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blogger recap

what follows is a quick list of some of my favorite posts from other bloggers that i read. if you missed them, take some time to check these out. i'll give a quick "why i liked it" point so you'll see why it stood out to me this year:

blank leadership

was reading an interview recently with falcons owner arthur blank - here's what he had to said with regard to what's tangibly different this year from last year:

The relationship [Mr. Dimitroff - Gen. Mgr.] has with has with the head coach, I wouldn't say it's unique in the NFL but it's not characteristic of many clubs. He and Coach Smith, in terms of football philosophy they absolutely see things through the same lens. It doesn't mean they agree on all players, but their basic philosophy in what they are looking for is very similar. That means all the energy between the two of them and their relative departments is all positive. They are not spending dilutive time trying to build walls or take them down, all those things that are very counterproductive. That from an organizational standpoint has been very positive.
what resonated with me were these specific statements:
  • absolutely see things through the same lens
  • doesn't mean they agree on all players
  • what they are looking for is very similar
  • means all the energy between the two of them and their relative departments is all positive
  • are not spending dilutive time trying to build walls or take them down
  • from an organizational standpoint has been very positive.
based on my own experience in the retail, marketing, management, and church work - there is a lot of wisdom to gain from these words.

some questions to ask:
  1. do i know the overall agenda/purpose of the organization, department, division or ministry? do my intentions, motivation and actions support that purpose or agenda?
  2. regarding those that are direct reports below me and those to whom i am a direct report - are we operating with the same set of values, lens', and priorities?
  3. what can i observe as being counterproductive to the overall direction of the organization, department, division or ministry? in other words, speaking in automotive terms, what wheel is out of alignment with the others?
  4. in terms of energy, where are we loosing steam? in other words, what is it that causes me or the organization to loose steam?
  5. finally, in terms of church, who's kingdom am i building?

how much do you want to change?

been thinking about this as we approach the day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord - Christ...here's the thought going through my head...

how much do we want to change?

in my role working with pastors, denominational leaders, local church leaders, church planters and others, we talk a lot about change.

we want it
we study it
we think about it
we talk about it
we dream about it
we even reminisce about it

but do we actually do it?

better yet, do we really want it?

one definition of 'change' is 'to make other than it is'

but too often we don't want 'other than it is' - we only want what it is, repackaged.

as we approach Christmas, think for a moment how much Christ had to change:

philippians 2:7-8 are perhaps two of the most powerful 'Christmas' story passages ever - how much did Christ change:
  1. He made himself nothing
  2. He took the nature of a servant
  3. He became like a human (made in human likeness and in appearance as a man)
  4. He humbled himself
  5. He died
talk about change? - there it is - He did it!

i'm convinced that more often than not, our talk about change merely makes it to the point of the listener's ears - and never beyond...

why?

i heard ed stetzer say this recently in an interview...

"we won't change
until the pain of staying the same
outweighs the pain of change"

read that again...

we won't change...

until the pain of staying the same...

outweighs the pain of change...

so the question is not really how much do you want to change, it's more of, how much pain are you willing to endure because once you do change, things will not be the same - which leads to, how much pain are you really in right now?

and if you're struggling with this and struggling with change, remember the amount of change that Jesus endured to reach you and i?

NO amount of change that you may have to go through will ever exceed the amount of change He had to go through.

so...
if you want to reach those far from Christ...
if you want to have a heart for the broken and desperate...
if you want to see humanity as Christ did...
if you want be moved with compassion as Christ was...
if you want to see the next generation of people come to know this amazing Savior you know...
if you want to?

then you have to be in enough pain...enough pain to change your current situation for the one THEY are in...enough pain to ExChange your life for theirs...

but that's asking a lot isn't it?

that requires giving up a lot of comfort, security and safety...

that's radical...

and that's Christ!

are you like Him?

mutual submission

this is taken from an andy stanley podcast about creating a cuture of mutual submission in your organization, business or churh...

