Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

True Growth

August 9, 2022

One of my early business teachers pointed to a truth that has stayed with me many years through many Silicon Valley booms and busts—the only true growth is growth in profits.

We have lived through a period of church history, not only in the United States, but also in many other areas of the world, where churches were measured in terms of growth in attendance or maybe membership. We’ve seen the growth in numbers of “megachurches” led by charismatic and driven men striving for earthly success. There are doctoral degrees in church growth.

Forty years of megachurch growth in the US. And then the pandemic. People were told not to mingle in order to arrest the spread of the disease clogging hospital emergency facilities. We are now at least six months into an opening of society. But megachurches, and indeed all churches, are reporting quietly a 50% decline in attendance and financial support.

But, I ask, are those the important numbers?

If real growth in business is growth in profits (not sales), then what should a church be “measuring?” Perhaps a church should be know for the increasing spiritual development of its members along with the outward and visible sign—actions pleasing to Jesus, their leader. Things like binding the wounds and providing care for the traveler (story of the Good Samaritan), feeding the poor (doing for the least of these…), caring for the prisoner, and the other examples and instructions from Jesus.

James told us the two are linked—growing in spirit and serving others.

Does it matter if a church has 50,000 with a well-paid staff or 50 struggling souls? Does it matter the positive impact on the world around them?

The Carbon Almanac

July 12, 2022

There is a spiritual discipline seldom discussed–being a steward to the earth. Today, I address a project that a few hundred people have worked on for a year. It’s called The Carbon Almanac.

The book launches today. I’ve purchased a few. Do yourself a favor and get one. This post is from the launch letter.

The official launch of the Carbon Almanac is here, and we are thrilled to share the news with you. And we’d like you to share the news with people you care about.

A book that brings you just the accurate facts–without the rhetoric, slant, or agendas–to help you be well-informed and make better decisions about climate change. Because nobody needs more guilt, anxiety, or labeling.

Are you tired of hearing media pundits debate climate change’s dire consequences without providing facts to help you make your own decisions?

Are you having a hard time finding credible and authoritative info that is easy to access and share, and that regular people (non-climate-change-experts and non-scientists) can understand?

Do you want to talk about climate change with confidence?

Do you want to take action to help climate change but don’t know where to start?

Do you want to join a worldwide community of people who care?

If so, your search is over: The Carbon Almanac is the only book built to share with information you’re looking for – all footnoted.

It’s been designed to be a clear, approachable, and non-partisan collection of facts that can lead you to understand climate change and make a positive and meaningful impact.

Organized by Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author of over 20 best-selling books, and created by a team of more than 300 volunteers–people like you in more than forty countries, The Carbon Almanac is:

  • An organized collection of facts, tables, history, quotes, explanations, illustrations, and cartoons with the concise data you need to form a knowledgeable opinion
  • A non-controversial, reliable, quick reference source that you can share with others without the noise, overwhelm, and hidden agendas (not to mention the confusion and boredom!) that most materials bring
  • A shared, fixed document that permits our communities to connect and to discuss

The Almanac sparked a storm of creativity which had as a result a series of podcasts, a kids book, an educators guide, the Daily Difference Action e-mail series, a LinkedIn course, a board game and many more. Find everything at thecarbonalmanac.org.

Buy the book, share the book and let’s start the conversation. It’s not too late.

Do Something Good For All Of Us

May 27, 2022

Do Something Good For All of Us

One of the spiritual disciplines is service. I’ve been a recycling fanatic for a number of years. Lately I attempted to contribute to a project called The Carbon Almanac. Check it out.

Seth Godin talked about a search engine called Ecosia that gives you good search results through your browser on the Web and also does good things for the environment by planting trees. Here are some thoughts from a recent Seth blog.

Make the choice to upgrade from Google.

There are many good reasons to do so, and few downsides.

Do it for your efficiency, for the health of the web and for the planet too.

First, a quick clarification because this is confusing to many people: The thing you use to browse the internet is not a search engine. Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Safari–these are web browsers. A browser is software that allows you to look at any web page–and these companies often make money by selling your attention to the search engine that bids the most. Apple takes billions of dollars a year from Google in exchange for steering you to their search engine.

And the reason that Google bids so much is that they make an insane amount of money. Billions of dollars a year from serving up ads and harvesting your data from your searches. That money needs to come from somewhere.

You can switch your search engine in just a few clicks. See a short video and find the links right here.

Here’s what will happen when you switch to Ecosia:

You’ll get faster and less cluttered search results, with far fewer ads.

You’ll be diversifying the web, so SEO hacks can’t easily take over.

You’ll be giving away far less data about yourself and maintaining more privacy.

AND! You’ll be planting trees through a certified not-for-profit B corp… more than 100,000,000 planted so far.

If you don’t like the results, you can switch back in two minutes.

If you switch and then you forward this to five more people who switch, we’re likely to plant another 100,000,000 trees in the next year. That’s a lot. If you switch and spread the word, search results will get better and Google will start to do a better job knowing that they don’t have quite the same scale of monopoly.

I have switched on all my devices. Check it out.

Serving The Invisible Person

November 26, 2021

Not long before the world shut down, I went to visit a friend in home hospice. The nurse on duty was her niece, who showed me to my friend’s room, and then asked, “Do you mind if I shower while you’re here?” I did not mind. My visit surely gave me more than it gave my friend who lay at the threshold of heaven. On my way out, I ran into the niece again. “Thank you,” she said, “I hope that wasn’t too weird for me to ask.”

