“Orecestrating” Your Life

This weekend Brenda and I had an opportunity to hear some great live music.  I’m always intrigued by a band.  The way that they are able to play together.  I’m equally intrigued by the layout of the notes, coming together.  The ability for the band to play together, work off each other and play their notes correctly and in concert makes for beautiful music and a beautiful evening.

Each and every one of you bring gifts, talents and “notes” and when we are playing together it makes great music.  I’m very thankful for the “music” you all to my life.

I am thankful for all of my friends and even those I haven’t met, but who are connected to me.  You each provide a unique rhythm and rhyme to my life.  Thank you.

Who are the folks that add “melody” to you life?  What instrument do the play or what part do they play in your life?  You are “conducting” your life.  A good conductor recognizes the musicians and the part they play.  Take the time to recognize the musicians in the orchestra of your life.

May you find yourself in beautiful orchestra of family and friends.


Grey Day, Sunny Relationships

The grey has returned to the Puget Sound Region.  The result of this grey season can be that the grey of the sky hangs grey in my soul.  I’m blessed that in the midst of this rainy season, I am blessed with life-giving friendship and trusted advisors.  

Oswald Chambers, as he has so often done, speaks into my world from his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  He writes, “A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are.”  It is critical for my life to remain not only right with God but also right with my fellow men and women.  It is the essence of what is found in the great command, “Love the Lord your God and love others as yourself.”  It is also WIN_20160123_10_15_25_Prothe essence of Philippians 2.1-5.

Through the years my track record has proven that if I am not in a right relationship with the men and women God puts around me, I am on a one-way track to active participation in sin.  If my “vertical relationship” is to be vital, I must have healthy “horizontal relationships.”  For me it is literally a matter of light and dark, right actions and wrong actions.

Today, while it is grey outside, I’m going to continue to choose to be rightly related.  I will be well connected with my wife, my kids and the wonderful folks I get to hang out with this afternoon and tonight.  This will be a day that may rain outside, but it will not be overcast in my soul.  I will see those around me as critical to my connection to the One above me.  That is reality.  That is right. . . just as it is right to have a grey sky and light rain in North Everett in January.

Our Goal and Outcome

Love. Everyday I must awake and choose love. I Cor. 13, if I have lots of other gifts and don’t have love, “I am nothing.” That’s what it says. Yeeouch. Verse four through eight are the “hyperlink” to the word love. They give the full definition and the bar is high. It does not fail. untitled (21)Love will win. That is the good news. While the bar may be high, what we are looking to attain will not fail us or others. Love always wins. This is especially impactful on this day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Get Agrippa

In Acts 26, the Apostle Paul has the opportunity to make his case to King Agrippa, he doesn’t come with a theological treatise or a legal angle, he comes with his experience.  “I was walking on the road, blind, was confronted by Jesus and regained my sight.”

What is your Agrippa Argument?  Have you put together what you would say about your life when questioned/

In 12-step groups they say that your only position, argument or testimony is your story and specifically these three points:  a) This is where I was; b) This is what happened and c) This is where I am at today.

That was Paul’s outline in a life or death argument.  He didn’t pull out a Old Testament scroll.  He didn’t outline how wonderful he was with his resume.  He simply told his story.  He told it like it was.

While we are still in the first month of the year and we are past the initial wave of New Year’s resolutions (most already failed), there is a chance to do this important work in your own life.  Get your arms around your story, your own Agrippa Argument.

Start with a through inventory of your life.  What is your story?  Where were you?  What have you come from?  What is the “baggage,” good and bad, that you carry?  Be honest and don’t sell it short.  Do a through inventory.  You cannot tell where you are going if you do not know where you have been.  Your AAEAAQAAAAAAAAN6AAAAJDlhZmQ3NWQwLWNiNGUtNDJiZC1iMGNiLTVhNTllNDI2MDM4ZAhistory is setting the guide points for your future.  Map them out.

Then, what happened?  Identify the significant events, people, camps, times where your life was changed.  Name that “Emmaus moment” and then identify who walked on that road with you.  Everyone has at least one of these change moments.  Most of us have a number of these significant times.  Identify each.  These should be identifiable moments of impact and positive change in your life journey.

Finally, where are you now?  This is an opportunity to list the blessings in your life.  Name the positive outcomes from that change moment(s).  Don’t be dismissive.  Embrace the goodness that has come from faithfulness.  Again, be through.  How has God blessed your life?

Take a moment this weekend to do this simple work.  Coffee. Fireplace. Comfy chair. Journal. Ask God to speak to you. Listen. Write.

God bless you as you map your journey.  Whether you’ll ever have to use your Agrippa Argument in a life or death opportunity, you will use it everyday as you continue your journey of life.

Outpouring of Sweetness

Div Lunch ThanksEarlier this week I posted an announcement of my resignation after 25 years with Young Life, many of those years spent in senior leadership.  I’ve been asked a number of times, “Is it bittersweet?”

To this point, it has been nothing but sweet.  There may be some bitterness ahead, I hope not, but, today, I’m savoring the sweet goodness.

