Mamba Out!

Yesterday, I was on my way to Daddy / Daughter Haircare Event sponsored by The Man in Me with whom I serve as the Development Director. This event was so empowering for me because I learned from a professional how to retwist my daughter’s locs. While I was doing my daughter’s hair, Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the world was dying with his daughter in a helicopter crash.

Daddy / Daughter Hair Care Day

At 41 years old, Kobe Bryant has won 5 world championships, 2 Finals MVP’s and 20 years with the same organization the Los Angeles Lakers. He was building a production company where he’d just won an Oscar for a documentary about his life in basketball. He was married to his wife Vanessa and had 4 children including 13-year old Giana who died in the helicopter crash with him. He is undoubtedly a first ballot hall of famer and one of the top 10 players in NBA history.

I want to share three things I’ve learned from Kobe’s life and subsequent death.

1. Leadership is Born and Bred

Leadership is the ability to influence others to do what needs to be done to move themselves or an organization towards their mission, vision and values. In the game of basketball, the team goal is always to win the game, win the division, win the conference, and then the NBA World Championship. Individual goals can include winning the scoring championship, being selected to the All-Star team or winning league MVP. No can accomplish team or individual goals without leadership.

Kobe was born as a basketball leader to a father who played professional basketball. Kobe was gifted enough to be a leader in high school based primarily based on his skills. As he was drafted to the NBA as a 17-year old, his skills were not enough to get him where he wanted to go. He had to breed leadership through learning his teammates and influencing them to play to their highest level. After 3 straight championships, Shaquille O’Neal his partner in crime left the team and he was left to lead alone. The next two championships meant so much to him because he helped his teammates be their best selves. Yes he was born with leadership abilities but he grew those skills to become a better leader.

2. Maturity – Mistakes Don’t Define You

I define maturity as not making the same mistakes over and over again. All of us make mistakes, we’re human. But if we continue making the same mistakes, that is lack of maturity. Kobe made a mistake in 2003. He engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman in Colorado. He was charged but not convicted. He later gave his wife a multi carat ring and apologized to her, the NBA, and his team.

He continued counseling and together he and his wife rebuilt their marriage and expanded their family with 4 children. He became a man who was known as a husband and father. He coached his daughter’s basketball team and was taking her to a basketball experience on this trip when they’re lives ended together. Kobe owned his mistakes and made different decisions in the future. Today, he is being remembered as a great basketball prayer but just as much as a husband and father.

3. Family First | Legacy over Liability

Our family is our ultimate legacy in this world. Our relationships with our parents and siblings are an investment that we build on through our future endeavors. If we’re blessed to have a spouse and / or children we are gifted with to steward, it is our responsibility to leave a good legacy.

  • Invest in experiences not just items.
  • Forgive quickly because bitterness kills.
  • Ask questions instead of making statements.
  • Never leave your family without saying I love upon
  • Leave a legacy faith – introduce your children to Jesus not just the joys of toys.

Kobe will be missed. He finished well. He worked hard, he amassed a great deal of income and influence but he would give it all back to be here with his family. So, I say treat everyday as a present because it is, love God and love people.

Haunted by the Holidays (Financially)

3 WAYS TO NOT REGRET THE HOLIDAYS

I remember growing up in a family where the holidays offered mixed emotions. I enjoyed serving in my father’s church singing Christmas songs like, “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child”.

Yet, at the same time often we were housing families in our home who were homeless themselves or caring for members of my father’s church who were unemployed, so a Christmas tree with many gifts under the tree was not always a reality in our home. We always made it about Jesus but as a kid, honestly sometimes I wanted it to be about us.

As I grew older and began to matriculate through high school, college and into adulthood, I realized how challenging it was for me to consistently save throughout the year for Christmas so every year it seemed I was stressed to find ways to make up for the money I did not have for gifts. I also realized that giving gifts during Christmas is not just about our family but it’s also about giving to Jesus through his church. My former church used to have a “Birthday Party for Jesus” and they would make sure that we focused on Jesus’ birthday as a day to give something to him as compared to as a way to get something just for us. (My birthday being December 20 always makes it challenging to separate the two)

I am not opposed to buying gifts for family and friends but in the end, we should follow three key principles to keep us from being haunted by the holidays:

  1. REMEMBER TO NEVER SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE (GET CREATIVE!)

empty-wallet

So many people “rob Peter and Paul” so to speak to purchase gifts for people even beyond their family that may or may not be that interested in them in the first place. If you don’t have the money in the bank, get creative, write a poem, make a video on your phone or craft something from the craft section at the local craft store like Hobby Lobby. 