Rebekah Curtis

This story came to me in a newsletter this morning. Last night we watched an English murder mystery on TV. The murderer was a talented individual who had been overlooked his entire life. There came a breaking point when past injustices led to his imminent death, and he snapped.

Sometimes it takes multiple experiences before something finally bubbles into my awareness.

Like—how many invisible people have I passed by who could have used a helping hand, a small amount of service, a kind word, an acknowledgement of their worth?

As we enter the Christmas season with all of its pleas for donations for this or that cause, let us open our eyes to the invisible people who surround us.

Let us open our eyes, but with love not the underlying arrogance of Mr. Shirley, the CEO in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (we had our annual kick off of the Christmas season watching it last night). “This experience taught me that it’s people who count, little people…like you.”

No, we are all children of God who deserve to be noticed and loved.

How You Treat The Poor

November 16, 2021

Prayer or Words? The guarantee of one’s prayer is not in saying a lot of words. The guarantee of one’s petition is very easy to know: How do I treat the poor? The degree to which you approach them, and the love with which you approach them, or the scorn with which you approach them – that is how you approach your God. What you do to them, you do to God. The way you look at them is the way you look at God.

Oscar Romero

Jesus told a couple of stories.

Once two men went to the central religious meeting point, the place where you could get closest to God, the Temple in Jerusalem. They went because they wanted to be close to God. But there were other, hidden reasons.

One man was a visible member of the very religious club. He actually went to be seen praying. And he prayed on a visible corner with many (probably long) words. The other man went to a place not on the Main Street. He assumed a posture of humility asking God for forgiveness and support. This is the man Jesus said went away justified.

Jesus was tested by another member of the Religion Club. The question centered on the “second commandment” to love our neighbor. He needed an explanation about what love your neighbor meant.

Jesus responded with a story. We call the story The Good Samaritan. All good stories have many points. The man who followed the commandment was an outcast from Jewish society. The man also did not just pause on his journey to say a prayer. No, he stopped. Bandaged the wounds of the injured traveler. He took him to an inn and paid for a room and medical care.

Loving your neighbor is not words—it’s deeds.

Oscar Romero, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, became one of my spiritual heroes by the early 80s. His teaching to us is actually more than doing. He also addresses attitude. How do you approach others who are different from you? Then what do you do for them?

These are challenging questions. I am challenged. As, I hope, are you wherever you are.

What Good Will I Do Today?

November 3, 2021

What good will I do today?

Sometimes I write about goal setting, as in New Year’s Resolutions or the like. Actually I write about not doing that. Just thinking about what kind of person I’d like to be. And writing it down.

This question makes that thought real. Every day, if we do it. This is a practice handed down from the early American “founding father” and statesman Benjamin Franklin.

Begin the day asking of yourself What good will I do today? End the day answering What good did I do today?

It is best not to leave that question in the abstract. On one hand, we could remind ourselves to be open to at least one opportunity to make someone’s day better.

  • A bigger tip for the barista
  • A smile and helpful hand to someone you meet
  • A donation to a worthwhile charity
  • Participate in a food drive or blood drive

Following good Getting Things Done (David Allen) practice, perhaps we should write at the top of today’s calendar or to do list one thing we will do. Writing something and then crossing it off the list is oddly satisfying.

I had not thought of doing that next step that of writing down a specific action until I started writing this post. Maybe that’s my good idea for the day.

Now, what’s the good thing I can do today?

Anger

October 13, 2021

It happens sometimes that someone disappoints me. A low-level anger grows within my gut. Not rage. But my emotions are aroused.

It happens sometimes that I react with an email promptly.

That is always a mistake. I know better. Walk away. Let the new situation digest. Then I can respond from a recognition of the new situation.

Time. Allow for understanding. Readjust thinking. Now response comes more calmly and constructively.

For example, a referee calls and says, “Sorry, but I cannot do that game tomorrow that I promised I would.”

Anger does not help. The new reality is that I must find a replacement. My thinking must quickly move toward accepting the new reality and devising solutions. That requires calm.

Sometimes the anger may be deeper. Politics can stir deep and lasting emotions. Injustice in the world. Someone in the workplace or within the organization beats me out of a position and I lose status and money.

We cannot let the anger grow and control us. What is the situation? What can we do? If we can do nothing (like politics in Washington other than vote every couple of years), then we have to accept our limitations and work where we can provide solutions.

Maybe I can’t solve world hunger (I worked for an organization once that tried that.) But we can feed the hungry family down the street or send money to an orphanage to help feed the kids. I can let the anger provide energy for useful responses.

Once we go that far, then as we rest daily with God in the spirit of meditation in our daily disciplines, we can let the spirit of God guide our responses now that we’ve calmed enough to accept it. When anger is in control, we can’t listen. When we decide to recognize this new situation, we can listen for God’s guidance. This channels our life into more useful responses.

Labor Day

September 6, 2021

Today is Labor Day in America. A national holiday. And, like pretty much all of our national holidays, it’s just a Monday off work (for some, but not many people laboring to serve us). This holiday traditionally signals the end of “summer” and the beginning of fall activities. