Difficult People

Some people are just difficult.

They might be stubborn, obnoxious, prideful, arrogant, rude, opinionated, too quiet, too anxious, too negative, too loud, or just plain weird. Or…they might just not be like you.

Maybe you have a hard time reading them, understanding their body language or are unsure of how they think and process information.

We’ve all come across these people. Maybe at times we have BEEN these people.

Some people...are just difficult.

Some people…are just difficult. THE OFFICE — Pictured: Steve Carell as Michael Scott — NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth

I find that the default reaction (self included) is to ignore them, marginalize their position or exclude them completely. It is much easier to simply dismiss these oddballs as being too negative or too difficult to work with. It is a lot nicer and comfortable to not have to deal with those you don’t quite understand, don’t agree with or don’t like.

But perhaps we miss something when we do not even take the time to try and get to know those we do not understand and learn how best to communicate with those who are different.

In my previous job, I learned within a few days of being hired that my boss didn’t communicate well with the staff. Most had a difficult time getting his attention, communicating with him and achieving any sort of meaningful dialogue that moved their projects forward. One Sunday during church, I approached his wife and asked, “What is the absolute best way to communicate with your husband?”

Her response was simple. “Email him. He is very very visual. He needs to see everything, not hear it. When I really need to get him to understand something, I email him myself.”

Some people are more visual.

Some people are more visual.


From that day forward, when I needed to communicate something very important, I wrote it down via email or written paper. I used pictures and charts when possible. This changed my ability to not only communicate better with my boss, but also understand him as well.

Remembering that everyone is different, I quickly picked up that other members of the staff all communicated differently. Some visual, some audible, some just wanted to have a sit-down face-to-face conversation or draw everything on a big white board. Another staff member in the same church was much more audible. He needed me to explain everything out loud rather than type it in an email. Another, just needed to do everything face-to-face, talking it out…along with several rabbit trails during the conversation, but always still reaching our conversational goals.

Some people are more audible.

Some people are more audible.

So when you are faced with what appears to be a difficult person you can’t connect with, do you just move along? Or do you try and figure out how best to communicate with just that person?

My recommendation is to find someone who does know them well…a spouse, a friend of theirs, someone who has worked with them for a long time, a previous employer, somebody who knows them better than you! Ask them, “What is the best way to communicate with this dude?”

Then, employ that method and see what happens!

Some people just communicate better in person or face-to-face.

Some people just communicate better in person or face-to-face.

If you want to take it a step further, ask that same person additional questions to find out what they’re about, who they are, what their dreams and passions are, what they like and dislike, what is their past history of working with other people. After you get a basic idea, the better plan would be to also ask this difficult person those same questions!

All these things will help you to better understand this challenging person and help you to better communicate with them. This will help not only your side of the equation (or project, or cohort, or whatever), but will most likely also help theirs!

Proverbs 18:2 suggests we must learn to understand others, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” We need to learn how to understand each other, how we each communicate and learn from what each other has to offer.

If we all do this, perhaps we won’t have so many difficult people.

And perhaps…I won’t be so difficult.

The Greatest Cartoon Character of All Time – Wile E. Coyote

What is your favorite cartoon character?

Beyond Superman, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, Scooby Doo, Winnie the Pooh, and others, none compare to Wile E. Coyote.

Wile E. Coyote - The greatest cartoon character of all time.

Wile E. Coyote – The greatest cartoon character of all time.

First aired in 1949, Wile E. Coyote has chased the Road Runner across millions of TV screens. He’s dumb, tries the most ridiculous things, reads books that seem to be smarter than him, and occasionally comes near death…or at least should come near death. In fact, he never ultimately achieves his goal of eating the Road Runner. Periodically he does catch the bird, but usually due to his own idiocy, his arch nemesis always escapes.

So why is he the greatest? Why not Superman or Batman who use their high intellect or super powers and always catch the bad guy within 30 minutes? Even Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo typically come out on top by the end of the show.Why aren’t they the greatest?

