Category Archives: compassion

Reaching out to Bees and Moths

Bee attracted to sweet nectar

Sweet nectar attracts bees, and people too!

Bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light. People are attracted to other people who love them, who are kind to them, who truly accept them for who they are. People who shine the grace filled the light of Christ into their lives.

It is sad to me that I still see an exclusive, sectarian, judgmental, even superior attitude in many Christians and churches. Why is this? Do we as Followers of Christ have it all together? Are we above reproach at all times? I know I’m not, and it seems to me that if we choose to believe that of ourselves, and let others believe that about us, then we are no better than the “Pharisees and Teachers of the Law” of Jesus’ day.

Jesus said, “Come to me.” He didn’t say get it all together, dress a certain way, clean up your language, be a teetotaler, etc., and then come to me. He said come to me and let my love heal you, restore you. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

This whole train of thought came about when I recently read the below article by Jud Wilhite.

Neither Do I Condemn You
By Jud Wilhite

I talked to a guy recently who was really lamenting that fact that more pastors aren’t preaching hellfire, brimstone and condemnation. He felt like the problem with Christianity is that everybody just believes God loves you.
Really? As I talk with people in Las Vegas who are not Christians, as well as many who are, I find lots of people who already believe God hates them or at best tolerates them. Like the guy with the tattoo that said, “God hates us all.” To me this isn’t news, it is assumed.
The good news is that God loved us so much he sent his son to die in our place and take the punishment for sin. This is the greatest picture of love and it implies that yes… God loves us!
It’s like one of my favorite stories in John 8 where we read about a woman whose encounter with Jesus teaches us about guilt, grace, and forgiveness. She was dragged before Jesus by religious leaders who angrily throw her in front of him. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
Stone faces and stones in their hands. The woman must have been so terrified and embarrassed. In moments, she was exposed and hurled onto death row. From secret delight to public humiliation. The accusation – guilty of adultery – punishable by death.
This whole scene is fishy to begin with, though. How does one happen to catch someone in the act of adultery? And it takes two to tango – so where is this man? He is equally guilty. Maybe he was paid off to set her up or he could have been friends with these religious leaders. One thing is for sure – the religious leaders were using this question as a trap so they could have a basis for accusing Jesus (John 8:6). Rather than offering the woman help, they set her up. She had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and her guilt was real.
At first, Jesus did not respond to the religious leaders’ accusations. He bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. This is the only record of Jesus writing. People have speculated that he wrote the sins of the religious leaders gathered around. Some say he wrote Scripture. Maybe he just doodled!
As he knelt, the leaders kept questioning him; they planned to snare Jesus in a catch-22. If he sentenced the woman to death, the Roman government would intervene. They alone determined an execution. If Jesus condoned a stoning, he might lose popularity. The crowd had followed him and had been attracted to his compassion. But if he told the leaders to let her go, they would accuse him of violating an Old Testament law.
They thought they had him cornered. But Jesus rose and spoke one of the most profound statements of Scripture: “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then he knelt down and continued writing.
What followed? Silence. A few awkward moments of anger turning to introspection. The rocks fell to the ground one at a time. By moving the focus off of the woman, Jesus had forced them to see their own guilt. He wasn’t concerned about the woman’s innocence, but rather that she was treated fairly. If she was to be judged, the witnesses were to come forth and be just and impartial (Deuteronomy 19:15-19). And the religious leaders were neither of those things. Jesus was not trying to throw out the process of law and legal procedure, but rather exposing the trial as a sham!
Once everyone had left and Jesus was alone with the woman, he asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replies with, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus declared… “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:10-11).
Beautiful words from the lips of a Savior. He came not to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). He showed her pure, unmerited, undeserved grace. We are quick to judge, but what accusations could be leveled at us? This story gives us caution. Too often Christians, and churches, shoot their wounded. When people fail, they need to be restored with a heart of compassion. It’s too easy to judge people who don’t have our particular sin struggle.
It’s time to show grace. The same grace Christ offers us, despite all of our short-comings. The grace he offers everyone.

