10 Questions From one of My Favorite Former Blind Persons

10 Questions From one of My Favorite Former Blind Persons

Just in the last 48 hours alone, odds are you’ve had loss of story, loss of identity, loss of point, purpose, direction or destiny.

We all have these momentary lapses of direction and belief. What I read in John chapter 9 about the blind man who stood up and spoke truth to power gives me hope and encouragement for each new day of crisis.

John 9: 1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered.

6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

A big back and forth between the man and the pharisees (Jewish church elitists); they even bring his parents in to testify. Then it gets REALLY interesting…

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Here are some considerations for you that I think are power applicable (PA) to your life…

The rest of v. 3 says, “This happened so that the power of God could be seen”… where in your life is God trying to show the world how real he is, what evidence can you find of his work in your life?

Wash yourself in the pool of Siloam (the sending pool)… the thing, the material, the vehicle that corrects and heals, also sends… What is it in your life that God is trying to use to show, teach, reveal, correct in you but you possibly can’t even see that it’s a means of catapulting you into what’s next? v. 7

Recount how people just didn’t believe that this healed man was the same person… it’s a reminder that there will be people who mistake your identity but you declare it still. v. 8, 9

Your identity is closely tied to your story… stick to the facts and know your story, the truth of God’s work in your life is plain as day… how have you attempted to alter the narrative? v. 25

In the end do not give up hope, it is just a fact that some people will remain blind-never to catch the vision, your vision, God’s vision v. 27

How do you know if a thing is genuine and true? Test where it comes from. Jesus is from the Father, he does the Father’s work, that’s how you know he’s from the Father. Can you say the same thing about your so-called Christianity? The actual, tangible material of your life-does it reflect the One who saved and sent you? v. 32

Notice something and just let it mess you up a bit… this man comes to faith AFTER having been healed, AFTER being sent on mission  THEN Jesus has the conversation with him. What might this suggest about God’s grace, about his allowing people to be in process, about how his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55) v. 38

Jesus ends by telling you the point of the story: some are blind and are blind to their blindness, and I want to make a point out of them. What are your blind spots… can you even admit that you have them? v. 39


But what is it that I love most about this story? Two things:

It is upside down kingdom at its finest.

If you look closely you can see that Jesus took a seemingly worthless side-of-the-road bum and turned him into a fire-breathing prophet right before the eyes of the religious elite. It’s just whether we view the world this way or not, whether we are intentionally pushing forth and multiplying the upside down in our daily lives…?

AND

It is the extraordinary use of the ordinary person at its finest.

This is how Jesus has made his name famous-through the names, faces, stories and sentness of each and every one of his billion-strong followers. It’s just whether we believe it or not, whether we believe we might be used in this way or not…?

Maybe, just maybe, these are the twin themes of Jesus’ entire coming…?

 

 

1 Thing You Never Knew About The 12 Disciples

1 Thing You Never Knew About The 12 Disciples

If you’ve ever struggled with doubt, insecurity or the feeling of inadequacy as a leader, this one is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why the disciples of Jesus seemed like such a hot mess sometimes, this one is for you.

If you’ve lost sight of who you are and what you’re capable of as a person and leader, then this one is for you.

I’ve been reading this book bit by bit at night (as I’m sitting in the hall keeping a straying eye on my toddlers infinitely trying to finagle their way out of bedtime) on the topic of Discipleship.

First 5 chapters in and it’s not what I expected at all.

For starters, the author Robby Gallaty doesn’t go into the 5 or 7 step plan or program for discipleship. Instead he spends the first several chapters laying the ground work through topics like 1st century Judaism, church history/church fathers and this idea of Keshers-which are New Testament allusions to Old Testament references.

All of it very fascinating-making for a much more general educational experience too, by the way, which is a win for me (a pastor who is not “Seminary trained” whatever that means!)

But none so fascinating as this one chapter titled “Disciples are Made, Not Born” where Gallaty is having the broader discussion around just how normal these 12 men really were.

He lays out a profile of the disciples concerning 3 main categories: how they were blue-collar workers, how they possessed no formal religious training and how they were young men.

It’s this last profile item that has made an absolute proselyte out of me for this book.

Gallaty goes on to lay out a highly convincing 7-fold argument for why the disciples may have very well been… TEENAGERS.

