Fire – A Shorty

Sour black smoke bellowed into the air and carried harshly into the woods beyond the homestead’s clearing. The frontier cabin popped and crackled in the heat, interior flames not yet escaping.

Jean-Pierre wiped his hands off with a handkerchief as the home burned behind him. The owner’s voices silenced from asphyxiation after being locked in were just a momentary embellishment. Vive la France.

The Frenchmen and his posse were finishing up their mission for the crown, the second of the day — the eighth of the week. A compatriot fired a salvo of Mohawk arrows into the front door. Another couple into the window sill, with intended precision.

Jean-Pierre thought about his family walking away from the growing blaze. This was for New France. They would be something here. This new start would fix his family tree for the next generations. Blood on his hands meant food in his children’s. The British were just expendable to this cause. Everyone was.

He took his spare tomahawk and lobbed it into the wagon’s side quarter panel. His eye was caught just above his splintered intended target to see a little dolly in the wagon.

Jean-Pierre didn’t recall seeing a little girl in the carnage. Did someone get away?

“Philippe, did you see a girl?”

“Non, pourquoi?” answered Philippe.

Jean-Pierre held the doll up with a stern face.

“Captain Jean-Pierre! Captain!” One of the younger compatriots ran from the woods screaming frantically and waving his arms, difficult to see but it looked like he had blood across his face. The Seasoned One, a veteran of the frontier took an arrow from his quiver and set it to sail into the young man’s chest. He never liked the garçon and now he was giving up their position in dramatic flair, it only seemed right to The Seasoned One. It wasn’t the first time he made such a decision but it would be his last.

The rest of the compatriots lowered and listened, forming a parameter around the front clearing. Each one quietly checked their muskets and powder. They’re here. Zut.

This band of irregular calamities didn’t need the escaped girl to give them away. While she was rescued, the Mohawk war band had been in pursuit with intent to kill. Not only was the British bounty lucrative, but the French were also playing games and causing scandal with their legacy. That itself was enough.

The Frenchmen thought they were clever but they would pay for their work. The flames began to break through the roof of the frontier home.

Silently, with only the sound of the landing arrows and cracking skulls, the first two compatriots were felled. Jean-Pierre shouted a command but it was too late for the planned course. Eyes set on the tree line, they didn’t see the four Mohawk warriors who had been stealthily working through the grass for the past thirty minutes to position the ambush. Before the Frenchmen could react to the assailants it was indeed over before a musket shot was fired.

The little British colonial would be brought to safety and placed with a new family. The Mohawks would be paid handsomely for their bravery. The French would pay dearly for their trouble in the region but not without drawing blood.

This was the frontier in the New World. Brutal and rugged. Competitive and dangerous. Old versus new. Life’s formative measures spawn the seeds of progress at the expense of another’s life’s formative measures. The war was not yet ready to begin but it was coming soon enough. The land was too small for all the competitors – in the end, the blood of the coming French and Indian War and the subsequent Seven Years’ War, would pave the way for Independence from all crowns.

Ministry & Business

“Hell is full of the talented but Heaven is full of the industrious.”

St. Jane Francis de Chantal

I occupy a strange intersection of experience between ministry and business. My full-time work is in ministry, ten years serving youth and young adults (another ten in volunteer ministry). To overlay, also spent ten years working in culinary and events. 

Righteous Co. is not a ministry, while it’s certainly a faithful venture, it is no non-profit. I hope and work towards making this a viable living down the road. Here is where the niche lies (and everyone should have a niche no matter what you’re doing or who you’re serving but that’s a Climb for another day), and it can appear to be a strange relationship but business and ministry can be very complementary.

Culturally, industry and church feel like oil and water but when you lead in both you begin to see how one can strengthen the other. Aside from being open and listening to the Spirit, here are a number of ways I find overlap…

1. For starters both need a mission. You have to set the course for your people to go the way. If you’re not clear on what that mission is, you need to pause and take time out to get clear. What are you doing? Where are you going? And most importantly, who do you serve by this mission? If you don’t know where you’re going, you certainly won’t know the route get there. “Write the vision and make it plain,” Habakkuk 2:2, make sure you communicate and let everyone know where you set the course. 

2. Servant leadership. To serve another requires humility. Humility is a heck of a virtue to apply in your life generally but bears a lot of fruit in ministry and industry. Service shows you are willing to put another before yourself and that variable sacrifice, is attractive and noteworthy. People will follow leaders with loyalty when they know the leader is willing to put themselves on the line not talk from on high. Retention and growth ++.

3. Smell like the sheep. Know your people. Don’t be disconnected. Your audience, clients, and community are not below you. Understand their needs, wants, desires, and fears. Your message or product should reflect that otherwise, you become irrelevant and out of touch which leads to being tuned out. Spend time with your people. Actively listen, take notes, and ponder. Then apply to your work. 

