The Silver Linings of 2021

I’ll be honest: There’s a lot on my mind and chest right now.

Where to start, where to begin…

To be fair, I’m sure the same could be said about you. After the last year’s whirlwind, it makes sense to hope 2020 is true to its name: In focus and further distanced in the rear-view mirror.

Yet, as we embark on a fresh journey in this brave, new world, there’s one step we must take before the next. One step to fuel them all.  That step…is to stop.

That’s right. Before we step into 2021, we must first stop and consider where we’ve been and where we’re…God is taking us. However, to do this in full, not only must we surrender our desire to change on our terms but be willing to pray for what we press into.

For instance, we can pray for wisdom and strength to be different, to be better…but unless we posture our hearts to receive from God, our expectations will not calibrate to His nature.

As such, I submit we enter into the hope of 2021 with the following three points in mind. Granted, there will be more we discuss in the coming months. For now, let’s start with this trio and see where our dialogue takes us.

Ready, set, let’s go…

  1. Remember Your Aim

We are a people who tend to bite off more than we can chew. Our hearts may desire change but this doesn’t mean they desire what’s best and/or know the proper portions. Left to our own devices, we often crave the quickest road to recovery, reward, and large-scale transformation; however, as the Word attests, progress isn’t achieved by overcommitting to paths we plan but is accomplished through small steps we take with God each day (see Psalms 37:23, Proverbs 16:9; more on this in a moment).

As the Spirit confirmed in my heart last week, God’s best can’t always be measured by magnitude but can always be maximized by attitude. Accordingly, if you reframe your perspective to view change through this mindset, not only will you better scale your goals upfront but seize the strength to scale them when you confront.

Bottom line: Small and steady wins the race. Remember your aim is Jesus, not winning the world to Him. Consider your goals and invite the Lord to help you scale them. After all, you cannot grow if you do not yield and aim for purity in your maturity. As you pray into 2021, understand the road forward and onward is always one step at a time.

2. Delight in the Journey

In recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how central joy is to following Jesus. If we long to live as Christ, then we will take pleasure in what tethers us to His perfect will. In Scripture, we find several phrases that capture this reality…

“I know also, my God, that You test the heart and delight in uprightness and integrity. In the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. So now with joy I have seen Your people who are present here, make their offerings willingly and freely to You.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:17 (AMP)

“Finally, my fellow believers, continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you. Therefore, my fellow believers, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown [my wreath of victory], in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” ~ Philippians 3:1; 4:1 (AMP)

“…nevertheless I am with you in spirit, delighted to see your good discipline [as you stand shoulder to shoulder and form a solid front] and to see the stability of your faith in Christ [your steadfast reliance on Him and your unwavering confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].” ~ Colossians 2:5 (AMP)

…but perhaps the one that strikes me most candidly is: Delight in God’s journey.

Again, I go back to Psalms 37:23: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord who takes delight in His journey” which fittingly aligns with Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps.”

This tells me two things:

  1. How God directs is meant to prompt us to His presence.
  2. What God establishes is meant to be a source of contagious joy and awe.

Consider this flashback from two years ago…

Written January 13, 2019

So today I’m walkin’ to work basking in the joy of winter feeling like winter when out of the corner of my ear, I hear ‘Joy to the World’ playing from a nearby corner street music station. At first, I’m like, ‘December is over. No more Christmas music!’ But almost instantly I hear that still, small voice whispering, ‘But Cam. Why not repeat the sounding joy?’

Of course, what can I say to that? Notes and lyrics that seem out of place by cultural timelines should always be in place by daily surrender. Better put, there’s a reason why certain Christmas songs like, ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Joy to the World’ are the only ones that can cure Everly’s nocturnal cries. Seriously, Caeden will start singing his ‘Fa, la, la, la’s’…and even if it’s a few minutes, all is calm and bright in the world.

As you walk with God, receive the practical, prudent reminders of His goodness, peace, and joy even they momentarily disagree with the senses.

Now, I know this may seem frivolous against the backdrop of recent political/social tension; however, we must not downplay delighting in the simple and spontaneous. For in this day, we may feel like we’re walking on eggshells more than sunshine…like we’re sinking in the decay around us. But this doesn’t mean we can’t take pleasure and hold of God’s best or stand in awe of what He has and continually gives.

