Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jump the f#@k in!


“Can I be honest with you man?” Asks a friend of mine, to which I respond, “Of course.”  I appreciate honesty and genuine communication more than most.  I can take honest feedback and not be offended.  

I’ve discovered through a long journey and much personal searching that I am cut from a different cloth.  I am by nature and entrepreneur and leader.  There’s much debate about this, but I think it is something you are either born with or not. This has led me to great restlessness working in the corporate world for large corporations.  In my attempts to get out and put myself in a position where I can thrive and truly optimize upon my skillset and strengths I’ve met and befriended many other entrepreneurs.  In this particular conversation I was lamenting about how difficult it has been for me to find opportunities to really give myself that one shot.  Every person you speak to who is successful has one moment or opportunity that really spring boarded them and gave them the jump start they needed.  I understand that opportunity is inevitable, it will always come, however unless you are prepared for it you will not recognize or capitalize on it.  This process has been and continues to be about me preparing myself and waiting to pounce on that opportunity.  Within this conversation, along the lines of looking for future opportunities, and discussing an idea I have my friend tells me, “You just need to jump the f#@k in man!”  Before I continue, let me say I don’t question his good intention in saying this or his business savvy at all, it just made me think and therefore I’m writing.

Ultimately the tension I feel when considering this advice is that between responsible and irresponsible business actions, specifically entrepreneurial types.  He wrote an article about how our culture frowns upon failure and because everyone fears failing not many get out of their comfort zone enough to achieve their full potential.  I totally agree with this premise and think failure actually isn’t failure at all, but more learning opportunities*.  Let me explain that asterisk a bit.  Failure isn’t a bad thing when it is based upon responsible risk taking.  Responsibility and risk taking too often are considered acronyms; however, it is my prescription that they must go hand in hand if one is to achieve success.  An example I was given was Donald Trump.  He has filed bankruptcy 7 times and look how successful he is, I was told.  Hold on hold on, let’s rewind before we take this as solid counsel.  Personal and Business bankruptcy are very different.  Trump walked away from business bankruptcy, not personal, and has a ton of cash to blow and risk to lose.  Comparing apples to apples is fair, apples to pomegranate is not.  Don’t look to Trump as a blueprint, it worked for him, but most of us aren’t him, and thank God because that comb over is sick!

Risk is risk for a reason.  Risk is risk because you have a large chance at failing.  I look at it as a frozen lake.  The risk of jumping in is that you’ll die, so before you do so, if you choose to do so, have a plan, be responsible.  Just throwing caution to the wind and jumping in is irresponsibility, not fearless courageousness that a true entrepreneur has.  I think that’s the most difficult thing to balance here.  It’s a mighty thin line to walk being responsible yet willing to take risks, it’s a tricky dance.  So just jumping in and looking at failure as a chance to learn is well-intended, however, failure can be good or bad.  Failure because of lack of preparation is different from failure because of lack of experience or other external, uncontrollable variables that impact and ultimately drive the failure.  Don’t fail because you are irresponsible.  If you fail responsibly then you don’t fail, you learn, and grow.  Don’t just jump the f#@k in, consider everything and plan carefully, then walk that thin line until you have to jump, responsibly of course.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sammie J & PSL

Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to honor Samuel Johnson, who wrote the most comprehensive dictionary in the 1750’s. Johnson spent 9 years working on the dictionary. 9 years! When is the last time you spent 9 years working on a single project?

In a society of distraction and shiny objects lack of focus and discipline are the cornerstones of the modern work force. We are a need-it-now culture. The internet is mostly to blame for this and while amazing in the expanse of knowledge that is readily available to anyone willing to type a subject matter into a search engine, it has also turned us into impatient people, dissatisfied with anything that doesn’t give us immediate pleasure.

Until the arrival of the good ol’ world wide web, the dictionary served as the knowledge bank for generations. The impact of the English dictionary and Johnson’s work is undeniable.

