Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
When did bed time become a good thing? What ever happened to all those millions of excuses we used to offer for just five more minutes before we’d surrender to the sheets? When did a stick become just a stick rather than the shining saber that it used to be? When did it become blasphemous to walk on top of a wall instead of along side it? How come there are no more dragons to kill, or fair maidens to rescue?
When did the moon stop following our family car at night? Is it following somebody else now? Maybe we bored it too much. When did clouds stop forming circus animals and just start blocking the sun?
How come I don't get a prize when I order a Big Mac combo? When did a cup of coffee take preference over a mug of hot chocolate with mounds of whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry on top? How come I can't have my dessert first and eat the rest only if I have room for it? When was it that I began to like vegetables?
Why do I have to eat chicken with a fork and a knife when I go out to a restaurant? If God had meant that, do you think He would have ever made the drumstick? Do you think they would call it a drumstick if we weren’t supposed to pick it up with our hands. What would Roll Over Beethoven sound like if Ringo had to hold his drumsticks with a fork and knife?
How come there are no pictures in grown-up books? Who says the black lines in a coloring book are better art than the colorful scribbles that go outside?
How come they don't carry silly string in hardware stores? So when did couch cushions become just couch cushions, rather than the fortress they were always meant to be?
I wonder, which is more mature, an "adult bookstore", or Toys R Us? How come now that we can actually afford our own pony, we'd rather buy a Dodge Colt, Ford Mustang or Bronco instead of the real thing? Are we, in reality, still just pretending?
And one question I just can't seem to find an answer to: when did work become more important than playing? It used to be that messing up the room was more desirable than picking it up. I wonder what would happen if some day at work we all just decided to play kick-the-can instead of the ridiculous "grown-up"(?!?) games we play at the office.
I can’t tell when it was that I changed, but at some moment I stopped seeing the world through the eyes of a child and started to think like a grown up. At that moment I lost something that I want back, not just innocence or naiveté, something more. I lost a way of looking at things with curiosity and inventiveness. I began to know the answers so I stopped asking the questions. Lately I’ve discovered that asking good questions takes more wisdom than telling good answers.
The artist Henri Matisse said toward the end of his prolific career, “I spent the first thirty years of my life trying to paint like an adult, and the rest of my life trying to paint like a child again.” Perhaps we should rethink this whole grown up thing and try seeing the creation through the eyes of a child once again. In fact, that seems to be the only way that makes sense to me. I can’t even imagine what new things we would learn and create if we did.
A 3 year old will learn more lifelong and life-enhancing content in the next year than I have in the last ten. And I think she'll enjoy the year a whole lot more than I will as well. We can learn a lot from children, if we'd let them be the teachers more often and we became the students again.
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
If I were to start over knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
1. Begin in the Harvest and Start Small.
Don't start with a team of already saved Christians. We think that having a bigger and better team will accelerate the work, and it doesn't. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It is better to have a team of two, and the right two makes the work even better: and apostle and prophet together will lay the foundation of a movement. The churches birthed out of transformed lives are healthier, reproductive and growing faster. It is about this- a life changed, not about the model. Never forget that!
2. Allow God to Build Around Others
Don't start in your own home...find a person of peace and start in their home! Read Matt. 10/Luke 10...and do it!
3. Empower Others from the Start
Don't lead too much...let the new believers do the work of the ministry without your imposed control. Let the excitement of a new life carry the movement rather than your intelligence and persuasiveness.
4. Let Scripture Lead Not Your Assumptions
Question all your ministry assumptions in light of Scripture with courage and faith. There is nothing sacred but God's Word and Spirit in us...let them lead rather than your own experience, teachings, and tradition.
5. Rethink Leadership
The Christian life is a process. There is not a ceiling of maturity that people need to break through to lead. Set them loose immediately and walk with them through the process for a while. Leadership recruitment is a dead end. We are all recruiting from the same pond and it is getting shallower and shallower. Leadership farming is what is needed. Any leadership development system that doesn't start with the lost is starting in the wrong place. Start at the beginning and begin with the end in mind. Mentor life on life and walk with them through their growth in being, doing and knowing. The end is not an accumulated knowledge but a life of obedience that will be willing to die for Jesus. The process isn't over until there is a flat-line on the screen next to their bed.
6. Immediate Obedience in Baptism
Baptize quickly and publicly and let the one doing the evangelizing do the baptizing. The Bible doesn't command us to be baptized, but to be baptizers. It is absolutely foolish the way we hold the Great Commission over our people and then exclude them from obeying it at the same time! We need to let the new convert imprint upon the Lord for protection, provision, training and leading, rather than upon men.
