So what did the Dad Buffalo say to his Boy Buffalo when he headed off to college? Bison! Ok, maybe that’s a bit lame. But my son laughed at it when he headed off to college last week. Yes, after my bovine banter, prayer, and some more edifying words John pointed his car in the opposite direction of our house and this stage of our lives came to a close. It was that quick. The funny thing is that I clearly remember years ago in Moscow, Russia, when Deb and I were headed back to the States for John’s birth. A mentor looked me in the eye and said, “Steve, when you come back you’ll be a different man.” His words were so true. Our life phase as a young married couple without parental experience had come to an end and the next was about to begin. When John was born, Deb and I changed and entered into a new world. This week we transitioned into another.
This summer has been much more busy than anticipated and I’ve only had time to post twice since May. For that reason I am slating August 18th as the time to resume blogging. Be sure to check in at that time and also feel free to send in questions or ideas that you want to hear about in the future. Over the next six weeks Robert Tippett and I will also be discussing another run of the “Sunday Night Discussions.” The intent for the second season would involve much more investment and would begin around mid-September. We already have some great potential guests lined up.
So have a great second half of the summer and we’ll see you August 18th.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and for some people that means a powerful time of positive reflection. Dad was great. Others though approach Father’s day with a yawn at best. Either way I typically look at this confused occasion as an opportunity to teach about God’s design for fatherhood and the family. Dads are influential and important beyond measure. When I talk with solid leaders I like to ask them about their fathers and their relationship with them. If I’m studying the life of a great leader from the past or one presently alive that I just can’t get close to I still try to uncover something in connection to their fathers. Almost without exception, the great Kingdom leaders that I know had a good relationship with their dad and he was a tremendous part of their inner formation.
My story is not too shiny in this department. When people ask me about my father I sometimes jokingly reply, “Well, which one”? I suppose I could categorize my journey with dads this way.
Where did the time go? That question has probably been on the mind of Barbara Walters of late. This past week Walters announced her retirement from the news media after a very long and illustrative career. As far back as I can remember she has been a household name of not only female reporters but in the world of journalism in general. Her gifts in life have added much to the landscape of the news media we know today.
In an interview last week she recalled some of her regrets in life and I found it interesting that at the top of the list was a longing to have had spent more time with her daughter. Her story is not foreign and I’ve witnessed similar occasions in my ministry career. Stories of people in their retirement years who aren’t so much concerned about a missed step up in the pecking order, but rather a missed relationship with those at the bottom, those closest to them, their own family and other loved ones. This seems to be a sad reality that so many of us are susceptible to.
News stories began to flow almost immediately about Russell Wilson after his team won the Super Bowl last night. Like many Christ followers I was impressed with his attitude and desire to give God the glory and believing in “the talent God gave him.” Russell was right on as even our breath is a gift from God. But another point that really struck my attention was what Wilson had to say about his father. He referenced his dad a couple of times and specifically noted how his father would purposefully look at challenging situations with the question of; “why not you?” When I heard that it all came together. That kind of fatherly encouragement is something that I’ve observed not only in the story of Wilson’s life, but in many other great leaders. They had dads who believed in them.
Confidence is a foundational building block in leadership development and one that is sorely needed in our day. The principle of speaking about a positive future in the life of a young person by a father or another male leader is of incalculable worth. You just can’t measure how important something like that is to a young boy or man. I know that many people in our day grew up without such a blessing and I can relate to that. But all of us can be encouraged to know that there is a “Father of the fatherless” and one who calls us out of fear and into courage. No matter what our background is, we can know God and know his encouragement in our lives and see a future greater than we’ve ever imagined before.
In addition, as leaders today we can look at those coming behind us and speak into their lives. What we saw passed down from father to son in Russell Wilson’s life is a rarity today. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In addition to my kids, I try to find opportunities to speak even small positive words to kids on my block and around me. Recently I told a neighborhood boy the account of King David and Goliath and then finished my story with; “You know . . . you could be a great king someday too.” Just one man or woman speaking a positive message of potential victory into the hearts of others is just what they need and it might even just be enough to change the world.