Wile E. Coyote is the greatest cartoon character because he never gives up regardless of his own inabilities. He never gets to the point where the prize is not worth the effort. He never lets his own past failures affect his drive. He never assumes “he can’t.” He always tries new things, new methods, new ideas. Some are crazily stupid, but he is willing to keep trying anyway. His goal never waivers.

He researches his opponent. He studies books that will help him understand birds and how to catch a road runner. He reads the “how-to” manuals that come with new bird-catching products and explosive materials.

He also risks his life…a lot. He is willing to get into the cannon that will shoot him as fast as the Road Runner can run. He is willing to climb to the top of the mountain and jump off to catch his prey from overhead. Wile E. is ready to give his life for the cause of catching his victim.


If you have watched as many Wile E. Coyote cartoons as I have, you eventually develop the perception that his goal of catching and eating the Road Runner seems to exceed his desire to actually calm his hunger. Sometimes I wonder if the prize of the hunt has become more rewarding that the purpose for which the hunt originally started…to eat the bird! But alas, Wile E. wants to EAT THAT BIRD.

So he reads more, studies more, thinks outside of the box more, and nearly dies again.


As you watch, you just wonder, why doesn’t he give up and go find another bird?

His dream seems foolish to us.

It’s because he has vision and purpose and chooses to never give up on his dream.

Regardless of his failures, he still presses on. Other cartoon characters rarely (if ever) fail. Rather, they always hit their mark the first time and succeed at everything. They never experience failure, and for the rare instances they do mess up, everything works out by the end of the episode.

But life isn’t like that.

We have great ideas, try new things, get enamored by the latest and greatest products or methods or ideas or services. And those often fail us. Or we fail to apply them correctly. Either way, failure hits us in the face like a one-ton stone in the desert. Life is full of failures and mistakes.

When we keep at the same goal, but try new methods, there’s a greater chance for success. Wile E. never tries the same thing twice. Each attempt is different…newer…crazier…sometimes dumber. But still different. Still trying. Still keeping his eyes on the goal.


Keep your eyes on the prize.

I’ve been Wile E. for the last couple years. I’ve almost given up on the prize…many times. I’ve wondered what is wrong with me? Why has God not allow my dream to come to fruition yet? Why is nothing working? Why does nobody else see my gifts and abilities and potential?

After some particularly discouraging news one day, I got this text from a good friend of mine.

"Sometimes our dreams are foolish to others."

“Sometimes our dreams are foolish to others.”

“Sometimes our dreams are foolish to others.”

Wile E. Coyote’s dreams seem foolish to us, but it never seems foolish to him. He just hasn’t accomplished it yet.

It was a well-timed reminder that I needed to hear. My goal is mine alone and between God and me (and my family). My dream, my goal, my target, my hope, my purpose.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote,

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time;

it hastens to the end – it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it;

it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3, ESV)

Whatever you are working on, whatever you are dreaming about, whatever you keep failing at, whatever is crazy, whatever people think you are foolish for trying…keep doing it anyway. Just keep trying. Keep reading, keep brain-storming, keep trying new things, keep learning. Learn from those mistakes. Learn from other’s mistakes. Remember what does NOT work and don’t go back there.

Always keep moving forward with your eyes on the prize.

Failure and disappointment WILL come, but it doesn’t have to be the end. Failure doesn’t have to define you. Find your strength in God who wants to do wondrous things through his children. Unique things, different things, passionate things. But you may hit roadblocks in the process. You may fall off a cliff or get blown up by a missile or run over by a truck or get melted by lava. But your dream is still valid, your passion may still come from the God who loves you and gave you that dream. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, ESV).

Do not give up on God, and do not give up on what He has set out for you. Sometimes our dreams are foolish to others. But they’re not foolish to God if He is the one who gave them to us.

It’s your dream, your vision, your passion, your purpose. Go after it you foolish coyote!

So who is your favorite cartoon character and why?

Leave a comment while I go buy bird seed and build a rocket sled!

