Obama Kicks Reporters off Campaign Plane

Leadership is everything. I have never posted anything political on this blog, because in fact our family is highly, intensely interested in politics. We constantly have discussions – mostly from the point of view of leadership, not ideology – especially during the national campaigns. Peter is from South Africa, I from Central America, our girls are in college, we are fierce about social justice, and questioning is in our bloodstream. Our faith in Jesus Christ has channeled that passion, and informs our worldview (more on that another time!).

Earlier this year I took Ben (the only one available to go with me!) to an Obama rally near the house. (I also took Ben and Faith to see George Bush during the last cycle. We believe in exposing the children to as much of life as possible!). I will write about it all separately later… it was an amazing experience, as we stood literally drenched (we had to wring our clothes out later), sharing umbrella space with hundreds of total strangers, of many ethnicities, waiting to go in. It was beautiful. Politics aside, it was a lesson in how hungry people are for true leadership.

Today’s news disturbs me. Kicking off three publications (NY Post, Dallas Morning News, and Washington Times) that have endorsed McCain is … well, I can’t quite say what it is. It makes Obama look thin-skinned, and surrounded by handlers and aides who are arrogant in their sense of entitlement. There is talk that it had to do with making room for documentarians to film the historic last few days of the inevitable winner. With his millions of dollars he couldn’t have chartered another plane for them? I don’t know. All I know is that this campaign seems very intolerant of any kind of questioning, because they are not used to it. Just yesterday there were new statistics on how biased the media has been toward the Obama campaign. It is an accepted fact. I personally think this treatment by the media is paternalistic, in that it seems to assume (and do his aides feel this way?) that he can’t handle anyone challenging him legitimately. (I’m not talking about all the extremists that accuse him of triggering the apocalypse).

Please, it is all about leadership! This is a very dumb move, and the story will have legs, because it reinforces the perceptions and fears that are already lurking in people’s minds. When followers put leaders on a pedestal and worship them, no good comes of it. Ever.

If you comment, please bear in mind two things:
1. I am not assuming any motivation one way or the other on Obama’s part, I am addressing the perception this creates and how it feeds into a narrative, accurate or not.
2. I don’t want to argue McCain vs. Obama here! I am talking about a leadership principle. Please limit your comments to how you feel about leaders and followers, as well as how you feel this might affect the election.

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Your Voice

This post is about your voice. And your seasons.
I am going through a season change… are you? Time to get more involved in some things, and less in others. Can you relate? Thinking through priorities and proportions. This is especially challenging because I am, at heart, an activist.

Everyday I pray that my children will learn to hear God’s voice… and learn to love that voice, to trust it, to navigate through life guided by it, much as the sailors of old relied on the stars in the heavens.

But another aspect of navigating that has taken me years to learn involves my voice. I have a voice. You have a voice. Each person has a voice. Is your voice effective?

I strongly believe that every human has a purpose and that God gives us a voice as the means by which we fulfill that purpose. By voice I mean that unique set of attributes that makes you, you!

We each need to look at all areas of current or future involvement – relationships and organizations in our spheres of influence – and ask a fundamental question: does my voice make a difference? Does anybody hear me? Do they want to hear me?

If I am committed, doing my part, and carefully listening to the voices of others – but making no impact and finding no reciprocity, then that is not a fruitful involvement. It may be time for change. There are likely needs or opportunities elsewhere, just waiting!

Or, it may be time to speak more loudly. But no one likes a shouting match. If you’re in a relationship and have had “the talk” multiple times, to be comforted by a “you’re right” and no change, time to move on (and I’m not speaking of a marriage here, by the way!). If you have a friendship with someone who has taken advantage of you repeatedly, and you’ve confronted and received an “I’m sorry” only to be misused again, time to move on. If you’re on a board or team and have expressed the same serious concerns multiple times, to be greeted by “yeah, great input” and no action, time to move on. Why force others to listen to you, when somewhere else there is a person praying precisely for what your voice can do for them? Keep the peace, spread the love… and move on.

I’m not talking about giving up when things get tough! If you are fighting a fierce battle for social justice, or to grow a business or fulfill a dream, you don’t get to “move on” – that is a whole other subject…

Bottom line today – your voice is valuable, and there is a definite place where it is needed and where there will be grace abounding for it to be heard. Relax in that knowledge. Listen, think, pray, speak, be thoughtful about your season changes. Then watch that last leaf fall and welcome the new season. And as you listen for God’s voice in the stillness, remember – He is listening for yours.