Especially in seasons of turmoil and transition, our call is to participate in the divine and inspire likewise. While it’s okay to desire change, individually and corporately, don’t let this distract you from pointing people to Jesus as you work, as you wait, and as you champion appointed causes for such a time as this.

Bottom line: As you consider your 2021 riskolutions, make sure to take joy in God’s purposes and declare thanksgiving into places of doubt and uncertainty. Even in difficult situations, remember God only allows us to encounter what He allows (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13). Whatever we face this year, know it doesn’t surprise God (Jeremiah 33:3) and He will provide a way before, for, and through us.

3. Persevere with Patience

No question, 2020 compelled many to higher levels of dependence with endurance and perseverance atop of the list. Yet, before we contrast 2020 to 2021, we should note endurance and perseverance are not the same things.

For example, endurance is staying the course when you’re tempted to give up; perseverance is leveling up when you’re tempted to get down. As I told LEGACYouth back in the day, endurance says ‘yes’; perseverance says ‘more’, but it all comes back to who we adore.

Consequently, while 2020 may have been a year of endurance and exposure for the church, I submit the pathway for 2021 is as follows: Perseverance, patience, perspective, and presence.

In other words, as we patiently await for the seas to calm, let’s persevere into God’s presence to gain His perspective on matters of culture, politics, and benevolence without yielding to churchspeak and hearsay. As the doxology of Jude reminds us…

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:17-25 (ESV)

Bottom line: As you endure with expectation and persevere in joy, cultivate intimacy. Don’t just engage the ways of God; engage God! Reference Him in what you can and can’t understand…when the waves of doubt cloud your mind. Embrace discovery through seeking and pondering. And dare to seek His footsteps and follow them to clarity.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Construction Executive

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2020

Written on 12/31/2020

Well, folks. We’ve made it. 

The last day of 2020. What a ride, what a roller coaster. 

Earlier this week, I posted the following on my Facebook page after some healthy reflections over the Christmas break…

As I consider 2021, two words come to mind: “Get up.”

In Scripture, we find good things happen when things that need to be put to rest…are put to rest. We see the phrase in Joshua 7 when God calls Joshua to consecrate His people to purge their idolatry and recalibrate their devotion. We see it during Paul’s conversion when God appoints him to serve as a minister (with authority) and leave his shame/deceptions behind. And we see it during healing testimonies like Mark 10:49 when a blind man takes heart, receives sight, and leaves his discouraging past behind. Even when Jesus is in Gethsemane, He charges His disciples with these words to help them pray and not fall into temptation. 🤔

In each case, a call to surrender, a call to faith, a call to action. Like the 12, you carry life-altering, disciple-making potential with the capacity to inspire change. But before you write off 2020 like a bad dream, dare to ask yourself, ‘Why am I sleeping?’ It may be uncomfortable (preaching to the choir here), but if freedom is an open door, repentance and faith-based endurance are the keys. All the more reason to seek God, lean into Jesus, and embrace movement¹ as you anticipate better things to come.

Selah.

However, as I continue to ponder what’s ahead, I keep coming back to the same question: If we treat 2020 like a piñata (i.e. “I’m so glad this year is over”, “Worst year of my life”, “What a year to forget”, etc.), are we really setting ourselves to ‘level up’ in 2021?

Not to suggest people didn’t have it hard this past year. Surely some, if not most, of us lost loved ones, colleagues, jobs, even dreams once held dear.

My thought is: As we contend for ‘heaven on earth’ in 2021, let’s not discount the good of 2020 at the cost of confronting the bad (and ugly); rather, in our quests to move on, in our counters to revisionist history, let’s make sure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. After all, it’s hard to be thankful for something you’re desperate to forget…

which leads me to my key question for today: What’s your bottom line?

With respect to how you view 2020, how will you choose to remember it? 

Exhausting, Chaotic. Disorienting?

If so, you’re not alone.

I know as a local Nashvillian, times have been particular rough the past ten months. From a devastating tornado ravaging our downtown to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Christmas Day bombing, 2020 has been a textbook year for social unrest and political unease.

No one in their right mind would draw up a year like this. 

And yet…it happened. Whatever we say, whatever we do, we can’t erase the year’s narrative. As Rollo in Juno once said, This ain’t no Etch-a-SketchThis is one doodle that can’t be undid.”

