Many of us are familiar with the verse in Romans 8 that says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB), but did you know that this verse even applies when you do something completely stupid?
In this week’s episode, I share a story of redemption that started six years ago with a stupid decision, and has recently ended with God giving me a major “redo”. Here is the gist of the story, without going into too much detail. Six years ago, at the age of fifteen, a friend and I entered a place we shouldn’t have entered, with motives we shouldn’t have had. Fast forward to recently, and I found myself in the same location, but this time to share Jesus with the people there. God’s redemption stories are a work of art!
Listen to this weeks episode to hear what happened.
A Foot Massage
When my friend, Pat, was dying, she asked, “Karen, will you please massage my feet?” This request made me feel a little uncomfortable. I didn’t know how. I wasn’t trained. Although, I did remember how wonderfully soothing and relaxing it was when having my feet massaged during a pedicure.
Anyway, Pat handed me a bottle of lotion and I began to massage –or rub softly and tenderly. While I massaged, I prayed that she would feel Jesus’ touch. I pictured in my mind that Jesus was releasing waves of quiet, soothing peace throughout Pat’s body and mind. Gradually, I could feel Pat relax and then she was sleeping.
In your caregiving, I hope that you will consider giving a suffering friend a loving foot massage. It will be a gift to the friend and to you.
In another story, Larry George shares about receiving and then giving a foot massage:
One memory I have of my dad is about the time my dad rubbed my feet. Sounds crazy? Let me explain. Being one of nine children, dad wanted to spend time with each of us. I remember one cold wintery night when I was about 10 years old and was wearing my cowboy boots on my paper route. These boots were too big and had a hole in the sole. They were a pair my grandfather had given me, and I loved them. I would wear a couple of pairs of socks and use plastic bread sacks in my boots to keep my feet dry.
On that wintry night, my Dad had a service call to make in a neighboring town and looked me up on my paper route and asked me if I wanted to go with him? I quickly said, “Yes!” and got into his truck. As we drove, my feet began to hurt because they were so cold and had gotten wet.
When we got to the service call, dad could see I was hurting. Inside the building he had me sit down and pulled off my boots. He, of course, scolded me because my feet were wet. He said, “Larry, you have to take care of your feet. If you lose them, you can’t walk.” He began to gently take off my socks and put them on a heater and then began to rub the feeling back into my feet. This not only helped my feet, but it also made me realize how much dad loved me.
Years later, I was able to return the favor. When hospice told me my father was dying, they encouraged me to rub his feet. They said that the pleasant feeling of having one’s feet rubbed is such a comfort. It helps the person relax and they feel peaceful. I gently rubbed them like he had done to me years earlier. I was so thankful that I could communicate my love for him by lovingly massaging his feet.
In the last stage of my friend Pat’s life, she wrote the following for my caregiving handbook, The Compassionate Congregation: “When I was very ill and in pain, sometimes the only thing that brought me comfort and peace was a foot massage. You don’t have to know how; but, just start massaging. One caregiver said that as she massaged, she imagined waves of quiet, soothing peace flowing throughout my body. And that’s just what I experienced.”
Thank you, Congressman Howard Coble
Missionaries face all sorts of challenges while preparing for the mission field. One of those is obtaining passports and visas. It is not always an easy thing to do.
Over the past 22 years, Congressman Howard Coble, and his assistant, Janine Osborne, have helped several of our missionary families who have had some specific needs with obtaining documents.
Siloam Missionary Homes paid a special tribute to Congressman Coble during our Memorial Day Weekend “Family Farm Weekend.”
Listen as we talk to Mr. Coble and Ms. Osborne about the role they have played in Siloam Missionary Homes.
Blindness & Feedback
Have you ever seen the bold arrowhead in the Federal Express logo—you know, the logo that’s on the side of every one of their trucks?
I’ll bet you’ve seen it dozens if not hundreds of times, and yet if nobody has ever pointed it out to you, I bet you haven’t noticed it. And yet there it is, clear as day, staring you in the right in the face.
Today’s leadership topic is blindness, and about how we all have some.
You know the famous passage from the Bible about the blind man Jesus healed. When he was asked how it was done, the man responded, “All I know is that I was blind and now I see.”
A person who was literally blind said that, but we know that it applies to us too, right? You see that, right? (And yes, the pun is intended.)
Well, everyone I’ve ever asked was blind to the arrow in the FedEx logo, until I pointed it out to them—after a FedEx leader pointed it out to me.
It’s right there between the capital “E” and the small “x,” and it’s in the “reverse” space: the color of the truck, not the color of the letters. And it’s big and bold. And now I can’t not see it! Every time I see the logo, I see the arrow. I was blind, but now I see.
The same is true about seeing ourselves. There are many things about ourselves that we are exposed to all the time, and yet we’re blind to them. Maybe like the FedEx logo, these are things that are in our “negative space.”