Consider the following few as a sample:

When you look at the title Jesus often used for them; the original greek words Mikronos and Teknion they mean “little ones” or “little children”…

You think about their formal Jewish training which would have ended at 15 (these 12, Jesus’ 12 were not selected to progress onto the next elite stage)…

You take this reality and combine it with the normative age for getting married at the time-18 (it was frowned upon in this time and place to be a bachelor after 18; none but Peter was thought to be married), and you begin to see the power of the argument.

These facts along with 2 other major defenses: their tenure of ministry long after Jesus’ death along with their seemingly constant and petty quibbling-ridden immaturity… this really starts to make sense.

So my first thing is this…

Why have I never heard this before?!

I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, I’ve gone to Christian College, I’ve worked in vocational ministry for over half a decade, read several books, listened to hundreds of sermons and not once did I hear someone allude to the disciples being teenagers.

I can only surmise that this is because the same scorn for youth and young people that exists today was alive and well  in the time and place of Jesus.

You see I think we, in the marketplace as well as church organizations, need to strongly reconsider the worth, value and investment ascribed to young volunteers and young staff.

And the key word is investment… worthy investment. We need to trade our scorn for open-minded and intentional investment.

Here’s a good question to consider in giving young people more opportunities:

Why are you still recruiting and hiring to skills and competencies?

The chapter title reminds me of something Craig Groeschel says in his leadership podcast:

Leaders are not found, they’re developed. 

The point is this: we need to start looking for the intangibles when it comes to our team members… character, attitude, heart, mindset and emotional intelligence.

With these as the baseline all else can be trained and equipped.

After all, if you’re a boss, hiring manager, CEO or lead pastor and you’ve ever been frustrated with the expense (material and immaterial) of letting someone go after they failed to meet the needs of the organization then you understand that 9/10 of those departures were based off of organizational culture and DNA fit.

In other words they were based off of the above baselines. Which, without these, excellence and proficiency in skills, tasks and competencies don’t matter because there’s never enough chemistry and unity to forge through to that level of productivity anyway!

Look back and consider Jesus’ selection of these young men; he believed they had the right stuff, the stuff that could be built on.

One final question when considering the 12 disciples as teenagers:

Who do you think it is that is charged with changing the world?

There was 1 and then there was 12 and then there was 70 (Luke 10) and then there was 120 (Acts 1) and then there was 3000 (Acts 2-Pentecost) and then there was 6 million (end of 3rd Century) and then there was nearly a billion (today).

A movement that began with 12 young men… quite possibly teenagers.

Was Jesus, in fact, trying to tell us something… was he trying to send us a message by selecting these ordinary, common-even juvenile-mere teenagers?

These boys were just on their official summer job. School was out, except school was out for good and they did not get the acceptance letter for higher learning.

They’re taking back up that trade that paid their way last summer and except this time it’s for life.

Who would even have the gall to imagine something greater, something bigger, something more profound?

We know now looking back at history that  it was not “if” it was “when” for this group of leaders.

And so if a rag-tag bunch of teenagers could be grown up and trained in the way that they ought to walk in order that they might partner with the actual author of history to affect the trajectory of the human story… maybe, just maybe it’s possible that we could play a hand too…

Men, women, boys and girls, mom’s, dad’s, students, workers, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, brown and yellow… all have a name and a place… all have a call that’s grander than the task at hand… all have the ability to multiply the way like those who went before them.

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

Closing The Loop (1 Habit of The Most Focused Top Performers)

It’s time for another MEGA-learning from the sheer gold vault of lessons, modules and learnings of my former supervisor…

Have you ever had SO MUCH going on at work or at home that you seem to riffle through one issue to the next, but never really gaining resolution?

Do you feel like someone on your team (family or work) is just an idea, program, initiative MACHINE, but you’re left wondering: ‘who was supposed to keep track of those?!” and “where are we at on that deal anyway?!”

Here’s a simple one: did you ever wonder why your training or resourcing event didn’t have the impact or traction that you desired?

I believe the answer lies within 3 simple words:

Close. The. Loop.

Well simply said, not always simply done…

I would define closing the loop like this:

Def. intentionally revisiting anything you start, until you’ve brought it to a finish.

This could be any idea, request, action item, program or initiative. Check in and continue to do so until you have reached agreed-upon resolution or success. 

The most simple illustration is this:

Last year I proposed a team goal of walking my people through a hospitality training.