do for one when you can't do for all
  • too often we have this mentality, "well i can't get everyone a new computer, so i'm not going to get any computers"
  • incarnational servant leadership is "i know i cant do for all, but when i CAN do for one, i will"
  • typically the higher up you go in an organization the tendency is to NOT do for one SINCE you can't do for all - you have to refuse that mentality
  • he does a 3 month evaluation and 12 month eval. - "do you have all the tools you need to do your job?" - when he gets one and he CAN do something, he breaks all the rules and gets it
  • you can't greet everybody - so you find someone that you can greet
  • symbolic leadership - you do for one what you wish you could do for all
  • look for opportunities to do the unexpected thing
  • fairness is the enemy of rightness
  • fairness is not a biblical value
  • after the garden of eden, fairness went out the door
  • do what's right - not what's fair
systematize top-down service
  • random acts of kindness are not enough in leadership
  • you have to systematize the way you serve them
  • build it into the rhythm of the organization
  • "how can i build it into our organization, how do i serve people?"
  • he asks people after 3 months to evaluate the organization - they have fresh eyes - anything off purpose or off mission? - do you have a close friend at work?
  • they have staff coaches - these are people that are there so that the staff is NOT frustrated - people the staff can go to in confidence and get help
  • you don't want people going home frustrated about the organization you've created - find a way to get rid of the frustration
  • there are some things - many things - we can fix organizationally if we have a way to vent our frustration
get in the habit of asking, 'how can i help?'
  • stanley has 4 direct reports and a leadership team of about 10 people
  • annually, when setting goals, etc - he tells them to go back and find the ONE thing that he(stanley) can do to help them achieve their objectives - not 4 or 5 things, just one thing that he can do to drop in their area and make a contribution toward their goals
  • he doesn't have to do that - but he's mutually submitted to them
  • the point is NOT to flatten the organization, it's to make it mutually submitted
Other notes:
  • problem with consensus leadership is that it's not biblically modelled to us - Jesus is the head - that's point leadership!
  • if you're thinking about mutual submission, the first question to ask is: "do i really want to do this?" - do i really want to serve back down through the organization
  • when people feel like they are heard at the top - that creates mutual submission.
  • make sure your organization has a sustainable pace...its in the sustainable pace that margin is created an in that margin is where you serve other people.

a pattern of confilct

spent a little time reading this morning in acts 10 & 11 and i noticed something...

backstory:
this is the account of cornelius sending for peter, peter having the tripped out dream (just sayin' it sounds tripped out, not saying he WAS tripped out - it'd blow my mind as well if God showed me something of that nature) about the animals in a sheet, God speaking to peter, the men showing up for peter, and him returning to cornelius' house...

back to the thing i noticed (ok, maybe several things)
  • after the gentiles believed and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, word quickly spread back to judea about what had happened
  • peter got grilled for entering the home of a gentile and even eating with them - shocking!
  • jk, what is truly shocking is the religious posture of these deeply religious people...they assumed the worst - ever heard what happens when we ass-u-me?
  • rather than get the facts first, they went negative first...isn't that the tendency?
  • it's so much easier to go negative than to assume positive isn't it?
  • love peter's positive, calm and deliberate manner of handling the situation
  • acts 11:4 says peter told them exactly what happened - isn't it great to be able to thouroughly, deliberately and exactly be able to retell the course of events - man that our politicians, elitist business ceo's and society could learn that priniciple!
  • you can only do that when you DO NOT go negative with the people that assume against you!
  • after the good news of how the gentiles believed, they partied! it was a God-party thing though...it says they "stopped objecting and began praising God"
  • here's one more thing...when you're doing something completely radical (the whole dream, guys showing up thing is pretty radical to us isn't it?)...you can expect their to be opposition. don't take the defensive posture though. allow God to work in and through you so that His work can be complete. then, if there comes a question or objection, simply, calmly and deliberately explain what happened - much better than a tirade or tantrum isn't it?
  • thoughts...?

