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What does integrity mean?

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Visual Thesaurus: integrity
“The handful of words closely related to integrity in English — integer, integrate, integral, and entirety — don’t exactly suggest what integrity means, but they all contain the idea of something whole, complete and undivided. That’s pretty much what a person’s integrity has to be, if it’s still going to get that name.”

Sounds a little bit like the idea of shalom!

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Delegation and leadership

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

When I led an organization, I often delegated work but I was not always clear about the nature of the delegation or what I expected and I sometimes frustrated people I worked with by taking back what I had given them to do.  I wish I had known about the five levels of delegation that Michael Hyatt explains in his post here.

  • Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.
  • Level 2: Research the topic and report back. We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.
  • Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options, and make a recommendation. Give me the pros and cons of each option, but tell me what you think we should do. I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.
  • Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did. I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop. I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.
  • Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support.
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How to reach the poor

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

According to Mother Teresa, to reach the poor, the inner life must drive the activity of the exterior life.

To be united to Him completely, we need be poor—free from all—here comes the poverty of the Cross—Absolute Poverty—and to be able to see God in the poor. Angelic Chastity—and to be able to be always at His disposal.—Cheerful Obedience.

The “interior must become the main power of the exterior.”

For if they are not in love with God—they will not be able to lead this life of continual immolation for souls.

I insisted on obedience, cheerful, prompt, simple and blind. I assured her that she could never make a mistake if she obeyed.

Understanding the heart of Mother Teresa

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Why did Mother Teresa want to reach out to the poor of Calcutta. She articulates her  vision and passion here:

We shall be “bringing happiness into these unhappy homes. Amongst the very poor—what suffering the mothers undergo—on account of their children—on account of their husbands.—My Sisters will care for their children—will nurse the sick, the old, & the dying in their homes.—They will teach the young wives how to make their homes happy. There are many places where the priest even can not get at—but a Missionary of Charity will by her work enter every hole—wherever there is human life, wherever there is a soul for Jesus.”

How many die without God—just because there was nobody to say one word about His Mercy.—The sufferings of their body make them forget the terrible sufferings their souls will have for all Eternity.

Here, she is trying to explain to her superiors why she should be allowed to start her new ministry.

I know you are afraid for me. You are afraid that the whole thing will be a failure.—What about it? Is it not worth going through every possible suffering just for one single soul? Did not Our Lord do the same: What a failure was His Cross on Calvary—and all for me, a sinner.

What if the good God wants my name? I am His and His only.—The rest has no hold on me. I can do without all the rest if I have Him. Fear not for me—nor for those who will join me—He will look after us all. He will be with us.

He will do all. I, I am only a little instrument in His hands, and because I am just nothing, He wants to use me.

Mother Teresa speaks about her own self-love and feelings of inadequacy.

By nature I am sensitive, love beautiful and nice things, comfort and all the comfort can give—to be loved and love.

The complete poverty, the Indian life, the life of the poorest will mean a hard toil against my great self love.

I feel sometimes afraid, for I have nothing, no brains, no learning, no qualities required for such a work, and yet I tell Him that my heart is free from everything and so it belongs completely to Him, and Him alone. He can use me just as it will please Him best. To please Him only is the joy I seek.

All of the above quotes are from Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk.

 

Why do we lack margins?

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Follow-up post to my post on the problem of marginless living. Big question: why do we live this way?  All quotes by Richard Swenson in Margin

1. We fail to understand limits

  • Everyone and everything has a limit.
  • “When we have no margin and our limits have been exceeded; when we are besieged by stress and overload; when our relational life is ailing; when it seems the flood of events is beyond our control; then problems take on a different dimension.  One at a time they are perhaps manageable  . . . Instead they mound up suddenly and then they bury us without warning.” 42

2. We are addicted to stress and overload

  • Until we find ways to guard our mental and spiritual health as well as our social ecology, we will only compound our troubles.   We need discipline, restraint, and “respect for the inward and transcendent needs of human beings.” 30
  • “We need to stop doing things that get us into trouble and start doing better things.” 32

3. The church rewards overload

  • We follow our leaders into overload.
  • When we establish boundaries, we are not rewarded.
  • When people complain about being overloaded, we may attack them and inaccurately label their problem as “weakness, apathy, or lack of commitment.” 59
  • Instead: We should “Set people free to seek their own level.” 59
  • “As soon as I condemn them or try to control them, I violate who they are before God.   Making them accountable to Him does not mean that they must do as I wish them to do.  . . In my experience, the greater problem . . . is not the lack of accountability but the desire to control other people’s lives.” 60

“Overload just happens. Margin, in contrast, requires great effort . . . Margin flows toward overload, but overload does not revert to margin unless forced.” 77

How are your margins today?

