Leadership is… Passion

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Think of a passionate person you know. What does he do? Or how does she act? Have you ever talked with them about their favorite project? If you have, I’m sure you remember the meeting, and see just how serious they were about completing the task. Perhaps you were even motivated to join them in some way. Perhaps you were inspired to do something yourself. Or perhaps you just left feeling more alive than when you met up with them.

That, is the power of passion.

Passion is flavor. Without it, there is no energy to get something done, or motivation to share with your teammates. Leadership without passion is like chocolate without cacao. Sure you’ve got the basic ingredients to sell a candy bar, but you’ll be missing that unique flavor that chocolate provides. I’m sure you’ve had a recipe with a “secret” ingredient that just makes things pop. That’s the way passion works. It spreads, encourages, and provides direct to the entire dish. A must, if you are going to make something worthwhile.

Passion is contagious, because it is an energy people share. The passionate man is the memorable one. In every instance of life, we are naturally draw to the person who simply loves what he does. That can look like outspoken enthusiasm, or quiet contentment based on the individual. What is for sure though, when I meet a passionate person about something, I can’t help but start to care about that cause or project too. Not because it means more to me, but because the person makes it look like a worthwhile investment. Good leaders know the beneficial investments, and share their passion with their team to make it a reality.

Passion is purposeful. Nothing will get you going like a good dose of passion. It provides direction, and a way to channel all the energy one might have towards a certain goal. I know when I have something to do, passion makes that “thing” all the more important to me and gives me a reason to complete it. This passion can be found in spiritual convictions, business goals, personal relationships… Pretty much anywhere. If you are passionate in doing something it usually means you know the purpose behind doing it, which gives others purpose as well.

In the end, passion is a must for a leader, but he must be careful not to be *to* passionate, or else you’ll wind up looking a little crazy, and set unrealistic expectations with your team. However, used properly, passion is a powerful tool with which you can add a little spice to whatever your *thing* is, and share a purpose with others as well. Lead Influentially and live passionately.

With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion.
~Edgar Allan Poe~

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Guest Post: “Good Will Hunting” Movie Review

~This week’s review comes from Josiah Gulick, a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is studying for a Bachelors of Science in Arabic and Spanish with a goal of being able to minister to and evangelize those people in their own language. He is a close brother in Christ and a true man of God. It is my honor to post another one of his reviews here for your reading pleasure.~

The Plot

Good Will Hunting is an award-winning drama starring Matt Damon and Ben Afleck. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a young man from a broken home who is a janitor at MIT. We learn early in the movie that Will is a genius. He solves a problem in one night that the premier mathematics professor at MIT put on the board to challenge his students for the entire semester. He easily solves problems that the most accomplished math professors struggle with. However, Will has a dark side. He is arrogant, selfish, and disrespectful of authority. He ends up in jail multiple times for fighting and we learn that he has quite the rap sheet. Then the math professor from MIT takes him under his wing and tries to smooth Will’s rough edges. They go through five counselors and therapists before one finally begins to form a relationship with Will. The plot of the movie revolves around the MIT professor trying to get Will to use his genius, Will maintaining his defensive shell, and the psychologist trying to learn what makes Will tick.

Things I liked

The one good message of the movie is that Love conquers all. Will has a circle of friends from his old neighborhood that stick by him through every tough situation he endures. Will also meets a girl who shows him the power of unconditional love. The movie effectively shows unconditional love in every situation and puts a human face on the love God has for us. Additionally, the acting is SUPERB, the plot is riveting, and there are several instances of truly funny comedic relief. And we see two old friends reunite with regret and forgiveness for past sins.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie portrays the poor side of Boston quite realistically, and this means that the dialogue is dirty and explicit, there are several bar scenes, and a few fights. Alcohol plays a major role in this movie, and it is shown as abused and used as an escape. There are two sensual scenes, but no nudity (though we do see Will in his boxers). Cursing is prevalent in the movie–almost every sentence includes it. Also, there is blatant disrespect for authority (including the law) that we don’t see rectified.

Worldview

The main premise behind the movie is that man is basically good and only his environment drives him to do evil. Will’s sinful acts are not his fault and he refuses to (and no one encourages him to) take responsibility. On the other hand, we do see that unconditional love from people change Will, but nothing is said of an eternal hope or repentance of sins. Will never tries to make restitution for his wrong-doing or even recognizes sin as a problem. The movie tells us the fundamental problem is that he doesn’t trust other people enough.
Additionally, materialism is strongly preached as a way to be happy.

