We burn entirely too much energy and each other’s time commiserating over bad bosses. We are all best served by remembering the great ones and what it is about them that makes us better for knowing them. When we take the time to puzzle out what makes for a great boss, we have the path marked for becoming that sort of boss…or leader…ourselves.
Last week, I discovered a piece on great bosses by seminary dean and leadership writer Chuck Lawless. In a bit, you will read his 10 characteristics he puts forward as common in his personal experience of top ten leaders.
First though, after i took some time myself, thinking back on what was it about the great bosses I had that distinguished them above all others.
Here are my 10 Characteristics of Great Bosses, in no particular order:
They were trustworthy. We knew they had our back…always.
They had consummate integrity. They were consistent in attitude and action no matter the audience. Even under intense pressure, whatever it cost them, they stood their ground for what mattered.
They showed faith in me and each of us on the team. Not just to get the job done but to do it as only I/we could.
They (those male leaders) didn’t treat us women differently. In fact, if they ever did seem to treat us differently, the great ones modeled a valuing of what the women brought to the conversation. Great leaders never diminished us, either overtly or covertly.
They showed genuine care, even fondness, for us. They didn’t just spend their best time and energy on work meetings outside our team. They actually carved time out with us as a team for seemingly the sheer joy of it.
They gave us a voice in the decision-making…especially as it related to our particular work and how we thought it should be done.
They knew us well enough to call us on our own character stuff. It was never just about the work, the project, the product or service. It was about our own growth.
They kept a sense of humor and regularly brought perspective. This wasn’t just about lightening the mood; this was about returning our thinking to the bigger picture, the greater good.
They provided opportunities for each of us to keep growing and developing professionally.
They pushed us in meaningful ways toward a shared vision…to keep our focus and stay on track.
That’s my 10 in looking back to the many great bosses…invaluable leaders…I’ve had in my career.
Dr. Lawless’ 10 Common Characteristics are these (go to his article for helpful commentary on each).
They know Christ. – (his article was to a Christian audience. Still, many consider Jesus of Nazareth the greatest leader who ever lived.*)
They continually dream about what’s next.
They trust the team they’ve enlisted.
They take care of their team.
They read present-tense reality well.
They get a lot done while still taking time off.
There is no pretense in them.
They know the organization is bigger than they are.
Whatever experience we have had with great bosses or those not so much, we can learn from them. I was glad to have Dr. Lawless’ prod to look back on the leadership in my own life. It was remarkable how both great bosses and bad ones hang in our memories. One day I might write about the bad ones – and I have stories… Today, I just want to think about them with compassion, figuring they didn’t get to that place without being negatively influenced somewhere along the way.
As for those great bosses…the ones who lead brilliantly, with genuine care and provision for those who work under them…here’s to you. May we learn from you, follow hard after you, and not be shy to show our own appreciation and consideration for you as well.
In closing, I would love to hear about some of your great bosses… those leaders in your lives that stand out in your memory (or present experience). Please comment below. Feel free to tell stories or give tributes. We can celebrate together!
1) Women of Influence – I have been extraordinarily blessed all my life with the presence of women of influence. Many I have known personally. The list would be long if I wrote out the names of all those who come to mind right now. You know who you are to me. Women who, in their own ordinary lives, shake foundations and raise up all around them to a higher plane of life. Today, I want to name three women who are very very different from each other. I do not know them personally, nor do I agree with everything they say… but they have caused me to think.
Karen Swallow Prior is an English professor, a writer, and a Christian activist. I feel like I know her through her Facebook and Twitter pages. She is as real to me as a friend would be. As brilliant and articulate as she is, I am sure we could have a conversation on difficult issues without losing each other in the process. Recently, she was hit by a city bus while walking and miraculously lived to write about it. In her forced convalescence at home over the next months, I’m thinking we will learn much from her alone time…with God and through her reflections.
These are very public figures. They use their renown to influence in the positive. We all know other women of influence – working in refugee camps, in the classroom, in research labs, in neighborhoods, and those aging ever so gracefully before us – who make a difference in quieter yet profound ways.
2) Incredibles 2 on Classical Guitar – When the film The Incrediblescame out in 2004, our kids were all in high school. The film follows the adventures of a superhero family trying to have a normal life while subduing bad guys. 14 years later and its much-welcome sequel opens this weekend. Note I didn’t say much-anticipated, because the first film appeared to be a stand-alone after all these years.Photo Credit: Gizmodo
[Have you considered being a patron of Nathan’s part of his support community? Creating music takes concentrated time and to do it for a living takes a team of folks who love what he’s doing and want to help keep it happening. Here‘s where you can find out more.]
3) Suicide Prevention – To go to such a dark place mentally that suicide seems the only way out must be a terrifying, deeply lonely experience. There was a time in my own life that the pressures of life mixed with emotions I couldn’t seem to control pulled me in that direction. Fortunately, nothing happened, and with God’s help and that of my family and friends (without them even knowing what was going on), the darkness broke.