challenges leaders face

spent some time recently listening to andy stanley address leaders in a past catalyst conference...
andy's a gifted, dynamic and insightful leader - some great things to keep in mind here...
  1. Your leadership ability has the potential to take you further than your character can sustain you
  2. Leaders get into trouble when their integrity doesn't keep pace with the momentum created by their giftedness
  3. Their is no correlation between giftedness and maturity
  4. Our commitment to integrity can be easily eroded by our love of progress - leaders love progress (that's why many pastors hate counseling...its about getting people back to "zero" so that they can make progress) - leaders don't love the past, don't really care about the present, they love the future and the progress to get there - this can set us up for some unique pitfalls.
  5. The excuse we are most tempted to use: "God promised it, I deserve it" - when you begin to get close to what you think God has for you, it's easy to turn a blind eye to a small compromise that will get us to what "God promised"...then there's the "I deserve it" thing - "I deserve" it will lead to compromise.
life of david
  • when opportunities line up with our prayers and our passions, it's difficult to exercise restraint - ex.: saul in the cave with david there hiding
  • emotional environments are like a fog - you get emotion when you mix prayer and passion (my note: perhaps this is why many pentecostals are so flaky in their theology...just sayin')
  • opportunities must be weighed against something other than the uniqueness of the circumstances surrounding them (see my note above)
  • an opening is not necessarily an invitation from God
  • how do you look at something and the surrounding circumstances and know it's from God?
  • david weighed this opportunity against three things:
  • the law of God - "the Lord forbid that I should do such a thing against my master" - it was against the law to kill the king!...even thought the king is trying to kill you, you don't kill him - seemed like an "open door" - maybe God didn't open this door - maybe the door doesn't matter when compared to the law of God. saul was still david's master - not only is saul the king, he was "anointed of the Lord" - you do not REPLACE what God has put IN PLACE. (my note: perhaps this is why many immature Christians leave their church when correction or even rebuke come - just sayin')
  • the principles of God - "may the Lord judge between you and me" - i know God wants me there, i'm going to wait for God to put me there.
  • the wisdom of God - how wise would it have been for a "wanna be" king to murder the "sitting king" while he's using the bathroom in the cave. that's not the story you want to tell your grandchildren sitting around the camp fire. his leadership would have always been in question because he had murdered saul while he was most vulnerable
  • everything that looks like a God thing, feels like a God thing, is suggested by others that's its a God thing...may NOT be
  • the most direct route is rarely the best route
  • the tempatations of Jesus in the desert by Satan was all about "isn't that what God" it's all the "most direct route"
In summary:
  • weigh every opportunity against the law, principles and wisdom of God
  • decide everyday you will not sacrifice integrity for progress
  • give the right people an all-access pass to every leadership decision - don't decide on your own.
  • being a leader does not exempt you from the need for wise counsel - it necessitates it
  • solomon (wisest man in the world) wrote more about the need for counsel
  • it takes only once decision to compromise your integrity and derail your life
  • never accomplish the will of God by violating the law of God, ignoring the principles of God or ignoring the wisdom of God
  • God is capable of getting you where you need to be, when you need to be

"we" vs. "i"

had some friends and college students over on sunday night for our monthly "unwind" event - it's an opportunity to just have a low-key fellowship time with young adults, young ministers, college students and those that feel called to ministry. this past week i spent just a few minutes in a few passages from ephesians - thought i'd share them here just to hopefully encourage you...btw, thanks for reading and listening - i pray that God uses this blog to help you, entertain you and encourage you.

paul writes something in chapter 2 that is key for all of us to remember - but, before i get there...

ephesians 3:1 paul says, "for this reason, i, paul, the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of you Gentiles"

ephesians 4:1 says, "as a prisoner for the Lord, then, i urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you received."

finally, ephesians 6:20 states, "i am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador"

what is paul saying? well, in case it escaped you - he's in prison! that would be a place of loneliness and abandon - ever been there? yea, me too!

i tried to take that moment to encourage everyone to realize that there are going to be times in ministry and life where we feel isolated, alone and maybe even abandoned. it was great to see the candor and honesty of everyone as they almost all raised their hands to say that they had recently been in that place.

what i didn't point out - because i didn't see it at that point - was also this fact: even though paul was alone (in prison) in all three of these passages paul is not focused on his aloneness or lonliness...look again: "for the sake of you Gentiles" - "live a life worthy of the calling you received" - "still preaching this message" - it's all about the others he's made a difference to.

here's the "landing strip" for this devotional thought - ephesians 2:10 says, "for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

did you see it?

it's right there - two words in!

