Leadership Lessons From Lulu The Wonder Dog

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When Baron arrived as a puppy to our home he happily bounded throughout the house. We began the daunting task of training him to sit, to stay, to walk on a leash, to use the doggy door and not the floor, to chew on his toys and not on the furniture.

Lulu The Wonder Dog was 10 years old at the time and she began the task of training him to be her assistant in the house. She corrected him when he came near her bowl. She corrected him when he pounced on her when she was taking a nap. She corrected him when he crawled on her bed without her permission. He learned quickly the boundaries of what would be acceptable and what wouldn’t.

The difference in these two breeds was noticeable. Lulu is a Cattle Dog, she herds for a living. She likes her humans in the same room, she walks ahead of us, then circles back behind us to make sure we are rounded up and sticking together. I am the alpha of the herd so she follows me and knows exactly where I am at all times. She is serious about her job and if you want to play fetch she won’t stop you, she just insists you go and get the object.

Baron is a Golden Retriever. He fetches things, socks, underwear, water bottles, doves, ducks, and tennis balls. He isn’t as sophisticated as Lulu so he chases cats. He isn’t concerned with herding, instead he looks for puddles, pools, lakes, mud, all while carrying two to four balls in his mouth at once. He hunts, he runs, and he is happy go lucky. If Lulu is the administrator, Baron is the frat boy.

Day two of his being home he was herded into the bathroom where I was getting ready. Not his scene he decided to turn around and proceed out of the bedroom. Lulu ran ahead of him, stopped him at the bedroom door and once again she herded him into the bathroom. She then laid across the bathroom entrance so that Baron could see what the mission was. She followed this pattern for days as if to let him know that their job was to guard me.

John 7:16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.

She wasn’t concerned whether his breed herds or not. She had a mission and it was his job to help her complete that mission. She wasn’t concerned that his breed is smarter than hers, there was a mission and a way to complete that mission. She wasn’t concerned that he was younger and bigger than she was. You see, she understood delegation and empowering leaders.

She knew the mission was to empower leaders to implement the vision that she had been given for her family.

Baron would much rather do his own thing. He brings me a ball as I get out of the shower. I toss the ball but if it goes past the bathroom door, he stops and waits for me to leave the bathroom. Where is Lulu? Lulu who is now 12 years old, lays on her bed, inspecting what she expects, keeping on eye on her charge.

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Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

I think of Lulu often when I’m at work. I don’t always like doing the jobs I have been tasked with but I have been empowered to implement the mission and I do so to the best of my ability, faithfully, no complaints, well some complaints, because it was what I was given to do.

How do you empower leaders in your line of work? How do you use your skills and talents to implement the vision of what you are putting your hands to do? I hope it’s with character and integrity.

 

Boundaries

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I admit it. I was a little crispy fried a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a full day off in a few weeks. A few hours here and there but there were a couple of short term projects that needed to be completed and this wasn’t the normal schedule.

Finally, Wednesday came, our day off and and I took full advantage of it. I woke up early, and stretched out and decided I had nowhere to go, so I read, watched some TV and stayed in my pajamas. Until about 10:30 then Doug and I got ready to go out to eat.

He surprised me by heading out of town to go have some fun. Both of our phones kept ringing. Work, counseling, work, advice, work. At one frustrated point, I said,

“Wait! Everyone knows it’s our day off. Why do they call us anyway with non-emergencies?”

The answer was simple, we didn’t have boundaries.

The calls weren’t emergencies. They were simple things. I wasn’t mad at the people, I was annoyed with myself knowing that I hadn’t set boundaries to protect time off.

Sometimes, things are your own fault. So when you are feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I doing to cause this?”

No, you didn’t set up the phone calls but you did respond even if it was just to open and read the text message or the email or listen to the voicemail.

What boundaries do you have to put into place so that you can get quiet and have some down time?

