GPS can destroy you

Everyday you share the road with a very scary person.  I like to call this person "GPS Guy."  Oh, you've seen them. They are the people who have a GPS system mounted on the front window of their car, right in the middle of the window!

I'm not a hater of GPS systems, because I've been in situations where they were incredibly helpful.  But on the flip side, I've also had nightmare experiences with a GPS.  The problem with a GPS is that it always wants to take you the shortest route to your destination, regardless of how treacherous or painful that route might be.  For example, recently a GPS system sent my team and I on a winding backroad that went up and down hills like a roller coaster. For awhile. In a Ford Excursion. At night!  Almost everyone was ill by the time we reached our destination, and if I had followed my gut when I heard, "Turn right on highway FF in 500 ft," and connected to a major highway just 10 minutes further instead, we would have all been better off.

What scares me about "GPS Guy" is that they are so focused on the directions they are given that they lose sight of everyone else on the road and those in the car with them!  As leaders we have to be very careful about simply looking for someone above us to give us directions.  Since I'm a Kansas City guy, let's use Garmin for instance.  You're behind the wheel and your team is in your vehicle.  Everyone wants to get to the same destination; you, your team, and Garmin wants you to get there.  But is Garmin actually in the car?  They can see you on the map they designed after you report your location, but they can't see the condition of the road or the condition of  your team in the vehicle.   I know, you've paid Garmin, so you feel like you need to listen, but what is God telling you?  Leaders have to understand that the "Garmins" in your life just want you to arrive quickly because it compliments their product.

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I want to ask you, is your leadership dependent upon the "Garmin" in your life giving you directions at every turn?  You've got to realize that that's not leading, it's following. Your team in the vehicle with you is trusting you behind the wheel.  You can't afford to see them as victims of "Garmin," they are volunteers!  They need you to drive, not "Garmin"!  You see the road!  You see the condition of the people in the vehicle!  For the sake of everyone in the vehicle, including yourself, DRIVE for the love of everything holy!

We also need to make sure that we aren't being the "Garmin" in someone else's life.  Just because I know how to get back to my house from this Starbucks I'm sitting in, doesn't mean the same directions would work from any other Starbucks location.  If you are going to help people lead, you have to go sit in THEIR car and drive through THEIR neighborhood and stop talking about your car, your streets, and where you turned.  I graduated from college 10 years ago and the road that I drove into campus doesn't even exist anymore.  If I told a current student how to get to campus I would crash them into the history department.  I'm sure the college would fold soon after.

Who are you dancing for?

I attended a Harlem Globetrotters game over the weekend and of course had some observations. First, not a single player is from Harlem.

Second, the whole event proves that people will always pay to see creativity trump the average, or in this case, no one was there to support those poor Washington Generals.

The last observation snuck up on me during the halftime show. A local dance team, consisting of boys and girls from the age of four to 20, performed in front of everyone. They were really good and it's always fun to see little kids dance hip hop; that of course is why I was such a fun kid (oh yeah, me + refrigerator box at recess + soundtrack of Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo = a new blog titled "Adventures Where Little Red Headed Kids Pop'n Lock'n Don't Belong")

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I know I just jeopardized loosing you as you try to figure out what the crap just happened in that video and what is a boogaloo? I was talking about the dance team!

What I noticed, as these kids performed, is that the coach of the team sat in a chair on the sideline of center court. I don't know this woman personally, but we connected as her kids danced because she was so happy watching them dance! She was clapping to the beat, laughing, enjoying watching her kids dance, and yelling out encouragement as they went by. I don't know if anyone else even noticed her, but I did! I was thinking about the amount of time and energy she invested to teach every kid, even the youngest kid, every single move. She also was the creative force behind the choreography, the costumes, the timing, and even building a team of people who helped her coach. But when it came time to be in the spotlight, she was sitting on the sideline cheering. Although the teams performance was to wow the crowd, the coach had to wow her team, which she did simply through the expression on her face, her posture of leaning forward in her chair, and her encouraging words as they moved. She was having fun!

When they finished dancing I was thinking to myself about how we, as leaders, are intended to help others move. We have to help them do it creatively, offering them a challenge, and letting them add to it with their own unique passion. Do our faces show our people how much we enjoy watching them move? When was the last time you spoke encouragement into someone? When was the last time you cheered for your team? Don't get lost looking for the crowd to cheer for you because the applause lasts only a few seconds. Instead, delight in the opportunity to be life long relationships with people you coach to move and have some fun for crying out loud!

Mark of a leader

Here in Missouri, during the winter, the sport scene is pretty limited. The big stand outs are wrestling and basketball. What I love about these sports is that at the door you get stamped! So, there is a distinguishing mark of leaders right now.Are you marked?  If we talk about actually being in the world of kids then this mark should be present. Are you checking the hands of the volunteers in your ministry? If we see a mark we should celebrate the mark of that leader!