If you ask most CEOs or successful business persons what are their keys to success, hard work and never giving up always make the list. Hard work, dedication, and persistence is what allows hard work to surpass talent. The difference between a professional athlete who isn’t just a flash in the pan superstar, but has a long successful career and a uniquely athletic specimen is the amount of dedication and persistence put into their craft. I’ve met with millionaires and even one billionaire who told me they had no clue what they were doing until they were well into their 50’s.

The housing crisis had other factors than greedy banks and mortgage companies. They were allowed to lend too much to debtors because we want what our parent’s worked for 30 years to get now. Why save 20% down payment when someone will give you a mortgage and you can have that dream house now?

The unique theme and challenge of the current work force is a lack of persistence and patience. I struggle with this daily. When you stop and think about things that have changed our world, like the dictionary, it took time. Johnson worked on this for 9 years.

Take away the counter argument of advancements like the printing press and internet that would cause some length to any project or success and focus on the general idea of being determined and focused on a goal, and committing time to it. Wouldn’t it be great if we all just sat down our Pumpkin Spice Lattes, didn’t take our Adderall, stopped tweeting and snapping, and just focus, chose one thing to focus on and be successful at?


In a world where fast moving shiny objects reign supreme, it’s the infrequently visited or considered ideology of focus and determination that will help us change the world. What do you think? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Water Torture & Adapting to Change

What is valuable?

Does value change?

Should one adapt to a changing value?

These are all great questions for personal and professional introspection. Without consideration a stakeholder of a value may actual become obsolete as the value changes. Thus the story of the changing market in businesses and the work force. The lack of content and leadership regarding adaptability and change management is unfortunate.

Value is ever changing, adapting to change and value variation is more important than subject matter expertise in today’s world.

The shower in our master bathroom had become like some cruel torture device as of late. No matter what direction you turn the handle the water comes out scalding hot. A quick internet search and read through several forums answered some of the questions I had. The shower faucet cartridge was busted, which controls the mixing of hot and cold water. Simple enough directions were to remove this cartridge and replace it with a new one to end the water torture we had endured for a couple nights.

While attempting to remove this cartridge with my needle nose plyers and because I’m a man (read foolish), when it was getting difficult to remove, I pulled harder, which broke off the only piece I could grab to withdraw this cartridge. I’m not a plumber nor have the skillset to be creative enough to know where to start in this situation so I call Roto Rooter.

The nice gentleman from Roto Rooter arrives while I’m at work and my wife is at home. He is asking Dana a bunch of questions that she doesn’t know the answer to so she calls me and puts him on the phone. $492 was his quote to fix the issue.

The faucet was older so a model number could not be located. The part I thought would fit from Home Depot did not fit. I was at a crossroads. Continue being tortured, give up hopes of ever having a decent shower in my master bathroom again, or pay up. Like a capped crusader, the internet and the advancement of our society intervened and I chose neither of the three options.

After laughing at Mr. Roto Rooter for quoting me an absurd quote I decided to do some more internet searching.

I did end up having to pay $125 to have him remove the part that I had broken. I was able to find a specialty part plumbing store close to my house who were super helpful and helped me track down the actual part that the Roto Rooter guy was going to charge me $100 just to go find. The part was $12.77. It took a total of 30 minutes to drive to get the part, drive back home, and install it. My shower now works like normal and I’m no longer being tortured.

Where is the lesson in all this? I think my children will think it is crazy when I tell them stories of how we used to call out specialists to come to our house to fix things. They will probably ask, “Why didn’t you just look it up on Google?” To their point, the internet has made global knowledge easily accessible that anyone can search for anything and get those answers.  I often wonder how small stores stay open when you can order things off the internet and now even get them delivered within 2 hours of the time you place the order. How does a plumbing company continue to bring in revenue when the supplies are available, the step by step directions are available, and even renting the specialty tools can happen? What happens to an industry or company or person when what they relied upon to define their value is no longer unattainable to the general public? Typewriters are no longer a thing because we have personal computers.

Change is the only constant. If this statement is true, why would businesses and schools not train their employees and students on managing change or adapting to change more so than any specialty trade? Knowledge is no longer exclusive. Outside of proprietary information or data that is protected with a security clearance, the general public all has the same access to knowledge. The internet and globalization has flattened the earth and made it small. The global marketplace is the new marketplace.

