Yep…..my thoughts exactly….
Posts tagged leadership
I’m sure everybody has some ideal scenario in which they think they will exit this life. It never happens like we envision it, but it happens nonetheless.
A friend of mine said once, “I want to die empty, because I gave everything away.”
I loved that. But I wondered many times what that would actually look like. This week it became real to me when my very dear friend George died.
George died empty. George died with nothing. George leaves nothing behind, that we can touch anyway.
But what he did leave behind is a beautiful example of that statement.
I met George about 4-5 years ago when I took a position at the Union Rescue Mission. George basically served as the gatekeeper for the men’s homeless shelter. He was a staple. He had been there for MANY years. He began serving soon after he had come into the shelter himself, when it was on the north side of the river.
I grew fond of George very quickly as we would talk and he would share stories of his life and the previous years of the Mission. I really looked at him almost like he was grandpa. I guess in a way I kind of wished he was.
We had fun times and hard times. Head-butting and hugging. He was a stubborned old man so set in his ways that you just had to work around it sometimes. But he as faithful, and completely selfless.
He served the men in that shelter for well over a decade, I know. He did it for free. Seven days a week. 365 days a year. Whatever was needed, he was willing to take it on…or at least give it a serious shot!
All of this, without EVER expecting or even asking for anything in return. Nothing. He didn’t want anything. He just wanted to serve, and be a part of helping the dudes that came in that door.
We all knew that Wednesday would happen someday. We all knew that George would be there, working and serving, until his heart quit beating. That’s exactly what happened.
George died, and nobody even realized it. You won’t see him on the TV. Or in the paper. You won’t hear about it on the radio. For you, it will be like nothing even happened. Another nobody, who had nothing, goes on.
That’s just how George wanted to go. Quietly. Unnoticed. He just wanted to serve and take care of his friends until it was his time.
I can’t think of a more beautiful ending to a life. Going out with nothing, because you gave everything.
I’ve never known a more humble (and sometimes stubborned) old man than George, and I’m going to miss him every day. I pray that I will one day be mature enough to let go of everything, and give all I have until my “Wednesday” comes.
Much love, George. The impact you had on many men is immeasurable.
You know those kinds of people that you either love or hate? No in-between…
I often hear that I’m one of them.
When I was much younger this always bothered me. These days, I’m learning to embrace it.
You see, the only things that I’m really good at are driving and seeing. I don’t mind telling you that I’m the best driver in the history of the universe. Just ask my wife! ;) And I can see like a hawk. Even at night.
Fact is, I’m too fat to fit in a NASCAR….and nobody pays you to see things. That I know of.
So the next best thing is to find something I’m really passionate about, and run my mouth about it. If you know anything about me, you know that this is what I enjoy.
I advocate and run my big fat mouth about homelessness.
Advocacy takes that. Running the mouth. Shouting what others won’t. Screaming what others ignore. It means sometimes pissing people off. Making people cheer for you or want to punch you. It’s polarizing. It makes people love you….or hate you….
So if that’s already going on……capitalize!!
I advocate. I run my mouth. I don’t plan to stop.
The problem is that I’ll never really be great at it. I take it too seriously. I believe in the things that I advocate for….to the point that I get angry. Sometimes I get so mad that my hands shake or my eyes cry.
I’m too rough around the edges and passionate to be diplomatic or bureaucratic. And I won’t waste my time trying to be. That’s probably why Dr. Phil edited half of my time on his show!! I figure it’s for the same reason that Ellen still hasn’t called! ;)
With that, comes the fact that I’ll never be the next Ghandi. Or MLK. Or one of the “greats”. But I’ll never stop regardless.
I guess my point in this seemingly pointless rant, is that there is too much pain and too much ignorance coinciding in our world to tip-toe around the issues.
There isn’t enough time in the day to quietly and carelessly see the needs and hope they’re better tomorrow. And there isn’t enough time to quietly and passively sit and try to convince others that these horrific injustices exist.
The kicker, is that there isn’t enough evidence to convince me that Jesus wants us to shut up and stop fighting for others.
I just love a good, clever church sign. You know, one that makes everybody want to come to that church….
Like this one I saw the other day: “Our church is like fudge. Sweet with a few nuts.”
Now isn’t that just cute?
