A Microblog about What’s Wrong in Our Country Right Now

A Microblog about What’s Wrong in Our Country Right Now

Are you ready? Here we go: 

  1. We are possessed with listening to respond rather than listening to understand 
  2. We fundamentally cannot agreee to disagree well. Not only that; when we come upon a differing view we must demonize that person (or group behind that claim) by making them morally reprehensible 
  3. (Bonus point) we all just need a little more Jesus…

I’ll expound only on this last one then make prescriptions (cause diagnosing problems/making declarative statements about “what’s wrong” is damn folly without actually prescribing potential solutions… as Ghandi said, “BE the change you wish to see.”)

So I’m sorry for playing into the really old church joke (the answers always “Jesus!”), but I’m afraid it’s just plain true.

In other words, I believe placing Christ at the center of each and every area of our lives in greater and greater proportion is the very essence of the Christian faith. 

So yes, a little more Jesus; 1% more Jesus each day might do us all very well…

At the risk of being redundant, I make this claim because Jesus is the literal complete manifestation of perfect: truth, love, peace, hope, grace, mercy, strength, justice, goodness and life that ever was. 

He is life giving; his words and his life (as preserved historically in the Gospels). 

Our national dialogue is not very life giving right now. 

So do yourself a favor and invite some life into your… life.

That’s prescription #1.

#2 is this: practice.

When you come upon someone, in person or in community or online who has a different view than yours: practice just actually hearing them… 

Ask questions-not in order to load up rebuttals-but rather to fully hear and understand. 

And keep asking questions until you get to a part of them that’s so personal and vulnerable that you begin to see their humanity.

When you run out of questions, just sit quietly until you think of more. 

And then thank them and walk away… 

What you do next is critical:

Think about what you heard-compare it to the origins, factual accuracy, logical consistency and existential reality of your worldview and move forward. 

This, I think, may present us with a better way to live…

Speak Like Your Voice is Gone Tomorrow 

Speak Like Your Voice is Gone Tomorrow 

Words that have been used to describe my speaking style: “enthusiastic… high energy… contagious… passionate.”

If you want to see if this is true, see for yourself…

What I want people to know is two things:

1, This comes from a place down deep in my heart that longs to be an agent of change in the lives of others and;

2, I act like every time that I’m given an audience, it will be my last.

(3, You can make passionate pleas in your own way too.)

With so much going on in the world today-hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, famine, disease and destruction-I can’t imagine another way of thinking.

I take the realities of our world coupled with the hope that I live for (that there is a Sovereign God that is orchestrating all of history and will send his son again one day AND that he will come “like a thief in the night” Matthew 24:42-44) and I think:

I had better get busy living, spreading life by speaking life.

So when you see my passion, don’t be mistaken-it ain’t mindless hype, it ain’t noise and it certainly ain’t because I think too highly of myself.

It IS however how highly I view our message.

How many of us miss opportunities to speak the word we really feel motivated to bring… every day, hour over hour, text, phone call and face to face meeting with family, friends and coworkers everyday?

One of my greatest irrational fears is that I’ll suffer a traumatic brain injury that will result in lack of speech; inability to formulate and communicate ideas.

I know… irrational. But at the same time, accidents do happen… look no further than the motor vehicle we climb into every day. I don’t live by this fear; this fear is not the motivation; real and present danger isn’t either.

My aim is not to drive fear. That’s not our message. Far from it…

The message is this:

With tomorrow not guaranteed, what are we doing with the voices that God has given us?

Fabulous orator or not, we each have a voice and our time is limited (by eternal standards). You don’t have to be a pastor, prophet or boss either, but I urge you:

  • Today, don’t have regrets about holding back
  • Today, share the word (encouragement, life, hope, truth) you have for another
  • Today, use your voice to be a voice for the voiceless
  • Today, leverage your influence by giving voice to life change

Vision Alone is not Vision At All

Vision Alone is not Vision At All

This last month that was one of my greatest learnings…

You can have literally the best idea in the whole world, you can communicate it with all the style and grace imaginable, but if you have not people, you have nothing.

I’ve said it to a couple different groups of people now-the staff team I’m a part of, a group of volunteers during a training event and then I think I may have given the same speel to the entire church that we lead but what I’m learning last month, this week, this moment is:

You can have the most tremendous vision in the world, but if people aren’t invited along, have as much buy-in as you do and you are all moving together, then you will simply be alone on an island called vision. And that’s not where any of us want to be as leaders.

Most of what I’m talking about has to do with leading change, by the way. And now that I’m finally reading John Kotter’s seminal work by the same name-things are beginning to come into even greater focus.