My first Christmas during my dating relationship with my wife, I had little money due to being a college student whose income was based on working a part-time job making $7.00 an hour along with scholarships and school loans. I prayed and asked for a way to bless April with my gifts and low and behold God gave me the vision to create a “LIFE Magazine” about the beginning of our relationship which began that August 2, 1999 at 11:37pm CST. (Brothers remember dates, they often matter to your lady).

This magazine shared our journey from miniature golfing, watching movies, going to water parks and meaningful times we spent at church. When April saw this gift, she was blown away by the thoughtfulness and creativity. I didn’t have my own computer or fancy graphic design software, I just had a desire to show love to my girlfriend while living within my means.

I could have taken one of those free credit cards that they offer on campus for a “free T-shirt” but I would have been haunted by the holidays for years to come with debt plus interest that were not worth the gift I would have purchased.

This magazine will serve as foundation for sharing our story with our daughter as she gets older.

2. REMEMBER RELATIONSHIPS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN REPORTS

this_christmas02I have heard so many people in the mall talking to friends, family and even mall employees about how much the recipient will love the gift and therefore love them. Husbands are in jewelry stores taking out credit to buy a gift their wife will love but that won’t make their wife love them. Parents are in toy stores spending the grocery budget on toys that the child will love but will not make the child love them. (In fact the child probably wants to play with the box instead of the gift, at least this is what I’ve found early on). Remember that your relationships are more important than the report your family, friends or co-workers may have about your gift.

When we buy with the report in mind, we’re buying for us as the giver instead of them as a recipient.

3. REMEMBER RECREATION IS A PART OF HIS CREATION

Many of us will receive one to two days off work for Christmas while others will receive one or two weeks. It is so easy to spend our time meeting with friends, traveling to see family (locally or nationally), or staying up all night to get deals on Black Friday. These are all important options to consider but most importantly remember to schedule some rest and recreation. I have an entire series of sermons I have developed on Sabbath resting and how important it is for us to work hard but then rest well.

God in his creation of the world “worked hard” to create a world that would have a sun which would be the just the right distance from the earth to keep us from freezing or burning up. He “worked hard” to create landmass to live on and water to hydrate our bodies. But even He in all his power, might and strength chose to spend the seventh day of the week resting (See Genesis 2:1-3). (I put the term “worked hard” in quotes because working hard for God is not hard but you get the point.) 

God’s model of resting one day a week was designed to keep us from believing we have to do everything everyday or that we have to do it all right now. His model also gave us a weekly opportunity to “JUST SAY NO” to being productive.

golf ball sunsetOn my Sabbath I spend time doing a number of things that I’ll share in a later blog but one of them is to recreate or “re-create”. I find time to do something that fills my tank and helps me feel energized for the week. God uses things like conversations with friends and rounds of golf to refill my tank for the work I’m call to do in the coming week. When we recreate our bodies releases hormones and chemicals in our brains like serotonin and dopamine that cause us to feel whole, healthy, and happy for our future. So don’t forget to recreate during the holidays.

Always remember:

  1. Never Spend What You Don’t Have (Be Creative!)
  2. Relationships Are More Important than Reports
  3. Recreation Is A Part of His Creation

If you put these principles into practice, you will not have to be haunted by the holidays! Next week I will share some insights on how to deal with the emotional challenges of the holidays in Haunted by the Holidays (Emotionally)

The Day We’ve Been Waiting For

After 10 years of being married, we found out we were pregnant with a baby and we were so excited.  We had been waiting for this day to come and it was finally here.  This was just the beginning.  Over the next number of weeks, we found out we were having a baby girl.  As soon as we found out, I started thinking about paying for a wedding!  I knew that I wanted to provide everything that I could for her to come into the world and be successful.  As the months continued, we had sonograms monthly and we continued to see her grow.  My wife, April continued to teach her fourth grade class as her students continued to be excited about the day our child would be born.  I work at a pregnancy resource center directing our sex education program.  During my presentation introduction I progressed from simply talking about my amazing wife and our wonderful marriage to sharing our story of being with child.  While teaching about pregnancy and fetal development, I could relate to the seasons of pregnancy from 8 weeks to 20 weeks to 24 weeks. All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together.  

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After 40 weeks of pregnancy, our daughter was not ready to come.  My wife began dilating but was not progressing so we waited.  40 weeks and 1 day, 40 weeks and 2 days, 40 weeks and 3 days, 4 days, 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.  On the seventh day we came back to the doctor and they communicated the need for us to begin labor the next day with the assisting of an induction.  That night, we partnered with members from our church to move into our new worship space as we celebrated the anticipated delivery of our little girl.  We have patiently waited for God to bless us with a child and this is the day we have been waiting for.  I am thankful for the miracle of married, love, conception and fetal development.  Today, our dream of having a child will come true and all I can simply say is “Thank God!”