But the best one I’ve seen so far this year, is actually being displayed on at least 4 church signs around here now!! You’re gonna love it!! It says:
“Focused on Heaven, in 2011″
Now isn’t that one just brilliant?!?! I knew you’d love it as much as I do.
I love it because it’s true!! And we all love us some truth, right??
I know it’s true because I encounter people from churches all over our community daily. They really are focused on heaven. Really.
I know it’s true because there is a point in each conversation where I make them really uncomfortable. I do so by taking the conversation to a place they’ve clearly not been lately.
That place is a foreign reality. It’s a reality never visited, and grossly ignored by most.
That place is where…..
Single moms live in cars with their kids
Dads live in tents while thier kids live with their mom, who is strung out
Women who are pregnant live in tents because their baby-daddy is doing dope again
Some women choose between freezing to death or giving a blowjob for the $7 it takes to stay another night in the Christian homeless shelters
Need I keep going???
See why our conversations get so awkward? See why they quickly end the conversations when I point these things out? If they’re that focused on heaven, they don’t want to hear about these things, believe these things, or do a damn thing about these things.
Oh, Aaron….you’re just jaded and hate The Church……
Me? Jaded? Hell yeah I am…..
Me? Hate The Church? No way. I hate imposters. I hate when people just want to “have” church and not “be” church.
What I do just loooooove about them though, is how they brand us the liberals, emergents, heretics, false-teachers…..etc…
I don’t hate The Church. I love her.
What I do hate is the psuedo-Church that hides behind the bible, all the while ignoring the very teachings of Christ and the instructions that He has given us.
So……what the crap are you looking at in 2011??
Everybody knows that all the crime in the world is caused by those without homes.
For instance, the 7 year old girl that was raped in the bathroom of a restaurant on Cantrell. The server who did that was clearly homeless.
And break-ins. Every single time somebody’s house is broken into, the goods are always found under bridges, in tents and even in shelters.
And kidnapping. What about all those kids that are kidnapped, only to be found days or weeks later in the basement of some homeless persons tent??
Yep, you can bet money that if a crime has been committed, it was done by one of those people who don’t have a home.
Every drunk driver? Homeless!
Every serial killer? Homeless!
Every bank robber? Homeless!
Every wife-beater? Homeless!
You see, last night I sat in a zoning committee meeting because one city director seems to think that having the OFFICES of a non-profit that serves our homeless neighbors in the same neighborhood as a school is a safety threat.
We’re not talking about a shelter, a mental health clinic, a detox unit, etc….
We’re talking about offices, and a small warehouse.
Is there any logic to this absurd mentality that homeless people are generally bad people who are preying on those who do have homes??
The same people who want to fight these services which are the work of Christ, had the audacity to brag about some local churches banding together to defeat services to the impoverished in our area.
Look around people! Christians!
How many “pastors” or “ministers” are in the news for child molestation and the like?
How many people without homes are in there for the same things?
How foolish to tout Christianity in fighting services to the homeless by generalizing all homeless as pedophiles, while there’s more of a problem with it in our Church leadership than there ever has been out on the streets.
Just yesterday a local “pastor” was sentenced to a year in prison for having sex with a 15 year old boy. Tally them all up. There’s more than you can count.
So, when you want to plant another church…..
You better not do it by a school!! Because all those pastors are going to be putting everybody’s kids at risk!!
And should one of those pastors become homeless? Oh shit!!
Wake up “Christianity”….
This crap is so far from the teachings of Christ.
What a sad, and embarrassing state of Christianity we have found ourselves in when our biggest battle is defending the work of the gospel against those who claim it so recklessly….
This is the world in which we live. This is the media coverage by which we are fed. This is our sad reality.
All weekend long here in central Arkansas, local news media seemed turned on driven by the story of a high school teacher who had taken on interesting after-school activities. I believe the PC term to be prostitution….
It’s made clear at the same time that an 8th grader mobilizing his peers to raise money to support homeless veterans is far from newsworthy. Bull. Wanna know why I think so? Because when I was in 8th grade I began doing drugs. I never had a single thought about doing something for somebody else.
Well, I may not have that big of a platform. But I’m damn sure going to share the news that this happened this weekend. A remarkable young man named Ethan Graham organized a touch-football tournament amongst his peers to benefit the homeless veterans that reside at the St. Francis House.