WEC Rocket

After Friday

I wrote a post a while back about the Friday night events we have at our house. We have beans and burritos every Friday night. Everyone is welcome. Anyone at all. Feel free to join us!



We have never missed a week since we started last year. You can read about it here.

But there is more. Much…much more.

We have never written about it, never posted it social media, never brought it out into the light.

It is what happens AFTER Friday. Specifically…between Fridays.

Text me your week

It sounds simple. It is simple. But it makes a big impact.

Every week, Brandy will try and text or send an instant message to all the ladies who came the week before to our Friday event. I do the same with the guys. It’s a simple question.

How can I pray for you this week?


Prayer can move mountains…change lives…mend souls…and make a difference.

Texting for prayer is no less powerful.

Texting this request always gives those who are a little weary of the whole Jesus-thing an easy way for them to opt-out. They either don’t respond, or provide something superficial. It’s okay with us! We just assume they’re busy, or we pray for that superficial something. And we know that we all have something that may seem superficial to others, but is a big deal to us. That’s just life.

It might be…I’m having a crappy week…I’m doing great, thanks…I hate my job…My kids need prayer right now because I’m about to kill them.

Others will respond with deep hurts (or extreme excitement), struggles, or debilitating scenarios we had no idea existed. Texting allows those who are grappling with such issues to share them without having to look us in the eye. They’ve open their soul to us, but through a safe and distant method.

And they allow us to seek God on their behalf.

It might be…I struggle with porn…we have a lot of debt and trying to figure out what to do…I lost my job yesterday…I’m pregnant!…I found a job that’s perfect for me…I think my kid has autism…my daughter needs counseling and I can’t afford it.

praying man

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29: 12-13, ESV).

All of what they share is confidential, NEVER shared with others who come on Fridays (or anyone else).

Then….Brandy and I pray for those requests. I pray over them as I drive during the week between home and work. Brandy prays for them during her morning Bible study. It makes us think about our community. It personalizes each person that comes. It reminds us of the beauty of diversity. It provides a picture of how Jesus wants us to treat and pray for each other. It reminds us that life is messy and we often need each other to make it through.

“Make this your common practice: confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16, MSG)

Sometimes people will follow up with us later and say, “Hey, guess what happened?” Other times they don’t. It doesn’t matter to us, our gift is the opportunity to pray for our friends, old and new.

Admittedly, sometimes we don’t get to it. The note on my desk to remind me gets buried, life happens, we just simply forget. But that’s fairly rare.

Even so, for most weeks, it’s a privilege for us to text them for prayer. We have a large family and many people who come on Fridays so we only do it for those who came over the last couple weeks.

This is what happens between Fridays. It may just be more impactful than Friday night itself. It is true community.

So what are you doing this Friday? Are you coming to our house for burritos? If so, I’ll send you a text later in the week asking how I can pray for you.

Socks, Burritos, and Real Community

There is always a sock left behind. Or a shoe. Or burp cloth.

SOMETHING is always left behind. But it's never a bad time.

SOMETHING is always left behind. But it’s never a bad time.

Something is ALWAYS left behind. And sometimes there are so many people that show up, we’re just not sure who these items belong to. But we don’t mind.

And how does a child get into their parent’s car only wearing one shoe? I have no idea….

But this is how it ends every Friday night.

Every. Friday.

That’s the key….consistency. We never miss a week.


And that is where the blessing lies…we’re never disappointed. Never ever.

I was skeptical at first. I really was. But I was just going along with Brandy’s crazy idea. It’s her fault, really. And I love her all the more for it.

Here is how it all began….

Brandy read some article online about how this family opened their home once a week for a free meal to anyone who wanted to come. They made the same easy meal each week and all kinds of friends and “who-are-you?” people showed up at their door.

“I think we should try this to develop our own kind of community,” Brandy said.

Um….what? Aren’t you an introvert? Who are you and what have you done with my wife?

And here we are, five months later…living out community in a fashion I never thought possible. We love it. I love it. Our kids love it. Our community loves it. (For more on what my wife was thinking, check her blog for an upcoming post.)

