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Monday, December 23, 2013

It's DUCK SEASON! Anthony on Duck Dynasty (Pt.2).

I am a firm believer in getting all your ducks in a row, so before reading this, please go back to read part 1.
Up to speed? Good, now take out your duck call, cause things are going to go quack.

Let’s start things off with a quote:
"Even if you can prove you're right, you'll never convince anyone by being obnoxious"
-Brendan McGinley

Truth & Love:
All you need is love, love … love is all you need
See don’t things feel better already? Just saying the word “love” or singing that tune seems to get everyone in a better mood. And it should. We learned yesterday that a Christian is called to live out a Biblical principle where one balances truth and love. For our purpose, today’s post will focus on the other side of the seesaw: LOVE.



Pope Francis recently said, “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Reading in between the lines of the above quote is the heartbeat of love. The Pope is highlighting the need for a heavy emphasis on love in the Christian church. Perhaps he is weary of a Church that just sits by the sidelines preaching from a distance? Maybe he is reacting to a cold mechanical Church that huddles in its four walls hanging garlic from its doors hoping to ward off vampires? Whatever the case, the telltale sign of a dead institution is when its people are marked by fear, create isolated communities and demonize everybody and everything in sight. Sound like a church near you? Thought so (enter teardrop from Anthony’s right eye).
Unfortunately, the pendulum for the Church has basically swung over to the side of truth. This is what happens when you forget your mission by the way. This whole things is really confusing to me since Jesus repeatedly taught AND displayed love toward others on a regular basis.
“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick” “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost” “The angels of heaven rejoice with one repentant sinner” Any of that sound familiar? Dear Christian, what have you been reading?
I mean, turn off Joel Osteen and put down the Daily Bread crumb, then wipe off the 3 inches of dust from your Bible and read it. And let me answer your next brain buster of a question: Any Bible will do and any place that you start is fine. OK. It does not matter if you have any one of the zillion translations because the one you have in your house and are neglecting is probably the one that you should be reading.
The Anthony summary: Truth and Love are equally important. The Church seems to really like the truth-y part more than the love-y part. The people that are not part of a church/grew up in church/do not like church are tired of a church that stands inside of its walls looking outside its stained glass windows pointing fingers at everyone saying nana boo boo.

Love: God’s way.
This section is of utmost importance for the reader. Do you remember in my last post when I was saying that a Christian is to first look to God’s Word for guidance and then proceed? This applies here too. When I use the word “love” it is totally possible for you and I to think of different definitions for that word. This is precisely where the Christian and the non-Christian will have problems. Love, for the Christian is defined by God. Here is what I mean, in the book of 1st Corinthians we read:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

This, among other texts in the Scripture aid to my understanding of what true love is. My understanding of love is directed by what God’s standard of love is. So let’s take an example from our modern society. Let’s say that I read in a newspaper column that a gal is bored with her husband and for no apparent reason decides to up and leave him just because she “fell out of love with him.” The girl asks for advice from “Dear Anonymous” and anonymous says to “follow her heart and be happy.” Now let’s say this girl comes to my office and asks me for advice. To put it simply, she will receive advice that in no way, shape or form reflects the garbage she received previously. Because when I consider love, I first bear in mind what the love of God is – as this is true love. In this way God is like a compass pointing me in the direction of true north.

This complicates things quite a bit as there will be people on both sides of the issue(s) both claiming to be doing the “loving thing.” So for the Christian, they will not actively aid someone in their sin. Look at the Corinthians passage again, “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” So when I hear the popular philosophy “to just let people do what they want to do” I reject this because truly loving someone is being committed to their eternal good. So, along with God, I hate the sin that destroys them. And I do my best to offer a loving way to present the truth.
Again, this can all be very confusing and to be honest this is why I spend a ton of time during Bible study teaching on subjects just the ones you have been reading about the last couple of days (Can you shameless plug? Engage(D) Bible Study: Thursday night’s Northminster Presby. Church 2334 Wilmington Rd. New Castle Pa. 16105).

In summation: Love is super important. A Christian and a non-Christian will at times understand the word/definition of love differently. This happens due to the ultimate standard by which you live your life. This is not always the case, but when it is, both sides will express how unbelievably goofy the other side looks. Words get tossed around like godless pagan duck loving narrow minded meany AND ungodly atheistic devil horned immoral deviants.

Attention. Attention. All Christians to the Principles office.
For this last section please unplug yourself from your latest podcast sermon and heed this advice …
Truth without love is a total fail. It is highly unattractive too by the way. Think of those bozos that go around with the crazy signs and picket military funerals. Can you say ineffective, unpleasant and unfortunate? 3 words -->They lack love. 
Have you noticed how love actually compels a person toward the hurts of others? It drives you toward the pain and brokenhearted. Love heals wounds, feeds mouths and offers advice. Love notices the individual and knows their name; love sits with someone in the middle of the night and offers a word of advice. Love gets you in the game. Oh, and a church lacking love is not a church. And a Christian without Christ-like love is hardly a Christian at all.



Remember when I kicked things off with the Beatles classic, “All you need is love?
Well, here is where things get a bit hairy. They got it wrong.
Beatle is actually spelled Beetle. No “a.”
Oh, wait, I didn’t mean to highlight that.

I actually mean the song lyrics. Love is not all you need.
And soon you will find out why …

Part 3 is where I take part 1 and part 2, smoosh them together and create a Christian worldview sandwich.
It’ll be yummy so stop back for a bite. 

If you enjoyed this post, share it! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's Duck Season! Anthony on Duck Dynasty (Pt. 1)

I tried to resist until after Christmas, but I have itchy fingers.
It is time for Anthony to use the duck call to summon the flock.