Conclusion

While the movie effectively portrays the power of unconditional love, it does so through a humanistic foundation. There is a large amount of “poop” in this brownie in the form of the explicit cursing, alcoholism, sensuality, and disrespect for authority. While I enjoyed some parts of the movie, it left me saddened that it portrayed man’s sin yet gave no effective remedy for it. I would not watch it again nor advise anyone else to see it.

I Know Your Secret Identity

Source: http://www.ekantipur.com
Source: ekantipur.com

Almost everyone has a secret identity today. This identity appears all over the world, many times a day, many places at once. It can be similar to the real individual, or completely different as a whole. They can be this person one moment, and become who they really are in the next. Have you guessed what it is yet? Your secret Identity is who you are online.

The internet has changed life as we know it, but more that than, it has changed people as we know them. How they communicate, interact, and behave have all been effected by this world uniting tool. With the development of social media, people today- you and I, have developed identities which we wish to convey to those who “Follow” us.

More often than not in my experience, I’ve seen these identities completely different than who the person is in real life. They live a double life, with a secret Identity. They praise their parents in person, then mock them in a post. They speak with grace and humility in person, but type with harshness and pride in online debates.

I’m sure you know of these people. Or if you’re like me, even thought to yourself “Yup, I’ve done that sometimes”. Thing is, to a point, we all have a  secret identity online. It is amazing how much control we have over how people view us and what we let them see as reality. Is it any wonder people love places like Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc so much? It is a controlled environment where if you want, can keep yourself looking like an incredible saint. You create your identity based on what is important to you. That can be powerfully productive, but also potentially dangerous.

As with everything we do, we either do it for ourself, or for Christ. When we create ourselves online, we have the power to show who we are in Christ, just like in real life. The difference is, we choose what we show about ourselves. We can choose to be real, showing struggles and successes, or choose to be fake- showing everything we do right, and neglect the failures. We have the great opportunity and responsibility to be a living witness in the virtual world interacting with others, just like we do in the physical world.

Let’s make sure we are working to turn our secret identities into our true identities. Not the other way around.

 “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth freshwater and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
~James 3~”

“Lost” TV Series Review

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After a plane crashes on an island, the survivors struggle to survive amidst the wreckage and casualties. Very quickly however, the survivors discover there are some strange things on the island, that they are not alone, and this island… has a mind of its own.

And so begins six seasons of a mystery/drama/thriller TV series we have come to know by one word.

Lost.

Story Summary

The Journey begins with a plane crash on a tropical island. We are introduced to 14 main Characters. Impressively enough, we get to know all of them quite well, and within just a few episodes care for them immensely. The night of the crash, a terrible noise is heard in the woods, and trees are destroyed. This is the first mystery introduced to the survivors. Soon after that, they go through various attempts to make a radio signal for rescue. Instead, they discover a french transmission played over and over. This person is discovered, and tells them about “The Others”. A dangerous group of people who kidnap a young plane survivor named Claire. Soon after this, One man, Locke, finds a hatch and is determined to open it. Some however, Jack, disagree. Some other survivors build a raft to escape, and this results in a Walt, the son of Michael, being kidnapped. At the end of season 1, the hatch is opened.

In seasons 2-3 we discover what the hatch was made for, that being the dharma initiative. We learn about that, but moreso the focus turns to the three main heroes- Kate, Sawyer, and Jack. Jack, being a spinal surgeon, is told to operate on the leader of the others. Through manipulation and deceit on both ends… he does. All are reunited after this experience, and the story begins to tell how the others came to live where they do. They learn how the island works in blocking radio signals. They manage to turn this off, but this results in some “bad guys” finding the island and threatening all life on it.

In seasons 4-6, things get even more convoluted. Time Travel, more characters, and more twists are introduced. More people die, the stakes are raised, and two battle lines are drawn. One to stay on the island, and one to leave it. By season six, time travel has worked itself  out, and a war begins for the control of the island. At the heart of it all, the black smoke attempts to escape to wreck havoc on the earth, which results in key main characters getting killed. In the end, all is resolved where the earth is saved. To quote the series “What happened happened, and everyone dies eventually“.

