No Retreat Baby, No Surrender

The other night I was having a heart to heart with my dad about all the issues he’s facing by being a part of the vestry for his church. His church is struggling and it’s questionable whether they can even continue to exist without something pretty drastic happening. Think lottery or God coming down himself on Sunday to preach. Heck even then, I might lay even odds it wouldn’t make a difference.

As with many churches his has seen a steady decline in attendance and financial contribution which impacts their long-term financial viability. Most of the vestry seems content to turn a blind eye to the problem and hope somehow it will magically fix itself or at least the end of the world demise might hold off until their leadership term has ended. My dad, being the realist that he is, of course sees the impending ice berg that their Titanical congregation is speeding towards and has sounded the alarm to very little response. And I can see how frustrated it makes him.

As we chatted over beer I asked my dad why he cares as deeply as he does. He’s put, and pardon the expression, an unGodly amount of time researching what other churches are doing to be successful, read more books on influence and teamwork than any one man should ever be allowed to and begged and pleaded for people to wake up and smell the frankincense. He’s like a Cowboys fan (me) that still believes that despite being down 21-7 in the 4th quarter, they can still win the game.

He shared stories of other denominations and faiths that he’s studied. He’s gone to other churches and sought out their leaders and asked the hard questions to find any inkling of strategy that could be implemented to turn the tides for his church. He’s met some amazing leaders and learned a great deal during his vestry term and yet he’s met with the same old status quo turn the blind eye response from his fellow vestry leaders. It has taken a toll on him mentally and physically and as his son this is hard to see.

But it’s also inspiring at the same time.

My dad has a never give up attitude. To use one of Bruce Springsteen’s songs, he’s all about “No Surrender” and that just plain blows me away. Like Ali in the 12th round, the guy takes his lumps, retreats to his corner and comes out ready to duke it out whenever the bell rings for the next round. And that my friends just plain amazes me.

When you believe in something so strongly and refuse to compromise your values just because it’s easier to go with the crowd or for fear of rocking the boat and looking bad, you’re doing something that most are incapable of. You’re demonstrating firsthand what true leadership is all about. Whether it’s publicly disagreeing with the CEO’s boneheaded strategy at work or battling with the status quo of your neighborhood homeowner’s association, you stick to your guns and live and die by your convictions there’s something truly inspiring about that.

I applaud my dad for his willingness to put it all out there, reputation, popularity or what have you simply because he refuses to give in to the easy choice. The guy amazes me and makes me want to be a bit more like him every day. Every day we face our own individual battles and maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t just give in so easily. Especially when giving up should never be an option.

No retreat baby, no surrender.

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Ripple On!!!

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