Though the world was unaware and there wasn’t a Super Bowl sized turn out, in just a few short hours this young man raised enough money to feed lunch to 40+ homeless veterans for a week.
Meet Ethan. He’s newsworthy. His efforts are newsworthy. He is a hero.
The following is an email that I received yesterday from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. It’s worth a look if you give a rip about veterans, homelessness or politics.
What I want to know is how many of these House voters touted their “patriotism” in their campaigning, only to turn around and screw those who have given just about all they had….
House Set to Eliminate HUD-VASH Vouchers
10,000 homeless veterans could be left without housing
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2011 – The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, which would eliminate $75 million for approximately 10,000 new permanent supportive housing vouchers for homeless veterans.
These HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers represent a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to help chronically ill veterans who are not able to obtain and maintain housing without assistance. A vote on this bill is expected by the end of the day.
The vouchers in question were approved by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in the 111th Congress, and would bring the HUD-VASH program to the 40,000 voucher level. That would represent two-thirds of the number of vouchers most experts and federal officials agree are needed to end chronic veteran homelessness.
This morning at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, Ranking Member Bob Filner (D-CA) expressed shock over the elimination of these vouchers, which would provide housing and services to approximately 10,000 veterans who are homeless today.
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) said he was less concerned about the cuts because he has been told about 11,000 of the 30,000 vouchers authorized since 2008 are not yet being used.
The VASH program is one of the most critical elements of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness among veterans by 2015. Last year, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told Congress that a total of 60,000 vouchers would be needed to end veteran homelessness.
VA had included funding for program expansion in its FY 2011 budget, and the Senate Appropriations Committee inserted funding for 10,000 new vouchers in its HUD funding bill. Both actions spurred hope that the number of homeless veterans – estimated at 107,000 – would continue to decline.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) urges all homeless veteran service providers to contact their senators and representatives this afternoon to strongly object to any move that would eliminate approved HUD-VASH program funding for new vouchers.
To contact your representative, click here.
To contact your senator, click here.
You may also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative or senator’s office.
Yesterday I shared the disaster at one of Arkansas’ Harps locations with you. The manager decided to put a “family shield” over a picture of Elton John, his partner and their kid. See yesterday’s post here.
Well, here is a statement released by Harps:
Soooooo…..is this the best PR statement you’ve ever heard? Or do most of you still think they are stretching to recover what they’ve lost by all of this??
And as always, please comment HERE…..on the actual blog!! :)
I heard it was now 2011. Some must not have gotten a new phone book on their porch.
We catch a lot of crap in Arkansas, just because we live here.
But we bring even more crap on ourselves when we live HERE:
By HERE I mean a place where we think we need to cover a magazine cover because it has a gay man on it. Or is it that he has a son?
Either way, this would have completely ruined my entire family had Harps in Mountain Home, AR not protected us with the magical “Family Shield”. Can I throw up now?
Give me a freaking break folks!!
I would really love to hear your take on this…..are they stupid, crazy, right, wrong?? What?? Leave your comment below….and read others’ opinions on twitter here.
Let me just say that 2009 thoroughly sucked. And when I say sucked….I mean….
Well, it just sucked, OK?
There were some really amazing things that took place, but their glory seemed to have been robbed by the actions of others, and other circumstances.
If this post were about me, I’d tell you all about it. But it’s not. It’s about you, The Church.
In 2010 though, you have shown me the beauty that lurks beneath the surface of the “Sunday crowds”. You’ve shown me that the beauty and love that exists there, far exceeds the darkness and destruction that we can periodically face there.
It’s so easy to let the stupid, careless, and selfish actions of others completely ruin our love for The Church. It’s so, so easy.
I’ve now found that it’s equally easy to see the beauty of the majority. If you want to see it.
I didn’t attend very many church services in 2010. I didn’t want to. I still don’t want to. But I have seen the unveiled hearts of the people in many local churches as they banded together to meet more needs than any of us could keep up with.
I did get to see liberals working with conservatives. Blacks working with whites. Men working with women. Teens working with elders. Denominations working with “nons”. And even churches working with the de-churched.
It has been remarkable. It hasn’t been about what church was doing what. It’s been about identifying needs and finding ways to meet them, no matter the cost. It has been nothing short of beautiful. Thank you all for showing me that I need not place a “church name label” on people who attend particular churches. I need only place a “family” label on members of The Church.
