The Whatever Project

My name is Joey . . . and I have a problem.

I have a tendency to be cranky.

I believe that I cover it pretty well. Only a select few of you out there know that I’ve been battling this affliction most of my life. But those of you who know I have it truly wish that you weren’t one of the selected. Please forgive me.

I am not plagued with indiscriminate crankiness. No, my crankiness is finely tuned on the acts and attitudes of other people. You see, I’m judgmental.

Now, most people are judgmental to some extent. If you don’t believe that’s true, I would guess that you haven’t watched the news, read a paper, browsed the net, or had coffee with a friend . . . ever.

I find it ironic that I absolutely detest it when others are judgmental. I have banned certain television channels at our office and I refuse to read the comments on certain blogs. I don’t think that I would even tolerate judgmental talk from other individuals . . . except, I often walk away from those conversations with the sinking feeling that I was leading the cranky parade.

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time driving through West Texas. On one of those journeys, alone in my car, I had an immense bout of crankiness about one certain individual. I was beside myself with thoughts of his stupidity, laziness, disregard for human kind, and, even though I knew it to be false, his total lack of affection for puppies.

As I felt my negativity levels soar, I suddenly thought, “I don’t want to do this.”

At the next truck stop, I pulled off and rifled through my back pack. With Bible in hand, I went to Philippians 4 and to the “whatevers.”

The answer to my crankiness was right there. I started thinking that whenever I begin to get cranky towards someone, I needed to start building a “whatever” list for that person. Further, I realized that, in order to prevent crankiness, I could inoculate everyone I know by saving up “whatevers” for them.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

This is my Whatever Project. I hope it makes life better for all of you. I know it will for me.

“Whatever.”

All You Have to Do is Ask

“I don’t know what to do.”

Those six words are familiar to me. I’d like to tell you it’s because of my position and because people seek me out for advice. While, that statement would have an element of truth, the deeper foundations are set on the bedrock of my own experience.

How many times have I struggled with the questions, “What should I do?” and “Why am I plagued with problems?”

In recent years, in those moments when I can slowly exhale and gather myself, I turn to one of my favorite biblical passages, the letter of James. The writer (probably the brother the of Jesus) takes on the important issue of true leadership . . . by thoroughly calling all of us to be servants. He begins by addressing our fears and our feelings of inadequacy.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 Trials, tribulations, sorrows — all should be greeted with joy?!

But that seems stupid . . .until you focus on the reason.

Challenges must be faced. By so doing, we develop a spirit of perseverance. And perseverance — keeping on — allows us to grow and mature.

We all know that in times loaded with worry, grief, and pain everything becomes more difficult. Even thinking about the obstacles can leave us fatigued, frightened, and even angry.

I’ve often been embarrassed to go to others for help. Even asking for advice is difficult. I’m sure part of that is my pride and ego. Sometimes, however, it’s because I don’t want to hear someone else’s counsel. I don’t want to believe that there is an answer for me and to grapple with the next prescribed step.

Yet James promises that I can always ask God for wisdom and that He will always deliver it.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.

One caveat: I’m not allowed to doubt that God will send wisdom my way. 

Doubt is uncertainty. If I allow two thoughts to struggle for my allegiance, I become . . . double-minded. I must place my trust in God. If I ask him for wisdom, I should expect for it to come. And ultimately, I must act on the wisdom He provides. Doing anything else interferes with the promise.

God wants single-minded servants. And single-minded servants make the best followers and the best leaders.

Today’s New International Version, Holy Bible, James 1:2-8.

 

 


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No Sloppy Agape – Guest Post

Peacemaking lost a champion this week – our dear friend, Charles Siburt. Often those who come to learn peacemaking ask, “Is there anything else I can do with these skills?” And when they do, I would hope that they would see the impact a peacemaker has in those chance moments when he conveys his care and concern for someone else.

I hope you enjoy this article from Lori Anne Shaw, assistant director of the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution, as she shares her memories of Charles Siburt. Charlie truly understood the broader role and responsibility that comes as peacemaker.

 

I could never have a conversation with Dr. Siburt without him trying to help David and I plan our life. No matter how much I asked about Judy, his kids, his grandkids, or his treatment, he would never end a phone or email conversation without asking about our plans for the future. When I could not deliver a solid answer (which was most of the time) he would start walking me through problem solving and goal setting exercises. It was just his routine.  He could not help himself.  Not because he cared so much for me.  Though I think he did.  Not because I was so important or special to him. Though he made he feel that way.  No.  He did it because that is who he was – a lover of people and a master problem solver.

Dr. Siburt’s influence spread over three generations of my family.  As the minister at my home congregation, he worked with my grandfather who was an elder.  My grandfather remembers Dr. Siburt being in graduate school and teaching the elders ideas he learned.  My grandfather credits Dr. Siburt  for teaching him several practical communication techniques that he used in business and still uses with our family and in church leadership.  Dr. Siburt was the preacher my dad and aunt grew up listening to on Sunday morning.  He married my parents and often remarked that he was at the hospital when I born.  As long-time family friends, my grandparents reminded me that if I needed something while I was in Abilene, I could always call Charlie and Judy.

