Where are you in Land of Oz?

Wizard-of-oz_hologramThe Wizard of Oz is actually a great movie. To me it has so many life and spiritual lessons that I enjoy it immensely. I do hate that its available everywhere 24/7 in this present day. When I was a child it was only ONCE A YEAR! You savored it with popcorn, and the family sitting around the TV. Hold the calls and clear my calendar – The Wizard of Oz is on!

Personally I think Dorothy should have stayed in the color world. Auntie Em should have slapped, um, I mean pray — for that woman (who was the witch when the movie became color). She wanted to take Toto away, because down deep we all knew she was a mean hearted person. To me a good Christian woman would have intervened, and slapped – I mean prayed for her. But that’s another story.

My favorite line from the movie is, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” That line to speaks so much of life, leadership, parenting, or anything.

To recap the story quickly with the points I want to make are:

  • Dorothy comes to Oz
  • The munchkins & the good witch told Dorothy where to go
  • She leaves and has three people go with her on the journey
  • She make it to Oz
  • Meets the Wizard
  • The Wizard isn’t what she expects
  • She goes home to black and white

The points I make are in relation to the perspective of those in wanting to meet the Wizard of Oz. If you know the story, The Wizard of Oz is actually a carnival performer who came to Oz when his hot air balloon is blown into the land from a storm.

Everyone in life can find their place in every arena within this story. There are three perspectives of participants in the Land of Oz:

  1. The first level is the Munchkins (even the good witch is in this category to me). These are the people who are like the patrons at the carnival. They sit and watch, encourage, and observe. They have no involvement whatsoever in the outcome of the story or the events in your life, and sometimes their life. These are the people who sit in the stands.These are commentators. So many today sit and tweet or post about life. They post how angry they are at the driver in front of them while they drive to work. How they are going to straighten out the injustices of politics. The wrongs and ills that need be corrected, and all they do is post posts on social media. They dance and sing songs, conversing one with another about what should be done, and where the answers are, but they never lift a foot to walk down the yellow brick road to change anything in the Land of Oz.I’m not sure if its fear that keeps them in the land of the munchkins, but I do know it’s the desire to stay safe. Out beyond the slopes of safety are scarecrows, tin men, and lions; things that are unknown and unseen. They remain safe in their homes afraid of situations not common to their perception. When faced with the unknown, most sit and discuss the exploits of greatness instead of walking down the road.

    So if you sit in life, in church, the PTA, or even at home, and never make the effort for involvement to change the course of life: you are a spectator, a munchkin.

    If you gripe, grumble, and gossip about the issues instead of being involved: are a spectator, a munchkin.

    If you stay safe, instead of living: you are a munchkin.

  1. Next comes Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion. These are the people involved with the story, and the outcome of their lives, but they too still are looking for answers from an outside source.They want to see the Wizard of Oz. Another way to describe these people in the theater of life, are those people who make the show happen. The ones who become engaged with lights and sounds, curtains and props, to make the event and night a glorious event. They are involved, around the stage, but never on it.Where would the story of the Wizard of Oz be without these four? Nowhere, but they do set off, on foot to conquer whatever evils there are to achieve the deed of ‘returning Dorothy home, so they are ‘Off To See The Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.

    They do not sit back, and wait for the wizard to come to them, but go in search of the Wizard. Sadly too though, they are looking for someone to answer their questions, solve their problems, and make the happenings of their life, happen.

    If the first position in the story is munchkin, this is the level of adolescence, which is in fact the approximate age of Dorothy.

    If you are engaged and taking part but display no initiative: you are an adolescent.

    If you expect others to make all of life take place for you: you are an adolescent.

    If you blame others for whatever is wrong: you are an adolescent.

  1. Then there is the Wizard. The Wizard,  I grew up not liking the name. It had for me too much of a witchcraft sound to it, but I too know it’s a fiction story. The older I get the more I like it. It embodies the mystery of the Office of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.It calls to your mind the sense of wonderment and the unknown. How does the wizard do those things? Where is he? Who is he? How did he get there? Will we ever know?The Wizard though is another level of leadership that few ever know, or experience.

    I believe its stage fright that holds them from stepping out on the stage. On the stage, the Wizard holds everyone’s attention but also has the responsibility of the presentation on his shoulders. That’s an awesome weight to step out, and know that you are ‘the man’, or ‘the woman’ in that moment.

    Few want to be the Wizard. Too much stress and exposure, with criticism at every turn for their every action they take.

