Sabbatical: Week 2 Project

This morning I headed out from TN where I’ve spent the week in Nashville. The weekend will take me to Indiana and Kentucky to run two races, and I’ll end up in Ohio to visit a friend for a few days before heading to NY on Tuesday.

A few weeks ago I posted a video teaser about my sabbatical activities. You were probably smart enough to figure out that the video footage was from a recording studio. If not, here’s the scoop. 

Over the years, people have encouraged me to do a recording. I’ve always dismissed the idea for lots of reasons, the main one being time. So when I was given the opportunity to take a month’s sabbatical, that excuse was no longer valid. Back in the spring, I connected with a producer, and we’ve been working on this project since then with the target of being prepared to do the recording this week. Target met.

I could write a lot about this process, but for now I’ll just relay what we did this week.

  • Monday was a full day at The Library Studio in Joelton where 18 string and brass players added their talents to seven of the songs. In the picture above is Dave Bechtel, producer, and Robert Nugent, arranger and pianist.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday the woodwinds were added, and we got vocals for nine of the songs recorded.
  • So yesterday was the final day, getting the last song recorded and some final tweaking.

The project is by no means complete. But you are now “in the know.” I’ll share more as we move along.

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Sabbatical: Week 1 Roadtrip

Last week was a step back in time. My mom and sister Debra joined me on a roadtrip to Illinois. Final stop, Beecher City, population 500. This was a delayed 80th birthday trip for my mom to visit her twin sister and brother-in-law. 

Last time I was in Beecher City was probably before I started kindergarten. What would I know, but it appears not much has changed. For instance, to our surprise at the gas station, we received full service. I can’t remember ever receiving that. Anywhere.

We enjoyed the disconnect from the rest of the world for a few days. My mom and aunt enjoyed seeing the home they grew up in (cover photo above) and their high school and even catching up with classmates from their elementary one-room school classmates. A taste of yesterday. In this place. A meaningful week to start a sabbatical month.

Dude, You’re At…the Game

(An “Own It” series for dudes)

I’ve been able to get to two Rays games in the last couple of weeks. Both games were a lot of fun-good plays and good company. For me, baseball rarely disappoints.

What, or should I say, who can disappoint more frequently are dudes in the stands. These dudes seem to not understand the difference between watching the game from their recliner versus watching the game amongst strangers. So from one baseball-watching dude to another, here are some manly things to keep in mind:

  • Yes, you paid good money to come, and you want to enjoy the game. So do it already. Relax. Everybody has a better time when you do.
  • Chances are you don’t know anybody on the field, umpires or players. Follow the golden rule. Oh, and they most likely can’t hear you.
  • If you are so great to bring your kids to the game, here’s the best way to get the most out of the experience for you and them. Ready? Make it about your kids more than about you.
  • It’s a game. Somebody is going to lose. Chances are the players want to win more than you want them to. Be a good sport.
  • Yelling is fine, even encouraged. Try this rule though: for every degrading negative you yell you must yell three encouraging positives.
  • People are people. They have to go to the restroom and get food. Stand up and let them out of the row. It’s that golden rule thing again.
  • Excessive cussing and drinking do not make you a man (for what it’s worth, it definitely doesn’t look good on your lady either). The people in front of and behind you are literally inches away. One last time: Golden Rule!

At both of these games, a pair of dudes sat in front of me. They looked retirement age. They also looked like sports-loving dudes. They kept these manly things in mind and more. Thanks, dudes, for modeling how to be a dude at the game.

5 Leadership Lessons from 5 Worship Leading Stints

Over the last 20 years, I’ve been given the opportunity to lead worship for five different stints on three church staffs. Might sound confusing, so let me explain. For one stint I was actually hired to be the worship leader; I was there for four years. Three of the other four stints came while I was on staff serving a different role, but there was a vacancy for a period of time when I put on the worship leader hat also. That leaves one more, which I really didn’t want to do but God told me to say yes. Not the first time. News flash: He’s always right.

I recently finished stint number five. In reflective mode, I’ve taken a look at these stints to remember what I learned, how I grew, and what God showed me. To bottom line it, here are the five leadership lessons these stints taught me.

Lesson #1-Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

It’s possible you have a talent that everyone validates but God has other purposes for you outside that talent. It’s possible putting all your energy on the obvious talent stunts the hidden talent that only God can nurture when you say yes to him and no to the obvious. It’s possible that the best avenue for you to understand this is to give the obvious a shot and find that there is more.

Lesson #2-If you’re the best person for the job, step up.

It’s possible the very reason you are where you are is God put you there to fill a hole that only you can fill. It’s possible that God put you there to help you see what he’s capable of helping you achieve when you make it less about you. It’s possible that unless you step up, everyone will miss God’s best.

Lesson #3-Because you can, sometimes you should.

It’s possible the best way to healing is to do something you have no desire to do. It’s possible that following the accomplishment of a very hard thing your next thing should be an easy thing. It’s possible the only way another person can get unstuck is for you to offer your hand.

Lesson #4-Leading transition is like crossing a bridge-you’re just helping people cross from one side of the river to the other side.

It’s possible not everyone wants to cross over. It’s possible you’re the last one to cross. It’s possible that the only way to finish the job is to keep your eyes on the other side.

