Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The apple of your eye...

I am a people watcher. I enjoy trying to figure people out, what they're thinking, what makes them do what they do. Maybe that is why I enjoy leadership philosophy and praxis so much. I get ramped up over working with people, trying to get a diverse group of people all moving in the same direction without killing each other, and helping people discover and develop their individual leadership traits and personality quirks.


However, lately I have been consumed with why I do what I do? Where did my leadership thinking and subsequent praxis come from? Who forged my understanding in those formative years?


Reflecting back over my childhood, the good and the bad, has caused me to consider who I am. I am the son of an alcoholic, distant father. In fact, I can honestly only remember one instance of my dad playing catch with me. I learned to do the things boys do from playing with my neighborhood friends. I do have two older brothers, 16 and 19 years older respectively. But by the time I had reached elementary school age my oldest brother had a family of his own and my middle brother was married and beginning his journey into adulthood. Progressively throughout my early childhood my father's drinking got worse and his distance increased. Don't get me wrong, he was not physically abusive toward me or my mother, he attended every football game and wrestling match, and provided well for his family. However, he was just a lost and lonely man who didn't know what to do with his life or this son who came along late. Maybe he was always that way, even with my brothers, but that is the topic of another conversation.


Somewhere along the way my middle brother became a key figure in my life. After battling through his own struggles he not only became involved in full time ministry but he took on the added pressure of his little brother. My hunch is that our mother thrust me upon him and his wife. Whatever the reason, his influence greatly shaped who I became in many ways. Looking back it was an unfair responsibility he accepted, but for his acceptance I am eternally grateful. He taught me much of what a father would normally pass on to his son, gave me a foundational understanding of God, and somewhere along the way the courage to challenge that understanding. Much of my understanding of leadership thinking and praix comes from my time with my brother and watching him. And like my understanding of God and how God is lived out in my life how leadership is lived out in my life.


However as I got older and moved away to college that relationship, like that with our father, became more and more distant. I jokingly tell my wife that I get together with my brothers once every seven years whether we need to or not. A sad commentary on our family I'm afraid. But through the magic of Facebook I am connecting with my two nieces who I never really had the opportunity to know very well. Maybe we can change family trends? At least I am hopeful.


All this reflection has caused me to consider again who I am and why I do what I do. Most of us hate to admit that we are like our parents, but in many ways I am my father (much like my mother too but we'll leave that alone for a while, one parent at a time is enough). As my father was distant from me so I find myself distant from others while at the same time craving that which I am distant from. That is a tough dichotomy to live within but one in which I think many of us do. I so much longed to have a relationship with my father, then that desire turned to my brother. But because of something deep within my psyche both of those relationships became increasingly more distant. So now in my 40's I find myself looking for something that reconnects me to those relationships.


It finally dawned on me last night in an ah-ha moment that my love for motorcycles stems from my desire to connect with my father (honey, this is not an excuse to justify my most recent motorcycle purchase). Now my brother is a motorcycle enthusiast as well and maybe his love comes from the same inner desire as mine, but in reflecting back over my childhood, the motorcycle was one of the earliest and strongest bonds I had with my father. We moved from the city to the suburbs when I was in the third grade and it was shortly thereafter that my father showed up with my first motorcycle, a little fat tired mini-bike. Then followed a snowmobile (same connection as a motorcycle). In fact, over the years I have had 9 motorcycles all with the same unidentified (until last night) underlying desire, to connect with my distant father. I can see now that as his son I just wanted to be noticed and for him to spend time with me. The motorcycle is that connection for me. You see, when I first started to ride that mini-bike in our great big yard and the vacant lot next to us my dad was always out there watching me. When I drove that new mini-bike into our neighbors garage and tore off the entire front end, and subsequently broke my shoulder blade it was my dad who came running to my aid. It was my dad that had it repaired, even though I said I would never ride it again. And it was my dad that put me back on it and watched as I rode off into the world. No wonder the motorcycle is my connection to my dad. That is when I truly remember being the apple of his eye like like that referenced in Psalm 17:8, "keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings."

My people watching and leadership has been impacted by this revelation. Understanding myself helps me to understand who I am and why I do what I do. But it also helps me understand who others are and why they do what they do. Is there a motorcycle in their past that connects them to a lost relationship? More importantly, what is it that connects me to my daughters? Am I allowing past trends to distance me from them as they get older? This Christmas I am making a list of the things they enjoy doing with dad and for 2009 that list is going to determine how I spend my time with them. I don't want them to look back when they're in their 40's trying to figure out some kind of connection to their father. I want them to know that they are all "the apples of my eye."

