What a One Year Old Taught Me About Climbing The Ladder

Sunday’s around my house are reserved for rest and relaxation.  After church and lunch it’s nice to come home.  The house is clean, the chores are finished, and it’s quiet.  My one year old son takes his nap and his parents don’t miss the opportunity to catch some, well deserved, shut eye as well.  But this Sunday held a wonderful surprise from a son to his father and a lesson about climbing the ladder.

Climbing The Ladder

Shortly after our naps, we were all going to head out to the pool but I had one last thing to do.  There was some tape still stuck on the ceiling from some decorations we had up for my son’s birthday that had been nagging me for a while.  I fetched the ladder and set it up in the foyer.  I set out to climb the ladder and began removing the tape.  This is when I discovered that I had a little extra help.

There was my son at the very bottom of the ladder, looking up, and trying with all his might to come help his daddy.  After a few shots for the family photo album, I came down off the ladder and took him up in my arms.  As we climbed rung for rung it hit me.  This was exactly what I was experiencing in my life, except the roles were reversed.

This is what my little precious one year old taught his daddy about climbing the ladder of life.

  1. Keep Looking Up – Not once did my son look down and give up on his dream of climbing the ladder.  Not once did he get discouraged that he couldn’t climb it on his own.  He kept his gaze on his goal, me.  He kept trying for all he was worth.
  2. Try With All Your Might To Help Your Father – He would have probably wanted to mess with the ladder even if I wasn’t on it, but me on top, it made it completely irresistible to him.  We should have that same love and admiration for our father Jesus Christ.  Do all you can to be with Him.  Look to Him as you climb the ladder of life.
  3. Be Fearless – Ten feet up in the air on that ladder must have seemed like a mountain top to my little man, but he wasn’t afraid, not one bit.  Even with such peril below him, he was excited to climb the ladder with his daddy.  After all, I had him.  And doesn’t the Lord have you?  Why are you afraid to reach for the mountaintops in your own life?
  4. Keep Climbing – My son didn’t get discouraged one bit when he couldn’t get that little chubby leg onto the first rung to climb the ladder, he just kept trying.  Finally, his father saw him struggling and came down to lend a hand.  I was reminded that our father will come down to lend us a hand and help us climb the ladder.  He doesn’t want to see us struggle.
  5. Enjoy the Climb – The whole way up, rung by rung, my son was having a blast! He was laughing and giggling, a big grin across his face.  Life isn’t about the final destination, it’s about the journey.  Enjoy each and every step.

My son is the apple of my eye, but more than that, he is a constant reminder of all that is good and innocent.  We can learn much from children and their actions.  Next time you’re around young children, just sit back and take in the lessons they have in store for you.

 

Question: What have children taught you about your life?

Motivational Monday – Successful People That Have Failed

When was the last time you failed at something? This weekend I was attending a graduation party filled with close family. As is tradiditon with the younger crowd in my family, a baseball and a bat made it’s way into the party.

successful people that have failed

Traditionally, I play the role of the team’s power hitter. I’m always expected to hit a few dingers for my team. This weekend I struck out…alot. I was about to get down on myself when I emembered something I read in The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter. Derek’s teammates would say that Derek could go 0 for 5 on the day and come up to bat with 2 outs in the bottom of the nineth. Any other player would be dreading the at bat since they were having such a bad day. But, like many successful people that have failed, number 2 relished the opportunity to go up to the plate fully expecting to the end this day 1 for 6.  I needed to harness Derek’s style of confidence in his abilities.

So as I came to bat again nearing the end of the game, I was reminded of all those successful people that have failed time and time again only to achieve incredible success because they never gave up. Relentless implementation of what you know is right, despite the circumstances and past experience is so important.  I needed to remember this.

Standing at the plate for the final time that day, I reared back as the ball came hurling toward me. Despite my prior failures I took my usual power swing.  What do you know, I hit the ball a mile down the left field line.  It felt so good to connect with the ball.  All that failure beforehand was out of my mind as I rounded the bases only thinking about my home run.

I realized I would have not had this experience had I not been reminded of Derek Jeter and other successful people that have failed throughout history over and over again, only to wind up wildly successful.  Some of these include Dr. Seuss, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein.

This is a short video by One True Media:

Can you believe these successful people that have failed were rejected by their peers, shunned by their mentors, and turned away by their profession.  It was only after relentless implementation that their brilliance began to shine through.

These successful people that have failed are a true testament to what continuously moving forward can do.  This week, when things don’t go the way you’d expect them to, remember these successful people that have failed, only to turn their passion into incredible success.  Just keep swinging for the fences, or as my Pastor likes to put it, “fake it, til you make it.”

DO NOT GIVE UP this week.

 

What area of your life have you given up on because someone told you that you could not succeed?  How about giving it another shot this week?

 

The Leadership of Jesus

The inspiration for this post comes from one of the oldest books in history.  It is one of the most often told stories of all time.  It is an example to all who lead, given to us by the world’s most influential person to ever walk this earth.

 

 

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in the first row behind the sound board, I like to watch the creative team do their thing.  I’m not wearing my usual attire.  Today I’m in jeans and a t-shirt.  My tennis shoes are really out of the ordinary for a Sunday morning at church.

 

My preacher reaches for one of the towels on a rack behind him and begins to go into a story of Jesus, at a dinner party.  I lean forward in my seat.  I’m curious to learn how Jesus sees team leadership.  Jesus is standing there away from is followers. I imagine him leaning against the door jam, watching the mayhem ensue.   His disciples, the men who will carry on his legacy after his death, are arguing with one another over who will be the greatest in the kingdom.

 

But something is amiss here.  Their feet don’t look right.  The servant who is usually available to wash the feet of the guests as they enter the party is noticeably absent.  Everyone’s feet are dirty and dusty, filled with the filth of the ancient middle-east.