7. Settle "Your" Ownership Issues
Stop being concerned about whether "Your" church plant will succeed or not. It isn't "yours" in the first place. Your reputation is not the one on the line...Jesus' is. He will do a good job if we let him. If we have our own identity and reputation at stake in the work we will tend to take command. Big mistake. Let Jesus get the glory and put his reputation on the line...He can take care of Himself without your help!"
This was originally from Organic Church, but has since been online in a few places, so I thought I'd post it on my own blog as well. Hope it helps.
P.S. If you would like to read more of what my thoughts are on this very important subject check out my book Organic Leadership.
My friend and mentor, Bob Logan has an unusual collection. He collects church names he has come across in his travels over the years. Here are some actual names of churches he has encountered in his journey (with some commentary from yours truly):
- Accident Baptist Church is obviously not Calvinist.
- First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy (in Dade City FL). These folks have the first and last word on just about any subject. I don’t even want to ask what sort of military they are training.
- Greater Second Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, stands in contrast, I guess, to the not so great second Baptist church around the corner?
- For those who do not want to commit all the way, you can go to the Halfway Baptist Church. On the other hand, Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church in South Carolina is not a seeker sensitive church by any stretch of the imagination. You have to be really committed to attend this church; none of those “Halfway Baptists” will be found here. Of course everyone is welcome at Faith Free Lutheran. Like “sugar free” this is a church that contains no calories, convictions…or miracles.
- Little Hope Baptist Church sounds a tad better than another church called No Hope United Methodist Church. Kind of makes you sad just saying it.
- My personal favorite church name: Original Church of God, Number 2. I really can’t think of anything to add that could possibly be funnier than the name itself…except for perhaps number 3.
- Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church is another one of those “truth in advertising” names, but this church goes the extra mile because the name of their pastor is Elder Dull. Perhaps there are more exciting ways to spend your Saturday?
- Harmony Baptist Church in East Texas is a name that doesn’t sound so bad. The funny thing is that it is only a half-mile away from Harmony Baptist Church #2. I guess they are not so harmonious after all.
- Battle Ground Baptist Church…aren’t they all?
- Waterproof Baptist Church in Louisiana begs the question: does the baptism count if you’re water repellant?
- Country Club Christian Church is in Kansas City, but you’re actually likely to find some of these in every city. This may be the fastest growing model of church in America.
- James Bond United Community Church in Toronto, is of course “shaken, not stirred.” St. Martini Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, is also shaken, and not stirred and comes with an olive or a twist of lemon if you prefer. Of course the Lutherans can actually drink a Martini so I guess it isn’t such a stretch to name your church after one, or is it.
- When Paul spoke of being all things to all people I doubt that he had this in mind: First United Separated Baptist Church. This church in Indiana needs to decide which it is, united or separated?
- Hell For Certain is a church in Kentucky but for some reason they do not have too many visitors, no one wants to go there. Does their advertisement in the yellow pages read: Go to Hell For Certain, Sunday at 10 AM? There is also Hell Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is in Hell, MI. You could say: people are dying to go there!
- Lover's Lane Episcopal Church is a very open church, but watch out if someone wants to show you the submarine races in the baptismal pool…their Episcopal, they sprinkle.
Friday, August 26, 2011
“Meeting Neil Cole is, well, anticlimactic…I don’t mean to say that Cole himself is anticlimactic, but his surroundings. You see, Cole–and everything he shapes–is ‘anti-slick.’”
“[CMA’s] massive operation without (much of) a parking lot has a grand total of 1.5 employees but trains 2,000 people in 12 states and around the world. Not bad for a guy with a nasty hole in his couch.” [pp. 26-27].
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It's not how many walk an aisle on Sunday in church that measures success, but how many walk with Jesus in the world everyday. For far too long the church has been afraid of the world and the affect it would have on her. In contrast, missional-minded people choose to have an affect on the world, not the other way around.
In a real sense, it is not our attendance charts, year-end reports and newsletters that tell of our success—but often it is the voice of those who are not even in the church...and may never darken her doorway. Sometimes the indicator of success sounds more like an insult.
