Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"The Servant Leader": Another book from my "This book changed my life" bookshelf . . .

(Pardon the change, but I choose to rewrite this post today (2/5/2020) . . . I felt the need to be a bit more transparent. Enjoy!)

It's common knowledge, to many who know me, that I am a "peace" guy. I try my best and work hard at being able to understand and speak to those on all sides of an argument, belief or position.  

That's not the way I used to be. In my earlier years, I used to be very opinionated and argumentative, especially if I believed or thought I was right. If you didn't believe like I did, then you were, in simple terms, on the "other side of the issue." Loosely translated, you were my enemy. Your being my enemy excused me from having, or feeling obliged, to treat you like I treated those who were on my side (meaning those who had accepted me into their group). You were to be dismissed, devalued, and not ever defended. 

I am ashamed to admit that at that point in my life, I needed, for some reason, to believe that warped kind of thinking. Looking back, I believe it more about having low self-esteem and the need to be accepted by a group . . . any group.  

I quit believing and living like I had on the day when I engaged in an emotional/spiritual assessment exerice. In that exercise, I was asked to symbolically look behind me. In doing so, I began to see all of the people that I'd left wounded and hurt on the side of the road who didn't think or believe like I did. As I saw each face, my heart broke into hundreds of pieces as the awareness of the pain I had caused others began to swell inside of me like some emotional/spiritual tidal wave. The experience caused me to actually slump into a chair as I put my head between my hands and rocked back and forth as each wave of realization crashed upon me. 

I wonder what hurts worse . . . hurting someone else, or the realization about what you've done?

Part of the pain was coming to realize that I wasn't raised to treat other people like that. I was raised to be a bridge builder, not a bridge burner! I was taught by loving family, teachers, coaches and pastors that there was never any kind of justification, ever, for causing harm. I remember thinking, and perhaps crying out . . . "I'm not a bridge burner! I am not a bridge burner! I am a better man than that." I just had to be a better man than that.  

Another great influence that helped me decide to live differently was a book that was gifted to me by the late Paul J. Meyer of Waco, TX. 16 years later, I still encourage people, especially those who do lead others, or who want to lead others, to read this book. The authors are Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. The title of the book is: "The Servant Leader: Transforming Your Heart, Head, Hands and Habits." The central premise of the book is this, that one can never see or understand themselves as servant leaders (modeling Christ's example of leadership) and communicate with others who "are different" until one finally come to grip with two things: your pride, and your fears. 

The horrible thing about pride and fears (well, my pride and fears) . . . they mix like oil and water . . . in other words, not very well. 

In the rural setting I am humbled to serve in, I've discovered that even though I'm the pastor of a local United Methodist congregation (I actually pastor 2 churches) I'm also a "village chaplain". I'm approached and receive calls and inquiries from all sorts of people. What a humble privilege it is to be a pastor to all kinds of people . . . God's children every one. I believe I am approached, more often than not, because people know that I try to live out my life and faith as a servant, and that I strive to be a person of peace as often as I can.  

Those of us who are privileged to lead others . . . may we give strong consideration of the blessing and benefits, to ourselves and to others, when we try to be servant leaders. Our world desperately needs servant leaders.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Sweetwater.com

I would like to offer a shout out to the folks at Sweetwater.com.

I recently ordered several sets of strings.  I called in by phone to place my order, and things could not have gone more smoothly.  I even got a new set of strings for my Guild Jumbo 12-string.

Price wise, I know I saved around $10-15 total, and the price of gas needed to drive to Guitar Center in Fort Worth or Waco.   That would be an over 4+ hour round-trip not counting shopping time.  Ordering from Sweetwater by phone took maybe 10 minutes. 

Ordering online or by phone makes more sense now that we live in Comanche County, TX.   The folks at Sweetwater.com really came through.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

"Draplin Design Co. - Pretty much Everything": Another book from my "This book changed my life" bookshelf . . .

Well, I guess I'd better be clear that the book I am writing about now hasn't necessarily changed my life . . . but it is a great book that I have enjoyed reading every year since I received it as a Christmas gift about 4 years ago.

