Archive for the ‘integrity’ Category

How’s Your Customer Service?

In this day and age of socially networked consumers we need to ensure that we are creating great experiences for people.  Whether you are a business owner, manager or employee you have much to lose in this new world order.  Companies now crumble due to negative experiences that are shared with the world via Twitter, blogs and YouTube.  I realize that in my realm of responsibility in the church world is not a corporate environment but that does not mean that a negative experience at my church will not be shared for all the world to learn of.

Case in point, Dave Carroll, part of the band Sons of Maxwell, was traveling on United Airlines for a week-long tour in Nebraska when his Taylor guitar was damaged by the baggage handlers.  He brought his issue to the customer service department and was brushed off with indifference to his plight.  The saga of the broken guitar continued for many months and in an act of final desperation made a vow to the final person he spoke with that he would write and produce three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.  Here’s video number one:

Let’s be sure to create great experiences for people in each of our churches.  I would hate to think that there are any videos out there sharing a negative encounter that someone had with me…

This Is Not A Sports Blog…

This is about where we find ourselves in the world today.

(to steal a line from Bono: “This song is not a rebel song, this song is Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”)

The news has been broken and apparently David “Big Papi” Ortiz  and Manny Ramirez used performance enhancing drugs in 2003.  I still am not sure why they try and water down the truth by calling them that – steroids, everyone say it with me steroids.  The talk of the town throughout all of New England where the 2004 season turned around history for the Boston Red Sox that had been in a World Series Championship drought since 1918 is all about the fallen legends.  Some are disappointed, others don’t think anything of it.  The bottom line is that there is a great blemish on that World Series win.

big-papiListening to the radio this morning I heard the announcer tell of how everyone does it now and it doesn’t discredit the World Series wins at all.  While in the locker room at the gym today I was part of a conversation where the same justification took place.  It seems as though the acceptable norm is now to do whatever is needed to get the competitive edge in order to win.  I know that the argument has long been standing about the example that professional athletes play for the youth of this nation and how new regulations need to be set in place but it doesn’t seem to matter.

The regulations are in place but the accountability doesn’t seem to be there.  What are the punishments?  When people justify the actions of those who choose to cheat by using steroids I think we have all been let down.  There is no excuse for it.  If the records are broken and set by those who cheat then the records should be wiped clean.  I see those who want to place an asterisk beside certain records signifying that there is a challenge to the record but I believe the records should simply be discounted altogether.  Remove the records that have been proven to be contested due to the use of illegal drugs and allow those who are actually using their God-given abilities to achieve the accomplishments.

There is far too much tolerance for the misgivings of others for personal gain.  I am all for grace.  I live out gracemannyramirez daily in my own actions and words.  However, grace is given when grace is needed.  The professional athlete’s that are cheating should not be given grace – they should lose their ability to play that would set an example for all to see that cheaters do not win – no exceptions.  Am I disappointed that the Red Sox have a blemish on their achievements?  Absolutely.  I am a fan of the Red Sox and was proud of the teams that won the World Series in 2004 & 2007.  But I am not a fan of setting a poor example.

This is not a sports blog.  This is a post about where we find ourselves in the world today.  I only wish that we could see a future of sports professionals that would be full of integrity and character.  We need positive examples not more of the same old cheats…

Hope

When I gave my life to God just over 12 years ago I was filled with excitement.  I was amazed at what changes were happening in my life so quickly.  My attitude, my language, my actions.  They had all changed.  This excitement brought about a joy in my life that was noticeable.  Around that time I found a verse in 1 Peter 3:15 that stirred me up.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

And I was.  I wanted to run and tell everyone about the hope that I had.  I shared with anyone who asked.  I prayed that people from everywhere would see a change in my life and ask what had happened.  Those were some of the most exciting days of my coming to Christ.

