Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Go with the Flow When You Just Don't Know

So yesterday I’m driving home reminiscing about last week’s rafting trip when it hits me…

Like the Ocoee, there are many out there locked into flow riding the rhythms of life.

Steadfast. Persistent. Always on the move.

Yet, while on the outside, they seem to be getting somewhere…abiding within a certain fluidity, on the inside, they are trapped…unable to slow down…and dampened by what the current is hiding.

So I pressed in. Lord, what are you trying to tell me?  

And he said, ‘Cam, behind every responsibly managed white-water river, there’s a dam irrigating its flow. Each year, the river flows in season and is then drained for maintenance. Yet, even when there’s no water, the river is still a river. For man may define a river by how much water it holds, but I define a river by the fact I’ve created it to do so. After all, if I am that I am, I am that I dam.’

Selah.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Flash-forward to today and I’m still processing this; honestly, who knows when I’ll be done.

For now, I just want to offer encouragement to those resonating with this word picture.

‘Cause though you may feel the best of you…the core of who you are is buried deep under what you can’t control, a time is coming when the Lord will fill you up by drying you up*, establishing a new surface where hidden treasure can be exposed.

All those diamond rings…Rolexes…iPhones…GoPros…all those things you’d thought you’d never see again…will not only be returning to you, but restored and experienced with those around you.

Granted, it may not be easy adapting to a lower level of flow; then again, we weren’t made to be filled at all times, but to pour out** strength, encouragement, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3) as the Spirit leads.

So I charge you: take heart and take hope. You may feel burdened by what is concealed today, but you will be at peace by what is revealed tomorrow.

In the meantime, trust God to know not only what is best for you, but the season in which that is to be made known.

Whoever you are…you got this…

Footnotes

* I know…sounds weird at first, but again, God as your Dammer, this lines up to who He is
** Which implies a lowering of water level anyway

Photo creds: Panoramio

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Faith at Work (Part 2): Rethinking Influence



If you’ve been a frequent flyer with us over the years, chances are you know we’re passionate about helping bivocationals bridge the gap between sacred and secular…in living the same way on Monday as they do on Sunday.

But lately I’ve been thinking: What if we’ve been looking at the Sunday –> Monday discussion all wrong? 

I know, like many, I’ve heard my share of seasoned voices charging consistency within the body of Christ. Yet, the more I consider this in the context of commissioned marketplace leaders, the more I wonder if the core issue has more to do with connecting our influence than leading from spiritual authority/expertise.

For instance, I may not have the most expert depth relative to my occupation, but I do have the mind of Christ guided by his thoughts and purposes (1 Corinthians 2:16 AMP). Sure, I may be a low man on the totem pole from a corporate hierarchical perspective; however, this doesn’t mean I lack influence.

You see…far too often we get distracted trying to make our spiritual lives stratiform1. We take the ol’ Sunday adage of not being a once-a-week Christian, convince ourselves we’re not going to be that, then go out and try to extend our church person into “secular” places.

The problem is: if our influence is based on convincing others what we’re about rather than showing them why they’re here, then we can never experience real connection.

Why? ‘Cause real connection can’t happen without interdependent (i.e. two-way) relationship…without people actively investing ‘next step’ direction into one another.

Granted, how we approach compartmentalization and contextual inferences are worth discussion; however, as long as we aspire to share what we were made to know with whom we were made to engage, those issues will ultimately take care of themselves as relationships grow in faithfulness.
No reliance on institutionalizing, exaltation of effort, or Kingdom-izing business.

Just warmly abiding in the effortless rhythms of grace knowing it’s not about our credentials, but God’s competence flowing through them2.

Thus, I submit…
  1. If we choose to see leadership as influence and influence as helping people build their own, we allow transformative culture to establish itself.
  2. If we want to get real about reaching people (from purpose), we must first get intentional about connecting our influence (on purpose).
  3. Rather than encourage people to be the same on Monday as they are on Sunday, let’s show them in love how to be better today than they were yesterday.
‘Cause I’ll be honest: I don’t want to be on Monday who I was on Sunday; I want to be better today than the day before. I want to know the best God has in store. And then go out and live that forevermore.