We don’t need more church services to change the world. I’ve always believed that. And you’ve proven it to me in 2010.
I won’t list everyone that has played a part in all of this, as I can’t keep up with them all. Nor is it about individual credit to any one person or organization. It’s just about saying thank you. Even though I won’t list anybody, you know who you are.
Thank you for showing me more of the heart of Christ. Thank you for bringing me closer to God. Thank you for helping me to judge less, and love more. Thank you for pushing me to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in my actions. Thank you for encouraging me when I wanted to quit. For pushing me when I wanted to slow down. Thank you for being my friends. And thank you for showing me that “The Church” is real, and very much alive.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2011.
This is great. In a few ways. It’s clever and funny. But it’s real. It’s real great. This is one of the reasons that I’m proud to call MPT my friend. I mean, we’re not bff’s or anything, but I did have coffee with him once. And I kick his ass at Words With Friends once every 32 games. Enjoy!
The following is an email that one of my friends sent me the other day. It wasn’t written to be read or discussed publicly, but once I finished it, I knew it had to be. I told him that I would publish it anonymously.
Church people often struggle to understand the “de-churched”. Even though the “de-churched” make up a significant part of today’s Church, they are often overlooked and have their entire faith questioned. You can’t deny it happens. But, is it right? Read what my friend has to say…..
wow, it’s every where and no one can or wants to see it, or is in complete denial, it works well with most humans in the community of faith, woe unto us who see the reality of homelessness, mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography; issues of morality at one time were real social issues of great importance to the church and people of faith, proving people do change with the times, even people who go to church, pretty much 100 percent of all the stuff Jesus did or said on the aforementioned subjects was so clear it’s blinding, although they do have some damn fine and impressive debt free facilities and do give gas cards in lieu of not giving contributions for needed actions that will help people. Pretty simple things that save peoples lives. What’s a life going for these days on the open market? Churches are in my less than sane opinion and worldly view personal experience a religious world created system of theistic beliefs, bureaucracies run by people locked inside a psychological mind set of a world that exist mostly within the four walls of the buildings, or humongous campuses built with cash as Earthly altars to God, of course God is money, so it makes sense. God by the way told me He could care less about your balance sheets or donations being down year to year, that’s an excuse. I respect some people want to stay tucked away from the scary world full of “those people” so they run to the suburbs and buy a ton of Glocks, then they give money to over seas missions and such, they do give money to St. Francis House, which is good though I don’t know how much or what it is for, I don’t know much these days except that people that run churches who identify with Christ have developed a bad vision problem. This may be a real chance to open up some of our local churches for the homeless, being you can count me soon to be there, all I know is to keep on fighting cause it is all black and white knowing God is own your side. Which can be Hell if he actually is not, my internet being on is a miracle. May God bless your work and continue blessing you Aaron. Always question authority. Unless it gets you fired from your paying job or you are independently wealthy. Go ahead anyway, the worse thing that can happen is always the ones that you think never will. Or is it just the other way around?
I’d love to know your thoughts…..if you dare!!! Leave a comment and let’s talk!
“Escape is never the safest path” – Pearl Jam, Dissident
More often than not, the fight is not our problem. Sometimes even the loss of the fight is not our problem.
Sometimes our propensity to escapism is our biggest enemy, and we may not even realize it.
Running is stupid. Yep, you read that right. I said running is stupid. I’m sorry if you an ultra-fit marathon freak who runs for lunch.
I don’t run. But, I’ve always been a runner. Instead of training for the Little Rock marathon, I’m actually learning how to not run. I want to be the best dang non-runner around.
Most of my life was spent running. Running from things. Escaping.
I will quickly pull off anything I can to avoid things that I perceive to be potentially unsafe, dangerous, or that may go against my plan and desires. I will fight, to avoid a fight.
Lies, passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance, denial, neglect….
Drinking, drugs, gambling, sex…..excess…
I would run, and fight twice as hard to avoid facing and resolving a much simpler dilemma. Doesn’t work. The run is typically more damaging than the initial fight would have been. The run takes me so far from where I want to be. The run removes me from everything that I actually need in that time.
It’s so often easier to screw up everything around us in an attempt to deter ourselves from what we have deemed unapproachable. We like to run. Divorce. Drugs. Prostitutes. Porn. Vodka. Tunica. Overtime. Friends. Family. Fishing.
