Kindness as a Tool

I was recently invited to speak at my sons’ school about one of the gifts of the Spirit-Kindness.

At first, I laughed when the President of the school asked that I come and provide some insight into my job as a Police Officer and how I use kindness in my work. (Do you know who I am?  You’ve heard my sharp tongue and lack of tact.  Are you sure?) His thought was that I would use kindness as a fruit of the Spirit in my profession.  In reality, I use kindness as a tool to control ‘tools’.  It is something that doesn’t naturally flow from me.  Believe me…ask anybody who has spent ten minutes with me.  I am mean and can be a tough pill to swallow.

In a recent article, attempted to explain why Police Officers can be so arrogant and, candidly, insufferable jerks. We think differently because we deal with folks that can’t manage their surroundings and we have to intervene. We have zero tolerance for stupidity. In those moments, kindness is not going to be the first tool we are going pull from our belt.

It is God’s virtuous gift to be able to respond to the special needs of others who are hurting or in need.  In a world full of anger, selfishness, and contention, the Lord wants us to cultivate the fruit of kindness in our lives.  Let the Lord use you to show kindness to others.  –The Resurgence

As leaders, I believe we need to exercise kindness when dealing with others.  It can help us achieve more than busting someone’s chops.  Believe me I have my moments.  I recently told a mother who left her six-month old daughter and three-year son in a car alone while she went shopping that that she was being ignorant and stupid.  This was after she told me un-repentantly that she knew it was wrong to leave her children locked in a car unattended.

The best example of kindness I can think of was my recent Sergeant.  This man refers to ‘tools’, gang members, teenagers as sir and ma’am.  His tactic to be always respectful of everyone, colors, and personal space allows him to understand the intricate Gang lifestyle in Houston.  With his kindness, he was able to build a huge gang database for Police Officers to better understand the factions on the street.  And ultimately, he may have save some officers lives.  His contagious spirit emboldens other officers to be kinder and more respectful of the civilian population.  His leadership is infectious to those under his supervision.  It challenged us to slow our roll and try a different approach.  He uses the tool of kindness with a deftness that comes from years of experience on the street.  In other words, why fight when you can settle things with words.

During my talk to the students, I shared a simple story of how one aggressive officer was rude and inconsiderate to a woman who had witnessed a car chase come to an abrupt end.  What we didn’t know was that the woman just wanted to know if the person in the car was uninjured.  I only learned this because in moment of kindness I pursued her and asked her how I could help her despite my aggressive counterpart.  After a few choice words directed toward me and the aggressive officer, she stated she was told her son was involved in the car chase and all she wanted to know is if he was alive and uninjured.  I was able to share with her good news and I apologized to her for not being considerate of her needs.

It was at this moment, I was reminded that-It is God’s virtuous gift to be able to respond to the special needs of others who are hurting or in need.

As leaders, God may be wanting us to join Him in responding to special needs to those that are hurting.

The School Assignment: What makes me…ME!


I still have the privilege of helping my boys with their homework assignments.  I get the privilege of peeking under the hood peek at the heart and discover what men God is allowing them to become.  The school assignment this week in Communication was a speech about themselves.  My oldest decided to mix his unapologetic humor to a interesting perspective about himself that would make any parent proud.  I thought I would share it with you.

I was born in 1997 at midnight to my mother’s discomfort.  When I first came out I was unable to breath because my cord was wrapped around my neck.  Well life for me started as a fight.  At an early age I was a barbaric gentleman.  My dad and my grandfather were always hard on me to be respectful, polite, and to do things to the full glory of God given my abilities.  My dad taught me to fear God and him. 

My brother and I were home schooled for the majority of grade school by my loving mother who taught me the meaning of respect through the belt.  Unlike my brother I went to public school my first few years of school.  All my friends were Hispanic and Black: I found them easier to get along with than the white kids.  At home, my brother and I would play outside for hours; we never wore shirts or shoes we believed that was for wimps.  To this day I still have very little feeling in the bottom of my feet due to the hot concrete on my feet.  When I was five I received a puppy, it was my responsibility to take care of her; that was the first time I ever had to care for someone other than myself. 