"WE"

we-who?

we...paul...his listeners...the men and women he helped disciple...anyone following Christ that would listen!

ok, maybe you saw it - but did you "catch" it - "it" is this:

although paul was a prisoner, although he was in a terrible place of loneliness and abandon - he still choose to see things through the scope of "we"

even in jail paul realized that he was doing the good works of Christ Jesus - you know, the works prepared in advance!

let me land this plane with these "nutshell" thoughts:
  • we will be lonely at times (whether in ministry or not)
  • we may even be or feel abandoned (there's a difference)
  • most of us won't face the prison of loneliness that paul did
  • but if we do...
  • we are not alone - we have others and we work together because it's God's design
  • finally, if you are in a place of loneliness and you have either isolated yourself or allowed yourself to be isolated - please find someone to help you - alone is not a good place

so this is Christmas...

in franklin county!

after a long day of laundry (yes, i do the laundry) and cutting two truck loads of firewood, i decided at the last minute to take the kids to the local Christmas parade in royston. in this area, i think it must be the biggest thing other than the local rodeo. we saw lots of police cars (sirens blaring), fire trucks (sirens blaring), political leaders, police cars, fire trucks, community groups, police cars, fire trucks (did i mention the sirens?), a few businesses, a few churches, (no marching bands...big disappointment), police and fire trucks and...

before i get to perhaps the most interesting "float" - let me just say that i truly love living here and have a high regard for our community (and police cars and fire trucks). some have told us that there's a mindset that is not open to "outsiders" - we haven't really seen that.

we decided at the last minute - ok, we had 13 minutes - to get to the parade. we made it! whew! traffic wasn't bad (never is) and we were able to line up on the parade route in our car and sit and wait...then it started...

the police cars started (obviously with sirens blaring) and the whole event lasted about 20 minutes. but, the most interesting "float" was the "_____________ Septic Company" "float" (insert whatever humerous thought you wish here about the word "float" and a septic company being in the parade). it gets better...

they didn't have just one entry, they had 2 - guess you could say they wanted to cover the bases (#1 & # 2...). and pulled behind "float" #2 (which was really just a truck, but the word float works better since its a septic pumping company)...behind "float" # 2 was a trailer...on the trailer was an overweight 50-something year old man sitting on a toilet...it gets better...

next to the man on the toilet was another toilet with a goat standing on top (yes, the seat cover was closed) wearing a georgia bulldogs sweater...

so this is Christmas...

the truth about you

recently received a new book/resource from thomas nelson for review by marcus buckingham titled, the truth about you (if you'd like to preview a bit of it, click here)
a little background...i heard buckingham a couple years ago at catalyst and was blown away - great, great, great speaker! very engaging and insightful. i've known people that have read his "strengths" book and been really helped by them. i haven't read them, so when i was offered one of his books for free to review, i jumped at the occassion. let me say this in one word - letdown!

first, the bad, then the good...

bad:
  • novelty packaging - i know its important to grab the shopper's attention with packaging and covers...but this is "gadgety" at best - it's packeged in 3 section: first a 20 minute DVD, then a 100 page book, then a "re-memo" pad - save yourself the trouble and just watch the video - then you've got it
  • way too long - this book could've been written in 25 pages or less
  • lack of spiritual theme - i know this subject matter doesn't require "support verses" from Scripture - problem i see with is that it doesn't have a "verse foundation" - in other words, it's purely based on observation of human behavior with NO reconciliation or reflection of Scritpure
  • the "re-memo" pad is way to large to carry around - as advised to do
the good:
here are a few quotes that REALLY stood out to me:
  • "your organization doesn't care primarily about you or your strengths"...it "cares most about performance"
  • "a weakness is any activity that leaves you feeling weaker after you do it"
  • "a strength...any activity that makes you feel strong"
  • "people join because of the 'why'...they stay because of the 'who'...in the end they quit because of the 'what'"
  • "in the end, the 'what' always trumps the 'why' and the 'who'"
  • ask this question, "WHAT will i be paid to do" (he consistently hits this point over and over and for good reason)
  • i like his "one last tactic" for dealing with our weaknesses - suck it up and move on (not exactly his words but really close)
so, who is this book good for...those working with young adults trying to figure out their life's purpose, those in career transition or career discovery...those going through midlife crises regarding their job - it may not really be a crises, you could be in the wrong place! i wouldn't recommened this book to everyone and the price is prohibitive (lists @ 29.99 on back) enough to say that it should really only be for a small audience. i think the text and premise of the book belong better in a better crafted "purpose-driven" type book