My Favorite Episode

With the hundreds of episodes in the Lost series, one stands out to me in terms of messages portrayed, Characters grown, and the story told. My favorite episode of the Series took Place in Series 2, Episode 4; “Everyone Hates Hugo”. In the midst of Some islanders being captured, we learn more about my favorite character- Hugo Reyes, affectionally called “Hurley”. This episodes contains some of the most character  growth of the series. We see Jack, who has power issues, relinquish control to one who is unqualified. We see Hurley learn to make and stand by decisions. A consistent Food  supply is discovered, and Hurley is tasked with with distributing it and rationing it. The problem comes when he realizes that he is in an apparent no-win situation. With the advice of Rose, the only apparent valid believer in God, Hugo creates a solution that is incredibly heart warming.  A solution in which, you almost forget that all are trapped on an island. A solution, that provides a rare, hopeful look at life and the people in it, and a revelation, that grants validity to faith. See, “Everyone Hates Hugo” isn’t just about what people think of Hurley, but about the hope and faith that comes from the little things in life. Because honestly, the little things aren’t that little to begin with.

Content Warnings

This show has been rated TV-14, and appropriately so. Violence is proficient in all the seasons, as the island is a dangerous place. People are shot, hung, stabbed, and crushed by various things and people… some less than explainable. Some are blown to bits, and others buried alive. Injuries are shown with plenty of blood, and several life saving surgeries are shown as well. At the end of the 5th season, the violence is so frequent- a person dies at least every episode. The total body count exceeds 200 by the end of the series (Yes, I did keep count). Unlike war however, these deaths are much more personal- and towards the latter end of the series, most disturbing.

Sexual content comes and goes based on the seasons. It is implied many times that some survivors sleep with each other. Aside from kissing, not much else is shown. Many of the women are shown in bikinis and scanty dress at times due to lack of clothing from the crash.

Mild to severe cursing is found in most episodes based on the situation. The D word, B word, and Hell used out of context are the most common. God’s name is used in vain occasionally, and Christ’s name is abused by one character quite a bit.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve never reviewed an entire TV series before, so am honestly not sure what I’m doing here. But I’m going to attempt to summarize everything regarding this show… while hopefully maintaining your interest.

Lost was the first series I can remember where I actually began to care about the characters portrayed in the show. These characters are so well shown through the shown flashbacks and personal choices, that you feel in some ways, you know them better than they know themselves. This is where the power and value of this TV show comes in. From the moment you see Jack standing on the beach in the first episode and save someone’s life, you are hooked on wanting to know what he does, how he got on that plane, why he did what he did. The amazing thing is, you wind up asking that about all of the main characters, and the show delivers. Through flashbacks of each person’s history, we grow to understand and care about each of these individuals across the first three seasons. Not because they are admirable, but because they are understandable. They are shown to be real people with real pain. You root for the  and cheer with them when they grow to be better. The development of these people is incredible to behold, and the attachment to some of them… quite irrational considering they are made up characters.

The island itself is something of a mystery too, but a much darker one. At the start it is clear the island is not a good place to be, nor has happy origins. As the show progresses, we find out many things which went on that resulted in murder, greed, genocide, and many other sins. It is not a place where good things happen, and yet, through the show, we see the main characters live some beautiful times together, even if they are stranded.

These people continue to grow, explore, and learn in great ways until the latter half of the series. Then something changes. A most unfortunate shift which, In my opinion, brought the show down immensely. Starting sometime in season 4, we see the change shift from the development of the characters, to the nature of the island. This results in an ever darkening path that, by the time I got to season 6, I didn’t care anymore about the island or the show in general- I just wanted to know how the characters were resolved.

We see the people grow according to their personal struggles, and in seeing that behold great examples of love, sacrifice, leadership, humility, honesty, and more. Sometimes we see a heartbreaking truth, other times it is a gross action which results in the appropriate consequence. By the end of the series, the characters have grown into entirely different people- some would say for the better. Still however, without a path.

That’s ultimately where Lost fails as a TV show. By the end of season 6, you are expecting an answer, a resolution, a concrete “Here’s the solution”. We never get it. We never are told why or how. The little explanations they do give, delve into the mythology of the island, which is to be honest, very resembling of a demonic nature. Death, is a created mix between purgatory and nirvana- unfounded and unexplained.  See, Lost isn’t about providing answers, it is about creating questions. Questions on reality, death, truth, the purpose of life, and many more things. It is about finding your way without a light, without a clear guide. We see the results of this end tragically for most, but acceptably for a select few.

In the end, after seeing lives played out, lessons learned, and choices made, we are left with a closing story that leaves us with many great memories of the character’s lives, but emptiness prevails with a lack of explanation of purpose and finality. Because they went the mythological route, what could have been explained as a scientific creation, turned into a rejection of God. And because God was rejected, all the lessons learned which could have pointed to at least a “higher power” for discussion, was turned into acts of chance and odds.

