What Churches Can Learn From the United Airlines Debacle

United Airlines has lost $1.4 billion, been the subject of countless memes and outrage on the social media after a video of a forcible removal of 69-year-old David Dao went viral. United CEO Oscar Munoz initially applauded his staff’s handling of the ‘belligerent’ passenger and then reversed his position to an apology to the passenger after the company lost $250 million.

The airline was overbooked and offered 800 sky miles to passengers who would voluntarily give up their seat for four United Airlines crew members who had to get to Louisville, KY. Dr. Dao considered giving up his seat until he learned that the earliest he could get on another flight would be the next day. He told airline staff that he needed to get back to work. You would have thought the airline staff would have just picked another willing passenger or increased the incentive.

Instead, airline staff called airport security who dragged Dr. Dao off the plane. Dr. Dao’s nose was broken and he was hospitalized after the incident. United CEO initially said Dr. Dao was belligerent and out of control. Really? Would you get belligerent and out of control Mr. Munoz if you were forced to get off the plane when you paid for the ticket and went through the security procedures?

Mr. Munoz and his staff at United Airlines failed to see that their system or policy created their problem. The message sent to customers is: #1 Our employees are more important than you; #2 Your plans, your health condition and commitments don’t matter to us. In fact, you don’t matter to us because we have a policy we need to adhere to. #3 Our policy is a priority, not the customer.

Here are some lessons churches can learn from this crisis that erupted within hours.

Don’t call the person the problem. Demonizing customers as being belligerent when your system created the rebellion is a common tactic for clueless people in authority. Stock prices drop and everyone else can see that your system or structure is wrong but you continue to justify the policy by blaming the customer. I’ve seen this scenario play out over 20 years of being in different churches where attendance spirals.

In one church that I attended, over half of the members left in one year. Some of them left for legitimate reasons such as moving to another city for a better job. But I soon learned why their was a massive exodus. The church was anti-women working outside of the home which mystified me because one of my best girlfriends had a very thriving home-based business.

I was made to feel like their was something wrong with me because I worked outside of the home. In face one of the leaders that I asked for help with a troubled niece told her that I was a bad parent because I worked outside of the home. That piece of advice for a troubled teen just made things worse for us.

The church was hemorrhaging members because of this tactic of saying the member is the problem instead of trying to help them.

Say your sorry. United Airlines CEO Dan Munoz said he was sorry after the company lost $250 million and the social media outrage that sparked disapproval from President Donald Trump, and a host of government officials and high-profile celebrities. The apology is suspect and prevailing public opinion speculates that he apologized after being caught. An aviation lawyer representing Dr. Dao says he wasn’t impressed by the apology. “I thought it was staged,” Thomas Demetrio said at a press conference.

Apparently most people think it was staged as well. If Munoz would have apologized to Dr. Dao in the beginning instead of calling him belligerent, the scenario would have been much different. Munoz chose to protect a broken system instead of reaching out to someone who was broken by it.

If your system created the problem, fix it. Dr. Dao was kicked off because of an industrywide practice of ‘overbooking.’ Common sense dictates you would let Dr. Dao stay on the plane and pick a willing passenger instead of forcing Dr. Dao off the plane. I understand that overbooking system benefits consumers. That message of how overbooking benefits consumers didn’t play into this because of the inhumane application of this practice in Dr. Dao’s situation. United Airlines legastically adhered to this practice instead of executing it with kindness and humanity.

Now that the video of Dr. Dao being dragged off the plane has generated public outrage, the U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the incident. This incident is forcing the travel industry to re-examine this practice. I hope they listen to their customers and fix it.

The church hemorrhaging members shut down and was absorbed into a larger church which was a smart move. The pastors and I have reconciled since then and we are friends today. I respect them for their honest assessment that the church needed to be absorbed into another thriving ministry. They also apologized to me right after those incidents.

Sometimes you need to tweak your system or shut it down if it is not producing good fruit. Churches can learn so much from the United Airlines fiasco. The bottom line is to treat people with kindness, humility, love and mercy. The system should not dictate how you treat someone but your faith and value of people should be the standard. When your system is flawed, fix it. Don’t blame the people, fix the system.