Looking at the idea of Grace verses Judgement from a church growth point of view, if bees are attracted to sweet nectar, and moths are attracted to light, is your church, are you, projecting sweetness and light in a way that says, “ I’m still on this journey too; lets walk together”? Because remember, Church growth is not about numbers, but it’s about seeking and saving the lost.

Until next Time:

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 – 30

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Handshake – Howard Schultz and the Choice of Adding Value to Others

Howard Schultz employee

Howard Schultz makes adding value a priority

Adding Value to others is crucial in every area of your life, business, family, friends and even the stranger you meet today. Adding value to others is always reflected back to you.  This next excerpt from my new book Handshake is on Howard Schultz and the priority he gave to valuing everyone in the Starbucks organization.

Between 1987 and 1992, Starbucks, under Schultz, opened 150 new stores.  By September of 2009 Schultz was operating stores in more than 50 countries, through more than 16,000 stores around the world.

Schultz always said that the main goal was, “to serve a great cup of coffee.”  But attached to this goal was a principle:  Schultz said he wanted “to build a company with soul.”  This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail.  Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage.  Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan.  These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover.

… Starbucks has achieved what many thought impossible under the umbrella that if you add value to people, value will be added to you.  In a society that is self-driven, adding value to people may seem like a waste of time. Those who think that way have no clue to the power that comes from this practice.  When you determine to be “others” minded, you have made a decision that will alter your life.

Listed are some of the benefits you will learn in this chapter regarding adding value to those around you:

a)    You deposit success into others

b)    You build your network

c)    You build loyalty

d)    You build longevity

e)    You create a winning atmosphere

f)    You increase your level of influence

g)    You will receive a great return on your investment

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.
— Flora Edwards

An Example of Encouragement

Tony Curtis encouragment

Tony Curtis was a great encourager

As leaders and as human beings I cannot stress enough the importance of encouraging the people in your life. Your words have the power to lift people up in a far greater capacity than you may may have ever imagined. They literally can breathe life. I encourage you to actively seek ways to encourage each person in your life. Your spouse, your kids, parents, friends, business partners,staff, the grocery clerk, the waiter, the guy who changes your tires, the flight attendant, they all crave encouragement. I am not talking about empty flattery, I am talking about true compliments and encouragement. What are you grateful for in that person? What do they do well? What do they do that makes your life better?  It may not always be easy to do with every person, but if you look deep enough you will always find something good to say.  Below is article by Jud Wilhite regarding the amazing lesson of encouragement he relieved from the late Tony Curtis. encourager

TONY CURTIS

Tony Curtis, the legendary actor, passed away in the Las Vegas area this week at 85. I only had a 15 minute snapshot of him, but it still inspires me to this day.

Two Christmases ago after a service, he came backstage to our green room at Central in Vegas. He wanted to see me. I came around the corner, and he grabbed my arm and pulled me down to him in is wheelchair. He told me two or three positive things that he loved about the message. He told me I had a great smile on the platform that put people at ease and helped them open their hearts. He told me I touched him, and he thanked me.

Then the host/MC walked through for that weekend. He grabbed him and told him a couple very specific things that he liked. Then he turned to some volunteer band members and remembered specific things they had done during the service and praised them personally, legitimately, uniquely. THIS IS TONY FREAKING CURTIS. He’s made about a zillion movies like Some Like It Hot and Spartacus.

We only saw him for 15 minutes, and he had poured so much courage into each of us. He gave us life by his words. He never made it about him for one moment. It was all about loving and encouraging others. When he left, I prayed that God would make me more like that.

It is amazing the kind of impact you can have in 15 minutes when you make it about others and pouring into them. Find somebody to encourage today!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”  -Proverbs 16:24
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”
-Jim Stovall

Becoming a Person That Others Want To Follow Part 2

new life umbrella

Leaders nurture those who follow

It has been said that if you are leading but no one is following you are simply taking a walk.  This is a simple but profound statement that every leader must ask themselves, “Is anyone really following me?”   In our previous post we discussed the importance of a leader gaining greater influence and becoming more effective in their leadership.