Whatever gap we’re trying to bridge, why not start there? …

Footnotes
  1. Preaching the choir here
  2. That, my friends, is what being an influential marketplace priesthood is all about.
Photo creds: Wallpaper Abyss

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

LEGACYouth: Setting the Table



When I say ‘set the table’, what immediately comes to mind?

Dinner? Chore? Family? ‘Power off’?

I know for me I’m reminded of one my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies: the classic “Food!” chant in Twister when the chasers try to convince Jo to swing by her Aunt Meg’s for some sustenance.   



However we approach the phrase, chances are we’re thinking about one of life’s most basic essentials being satisfied. After all, we can’t live without consuming nourishment.

Yet, while physically, cravings are interspersed, continually coming and going, when we talk about spiritual nourishment, we’re talking about a completely different kind of filling.

You see, often times, we talk about spiritual hunger and fullness in exclusive terms (i.e. gotta get hungry, then I gotta get filled, and then I gotta get full, stay full, etc.)

But when we dive into the Word, we find that’s not how it works.



‘Cause as we inevitably find, there’s a difference between being filled and being full.

For ‘to be filled’ implies imminent pouring into, to be ‘filled to the brim’; however, ‘to be full’ suggests ongoing permeation - a spreading through process which takes our brimming containers and allows them to overflow. In essence, to go after fullness is to fill up with the intent to pour out, specifically strength, encouragement & comfort.

Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 confirm this:





While this may tough to initially understand, the takeaway here is: we, as the body, we are God’s fullness in the sense we can know the wonderful purpose of God for us and given us the task of expressing Christ to the world.

So for the next couple months, we’re going to take our recent ‘unity in community’ focus and build upon it by 1) spending more time under the faucet together (i.e. waiting and filling up in God’s presence, allowing God to overwhelm us so he can overflow us) and 2) spending more time in the dining room together (i.e. tasting and seeing that God is good, feasting at the table of God’s goodness, coming together to learn how to be full on God, allowing that goodness to move on hearts and open eyes). This may mean less teaching and more activation as more corporate courage is summoned, but honestly, I believe that’s part of the next level God wants to take us as he not only refreshes us, but breaks down the wall between hunger and fullness…helping us walk in goodness, peace, and joy together (Romans 14:17).

My thought? Let's make like a 2006 Taco Bell commercial...'cause at the end of the day (and by day, I mean summer), I don't want to be just hungry, I want to overflow as one who can constantly say...


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Framing the Role: A Guide to Better Workplace (Part 2)


Last week we discussed how ideal human resourcing assesses the inner man not only in hiring, but in training and development.

This week we'll continue our downfield drive by focusing on marketplace education, specifically how employee and employer should approach deeper learning and training opportunities...

  1.  Make Deeper Learning Equal Evident
I’ve been blessed to serve under some laudable leadership over the years.

For instance, during my first summer with TDOT, my supervisor would make sure I understood concepts not only in correspondence, but also behind-the-scenes whether taking inventory at local garages or database management courses online.  Whatever the project, whatever the assignment, he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. As a result, not only did I feel regularly encouraged, but I felt driven to reach beyond expectation.

Unfortunately, after a season of turnover and transition, the 'extra opportunity well' would dry leaving certain endeavors in the dust; however, though the narrative of my role would change, I ultimately realized the emerging lack of definitive pathway didn’t have to determine my deeper learning trajectory.

Rather if I simply took the time to seek the opportunity, I would eventually be able to find and pursue it. All I needed was initiative and direction to compliment my resolve.

Perhaps some of you find yourself in a similar situation. If so, whether or not deeper learning opportunities are knocking at your door, it’s important to stay persistent and patient regardless of where you think you are.

‘Cause truth is: expecting possibilities to fall into your lap is the least effective way to advance what you know.