YOU – do you like to work with women? Is it easier with men?

So, as you look at yesterday’s blog… what emotions do you feel? In your opinion, was anything I said true?

And what of the video? I know most people don’t have time to watch the video all the way, but you can watch one or two minutes and get the point – it is an old school training video (about 40+ years old), supposedly enlightened for the time. The HR guy in the end comforts the foreman by telling him, “You needed someone, and there was no man available.”

This is a huge subject. Surely we can agree men and women are different. I’ve been thinking about it… and I hope some of you college and twentysomethings give me some thoughts. I wonder how emotionally laden it is for your generation, as opposed to mine (fortysomething) and the generation above me? There’s been an ongoing dialogue in my brain since I finished a book on women in leadership recently. My Fair Lady was on tv Sunday, and watching it further pumped up the volume on those inner voices!

How do you really feel about women? Forget political correctness! Do you prefer male or female friends? Co-workers? With whom would you rather work on a project? What irritates you about women? C’mon Men, you have total immunity in this zone. I promise I will not accuse you of being sexist! (Even if you, like Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, want to burst into the song, “Why Can’t a Woman, Be More Like a Man?”).
Tell the truth…

The Trouble with Women

Women are so emotion driven, aren’t they? Generally tossed around by circumstances, especially because they tend to feel for others? Aren’t men less complicated?

Come on, don’t some of you secretly feel like the foreman in the video below? And gals, don’t we once in a while think maybe it would be easier to work with men, to avoid the cattiness?
HR Manager: “What’s wrong with her?”
Foreman: “Well, she’s a woman isn’t she?”

Hopefully I have made someone confused and/or mad by this post.
We’ll talk some more about the trouble with women in the next few days…

Follow the Nudge

So Saturday morning I’m staring aimlessly (I find aimless staring to be therapeutic) at my backyard. Suddenly I focus on one of the two papaya trees. It has the most beautiful, plentiful fruit. It is leaning, looking like this tree on the left.

I get this nudge, this feeling (okay, maybe it was glaringly obvious) – “mental note: prop it up, TODAY.

“Yes,” I reply to myself. “I’ll do it now.”

RESTOFTHESTORY: IFORGOTTODOIT


Now I have this in my kitchen –
more than 130 green or semi-ripe papayas!

Friends, one of the several lessons to glean from my self-inflicted dilemma:

When something is producing a lot of fruit, it needs a lot of support.
If you want the fruit, give the support.

And when you feel a nudge, an obvious prompt,

JUST DO IT. DO IT NOW.
Timing is everything.
What prompting have you been ignoring lately?

Training on Lake Nottely

God is wonderful in how he balances our training! Books and seminars are great…
Real flesh and blood humans that have survived overwhelming odds as leaders are even better!

We were not able to attend the second day of the Leadership Summit, as we had long ago scheduled a visit to friends in Georgia. A Ukrainian pastor and his family were also visiting… we spent rich time with them as our children splashed and explored on the lake.

Nic was a pastor of the underground church in the former Soviet Union. He has since founded several churches, including some in the States. He is replete with the Holy Spirit and immense joy. He has known immense suffering. He unfolded more of God’s character for us as he told us about his experiences walking with Jesus.

Stories of persecution under the KGB were not new to us – Peter in fact spent some time at a mission station in Finland, where our teams helped prepare packages of Bibles to smuggle into the Soviet Union.

Yet how intensely in the “now” we sensed the presence of the Lord as we soaked in His ways… sitting on a boat in a lake in Georgia (the very day another Georgia – across the globe – is engulfed in conflict), our children fellowshipping over muddy, glittery rocks!

He told us of miracle after miracle of healing and deliverance. Of having to ask God specifically at what hour to meet and where, so as to avoid arrest. Experiences of believers at diverse starting points, walking miles in the woods and asking God where to go, unexpectedly meeting up with other groups in the same remote area of the forest – miraculously brought together by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And more.

Stories new generations of believers need to know about. God has not changed.
Nic and Svetlana are simple humans, as are we all. And as humans, they reminded me that being massively overwhelmingly in love with God, and diving headfirst into His work, regardless of opposition, are the truly indispensable qualities of great leaders.