What about you this Christmas. What has influenced you? Are you longing to be noticed? To be "the apple of your father's eye?" Let me remind you of a wonderful truth this Christmas, you are "the apple of God's eye." He notices everything you do, loves you, and is so proud of who you are as His child. But I also thinks He wants you to take that same love to another. Make your family, your children, "the apple of your eye." Make a list of what they like to do with you and use it as your daily guide in spending time with them.

Just something to think about...

Merry Christmas,

Shawn

Monday, December 8, 2008

Give a Gift to Jesus by Giving a Gift to Others this Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about leadership and involvement and how they are lived out at Christmas. We are in that precarious time of year when the "haves" and the "have-not's" become more and more distinct. Now, I have to admit that my family and just about everyone I know falls into the "haves" category. We are truly blessed as a family and I hope we do not take that for granted. God is better to my family than we really deserve.

However, I still find myself thinking of how I would like this or that, how great it would be if I could get that "special something" for Rochelle, or how much I would love to get that new phone for my daughters or this or that for others. In fact, I honestly spend a whole lot more time concerned about what I cannot give to my family rather than what I am giving. Truth of the matter is I really don't need anything and, sorry girls, my family really doesn't lack for anything either. We are blessed beyond measure and the gifts I am giving are very nice.

But then I am confronted with that large Christmas tree in our church foyer that has names of families from our own church who will not have any kind of Christmas without my help and the help of others... you know, us "haves." They really are the "have-not's." Their concern is not what they cannot give out of all the multitude of the things they are giving, their concern is feeding their families and keeping the electricity on for one more month.

Yeah, we've taken a few names from the tree. The least we can do, right? And even yesterday Emily pulled another name of a little boy who only wanted a toy monkey for Christmas (that kind of hit me because our dog has two toy monkeys as toys himself). So, we'll buy for these families and give our obligatory gifts and that will end our level of involvement in their lives. How sad a commentary on me and my level of Christianity and leadership. Jesus said that as we do unto the least of these we do unto Him. I kind of think that if I was buying a gift for Jesus I might also want to get more involved in His life, don't you? Truth is though, according to His own words in Scripture, I am buying gifts for Him by buying gifts for the least of these. Buying gifts for my friends and family is not buying gifts for Jesus, they are not the least of these and neither am I this Christmas. But buying for families who might otherwise not receive anything this year, let alone even have electricity truly is buying for Jesus.

On December 21st our church is delivering these gifts. I have to admit stuff like this makes me uncomfortable as a "have." Not the buying of the gift, but the delivering of the gift. Am I somehow afraid of the "have-not's?" I don't know their circumstances but yet my own humanness puts up walls that my Christianity must tear down. I may be a "have" this year in the material sense, but it was not that long ago in God's time frame that I was more of a "have- not" than anyone I'll buy a gift for this year. I was spiritually lost and had nothing until I accepted God's gift in Christ. God is definitely a "have" and we are "have-not's." Yet He continues to reach out to the "have-not's" offering His Son as the greatest gift ever given. And once the gift is received He continues to stay involved in our lives. I think this year I want to be more like God. I am not only giving the gift but I want to help deliver the gifts to these families on the 21st. I want to find a way, even if for a brief period of time, to become involved in their lives.

Think about it for a minute, how much more meaningful would the gift be if it was accompanied by our involvement in their lives? On the same line of thought, how much would God's gift really mean to us if He never got involved in our lives? The value of Christ would still be the same, but I somehow think that in our materialistic American mindset it would not mean near as much. Is that too much for us to admit this holiday season?

God's gift of Salvation includes His gift of new life and His presence in us. What an example for us to follow as we give gifts this year, both to the other "haves" in our lives as well as to the "have- not's."

Just thinking out loud...

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does gratefulness show itself in your life?

It's Thanksgiving week. I just left a meeting and everyone had that same blank stare on their face. You know the one, the one that says that you have already checked out of work this week and that your mind is everywhere but focused on work. There's turkey and ham to cook, not to mention all the special requests that go with them. There's planning the Black Friday shopping excursion. Many of us wait till the weekend after Thanksgiving to officially hang our Christmas decorations, and so much more. Yep, everyone in this meeting had checked out for the week already. And in the midst of all the idle small talk prior to and following the meeting all that could be heard was the hectic schedules, the tension over the holiday meal when families come together, and where to put everyone. Those that were traveling were trying to figure out when to leave, how soon they can come back, and why they can't seem to just relax.

