December 17, 2017

“I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.” A Motto from Captain America that will change your life!

At the end of this video, listen to the line that makes this blog post powerful for those who step on the little guys (or little girls)!

 

 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3 (NLT)

I have watched the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, more times than I can count, and the main character and superhero, Captain Steve Rogers, never backs down from a bully and fight, sometimes at his own detriment, saying “I can do this all day.” He keeps getting back up time and time again even with blood spewing down his shirt out of his mouth, depicted as the fool who will not go down without fighting time and time again. I admire his-never-back-down attitude.

Rogers constantly seeks to serve his country in the allied war against Germany. He continues to be denied by doctors to pass the military physical (so he can inevitably go to war), using several fake names and home states in the process. His small stature eventually transforms into the muscle-bound Captain America, and his dreams come forward to go to war. When finally successful to attain an approved appointment with the health clearing exam to join the military, a doctor behind the super soldier campaign asks Rogers, “So you want to kill Nazis?” He then responds admirably, “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.” Through a series of tests at boot camp, Rogers takes risks for the “little guys,” the underdog you cannot help but root for as an audience member.

My cowriter and close friend, Tim the Upbeat Retired Guy, believes that I write too critically of others in my life sometimes on this blog and then in my book, One Flight Short of a Cuckoo’s Nest. I must personally admit I have never really liked bullies (guys and girls included). I do not really care where that bully comes from. I am not one to give a free pass to any leader who uses authority to push other people around. The range includes all kinds of individuals from all walks of life, politicians, academic institutional deans, stewards, and presidents, and perhaps even spotlight ministers. Like Captain Rogers, I am not looking to hurt anyone or ruin someone’s reputation. I will simply not tolerate those who bully others around.

An example in my life comes to mind: While in high school, I wrestled on the 2000 Alabama State High School 6A Championship team. Our team grew close in extraordinary ways, and we really had each others’ backs, all for one, and one for all! When one person stood in trouble or in the line of fire, we all did. No one messed with our girlfriends or with each one of us. We especially had no tolerance for a guy disrespecting or bullying a girl. There is just no room for that on my watch! While in the hall one day, one of my best and closest friends, Elizabeth Sanders, was picked on and degraded verbally by her boyfriend, Patrick, at her locker, whispering condescending comments into her ear while she frowned to the point of tears. Her boyfriend was a real jerk, and I never really liked him anyway. In fact, had I been the man I am now, I would have asked Elizabeth out when she was single. I told her boyfriend to back off and stand down. My good friend, brother in Christ, and wrestling team mate, Jonathan Dobberman, stood there by my side when I faced Patrick. Patrick responded, “Who is going to make me?” I said, “Me and my wrestling army!” That was the end of the conversation. He walked away, and with a grateful hug for me around my shoulders and slight smile on her face, Elizabeth quietly said, “Thank you!” What can I say? Some of us have bigger mouths than others. And Patrick even later that day apologized. Those who stand for what is right often reap the rewards (and sometimes the costs) for doing so.

Where am I going here? Scripturally as soldiers and warriors of Christ, we are not meant to back down for a just cause as men of God. We are meant to defend the cause of the orphan, the disabled, the widow, the homeless, and those who cannot stand up for themselves in any way.

I recently have dwelled on yesterday’s excuses, reasoning, and mind doubts of why I so often lack to take action today, not against bullies, but moving forward with life. Yesterday is gone and so are those excuses!

We excuse ourselves from the hard struggles, challenges, adversities, and tasks in life and remain okay with that. Well, I am not okay with a subpar existence, and I will never be okay with a bully. While words written hurt the bully who takes action, the narrative of God’s soldiers triumph every time. When you play the political game to drown one who suffers, I cannot simply stand by and let that go. I will write. I will fight. And I will speak out.

I don’t want to kill or hurt anyone. I just don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.

The-First-Avenger -Captain-America-movie-poster-(2011)-picture-MOV_f134343e_b

“If you do not work, you do not eat.” Yourself to Blame….