So what then? Do we continue hiding behind our false securities? Cursing to the wind how unholy our inconveniences are?

Heck…no.

I mean…yes, there’s a right way to vent. As EMDR therapy has taught me this year, it’s wise to acknowledge raw emotions as opposed to instantly resisting them; however, what we do with them after we’ve come to terms makes all the difference. And I suppose that’s why I’m writing this: To make sure we are on the same page in our aerial processing of a year worthy of gratitude in how it’s made us corporately stronger. 

Take it from a guy who onboards non-profits in their journey towards incorporation and IRS approval. As turbulent as this year has been, there’s been a rise in the versatility of charitable mission and benevolence such as the world has never seen. Can we just pause to thank God for blessing us with creativity, determination and the opportunity to work them through adversity in ways we never thought possible?

For as the Word says…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12). After [he has] suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called him to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish [him] (1 Peter 5:10).” Therefore, “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

As for my bottom line, my aim is to step into 2021 the same way I’m leaving 2020: Thankful, humble, faithful, and aware that despite the setbacks, we are a people reset, a body united, and a collection of diverse perspectives working together for greater goods. 

No rose-colored lens. No wishful thinking. Simply hopeful expectations in my heart. Simply Jesus.

That’s all we can be and hope for as we press on in His name…together. Now and forever.

As for what tomorrow brings, all I know is for all the chaos and false doctrines, “…greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). I may not agree with you or even the leaders I voted for two months ago. But you better believe, these hands are going reach further next year than they ever have before. How that looks, I can’t say. But I do know if we do this together, the unity in community we crave will happen. One way or another. Why not dare to dream big and be faithful in the small in the days, weeks, and months ahead? 

Even if the despair is stubborn, even if your sky is falling, know we’ll be here rooting for you every step of the way.

As always,

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Footnotes

  1. For many this will be in the form of discovery/recovery shaking. While there may be some aftershocks in 2021, eyes on the prize I believe the gains of strength through reconciliation and restoration will far outweigh (if not, accommodate) the pains. 

Cover photo creds: Pinterest

Yuletide Certitudes: A Truth From Charlie Brown & The Crown of Christmas

Well, folks. Ready or not…Christmas is here.

Time to deck the halls, throw cares away, and shake up the hap…ahhh…who I am kidding. After a year like 2020, after the two years in one the past nine month have been, Christmas just doesn’t feel right. Not to suggest there’s anything wrong being excited about annual traditions happening virtually in more subdued fashion. It’s just that…outside of Elvis, Bono, and Frank Loesser, this December has been hard to appreciate. Call it the fear of being blue with or without you ’cause baby it’s covid outside.

Yeah, yeah…I know that was bad. But in all seriously, it’s true. If it’s the most wonderful time of the year, why does the wonder feel so far off? Is it the fatigue factor, the mountain of forgetful memories in the back of our minds? Maybe the hesitancy to hope for holy nights to invade?

Whatever, wherever, however, the struggle, truth is there’s still plenty of reason to believe in this season. And while one post can only go so far, my hope is these three advent insights will encourage you in your anticipation for Christmas and the new year to come.

As always, let’s dive in…

  1. After rewatching ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ with my kids a few days ago, I find it interesting how Lucy, Charlie Brown’s nemesis, is the one who invites him to direct the school’s Christmas play. For most, the climax of the episode is Linus’s telling of the Christmas story (released blanket and all); however, it’s his sister, one of the most iconic animated bullies of all-time, who allows Charlie Brown to set the stage for this happen. Because Charlie Brown said ‘yes’ to Lucy’s invitation (and ‘no’ to fear by default), not only did he position himself to wrestle through weakness but aligned himself to ask one of the most important questions this side of heaven: “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?

As the story goes, Charlie Brown ends up discovering the true meaning of Christmas thanks to the tag-teaming efforts of Linus and Lucy; however, it still took a community of friends to help him arrive.