Wow, it can become so easy to get caught up in all this that we forget that thanksgiving was designed to be just that, a day of thanksgiving. I purposely took some time out this morning to list the things in my life that I am thankful for and what a list it turned into:

I have a God who loved me enough to send His Son to die for me.
I have an incredible wife.
3 great daughters.
We have our health.
Awesome friends and a great church family.
We have the home of our dreams in a wonderful historic neighborhood.
Great jobs with open possibilities.
Food (an abundance of food) on our table.
Clothes (nice clothes) to wear.
Good cars to get us where we need to be.
The ability to do things that other people will never be able to do in other parts of the world.

Well, you get the idea, the list just got longer and longer and I became more and more embarrassed over the whining and complaining I had almost given into. I discovered that if I cannot take time out to express my thankfulness this day (and really it should be every day) then this day is not worth celebrating.

How about you? I know it is a hectic week and life throws stressers into the holidays like no other time. But I challenge you to refocus your perceptions this week and make a list of your own of all the things you have to be thankful for. No mater what is going on in your life I bet you find the list is much longer than you originally thought.

Just something to think about.

Lead Strong this Thanksgiving week,
Shawn

Friday, November 14, 2008

Are you trying to drive using only the rearview mirror?

I know you've never tried this, but have you ever tried to drive your car by only looking in the rear view mirror? (Don't worry honey, I only do this when you're asleep in the car.) It is not only difficult, it is impossible. While you can see everything behind you and everywhere you've been, you cannot see what's right in front of you or what's coming your way down the road.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people live their lives in just this way. They are so focused on the past; its pains as well as its victories, that they can't seem to navigate the present and therefore have no hope of a successful future. They continue to look back... oh, the good old days. Or, they can't seem to get over the hurts inflicted on them in the past. But little do they realize that by their continual focus on past hurts they continue to open those same wounds each time they look back.

It's not a new problem by any means, in fact it is very much a part of human nature for many people. Remember Lot's wife in Genesis 19? Sodom and Gomorrah were being destroyed and all she could focus on was what she was losing instead of what lied ahead... and she did it, she looked back... Well, you know the rest of the story, she became a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19:26, NIV). Lot's wife was trying to move forward by looking in the rear view mirror. Now, there's more to the story, but you get the idea.

What about you? Are you trying to move forward by keeping your eyes in the rear view mirror? Maybe you are a split vision kind of person, looking to the future with one eye but always looking to the past with the other (which by the way is just as counterproductive). That rear view mirror is important and the lessons we learn from our past should help us through the present and on into the future. But by comparison, the rear view mirror is tiny in contrast the the front windshield (hmmm, interesting how they designed it that way, huh?). Could it be that God has designed our lives the same way? The window to the past is very small in comparison to the huge view God presents us with as we move through the present into the future. And even if the present and future are a little foggy right now, they are still the only things that hold any potential for success. We can never relive the past, good or bad, no matter what we do.

Use that rear view mirror for what is was designed for, but don't keeping looking at it as you try to move forward. The view in front of you is incredible and the opportunities that await you are beyond imagination. But you can't look back and look forward simultaneously. I challenge you to look forward. It doesn't even have to make sense or be clear, it is still a better view than the one in the rear view mirror.

Just think about it...

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking at the Election Through Eyes of Faith

I normally do not copy and paste entire articles but a friend and former colleague wrote a great piece for the Amarillo Globe-News and I thought I would pass it along. Have a great Monday.

Lead Strong,Shawn...

Election observations from the faith/belief/ethics perspective:

First, while truth is the first casualty in any election, this one wasn't as distorted as most. The 1800 election pitting Thomas Jefferson against John Adams - both heroes of American history - is my favorite for negativity and distortion. Despite our romanticized remembrance of the founding fathers, our current politicians are more likely to play fair and tell the truth than our heroes of old.

Second, this year's election did have the most biased media coverage, at least in modern history. The Pew Research Center (a highly credible organization) found 36 percent of the national media reports on Barack Obama were positive, 35 percent neutral and 29 percent negative. By contrast, 57 percent of national news reports on John McCain were negative, 29 percent neutral and 14 percent positive.I doubt the bias was intentional.