4. Lastly, both need productivity. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. You have to get creative with how you produce results. Businesses and churches both fail for varied reasons but a common root is they’ve stopped producing fruits. Fear, burnout, laziness, and failure to adapt will strip your productivity. Setting goals, upgrading tools, getting help, and making a change can boost productivity. 

I find business often lacks heart and church lacks production (not exclusively). Where do find yourself and do you have any stories to share about it? Send my way!

This article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.

See you on the mountain!

— Adam Jarosz

Fall – A Shorty

It has been over forty years since the last time a storm like this shook the Western Interior Seaway — winds howling, water capped white, shores battered.

A flash.

A bang.

A man falling through the rain and wind, tumbling to the sea below. Providence that he wasn’t so far up that he’d die on impact but high enough to crack pain on the awkward arrival to the surface.

The man’s plunge into the dark and tumultuous waters shocked him, only natural instinct pulled him up, thanks to a flash of lightning to guide which way to go. The swells were no friend as they pounded him again and again. He was aware enough to catch his breath in the lull. Try as he may, the current pulled him away from his heading, thankfully. Disoriented, he chose to swim away from shore but God was with him as the waves drove him ashore regardless.

Crashing on sand and coughing up water — exhausted from the struggle, he climbed into a haven of fallen trees and passed out.

Jack, the man, opened his eyes as a beam of light moved through the fallen tree’s limbs. While he was wet, he was very warm and comfortable.

Until he started to move.
His neck hurt, a product of the fall. Muscles and joints hurt, products of making it to shore. His head hurt, dehydration.

Jack cursed. A number of times. Kingsley was the target of his ire. He knew who put him here. He just didn’t know how. More cursing.

Jack climbed out of the trees to see what was before him. The hot sun overhead blazed the morning air. The sea before him was calm, gently lapping the shore. Birds high above rode the air quietly. The scene behind was a dense and lively conifer forest. The air, humid, thick, and floral. An air of paradise.

More cursing.

Jack sat on one of the branches, not knowing where to go from here. He was certainly thirsty, that would be his first priority. Next is to get a gauge on where he’s at.

Water was easy, some of the large ferns nearby pooled fresh rain from the storm. Check.

Jack trained early in his career in OODA loop — observe, orient, decide, act; essential for situational agility. Now, this was a situation.

Observe - Salty sea shoreline, hot temperatures, humid, wilderness. Ok, feedforward.

Orient - No injuries but fatigued. No food or shelter, weapon check – pistol secure, phone – soggy. Ok, feedforward.

Decide - Need more input, where is he? Any nearby settlements or landmarks? Looks like inland slopes upward. Need to scout and get a lay of the land. Feedforward.

Act - Time to move.

Jack began inland through the forest. He wondered where he was. Looked like northwest US or west coast Canada with a variety of conifers and ferns. But it was hot and humid. Maybe ninety degrees, plus. Not sure what to make of it, he needed more input. Every chance he had to drink stable rainwater he took it.

It wasn’t long before the ground began to incline, Jack kept a determined pace. He was mad at himself for losing his cool back on the beach. Jack knew his target had got to him first, he just didn’t know how. Whatever Kingsley was doing, he had used it on Jack. Whatever this is.

It was time for a break as he made the ascent to a long plateau. Jack was working hard through the damn forest. The bugs were gnarly. He had never seen dragonflies or mosquitoes like this. His watch had stopped working correctly, but it was an hour since he had left the beach.

A mist had crept into the forest, a still quiet fell upon him as he knelt catching his breath. The lively forest chatter had ceased. Running through the OODA loop’s observation, he could see the sea through a gap in the trees. Not so helpful yet but he could see the ground start up again in about fifty yards.

He scanned around the vertical lines of trees and a horizontal figure subtly caught his eye. Large figure — bipedal. Partially shrouded in mist, and colored to match the trees was a long and tall statue of a theropod. While its still tail and torso were a stark broadside presence, it was the long and slender head that was most curious — pointed in his direction, as if it were looking right at him.

It was looking right at him. Jack was frozen, squinting to see better when he noticed also that there were slight movements; the chest expanded and the eyes blinked. This thing was alive. It dawned on him that Jack had interrupted its course, wherever it was headed, it was now locked onto him.

Jack had been in many tough situations in the course of his life, well seasoned. He had never thought he would lay eyes on such a creature. Carefully he unholstered his firearm and slowly stood up. The beast was maybe twenty yards, still and locked on.

Jack didn’t have confidence in his 9mm to dispatch this forty-foot-long beast. The creature just stared with unrelenting eyes for what seemed like an eternity in the frozen moment.

All at once in a space out of sight in the forest, a crash of excitement and loud horns and yelps — a stampede of alarm, crashing through trees and brush away from the center of gravity between Jack and the theropod.

The gig was up, the carnivore was had and noticed. The surprise failed. The stalk was over. The predator stiffened up as it turned its head toward the hullabaloo.

Time to act, Jack turned and ran toward a tree he had observed that he would be able to climb quickly. This was the moment while the disappointed creature was distracted. He didn’t want to wait until it took its ire out on him for losing a meal.