Should your employer have a clear guide/available resources for assistance? Absolutely. I’m not sayin’ veer clear of troubleshooting personnel; however, I am sayin’ rather than succumb to a ‘rich get richer’ mentality (like I once did), focus on devising a plan, developing a timeline, communicating intentions to your supervisor, and adjusting them according to your means.

Granted, you may be unsatisfied with your title/role, maxed out within your salary grade, or in a situation where you can’t move up unless you take out a loan to get a degree1.

Yet, when I think back on smart decisions made during my TDOT tenure, no question pursuing open doors where I could mature skillsets usable inside and outside my work arena rank towards the top.

So for those wrestling with the ASAP advantage mentality, know while the pickins aren’t guaranteed to be plenty, sometimes the best move is to invest in what will benefit you down the road as opposed as to what could benefit you right now. After all, we were made to continually advance in some form or fashion.

As for the employers, understand the bond between deeper learning and morale. While it makes sense certain classifications will feature more learning/training opportunities, when employees within each classification are aware of what they can do to heighten their intellectual ceiling, you essentially heighten your quality control ceiling at the same time. Thus, as long as learning/credentialing opportunities exist, dare to be unconditional in conveying them to those you’ve chosen to hire. In doing so, you better frame the roles you seek to define.

Bottom line: When it comes to marketplace education, one of the best ways to steward awareness and morale is through in-house learning opportunities; however, like classification, a title should never drive deeper learning opportunities. Rather, deeper learning opportunities should drive the employee.

Footnotes
  1. I know you can’t paint this subject with a broad brush.
Cover photo creds: Actively Learn

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Framing the Role: A Guide to Better Workplace (Part 1)

We all know there’s no such thing as the perfect working environment.  

After all, work can’t exist without people and to err is human. Still, whether you’re a supervisor, a bivocational minister, or an entry-level employee, chances are you care about how positions are developed and managed. 


Thus, in the coming months, I want to unpack some basic concepts businesses and churches can use to frame their roles and equip their employees to thrive in them.  


The goal? To help organizations make the best investments with their best hires to achieve best outcomes.  


Let’s dive in…


1) Assess the ‘Inner Man’ 


As a bivocational pastor with seven years of marketplace experience
, I understand there are certain disadvantages when it comes to large and small scale human resourcing; however, I also believe bureaucracy and growth mismanagement don't have to determine how classifications are managed.   


For example, at my work¹, each classification is linked to a job plan involving a specific set of functions. Fair enough. 


The problem is while roles are detailed well in their promotion, they’re overly dependent on ‘template’ in their evolution. As a result, employees feel boxed in with functions forged on title rather than gifting. 


My thought is: if more organizations integrate character and gift assessment (i.e. DISCMyers-BriggsStrength Finders, etc.) into hiring, training, and development processes, then more prospects/new hires could contribute the strength of who they are in addition to the strength of what they do. 


Granted, big organizations are going to have different priorities. Yet, this doesn’t mean their personnel approach has to be shallow. 


‘Cause truth is: while procedure and process are important, you can’t define a person by a job description nor can you separate the quality of a person from the quality of his work.   


I know culturally we love streamlining/over-institutionalizing our way to bottom lines; however, if morale becomes the sacrifice in our quest to hierarchical efficiency, one must question the system.


Whatever our work situation, it’s important we remember our position is a journey, not a drop-off. And while the implications are many, bottom line…

  • Classifications should never compartmentalize what an employee can be (i.e. his innate nature in motion).  
  • A piece of paper or paragraph on a screen should never determine or dictate the totality of function. 
  • Given man gives life to function, not the other way around, the inner man must be considered in both the evaluation of fit and the evolution of role. 
Stay tuned next time when we’ll tackle our next point on equal deeper learning opportunities. In the meantime, if you have a question, idea, or story to share, feel free to comment below. 

