Monthly Archives: September 2014

The “Latte Salute”

Much has been made on the news and social media regarding President Obama’s “Latte Salute”. When the President stepped off Marine One, two U.S. Marines stood at the end of the steps, saluting their Commander-in-Chief, the “most important of all military courtesies,” according to a Marine manual. It is customary for the President to salute the two men, and it is usually a very quick action. Matter of fact, I cannot ever remember a President stopping for the matter. Well, President Obama stepped off Marine One, descended the steps with a coffee cup in his right hand, then raised the hand to salute the two Marines, setting off a firestorm.

While I certainly do not want to defend the President in this matter, I figure that he was thinking about what was next, who was waiting for him, maybe about the phone conversation he could have just ended, and a whole plethora of other possibilities. Therefore, he flippantly returned the salute.

As this action increases our frustration in regards to our President, I think many, if not most, Christians are guilty of a similar attitude in worship. We gather in a corporate setting, rush to get there on time (or rush to not miss the entire song service), come in with distracted minds, and flippantly offer a “salute” to God, who is waiting to inhabit our praises (Psalm 22:3). In our personal worship, we might give praise quickly as we head to the next appointment screaming for our attention, or utter a quick prayer of help and attach a phrase of flippant praise to help us feel better about asking God for things repeatedly when we know our devotion is lacking. In both the personal and corporate aspects of worship, we might just ignore our responsibilities completely, similar to if the President would have kept walking with no recognition of the two Marines. I have to imagine that this attitude toward worship frustrates the Lord, just as many are frustrated over the President’s actions.

I wish that President Obama would have reached the bottom of the steps, emptied his hands of everything, paused to salute the men, then shook each man’s hand. That is how we must worship. We will never have a strong spiritual life without times of laying down everything that concerns us, pausing all of the activity around us, and giving the Lord the genuine worship He deserves.

2 Samuel 6 records King David celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. As part of the celebration, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf, making this celebration a time of worship. As the ark was being brought, David “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14- emphasis mine). David’s wife, Michal, became upset because she considered David’s actions undignified. David’s actions were performed in front of a large group of people, but he was able to lay down the kingly expectations and gave God the worship He deserved. May we learn to do the same.

“I’m the Leader!”

As I climbed the stairs this morning to wake up the girls, I started calling out to them before entering their rooms, hoping to get a head start to rouse them on a Friday morning after a busy week. We are usually dragging on Friday, but I was quickly surprised when Whitley rolled over and proclaimed, “I am the leader today.” The kid who has a hard time remembering what she was told to do or not to do five minutes ago easily remembered overnight that she was the leader at preschool today. That means that she was at the first of the line, got to hold the flag during the pledge, got to pick out the song of the day, and lots of other things that are attractive to a four-year-old.

There are days when I wake up and my proclamation of “I am the leader today” is said with more dread than excitement. Many tasks of leadership are not pleasant or just become burdensome with their repetition.

Our society today is facing a leadership crisis. We have a President that plays golf and ignores the needs of the nation and the world. Businesses are failing due to failure on the part of their executives. Families are falling apart due to the lack of interest in parents in fulfilling their roles; of course, some families appear to have it all together but due to the parents failure to be involved in the spiritual development of their children, they will face struggles down the road. Most churches have plateaued or declined due to a leadership issue.

Every organization has people in leadership, but the problem is that the leaders do not lead. People have been placed in leadership by default or because they met hierarchical demands but they lack the primary criteria of leadership: influence. True leaders are leaders because they can actually lead people.

I have recently experienced and had conversations with other pastors who have also experienced people who have no influence desiring leadership capacities. The church I grew up in would have placed these people in any position they wanted and celebrated the fact that someone wanted to “serve” in the capacities. I think we have matured, though, to understand that without influence, a person cannot lead.

I believe that all people have influence, if in no other place than at home, where leadership is needed the most. The problem comes when our actions destroy our influence. The husband that does not love his wife as Christ loved the church loses his influence at home and will not lead. The parents whose lives on Sunday do not match the rest the week lose influence and will not lead his children. The pastor who sees himself as superior to his church members and is not involved in their lives loses the influence that comes with the position and cannot lead his church. The business executive that places impossible demands on his employees, loses influence and leadership. The church member that always grumbles and causes disunity within the church has not influence, nor leadership, in the church. I could go on and on.

The need for leadership in our world will only be filled if we use our influence under the direction of the Holy Spirit, realizing that we cannot separate leadership from our daily lives. Leadership is not what we do, it is who we are.

To follow the example of Jesus, leadership is modeled through service. Leadership is not about a position, it is about using our influence to serve.