October 20, 2017

“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.

In the year 2013, the Pharisees with not bring me down!

Year of 2013

In the year 2013,
I will never be like the disgrace you are.
In the year 2013,
God will heal the soul torn scar.

In the year 2013,
I will lead in the capacity you failed.
In the year 2013,
Your cowardly ways God has already unveiled.

In the year 2013,
I will leave this Pharisee far behind.
In the year 2013,
God teaches me to touch the hearts of all mankind.

In the year 2013,
I will bring Glory to His Heavenly Name.
In the year 2013,
Your dishonor paints the truth of your shame.

In the year 2013,
I will let go of doubt, disdain, and disgust.
In the year 2013,
God builds once again my living trust.

In the year 2013,
I will never again react in the anger you enticed.
In the year 2013,
Your pride offset the forgiveness of sins in Christ.

In the year 2013,
I praise the Lord for adversity you created.
In the year 2013,
God knows that your day predestined stands dated.

In the year 2013,
I will remember the blessings in lessons I won.
In the year 2013,
Your mistakes in my life are now withdrawn.

In the year 2013,
I will rise to higher heights in new found inspiration.
In the year 2013,
God solidified a new found unshaken firm foundation.

JLC iii, 1/14/13

This poem is about a past leader who really disappointed me in 2012. He simply pretended to be someone he was not, much like a Pharisee, supposedly geared towards the service of others. While over me, I felt like he tried to bring me and other members of his staff down because he possessed a badge of authority. He utilized the label of managing and fell short on many levels in the true definition of exceptional leadership.

Scott Williams distinguishes the difference in his video below with simple words of simple truth. While not directly apparent, this video certainly relates to these leadership observations and the depth of the poem I wrote.

The True Measure of Any Leader – The Two Greatest Christian Commandments! What JESUS, TIM TEBOW, and EMANUELLA have to say about it!

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Tim Webb and I added our own tenets for what comprises a leader’s genetic excellence in the last two blog entries. Over the last month, I witnessed incidents in my own life and circumstances that led me to reevaluate my own previous writings on www.jamescartee.com. I think leadership falls in the simple truth of the Scriptures above: Love God, and when you genuinely love God, you will genuinely also love others. It comes back to the basic premise of treating others as you yourself would like to be treated.

How many leaders do you know that fall long short of this Biblical truth over one idea? Instead an authority figure might think, “I have a God-given label and title. Therefore you will respect me because of my God-given label and title.”

I struggle when people obviously make mistakes and fail to own up to those mistakes, blaming others for their failures when all they had to do was look in the mirror. Our natural Christian paradigm perhaps should allow for mistakes in the imperfections of the sinful beings we are and become over the duration of a lifetime. We are after all not perfect and never will be.

I believe sports are a good example here. We see great leaders take average teams to unforeseen levels of success as underdogs with upset victories and unity within the group, focused on the collective good rather than the one individual. We also see lousy leaders take great teams nowhere because the focus was never about the team. It was always about the job coaches’ label, title, lifestyle, and own sense of self-worth, perhaps the exact opposite attitude Jesus would have in a ministerial leader….those who fail to understand the two greatest love commandments.

I do not believe a team centers around having the most gifted talent in its members. An exceptional team centers around having the most gifted leader to execute, diagnose, and own up to the challenge in front of everyone.  One sure sign of good leadership is whether the team members want to be wherever it is they work or play. Their wishful presence may not be a sign of whether they enjoy what they do or not. It may rather be a sign of whether they enjoy who they serve under or not, those who love and treat others equally. Some forget that titles are not given by men or degrees. Titles are given by God alone!

As Tim Tebow (NFL quarterback for the New York Jets, 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner, and Florida Gators 2006 and 2008 National College Champions) says in his autobiography, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” It is up to the leaders of a group to help team members realize the truth of such a quote! Talent goes a long way, but refined talent with hard work goes much farther. And a good leader pulls that energy out of his or her followers.

It is far easier for authorities to pin point a team member to blame than to own up their own mistakes and failures when problems arise. “It was never on me! It was always on you!”