We are living in an age of loneliness where social media and superficial gatherings give the facade of community, but not its reality. Truly watching out for each other and touching base, especially, with those who live more solitary lives is life-saving.
Talk Saves Lives. We can’t just assume we know what helps prevent suicide. Let’s get educated and lean in to those most vulnerable.
Resources abound. Each of us can do something to turn the tide.
4) Fathers – This Sunday is Father’s Day in the US. We all have had a dad in some capacity or another. The impact of their lives continues with us through ours…either steering us along the same course or moving us to take a very different one. I’ve written a bunch about fathers and fathering.
5) Hard Redeemed – Anybody in our lives knows I’ve had a couple of hard weeks…those come and go, like for all of us. The ability to weather relational and situational heaviness is galvanized by those who come alongside. Including and especially God Himself who has been there for any and all who walk with Him…through the ages.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” – Joseph – Genesis 50:20
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! – Romans 8:38-39
The hard of these several days is still with me but so are those who walk alongside. Friends, family, community…God himself.
What an amazing blessing are folks who reach out – like a friend, across the ocean, whom I haven’t seen since 2002. Or the friend who gave me this upbeat life-affirming little song Dream Small.
Graduation. Moving from student to employee. It’s an exciting time, riveted with possibility and weighty decision-making.
[Yep…our kids, one by one entering their next season of life.]
As parents, we hope, first off, that our children secure jobs in their field, in this competitive and changing workforce. Given that, it would be lovely for them to be in a company or organization where they can thrive and grow.
Work-life writer Simon Sinek and organizational psychologist Adam Grant have addressed this issue – this issue of looking for employers who genuinely care about their employees and invest in them. Photo Credit: Aspen Ideas Festival
It’s definitely something to consider as our graduates are applying for jobs. This pursuit of an employee-friendly employer should continue throughout our professional lives. At the end of our careers, who we are as people and what we were able to accomplish in work will be strongly impacted by our employers. Think about it.
In their talk, Wang writes, these two workplace thought leaders talked about the out-dated leadership value of customer always trumping employee. If in bottom line thinking, employees are under-valued and under-utilized, eventually the product, service, and customer will also suffer. To me, that is just common sense…and, to hear Sinek and Grant, that workplace scenario is changing.
For the new graduate (and any one of us looking for that future employer), two ideas are offered as telling of company values and leadership philosophy:
Ask the interviewer if they LOVE their company. Not like but love. See what their response reveals.
Ask the interviewer to tell a story about something “that would only happen at that company”.
How would you adapt these two ideas?
Even before the job interview, we can learn clues on the culture through the messaging on the company’s website and social media. What matters to those in charge? What is clear or not so much about employee engagement?
We are living in the early aftermath of many days of rain and the threat of flooding. For some it was worse than for us. It was nothing compared to the flooding we’ve seen in other parts of the country.Photo Credit: WikimediaPhoto Credit: 403rd Wing
Still, for us, it was a quick study on what it must be for others who experience such a crisis and its aftermath. In small measure, but same lessons.
Our basement is both a storage space and living area. We, in fact, do a lot of life there…with friends and grandkids. The storage consists of 1) boxes of our memorabilia from our years of travel and our children’s growing up, and 2) boxes of stuff from my Mom’s estate, given to us but as yet unboxed…until now.
When we discovered water coming into our basement from an over-saturated yard, on Friday night, we had to act fast or we don’t know how high it would have risen. Dave, our youngest son, and I began the work of dealing with a relentless flow of water into spaces it wasn’t welcome. Our son-in-law and older son came and we worked for hours attempting various diagnostics and maneuvers to stop the water and hold it back. It was exhausting work. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, the water stopped coming in.
[My husband was supposed to have been at a work conference far from home, but other circumstances kept him here. You can imagine how thankful I am that he was home for all of this.]
When the rain stopped, we began the drying out process…and the cleanup. The work of making our basement into the friendly, happy space it was is almost disorienting. Hard to know where to start.
It will all happen. We are so fortunate. Now, more than before, we have an inkling of understanding of what others have gone through suffering tremendous crisis…like losing their furnishings and more in a flood.
In a quiet moment since Friday night, when we were taking a break, we marveled at what happens in human response to crisis. I’ve participated in crisis management throughout my career, and in our microcosm experience this weekend, we saw those practices at work…without even thinking about it.
Who Is Involved in a Crisis Response?
1) Crisis manager – the person in charge; the one running the crisis response; the one who knows what’s happening where and has all that in his head
2) Secondary managers – the persons who could be in charge but are working themselves on a piece of the operation
3) Frontliners – those with or without crisis manager skills but who have a piece of the response; the ones counted on to persevere in their tasks until they’re told to do something else.