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 The Message (MSG)

10-13 Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

I think you can honestly see the message of this blog entry. I think this brilliant poem and The Scriptures validate a point Dr. Carson understands well. Please realize I do not intentionally point the blame towards those who seek working work in hard times, the widowed, the orphaned, or even those suffering from special needs. However I believe families remain responsible for their kin and those able who sit around doing nothing. Statistically many fathers own the blame for abandoned children and a spiral of violence for kids started on the wrong path for life without such a figure to follow.

Yourself To Blame
by Mayme White Miller

If things go bad for you
And make you a bit ashamed
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame

Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame

Whatever happens to us,
Here is what we say
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do
Make an examination,
You’ll find the faults in you…

Your the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same
If you travel downward
You have yourself to blame

Dr. Ben Carson, as a neurosurgeon with 38 doctoral honoree degrees and a John Hopkins Director of Medicine, understands that knowledge and education hold key significance in our current society. I rarely fail to comprehend how one could think differently with common sense. Truth spoken just makes sense unless in denial of statistics and facts.

Update on Life – Forward Movement in Knowing That God Is With You!

Recently my pursuit in career shifted suddenly bringing me abruptly (but gladly) to a new city and home in Atlanta, Georgia. I awakened with new present moments of struggle in the realization of gratefulness. It is amazing to me how a valley in life brings us sudden joy when we remember and appreciate the best mountain top moments. We appreciate those moments with gentle reminders of God’s loyalty to us.

While seeking new direction in addition to my own part time job, I have had time to really reevaluate God’s Will for my life. I set time aside to exercise and devote personal time with God in the Word and prayer with intentions to focus on others. I am scheduled and trained to run a half-marathon in three weeks, with an aim to run one registered race a month. I finished my photography website and even more recently, a polished manuscript (with an applied copyright). I also start another Master’s degree in Public Administration focused in nonprofit administration at Troy University in May this spring season. More importantly, I made time to remember my life mission and what I aim to accomplish with God’s plan for my life.

I do not express all these grand ideas to brag but to show that God brings favor, even when we do not realize He is still around. Sometimes God brings a fresh and slow season in our lives to redirect our attention to Him. Instead of whining because things do not go your way (which we all have done), try to enjoy and remember the good things of those times. There is good to be had if you look for it with the right perspective in mind.

While things have not been ideal in my own mind, I am coming up with a new mountain top experience with where God will have me. As my father always says in abundance, “God’s with you,” which you start to believe after you hear it two thousand times.

This morning I sat still, something I rarely do in discipline, and just listened to God in meditation. While private in my relationship with Jesus, God reminded me of His Promise in my life. What I love about the right decisions in life is that the Holy Spirit usually gives us the inclination of what to do. Sometimes we pray and pray and pray when we know what God wants. We just need to make sure. I happened to experience God’s reminder this morning while listening to the Kari Jobe (love her music) song below. Breathe in. Breathe out. I took this yoga-like approach to relax today this morning. There is something refreshing about a moment to relax and express your vision for the reminder you are right on track with where you need to be. Perhaps this song will speak to you as it speaks to me.

Dabo Swinney – The Miracle Worker, A Visit to Grandma’s House.

On Monday, my Grandmother was told that someone was coming to visit her. My uncle Ray kept teasing her, telling her that Elvis was that special visitor. Though Elvis was a “no show,” the person who DID make an appearance was Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head football coach. Actually, he made more than an appearance. He made an impression. He made a memory. He gave my family encouragement and laughter. He gave his time, his story, his faith, and his affection. He was interactive, and he listened as much as he talked.

Now as an Alabama native, I seriously wonder if coaches within our state would do the same. I really am not sure what to think of Gene Chiziz anymore, fired head coach this past year of the Auburn University Tigers. Nick Saban seems consumed with his dynasty for yet another national championship year after year without notice of what transpires outside of a football stadium. And with Gus Malzaln, the new head football coach of Auburn, there have been no apparent gestures of this kind. You cannot help but like Dabo, even if you hate Clemson University (do remember to Love Thy Rival). He is just someone you want to pull for, an underdog living the dream to better influence lives like my Grandmother. After Dabo beat LSU in this year’s Atlanta Peach Bowl, fan or not, with his adverse background, you could not help but like the guy and be happy for him.     