Playing outside I broke my arm doing a wheelie on my bike I was very little and my brother locked me out of the house.  Pain grew me that day, because of that first break I’ve never cried again when I broke other bones in my body.  Also I came to love the Simpsons, Sponge Bob, Dragon Ball Z, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy since all I did was watch T.V.  My father with the combinations of those shows gave me a great sense of humor.  My father also knew I wanted to be a soldier so he put me in MMA and Scouts around age 12.  I got in trouble in Scouts one day for getting in a fight with a little punk.  My dad told me one of the important things I remember “Don’t start fights just to make sure you finish them” .  That along with the punishment from my MMA Instructor taught me to control myself.  Later the same kid and his friend would ambush my brother and me when I had my broken wrist.  My little brother who was 9 at the time protected me from three different kids.  This is first time I began to appreciate my brother. We finished that fight.

My brother and I are still in Scouts today.  Boy Scouts has taught me time management, communications skills, and how to survive.  It has molded me into a leader.  I’ve missed Homecoming Events every year for Scouts.  I’ve missed many fun events with my friends from school because I was climbing mountains, riding horses, licking something by the side of road, jumping off dams, canoeing up stream, fishing, burning other Scout’s things, doing back flips off mountains, running from bears, eating wild hog, shooting shotguns, falling in mud, hiking 125 miles uphill then hiking another 100 downhill just to say I did it.  And to this day I will never regret this ever.  That’s what makes me. Me!



Manday: Lone Survivor


I experienced Lone Survivor on this weekend.  Simply put.  Go see it.

During the film, two Operators were seated in front of my spouse and me.  They were sobbing through the entire film.  Several times, they were calling out the names of actual SEALs who were making cameos in the film.  To say the film was powerful would be an understatement.

Veteran Chris Marvin wrote in Parade

In my opinion, seeing Lone Survivor should be a civic obligation.

As citizens, we don’t owe much to our country from a legal perspective. Paying taxes, obeying laws, and serving on juries are mandatory. Voting is optional. Yet our democracy depends on citizens exercising more than the bare minimum of civic responsibility.


I do not have much to add to the many comments about the film.  Just go see it.


Manday: A Movie Recommendation and Two Must Read Articles

DF-11070-Edit - Ben Stiller in THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY.

I am a movie buff.  I have passed that passion for movies on to my two boys and my wife.  Every week, my bride and I have date night.  That date night usually consists of dinner and a movie.  The day after Christmas, my boys insisted on seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I want to highly recommend this film to you and your family.  Ben Stiller directs and stars in this amazing film.  It has a kind heart and is worth your time and money.  It is not a violent film filled with flashy stars flaunting their skin so it won’t be in the theatre for long.  See it.

One of the most powerful elements in this film is the use of cut scenes, dream sequences, and wild adventures that play out Walter’s fantasies and imagination. One minute everything is normal for Walter, and then suddenly, the scene is interrupted with loud special effects, character action, and slightly unrealistic scenarios. There is a part where Walter and his boss (Scott) are having a confrontation, and Walter zones out and imagines soaring through the city and fighting his boss like something out of “The Matrix.” This can be confusing as the scene goes completely off the rails without notice, but most times after playing out Walter’s vision, everything settles down and goes back to reality. These jumps in and out of reality are quite entertaining, and it is amusing to see Walter snap back into reality with people calling his name while he stares off into the distance. Walter’s imagination only begins as fantasy, but as the film goes on, he begins to actually experience real life adventures. The special effects and scene transitions are more than satisfactory, and there are outstanding camera shots of mountains, oceans, volcanoes and other scenery. There are many fantasy or silly scenes throughout the film, but these are presented to look the best on screen as they possibly can.  –HAYDEN PITTMAN WFAA Special Contributor


I am a father.  My 300 often share articles of interest about parenthood.  Ken shared the following article during one of our many breakfast meetings,  I found it convicting and thought provoking.  The article is entitled:  How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home.  Click on the link and read it.  It will get the spiritual and moral juices flowing.