Lesson #5-Some leadership seasons are more for you, but you won’t know why until they’re finished.

It’s possible that the only time you can be refilled is when you are willing to be completely emptied. It’s possible that why doesn’t matter. It’s possible that at the end of the season you can walk away fuller than when you entered.

(Photo credit: Randy Tosch)

Perhaps 

“Now you, son of man, get your bags ready for exile and go into exile in their sight during the day. You will go into exile from your place to another place while they watch; perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 12:3

Perhaps is a descriptive word. It usually paints a negative picture, like there isn’t much of a chance. So when Ezekiel is given this task with this clarification, he has an interesting choice ahead of him. The choice is, what is his mindset going to be as he follows through.

From my experience, I’m not sure most, if not all, of God’s directives involving ministering to others shouldn’t be entered into with this mentality. Why? There are no guarantees. Just because you come in the name of the Lord doesn’t guarantee you or your message will be received at all, let alone as a message from the Lord. And how they respond, if your message is delivered as directed, has nothing to do with you.

Perhaps will keep you.

Perhaps will protect you.

Perhaps will direct you.

Perhaps will humble you.

Perhaps will focus you.

Perhaps leaves it all up to your director.

*Hate Alert

My friends from other countries have often talked about our American use of the word love. It confuses them. Why? They say we overuse the word. I have to say I agree. Do you really love your taco as much as your mother?

So I’m calling us out on the use of the opposite word from love. Hate. I have to say that we overuse that word. Maybe not as much. But definitely too much. There is a summer ad running for iPad Pro that illustrates this.

https://youtu.be/fKk4BUfrYp8

Let’s go on hate alert, shall we? Let’s help each other out by alerting one another when we use the word too much. And why should we do this? Because we need to stop affirming it-it being hatred.

  • We affirm hatred when we listen to it. Being on hate alert will keep us from listening to anyone spew hatred.
  • We affirm hatred when we ignore it. Being on hate alert means we will call each other out on it rather than just ignore any spewing.
  • We affirm hatred when we agree with it. Being on hate alert means we refuse to agree with the attitude of hatred. We can disagree without spewing hatred.

Be Alert!

Fruity Fridays: Don’t Give Up

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, becoming aware of good and evil, God made a promise to bless the world through her seed. That blessing was Jesus. Now, let’s think about the events that took place between those two points in time. The newly freed Jews desired to be enslaved in Egypt rather than to depend on their miraculous God. From prophets to judges to kings, God’s chosen leader often rejected guidance and wisdom from their Creator. The world became so detestable at one point that God wiped it clean except for Noah and his family. And so on and so on.

If I was God, I would have been out by book two. So, in terms of what it means to be faithful, God is our model.

Faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to a person, thing, promise, etc. This is the characteristic that allows parents to have hope that their estranged child will come home. It gives permission to a devastated spouse to forgive the unfaithfulness (of any kind) of their partner. Faithfulness is at the heart of the story of the adult child who prays for 17 years that their mother would accept Christ as their Savior. Supernatural faithfulness isn’t a characteristic of the resilience of humanity. Rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is imparted on us by God.

Here’s the take away — You don’t have to give up or give in. Everyone has some hope or desire that has been worn down and beat up by disappointments as time drags along. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It even seems pointless to continue pressing on. But the endurance that faithfulness demands of us isn’t our own. We have access to a Father that understands. And it is His strength that carries us. We don’t have to give up because God is our source.

Or maybe you are on the other side of the equation. Maybe you are the one who keeps failing. The one who keeps rejecting God when the pressure of the world seems to be upon you. You also don’t need to give up or give in. God’s faithfulness is greater than our unfaithfulness. And though we may stumble and fall, if we keep trying again and again, as many times as it takes, we will be able to tap into that power that God is offering us and become faithful.

So, don’t be like me…don’t say, ‘I’m out,’ before the end of book two…because the story that God is writing is much bigger than we can imagine…and masterpieces take time to complete.

Leaving the Circus Well

Maybe you’ve heard this saying, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” If not, you probably get the meaning. Basically, I know what and where my circus is, and that, right there, isn’t part of it.

The circus reference could apply to many areas of life: business, family, neighborhood, church, relationships. Some of these we choose to join, and some we don’t get that choice. But we all get the same choice about how long we stay in the circus.

What is interesting to watch is how people react after they’ve chosen to leave a certain circus of life. Some leave quite well; others seem to not really understand what they actually chose when they decided to leave the circus. Reality takes time to set in, and unfortunately, for some, it never does. These thoughts are for those who haven’t left well, who are struggling with their new circus.

When you choose to leave a circus…

  • …accept that the next circus is going to have monkeys also.
  • …you no longer get the popcorn and cotton candy from that circus.
  • …the acts of your new circus aren’t interested in how things ran in your last circus.
  • …over time, the acts of the old circus won’t call to see how you’re doing…and they don’t owe you that unless you actually mutually committed to it.
  • …you have to own your choice. Odds are, you made it, so own it.
  • …respect your old ringmaster’s commitment to the acts still with him. You’re not his monkey any more.
  • …embrace your new ringmaster and the other acts, monkeys and all.

Choose wisely. When it’s time to leave, leave. And leave well.