How can you be bitter or sad or discouraged in the wake of such encouragement from friends and co-workers?  I’m so thankful to those that reached out and embraced our entire family with your kind words, hugs, posts and prayers.  What a gift.

Five of my 25 years with Young Life were spent as the Director of Training.  During that season, I led the training for over 75 new Regional Directors, 500 new Area Directors and 1,000 new Young Life staff.  Therefore, I have a broad network of staff on which I’ve had  an early impact on their careers with Young Life.

At least a dozen of those people talked to me this week.  “Thanks for your service.”  “You made an impact on me.”  “I’m sad for the organization and excited for you.” “I still remember when you said…” “I’ve always been a fan.”

How can you be anything but sweet in response to that kind of outpouring.

New Year and Transition

I usually send you our Young Life Regional enewsletter, “The Good, Bad and Weird,” well this isn’t our usual enewsletter but it still has some “good, bad and weird.”
Today is my first weekday not employed by Young Life.  I am transitioning out of the Regional Director job and trusting Jesus for what is next (sorry for those just hearing this news).Rutledges in Orlando
So what do you do when you are no longer working for Young Life?  You attend the Young Life All-Staff Conference in Orlando (there is your weird).  That is where Brenda and I are this week.  We are looking forward to the time.
Western Washington Young Life will be splitting into multiple regions.  This change of structure seemed like a good time for me to resign from this role as Senior Regional Director.  I’ve managed a small Region before. There is a sense of having done that job and not needing to do it again or even not sure if I have the best set of gifts to fit the needs in that role.
The fact is, our Region has grown into the largest Region in the mission.  We have over 120 staff, over 220 Clubs, over 50 Areas, we have 8,000 donors annually, we are raising over $11 million per year, we are taking nearly 6,000 kids per summer to camp and we are reaching more adolescents than ever (10% growth just this last year) in our 73-year history.  We’ve outgrown our britches.
All the while, this growth took place in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.  The current Regional structure launched about the time as the start of the Great Recession.  At that point, over one-third of the Region’s Areas were in deficit.  Today there isn’t a single Young Life Area in Western Washington with a financial deficit and most have a healthy surplus while still trusting God for more ministry.
With the financial downturn, we also launched an initiative to double the number of volunteer leaders.  We needed to do more ministry in a hurting world with less dollars – growing volunteers verses staff people.  We didn’t quite get there, but we got close increasing from 1,008 volunteers to 1,980 adults serving kids.
We also saw many of our homegrown Western Washington staff sent into new leadership roles around the mission.  The leadership of the Region had embraced becoming a “sending” Region and God was moving many of our senior staff to Hong Kong, France, Inland Empire Region, Montana Region, Gateway Region, Eugene, Tri-Cities, Bay Area, the Young Life Service Center and other roles.
Fall 2015Finally, things are solid. Not only are the finances and training of the Region good, but the culture is good.  People are healthy.  Just last year our Region was named a Best Christian Workplace by the Best Christian Workplace Institute.  Our people love Jesus, love each other, counting other Areas as more important as their own, and are really good at this work.
So there were three primary reasons for me to move on.  First, the job, with my call and skills, is done.  Second, we have developed great people and I’m hoping that this structural change will allow them opportunities to use their incredible leadership gifts in the mission locally. Finally, everything is working.  It’s way better to get out when things are good and the ministry is sound.  That’s also a good time to make a structural change and we’ve been able to build the foundation in staff, finances, culture and strategic plan to help launch the next structure.
I’m not sure what is next for me?  I met Christ in a local church and grew up in a local congregation, so I’d like to serve the greater body of Christ in some way.  I’m still a fan of Young Life’s ministry and am looking for a way to use my gifts and talents in the mission.  I’m also looking at for-profit companies and entrepreneur opportunities with businesses that exist to serve people well.  I’m really excited for what God has next and can’t wait to get after it.  One of my mentors said to me, “Oh, the places you will go?”  I do believe God has had a call on my life since day one and I’m looking forward to how that will be lived out in this coming season.
In 1990 I left a marketing/corporate communications gig with the largest software seller in the world.  At times I’ve thought back to what it would have been like to continue to live in that fast-paced, highly-lucrative world that has been through a half dozen booms and busts since the early 90’s. I’m sure it would have been exciting, maybe even lucrative, but I Family Camp 002wouldn’t have changed anything for the last 25 years with Young Life.  I’m thankful to have worked with an organization and mission with such a compelling vision.  At the same, it allowed me to provide for my household, give my kids amazing experiences and for our entire family to strive together to tell those without the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for standing with me.  Please know that I need you now more than ever.  Even the best of transitions are challenging.  Join us in this time.  Pray for us.  Share insights.  Shoot, share this with people who may be looking for someone.  More than anything, please put us before the Lord in your prayers.  We certainly need you, but more than anything we need Him.
The best way to follow our progress will probably be on my blog, livelifeontherutledge.wordpress.com.  For Young Life business please contact emma@westernwa.younglife.org or (360) 630-1164.