How do you value yourself or your work product? What sets you apart in a way that supports your salary or position? Value is ever changing, adapting to change and value variation is more important than subject matter expertise in today’s world. You can lose a lot of money not adapting to change. $492 used to be a sure thing for a company like Roto Rooter, but they only got me for $125. Think about all the small transactions like this and how quickly that adds up. It’s scary to think about relying on anything that can deflate in value that quickly. So, I ask again…

What is valuable?

Does value change?

Should one adapt to a changing value?


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Defining Trauma

I want to get back to normal.

A phrase often used when returning from a vacation or joyfully saying goodbye to the relatives that stayed a little too long.

There was a disruption of your normal that will now disappear, allowing normal to return.

If normal is a small pond, disruptions may be a rocks skipping across the water’s surface causing ripples and slight variances in the otherwise glass-like surface. Eventually, the ripples calm down and the water returns to its prior state.

One state experiences a disruption that only temporarily changes its state, meaning a return to that prior state is inevitable.

I want to get back to normal.

What happens when this phrase is foreign and no longer applicable?

What happens when that rock skipping across the small pond doesn’t just cause ripples that will eventually calm down, but changes the entire chemistry of the water?

What happens when your normal is changed for good and there is no way to return to anything you are familiar with?

How does one change the mindset from returning to a particular state to identifying themselves in a total new reality?

The most difficult part about trauma is the lack of any familiarity. The most difficult part of trauma is the removal of anything comfortable or known, an introduction to a new state that you’ve never experienced before.

I cannot even say you have to rebuild your identity. A simple morphological exercise would show that the use of rebuild would be incorrect. The prefix “re” means back or again. Merriam-Webster defines again as returning to a previous position. To rebuild something would be to return to a particular state. You cannot even rebuild after trauma.

Trauma is like growing up in Kansas your entire life, knowing everyone, and everything, then being hit over the head and waking up on Bear Island in Norway with no explanation (Bear Island is recognized as one of the top 10 most remote islands in the world).

You are forced to learn everything from scratch. You need to learn a new language, how to relate to people, how to live in a new climate, what clothes to wear, learn the local trade to make money, but then you have to learn how this currency operates, etc.


Unlike any compelling movie where the main character does all this work to get themselves up off the floor and learn all these new things so that they can return home, trauma burns home down, trauma changes the chemistry of the pond, trauma changes you forever and rids the reality of any return to normal and requires you define a new reality. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Factories, Donuts, & Labor Day

My company is doing a weight loss challenge to promote health through November. Ironically enough, this announcement was made in a meeting that is celebrated by bringing in donuts.

Is weight loss healthy? Yes. Maybe. While the initial intent of the idea is great I think it misses the point a little. The better focus would be body fat percentage. Is it better to lose 30 pounds or 10% body fat? There are tons of variables that make answering this question more complex than a simple challenge.

We also celebrated the fact that we all have Monday off due to Labor Day in this meeting. Labor day and this weight loss challenge collide in terms of ideology in a way that I think we can learn from individually.

What is Labor Day? According to the USDepartment of Labor; Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

A member of our Talent team made the statement this morning that it is a celebration of the normal 8-hour work day. What is “normal” and why are those hours chosen?  Is the logic that led to these normal hours even applicable to our culture now?

These normal working hours are referred to as the Eight-Hour Day Movement.  It started because working conditions were unregulated in Britain during the Industrial Revolution when large factories were booming.  It was a mechanism to limit abuse of laborers and children from working 10-16 hours a day.  The International Workingmen’s Association took up the demand for an eight-hour day at its convention in Geneva in August 1866, declaring The legal limitation of the working day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvements and emancipation of the working class must prove abortive, and The Congress proposes eight hours as the legal limit of the working day.  1866 is where this all started.  When this eight-hour day movement was being initiated it was to protect workers from being over worked in factories because they were production-based jobs.  You could spend endless hours on an assembly line or in a factor, so it makes perfect sense that this was a logical and humane course of action.  We don’t have many factory jobs anymore, we have moved on from the industrial stage and working looks a lot different today than it did even 20 years ago, especially different from 1866, 151 years ago.  Is it not a bit odd that we still use a system suited from a 151-year-old culture?  I’m about progress and don’t think much can be made without challenging or at least intellectually considering current systems. 