Other excellent posts I recommend for this issue:

Why United’s PR Disaster Didn’t Fly by Michael Hyatt

United Airlines and the Firestorm of Social Media by Phil Cooke

These 3 Dangerous Fears Rob Your Future

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“Fear not,” is the first thing that God speaks in the Bible when He is about to do something new. The phrase is used 80 times and the first time ‘fear not’ appeared is in this scripture: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying , Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen. 15:1 KJV)

I believe that ‘fear not’ is God’s word for you in 2015. He wants to do something new for you in 2015. But these fears need to be broken over your life. On Dec. 30, 2013, I had no idea what would unfold in 2014. Here are the fears that God had to break in me.

Fear of the unknown. In February I stepped out to manage a band. I never managed or marketed a band and knew nothing about recording in a studio or producing a music video. I only knew how to pick up the phone and talk to someone about an idea. On Wednesday, I sent an email with an idea. The next day, Samuel Noel had written an original song.

On Saturday, I called recording studios in Kansas City. At 11:30am I talked to a studio that said if the band was in his studio by 1:30 that day that he could lay down the trax. The new group of 5 teenage boys had never recorded in a studio. The next day at 7am, they were in a music video shoot in the snow because they didn’t want to miss church that started at 10am. That night the music video went live and generated over 3,000 views in the next few days.

Frankly the whole process intimidated me yet I had a sense of adventure as I read the reactions to the song, “Circumstances.” That song moved many people to tears and gave them hope. The songwriter, Samuel Noel was 16 at the time. He is one of the most gifted young men that I know at my church. I had no idea that my son, Alex and the lead singer, would have 14 performances in 2014. Those performances and ministry opportunities were not on my calendar on Dec. 30, 2013. Yet when God broke that ‘fear of the unknown’ in me, opportunities that I only dreamed about opened up.

When God set me free from the free of the unknown, He set my sons free to pursue their dream in music. My 19 year old son, Chris, is growing as a musician and a songwriter. Alex has stepped up into another realm as a servant-leader in music. Let God set you free from the unknown so you can step into opportunities that aren’t even on your radar right now.

Fear of failure. “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.” (Gen. 21:17 KJV) The birth of Ishmael could be considered the ‘epic fail’ for Abraham. Yet God redeemed Abraham’s failure and heard Ishmael’s cry. God had a destiny for Ishmael.

The fear of failure has plagued me for most of my life. The way that I fight this fear is by obeying God. I’ve written a book that has yet to be published and put it on the back burner. I was afraid of failure, that no one would want to read the book and since the book is about parenting, that my children would suddenly go haywire.

I shared these fears with my children and they exhorted me to move forward and get this book published because someone needs to read it. “If one person’s life is changed by this book, it’s worth the effort,” said my husband, Jerome.

God breaking this fear of failure over my life will set my children free to step out in their destiny. These two fears hold you back from fulfilling God’s calling on your life. Let go of the fear and speak faith over your life. Last night I heard Reinhard Bonnke, an evangelist who has led 70 million people to the Lord over the course of his ministry say, “God told me that when I speak His word, it’s as if He is speaking His word. The Holy Spirit hovers over a city or over a church but can’t do anything until His word is spoken.” Bonnke expounded on Genesis 1:2-3:

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Nothing was done until the word of God was spoken. The Holy Spirit is hovering over your life and waiting for you to speak the word of God. Speak the word of God over your family, your finances and your church. Speak the word of God over your fears. As a help you to, here’s a link to scriptures that you can speak over your life.

The fear of what will people think. This is another fear that ruled my life. I can tell when people are ruled by this fear because they are so afraid to step out on a dream or idea because of what people will think. They want everyone’s approval before they will act on an idea. I believe in counsel and wisdom and doing your homework before stepping out. But there comes a time when you’ve done all of your homework, you’ve talked to all the important people in your life who either agree, disagree or don’t care, and then you have to act.

Ultimately you’re the one who is going to stand before God on whether you obeyed or not. Your husband or your best friend isn’t going to be the one held accountable. Your pastor isn’t accountable. You are the one who is responsible for your calling.

I’ve seen people leave my church because they were overlooked or didn’t get the support they thought they deserved for their calling or ministry. One woman who wanted to leave my church was upset that she wasn’t on the praise and worship team. I asked her, “Do you want to be on the praise and worship team or do you want to carry revival to your nation?” She stayed and moved back to her nation where God has placed her to influence people.