The TV show could not be more appropriately named. It doesn’t just show people lost in their lives, lost on an island, lost without purpose, and lost in time… But it leaves the viewer lost without truth one thought would be delivered. I didn’t expect a christian answer by any means, but the complete rejection of any premise of faith in the end was surprising and disappointing. It isn’t meant to uplift, it is meant to confuse, perplex, and question the reality of this world. The show that starts out with a clear path of character development towards redemption, ends in losing itself in the darkness of the island and mythology which has no basis or explanation.  Lost is truly lost, and nary a path can be found to redeem it.

Boredom is a Choice

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Source: John Slater/Getty Images

We’ve all heard it before haven’t we? We’ve all used the phrase in the past too right? That short, simple little collection of words expressing our uninterested view of the world…

I’m bored.

While on the surface this can statement appear to be a simple lack of ingenuity, it is in fact a much deeper statement than most ever consider. It is a comment which is demanding of others, detrimental to self, and disgraceful to the God we serve. It is a very serious phrase which I hope you will join me in exploring through this post, complete with alliteration. ;)

The Demands of Boredom

A statement of boredom is not just a FYI or news broadcast, deep down, it is a demand. A demand for entertainment. A demand for interest. A demand for investment of something other than what one is doing at that current time. One is saying “You there, I’m bored, entertain me.” It is selfish and focused entirely upon what that one person wants (and is) at that point in time.  Boredom isn’t Christ focused, it is self focused, and the demanding nature of the mindset is one of the most visible effects of the act.

The Detriments of Boredom

Boredom may also appear in the form of self detriment. Often I’ve seen people say “I’m bored” but not really want to do anything about it. Rather, they are content to just live in their own apathetic and brain-dead state. Wasting their life and time on being bored. Let me be clear- being still for the purpose of spiritual renewal is MUCH different from being bored. So please don’t misunderstand when I say the nothingness of boredom is a detrimental cause. Doing nothing, simply for the purpose of doing nothing, is flawed- as we are not being good stewards of the life we are given. Rather, boredom is contentedness in regressive natures. It does not improve yourself, produce any fruit of benefit, nor does it set you up for success.

The Disgracefulness of Boredom

Perhaps the most reviling fact of boredom however, is not the negative effects it has on others or yourself, but the actions which are a disgrace to God. When you tell yourself, or others you are bored, you’re saying that you don’t have any interest in the life God has given you. That you don’t value the day you have or the life you are living. Considering every moment of life is a gift from God, to me, this is an incredibly serious offense. We may not even have tomorrow to live, and one is spending the time they have now being bored? What does that fruit of boredom say about that person’s heart? We need to always be intentional about the way we spend out time, and being bored is one of the biggest wastes of God’s time out there.

The Destruction of Boredom

It is always easy to point out negatives, while all the more challenging to provide solutions. I and my family combat boredom several ways. How to destroy it completely? That is based on and left up to your own choice. However, when I am feeling like I have nothing to do (not often, but it does happen ;) ) and am starting to feel that feeling of “bored” come on, one of the best solutions is to read. Read scripture if you’ve read all the books in your house. We can never get enough of the bible.

Other great ways to destroy boredom is, if you are tired, to be intentionally still, and know that God is God. This can be through prayer, silent worship, etc. Boredom often comes when we are most tired, which means we need to be still anyway. ;)

We always have a choice in whether to feel and be bored. We also have a choice or to do something productive with your time. God has blessed us with every minute of everyday. Let’s not disgrace that blessing by wasting it being bored, instead let’s use the time to grow in our walk or simple rest in His knowledge. Either way, the choice is ours, and I am of the opinion that boredom is not the best choice we can make. What do you think?

My Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2013

2013 Brought some excellent films, as well as some less than desirable ones. I watched many of these 2013 releases, so thought I would share with you some of my favorites, and tell you why.

#10 The Croods

Perhaps out of all the films of 2013, this one surprised me the most.  The commercials advertised this movie as one with a lack of any real value- focusing on prevalent nonsensical humor rather than a greater goal. Instead of finding this, we find this movie is packed with strong family values, great themes of hope and faith, and quite bit of good humor as well. Definitely one of the better animated features of 2013.

