Monday, October 25, 2010

Cowtown History and the Cowboys

Last Wednesday I walked the three blocks east from Trinity over the the Will Rogers Memorial Center to give the invocation for a meeting of the Tarrant County Historical Commission.  While I know some of my pastor friends don't really enjoy doing these sorts of public events I see them as a good opportunity to meet people and network in the community.  Additionally, they provide a reminder to the community that the historic congregations and denominations are by no means dead in the community, for if I don't do it, someone else will.

This was the first time I had been inside the Will Rogers Coliseum.  It is an art-deco masterpiece built as part of the 1930's celebration of Fort Worth and also in honor of Will Rogers by his friend (and Fort Worth baron) Amon Carter.  It was a public works project of magnificent proportions for the time, and still allows the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo to be one of the premier events of its kind in the world.  This was the first rodeo to ever be on radio and television live thanks to Amon Carter's NBC affiliate, WBAC (known affectionately as "We Bring A Program").

So what does this excursion into history have to do with leadership in Fort Worth or anywhere for that matter?  Well the speaker spoke about how the leaders of the community have striven, been victorious and often failed to promote and build up Fort Worth, while also preserving its significant history.  The leadership lesson I took away was that so often as a leader you will lose your initial goal.  Your vision, whether it be to build a Coliseum, or to preserve a historic building, will have to be flexible and subject to change.  To do anything in a public arena you must be willing to change your initial plan.  You cannot control everything.

Some might see this as being a flip-flopper, but the principle of the matter is key.  You must decide what is the key thing you will fight for, what will you lay it on the line for.  To lead effectively, to preserve buildings, to build buildings/organizations, you must be willing to lose some battles to win.  The wisdom of those who built Fort Worth, although imperfect, was to know they couldn't win them all.  Fort Worth never became Dallas, although in the 30's they might have hoped it would, but in the long run they created a livable city with significant history and culture.  Is it a perfect place?  By no means.  But the wisdom of those who are trying to preserve it is to make sure we do not lose those things that connect us to that past, while moving us toward a significant vision for the future of Cowtown which includes the dramatic Trinity River Vision.  (see  To do this, the vision must be flexible and compromises must be made.

In contrast to this vision of allowing for compromise, recognizing that absolute control isn't the road to success, are the Dallas Cowboys (who just happen to be playing MNF tonight).  Tonight they introduced Jerry Jones as Owner/President/General Manager.  While some might debate me on this, I would argue that the lack of success the Cowboys have had over the past 10 years is directly proportional to the control that Jerry has exerted over his team.  He has not allowed for others to have significant control and I believe that has stifled creativity and created a culture in which pleasing Jerry, not winning football games, is the most important goal.  While I still root for the 'boys, I do not hold out much hope for their long term success until Jerry relaxes some control, allows for creativity and flexibility.  So long as his vision is of himself holding the Lombardi Trophy able to claim that he, and he alone, is responsible for the success that vision will never come to pass.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spirit Moving

Had the first cottage meeting tonight to get to know the congregation at Trinity. This one was held in just across the Tarrant county line in far eastern Parker county (to the west of FW).  The goal of these meetings is to get out into the communities in which the Trinity members actually live and have some time to get to know them in a relaxed, intimate setting.  Tonight's meeting was all that and more.

We talked a bit, introduced ourselves and got to know each other better.  Quickly going around the room with the 15+ participants we realized we had folks both young and old, members of Trinity dating back to the 1950's and those joining next weekend.  This was truly a mixed group of folks who I am grateful took time to get to know one another better, and I think made some friends tonight.

After the initial get to know you we spent a bit reflecting on Spiritual Gifts and the work of the Spirit.  Nothing too terribly heavy, but utilizing 1 Corinthians 12 we thought a bit about not only how we are all gifted, but also how those gifts can affect the Spirit of a place.  Christ calls us to be of one body and sharing of one spirit.  And in any community, family, individual that Spirit can be both good and strong, or the Spirit of a place can be negative and destructive.  Stories were shared, both personal and corporate about how times of great hope had been replaced by sadness and loss, only to be regained by the gift of time and relationship. 

Ultimately we came to a place of discussing how faith can give us a courageous spirit.  One that is willing to step out into things that seem uncertain, possibilities that have no guarantee other than a promise.  Truly a spirit inspired by God.   While certainly a small sample size, the honest sharing, optimism, hope and community I experienced tonight gives me great hope for our work to come at Trinity.  It took a sense of the spirit to take on this call, tonight (and this morning by the generous response to support our mission partners in Alvarado) that spirit was affirmed.  Thanks be to God.