So what? Just poking holes in things like donuts, weight loss programs, and definitions of celebrations doesn’t do anyone any good does it? Instead of focusing on things that are only good in a vacuum, void of any context, let’s evolve and consider contextualized reality. Weight loss is good where and when needed, however, sometimes gaining weight can be better than weight loss. Sometimes no weight change at all is great if your body fat percentage changes. Is an 8-hour work day good? In the context of reducing abuse of hourly workers, yes. Is an 8-hour work day good for someone less industrial and more intellectual or analytical in capacity? I’m unsure of an affirmative answer here. We should celebrate working hard, but just putting in 8-hour days doesn’t mean one is effective. If efficiency more important than a simple chronological measure of an individual sitting at a desk?

When working an eight-hour work day, how effective is the work force? There are all sorts of statistics out there that measure how much time is wasted by the average worker in an 8-hour day. However, rather than looking at usage I believe it is more important to look at effectiveness and efficiency. How effective or efficient are you at what you do. Let’s not just simply lose weight or work an 8-hour day, let’s be more effective and lose body fat percentage and use our time efficiently for our companies.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Manager

In speaking with many people unhappy at companies I've seen a trend in what has been misinterpreted and perverted as management.  Manager is a term that has been confused with the role of a leader which has causes and causes daily destructive consequences.  In the most practical sense of the word a manager within a company/business context is a supervisor or one in charge of a team.  Whatever that team's job maybe it is the managers job to oversee their success, etc.  What is a manager?  What should a manager be?  What should a manager do?  These are all valid questions, questions that many that are being managed ask, which causes a rift in the culture and tearing of the fabric of a company.  Morale is negatively impacted when these questions are unaddressed or dismissed as insubordinate.  Although the questions are not asked directly you can feel their presence just below the surface of circumstantial dilemmas.  What a manager is defined as and thus what their role and area of expertise is determines the success of a team and ultimately company or business.  

Where are we?  Let's first discuss the context that many of us find ourselves within concerning managers.  Most work for stable companies where managers are promoted from within based on their expertise and experience of that area or subject matter.  But what is it that a manager should be an expert at?  Is it the subject matter itself that a manager is concerned with or is it the people?  If person A is an expert on subject X, is it necessary to be an expert of X to be a manager?  The answer to that question is what separates companies and departments employees thrive in and enjoy from those who promote mediocrity and low morale.  My prescription to this query is absolutely not.  No, a manager doesn't need to be the expert in a certain subject matter in order to be an effective manager.  Managers are simply supposed to be individuals who are skilled at motivating and coaching people.  If that is the definition we use in terms of what a manager should be then it is unnecessary to posses expertise in any area outside of people skills.  

Companies/businesses that select managers based upon their expertise in a subject matter or experience and time with that company fail to realize that just because someone has done something successfully for 30 years does not mean they would make a good manager.  Many talented basketball players would make horrible coaches and there are coaches that are horrible at actually playing the game.  The general premise is pretty simple, managers are supposed to be people oriented, skilled at motivating and serving others as a means of accomplishing a task.  If Jane make widgets really well and Jane is promoted to manager because of that, is it because she makes widgets well or is actually good at managing people? This question should be asked and is necessary to consider.  The assumption that Jane will be a good manager because she has exceeded company standards in widget making and done so for consecutive years is a very flawed and dangerous one.  

Business needs managers, not experts in subject matter that cannot manage people.  Expertise in subject matter outside of people skills for a manager is nothing more than extras.  I'd rather have a manager skilled in people management than skilled at the job in which the people they manage perform.  If companies and businesses thought more so this way we'd see more productive and effective work being done.  What are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Where is God (Aching)?


