Bruised Ego or Wrecked Moped?

A slightly bruised ego might be better than a fully wrecked moped! I was probably 12 or 13 years old at the time. My dad’s side of the family had all gathered at our house – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My cousin had brought her new moped over and all my cousins were riding around our front yard and having fun doing so. Inwardly, I was nervous to ride it since I had never been around dirtbikes, four-wheelers or that kind of thing a whole lot. Outwardly, I didn’t want my cousins to know I was nervous. Inevitably, my turn came and I had no choice but to ride that moped fearlessly! And that I did. At first, no problems. Then as I turned around at one end of the yard and headed back toward our driveway, I got a little confused about the gas and the brake. And remember that all of the family was over so the driveway was full of cars. I was in trouble as I was accelerating toward those cars. Well, I can’t run into their cars and I’m not going to be able to stop so I need to turn right or left. One direction was favorable and the other not favorable. If I turned right, I would miss the cars and would have a little more room to stop before getting to the road. Sure, I might run into the large evergreen there, but that wouldn’t be so bad. Well, I didn’t make the best choice – right. As I turned left, the real problem presented itself – a 4 ft. deep flowerbed and then the house with a large picture window in the living room area directly aligned with the driveway. Fumbling for the brake but still failing to execute I goosed the engine and sped toward the house! I did manage to miss the cars to my right and a fence to my left. That would be a great accomplishment except for what happened next. All of my bystander family was trying to help by yelling, “no” and some other directions I couldn’t understand. Inevitably, in the next moment, my front tire hit the railroad tie separating the driveway and flowerbed. The moped and I went airborne then came to an abrupt stop as the front headlight and handle bars smashed into the bottom framing of the window. Because I maintained my grip on the handles, the bike momentum stopped but I literally pivoted upside down almost like someone intentionally does in gymnastics on the high bar – only this was obviously quite unintentional. Maintaining my grip still, I fell back down onto the bike and then slumped to the ground. Those in the front yard came running to me. Also, those who witnessed the event through the picture window in the living came as well. I don’t recall their reaction as much as my utter embarrassment as I laid on the ground beside the moped. In that moment, as I laid there I realized I had a bruised ego, a battered body, and a broken moped! If I had made another choice, I would have only had one of those! Proverbs 11:2 says, “pride comes before a fall.” According to Oxford Dictionary, pride can be defined as, “the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance.” Pride comes in other forms other than just the outrageous arrogance we often think about. Anytime we place higher value on ourselves, our needs, or our ego at the expense of others, we’re walking in pride. It can look like being silent to avoid an awkward but appropriate conversation. It can be not going to someone to ask forgiveness for the way you offended them. It can be having the ability and opportunity to help someone but not doing so because it would be inconvenient. All of those years ago, I valued my ego above my cousin or her moped. Moving forward, let’s choose a bruised ego over a wrecked moped!

God Invested in Us Before We were Renovated!

The bulk of my growing up years were spent on State Route 511 in Wellington, Ohio. When I was just about to turn 5, my parents bought a lousy appearing ranch in the country. We moved from town (which wasn’t too big itself) about 5 miles to the west and I spent the next 12 years of my life there. The house was worn out; it’s roofline looking more like a ski slope from all the years of settling. The layout of the house was average and predictable. The finishes were dated and exhausted. My father being a carpenter together with my mother being very responsible with money was the right combination to see the potential in that old house. They could see an addition off the back that would add square footage and solve that sloping roofline issue. They could see the remodeling of the living room and other dated spaces, moving the kitchen to a new part of the house, and creating a large master suite. They executed just what they saw in their mind; they put money and work into that place over the years and it paid off. Their investment appreciated handsomely over time and they were able to sell that house and pay cash for their next home. I think that’s what they call, “sweat equity.”

That made such an impact on me that I have now bought, fixed up, and sold nearly 30 homes! As I reflect back on that story and its impact on me, I’m reminded of how lousy we looked when God intervened. We were wrecked, dated, and lifeless. He saw restored, refreshed, and gave abundant life. In fact, the scripture describes it this way. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Ephesians 2:1,4-5

He made the investment in us before we were renovated!

