Never the Less

In Psalm 106 the psalmist lists all of the many failures of the children of Israel from Egypt to Cannan. Despite all that He was doing for them, they piled up sin, failure, and complaints against God. Many times God delivered them, but they always seemed to find a way to sin.

But then comes v44-45. 

Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: and he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

I am glad to know that His mercy is never the less. It is always the more. Never less than my sin and failures. Always more.

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 2

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Part 1: Connie Podesta

Part 2: Jim Collins

 This is part two of my series of “Takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010.  I was so blessed to be able to attend this year.  Here are a few nuggets from the conference’s second speaker.  This post is a little long, but the lessons are very powerful.   I encourage you to read the entire post.

Speaker #2: Jim Collins – Business & Leadership Guru.  Author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and coauthor of Built to Last.

Jim Collins spoke to us about the lessons that he has learned from studying failure.  Many leadership and business books focus on success but, “the contrast between success and failure always teaches us more than just studying success.”  When you contrast two companies (or individuals) with similar circumstance but different outcomes, you learn a great deal about the importance of choices and character.  We learn that we are not imprisoned by our circumstances, we are freed by our choices!

Collins found that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of cancer (This speech was taken from Collin’s book, How the Mighty Fall).  The one major difference; cancer is not self-inflicted, failure is.  The five stages of failure are as follows:

1.  Hubris (Outrageous Arrogance) Born of Success – In other words, there is a serious lack of humility.  The difference between a good company and a great company is not leadership; both have great leadership.  The difference is the type of leadership.  Great companies have a leader marked by humility (this is different from weakness).  These leaders are not self-consumed; their concern is for the team.  A company or an individual who does not display this quality is in the first step of decline.

2.  Undisciplined Pursuit of More – A little taste of success results in an unquenchable thirst for more which often leads to overreaching.  It is possible to grow too fast, to take on more that you can handle.  How do you tell if your growth is disciplined?  By following Packard’s Law:  if growth exceed you ability to fill all your key positions with the right people you have went too far.  Why is this?  Because it all starts with having the right people.  Many times in this stage, a lot of growth in a short period of time causes companies to hire people who aren’t really the best fit for the job.  As a result, everything looks good on the outside, but cancer is spreading on the inside!

3.  Denial of Risk and Peril – We have all been here before.  The facts are staring us in the face but we try to excuse them.  The key at this stage is to practice true leadership as defined by Napoleon (this is my favorite definition of leadership); define reality and give hope.

4.  Grasping for Salvation – This is the stage when the fall actually happens.  As the free fall begins, most companies reach out for help.  This may bring some temporary relief but in most cases it is only prolonging the fall.  The evidence of false hopes and undisciplined growth has now made its way to the surface and is visible to everyone.  Remember, most overnight successes took twenty years or more.

5.  Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death – There is not much to say about this final stage.  The End.

 We learn some very important lessons in leadership and growth by looking at this process of a fall.  We learn that we will make many changes but we must not abandon our values (truth).  As we grow and experience success we must preserve the core and at the same time stimulate progress.  Mr. Collins put it best when he married together two very famous speeches; “We hold these truths to be self-evident” goes with “I have a dream”.

My challenge to you, take a moment and consider what these lessons can teach the Church about growth.  Consider what these lessons can teach you as an Individual about growth.  Let’s not make the same mistakes as those who now lay in the graveyard of the once mighty.

Epic

I love epic tales of adventure; stories full of trials, struggles, battles, victories, defeats, and triumph.  I am easily caught up in classic epics like Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and yes, even Star Wars!  Stories like these have so many parallels into the very real “plot” of our lives.  When I read (or watch) these stories I tend to imagine myself as one of the characters.  I relish in the adventure lived vicariously through heroes like William Wallace, Benjamin Martin, and Maximus Decimus Meridius (Braveheart, The Patriot, and Gladiator).  Yet, more often than not, I fail to display the same courage which I admire in these characters when faced with reality.

Rather than stand in the face of adversity and uncertainty, I tend to complain and doubt.  All too often, my problems and my worries knock the wind out of me and rob me of my fight.  In all reality I must admit, if my life was an epic tale, there would probably be no young men admiring me and imagining that they could be so heroic.