4) Supply Line – the ones who by the nature of their skillset (or lack thereof) or physical ability who support all the above – the “go-fers”, the bringers of food, water, tools, encouragement. These, like the crisis manager, have the purview of the whole crisis and how each person is responding. They also, because they don’t have the stress of leadership, may see more clearly the toll on the individuals. They influence by alleviating stress through the supply line or by stating need to the manager (for rest or relief for frontliners, for instance).
5) Lastly, the Persons in crisis – they may very well be a part of the above, as was our situation. They carry the brunt of the crisis and its longer term impact. They also may not have capacity to respond to the needs of those around them, also in crisis [this was hard for me personally, knowing others we loved also having water issues.]
Crises show what we are made of, but they also show us our capacity and our potential. We’ve all responded to crises. What did we discover about ourselves? Sometimes we hesitate to respond to crises because of past negative or difficult experiences. Yet, we see those, who become our heroes, run (not away from danger but) into danger for someone’s sake. Every single time. Photo Credit: GeauxGuard
How do we become more like them in responding to danger (or crisis)?
We see the possible outcome as greater than the cost.
We build capacity by continuing to stay open to the smaller daily crises of each day (this helps me).
We learn from our heroes – not just about courage but about skillsets and thinking and even community-building.
We lean on each other, and (if you will) on God in crisis. All we can do ourselves is not always enough. Being in community and keeping our faith in a living God help us endure crisis and manage it, helping others.
It is much easier for me to write these thoughts than to do the next round of clean-up. All the wet cardboard went out this morning with our recycling. Now it’s what do I keep and where do I put it…Stuff. There is our treasure and there is stuff meant to be someone else’s treasure…none of it should stay forever in cardboard boxes.
The real crisis is over. The fatigue and “let-down”* will pass. The best part of it all was the human part. To work into the night with family who love each other willing to drop what they were doing and come. Working together, even though we are all people of strong opinions; dropping that for the sake of the work and each other. This was, for us, the greatest impact and power of this crisis. We are grateful.
The dances are fun to watch and feature a wide range of music. Nathan’s classical guitar renditions are uniquely beautiful. My favorite of the dance/music combinations on this video are Bluegrass, a polka or Russian dance, a pop oldie, and a Rock finale (where Nathan brings out his electric guitar!!). Enjoy!
2) Spring Rain – We’ve had a fairly dry Spring in Richmond, Virginia. What this means for allergy-sufferers is the barrage of tree pollens that make being outside insufferable. The yellow blanket on all surfaces this time of year could use a good washing.Photo Credit: Charlotte Observer
This week, finally, the rain came. As happens with rains in our part of the world in May, all of nature seems to push up, greener and more vivid. We can all breathe deep the freshness of the air and the beauty around us. For me, the sound of rain is as glorious as its visual aftermath. We don’t live where flash flooding is a problem, so I do want to remember that days and days of rain isn’t happy for everyone. Still, it is a welcome respite from the hot dry days of late Spring in Richmond.
From there, I discovered The Common Rule website and Facebook page. Subscribed, subscribed, subscribed. Justin focuses on habit formation towards love. He has really useful helps on his website and through his email subscription. I am on it!
4) Andy Crouch on Shame – Author Andy Crouch has written an essay on how our culture has changed. For most of our history as a country, we have been a guilt-based culture. By that, I mean we measured ourselves and others as being “right or wrong” in our thinking, choosing to do right or wrong. This is how we raised our children. We determined not to measure our children up against (compared with) other people, but to raise them up with a standard of right living and making right choices (for us, it was based on the Bible…on the teachings and life of Jesus). “Right” was not legalistic or moralistic; “right” was loving, kind, serving, non-judgmental.
Only in recent years has our culture been moving toward more of a shame-based view on life. Here the difference is how our character and behavior reflects on a larger community (“how others see us”). This is somewhat different from the traditional shame-honor culture. In that culture, honoring your family, country, religion was all-important. If your behavior did not comply with those values, you were shamed, even ostracized.Photo Credit: The Rise of Shame in America, Honor Shame
Today’s American culture has definitely moved away from a guilt orientation. We hear it all the time in statements like “Well, that may be OK for you.” “You have the right to believe that way.” “Don’t try to put that guilt on me.” However, our culture is not moving toward the traditional shame society, but more a shame-fame culture. Fame over honor. Social media has driven this in recent years. We want to be “seen” a certain way. In fact, a young colleague of ours once said, “It’s my job to make you look good.” I was shocked at that. One, “looking good” was not even on my radar. Either I was good (competent, responsible, dependable, etc) or I wasn’t. It demonstrated the culture shift and generational disconnect.
The shaming still happens in our culture. Children can be shamed for not behaving in ways that make their parents look good. Public shaming of people who don’t agree with each other can be as brutal as real ostracism. And so it goes.
