Church Leadership family management

You need clarity and focus

Paul’s teacher has been on us for a few months to get his eyes checked out. She’d tell us, “He squints to see the board” or “He says he has to sit up front. I think he needs glasses.

I assumed, just like his big sister, that he’d need glasses eventually. Everyone in my family wears glasses. It’s an inevitability for McLane’s.

Until recently, he never complained about not being able to see well. When we asked him to read a sign or move back from the TV he’d just roll his eyes. In truth, there are a number of behavior issues we are dealing with, so we thought this stubbornness about sitting near the TV was just part of his personality.

It all made sense when I took him to Lenscrafters on Saturday. He was very excited and talkative about the appointment. As we waited for the doctor to see him, he was a nervous kind of chipper that we rarely see.

Then he did the pre-screening. He seemed to instantly shut down. There were four machines with simple tasks. In each of them he was excited to do it. But in each of them when the doctor asked him questions he just didn’t answer.

Uh oh, this isn’t going well.” I sent Kristen a text.

When the pre-screening was over I asked him why he didn’t answer any of the questions. “She was trying to trick me. I never saw anything like she was saying I should. I’m not going to answer and get an answer wrong, I only like correct answers.

That’s when I started to worry. It hit me. It’s not that he wasn’t trying. It’s that he had just failed all four of the pre-screening tests. Had we somehow missed something all along? Does my son have a vision problem?

My mind raced to connect the dots.

Then we went into the big room. The one with the hydraulic chair and big eyeglass contraption. The chair was on one wall and the chart with all the letters was on the other.

Paul, there are no wrong answers. This isn’t an eye test. We’re just seeing how we can help you see better. Is that OK?” He shook his head affirmatively.

She explained what all of the instruments were in the room– so he wouldn’t be surprised by anything. (My heart was pumping a million miles per hour!)

Paul, can you tell me if you see any letter on the wall right in front of you?

Letters? All I see is a white wall.”

She pulled a pen from her pocket and held it about 2 feet from his face.

Can you read the letters on this pen?

Of course I can, duh!” He was starting to have fun.

Within a few minutes she started dialing her contraption to discover the right lenses which would help Paul.

She flashed the first set in front of his face.

Ha! Ha! Now I see the poster on the wall. You weren’t tricking me.

On and on this went. Within a few minutes he was able to read the smallest letters on the chart with ease. First with one eye, then the other.

Finally, she made some measurements and pulled out two lenses from desk. Just as she was putting them in front of his eyes she said, “OK Paul, tell me what you can see now?

His face lit up. He quickly started looking around the room. “Wow! I can see everything.”

A smile was plastered on his face like one I’d rarely seen.

I beamed at his discovery.

The doctor turned to me and said, “Your son is profoundly nearsighted. But he doesn’t have a vision problem. He has a clarity and focus problem. Glasses are going to change everything.

That was a lightbulb moment for me. My mind started to race at all the times I’d taken him to sporting events or movies and he’d turned to me and said, “Can we leave? This is boring.” Or all of the blank stares when we pointed out historic sites. Or why he burned through quarter after quarter looking at New York City through those big binoculars. Or why he hated playing catch with me in the backyard. Or why riding his bike had always seemed so scary. On and on– the dots began to connect.

How many of the behavior problems that we pull our hair out over are tied to this one simple thing… He couldn’t see?

We will soon find out.

The hour between ordering his glasses and picking them up might have been the longest 60 minutes of his life. We wondered the mall aimlessly. And about every 2 minutes he’d ask… “How much longer?

Finally, the time came and the lab technician called his name. As he put the glasses on his face and the technician made adjustments to the frames, I could see his eyes shooting all over. He was reading and discovering everything in the room. It was a brand new world!

As we left the store he grabbed my arm. “Dad, look at those clouds!

What the moral of the story?

There’s a lot of talk in leadership circles about having strong vision. But vision without clarity and focus on purpose will lead you, your organization, and your teams to become near-sighted.

