Friday, October 2, 2009

An Explanation

I love to write about life here at Dwell & Cultivate. The only thing is that sometimes my writing gets sidetracked That was certainly the case this week.

Life. Maximum warp.

I will return next week. I will pick up more Trade Tools then.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trade Tools, Part 1

How do you interpret the stuff that happens in your life? A friend recently wrote, asking for help. He told me about an acquaintance who has gone through the accidental death of his sister. The loss is severe enough to make the man question his faith. Those questions have driven the man to go out of his way to "un-convert" everyone he can.

I thought about this reaction to pain. You see, I lost a sister many years ago. The heart infection that brought on her death started when her mouth was cut up in a car accident. She was just twenty years old.

For some reason, I was never tempted to doubt God because of that storm. In fact, I had an uncanny sense that the loss would actually help me help others in the future. It did. In fact, it still does.

Why is it that the same airflow that can flatten huge trees can also lift large airplanes into the sky? The answer, you say, is simple: the plane is engineered to take advantage of it. The plane addresses the movement of the air as a "friend" that helps fulfill its purpose.

How do you address the winds that blow in your face? The answer to that question will tell you whether or not you are utilizing an essential "trade tool" for effective leadership. The contrary winds will either tear you apart or lift you up. The secret lies in your attitude.

The tough things that happen in your life will make you bitter or better.

The leader chooses the latter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

They Know Where I Live, Part 2

Yesterday I told about the difficulty of remaining anonymous in a medium-sized city. The other side to the story can be described by our experience recently as we sat on a commuter plane, waiting to depart Phoenix for Yuma. We were some of the first ones on the small craft.

"We haven't seen anyone we recognize yet," Cathy said. She obviously remembered the young female soldier we had greeted at the gate on the outbound portion of the trip.

"No, but we still may," I replied. We watched the faces as various people boarded.

Finally, after the door was closed, Cathy said, "The flight attendant looks familiar to me."

Such is life in our corner of the globe. We constantly see people we know when we're out and about. On the other hand, there are people we have known for years -- people who, like us, live here year around -- that we almost never see in town.

Oops. "Hey, how's it going!"

Cathy (as we walk away): "Who is that?"

Me (smile-on-face-talking-between-teeth): "I have no idea. But I met them somewhere."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

They Know Where I Live!


A few years ago, our church relocated to a new section of our city. Cathy and I decided that it would be good for us to move to one of the growing neighborhoods near the new church campus. It was both practical and symbolic. The practical reason was that, between us, we can make as many as four or five trips a day to the church campus. The twenty minute commute from our old house made that very uncomfortable. The symbolic reason was that we needed to invest our lives in the neighborhoods where we would begin to serve many families.

We made a deliberate choice as we moved to the new neighborhood: we would introduce ourselves by our names and not mention what I do for a living. There are way too many people who cease being themselves the moment they know that they are in the presence of a "preacher." Even crusty golfers are known to clean up their language when a pastor is in the foursome.

The model of anonymity seemed to work for a while. People got to know us as neighbors. They waved and smiled. We had a few engaging conversations and, by the time some of the neighbors found out who we were, they had already discovered that we are pretty "normal." Except for the baptistry in our backyard and the communion bread and cup always present on the kitchen counter. (Not really!)

Soon, though, we noticed that others were obviously revealing our "secret." A long time ago, I discovered that neighborhoods KNOW where the police officers and firemen live. You never can tell when you might need their help. Well, obviously, people also talk about where the pastor in the neighborhood lives. You never know when you might need to avoid him!

"Hi, my name is Sam and I live in that house across the street."

"Oh, are you that preacher?"