Today’s wisdom is from Army Staff Sargent Christopher Walker– but first my little story:
On October 11, I was in Washington DC on my way to dinner when I fell and broke my pinky finger. My wound and its wrappings were no small thing: I couldn’t write, shower, put on make-up, and on and on. A month later, my little pinky finger is still swollen, misshapen and sore. I just said, “Ouch after hitting it on the elevator door.” When I joined my husband for breakfast, he had been reading USA Today; so, I asked what’s in the news? He pointed to the cover story which was about the horrific injuries that some of our service members have to cope with as a result of IED’s in Afghanistan. The picture showed Army Staff Sargent Christopher Walker, age 28, a bomb technician, who was wounded in Afghanistan. He lost both arms and his left leg.
I didn’t want to read the article because I just couldn’t stand to hear about horrific injuries inflicted on our young service people. I just do not want to hear about all these terrible sufferings. It is difficult to stay in my little rainbow world if I watch movies like “Schindler’s List,” or “Taken,” or read about slave and sex trafficking of young girls. I don’t want to “know,” because when I “know” as a human being, as a Christian, don’t I have to “do something?”
But it is my responsibility to know….
I decided to read the entire article and now I will do something. I will share one Wounded Warrior’s story: (from USA Today, November 15, 2012).
As I said, Christopher Walker is 28 years old and lost both arms and his left leg.
Doctors’ say, “The physical destruction when a service member steps on an IED is immense: shattered bones and flesh, sexual organs and rectums torn or ripped away, eardrums ruptured, limbs to the shoulder or pelvis cut away, infectious bacteria and fungus propelled deep into body tissues.”
Now, Christopher’s days are filled with what his occupational therapist calls, “the skills of the job of living.”
Christopher explains, “The normal things you do: wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, shower, get dressed, get yourself ready, grab something to eat and head out for the day. It’s just normal, self-sufficient, everyday life. It’s pretty much where I’m trying to get back to.” He’s wearing a t-shirt printed with the phrase, “Wounded Warrior (some assembly required)”.
Christopher is learning to walk on an artificial leg and use computerized prosthetic arms, devices that read his muscle impulses. “It’s like starting over. Like an infant, you’ve got to learn to use your hands, artificial hands, again. The other day, I practiced using a knife and fork, slicing putty in a dish.”
“There are days that are horrible,” he says candidly. “It can be just…getting a can out of the refrigerator. You’ve done it a hundred times; but, that day you drop three in a row.”
“Some days things go well. Some days things don’t. You just got to keep going,” he says. “It’s complicated. But I’m happy I’m alive. I have a wife. I have a daughter. And…I didn’t want to die.”
Back to my story…Suddenly, my little crooked pinky finger is “no big deal.” My list of other annoyances has vanished! Today, I have learned some wisdom from Army Staff Sargent Christopher Walker. Today, I am passing on this information to you. What will we do about our wounded warriors? We can pray for them. We can learn more ways to care for our wounded warriors by going to my website www.wisdomofthewounded.com and search Wounded Warriors.
Help us Lord to care enough to do something. Amen.
Wounded Warrior Project: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
Team Rubicon: http://teamrubiconusa.org/
Saving A Life
Christina North, a certified lifeguard, was at the lake with her friend, Cameron. He had run ahead of her to dive off the end of the pier, despite her warnings. But, when she got there, she could see him floating face down in the water.
Was he playing around? Should she do something?
Listen as Christina shares her incredible story and how God used His Word to provide comfort during this tragic event.
Solitude With God
I like to be alone…together. No, I’m not talking about being alone with my wife, with my family, or with my friends.
I like to be alone, all alone, so I can be together with God.
Do you notice a significant difference between Christian leaders and non-Christian leaders? Should there be a significant difference between them?
I’ve worked many years in the for-profit business world, and I’ve been highly engaged with many non-profit organizations, and now in my work I’m intimately connected to pastors and church leaders.
I’ve seen a lot of leaders, many of them Christians and many of them not. Sometimes it’s easy to see a difference—and often it’s not. Why would this be?
My observation is that many of us Christians quickly forget what we profess to believe when facing tough decisions, or pressure, or highly anxious people.
I’ve often talked about the impact of anxiety on our ability to think straight, and how it affects our ability to remember what we profess to believe and value.
Our world is an anxious place. Whether you’re in the for-profit world, the non-profit world, or the church world, you will face anxious people and anxious situations.
So what can you do to be less anxious when everything around you is trying to entice you to join the anxiety party?
Spend time with God! Alone. And do it often.
Even Jesus went to lonely places to be with God.
God is not ever anxious! And just like anxious people and situations draw you toward becoming anxious yourself, time with God seems to just naturally make you less anxious—and eventually even calm.
