March 27, 2010

Peter the Rock and Me

Other than Jesus, my favorite personality in the Bible is Peter, one of the central figures in all of scripture. That’s because I can relate to Peter’s numerous imperfections and human frailties.

To begin with, Peter was impulsive. The night Jesus was arrested Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of a high priest's slave. There he was, the founder of the Church and the man Jesus called his Rock, wielding a sword. It gives new meaning to the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers.

After Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing him. The third time he was accused Peter cursed and swore an oath. The phrase, “Swears like a sailor” is not based on fantasy.

Paul charged Peter with being a hypocrite. He said Peter acted like a Gentile when he was among Gentiles and like a Jew when he was with Jews.

Yes, the New Testament describes Peter as a blundering, impulsive, hypocrite whose vocabulary was not always polite or refined. Substitute my name for his, and you have described me.

The amazing thing is that God chose this mass of quivering Jell-O to be his Rock. It is just as astonishing to realize that God chooses to forgive me and to offer me another opportunity to live the life Christ wants me to live.

March 17, 2010

What is Required of a Leader?

The year was 1955 and a quarterback for the University of Louisville, with only 527 passing yards in his senior year, dreamed of playing in the National Football League. Following graduation, the determined young man was drafted in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers but released before the season began.

After writing many letters and knocking on many doors, the persistent quarterback was rejected a second time. Finally, after his third tryout, the Baltimore Colts signed Johnny Unitas as a third string quarterback. It was his first step in a professional career that ultimately led to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Leadership involves vision, commitment and the ability to motivate others, and the Golden Arm, Johnny U had all three attributes.

Of course, the perfect role model for leadership skills is Jesus of Nazareth. . Today, more than 2 billion people around the world follow Jesus, the most dynamic leader in history.

Jesus had a vision of a world where all people were motivated by love for one another. He had a passion for his message, and he had the ability to motivate others. Exceptional leaders, like Jesus, are also dedicated to a life of service to others. In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we read:

“I tell you whoever wants to be great must be your servant. . . Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”

Whether it’s sports, the church, education, business or any other worthwhile endeavor, leadership requires commitment, vision, the ability to inspire others and service.

March 2, 2010

Commandments for a Lasting Relationship

If you search for advice on relationships or marriage, you will find nearly 127,000 books on the subject. You can read all of them OR you can open your heart to advice from Nancy and me, a couple who have been in love for sixty-two years and married for fifty-seven. Based on experience, which I am told is the best teacher, here are five commandments for a lasting relationship.

Thou shall be totally committed to each other. A relationship or marriage that stands the test of time requires that you be tenacious in your love for each other and your desire to stay together no matter what. A good relationship requires that you have a “capacity for tenacity.”

Thou shall always treat your partner with courtesy and consideration. “Please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, I’m sorry and you’re forgiven” should be common language between you. Sarcastic humor, wisecracks, humiliating digs or crude language that demeans your partner are not part of a loving relationship.

Thou shall communicate with your partner with candor and frankness. A relationship built on honesty and straightforwardness is vital in a marriage that stands the test of time. Also remember communication is not limited to words. Touching, holding hands, hugging and kissing are constant reminders of your love and affection for each other.

Thou shall have a penchant for humor. A good sense of humor is the best antidote for anxiety and depression and the most direct route to serenity and contentment. Laugh often, laugh long, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Finally, thou shall commune together with your God. If you ask God to be present in your relationship, He will bless and strengthen your togetherness and heal your relationship when there are problems. That’s one reason those couples who attend church regularly have the lowest divorce rate.

Follow these commandments and you too may celebrate sixty-two years of a loving relationship with the same partner.