Remember, Sabbath is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

 

 

 

When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

In Time

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Last October I was given a vision of my next step in ministry. I couldn’t wait to see it fulfilled. I began to research, to ask questions of those I knew, and to make plans. Each time I got ready to launch something got in the way of the plan and it was stalled. I wasn’t frustrated just chomping at the bit to move forward. God’s timing is not like our own and so I waited.

My husband began to see the vision of what I was going to do and began to pray with me. Then he began to change the ideas I had. This is when the test happens because the question becomes,

I had my own ideas, I had my own lists, I had my own plan but what happens when they aren’t where we are going in ministry?

Well, as I always say,

Submission isn’t submission until we disagree. 

So I got on board with the vision of the house, I began to input where I was asked. We launched last night, prayerfully, considerately, and mindfully, a leadership team. You see, my vision was to make a path to ordain women into ministry. My husband challenged me to think broader. Together we forged a plan of ordination for all people. We gathered our combined resources and gathered wisdom and materials for a clear path. There are 15 of us in the beginning stages of this new phase of our ministry. There were 7 women which was still important to me. Now I get to watch it all unfold. I’m excited and glad to have waited for proper timing and direction.

Sometimes things take awhile. Even though we may have a vision and it seems clear, the path isn’t always how we think it should go. I would prayerfully ask you to be mindful of this and to wait for God’s timing.  This isn’t the time to push forward your own agenda over that of the church in which you serve. A pastor friend in Arkansas preached on the Baptism of Commitment. He said,

Are you committed to your own agenda or are you committed to your leadership? 

That’s a great question to leave you with today.

Pursuit

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Walking along Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee you get to see pursuit of a dream. As we meandered about what I call night clubs and what they call Honky Tonks, I listened to the music streaming from each door until we found a sound we liked.

We stepped inside this place and listened to the music. It was about 3 pm and the band was wrapping it up as the new band was arriving. I became fascinated with what happened next and to be honest paid more attention to people watching than to the music itself.

The band came in each carrying their equipment. They set their equipment down by the stage and grabbed some bottled water the establishment had for them. It was hot. Over 100 and in Nashville there is extreme humidity as well. They walked back and forth to their cars hauling all of their equipment including a seat for the drummer. They were happy and talking and in full roadie mode. Only they weren’t roadies, they were the musicians.

As the band that was playing wound down to their final song I wanted to see the transition. A bucket was passed around for donations for the band. I was told it was how they get paid. The band quickly went into wrap up mode, grabbing their cords and instruments and walking them off of the stage. Their audience who I guess knew the drill, were asking each of them, “Where are you going to next?”, to which the bassist replied pointing, “I’ll be at such and such in about an hour playing with so and so.”, and so on. These musicians were in pursuit of a dream.

I looked at my husband and said, “Do you see that? They left everything behind and are hauling their own equipment and playing wherever they can find a gig for whatever amount is in that bucket in the hopes of a bed, food, and the chance to be discovered for their talent.” My husband smiled, ever the Pastor, and said, “I know how that works. I left a business making just over $200,000 a year to go to a place I had never heard of called Los Banos, CA, to reach the lost for whatever was in that bucket each week. When you have a calling you pursue it no matter the cost. I left my parents, my comfort, my home and went to preach the gospel. The Lord provided for us. Once I didn’t have enough money for groceries and diapers and a stranger at Walmart paid the bill for me. I will never forget those early days.”

The band finished loading their equipment then came back in and sat behind us at a table and divided up the money in that bucket and rushed off to their next gig. The new band set up and began to play and I discovered a new admiration for those who are willing to go the distance and do whatever it takes in pursuit of their callings trusting that somehow things of the world will work out. It was humbling to say the least.

 

What’s The Image You Are Projecting?

My husband I were walking hand in hand talking when he said, “Goodness those poor girls need a mother.” The scene was two girls walking with low cut tops and shorts that were too short to cover their bottoms. From his perspective he thinks they don’t have fashion sense because no one has taught them. From my perspective, as a mother, this may be partially true and it could be a number of  other things like free will choices.