My assumption is that some consideration has been given to the logic that leads to the answer of, “Where is God?”  I’ve discovered a new aspect of God in my life recently, one that is much more emotional in a personal way than I’ve experienced before.  God has always loved poor people and hated war in my eyes.  I’ve understood him from a large sweeping, generalized, universal standpoint.  Was it personal? Well, of course, in a way.  It was personal that Jesus saved me and yada yada, however, I think God is such a big idea that it’s difficult for us to perceive him personally, unless something does actually happen in our lives.  Based on our experiences in life we begin to build a context, for which we place God in, and sometimes that can be unhealthy or even incorrect, but that always leads me back to asking people to consider how they came to those conclusions.  All that to say this, there is a word that plays over in over in my mind and heart recently that describes God, for me, where I am right now, and that word is ache.
Ache.  Such a simple word, but is heavy and deep.  What does it mean to ache?  What does it feel like to be aching from something? 

In the bible there are phrases and imagery used of aching like, moaning and hurting down to the bone marrow or joints.  Bone marrow is the imagery used to express the depths of a person, the deepest parts.  The aching I am referring to is something that eats at you at the deepest level, which some would argue is your soul.  Aching is pain that hurts your being, your soul, a deep pain.  There is nothing you can do about it, no medicine to numb the pain, and nothing big or loud enough to distract you from how painful this thing is that is aching your bones and soul away.  It’d be like a mother losing an infant child to death’s cold grips.  This kind of aching mother is the God I now have become familiar with. Often times we are taught about a God who looks around at all the bad in the world and is angry or impatient.  All too often we personalize that and begin to feel certain things do or don’t happen to us because of God’s disapproval. This leads us down a cynical and dark path though, one where the loving aspect of God as a father is lost and we embrace this distant, unrelated, deity that we cannot touch or even relate to.  This turns the world awfully small and cold.  The kind of aching I’m talking about is when tears stream down your face and you cannot control nor describe why they flow.  The seat you occupy gets deeper and deeper as you sink into this numb feeling of pain.  Logically something may make perfect sense, but just going through it hurts so bad because there was or is a loss so large or deep that it impacts your soul.  I think aching only happens when there is something that impacts you at your depths. 

God aches.  Experiencing a God who is not disappointed or angry or saying you should have tried harder or been better, a God that doesn’t hold you to a standard (unfortunately there is a large population that misunderstands and therefore teaches a particular verse that says we should be perfect), but a God who aches with and for you., experiencing a God like that is, well, relieving.  Knowing that you can cry, you can hurt, and you can moan in agony without any repercussions or judgment is something special.  God aches for us and with us, that’s the God I’ve experienced recently.  While I cannot tell you of any deep prayer time or bible reading I can tell you of the feeling of an aching God’s presence.  So hurt, moan, and ache, it’s something we need to go through.  Jesus wept when a dear friend died whom he had total control and power to bring back to life.  Why did He weep?  I think Jesus wept because he ached for the pain he saw in people he loved.  Jesus wept.  God aches.  There is peace in that.  Shalom.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Purple Math

Part 1
Entertain me for a moment and join me in this psychological exercise.

Imagine for a moment you are a well-dressed, clean-cut, accomplished mathematician.  You work as a professor at an institution highly regarded by the academic world. You are at the pinnacle of arithmetic accomplishment. You begin to hear rumors swirling about of a new, controversial mathematician making their rounds in your industry. They are supposedly a great teacher and wise beyond anything the common understanding has perceived in recent history.

The day has finally come for you to meet this great new teacher. You are excited to possibly gain some new knowledge, but mainly anticipate satisfying your curiosity and seeing if this person is actually as wise as you are. You sit in your office filled with rich mahogany, books, and sip your brandy whilst taking puffs of your Cuban cigar. In walks this teacher, a little late to the agreed upon time, dressed, well, disheveled, at best, and smells terrible. They are younger than you, not as well put together, and carries them self almost diffidently. The first impression is not going well to say the least. Then the moment of truth, they speak, and ask you a simple question, something you almost scoff at.

“What is 1 + 1?”

Offended at such a simple question, nonetheless, you answer, “two.”

Then an unintelligible follow-up question, “What would be an incorrect solution to this equation?”

You think, pause, then confidently respond, “Well, 3, 9, 17, -1, any other numeric variable that is not 2.”