It might get hot...even in December. But the true community and fun is worth opening the windows on a cold night.

Sometimes we just have to move the couches to squeeze everyone in!

Every Friday, here is what we do…

Every Friday night (did I mention EVERY FRIDAY?) at 6pm we open our home to anyone who wants to come for a free meal, some fun, maybe a drink, and real community. We’ve never missed a day, including the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving, after Christmas and even New Year’s. We serve a super cheap meal that is always the same…bean burritos with various fixings. It’s always the same so as not to be too costly, take too much work and is fairly safe for nearly everyone to eat. Sometimes there are cookies…sometimes not.

There might be drinks…there might only be soda…or water…or soda water. It just depends on whether we have anything to offer. Sometimes others might bring drinks for sharing. Sometimes they’ll bring lemonade for the kids. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’ll bring paper plates or extra cups to help us defer the costs…although it is very minimal for us to produce this each week. We rarely ask for people to bring something, but we’ve made it a point to never charge for anything.

Aside from cleaning all the toilets and picking up the dog poop in the backyard, we barely even clean the house. Our purpose is not to show off our neat and tidy house…not that it is EVER really neat and tidy (we do have a gaggle of kids after all).

It’s like when your family comes over and you make no special preparations because…well, they’re just family. You got nothing to prove! This is my house. Here it is. Sorry the dishes are not done and the floor is a little messy. You’ll have to wipe the crumbs off the chair before you sit down. Sorry, I didn’t have time to shower before you came over…nor did any of the kids.

We have nothing to show off. Nothing to offer people but a warm hospitable place with a free meal and good conversation. We have no agenda. We have nothing to sell. There is no catch.

Making gingerbread houses...making friends...making community.

Making gingerbread houses…making friends…making community.

What happens on Friday night?

Some Fridays we’ll get fifty people (including kids). One night we had only one family show up…they have a gaggle of kids too, but they’re still only ONE family! Never has a Friday gone by that no one came. Some nights the conversations between people can be very easy going, casual, very surface, slightly humorous.

Other nights they can be very deep, very hurting, very exciting, very spiritual.

But isn’t that how life is anyway? One day, everything is just blasé, boring, nothing to even tweet about or post on Facebook. Then the next day…bam! You got fired! Or your wife had a baby! Or your friend got diagnosed with cancer. Or you got that job you had been praying for. Or your brother found Christ! Everyday can bring new news, new challenges, new excitement…or maybe it was just another day. This is how the conversations go on Friday nights…sometimes only between two individuals…other times news and banter is shared with everyone! The conversations range from child-rearing, to church, to sex, to movies and books, to work, to school, back to child-rearing, to vaccines, to HIV, to Christianity, back to sex again, to marriage, to chocolate wine, to cooking, back to sex again (on a really good night!), to past experiences, to prayer, to homosexuality, to finances, to terrorism, to porn, to autism and other special needs, to babysitters, to adoption, to large families, to hopes, to fears, to dreams, back to child-rearing.

The kiddos play…

With very few rules (cannot go upstairs, only two on the trampoline at a time, no losing Little E, and no blood), the kids just run around and play with each other. The trampoline is a favorite…usually resulting in a lone sock at the end of the night. Our kids have come to look forward to Friday nights as much as we have…as do many of the other regulars. Indeed, even our children have invited their friends and classmates to bring their families. There is typically no agenda for the kids, although we did plan ahead and did pumpkin carving in October and gingerbread houses in December.

Pumpkin carving is always more fun when there is 45 people to help out!

As a result of my kid’s desire to bring their friends, we’ve met a few couples and their families that we otherwise would never have met. Now, at least one of those families is coming often…they didn’t have anywhere for community until now.

The families who come…

Speaking of regulars….we have a few families that do come very regularly, others come sporadically, others only once or twice. Some of the families homeschool. Some don’t. Some have toddlers while others have grown children. Some of the couples are very young and some are…I’ll just say, “older.”

