Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Missing the Best Because of Fear

God offered his best to Israel, a land of promise flowing with milk and honey. Maybe not a big deal to us today when you can pick up a gallon of skim at Walgreen's, but in a dry and tough land, a glass of milk and something sweet was about like Thanksgiving dinner every day. Israel was to have the best, the land designed for them, freely offered, abundant, and ready to take.

But, what kept them from the best God offered? They lost heart, they became afraid and gave up. Their spies came back and said, “Yes, it is just as God promised, look at the fruit we brought back. But, there are some big people there.”  The fear spread, they lost heart, and they gave up. The courage to take the next step evaporated.

God gave the best he had to someone else, a generation later. What did that next generation need to have God’s best, to fulfill their calling and have success? Their leader, Joshua, was told what they needed. More than once. Catch what God tells him three times:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-7, 9).

Getting the best God has for you, fulfilling your calling and dreams, depends on courage, on being strong. When our children lose heart and give up, they linger and languish in the deserts of life, like Israel. They don’t get the best God offers. What a terrible place to be, what a shame to sit and watch others live out the adventure of life that God intended for them. All, because of lost heart, the lack of courage to go for it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mojo or Nojo

Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside.” Marshall Goldsmith in Mojo, 2009. Goldsmith's list comparing “MOJO” and “NOJO” (no joy) looks a lot like the differences between a Braveheart and a child who has lost heart:

Take responsibility—Play the victim.
Move forward—Marching back.
Run the extra mile—Satisfied with the bare minimum.
Love doing it—Feel obligated to do it.
Appreciate opportunities—Tolerate requirements.
Make best of it—Endure it.
Inspirational—Painful to be around.
Zest for life—Zombie-like.

Goldsmith says that there are four building blocks for “mojo.”

1. Identity: Who do you think you are?
2. Achievement: What have you done lately?
3. Reputation: Who do people think you are?
4. Acceptance: What can you change and what is beyond your control.

These four “building blocks” are useful for helping build your own Bravehearts:

1. Identity: Know who they are in Christ, really.  ("The God whose I am and whom I serve.")
2. Achievement: Know their gifts, develop skills, and experience success (“Don’t do anything for a child he can do for himself.")
3. Reputation: Know that someone believes in them and that proven character brings opportunity.
4. Acceptance: Know God is in control and their part in His plan.

Click here for Goldsmith's blog at HBR

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"But You've Lived"

Madeleine L’engle asks if holding back our children, to keep them safe, is what we really want: “But do we want unmarked children? Are they to go out into the adult world all bland and similar and unscarred? Is wrapping in cotton wool, literary or otherwise, the kind of guidance we owe them?” Do we really want children who are safe but heartless, protected with padding we provide and shaded by the umbrella we carry over them, so they can watch the world happen?

L’Engle goes on to tell about what a different, and delicious, life her mother had:

"My mother lived a wild kind of life in her day. She may be a grande dame now, but in her youth she rode camels across the desert, watched ancient religious rituals from a Moslem harem, was chased by bandits down the Yangtze River. During one time of crisis, her best friend, who grew up as unscarred as it is possible to grow, came to offer help and sympathy, and instead burst into tears, crying, “I envy you! I envy you! You’ve had a terrible life, but you’ve lived!”

Don’t we want our children to have courage to live the abundant life God has for them?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Motivating Courage

"We have a biological drive.  We eat when we're hungry, drink when we're thirsty, have sex to satisfy our carnal urges.  We also have a second drive--we respond to rewards and punishments in our environment.  But what we've forgotten--and what science shows--is that we also have a third drive.  We do things because they're interesting, because they're engaging, because they're the right things to do, because they contribute to the world.  The problem is that, especially in our organizations, we stop at that second drive.  We think the only reason people do productive things is to snag a carrot or avoid a stick.  But that's just not true.  Our third drive--our intrinsic motivation--can be even more powerful."

"I think that our nature is to be active and engaged.  I've never seen a 2-year-old or a 4-year-old who's not active and engaged.  That's how we are out of the box.  And if you begin with this presumption, you create more open, flexible arrangements that almost inevitably lead to greater satisfaction for individuals and great innovation for organizations."  Daniel Pink in "The Great Cognitive Surplus," Wired, June, 2010.

Two Braveheart concepts in the article.  First, "Father's don't exasperate your children that they lose heart," Paul in Colossians Three.  Children only lose what they have; heart is hereditary, "how we are out of the box."  But we help them lose it, a loss so important that Paul warns us. 

Second, passion trumps.  While strength, skill, giftedness, and past experiences help to be a braveheart, the passion to do right things and change the world wins when facing fears.  Passion--for a purpose and from a conviction--is the why.  Feed and water passion.

Oh, one more.  What does "open, flexible arrangements" imply for boxes we build around our children?  Human growth and development says bigger boxes over time.  Room to grow.  Keep the box big enough to create mighty oaks, not trimmed Bonsais in cute containers.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Never the Same

Young David’s comment to King Saul about Goliath is a bold one, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” While we all appreciate David and his confidence in God, a courage that is exemplary, think for a moment about the other guys. They were looking for blankets to cover their heads.

“When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.” How many saw and fled? “All the men of Israel.” They all had the same opportunity as David, a chance to trust God, to show courage and be a braveheart. The opportunity to be rich, to marry the king’s daughter, and to be free was theirs. But they did not take it, they lost heart. Their courage crashed.

Why did they not try? They said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up?” Goliath didn’t change from XXL to Medium for David. He was still the same brute who taunted God’s men. But, David had courage. It could be that David was less afraid than others: he was young, and youth sometimes hasn’t lost as much heart as older folk. It could be he had more courage because he had beaten some wild animals and Goliath didn’t seem any worse. It certainly was that in his soul he believed God would deliver him. David had courage to seize the opportunity when others ran. And, his life was never the same. As our children become bravehearts and face fears, their lives will never be the same either.