They respond with content and self-assurance that makes them seem mad, “No, the correct answer to 1 + 1 is simply, purple.”

You promptly do a spit take and blast a warm mist of your sweetly aged bourbon all over your rich mahogany desk.  You laugh in utter disbelief as this supposed great teacher provides you with what can only be described as an absurd proposition.

1 + 1 = purple

That’s insane, that is comically incorrect. You kindly escort them out of your office and return to your quarters thinking this teacher is mad.

If this was where the interaction stopped then you would only have a story of a mad mathematician who was a complete joke and not someone close to your composition and elite achievement in the field. 1 + 1 = purple is crazy, or is it?

The entire context of what is right and/or wrong, of who has achieved or not, who is powerful or not, is based around the ideology of numeric values. A number plus another number is the sum of those numbers. We have been taught this from childhood, there is a history of this context. Then along comes this new teacher who says that the entire context we understand is wrong and that a number plus a number is a color. 

As my favorite animated characters say, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”
This is a parable of Jesus and his relationship to the religious elite in the days of his ministry.

Part 2
During the time of Jesus’ ministry and his arrival on the scene a deeply historical religious society existed. Not only was this a historically religious culture, but they were also under the thumb of the Roman empire. In order to not be total slaves and miserable, the leaders of that time struck up a deal with Rome to operate under them but with some kind of autonomy. They collected their taxes for them and paid Cesar what he was due. They were able to practice their religion as well as benefit financially from this partnership. The who’s-who of that culture were the Pharisees. They were the leaders at that time.  They could read, they could write, they knew the sacred scriptures and laws well. They knew them well enough, to be the overseers of the society in general. There was a system in place from a historical and cultural stand point.  Historically, they had the Jewish back story and laws of Moses. Culturally, they had figured out a happy compromise with Rome. All was well, well, until this revolutionary new rabbi burst onto the scene, his name was Jesus.

If you study the law and the Old Testament you will quickly see there was a system in place that always demanded more. It was this unsustainable system that required from the people what they were ultimately unable to provide. The entire law was a preparation for the messiah to come, the brokenness of that system was to reveal the necessity for a redeemer. This culture was looking for that redeemer and all the power he would bring with him. Under the thumb of Rome, it was natural that the form this redeemer quickly took on in terms of expectations was someone who would become their king and free them from their oppressor. A great and powerful person. Powerful is the word that made Jesus so polarizing. What is power to some may not be power to others. In truth, power to the creator of everything is not power at all to his creation. Creation had come up with its own definition of what power was and Jesus came with a power they did not understand; his power was not what they had defined for themselves.

Here are things Jesus says to these powerful individuals and to those who view them as powerful. Jesus is speaking to a context of people who have this definition of power already established in their psyche. 
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:1-11).

When the disciples asked him who is the greatest in the kingdom, his response was,
Truly I say to you, unless you [c]are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3-4).

Then he tells this odd story about unfair wages and ends it with the statement, “So the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16).

When he rides into Jerusalem in what is now Palm Sunday he doesn’t enter as a triumphant ruler as anticipated, he comes on a colt, or donkey, which was livestock, not a powerful vision they had at all (John 12).

Jesus did not play into or meet any expectations when it came to that cultures ideology of power. As a matter of fact, when the teachers of the law asked Jesus to give them a sign to show them he was who he said he was, meaning, show us you are powerful, he refused and told them they were an evil and adulterous people (Matthew 12:39). Basically, Jesus makes it clear he will not play their game, he will not submit himself to this structure of power they had made. Jesus came to break expectations and change the way everyone thought.

Part 3
I was always confused when I would see those street evangelists in a bar scene or at some drinking festival telling people to repent. Teshuvah is the Hebrew word used in our translation of repent in the Old Testament. It means to return. To the Hebrews it was spoken to it makes total sense, return to your God. But, what are they telling these people who may or may not have roots in the Jewish god? What are they telling them to return to? Words are important. This phrase will probably go on my tombstone because I say it so often. People say things without knowing the full meaning. Unlike the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament, the New Testament is written in Greek and the word we translate for repent is metanoia. Metanoi means change your mind basically. So Jesus comes telling people to change the way they think. The way we view power needs to be changed. Jesus offered so many contradictions to the worldview the people of that time had created. Jesus seeks to change our mind and how we view the world.