The blame game is an easy way out for anyone, especially when it comes to relationships with significant others or friends. But you will notice that when a leader takes his fair share of the blame, it is often because he or she loves those who follow the lead….the true measure of a good leader, understanding and living out the two greatest commandments. This leader does not bale on the team. This leader bears the consequences for bad decision-making with the team together.

Leadership with your walk in Christ really comes down to these Biblical principles: Love God, and love others as yourself.

While simple to write or say and extremely hard to live out, we know when leaders misunderstand, misinterpret, or all together miss out on the truth spoken from Jesus’ own lips. The victims are not the followers exposed to misguided leaderships. The victims are the leaders misguided in their own thoughts that they are in fact doing the most good for those mandated to comply with their authority.

I believe that in this video Emanuella catches the truest essence of loving others in a creative form of Post-It Note card expressions….if only leaders of this world took her message to heart, perhaps then we would have less train wrecks in the lives of others like I experienced this past month.

Some leaders neglect the two greatest commandments breathed into Matthew 22:37-40 perhaps because the image of entitled authority becomes more important than humbly practicing the Biblical words of Jesus himself. As many Christians know, it easier to pretend what you preach rather than to live it out.

 

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.

101st Entry “So You Want To Be a Leader?” Lessons from A Real Manager, by Tim Webb.

SCROLL AND READ THE WHOLE ENTRY – THIS IS GOOD STUFF, RIGHT HERE!

Tim and His Wife, Kathy
This marks my 101st blog entry on this new site (www.jamescartee.com). I would like to give special thanks to both Nate Johnson (Owner and Creative Director of Level 2 Design) who implemented the new look and Tim Webb (friend, mentor, and greatest encourager to follow my dreams), who graciously wrote this entry with intentional living in mind on the subject of leadership.
If you started today as a young person and tried to read all the books that have been written on Leadership, just the best of those books, you’d run out of lifetime before you finished.
For 34 years I worked for one of the largest companies in the world during which time I served under many leaders and served as a leader. Some of those leaders weren’t very good; in fact, I wouldn’t call them leaders, just managers. But I have often said you can learn as much from a bad example as from a good one; you can learn what not to do!
During the first half of my career I served under strong leadership. I learned many of the lessons illustrated below. Later in my career, as our company experienced rapid growth, it also experienced a lack of leadership. Those being promoted to leadership positions were young with great track records in performance but no experience leading people. Because of their youth they had not been exposed to strong leadership. Others were tenured, but they exhibited poor leader qualities. More on this will come to competency later in this missive.
Of the many books on leadership and management I have read, one stands out. I would highly recommend, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He talks of how small companies become great and then start to grow and created layer upon layer of bureaucracy and forget what got them there. His example in the book could have been my former company.
I eventually retired early. I had earned my full retirement. That is not why I retired. You see, I had been around long enough to know what “good” looked like and what I saw was far from good. Those who were charged with leading had self promotion and gain as their goal rather than what was best for the company, the good of the team.
Whether you lead a large company or a small group at your church, whether you’re trying to learn to lead your family or a Boy Scout troop, let me simplify leadership for you in a few short lessons I learned while being led and while leading myself.
1. Be a Promise Keeper
Always, always do what you say you will do. Too often today so called leaders make empty promises that they know they cannot keep.
Have resolve. Don’t let anything sway you from your promise.
Be careful what you promise so you can be sure you can deliver on it.
Now, having said that, there will be times, for reasons beyond your control, that you can’t keep a promise. These times should be few and far between. When this happens,
2. Get the Bad News out Quickly
Be decisive about delivering bad news. Don’t sugar coat it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t delay it.
People will accept bad news and respect the deliverer if that person takes responsibility and is honest.
How refreshing it is to hear someone take responsibility when they screw up instead of blaming someone else, whether it is an athlete, a politician, or a business owner.
3. Address inequity where you find it
Do the right thing. Too many people today let how something may look to others govern their decision instead of just doing the right thing.
Do something. Don’t be passive. Don’t attack the person, attack the problem.
Offer a solution. When you see and address inequity, always come with a solution.
4. Act with Integrity Always
If you knowingly or intentionally break the rules, I won’t trust you, and neither will anyone else. Your people are watching, walk the walk. Remember, “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying”.
5. Build a Culture of Trust
Low trust results in closed communication, little problem solving, and poor cooperation and teamwork.
You can’t talk yourself out of a problem you behaved your way into.
Trustworthiness is more than integrity. It connotes competence. In other words, you may be an honest doctor, but before I trust you, I want to know that you are competent.
Stephen Covey said it best in his book, Principled Centered Leadership, “We sometimes focus too much on integrity and not enough on personal competence and professional performance. Honest people who are incompetent in their area of professional expertise are not trustworthy”. Think about that for a minute.
6. Lastly you must value your people.
If you don’t, they won’t value you.
• Be a Promise Keeper
• Get the Bad News out Quickly
• Address Inequity Where you Find it
• Act with Integrity Always
Learn these simple lessons and you will be well on your way to being a leader, something society is well too short on today.