The Kotter model has to do with an 8-step process for leading change and one of the “unskippable” early steps is creating a coalition for change… WITH at least some people who have power.

Before finally stealing this book from another pastor, I had been listening to an Andy Stanley podcast wherein he was interviewing the former Home Depot CEO, Frank Blake.

Blake gives yet another tremendous model, equation rather, that supports the same principle; he says:

i X a = e. OR

IDEA times ACCEPTANCE equals EFFECTIVNESS.

In other words, we as leaders often get trapped in our little vision caves where we fully orb this new idea, change effort or cultural direction and it is birthed in a vacuum of 1.

We then run out and tell the world about it, praying for a mutual sense of excitement, and yet how could they-they had no hand in the evolution of this idea?

Blake suggests getting the idea to 80% and then inviting the “coalition” or the people or the team or the influencers in and together forging the last 20%. In this way we will be working toward far greater impact and effectiveness.

So I have this book, I have my podcast and yet I have another source of input waking me up to this principle over the last few weeks.

A friend, and fellow leader at our organization, came along and said, ‘Ben I think you just need to over-communicate in this season of change.’

He went on saying, ‘people here have experienced haphazard and chaotic change-making processes that leave people somewhat sensitive to any sort of change.’

This, on top of the fact that most of the known world is change resistant already! (Despite the classic saying that change is perhaps the only constant in life!).

In your leadership wherever you are-family, church, business-learn from these greats and from my mistakes and:

1. Build a coalition for change (that includes at least some people with real power)

 

2. Work toward more acceptance by inviting people into the creative processes earlier

 

3. Over-communicate. I’ll use a recent quote a heard (Craig Groeschel via Thom Rainer from Groeschel’s latest podcast post on developing leaders):

As people are learning, they are forgetting.

This is especially true within the context of fresh vision and leading change, because we already have a natural sense of resistance.

I love and appreciate you all.

If you haven’t seen my last post, please look at it and even scan to the end: I am requesting some census data on the book you would like to read next! DO IT AND HELP A BROTHER OUT!

52 Week Blog Anniversary 

52 Week Blog Anniversary 

This week marks 1 year since I started this blog.

It also marks the completion of quite a sizeable goal: to write 1 post a week for 1 year. 

When I look at my dashboard it says that I’ve posted 51 times, which means after clicking ‘publish’ on this post I will have reached my goal. 

There’s a guy who writes about goal setting, I think its James Clear, when he talks about the aspiration to write a book-the discipline behind which is really just about writing consistently. And how if you could just commit to the discipline of writing consistently you would amass the equivalent of a full written work. 

Well with the average non-fiction book length of 50,000-60,000 words, I’ve produced over 57,000 words this past year (at an average post length of 1,100-a few hundred words too long by the way!). 

Obviously the purpose behind the goal was much more than to simply amass a load of written words. It was the implied meaning behind the words and the mission of my homepage-to impact, influence and ignite. And I can only hope that 1400 visitors from over 30 countries and 14 followers would feel in some way encouraged and motivated by these words this past year. 

In this past year I’ve tried my best to honestly convey the learnings and major takeaways from my life that they might be a living testimony to you and yours. This should show my attempts at being committed to lifelong learning (as opposed to presenting the words as an established profession). 

And, by the way, the blog is a fabulous learning journal medium to do just that-catalog all the things you’ve learned and processed as a means for looking back and actually tracking the wisdom and development that you’ve acquired. I don’t think we do this enough-life moves too quickly and we are prone to drift (as opposed to intentionally). 

And so maybe there will be a book… but what would be the big idea? Who would be the primary audience? How would it serve people? What book would you like to read or do you feel needs to be written?

Here are some early thoughts; send me your votes and ideas…

  1. I talk to a lot of people, typically millenials, who are perplexed and transient when it comes to their calling in life. This first book idea would be driven at these young people (and any others who feel at a vocational identity crisis). “Developing a personal mission statement: the 7 stages of discovering where all of you connects with the needs of the world”
  2. I believe that churches are at a loss in so many areas from the pragmatic (strategy, management and structural needs) to the spiritual (theology, mandate to reach the lost/next generation, mission and vision), this would be a call and a guide for churches to take the time to work ON the ministry not just IN the ministry. Passion: My personal manifesto for how the church ought to look. 
  3. For the longest time I have carried the conviction that you could tether a line from almost any social problem directly back to it’s family of origin experience; the common denominator for almost all spiritual, social and political flashpoints can be connected directly to what happens in that first community. The Family: the center and solution for every social problem

Okay, so there you have it. Would love to hear from you.