What is the message that you’re sending? In the workplace are you trying to be taken seriously or trying to be taken sexually? In your free time are you comfortable with people who see your body or your personality?

I saw a young unmarried woman who had way too much cleavage showing and hickeys on her breast for added effect. All I could think of was she had way too much self esteem by the mere fact that she felt comfortable letting us all know how immoral she was. Judgment? Yes. Will I be judged by the same measure? Absolutely. So the next time you see me with my cleavage out and hickeys you can call me a hypocrite and I’ll hang my head in shame and own the title.

Unfortunately society gives a mixed message. On one hand they say cover up to avoid being devalued, and on the other hand they say if you want to have value you must be sexy.  It feels like you can’t win. Top that off with a fatherless generation where girls really don’t have a true compass of what is right and we end up with this dilemma.

What these young women didn’t understand is that yes, men are visual but humans are creative and imaginative creations. Meaning the more you show the less there is to pursue. The more body you show the more you project how little power you have. Society tells us sexuality is power but when someone falls for the outside visual personification of you often they fail to see the inside characteristics of you.

The fact that he finds you sexy seems great at first, but when he can’t see past the exterior of you to who you are will that be enough? What about when you’re gunning for that promotion and you aren’t taken seriously? There is freedom in the dress code of a Christian woman. By no means am I suggesting she has to wear turtlenecks in the summer but there is a happy medium.

Here is a video I found on Huffington Post that I think is really great at showing us a before and after, please listen carefully to their comments it will give you great insight as to how women are perceived. Click Here.

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A Good Life Always Start With A Vision

 

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The family game we played last night sits left over on my dining room table this morning. Last night we laughed until we cried, we came up with a team name that shall not be repeated out of the circle of those who were there. I sit here and write this post on the day after Christmas as google reminded me with a ding on my calendar this morning. Those of you who know me know I write a vision statement each year. I make a list of things I want to accomplish personally and professionally. Then I write ideas for vacations, home improvements, a budget, a savings plan. Yes, I know it sounds too hard and it doesn’t sound like there is any adventure or spontaneity in it does it? Oh, but there is! Life takes twists and turns that you can never plan for, and some ideas need to be tweaked midway, and some ideas although great in December in June you can see aren’t going to cooperate. The point is to have a plan that can keep you on course even in the midst of chaos. It sounds complicated but it really is the key to freedom! Knowing exactly where you stand and how you can proceed in the current conditions takes a big worry off your mind. You don’t find yourself in a car lot, excited about a new car if the budget isn’t there because you have a plan in mind and on paper. Instead you may find yourself at the mechanic’s shop getting a quote on a transmission fix which is much cheaper in the long run.

So as you can see by the picture, I look back at 2015 and write down what went well and what didn’t work. I make determinations on whether I am going to try again or scrap the idea. I look at what projects aren’t quite finished and if my time was used effectively or is it just taking a little longer. Did I squander too much time or did I have just enough rest? What old habits never died? Where did I need more discipline. Where is this going in the New Year?

I used to brag that I started writing vision statements back in my 20’s and I would always accomplish my goals by October-ish. I used to pat my self on the back and say to myself, “Girl, you are just that good at getting things done.” However one day I heard a still small voice within me say, “You get your goals met each year because you don’t dream big enough. You play it safe.” OUCH! I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go deeper and to be more daring. You see, I thought I was just that good. Now I am older than my 20’s, much older, and I have learned to set up bigger dreams. I have learned to set dreams that will actually take 2-3 years to complete, like the two week trip we took to Hawaii that required us to save up rather than charge it. Or the one where my husband announced he wanted a Camaro in 2011 but it took us until 2014 to buy it because there were plans in motion that had to be completed first.

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So what is your dream for this next year? What are you planning to accomplish and what will take some time to fulfill? I pray you have been thinking about it and I hope you are working towards your destiny!

Take your time. Make it clear in your head and then advise your heart because honestly, if your heart isn’t in it, it won’t get done.