I view the church as an equipping station and the world is my mission field. I receive my training, priorities and marching orders from my church and the Bible and I’m responsible for taking action. Don’t let the fear of “what will someone think” stop you from fulfilling God’s will.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, could have said no to God because of the fear of “what will people think.” Unwed mothers in Mary’s culture were pariahs. To this day I’m still amazed that Mary said ‘yes’ to God at the cost of her own relationship to her future husband and family. When she said ‘yes,’ God stepped in.

Say yes to God. Don’t let the fear of man stop you.

This time next year, you’ll be surprised with what God did in 2015.

The Surprising Way God Sees Success

Yesterday I was driving and I asked my 18-year-old son Alex what does he think Jesus looks like. While he was thinking of an answer, I told him what I thought Jesus looked like. “I think Jesus is an unassuming, ordinary Arab or Jewish man. I don’t see Jesus as a Hollywood glam hunk but someone that we would be blown away by the ‘ordinariness’ of his appearance. I think of Jesus as someone who could have been easily overlooked or dismissed until he got on the religious leaders radar when he started teaching in the temple. I think of Jesus as a short Jewish man with thick curly black hair.

Jesus is the pinnacle of success yet consider that he never owned a home, never married or owned a business. His very life contradicts our worldly idea of success. Of course He was the son of God and could have called down angels anytime yet He lived on earth in His fully humanity.

I told my son that I’m concerned how obsessed our Christian culture is with worldly success. Prosperity preaching entwined with American Christianity can make you feel ashamed for having a job and trying to make ends meet. I’ve even heard ministers preach that your house or car is an indication of your faith. I’ve always been appalled when I hear this because what do you say to the Chinese Christians who lose everything for the cause of Christ or Christians being persecuted for their faith whose homes are taken? Does that mean they don’t have faith because they lost everything for the sake of the Gospel?

Another person who lost everything – his identity, his family and his wealth was Joseph in the Bible. Despite his brothers selling him into slavery, God was still with Joseph.

“When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39: 1-3

Joseph was a piece of property in the eyes of Egypt yet this did not stop God from being with Him and blessing Him. A slave who owned nothing and not even his own life, was called a success by God.

Joseph’s fortunes end when Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of rape. Joseph is sent to prison and God follows him there.

Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” Genesis 39:19-23

Joseph is a slave and a prisoner and yet God calls him a success. Joseph didn’t own a mansion or have millions of dollars or a following. Joseph had God.

What God calls success is a slave who can influence his master with his relationship with God. An influencer who has a relationship with God which impacts their boss’s business or makes life better for those around them, is a success according to God. You don’t have to own a mansion and be a high-powered CEO or famous celebrity.

You can be a slave and be a success.

You can be a WalMart cashier and be considered a success by God.

You can be a stay at home mom and considered a success by God.

Success is having God with you. When God is with you, you have everything.

Don’t let American culture dictate your definition of success. Set the Bible as your barometer of a successful life.

(Disclaimer: I was influenced by Kris Valloton’s message called “Cultivating Prophetic Families” where he mentions Joseph’s life.)

Stop Yelling And Start Listening

by Ben Woodward

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The election here in the U.S. is finally over. At least we thought it was. Half the country was disappointed and the other half rejoiced. Democracy happened. But then began the protests. And the riots. And the walkouts.

And all of a sudden we began to wonder – what the heck is going on? Is this really what democracy looks like? Are people really sore losers? Are the winners really gloating like that?

I get it. People have a right to be upset if they “lost” and happy if they “won”. People have a right to protest if they disagree. But it feels like there is something deeper going on that goes far beyond the election. People are in pain and they don’t know what to do about it. Read the rest of the post here.

Why Calling a Political Party ‘Demonic’ Isn’t Going to Help You Win the World

Colleagues quarreling head against head on white backgroundI recently shared a post on my Facebook timeline applauding a certain political candidate’s great speech and how she may persuade me to change my vote. That post generated a Facebook fight between friends. The posts became so vitriolic that I had to delete the thread of comments.

Another friend, “Susan” posted about how we needed to come together as Christians and not let politics divide us. “Bob” replied that if Susan was to support a certain political party then she was a host for demonic spirits of deception and was going to hell.

Susan had a friend, Ann, considering going to church. Ann was following the thread on Facebook. Ann texted Susan that if Bob was a member of her church that she didn’t want to go to her church. Bob’s kooky comment about demonic spirits in a political party turned off Ann who was exploring Christianity.