Look at how Luke describes Paul and his band of missional disciples in Acts through the eyes of those steeped in the world system:
“…and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, 'These men are throwing our city into confusion,'” (Acts 16:20)
“…they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.’” (Acts 17:6-7)
“…You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.” (Acts 19:26)
These are entirely different measures of success for the church than what we usually tally. Granted, we Christians hardly need excuse to be more offensive in the world than we already are. That's not the point, but when we actually mobilize God's people into the thick of the market-place and world system the true enemy will not respond softly. When we keep people side-lined in comfy sanctuaries the devil is hardly threatened.
Lobbying congress for a more conservative political agenda is hardly what our true purpose is, yet that is what the world sees of us. Jesus never did that, even though the people He was serving would have preferred that he do so. Instead, He simply transformed people and empowered them to make a difference in their portion of the world. The people he really insulted and offended were the highly conservative religious leaders. Al and Deb Hirsch ask a profound couple questions in their book Untamed:
“What is it about the holiness of Jesus that caused “sinners” to flock to him like a magnet and yet manages to seriously antagonize the religious people? This question begs yet another, even more confronting question: why does our more churchy form of holiness seem to get it the other way around?”
Is it possible that we are too nice to the wrong people and too mean to to the right ones? The true Jesus is not a safe and sterile, milk toast wimp, conflicted by a mission and a passive kindness—which Hollywood typically portrays and Christians are comfortable believing in. He said things that offended others regularly. He never carried the party line. Jesus shocked his foes, his friends and his followers with equal doses. While it was the Romans that crucified Jesus it was the leaders of His own religious faith that instigated the persecution. That is fairly consistent with radical spiritual revolutionaries. Ask any soldier or radical change agent, “friendly fire” isn't so friendly.
I believe that an indicator of influential success is determined by who you anger and who you do not. I think this barometer does not indicate that the Church of America is doing very well at all with influential success. As a result we experience very little real persecution.
Perhaps we are so rarely truly persecuted because we so rarely threaten to shake things up out in the world where we are really needed. Jesus promised that if they persecuted Him they would also do so to us. Paul wrote that all who desire to live godly will be persecuted. Perhaps we are not persecuted because we are not being like Jesus and are not living the sort of godly lifestyles that would merit such. Why would Satan persecute a church that has voluntarily taken herself out of the action where she can actually do some good?
“I get it!” came a remark from a pastor in one of Reggie McNeal’s D.Min. classes.
“I have been thinking all along about changing the church. You are talking about changing the world!”
Reggie concludes, “He did get it!” [McNeal, Missional Renaissance, p. 65]
We have got to set our sights on something much bigger than a church with thousands in weekly attendance. Contrary to what you thought, changing the church is not the idea of this blog. That is a small goal not worth fulfilling. We need to change the world. Anything less is demeaning of Christ’s sacrifice.
“Can the church stop its puny, hack dreams of trying to ‘make a difference in the world’ and start dreaming God-sized dreams of making the world different?”
―Leonard Sweet [Soul Tsunami, p. 16]
When it comes to measuring impact there is a the transition that occurs in Acts worth noting. In the early chapters success was measured in precise numbers that were added to the growing local church (Acts 2:41; 5:41). Later, the success was measured by how “the word (message/voice) of the Lord was being spread through the whole region (Acts 13:49).” Once the church transitioned to become a more organic decentralized movement success was measured by how many churches were growing stronger in faith and being added to the movement on a daily basis (Acts 16:5). Eventually, when it became a rapidly multiplying movement, success was measured by the fact that “all who were in Asia heard the word (message) of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks (Acts 19:20).”
Did you catch that? It doesn’t just say that the word could be found in every place of Asia, as if The Gideons were there and left a free Bible in the nightstand—as incredible as that would be. It says that every person who was in Asia–Jew or Greek, man, woman or child–had heard God’s message. The Lord's voice was heard by everyone! Talk about reaching a people group! It doesn't tell us how many responded positively to that message, only that they heard it. In fact, we know that many responded very negatively (1 Cor. 16:9).
What I want us to see is that in a rapid exponentially building movement, measurement takes on a whole different form. As my good friend and coworker, Ed Waken likes to say, “It is not how many conversions that are made, but how many conversations that people have.” It is connections with the people that are measured. The results of those conversations are not measured because, frankly, that is not our success...we cannot control that nor take credit for it.
Unfortunately, we tend to measure what is outside of our realm of success. Perhaps we also tend to take credit for things that are not ours to claim. We are not responsible for our own salvation let alone the salvation of others...we never have been and we never will be. Our responsibility is to bring the presence, power and voice–in other words, influence–of our King to places where He is not seen, heard or felt. We need to let Him do what only He can do and let Him get credit for the results. Frankly, Jesus can do a whole lot more than just getting people to show up for an hour-long event once a week. His influence is over every area of one's life, which makes measurement with precise numbers seem trite and minimal in the end.
