Sunday, February 17, 2013

Uploading the Human Experience

The other day I saw this commercial. It is Sprint's new ad advertising the iPhone 5 and their "Truly Unlimited Data" plan. Check it out:

But this isn't about the iPhone or Sprint; or even about materialism or consumerism. It's about this interesting nugget nestled into the video:

"We can share every second
in data dressed as pixels.
A billion roaming photojournalists ...
Uploading the human experience."

Here we are in this global community known as the internet. We are constantly being bombarded with ways to connect via social media. "Like" my page, follow me, upvote my picture.

300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook everyday, and Instagam is pushing a total of a billion photos uploaded. We are constantly uploading our human experiences (and our cats; don't forget the cats).

A few months ago Jon Acuff posted this video in a post titled, "Something Every Parent Needs to be Ready for in 2013":

It got me thinking. Do you realize that this generation (my kids and your kids) will be the first generation that could potentially have their entire lives documented via Facebook photos? Assuming that Facebook is here to stay, when my son is 16 I could tag him in a photo of him at a year old, that's been on Facebook since he was one year old. Embarrassing my kids will only ever be a click away. But seriously, how will this effect our kids in the future? Is "Uploading the Human Experience" a good goal? What safety issues arise with this new generation of those literally born into social media?

These are just some things I've been thinking about lately. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review: Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma

When I was working toward my Bachelor's degree at Lee University, I was constantly bombarded with 'social justice' on all sides. This group was looking for volunteers; that group was having a charity bake sale. In addition, part of my graduation requirement was to do a certain amount of 'service hours' volunteering with different groups or organizations. Honestly, the culture of good causes surrounding me kind of left me jaded. It all made me wonder whether social justice was simply a fad. I understood the need for justice (if only partially), but outside of the culture that was created there I had no idea how it all worked out in the real world. How is justice done? Or more accurately, how does one live out a life of justice? Then came along Ken Wytsma's book, Pursuing Justice.

I have to admit, when I first started reading, I had low expectations. I half expected the book to simply be about why we need justice; filled with proof texts, buzz words, and vague definitions. But that couldn't have been farther from the truth. Wytsma doesn't just explain what justice is and why it is important (and biblically mandated). He does this (extensively and eloquently), but also describes how to to do justice, and more important, how to live a life defined by justice.

I first began to understand the depth of the book when I began to page through the contents. When I saw chapters such as "Stained Glass: When Religion Gets in the Way of Justice" and "Compassion Can Kill: Wisdom and Accountability in Charitable Giving" I knew that this book would be more than just buzz words and proof texts. Pursuing Justice is not just filled with bare facts, but educated biblical exegesis, historical background, and anecdotes from his personal faith journey.

From the very first chapter my fears were eased. In it, he presents a question that summed up exactly how I felt towards the topic of justice: "If I want to pursue justice with my life, how and where should I start?" This is the point from which he starts and finishes. He concludes,

Jesus says that in seeking my life I will lose it, but in losing my lifefor his sakeI will find it. I have digested these words. I have proved them with the experiment of my own life. I have discovered happiness and joy in the paradox of giving my life away, just as I am learning to live and die for bigger things.
 Pursuing Justice has a simple, yet entirely deep premise. This is not a feel good book. In fact, many of the stories represent a world full of hurt, pain, and injustice. At times I was moved to the point of tears; at others I was filled with rage. Yet it is also a book about hope. God has called us to live and die for bigger things, and he has given us the grace to fulfill that call on our lives. At the end of the book I was left humbled, energized, and ready for a lifestyle change. Ready to live and die for bigger things.

*I received this book free from the publisher and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I do not profit from any merchandise purchased via links provided. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Leadership = Character

Over at ViralRead they have been tirelessly covering the Menendez scandal. Sen. Bob Menendez is yet another politician involved in a probable career-ending scandal. The story has everything you'd want in a scandal: prostitution, misuse of funds, private jets, and exotic locations. But this isn't a post about politics. This is about leadership.

I read an article recently that said leadership cannot be separated from character. You cannot say that someone is a good leader that has major moral deficiencies. I struggled with this for a while. As most of you know, I'm deployed overseas. At the beginning of this deployment there was a situation where someone in leadership was caught in a moral failure and was punitively removed from leadership. Everyone was upset because even though what he did was wrong, "he was a good leader." I even caught myself saying similar things.

But the truth is, he was not a good leader. Good leaders can only lead if they have credibility, and you cannot have credibility without solid character. In his book Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs says, "Research on credibility has shown that, when a leader attempts to influence people, they engage in a conscious and unconscious evaluation of the leader and will follow only if they deem him or her credible." In addition, he says, "To compromise your character is to compromise your leadership and erode the trust of followers."

The point is, character is incredibly important, yet it is often one of the last things on leaders' minds. If you want to be a good leader, you have to develop solid character. If not, you may just be the next scandal waiting to happen.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Starting Again

Several weeks ago a good friend of mine from college posted a blog, “Winners Do Quit.” They quit doing things that do not add value to their life or pertain to their written goals. His blog, as well as the follow up post he posted the following day, have been weighing on my mind the last few weeks. You see, during December and January I was in between classes, and I was planning to get caught up on some things I needed to before classes started again:

  • “I really need to post a blog. It’s been too long since my last.”
  • “I really need to catch up on some non-school reading.”
  • “I really need to work through the study guide for my denomination’s licensure test.”
  • “I really need to be applying for jobs for when I get back from deployment.”

All of these were great ideas.
All of these would have added value to my life and been a good use of my down time.
None of these were accomplished.

I was too busy spending my time on things that did not add value; things that would not lead to wins in life. So, with a new set of classes underway, and a thousand different things begging for my attention, I’m starting again. I’m choosing to focus on activities that will be worthwhile. 

What about you? What worthwhile things are you working toward?