It was your basic format where I had each team member read some case study material in advance then I would go around 1:1 with each person and walk them through an agenda of bullet point principles.

You see I actually thought my job was done at that point… you know, like “well I did the training, had 100% attendance and got the content out there so everyone must be ‘trained’ now, right?”

Here was the simple brilliance of what my supervisor encouraged me to do next…

He said what you should do now is go around 2-3 weeks later and first watch each one of those team members in action and see if they are actually implementing the new theories and techniques.

Watch them and ask them: how are you applying the material that we covered almost a month ago now.

That was closing the loop: do the training, check back in on the training. (Otherwise what was the point of the training?)

And that is the first principle of what closing the loop is all about

#1 Closing the loop essentially asks the question: “so what?”

You see, it’s not good enough to simply be a great idea man. The logic is totally intuitive: we all know that great visionaries and idea people would be nowhere without the doers and systems thinkers to enact these great ideas.

So in essence, the art and discipline of asking “so what?” “what’s next” is your accountability structure for testing outcomes and effectiveness. That brings us to point #2…

#2 Closing the loop means having someone consistent and focused enough to constantly ask that question.

If you aren’t that person, if you can’t perform this, what I’ll call “adapted discipline,” early or often enough then maybe this is your next hire, maybe this is your next volunteer recruit.

Because I’m convinced that team members who operate this way are absolutely the top performers in every organizational level… any organization, at least, that cares about actually working their mission and vision through their strategy into a reality.

And I introduce the idea of adapted style because probably not just anybody can do this well forever.

It has to be within someone’s “natural” style of leadership. Hence the sense of urgency you may need if you don’t already have this strength available on your team.

#3 Closing the loop is fundamentally about execution and implementation

If you feel forever stuck in the ideation stage, the brainstorm session, the dream cycle it’s not long before you realize how badly you need this way of thinking to positively infect your culture and DNA.

Ideas, programs and strategies never moved to implementation (which requires constant reassessment) are just that: sweet dreams. But closing the loop is not merely about doing, it has a built-in review gene…

#4 Closing the loop serves as a constant barometer for success, efficacy and effectiveness

Everyone wants to make progress, but few people know how to measure it.

Fewer still have the time or money to hire outside consultants to conduct, compile and analyze the data that will explain progress.

So here is your simple and free skill: the quickest measure for success is to build constant loop-closing opportunities and questions into the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly fabric of your organization.

Back to my illustration above: how did the training go? I don’t know, let’s go around and find out. I didn’t have to compile massive amount of numbers or data, I simply had to go ask and watch. Ask the team members what they were using and watch them in action.

#5 Closing the loop people are note-takers and note-takers are history-makers

That’s what we used to say to our teenagers at church: “note-takers are history-makers.”

The truth is: even the simple practice of writing or typing notes for something that is communicated to you is a quick and small way of closing the loop. How?

Because it’s is proven that when you are learning through listening (auditory style) and you connect that to moving your body or hands (kinesthetic style) to connect what’s going in your ears, you have a better shot at retention, growth and learning!

Well the same is true in your organizational leadership: you must have someone who is tracking the status from ideation>implementation and implementation>review.

Let me put it more plainly: no one can remember everything, so write it down, write it down and later on revisit by closing the loop.


I am a part of a small resource-lean organization that is entering a season of fairly massive rediscovery.

If we hope to see any traction in our renewed structures, we have no choice but to excel at closing the loop.

Here’s the reality: for you this tool may not be about winning, it might, literally, be about surviving.

I use the word focus in the title for a reason; if you don’t begin the disciplined process of staying focused by closing the loop, your job and your organization may not be around tomorrow.

Maybe you feel this same way; I suggest starting small: start taking notes to track progress and start asking the question: “so what?” You may not look or feel smart doing that now but over time it will reap a harvest. (Galatians 6:9)

Leadership Lessons From John The Baptist (Know Your Lane)

Leadership Lessons From John The Baptist (Know Your Lane)

So much of confusion and frustration in leadership comes from not having clearly defined roles or expectations.

And one of the great things that role confusion and frustration leads to is serious identity crisis, which leads to purpose crisis, which I’ve even seen lead to a bout of depression and anxiety in some.

It’s actually a very interesting concept that our church leadership has been investing ourselves in recently.

It’s this John Piper idea of Be. Do. Have. (VS the way of the world which is Do. Have. Be.).