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Reflections on 36 years!

Birthday_candles

Today I am celebrating 36 years of being on this earth; my how time flies.  I can remember being a child thinking that the year 2000 would never come and now it has been nearly 13 years since we new millennium.  As I reflect on the past 36 years I can summarize my life in a few key words: Faith, Family and Friendships.

Faith

Texas Gospel Fellowship 10 Year Reunion
Texas Gospel Fellowship 10 Year Reunion

Most of the people in my life can tell you that my life has been based on taking many steps of faith.  On December 2, 1984, I walked down an aisle at Bethel Church of God in Christ in Abilene, Texas and made Jesus the leader of my life.  That Sunday, I came to understand that faith is not just what you believe in your mind or heart but what you do with your actions.  Since that time, I have been taking steps of faith from accepting my call to the ministry at 18 years-old, leading in Innervisions Gospel Choir at the University of Texas, establishing Texas Gospel Fellowship through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and going on staff at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

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FLCC Members at Church Under the Bridge

Each of these decisions took a new level of faith.  In the past three years, I have had to walk by faith more than any other time in my life.  Nearly three years ago, we began the journey of planting Full Life Community Church in Austin, Texas. What began as a bible study in a hotel, moved to a house in North Austin and launched in a library in Wells Branch has been more than physical moves from one building to another, it is building spiritual moves of walking by faith to see God form a community of faith out of a vision that He gave us nearly 10 years ago. I studied my life as a leader during a class called Lifelong Leadership Development through Fuller Seminary and God gave a vision for a church that was not there.  We stepped out on faith and now I am so privileged to be the Lead Pastor of Full Life Community Church, a missional, maturing and multicultural church that lives to reconcile people to God and one another.

God is establishing a community of faith that walks by faith and not by sight seeing God do things we cannot explain.  I look forward to continuing this journey of faith with this community of faith.

Family

Corey, Samuel, Troy Tabor
Corey, Samuel, Troy Tabor

I would have never had the faith I had as a child and now have as a 36 year-old man if it were not for my family.  I have been given the best immediate and extended family in the world.  God blessed me with a father who taught me to read the Bible to learn God’s view on the world instead of teaching me his view on the world.  I had a mother who has persevered through over 20 years of kidney failure and dialysis treatments.  I have a brother who is a real man who loves sharing Jesus with people who are far from Him.  I have aunts and uncles who are examples of people to who love God and love their families.  I could not have been more blessed to be raised as a member of the Tabor family.

As I became a husband in 2003, God added to my family and changed my life forever by allowing me to

Wedding Day - June 7, 2003
Wedding Day – June 7, 2003

become one in mind, body, soul and spirit with April Davis now Tabor.  April has taught me so much about what it means to love God and love unconditionally.  She has been the gift of my life that I did not deserve and could not have earned.  In June we will celebrate 10 years of marriage and I am a much better man because of my relationship with her.  She has lived out the meaning of our vows: “for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”  Through the years, she has continued to grow as a woman who loves God and loves me.  I was blessed to gain new family members through the gift that her parents and extended family are to us.  God has been good to me in the family arena.  I could not ask for more real people that love me and believe in me.

Friendship

The blessing of great family has been learning how to become a good friend.  All my life, I have valued friendship more than many because I realize how invaluable real friends are.  I have been friends with my two best friends Paul Matta and Brett Coe since 7th grade.  They have been there for me through thick and thin and have prayed for me and my family in times when we were hurting and needed God’s hand to move.  They have just continued to be there for me and those that I love.  As I came to the University of Texas I was blessed with great friends through

Covenant minus 1
Covenant minus 1

Innervisions Gospel Choir and Gamma Phi Delta Christian Fraternity. My closest college friendships were forged in the heat of life as we struggled to be godly people on a campus that had many who were not seeking to look like him.  I am thankful for friends like Joseph Mosley, Asante Todd, Cedric Jones and Torik Lewis (the singing group Covenant).  I am thankful for friends like Melissa Gray and Brandy Snoddy (Yeary) who stood by me as I learned to lead in college.  To my friend and partner Sean Watkins who has been a mentee, partner and friend I cannot thank you enough for all that you inspire me to be and have challenged me to be.  Today, I believe in friendship because I have seen the rewards that come from being a friend and have experienced the risks of being a friend and can conclude that the rewards far outweigh the risks!

So many people have been a part of this journey and so many have given me the hope to believe that God can continue to use my life for his glory in the years to come.  I pray that I continue to grow as a man, follower of Christ, husband, leader, friend and partner in life.  All that I am has been formed by these three pillars in my life: Faith, Family and Friendship and for these I am thankful.