I have been re-reading that section of Scripture lately and was a bit put off as I read the same verse in it’s overall context.  The heading for this section of Scripture is listed as “Suffering for Doing Good.”  Not such a feel good heading!  As I read through the entire chapter that this verse is listed in I was reminded of a few things.  Here’s the Scripture:

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Even the best of our intentions can land us in some pretty hot water with people.  Our actions and words can be misunderstood.  Our intent in doing good can be misinterpreted by those around us as being self-serving.  People won’t always get what we are doing and they will become critical.  Overall I believe that can just be a fact of life.  But when you are in the middle of “doing good” and being attacked because of it you don’t get filled up with lots of happy thoughts.

truehopeThis past week I have been answering many emails that have come in due to the signs that we created to promote our Easter services.  The signs are very simple – just a few words with an image of Jesus on both sides.  The image was colorized to take on a bit of the look of a former presidential candidates sign.  In doing this we have stirred up some controversy.  People are confusing our intentions of communicating the message of true hope that comes from Jesus and Jesus alone.  Instead some are reading into the sign as saying that President Obama is the messiah.  Nothing could be further from the truth and that was not our intention at all.

My first reaction, honestly, was to blast the people.  “Idiot!  Are you serious?  Do you see Obama’s likeness anywhere in this picture?  That is JESUS and the word below his image is HOPE!”  Let’s just say that I caught myself before replying to any of the emails in that manner.  Instead I tried to communicate, as best I could, the message of hope that we were trying to convey with the signs.  I realized my gut reaction was not going to do anything to win anyone over.  It would neither speak of love or hope.  It would only push people further away from the God that we represent.  In responding with my initial thoughts I would have done an even greater disservice to God and to the reader of my reply.

Rather, I needed to convey the message of HOPE to each person who was found to be a critic.  I wanted them to see a difference in a my reply.  I wanted to attempt to clear up the confusion that they had and help show them that not only does Jesus bring hope but also compassion, joy, and patience.  And that, my friends, is my prayer for each of you today and throughout this week.  As you strive to convey a message of hope to others in your words, actions, and attitudes you will be misunderstood.  People will not understand why you are doing what you are doing and they will become critical of you.  Don’t give in to the temptation to blast them.  Allow your response to them to be full of grace and mercy, love and compassion, joy and hope.  May you be messengers of the greatest HOPE ever and may you not be fearful of being misunderstood.

My Life Would Suck Without YOU v.3

So my last post talked about the theft that I had been involved in and the ensuing consequences that I had to walk through when coming clean about it all.  Jail was not fun.  Time away from my wife was not either.  But sharing with her the circumstances that led to me falling into this situation were even less fun.  Throughout the 9 months that I had been stealing from my employer I had been lying to her about where the money was coming from.  After coming home the lucky winner of yet another scratch ticket I am quite sure she was getting suspicious but she loved me and wanted to believe me.

The moments leading up to that conversation with Kim were the most frightful that I have ever had to go through.  I didn’t fear for my life – I can still take her! – I feared for my marriage.  I fully anticipated my lies to lead to the end of our union.  When we were about to get married she said to me one time, “never lie to me.” and I promised her that I wouldn’t.  So there I was with that broken promise at the forefront of my mind and the clock ticking away the seconds to when she would return home from work.  Kevin_Kim

The conversation was heated.  It was intense.  It was full of questions along with speculation of other things that I could have been lying about during our first two years of marriage.  I can’t blame her, nor will I ever, but it was brutal.  She ended up leaving and going to my parents house.  I followed her there shortly after and we spent the next few hours talking through a whole gamut of emotions.  There was quite a bit of prayer involved in that time.  I knew that God had spoken clearly to me that if I made things right with my employer He would take care of the rest – not that God would wave a magic wand and make all the problems go away – just that He would work through others to help calm, settle and realign our hearts together.

It took a long time for Kim to trust me again.  The journey of our relationship has had many bumpy roads but almost 14 years later our marriage is rock solid.  God has been faithful to us and has helped unify us again.  In that time we have grown our family and been able to share everything that goes on with each other.  There is hope for any relationship.  I believe it because I have seen it happen in my own marriage.  I can’t imagine where my life would be without my wife and I know that God deserves the honor for that.