Still, you may have sensed as I did that national journalists couldn't quite fathom why anyone wouldn't support Obama. Indeed, Pew found 70 percent of Americans perceived the national media as favoring Obama. Even Democrats rated the coverage biased in favor of Obama, and "Saturday Night Live" parodied the absurdly positive coverage. (For context, in 2004 Pew found 50 percent of Americans perceived media bias favoring John Kerry.)

Third, religious and gender prejudice is alive and well in America. Obama is not Muslim, and even if he was, by constitutional guarantee, his religious affiliation does not determine his fit for office. That the accusations - though false - reinforced many votes against him speaks loudly of lingering religious discrimination in America.

In light of this, I wonder if, as a Mormon, Mitt Romney had a chance of being elected. As a Jew, was Joe Lieberman disadvantaged?We apparently are willing to accept religious apathy and demonstrated indifference from our candidates but not deviance from our poorly defined sense of "mainstream" Christianity.Similarly, women are still significantly disadvantaged. No male candidate had to waste time fending off comments regarding hair, wardrobe or glasses. That the media - purportedly an "enlightened" group - found Hillary Clinton's pantsuits and Sarah Palin's wardrobe worth reporting, speaks volumes as to where we are on gender.

Finally, I was distressed by McCain campaign stops that brought forth hateful catcalls from attendees, but I was equally impressed that McCain - even in the face of "boos" from his own supporters - rightly asserted that Obama is a good man and not worthy of the slanderous accusations.We need more of that. We need our leaders to step forward and return civility to public discourse. At the end of the day, both McCain and Obama are decent men. Both are flawed, with positions that trouble many. Regardless, they are decent men pursuing what they believe to be the best interests of the country.May God bless and heal them both.

James Hallmark is provost/vice president for academic affairs at West Texas A&M University.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts on Election Day

Did you vote? I am not even as concerned with who you voted for as much as I am that you voted. Sure, I have my preference based on my ideals and values and so do you. But, do you know what? Regardless of whoever you voted for each of our ideals and values are valid. If you've done your homework, researched the candidates and the issues and made an informed conscious decision then you have done your civic duty.

Now, with that said let me share with you a thought from scripture that might shed light on our approach to election day, but more importantly, the days after. Psalm 122: 6-9 says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (insert the USA): 'May those who love you (our country) be secure. May there be peace within your walls (our country) and security within your citadels.' For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, 'Peace be within you (the US).' For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity (the prosperity and future security of our country)."

I was taught to pray scripture, especially the Psalms. And in so doing to personalize them. What a better prayer for our country. Pray for peace for the United States. May all who live within this great country be secure, and let there be peace. Not only for my sake or even those who agree with me politically, but for the sake of others, pray for peace. For the sake of God, seek peace and the prosperity of those within our country.

I don't know who you voted for and in reality, by this evening when we go to bed we will all know who our next leader is. What I do know is that, regardless of who is elected, I can pray for him, but more so I can continue to pray for peace in our country and prosperity, not just for my sake and means, but for the sake of others and ultimately for God.

Another interesting thought to consider this election day was found in the Men of Integrity Daily Guide to Bible and Prayer. Ray Pritchard, in referring to Proverbs 20:24, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" says that the word man in the first sentence speaks of a mighty warrior under the control of a commanding officer. But the word anyone in the second sentence refers to ordinary working men. If a mighty warrior is at the discretion of a commanding officer, in this case the Lord, then how much more ordinary men?

Mighty warriors: Obama, McCain, Petreaus, Powell, Buffett... you insert the name. They appear to be so confident and strong but actually it is the Lord who stands behind them and directs their paths. They are mighty warriors in our day at the Lords will and discretion. Pritchard offers as proof that within 10 years or less (many less) their names will be mostly forgotten and other mighty warriors will have risen to take their place as the Lord wills. Mighty warriors come and go but God remains forever.

Now, if that pertains to the mighty warrior or man mentioned in the first sentence, what does that mean for the rest of us ordinary people, the anyone Solomon talks about? If mighty warriors cannot direct their own steps how can the rest of us? The truth is, we can't. I can vote my conscience, but I cannot control then outcome of the election. The only thing I can do is trust that the Lord is standing behind the mighty warrior who will be elected and He will stand behind me as well. But what I can do is to follows the Psalmist advice and pray for my country.