So, who are you encouraging today?
Would you believe it? I got a red-light ticket last month. My violation occurred the day after Christmas when I drove up to Austin to meet with Robert Tippett for lunch and some Sunday Night Discussions strategy time. Actually I was informed later on that technically it was in Round Rock, Texas where my heinous crime occurred and that my geographical blunder was very offensive to both Austin-ites and as well as citizens of Round Rock. Sorry about that. In short, I was trying to navigate traffic in an unfamiliar area and I took a right turn on red without coming to a full and complete stop. Yes, there in lay my crime. I know the law. One must come to a complete stop before turning right on red. Taking a quick look before turning doesn’t cut the mustard. I was frustrated though and in a hurry. So I figured my intentions were good enough. I just assumed that overall I’m not a bad driver. I mean this is only the second ticket since I got my license the day after I turned 16. I didn’t hurt anyone and my haste was obviously for a good purpose. It should not have been a big deal at all. Come on, it’s not like I had road rage or something.
I was a romantic this Christmas and took Deb to the Houston Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. As you might imagine Deb was thrilled with the evening and I have to say that I was quite impressed myself. Like many people I had heard parts of Messiah before. One of the most famous movements of the work is the Hallelujah Chorus which draws the audience to their feet like the coronation of British royalty. I wasn’t aware of the unofficial rise of the audience beforehand, but quickly connected it to a respect for Christ the King.
I also didn’t know before the performance that Handel had crafted the entire symphonic work around direct quotations from scripture. That’s it. Every word sung by the soloists and chorus were direct quotes from either the Old or New Testament recounting the life, mission, and glory of Christ. I have some music appreciation and background myself (no; I’m not as barbaric as I might seem at times) so I was able to appreciate the talent and time investment of every piece of the performance from the strings to the soloists and combined vocal chorus to the few brass and wind instruments as they combined into a profound musical and maybe even spiritual experience. It was indeed a great evening. Not to mention I got to sit next to the hottest lady in the building.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” That’s the verse that came to mind yesterday morning around 9:15 or so when I felt like things were starting to go south. It wasn’t that things were going bad but rather just a sense that the day was beginning to turn into more of a “Steve” day than a “God” day. I was already on my way to “accomplishing things” but sensed little power and direction from above. I had just turned out some sermon prep and was ready to tic a number of other things off the check list. In the eyes of man I was on target to having a very successful day of busyness. But maybe that’s where the problem was. It’s so easy to allow the rush of the land and agenda of our corporate lifestyle to crowd God out. The day actually started off on the wrong foot when I checked email on my phone not even five minutes after waking up and it wasn’t going much better by mid-morning. So there I was, wrestling with the example of Jesus in Mark 1:35 and feeling like I had just gone back to the school house of prayer. I was reminded once again that unless the first breaths of the day are guarded militantly the world will take the rest of the day away.
The Bible? Our live webcast this Sunday is going to be GREAT. I’ve been looking forward to this episode from the start as it will address the very real and practical question of the authenticity of the Bible. Can we trust the Bible? Isn’t it just another book written by men a long time ago? Does it have relevance for today? What are the facts and the fallacies? What are the myths and the evidences? These and many other questions will be asked and addressed this Sunday night at 8p central and we’d love to have you stop by. If you have a Google + account you can participate in Q&A with other viewers on the Google + Sunday Night Discussions page. So grab a friend and come and see!
It’s all most that time again. Join us tonight for Sunday Night Discussions as we will be looking at “The Nature of Man.” In this discussion we will be considering such questions as Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What of our brokenness and whether or not there’s any hope?
You can also participate in the discussion by sending in questions if you have a Google + account. Just look for the Sunday Night Discussion page and event and log in. It’s been fun watching this webcast evolve and I can’t wait to have you with us tonight. So grab a friend and come and see. Look forward to seeing you live at 8p central.