The Parable of the Croissant

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Photo from seriouseats.com

Few breads stimulate my taste buds like a freshly baked croissant. Golden brown slightly crunchy crust yields to lovely layers of flaky delight.  Add some real butter and a  little jam and you have the makings of one of the perfect breakfast or snack foods.  No wonder that the following story about a croissant caught my eye.

Can cultural storytelling transform an organization?  Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, think so and in a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog, they talk about what I have called the “parable of the croissant.”  I assume this is a story from their new book,  The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization,

Gostick and Elton write,

“Breakthrough teams tell such stories frequently and with passion. It is a secret ingredient of their success. Stories are vital in helping individuals understand how world-class results are achieved and in making the possibility of doing so believable. Such tales have a way of perpetuating success. The listener retells the story and, more importantly, internalizes its message and becomes part of the story.”

They then provide four “tips for modeling storytelling among your team members” of which I am only giving you an outline.

  1. Share the truth, nothing but the truth.
  2. Catch their interest early.
  3. Tie it to your team’s core values.
  4. Keep it simple.

I am intrigued by this concept.  Now that I think of it, I have felt most alive and excited about and in an organization when we shared stories of what we were all accomplishing together.  Story brings to life the vision, mission and core values that we may have worked so hard to formulate.  But an intentional focus on eliciting stores comes with a cost–time and energy are required for stories to be shared in the contexts of  relationship, community and trust.  In many organizations and teams, I suspect that one side of the building (or room) may have little idea about the efforts, much less the stories, of their companions laboring on the other side. I am convinced that the success of one team in our organization is directly connected to the way they intentionally and constantly elicit and share stories,

What can you do today to cultivate cultural storytelling on your team and in your organization?

About that croissant, you will need to read Gostick and Elton’s post.

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Dangers of Vision Statements

August 30, 2010 1 comment

I admit that I have tended to think that a key criteria of an organization that is going somewhere is their  Vision/Mission/Core Values.  But David Hayward blows away the traditional thinking on vision and mission with his post, Vision: I Cast You OUT!

Being mentored through books

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

british national library

“Mentors are the editors of our lives,” said Alicia Hope Wagner in a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog. Which is why she says, “Books are your mentors. The more you read, the more prepared you will be to cultivate and achieve your vision.”

Since I am a consumer of books, not surprisingly, I can incessantly hint at books for people to read but I have also painfully discovered that not everyone is a reader. But everyone needs mentoring!  Wagner furnishes a redemptive word for mentoring.

“Mentors are the editors of our lives. Without many of them, we will never have a polished vision that is able to change the world. Our visions will grow beyond our immediate circumstances. If we whole-heartily run our visions toward the end-zone, we will exhaust our own experience, knowledge and abilities. Therefore, we must surround ourselves with mentors to help us successfully, efficiently, and confidently bring our visions to fruition.”

Authors that have been mentors to me in recent years: Gary Thomas, David Benner, John Ortberg, Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard–just to name a few.

Who are the authors and books that have mentored you in the past year?

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How to help someone if they are sad

August 15, 2010 1 comment

“The truth is, most of us are uncomfortable with sadness, as individuals and as churches. We want to fix people and help them to feel better, and we are far less patient than God is with the process he uses to bring healing.”  That is what Nancy Guthrie says in an interview someone sent to me recently.

A few more quotes from Guthrie:

“For a church to be a safe place for sad people does not merely mean that we offer comfort and acceptance. Sometimes it means that we gently but boldly challenge misbeliefs or misunderstandings of Scripture.”

“While we make room for people to be sad, we want to walk with people in expectation that God will indeed do a work of healing in their lives so that they do not stay stuck in their sadness, but emerge from it strengthened in their confidence in God, deepened in their understanding of the Scriptures, and equipped to serve others.”

Guthrie says, “Grieving people have four primary needs that the church has a key role in addressing:

  1. They have intense sadness that is lonely and lingering that needs to be respected.
  2. They have significant questions that need to be addressed in light of Scripture.
  3. They have broken relationships that need to be healed and normalized.
  4. They have a deep desire to discover some meaning and purpose in their loss.”

Related to Guthrie’s article is one by Ajith Fernando, “To Serve is to Suffer” in which he writes, “We call our churches and Christian organizations “families,” but families are very inefficient organizations. In a healthy family, everything stops when a member has big needs. We are often not willing to extend this commitment to Christian body life.”

Fernando’s article is hard hitting for those wanting to serve but who do not want to suffer!  More from Fernando,

“When people leave a church because they do not fit the program, it communicates a deadly message: that our commitment is to the work and not to the person, that our unity is primarily in the work and not in Christ and the gospel. The sad result is that Christians do not have the security of a community that will stay by them no matter what happens. They become shallow individuals, never having true fellowship and moving from group to group. Churches committed to programs can grow numerically, but they don’t nurture biblical Christians who understand the implications of belonging to the body of Christ.”