Accordingly, if you’re feeling alone, perhaps intimidated by a specific person/situation or overwhelmed by a bombardment of anxieties, consider God’s invitation for growth and discovery this season may very well come from someone you least expect. You don’t have to understand the timeline or the characters involved. You don’t have to make sense of your surroundings. Just lean into Jesus as you love unconditionally and give additionally. After all, to piggy-back off Linus, that’s what Christmas is all about.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” ~ Galatians 4:4-7

2. As Galatians 4 states, Jesus was born under the law to establish the freedom we were to enter into. The essence of Immanuel is rooted in this reality. Through the Incarnation, Jesus matured in holiness under the law so we could mature in His likeness within our new creation identity. Had Jesus not been born under the law, the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5) would have been compromised given Christ had to model the same identity through the fullness of time required for salvation, justification, and sanctification. Additionally, Jesus could not have paid our price, set the captives free on Holy Saturday, and secured our sonship if His entry point was above the law.

Think of this way: Jesus being born under the law laid a foundation for our salvation, freedom, and accordingly our ability to delight in suffering. Because Jesus faithfully endured AND delighted in suffering from ministry to Cross, we can likewise embrace the thorns in our own lives as we lean on Him. As we will discuss in future posts, there’s powerful symbolism and symmetry to how this relates to our new creation identity (i.e. being daily raised with Christ) and how it applies to the marketplace. For now, consider this a teaser for future January/February content.

3. Jesus being born under the law not only helps us grasp its necessity but reminds us to humbly honor appointed authorities, even ones we don’t agree with. Like today, political chaos and social unrest were backdrop realities Christ entered into; still God’s hand was steady and ever moving. This brings the idea of delighting in suffering full circle as we trust God through the temptation of fear into postures of holy expectation. Especially in this season, if we’re to celebrate our redemption as children of God, we must first acknowledge our helplessness in light of Christ’s sacrifice and desire to be forever Immanuel to us. Only then we can fathom the manger through the crown and cross He bore.

Think of this way: While some would say Bethlehem didn’t make sense as a landing spot for a Lord, it made perfect sense for a Savior surrendered to His Father’s will…born under the law. Through weakness Christ entered the world but this was not detached from yieldedness and surrender.

For instance, one can only imagine the pain Mary felt as she labored through greater discomfort and uncertainty. Trudging along in desperation, she likely expressed frustration, perhaps vented her doubts. Still, her soul kept magnifying the Lord. Even when the habitation of our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) was unknown, Mary kept it simple:

Count it all joy as the hope of glory is made known…Christ IN me.

Bottom line: Just as the stars aligned for salvation’s conception, so too can you align to Christ this Christmas through fearless intimacy knowing ‘Abba Father’ is on your side.

Selah.

‘Til next time, may you know the hope that is yours and the breakthrough that will be yours this Christmas season.

Blessings,

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Photo creds: iDiscipleship

Rethinking Community: 3 Truths on What It Is & What It’s Not

Written 9/28/2016; revised 10/11/2020

I’ll be honest: Sometimes, I don’t [fully] understand “community”.

I mean…I know we were made for it. I know God ultimately is it. But I guess I just don’t know how to live it the way we were intended.

Granted, my perspective is a tad crusty, dare I say, cynical due to former friends fading away and misplaced support voids.

But skepticism aside, I do wonder if part of the confusion is tied to the increasingly blurred line between perceived “community” and proximity.

For instance, with proximity, you’re generally around people who are apathetic in knowing you. I’ve seen this with former employers. If you’re ‘different’¹, then people are indifferent. If you don’t fit in, you can’t stand out. As a result, unhealthy cliques form, outskirts are treated as outcasts, and communications are compromised.

Contrarily, with community, you’re around people who are open to the idea of seeking relationships and in some cases, building koinonia. I’ve seen this at my current job as well as select churches in my area. When a new person enters, he/she’s not only taken in, but walked with until they’re communally integrated (or at least have a clearer understanding on direction). Accordingly, life begets life, sincerity abounds, and gratitude becomes the hallmark of interaction.

Now, before I continue, let me clarify: I’m not saying nearness and/or involuntary forms of togetherness are wrong. If you know me, then you know I’m a huge advocate regarding the ministry of availability. What I am saying is if we desire to be fishers of men, to be influential stewards in the marketplace, we must discern the difference between proximity and community. Especially in a year like 2020, if you’re feeling discouraged trying to make sense of veiled social circles and structures , permit me to share some empowering thoughts…

1) Whether or not we desire community, it must be a priority in our lives.