I'll start off by telling you that I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty (and the Christian crowd goes silent!).  I have no problem with the show per se, it is just that I am not a hunter and do not watch people that live in the woods on a regular basis.  To each his own when it comes to the tube, OK? 
OK, let's move on to the wild goose chase over Phil Robertson.  I really hope that through all this pizzaz you actually read the GQ article in its entirety.  If you have not, please refrain from commenting on this post as you are lazy.  In fact, if you are passionately on either side of this whole thing and have not read what the man actually said there is a word for you: Useful Idiot. 

ACTUAL QUOTE:
"It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me," Robertson stated. "I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

Robertson described in the interview how sin is becoming acceptable in America and that the country needs to turn back to its Christian values.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," Robertson told GQ. "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers-they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

The patriarch of the Robertson family said just putting one's faith in Jesus will help problems be solved.

"If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead-yours and mine and everybody else's problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: 'You are now a brother. Our brother.' So then we look at you totally different then," Robertson said.


Despite his beliefs, the 67-year-old says he doesn't judge others.
"We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job," Robertson told GQ. "We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus - whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later."

BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE:
I have read many articles, posts and rants over this quacky issue and still a part of me feels like something is missing.  Can you believe that? Dear old Anthony adding something new to the conversation?  Or, perhaps a better word might be adding clarification to this swampy mess.   

I am a born again Christian.  The really annoying type to some.  That is because Jesus changed my life when I was a senior in high school.  He gave me direction, purpose and forgiveness.  Since, I have attended 4 years of Bible college, 4 years of seminary, 2 1/2 years of Biblical leadership courses and have been working in full time ministry for 13 years.  I think this gives me a tiny platform to share something of value here.  For simplicity sake, I will highlight a Biblical principle that I believe will shed a large amount of light on our bearded friend.  In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul teaches, " ... speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.”


SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.  A philosophy that the majority of men and women simply do not comprehend, nor live out.  Here you see, like a sea-saw at the park, two opposing factors that need balanced. Truth & Love. 
Let's look further at these 2 below: 



1) Truth.
An authentic Christian will speak the truth.  Plain and simple enough?  Our belief system is based on God's Word, the Bible.  This means our value system is based on what God deems as truth-worthy.  There are things that are black and white. There are things that are right and wrong.  There are lines drawn in the sand.  AND there are a lot of issues that the Bible leaves untouched or "in the grey."  (Personally I think most Christians get in trouble by not knowing the difference, but I digress).

A Christian is called to uphold God's standards.  This, I believe, is why so many find Christians unsettling.  Our worldview is dictated by our King. Our perspective is formed by The Alpha and Omega.  Not the constitution of the United States, nor the most recent popularity poll and certainly not any TV network.  Go back and read the book of Acts in the New Testament. The book is filled with instances like the one(s) we are facing today.  In every instance when the disciples had to, “obey God or man” they sided with God. Every time. Christians are citizens of heaven before we are citizens of the earth.  This is why when certain subjects out of the norm arise, or when there is a shift away from a Biblical point of view, people take sides faster than I get to the dinner table on Thanksgiving.  And that's fast, since I sleep on the table the night before. It is my way of calling dibs.  In summation: A Christ follower is called to speak the truth in love.  The truth we are called to speak is directed by God's Word.  Since we live in what some would call a "Post-Christian America" (meaning Judea-Christian values are being pushed to the side / substituted for other religious philosophies / world views) the lines of tradition are being blurred and this is when party’s from both sides take sides.  By all means, this trend will continue and more and more controversy is on its way.  AKA, this is just the beginning of a severely divided America.  


2) Consequences. 
There are consequences of truth telling.  Phil was asked a hot button question and he answered.  A & E did not particularly care for the way he answered.  Consequence = Phil, You are fired (In my best Donald Trump voice).  Simple enough?  Phil works for a company and he stepped outside their boundaries (whether you agree with A & E or not) and he was let go. Could A & E of handled the situation differently?  Maybe.  They could of issued a public statement sharing how Phil's comments in no way, shape or form reflect the networks ... Or a myriad of other actions.  Nonetheless, they did what they were entitled to do.  And since we are on the topic, please, please stop talking about free speech.  The guy was in an interview being asked questions, he answered however he wanted to and it was published in a popular magazine.  That is by definition FREE SPEECH.  
Please stop making me and everyone else dumber by not realizing that this interview was not done in Iran where a guy dressed to his eyeballs in black with a machine gun in one hand and a machete in the other is breathing over the guy just in case he says the word, "boo" in a tone they do not particularly care for on that particular day.  Geeez oh man, if you are reading this, you most likely work and if you act in a way that brings unnecessary shame or step outside the workplaces boundaries you will face some sort of consequences.  In summation:  Phil was in an interview.  He was asked a question that was controversial. He answered according to God's standard.  A & E do not necessarily agree with God's viewpoint on this matter.  Phil faced consequences.  Phil is not dumb and knew his answer would cause problems.  Phil stood for what he believes and does not care if he is let go by A & E.  Phil is happy happy remember? 

3) Dumb People that say dumb things.
Will people please quit using words like: Bigot, closed-minded, hypocrite and party-pooper!  I mean, do you even know what those words mean?  Or do you just like throwing around buzz-words?
-Bigot: A person who is or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. 
-Hypocrite: A person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion. 
A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. 