Here is a quote that is particularly painful for me to read,

“I get the strong feeling that many in the West think struggling with tiredness from overwork is evidence of disobedience to God. My contention is that it is wrong if one gets sick from overwork through drivenness and insecurity. But we may have to endure tiredness when we, like Paul, are servants of people.”

In response to Fernando’s article and shortly before her husband died, Libby Little wrote A Small Version of the Grand Narrative in which she concluded, “May the fruitful door of opportunity to embrace suffering in service, or at least embrace those who are suffering, remain open for the sake of God’s kingdom.”

Strategies for making change last

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

When he decided to start flossing,  Michael Hyatt came up with these principles on how to help us make those changes we desire to become life practices.  His five principles--more detail in his post.

  1. Envision the future
  2. Track your progress
  3. Develop a ritual
  4. Establish accountability
  5. Schedule check-ups
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Too many goodbyes

July 23, 2010 2 comments

Although these words are written about missionary kids (MKs), they would be true for many of their parents as well!

“Many MKs carry with them the scars from too many good-byes. They harden their feelings, put on emotional armor and turn inward in an attempt to insulate themselves from further hurt. They draw back from intimacy and remain in “emotional exile”—alone, separate and protected.”  James Gould

Soft Skills

June 30, 2010 Leave a comment

From a newsletter by our U.S. director,

“Soft skills are life skills that are hard to teach from a book, like honesty, integrity, telling the truth, not stealing and not cheating,” she said. These are very new to these people and take a long time to learn, even longer than language and culture, perhaps. I guess our term for “soft skills” is values.”

Others describe “soft skills” as emotional intelligence as does Wikipedia here. Here is a quiz to determine which of your  soft skills need improvement. After taking it,  I need to “improve your interactions with a diversity of colleagues” and I need to “learn how to handle everyone from your critics to your direct reports.”  Based on a book by Peggy Klaus, The Hard Truth About Soft Skills.

A couple of  previous posts on worry and another one on anger I made after reading Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.

Why do you do what you do?

June 29, 2010 Leave a comment

why dont cats fly by jur igruh

If you are like me, you may not like the above question but it is one that is worth answering.  Just discovered Chris Tomlinson’s blog in which he makes  posts here and here asking those pesky “why” question related to our motivation for being involved in ministry.

In a reflecting on why he writes and blogs, Tomlinson wrote, “I write in order to

  • Be affirmed
  • Express a gift
  • Force myself to think more deeply about daily life
  • Prove I have something worth saying, or prove I am valuable because of what I do
  • Attempt to know more of God
  • Share ways in which the gospel touches our daily lives
  • Satisfy my ego
  • Proclaim Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings”
  • Feel important or impactful

Tomlinson continues, “You will notice a mix of pride-filled motives and grace-filled motives in this list.  My confession to God is that I am not ready to fully submit my writing to Him and His purposes alone, and my prayer is that He will help me remove my own selfish motives and replace them with His motives instead.”

Asking people why they do what they do is not a question to casually ask people.  Trust me, I have offended people on more than one occasion!  Our internal motivations are often hidden deep within and we need God’s gentle Spirit and the loving interaction with others to discern these blind spots.  May we be people who lovingly respond to others as well as be people who build community around us so that we might be prepared to hear the truth about ourselves.

Why do you do what you do?

Leaders who make a difference

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

How to be a leader that changes people forever?  A guest post by Greg Grimwood on Michael Hyatt’s blog.

  1. He listened with his entire being. Denny didn’t just appear to be listening, he really listened. Rarely did he look away from me, only to jot an occasional note in his legal pad (whenever he wrote something down, I knew we would revisit it later). It wasn’t a passive listening either. He would interrupt when I began to rush my thoughts, and ask me to slow down and clarify. In all the conversations I had with Denny, I never felt for one second that he wasn’t tracking with me.
  2. He asked questions that stopped me, forced me to think, led me to clarity. Anyone can ask questions. The great ones hear silence after they ask a question. When Denny asked me a question, it stopped me. I would rush through a thought, and he would ask me to explain how I came to that conclusion, or what triggered the thought process. He would ask me to think through the repercussions of decisions I was making in both my personal and professional life. He asked for details, specifics. He wanted the whole picture before giving his thoughtful input.
  3. He shared thoughtful counsel with a humble sense of his own humanity. There was no pretense when Denny gave directive counsel. He wasn’t a fixer, never made me feel like I was a project. He spoke with confidence, yet never put me on my heels. There was no air of perfection. What he did have was a strong sense of who he was, and a caring spirit about him that made me want to follow him, listen to him, be in his space as much as possible. His counsel was well thought out, and clearly articulated. It was offered, rather than forced. Most importantly, it was good. When Denny gave counsel, I took it every time. For two reasons: First, it was abundantly clear in our conversations that he cared about me, and second, he lived the kind of life that I wanted to live. In other words, he was follow-worthy.
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Leaders need to learn to love their enemies

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Even if you do not consider yourself a leader,  I think this one is for you.  If you follow Jesus!