My Dad wrote the following message regarding Dabo’s visit:

Every now and again someone acts in a way that helps restore my faith in humanity. If you have been on this earth long enough, you know what I am talking about. Additionally, you hear much about what’s “bad” in college athletics, and seldom do you hear about the “good.” Well, yesterday, I witnessed a wonderful meeting between a woman struggling to beat cancer (my mom) and a NCAA Division I head football coach (Dabo Swinney). Dabo took time out of his very busy schedule two days before national signing day to meet, encourage, and pray over Mom.

Mother has had to resume chemotherapy (after a two month reprieve) because of the renewed growth of the cancer. And while chemo is hard on her, she seems to be singularly focused on seeing her granddaughter (my sister’s daughter) get married in May. And while this is a worthy goal for her, we all felt that she needed a “boost.”

My brother, Ray, had seen on one of the Clemson University websites that head football coach, Dabo Swinney, had done some visitations to Clemson fans who were undergoing hospice. Ray thought that it would be a worthy endeavor to write Dabo about our Mom, what she was going through, and ask if he would be willing to pay her a visit.

**(Footnote: It’s important to note that Mom, like many in our family, is an avid Clemson University fan and loves football. Also, Mom and Dad make their home in Easley, SC, which is about 15 miles from Clemson, SC.

About 1-2 weeks after sending the letter, Ray received a call from Don Munson, Director of Creative Media Services, Clemson University. Don indicated that Dabo wanted to visit Mom, a date was set based on Dabo’s schedule, and the visit occurred yesterday at Mom & Dad’s home.

Ray, Susan (my sister), and I were in attendance when Dabo and Don arrived at my parents’ house. Mom knew someone was coming, but she had no idea of the mystery visitor’s identity. One hint that she was given was the fact that he was a Clemson fan. And lest any of you think that this was about a media event or publicity, nothing could be further from the truth. The only ones taking pictures were Susan and me. This WAS a very intimate meeting between Dabo and my mom. And while the rest of us did interact with Dabo, the focus was Mom, which was exactly what we wanted. Dabo loved on Mom, encouraged Mom, and prayed over Mom. His words and actions were both encouraging and inspiring. He was patient. Dabo wanted to know all about Mom’s illness, so he would know “how to pray.” He was personable, telling us stories about his wife and sister’s struggle with cancer. He told us about his mother and her struggles with scoliosis. His 30 minute visit turned into an hour and twenty minutes, and he didn’t seem to want to leave. He was gracious in every way, even with the signing of Clemson souvenirs for all of our family members.

I could go on for quite awhile about Dabo’s visit but will simply say, it was a wonderful memory that my family will cherish always. We will never be able to thank Dabo (& Don) enough for what we believed was a very timely visit with my Mom.

I ask that you continue to lift Mom up in prayer.

God Bless!
JimBo

Relationships – What do I know? What do you know? But this is funny, I do not care who you are.

You may have noticed that today I was tweeting through my Twitter account some dating advice provided by Eharmony and even me perhaps just as a joke, but a conversation with a student I am mentoring from Southern Polytechnic University here in Atlanta, Georgia spurred these tweet tidbits.

Naturally as guys, we talk about possible female prospects in our dating life. Well, Martin has been extremely affectionate towards the same girl for about the last three months, really since I first met him. And yes, I have Martin’s permission to write about this!

I have had a leery suspicion with this particular girl from the very beginning. For the sake of anonymity, let’s name her Dolly. Dolly only eats organic food. You should check out the prices of organic food in stores. Dolly also attends yoga classes three or four nights a week, which is also very expensive. The girl drives the priciest 2013 Ford Mustang on the market, which her Dad “momentarily” pays for with the car note. While she did finish her associate’s degree as a physical therapy assistant at Southern Polytechnic, she continues to live at home without a job two years after graduation.

