Real-Life Superheroes?

What is the attraction of superheroes? Comic book based TV shows and movies are killing it right now. Non-comic geeks can tell you the origins of Batman, Superman, and Spiderman. What’s the allure?

Most of them have secret identities, a double life, one average but when duty calls they suit up. They look like anyone else, but are something greater. We live vicariously through them, aspiring to be something more.

Even up to my twenties, I would draw myself as a superhero. Usually a small twist on a current character. I wanted to be something more. These thoughts returned as I watched Man of Steel.

I wanted to be Superman, nothing could hurt him, really. He was a good guy that you could count on. Wolverine was a favorite for a long time, rough and tough, no one messed with him. Despite his demons, he had a heart of gold underneath.

Spiderman, witty and smart; he’s just fun and dealt with real life as well as supervillains. A relatable character, with a lot of bad luck, yet he persevered.

Batman?

If you know me, then you know I love Batman. Why? Because he’s good at EVERYTHING! A genius, top fighter, has a plan for everything, doesn’t stop, and just plain, frickin’ cool! He’s complex, and honestly, very scarred. Still he does good. It’s his mission.

I’m growing almost as fond of Captain America as I am of Batman. Chris Evans’ portrayal is so endearing; he’s just so unbelievably good and honest. A good-hearted runt that became more. Like Superman is to DC, Cap is the moral center of the Marvel Universe.

What do these teach us?

Despite tragedy, they do good, they persevere, whether their world exploded, family died, or like Wolverine, everyone they love dies while he lives. They help stop it from happening to others. Where you could easily crawl into a hole deep inside yourself, they refused to.

The world is a harsh place. It’s also good and beautiful. They preserve the beautiful. A cause is good. However, the center of the cause should be people. It’s more than a concept; it’s a reality. I watch broken people who have emerged from their trials, helping other broken people every week. They bring a double-edged sword that is experience and empathy. They’ve been there.

Jesus gave the disciples and Christians today the Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

That’s the cause. The center is people, though. Look at the second greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 NIV

So who is the neighbor? Jesus was asked that.

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29 NIV

The answer was the parable of the good Samaritan. To sum it up, he made the questioner answer his own question.

““Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 36-37 NIV

SuperheroThe past is the springboard to the future. First, climb out of yourself. Then start helping people up. We may not have superpowers, but we can make a difference. It’s about people, help one and their world is changed. Now suit up and go.

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Has Anyone Ever Invested In You?

Do you invest in others? Are you actively involved in their lives? How about this, is someone involved in your life now, putting the time, their experience, etc. in seeing you grow? It’s a more strategic form of mentoring others.

It’s important to keep someone from straying onto a dangerous path, pull them off a destructive path, or to help them grow in a positive manner. The former is the type I’ve generally been. In turn, I try to be a positive, good influence in people’s lives around me. Encouraging them mostly, though occasionally giving advice.

The second path at its extreme is easily envisioned. Think about an AA sponsor, someone who’s been in the trenches and is now helping others on the same path. It could be as simple as counseling someone before they get that far.

It’s a process that takes patience. Especially when you’re dealing with someone who’s stubborn, like *cough* me. I was on a path and had a mentor that who persistently kept encouraging, advising, and praying for me. She did this for years, encouraging me to come to class on Sundays, get involved in a ministry, make friends here, and read more positive books. She still does it even to this day.

Years later, I attend Deaf Den on Saturdays, the deaf connections class on Sundays, am in six ministries, and will let my Goodreads page testify to my reading.  

During a sermon series on the enemies of the heart, we got to the issue of anger. I remarked it would probably be a good one for me. Her reply was, ‘new creature, right?’ I admitted it still rises sometimes. She told me the key was to not let it drive me. Those were very true words; anger had been a driving force for years.

During the service, I listened and marveled at how close mine and the pastor’s trains of thought were. I had just written a post on forgiveness two days before on one of the passages he used. Same lines of thought, similar analogies, I thought it was pretty cool. I told her about it afterward, saying, “At least my theology is right.”

Her eyes glistened a little. She knew the background of the issue, because she had helped me through it. “Wow, you really are a new person. I’m so proud of you. So proud of you.”

I could tell she meant it. That encouragement made my night and the rest of my week. It meant a lot to hear those words. To make someone who had walked with me proud.

No matter where you are, someone is on the path ahead of you. Are they going the right direction? Towards growth, or towards self-destruction? It’s good to have someone on the path ahead of you. Who’s willing to walk with you.

Have a mentor.

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Mustang Mentoring 2011

 

Be a mentor.

 

11 Things I’ve Learned So Far As a Supervisor

525xNxMeaningOfNumberEleven.jpg.pagespeed.ic.l7vPgWLnMnMany of my previous leadership posts came from two areas. First is study, because I cannot wing it. Curiosity will not let me. Second is from my limited experience mentoring others and leading a ministry. What does all that look like when it is put in practice as the newest supervisor at work?

