Friday, February 17, 2012

I am Gladiator

Have you ever seen the movie Gladiator? It is one of my all-time favorites and I have watched it many times. The lead character Maximus is one of those guys every man would wish to be. He is a true man’s man that is willing to die in the name of honor as he seeks to avenge the death of his beloved Emperor and family.

My favorite scene in the movie takes place as Maximus is standing in line with the other Gladiators awaiting his first fight in the grand coliseum of Rome. Slowly he rubs some soil in his hands and soon after a terrified man in front of him pees on himself out of fear.

There is no fear in the heart of Maximus. Instead there is a steadfast resolve to face whatever challenge waits on the other side of gate.

Soon after the epic arena battle has been won the evil Emperor and murderer of his family asks “who are you?”

And here is his famous answer:

In many ways I see this as a picture for the battle that is our lives. Every day we are stepping into an arena full of enemies and obstacles seeking our destruction. Every day is a battle to be faced and fought with full abandon.

The only way to win is to truly know with every inch of ourselves who we are and why we are here. Only then can we face it all with a conviction so strong that we would rather die than give up who God intended us to be.

At the end of my life I want to die fully spent knowing that I gave it all for what was really important in this world.

I am Gladiator!

I am husband, father, manager, volunteer and above all servant of Christ

Do you know who you are?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Leave them better than you found them

No Troop 168 campout is complete without a police line through the entire area where we have been camping and gathering over the weekend. The Scouts form a line and walk across the area slowly looking to pick up every scrap of trash along the way. The goal is to leave the area looking even better than it was before we arrived. The phrase “Leave it better than we found it!” can be heard at the end of almost every outing as the Scouts prepare for cleanup.

As the Scouts walk slowly, there is also a designated person that no one is to pass. This ensures the line stays relatively straight and that everyone has time to thoroughly check the area. If trash is found after the line has completed the job then guess what happens next? You are right! They do the whole thing over again.

“Leave it better than we found it” is not an official Scout saying like “Be Prepared” or “Do a good turn daily” but to me it is just as striking

How different things would be if we strived to ensure we leave every person we have contact with better than we found them. What if we took that extra moment just to open our hearts and ask a friend, co-worker or stranger, “How are you today?” What if this question was followed with a few moments of real listening?

How different things would be if we just traveled through our day with a genuine smile on our face as an outward expression of the joy we feel inside about another opportunity to make a positive difference?

What if we never moved forward in life without checking the line to make sure everyone is moving forward and has a true sense of belonging?

For me at least, I know I could do a much better job serving the world around me to in some small way leave it better than I have found it.

What about you?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dad reacts to a teen's post on Facebook

It looks like this video has just gone nuts on the internet this week with views, comments and debates. Clearly this father is angry with his daughter’s Facebook reaction to her family's rules. Just as clearly when you read the comments that are flying in as reaction this has struck a chord with many people. I guess I am most surprised by the many words of support that other youth are leaving for the dad.

What do you think? Was it appropriate for the dad to do this? Has it opened your eyes a bit to the danger of social media when people post emotions and have public family quarrels?

Is this a loving father demonstrating consequences for actions or a reaction that helps demonstrate the root of the teen’s frustration?

I am curious to know what you think.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why we have two ears

“God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as much as we talk”

In my professional life I worked as a leadership skills trainer for several years. One of my favorite and to this day most impactful courses were the ones that discussed listening skills. This is been a hot leadership topic for years and back then we did not have the additional distractions of today with instant messages, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Angry Birds and a whole slew of other things in our hands beckoning for attention.

It seems now more than ever that listening to others is a skill that people are losing. You see it all the time with teenagers that are sitting together but the entire time instead of talking they are tapping away at something on their phone. Adults my age are just as bad. Just a few weeks ago I was at a birthday party for a good friend and noticed more than half the folks there were on their phones a great deal of the time vs. enjoying the conversation and company of each other.

I know I am certainly not immune to this as well. I cannot tell you how many hours I have wasted engaged in a twitter conversation or game of word feud while at the same time sitting on the couch or in a restaurant with my family. This is quite shameful really when I think about it.

When was the last time you had someone put their entire self into just being there for you and listening to what you had to say?

I call this being fully present. It is treating this moment and this conversation as it were the most important conversation in the history of conversations. Well, that is a little creepy but you know where I am going with this.

So how can we be fully present?

Eliminate distractions—Turn away from the computer, put down the device and don’t answer the phone if it rings

Listen with your eyes—there is power in eye contact. If you turn and concentrate intently on the speaker they will know you think what they are saying is important

Listen with your heart—People often are communicating something to you beyond the words they may be speaking. It is only when fully present with open hearts as well as ears that we can understand someone else.

Remember it is not about you—Sure, maybe you could care less about the random story the 12 year old may be telling you but to that kid (or adult) it may in their mind be very important. By simply listening, you may turn out to be the only person that ever really shows you care for this person and that my friend is very powerful.

Shut up! Most people don’t listen and instead are just waiting for their turn to speak next. It is only when you give up yourself that you can understand the other person.

My challenge to you is to dedicate one day to being fully present with others and use every interaction as an opportunity to really listen. I know if you do this you will be amazed at the results. Think of the difference just listening could make in your relationship with your spouse, children and employees.

Being present is one of the greatest gifts you have to give.

What about you?

Do you struggle to listen?

On the other hand, do you struggle to be heard?

How to you plan to be fully present with someone this week?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My twitter fast

Whew I am back! Today is my return to Twitter after a 21 day fast from it and a few other things. With over two years, 15,000+ tweets, and four accounts under my belt, I felt compelled to take a little break. Amazingly, during this time the world kept turning and people did not go running through the streets yelling, “where is David Copeland! I must know what he is thinking today!” Chances are that the vast majority of my followers did not even notice my absence.

It has always been my twitter desire for a two sided fluid experience. The fun for me is getting to know people through conversation and interaction. It may sound silly but I am genuinely interested to learn about the lives of others and this is way more important than number of followers or any other twitter metric.

So what did I learn during this time? Mostly I learned that twitter like all things needs to be kept in perspective and that life indeed does go on just fine without social media.

My inspiration for this fasting time was from a great Lifechurch sermon. You can watch it here and read the 21 day fast devotional at