Jeff Iorg Blog
Jul 28 2014
Our culture is full of frustrating inconsistencies. For example, an NFL player was recently suspended for two games for beating up his fiancée (now his wife) in an altercation in a casino. For making disparaging comments about gays, another NFL player was suspended three games.
You read that right. In professional football, making a negative comment about gays is worse than beating up your wife. Let’s not single out the NFL. In our culture, derogatory words are the ultimate intolerance. We can’t allow any politically incorrect comments on any subject. Free speech doesn’t go quite that far!
Here’s another example – a bit more personal. Last Saturday, Ann and I (along with thousands of other tourists) were strolling the Embarcadero in San Francisco. We were passed by about a dozen naked men riding bicycles. When a traffic light turned red, the peloton stopped and a couple of them got off their bikes to stretch. It was more disgusting than erotic, but nevertheless quite a display of frontal nudity to a mixed audience - including many little girls.
Many people laughed, some turned their children away, and others took pictures. I thought of a friend of mine. When he was 19, he urinated in a public park (while high on pot). There’s no excuse for that behavior, but the consequences have been severe. Two little girls saw him, told their parents, who called the police, and he was arrested. He was convicted of indecent exposure and has been labeled a sex offender for more than 30 years. It has limited housing options and cost him job opportunities. No matter what he has done since, this stain from his past won’t go away.
What frustrates me is my friend’s behavior wasn’t much different than those men on their bicycles. Yet, in San Francisco, public nudity is legal – but supposedly only at “festivals.” Exposing yourself in front of children adds to the ambiance that is San Francisco.
Since our culture has cut loose from its moral moorings, the drift has put us into troublesome waters. We face more and more situations that leave us scratching our heads and wondering, “Where did decency and good judgment go?” I’m not sure where they went, but they seem gone for good.
Super Bowl Week
Jul 21 2014
We are at Defcon-5 at our house. Ann is in the zone for Vacation Bible School. Its man your battle stations, all hands on deck, and every other get with the program cliché! Mission helpers have arrived from other states, dozens of church members have been mobilized as workers, and children have been registered and assigned to classes. Our house looks like a crafts factory exploded. Now, the work – and the fun – really begins. It’s Super Bowl week for preschool ministry at First Baptist Church, San Francisco.
If Ann had punched a time clock on this project, I’m sure she would have spent more than 200 hours working on it. Saying she loves VBS doesn’t even come close to describing her commitment to this outreach and teaching effort. If you want a stirring presentation on how important this ministry is to a church, just ask. Believe me, she will be more than glad to preach you that sermon!
When you do the math, a week of VBS equals more than three months of the teaching time in a typical weekly Sunday School. The intensive time also allows for compound learning, building more directly each day on what was learned the previous day or days. It also facilitates better relationship building with children, new children, and their parents.
VBS is also a great time to recruit new workers and introduce them to ministry for children. Ann often recruits VBS “helpers” with an eye toward turning them into weekly Sunday School workers. They don’t even know it’s happening to them, since they are having so much fun. Next thing they know, they are signed up and working with kids on a weekly basis. Diabolical! My wife can be sneaky like that.
I hope your church has someone like Ann who is passionate about young children. If you do, thank God for him or her! I am proud of my wife, her devotion to ministry, and how she takes seriously Jesus’ instructions to allow little children to come to him.
Churches are still built by hard work, done by many, who make the phone calls, prepare the lessons, work the events, and clean up after it’s over. There’s really no shortcut to church growth – just people who dig in and get the job done. If you are in that multitude – particularly if you worked in VBS or some other summer program – thank you, and thank God for you!
Is Naked the New Normal?
Jul 14 2014
A new television show, “Naked Dating,” will debut later this week. In each episode, a man and a woman will date two different suitors – with the goal of deciding by the end of the episode if any of the relationships will continue. And, everyone is naked from first meeting until final credits.
This show joins a lineup of other recent shows with characters in the buff. “Naked and Afraid” drops two survivalists – a man and a woman – into rough country and expects them to live off the land. They are naked, but who wouldn’t be? Makes perfect sense to plunge into the Amazon rainforest or the African desert without any clothes.
Beyond these two shows, there is the equally implausible “Buying Naked” about searching for real estate in clothing-optional communities. The clients show up for home tours and serious discussions about a major life purchase missing something – their clothes. Again, makes perfect sense. Who doesn’t go house hunting in the nude?
Disclaimer - apart from about five minutes of watching “Naked and Afraid” just to be sure it really was what it was purported to be, I have not seen any of these shows. So, you may discount my opinion. But from those few minutes, and the commercials for the other programs, this stuff can only be described as pixilated porn. It’s certainly not art and, except in some kind of reverse way the creators didn’t intend, it isn’t social commentary or free speech. It’s just prurient drivel desperately trying to find an audience in the wasteland that is cable television.
The human body is beautiful, exquisite really. Sharing unashamed knowledge of another person’s body is part of genuine intimacy – consummated and celebrated in heterosexual marriage. Our culture is determined to substitute degraded or downgraded experiences for God’s best – in every area, not just this one. It’s tragic. The holy is trivialized and we miss the blessings God planned for us.
Too bad that’s the real new normal.
Leaving Your Legacy
Jul 09 2014
In my new book “Seasons of a Leader’s Life,” I write about the importance of leaving your leadership legacy. Here is an excerpt from the book that, hopefully, will motivate you to be more intentional about the leadership impact you leave behind.
Leaving a legacy begs the question, “what is a legacy?” Some people consider a legacy their record of accomplishments. Football coaches focus on wins and losses, school teachers on their graduates, and soldiers their years of service. Others leave their legacy as a monument – a statue on a campus, a building with their name on it, or a plaque hanging on a wall. Another way people think of legacy is money they accumulated and left behind – either as a bequest or perhaps creating a charitable foundation to benefit others. These can all be valid markers of a life well lived. There is nothing wrong with recording a lifetime of accomplishments, creating a tangible reminder, or leaving behind a lot of money. All of these options can inspire and bless others.
None of these, however, describe a lasting legacy. They all have one negative in common – they lack permanence. Records are broken, statues crumble, and money gets spent (or lost). A lasting legacy is a living legacy.
Your legacy is the wisdom you have gained, the people you have influenced, and the convictions you model which inspire a subsequent generation. Leaving a living legacy means investing the wisdom learned over your lifetime in your followers. You have learned much about life and leadership – through Scripture, experience, and reflective discernment. You have learned, sometimes the hard way, the cost of ignoring biblical principles and directives. You know God’s power because you have seen him work in and through you. You understand the complexity of leadership situations because you have lived through them – and see God’s activity more clearly in hindsight than you did in the moment.
You have wisdom – learned and earned. Communicating it appropriately extends your legacy to a future generation. This doesn’t mean you sermonize on every subject like a boorish know-it-all who annoys people with your stories. It means, first of all, that you live your convictions. What people will remember after your death is how you lived, what you modeled, and the example you set. It can also mean communicating your wisdom-legacy in meaningful ways – appropriate to your setting and circumstances.