While this point may seem straight-forward, the nuance is worth noting. After all, part of our uniqueness boils down to weighted values as filtered through personality, wirings, and spiritual gifts. As many wise men have said, loving yourself should not come at the cost of loving and serving others. Even if it’s quality time or encouragement at an inconvenient moment, the ripple effect can be profound; for who knows the exact words and gestures God has prepared for us at any given point.

Think of this way: If we want to be love, we must desire intimacy with God.; however, to desire intimacy with God, we must understand walking in stride with Him often means doing likewise with others. While this may seem overwhelming, by cultivating a sensitive heart of worship, we can learn to rely on God in relational situations knowing…

  1. God, as part of the Trinity, has been a relational reality for eternity.
  2. God has entrusted us to be intentional in our approach to unity.
  3. God has given us what we need to effortlessly abide in community.

Bottom line: To live as Christ is to live as one with one another.

2) Community isn’t just a good idea but one of the greatest mandates in Scripture.

So random question: How many of you like chocolate milk? Remember Ovaltine back in the day? As a kid, I used to love buying the Chocolate Malt container and stirring some scoops into a icy cold glass of milk before bedtime.

If you can relate, you likely know chocolate milk isn’t really chocolate milk unless the chocolate is stirred in. I mean, have you tried tasting unstirred chocolate milk? No bueno! Basically just milk with a subtle hint of cocoa residue.

Visual secured, I submit community is like a chilled glass of chocolate milk². If we don’t allow the Spirit to stir us through genuine relationship, if we’re so easily satisfied by fenced-off fellowship, then the flavor of whatever community we’re experiencing is going to be compromised.

Therefore, if we truly want to live out Hebrews 10:24-25 we must be willing to allow the Spirit to stir us up so people can taste the sweetness of God’s presence through our interaction.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts…” ~ Acts 2:42-47

Bottom line: Just as God is love, He is community. When our lives are tasting and seeing that God is good, no question our corporate devotion to do likewise will strengthen.

3) Community starts by drawing near to One.

Here’s a question: In terms of relationship, if there are walls or barbed wires involved, can we honestly say what we’re experiencing is real? Not to suggest ‘real’ and ‘complete’ are synonymous or that there can’t be camaraderie behind closed doors or in passing. Certainly, obedience and courage can help us embrace empathy and the missional aspects of community.

But as for intentional brotherly devotion, for ‘everything in common’ life, while it’s okay to accept scraps in dry seasons, we must remember…

True community can only be experienced by a group of people willing to love without agenda and encourage without fear.

When we talk about how this looks in the church, we note community isn’t a vehicle to do life together, but God’s life together since the church is a reflection of the Godhead.

Similarly, in the marketplace, community can be seen as the relational modeling of work as worship and the God community with respect to business.

While I’ll aim to unpack this in my next post (given both sides are essential to our ‘Kingdom influencer identity), for now, know regardless of your situation/setting, if we’re content on not loving past our relational defaults and resentments, then our community will be nothing more than a shadow of God’s origin intent. 

Take it from one who occasionally feels disoriented by what he’s not experiencing. Whenever I’m wrestling with relational voids, I’m reminded to draw near to God, resist fear, and pour out my anxieties upon Him. By doing this, I allow the Spirit to stir up a desire to encourage others with the good news that Jesus is near (proximity) and eager to abide with us (community).

Bottom line: Love is not contingent on acceptance but is calibrated by humility seeking the interest of others, making kindness evident, and proclaiming the goodness of fellowship’s Creator (Philippians 2:4 + Romans 12:10 + 1 Peter 2:9).

As such, my encouragement to you is to ask the Lord to fill you with passion and compassion for His people, to not only move you to physical presence but to the inner courts of the Spirit’s presence.

Selah.

Footnotes

1) By ‘different’, I mean anything from calling and character profile to age and race

2) Props to Steve Garrett for the inspiration given during the August 28 Pursuit Service @ The Gate Community Church

Photo Creds: a2ua.com

In The Name of [G]love

I love to play fantasy football.

Really all fantasy sports: Football, baseball, basketball, even hockey. With all major sports currently coinciding due to COVID-19, no question it’s been a busy month on the hobby-front. Yet, of all the ups and downs (mostly ups), perhaps my favorite moment came last week for one of my baseball teams.