If you actually read Phil's quote, you will clearly see that neither of these apply.  He is not treating anyone with hatred nor is he saying one thing and doing another.  And if you are the thin-skinned type that equates everything and anything with "hate" then this is your problem.  Lock yourself up in your bedroom and never leave.  And if you are the type that think Christians are to be perfect at all times, places and spaces, then you really misunderstand what Christianity is all about.  Go to your room too.  In summation: Stop saying buzzwords. Especially when those words do not add anything to the conversation. And especially when they make you look dumb(er) than usual.   

Next up is part 2.  
If you read this, then you'll want to read that.  

If you found this enlightening in any way, please leave a comment or share. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Did I ever tell you about my first Job?

Did I ever tell you about my first job 
It was at a Bingo Hall and I was in the 9th grade.
I punched in at 5:30 p.m. and worked till' 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night's.  Oh, and by the end of the night my white T-shirt turned Carmel colored brown from the million cigarettes being smoked by all the Bingo-ites.

I am sure you have your own interesting stories when you think back to your first job.  I bet you remember the the place, the smells, and your co-workers.  Speaking of co-workers, surely you have some pretty interesting stories to tell ... there was the guy that was ALWAYS late. The gal that LIVED in the break room and the dude that never saw eye to eye with ANYONE.   Below are 10 C-Level titles that identify those who infest our workplaces and make our lives there a challenge.


CWO - Chief Whining Officer. All good things happen to everyone but you. Everyone has a better job, a better boss, a better cubicle, better pay, better perks, blah, blah, blah.

CNO - Chief Negatron Officer. You’re the self-designated dissenter, the perpetual fly in the ointment, always pointing out why it can’t be done - never how it can be done.


CSO - Chief Stress Officer. Your boss stresses you out. Her boss stresses you out. Your coworker stresses you out. Your job stresses you out. You couldn’t be creating your own workplace stress, could you?


CBO - Chief Blame Officer. Something goes wrong, it’s everyone’s fault but yours, and you’re sure to be the one covering your butt, pointing the finger, heading the witch hunt.


CVO - Chief Victim Officer. You have an abusive boss. The head of HR or IT hates you. Your peer makes life miserable for you. They’re all driving you nuts. Maybe you’re the one behind the wheel.


CDO - Chief Disruptive Officer. Always acting out or trying to get attention, the drama queen, disrupting meetings and making everything about you. It’s always about you.


CPO - Chief Political Officer. The player, manipulator, man behind the curtain, puppet-master, destroyer of enemies. Too bad politics doesn’t win business or keep customers.


CCO - Chief Clueless Officer. Always running around like a chicken with your head cut off, asking everybody and his brother for help, never having a clue what to do, how to do it, or even how to start.


CUO - Chief Unreliable Officer. When there’s work to be done, finding you is like shooting darts at jello. And when you do get tagged with a task, the only thing we can count on is that it won’t be done right.


CGO - Chief “Grass is Greener” Officer. Your friend works for a better company or a better group. Everything is better there. Everything about this place sucks. Well, it would suck a lot less if you quit.

(Source Unknown)

Leadership Application:
I bet as you read through the above list you quickly identified people that epitomized each C-Level.  The challenge for you is not over however.  A great leader looks inward and makes certain that they themselves do not embody the above characteristics in their own lives.  Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Remember, you cannot control the behavior of those around you, but you can control yourself.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Best Christmas

The Christmas party was over.

Several of the men were sitting at a table reminiscing about the Christmas days of their childhood. The conversation turned to the best Christmas of their lives. As they went around the table, they noticed one man hadn't said anything. They asked, "Come on.. Frank, What was your best Christmas?" Frank said, "The best Christmas I ever had was when I didn't even get a present." The others were surprised. They had to hear the story. Frank began to talk...
"I grew up in New York. It was the great depression and we were poor. My Mother had died when I was just eight years old. My Dad had a job but he only worked two or three days a week and that was considered good. We lived in a walk up and we just barely had enough food and clothes. I was a kid and didn't really notice."

"My Dad was a proud man. He had one suit. He would wear that suit to work. When he came home, he would take off the jacket and sit in his chair still wearing his shirt, tie and his vest. He had this big old pocket watch that had been given to him by my mother. He would sit in his chair, the chain from watch hanging out, connected to the fob in his vest buttonhole. That watch was his proudest possession. Sometimes, I would see him, just sitting there, looking at his precious watch. I bet he was thinking of my mother."
"One year, I was about twelve, chemistry sets were the big thing. They cost two dollars. That was big money but every kid wanted a chemistry set including me. I began to pester my Dad about it a month or so before Christmas. You know, I made all the same kid promises. I would be good. I would do my chores. I wouldn't ask for anything else again. My dad would just say, 'We'll see.."
"Three days before Christmas he took me to the carts. There was this area where all the small merchants keep their street carts. They would undersell the stores and you could get a good buy. He would take me to a cart and pick out some little toy. "Son, would like something like this?" I, of course, would tell him, 'No, I want a chemistry set.' We tramped to nearly every cart and him showing me some toy car or toy gun, and me refusing it. I never thought that he didn't have the money to buy a chemistry set. Finally, he said, we better go home and come back the next day."

"All the way home, I pouted and whined about the chemistry set. I repeated the promises. I said I didn't care if I never got another present. I had to have that chemistry set. I know now that my Dad felt guilty about being able to give me more. He probably thought he was a failure as a Father and I think he blamed himself for my mother's death. As we were walking up the stairs, he told me, that he would see what he could do about getting me the chemistry set. That night I couldn't even sleep. I could see myself inventing some new material. I could see the New York Times.. 'Boy wins Nobel Prize!"