The range of people who come is quite diverse, but we have come to realize our community is attractive to two particular groups. It is most attractive to large families. Having six kids myself, I understand this fully. We never get invited to anywhere. Simply put, most people don’t want to invite Brandy and I over for dinner since the assumption is that when you invite us two, eight show up! Many large families cannot accommodate another larger family in their house and small families are just not accustomed to the noise we bring. I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact. Other large families get this…and they’re happy to be welcomed into our home. The other group is single moms. As the sole provider and worker and parent, they just need a break, but they often cannot afford the money or time to get away and relax. When they come to our house on Fridays, their child can just run around in a safe place with other children and mom can have some fun interaction with other adults.

Just a small sampling of our Friday night  community.

Just a small sampling of our Friday night community.

 Something deeper…

At this point, my Christian friends are reading this to learn about what kind of evangelism we do and how we’re sharing the Gospel. Well…you just read it. That’s all there is. There is no Bible study. No preaching. No worship. No organized invitation to church. Certainly, Brandy and I believe these to be important and we do these throughout our daily lives. But like the rest of our week, our evangelistic methodology is based on living real life…by opening our home to anyone, on a regular basis, sharing a meal, and sharing in conversation about life. That is evangelism at its heart. Living life together. Living in community. Sharing life together. We share Christ through our lives. Get to know me first and as we live life, hopefully you’ll be able to see Christ in my actions and words. For twenty years of marriage, Brandy and I have tried to live this way, although…admittedly…we have failed miserably at times.

Concerned at one point that we were not being intentional enough in sharing our faith during Friday nights, I consulted with my friend, Jeff, about how we might be able to make it more evangelistic, more purposeful. His response was striking.

“Before people trust Christ, they have to trust you.”

His wife followed up with, “Listen to the conversations. Listen to what people are sharing with each other. As with many things in life, the conversations frequently lead toward spiritual things. Let it be.”

They were right. The diversity of those who come proves their point and it has grown beyond our dreams. Many are Christians and intensely dedicated to their life with Christ. Some are agnostic. A couple are atheist. Some are gay. Some are confused. One thinks God hates him and some struggle with financial debt. Some are hiding their past and some are struggling in their marriage. One wants to be a pastor. One couple has a parent on his death bed. One person secretly struggles with suicidal thoughts while one couple just celebrated the birth of their child. One celebrated finishing college at the age of 39 while another just went back for further studies. One woman is a stay-at-home mom but would rather work while another works full time but would rather be a stay-at-home mom. One man recently had the job change of a lifetime educating young children and another works in child welfare and has to suppress the memories of working with battered children.

Few communities are as diverse as this one. None are as exciting…and real…and needed.

And I think Jesus would come…

I think Jesus would show up, eat a bean and cheese burrito, have a glass of wine, and share in the conversations. I’m convinced Jesus would sit at the table and mingle with my community. He would jump on the trampoline with the little kids and then look up at the stars in wonder with the toddlers when it got dark. He would sit and play chess with the teenagers and then ask for help on Minecraft from the tweens. And he would either join the ladies in a Wii dance-off…or join the men who are laughing at the ladies. I’m not sure which. Indeed, Jesus IS sitting at our table and mingling with OUR community. I hear conversations about Jesus, God, and religious things almost every week. It’s amazing.

The ladies in a Wii dance-off. The guys just laughed...and took video for future reference...

The ladies in a Wii dance-off. The guys just laughed…and took video for future…use.

When someone has the courage to share something they’re struggling with, Jesus is right there giving a hug to the hurting person through the Christians that are present. When people show up and exclaim their great joy about something exciting that has happened, I can hear Jesus’ big belly laugh through the crowd. Friday nights are fun. It is loud. It is real community. It is real evangelism. It makes people want to come back.

And there is more…

There is more to share, but I will write it in another post soon. There is more that goes on during the week that Brandy and I never share on social media. It is part of our combined effort to create community, meet the needs of those we have come to love, and to share Jesus by simply living life.