 

Here they are arguing with each other asking and debating, who amongst them is most important?  It is at this moment that the world’s most influential person to ever live, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, enters the room.  He grabs a towel only ever touched by a servant foot washer.  Jesus of Nazareth kneels before his followers, humbling himself to the stature of a servant, and cleans each and every foot in the room.

 

Jesus then explains to the room of shocked followers why he has done this.  (When he had finished washing their feet, he put on is clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord, and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”) John 13: 12-17

 

So there I am sitting at the church in my t-shirt and tennis shoes feeling blown away.  I’m wearing this outfit because the church as a whole is about to go out and serve others in our community.  It is only after hearing this story, told in this way, that I truly understand the significance of serving those around us.  I’m beside myself with excitement for I have just figured out a few new secrets to becoming a great leader.  Taught by example from one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.

 

Serve Others – Jesus commands “…you also should wash one another’s feet.” And tells us right out “you will be blessed if you do them.”  Serving others is not beneath us.  In fact, it is a truly higher calling.  My friend Daniel C. White has a great post on Servants Serving Servants.

 

Teach your followers – Jesus sees this as a teaching moment to instill one of his greatest lessons.  Just as he humbled himself to teach his people, so should we as leaders.  He shows them first hand that they should wash one anothers feet.  He wants them to learn to care for one another and to teach them this, he humbles himself and shows them how.

 

Lift them up – Jesus tells us “…no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”  Our followers cannot be better than us.  If on a scale of 1 – 10 we are, as leaders, a 5, our followers can never be more than a 4.  Don’t you want 8s and 9s working for you?  Then you must become a 10 yourself!

 

Love your followers – Jesus humbles himself to the status of a servant in order to get the message across.  His followers are more important to him than his own ego or self image.  Are you willing to sweep the shop, or clean the bathrooms at your organization?  Are you willing to serve your employees and show them how to do something to the best of their ability or is that below you?

 

Whether you call him a King or not, you can agree he is the world’s most influential leader to ever live.  His teachings are full of examples of level 10 leadership.  This is one of the most powerful lessons a leader can learn from the world’s most renowned leader himself.

 

Are you serving your followers?

Setting The Tone For The New Year

The sun was beginning to set on this dry wasteland of once fertile soil.  The dust rising in the west gave an orange glow to the clouds and set off a truly, magnificent sunset.  But the young woman was too busy to notice.  For her, today was nothing of beauty.  Today was dark and ominous, clouds of doubt and fear engulfed her as she knelt low gathering sticks for her fire.

Her gloom spirit had put her in a nearly hypnotic state while she worked.  Consumed by grief her body was gathering sticks on autopilot while her mind poured over the doubt and fear in her heart.  When all at once she was startled back into this world by a man’s calm but loud voice.  “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” he asked.

Though the drought had destroyed almost all her food, she did have a little water to spare.  She turned toward her small home to fetch this weary traveler some water when he added “and bring me, please, a piece of bread.”  Now bread she did not have, for this very night she was busy gathering wood for a fire for her and her son’s last meal.  After tonight there would be no more food to eat.  This was it, all they had, and now this strange traveler was asking for it all!  Who was this man and how dare he ask for her last bit of food.

“I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” She replied.  Thinking this would deter the man she turned back toward her home to fetch the promised water.

“Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son” the man commanded.  Then he added “For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.”

So the woman did as the traveler instructed and to her amazement, the jar of flour never went empty, the jar of oil never dried up, and her and her son didn’t die that night, they lived on.

What a great story to begin the New Year!  This story is a fluffed up version of 1 Kings 17:7-16. There are so many things we can take away from this passage and I felt compelled to make this my first post of the New Year as a way of setting the tone for my mindset toward life and God and share with you my list of things this passage reminds me about our Father.

  1. Trust him with all you have – This woman was asked to give ALL her food.  So often we think we’re doing everything right because we give our 10%, or we give God the first 15 minutes or last 15 minutes of the day.  We think we’ve covered our bases because we prayed for 30 seconds before each meal and 5 minutes before bed.  God doesn’t want a little of you, he wants everything you have!
  2. Give and it will multiply – The Lord uses you and me to do his work here on earth.  We are the caregivers of our fellow man.  What a tremendous opportunity we have to advance the Kingdom of God and help our fellow soldiers.  One of God’s most used prophets could have starved during this drought had God not used a poor widow woman to care for him.  In return, the Lord blesses her with more.
  3. God gives enough – Despite the fact that the woman had almost nothing, it was enough.  Heck, she was about to eat her last foreseeable meal!  She had nearly nothing, but it was enough.  Don’t fear that you may not have much, you always have just enough to do the Lord’s work.
  4. One day at a time – The Lord blesses the woman for her faith, but notice the jar doesn’t fill up, it just doesn’t go empty.  Let this be a reminder that we don’t need to stress about the future, the Lord will always provide enough for his followers if they are doing his work.
  5. Always be ready to serve – Well I’ve got this event tonight, I’ve got a big speech tomorrow, or, this is my last meal ever then I’ll die, whatever your excuse is, do not miss your chance to fulfill your purpose and serve our Lord.  This woman could have easily just ignored the traveler and gone about her gloomy business.  But in her darkest most dreadful hour, she paused just long enough to receive God’s blessing and serve him.

Imagine if this woman had turned around and walked back into the house.  She and her son would eat their last meal and die.  Most likely they’d have died unnoticed.  But she took a leap of faith at just the moment that the opportunity appeared.  As a result, she served the Lord, she fed Elijah, who would go on to do even more great works for God, she didn’t starve to death, and she made it into the most printed, most read, most talked about book of all time!

What will you do this year when the opportunity to serve the Lord comes before you?