We all benefit from hearing the stories of others. Everyone has a story and it can only benefit others when its told!
For more than 17 years I was the chief executive of a non profit organization that helped people with occupational training and employment. Every month during our board meetings, I would take the time to present a story of someone who’s life was changed because of the opportunities provided by this organization. These stories helped our directors understand the real life implications of the administrative, budget and policy decisions they made. Numbers represent people, stories represent people. People and their stories matter.
This week I had the opportunity to speak to some seniors who soon will be graduating from Florida State University. These students are leaders in a campus ministry and it was their chance to hear from someone with a little life experience!
I had the chance to tell them portions of the story that is Cyndi and my life together. While sometimes I look back at our life and don’t see it as amazing or inspirational, many of these students did! As I was able to answer questions posed from the group, it was only natural to give examples from our life story – true examples that were evidence of lives where there are no coincidences. One of the coolest things that took place that night was the telling of their own stories. While they may only be 22 years old, each of them have a story or at least the beginnings of one. And each story can help someone – but only if it’s told!
My story isn’t over yet! I’m convinced the chapters that are about to unfold will be some of the most exciting yet! While I don’t really have a clear direction for the next chapters, I’m sure they will end in ways that are worth retelling!
Lots of thoughts running through my mind today and this week that deal with life, leadership and faith!
1. We listed our house a few months ago and had an offer to purchase it about a week ago. For a variety of reasons, I think the deal fell apart today – not entirely about price, although we were still several thousand dollars apart. While I know this is a tough housing market for sellers, I don’t want to just give my house away! Life can be difficult to understand at times! Is that bad?
2. I’ve been reading a lot about high performance teams and what makes them that way. Every group of people is not a team and certainly can’t be automatically labled as a high performing one! I’m convinced that Leaders are the deciding factor in allowing teams to understand their mission and purpose and resourcing them to fulfill their roles and meet established goals. Most times leaders get in the way or simply don’t allow their teams to do what they are capable or accomplishing.
3. Cyndi and I had a good discussion this morning about our Faith. Convinced that God has used us over the past 14 months to impact lives, to be a living example for others and to encourage friends. Our circumstances don’t determine our belief in God or whether or not He is a good and gracious God! There are good examples of men of faith in the Bible but often times we don’t want to compare our life situations with them – mainly out of fear that our lives could always be worse! While I still don’t understand this faith journey we are on completely, I do continue to believe that God is in complete control and He knows what is best for us and wants us to be satisfied in Him! Our wait, while significant to us, pales in comparison to that of others!
Each of these could be blog entries on their own – disappointed that I don’t have time today to do just that. And I’ll be away from internet activity for a few days, so checking in will be sporadic!
Cyndi and I have participated in community groups (small group Bible studies/discussion groups) for a number of years. I think we both feel that church and our faith is best lived out in small groups. Worship services are fantastic – we both love them! But authenticity among fellow believers is best when the surroundings are more intimate and the level of trust is high among the participants.
When we first began a small group at our home, our hopes were high. Hopes that through weekly gatherings, we could develop a sense of community among friends that would transcend the artificial Christianity that is prevalent in churches across America. What we discovered was that people have a tough time being real with each other. I think in part that fear is based on our on shortcomings. “What will people think of me if I tell them how I really act or talk or think?” What I learned in that first community group is that it is tough to find community with people who don’t want it! As our relationship with Christ grew, Cyndi and I were challenged to make changes in our lives – changes that demonstrated our walk with God! As we acted on that developing relationship, some of our community began drifting away – distancing themselves from us!
For the past 11 months, Cyndi and I have commuted weekly from Inverness to Tallahassee to lead another community group and attend City Church. It’s been a sacrifice that could only have been accomplished with God. We have travelled over 16,000 miles and spent thousands of dollars on gas and food. But what I have realized most recently is that God has used us in this group in an incredible way. Not our leadership but simply our obedience to Him. Listening and acting on what He has called us to do has had an incredible impact on a number of people – mostly those who we share our lives with each week in community.
I told our group last night that as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, let’s reflect on what we are really thankful for. Let’s not just say the words that others expect us to say. I am thankful for our community group and the opportunity I have each week to invest in their lives and to let them invest in ours.
Community is important. I hope you find a spot in one where you can be real and allow others to support you too.