My Friend Jedd Medefind from The Christian Alliance for Orphans – Orphan Sunday Series, Part 3

Why is the CALL FOR THE ORPHAN great? Watch the following video to statistically understand the meaning of Orphan Sunday and Jedd Medefind’s work.

Orphan Sunday, occurring on November 4, 2012, is a national movement joined by churches all over the world though an organization known as The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). These three blog entries introduce three dear friends I met through this Alliance with brief information about their respective organizations. My last entry highlighted Dave Wood from Lifeline Children’s Services.

Connected through Greg Buzek, one day I received an email from Jedd Medefind, the previous Special Assistant to the President and Acting Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, author of three books, and now active President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). I thought to myself, “Who is this guy that wants an Auburn Master’s degree graduate to do another free internship?” After our brief interview, I thought this guy must be crazy. When I prayed and meditated about the internship program, my role, and Jedd’s possible friendship, I realized this might be the opportunity for a lifetime moment to remember. And so my journey with the Christian Alliance for Orphans began! ….with a volunteer internship and a guy named Jedd.

I experienced dark times when I began the internship, possibly another reason why I accepted the chance to become a part of something special. I wanted to feel hope again in my relationship with God. While Jedd often remained busy with the approaching Summit 2011 conference in Louieville, Kentucky (an international celebration and reunion of fatherless advocates from around globe), he constantly made time to occasionally speak with me over the phone and write inspirational emails of encouragement. Even Elizabeth Wiebe, Director of Outreach for CAFO, continually mentioned that “we will make this work,” when I felt overwhelmed with both a full time job and this fully engaged internship, especially when tornadoes ripped my Alabama home state apart. Both Jedd and Elizabeth turned my valley into a mountaintop experience that continues to this very day as the Orphan Sunday State Coordinator for both Georgia and Alabama. They rejoice with me when I live with successful forward movement and empathize with me when down and discouraged, usually with a kind word to lend.

Jedd continues to serve as a powerful presence in my life with prayer, his leadership and communicative styles, and even his example as a devoted author, father, and husband. Like Dave Wood and Larry Bergeron, Jedd is just someone you want to be like, not because of his success but rather because of his humility in Christ. I truly believe God brought the Alliance together under the leadership of this man to eradicate the epidemic of the fatherless so that every child in this world will have an eventual healthy Christian-focused home. It is with Medefind-size faith that I believe and know in my heart this truth.

I have always had a soft spot for children, hence why I currently still work with youth in ministry. While I did not see it when my internship originally began, God brought us together for BIG FULFILLMENTS in Kingdom-building missions, promises, and mentalities. Mentioned as before in other blog entries, some believe ministry is a usual eight to five o’clock job, but in reality, the call to ministry is a twenty-four hour, fourth quarter drill to an eternal finish line. The salvation of others and saving orphans lies in each second of the day. I would say that sometimes Jedd more than likely exhausts himself in traveling, speaking, writing, and making appointments with individuals to serve an awesome God, but he just gets it: the simple truth that a relationship with God brings the greatest blessings and rewards anyone could ever experience in life. Humility plus good works equals explosion of God’s Love for us as believers.

