Sunday, June 22, 2008

I must be freaking nuts

So here's what I do on my Sunday afternoons. Instead of staying inside, watching TV and drinking a beer, Pauly's out there in the 100 deg. heat, drinking GU2O and burning 1033 calories. We had a short ride today, only about 21 miles since no one wanted to go the extra 5 or six miles.
Actually, I love testing my body's endurance, and there's always a sense of accomplishment when I'm done. Here's my ride:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Relationships that last

A few weeks ago, I started getting emails from some classmates I hadn't seen in over 30 years. They came fast and furious, sometimes up to 30 or 40 emails in a couple of days. They centered around our high school band director, Charles Kuentz, who is having a school built and named after him in San Antonio, TX. A few of us decided to get together at Pico de Gallo's in San Antonio last Friday.
It's peculiar how these relationships have stayed connected through an interesting framework built long ago, and kept alive through not just memories and nostalgia, but through life-long, committed and on-purpose contact. I graphed this out the other day in a conversation with my coach, Bobby Williams. I'm going to try to outline it in writing.

Let me set the stage first. Greg (Greger) Wright has been a friend of mine since 7th grade. 40 years...There is no one else in this world, outside my family, with whom I have kept in contact with for so long. Greger is connected to Anna, Betty, Carol, Ronnie, Larry, and me. I connected with Cynthia, and each one of us is connected to a few others, but the "hub" is Greger.

So yesterday, I was engaged in a conversation with Bobby, and he asked me what my perception of coaching is. Having never been in organized sports, the only thing I could relate to is Mr Kuentz, my band director. He had a framework in which he provided:

  • Resources - a place to practice and learn, music, uniforms, instruments, etc.

  • Direction and boundaries - so that we could safely and effectively progress from one level to the next

  • Mentors and leaders - more experienced peer relationships that helped us improve through technique and accountability

  • Encouragement - not only to improve, but he was constantly drawing out the talent we already had within us

  • Challenges - we had to compete for our position within our respective groups

  • Focus - not only on our individual strengths, but also on working as a team

  • Testing - we often had to audition individually in front of him

  • Application - we had to perform as a team, and in harmony

Out of this framework flowed relationships, growth (both personal and corporate), revelation, and transformation.

So the question came up - is the church working this way? Usually, whenever spiritual meetings occur, the focus is centered on whoever is ministering at the time - the praise & worship team, the preacher, etc. - but, where is our focus to be if we want to truly experience growth, lasting relationships, revelation and transformation? Do we work on coaching and encouraging our brothers and sisters to grow, (and this can only come through relationship, not a program) or do we just come once a week to hear a message and then stumble through the rest of our week wondering why "the devil is attacking" us?

The focus has to be on each other, and flowing out of our relationship with the Father, a divine connection in a kingdom that provides us with resources, encouragement, and all things necessary for kingdom living. It's then promoted through people that are using those resources and bringing others along with them. We can't get this from a once a week "church" experience - whether it's in a traditional or a house setting. Relationships and growth have to flow from a healthy framework that encourages us to become the best in all areas of our lives, and then to multiply and reproduce.

So when the five of us old-timers, who hadn't seen each other in 33 years, met for lunch on Friday, it was like we had just left the band hall and went to the cafeteria - we picked up where we had left off 33 years ago. These lasting relationships flowed from a healthy framework that reproduced itself in our lives, families, and church. I can't wait to see where this goes from here.