written Thurs, posted Fri.
It is 11:50 PM, Thursday, July 14. I am sequestered in a nicely appointed log cabin somewhere near the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. It is an exceedingly long story as to why we are here, so rather than shorten a long story, I’ll just leave you in the dark. Don’t bump your knee on the nightstand.
Highlights of the day included journaling on the porch at 7 AM while the birds and squirrels fought turf wars in the trees above, hot tubbing with my three sons before breakfast, visiting a 120,000 square foot facility dedicated entirely to the sale of teddy bears, and discovering – much to Zion’s delight – that Converse does in fact make high top Chuck Taylor All Stars to fit his little stompers. Chuck Taylors are all the rage among my tribe, so now all the boys are sporting black ones – low tops for the older boys, and high tops for ZB.
We did a little bit of shopping late this afternoon. Kelsey is encouraging me to buy some shirts…I started to ask why, but was wearing my prized Kroger Vaccination Team 2003 shirt that I got at Maj-R Thrift last year. Increasingly, my Burning Man wardrobe migrates to the regular wardrobe. Anyway, it’s difficult for me to buy clothes because I am growing old and set in my ways. I only wear about four colors, two of which are black. I didn’t realize how much black I wore until one of our interns asked me “do you wear the same shirt every day?” (The answer is no. I have a myriad of black shirts.) I did find one shirt and a sleeveless sweater. The sweater is black and shirt matches nicely.
This evening we sat around the table and played Yatzee, a game that Jackson quickly announced is “just like poker, but with dice.” Not exactly true. Good Christians don’t play poker. We do play Yatzee. There are two schools of Yatzee thought…the roll, stare, analyze, agonize and reconsider school, and the roll, make a snap judgment, and roll again school. Kelsey and Jackson attended the former while Grayson and I are graduates of the latter. Tonight, our school trumped their school.
As the boys sleep in the loft of this gorgeous cabin and Kelsey pours over her Revelation commentary, I’m reflecting back on leadership lessons and things that God is speaking directly to me. Not many months ago someone prophesied that I would have a backbone like a rod of iron. I remember thinking “great – I want to be known as a person of principle.” I should have listened more closely, because what looks like a rod of iron to me often looks like a corncob to others.
First, I’m learning that fortitude on my part is often misinterpreted stubbornness. I do know the difference though, and in knowing the difference, I stand undeterred. I keep going back to a God-encounter I had some years ago on a commuter plane between Cincinnati and Memphis. High over Kentucky, I looked down and saw a large lake with a jagged shore. Most people had built their houses on a bay, near others, sheltered from the storms. One person built their house on a point that jetted far out into the lake. They were surrounded by water on three sides, and the strip of land that connected them back to the mainland was less than a hundred feet wide. I remember thinking “What would make someone build a house there?” and then thinking about how that person would see storms and endure a certain loneliness that the others in the bay would not. In that moment, the Lord spoke to me very strongly: “You were made to live on the point. You will see storms far ahead of others, endure the brunt of them like others will not, and enjoy a view that cannot be seen by those who remain on the bay.” What I did not anticipate (or He conveniently failed to tell me at the time) was that the bay dwellers – who were just as much in obedience to the Lord living there as I was on the point – would stare at my house and scratch their heads, wondering if I’d lost my rocker. The beauty of living on the point is that I’ve rarely taken notice of their reactions…but when I do, I’m always sort of shocked.
Second, I am developing a growing disdain for consensus, because it too quickly deteriorates into mob rule. I’ve been reading in Acts a lot lately and I’m intrigued by passages like Chapter 14, where the residents of Lystra go from declaring Paul and Barnabas to be embodiments of Greek Gods to stoning Paul, all within five versus. Key to that is verse 19: Some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. Never cast your fortune in with the whims of the crowd. You’re never as good (or as bad) as they’re telling you that you are. The same ones who cheer you in one setting will stone you the next. Ministry leaders who fail to lead from their personal center end up leading from the will of the crowd – eschewing terra firma for terra indicisia. They abdicate leading in favor of opinion gathering.
Finally, I am learning that bohemianism is not necessarily synonymous with asceticism and while they may coexist, they are not codependent. Consider that sentence part of that rod-of-iron deal – I fully know that none of you have a clue what I meant and yet I don’t give a flip.
Hope you’re feeling as rested and centered reading this as I am writing it. Shalom.