Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At What Cost?

What does it cost to be free? From our country's beginnings, brave soldiers have fought and paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that are the hallmark of this nation. The toll in lives lost is staggering, but the cost is not measured in terms of lives lost alone.

As families are separated for extended periods of time, the price of military service comes in many ways: strained marital relationships, money problems, discipline issues with children, missed employment possibilities and more. There is a drain on society for our soldiers to defend our country.

As heavy as the above costs are, they often pale against those faced personally by returning veterans. Reintegrating into a society that is sometimes at odds both with the returning vet and the idea of war is no picnic. Compounding this for many veterans coming home is the war-related trauma he or she may have experienced on the battlefield.

I recently received a link to a YouTube video that highlights this cost. You can view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VmUulPab4M. (If the link is not active, just copy and paste the URL in your browser window.) This video disturbed me. Watching the numbers of returning veterans who face suicide, depression, post-traumatic stress, homelessness, divorce and unemployment is not a pretty picture.

But there are rays of hope. Veterans are educated, dedicated and hard-working members of society. I would encourage you to check out the Operation Barnabas website at http://www.lhmmen.com/barnabas.asp for information on how you can help make our returning veterans' arrival back home a smoother one.

Let's bring down the cost of freedom, especially for those who courageously work to preserve it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who's on Your Team?

If I may coin a line, "Every successful team has a strong leader, and every strong leader has a successful team." In other words, it is my observation teams that experience success have someone at the helm, setting the course, casting a vision and inspiring team members to give their best efforts. It is also my observation successful leaders surround themselves with a trusted team of advisors, who can provide feedback, opinions and support for the leader.

Men, I would propose that as a leader in your family, your church, or your occupation, you, too, should have a trusted team of advisors, who can play a crucial role in your leadership. I would suggest your team needs an Encourager, an Admonisher, an Intercessor, a Confessor and a Mentor.

Your Encourager is the person who can watch you, listen to your dreams and then encourage you. Without encouragement, the temptation to resign at the first sign of difficulty is pretty strong.

The Admonisher is the truth-teller. Without someone who can speak bluntly and tell it like it is, a leader receives a false sense of security concerning the obstacles that are ahead.

An Intercessor is a person who is praying for you, asking God to provide you the tools you need for leadership.

Your Confessor is the person who hears your faults and will not repeat them.

Your Mentor provides you with wisdom and instruction, so you constantly improve.

Men, who is on your team? Do you find there is one person who fills more than one role? Is there a position that needs filling? I would encourage each of you to build a strong team. I would also encourage you to be a good team member for another leader, if called upon.

I leave you with three tried-and-true thoughts about teamwork:

1) None of us is as smart as all of us.

2) Teamwork means not having to take all the blame.

3) There is no limit to what you can accomplish, when nobody cares who gets the credit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day

Men, let it be known that Valentine's Day was not started as part of a general conspiracy to get guys to buy the women in their lives those special gifts they missed at Christmas -- you know, gifts that say, "I love you." In reality, Valentine's Day was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 A.D. It was during the Middle Ages and the time of Geoffrey Chaucer when the day first became associated with romantic love, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

So, with a nod to England's acclaimed bard, it is important today's male steps out of his comfort zone to give the woman in his life an expression of his love.

But what do women really want?

A little Internet research with "top Valentine's Day gift" wasn't much help, especially when it suggested writing a personal love story to that favorite lady. I could do that, but it would be pretty short: "I said I love you when we were married. If that ever changes, I'll let you know." Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme, but you get the point. Perhaps a better idea would be to provide your special lady with what she really desires.

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a popular book. It's called The 5 Love Languages. In this book he identifies five ways we show love for each other. He postulated each one of us has a primary "love language" that says, "Yes, I know you do love me." The five love languages are "Words of Affirmation," "Quality Time," "Receiving Gifts," "Acts of Service" and "Physical Touch."

His theory is that if the wife's primary love language is "Quality Time," and the husband sends flowers while on a trip, there will be issues. It also works for guys; if your love language is "Physical Touch," and she gives you "Words of Affirmation," there will be trouble.

So perhaps the best gift you can give this Valentine's Day is finding out exactly what your special lady wants and then giving it to her. For example, if she really wants "Physical Touch," then a hug and a kiss before you head out to the golf course would be better than flowers ...

and less expensive too.

You can thank me later.