One of the problems with the above scenario is that the order is all out of whack…

What typically happens at work or life is:
First, you have problems in your role or expectation and;
Second, you develop a potential identity crisis.

When you know your identity (and hence the shape your leadership calling should take), the doing will always be secondary and thus less crippling when it doesn’t go your way.

I was reading about John the Baptist recently and I saw something which I think is powerful for keeping an accurate and fundamental understanding of our leadership lane. (Lane: defined as the straight and narrow path of which you are uniquely called.)

There are at least 7 amazing leadership principles from John chapter 3 and it starts off with one of the most amazing proclamational statements about identity I have ever heard of.

It comes from John 1.

Basically John is doing his thing (the whole wilderness stream-side baptism deal).

People are coming to him from literally every walk of life. Soldiers, tax collectors, your everyday Jew, which is an impressive sight unto itself. (Because it makes an early statement of how the Church is composed of people who are welcome… from every possible walk.)

But apparently there are some other, more “hardcore,” Jews who come up on John with a line of questioning (from their higher-ups) about who John is proclaiming to be…

Like ‘we’ve heard about you… there’s rumors… what’s up… who are you… are you someone special that was foretold about in the scriptures of old?’

To which John does something amazing… he says:

23 …in the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”

ONE: Leaders stake a claim.

Unreal.

The way he stakes a claim in his founded and true God-breathed identity is just remarkable.

The boldness and confidence to stake an Old Testament prophecy for yourself, that was all yours… I just can’t even imagine what that must have been like…

Today, staking a claim could look like all sorts of things, mostly though it has to do with the all-out stubborn resistance to compromise your commissioning. It could mean:

  • refusal to make unethical decisions or go along with unethical practice
  • refusal to settle for a job that is not your lane
  • refusal to water down what you were called to produce

But we have to start there, because it shows you just how much of a direct and crystal clear understanding he had about himself, his namesake and his life’s work.

But he goes on in chapter 3 and says some things that should give every leader pause about their identity, calling and lane.

23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.)

TWO: Leaders go for broke

It’s kind of sad actually but I fear for most of us “career christians,” this whole ‘getting carted off to prison’ thing becomes quite unsurprising to us…

Partly, I presume, because we have read the other instances in the Gospels where this was frequently taking place but also for a much more profound reason:

We have virtually no frame of reference for what it would mean or look like: having a willingness to go to these depths for our faith, our Jesus, for the saving of this world.

Something that John reminds us about leadership is the absolute comfort and familiarity around death and dying…

death and dying to oneself,
death and dying to ones resources,
death and dying to all the things we may hold dear for the greatest cause there ever was.

25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”

THREE: Focus on the real target (which is never you)

Another temptation, as someone who was raised in the church, is to succumb to the notion that some Apostles and Prophets spoken about in the Bible are untouchable.

Untouchable meaning: we fail to take into consideration their humanity in light of their authority, their inerrancy, their word or deed.

I think we do a disservice to ourselves (and others!) if we neglect one of the most contextual pieces for interpreting scripture: the fact that every Biblical icon, besides Jesus, was still a human being full of sin and general shortcomings!

I think we see that here in the way that John’s disciples were fiercely loyal to him even to the point of becoming envious and spiteful of Jesus attracting away their crowds!

To their credit, Jesus was still a new figure and the fact of him being the one and true Messiah was far from widely accepted at this point, but maybe, just maybe we see here a glimpse of how John could have done a better job pointing his fiercest companions toward the ultimate target and not his charismatic self.

Also, it’s a powerful reminder that it’s never about the crowds. It’s always about people. Good leaders know the difference.

27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.

FOUR: Understand that YOU ultimately don’t produce results.

There is one source and giver of all things and that’s God. As leaders we need this pride check:  Every. Single. Day.

28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’

FIVE: All the work we do here is just about preparing the way

We are given a limited time here on earth, truly in the scope of eternity… so what does preparing the way look like for you.

As leaders we really must get busy living or get busy dying and SETTLING on devotion to your lane is a form of slow death.

29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.

SIX: part 1, descend into obscurity

Notice that it says bridegroom’s FRIEND… it doesn’t even say ‘best man’ or ‘first mate’ or ‘fellow priest;’ it says “friend!”

I was taught one invaluable principle for officiating weddings and it was this: become invisible. This day is not about you so do your best to prop up the bride and groom and then fade into obscurity.

This is our call in leadership, it is a lane of assuming humility.