"The next day after work, my Dad took me back to the carts. On the way, I remember, he bought a loaf of bread, he was carrying it under his arm. We came to first cart and he told me to pick out the set I wanted. They were all alike, but I went through them, like I was choosing a diamond. I found the right one and I almost yelled. 'This one..Dad!'"
"I can still see him, reaching into his pant's pocket, to get the money. As he pulled the two dollars out, one fluttered to the ground, he bent over to pick it up and as he did, the chain fell out of his vest. The chain swung back and forth. 'No watch.' In a flash, I realized that my Dad had sold his watch. He sold his most precious possession to buy me a chemistry set. He sold his watch, the last thing my mother had given him, to buy me a chemistry set."


"I grabbed his arms and I yelled, 'No.' I had never grabbed my Dad before and I certainly had never yelled at him. I can see him, looking at me, a strange look on his face. 'No, Dad, you don't have to buy me anything.' The tears were burning in my eyes. 'Dad, I know you love me.' We walked away from the cart and I remember my Dad holding my hand all the way home."
Frank looked at the men. "You know, there isn't enough money in the world to buy that moment. You see, at that moment, I knew that my Dad loved me more than anything in the world."

author unknown

Monday, December 9, 2013

2 Evil Brothers

There were two evil brothers.
They were rich, and used their money to keep their sins from the public eye.
They even attended the same church, and appeared to be perfect Christians.

Then their pastor retired, and a new one was called. The new pastor could see right through the brothers’ deception. A fund raising campaign was started to build a new church hall. All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new pastor the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building.


“I have only one condition,” he said. At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint.”

The pastor gave his word, and deposited the check. The next day, at the funeral, the pastor did not hold back. “He was an evil man,” the pastor said. “He cheated people, told lies, and stole whenever he had the chance, and …”


After going on in this vein for a while, the pastor concluded with, “But compared to his brother, he was a saint.”


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Preventive Medicine: How to Avoid Hiring Terrible Employees

Preventive Medicine

Remember when you were a kid and started developing a cough? If your mom was like my mom, that meant spoonfuls of nasty liquid medicine. I always remember begging dad to buy the “purple stuff” that tasted just like grape … or at least it was supposed to. Although I resisted most of the time, mom was quick to administer the medicine ASAP so to prevent further illness. Besides, everyone knew I wasn’t missing school unless my leg was gangrene.

It was wise Ben Franklin that once declared, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive medicine can be practiced just about anywhere; however, today I will focus on the workplace, specifically in regards to hiring people. People often ask for advice when it comes to dealing with passion-less, lazy workers.
“How do I motivate John?”
“Why is Mary always performing below expectations?”

Recently it dawned on me that, generally speaking, the problem might not be in the workplace per se, but with the individual themself. If this discovery is made, then you have to break the bad news to the manager that the trouble they are experiencing is due to their lack of practicing preventative medicine. Hiring the right person will spare you a lot of painful and costly problems in your workplace. See, the preventative medicine is the job interview process whereby you see the problem before you obligate yourself to the person. Gregg Lederman, author of “Achieve Brand Integrity” agrees: “The wrong people are your company’s greatest catastrophe. These are the individuals who should never have been hired in the first place. They have drained training resources and been difficult to work with, leading to decreased morale and lower productivity. In many cases, these poor performers have found ways to directly or indirectly deter customer loyalty all the while exhausting your payroll … Your mediocre people are your company’s greatest drain on overall resources and infest your work culture with mediocrity while keeping your organization from reaching its desired results.”

What should you do?
Beef up your interview system with Grade-A steroids.
Check out these 10 helpful tips below suggested by Lee Cockerell, author of Creating Magic:
1) Define beforehand the qualities needed for the job / Describe the job completely.
2) Do not hire a clone of yourself.
3) Involved a team in the hiring process.
4) Select by talent, not resume.
5) Look for a good fit into your corporate culture.
6) Promote within (when you can).
7) Hire people that are smarter than you.
8) Check out the candidates personally in their previous environment. (If possible)
9) Have the candidate(s) demonstrate their expertise. (Real time interviews)
10) Select the best candidate –not just the best one available.


The hiring process is your preventive medicine. By focusing more on the hiring procedure you stack the deck in your favor. Look, the expectations are not for you to become a genie with a crystal ball, mistakes are bound to occur when hiring. The point is that you can take some control by being mindful ahead of time. So take your medicine by the spoonful early and often! By doing so, you will save yourself from the sneezes, coughs, and headaches that will spread throughout your workplace like a virus.


Monday, November 25, 2013

What is the Horn of Plenty?

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Psalm 107:8

How many of you know what this is?



It is called a cornucopia, otherwise known as the horn of plenty. The reason for the lesser known name is due to its origins.

At one time, the cornucopia was made from a curved goat's horn that was hollowed out and filled with fruit and grains.
However, today, the cornucopia is usually made from a basket type material. Maybe you have seen one as a decoration around Thanksgiving time? It is often used this way because the cornucopia is a symbol representing the good things that we have to enjoy. I recently wrote about a dad and son taking a drive through a "poor" community only to have the experience backfire as the son realized how "poor" that he and his family really where. The cornucopia is here to remind us of our abundantly blessed lives.

My church sits right next to a McDonald's and during last night's service the preacher said that all of us can walk next door and get a belly full of food if we wanted to. No problem ... Right? Right. This was not a guilt trip, just a gentle reminder to everyone in the congregation that we have been generously blessed by our Lord just by living where we live. By default, we have way more than most.