At one point, she moved to San Francisco on a whim with a physical therapy assistant short term contract only to move back after six months because she did not like California. She just happened to wreck her newly bought Silver Ford Mustang on the way out to California. And these are just the details I remember off the top of my head. And never once did Martin mention a strengthened relationship with Christ other than that she recently experienced salvation through a yoga epiphany. As if not enough, she constantly complained on how she could not practice yoga or meditation at home because of her “noisy” siblings. Please keep in mind she lived at home for FREE!

In a final message to Martin, she wrote, “I need you to understand and continue your journey to happiness elsewhere.”

That may have been my last sign of hysteria! Sometimes we see something in someone that at least for the moment does not exist. Chris Hodges, the senior pastor from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, calls this “missionary dating.” We try to save the person from something that we fictionally create in our minds. Please understand I have there as the salvation soldier.

I think Martin finally gave up on this lost cause after four months of frustration and continual perplexed confusion after admitting that there is more to a relationship than just “being pretty.” This is what happens when someone lives in what I call a “make-belief” world. This person has never truly suffered for anything. So everything up to this point in life has been expected and in some ways thought of as deserved.

I believe that relationships are more complex than they need to be these days. I think it is okay to ask a girl out and have fun, but in southern culture, that is rarely the case. Usually from the second you ask a girl out forward or even express an interest, serious takes over. And then nothing fun occurs.

The other night hanging out some extremely cool people from my church, a girl remained perplexed that I had a list of characteristics I look for in someone I want to marry. I simply asked, “Do you want to marry a man with a strong intentional conviction and relationship with Jesus Christ?” Of course, she responded, “Yes.” Then she seemed less perplexed when she also realized she had her own unstated mental checklist in a man she wanted to potentially marry.

I think as Christians we usually know when someone is on fire for God versus stagnantly constantly “trying to figure things out.” With a mutual attraction, that is usually the first sign that peaks my interest. There is nothing complex about my relational approach. If I want to know you, I usually just ask and seek information about the person’s personality. I will ask a girl to the circus. I will ask a girl to coffee. I will ask a girl to throw the Frisbee in Piedmont Park. If she has it going on for Jesus Christ, I got it going on to try and know that person.

But the first signal is and always will be the same for me: does she love God? If yes is the answer to this question, then I ask a few more questions of conversational interest.

The following video dives deeper humorously into Biblical relational dating. I think this preacher is hilarious, but I also think the minister rings true that a relationship with Christ comes before a relationship with someone else. I think Martin finally learned this lesson the hard way. I think whether we consciously admit or not, many believers, including me, learn this lesson the hard way.

Doer, Dreamer, or In-Betweener? Which are you in the New Year? A Life Resolution?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

In the last thirty turbulent days of the year through the holidays, a mixture of emotions stir in my heart and in my mind, often with a blank stare at my mirror in the morning. I wonder about my life direction as this year ends and begins with 2013. I am especially fond of the number thirteen because I love Taylor Swift, and she loves me! My number one New Year’s resolution is to marry Taylor as soon as writes another song about us. She was wrong when she wrote those “we will never ever, ever, ever get back together” lyrics.

With this ridiculous fantasy aside, I believe that people fall into three categories daily, monthly, and then of course yearly: 1.) The Doers 2.) The Dreamers 3.) And The In-Betweeners. And as I ask myself who I want to be, I ask you the same.

What do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered with your legacy? Do you want to Do? Do you want to Dream? Or do you just want to chill In-Between the two realities as you feel like it?

Do you seek to raise your arms in the Glorified Presence of God? Do you want to watch television and sleep all day as a modern day Homer Simpson?

I am active as most know me in personality, but this year I especially want to work hard, real hard. An earth-shattering moment awakened my senses at the beginning of December that I really have only begun to dig into the potential God has in store for my future. I have only touched the surface of amazing blessings. If you are anything like me, I tire of living in complacency when I believe God means so much more for me in the realization of what we can do with Christ in us!