 “And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.”

Lastly, I am also a man who checks the pulse of politics and social issues.   My friend and popular author David T., shared an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal that I had to share with you.  I thought it was appropriate with all the turmoil surrounding free speech, reality TV shows, and alternate lifestyles.  I also found it amazingly appropriate for Manday.  I teased on Facebook, that Ms. Paglia’s views are pure heresy and would be rejected by the small fringe groups, mass media, and popular opinion makers.  I challenge you to read it.  The article is entitled: Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues.  Yes.  That Camille.

“Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

I wanted to share these three things with you as you start your New Year.

Here is to a great 2014!!!

REPOST: Accountability: Two Men on a Roof


Don Munton is the Singles Minister at Houston’s First Baptist Church. He is a mentor-pastor-friend of mine. Don shares an amazing story with the young single men under his leadership about accountability. He would always preface the story by telling them that a man alone is a man in the danger zone. (Insert images of Maverick and Goose slicing through the skies in an F14.)

Don would tell the story of two men on a roof from two opposite sides of the Bible. In 2 Samuel, we are told the first man was a king. He should have been taking care of kingly duties, like waging a war from the front lines, but instead he was on his roof overlooking his kingdom. Lo and behold, he spots a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and he can’t control himself. (In today’s terms, he was browsing the web and stumbled onto a site he could not resist.) He orders the woman to his bed and takes her. (He takes an ad out on Craig’s List and she responds.) Because of this man’s lack of accountability and pride, a husband is murdered, a child dies, a scandal ensues, and a kingdom is almost forfeit.

Fast forward to Mark Chapter 2, we see a paralyzed man being carried by four men to Jesus to be healed. Unfortunately, the crowds around Jesus don’t allow the men to get to the front door. So they carry their paralyzed friend to the roof of the house and begin tearing open the roof to lower their friend to Jesus. (Imagine being in the house and bits and pieces of the ceiling begin falling on you and then a man is lowered on a cot down towards your honored guest. You look up and think-Someone is paying for that.) Jesus heals the man. Now that man could not have gotten to Jesus without the help of his four friends. He could not have gotten on the roof without their aid.

Now look at the two men. One man was alone…a king…an island onto himself…somewhere he should not have been. And he failed. A momentary lapse in judgment. Where was his support group? Where were the men that would tell him that he needed to be at war and not at home alone on a rooftop?

The paralyzed man is helpless. He was not alone. No delusions of self-sufficiency. The man couldn’t care for himself without the help of others. He gets healed. But let’s look at the faith of his friends. The four men had to carry their buddy through the crowd. They probably had to carry him several blocks out of the way to get to Jesus, climb to a roof, traverse several rooftops, and then tear away a roof knowing Jesus would heal their friend. At any point, the crippled man may have said: “Stop! It’s too much trouble. I’m fine.” I have carried a grown man on a cot over three miles. It is not an easy task. But the men persevered; they may have even encouraged each other. What an amazing story of friendship and accountability.

Now I don’t have to tell you all the ways men can get into trouble today. We have enough talking heads telling us how bad we men are. So I won’t laundry list you into submission and guilt. You know the list and the proclivities we as men are inclined towards. So that is why it is so important to have life-minded men in your life to keep you accountable and tell you what you need to hear when you stray and encourage you when you stay true.

Do you have any friend who would carry you toward the Savior when you need Him the most?

Do you have a group of men who struggle and endure with you in your good and bad times?

Or would they allow you to be alone and handle it on your own? Could you be a friend like that to someone?

Find those men. Your life depends on it.

Open Letter: Thankful for My Mentors!