30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

SEVEN: part 2, descend into obscurity

This last verse is one of my favorite throughout the whole of the Bible. I think it is because I am so aware of how prideful and selfish I truly am.

I need this verse as a daily mantra.

I need this verse before and after every meeting with a leader.
I need this verse before and after I step on stage to preach.
I need this verse before I walk in the door at home and before I step out in the morning.
I need this verse when I rise and when I lay my head.

This is it. It’s everything… He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He must become enlarged in my life and the life of others around me and I must be reduced to insignificance.

 

Extraction: The Art of Actualizing What’s in Your Head

Extraction: The Art of Actualizing What’s in Your Head

Have you ever had something in your head that you needed to get out? Some vision, idea, program, talk, training, “how-to” guide… some thing you needed to move from abstract constellation of thought into a clearly outlined, usable thing?

When I was transitioning from my last church job my supervisor-a man whose analytical genius is always bent toward better execution-suggested that I write down a general who, what, when, where, why for my successor. 

When we would check in for our weekly 1:1s, a greater and greater percentage of our time was devoted to passing the baton (of information and how-tos) well.

During our time together he would drive me deeper and deeper into cataloging the most important standard operating procedures held under the 2 or 3 major hats that I wore. 

I will never forget what he said one day toward that end. He said very simply, “we need to get what’s in your head out.”

As basic as that might sound it triggered something in me…

For starters it made me think: what are the hundreds of little things I do each day that no one knows about, that’s not in writing somewhere, that no one told me to do, but it effectively gets my job done. 

And while, at the end of my transition time, I did not produce a list with every one of those hundred items, I was able to produce the broader strokes of my past deliverables. 

The second thing my supervisor’s comment triggered was a an affirmation of this blog actually. 

The whole point behind this writing discipline was two-fold: 

1, as an external tool to inspire, influence and ignite something in others and;

2, as an internal tool of recapping all that I had learned in the past year-a sort of personal development journal for the sake of never forgetting all the amazing takeaways.  

Herein lies the first principle of what I will call Standard Mental Operating Procedure Extraction or SMOPE for short:

(1) SMOPE requires a pause in our daily mental activity so that we may become more conscious of what’s behind our daily decisions and actions. 

The answer to my rhetorical question above (have you ever had something in your head that you wanted to get out?) is: of course you have. Everyone has…

I just think that most people sell themselves short on this level of thought life and ideation.

Most people will go about their work and leadership never having given a second thought to why it is they do a certain thing the way they do!

And that is a fundamental component of principle #1: it’s not pausing to think about what you just decided or did, it’s pausing to reflect how or why you did it that way. 

I should back up and give some definition 

SMOPE is the standard operating procedure of your mind. You do it, almost unconsciously, every single day… you plan, you act, you execute.

And there is most certainly a very particular mental model or procedure you use that you could go your whole life never thinking about distilling or bottling that very good thing in order for your very good “way” to ever go beyond yourself.

This brings me to point number two…

(2) SMOPE is all about extending your legacy beyond yourself. 

Whether it’s in the example I listed above about a simple job transition or it’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company working through a major succession, the difference between good and great is extension beyond yourself. 

Why is this so critical-the ability to pass your excellent mental methods of success and growth? Here’s an example from both the church and marketplace context. 

Take the multi-level marketing example. Say what you will about them, the bottom line is this: you have a product or service that, assuming authentic quality, you can spread like wildfire through multiple tiers of people leading others and multiplying their methods. 

In other words they train and equip those below them to achieve similar results.

Now whether it’s multi-level marketing or just any scalable business where you include the large-scale training of people, there was someone along the way who distilled and bottled what was in their head.

The companies and organizations who have the best ability to do this will also continue a proven legacy that goes beyond any founder or CEO.

The church belief and process of discipleship is no different. This example is one of the most deeply held beliefs of our organization.

Jesus did it; Jesus commanded it and it is essentially the one central model, method, vehicle-whatever you want to call it-way to spread the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection and grow the church. 

Now, even though there may be no two churches alike in what they will call their discipleship process or system, the point remains the same: Jesus took what was in his head, heart, spirit he spoke about it, he lived it and he invited 12 other men along to see, do and multiply. 

The churches and faith-based organizations that create a plan for discipleship (and actually work their plan!) will also experience a proven legacy that extends across the generations. 