I miss the guilt culture. Where, whatever your religion or political ideology, you could tell the good guys from the bad guys. Or maybe we were naive, but I hope not. Today, it seems all about how we portray ourselves…how we are received by those that matter to us.
Sigh…any thoughts? Please.
[Don’t forget to return and read Andy’s essay and David Brooks’ review of Crouch’s essay and this whole social phenomenon.]
5) Wonder – we are surrounded by the wonderful. The older we get, the more the losses and hardships of life push in on our experience of wonder. Children, and especially grandchildren, help us with that. They fill our storm-dampened sails. I am so thankful we live in the same city as our children. When we have time with them, we stand a little taller, walk a little lighter, and wonder comes home to nest. Just last night, while our daughter and I were having a visit with an old friend, Dave elected to play with our little granddaughter. Off they went (not sure who was more excited). After the visit, daughter and grand-daughter headed out into the night, with “Bye…love you” resounding out of the back window. A tiny hand waving…
Dave was full of wonder. He marveled at how they read the whole hour. How a two-year-old could be that captured by stories! Maybe she was also in her own world of wonder, in the company of a granddad who loved her.Photo Credit: Pixabay
Hard to say, especially as a grandparent, who (in image below) is helping who…more.Photo Credit: Pixabay
Wonder is not just bound up in a child. It is all around us, in God’s own nature and his created nature. In all of us, bearing His image. Not just children, but everyone. I’m struck lately with how strong, and resilient, and persevering, and sharp most of the older adults are in my life. They are my heroes. Even when the mind and body weaken, life itself…the gift of life in all its forms and capacities…is a wonder.
Again, happy Friday! Hope yours is a rain-refreshed but not flooded weekend! [Edit: Have I got a story to tell for another day – It’s Friday night and the rain ceased to be refreshing hours ago – praying it stops!]
[Please share your own favorites or thoughts on above in the Comments. Much-appreciated.]
Feedback’s a good thing, right? We all want to know how we’re doing…how we’re being received?…maybe. Let’s define the term:
“Feedback is a response from the receiver that informs the sender how the communication is being received in general”. – Bizcom_coach
Here’s a scenario: excitement is high at your company with the launch of a new product. The designers and project managers have put long hours and much brain power into getting everything just right. Colleagues and customers alike are riding the wave of enthusiasm at the magnificent capabilities of the product. You’re also caught up in the moment.
In your first test drive of the new product, you find a couple of glitches you didn’t expect. In fact, it’s a little harder to maneuver than you imagined. At first you think, “Well, it’s me. Operator error.” Then you think of how a few adjustments could potentially fix the glitches and smooth out of the bumps of its user unfriendliness.
Beware of the vast wilderness of unsolicited feedback.
It’s not like this product (or program or service) was thrown together without great forethought and brilliant design. If you noted the glitches, it is most probable that others have as well. Others, who are much closer to the product than you are…much closer to its design process than you were.
A wise position to take is: If you are not asked for feedback, your feedback is not wanted. Or, a bit less personal maybe, if you are not in the already established feedback loop, then the presumed right people are already working on it. The it being whatever you’re burning to give feedback on.
Feedback and advice can mean the same thing to the receiver, whether we consider them the same or not. In fact, we may feel it’s irresponsible or indefensible to withhold feedback when it would assuredly help both the company and the customer.
Where we think feedback is warranted, the project manager or design team may have already reached a point in the process where advice is not welcome. Affirmation? Yes…but advice (or feedback), no.
Whatever our position, expertise, or personality, we will, at times, see the need for offering feedback…even when it’s clearly unwanted.
I certainly have had that experience. One has to ask the question: Is my feedback serving my own ego or my company’s outcome? If we truly believe that what we offer to the mix will make a huge difference, then we may risk offering unsolicited feedback.
There was a time…even as recently as last week, when I thought the reward would outweigh the risk. My thinking has changed (especially in seeing that feedback could be construed as a form of negativism and therefore only clouding the issue rather than clarifying it.
I offer 10 steps toward giving unsolicited feedback. Within the 10 steps there are disciplines and delays that help fine-tune both our thinking and our actions. I would appreciate your thoughts on this…your feedback (in the Comments below).
Pretend you are the project manager, the one executing the new program, product line, or service.
Tear into it. Make as exhaustive a list as you can as to both the positive and negatives you observe.
Now…set it aside…for a few minutes, or days, or forever (this is a bit tricky because feedback should be timely…but we’re talking about unsolicited feedback).
Face the reality that your feedback wasn’t requested. Let that settle your itchy finger set to send the email.
If you still can’t rest, thinking your input has merit, then choose wisely what few points of feedback you especially think would add value and warrant the risk. No more than 3.
Don’t do anything…still.