Run With Who You Are

I remember from some training a couple years ago, a concept called, “Surrendering the One Up Relationship.” (WhyTry Resilience Curriculum) I had never heard this before. My interest was piqued. In the context of mentoring, the concept meant to position yourself as equal with the person you are mentoring. I remember the owner of this idea sharing that, when working with young people in a counseling situation in his office, he would often get up from his chair and exchange seats with the young person. Somewhat befuddled as they sat in his chair behind the desk, they would ask him why. He would share with them, “in this relationship, you’re the expert on you. I want to learn about you from you.” I can’t even begin to imagine what this approach did to establish trust in those relationships. I was reminded of that concept while thinking some on each and every person’s tremendous value. Each person is uniquely designed to contribute to their community of family, friends, co-workers, civic groups, faith, etc. In fact, they are so uniquely gifted that no one else can contribute what they can. No one else has their blend of background, experiences, gifts, personality, perspective, and journey. If that is true, why do we spend so much time disliking ourselves? Why do we invest so much effort in trying to be like someone else? Why are we so consumed with comparing ourselves to others? We are blessed to be stuck with ourselves! We are blessed to fail at trying to be someone else every time without exception. That may be a bit harsh but it’s reality – and there is freedom in that reality. Be you – complete with your great traits and your less-than-great traits. Work on you. Be free. Discover your design. The best contribution we can make to the world we influence, is to embrace who we are in Christ and be the best version of us we possibly can be in cooperating with His Spirit inside of us.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Marks and Markings

Look at those coins in your hand – the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. Each coin has its own marking. Currently, coins are minted in four locations across the United States – West Point Mint in New York (bearing a “W” marking), Philadelphia (“P”), Denver (“D”), and San Francisco (“S”). Just as coins bear a mark that indicates its origin, we each have a unique origin that marks us. Consider some of those differences and how they shape us. Rural, suburban, and urban surroundings shape some of our initial perceptions of distance, time, and opportunities. Small, large, and very large families might inform our perspective on relationships, spending, and sharing. Quiet, loud, and explosive families will likely forge our approach to marriage, parenting, and the value of counseling. These are just three complexities among a myriad of others. Add to these complexities the dynamic of how we were reared and the mark is even more significant. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, a child will navigate eight stages as they are reared. For example, his first stage is called, “Trust vs. Mistrust.” Kendra Cherry characterized it this way: “Children who learn to trust caregivers in infancy will be more likely to form trusting relationships with others throughout the course of their lives.” Erikson believes that a child builds trust as their needs our met. They develop mistrust when they have legitimate needs that go unmet for inordinate amounts or go unmet. There are seven more stages according to Erikson. We certainly each carry a mark from our origin.

Additionally, each coin has its own markings – not the minted design but the scrapes, gouges, and disfigurements from use. Well, that sounds familiar doesn’t it? We can look at literal scars and marks on our bodies that remind us of significant events in our lives. Right now, I’m looking at a scar on my left elbow from 36 years ago. That mark reminds me of the excruciating pain I experienced when I fell off my new ten speed bike while racing down a hill on the state highway in front of my house. I lost control and wrecked, and the first portion of my flesh to make contact with the unforgiving pavement was my left elbow. Other parts of my body responded in pain after I fell, but it was my left elbow with a gaping open wound bleeding profusely that got my attention. I’m not sure if the wreck on my bike or what was to come was worse. As I walked my bike back to the house, my father saw me and immediately went into action. Instead of taking me to a medical facility equipped to handle such a wound, he felt that he had the medical background to treat this situation. He gave me a towel to bite on and proceeded to start to wash out the dirt and stones from the wound. It was possibly the greatest pain I could remember to that point. The pulling back of my skin and cleaning out of the debris seemed to never end and each swipe felt as bad as the one previous to it. Finally the cleaning out stage was complete. He applied some kind of gel and then wrapped it with a bandage. Every time I would move my elbow, shots of pain would shoot through my arm. For the next couple days, the wound had to be cleaned and re-dressed to ensure it didn’t get infected. To my father’s trauma-response credit, we didn’t have to spend money on a doctor’s visit and the wound didn’t get infected. To my father’s plastic-surgery discredit, the wound healed looking more like a 1″x2″ alien marking than a well-sewn-up slight scar.

That’s just one “marking” on me. There are countless others from dumb decisions, falls, fights, and normal scars from doing stuff.

Those markings sometimes don’t begin to compare to the emotional markings from life’s events.