There’s another thing you should know about SMOPE.

(3) SMOPE is the ability to move from unknown, unformalized, unstandardized (however, not random) thought life to a clearly outlined and action-oriented system of organization.

This is the crux of the issue. It’s one thing to pause and intentionally think about the why and how behind your decisions and actions. It’s another thing entirely to distill and bottle that product into a clear and scalable tool.

This third principle and step is really where you will live. While it is truly an ongoing discipline to begin holding every thought captive (and training your people to do the same!), the main gear and life-cycle of this process is slowly and intentionally taking the mental operating procedure and putting it into tangible malleable material. 


Closing Thoughts:

As 1 of the top 5 fastest growing restaurant chains in America, Chic-fil-A just opened it’s 2000th restaurant… that is not a typo. That is not an extra 0. TWO THOUSANDTH location. 

I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me (and I know there are chains with more locations in the world), but I sat amazed when I read this in a Business Insider article weeks ago! And I’m still talking about it so there! 

I mean how many reference points can you have for thinking about a scaled, legacy-oriented thing like that. 

And it’s not like someone said one day, ‘well this whole selling chicken thing is going well, how about we open another store and go on ahead and let the managers of that place just do whatever they see fit in their own eyes’

NOOOOO they said, ‘here’s what makes us great now go and do the same… cause we took the time to distill and bottle that sucker!’

Consider a more personal example: maybe you’re a high level leader or maybe you know a high level leader (that’s all of you!) we have a tremendous opportunity to make sure that the following conundrums recieve an excellent response…

What was that marketing method he or she used in a down market?

How was it that he/she filed that year during tax season?

What did he/she always do with that one difficult customer?

How did he/she deal with litigation in this one case?

That high level leader and, who knows, maybe the executive team who worked with that leader for years-they know the how and why behind their standard operating procedures but shoot, does anybody else outside their own brain space?!

Action:

Regardless of your position in the organization, take a step today and catalog, record, WRITE DOWN the why or how behind a few things (just 1 thing even!) that you do well within your scope of responsibilities… you have no idea; it could just be the thing that gets distilled and bottled to over 24,000 locations in 74 countries (Starbucks)…

 

Book Review: Monday Morning Atheist

Book Review: Monday Morning Atheist

I’m going to try a little something new this time and cover the great learnings that someone else has thoughtfully and excellently elucidated.

In other words, I’m reading about 6 or 7 books simultaneously right now (I know just the nastiest habit… call it A.D.D.) and I’d like to share those outcomes with the world.

The first one is from Doug Spada and Dave Scott’s great little (just over 100 half pages) book called “Monday Morning Atheist.”

First of all, props for a great title; it definitely caught my eye and I’m a total victim for book marketing-in titles and in cover artwork (one reason why I’m messing around with more than 5 books at once right now).

But more than that, the book title caught my eye because I have been hounded by the challenge of what it takes to carry the Sunday morning church experience into the week beyond.

I feel the burden (and danger!) of church simply being relegated to 90 minutes of information transfer, lukewarm musical engagement and surface level community.

I want to be a part of a generational movement where Church is defined as so much more than that.

But the principle has to do with physically being the church and carrying our faith outward.

That’s the essence of Spada and Scott’s great work in this book.

I will briefly highlight their 3 challenges for us as people who leave the church Sunday and go into our workplace Monday (as always, whether that place takes you to corner offices or kitchens):

1. We tend to leave God back at church because we are still hung up on this sacred/secular spiritual divide

I love this reminder so much.

And there are scriptural references left and right but a few of my favorite are:

(God Speaking to Peter in a dream about Jewish/Gentile reconciliation) “The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”- Acts 10:15

(God Speaking to Moses giving him his mission to free a people from captivity) “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – Exodus 3:5

All the ground on the earth is God’s ground; everything on heaven and earth belongs to God so how can you call it unclean, “secular,” or unholy…?

The major challenge put to the believer is to stop compartmentalizing our lives into sacred/secular, holy/unholy, spiritual/non-spiritual…

As believers we have the Spirit of God within us, that means that wherever we go we at least have the opportunity to make it sacred… to make it holy… to make it spiritual.

2. We tend to take matters into our own hands because we leave God out of our work lives, which results in us feeling alone, isolated and separated from God in our work.

This is your basic truth about how we always try to control things. Since birth we are bent toward this reality.