Celebrate with Jedd, myself, and others from around world the cause of the fatherless on this Orphan Sunday, November 4th. We can and will make an eternal difference if we put aside differences and unite for orphaned children! Jedd understands that is about the fatherless and that this thing called life was never meant to be about just us and our personal selves. It is about Him!

Zambia’s Gift to the World from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.
(This text was quoted directly from the Christian Alliance for Orphans website.)

In 33 unforgettable minutes, Zambia’s Gift to the World weaves the unlikely story of how Orphan Sunday began in a humble, hard-pressed church in Lusaka, Zambia…and today is impacting lives around the globe.

You’ll encounter vibrant African Christians and the children they’ve embraced…favorites like Steven Curtis Chapman and Francis Chan…as well as remarkable believers from around the world—all sharing of the beauty that rises when Christians reflect God’s heart for the fatherless.

Enjoy the film…and join us in praying that God will use it greatly to stir Christians across America and far beyond!

Zambia’s Gift to the World from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

My Friend Dave Wood from Lifeline Children’s Services – Orphan Sunday Series, Part 2

Orphan Sunday, occurring on November 4, 2012, is a national movement joined by churches all over the world though an organization known as The Christian Alliance for Orphans. These three upcoming blog entries introduce three dear friends I met through this Alliance with brief information about their respective organizations. My last entry highlighted Larry Bergeron of A Child’s Hope International.

I met Dave Wood, the Vice President and International Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, briefly at Summit 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky, and I think we had an instant connection through our comedian-like routines. While serious in both our advocacy efforts for the orphan, the joy of Christ is evident through both our hearts with our laughs and smiles to encourage those we are around. Many in the Lifeline alumni and staff network mistakenly think I look like Herbie Newell, the Executive Director of this adoption ministry, however after meditation and prayer, I really believe my heart and personality resembles that of Dave. I still imagine the day we work together in director-position nonprofit ministry peacemaker roles. Perhaps then we will really through the power of God provide a healthy home for every child in the world, all 147 million of them. It is in fact possible! Sometimes you just in fact have to believe in yourself and your eternal cause and vision!

Dave and I have that big faith that this dream of fate could really happen. We both write. You will notice one of my favorite pieces by Dave in this blog entry, entitled Lifeline. I believe the piece will touch your heart. We both like to laugh and goof off. We both live with an eternal mindset. I hope that as Dave reads this he does not mind my comparison, but he is indeed the kind of person you hope to emulate and be like.

Dave has long had it on his heart to publish a book. Well, I believe it is time we encourage and push him to get there. It is not a matter of whether his material is great enough. It certainly is that and more! I believe in the preaching of the Hip Hop preacher, Eric Thomas. Now is the fourth quarter. Publishing books and advocating for orphans is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it! Let’s pray, push, and press Dave to publish his book through accountability. That is indeed on my list of goals in 2013. So be looking out for one of my favorite people’s writing, Dave Wood! His is book is coming because I believe in his hard work, his real hard work. When you want to be successful as much as you want to breathe, then you will be successful. Eric Thomas informs us to “not talk about it but to be about it.”

LIFELINE!