The run kills us. The run kills our families. The run kills our everything. The run is a killer. But we run anyway. The run brings isolation. But we run anyway. Have you ever really gotten to know someone or grown closer to them while you were out on a run? Likely, no. Most people either run alone, or they have others around them but there just isn’t a lot of interaction going on. Mostly burning and sweating in the silence of isolation.
My run was meth. Oh, I’ve ran a lot of different ways…..but that was always my “go-to” run.
Drugs, just like most runs, actually compound the need to run. More conflict = more running.
More running = more problems = more running.
See, I told you running was stupid.
When I’m teaching on recovery and what it takes to completely and successfully step away from addictions, this is one of the biggest things I have to stress. Quit running. Quite simply, running can no longer be an option. Whatever you ran to, you don’t run to anymore. But even that is not enough. You have to determine to NEVER run to ANYTHING.
Escape is never the safest path. Nor is it the smartest, wisest, or even easiest. Rarely does it pay off.
Conflict can be embraced. It’s not a %&*#ing bad word. It’s not. The *#@?ing run should be a bad word. The run is a life sucking &!%#$(*!
We have to learn to fight well. Yes, that can be done. Jesus taught some of the best fighting techniques. We like to think He is some sissy little hippie who would never dare instigate a potential burst of violence. Wrong. You can’t read the gospels of Jesus Christ and not see that He is a walking time-bomb. He is a conflict driven badass. He is a warrior.
Some of the worst conflicts of my life, be it addiction or even my faith, have proven to be some of the most amazing things that I’ve experienced.
Conflict. What man intends for evil, God will ultimately use for good. Don’t be a runner. Running sucks.
Make up your mind that running is simply not an option, and watch what happens in your relationships, your career, in your checking account, and most notably in the way that you love/respect/feel about yourself.
Escape is NEVER the safest path.
(This post was first written for, and used by, Eikon Church in a series they were doing on confrontation)
I would say this is to everyone on earth, but not everyone on earth can read English. So…..since you can, it’s definitely written to you.
I’ve become a critical Christian @$$hole.
I don’t want to be that guy. Because that guy is poisonous. He is anything but a breeder of hope.
I’ve let two major situations in my life in the last year become excuses and motivators for harboring my unforgiveness and bitterness. I’ve blamed. I’ve shamed. I’ve even embarrassed myself with my poor attitude and insensitive behavior.
As he always does, Pete Wilson punched me straight in the heart yesterday via one of his latest podcasts.
Pete said something to the effect of, “It is unacceptable to blame anyone but yourself for your current spiritual health”……..that may not be exact but it’s close.
You know what? He was absolutely right.
Talk about a shot directly to the problem I’ve been facing. I’ve been trying to figure out why I couldn’t get over this “hump” in forgiving two men who I have been holding responsible for my poor spiritual health. I couldn’t seem to get over my anger and bitterness. I was continually blaming other people’s acts of “fraud” and malice for my anger with God as well.
Dear everyone – I’m sorry for being a critical jerk who continually pointed at the faults of others to make myself feel as though I wasn’t as far from God as I really was. Though I tried to fool myself, I know I never fooled you. Please forgive me.
Dear Lane, my amazing and beautiful wife- I’ll never understand how you have stood by me so many times and through so many things. Even when I recklessly put you in situations you never deserved to be in. I’m sorry that I have neglected our marital spiritual life and well-being. Few things could make me feel like a poorer husband. Thank you for loving me with grace and truth. Please forgive me for my lacking and sometimes non-existent spiritual leadership. I love you.
And God- Why does repentance have to be so hard? I guess so that we learn our lesson and try to avoid the same situations in the future, huh? I’ll never know how you continually pour grace on me. Even when I get so mad at you that I just might cuss you out. I know that you have brought me through “the valley”, and that you have better days ahead for me. Please humble me, that you might one day use me again to share your love and grace with the darkest places of earth. Please forgive me for continually screwing things up. It’s a good thing you’re God, because nobody else could handle your crazy job! ;) Please eradicate my life of the anger and resentment that I’ve stored away, in Jesus good name.
Ok, show’s over folks!!! What are you just sitting there looking at me for?? Go back to doing whatever it is you do!! :)