Consider who may already be at the table giving feedback. If you are not one of those people, can you trust that your concerns are already before them?Photo Credit: Commons Wikimedia
Resist the urge to gossip your feedback if you don’t feel free to give it to those appropriate to receive it.
If you can’t rest, (even while determined to trust other decision-makers and keeping your unsolicited feedback to yourself), then choose one point, one concern. Make sure it is not just style vs. substance. Also confirm that it relates to a process not a person.
Give your feedback to the right person, at the right time, and in the right way. Succintly, positively, and friendly. If it seemed that crucial to you to share what was not requested, it is done. Hopefully, the outcomes will be positive. If not, you took a risk. You did not stay silent. It could make a difference down the road. More importantly than the result is the relationship. That matters most.Photo Credit: Ken Whytock, Flickr
Again, remember, I would appreciate your feedback.
Friday! Yep…here it is again…on a Saturday. This week’s days have flown. The month of April has already been half-spent. Typical of Virginia Spring weather, we have enjoyed cold windy days and perfect sunny days. Dave has transferred our young vegetable plants into the raised beds outside, and the yellow pollen of the leafing oak trees is beginning to blanket our cars. It is as much a part of the rhythm of life as the five favorites you’ll find here.
1) TV Sitcoms – We all have our favorites. Just to hear the theme music from one of them can stir a flurry of happy TV-driven memories with quotable lines to match. Nathan Mills, of Beyond the Guitar, has posted his arrangement of some of our favorites.
2) Communications – When we added the “s” to communication, we ramped it up to a science. Communication itself is as old as humanity. We remain ever challenged in it but supremely motivated to get it right. In my career, communications have been a big chunk of my role – either through customer care, customer support, employee engagement, or community development. How about you? Even the most introverted of us, even those in product development or manufacturing working in your own singular workspace…our lives are peopled. We want to make our best efforts in clear and caring communication. You know the experience of finding out just how little a colleague cares by the lack of such communication. Toward the goal of clear and caring communication, I love finding little gems of succinct information. Here’s this one:
Without your having to click on the link, (which you should; it’s a quick read and excellent resource) here is Levin’s one question:
“How do you prefer to receive information?”
By simply asking someone how they prefer to receive their information, and by telling them how you need to receive information, you’ve paved the way for abundantly clear communications and aligned expectations. – Marissa Levin
For a few fascinating years, I worked in the role of communications strategist for a new venture. It was an extraordinary experience to learn how to enhance communications between designers and then our communications with the parent company and our clients. Maybe we can’t always customize our communications…but if we don’t at least establish some variation in our communication streams, we will miss people – their input, their understanding, and their engagement.
Worth the work…people are too valuable to lose, especially if it’s because we use our own preferred communication processes… ignoring the preferences of others in the process.
3) A Love Story – First Lady Barbara Bush died this week. That’s actually too passive a description. Really, she closed the book, finished her race, and loved her God and family until the end. She was ready to go.
More than anything else, she loved her husband and she loved her family.Photo Credit: Facebook
Her graciousness, wit, and command of life will be remembered fondly…along with her fierce love. She was a force of nature…and she exercised it for good.
“At the end of life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.“ – Barbara Bush
In her last days, at the age of 92, Mrs. Bush removed herself from the hospital arena of life-extending medical care, and returned home to be in the company of her family. Whatever privilege she knew in life, she lavished it on others. Hers was a beautiful life right to the end… holding hands with her love of 70+ years.
4) Intercession – This may be a word unfamiliar to some. Intercession is the deep and longing prayer for someone else. Only God knows fully what His answer means to us who want so desperately for Him to move on behalf of a loved one…or even a country. Only He knows.Photo Credit: Quotes Creator, Facebook
Right now, Dave and I are interceding for a dear church family in another state going through a difficult and dividing trial. We are lifting up a friend who has miscarried multiple times. We are also praying for some in our lives to come to faith in God – some, for decades. Even when our hearts cool over time, God Himself seems to stoke up the coals, and we feel the anguish again of prayer not yet answered. Knowing He can and He will.
We’ve been praying for almost a year now for the American detainees being held in North Korea. As a meeting looms just ahead between our two countries’ presidents, we sense a hope and a possibility. This could fade…but one thing I know, with every beat of my heart: God is able. He calls us to pray. He loves his children.
When situations arise, and we feel utterly helpless in them, we might casually say: “Well, at the very lease we can pray.” No…at the very most, we can pray. We can call out to God even in seasons he seems silent and immovable. His answer might not always be our preference…but it is in the praying, the interceding…that we find hope, and even promise…and we experience the joy of finding Him in the midst of struggle…whatever way it goes in the end.
Be Heard Project – Praying also for Andrew Brunson, an American detainee in Turkey right now. Please pray with me for him and his family, along with the three detainees in North Korea…and their loved ones who wait for them to come home.