He had sprinted fifteen yards and earnestly began to climb. Heart pounded in his chest and ears. He could feel his borrowed time and didn’t waste it looking over his shoulder. Sap from the conifer tacked his fingers as he climbed. Just a couple minutes into his sprint and climb he was already up high, he thought. Before he finished his thought a jolting snap just below his feet forced his eyes down to see the theropod’s snout inches from his foot. He didn’t even hear it coming.

The weight of the monster shook the tree as it slammed upon it, forelimbs scratching in frustration on the bark. An extra stretch and bite caught on the branches as Jack braced for death. Seeing he was still alive as the branches quickly failed around him under the pressure of its incredible bite force, Jack scrambled higher — slipping out of reach as its jaws closed tight. He could feel its hot breath blow up his shirt.

For the first time, he heard the stealthy theropod with a screeching roar that pierced his soul. Jack wet himself and cursed as he climbed higher out of reach. The pale white and shaken Jack was still alive. The frustrated theropod was still meal less and eventually gave up.

Jack realized he had dug his grave with his investigation. This wasn’t teleportation. This was time travel.

Fuel Up With Coaching

“Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”

St. Catherine of Siena

I belong to a mastermind group called “Becoming Brave” with a group of men getting after it as husbands, fathers, and leaders. The group is led by two excellent coaches, Michael and Chris, both of which are not only in the race of life themselves but excellent at drawing out the best of people. The group helps me to grow and keep the blade sharp.

We had a killer call yesterday with some food for thought. It made me reflect on what I find so helpful about being a coach myself; that’s reflecting accountability and perspective through the relationship. We were drawing up actions, words to apply for the coming year that we can use as a self mission, admittedly the action to do so went right over my head before the call. But the follow-up and challenge to do so were there, not as a stick or a hard push, but an invitation. I set a goal to discern out the week and decide by Friday to come up with the word. I’m looking at something around “sustainability”, “discipline”, and “family”. We’ll see where I end up.

It’s tough to do it yourself. It’s tough to maintain the motivation and drive you can peek with, alone. It ebbs and flows. Waxes and wanes. Breeds inconsistency. Accountability through various relationships such as a spouse, boss, mentor, or spiritual director is great but sometimes you need next-level attention for the long arc as a leader. I know I do. 

More and more leaders are investing in that accountability through one-on-one or group coaching. This isn’t a sales pitch for my services (although I do offer it), but a call for you as a reader to consider the investment in that companion on your journey. To layout the dream and get the accountability to see it through. God has placed an awesome dream on your heart, help it along.

Gut Check

“Anybody who doesn’t have fear is an idiot. It’s just that you must make the fear work for you. Hell, when somebody shot at me, it made me madder than hell, and all I wanted to do was shoot back.”

Fighter Ace – Colonel Robin Olds

I’m not a fan of flying however I did a lot of it when I was younger. Smooth flights were fine, but an ounce of turbulence was worth a pound of anxiety. I escorted my grandma on a number of occasions to my aunt’s in South Carolina, there were a few of those flights that straight up put the fear of God in me. When you’re terrified, you think about life critically. You think about death, like crashing 30,000 feet in a firey ball. Questions that came to mind: Adam, what are you doing with the life given to you? Am I living a life I could be proud of? Am I living fully?

Two lessons came out of that time for me; 1. My life gut check. 2. A new relationship with the rosary.

While I would recommend the rosary to anyone who is facing fear, I want to break open the gut check as something you may find helpful as a tool in self-awareness. The fear faced in that time gave me a reflection on my life I wouldn’t have otherwise faced. As I was facing directional troubles in my late teens and early twenties, a basic check on the four pillars of my life became super important as I moved forward.

I gauged these pillars as such; Heart, Brain, Soul, Body. Then I would reflect on each one, to be real with myself. I was either hiding from myself or lying to myself. I had work to do. How was my heart? Dealing with heartbreak at the time, I needed to address it because I was stewing and not moving forward. My brain? I wasn’t growing and learning, I needed to invest in myself and start taking dreams and life seriously. Soul, felt like I was growing and gaining in my relationship with Christ. Body, doing fine as a competitive fencer and staying in shape.

I would use the three pillars on the go and check myself with either color of green, yellow, and red or quick thumbs-up, sideways, or down. Still do. As I would gut check myself I found the priorities of what I needed to draw my attention to. There have been times when I’m running on all cylinders and times when all four crashed and needed help. Simple enough to do in your head and can be weighty enough to spend a day hiking on.

Gut Check. How are you doing? How are your pillars and how would you rate them, being 100% honest with yourself? Where are you advancing well and where do you need help?

— Adam Jarosz

Founder/Leadership Coach

Righteous Co.

The Climb is a short email refresher sent out on Righteous Wednesdays in 2022. Serving you through sharing quick insights, content, and updates for your week as you dream, do, and be righteous. Have you missed out on past editions? You can catch them here. Want to see future ones? Want to see future ones? Sign up at RighteousCo.

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