First, a confession . . . I am a very private behind-closed-doors "in my own mind" artist.  Past criticisms (that still hurt today) kept me from drawing. I enjoyed mechanical drafting back in my Junior High days. In fact, I remember that I usually made the best grades in the class, and was one only two students in the class who got to make mechanical drawings with a real ink fountain pen (oh, did anyone else just shudder with pleasure when you read that . . . I did)!  Give me a sharp pencil, drawing or graph paper, and a ruler, t-square or curved angle template, and I am a happy man.  

I never pursued drawing because everyone else, except for my teacher, though my drawings were crap. Back when I was younger, I actually through a lot about becoming an architect, but I was, admittedly, very weak in math.  I was also in the habit in those days of letting myself be afraid of what other people thought about me and my ideas.  I guess I was abnormally self-conscious.  A teenager thing. I mean, I was young, and I liked eating.  So when my dad asked why I wanted a ream of graph paper for my birthday, I told him . . . and was told that I would never become an architect.  He said the same thing about my playing guitar. 

So, for years, I have privately enjoyed drawing little plans for wood projects, remodeling ideas, and other such stuff that very few have ever seen.  I have a small collection of rulers and such that I keep in a special place in my desk. And, on occasion, I have tried to draw a logo or two.   

I like logo's.  Some of them, like the logo's on railroad cars, the logo for Bell Telephone, seed company and farm implement logo's, the Boy Scouts of America logo, the numbered logo's that television stations use, Buck and Case pocket knife logo's.  I mean, is this stuff awesome or what, right? 

Well, I think so.

In my own personal context . . . the cross and flame logo for the United Methodist Church . . . has such meaning for me.  I gave my professional life to the UMC . . . and that logo has been the primary symbol representing every church I've served in 30+ years. 

Back to the book I want to encourage you to read, and which resides on my special bookshelf.  Draplin Design Co. Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin. 

Aaron is a graphic designer who grew up in Michigan and now resides and works in Portland, Oregon.  He is the creator of many logo's for various brands and organizations.  He is the inventor of Field Notes (fieldnotesbrand.com) which is the small pocket memo book that I am so fond of. 

The book is his story from childhood to where he is today.  He is an individualist and one-of-a-kind if there ever was one.  He does't have many filters language wise, but he writes and talks from his heart and his passion for the work that has blessed and enriched his life, family, clients and others.  

Warning!   Some of you will not like Aaron.  He will be way too over-the-top for some.  He has a strong present on Twitter and on YouTube, where you will find mostly videos about his various teaching and speaking tours.  He writes like he talks. He is brutally honest, from his own perspective, and yet very sincere.  You will clearly understand where he stands and where he is coming from. You will also realize quickly that he cares for family, friends, working hard, and making a difference in the lives of people.

The US price for the book was $40 a few years ago.  I am considering buying a second copy.  

Confession #2 . . . I probably live a little "vicariously" through Aaron's life.  I am happy and secure in who I am, and in my talents and gifts.  But every so often, one wonders about what could have been.  Probably a waste of time, I know, but still doing so is a part of my nature.  So, why not embrace it?Doing so has brought joy in my life learning how others pursued their dreams despite what others thought or said. 

If you've ever wondered what doing-it-your-own-way could look like (and aren't we thankful for individual creative ability and personalities) then give Aaron's book a read.  

BTW, Field Notes are worthy of your consideration!

Rick ><>



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

"The Bullet Journal Method": Books you will find on my "This book changed my life" bookshelf . . .

I am currently reassessing my long-term goals, a healthy thing to do, and a practice of many following the start of a new year.  As part of the process, I am re-reading (for the 4th time) Ryder Carroll's book, The Bullet Journal Method.  

Ryder is the creator of the Bullet Journal, a method using a paper or electronic journal, where you learn how to effectively "Track the Past, Order the Present, and Design the Future."  I have been using the Bullet Journal method for well over 7 years, and I have a stack of Moleskine and Leuchtturm journals to prove it.  The method is one I can identify with . . . and I have always enjoyed tracking my days, thought and plans.  I will admit that I get distracted by other "better than a Bullet Journal" products, but I have always come back to my BUJO!

The section in this book on Goal Setting is worth the price of the book alone.  My problem with goal setting is that I set goals that are far too big, and far too scary as a result to begin working on.  Dividing the goals into simple and orderly steps is the key.  Ryder breaks this all down in a simple to understand way.  This is the sort of book where you will say more than once to yourself, "why didn't I think of that?"

