Sunday, August 18, 2013

an open letter to my brother.

Thanks for your incredible work with James+James. These last two years working with you have been the best years of my working history, with no exception.
I thank God for every single day we got to work together as brothers, and I attribute a huge volume of our growth as a company to your hard work, relentless serving, leadership, decision making and relationship growth.

Each time you walked into the office it was very clear that you were setting the tone for the rest of the team -- whether you knew it or not -- and it was a very calming, honest attitude you brought with you. This was very important, as it set the culture for many of our management's interactions and how they processed through issues with each other.

During most meetings whether formal or informal, you shared focused emotions and took the time to ask very specific questions that helped guide our team towards becoming more successful together.

One of the traits that set you apart and made you extremely good at your job was your inability to ignore the nuances of someone's statements. You would pursue how someone felt past the situational context, really listening to who they were and what their needs at that moment might be, asking penetrating questions to ensure you were responding in the most appropriate manner.

You have an excellent leadership voice, one that meets those around you at their level and challenges each individual in very specific ways.

Throughout the difficulties with managing a crew, learning and gathering financial reports, training, and purchasing, you were able to establish the right levels of energy and passion. This proved essential in connecting with the team, accomplishing your goals, and working through the growing pains that were heaved on you from time to time.

Often rather than lecturing or trying to teach a member of our company, I would overhear you telling them a story instead. Rare was the time you would simply tell an employee "do it this way because I asked you" as you understood that was a poor way to manage. Instead you would encourage them with an example or narrative, bringing you together rather than making a top-down demand.

In whatever you pursue next, brother, I hope you will continue to lead and serve in the same way you did with our team here in Northwest Arkansas.

Hebrews 13:7 "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."

Your brother,

Sunday, February 3, 2013

tiny meals.

I'd close my eyes and try really hard to think about Jesusy things.
It's what Dad did.

I wasn't always sure exactly what I was supposed to do, but from what the Pastor said every fourth week or so I figured it had something to do with sins. I'd think back to something I did that week, apologize for it to God, then work really hard to fill all the rest of the seconds thinking about the Holy Spirit or something.
It was a "long Sunday" or Communion Sunday. And until today -- just over a month after I've turned 25 -- I haven't really known exactly what to do when I get my cracker and grape juice.

Some crackers are really hard. They're more stale than others, a sign the church had bought in bulk. If I was lucky the church I was at would serve bread instead (usually French bread, delicious) and I'd get to rip off my own portion.
"Not that much" my Mom (or later on in life after I got married my wife) would tell me. Did it really matter to God that I was a little bit hungry? Or sometimes a lot? Besides, he made me. He knew all about that. And I was trying. That's the important part.

I've always seen this communion experience as one of the holiest things a Christian can do. It's right up there with baptism, the laying on of hands, weddings, and casting out of demons. Entirely unique to our faith, it is a community event that manifests it's value in your intimate relationship with Christ, a paradox right up there with the fact that the bits of food and drink directly represent the body and blood of a Savior.
I would once a month for almost the entirety of my life, take the carbohydrates and hydrates in my hand and think back on how important a moment in history this was, and how Jesus meant so much by it, and how much it must've meant to his disciples that he was saying this to them.

But today I realized they probably didn't have a clue.
They were at a meal, sitting all splayed out on the ground like the pictures, lounging about eating.
Jesus stands up and announces these very foreign concepts to them, and maybe he gets their attention, maybe he doesn't.
This was new to them. What were they supposed to make of it? I like to think it bothered them, that they had no idea what it meant and that it must be important, but really, it started with obedience.
They interacted with Jesus at his level. When he said "this is really important, this is me I'm talking about" they listened. Then over time as they grew in their faith, the value and the significance of that event became much, much more special to them.
Eventually it was documented, they wrote about it as if it was one of the holiest moments in their walk with Jesus, and celebrated it even after he was gone, pushing the churches to do the same.

Thousands of years later I find myself at the same place as they were that first night.
I've been practicing in obedience for so long assuming it was instantly significant and I was just missing it, when in fact the disciples very likely felt that same way.
It was as they grew, and likewise as I grow in faith that it becomes apparent the magnitude of what communion meant when Jesus first offered it.
I don't fully understand it, but he knows that. I have a lot of learning to do. So did the disciples.

My mouth will always start to water when I see that plate of crackers or hopefully bread start my direction from the front of the room. But that's how Jesus made me, always hungry.