Here is a list of what I do and have learned so far.

  1. Pray to be salt and light, to be equipped for whatever comes up, and to have love, patience, understanding  and mercy.
  2. Communication is key in all interactions.
  3. Leading by loyalty is best, mutual benefit is good; exercising authority is the last option.
  4. Apply the Golden Rule to work as well as life. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6: 31. I want people to make my job easier, so I make their job easier; it gains respect and maybe even loyalty.
  5. Encouragement over criticism, applaud what you want to see more of.
  6. Admit your mistakes and thank whoever brought it to your attention.
  7. Being nice goes a long way in how others react to you.
  8. Enforce boundaries when needed after making sure they are understood and fair.
  9. Do not dismiss claims of wrongdoing; check for yourself even if it is an accusation against your team. Truth beats tribalism.
  10. Do not take anything personal. Not being offended is a superpower.
  11. Stay above the politics no matter how hard it is to not gossip or take sides.

I hope you can use these tips to help be a better leader and person. What have you learned as a supervisor or in a leadership position?

Contrasts; The Difference in Leaders

Picture in your mind a bad leader or boss. We’ve all had at least one bad boss in our careers. Do you remember what traits they exhibited? 2,500 years ago, a prophet named Ezekiel nailed some of the traits of bad leaders when he railed against Israel’s spiritual leaders.

Listening to Pastor Tyler teach about those who influence us from Jude, he really got my attention when he spoke of shameless shepherds. He then referenced Ezekiel 34: 2-5:

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.”

The context was towards spiritual leaders, specifically the false prophets and priests. However it applies universally. It’s something we should watch in ourselves and those who want to lead. Particularly during this political season, we should look for these negative traits:

  • Putting yourself before your followers (it’s not about you)
  • Taking from them for your gain
  • Ignoring the sick, weak, or lost
  • Wielding authority like a dictator

This goes across the spectrum, doesn’t it? Politics, spiritual leaders, employers, and those around you. The opposite is also true; we should strive to be and choose leaders by these standards:

  • Make sure those who follow you are taken care of before you are (in whatever capacity we’re in)
  • Invest in them for their growth
  • Lift the weak, help them get stronger
  • Care for the sick, injured, and hurting
  • Bring the ones off the path home
  • Guide them with a gentle firmness

It’ll do more than make you a better leader — it’ll make you a better person. Do you have any areas you need to work on? Or stories about a bad boss? I had one sucker punch me once about 10 years ago. That was the only job I ever quit.

Mistaken Ideas on Leadership; What Good Leaders Do

5217160895_7e188b1df7_oHave you ever wondered why there are leaders? Who’s strong enough to do it? Do you even have what it takes?

In a Facebook group, a friend asked questions similar to this. I made an observation and watched as others commented. Some answers were ‘people are sheep’, ‘strongest survive’, and so on. Everyone seems to think they fall into one of three groups.

They are leaders. They may consider themselves followers. They may consider themselves independent. Truthfully, we fall into all three at one point or another. After a while, I typed up a long drawn out answer that I will break down here.

Followers
  • If you have ever learned from someone with more experience, then you are a follower.
Leaders
  • A leader is someone with the resources and capacity to handle a situation, sometimes that’s not you.
  • Good leaders positively influence the lives around them.
  • A mentor is a leader, and someone is always watching you.
  • Bad leaders treat people as pawns or numbers.
Aspiring Leaders
  • Leave your ego out of it. There is always someone better than you so stay humble.
  • Be someone that adds to people’s lives, not takes from them.
  • Be someone worth listening to.
  • People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.

Where does strength factor in? Look at the bullet points again. Now ask yourself two questions:

  1. Can you lift others up?
  2. Do you think you are superior to others?

If you do think you are superior, then that attitude will come through every time. I know that from personal experience and I was blind to it. I like how Pastor Rod put it one night to a group of graduates, “Be followers of Christ and leaders of people to Him.”

How would you answer the questions in the post?

How To Live A Standard Without Becoming Arrogant

Can you name the two iconic comic book heroes known for being ‘boy scouts’? They even have similar colored uniforms if you need a hint. Have an answer yet?

The first is Superman. The second is Captain America. I prefer Batman to Superman. I do find myself identifying more with Cap as time goes on. What is it about them that draw people in?

It is what they stand for. They are good for the sake of goodness. I was reading some old comics to clear my head when in New Avengers 15, I saw Carol Danvers’s description of Captain America.

Blog Picture

I wasn’t intending to do any heavy thinking that day. I was trying to relax. However, questions popped into my head. Questions like:

  • How do you represent an ideal without becoming arrogant and self-righteous?
  • Is it possible without burning out?
  • How do you avoid burnout?