If we truly realize and pray for the power of Christ, our level-reaching potential overflows with a supernatural confidence to touch thousands and possibly millions of lives. That is the mindset of a Doer! A Doer does not limit himself or herself! A Dreamer stagnantly thinks about what to do next, never really taking that step forward! We all know those types – “I think I want to be this.” “I think I want to do that.” “I think God is calling me to do this.”

The only problem with thinking too much is you often get stuck with all the In-Betweeners who never walk forward with their life. An In-Betweener is close to the break of a Doer but remains stuck in place for many reasons, probably but not limited to the ideas of fear and what others think. Those two observations have been the largest hindrances in my relationship with God as a Doer, instead of just a Dreamer.

Seriously, as a believer in Christ, can you imagine the power of God alive in you with the Holy Spirit, rising through the magnification of your personal gifts? Superhero movies are not all fictional. We are capable of becoming the movement makers of this country when we realize Christ in a Joshua-Sun-Stand-Still moment!

This liberation is simply what I want (and of course hope and pray) for the church in 2013! I want Christians to rise with higher heights as Doers, not Dreamers, and certainly not stuck in the middle with the In-Betweeners.

To further grasp this concept, another visual imagery involves the subject interest area known as politics. Yes, I said that ugly word. I believe that most politicians fearfully remain in the middle of my diagram above In-Between to win votes and serve their own interests to keep office. Many loquaciously speak with big words as dreamers, but never live up to the level of a doer. I think fear inhibits leaders from often doing the right thing because they fear unchartered waters and new hard decisions that need to be made. I believe if a Christian politician truly understood the nature of Christ-filled-doing relationship with Jesus, then fear of simply occupying office for another day would no longer be their focus. Serving the people of this country would, one nation under God!

I certainly do not want to be thought of as the cliché negative term that comes with the word politician. I want to be a Doer for Jesus that chases with action my dreams with everything I have. I no longer want to live in the in-between moment. I want to bring the Kingdom to this earth, and most times that requires us to act with deliberation, without the pause of best wishes or a “that’s not my problem” attitude. This world need more Doers, and that is what is what I plan to be in 2013. That is my number one life resolution, not a New Year’s resolution, a life resolution! Rise up with Christ in 2013!

HOMELESS and FORTUNATE – YOU have NO IDEA! PHOTO TESTIMONIES!

Recently I volunteered with the blessing to serve three homeless communities each under three different bridges in the North Druid Hills area of the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan. It still overwhelms me to think the following: that each bridge I drive over in Atlanta more than likely covers a collective of homeless individuals who gather around a fire for warmth. In sociology we understand why those of commonality often coexist with one another in struggle – these pictures bring a new perspective to that point of observation.Homeless Men in Ministry, Serving Homeless

Our team preps to carry and deliver both blankets and packed lunches to these three communities. We really just wanted to spend time with those on the street, reminding them of God’s Love.

Christian Service for the Homeless

Our teams meet and bond even for a Kodak moment. Despite very different stories, we bond and converse in common beliefs and value systems.

Intentional Listening to the sorrow of a story

Jimmy poured out his soul because he was recently denied treatment at a local healthcare facility for both cancer and cataracts in both eyes. Katelyn expresses a deep care for homeless ministries, and as you view in her eyes and gestures (struggling with her own tears), her heart breaks at the story of a man crying for God’s guidance and assistance. Jimmy had a hard time breathing because he cried through the entire expression of his own story, without pausing for the intake of air.

Service to those serving

Even while we listen to stories like Jimmy’s, Mayor Joe reminds us also of God’s Love. While we came to show the expression of God’s affections, even those we sought to serve served us in their own ways as well. Katelyn looks to feel a little better consoled by a new friend, even after witnessing Jimmy’s life fight through his touching words. It is evident Mayor Joe leads the clan here.

