Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Roadblock of Pride

My hand slammed on the steering wheel in frustration. I had left the house late again, hoping to make up fifteen minutes of tardiness in only a few miles. I figured I could make it to my destination by taking the shortcut over to Pelham Road. No need to let the frustration rule. I got this. I zoomed down Highway 14 watching the clock on my dashboard. I took a quick left down an unnamed road that I estimated would put me close to where I needed to be for my appointment. As I rounded the curve, there in the middle of the road was a huge earthmover with a worker sitting atop it, one hand on his knee and the other on the brim of a baseball cap. Just behind him, I could make out the state construction sign in big, bold letters: ROAD CLOSED.
Due to the heavy rains over the past week, the little bridge that had connected the two roads had washed away. Sure wish they had posted a sign about two miles back with some warning for me. It would have saved me some time.  Time I didn’t have. That day, I had a destination to get to, but the route I chose to get there was unavailable because the road was blocked, or closed. There are some roadblocks as well when it comes to seeing real community happen in our lives. Maybe you have even asked the question, “why don’t we see this kind of community you’ve described in today’s world?”
The truth of the matter is a lot of things keep us from experiencing this kind of biblical community.
Roadblock #1-Selfishness
I don’t know if you remember being a kid. Maybe not, but if you have kids, it may be easier to remember. You and I and our kids are alike. When we were growing up and we had something that was ours, more than likely, there was a time when we shouted, “Mine!” It’s what a child does, until they learn how to share. When a child screams “Mine!” it’s one thing, but to see an adult act that way is another. In many circles, the thing that keeps true community from happening is an unwillingness to not say “Mine!”
Maybe you feel like it’s your turn to have your way. Maybe you are justified in having your way on a certain issue. But the reality is, all of us must learn to share. And sharing means the willingness for someone else to have their way.
People shared everything in the early church. If they saw someone in need, they met the need. How awesome would it be if that kind of community was the hallmark of our churches? I guarantee you that you could not keep people out. They would be lined up to share in that kind of community. The Bible tells us that the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. A recent friend who is not a believer told me, “ I don’t have any problem believing that you love those outside the church, what I don’t know is if you will love me once I come in.” What a sad thought. Real community is sharing. Real community is putting the needs of someone else above our own. Have you ever seen that kind of community?
In our day, it looks like most people operate from a sense of entitlement and the “Look out for Number One!” mantra. That’s quite the opposite of the community that Peter and John experienced in Acts 2.  The Bible is pretty clear about selfishness and pride.

Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride centers on self. It runs totally contradictory to allowing real community to happen. And yet it runs rampant in our world. Pride is when we always have to be right; pride is when our way is the only way. It’s a sufficient roadblock to experiencing real community. Where do you see pride?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Can you Hear me Now?

This week I had the great opportunity to lead a couple of workshops at the CareNet conference in Orlando Florida. One of the things that we talked about was being aware of your surroundings and listening as a leader. The reality is most of us are so busy doing things for ourselves, that we are not aware of what is going on around us. I remember watching someone a few weeks ago driving down the road eating a salad. Completely oblivious to everything that was going on around them. Driving the car was just a side issue at the time. And yet that is the one thing they should be focusing on. 

Today I had another bad experience at a restaurant that I really love going to. I was just grabbing some quick food. My order was taken and then the cashier walked away to go do something else. After 10 minutes of standing there,I finally asked someone, "Can you please check on my order?" Totally unaware, the cashier came back and took somebody else's order and totally forgot what they were doing with me. We must be aware of what is going on around us. Take some time today if you are out driving and when you stop at a red light, look around and check out your surroundings. 

Next time you're talking to someone, listen to them closely. What are they saying with their eyes? What are they saying with their vocal inflection? Are you completely aware of what is going on?

As a dad, when my kids were younger, I used to take them to the mall or to a restaurant. I was like a spy. I was always watching other people to make sure my kids were safe. I was watching other people to make sure they were not going to do my children harm. I was memorizing license plates of other cars nearby, just in case. I believe we need that same kind of awareness as leaders when we are working with people. Being aware and listening will keep us out of a lot of trouble.

I shared this week with the leaders at the conference a quote that I recently heard, "If a leader does not listen to those around him, he or she will soon be surrounded by those who have nothing to say."

What do you think? How important is listening?