The book of James teaches us that, "every good & perfect gift is from above." This means God has been busy blessing you even if you have not realized it. Perhaps you may disagree, but let me remind you that you are alive reading this right now. You have legs to walk, feet to run and hands to grasp. You have eyes to see, ears to hear and lungs to breathe. He has given you a mind to create meaningful relationships and work. I could go on, but if you have not gotten this concept by now, maybe you never will... I do not own a cornucopia, and to be honest, I always thought they were kinda weird, that is until I realized the deep symbolism embedded in them. I wonder, is this how the majority of us operate in our lives? Do we overlook our blessings? Are we painfully unaware of them? If I am honest, I do this more often than not. So perhaps it is time for me to go out and buy a cornucopia. Once I have one in my possession, I will place it in my office where it will sit visibly as a year-long reminder to take inventory of my blessings.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
From my family to yours.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why I'm thankful for being R$CH !

One day, a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."


"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yeah," said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."



With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I'd share one of my favorite stories with you.  I have discovered that in order to start looking at your life differently you should thank God for every meal, every time you wake up, every time you take a sip of water, every smile you receive and every embrace you experience. Do that, and I bet you can't help but be more of a thankful person. 


The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; 
but let the thankful heart
sweep through the day and, 
as the magnet finds the iron, 
so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! 

Henry Ward Beecher


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Integrity: A 3 Step Process

Integrity: By Stephen Carter 



Below is a review of Stephen Carter's 3 Step Definition of Integrity:
When refering to Integrity, Carter has something very specific and simple in mind.

Integrity, for Carter requires 3 steps:
1. Discerning what is right & wrong
2. Acting on what you have discerned (even at a personal cost)
3. Saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right & wrong.

Step One is all about moral reflectiveness. In order to be a person of integrity, you should be a person that not only knows what you believe but why you believe it. This will certainly be a struggle and will cause you to wrestle with what society teaches. Even more so for the Christian, as we are called to live according to God's standard instead of the World's.

Step Two is about staying in line with what you have wrestled with. Now that you have come to a place where you truly believe something is right or wrong...you must act on it (in spite of the consequences).

Step Three is the last act because when a person gets to this point, they are one with their decision(s). They are unashamed of their beliefs and share them with others.

Case in Point: Martin Luther King Jr.



He followed the pattern set by Gandhi (who followed the pattern set by Jesus) when he won over the hearts of millions for racial equality. King said, "Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love."

Here we see (1) a well thought out conviction on equality and how to go about reaching it in the United States (2) the guts to act on it [King was jailed because of his stance] (3) and finally, the conviction to say what he believed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dear Isabella: A letter from your Daddy

Dear Isabella,

Recently I read something that made me think about our relationship.
Although you are only 6 months old; can’t talk, walk or crawl. You need to hear this.

Recently, I wrote an article about being, “A Good Girl.” In the article I highlighted two very important qualities that all girls should embody. The first is that you should know your worth. The world has a way of creeping up right behind your ears whispering all kinds of untrue messages. Messages like, “You have to act certain ways to fit in.” Or, “you should try to be part of the cool crowd and despise the other kids around you.” And then there is, “You don’t have to listen to your parents, especially your father …” (That last one you should especially reject and take special note of if you ever want to get your license or go to prom or leave the house … ever). The lesson here is simple and powerful: Isabella, know your worth and know it well. You are a person of infinite value! This I hope is something you get a handle on early in life; you are created in the image of God and hold tremendous value that cannot be added to or taken away.

The second thing I want to relay to you is the implication of understanding and embracing your inner value. A firm grasp on this will leave you strong. You will be the type of person that will not be defined by the TV shows you watch or the pressure your acquaintances put on you. You will be above it all. You get to set your own limits, live your own life and steer your own ship. You will also ward off many, many rotten apples that roll your way. And in doing so, you will have saved yourself a lot of grief and heart-ache (and lectures by your dad that will go on and on and...).

So let’s peer into the future together because your dad is planning something special for you. 

Sometime in the future, say when you are 12ish, I will take you on a date. We will both be dressed to the 9’s. During dinner, I will pull out a box wrapped in fancy paper with a bow on top. I will then share how important it is for you to understand and embrace the things that I have written about -that you know your worth and so forth. I will probably be crying so you will have to listen intently. And don’t worry; I will have requested a private booth so no one will see me sobbing like a baby. 

At some point, I will hand you the box and you will open it to find a necklace with a golden apple charm inside of it. The apple will represent a few things: 1 is that you are the apple of my eye and 2 is that the apples that grow on the top of a tree are valued the most since they are the most difficult to pick. I will then come over to your side of the table, take the necklace and put it on you. It is an outward symbol representing your inner beauty and worth. My hope is that every time you see the apple around your neck you remember the high standard that you are called to. That you always remember that day as the day your earthly daddy pointed you to your Heavenly one.

Isabella, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, full of life and joy. Each day you bring new light to your mother and I!

Know who you are.
More importantly, know Whose you are.

Signed,
Daddy



If you have a daughter that you cherish, pass this on!

Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Dress like a Normal Person OR Quit Dressing like you are 14 Years Old.

Something that you and I have heard many times is that your actions speak louder than your words. No matter how emphatic you express yourself; your actions will either prove (or disprove) what you say about yourself.  "I am really into healthy eating!" states Mathew.  But you observe Matthew eating at work over the last month and notice Matthew really enjoys the Hostess brand a little too much.  You also watch as Matthew passes up veggies and fruits for unhealthy processed foods at every turn. Over time, you realize that Matthew thinks he is a healthy eater, but in real space and time, is not. There is a dissonance between what he says and what he does.

If you want to be trusted by others, your actions and your words must align.  Being a credible person means that your actions underline what you say.  If your actions do not, you will undermine yourself.  And why would you want to do that?