So, did you vote? Did you vote your conscience? Do you trust God? If so, then trust that God is standing behind the person who will take office in January. Pray for that person, his VP and cabinet, and the senators and congressman who will guide our country. Not just for your sake and own interest, but for the sake of those who may not agree with your ideals and values.

Remember, whatever the outcome today, God is still in control. For His sake, pray for peace in our country, a peace the will unite us, despite our differences.

Lead Strong...

Shawn

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nothing Broken This Weekend...

Hey, I'm so excited, I made it through the weekend with backing into a friends mailbox or breaking any more furniture. Many of my friends (and family) found something to laugh about over my dilemma. I am so glad I could brighten your day a little. Life is full of things to laugh about when we realize life is not near as serious as we make it or take it.

Rochelle was trying to grab a 20 minute nap Sunday afternoon and I was watching Home Improvement reruns (Rochelle has bought me several seasons of Home Improvement) and she said she kept hearing me laugh or chuckle (I really was trying to hold it in). She asked what was so funny? Life, even life lived out in a sitcom. Art really does imitate life. Things happen that are just funny. Case in point, the other night coming home from our Life Group we passed a man kneeling over with his shoulder against a telephone pole as he was trying to staple some sort of sign to the pole. Now at 8:00 at night in the dark it looked like he was trying to hold the pole up and keep it from falling on passing cars. As we drove by I told Rochelle how grateful I was that he kept the pole from falling on our van, which come to find out had just got a new dent in the rear from the mailbox that rear ended me. I thought it was hilarious the way this guy looked... I am sure that pole was heavy.

Could it be that some of the things you are taking so seriously right now could be just plain funny when looked at from a new perspective? Next time the seriousness of life gets too overwhelming, stop and see if you can see things through new lenses and find a reason to laugh. Life is funny and I think God finds some of the things we do humorous as well. So laugh a little and enjoy the life God has allowed you to live. It makes the journey a whole lot more fun for everyone.

Lead Strong,
Shawn

Monday, October 20, 2008

Practice what you preach... UGH!

Okay, for past two weeks I have been teaching in our Life Group about handling the "inconveniences of life" and our attitude. I know enough to know that when you start teaching about something and encouraging others God's sense of humor kicks in and you are confronted with practicing what you preach. Well, it's my turn. Last night as we were leaving Life Group I had the bright idea to back into our hosts driveway and leave their subdivision the way we came in. Who knew or could see their mailbox sitting right there. You guessed it, for my birthday this week I am buying our good friends a new mailbox and post, complete with installation.

As if that was not enough, last night I sat down on the side of our bed (which by the way is a very large and heavy framed all wood bed, not a cheapy by any means) to get ready for bed and you guessed it, the bed collapsed under me. I don't think I am over weight at 180 pounds(?).

Point is, life happens. Better a mailbox than a small child behind the van that I couldn't see. And at least our little dog Coal Miner wasn't under the bed like he usually is at that time of night.

I knew I was going to have to practice what I preach, I only hope I can continue to carry a positive attitude and display Christ in lives little inconveniences.

Lead Strong...
Shawn

Friday, October 17, 2008

Life is hectic at best... But all is good!

Wow, last month I couldn't believe it had been a month since I last posted, and now here it is, almost another month. But a lot has happened in that month. We have bought a new house. Oh, and I have to take a moment and tell you about it. It is a great 1940 home in the historic Bivins Edition of Amarillo. Great wood floors, awesome personality, a wonderful yard, great neighborhood, just a fun house. We think we have a contract coming tomorrow on our other house (God is great as we were stepping out on faith when we bought our new home!). We have moved, had some renovations and updating done to our new house, continued with our Life Group ministry at church, and I have taken on some additional responsibilities at work. I have run several 5K and 10K races and even a half marathon. Rochelle has been home for a week and a half but up until that point had been traveling every week and is back in the traveling mode again for who knows how long. And, we have started a new Sunday School class at church. But, God is so good and we both have great careers, God continues to bless beyond any expectations, and we couldn't be happier or more tired!

Cori and Megan are doing well at Southern Nazarene University. Rochelle saw them during a recent business trip to Oklahoma City and we are going there for Homecoming next month. Emily is excelling in her new high school, running Cross Country (not her favorite thing to do), and getting very involved in the church youth group (praise the Lord!). She is excited because school basketball starts next week.