Why do I fail so often to bravely face life’s difficulties and my failures?  Because I forget that my life is part of and Epic Story!

All too often, I forget that the story of my life is only a small part of the reality of Him.  My view of my life narrows and becomes limited to my years on this earth.  I forget that one day, I will ride in behind the King, surrounded a great host, as he subdues all of His enemies!  I will reign and rule with Him in His Kingdom for 1,000 years!  And when He defeats the final enemy at the end of that 1,000 years, I will dwell in Heaven with Him forevermore!

When I think about that, I realize that every day, every moment in this world is a preparation for (and a part of) this great adventure!  All of a sudden, my problems and worries don’t seem like that big of a deal.  My doubts and fears  no longer hold the same power over me.  After all, I am on the winning side!  Truth shall triumph!

Epic.

I’m The Best Failure Ever

Too soon for my first guest post?  I think not.  I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine.  His name is Brad Titus.  He is an inspiring writer, a preacher of Truth, and he has a great mind.  You should read his blog if you don’t already.  Enjoy!  Leave Brad a comment.

I’m not perfect.

Most people aren’t.

A friend of mine has started blogging and he recently talked about one of those types of days where you just want to reboot … as he put it, an epic fail day.

I was thinking about my failures – there are a lot of them – and what I’ve learned from them over the years.

I learned that receiving the Holy Ghost doesn’t mean that you won’t fail again. Two days after I first received the Holy Ghost, I lied to my German teacher and forged my dad’s signature on a test. God doesn’t write us off when we disappoint Him.

I learned that God can take dead, dry bones and make them live – following a three-year period where I couldn’t reach God, a late-night prayer meeting brought a refilling of the Holy Ghost that started an entire new season of spiritual growth.

I learned that a righteous man isn’t righteous because he never falls, but because he keeps getting up. After crying out for grace and then turning to spit  in God’s face time and again, I reached a point of total brokenness. God opened doors and placed me in a rehab program in California, where I was tested, tried, equipped, and restored. Since that time, God has opened doors in my life and used me in ways that I never dreamed possible.

I’m not perfect, but I do my best to walk after Christ. When I fall short, I don’t stay down. I rise up again.

If this post blessed you in anyway, please leave a comment for Brad.  Thanks for Reading!

Your Title Here

Pay Attention! Give this post a title in the comments section.  The best/most creative title wins a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! (Winner will be chosen Friday).

In my first post, I had said that one of the things that I would be writing about was failures.  Now, I have to admit that even as I wrote that, I didn’t think I would actually write about any of my failures.  But today, that is what I am going to do.  I am doing this for two reasons; (1) because God is merciful, and (2) maybe it will help you…or me.

I’m sure you know about and have experienced that deal.  You know, that one where things are going good.  You just got out of Indiana District Men’s Conference (or you had some other wonderful God encounter), everything is cloud nine, and you are feeling great in the Lord.  The DEAL is, the enemy doesn’t like that.  And he is an expert at knocking you off your feet when you begin to run.

Well, needless to say, I got the raw end of the deal today.  To say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement.  I woke up downright mad.  No reason in particular.  I just didn’t feel like ___________. (You can feel free to fill this in with anything).

If you know me at all, you know that I am a list person.  I got stuff to do.  I have a whole list of stuff to do, and today was no exception.  So I drug my weary, whiney self out of bed and started working on the list.  Problem was, when you don’t feel like __________.  It’s hard to get _______ done.  And my attitude went south.  I mean, I was nasty.

And at the end of the day, this is what I accomplished:  Almost nothing crossed of my list, I was mean to my mother (she is in bed, I have to apologize in the morning), I was mad at other people (people who didn’t even know that I was mad at them and that I didn’t even have a reason to be mad at), I made myself feel like a complete and total loser, and worst of all, the great connection that I had felt with the Lord just yesterday…it was gone.

But I’m so thankful that we can come to Jesus when we fall.  Where would I be without His grace?  I would be the person I was today.  But, Jesus loved me so much that He died so that THAT person does not have to live.

“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah 7:8)

To anyone that has ever been knocked down, His hand is reaching to help you back up.

So…what’s your title?