It’s one thing to have big vision. It’s another thing to back that up with clarity and focus.

hmm... thoughts

Let’s Clarify our Relationship

Dearest blog reader,

It’s tough for me to write these words. Yet our affair is such that I think we need to clarify our relationship. It’s been pretty muddy as of late and I feel as though you are beginning to disdain me. And my ambivalence towards your disdain may not be helping matters.

I write this blog. I invite you to read it. But it is important you know it was never about you. It’s about me. I don’t mean that to sound narcisistic, the way professors try to write off all social media as narcisism. See, I was blogging before we called it a blog. This thing you are reading started way back in high school– in journals. Then, in college, I got more sophisticated about it and would write this on my first Macintosh– in 1994. After that, I learned that my words could be more portable so I carried this around on Zip disks that I popped into computers all over the place… writing on the go! If you see the first post on this blog, from 5.5 years ago, you’ll see that it refers to other involvements online. (Seriously, I’ve been doing this online thing in one form or another since 1994!) It’s about me and my writing, not you and your reading.

I consider my blog a form of art. I’m not that creative in the traditional manner, I can’t paint or draw. I suck at singing and dancing… this is what I have to work with. This is my studio.

Long ago bloggers wrote in secret. (Think about the movies– how many of them are based off of journals found after a person dies?) I hid behind names I created for myself and never associated my name with what I posted online for fear that people would know what I was thinking in real life. The secrets weren’t because I was ashamed of what I wrote. It was because it was clear that I was keeping a journal and it was more for me than it was for you. I was fine with people reading it. I knew people read it. Back then it was more about the style of “hiding” than the hiding itself. Everyone did it.

In the last 3-4 years styles changed and people went public about blogging. I’ve owned and blogged here at for almost 3 years. I was intentional about chosing this domain because I wanted to be transparent— I was tired of people whispering, “I found your blog, is it OK if I keep reading?

I don’t even blush anymore when you walk up to me and tell me you read about something on my blog. It’s just part of my life. Some people are strong verbal communicators– I like to think I am a stronger written communicator. It’s what I do and who I am. The fact is I love it when you walk up to me and say, “Are you Adam? I’ve read some stuff on your blog.” That’s great, it’s always fun. You’re welcome here. Please continue that. Please let me know how I can help you if you are learning to blog.

What isn’t so great is when you put words in my mouth. Or when you steal my work. Or when you correctly quote me but misspell my name. Or when you take my ideas and thoughts and claim they are your own. Or when you want to take my ideas and make money for yourself. Or when you ask me to work for free. [There’s a whole rant to this one– for another day] Or when you blog/Facebook about my ideas negatively and don’t have the balls to at least send me a link to invite me into the same discussion that kicked off your rant with your friends. I could go on. But the point is made, right?

This relationship is about trust. You trust me to write something worth reading. And I trust you to treat me with respect.

– If you want to discuss something with me, I’ve given you 100 ways to contact me or leave a comment right here.

– If you want to quote my blog, please spell my name correctly. (How do you get the link right and the name wrong?)

– If you want to put a blog post on your website or in your denominations newsletter… please ask me for permission. I’ve never said no.

– If you want to start a conversation about me, that’s totally fine… please allow me to defend myself.

– If you want me to give you advice on how you can make money (or raise money for your ministry), don’t be annoyed when I ask for payment.

I live a pretty open and public life. I’m totally fine with that. It goes with the territory. But living my life before you doesn’t mean I am open to being robbed, misquoted, mislabeled, and written off as some kind of jackass to be taken advantage of.

I’m not angry, I’m not thinking of quitting, I’m not even a little bit ticked off— I just thought it was a good time to clarify our relationship. I live my life before you. I share my thoughts with you. I trust that you respect this relationship as much as I respect you. I invite your response. If I’m off base, let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Adam McLane