Dear Mentors-

In the past few weeks, I have noticed on social media numerous individuals stating their thankfulness for their blessings as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.  I looked back on my roller coaster life and noticed where God brought significant people into my life to mold, mentor, and hold me accountable. I can clearly say without the selfless sacrifices these amazing men and women made, I would not be what God intended me to be. I shudder at the alternative of the type of person I could have been. I am thankful to you, my mentors.

I am thankful for Dr. Terry Samplaski and his lovely wife, Sharon, for adopting me during my wayward college days. I remember learning how to serve as a Christian by just watching Terry. This amazing man simply went to his knees and covered me in prayer. I remember light moments like playing Madden Football on his monochrome IBM personal computer as the highlight of my week. I would wander off and Terry continued to greet me with open arms upon my return. This man mentored and guided me by discipling and simply loving me.

terry and sharon

Thank you, Terry and Sharon.

Then there was Bobby and Ginger Bell. This amazing duo took a young married couple under their wings and taught us how to survive the early tumultuous years of marriage. If it hadn’t been for these amazing friends who took us in and just fellowshipped with us, I know our marriage would be very different. I will never forget when I was fired from my first job as a Sales Rep at Aggie 96 Radio; Bobby hired me as an On-Air-Radio Personality at the same station within five minutes to the detriment of his career. He took a chance on me. For that I am eternally grateful.  And so is my beautiful bride.

Bobby-You took my wife and me on a fishing trip on a cold autumn day. Of course, you and I caught nothing. Nor caught and brought home one catfish. You and I, then, went to Albertson’s to buy catfish for the much anticipated fish fry.

Ginger convinced me to sing Tenor as part of a living Christmas tree at their church. I have to admit I will never do that again.

bobby and ginger

Thank you, Bobby and Ginger.

My best friend, Darrin. Wherever you are. I wish we could mend the fence we broke. I have so much to tell you. I am a cop now. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither. The boys ask for you.  The Cowboys still stink.  Your XBOX controller is still on my television.  I miss picking you up at the airport when you would visit.  Your friendship still means everything to me. You taught me how to be a friend, laugh, and just live. As an only child, you were and still are the closest thing I have to a brother.

I miss you, man.  I hope you are happy.  I hope you are married to a hot smoking woman and dizzy in love with her.  I just hope…


Thank you, Darrin.

Finally, my 300. Mark, Allen, and Ken. Wow! It’s been a long time. I can’t thank you enough for the amazing Wednesday after 7AM conversations. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the Lord bringing you into my life. You three didn’t pull any punches. I have never been so challenged by you three Godly men. We just might get our families through this thing called life. I lost a great friend and then God gave me three brothers to fill the gap. We are not old but we are getting older. I can’t think of a better crowd of men I would want to spend my free time.


I am thankful for each of you.

Thank you Jesus for these amazing individuals who decided to invest in me.  And because of every one of you, Mentors, I am paying it forward.

Your friend,


Accountability: The Single Man and Self Control


Many conversations of accountability focus strongly on the married man.   Unfortunately, the profile on which we build our foundation comes from the perspective of an established family man.  I have done many single men a disservice by not providing them a foundation on which to stand.  Hopefully, I can provide a challenge to the single man with a perspective for single-minded accountability.

Every man needs accountability.  When I say every man…that includes single men.  I personally believe single men need it now more than ever.  I observe young single men who believe they know it all and say some of the stupidest things in mixed company.  They treat their women as buddies instead of delicate flowers.  Augh!   This is something I never understood.  My Father raised me differently.  I never spoke ill of the opposite sex.  I always treated women with respect and honor.  So Single men…if you will listen up I am going to tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.

So who am I accountable to?  First and foremost, you are accountable to the ultimate power in the universe.  God.  The Creator of the universe.  Nothing has changed here…same message.  He brought you into this world…He can take you out.

You are in-experienced, immature, and, candidly, horny.  You are not entitled to damage single women because you can’t control yourself with her or with porn.