Of course there are a multitude of things about me that I know clearly; some of them are open for all to see, while others are hidden from public view. And then there are those sneaky little things that others see in me that I don’t! I’m blind to them, but just about everyone who knows me sees them.
By now you know I like examples, so let me give you a few:
There’s the classic “You have spinach on your tooth”—and your wife, or husband, or friend, or enemy points it out to you.
Another classic: You have toilet paper hanging off the back of your shoe…or you have a tag sticking up from the back of your sweater…or your left pant leg is tucked into the back of your shoe, or…
I’d better stop, you’re probably getting a real geek-certified picture of me right now, and I’d rather not confirm that picture in your mind.
Of course in each of these examples you didn’t really have a chance of seeing the thing you were blind to. You needed someone or something to help you out—a mirror or another person. But here are some examples of things you could see, but just don’t:
Remember the first time you heard yourself on a recording?
“I sound like that?!”
“I do that with my breathing?”
“I say ‘um’ at the beginning of just about every thought I share?”
Or when seeing yourself on video:
“My hair looks like that?”
“I play with my hands that way when I speak?”
“Really? I look away from the people I’m speaking to?”
We’re all blind to different things about ourselves. And a very interesting aspect of our blindness is that we don’t know what we’re blind to. We think we see everything. Just like the expression “We don’t know what we don’t know,” we also don’t know what we don’t see. We think we see it all, but we don’t.
To be strong Christian leaders we need to see ourselves accurately.
We need to know where we’re uniquely gifted—and not!
We need to know where our behaviors are particularly faith-filled and faithful—and not!
We need to know when and where we have particularly good judgment—and not!
Seeing ourselves accurately helps us know when to let others lead, or when to get help. It also helps us know when to step up and lead with boldness.
But we don’t naturally see ourselves 100 percent accurately. So how do we overcome our blindness? Feedback is the key! Feedback helps us see what others see in us—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There are many kinds of feedback.
The world gives us feedback by how it responds to us.
A stopwatch is great. Video is great. A mirror is great. And all of these give feedback that is often painful as well. I remember looking at my huge buck teeth in the mirror when I was in seventh grade. (I realize now they weren’t that big.)
I remember knowing I was a very fast runner in fifth grade–until I got to seventh grade and ran into kids much faster than me. This was later verified in high school when I practically needed to be timed with a calendar watch.
I remember hiding the first video I got of myself from a public speaking class thinking “No one will ever see this video,” because I would be embarrassed for them to see me speaking on video. It was only later that I realized I was the only one who hadn’t seen me speaking. My friends and family see me do it all the time.
Another challenge to identifying my blindness is that people just assume that I see the very thing I’m blind to. I may be totally unaware of my propensity to overuse the word propensity, and therefore I continue to use it way too much, driving everyone just a little nuts.
Everyone who knows me figures I’m aware of my propensity for overusing the word propensity so they don’t share their perception about it; they just develop a propensity for putting up with my propensity for overusing that word—propensity that is.
When I see and hear myself doing that in a recording and I ask them, do I say “propensity” a lot? They just roll their eyes and say, “Yep.”
In the leadership development world we use different tools to help leaders see themselves more clearly—to know themselves clearly, a tough thing indeed.
Some famous old dead guy once said, “Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.” My experience is that it is indeed a difficult thing to do.
So if it’s so tough, there better be a good reason for doing it. Why is it so important to know ourselves as Christian leaders?
Well, it’s a big part of understanding who God created us to BE, and what God is shaping us to DO.
It helps us embrace the unique gifting we have—and don’t have!
It helps us accept what we didn’t want to be, but are—according to God’s design and shaping.
Understanding who we are, as created by God, and how our fallen nature shows up in us, is critical for leading in healthy and fruitful ways!
I’ve covered a lot; let me summarize the key points:
We are blind to certain aspects of who we are, how we act, how we’re gifted, and how we’re not gifted!
We need others to help us see these things even though it’s usually painful.
We need to know ourselves well, because in that we learn more about who God created us to be and what god is shaping us to do.
And finally, maybe the best way to learn who we are, and to see our blindness, is to spend time with God, alone, listening for his still small voice. Asking the Holy Spirit to give us feedback—to share with us who we are and how we’re not being true to that.
This week, consider gathering some feedback about yourself. Ask people who know you and love you a question or two or three. Maybe questions like:
What do you see in me that is unique?
What is especially cool about me?
If God were to change one thing about me in order for me to be more fruitful, what might it be?
And if someone is kind enough to answer these kinds of questions for you, treat their answers it like a gift! Don’t downplay their answers. Don’t debate their answers. Just accept them with appreciation for their willingness to share their perceptions of you with you.
It doesn’t mean their perceptions are accurate, but it’s helpful to know what people perceive in you—and that’s worth considering as you work to better “know thyself.”