Everyone has marks and markings. We will do well as leaders to appreciate the unique expression of others. I think this is part of Paul’s motivation to encourage us in Philippians 2:3-4 to, “do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but humbly consider others more important than ourselves.” He continues, “do not merely look out for your own interests but the interests of others as well.”

Here are three steps we can take to become better leaders in this regard.

  1. We should invest the time to get to know our team members as people. We sometimes fall into a trap of seeing people only through the lens of the role they serve within our organization. They are more than a salesperson, staff accountant, maintenance woman, or vice president of operations. They have an identity in Christ and we should get to know them as such!
  2. We should appreciate the process of progress. I know there are leadership experts out there that suggest we don’t change much after our formative years. I simply know that’s not the case with me and I choose to believe the same about others as well. While my progress might be slow, I am changing and growing and people around me are also. I want to be part of encouraging that process in others not writing them off as a lost cause.
  3. We should empathize with others. Each of us have marks and markings that cause us to respond to certain situation in certain ways. This doesn’t excuse us from taking responsibility for our actions; however, we must have grace for ourselves and others as we connect understanding to those responses and correct those patterns.

Let us hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

What is the 41Cents Challenge? Take the quarter, dime, nickel, and penny and place them in your pocket. Each day, your objective is to encourage at least four people by expressing appreciation and/or appreciating expression. Expressing appreciation is sharing thankfulness for what others do. Appreciating expression is sharing thankfulness for who others are! Each time you do that, simply transfer a coin to the other pocket. Make it your goal each day to transfer all four coins. Go change your world through the change in your pocket! Simple? Somewhat. Impactful? Absolutely!

Don’t Miss God Because You Don’t Understand

Generally, I think it’s safe to say that we are quite convinced of our opinions and perspectives on life. When we think about it, we know that we don’t know it all. The challenge is when we don’t think about it, we forget. As leaders, you and I will benefit the people in our organizations we lead, whether they be in our companies, nonprofits, volunteer groups, or families, by recognizing this common limiting bias within ourselves and make every attempt to keep in under wraps. Let’s open ourselves up to how big God is and how big his ideas are for our assignments and that of those we lead. Take a look at this scripture with me.

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:7-11

I was listening to a message by a pastor yesterday morning. He pointed out several times throughout recent and ancient church history where God moved in ways that the established church didn’t quite accept. He pointed out the Jesus People movement where hippies, sometimes right in the middle of LSD trips, were encountering Jesus, and coming by the droves into churches. They didn’t look, talk, or smell like the other church goers but they definitely had encountered Jesus and were willing to worship together with people very different from them. The established church goers were not quite as accommodating in many cases. Another example was the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. At that time protestant churches taught rather vehemently that the catholic church was purporting heresies and no one from that tradition could possibly have a genuine relationship with Christ and Holy Spirit. Well, they did – even in the midst of all that misunderstanding and misapplication of scripture. And then the pastor went to the book of Acts where the Jewish followers of Jesus were having real issues with these gentile believers not following the closely-held traditions of the Jewish faith. In fact, these believers were pretty confused about a lot having come from totally polytheistic cultures.

I chuckled at these examples then stopped chuckling when I recognized I can be just like these others.

I realized in that moment that when I pray to God for a fresh move and transformation in a church, business, and organization, I have in mind that everyone will come to see my side of things. They will see and understand like I do. They will see that the organization should be governed and directed how I think it should be governed and directed. It will be glorious when everyone comes around to see things correctly! Admittedly, it sounds absurd as I write this blog – I know!

The idea that God’s move may require me to grow to where others are rather than them grow to where I am, was absolutely not on my radar. It’s a little embarrassing how egotistical this looks – but it’s just the truth. I need a mindset shift here – and maybe you do to.

So, let’s open our hearts just a little bit more to how big God is and how big he moves. We’ve all had those moments where God worked in something but did it in a way that we did not expect. Let’s just recognize that a little sooner; let’s cooperate earlier in the process! When we see someone’s walk with God and it doesn’t seem quite like what we have experienced, let’s open our hearts a little bit wider to allow Holy Spirit to lead both us and them! When someone suggests passionately that the organization head in a different direction than we would lead, let’s not immediately write it off as wrong. Let’s grow by appreciating what God is doing in and through others just as much as what He’s doing in and through us. Maybe this is just a slightly different aspect of the “love your neighbor as yourself” bedrock principle.

One thing I am confident of – when we can see a bigger picture than the one we have painted on our own canvass, great growth is ahead!