Recently I was reading through "The Power of Presence" by Kristi Hedges. In her book, she highlights something called the 55/38/7 rule. 55% of our message is communicated  through facial expressions, 38% is communicated by tone of voice, and only 7% through words. This means we communicate more when we think we are not communicating ... and that is scary!  The lesson is not that words do not matter, it is just that they matter a lot less than what we think.  This means you need to shift your focus away from only worrying about what you are saying (or going to say) but the demeanor when you are speaking.

One way you could help yourself in this area is by improving the way you dress.
Above we learned that nonverbal communication is a HUGE aspect when communicating.  Dressing in a way that matches what you are trying to convey (your presence) removes one unnecessary barrier between yourself and others. The gal that wants to be taken seriously at work but continues to dress like  she's 17 is not helping herself.  The fella that dresses in military cargo pants and an Affliction T-shirt will not be taken seriously in the corporate setting.  I know, you dress according to your personal style and that's all that matters.  Right? Wrong. Time to grow up.

Below are some helpful tips when it comes to dressing professionally provided by Hedges:
1) Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. 
2) When you get promoted, your wardrobe does too.
3) Wear clothes that fit you properly. 
4) Do not just dress solely for comfort (I like my sweats as much as you, trust me).  
5) Dress for presence.
6) Wear a jacket.  A blazer / sport coat is always a good thing to keep in your office.
7) Do not wear revealing clothes.  As a matter of fact, the younger you are the more conservative as a general rule.
8) Anything connected to work is work.  This is a good rule of thumb when figuring out what to wear.
9) Shave. Smell good. Comb your hair. Wear a watch.  
10) Always dress 1 level above the group you lead.

Dress is one aspect that you have absolute control over.  The good thing is nowadays you can find much of the above for very cheap (check out a consignment shop!).  Still not convinced?
Coco Chanel rightly said: "Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman."  

The choice is yours...


Email me at bluebirdstreet@hotmail.com for more advice on improving your presence. 



YES!!

YES!!

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Developing your Leadership Presence

-The Power of Presence-

According to consultant and author Kristi Hedges, “Presence is the great equalizer.” She writes about the importance of a person’s presence in her new book, “The Power of Presence.” Kristi teaches that presence is developed by ridding yourself of limiting behaviors and incorporating new ways of thinking and acting. She calls this I-Presence.
I Presence is 3 dimensional:
Intentional
Individual
Inspirational

1) Intentional
Your beliefs shape every aspect of your presence, from body language to the actions you choose and the words you choose to verbalize. It is critical to get your head around what type of presence you want to demonstrate, the values you want to convey, and how that matches up (or doesn’t) with how others currently perceive you.

2) Individual
You connect with individuals, not with hierarchical concepts. Positional power and titles are losing ground in today’s workplace; many times they serve as actual barriers to making a strong bond with those around you. This isn’t about having all the right answers, nor is it about working harder than everyone else. This one goes back to the sandbox...

3) Inspirational
Presence is about moving people. Sure, you could use fear tactics, but that will become counterproductive in just a short time. Under those conditions people work hard for a short time, then get even more discouraged and discontent. Leadership presence is about a set of skills that many in the non-profit workforce have to utilize. It’s our bread and butter to say the least. Things like: vision, encouraging words and modeling the way are our lifeline as we inspire others.

This quality is demonstrated powerfully in the life of Jesus. We learn about leadership presence in the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John where John’s disciples decide to inquire further about Jesus. In this passage Jesus asks His would-be-disciples, “What are you looking for?" Instead of the disciples pulling out a list of questions, they ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” “Come and you will see” was Jesus’ reply. Why did Jesus and His disciples have this seemingly confusing exchange? The reason is because in ancient Israel some learned under a Rabbi. They would pick a Rabbi (teacher) and “sit at their feet” to learn. With this answer, the disciples had a firsthand answer to their question about the Messiah. Notice the huge difference between how our society would have handled this and the way Jesus did. Jesus did not send them to the internet or the library. Instead, He communed with these men in an intimate setting. He invited them into His life to observe how He lived, how He handled Himself in public affairs AND in private ones. Jesus practiced intentionality, connected with people individually and had an inspiring presence.

“Leadership presence begins in your head,” observes Hedges, “It resides in how you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment, and your potential.” Building your presence starts with one of my favorite words: intentionality. Intentional means doing something on purpose. Until you are deliberate about creating a powerful leadership presence via the three avenues expressed above, no tricks or gimmicks will help you. In fact, going the quick route will make you less authentic -and less authentic is easy to spot. If I could boil this post down to a summary, I’d quote Emerson who once said, “The best effort of a fine person is felt after we have left their presence.” This is leadership presence, it is that mysterious elegance given off by a man or a woman that no one in the room can quite put their finger on, but are all keenly aware of.


-Be Intentional
-Be Individual
-Be Inspirational

On Purpose. Today.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do you believe in Magic?

DO you believe in magic?
When I was a kid I did too. Then I grew up.
Thankfully the magic is back since I read Lee Cockerell's fantastic book titled, "Creating Magic." Cockerell was the Executive Vice President, Operations, for Walk Disney World for over ten years. He knows a thing or two about Creating Magic in the workplace.  Below is a summary of some of his best stuff.  Enjoy!

Strategy #1: Remember, everyone is important.
Cockerell, opens this section by teaching on the subject of "inclusion."  Inclusion at the workplace is described simply when everyone feels like they matter and everyone knows that they matter.  When this is the case, employees are happy to come to work and give you their energy, creativity and loyalty. The opposite of inclusion is when people feel isolated and unimportant. The key takeaway for leaders is to ensure everyone is valued -despite position, rank or title.  Cockerell initiated a simple tool at Disney that helped reinforce inclusion, "RAVE."  RAVE means: "respect, appreciate and value everyone."