Second, if you are single,  you are accountable to self-control and your future spouse.  This is key.  You are not married.  You need to practice self-control.  As a young single male…you are already behind the curve.  How?  You are in-experienced, immature, and, candidly, horny.  You are not entitled to damage single women because you are unwilling to or won’t control yourself with her or with porn.  If you are in a relationship, you treat that woman with respect and honor.  You don’t criticize her beautiful looks and you don’t embarrass her in public by announcing her flaws and shortcomings.  Grow up, man.  Scratching, spitting, cursing, belching, farting, and fist bumping are all guy things and she is not expecting that from you.   Control your tongue, don’t curse in front of her and don’t share crude jokes in her presence.  She does not desire that from you.  She is looking for a strong man, a future husband, and future father who chooses his words thoughtfully.  She needs the reassurance you can nurture a child she gives you when you and her become one.

Your lack of commitment is cowardice.  Plain and simple.  And she is foolish to stay with you in hopes you will grow a pair and commit.  But this is on you.  Not her.  Your actions are dictating the relationship and you should be ashamed.  Let’s table that for another day…

Third, practice what I preach.  Find a group of men.  I have been accountable to a group of three men for over 13 years.  I call them my 300. I am 100% invested in their lives and they in mine.  Thus 300!  These men have my back and I have theirs.

As a young single man, you need to find a group of men and meet.  I recommend they be your peers and be somewhat in your same season of life, age, and like-minded interests.   Find men that make you a better man.  Don’t hang out with men that wake up naked with women they don’t know.  Because you will learn to compromise yourself in every aspect of your life and sadly laugh it off.

Find a Grey Haired.  You need to find a grey haired man to mentor you.  As a young man, you may not rely so much on your parents’ advise.  Truth is at your age the hardest thing is to admit that your parents are right about the years of unwanted advice they bestowed upon you.  So what most young men do is not ask for advice from their parents.  Find a Grey Hair and ask them for advice.  Then practice what they preach.  You see they have navigated the foxholes in the battlefield of life…and they can show the path of least resistance.

Listen, I have less hair than you and what remains is grey…your job is to shut up, listen, and thank me for looking out for your sorry butt. 

Most importantly, be COACH-able.  Nothing irks me more, when I provide simple advice to a young colleague on the ways of the world. Instead of a thoughtful pause of reflection, I get a “I know it all” rebuttal.  Or the young buck gets offended because his ego can’t take criticism.  Really? Listen, I have less hair than you and what remains is grey…your job is to shut up, listen, and thank me for looking out for your sorry butt.  I took the time to notice a flaw, an imperfection, a chink in your armor that can be corrected. Then I man’d up and brought it to your attention.  At least, consider it.   But don’t dismiss it.

For the most part, the young single men I have the privilege to ride with on patrol are amazing.  I am surrounded by sensible young men with a regard to better themselves everyday.  I am part of a brotherhood.  These men I would take a bullet for.

To the single man, be strong and self controlled.  You got this!

Leadership: Keep it simple. Then simplify some more.

Keep it Simple - 1

I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I replied in a way that would have some on the team scratching or shaking their head.  Candidly, I have never been accused of being a team player.

Now before I get started.  Please understand…I know a lot of effort and painstaking thought and creativity went into making the logos.  I greatly value the person, talent, and hard work our leadership member donated to create multiple logos for us to choose from.  So please don’t take this post as a criticism of that work.  I just didn’t like the process in which was presented for us to choose the logo.  So I dissented and chose a logo without following the rules. Hopefully, this will help my team understand me as a member of the team.

As I was saying, I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I confess I wasn’t being a team player.  But the process seemed too drawn out.  My inbox had already been filled with five emails with valid questions and concerns.  I didn’t have time for this.  Now with less time on my plate…I am hating the computer screen time even more.  So I was testy. Not being a visionary and having a very small attention span, I just replied with one answer.  I liked all the logos but one more than others.  So I picked it.  Ultimately that was the goal.  To me…it was simple.  Just pick one.

