Snippets: Page One

Small Devils In Overstuffed Chairs
Some years ago, through my roles as a parent, a pastor, and occasionally, as a work place boss, I discovered that there are two ways to move people. You can oppress them; or, you can inspire them.

Eventually, I began to notice the distinct differences between these two methods. I began to see that when I chose the former method, there were no lasting results and morale was always in the basement.

Granted, oppression (or authoritarianism) is typically the shortest path to a given behavioral end. But it is also the most antagonistic, and thus, the most resented method.

So, as soon as the autocratic “hammer” is subtracted from the picture, people simply revert to what they wanted to do or be in the first place. Thus, the use of oppression comes to this: “No present hammer, no present change.”

On the other hand, if you choose Inspiration to move people, though it usually is a longer and more draining way, this method of motivation actually changes the level of peoples aspirations. Thus, inspiration produces enduring motivation, even when the authority figure is subtracted from the picture. So, inspiration eventually comes to this: “No present hammer, no real problem.”

My deep regret is that I did not understand these differences and embrace the Inspirational Method of motivating people much earlier in my life. Had I done so, I could have been a much better parent and made the childhood of my older children a happier existence.

And, I am convinced that I would have alienated fewer people (and truly changed more) in the churches that I pastored. And, I would have been a much more effective boss at work. But sadly, I was just too slow on the uptake.

So, I simply offer this to spare others the same mistake. Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! as often as you possible can with the people who look to you for direction. Real and worthy authority is never endangered by seasonal humor. It is only enhanced by it.

Don’t take yourself and the minor issues so completely seriously. In spite of what you may think, you are not really that critical to the process. Life went successfully on long before you directed it. And, it will take little note that you are missing when that day comes. So, get over yourself.

And remember, the minor issues are just that. They are not the major issues, so quit turning them into such. Excuse everything you possibly can. The little stuff is just the day dust which gives everybody a mostly harmless way to remember the human frailty, learn from it, and grow beyond its present limitations.

If perfection is your rigid demand, you better go ahead and drag out a tall stack of cryin’ towels – 'cause perfection ain’t happnin,’ Honey. Reasonable consistency is about the best you can hope for - and even that, only at the end of a long line of, “Oops.”

So, you have a choice mom or dad, pastor, or Mr. VP, etc. You can choose to puff up, and rant and rave, and belittle and berate the people around you. Or, you can choose to inspire them by wielding your authority with laughter, and forgiveness, and wisdom, and the shared life tricks that you, yourself, have learned.

Your choice. But, know this: the traffic on the shorter path never really varies. The "bosses" who travel that oppressive pathway, always just come off as small devils in overstuffed chairs.

Lesson From A Squirrel
Often, as I write in my office/ studio in the back yard of my home, I am spellbound by the small grey squirrels going about their daily antics. Especially in the fall, I watch them gathering and burying nuts from my big Pecan tree. All day long, they are zipping up and down that Pecan tree and scurrying off to bury their treasure, only to return and do it all over again - day after day.

Those little squirrels have no larger awareness of anything other than the business at hand. They are completely oblivious to the more sophisticated concerns. They are uncaring of new technologies, or historical trends, or environmental dangers, or questions surrounding their origin or existence or ultimate destiny. They are simply focused on gathering and burying nuts. For them, that's pretty much all there is - at least in the fall.

It is sad to note that many people are just like those squirrels. They focus only on the immediate daily concerns of this physical life. They never elevate their eyes to search the larger horizons. They never ask the more sophisticated questions.

Like the squirrels, these people remain oblivious to the larger concerns: the requirements having to do with their soul, their Creator, and the larger plane of their existence. Instead, they simply trust to their own ingenuity and self-sufficiency to manage the "pressing" business of their daily life - assuming, in their arrogance, that they are the only one who can.

Certainly, in God's mind, this self-sufficient attitude and small mindedness is entirely understandable and forgivable - in squirrels.

Accommodation Values

In essence, conversion to Christ is about an exchange of values. The new spiritual birth entirely revolves around a personal willingness to scrap our existing, very flawed value system and embrace the new values which Jesus brings to renew the believer– the values of a holy God. This is the underlying agreement at the center of every valid conversion – if, indeed, it is a true conversion.

And this eager willingness to embrace and implement a new value system, God’s value system, is what changes everything. This is the purest expression of redemptive faith and the truest form of humility before God. 

 And, this very elemental change is what leads to a true newness of life for the believer. And that real change in the fabric of our life is what gives validity to our redemptive message of newness through Christ to the surrounding community.

However, the modern American Church seems to have largely lost its expectation of a truly life changing encounter when it comes to Christ. And that is directly due to its loss of awareness of the central importance of this value system transformation. 
Rather, it is sadly evident that far too many modern believers have become dangerously comfortable with what might be called an "Accommodation Value System."

So, when it becomes a bit too challenging to hold to the values of a righteous God, we tend to simply ignore or discard those values to spare ourselves the discomfort of confrontation or rejection. Thus, when the secular culture begins to pressure us on one issue or another, we often simply cave – and allow the secular values to rule the day. We simply "accommodate" their wishes, their values, instead of Christ's.

Is it any wonder that the modern Church has so little real renewing impact on the surrounding world. We have traded our respectable substance for the larger world's approval and acceptance? So, in effect, we bow to their assertions that humanistic sensitivities are actually far superior to those of a loving and holy Creator. How very arrogant on their part, and how very cowardly on ours.

Nevertheless, it is true. We can, indeed, choose to abandon God's clearly expressed biblical values in the interest of the momentary expedient. But, we cannot do so and expect to remain pleasing in His sight. And we cannot do so and continue to realistically expect to have any deep impact on our neighbors or the destiny of their souls.

And, in fact, at the point of a value sell-out where we so easily throw away the values of our redemption, we should start to seriously worry about the destiny of our own soul. After all, as believers, we were meant to be the "Salt" of the earth, not spineless "Sell-outs" to cultural whims.

Anticipations Of The Divine Love
It’s Sunday! The Creator greets the sacred holy day with a true anticipation.  Now, one more time, He envisions a new and vibrant encounter with His children in the Sanctuary.

In the exuberance of His love, like some “Christmas Parent,” the Heavenly Father waits for His bubbling children to come happily bouncing home again to His enveloping love. He anticipates their excitement, their animation, their own exuberance to know this renewing reunion, as well.

So, even before the sun is able to entirely dispel the darkness of the predawn, the Divine Heart starts to anticipate these possibilities of the Lord's Day. And, irresistibly, hope rises.  

Nevertheless, the divine wisdom forces the Creator to silence, knowing that, sometimes, even God must simply wait and see. And so, He does – every Sunday morning.