5) Recovery – A hard road stretches before the addicted person and those who love him. At some point, either because of imprisonment or shattered health and finances, the addicted person is forced to examine what is left of life for him…or her. At some point, recovery becomes the goal and returning to real life is the hope. Relapse is a constant risk and is often a detour on the road to recovery.
We feel fortunate to know our friends, Ryan and Ashley, who have come out the other side of drug addiction. Ryan gave me permission to post the pictures below. First is a series of arrest photos of Ryan, all related to consequences of his drug addiction. The second is a picture of his family reunited. Ryan is currently a case manager for Real Life in Richmond, Virginia. What an appropriate name for what is possible post-addiction. It is worth fighting for. Thank you, Ryan, for giving us glimpses of what can happen in a life turned around. We know it wasn’t easy, but so worth it.Photo Credit: Ryan Riggs
So…that’s my Five.
What happened in your week? Any notable mentions of your own? Please share in Comments. Enjoy the weather (whether it’s Spring or Fall, rainy season or dry – depending on your hemisphere or location)…and each other.
The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted… – Isaiah 61:1
You know how to break a kid’s heart? Uproot him from his friends and the familiar, and move him far away to a new and strange place. Then over the course of a childhood, move him/them several more times – not just between cities and states, but countries and continents.
Because of Dave’s work, our children went through these heartbreaks of life. With every move, we would sit by their beds as they cried out their hearts at losing friends and packing up their lives. You can imagine how their tears mimicked my own grownup Photo Credit: Max Pixel
emotions, tucked deep inside. Less visible…but still there. I could feel them more through the sharp ache of our children’s grief.
What was even more profound than their heartbreak (and I sure hope they remember this) was the peace…and even joy…that came after. The grace of God gently rubbed onto their wounded hearts and weary little bodies. Prayers of their parents answered. A loving, all-knowing heavenly Father who came alongside in their sorrow…and ours.
We have all experienced broken hearts…wounds that shape our lives and responses to others…and to God. Men and women, as well as children. We women don’t struggle at least in using words for what breaks our hearts. For men, it seems they bury that sort of pain deep…and move on. Albeit changed.Photo Credit: Pixabay
Having grown up with all brothers and now married over 30 years, mothering sons, I have seen men close to me wrestle with wounded hearts. Disappointment, bewilderment at betrayal, loss. We, as women, want to make it all better…we probably have no idea really how deep hurt goes for our men. They are excellent in disguising and disregarding pain…bearing it too often alone.Photo Credit: Pixabay
Then the women in our lives come to mind. We friends and sisters, mothers and daughters…we get it. Partly because we’ve experienced wounded hearts together. Loneliness. Infertility. Miscarriage. Loss of a child or widowhood. Unfaithfulness in marriage. Betrayal of a friend. Powerlessness at work. Insignificance. We talk together about these things…and yet, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of what goes on in our thoughts alone, and into the night.Photo Credit: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay
When our hearts are wounded or downright broken, we pull away. Who, after all, wants to be around someone grieving?…we figure.
In my own life, and as I’ve watched others regain their equilibrium and return back to life and place, one constant has been clear.
Jesus is the friend of a wounded heart. We can lean in and lean hard on him. Even with small faith. Without any judgment.
The Scripture reminds us of the truth when we see there’s nowhere else to go…once we’ve been with Jesus. During a time of great persecution for Jesus and his disciples, there were those followers who counted the cost and left him. When he asked those closest to him if they would leave, too,
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. – John 6:68
Another favorite account for me is that of the woman accused of adultery and facing those who would stone her to death. Jesus intervened with the captivating statement: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” That woman, that day, found mercy…in the presence of Jesus. May it be so for all of us.
Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:5-8
The song that came to mind and birthed this Worship Wednesday was written for an album 30 years ago.It is Wayne Watson‘s Friend of a Wounded Heart.
When Watson talks about Jesus as friend…it is far from the casualness of some in our culture today. This friend Jesus is Savior friend – one who will never leave or forsake us. He knows our deepest pains and greatest joys. He keeps watch over us in dark times and he celebrates without reservation in our joys and victories – no matter how small or large. Jesus will be our constant in this roller coaster of life…if we let him in and lean on him.
Smile, make them think you’re happy
Lie, and say that things are fine
And hide that empty longing that you feel
Don’t ever show it, just keep your heart concealed
Why are the days so lonely?
I wonder where, where can a heart go free?
And who will dry the tears that no one sees?
There must be someone to share your silent dreams
Caught like a leaf in the wind
Looking for a friend, where can you turn?