To be honest, I don’t think I handle criticism very well.  As I have learned to let go of my need for control, I am  better but I still have a long way to go.  And according to Don Miller, if I am a leader, I better learn how to love my enemies because criticism is unavoidable.  Miller writes

People who lead get criticized, period. You are being criticized because you have not been silent and you have not been passive and that’s a good thing. When somebody criticizes you, it’s a compliment of sorts. Passive people avoid criticism.

When you get criticized you are given the opportunity to show kindness in return, which is a character trait of some of the greatest leaders in the history of the world.

Here are a couple of passages which do not appear to be exclusively written for leaders!

  • Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
  • Luke 6:27  “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
    Luke 6:35 But clove your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil

His post includes a cute little video on loving your enemy as well as a sermon by John Piper on loving our enemies.

Why we don’t pray for those in business

May 25, 2010 1 comment

Six reasons from Mark D. Roberts. Be sure to read his other posts that begin here and culminate here.

  1. We don’t pray for business because we don’t pray for business.

    Conversion of Zaccaeus by Strozzi

  2. We don’t pray for business because those who lead us in prayer have not been trained to do so.
  3. We don’t pray for business because our worship leaders have been trained in settings that are indifferent or negative to business.
  4. We don’t pray for business because Scripture does not command us to do so.
  5. We don’t pray for business because we don’t have a vision for how business could be part of God’s business in the world.
  6. We don’t pray for business because we divide reality into the sacred and the secular, with prayer falling on the sacred side, and business on the secular side, and never the twain shall meet.
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What would Jesus have said?

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Should we ever suggest that people leave our church or our Christian organizations?  Donald Miller has an intriguing post on his blog about one pastor that suggested some people might be better off at another church if they didn’t want to get plugged in via service or home churches.  Lively discussion in the comment section.

Here was my comment:

I don’t remember Jesus ever asking anyone to leave because of a lack of space or because they lacked committment. People did, however, stop following Jesus after he spoke about commitment and what it meant to be his follower (Jn 6:66). He asked the twelve in v67, “Do you want to go away as well?” His words were hard and yet they were loving–I think of how Jesus loved the rich young ruler (in Mark 10:21 but not said in Mtt or Lk) and yet still spoke the hard truth–truth which made the young man sad because he was not willing to obey and he went away.

Challenging people to live the life of a disciple will make them uncomfortable if they are not. Yet we continue to love them. If they leave because they don’t like to be challenged, hopefully we are sad because we love them but we let them go. Trying to keep people in our church because we think we need their money or talents when they are unhappy and out of synch with the direction we are moving will only lead all to much pain down the road

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A Prayer for those in the business world

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Outstanding series of posts by Mark Roberts culminated with the following prayer for those in the business world: Found this on Kruse Kronicle

Gracious God, thank you for creating the world and all that is in it. Thank you for creating us in your image, calling us to be fruitful and to be faithful stewards of your creation. Thank you for the opportunity to give us to serve you in the context of business, as we seek to fulfill our calling as human beings. Thank you for these who are standing today, for their desire to live out their faith in their workplace.

Give them wisdom, Lord, to know what it means to be your disciple at work. Help them as they face difficult decisions, sometimes wondering how to balance the priorities of business and your kingdom. Empower them in their relationships at work, so that they might treat all of their colleagues, including those they supervise and those who supervise them, with respect and love. Encourage them when they feel alone, when they struggle to serve you and be faithful in their jobs. Show these folks how they can bear witness to you at work, in both word and deed. Help them to do so in a way that is appropriate and respectful.

For those in leadership in their companies, may they know how best to implement your call to justice, for those they employ, for their customers, for their clients, and for the larger world. Help them to see how to be good stewards of all you have entrusted to them.

May this church, dear Lord, be a place of encouragement and support for these who seek to serve you at work. May we listen to them, bear their burdens, speak your truth in love, and continue to pray for them. Fill them now with your Spirit, so they might live for you in their workplaces.

We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Short-term Missions

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment
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Missionaries and Transition

April 2, 2010 Leave a comment

A little something we put together for a group interested in missionary member care. Please let us know what we are missing.

Transitions Missionaries Face

Obstacles to Missionary Transition

What Missionaries Need in Transition

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