Below I will outline the best strategy to incorporate inclusion into your organization:

1. Make sure everyone matters ... and everyone knows it.  A leader's job is a lot like parenting: you have a heart full of love for your employees, but sometimes forget to verbalize that love.  DO THIS: Physically sit across from your team and express how much you care about them, how much the corporation values them, etc. Do this regularly with your team -both corporately and individually- and watch moral improve.  You might be thinking that this is common sense and you are right; sadly common sense does not always equal common practice.

 2. Know your team.  Every worker has different motivations, priorities, preferences, and dreams.  "Workers hail from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods." This means you have to get to know your team individually. Question: Do you know your employees favorite sports team(s)? Do you know their birthdays?  Going forward, understand that this is not an easy task; it will not happen overnight either. However, the payoff is huge.  Start this process now.

3.  Let your team get to know you.  Everything starts with you, as the leader.  You must model the way, this means going first.  Do not expect an open workforce if you are closed off.  It's just that simple. Start this process yesterday.

4.  Great people sincerely.  I'll be the first to admit that this one is toughest for me.  I am always in a hurry, always on a mission and always ADHD.  It is important to not get so wrapped up in your work that you miss the reason why you are doing what you are doing.  A professor of mine once said, "When you start emphasizing projects over people you've lost your way."  Cockerell suggests taking "strolls" throughout your workplace stopping to say hello to team members and customers.  I couldn't agree more.

5.  Reach out to everyone on your team.  I aways tell key leaders that seem mystified on how to reach out to others this, "just remember that people want the same thing(s) that you want." If you walk into a room and do not know a single soul, what do you think that person wants? To feel comfortable & to make a connection ... and fast. Place yourself in the shoes of others, and then proceed.  People want what you want; they want valued, heard, respected, listened to, Etc. Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  This is the position you must take as a leader as you reach out to everyone on your team.

6. Make yourself available.  Leaders are available.  My door is always open, and on the rare occasions it is not, it is always open.  One thing that I pride myself on is how many people I can rub shoulders with by the end of the week.  I tell others that Jesus' ministry was powerful because He was constantly surrounding Himself with people.  Jesus knew what mattered most, this is why He formed a powerful crew that embraced His values.  He and His disciples understood the power of presence; you should too.

7.  Listen to understand. In the 7 Habits of Effective People, Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  Most people think that they are good communicators because they like to talk, however, I say that good communicators are good listeners.  This means active listening.  Look at people in the eye, nod indicating that you understand.  Say, "Let me summarize what I hear you saying" or "What I think you are saying is ... is this right?" This really is not an option either. If  you are like me, you have talked with a person on more than one occasion and you thought you were communicating crystal clear.  Then, you find out afterward that what you said and what was heard are as similar as a banana and an eggplant.

8.  Communicate clearly, directly, and honestly.  Please use ordinary language, language that conveys exactly what you mean.  It is difficult enough to grasp the central message with all the hoopla going on around you. Leaders must be clear; eliminate all fluff and get to the point.  Furthermore, I want to highlight the "direct" aspect, which I believe is absolutely essential.  Do you know how much junk you could eliminate in your life just by speaking directly to a person?  Get rid of the backdoor meeting, forget the whisperings behind the curtain; you are a leader, man up and be direct.  Your team will respect you for this in the long run.

9. Stand up for the excluded. In every group there is a small minority of individuals that may not have the social skills to connect.  I am not asking you to baby them, but you have to use a bit more energy helping them to connect.  Cockerell teaches, "Make no mistake, anyone who feels left out is left out."  Listen, I know that each person is responsible to make an individual effort to connect, and this can be a bit of an irritation because it seems that you are "babying" someone, but at least give it a try to give the excluded member a chance.  Personally, I encourage the group or a particular group member to make a personal connection with a member like this, hoping that a friendship is formed.

10.  Forget about the chain of command. Workplace hierarchies are disappearing before our very eyes. Top down command structure is being leveled to a more "flat" organization. This means no one particularly cares about your title.  This has caused a lot of change in the workplace, one in particular is that more natural leaders have the ability to flourish.  More people have a voice than just the guy at the top, more people can add creative infusion than just the gal running the place.  Stop playing the victim role, see yourself as the change agent.  Remember, losers find an excuse and winners find a way.

11. Design your culture.   Your workplace has a distinct culture just as Italy has a distinct culture. Your culture is the "why you do things around here the way you do things around here." And I am not talking about a S.O.P. or a book of rules, I am talking about feet on the ground, real, everyday practices.  This is the soft stuff that nobody can see, but everyone can feel.  A leader must (1) be aware of their workplace culture and (2) help define or redefine the workplace culture.

In the opening chapter, Lee Cockerell writes this very Tweet-able quote in the introduction, "Great leadership leads to employee excellence, which leads to customer satisfaction and strong business results. In other words, the customer doesn't come first; leadership comes first.

Starting to believe in magic?  
Me too. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Poop.

Yes.  poop.

Travel back in time with me to Thursday. I'll begin with how things unfolded so you can grasp the level of grenade-like frustration that I will be telling you in a few moments ...

Thursday, after work, I walk into my house feeling a slight bit guilty over minimal dad / daughter-wife-dog time.  I quickly find out that Christen really wants to make it to Bible study that night, but she will make it only if she finishes her homework.  So I decide to take Charlie and Isabella for a nice stroll, figuring this will get me in some time with my loved ones & free up Christen to get her work done.

The walk was great!  Beautiful outside. Charlie was barking at every creature about his size or smaller and Isabella was taking it all in.