I had the unfortunate privilege of attending a kid’s soccer game many years ago.  The four- and five-year olds were in this small mob surrounding the ball…just kicking the ball into each other.  Yoga pant wearing, latte sipping, plastic enhanced mothers were screaming at the players-“Kick the ball.”  Fathers were off away on their cell phones.  The chorus of “kick the ball” filled the air as this mass of children bludgeoned the Nike ball between themselves all over the pitch…trying to please their soccer moms.

I had enough.  I yelled.  “Hey…someone kick the ball into the goal!”  It got quiet.  The goalies stopped picking their noses.  The mass of kids stopped and the relieved soccer ball leaked out of the mass.  A coach actually turned and looked at me stunned by my suggestion.  He began yelling for his team to kick the ball into the net.  Heck…you can’t win unless you kick the ball into the goal.  (I later found out that this was a POSITIVE, NO ONE LOSES, NO ONE KEEPS SCORE, EVERYONE IS SPECIAL SOCCER LEAGUE).  You know the group that settles for mediocrity.

Okay.  Leadership lesson.  Keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.  There will be team members who don’t want all the facts. There are those who don’t like the all the avenues to get from point A to B.   Or in this case, Logo A to Logo E.  Those team members will become distant and have that glazed over look on their face.  They will become ineffective in what they do.  They can become casualties of analysis paralysis.  A major reason why I left Corporate America.  Leaders will begin asking the question-Is that person all right?  Is there something wrong?  No.  Some of us don’t like the details.  Just give us the Executive Summary.  The Cliff Notes.  And make a decision.  When you need us to do something…just call us in.  We will get it done. I’m a hired gun.

As teams, we can get into our huddles, kick around ideas, and never kick the ball into the goal.  We never succeed.  We can pat ourselves on the back and say no one loses.  We met.  Sometimes we get mired in the process and lose sight of the goal, the mission. It’s times like this we need to keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.

By the way, I am not the one you ask to write a Mission Statement and you will never see a kid’s soccer game the same again.  I guarantee it.

Photo credit: kaioshin / Foter / CC BY-NC

Leadership: Ever Been Mistaken for the Messiah?

Illustration by Joby Harris

Illustration by Joby Harris

Every Wednesday, I meet a group of men-leaders-for a Bible Study. This has been going on for over 15 years.
We are currently studying the book of John. The discussion of John the Baptist and his paving the way for Jesus the Messiah took an interesting twist. The scriptures talk of a “Blue Ribbon Committee”(if you will) approaching John the Baptist and asking him a set of amazing questions about his identity.

Now understand, John the Baptist was a barbarian…I mean…leader. He was a voice in the wilderness, heralding the Messiah, preaching repentance, and baptizing his followers with water. He was creating quite a stir. So much so…people became nervous. Look at the following scriptures.

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:19-23

His leadership skills were so strong that he was mistaken for the Messiah. His life and diet was so bizarre that he was mistaken for Elijah. His message was so truthful and radical that he was mistaken for the Prophet. And it attracted followers. I don’t know about you. But my leadership skills are elementary at best. I have never been accused of being a team player. Much less mistaken for the Messiah in my spiritual walk. I am just trying to lead Team Rivera (one wife, two teenage boys, and three dogs-one with three legs) through this thing called life And try to color inside the lines. But wow…what an interesting testimony.

Have you in your leadership efforts been mistaken for the boss? CEO? or Commander in Chief?
Has your message been so bold and radical that it attracts followers? Or maybe your leadership skills have caused others to wonder where in the world you come from?

Manday Quote: Ben Franklin


Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe.  That He governs it by His providence. That He ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to Him is in doing good to His other children.  That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.  These I take to be fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.  As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.

Benjamin Franklin, March 9, 1790

Do you have a creed?