Three Word Legacy


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

I’ve never been much of a funeral guy . . . not that anyone is. The first one I remember was for my father when I was a sophomore in high school. I’ve attended plenty since then, but not until my 40’s did I notice a distinct shift in my perspective.

Before 40, my dominant funeral emotion was numb. Aware of the sadness, but not overwhelmed because death seemed so far away.

Post 40, my emotional state changed. Possibly because I’ve attended funerals of people my age, but more likely because the idea of ‘legacy’ is now more of a priority for me. Sitting through these funerals, I catch myself wrestling with questions like . . .

  • What will my family say about me at my funeral? What about my friends?
  • Who will attend my funeral and why will they be there?
  • How do I want to make others feel when they are around me?
  • What do I value most and how am I living out those values daily?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the funeral for the mother of a family member. Even though I’d never met her, attending seemed like the right thing to do. My family member would have been there for me if the roles were reversed.

This funeral was unique as this lady suffered a stroke almost 30 years ago. She spent the past 30 years trapped in her temporary ‘earth suit’ . . . wheelchair-bound, with a limited vocabulary. It was said at the service that she was a “prisoner in her own body.”

As her grandchildren spoke and reflected on her life, they shared the words spoken to them most often during their visits . . . “I love you” and “Thank you.” Even with her physical limitations, she still let them know she loved them and was grateful for them. That is a legacy.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us “not to lose heart because while we are wasting away outwardly, we are being renewed every day” and to “fix our eyes on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary.”

Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is Thank You, it will be enough.”

Funerals are never events we hope to attend, but they can undoubtedly shape our perspective on eternity and remind us of the temporary nature of this life. After attending that funeral, here are some of the things I’m pondering. Maybe you’ll join me . . .

What are my eyes fixed on?

Am I allowing myself to be renewed every day?

Am I allowing the temporary circumstances I face every day determine the words that come out of my mouth?

If I could only speak three words or less, what would they be?

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There is Always Something You Don’t Know


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

A lot of us work somewhere that’s not ‘headquarters.’ Not ‘corporate.’ Not ‘the home office.’ That was me once. When the orders were handed down to us in the field, they sometimes seemed dumb. Out of touch with the real-world situation on the ground. I’d say, “What are they thinking up in the ivory tower?”

Then it happened.

I was promoted and transferred to corporate. One of my first tasks was complicated with all kinds of HR and union concerns . . . things I had no knowledge of a few weeks earlier. When the new instructions went out to the field, my phone lit up. “Regi, what are you thinking?” “It sure didn’t take you long to forget what it’s like out here.” “You’re just like the rest of them . . . out of touch and totally insensitive to the headaches you’re creating for us out here!”

My boss picked up on it. He took me aside and taught me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “There’s always something you don’t know.” In a lower-level job or a remote position, there are things people ‘upstairs’ know that you don’t. We never have the whole picture.

This same principle applies in everyday relationships. When your wife comes home acting cross and impatient, there’s something you don’t know. When someone races past then cuts you off in traffic, there’s something you don’t know. When your teammate turns critical and negative, there’s something you don’t know.

And when God doesn’t cause or allow things to work out the way you want them to, there’s something you don’t know. A lot of what we don’t know will never be known until we’re there with God in the next life.

Lean into what you do know. God is good, and God loves you. That’s really all you need to know.

The Difference Between Fathers and Mentors


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Fathers can be mentors, but mentors aren’t necessarily fathers. Mentors choose to mentor, but once a man becomes a father, he is always the father. I believe that’s why God chose the father-son paradigm to explain the relationship He wants with us. God as the permanent, perfect, never going away, never giving up, always giving and forgiving Father. And me, the beloved but immature son.

Because our role as a father is permanent and not optional, it’s easy to live it out unintentionally. To relax into routine, blindly replicating what our fathers did. Responding to our kids out of authority and arrogance versus love and understanding.

And it’s easy to take fathers for granted. Our kids get used to receiving the love we give and the way we give it. Over time, it’s routine. And invisible.

Mentoring is for a season. Fathering is permanent. Mentoring is usually around a goal, or a specific skill (i.e., I mentor to lead men toward God-centric lives.) Fathering isn’t specific. It offers opportunity and duty. It has no limits. It’s about finances, health, life skills, family responsibilities, and submission to authority.

As a father, mentoring is an ‘above and beyond’ opportunity. One of my greatest blessings was having my son in one of my mentoring groups. Stepping into the role of mentor helped us reframe our relationship into a more mature one. It added objectivity for both of us. It wasn’t just dear ol’ dad harping on something. It was group assignments where the value was apparent, and the whole group was involved. Looking at me, seated at the head of the table, facilitating the conversation and sharing my heart, he saw an older, wiser man who wanted to add value. Rather than a critical, meddling, overreaching dad trying to change his son.

This being a holiday week, offers an excellent opportunity for a check-up on our fathering work. Find a time to get each of your children off to the side and ask this question . . .

“Tell me three things I can do (or stop doing) to be a better father for you?”

Don’t argue. Don’t defend. If you ask questions, make sure they’re for clarification, not opposition. As soon as you can, get somewhere and write them down. Word for word. Next week, ask God to show you what He would have you know from this, and what He’d have you do with what you’ve been shown. Set some goals, put some to-dos on your calendar and follow through.

As you look at this feedback from your kids, look for opportunities to mentor. Think about what they are interested in learning or doing . . . areas where you might be able to mentor them.