#9 Turbo

This movie is anything but sluggish. A rather weird idea of a snail traveling faster than a race car results in a optimistically fun adventure full of never giving up, never settling for status quo, and the  learning the value of brotherhood. If you can get past the sheer impossibility of the snails in the movie, you’ll find it an excellent choice to grab and enjoy as a family.

#8 Hunger Games: Catching fire

The second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy. Through peril, sacrifice, and political rebellion we watch this movie redeem itself from the first. While the end is not yet seen, Catching fire offers some excellent messages regarding hope and just rebellion against government. Be warned, it ends with a rather bad teaser. ;) 

#7 Frozen

Frozen has some very positive and powerful themes, conveyed through stellar animation we’ve come to expect from Disney. Well written, albeit a bit predictable… Watch it with a sharp mind, because it is the subtleties you want to watch out for. If you have a active mind though, you can enjoy the true love shown while disregarding the extra junk mail that comes along with it.

#6 After Earth

Another rather unexpected favorite this year, After Earth tells the story between a father and son learning about each other in the face of death on a post apocalyptic earth. Very similar to Thor in terms of content and themes, we are shown through exciting events and adventures just what it means to face and conquer fear, and how to grow up in that process.

#5 Thor: The Dark World

Thor and his friends return to defend against an ancient Darkness, which is darkness itself. Full of beautiful symbolism of Light vs Dark (i.e. good vs evil) we are shown evil truly is terrible and strong, but can never stand against light. Well written, acted in good humor, and with some surprising plot twists, this movie easily made it into my favorites.

#4 Star Trek: Into Darkness

Dark titles seems to be a trend this year in Hollywood. Another much anticipated sequel, we find Captain Kirk at odds with a man named “John Harrison”. A ruthless vagabond and war criminal, Harrison seeks to destroy star command from the inside out. We watch young Kirk learn what it means to be a true leader (not a boss) through failures and successes. With impressive cinematography and first class acting, watching the story unfold is a real treat.

#3 Monster’s University

Everybody loves the underdog. In Monster’s University, we see Mike start as that underdog and strive to become something more. A true Pixar masterpiece, we are plunged into the monster world and seriously and humorously taught about excellence in all things, honest teamwork, humility, and much more. It is in my opinion the best animated film of the year, and definitely one to enjoy for years to come.

#2 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Part Two of the Hobbit films being created by Peter Jackson, This movie brings to life Tolkien’s classic tale, with a considerable amount of PJ story telling added in. Purists I am sure will despise the series, but in some ways, I feel Mr. Jackson has made it more real. Pulling from threads all over Tolkien’s world (including books like the Silmarillion) we are drawn into a world where a Hobbit confronts a Dragon- and lives.

The astounding brilliant stupendousness of the creation of Smaug and middle earth in the video world, the dozens of themes which seem to have been pulled straight out of scripture, and the brilliant acting by Martin Freeman as Bilbo lends this to be an easy #2 best film of the year in my book.

#1 Man of Steel

Of all the movies I’ve seen this year, Man of Steel stuck, and still sticks with me the most. The story of Superman has always been an amazing one to me. A man who can do anything, serves people weaker than himself. His body may be like steel, but his heart is one of love. Every action he makes, he makes out of love for someone else, and never for himself. All of this, guided by his parents.

A true servant and literary “Christ Figure“, we see through Man of Steel a man who is super not because of what he can do with his body, but because of the character of his heart. It is by far the favorite of mine of the year, and has made it into my favorite movies of all time as well.

So those are my favorites, what were some films that you enjoyed this past year?

Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year!

With the passing of 2013, and the coming of 2014, we are seeing all kinds of great resolutions being made. Resolutions to lose weight, finish a task, or maybe memorize more scripture. I wanted to leave a quick personal thought with you all as we come into this fresh year.

When people ask what are my “New Year’s” Resolutions, I haven’t had an answer for some years now. The reason for this is quite simply, I don’t wait for New Year’s. Resolutions are a great way to change old habits, start a new discipline, or even develop yourself mentally. Thing is, so many people wait until the first of the year, give up after a month or so, and then say “Well, I’ll try again next year.” and leave it at that.

Why wait for a new year to start a resolution? Why wait for the change of a date to change your life?

According to James, we are not guaranteed the next day. This shouldn’t cause us to live in fear, but rather with intention.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happentomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 

We are blessed with a new day every time we open our eyes each morning. If you make some resolutions today on New Year’s, That awesome. But don’t for one second think that you should wait for another new years to make some more. In the words of Zig Ziglar-

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Let’s resolve everyday to live it as such.