This REALLY Happened!

Say it like you mean it!

There is some wisdom in “fake it till you make it.” Would you join me in providing proof this Thanksgiving?

John Wesley, the father of methodism, struggled in his early years to find assurance of salvation. His worked harder than most at the spiritual disciplines hoping to find peace with God, yet it laude him at everry turn. Finally, after seeing a band of Moravianswas and being deeply impressed with their assurance, he asked. Them how he might find the same.

“Preach it till you have it,” they told him, “then you will preach it because you have it.”  Fake it till you make it. Or, if this sounds better, sometimes our feelings follow our actions rather than the other way around.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope yours is wonderful. However, most of us are in for some level of disappointment. We too often cook up grand ideas of how this year everything will be better than it ever has been.

This year, tomorrow, I invite you to join me in an effort to put expectations where they belong: on myself. Tomorrow I expect ME to speak gratitude. I will recognize and voice what I am thankful for, no matter what happens for which I am not thankful.

If I don’t feel grateful first thing out of bed, I will by the end of the day, because my feelings will follow my words.

Are you with me?


Met a friend for lunch the other day.  He paid, as I was “the new guy in town.”  (Anyone else in the area want to buy lunch for the New Guy in Town”?) As we ordered, he struck up a conversation with the cashier, who also happened to run the restaurant.

Later, during our meal, she stopped by and asked if he wanted a refill on his drink, because, as she said, “I can’t stand to see you without a drink.”

My cup was, actually, emptier than his, and less than 6 inches away from it.  I was not offered a refill.

I sat there in stunned silence.  Should I have said something?

I am a middle-aged white male.  I am not used to being among the overlooked.

I wonder how many people I leave feeling the same way.  Hopefully when it happens it does not happen in the context of me showing favoritism to someone else at the same table.


Grace, in a nutshell

The model of care employed by Methodist Children’s Home is called Trust-Based Relational Intervention. We are learning and enacting this model with the help of TCU’s Institiute of Child Development.

An important part of this model of care is the “re-do.”  following up an inappropatie behavior with an appropriate alternative helps one develop the experience, conscious and sub-conscious, of doing things appropriately.

Sometimes we child-care workers balk at giving our kids a second chance.  Sometimes we feel like they should have learned by now.  Some of them are 18 years old, after all!

Almost every pay period I get a call from my supervisor reminding me to fill out my records for the past two weeks because it is time to do payroll again.  Not once has my supervisor failed to give me another opportunity to get paid.

Each time I go into the software, I tell myself that I can remember this on my own.  “I will keep up with this for the next two weeks,” I coach myself.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

I am grateful that my supervisor keeps giving me these reminders.  For all I know, his supervisor may sometimes have to remind him.

I beleive the “re-do,” or “do-over” or second chance is exactly what God’s grace for us is about. We all fail the first time.  Most of us fail again and again.  God knew this!  Jesus’ offer of life to us is not dependent upon us finally getting it right, but rather on the love and grace of a “re-do.”

As long as you keep needing an occasional re-do, please keep offering the same to others.

Humiliation in Youth Ministry

Had a discussion the other night about what we’d be militant about.

I’m pretty laid back, and wouldn’t get militant over much.

But then I thought of it.

I am militantly opposed to humiliation in the name of youth ministry. Do you know what I mean?

Like those times on retreats or mission trips, when someone loses his or her nametag? Humiliation in youth ministry says they should be made to sing or dance in front of everyone to earn to back.

That kind of thing will never again happen if I am at the event.

Had it happened to me as a youth, I would have left the church. I’ve talked to at least one person who left the church more than a decade ago for such a reason.

If you think the solution is that people should just grow thicker skin, perhaps you should read the gospels again.

Are you with me?

Customer Service

What do you do when you can’t sleep?  Sometimes I surf. Surf the web, in case there was any doubt. This morning I came across this bit about customer service at  It is titled “10 Companies Americans love to hate.”

It reminded me of a customer service call I made yesterday.  I won’t identify the company.  The automated answerer picked up, gave me enough information to assure me I had dialed correctly, then placed my in a holding pattern.

I didn’t wait too long – a minute, perhaps 2.  But when I got a human on the other end, this is what I heard: “Hello, this is Millie, may I help you?”

All of which was great, except that Millie spoke with a tone of voice that left me thinking I ought to offer to help her.  She spoke sadly and slowly; did you know there was a female Eeyore in customer service?

My first thoughts were all about how the company I had called is losing it and they shouldn’t even be open any more if this is what they offer up as customer service.

Instead of saying this, of course, I shared my issue with Millie, and she slowly asked a couple of (reasonable) questions to be sure she understood what I had told her.  She then asked if I would mind being put on hold while she checked into it.  I said no, and waited.

I hadn’t caught what I would suggest as the perfect customer service personality, but I got my question(s) answered promptly and without difficulty.

The process included me remembering that on the other end of the phone line there happened to be another human being.

Since the way people treat people is a big part of my calling and passion, I will continue to assess every customer service; in fact, almost every conversation, for how interaction and relationship happen.

But I’ll also try and remember that, much as I prefer a human to a machine on the other end of the phone line, too many of us are far too fast to check our own humanity at the dial tone when we feel we have been wronged.

Want good customer service?  try being a good customer.  It won’t always fix everything, but it will make your day better, and, in turn, probably that of several others.

Is Your Church Google or Microsoft?

Ok, so there are myriad ways Google and Microsoft can be compared.  For now, stay with me.

Joel Spolsky paid a visit to both campuses and reported in INC. Magazine. He points out that Wi-Fi service is available at both places.  At Google, it is free, and available everywhere. At Microsoft it is free, but you have to register with a plethora of personal information, in return for which you receive a temporary password.

Spolsky summarizes the difference this way:

I found it interesting that someone at Microsoft thought that it was important to control how guests use the Wi-Fi network and created a whole complicated system of registration and a nice four-color brochure, while the person with the same job at Google just decided to make the Wi-Fi free and open. Presumably that person at Microsoft was very convinced that all kinds of chaos would ensue if guests just willy-nilly connected their laptop computers to the Internet. And yet Google proves that no such mayhem actually occurs.

I couldn’t help but think about how user-friendly or visitor-friendly some churches are, and some churches aren’t.

If access to the gospel were Wi-Fi, would your church be more like Google or Microsoft?