    If you are bold and act in life: to those around you would consider you are a Wizard.

    If you take the heat and stay in the fight: you are a Wizard.

    If you make life better for others, at the expense of your own happiness: you are a Wizard.

When I was a child I wanted to be the Tin Man. He wore a funnel as a hat. I’m thankful for a Mother who bought me a funnel so I could live in the land of imagination.

As an adult I choose to be the Wizard, although now more reluctantly.

I’ve learned that being at that level is more pressure, which is why the Wizard in the movie hid behind the curtain. The facade is a built in protection, but you can’t change lives or influence from behind the curtain. He left the safety of the curtain, removed the façade, and held the stage as he needed to, so he could help redeem the life of those around him.

So if you aren’t willing to walk out on the stage and take the criticism that it brings, be a good munchkin, or a good Scarecrow, Tin Man, or Lion.

The Wizards of life need encouragement as they work and live. There are enough witches to bring them criticism.

Coaches & Shepherds…

shepherdMany years ago while living near Charlotte, a group of Corporate Trainers/Coaches approached me to come and sit in on their training sessions, and consider whether or not I wanted to be a part of their company as a speaker/trainer. I’d met several of the owners through a church that I had spoken at often. The Corporate training business was full steam in the early 90’s, but the concept of “coaches” was new, but to me it was just a rejuvenation of old terms and processes.

It was an interesting week to say the least, and I walked out of the experience with two perspectives. One, coaching has a place. Two, I’m not sure where that place is, but I knew my place wasn’t involved with it then or there. I have much more I could write and may well do so later, if anyone wants to read it, and I may even if no one does. We’ll see.

Fast forward almost 20 years later, the term ‘life coaches’ is thrown around much. It is the ‘in’ fad now to have a life coach or even to be a life coach. One article I read (hit me up for the link is you’d like to read it) was funny due to the fact that one life coach the article mentions of had gotten into coaching due to the fact they couldn’t get work as an actor. Stories like that make you pause and think, and who really needs coaching.

In church culture now, the coaching atmosphere is coming on strong. It does bother me how the church seems to let the business community influence our training and discipling methods more than vice versa. I’ve had people tell me, “I’m going to this specific church, because the Pastor is a great life coach, and he wants everyone to be a life coach.”

I’d rather be like Irwin M. (Fletch) Fletcher – it’s a Chevy Chase movie – where when asked what he did for a living, he replied, “I’m a shepherd.”

I do believe that the concept of a coach that teaches and instructs has a strong cross over in principle to a shepherd, but in today’s world I’m not sure if the definitions and concepts are anywhere close, nor conveyed to those wanting coaching.

When I close my eyes and see I coach, I see someone on the sidelines cheering and rooting of course, but having an ultimate goal set forth that they want that player to achieve.

When I still my heart and see a shepherd, I see a servant who is in the field with those sheep leading them to the places of growth and nourishment that they need, and often times they do not know what they need. Here in lies a great paradox of Pastoring.

I love coaches, and always will, but when asked what the church needs and is instructed to have, I’m reminded of 1 Peter 5:1-5. It isn’t a coach, Peter encourages; its shepherds.

Hopefully we take our aim in the Body of Christ to be shepherds as in the Twenty-third Psalm. Jesus is the Great Shepherd.Here is something fun: do a Google Image search of “shepherd” you will see pictures of shepherds with images that portray Jesus in abundance. Google Image search “coach” and you see pictures of handbags, buses, and sports.

Jesus said a shepherd lays his life down for the sheep; the connotation of coach doesn’t carry that level of engagement.  To desire to be like Jesus is to be a shepherd… not a coach.

Time to take a break…

BreakWhen is a good time to take a break from something?

When you have fought hard and won? When you have fought hard and lost? When you have fought and see no conceivable outcome?

It depends upon what the break is meant for. If it is for the purpose of resting, at any time you deem fit.

If it is to quit, NEVER!

Breaks aren’t meant to suspend activity indefinitely, but for a moment. Often when in the middle of a break, we allow our attention to hit upon a flash of something that distracts, chasing after emotions and hopes that have no promise to fulfill or accomplish. When your activity isn’t productive in the pursuit of our passions, a break isn’t needed but a train wreck to make you stop so you can resume your break and pursue your passions.

Never let your break become an excuse to stop in your pursuit of dreams.

Take a break if you need too, but never QUIT your dreams!