by Dave Wood on Monday, September 5, 2011 at 12:28am •

Oh darkness lies entrenched within my heart
Fears, like ocean waves flood over my soul
Drowning in the abyss of a sea that is all mine
These black storms have left me without hope
I’m a sinking ship that is listing and all alone
So desperate this very moment for a lifeline
But in this churning flood there is not a lifeline
Only sorrow upon sorrows drowning my heart
The rising sea billows have washed over any hope
Speechless and unattended I am a mortified soul
And though I hear the cries of others I am alone
A vanquished life with nothing left that is mine
I do remember a time when things were mine
There was no thought and no need of a lifeline
I sometimes felt lonely but never really alone
There wasn’t yet a broken and battered heart
The future was still unknown to my naive soul
Back then my tomorrow’s were filled with hope
Skies were clear and a bright magnificent hope
As if a postcard that said the world was mine
The warmth of the sun was peace to my soul
The gentle breeze upon my sails a steady lifeline
Calm waters brought comfort and gave me heart
Too taken to realize I was enjoying this bliss alone
Then one day an unexpected storm cloud rose up alone
This tempest would only grow overtaking all my hope
A fierce head wind pushing against my anchored heart
Waves of thunder burst threatening all that is mine
An ominous beast and not even a compass for a lifeline
Lightning strikes illuminating the hidden dread in my soul
The ship that carried me has now abandoned my soul
Broken into pieces an orphan castaway that is all alone
Longing through tears to be thrown a life saving lifeline
Looking for a brilliant lighthouse to point the way home
All that I ever dreamed for was a family that was mine
To be rescued from this storm and save my dying heart
Oh what my sad soul would give for such an abiding hope
No longer alone and fully loved by parents that are mine
A family is my only lifeline and the sole desire of my heart

Sestina Poem
Copyright © 2011 Dave Wood

I am fired up, pumped up, and motivated to know Dave and his family. He changes lives through his written words, his speaking, his traveling, and his role in ministry. There is something extremely satisfying about living for others, instead of living for retirement. Dave just gets that idea. Dave works at a ministry headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama known as Lifeline Children’s Services where I believe he will complete his journey in faith perhaps until the day he dies. Dave lives for others and has often dedicated his valuable time to point me in a positive direction through mutual discussion and belief in each other. I believe in Lifeline! I believe in Dave! And I believe together one day we just might live with a fourth quarter mentality to push all barriers to publish our books and save orphans. Now is the time to change lives of the youth we work with, and while in different ministries with different purposes, Dave continues to change the lives of thousands. Admire him. Know him. And support his ministry!

Listen and learn, readers, through this video! My hat is off to Dave and his lifetime of lifeline desires and ministries!

 

A Simple Message and Current Theme in My Life – Success Comes Finally! DO What We DO!

When I first graduated with my Masters from Auburn University in Communication, I thought I would catch fire in both the job market and publishing my first major book. I got somewhat sidetracked with two brief anthologies of twenty-three poems and successfully published both collections with book signings and what continues to be a consistent following on a redesigned blog. However I eventually ran out of money and needed to work somewhere, anywhere.

I started off with any-whatever-job I could find two years ago, selling ladies’ shoes at the Belk Department Store at Brookwood Mall in Homewood, Alabama (a suburb outside Birmingham, Alabama for those of you not from here). I quickly decided retail was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life with a Masters education. Then I moved forward six weeks later as an admissions representative at Virginia College Online Division. While Virginia College has been extremely good to me for the last eighteen months, it was again apparent that this was another venture I did not want to pursue also for the rest of my life, selling education through a proprietary mindset. It was a great place for me to learn business corporate policy from management from those who worked in industry far longer than me. In other words, Virginia College Online became a stepping stone to move forward for where God would have me now, the Salvation Army.

I know I applied for well over 500 jobs before the right fit came along. I took on several interviews and was offered several positions but never felt spiritually at peace about anything that presented itself until just now. The Salvation Army Headquarters in Atlanta offered me a job, as a Creative Marketing Strategist for their youth development department. I knew confidently and peacefully that God called me to move to Atlanta for this new opportunity to change adolescent lives through the influence of Christ and Biblically founded beliefs. In addition to this pursuit, I continue to push hard with both my writing and photography endeavors and online teaching.

In the pursuit of passions, I was often discouraged from what appeared to represent a lack of movement and upward mobility. I am not always sure what to do with my time to move forward in growth with my own life. Often times I just do what I do (advice I learned from Tony Dungy). I implement both a short term and long term vision plan and with each day push as hard as I can beyond my day job to make dreams happen. I write when I do not feel like writing. I exercise when I do not feel like exercising. I get up and go to my day job when I do not want to. I study to reach another graduate degree to stand apart from those in the masses. I do what I do even when I do not want to. Those who become the most successful still do what they do even when they do not want to. That is true motivation. Motivation is not a bright Tinker Bell feeling. It is doing what you know you need to even when you do not want to.

