Monday, July 28, 2014

The Pictures in My Office

Every day I come in to my office, I am inspired by some pictures that I chose to hang up for a very specific reason. 

This first pic is of George Washington praying at Valley Forge.  It reminds me every day to never underestimate the power of prayer. It reminds me every day that I am totally dependent upon God. It reminds me that our enemy would want nothing more than for me NOT to pray. Someone once said "A prayer less life is a powerless life." I want to be a person of prayer. 

This next picture is of my family. Everyday I walk in to my office with the reminder that nothing is more important to them ... that when I'm tempted to stay later than I should, I have a beautiful wife and 4 adorable kids waiting at home for me. I am reminded that a strong family is the backbone of any community and I can help strengthen our community and our church by pouring in to my family. And, honestly, there are times when I'll just stop what I'm doing and look at this picture and remind myself how blessed I truly am. 

This is Abraham Lincoln, of course. This picture was taken after several years of leading the country through the Civil War had taken it's toll on him. Yet, something interesting about Abraham Lincoln ... he rarely, if ever, refused a visitor. He always made time for people, no matter what he was doing or how he was feeling. It reminds me that no task is greater than a person and if the leader of United States during the Civil War can find time for people, oh my goodness, so can I. I long to have a caring heart for people and to do my best to help others feel loved and valued.

This is Jerome Bettis running in a game against the Chicago Bears. This was a defining game for the Steelers who were playing, if I'm not mistaken, an undefeated Bears team at the time. Bettis wasn't the starter that year. But, in that game, he became the "go to" guy and had one of the best games of his Hall of Fame career. I love that it's snowy and muddy and sloppy and yet he's getting it done. I am inspired by his determination and am reminded to run hard.

This is a picture of soldiers getting off of boats on D-day and storming the beaches. I simply cannot imagine the courage that it would take to do that! This picture reminds me that courage isn't the absence of fear, but it's walking through the fear. It also reminds me to be incredibly grateful for "the greatest generation" and to never forget that many have gone before me.

This is Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception. It reminds me to never give up and to always try to do more than is expected of me. Franco was able to catch the ball because he was doing more than was expected of him. He had a certain assignment on the play and was supposed to block someone. When there was no one to block, he just ran toward the ball ... did more than he had to do ... and the rest is NFL history.

This is Dwight Eisenhour addressing troops before D-day.  This picture is incredibly inspiring to me and reminds me to speak encouragement to others and to seek to gain influence in the lives of others and to pour courage in to others as best as I can. 

All of these pictures are a near daily reminder to focus on who I want to be and not necessarily what I want to do. I need these reminders and I'm thankful to have them in my office. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

No More Selfies

I was able to perform a wedding this past weekend for a great couple, Ryan and Emily. They are amazing volunteers in a youth ministry and a very special couple that my wife and I have really come to enjoy and love. During the ceremony, I read the goals Ryan and Emily have developed for their marriage. One of their goals was to have a "sense of humor" in their marriage. So, I decided to put that to the test during their wedding ceremony and I asked them if I could do something I've never done before during a wedding ... take a "selfie."  It was a fun, spontaneous moment that went over really well during the ceremony and got lots of laughs.  But, I really wanted to try to drive home a point with the selfie that I tried to explained to them. 

You see, marriage is not about "selfies." Marriage is about being selfless. It's not that there is anything wrong with a selfie, but a selfie, by definition, is all about "me." Look at what I'm wearing. Look at what I'm doing. Focus your attention on me. But, when you're married, your life is no longer a selfie. The more you focus on you, the more you will get in the way of a great marriage. As you can see in the picture, my selfie comes between Ryan and Emily. My big, ole head is in the way of their relationship. The same thing happens in marriage. In my marriage, when I am focused on myself ...  what I can get, what I want or what I don't want ... the more I am worried about myself, the more I will get in the way of our marriage relationship. A selfie will focus the attention on me. Marriage should focus the attention on the other person. 

When I said "yes" to Carol, I was in essence saying "no" to every other person on the planet ... including myself. It is a whole lot easier to focus on me than it is to focus on anyone else. But, for marriage to be all that God intends for it to be, I must learn to crucify my selfishness and give myself up for Carol in the same way that Christ gave Himself up for the Church. (Ephesians 5:25).  It's difficult, and I unfortunately fail often, but a great marriage is not something you find, it's something for which you fight. You fight for it. You work hard for it. You battle for it.  I am to place my wife's needs before my own which means I must at times confront and at times forgive. I must at times sacrifice and at other times pursue. It's not easy in any way, but boy does the hard work pay off greatly! 

If you're married, let me encourage you to forget about the "selfies" because your selfie will always get in the way of your marriage. Ask yourself what is the best way you can serve your spouse this week and then go do it in a selfless way ... not looking for recognition ... not even looking for reward. But, simply looking to be selfless. 

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