Here’s the stage: After starting the season 7-12-1, my team goes on a heater finishing up the regular season with a league-best 30-16-4 to finish at 37-28-5. Heading into the last week of the regular season, my team’s playoff probability was <5% as I needed two teams ahead of me to go 3-6-1 or worse while I had to go 8-1-1 or better just to qualify for a tiebreaker. Well wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what I happened: My team goes 8-1-1, the other teams go 3-6-1, and against all odds, all three teams finish tied at 37-28-5.

Now, for most leagues, tiebreakers are decided by head-to-head matchups during the regular season; to me, this makes sense given the practice considers past performance and is adopted by most major league sports. However, for this league, the Commissioner had set it up in a unique way: Rather than award head-to-head record, the team who finished the final week with the best record would win the tiebreaker and the seeding advantage. A moot point in most circumstances, but a critical one in this case since the tiebreaker decided the last playoff berth.

All things considered, you can image my elation to have clinched a playoff berth having been left for dead at 7.5 games back with two weeks ago.

There was only one problem: I forgot to pay my league entry fee.

This probably deserves an unwind. For custom leagues, a payment deadline is generally enforced by the fantasy network provider. If even one of the managers forgets to pay on time, the league is stripped of its cash status and becomes a free league with no payout.

Initially, I had paid on time; however, that was before another manager missed the deadline costing our league its cash league status. After receiving a refund, I carried about my business assuming this league would be re-classified with no cash prizes. But as I learned following my playoff berth, the managers had decided to handle payments ‘off-grid’ six weeks prior, a memo I missed based on my fantasy app’s messaging settings. Why no one contacted me is beyond me. Perhaps they thought my team was weak and wasn’t a threat. Whatever the reason, my team overachieving into the playoffs was suddenly a legit problem for the managers who had paid and lost the tiebreaker.

As I continued discerning the dilemma, the choice became clear: I needed to own my mistake (even though I knew it wasn’t the only mistake in this situation) and inquire next steps in our next live chat. So that’s what I did. At soonest convenience, I logged in, acknowledged the error, and told the managers I’d happily pay the fee after-the-fact. Unfortunately, this pitch (pun intended) was not unanimously received given the cheap convenience involved. As one manager said, of course I would pay now; after all, I had new skin in the game.

But that’s when I made an easy call: Instead of defending my position, I surrendered my playoff spot to the runner-up manager.

Upon announcing this, the live chat blew up. Apparently, the other managers were prepping for a vote on whether or not I should remain qualified as a playoff team. For some managers, they understood the loop holes involved; for others, they were more concerned about league rules being followed to the bitter end. Yet, once I laid down my team, the other managers were floored. They couldn’t believe after all my hard work, I’d just casually offer my playoff bid to another manager. In response, I explained how it didn’t make sense for me to win a cash prize in a league I didn’t pay an entry fee for. Granted, it would have been nice if someone said something so I could have paid a second time…on time. Alas, that’s not what happened.

What did happen is while I lost a chance to earn $120, I won souls in how I handled the disappointment. For as the chat session continued, the encouraging comments poured in – most applauding my integrity, some even asking me if I would return to the league again. At first, I was like, ‘Calm down. It’s not that big a deal’, but upon second thought, I saw where they were coming from.

‘Cause truth is: Integrity isn’t only realized when a decision is hard, but also when a decision is obvious. Applying Proverbs 11:30 (ESV), while a challenging circumstance can impact integrity, or lack thereof, ultimately how it’s handled is what wins soul. For instance, a basic ethical response can diffuse conflict when it advances corporate virtue ahead of an individual goal. Additionally, it can inspire others to do likewise when selflessly expressed in sincerity. Put another way…

…doing the right thing doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s not contingent on the extraordinary but is often maximized in the ordinary.

Sometimes, we undermine the value of humility when its exercise is plain. Even when there’s a cost, when the path to goodness is clear-cut, we can shrug it off as we walk it in fear of being self-centered.

But that’s why I’m sharing this story – to remind us to embrace the power of practical integrity and cherish the simple ways character can influence. Who knows? By buying that meal, being transparent, or extending grace, you may just win an opportunity to lead someone to Jesus because you were willing to be like him in the first place.

Selah.

Photo creds: ArtsyCanvas.com