Then, we returned home.  When I walked in the door, Christen handed me a bottle and I started feeding little Isa.  While I fed her, I did the "dad dance."  You know the dance if you ever watched a new dad holding their child.  Hips swaying like they are listening to Jazz music, feet sliding from side to side like a pathetic break-dance and shoulders shifting like a boat lost at sea.  As the dance was in full swing, I heard Christen say these fateful words:  "Anth, I smell poop."  At that moment, I took in a deep breathe and my nostrils picked up what my wife's nostrils were picking up.

Poop.

I quickly looked down and when my eyes saw the 2,829,039 poop marks on my carpet (which we just had professionally cleaned 3 weeks ago), I lost it.

Apparently I stepped in crap-o-la somewhere on my walk and dragged it seemingly on every square inch of my carpet.  This was a first. I have to tell you; it doesn't take a lot to frustrate me; but it does take a lot to ruin my night.  I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing every mark I could find.  I then took one look at Isabella and reasoned that spot cleaning will just not satisfy.

While this is going on, Christen is trying to get her work done; Isabella is setting records in cry decibels and I have approximately 45 minutes till Bible study. I found myself in a situation where even a saint would pull their hair out.

I seriously could not think of a lesson in all this mess.  One would think a great lesson would be the Lord teaching me about picking up after Charlie; you know, "My son, this is what you get for letting Charlie poo-poo in everyone's yard for the past 9 1/2 years." But the thing is,  I already pick up after Charlie 95 percent of the time.  So I had a hard time figuring out what I could learn from this smelly incident -until after Bible study- over 4 hours after everything developed.  The lesson is simple:
I should not have been this angry 4 hours after the incident.  Life could be a lot worse.  Being this mad after so many hours have passed is totally unnecessary.  Despite what I think or however anyone else would react, I, Anthony Kladitis do not need to stay mad over this incident for such a long period.  Honestly, part of me wanted to hang onto the feeling of frustration and anger. Somehow, I thought I was justified due to what I had to endure.  But the reality is, I needed to get over it.  And I did.  

I bet there are things that you need to get over too. Things that happened longer than 4 hours ago in your life that you should get over right now.  But you hold on and allow whatever poop that entered your life to spread ... and now you stink. This is how anger works.  It spreads to other areas in your life and then you start to reek. Over time people lose their desire to be in your presence and you isolate yourself from your loved ones.

The poop incident was hopefully a "first time for everything" ordeal.
However, I am hoping the lesson I learned endures till the next time I step in whatever mess life throws at me.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking Free: Renewal & Transformation!

I heard a discussion centering on how we, as humans,develop patterns. Afterward, I did some research and stumbled upon this article by Havi Brooks. It is titled, “The science behind your habit (Or: It’s not your fault. It’s your brain!).”  

Below is a summary of the article:
There’s this semi-creepy deja vu thing that starts happening when one of your patterns kicks in.

It doesn’t really matter which pattern. Truth is, of course, we’re in pattern mode all the time. The way you stand, the way you react to certain smells, the way you breathe. It’s all patterns and patterning. But you tend to only think about it when one specific pattern is driving you batty and you just can’t find your way out of it. Before you start hating on yourself for succumbing to those irritating habits and patterns, here’s the out, and it’s legitimate, too: it’s not your fault that you repeat the same behaviors over and over again. That’s your wiring. It’s the job of your brain to follow patterns. That’s how it works, so that’s what it does.
Not that shifting all the blame to your brain is any great reassurance, but there you have it. Your zippy little neurons, bless them, like doing familiar things so they can zoom off on autopilot. No “road less traveled” stuff for them. They like the old, familiar path. Your brain is filled with neural pathways. They’re formed by your oldest habits and memories, and (this part is kind of crazy) are actually strengthened every time you repeat a familiar action. Or react emotionally in a similar way. Or mull over how much you can’t stand something or someone.
It’s just amazing to me the way you can sometimes almost see the neurons in your brain whizzing right past the less deeply marked pathways and following the old road that they know so well. Whoosh! It’s exactly like the way that path formed in your yard, the one from the door to wherever you go the most.

Now, for some geeky Bible stuff:
Romans 12: 2 states: "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that youmay prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

See that word, “transformed” in the above passage? The Greek word used is “μεταμορφόω; it literally means, “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure.”  The message presented by the Apostle Paul is: if you have patterns that are not healthy, sinful, bad, (or whatever word you want to insert), you can change by the power of God.  You can start creating new paths by intentionally setting fresh patterns in your life. It seems like Paul and Brooks are emphasizing similar points just from different perspectives.

Recently, I took my dog Charlie on a nice long walk in the woods and soon we discovered a pathway.  That path did not just clear itself.  It was made by men and women trotting along, beating down the grass, clearing the way.  Over and over the same trail was taken and then viola, a nice clear path was formed!  Now let’s say that Charlie and I were feeling adventurous and one day we decided to “go where no man has gone before” by creating a new path. That means we would have to veer off the original path and start the process all over.  This is what Paul means when he says to “transform” your mind.  It is the hard work of setting new patterns in your life.  It is the difficult journey of drawing in and applying new thoughts into your mind.  

And this is all very tough work.  
This is why you find so many people still pulling from their “4 year” degree 25 years after their “4 year” degree. We become complacent with the grooves already set.  And I am here to tell you that this is not acceptable for today’s leader, nor dare I say for the Christian.  It is our role to endeavor a Christ-likeness in our lives and this means a continually renewing.  My philosophy on renewal is simple; the only way to keep a cracked vessel from leaking is to continually fill it. (Or you could always use duck-tape … but that would ruin my analogy).  

Renewal and transformation is a lifelong process of intentionality.