If you remember we said that leadership is sort of like an “Umbrella.”  The umbrella is in the hand of the leader.  Under the protection of that umbrella are all the departments of the organization.  The success of each department can never, will never, rise any higher than the level at which the leader holds the umbrella.  Leadership sets the standard.  The higher the standard the more effective the leadership.

So how can we “Enlarge our Umbrella?”  How can we gain greater influence and build the kind of characteristics that others would want to follow.  There are some key elements that will help you become the leader that others would want to follow:

1)  Concern – the ability to show you care
Great leaders have the ability to show concern for people’s deepest needs and interests.  This doesn’t mean that you have to be mushy, not everyone is, but you must sense their interest and concerns, show that you care and leave them with the feeling that what they are going through matters to you.  One of the greatest statements I have heard regarding this subject is, “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you.”

2)  Help – the ability to reach out
To put this simply…Great leaders are Great helpers!  They are out to see others profit; to do better.  They are willing to help when and where needed to make the other person successful.  Zig Ziglar says, “Help enough people achieve success and you will never lack success for yourself.”

3)  Action = the ability to make things happen
Something always seems to be happening around a person with charisma.  The charismatic person has an aversion to being boring.  They have an ability to create action…the kind of action that people want to be around.  They are movers, shakers, history makers and that kind of energy is contagious.  If you want to be a great leader that others want to follow, then be a person of action.

4)  Results – the ability to produce
People want to be on the winning team and great leaders that produce will never lack for people to want to join their squad.  Be a person who executes and who gets results.  Develop a winning tradition in your life and career.  If you develop this kind of characteristic in your life, people will do almost anything to partner with you.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

“Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”
– British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery

The Heart of a Leader

Heart to lead

Do You Have the Heart of a Leader?

When you think of leadership what comes to mind? I think I could ask a hundred people and get a thousand different answers.  This week I have chosen to look at the heart of a leader, as true leaders lead from a place of love and not force. To that end I have gleaned from two great leaders (who are also Celera coaches).

The 2 Core Responsibilities of a leader

By Mike Foster:

Last week I had the opportunity to spend an hour with some incredible leaders involved with Backstage Leadership.

I shared with them what I considered to be my 2 most important leadership responsibilities. (Btw, thanks peter for sharing them with me)

1. BUILD TRUST: I do this with striving to live transparently and with character in both my personal and professional life. Bottom line is if people don’t trust you, they won’t let you lead them. Especially if you are leading to a place of challenge, risk, and the unknown. Our inspirational speeches, clever mission statements, and our stunning business card titles are nice, but they don’t trump trust.

2. BEAR PAIN: Let me shoot straight. If your heart isn’t burdened for others and you’re not helping to carry that weight, then you are not a leader. If your world isn’t uncomfortable and you aren’t navigating pain on a daily basis, then you’re probably not a leader. I love what Craig Groeschel said to me many moons ago…

“The size of your platform is directly proportional to the amount of pain you can endure.”

– Along those same lines Dan Reiland writes in his article…

“Simply Relational, Part 1”

Are you demanding by nature?

Most leaders are type A, driven, and “push” people, at least to some degree. Pushing people is much different than being a pushy person. A “push” can feel like a loving nudge in the right direction or like someone just shoved you over a cliff. A better word than pushing is leading. The picture of a leader is one who is out front inviting others to come forward. The picture of pushing is more of someone behind you making you go where you don’t want to go. The truth is, leaders do both. And whether or not the outcome is favorable is based largely upon if you are demanding by nature or by function.

A leader who is demanding by nature is never satisfied and often makes demands to satisfy his or her personal agenda. This can stem from not knowing what you want (where you are going) or personal insecurities and needs. A leader who is demanding by function (responsibility) does so for the good of the people and the organization. No one likes to follow someone who is demanding by nature. More bricks less straw! This person is at best a bully, and at worst, a tyrant. Everyone will follow a leader who is tough but cares. (Demanding by function.) The greatest coaches, teachers and leaders all have high standards and refuse to lower them. The leader who is demanding by nature will eventually forfeit leadership.