Whisper the words of a prayer
And you’ll find Him there, arms open wide, love in His eyes
Jesus, He meets you where you are
Oh, Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you’re longing for is Jesus
The friend of a wounded heart
Joy, comes like the the morning
Hope, deepens as you grow
And peace, beyond the reaches of your soul
Comes blowing through you, for love has made you whole*
Tears may flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5
I pray we can also be hands and feet of Christ for one another in woundedness and brokenness. Watch for these precious hurting ones in your workplace, church, and community…lean in and come alongside. Hopefully, they will see this Jesus in you.
[In the links below you will also find the versions performed by Damaris Carbaugh (with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir) and by Avalon. Enjoy. I’m thankful we have them on YouTube because this song is little-sung today…although we need the message as much as ever. It’s one of those songs and messages which draws my arms up in praise…every time I hear it. Thank You, Jesus, for being the friend to our wounded hearts.]
When I was in college, many years ago, a statistics course was required in my nursing program at Emory University. It was essentially a non-math course, more on critical thinking. The textbook was Darrell Huff‘s classic How to Lie With Statistics.
If you haven’t read this little book, you should at least track down some of the quotes from it:
“If you can’t prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend they are the same thing. In the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind, hardly anyone will notice the difference.”
“Nothing has been falsified—except the impression that it gives.”
“Even if you can’t find a source of demonstrable bias, allow yourself some degree of skepticism about the results as long as there is a possibility of bias somewhere. There always is.” – Darrell Huff
A fairly naive, trusting girl from a small Southern town became a bit more savvy after reading that book. Savvy but not yet skeptical.
The skeptical came and went with the years following.
When we lived overseas, local friends often broached the topic of American politics, a much less threatening topic than talking about their own government. Because I thought I knew our government, I would wax on about the positives of living under such a one. Our friends would smile at the seeming absurdity that our politics were less corrupt than their own.
Then we came home to the US…
I’m learning more and more about spin…or turning a message to the advantage of the one delivering it.
“I would define spin as the shaping of events to make you look better than anybody else. I think it is . . . an art form now and it gets in the way of the truth.” – Benjamin Bradlee
We’ve been back stateside many years now, and I have come to realize that none of us are immune to using spin to persuade. We can actually become very expert at it, almost without knowing. In fact, to be both honoring and honest, we must be vigilant and guarded regarding spin. In both avoiding its use and not reacting to its use. How might we react? Two negative ways: either becoming morally outraged because it smacks of lying, or by our own slick checkmate spin in return. Neither of these move the conversation or relationship to a healthy place.
The “What you see is what you get” kind of integrity sounds really old-fashioned these days. Not even smart. We are bombarded by messaging that sounds so true, so right (or so wrong it has to be true). We sometimes miss or disbelieve the bias that also exists.
Somewhere between the truth and a lie, there’s “spin.”…You too can spin if you look at data, filter it through your biases, and preach it like gospel. The rationale is that it isn’t really lying, just putting a bias on what is already true. So what’s wrong with it? – Mark S. Putnam
Before you choose to spin yourself into trouble, understand that in the context of ethical communication, you should be clear, truthful, and honest in what comes out of your mouth. Spinning is like any other kind of dishonesty, it’s wrong. It makes good old fashioned lying sound clever and trendy. It can be said that stupid people lie and smart people spin. – Mark S. Putnam
Some authors use very different words to describe spin…
Harry Frankfurt, American philosopher and educator, wrote a book On Bullshit. [He also wrote a followup book On Truth.] I’m not keen on this word, at all, but Frankfurt casts a sympathetic eye on the one compelled to use spin. Any one of us could find ourselves floundering here:
“Bull**** [Deb’s edit] is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bull**** is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled — whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others — to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant.”
“When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bull****ter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.” – Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bull****
There is a difference. And in my view, a critical difference. It is this: lying is cynical and deliberate disregard for the truth; spinning is benign disregard for the truth that never employs false facts.He further speaks of the origin of spinning: misdirection. (“Okay, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”) Focus attention away from the unpleasantness onto something positive, even preposterously positive — without lying. Or maybe focus on something more negative as misdirection. Macdowell takes the high road on distinguishing spinning and lying (and if you read the rest of his take, you may also). He concludes with: “We’re a better people when we have a nose for spinning and know how to challenge it on the merits.”
Unlike spiders who rarely get caught in their own or other spiders’ webs, even the best spinner of deceit can eventually be exposed. Spin happens. Sometimes over the course of a career, when ambition or fear of failure prompts us to color our findings, or message, in a favorable direction. Wisdom for all of us is to recognize spin, and to reckon that we are all vulnerable to its use or misuse. Wisdom is not calling it lying and also not extolling it as smart. Wisdom is to discipline our communications by being tireless students of our community, our company, the market… and then bring as truthful message as we can that has benefit for all involved.
[Have you had the occupational hazard of needing to use spin in a situation? Or have you been more on the receiving end of a spin campaign? Help us learn from your situation by commenting below.]
Friday evening is closing in fast. Here are my five faves of this week – all focusing on the beauty in our lives…or just a bit of it, for sure.