Do you think 41 cents could change the world?

41 Cents … a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny

I do. You might wonder what in the world I could be talking about. You might even think I’m crazy but I genuinely believe that 41 cents could bring shift in our world. A few years ago I stumbled onto an idea to find a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter and place those in one pocket before I left to go about the day. During the day, I would look for opportunities to do two things – express appreciation and appreciate expression. In expressing appreciation, I wanted to be intentional in sharing my appreciation for something someone had done. I wanted them to know that I noticed and they made a difference by doing what they did. It was about noticing what others were doing. In appreciating expression, I wanted to be intentional in sharing my appreciation for who someone is. I wanted them to know that though we may be different, I genuinely appreciated the strength they contributed by being different than me. It might be their choice in music, mode of problem-solving, communication style, sense of fashion. It could literally be anything that reminded me that the world is a much more interesting place with such diversity in people. Today, these two perspectives remind me that I’m not unimportant nor more important than anyone else. We’re very similar and very different all by design. That’s what those different denominations of coins represented in my pocket. Every time I shared with someone appreciation for what they had done or who they were, I would transfer a coin to the other pocket. My goal was to transfer all coins to the other pocket by the end of the day. As a result of this habit (and there’s many days I miss) I genuinely can see a shift in my perspective. I would like to invite you to give it a try. It’s really quite enjoyable to be a little expression of appreciation in people’s day. I think our world needs a little more of that!

I’m Still Living on 41 Cents!

Greetings blog readers. It’s been a minute since contributing to this blog, but I’m back. I have established a new commitment to writing – hopefully it will be mutually beneficial. Of benefit to you – maybe I can provide just an added perspective for you to consider as you navigate leadership in your organization. Of benefit to me – you graciously allow me space to sort out all of these ideas in my head! Thank you.

Back to 41 Cents

Look at one of those coins. Officially they were minted in some location and bear that marking forever. As I understand it, coins are minted in four locations across the United States – West Point Mint in New York (bearing a “W”), Philadelphia (“P”), Denver (“D”), and San Francisco (“S”). What marking does that coin in your hand bare? Indeed, that origination point has set the trajectory for that individual coin. However, we are a very mobile society and therefore coinage travels with us. While that coin had a singular origination point, it’s journey is likely as varied as any that can be imagined. It is estimated that money changes hands on average 80 times per year depending upon its denomination. If you consider a lifespan of 5 years, that’s 400 exchanges for that coin. Think about that – each coin has this very specific and unique journey exchanging hands for such varied purposes – some very honorable, some not so much, some as investments and others as wasteful spending, yet some exchanges bringing great joy and others not mattering much at all.

That is such a powerful observation to apply to us as unique people. We all have our origination point which sets our trajectory to some degree. However, we are shaped so much more by the varied experiences of our journey. Our journeys are so unique! Everyone of us has this characteristic. Sure we may be labeled as just another “dime.” But nothing could be further from the truth! Sure I share some common characteristic with other “dimes,” but my experience is just that – mine. So the next time I look at someone, may I be so much more conscientious to not just see them as another coin just like all the others. I’m going to appreciate their individual expression!

Make a Change


Perspective Perspiration

Perspective Perspiration

Experience Life Outside the Rut


I was reading a book written by a pastor in response to Robert Kiyosaki’s well-known work, “Rich Dad; Poor Dad.” In his book, this pastor, Dr. C. Thomas Anderson, keys in on the principle that successful people see the world differently – they see opportunities all around them all the time, research those, and take the calculated risk. He sites an experiment where the subjects were shown playing cards at a very fast rate and had to identify the number and type of card (4 of hearts, 9 of clubs, etc.) The success rate was very high. In the next phase of the study, however, the subjects were shown playing cards at that same rate – this time the color did not match normal playing cards (i.e. they were shown a 4 with a black heart, 9 with red clubs, etc.) As you might expect, the accuracy significantly dropped. Why? According to the researchers, “the brain adjusted the new experience to fit a known experience.”

“The brain adjusted the new experience to fit a known experience.”

Is this part of what is happening when we feel like we are in a rut?

We do have new experiences all the time throughout our day; but we slip into almost an auto-mode where our brain simply adjusts those new experiences to be perceived as known experiences.

This is simply food for thought over the next couple of days. Let’s start a conversation if you are open to it. Do you agree? Disagree? Have a little different take on this thought?