Influential success measures the presence and resulting impact of our being in the world and bringing the voice of our King. In a sense, even the rejection of that influence is a sign of our success. Institutional success needs objective proof that we have reached our stated objective as an organization. This is usually marked and measured by a business mind-set that feels the bottom line is the mark of an organization's success or failure. The problem is the kingdom is not meant to be a business or an organization. It is the reign of the King that is carried by ordinary people who are transformed into agents of extraordinary influence and (I believe) builds into the momentum of a movement. The kingdom brings change, it transforms someone's entire life...for their entire life. Such transformation is obvious and easily noted, but not quantitatively measured with statistical analysis. AND it is never complete, so success is not arrived at until the end.
We can measure process, or even progress, but not true success until the end. Because we all have the potential to fail and disqualify ourselves at any moment, and the only exam that actually counts is the final exam. Likewise, the only applause that really counts is the applause at the finish line. Any applause before that is encouraging, but not truly satisfying.
As we say in our movement, “You don't graduate until there is a flat line on the monitor next to your bed.” Until then you keep learning, growing and moving forward toward that point. If you are resuscitated, you've been held back a grade and you better try even harder to learn for the next opportunity to graduate. In other words, we need to finish well or die trying.
So influential success is measured moment to moment and is more about stories than numbers.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
In Church 3.0 I said,
“In Church 2.0 we evaluated a church’s success by how many people attended and how much money they left there. Because Church 3.0 is a movement, success is not measured by how many people come but by how many go! We want to measure the church’s sending capacity more than its seating capacity. We ask: Is the message, the method and the mission spreading from one person to the next and then on to the one after that?” [Cole, Church 3.0, p. 169]
Our mission is to find and develop Christ followers rather than church members. There is a big difference in these two outcomes. The difference is seen in transformed lives that bring change to neighborhoods and nations. Simply gathering a group of people who subscribe to a common set of beliefs is not worthy of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us.
We must shift from an institutional manner of measuring to an influential manner. Instead of the number question, we must look for the personal influence of the real church—the people. Many ask for benchmarks to measure success of the organization, as if that is measuring the church. It is not. The church is not the building, the organization, the programs or the event. You can measure all those things and still not measure the success or failure of the church, because the church is something else entirely. As Reggie McNeal likes to say, “Church is not a ‘what’ but a ‘who’.” The church is disciples in relation together on a mission—following Jesus into influence within the world. Once you factor that simple shift into the mix the entire equation changes. How do you measure influence of a person in relation to other people? That is a far better barometer of how we are doing as a church or a movement. As I said in Organic Church:
“Church attendance is not the barometer of how Christianity is doing. Ultimately, transformation is the product of the Gospel. It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world. Society and culture should change if the church has been truly effective. Is the church reaching out and seeing lives changed by the Good News of the Kingdom of God? Surely the numbers of Christians will increase once this happens, but filling seats one day a week is not what the Kingdom is all about. We do Jesus an injustice by reducing His life and ministry to such a sad story as church attendance and membership roles. The measure of the church’s influence is found in society—on the streets, not in the pews.” [Cole, Organic Church, p. xxiii]
We lost count of the number of churches in our movement years ago. You cannot measure numbers of churches in a multiplication movement. Oh sure you can in the very early days where 2 become 4 and 4 becomes 8…and so on. Even with my mathematically challenged mind I can do that. But as the exponential growth curve rises suddenly old means of measurement are useless…impossible actually.
In The Starfish and the Spider, Ori Brafman and Red Beckstrom say,
“Counting the members of starfish organizations (decentralized organizations) is usually an impossible task. It’s not only that no one’s keeping track, but also that anyone can become a member of an open organization—or likewise withdraw their membership—at any time.” [Brafman, Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider, p.p. 50-51]
As we say at CMA: “if you are successful in a church multiplication movement than you can't count the number of churches. If you can count the churches than you are not a multiplication movement.” How’s that for a measuring stick? You’re success is determined by not counting. It reverses the whole conversation doesn’t it?
But we still want to know how we are doing. Success for the church is measured on the streets not in the seats. We measure human interaction and transformative stories. I am very proud of some of the work done by one of our associated ministries in my own hometown of Long Beach, CA. Due in large part to the efforts of Kingdom Causes LB homelessness has been reduced by upwards of 25%. That is success in anyone's book, but could that happen if we were content to merely count butts in seats and 10% of dollars in the wallets found in those butts?