You may lose sleep. You may become frazzled. You may need to pull some hair out when you want to quit. But please see my life as a small step forward in the right direction. Finally after two years of completing my Master’s degree at Auburn University, I am moving to the BIG Atlanta CITY for a job I REALLY WANT, but it took two years. It may take another two years to complete another Master’s degree, to get my photography business off the ground, to attain a book contract, and continue performing a meaningful day job. But my day job will turn into my dream job as the transition continues in the right direction. I will continue to do what I do even when I do not feel like it. And with that approach, I will inevitably be successful in any goal I pursue. Just do what you do to honor God, and I firmly believe and know He will honor your work for His Glory. My life stands as a testimony to His Scriptural Promises. Speak it into existence, and watch the magic happen!

Tony Dungy’s words continue to resonate with me through his testimony here! If you love football, you will love the Quiet Strength expressed through this video!

 

The Call From the Orphan – God’s Heart! Why Do Churches Hesitate to Rise Up?

I once heard Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands, ask his 15,000 member congregation, “Do you know why some people are gay? I think I figured this paradigm out.” We all sat on the edge of our seats with the expectation of some Scripture revelation, the secret this long debated question about to be answered. Hodges continued, “I think it is because they are lazy.” The building audience erupted into laughter at his proclamation. He asserted that a relationship with the same sex was much easier than one with the opposite gender. I must agree that my guy friends and I never fight! I really cannot remember the last time I fought with a guy, seriously. I admit that a relationship with a significant female other is real hard work. I understand Hodges’ logic on some unusual levels. After his awkward moment of humor, Hodges began his Sunday sermon.

Does this same statement apply to churches that ignore the cause of the fatherless (in addition to the widow, the poor, the diseased, the underprivileged, and so on)? Are church leaders and passive congregational members lazy? Most will claim that the temptation to fall into complacency in Pop Culture Christianity is easy. How many people genuinely volunteer and serve in capacities outside of a Saturday Southern football tailgate? In my opinion with where I worked in the past two years (not the Salvation Army headquarters), most settle for each night’s schedule of sitcoms and sporting events on ESPN. Many don’t do anything outside of family and watching television for the local community and international relief. Even my own family is guilty of this epidemic on several accords. We conduct ourselves according to convenience.

I serve as the current Christian Alliance for Orphans State Coordinator for Orphan Sunday. I am responsible year round for gearing and managing events, seminars, discussion panels, and anything related to the cause of the fatherless, even radio interviews. We specifically focus on Orphan Sunday, November 4, with a concentration for a national and international movement where thousands come together for one day to stand for the orphan. The Christian Alliance for Orphans stands as a joint coalition of over one hundred organizations who commit themselves to save every orphan for the sole sake of God’s Glory. We were after all adopted by our Heavenly Father!

Recently I approached several churches in the Greater Birmingham metropolitan about participating on Orphan Sunday, November 4th. Between last year (2011) and this year (2012) with this annual celebration in advocacy for the orphan, I definitely received more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” sometimes even with simple requests for orphan-focused prayers, still to receive another “No.”  I even had ministers commit to events this year with their given word without following through, some things I worked hard on through my own free time through volunteering, only with nowhere to implement my hard work.  A great example of someone who fights for the orphan is Jon Walden, Executive Director and on air personality for Revocation Radio, a nonprofit radio station who plays Christian music that honors God, healthy for the ears of youthful listeners (as opposed to the cussing of gangster rap or any other colorful music).  Jon is interviewing five individuals over the air with leaders from five different orphan-related organizations. Walden remains busy with public appearances, youth rallies, a family, and his own mission with his nonprofit ventures. He makes the extra effort for the sake of ministry, not excusing the assistance with his own busyness with life responsibilities. Many could learn from his diligence for all the causes he stands for simply for the sake of Christ. Nothing more else motivates him so. Jon Walden rises to the challenge, and I wonder if other nonchalant ministerial leaders will do the same.