Until Next Time,

Charis Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves.” – Unkown

Neglected Church

Neglected church

A neglected church disappears

What happens when we stop actively pursuing the kingdom of God?  What happens when we put blinders on, so that we only see our own small life or only the lives of those already in our church? What happens when we no longer see the needs of the world around us? What happens when we no longer care enough about the billions of people who are waiting to hear about Jesus enough to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? We are the church. The people who attend our church building each week are only one small part of THE CHURCH! Recently, I came across an article by Craig Brian Larson from PreachingToday.com. It pointedly shows that what is neglected fades away.

Church Disappears One Brick at a Time

Orthodox Church officials in Russia discovered in 2008 that one of their church buildings had disappeared. Poof—gone! The 200-year-old building northeast of Moscow had gone unused for a decade, but the Orthodox Church, which was experiencing growth, was considering reopening the church building, and that’s when they discovered their building wasn’t there.

They had to get to the bottom of this. After investigating the matter, the church officials did not blame aliens from outer space for the missing structure. Rather, they said the perpetrators were villagers from a nearby town, whom they said had taken and sold bricks from the building to a businessman. For each brick, the thieves received one ruble (about 4 cents).

This two-story church facility did not go from being a building to not being a building in one bulldozing stroke. Rather, the bricks were apparently chiseled out one by one by lots of people. In the same way, some churches—built not of bricks but of “living stones,” that is of Christians—are not reduced in one fatal stroke but rather by Christians one by one choosing not to be involved. Each decision means one less living stone. In the end, the church, intended by God to be the display of Christ’s glory, is chiseled away. Conversely, each person who gets involved helps to build a holy temple in the Lord made up of living bricks, where Christ is glorified.

When we choose not to grow we decay. When we do not reach out we shrink in. Choose to care. Choose to grow. The church is not a building; the church is people. People need to hear how much God loves them, and in sharing God’s love God’s church will grow.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“So I rebuked the officials and asked them, ‘”Why is the house of God neglected?”‘ . – Nehemiah 13:11a

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” – Luke 11:42

My Trip to Haiti

Convoy of Hope Haiti

Despite the media’s retreat, Convoy of Hope continues to provide aid in Haiti.

I just had the privilege of journeying to Haiti. It was both one of the best and worst trips of my life.  I went there with the knowledge of the devastation caused by the recent earthquake coupled with the absolute poverty on the nation, but even that foreknowledge in no way prepared me for the reality of what I saw.

I went on this journey with a few other pastors in partnership with Convoy of Hope. Thankfully Convoy of Hope was already in place in Haiti when the quake hit, and therefore was able to quickly respond. We had the privilege of helping in food distribution. Thousands of people gathered to receive food, and I was elated to give out the food purchased with the funds our church had raised. We had enough food to feed 18,000 people from that one container. I was feeling pretty good about what we had done.

Then the food ran out.

There were still thousands waiting for food. There was nothing left. And I stood there with this little six year old girl pulling on my pant leg looking for some thing to eat, and I had nothing to give her. I didn’t feel so good anymore. It was numbing to be there. The devastation and death were absolutely unfathomable. Nearly 300,000 have died. Human trafficking and child slavery are rampant. Millions are homeless.

I have come home with renewed determination to make a difference.  And I encourage each of you to respectfully use your positions of leadership and influence to make a difference. Find a way, be creative. I just read this story about a seven-year-old boy in England who has raised more than £60,000 ($110,000) to help the people of Haiti.

“Charlie Simpson was so upset by the devastation wrought by the earthquake that he told his mother he wanted to do anything he could to help. The boy set out to raise £500 for Unicef’s Haiti appeal by riding his bike five miles around his local park – but the schoolboy’s efforts inspired hundreds of people online who donated a total of more than £60,000 in just one day.” source: www.telegraph.co.uk

I am haunted by the image of that little girl pulling on my pant leg. I will do more. I have to. I am reminded of James 2:14-17 which says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

If you already have a trusted place to donate to, fantastic! If not, I urge you to trust Convoy of Hope with your contributions. I completely support Convoy of Hope. I have seen them in action, and I know that 94% of every dollar they bring in goes directly to the people they feed.

www.convoyofhope.org

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The purpose of life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.  Only then have we ourselves become true human beings.”

— Albert Schweitzer