I felt Dr. Siburt’s influence most in my immediate family when David landed a spot in Dr. Siburt’s mentoring class. Our second year in ministry at a small church north of Abilene, he helped David (and I) soak up so many positive learning experiences.  Every week David came home with an insightful sound bite of Siburt wisdom.  He had so many good sayings. With high expectations for ministers and for churches, Dr. Siburt had no trouble labeling selfishness and immaturity.  There was no excuse for “sloppy agape.”  If some feathers had been ruffled in our congregation, he’d remind us that “the anxious minority doesn’t rule the church, they are just the loudest.”  Ideas of that caliber stick.

A few months pregnant with our first child, life all of a sudden felt very real.  Decisions needed to be made. We asked Dr. Siburt for a quick meeting.  David was choosing whether to continue in ministry, pursue a Ph.D. in Old Testament, or go to law school.  After agonizing over this decision for a year, we were refreshed (and stunned) by Dr. Siburt’s practical and plain response, “If you want a job, then be a minister or a lawyer. You will do well either way.”  Of course.  Why had we made it so hard?

The next year we moved to Waco for David to start law school at Baylor. We soon learned that there was nothing half-done about being loved by Dr. Siburt.  (No sloppy agape, and he wasn’t kidding.)  He continued to follow up with us. We were not in Abilene.  David was not his student anymore.  Yet, Dr. Siburt was totally unobligated.  We knew he was doing the same thing with countless other families and churches. That was just who he was – a lover of people, a master problem solver, and serious about disciple making.

 

Lori Anne Shaw has been the assistant director for program development at the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution since 2007.  She is a mediator focusing primarily on serving local non-profits and university faculty, staff and students.  Additionally, Lori Anne is a trainer for the biannual Residency Session and 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training. She edits the monthly newsletter The Peace Partnermaintains the website, and implements marketing and fundraising strategies through targeted mail, email and social media.  Lori Anne serves as an online course facilitator for the Master of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Program facilitating Negotiation and Mediation, Managing Conflict in Schools, Managing Conflict in the Workplace, Communication and Conflict Theory, and Advanced Mediation classes.  Her research interests include conflicts surrounding gender roles in religious contexts and family mediation outcome research.  

 She and her husband, David, live in Waco, Texas and have two children, Maci and Cade.

Leadership & Parachute Philosophy

“Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.”  Benny Hill

Sometimes leaders assume that the quietness behind them indicates solid support.

Often the sound of silence represents other things:

  • Followers who are stunned speechless at the direction the leader is taking.
  • Followers who have been deeply wounded and are struggling to stay in pace.
  • Followers who are quietly planning their exit.
  • Followers who are quietly planning the overthrow of the leader.
  • Followers who are no longer following.
Sometimes leaders forget to check on the wellness of their followers. Occasionally, in the heat of battle or the rush of the pursuit of a new goal, leaders momentarily lose sight of their purpose.

The purpose of a leader is to move everyone to a better place.

 

Yet, leaders often fail to catch the sounds of distress around them.  Too many worship the thought of “ever forward” and sacrifice those they were meant to serve.

Leaders expect loyalty from those who follow. Followers expect no less from their leaders.

Are you a leader? Are you trustworthy? Are you loyal to your followers?

True leaders are not served . . . they serve.

Why I fly my flag

On this anniversary of September 11, 2001, I raised my United States flag to the bracket on the porch column. It was still early, but I knew that many of my neighbors would join me in this solemn act of remembrance of those dark hours a decade ago.

As I stood there a moment and gazed at those stars and stripes, I thought about all of the things that the flag represents. For a moment, I felt an uneasiness. Some of my dear friends won’t be flying a flag today — or any day, for that matter. Displaying this flag, they say, is an endorsement for all of the evil things that have been done by this country.

I readily and sadly admit that this great nation has, from time to time, fallen victim to decisions and policies that have been foolish, self-centered, and even savage. I mourn those lapses in character and I groan slightly each day as I see men and women continue to pursue vestiges of power, wealth, and influence in total disregard for others.

No human institution can withstand critical review. Whether it’s my government, my alma mater, my workplace, my family, or even my local church, I can point to moments of failure. But because of my connection, I am drawn to do more than criticize — I’m compelled to engage and improve wherever I can.

Through my study window, I can see my flag slightly billowing in the mild breeze. I’m not naive. I can see the shadows of ugliness that these patches of red, white, and blue have covered throughout the years. However, I can’t help but see — and even feel — the potential that is embroidered there.

I fly my flag to remember . . . and to dream of a time that people will pursue peace for every nation and every man, woman, and child. My hope and prayer is that citizens of every nation fly their flags in this common cause.  And that we can all be cured of blind allegiance.

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