Another example to emulate as a country is Rwanda who seeks to eradicate orphanages, YES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FATHERLESS in the next twenty years within this country! I mean no disrespect to this country or any other African country, but in the eyes of western politics, this is a third world entity. Countries with much more economical means stand still while those less fortunate pave the way for something many should have initiated a long time ago! Leaders in Rwanda have risen together as The Church to train citizens within their country to raise orphans. Rwanda does not ship their troubles to other countries. Internally they seek to improve as a country within their own borders. Nothing wrong exists with international adoption; however I am inspired when a country heals an epidemic for the fatherless at home, for example our failing foster care systems, which we still have yet to remedy in the United States.

While hosting events is not necessary with commitments, fighting and caring for the orphan worldwide is not an option. In fact, God commands it through His Biblical Word. For those of us who lack initiative, reference the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”

James 1:27 (NIV)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV)

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

John 14:18 (NIV)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Psalm 82:3 (NIV)

“Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

I think the question remains worthwhile to consider: Are leaders in ministry too lazy to fight for the cause of the orphan? The blessing and burden to carry the cause cannot fall solely on those who actually rise to acknowledge the world’s fatherless. The rise for change is not easy. Anything for the sake of Christ will never be easy. But leaders like Jon Walden step up to play for eternal reasons often beyond those who live more on earth than in heaven with human indulgence. I grow tired of fighting without the support of local church leaders. I challenge the next time a door opens for church leaders to rise, instead of offering lame excuses for why this conflicts with a year round sermon scheduled series, year after year ignoring our call to solve the problems of this world. If Rwanda can, I am confident any United States congregation can as well. It is time to stop the laziness and to work hard for God’s Glory. Together we can and together we will fight for the fatherless and end the orphan epidemic. It is not impossible! It is very doable! And if you make the decision to lead and take a stand, God will honor our hard work for His Heavenly Heart.

Personally seek to feel the CALL of the ORPHAN through this video about Orphan Sunday, 2012! We are adopted! God never abandoned us! And we should never abandon them, the fatherless!

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Give your work leader a chance! Suprise potential just might blow you away!

In the last eighteen months, I experienced change with my occupation on many levels. I transitioned with three managers, one who moved on to another job and one fired for inappropriate reasons on his own accord. Lessons on when to stand against wrong-doing became an interesting experience. I learned timing is paramount as it relates to confronting someone in the wrong with a superior of those you disagree with. I learned the structure of organizational communication, the chain of command, and corporate politics.

My second manager still encourages me in the example he set and in the admiration he respectfully built in relationship with me. He moved on to leave for circumstances beyond his control.

I personally showed up to perform the tasks of my job, quiet, and frustrated with the fact I lost what I considered the best manager ever employed as my personal authoritative figure. He led with intentions to empower his employees as adults. And he provided wise sayings with quotes I often read in fortune cookies. He had a way of saying the right thing at the exact right time needed. It was divine in some ways. Hopefully you understand my frustration on some levels with these thoughts losing this leadership figure in my life.

I felt the organization both of us worked for partially remained responsible for his sudden departure. I was disappointed more with the situation than any one person responsible for the results of such. What God planned for the next leader at the workplace surprised me when this particular person in the eyes of the outside world did not necessarily warrant the esteemed chance to lead in this capacity. Perhaps my own bias even affected myself when I did not bother to get to know this individual. Sometimes a package rough on the edges once opened reveals a great gift to be had.

This particular man has greatly surpassed any expectations I ever had. He honestly has surprised, impressed, encouraged, and befriended me, stepping up into the position as a genuine and capable leader. I never really gave him a chance from the beginning. I was reminded to not judge a book by its cover. Sometimes what we perceive or originally think turns out to be false presumptions. I think we must try to not think one way or another, to give the person a chance. Do not expect anything profound, but not disrespect the person with misconceived notions of any kind as well. Just let things be. And control what you can control. You might find this person’s personality rises up to the new challenges of leadership, impressing yourself and those around you. In fact, you might realize you are fortunate to work under someone who cares and encourages you in whatever you do. You are blessed as I am even when you originally did not perceive such a blessing. Give someone the chance today to surprise you in great ways, realizing God works in mysterious ways, especially with different leadership potentials.