Footnotes

  • Note: My appreciation for my workplace has grown considerably in recent months; however, this doesn't mean I can't advise from what should be improved.
  • Friday, May 12, 2017

    Eyes on the Shore: The Secret to Surviving Life's Rip Tides



    Tonight during my work out, I felt the Lord saying there are many out there currently caught in rip tides. Rip tides of fear. Rip tides of anxiety. Rip tides of ungodly belief. Rip tides of soul/spirit hurts. Rip tides of shame. Rip tides of discouragement. 


    You get the picture.

    He then said, 'Cameron, how do you get out of a rip tide?'

    I answered, 'You just wait it out, right?'

    'That's one way. What's the other?'

    I paused. Then it hit me: the best way to survive a rip tide is to swim parallel to the shore.

    So I pressed in some more: 'Lord, what's your point?'

    He then said my point is I've given you a way out when the waves of strife seek to wipe out my waves of life. For my shore is truth...my shore is the Word...my shore is my unchanging, constant will.

    All you gotta to do let my shore be your anchor, my shore be your horizon, my shore be your perspective...and then swim alongside it.

    No need to react. No need to respond. Just keep track with the shore 'til you're out of the tide. For tides constantly come and go, but my shore will always be there.

    Whoever you are, you got this.


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    Sunday, April 16, 2017

    The Water Bowl: Why Pilate Washed His Hands of Jesus

    Imagine being Pontius Pilate torn between conviction and affliction, the weight of the world in human flesh standing before you (Matthew 27:23).

    No question, it's a compelling scene: a harsh Roman official desperate to spare a man he deemed innocent yet didn't believe in versus a riotous mob who screamed guilty yet had every reason to. Granted, most Jews didn't understand Jesus' Messianic identity and viewed blasphemy as a supreme offense.


    Still, it's fair to wonder what Pilate must have been thinking, especially as he prepared to wash his hands (v. 24) (Yes, I know we tend to start the Cross narrative in the wake of what follows; however, after re-reading Matthew 27, I submit there's significance in weighing this particular moment).

    For starters, the washing of Pilate's hands not only symbolized his personal verdict, but embodied what Jesus came to do in the first place - to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7) and to set free the captives (Luke 4:18). Thus, the prisoner exchange in v. 15-23 can be seen not only as foreshadowing, but also as a microcosm of the Cross: Jesus, the son of God, taking the punishment that Barabbas, the anonymous everyman, rightfully deserved. A man guilty of rebellion that led to murder offset by the one who was murdered for every man’s rebellion
    1.

    Selah.



    Reading on, we note the verbal exchange between Pilate and the crowd (v. 24-25): 

    I am innocent of this man's blood2
    ; see to it yourselves. 
    His blood be on us and on our children!"

    Again, it's hard to ignore the irony of the situation considering these people, only a week removed from waving palm branches, were declaring judgment on the one who would shortly take away their judgment. 

    Still, how fitting is it that those who knew not what they did would speak truth3 into those who know not what they do? That though the condemners didn't understand the power in the blood at the time, they were essentially declaring what we understand today: Christ's blood is sufficient to cover the sins of mankind.

    I don't know about you, but I can't help but marvel at the symmetry in this passage.

    'Cause while Pilate would ultimately relent to the unrelenting on the ground (v. 26), it was God's unrelenting from on high that used all things to fulfill the completion of his Word.

    And it's here I want to zero in since it's this truth, this past/present/future reality that exemplifies why we celebrate Easter.

    For God so loved the world, he had the Cross in mind before he created it. For God so loved us, he was making a way before we even needed it. How sweet it is to know the same God is still unrelentingly reconciling us to himself!

    My prayer for you is that as you meditate on Christ's death and resurrection, you come into a fresh understanding not only of what Christ came to do, but what he wants to do in you.

    ‘Til then, I wish you all a wonderful Easter full of peace and rest as you reflect on the ultimate sacrifice.

    He is Risen!

    Footnotes 

    1) Thanks to yoexpert for this point's inspiration
    2) Some manuscripts say 'righteous blood'
    3) Albeit the wrong angle

    Photo creds: Pinterest, Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri & jasongoronocy.com

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