Little Coal Miner (I think we have figured out that Coal is a Yorkie-Poo. And yes, that is actually a real dog breed!) is doing well and the girls are pressuring us to give Coal a playmate... a Great Dane. I'm all for it as I am a dog lover and was raised with dogs, but Rochelle is, shall we say, hesitant. But I think Coal might need a brotha or sista as we have been joking.

Okay, that about catches you up on us. Except that in all of this stuff we call Life it has occurred to me that my basic philosophy of Leadership = Relationships + Influence still holds true. In working with a realtor who has become a huge resource, a carpenter that has gone out of his way to help and even make things better than we asked or paid for, church friends and board members asking for advice as we are losing our pastor of 10 years and getting into the process of finding another, Life Group members looking for stability in the pastoral transition... all these relationships that we have built are fertile ground to become leaders in their lives. Out of these relationships they have allowed us to become influencers, and thus leaders.

Case in point, relationships happen everyday and in all kinds of places and situations. Never forget that people need positive influencers in their lives. It starts with your family but extends to work, colleagues, realtor's, carpenters, friends, church leaders, and on and on. What relationships do you have going on right now that could use a good does of positive influence? When you infuse positive influence into your relationships, no matter how old or intimate they are, you become a leader. Don't take that lightly, but don't shy away from the opportunity either. And when you think it is just too taxing on you think about how taxing it is on God when you come to Him each day asking Him to do something because of the relationship you have with Him.

Life is hectic, but in making someone else's life easier and better you do the same for yourself. I dare you to try and prove me wrong.

Lead Strong and God Bless...
Shawn

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WOW, so much to talk about...

Wow, I can't believe I haven't taken the time to blog in over a month. I was thrilled rthe last time to talk about making it through the first week. Now it has been almost 2 months and I feel like I have been here for years while I am still learning the ropes in lots of ways. You have to love the dichotomies of life.

Amarillo College is great and I could see myself here a long time. I love the job and the potential for the future. I am gettingt o be involved in so many things.

And life... wow, where to start? Rochelle and I are buying a house. We have a contract down on a 80 year old historic home in the Bivins edition of Amarillo. Old houses are so much fun with great character. We close Oct. 6th. Pray that we sell our existing home soon. I have personally accomplished running a half-marathon and continue to train for other events. I am no speedster, but love to run and the thrill of finishing. Cori and Megan are at SNU and doing well. Emily is at highland Park and seems to be adjusting well too in her new school environment. Rochelle and I are doing great. We lead the Life Group ministry in our church and have started a new Sunday School class. Life indeed is good, but very busy.

Maybe that is the real point of this post. Life is so busy that I have inadvertantly left out things that are important to me. Rochelle and I realized the other day that we have gotten so busy that we have neglected our date night for well over a month (if not several). I have not been journaling or blogging or writing at all like I enjoy (not to mention its therapeutic for me). At least Rochelle and I continue our morning devotions, whether she is on the road or not, and I am convinced this time with God and each other pays eternal as well as immediate dividends! We have gotten involved in ministry and become so focused on the lives of others that we have forgotten just how blessed we are. Rochelle shared a blog from a friend of hers who has started at gratitude list. You know, things she is grateful for. She lists results of gratitude studies and people who are grateful are generally healthier in all areas of their lives. I have so much to be grateful for that I need to focus on in the hectic pace of life. This morning as I was vacuuming the house at 6:45 I realized that I need to slow down, even at work - which is hard for me, and bring back the things that are so important to me and that I enjoy so much. So today is a fresh start to old habits.

I encourage you today to slow down, focus on something to be grateful for and share it with God and someone else. Your gratitude encourages not only yourself but others and may help them to look for things in their lives to be grateful for as well.

God bless and lead strong...

Shawn

Friday, August 8, 2008

I made it through the first week...

Well, I made it through my first week at my new position with Amarillo College. It has gone by so fast and like most people starting a new job, my head is spinning - filled with information overload. But, I did finish the week with a new contract that has the potential to lead to continuous contracts with this customer, so I am grateful to my predecessor for leaving great leads, to my wife for her never ending support, to AC for the opportunity, and of course to God for His grace and provision.

Now comes the weekend. I have been blessed to have Rochelle home all week this week and I want to take full advantage of the weekend because she travels again next week. I never want to take for granted the time we have together so weekends are important for me and us. Then, I'll hit the ground running next week as it is already shaping up to be a full week. I love being busy though and I think I am going to thoroughly enjoy this new journey into a part of higher education that I have not had much exposure to.