Community can be messy. It can be tiring. It can involve lost socks and bumped heads and spilled beans.

It can also bring life…real life…real community.

What are you doing to create community? And will you be joining us this Friday?

Church Staff Values


This may seem like an odd post…given the fact I’m not currently employed by a church. But this is the type of thing I frequently think about and plan for. As one that constantly thinks about church leadership, vision, direction and church staffing, I’ve come to realize that every church staff needs its own set of working values. These might be different from the publicly-stated church-wide values and might not be heavily publicized beyond the church’s own internal communication methods. But they’re just as important nonetheless.

A church staff (whether two people or two hundred) needs to understand and adhere to a set of values that help to guide, direct and mitigate the challenges that are faced along the difficult road of ministry. They can be used as a way-marker and should influence how we work with and treat each other. They help to keep our bearing and remind us of our ultimate purpose. Values encourage us to stick to that which is most important…our beliefs, and morals and principles.

There are a lot of good “Church Values” that have been written by large and famous churches over the last decade. In addition, many businesses and corporations have “corporate values” in which they promote and train their staff on. Often times these are values such as honesty, integrity, respect, inclusion, communication, commitment, etc. I’ve studied many of them and most seem to be descriptions of how we should be living life anyway. They’re generally basic standards that we should be living daily, both in the workplace and at home. Also, they’re typically…boring…and nondescript. Who wants that? And how does that motivate people to adhere to them?

So I decided to come up with my own…for a future time to implement.

But in order to adhere to my own value of “learn from others, copy nobody” I decided that I needed to write my own and add some of my own personal finesse and explanation. I’ve tried to make them simple, actionable, and purposeful. Some have multiple meanings and hopefully provoke a bit of thought. Perhaps I will be able to implement these soon in a church that I begin to work for…

Church Staff Values

Grace Filled

-Grace will pervade our words and actions. (Hebrews 4:16, John 1:16)

Live Boldly

-We will live out loud with honesty and do everything with integrity. (Philippians 4:8)

Family First

-We will be family…and family comes first. (1 Timothy 3:5, John 15:12-17, Ephesians 5:21)

People Focused

-We will challenge with curiosity, debate with pure motives, and invest in each other. We will laugh with each other and cry with our families…but mostly laugh. (Galatians 6:10, Philippians 2:4)

Constant Improvement

-We will constantly improve ourselves, our relationships, our work methods, and how we present the Gospel of Christ. We will be creative, inventive and oddly unique. (Philippians 4:13)

Do Hard Things

-We will be courageous in our faith, we will try new things, and we will risk big. We will work hard, pray harder, and might fail often. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 112:7)

Plan in Pencil

-We will make plans, see what happens, and then adjust accordingly. (Habakkuk 2:1-3, Luke 14:28, Proverbs 19:21)

News Worthy

-We will do everything and make every decision as if it will be on the nightly news. There will be no surprises. (2 Corinthians 8:21, Hebrews 13:18)

Simplify Everything

-We will make everything as simple as possible, and no simpler. We will make faith simple and our processes simpler. (Acts 15:19, Exodus 35:31-32)

Leadership Culture

-We will lead and develop. We will deploy and recruit. Both will be with humility and a desire to work, learn and grow together. (1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Timothy 4:12, Mark 10:42-45, Exodus 18:21)

Take Ownership

-We will act on behalf of the entire church, beyond just our own team or department. We are part of something greater than our immediate jobs…we are part of the big “C” Church. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, 1 Corinthians 12:20-25)

I was hoping to have fewer than ten values so they were easy to remember, but I landed on eleven. And that doesn’t include the bonus value of “Finding the answer is more important than knowing the answer!” I’m just not sure where to put that one…but I love the phrase and meaning behind it.

Whether it is with these specific values or others that are similar, I believe that communicating and adhering to a set of values for all the staff to follow can create a better and more productive work environment for everyone involved. I hope to be able to implement these soon!

So what do you think? What would you add or remove or change from these staff values for your own church or workplace?