1) Music – So much of our human experience is elevated by music. No matter how lovely life already is, there is something beyond words really that happens to us when music slips in. Photo Credit: Quote Fancy
For example, when Nathan, our favorite guitarist, first performed in concerts, I was astonished at the emotion that he could stir in performing on a single guitar. He is less in the concert hall now and more on social media channels, but the emotion is stronger than ever. The quiet yet penetrating sound of a classical guitar has surprised me with its remarkable beauty. Definitely has the imprint of the composer and the luthier (the maker of the instrument). Then there’s the artist. That one who brings the music and the instrument to life. The one whose heart touches our own in the joy of the moment. For those of you who follow Nathan with me, you know
the experience. I never want to take it for granted. His music.
For those of you who subscribe to his YouTube channel, you’re in very good company (50,000+ company). For you who follow him on social media, all your likes, comments, follows, and shares go a long way. It all makes a difference. Lastly for those who are his patrons, we are in that growing, strongly committed bunch of people who look forward to his creating and performing music today…and in future.
The music industry is complicated, and I’m thankful that Nathan continues to do what it takes to carve out a career in music.
[He’s probably not going to love all this…being I’m his mum and all…but focusing on beauty in this Friday Fave…it is what it is.]
Below are three of his simpler melodies…and some of my favorites.
2) Nature – Having lived in Cairo, Egypt, for many years, my perception of beauty has deepened and become sharper. Some see that city as one hot dusty mess of snarled traffic and teeming crowds of people. For me, Cairo was magical. The people so beautiful, and natural world of that city persistent and hardy. Having the Nile River coursing through that urban desert brought life to a dry place.
Anyway, it’s been too long since our life in Cairo, but just as we were surrounded with beauty there, we are here as well. The astounding beauty of even our broken world moves some to pantheism (a worldview so enamored with the excellence of the natural world that a personal god is not even considered). I personally can’t imagine this world without it having been created by God – a God who loves beauty and order and lavishes both on those created.
What do you think as you soak up this world – turning to Spring for us in the Northern Hemisphere? Or we could just put the thinking aside and rejoice in the sheer beauty of it all.
3) Technology – OK…here I’m going way out of my comfort zone because tech is so not my language. Still… earlier this week, I spent an obscene amount of my life going through pre-digital-age pictures. Photography has been a life-long hobby of mine, leading me to have not just albums upon albums but boxes of pictures and even slides.
Memories…attached to people and places that were moments captured and continents spanned. In photography alone, technology has taken us away from the box cameras of my childhood to digital beauties that pretty much leave us without an excuse on getting that “Kodak moment” (or photo-worthy image for folks who no longer know what Kodak was).
I got a new camera for Christmas. Thanks to that husband of mine.
…he still has to help me with much of my technology…but I’m thankful beyond words for what can be accomplished with it.
4) Words – It’s pretty obvious that I love words. Not the cynical, cutting, mean-spirited ones…but those that are life-giving and hold us up when our knees start to buckle. I have had the opportunity to go to a couple of Global Leadership Summits where a diverse group of world-class leaders come together and speak to thousands, in person and via satellite. This year, one of those speakers is actor Denzel Washington. I can’t tell you all his films I’ve seen, but what he says off-screen is even more delightful than his powerful on-screen presence.Photo Credit: Flickr
Words mean things. We will not get away with killing with words…we will be found out. On the reverse, when we speak life, using words to lift and marvel, we are known by these as well. The difference is our being known matter…life given through words is what matters. We all are transformed by the beauty of such words.
Now few of us serve as volunteers for what we “get out of it”. Still volunteering has its cost. Especially costly is the service given by those who already have tough work lives. To give out of a dry well still needs to happen sometimes. We must remember that could be the case with any one of us…and honor those who serve so sacrificially.
Fritz quotes from a study on volunteers reported by Join In UK. [Click the link for a brilliant graphic going into the detail of the research – on what sustains volunteers.] Below is the summary (using the acronym GIVERS):
G. Personal growth and well-being
I. Increased sense of purpose, such as knowing just how they make a difference.
V. Voice or how volunteers are asked to give their time.
E. Easy to sign up, to get there, to get the job done.
R. Recognition. Being thanked, appreciated, and celebrated.
S. Social opportunities like making new friends and working on a team.
Her commentary on each point is very helpful as well.
When we treat volunteers as leaders in training – mentors-in-the-making, we move our attention off the task and onto the person, the community. These beautiful serving ones can take us into the future of our organization and beyond. We can make it both about those we serve and those serving…that’s one of the beauties of life, as we remember to see it that way.
That’s my look at the beautiful of this week. What beauty has sparked wonder in you this week? Please share in Comments below. Have a safe weekend, and take each moment as the gift it is…with those loves in your life, those people gifts to treasure.