Telling your non-Christian friends that they are hosts for demons and going to hell if they vote a certain way isn’t the best way to win them. The 2016 elections is dividing Christians while making us look like kooks to unbelievers. My pastor recently addressed this in our church service by reminding us of Romans 13.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13: 1-5

This scripture was written during the rule of the Roman Caesars who believed that they were literally god. The Caesar had the power to have you killed at whim. Paul was reminding the new Roman believers that Caesar was placed in authority by God. Even though we may not agree with Caesar’s policies or tactics, God was at work and the ultimate political authority.

Regardless of who gets elected, God put them in that position and we need to honor their office.  The quarreling among Christians saying they are following a certain leader is a sign of worldliness and immaturity according to 1 Corinthians 3.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1: 1-4

Election season brings out our passionate support for certain issues. Let’s remember that we are Christians first before we’re American voters. I thank God for the gift of voting, but let’s not bring division or act like the world during this season.

When God Calls You Through a Prophet

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“You there…young lady on the back row, stand up!” The white-haired prophet from Florida commanded me. I looked around but my friends on both sides poked me. Reluctantly I stood up.

I didn’t know what a prophet was or a prophecy. Everyone seemed excited about this prophet but I was terrified. I was a brand-new Christian and thought that prophets spoke doom and gloom. I cringed as he spoke.

“Thus sayeth the Lord, I have called you into a place of prominence. You will be like Esther who moves without fear and with favor…”

I shook my head because I knew he was talking to the wrong person. Plus, who the heck was Esther?

The prophet saw me shaking my head, looking at my friends confused. “No I’m talking to you. You’re the right person,” he said. He went onto prophecy about the calling of God on my life to speak the truth before leaders.

I was dumbfounded because I was 18-years-old. I had no ambitions or aspirations for leadership. If I wasn’t at church that Sunday, I would probably be laying on the beach. I didn’t want to change the world. I just wanted to understand the Bible and how to love God and get along with people.

My room mates were surprised as I was about the prophecy. One of my roommates told me that their was a book in the Bible about a woman named Esther. I stayed up all night reading the book of Esther. I was even more convinced that the prophet missed it.

I didn’t see how an 18-year-old beach bum could become a woman of grace, comfortable among world leaders. Even though I thought the prophet called out the wrong girl, there was a fire lit inside of me to know the God who could take an orphan and raise her up to be a queen to bring deliverance to her nation.

I voraciously devoured my Bible and filled up notebooks with sermons that no one ever heard. I locked myself away on weekends to listen to sermons on cassette tapes. I joined the weekly prayer group and led bible studies.

I majored in Political Science and studied the Christian principles of government over Christmas break. I also ran for student senate and got elected. The following year I ran for an executive position as secretary and got elected.

During that time I  volunteered on a state representative’s campaign. I was chosen to be part of a team that the political party sent experts to teach about how to win a campaign. Their teaching has influenced the way I do marketing to this day.

Somehow my name came up with this state representative, Hal Jones, who needed to hire staff. He asked my friend, Kenny and I to join him for lunch. During the lunch he asked about our views on government. I shared with Hal what I had learned from these books about Christian principles of government.

After lunch, Hal wanted to buy the books and offered me a job. I had very little professional office experience and he assured me that his wife, Lana, would teach me everything. I accepted the job offer although I didn’t know the title or my responsibilities.

When I showed up at his office in the state capitol building, his beautiful wife, Lana, taught me how to answer the phone, write letters, handle dignitaries and requests from the media and their constituents. I started the job when the legislature wasn’t in session. That gave me a lot of time to learn how the legislative system worked, as well as research background for potential legislation and attend meetings.

That prophet’s words rang in my ears one day when I was sitting in a meeting with the governor of Hawaii, a prime minister, a supreme court justice, several presidents and other dignitaries of Pacific rim nations. The glory of that moment of the greatness of God who would send a prophet to call out a girl who spent part of her teens on a sugar cane plantation with no dreams for her life had marked me. A year later, I stood next to Barbara Bush, former President George Bush’s wife, on a stage in front of thousands of students.

God demonstrated His glory over and over again in my life by fulfilling that prophecy in astounding ways. He has put me in front of many celebrities, leaders, athletes, artists and influencers. Even today I help get His message in front of millions of women as an editor of an online magazine.

