August 17, 2017

Honor, Stewardship, Trust

"A President must grace and honor the office, the highest and most powerful office in the world. Our President must honor not just the office, but the people that office serves. 

The President must serve this country steadfastly and laudably.  

In the end the presidency is more than a simple catalog of policies pursued, crises weathered, battles lost or won.  

It's a stewardship and a sacred trust. It’s a commitment to sacrifice every fiber of your being, every thought, every moment, and everything in service to your nation. 

Despite the political and philosophical differences in our country, the President who does this well, deserves nothing less than our humble appreciation and heartfelt gratitude.
  
Our President must strive to be worthy of the example of the great men who have gone before.  Presidents walk in the giant footsteps of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and more.  They have magnificent legacies to uphold.  I pray that our President aspires to their example, and will daily make that sacrifice."

Arnie Vinick - Fictional Character and Presidential Candidate on the West Wing



July 13, 2017

Think Small

In YMCA circles, most discussions center around size. We constantly measure ourselves versus some ambiguous goal of what and how other people are doing.

·         How big is your budget?
·         How much money did you raise?
·         What do you do annually in sales?
·         How much do you make?

In my situation they usually are asking, “Why do you still have an iPhone 5?”

There is this underlying culture that only the work from the largest Y’s is the greatest or most important work. If an idea didn’t originate in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Charlotte, etc. it really is not worthy of discussion.

Culturally we are obsessed with bigger or more prestige. Our dreams and sometimes our excuses get stuck in the “If Only” mode.

We find ourselves looking at what we think are bigger and greener pastures. Lifeguards say, “If only I was the Aquatics Director, I would make a difference.” The Aquatics Director says, “If only I was the Sr Program Director, I would make a difference.” The Sr. Program Director says, “If only I was the Executive of the branch, I would make a difference.” And the Executive says, “If only I was the CEO, I’d make a difference.”

We wallow around in what we don’t have because our town is poor; Our budgets are small; Someone else has the authority.

“If only I worked for one of those rich Y’s”

We live in a world of deficit thinking.

But experience has proven to me that bigger is not better and greener is not always greener!

I love this poem by Meade McGuire.
Father, where shall I work today? And my love flowed warm and free. 
Then He pointed out a tiny spot And said, “Tend that for me.” 
I answered quickly, “Oh no; not that! Why, no one would ever see, 
No matter how well my work was done; Not that little place for me.” 
And the word He spoke, it was not stern; He answered me tenderly: 
“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine. Art thou working for them or for me? 
Nazareth was a little place, And so was Galilee.” 

John Maxwell says, “the importance of your work is not about size, prestige or power. The importance is based on How you do your job and Why you do your job.” He shares three points:

1.   If you give your best in obscurity, God will recognize it. Others may not but God will.
2.   If you give your best in small things, God will give you bigger things.
3.   If you give your best with consistency, God will give you courage.


“THINK SMALL – REMEMBER the Mustard Seed”

May 31, 2017

Ruby

Ruby was country ham and warm biscuits. She was fresh cut flowers and sweet corn. She was thick tomato sandwiches that you had to eat over the sink. She was crowded and loud kitchens that were filled with smiles and laughter. She was family, she was friends and she was faith.



I think that is the culture of the YMCA Branch named in her honor. A branch where everyone is welcome and everyone is treated like family. We celebrate the simple things in life which bring us so much joy. The Ruby, as we affectionately call the branch, has no hallways or walls. The open floor plan creates a constant hum of talking, balls bouncing, and treadmills running.



Kind of like her kitchen. All of this energy and activity grounded on a commitment to our faith and the charge to “Love Our Neighbors As Ourselves.”


Yesterday as I watched her wonderful family and how proud they are and how strong they are all trying to be, I thought about how the best gift that we can give to Ruby is to acknowledge that our hearts are breaking and to lean on each other and let our hearts break together. 

Then we need to get back into that kitchen and out in that garden and spend the rest of our lives sharing the peace, the love and the joy that she shared daily.

May 23, 2017

Next Time - A Note to Graduates

I recently had someone say, “Let’s have a windshield relationship, not a rear-view mirror relationship.” And that is my advice to every graduating high school senior.

When you think about it, CHANGE is one of the few constants in our lives. The reality of life is that we are in a constant state of flux and motion. From our first words spoken to the date where we glance out at the audience with diploma in hand, our lives have been an ebb and flow “Good-Bye” and “Hello.”

Good-Bye is often the first words taught to a child as they learn to waive at a parent going to work or a grand-parent leaving after a visit. But soon after, Hello became part of the new vocabulary. Thank goodness Hello often follows Good Bye. Good Bye Elementary School – Hello Middle School. Good Bye Middle School - Hello High School. Good Bye High School and Hello…Life.

This is where I think the wind shield metaphor resonates with me. If I could give the graduates some advice I would say this – Don’t use the words “If only.” “If only I would have studied harder. If only I would have asked her out. If only I would have listened to my parents. If only I would have said no to my friends.” When you get stuck into a world of “If Only,” that means you are stuck in the rear-view mirror. Then you allow for excuses and negativity to dictate your future success and failure.

Instead I would use the word “Next Time.” Next time I will study harder. Next time I will make sure I ask her out. Next time I will listen to my parents. Next time I will say no to my friends. Focusing on what to do next time is deciding to clear a path for a different future.

Every exit is also an entrance. You never walk out of one thing without walking into something else. You will walk away from high school saying goodbye to great friends, wonderful teachers and a special time in your life. But tomorrow awaits you, full of possibilities and hope. Hello future, next time is going to be awesome.