A couple of years ago I was coaching a pastor who was being asked to go from the second chair to the lead chair in his church. He had been a lead pastor before and knew the effect it had on him and on his family, and he didn’t want to go there again.
During a time in prayer, he clearly sensed the Holy Spirit telling him that if he would spend an hour with God each day—not just when he was working on his sermon or studying for work purposes, but just being with God through his Word and through prayer and silence—then he would be fine in the position of lead pastor.
When he was describing this to me, something inside me resonated. I believed the Holy Spirit was telling me to do this too. So I began to get up early enough to spend an hour, sometimes more, in God’s Word and in an intentional relationship with God.
Even just talking about this gives me a sense of calm. Virtually every day I’m reminded of God’s power, of God’s love, of God’s promises to me.
I’m also reminded of the fallen nature of our world, of the people I will come into contact with, and of my own fallen condition!
I’m pretty sure that this time with God makes me a different person. I’m pretty sure this time with God makes me a different leader—hopefully a Christian leader who reflects the truth and love of Christ.
I know you’re incredibly busy as a leader! I can imagine many of you saying right now that you’re too busy to take this much time to be with God. I get it. I too am not getting everything done that needs to be done in a day.
Even though that’s true, I’ve come to believe that I need to be with God!
I think it was Bill Hybels who wrote about being too busy to not pray!
Why is prayer and quiet time with God so important for a leader who is so very busy?
Quiet time with God reminds me who I am and whose I am.
Quiet time with God reminds me what I believe and what I value in life.
Quiet time with God makes me a less anxious person; it makes me a calm person.
When I’m calm I think more clearly and make better decisions.
When I worked in the automotive design business and felt great pressure to get work done faster than we could really do it, someone came up with this expression: “It seems like we never have enough time to do something the right way, but we always seem to find the time to re-do it when it turns out to be wrong.”
Being calm helps me to do the thing right in the first place and not have to re-do it later.
When I’m calm, I also treat people better. When I don’t treat people on my team well, it either costs their full engagement in our mission or it requires me to go back and clean up the mess I created. Neither of these is a better outcome than just treating them well in the first place.
When I’m calm, my decisions are better, my relationships are better, and my mental and emotional health is better. Even my physical health becomes better!
So what do you think? Are these good things for a leader?
One of the things I do when I’m with God is read from Sarah Young’s devotionalJesus Calling. These are messages she sensed from Jesus each morning after just being still in his presence.
As I was in the middle of constructing this message over a few days, one of these daily devotions included the following:
Be still in my presence, even though countless tasks clamor for your attention.
Nothing is as important as spending time with Me. While you wait in My presence, I do My best work within you: transforming you by the renewing of your mind.
If you skimp on this time with Me, you may plunge headlong into the wrong activities, missing the richness of what I have planned for you.
Sound like something important for Christian leaders?
If I plunge headlong into the wrong activities, it’s not just me that gets affected, it’s also the people who follow me.
Another thing I do is spend time enjoying the Bible—not just trying to get through it, but engaging it at a comfortable pace and following where my curiosity takes me.
I spend the great majority of my time doing just these two things while also talking to God as I’m reading.
I also spend time with God in more formal prayer. I like “ACTS” prayer. The “A” stands for “acknowledgement,” so I spend time acknowledging who God is—how awesome and merciful he is. Thinking about who God really is and what his character is blows me away. It makes me want to praise him!
The “C” stands for confession: I spend some time confessing my sin, admitting where I fall short of what God created me to be and to do.
Anything that separates me from an intimate relationship with God is sin. That can even be making an idol out of going to church or being too busy doing “good” things to be with God.
If something separates me from my relationship with God, it is sin.
Next in the ACTS prayer is “T,” where I spend time expressing my thanksgiving to God. And this is an amazingly long list. I’m often overwhelmed with all that I have to be thankful for.
I believe that every good thing in me and my life is a pure gift of God’s grace, and I’m so blessed to have so many good people and things in my life.
The “S” in ACTS prayer is for supplication—I ask God to intervene in my life and in the lives of others. And God has promised that whatever I ask for, if it’s done for God’s will, it will be given.
So that’s it: why I think all Christian leaders need to spend significant time alone and together.
If you aren’t already doing this, please try it this week and see what happens.
If you do, I’d love to hear about it. Send me an email at email@example.com.
A Stranger Taken In
n Matthew 25, Jesus explains that the righteous will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God at the end of the age, because they fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and came to those in prison. Opportunities to do these very things are around us every single day.
Before service on Wednesday nights, my church has a three dollar meal for the community, and serves excellent food. It was during this meal a couple weeks ago that just such an opportunity arose in my own life when my sister showed up with a stranger. This stranger, was a middle-aged man who was wet, dirty, and sunburn. As my sister and he sat down and joined our conversation, an incredible story surfaced. Listen to this weeks broadcast to hear what happened.