The Mayor Lives

Mayor Joe lives a clean life without the abuse of drugs, a struggle many fail to endure with spiritual warfare on the darkness of the streets. He leads this under-the-bridge community as each individual confides and welcomes outsiders such as ourselves. The community NEVER embraces those who partake in drugs. In fact, they run those type of individuals with such addictions out from underneath this bridge. The love of Christ fights in extraordinary ways and in extraordinary places, resisting evil ways of the Enemy.

Jesus Shirt - Every Where You Want Him to Be

Benjamin (his American given name) decided he wanted my “Jesus: He’s Everywhere You Want Him to Be” shirt (a Visa credit card shirt advertisement spinoff). Instantly, upon viewing of my shirt, he pointed and asked for it. What could I do? I took the shirt off and gave it to him! The same request with one of Benjamin’s friends before happened with my jacket. So I gave the jacket away as well. Benjamin somehow managed to voyage from Thailand to the United States, and with his limited English, expressed a hard time finding work, but of all I met, he showed the light of Christ with his smiles and many, many thank you’s in a powerful way.

Our God Reigns.

Many of the homeless expressed that they lived in paradise under the bridge with geese, otters, and other creatures of God lived among them “on the beach.” Their view of their own predicaments lined up so freshly in my own mind. Here you will see Benjamin and Lacy feeding the geese with what little food they did have. Benjamin smiles BIG!

The Joy of Benjamin

Before we leave, Benjamin hugs all of us one more time with last minute photo poses. Again his joy lingers upon all of us!

I only gave a glimpse of this day through this blog entry and a change in perspective on what Christmas should really mean for all of us, which remains so graciously bestowed with so many amazing blessings. These individuals bath and even sometimes drink out of the stream underneath this bridge after urinating in or around it. The see their bridge as a home and shelter from the weather and seem to understand a sense of community under “Mayor Joe’s bridge” better than many families do.

When I get down with sudden circumstances in my life, I sometimes think of my new friends under the bridge. Sometimes I just look at these pictures to realize and understand just how awesome our God is, even in places we least expect to see His Light Shine the most bright.

The promises of God for those who serve in this way are very clear in the Bible!

Isaiah 58:10 (MSG)

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places

9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

We Are Human, and Fear God Only – Holy reminders from a friend.

My friend, Andrew Mannheimer, who I did a special blog series previous this year with his Hip Hop music videos always brings to light the revelation of truth as it pertains to his relationship with God, much like the mirror of his own music expression.

I once asked him about a famous New York Times best-selling author by the name of Donald Miller (author of Blue like Jazz), “How did he write all these books and publish them nationwide?” Andrew’s response remained simple, “He’s just a man, James…human. Whatever he is capable of, you are clearly capable of as well.”

I think we forget, I included, that famous and accomplished people are in fact just human. Some people are famous when they might not even have talent of any sort, maybe because they are pretty, if that is even considered a talent.

A couple of years ago I further spoke with Andrew about my fear of the unknown….perhaps something about the real world after graduate school at Auburn University. Again he stated, “There is nothing to fear but God. When you fear earthly matters, you block God from the light of His glory. I lean into a resource that never reaches depletion: God.”

Andrew is in his mid-twenties, but the truths he expresses are so simple yet amazing. I think Andrew demonstrates that relationships (since he is indeed a great friend), specifically with God, become the most important element in life that matters. We will take our Christian brothers and sisters to heaven, not our stuff.

This past year has been a really weird one. I still remain perplexed at how the end of 2012 fell apart in some ways. God sometimes disguises blessings we do not understand now but later do.

Perhaps 2013 is Our year! It is the year of relationship with God and Cartee! I am not trying to fall into the trap of resolution goals most never follow through, like losing weight for instance. Some go hard for one week and then move on to life as it was before. Sometimes a focus on God is all we need. I feel that Andrew would say something simple like that, a simple truth.

John Piper further reminds the fear of God is the only real fear for the life of a Christian! This is a very short clip…so watch….

A Continuance from Sunday – Seven Characteristics of a Great Leader, Someone You Want to Follow!

