Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Best Time Of Day

I woke early this morning with an idea for a song I am recording, and after spending some time reading, I found myself in my studio recording a newly created guitar part. I didn't go to sleep last night planning on recording this morning. Rather, I woke up with a passion and creative energy that I seem to stumble upon in the mornings more often than I find within me at other times of the day.

What about you? When are you the most creative? What part of the day finds you dreaming, writing, singing and creating?

I suggest that if you don't know your optimum creative time, that you track your days and determine when you are at your productive and innovative best. This will help you schedule your imagination sessions and produce the best results.

What is my purpose in suggesting this? I believe that all of us, created in the image of the Creator, have been charged with contributing to this world, and especially to the lives of others. Our contributions, full of ideas, innovation and transformation demonstrate that we do carry the mark of the One who created us, and that we are part of the creative process of investing into the lives of others for their good and benefit.

Now to me that's good any time of the day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Influencing Influencers

My oldest son Eric told me about an iPhone app called Flood-It! He knew I love a challenging game that would periodically stimulate my reasoning skills. Well, he was right! I have enjoyed the game.

The object is to change the color of the squares on the screen to all one color. This can only be achieved by beginning with the top left corner, choosing a color to change the squares that touch the square or squares you have changed. It must be completed in 22 moves or you lose the game.

It took me 20 tries before I finally won a game. Please understand, I do not waste my time playing trivial games. I played only while doing something else (maybe that's why it took me 20 tries).

An unexpected idea came to me as I was playing Flood-It! I think I was on game six. As I looked at the squares, and their relationship to the ones I had succeeded in changing the color, I thought about influence. The squares reminded me of the relationships I have and the lives that I touch. Beginning with those closest to me, I influence them, and they influence others, who in turn influence others. And so it goes, on and on.

Now to me, that is what relationships, leadership and influence is all about. My goal is to influence those around me to be creative, to have passion, to dream. More than that, I want to lead them into the Kingdom of God.

My desire to not only lead and influence, but to lead leaders and influence influencers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reunion, And Unexpected Connections

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida awaiting my flight to return home after the 70's Youth Group Reunion that I have been attending over this past weekend. If you missed what the reunion was about, please see my last Blog post below.

The entire weekend was filled with unexpected conversations and unexpected connections: People I hadn't expected to see, changes in people's lives that I hadn't anticipated (all good), and seeing some people that I forgotten about after 33 years.

The first photo shows me with two men who were in middle school when I had the privelege to pour into them. They are now both successful husbands and fathers, who are seeking to serve the Lord as they live their out lives in their families, their jobs and in the world.

Being able to reconnect with my Youth Pastor, Mark Silkey, whom I hadn't talked to for five years was a treat. He is currently living in Oklahoma, and as he addressed the over 150 attendees, reminding us that we are all part of a body, each person having an important function, and as a group, a team, we were effective, and can continue to be effective in changing our world, I was taken back to the times he spoke before us when we were students.

Mark had an incredible effect on my life 30+ years ago, and some would have thought that I still idolized him to such a point that we both arrived at the Saturday afternoon picnic in khaki shorts and orange shirts (pictured). I promise, it wasn't planned!

I was invited to stay at the home of LC Campbell, who was one of the pastors at that church in the 70's. Not only was he instrumental in giving me a strong spiritual foundation as a high school student and young adult, but he invited me to plant a church with him in the early 1980's, and he continues to have a strong influence on my life. I knew his daughters when they were infants, ministered to them when they were middle school students, and now see them with their own children, seeking to raise them to be Godly.

The down times with LC, away from the public events of the Reunion weekend proved to be invaluable as we shared from personal and ministerial struggles, joys and victories, and inspired renewed vision in each other for the future. He will always remain my mentor and friend.

I was also privileged to spend focused time with a couple of the young men, Rick and Scott (pictured), who I had been able to influence in the past, to hear what was happening in their lives and how they were in turn reproducing themselves in the lives of others. Both are serving as pastors, one in California after having planted a church in London, and the other had returned to our hometown in Florida and had planted a church. Seeing what was going on in their lives was a great encouragement to me.

The greatest surprise for me came at the previously mentioned Saturday picnic. I was sitting at a table, reconnecting with some of my peers from the 70's, and I felt that I vaguely knew the lady sitting across from me. After introducing myself to her and hearing her name (again, I only vaguely remembered her), I returned to my other conversation. A minute later she interjected with, "I remember you. You sat with me in a room when I was in middle school and you led me to faith in Christ! Thank you." Needless to say, I was humbled. I literally had to excuse myself from the conversation while tears filled my eyes. I had forgotten, but she remembered.

Now that was an unexpected connection!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reunion, And Lifelong Relationships

This weekend I will be traveling to South Florida to participate in a reunion of sorts. A few of the members of the youth group at the church I began attending when I was a junior in high school have put together a reunion for the once teenagers who attended during the ministry of Youth Pastor Mark Silkey.

Not only was I a senior in high school when Mark began his ministry, but for the next two years after I graduated, I oversaw the Middle School Ministry (of course under Mark's supervision and mentoring). I would say that Mark, and another Pastor at that church, L.C. Campbell, hold the position of being probably the most influential people in my life.

So I will be attending the reunion, having participated as a student under Mark's ministry, and leader there. (A few years later served with L.C. at a new church plant, where he continued to pour into my life - and still does.)

I have lost touch with most of the now 50+ attendees (I'm talking about the number of people, not age... although most of us are now 50+ years old). I have stayed in touch with some, including Mark, and L.C., and a few whom who I have mentored. These are the valuable relationships that I have clung to over the years, and although they are mostly maintained through phone and email, they remain a high priority in my life. Re-connecting in person will be a treat.

But I do have some mixed emotions about attending. First and foremost in my mind is how I will be remembered, and frankly I don't think I was all that fun to be around back then. I know I have changed and matured since then (I'm talking about character here), but will there be much grace offered to me?

The inevitable "Wow, you look different!" comments will be passed around, and hopefully most of us look different enough so as not to single anyone out. Then there's the "What have you done all these years?" and "What are you doing now?" questions that will circulate. I hope I will not seek to one-up others with pseudo-accomplishments and larger-than-truth-stories.

Finally, some emotional tremors are being felt because this reunion is causing me to evaluate my life and to look back, asking some hard questions. How many have I influenced to be a leaders in the Kingdom of God? Who can I look back to and say I poured my life into? (Like Mark and L.C. did for me.) Am I fulfilling my destiny?

And so I go to the youth group reunion. If needed, I will apologize for the way I was back then. When relating stories of my life, I will seek to be humble and truthful, giving glory to God for any accomplishments. I will listen to others stories intently, rather than interjecting my stories and making the conversation about me. Above all, I will seek to demonstrate the value of the life-long relationships that I have had the privilege of sharing in.

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