Because we feel like work is ours to produce and manufacture and manipulate, just like everything else in our lives, we end up refusing to let go and let God.

We don’t give to him what rightfully belongs to him in the first place (the plan, the circumstance… destiny!) and when we do that, the result is actually a greater sense of loneliness in the world.

3. We tend to buy the lie that because our work doesn’t have the coolest mission or vision, that it’s all a waste

This is one of the saddest and most grave of all and it hits my generation with unusual poignancy. 

The millennial generation is particularly plagued with finding meaningful work and purpose.

We have this desire to be change agents and cultural movers and shakers, yet when we feel like our minimum wage job doesn’t chalk up to that, we slack off in our pursuit of making a difference or we just up and change jobs altogether.

God wants us to delight in everything we put our hands to, because he delights in it and because when we do, ultimately, that’s an incredible example to the world around us.

The way that Spada ties all of this together is through this very consistent thread around light and darkness.

We have the greatest opportunity, and indeed call to action, to take our faith and our God into our work week and yet most days we walk around like the light of the Lord is virtually non-existent in our lives.

The idea comes most clearly from Matthew 5:

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

That’s the bottom line.

We have to enter into our work week with a newfound sense that we have a very bright light in our lives and others want and need to be a part of that too…

Go ahead and let them in by proving by the way you act, talk and live that its a worthy endeavour, that it’s a beautiful thing, that it’s a life changing force for the greatest good and transformation!

Doing What Matters Most (And the People Who Pull you Along)

Doing What Matters Most (And the People Who Pull you Along)

Ever feel scattered brain and divided in your work load? Lack of clarity in your job description? Or simply what you’re trying to accomplish in a given day?

Ever felt slow or stagnated in seeing movement toward your personal or corporate goals?

Today marks the end of my first month at our new church job.

Looking back I can see some instructive moments on these subjects already…

First, a few words on my job description and position. I’ve been hired on as an Associate Lead. At a smaller church with fewer resources and staff this means I wear many hats and fill a very generalist role.

Knowing this would be the case before I began work, I had a few hopeful goals: get clarity around the most important hats to wear the majority of the time, which would dictate my highest priorities thus leading to more focused action.

Let me break that down once more:

major hats > highest priorities (which dicatates hours in the day by the way) > focused action (which leads to better execution by the way).

Whether it was the role or the task, the principled expectation I had coming in was: you just focus on what’s important now (or W.I.N. for short).

As a generalist I knew that I could not focus on 15 different things at once. I wanted to pick 3-4 things and do those well.

Two of those W.I.N. projects have been within the realm of mission/vision clarity and leadership development.

But before (or simultaneously) chipping away at these two great and worthy endeavors I knew that I would have to just sit with people. Sit with the paid staff, sit with volunteer staff and then sit with pretty much anyone who has influence at this organization.

Sit, hear their story, listen to their heart for this place, receive feedback and build trust.

Then at the end, give just the tiniest insight into how I would love for them to consider participating in our upcoming leadership initiative.

These meetings have been amazing, encouraging, clarifying and uniting. What I’ve learned from sitting with 15 different people (in as many work days) is:

That they are all hungry for something new;
That they all have a heart language for the needs of our communities and;
That they are all ready to play a part.

It’s a pretty neat thing to witness because as the “new guy” you bring very particular culture and DNA all to yourself. And the 500 pound gorilla in the room is whether what you have, are and bring will sync up with what’s in the place you are entering. 

I’m hopeful that through these meetings with people they are encouraged and together are spirits are being knit together.

And that’s one of the key and timeless principles that you have to remember:

It’s all about people; people matter most; people build things-especially highly invested and highly influential people.

Meet People. See People. Hear People.

It all begins and ends with people; human to human sync up and send! 

Actually this is so paramount that I would be willing to make the following bold statement:

The what and how don’t even matter yet; even the big WHY doesn’t matter yet. It’s all about the WHO that matters most (right now).

I could have the most compelling mission & vision (the big why) you’ve ever heard, but if you don’t even know me, if you haven’t met me, if we haven’t heard each other just eyeball to eyeball, it’s not gonna mean much. AND we’re not gonna go very far…

Who is a person within your organization or circle of influence that you could really use a reconnection with? *Hint: you may have some unresolved stuff with this person OR you might just be vital for each other in the joint pursuit of some grand mission or vision!

If this is impacting your life or leadership, please feel free to repost and share!