My personality type centers on idealism. I went in depth on that in the My Purpose and What Are You Made of posts. It also makes my pet sin to be self-righteousness. I face these important battles.

The days before I planned to write this, I came across an article in my Twitter feed. Chris Railey titled it The Shape of Leadership. He was facing burn out, too. The fire was lit and he questioned God about it.

The answer would be a blow to anyone driven by ego.

“It’s not about you.”

That is the sense he got from God. Then he really drives the point home in the article. “Ministry isn’t about you. Leadership isn’t about you. Your calling isn’t about you.”

I can take a hint. It is a long in-depth article that I encourage you to read. In it, he touches on the two traits that the best leaders have.

  1. Extreme humility
  2. Intense professional will

That sounds like Captain America to me. It sounds like someone else, too — Jesus. He didn’t look for personal gain or success. He put his mission and people first.

When you change success from a big picture perspective to a small moment’s perspective, it gets easier. Instead of worrying about the results, ask yourself three questions.

  1. Did I love them as Jesus would?
  2. Did I do anything Jesus wouldn’t be proud of?
  3. Are things better now than they were before?

When you make it about others your focus changes. The ego isn’t involved anymore and you get out of your own way. When you represent Jesus, it is no longer an issue about your reputation, but His. With the first, you retain your humanity. With the second, you retain your humility.

Who Is Watching You: The Impact We Make In People’s Lives

CNyyCLVUsAASVvHSomeone is probably watching you. It’s not just the NSA either. It is probably someone you know. They consider you a source of inspiration or wisdom. At the very least, the way you lead your life is an example to them.

The other day, an adopted family member deleted all his Facebook friends but four. I was one of the four because he thinks I am ‘one of the smartest guys’ he knows. He thinks more highly of me than I do myself. The thing is I didn’t know he was watching me that closely.

I know I’m considered a mentor to my adopted sister. I think I am to a young friend with big dreams who occasionally approaches me with questions. I was recently in a simultaneous text conversation with a couple of them. Because they look up to me enough to value what I have to say.

That is a heavy thought that brings a lump to my throat quite honestly. It is why I am so hard on not sending out mixed messages. When someone famous for a particular value is caught in a scandal, the outcry is immense. There is a reason for that. They were looked up to. It feels like betrayal.

I have my mentors. People that I learn from who are ahead of me in different areas. I’m sure you have one or two mentors yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know. The internet and books bring their lives in touch with ours.

If you knew you were being watched, that someone looked up to you; would you change the way you live for the better? Why or why not? I look forward to hearing from you.

The Ultimate Gift; The Most Valuable Thing You Can Give Someone

What is one of the most valuable things you can give someone? In my Bible study, I noticed three things that corresponded with a servant leadership book. You don’t even have to be a leader to do this.

Two events that followed one another in Jesus’s life reflect how he dealt with interruptions and people. One day in a Galilean town, a man covered in sores threw himself at Jesus’s feet as he walked. Jesus reached out and touched the man.

According to Levitical law, that act made Jesus unclean (Leviticus 13). To prevent others from contracting the disease, lepers were required to stay out of cities. People would throw rocks at them to make sure they kept their distance. Jesus reached out and healed him.

Later, Jesus was in Capernaum —presumably teaching from Peter’s house— when some guys tore a hole in the roof. Then they dropped a paralytic through the hole in a makeshift stretcher. I asked my wife what her response would be.

She was speechless. Right in the middle of his teaching, he was interrupted. Was he angry? I know I would be a little irritated at least.

Not him. He changed his focus to the immediate need. He first forgave his sins because of the faith shown by the guy’s friends. Then to prove he had the authority to do that he told him to take a walk. That is what he did. Got on his feet, grabbed his stuff, and probably danced out.

I ask again, what is one of the most valuable things you can give someone? Thought about it? It is your time. The one thing you cannot get back. The common thread between these two events I noticed was that Jesus gave you his full attention.

The book I read is James A. Autry’s The Servant Leader. He lists the five “qualities of being” that a servant leader needs that we could all use:

  1. Be Authentic
  2. Be Vulnerable
  3. Be Accepting
  4. Be Present
  5. Be Useful

Jesus did all of these. He didn’t mince words. The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He is a friend of sinners. He gave people his full attention. He helped others, even when they interrupted him. He gave them his time.

How well do we stack up compared to that? I think just starting one of these qualities would make an every-day difference. Try this one; give people your full attention.

I have to literally walk away or pocket any electronic device to do that. It’s hard. Try to stay off any games or social media for a day if you don’t believe me. We are so stuck on our phones these days it is a bit sad.

How can we be present with others? Do you have any ideas?