What happens when we celebrate things that don’t matter and ignore the ones that do? I asked that very question on my Facebook page once and received a ton of interesting responses. Perhaps the saddest was the simple reply: “You get church.” Ouch.
We fuel what we celebrate. When we turn inward and hide in our own selfish bubble we lose a grasp of reality. We become deluded into a place of selfish consumerism and passive opinions that count for little more than the whining of a spoiled child. Our true north is lost and we spiral into a deeper and deeper level of deception as we invest more in what we think is success. We think we are doing well when in fact we long ago took the off ramp from God’s true missional agenda and are now lost in a maze of new programs for ourselves, for our organizational prosperity.
Jesus, of course would not be considered a success by our old standards, as he left behind only 120 disciples (Acts 1: 15). Apparently he neglected to attend the “How to Break the 200 Growth Barrier Seminar.” But he was never interested in large numbers of people coming, he was interested in a few that would go, be fruitful and multiply. This approach eventually rose to overcome the Roman Empire when no other strategy could.
Monday, August 15, 2011
My father, Corny Cole, past away Monday August 8th at 3:00 AM after a long battle with Multiple System Atrophy. He was 80 years old and is survived by his wife, Linda, four children (Neil, Ryan, Francesca and Dominique) and four grand-children (Heather, Erin, Zachary and Rowan). He also has left behind two beloved brothers, Peter and Lucky Cole and their families
Dad was always an artist, especially a draftsman. He could draw, like no one else I have ever known (check out his work done in this video). Much of his career was within the animation field. He was also a teacher that was beloved by all his students. He taught at Cal Arts and also at USC, but even as a small boy I remember him driving to South Central LA after the Watts riots to teach life drawing classes. I would love to tag along and have his students draw sketches of my favorite super heroes. To be honest, dad's superhero drawings were a little too artistic for my elementary school taste, but I wish I had them now.
He and his identical twin brother, Peter, were also surfing legends in Malibu. I've been told that dad helped teach the original Gidget (Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman, whom the book, movie and TV show was based upon) how to surf. She traded him sandwiches for lessons (food was always persuasive to dad, but he was also very generous). Both Dad and Peter, as well as their younger brother Lucky were lifeguards on the beaches of Los Angeles, something I would later do as well. Here is my dad (left) at the beach in Malibu two years before I was born.
Peter went on to live in Hawaii and become a legendary big wave rider. My dad went to Hawaii briefly to surf the big waves as well, but couldn't leave his work in the art world which was based in LA. That's why I grew up in LA instead of Hawaii like all my cousins. The old photo to the left is Peter surfing at Waiameia Bay. Peter and Corny's younger brother Lucky (also a big wave rider) graduated from UCLA and started working at IBM before personal computers were even an idea plucked from Steve Jobs mind or Bill Gates was tall enough to look through a Window. Okay, maybe he's not that old, but he has always been ahead of the curve. Yes, I have always had good reason to be proud of my dad and uncles, they are pioneers.
This picture to the right is of my dad and Peter goofing off at Peter's home in Hawaii a few years ago when we were all out for my sister Dominique's wedding. "Womb-mates" is how they referred to each other. Born just 6 minutes apart, they were always competitive but also rejoiced in the other's success...as if it was their own. When I heard Peter tell dad near the end that he felt like a part of him was dying I wept. Even now I have tears in my eyes at the thought.
Corny and Peter were not just surfer's but true water men–they studied the ocean. Every time we drove near the coast my dad would read the currents and see where the swells were coming from. He would know which surfing spots would have the best waves. I learned to love the ocean and followed in their footsteps, first as a surfer, then as a lifeguard on the same beaches. I also pursued art and received my Bachelors in fine arts at CSULB.
My earliest memories are of dad hovering over a light board (funny, but the light was never "on") as he worked with mad genius on some animation–always flipping with his fingers between all the pages. Occasionally he would shout some expletive when he had drooled accidentally on the important work because he was breathing so intensely–lost with deep focus in an animated world within his creative mind.
For as long as I can remember he was an artist, a fine artist. Animation was a way to make a living and support his family so he did it, but he never saw himself as just an animator. He always refused to give in to the commercialization of the craft. What is very recognizable is that even the most mundane assignments became a creative challenge to him. He always did his work with excellence and passion, no matter what he was working on.