My life would suck without YOU God.  My marriage would have ended years ago if not for YOUR intervention.

How has God worked in your relationships to bring about healing?

My Life Would Suck Without YOU v.2

My life truly would suck without God.  Looking back there have been many times when He has pulled me out of the misery that I brought upon myself because of doing life “my way.”  I can only imagine where I would be if the following example ended with me ignoring God’s leading…

It was 13 years ago that I was working at a restaurant and feeling over-worked and under-paid when I began to take money from the nightly deposits.  Over the course of 9 months I had accumulated somewhere around ten thousand dollars.  It was one day when I was hiking the Presidential Range and I was looking deeply at where my life had brought me to that I re-encountered God.  It was on top of Mt. Jefferson that I heard the voice of God speaking so clearly to my spirit.  “You screwed up, go home and fix it.”  And I did.  The next day I went in to work and called in my District Manager and shared my whole story with him.  The police were involved and then the State of NH got involved and then 10 months later I found myself in jail.jefferson-mt001

Now, I could have easily turned away from God.  I could have used that time as an excuse to blame God for messing up my life.  But I didn’t.  I chose to follow God even closer.  I chose to commit my life to His service.  I knew that He had called me to be a youth pastor years before but I had walked away.  It was at that time that I answered His call.  For the past 11 years I have been able to pastor youth at GCC.  I wouldn’t change it for anything.  My prayer is that at age 75 I will continue to  have an influence in youth ministry.

This time in my life was very difficult to walk through.  I knew what I had to do and I knew where God was calling me to.  The consequences of my actions and choices led me into quite a pit.  I feel like David as he wrote Psalm 40 throughout this experience.

I waited patiently for the LORD; 
       he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
       out of the mud and mire; 
       he set my feet on a rock 
       and gave me a firm place to stand.

 He put a new song in my mouth, 
       a hymn of praise to our God. 
       Many will see and fear 
       and put their trust in the LORD.

I have seen God use my past, my struggles, and my embarrassment to reveal even more of His glory to those around me. 

How has God pulled you out of a poor choice?

Character Counts

integrity1

I’m neither a political reporter, nor the son of a political reporter but I can identify when a good move has been made.  Yesterday, New Hampshire Senator, Judd Gregg, withdrew from the nomination for Commerce Secretary.  In a press release Senator Gregg cited a few reasons for this:

“I couldn’t be Judd Gregg and serve in the Cabinet. I should have faced up to the reality of that earlier,” Gregg said. “I’ve been my own person and I began to wonder if I could be an effective team player. The president deserves someone who can block for his policies. As a practical matter I can contribute to his agenda better–where we agree–as a senator and I hope to do that.”

When asked about how his withdrawing from the nomination may effect President Obama Gregg stated:

“The fault lies with me,” Gregg said in an interview with Politico, refusing to discuss any conversations he has had with Obama himself. Asked if he felt the decision would be an embarrassment for the president, Gregg said, “I may have embarrassed myself but hopefully not him.”

It takes great character to own up to your shortcomings and to take full blame for a change in desire.  Senator Gregg showed that he stands on his beliefs and that he would not be able to fully endorse some of the policies that President Obama would want to see fulfilled through the position of Commerce Secretary.  While the job could bring with it the blinding prestige of being part of a presidential cabinet it also would bring with it the staggering weight of carrying out policies that Gregg would have disagreed with personally.  Senator Judd Gregg knew his limits.  He knew when to say when.

Again, I’m not big on politics but there is a take-away here for me and for anyone paying attention.  Are you striving for a position or appointment for what it will give you rather than what you can bring to the position.  Have you made compromises in order to get where you are now?  What are the things that you have gone forward in that you should not have?  How has that changed who you are?  Have you set your integrity on a shelf in order to accomplish things you should not have?

In everything that I do, I want to first and foremost be true to who I am.  I never want to compromise in order to get ahead or receive personal gain.  My prayer is that I will always hold to this conviction.