stewardship of a problem - pt. 2

given some thought about yesterday's post - in fact, at one point last night while thinking about it, i almost pulled it down. i began to wonder if my language was too forceful...then i got over it!

seriously, i've encountered SO MANY stories similar to this one - you have to remember, i have a: dad, brother-in-law, sister, cousin, roomie-from-college, and many, many pastor friends (not all the same person - i know it's georgia, but come on) that i talk to...i just have never been able to formulate it into one succinct issue...

the stewardship of a problem

today i want to talk about a few principles that help in these scenarios:

1.) the principle of expecation - my good friend todd wrote this post several month ago and it still sticks with me - in his post he said
For revival to start it requires people that come expecting God to do more than they normally expect. It requires faith, raised expectation and effort. If you want the same old same old then show up with your same old expectations and that’s what you will get. The only thing holding back revival is our satisfaction with the status quo.
now, go back and re-read that last line - did you get it? it's anointed and it's true
2.) the principle of overreaction - don't remember where i heard this from (and i may have even blogged about it here...) - when the disciples came to Jesus asking if they should send the crowd away, he asked what they had (there's an important point!), he blessed it, it was multiplied and there were LEFTOVERS - Jesus overreacted! he didn't wait to see if it was a "bump in the road" (the people may be hungry...), he didn't send out a polling committee to analyze the situation, the potential impact and the forcasted future - he overreacted! but, of course, he was the messiah....ok, what about peter and john in acts chapter 3 with the beggar - he asked them for money (acts 3:3) - peter "overreacted" and offered healing - not a bad deal for that guy! todd calls it "flying into motion" - whatever you call it - DO SOMETHING! - DON'T do NOTHING!
3.) the principle of thanfulness - seriously, when we face these scenarios...you know, the ones where we are stretched, challenged and discomforted, we MUST embrace them with an attitude of thankfulness BECAUSE we have the opportunity to steward it well - which leads to the last...
4.) the principle of stewardship - more and more in my walk with Christ, i'm convinced that realationship - spelling intentional - and stewardship are keys to our growth as followers of Christ

stewardship of a problem


a ministry colleague and i were talking today about a "problem" that they potentially have in their church...i'll create a parallel hypothetical problem here: let's say that you have 25 teens show up UNEXPECTEDLY for your wednesday night youth group meeting. it creates several problems right away...
  1. you only have space for 12-15
  2. your ministry volunteer only brought enough supplies/resources/giveaways/bribery-items for 10 (because although we can seat 12-15 we "usually" only have 7 or 8 show up)
  3. the "back up" volunteer didn't show because it was rainy/cold/icy/whetever-it-is-that keeps-your-people-home-on-a-wednesday-night
  4. crowd control will be at best "difficult" because 25 teens are not going to sit long in an environment where they are not: challenged, interested, cared for, accepted and entertained (yes, entertained...church should NEVER be boring...the opposite of entertaining)
  5. how will we go forward "if they all come back"
in my analysis of similar situations (based on experience from many different churches and scenarios) the stewardship of the problem really started BEFORE the problem...here's what i mean:
  • the teens showed up "unexpectedly" - why in the world do we think that they WON'T show up? seriously, the lack of faith and expecation is literally similar to throw up in my mouth - catch you off guard? good! because it's killing the church...it's repulsive, unappetizing and blinding us to the expectancy that should come with serving God!
  • the problem before the problem was that leadership didn't do enough to prepare for this "what-if" scenario (and YES, i've been very guilty of this...not ashamed to confess this!) - leaders - you, leaders - i'm talking to you...you HAVE to prepare for these "what-if" scenarios - then EXPECT them for cyring out loud! seriously, we can't prepare for EVERY "what if" scenario - the problem is that we tend to prepare for NO "what if" scenarios.
  • the problem before the problem was the the "back up" volunteer didn't show because she didn't see the vision - she hadn't caught the passion and she wasn't "all in" as they say in poker tourneys! leaders, you, leader - we have to do what it takes to get people to be "all in" - if they are not "all in" then figure out what's wrong with your leadership...change, care, reach, train, love, encourage, cry, pray, and serve them so that they will become "all in"
  • the tendency in most churches is to only see things as a "bump in the road" (my phrase that i've used in similar situations)...what if? what if the "bump in the road" is actually a NEW road God is putting you on? could this be a test? could it be that God WANTS to see 25 or 250 in your youth group? of course it could be! but how well will we respond to the test? will we see it as a NEW road or a "bump" in the same old road we've been travelling?
  • when God sends "new problems" your way, EMBRACE them! solve them! love them! (don't loath them)! and LOOK for more new problems...because new problems are an opportunity for stewardship...how will we respond?