Dad's first animation job was at Disney as an "inbetweener" on Lady and the Tramp. This is an entry level job filling in the drawings "between" major character movements in animation with his primary role working on Tramp and the Siamese cats. He later worked for Warner Bros., Depatie-Freleng, UPA and many other production studios. He animated Coyote Road Runner, the Pink Panther, Mr. McGoo as well as Alvin and the Chipmunks. He worked on a few animated features: Gay Puree (with the voice talents of Judy Garland and Robert Goulet), The Phantom Tollbooth, Little Nemo, and Raggedy Ann and Andy (check out the scene with the Greedy) He did a spot for the animated film Heavy Metal, which was not included in the theatrical release but I believe it can be seen in a later DVD version. He also did a couple of TV specials for Flip Wilson. He did some titles for movies such as With Six you Get Egg Roll (staring Doris Day and Brian Keith) and even the notorious Flesh Gordon (Yikes, you probably want to avoid that one friends). He did a music video for the Beasty Boys but it never was shown to my knowledge. For many years he worked on his own project which has had a few different names and can be seen on YouTube as Heaven and Hell. Unfortunately the quality of the video online does not do the work justice. I always thought it was a very graphic representation of the fall and its effect on the world.
I was so proud when a short film he designed and animated that was narrated by Orson Wells won an Oscar in 1969, called Is It Always Right to be Right? That was also cool because he became a "member of the academy" and therefore received "thanks" every year by some very famous people. We would also get to see tapes of movies while they were still in theaters because dad had to vote on them. These were just a few of the perks of growing up in an animators home.
Some productions he worked on would go on to win Clio's (awards for advertising) and an Emmy. A few years ago he won the prestigious Windsor McCay life-time achievement award from the Annies (awards in the field animation). This picture is of dad, my brother (Ryan) and sister (Dominique) and my three kids at the Annies when he won the Windsor McCay award. He looked so dapper that day, which is not how he normally would be described (sorry dad, but true). He had a reputation for dressing, well, let's call it "creative casual."
Below is a video compilation put together by a long-time friend of our family and co-worker of Corny's, Bob Kurtz. Thanks Bob for compiling this.
My father was a softy in heart. When my brother and I were naughty kids (staying up way past our bedtime) he would stomp through the house with heavy steps to our bedroom and hollar at us. He would unfurl his belt and then proceed to forcefully whip...the foot of our beds. He could never really bring himself to spank us. We knew this was the way it was, so we were not really very scared, even though those impending footsteps would always get us to be quite and pretend we were sound asleep. Do not mistake his kindness with a lack of resolve, however. While I was in High School he realized he was drinking too much and he quit drinking cold turkey and never touched another glass of alcohol without the aid of any recovery support group or rehab. He quit smoking the same way. Both without a single relapse.
When the Cole family and all the relatives come together we have a tradition of telling Corny stories. He was a character and there are many stories to make us laugh. Some of his famous quotes are:
- "Anarchy is better than no form of government at all."
- "I'm so tired I could eat a horse."
- It's a knife eat knife world out there."
- While sending me to the market to buy something he called out before I left and said, "If they don't have any, don't buy any." I assured him I wouldn't.
Art was the one great passion of Corny's life. He saw it as the ultimate purpose for his life. Many years ago my sister Francesca chose to drop her major in theater arts to pursue a pre-med degree (she's now a PhD in molecular biology). Dad, thought it best that she still take theater classes so she could have something to "fall back on" in case the other pursuit didn't work. Yes, he was a different sort of father than most people have. There will be a large retrospective show of my dad's work opening the second weekend of October in LA. We will also have a memorial at that time. Details will come closer to the event.
I always sort of felt like I disappointed my dad when I chose not to go into art but to follow my call in the Lord. Because my world-view varied from his I think he had a hard time swallowing what my life was about, but he always seemed proud of my family.
The truth is, however, that I have always seen myself as an artist. While I do not work with canvas or clay as much anymore, I try to approach leadership and church work with creativity and unique perspectives. I design new concepts and engineer new methods. I value reworking something until it is right. I try to write as an artist, by painting a picture with words, even when working in non-fiction. Perhaps, more than anything else, I have a driving sense to be authentic and not a hypocrite in what I do. At the end of the day, being real in what you pursue was important to dad, and that too has been passed down. It is more important to stay true to your art/convictions than to be successful or popular. That was my father's way in his art, my uncle's way in surfing, and I hope it is for me as well in my pursuit of Christ's kingdom. I think these qualities come from my father. I guess I inherited more than his name (I am Cornelius Cole IV) and love for the ocean.