Saturday, December 21, 2013


In the New Testament the church leaders of Jesus' day tried to trap him by asking him what commandment was the most important. He responds with,"Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."
He didn't say, "Love them if they are like you.", or "Love the sinner, hate the sin.", or "Call them out on their sin to prove that you love them."
Nope. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself."
So why this post?
This past week, everyone from all sides has been losing their minds over an interview that Phil Robertson gave to GQ magazine. You would have had to live under a rock to have missed it.
While I gave some tougue-in-chekk support to the Robertsons by saying I was going to "Let my hair and beard go all Duck Dynasty", the central gospel message of the interview, in my humble opinion. got lost.
At some point in the article, Phil Robertson says something like,:"The world would be a better place if we just all loved each other."
So often we get so caught up in the sins part of the salvation story that we chase folks away before we have a chance to be Christ's love to them.
I get the whole sin thing. I'm a sinner. But for someone who doesn't believe the same way I do, it is an instant turn off. The "speck in your eye is more troublesome than the plank in mine" makes me feel like I'm missing Christ's message to love my neighbor..

 Jesus didn't tell me to love them if they changed, he told me to love them. Period.

 When he was alive, I would like to think that Jesus hung out with people like me.
 Imperfect people.
 People who didn't fit the mold of religion at the time.
Prostitutes, tax collectors, shepherds, some long haired duck hunters and possibly even someone as unworthy of being saved as me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Life Lost

So they buried a friend of mine today. Not a really close friend, but we grew up in the same small town, so we were "friends". You rode the same bus, had the same teachers, and many of the same friends. The fact that she was two years older than me really didn't matter in the small school we went to. Ten kids to a class, and with grades 5-8 doing everything together, made everyone get to know each other.
She was a beautiful, talented young lady, singer, cheerleader, a person who would talk to anyone. She may have had those in her life who didn't like her, but she and I got along well.

She passed away this week because she couldn't handle her addictions.

Her addictions cost her everything in her life.

Her family, her husband, her kids, her home, and ultimately her life.

She went to sleep last Wednesday evening and never woke up.

She and I hadn't talked in maybe 10 years.

I know folks who had worked with her repeatedly to get help. Rehab numerous times, halfway houses you name it, she had every opportunity to dry out.

But she didn't. And she died.

I know what she was into the last time we talked, she didn't know I knew, it didn't matter. Those around her had decided to love her, but not enable her, and that's how I treated her.

Everyday on the internet I see people being horrible to each other. A lesbian couple gets verbally assaulted on a subway because someone had the "religious" grounds to make them feel like less than deserving of God's love.
A wonderful young lady with a big heart sees something dealing with livestock that she doesn't agree with and she flips out, bad language and all.
A company promotes a campaign that calls farmers "lazy". The young lady that calls them out on it gets hate mail.

I didn't make it to the funeral today because of some medical work I underwent last week, but I know the funeral was a gathering of people who loved that young lady. For all of the bad in her life, and there was horrible stuff, I hope she knew that folks loved her.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this. What if folks knew we cared about them long before they found out about the seemingly little issues that divide us.

What if our outrage was used for outrage?

And what if we loved with that kind of intensity?

That's the world I want to work for.

Gonna miss you Lauren. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Starting the Conversation

I've talked to a lot of kids. A lot of kids. They are the reason that I first got on Facebook. They are a real inspiration to me. But being a kid these days is a tough deal. Much more difficult than it was when I was young. Any parent who say otherwise is not seeing the whole picture. But that's not the reason for this blog.
A good friend of mine, Ray Prock, has been watching my Facebook status and commented that there are a lot of the similairities between what I do with young people and what we do while engaging consumers  about farming.  It turns out he's very right.(It pained me to write that down;) )
So after some though, I've narrowed it down to a few points.

The best opportunities take time.

Rarely do you sit down and have a heart to heart of the first conversation. No one trusts you completely the first time they talk with you. To gain a certain level of trust is something that takes time, it's something you earn. Relationships are that way, they take time. But you need to really care about the other person, beyond just the conversation.

The best conversations came from a connection that wasn't forced.

Most of the time we just talk, share some laughs, talk about what important to them. The very first ag conversation I had with a young person was based on some youth ministry stuff that I volunteer for. Really nice young lady who I knew nothing about. For a year all I had was her first name. She was, might still be, a supporter of peta. We had some great conversations. It was an easy give and take that lasted for a year.

If they want to talk, and you can make it work, you need to make it work.

Timeliness is important, sometimes immediacy is really important, but when they want to talk, talk. A lost opportunity may be exactly that, lost. Now the things that we discuss with consumers might not be as urgent as someone struggling with cutting, depression, or suicide, but everyone wants someone to listen. If you can be that, the rewards are amazing.

Never, I repeat, NEVER, lose it.

When a young person is having a really bad day, possibly because of a bad decision, the last thing they want to hear is someone telling them they are an idiot. They are hoping to hear the voice of reason.Our consumers are wanting the same from us. The comments they make might be made to get a reaction, be careful what that reaction is.

Practice helps.

The more conversations I have, the harder it is to surprise me. It can happen, but repeated conversations lets you anticipate some of what is coming. Knowing what questions to ask and having an informal game plan in place, all make the interaction less stressful for both parties.

Sometimes it won't be a conversation.

There are times when I just need to shut up. I'm a salesman. It's my job to get people to talk. But sometimes they don't want, or don't know how to express what they are feeling. That's a reality of life. Not that an attempt shouldn't be made, but I try not get upset or frustrated if they don't respond by baring their souls. Ag conversations are the same way. We think we know the answers, or are willing to be a listening ear, but that may not be what is needed at that moment. It's a reality.

Well, that's all the wisdom I could extract. I hope it makes sense come morning.....