I wrote this entry in my last blog at www.jamescartee.blogspot.com over eighteen months ago (which automatically forwards to this site); however I thought this specific updated entry would follow up ideally on Tim Webb’s guest blog entry this past Sunday night. While Tim listed six points, I list seven points of difference that I believe distinguish the good, the bad, and the ugly leaders who succeed with those who follow them or fail miserably with everyone involved.

Even today (11/28/12) I have quickly noticed distinct and drastic differences in the leadership of two clear subdivides (black and white where the beauty of gray no longer resonates – meaning figuratively that no in-between really exists)…one perspective that focuses on Christian values (people really matter) and another perspective that centers around the daily routines of a business (money matters in selfish and prideful ambitions of a given title). Quotas of monetary gains focus more attention than the actual relationships that an abundant life offers (great memories with friendships, families, and significant others). And what you may sometimes even come to find is that men and women of the so proclaimed clothe lack these seven great leadership characteristics and more resemble those of poor quality. And on the opposite, I know some who blatantly speak out against Christianity but who also remain better leaders with inherit qualities than Christ believers who profess truth but fail to walk it. I simply write to make this observation. That does not mean this is case in a blanket sweep for everyone in such positions. It just perplexes me when it is, people claiming to be something they are not in divine leadership.

Great Leaders…

1.) Respond positively when bad and good news comes (thinking of the good in all circumstances). I called a leader of one organization to explain that my electrical power might went out for several days and that I may not have access to an electrical outlet with an internship to finish my final project. This person’s response was: “Is your family alright? We will make it work.”

2.) Encourage.

When I was having a hard time holding my head up because of what I perceived to be hard times, comforting words were given by this same version. They encourage because they experience the joy of Christ, and they have the natural ability to see the good in other people.

3.) Are Real, speaking well of others.

What you see is what you get. There is no hidden show of deception beneath the book cover involving a real leader. Their example is set by a true meaning of what it means to treat others as you would have others treat you.

4.) Are Grateful.

…just thankful for life, serving a Christian-focused cause.

5.) Are Gracious.

…show grace to the sick, students during exam week, or those suffering from natural disaster that have lost everything.

6.) Think about the welfare of team members when circumstances deviate from the norm.

I was prayed for by others in the middle of all my distress.

7.) Have a Kingdom perspective and mindset.

Two individuals during my internship two years ago also prayed with me for the deaths of fellow statesmen in my home, Alabama. Relief is not evident in actions. It is evident in prayer.

Poor Leaders…

1.) Respond negatively when bad and good news comes (thinking of the bad in all circumstances). I have been given several compliments from clients on the job. Despite phone calls from these clients to my superior, at the end of the day, the negative was the focused on more than the positive.

2.) Discourage.

One particular leader seems mad all the time and treats people harshly with critical words. This individual often lacks the ability to see the good in other people.

3.) Are Fake, speaking badly of others.

They pretend to be something they are not. Sometimes the package or offer of a job is more attractive than the job itself. I have heard on several accounts almost every employee, leaders included, in one particular organization talking bad about other people (gossip rather than encouragement).

4.) Are ungrateful.

…almost hating everything they do, therefore making sure everyone experiences the misery with them.

5.) Are ungracious.

…Grace is not shown despite illness, class work, or natural disaster that is occurring throughout the state.

6.) Think about his or her own personal progress instead of others.

For instance, I was given grief at one business for calling in sick one day and then having a doctor’s appointment another day, thus being late one hour to work.

7.) Have an earthly perspective and mindset.

While tornadoes were racing around Alabama, other businesses were closed while our business stayed open not for the safety of those who worked there but rather to make a dime.

CONCLUSION THOUGHTS:

Now after looking at these drastic differences between leaders, would you rather work for the first set of seven characteristics or the second set of seven? When I stumble, become frustrated, or even remain disappointed with a job, the source of leadership might explain why. With poor leadership comes a poor experience, and it becomes difficult for the layman person to rise and become great when those around him or her hates their occupation and therefore perhaps their own life as well. Your teammates can only be as great as those who lead them. In my humble opinion, you can never become more when those who lead inhibit you from doing so. That is when it might be time to start over somewhere else, somewhere focused on the right seven characteristics of a great leader.

