve ever worked with me you know it. That won’t keep me from trying again today. How about you? Let me know if I can help you in your mission field too. Here’s to action!