monday morning mind dump

it's been a quick couple of weeks and i haven't had much time to post...so here are some thoughts and some "catch-up" things...
  • spent one week in branson at the sr. adult convention (no, i don't qualify as a member of that group yet todd, rachel and jeff). i went because bill has been sick the past few weeks with some sort of virus (he was to go, but had to back out).
  • branson looks like a great family destination. we took in a couple of shows while there - one was great, the other was supposed to be great. i'd love to see the area when the leaves haven't fallen. the bus ride out was long, if i had been driving myself i think i would've driven straight through (and shaved some time off as well). driving through tennessee and kentucky was cool - love to go through those states.
  • lessons learned while in branson: sr. adults are like teenagers ("are we there yet" & "is it time to eat yet"); thankful for those that have blazed a trail following Christ before me...they've kept the faith alive, the dream a reality and made a difference "in their generation" - may it be true for ours!; spicy margarita mix fruit does not go over well with sr. adults; the cheese grits in branson tasted like dressing/stuffing (depends on where you are from) - that's JUST WRONG!; our students @ SWCU are really learning a lot from dr. trammel - great speaker!; if you walk to s'bux in 16 degree weather and order a hot coffee, it'll be a cold coffee rather quickly; our CEM team is doing a great job in all they do - love the teamwork and commraderie that i saw
  • when i got back from branson, it was time for vacation...we spent one day at the world of coke (really cool place to visit), got sick from drinking all the samples - if you go, you must try the "beverly from italy" (its the taste that keeps on tasting) - i was hoping they'd have the "new coke" from the mid-80's - been jonesing for some of that for 28 years now (jk) - seriously, nothing is as good as the original - now if i can just find the world of mt. dew
  • also spent some time with family in north carolina, north georgia and central georgia - it was the "tour de turkey" for us - great time visiting with all of our family - we are really blessed to have such great family (and thankful for all of them)!
  • the dawgs lost - i honestly didn't think we were a #1 team, but i didn't think we'd end up out of the top 10. what follows are my novice opinions... i know richt says no coaching changes, i think it's a bad decision. i think we need some new leadership in defensive coaching - everything rises and falls on leadership! 5 games where the opposition scored more than 35 points (359 total points scored against us all season). we weren't ready for the triple option threat. i know injuries plagued us this year, but missed tackles and missed assignments are no excuse.
  • the falcons look really impressive - matt ryan is the real deal - great leadership!
  • we spent one week with the folks at COTN - great to worship with them. we love the people there and it's great to be with them when we can.
  • got a new iphone - i've used a LOT of phones (i worked for att/cingular) and i must say this is the most impressive device i've ever found - the competition (blackberry storm, etc) will play catch up with this device for a long time! the batterys isn't great, but the available apps and simplicity of use is remarkable
  • i bought my wife's Christmas gifts first this year-that should be worth some points:)