The journey of life is as exciting as we allow it to be...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last Day...

Well, today is my last day as Executive Director of Worth the Wait. And, while I am excited about the next phase of my journey and beginning my new position with Amarillo College tomorrow I am a little saddened. The staff I have at WTW has been incredible and together we have accomplished more than the board of directors ever thought possible. And the mission of WTW is so worthy. But yet returning to higher education is exhilerating.

The team at AC have been so inviting and I am excited to become a part of that team. They really seem to have their act together and I already have my name on the office door, business cards on order, and my computer is ready for me. It is fun entering into a position that wants you with them so much. My nervousness with AC is the hope that I can add value to an already strong team. I am excited and anxious to become a valuable team member!

Last days are hard, looking forward to tomorrow eases the tension for me (not for the WTW staff though). Here goes, good bye WTW - hello AC.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Transitioning

Wow, how I love to keep things interesting! This past Tuesday I resigned my position as Executive Director of Worth the Wait to transition back into higher education. I have accepted a position at Amarillo College as Workforce and Economic Development Consultant. And, while I am excited to be moving back into higher education, this is an area that I have never been a part of directly before. Never-the-less, I am so excited to be back into higher education. But with the excitement is the sadness of leaving an organization that I firmly believe in. Worth the Wait is an incredible organization with an incredible mission to educate, equip, and empower the youth of Texas Panhandle to choose Abstinence Until Marriage and make positive and healthy life choices. It has been a true blessing to be a part of this organization and work with this awesome staff. It was a very difficult decision but I know in my heart it was the right decision a the right time and that God has opened up this opportunity for me.

In a devotional time this week the writer reminded us that it does not matter if anyone else understands your decisions as long as you are convinced that God is leading you in that direction. Rochelle has been a huge support in this transition and I am so grateful to have her by my side. WTW will be fine and hopefully it is somehow better by my being a part of the organization. Now, I return to my love of higher education and helping people succeed through education.

Transitioning is just a part of our life journey. What an exciting journey God has allowed it to be. Amarillo College here I come!!

Lead on....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Being and Doing

Somehow I got talked into... sucked into... blindsided actually into being a girls basketball coach this spring and summer for an AAU basketball team. At first I thought this would be great as my daughter is on the team and we could spend some quality time together. Then I thought this would be even better because my wife Rochelle was going to coach with me (she actually played basketball in high school and I am just an avid fan). How much fun I was going to have and what wisdom I thought I could impart to the girls! Hmmm, right.

What I know to be true is that by this point in these girls lives (most have been playing since they were 5) they know more about the game than I do. What they really need is someone to give a little guidance and direction, help them with some fundamentals, and encourage them along the way. I can do this... surely I can.

Problem #1, I am more competitive than I thought. Okay, I knew I was this competitive, I just thought I might have a better handle on it by this point in my life. I want to win and I want the girls to want to win as badly as I do. While this is a good thing it can be detrimental as well.

Problem #2, my daughter is on the team. She is a great player, and as a typical dad I think she should always lead the way and so I tend to put added pressure on her and sometimes take the fun out of the game for her.

Problem #3, I really do believe that the "game" is more important than the "win." I just let my competitiveness get in the way of that sometimes.

Problem #4, I am afraid I have taken out frustration on my new wife, and for that I am deeply sorry as well.

What does all this rambling have to do with anything? Well, as a Christian husband, father, leader, and coach I want the girls to love the game as much as I do. But I also have to work on keeping things in perspective. I am not just their coach, I am a Christian coach. I am not just my daughters coach, I am her dad. I am not just a coach, I am Rochelle's husband. I am not just a coach, I am a role model to the girls on the team, their parents, the referee's and the other teams we play.

This is where "Being" and "Doing" come into play. If I am (a being verb) all these things I have to do (also a verb) all these things. I can not just say I am a Christian coach, husband, dad, leader. I have to act like it as well. It can be tough too. The last tournament things got out of hand with some of our parents and I had to address them. I also had to apologize to the head of the organization and tournament director. The reason it was hard was because in some small sense the parents were right, but how we handled things wasn't. I represent not only myself, but my wife and family, my team, my girls, my parents to those around me and I have to "do" the things I say I am "being."