Perhaps those who lack the seven points of great leadership can start to learn here with this inspirational video.

How do we give thanks in the midst of trials? We do The Jesus-Inspired Gratitude Dance!

Isn’t this dance hysterical? It represents all cultures dancing joyously for gratitude because one traveler visited the world to make a statement with this movement of thanks to all nations through a dance. Dancing makes me happy. If down, give it a try. Whether in a group or alone, dance until a smile comes across your face. Play this video, and give it a go!

I recently moved to a new city where a new full time job and another part time job awaited me. The two jobs line up perfectly so that one employment does not conflict with the other. Moving, picking up my life, and leaving my family was a big deal to me. Now while my relocation to Atlanta, Georgia seems trivial to what some experience in the Gratitude Dance video, some of those women, men, and children stricken by poverty that most Americans can and never will be able to conceive in their own minds….possibly with no food, no shelter, minimal clothing, and maybe even without the ability to choose their own elected leaders. Yet they dance with joy. They dance maybe just for the sake of dancing. These individuals strive to be on a camera dancing for joy with all the excitement to make this YouTube video a very special one for me and maybe others who watch it.

When you follow God in His Calling for your life obediently, it becomes inevitable that you will experience trials in the wake of your steps for faith-driven decisions, but the rewards become numerous in the obedience of moving forward once through the tunnel. I struggled about the first month I was in Atlanta, nervous and losing sleep with wonderment on whether I genuinely made the right decision to leave everything I grew comfortable with in the last two years, located in Birmingham, Alabama. One night at a Georgia Tech Bible study, students from Grace Midtown Church prayed over me with fervent passion, and since then, the ice, stress, and pressure melted off my shoulders onto the floor. The blessings of prayers even in the slightest of tribulations bring God’s reality to relax with felt peace to reality. I am still bewildered how obedience in showing up to a Bible study where I knew no one led to peace unlike anything I experienced in a long time.

So in the midst of very minor doubts and trials, I claimed in faith two jobs I wanted. I met some very special friends recently, including but certainly not limited to a wedding I photographed. I found an amazing place to live in the middle of midtown Atlanta that is surrounded by everything a young person wants to do. I am only a ten minute drive to work in good traffic and at the most twenty-five minutes in bad traffic. I work with great people. I got a cheap membership to a gym and then have access to two others randomly free to me. I continue to meet really cool people who love Jesus through Grace Midtown Church. These are only a few of the blessings that come to mind with what at first felt like a trial but appears to be launching a career of growth and stepping stones to bigger and better things for now and in the future.

It has always been difficult for me as an individual to praise and thank God in the midst of trials or what I consider negative circumstances. My natural inclination is to complain and seek better opportunities elsewhere rather than counting my blessings in the present. My family and friend support system often extend themselves beyond the call of duty for my happiness, and I take those efforts for granted almost every day. But today, this Thanksgiving and this coming year in 2013, I am stepping up to bring change in my life where it is necessary to better benefit those around me and myself in relationship to Christ.

Thanksgiving in trials becomes especially hard when obeying the Lord in His call to move forward in specific areas of our lives, but if we can get through that initial testing period, then the rewards will come. Look at my life as an example of God’s Grace and Testimony! Stay the course!

In reading the Bible verses related to this subject, we shall rejoice in trials because we still have Jesus. No matter what we live through or experience, Jesus is still ours in relationship, and that ultimately reminds us to give thanks in the midst of trials of adversity. I especially love the following verse with regards to this truth:

Psalm 62:6 (AMP)
“He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved.”

As creatures of God, we are unmovable by every imaginable force in this world. It is time for each of to rise, step up, and live under the shoulders of God’s Grace! Happy Thanksgiving to my readers!

I encourage you to take part in the Gratitude Dance at the beginning of this blog entry and to watch these other videos that bring happy thoughts to mind when we realize just how blessed we are.