Happy Birthday John Wayne & Stephen!

It really is a funny thing that I exploit every chance I get; John Wayne and my son were born on the same day… the 26th of May. My son’s birthday was not in the early 1900’s like that of Wayne, but in 1968 while I was recovering from injuries received in Vietnam the prior month. I was working in the baggage facility  (where we would check the baggage of all Marines heading back to the states to make sure there was no contraband included in their belongings) and the Red Cross office in the headquarters building right across the parking lot from us couldn’t find me. Finally, on the 28th of May they called me to my company office and handed me a telegram informing me of the birth of my son – “mother and son doing well.”

I’ve got to tell you that being a Marine, most of us really do like John Wayne’s straight shooting, hard charging, take no prisoners approach to life and combat. I didn’t care for some his off screen beliefs, but I sure did appreciate the integrity and courage of the characters he portrayed on the screen. Most of us probably see that screen personification as the real John Wayne. Nevertheless, thank you Mr. Wayne for the portrayal of courage and integrity you and John Ford shared with the rest of the world.

My son is a John Wayne type; that is he is a man of honesty, integrity and courage. He is fair, serious when he has to be, and full of laughter when it is appropriate. He is one of those modern day dads and husbands who are involved in the running of the home and sharing the household chores with wife and kids. In my day that was just not seen – not that I saw anyway. Dads worked hard, long hours to provide for their families. That was the understood way of a man caring for his family… he was a “provider.” I look at my son and I just don’t know how he does all he does. I am so proud of him and the way he lives his life.

He, his wife (Joy) and children (Noah & Abby) are active in their church and community and in the lives of extended family. He is all the time going … going… going to a meeting at the church, planning the IT side of worship at church, helping neighbors and friends, taking kids here, there, and everywhere, being involved in the school, recreational and social life of his kids. He knows a lot of the parents and kids at the school, on the soccer field, and other places around the community. He and his family help wherever they can. I believe they are a good examples of how to be an involved community person. He is not political, so you will not find him involved in that side of life… he will vote and live out his beliefs… being a good citizen, but you will not find him standing on some street corner or in some town hall espousing why we should vote for one candidate over another… that is just not him.

18192447_1380663458654097_4042440863959885168_oHe was always a good kid growing up… going to church every Sunday and helping out wherever he could. I remember back then we were concerned about a friend of his who was known for using drugs. We were afraid that this guy would have a bad influence on Stephen… but guess what… Stephen had a positive influence on him.

Happy birthday, son. You continue every single day to make us proud that we have been blessed to be your parents. Keep the faith!!!

Mom & Dad

Being Hung Out To Dry?

I have often heard that sometimes we are all wet and that sometimes we are hung out to dry. You know, I can say: “Been there, Done that!”

I have found that some say it could be based on the practice of hanging an animal that has been killed in a tree so its meat can dry, or it could mean to get someone into trouble, especially by making them take the blame for a bad situation (When the department got into difficulties, his bosses simply hung him out to dry). So it is to abandon someone to danger, as in The squadron withdrew and just let us hang out to dry. This expression alludes to hanging wet laundry on a clothesline.

“All Wet” can men completely wrong about something or you don’t have enough information to come in out of the rain. It also refers to being stupid, to be ineffective, non-athletic, socially inadequate, etc, etc. So it is someone who cannot get the job done… whatever that job may be… they do not have the “right stuff” to complete their mission.

379_10156671904895324_987263482948793362_nI remember this “hung out to dry” feeling from my college days. I was serving a student appointment (that means I was a college student while serving a church). It was a church that I was sent to in order to help them build a parsonage, since I had help rebuilt one church from the ground up and renovated another not long before this. Well, the building process (committee and commitments) was moving rather slowly. On Saturday, I received a phone call from my District Superintendent (this is an Elder in the church appointed by the Bishop to supervise a group of ministers in a certain area known as a district). He said: “Steve, I want you to tell that building committee at ???? church that if they don’t get this parsonage underway quickly, I will not send them a pastor next conference year.” I replied: Ok, ????? I’ll do what you ask.” Sunday morning I relay his statement to the building committee and the chairperson asks me to call this DS and set up and appointment for him. I called the DS to inform him of the request and his reply was: “I didn’t say that. If you say I did, I will have you in the Bishop’s office by noon tomorrow and have your job.” Hung out to dry would have been an understatement of how I felt.

This setup and threatening style of leadership almost caused me to leave the ministry and the church. I never told this DS how demoralizing his behavior was, how deeply he hurt me, or how unChristian his actions were. I never trusted that man ever again.

In his little political one-up-man-ship manner of doing things to those under his charge, I felt “All Wet.” No, I did not know what game he was playing, how to play it, or why to play it. I was stupid, inadequate, not up to the political task before me. Why can’t we just tell the truth? Why can we just be honest with one another? What I needed was not a lousy intimidating General… I needed a pastor, a mentor, who would seek to help me become a pastor – not another politician.

I believe the church fails badly at mentoring new, young pastors in training. We have inserted the term “mentor” in the process of becoming ordained, but I don’t believe we really have mentors (real mentors) who are trained, compassionate mentors who care to make sure pastors are built from the inside out. What we have, most of the time, are mentors who are politically in line for some kind of recognition – and this gets them recognized by the Conference photoBoard of Ministry – which most clergy want to be appointed to, because it says I am on the right track to be one of the fair haired boys/girls (the ones chosen to be pu on the fast track).

We are called to be servant leaders not CEO’s of the Church. Our present day paradigm for leadership is the corporate one and not the servant one. I am sure I would have been a better pastor had I had a real mentor/pastor rather than a CEO/General.

My word for all the young pastors is don’t let the CEO leadership style drive you from the ministry or the church. Ask for… seek out a mentor you know who has a shepherd’s heart and a mindset to lift you up and help fit you for service in the kingdom.

Grace and Peace


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