What does this have to do with you? I wonder if you have a false dichotomy going on in your life too. I cannot say I am something and not live that out at all times. I cannot put things like my Christianity aside when it is inconvenient and pick it back up later. I either am or I am not.

How 'bout you? Any taking off and putting on at your convenience? Are you "being" and "doing" who and what you say you are?

Oh, and here's a helpful hint. If you are asked to coach your own child's basketball team... RUN Forrest, RUN!!

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

House Hunting

Wow, Rochelle and I have been married 7 months today, June 17. What an amazing 7 months it has been with the rest of our lives in front of us. And now, on our 7 month anniversary we are making that big move that so many newlyweds make, buying our first home together.

When we married Rochelle had recently purchased a phenomenal home, but with the addition of not only me in the home but 3 teenage daughters, and a dog, we are finding the need to stretch out a bit. So we started exploring the possibilities last weekend and last night a sign went up in our front yard. Today the realtor takes pictures for the website and brochures and this Sunday is an open house. All this is exciting and stressful at the same time, but doing it together is wonderful.

We have begun looking at potential homes and have seen at least one that we really liked. The stress kicks in when we think about the amount of travel Rochelle has in the next few weeks and the possibility of selling our home quickly (someone actually drove by last night and parked in front of our house for a while and "scoped us out." We hope that is a good sign! God has been so good to us and so faithful in meeting our needs and we are trusting Him to do the same now. We recently sold my old home in another city within 7 days so we are anxious to see God work in this home.

Pray for us in this process as we experience another "new" for us as newlyweds. When I look back at the last 7 months it has been an amazing journey, and this next phase of the journey is going to be just as exciting!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Courage

212° Courage

Courage is…
Following your conscience instead of “following the crowd.”
Refusing to take part in hurtful or disrespectful behaviors.
Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others.
Speaking your mind even though others don’t agree.
Taking complete responsibility for your actions…and your mistakes.
Following the rules – and insisting that others do the same.
Challenging the status quo in search of better ways.
Doing what you know is right – regardless of the risks and potential consequences.

At 211 degrees water is hot.
At 212 degrees water boils.
Boiling water produces steam,
And with steam you can power a train.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Leadership = Relationships + Influence

Leadership is not that difficult, and it is not someone elses responsibility. Leadership is the responsibility of all of us. It is all too easy to look around and wonder, why doesn't someone do something about.... you fill in the blank. The real question is, why don't you and I do something about....?

Being an Executive Director of a non-profit, having served as a college administrator and professor, and having pastored in a major denomination, I have read literally thousands of pages on leadership. I can quote respected leadership guru's and even have some of their sayings posted around my corner of the world. But as I summize these teachings leadership really boils down to a simple equation, "Leadership = Relationships + Influence."

Now, this is where the pressure comes in. I have to be very intentional about building and maintaining relationships. I can no onger overlook people, or fail to pay attention to what is going on in people's lives. And, I have to choose what kind of influence I want to be withini those relationships.

Leaders can have poor relationships fraught with negative influences, or they can choose to build positive relationships with positive influences. But that choice is up to me.

I encourage and invite you to join me in building healthy and positive relationships within your context of the world, and then to become a positive influence in those relationships. Watch how quickly you become a leader within those relationships and how quickly those that you have influenced become leaders in other peoples lives by following the same basic equation.

Lead Strong,

Shawn

Lost, but now I'm found!

Okay, I know I'm playing on religious verbage, but in reality this is more true than not. Yes, I am a Christian who understands what it is to be lost and found. As a newly married husband of a great wife, Rochelle - hi baby, I also know what it is to be lost and found. When marriages dissolve, for whatever reason there is always the fear of losing your kids in the mix. Gratefully I didn't and have a new found love and relationship for my three beautiful daughters; Corinna, Megan, and Emily. And finally, with this new blog I understand what it means to be lost and found. It seems my old blog site, leadstrong.blinmist.net just disappeared and discontinued being for no apparent reason. The real tragedy is that I cannot retrieve anything that was on the site. Not that any of it was of incredible value, other than the personal value some of the site held for me personally.

But, this is a new day and a fresh start to blogging, more of rambling on my part, but hopefully readers will find something of value as well. Each new day is a new opportunity for growth and personal development. Each new day is a fresh chance to bring glory to God. Each new day is another relationship building opportunity and out of those relationship, new and old, to become a positive influence and thus a leader in lives, church, work, and community.

It is good to be found, isn't it?

Lead Strong,

Shawn