Why Does a Man Need a Mentor


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

  1. Courage – Most of the time, men know the right things to do. Call it conscience, call it intuition, call it whatever . . . more often than not our challenge isn’t knowing what to do as it is mustering the courage to do it and live with the consequences. Which is why a man needs a mentor to stand behind him and say, “Hey, you’ve made a good decision. You’re on the right track!” “I’m proud of you.” “I love the Godly man you’re becoming.” This kind of encouragement propels a man who’s on the right track to stay on it . . . to go farther faster.
  2. Wisdom – Many of the decisions men wrangle with don’t have right or wrong answers. Some of them have consequences that will be felt by your children and your children’s children. Questions around marital fidelity and divorce, financial responsibility and debt, parents, in-laws, your children’s education, career progression and relocation of your family . . . ‘big stuff’ issues. A mentor, because of his age and experience, provides a source of wisdom that can’t be found anywhere else because he knows you. And he’s already made most of the decisions you’ll face himself at an earlier time in his life. Sometimes he made them well, sometimes he didn’t. But he has experience and that’s an important source of wisdom.
  3. Objectivity – We men get so intense, so proud, so focused, so “caught up” in what we’re doing, we lose sight of the bigger picture. When we have problems; at work, at home, at church, with the kids, with our siblings or in-laws, we sometimes struggle to see things clearly. A mentor offers a safe place to air it out . . . where we can unload and not be afraid of having things thrown back in our face. A mentor is someone who can listen, empathize, relate and commiserate with you. He’s going to ask you the questions you were too emotional to ask. He’ll ‘play the tape’ back to you, helping you sort out what’s important and what’s not, what’s fact vs. what’s emotion, and what are the likely outcomes of different decision alternatives.
  4. His network – As we make our way through life, we meet people from all kinds of industries, from all levels within the hierarchies of organizations, and people who perform all kinds of services. But it takes years for networks to become robust. Mentors enjoy tapping into their relationships to help the younger guys they mentor. It only cost them a little time . . . a quick email or phone call and a door is opened. And as the younger guy’s network gets wider and deeper faster, that empowers him to be a more helpful mentor as he starts to pay it forward.
  5. Loneliness – No matter how many golfing buddies, hunting buddies, or bowling buddies, when we get down to it, men are sort of lonely. When a man has a mentor, he’s got someone who has perspective on life’s questions. Mentors don’t have all the answers . . . no one does. And loneliness isn’t solved by countless hours of two humans being physically together. But it’s greatly relieved when a man knows that he has a mentor who cares about him. Knowing that his mentor is accessible; that he’s “safe” to talk with, and just knowing that someone is there who understands the deal makes the loneliness less lonely.

Scripture: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

What’s Unpacked Sometimes Unravels


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Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Imagine coming home one night and your wife of 20 years says she’d like for the two of you to get a prenuptial agreement. How would you react? “What’s going on?” “Is she getting ready to leave?” “Does she think I’m ready to hit the door?” Would be pretty tough wouldn’t it? Eventually, you could probably sort out the money and property . . . the ‘who brought what’ of the marriage. You might figure out what to do with the stuff you’ve bought together. And you might even be able to agree on how you’d manage your future finances, probably with separate accounts and a huge helping of complexity.

But the damage to the relationship would be done. Your trust would forever have an asterisk.

I’m a big believer in being transparent and dealing in facts. Don’t deceive me and if you really love me, don’t let me deceive myself. But there are some questions better left unasked once you’re married. The value of the answer is far less than the impact of asking the question. A few come to mind . . .

  • If I die first, will you remarry? Nobody can answer that question until they get there.
  • Tell me about your sex life before we were married? Nothing good comes from talking about sins of the distant past after you’re married.
  • Prove to me you’re a Christian. No one can prove their faith to another person. But putting them in this spot is like telling them to stand in the corner of a round room.

What’s my point here?

Big questions need to be asked early in relationships. My friend Dennis says, “Mist from the pulpit yields fog in the pews.” Clarity is critical before you get too involved.

Discussing how to handle your money and property should be done way before you get married! If we don’t share our pasts with our girlfriends and boyfriends before we get serious, we’ll always wear masks and have secrets to keep. If the person we’re interested in can’t do the same . . . can’t forgive and give grace, then they’re probably not who God wants for you anyway. On asking someone to prove they’re a Christian, it’s better to observe than to question someone’s faith. And those discussions need to happen well before there are entanglements of romantic love or business partnership.

My dad always told me, “curiosity killed the cat.” Sometimes it’s better to leave things alone.

Scripture: Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28

Are You a Human Being or a Human Doing


 

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Years ago, a good friend really handed it to me. He said, “When I see someone running as hard as you run, I wonder who he’s trying to please.” My friend didn’t wonder, “Is he trying to please someone?” He knew that answer. The question was who?

Most of us start out trying to please our dads. For some of us, that’s the who we’re chasing for the rest of our lives, whether we realize it or not. For years, each time I’d get a promotion or a raise, I’d call my dad before I’d call my wife. It took me a long time to uncover what that said about the most significant who in my life.

But after surrendering to God and ‘replacing’ my earthly father with my Heavenly Father, things changed. I released my dad from all my expectations; from all the things I wished he had been and done. I forgave him and accepted him just as he was for the rest of his life. But before long, I was driving just as hard as a sold-out Christian as I was before. Why?

The reality is, some of us make God our work. We make Him something we do. The church loves it because we fill all the volunteer jobs; fill the seats and the fill the offering plates.

But we miss what God really wants . . .

Relationship

Communion

Dependence

Worship

Gratitude

Love

Those things flow from the Holy Spirit living in our hearts when we stop being human doings and become human beings.

This week, spend time just being . . . with your family, with your friends, with yourself and especially with God.

Just as a soldier who takes on his day without having orders from his commanding officer could be in trouble, how then can we head out in the morning without first consulting Our King of Kings?

Instead of just charging out and doing, stop first to be with Him and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do today?”