I had many other prophecies spoken over my life in my twenties. And while I don’t believe that you base your life on a prophecy, I’m thankful for those prophecies that were given to an unsure, insecure young girl who wanted to serve God. Those prophecies opened up a new world of possibility and expanded my mind with opportunity.

That prophet’s word was a part of my foundation as a Christian. I long for the prophets to come forth to call out the destiny and purpose in a person’s life. That moment when the Florida prophet called me out, was a moment where I saw God the father calling me as His daughter.

I know Christians shouldn’t look for personal prophecy and I’ve seen abusive practices such as ministers charging for prophetic sessions. Yet I believe that this office and gift is desperately needed in these chaotic and confusing times, especially with young people who want to know what God is calling them to do. I’m a strong proponent of solid bible teaching, but we need the prophets to arise.

I’ve seen prophetic words delivered by leaders at my church and they are spot-on. I’ve prophesied myself over people under the submission of my leaders. I’m not afraid of being tested or questioned because I honor the body of Christ. I don’t consider myself a prophet yet I want my life to be someone else’s prophecy.

What about you? Have you had an experience with prophecy? I would love to hear it. Post your comments below.

My church, World Revival Church is hosting ‘Walking In the Prophetic Seminar’ on Saturday, July 30. Click the picture below for more details.

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How One Woman’s Prayer Changed Nations

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My heroes of the faith (from right to left): Steve Murrell, founder of hundreds of churches in the Philippines, author, blogger extraordinaire; my husband Jerome; Rice Broocks, author of God’s Not Dead, apologetics speaker and founder of Every Nation Ministries; Linda, the one who prayed these guys into her husband’s church; Walter, the pastor who influenced Steve, Jerome and Rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do not despise these small beginnings….” Zechariah 4:10

A young pastor’s wife in a little college town in Mississippi fasted and prayed that God would send leaders to their church. On the fifth day of fasting, Rice Broocks walked in the door. Steve Murrell also joined that tiny church as a student at Mississippi Student University and became room mates with my future husband, Jerome, a college track star.

The pastor was Walter Walker who in a few years would travel around the world with a teaching ministry. Walter would speak to a small group of college students at the University of Hawaii about discovering God’s will for your life. A sophomore student in Political Science hears that message and God calls her to write. The next day she enrolls in the school of journalism.

The journalism student would spend weekends holed up in her tiny bedroom in a Honolulu apartment listening to Rice Broock’s messages about faith. She would laugh until her sides hurt at Rice’s stories when he spoke at a campus outreach meeting about a guy named Jerome who fried chicken necks for their dinner. “He piled them on a platter in the middle of the table,” Rice said. “And then he said, ‘eat up.’”

Approximately 10 years later, the journalism graduate would walk down the aisle to marry chicken neck chef Jerome. Sixteen years later, the journalism student who became a writer and editor with her husband would have lunch with the pastor who inspired her to write, the evangelist who preached faith through his cassette tapes and the pastor who founded hundreds of churches in the Philippines. They met for lunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, TN.

Since those days of eating chicken necks, Rice has written the God’s Not Dead books and founded Every Nation Ministries, a network of hundreds of churches around the world on university campuses. Steve and his wife, Deborah, came through Hawaii briefly on their way to a month long missions trip in the University Belt of Manila. That month long trip would turn into decades of planting hundreds of churches.

The woman who prayed for those future leaders, Linda, was also at the lunch. Jerome and our family stayed with Walter and Linda in Franklin, TN. I would have never thought in a million years that we would meet Jerome’s college roommates who have influenced millions of people around the world or his first pastor, Walter, who pastored Rice and Steve.

Linda’s fasting and praying has changed nations through Rice and Steve. She is one of the funniest, most outgoing women that I know who loves God. Her story spurred me to pray for the next generation of leaders. You could have a “Rice” or “Steve” right under your nose without realizing it. Right now they look like a sassy know-it-all millennial with a man-bun but they could be an apostle or pastor in the making. They just need someone to believe in them and invest in them.

Rice laughingly recalled how he was rebuked daily by Pastor Walter. But Rice was also an encouragement to Walter. Rice, Steve, Walter and Jerome’s friendships brought a flood of memories and lots of laughs as we recalled the ministry we were all involved in. I encourage you to invest in someone by being their friend and praying for them. You have no idea who that person is destined to become. And you have no idea where God can take people from small beginnings.