There is a dichotomy between the ideology of push versus pull or what I am proposing as do versus be. With religion back then and now there is a sense of the need to do to become. Be better, pray more, read more, don’t do certain things, and if you do or do not do these certain items you will be a fill in the blank, better Christian, etc.  Jesus came teaching to be and the actions will follow because of who you are. If we change our thinking, the way we see the world, the way we view power and status, then actions will happen because of that, not the other way around. Jesus told this complex parable that is commonly understood and used as a way to talk about how much Jesus loves sinners and those who are far from him. I’d like to offer this prodigal son parable (Luke 15) up in a different light, from a different perspective.

Both sons are viewing their relationship with their father as linear, as a point system, if you will. If you do good, you gain favor, if you do bad you lose favor. The younger son believed this so much that after he had squandered all the inheritance money away he finally arrived at the idea that he could return to his father as a hired hand. It even says he came to that decision and had a speech prepared for his father stating how unworthy he is, all because of his actions. He thought he lost all favor because of his actions, he lost points. The older brother contrarily believed his good actions had gained him favor and he deserved something. The father does something that blows both of their minds here, he accepts the younger son and celebrates his return, affirming his worth to him. Then he tells the older son, “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31)” He affirms the worth of his older son while at the same time deflating his pride. The mind-blowing, life-changing power of this parable and Jesus’ message is that there is no earning scale, there is no deserving.

Another parable Jesus teaches is about workers in a field (Matthew 20). The challenge in this story is that workers who worked say 8 out of 10 hours were paid the same as workers who worked 2 out of ten hours. Again, another way Jesus is pointing out that our math is all wrong and he is more interested in colors. When we think 1 + 1 = 2, he is inviting us to see the resolution as purple.
What would it mean if we woke up tomorrow and saw the world from the perspective that God loves us all equally? What would it mean for me to see someone as an equal regardless of their behaviors, abilities, or accomplishments? What would it mean for how I view myself if I were affirmed to be loved no matter what? Would I live more out of love than fear? What kind of life change would this change in mind lead to?







Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Corvette Responsibility

My first car was a Nissan 240sx. It was beautiful, I poured all my money into it, painted it, lowered it, put huge rims and small tires on it, put a nice sound system in it, put on a nice body kit, and did everything in my adolescent power to make it appear to be a street racer. It was intimidating to look at and listen to drive by with my quad exhaust that bypassed the catalytic converter, so I had straight pipes ran from the engine, which makes everything louder.

“What a piece of crap,” I remember thinking this to myself as I sat at a stop light beside an older Ford minivan. We were at a stop light and there was this super pungent smelling white smoke coming from under his van. His van drove away, the white smoke stayed. 

Embarrassed and frustrated I pushed my beautiful car, that looked the part, to the side of the road. I had done everything to make it look great, but never touched the engine. All the dumb revving of my engine at stop lights had overheated my car and popped a piston in my engine.

Naturally, my parents replaced that car with a Chevrolet Corvette.

What if this is where this writing stopped? This would make no sense. I was outraged writing that. Naturally? What is natural about a kid blowing up his engine and not taking care of a car properly and then being rewarded with an even greater, more powerful, actual performance sports car? None of this is natural. It is illogical that this scenario would play out like that.

I had to take the bus to school for the next 3 weeks, until I could get my car fixed. That’s natural. Not the Corvette story.

The general ideology here is simple: Responsibility is progressive. You are given responsibility of greater things once you prove to handle the lesser of things.
Don’t we often times want to bypass this logic? We feel like we should be a manager, but fail to be the best at our individual contributor role. We wish to get a pay raise, but manage our current finances irresponsibly. We want to write new business, but have not perfected the current business, or even worse, let our current business slide to write new business. 

We often see what we want, but don’t want to put in the work or accept responsibility to get there.

The question for yourself is simple…

How am I handling the responsibility I have now, is it indicative of being given more or greater responsibility?