The Bullet Journal Method occupies space on the bookshelf in my home study reserved for books that I try to re-read at least once a year, or once every couple of years.  There are only about 12 books on this shelf at this current time.  Each has made a profound difference in my life and in my way of thinking about, processing, and affirming what is important to me.

Yes, I know, Ryder primarily stresses an analog method . . . and that's a lame concept for some people.  I embrace both digital and technology . . . but I so enjoy using a "real" pencil (yes I have an Apple Pencil as well).   I have found a place for both in my life.  I'm 62.  Hey, I'm hip!

Well, maybe not.  However, the Bullet Journal Method resonates with me, and has ever since I first discovered Ryder's first video about it. I can say without a doubt, that using this method has helped me make the intentional choice to be more productive in things that truly matter to me.  DayTimer didn't do that.  Franklin-Covey didn't do that.  Planner Pads almost did (a good resource if I had lot's of focused projects).  Bullet Journaling is what helped me turn the corner.

If you are a "creative", or just need a process that helps you clear your mind and learn how to focus on what's important to you, then give this book a read.  I think you will be glad you did.

Final thoughts . . . long live REAL pencils and REAL notebooks and journals.  How I long for the quality of pencils and notebooks from days past.

Rick ><>

Sunday, January 26, 2020

When Life Comes Calling . . .

A truth that we sometimes want to avoid at all costs, is when life comes calling and you find yourself, as a result, dealing with something you didn't plan or expect to deal with.  Often these are things that you would rather not deal with, let alone choose to deal with. Truth be told, nobody wants to deal with such things . . . like these:

-Almost 10 years ago . . . life came rudely calling with an unexpected cancer diagnosis.  I didn't want to deal with it . . . but had too!  Two surgeries and 5 years of follow up protocols later . . . I am still cancer free.

-3 years ago . . . both of my knees finally gave out, and I physically could not navigate the day without pain, the level of which clouded both my mind and judgement.  Pain that almost negatively affected my personality.  Two knee replacements later, and I am more physically active that before, and mentally in a good place.

-1 year ago . . . the catacts in both eyes became so bad that I had to stop driving at night, as well as effecting my sight during the day so that I became unable to truly enjoy the scenery during our family travels to Colorado and Tennessee. Taking photographs using the camera view finder was impossible.  Two lens implants later, and I can almost see 20/20 for distance, and only need corrective lenses to read.

Life recently came calling again when I suddenly (out of nowhere in fact) developed an involuntary "tick" causing me to roll back my eyes.  People asked my wife if I had suffered a stroke!  I wan't aware of it . . . and people that love me finally said something about it.  To make matters worse, I had a case of allergic conjunctivitis in my eyes.  And, since the accident, I have had some bad neck pain that has slowly seemed to get worse despite treatment by my chiropractor.

I have a new family practice doctor since our move to a new community.  Fine man who I love, admire, and completely respect already!   He listens carefully, and he knows that Liz and I were in a bad truck wreck south of Abilene back in October of 2019.  What he did next floored me.   He ordered an MRI of my brain and my neck.

An MRI . . . he sent me in for a brain scan.

Well, fast forward a couple of weeks, and the results came in.  First, I do have a brain!  Apparently nothing is wrong with it!  That is outstanding news . . . and a great relief to my family and myself.

The neck MRI . . . pinched nerves / possible nerve damage.  Accident related . . . well,  that is something that a doctor will have to advise me about.  I am not a doctor or diagnostician.  I will start therapy this next week and will follow up with a neurologist in a few more weeks.

I write all this to share that prayer has gotten me through a lot of things, and will get me through what is yet to come.  I'm at the age where perhaps I am little bit more spiritual than in my early (I am indestructible / immortal / nothing can hurt me!) years.  I truly believe that I can feel the prayers of other people.

Should life one day call you in a way that you least expect it . . . I hope that you do not have to face what follows alone.  Even if people can't be with you . . . even if you are private about some things and open about other things . . . let some people who pray know about it.

Let me know about it.  I will pray for you.  Hopefully you will feel the prayers prayed on your behalf.  Perhaps getting through what life deals us is helped when we know that other people care about us, enough to say a prayer to a God that they believe in, hope in . . . or cry out to in a moment of desperation.  I do know this . . . prayer can't hurt.

Rick ><>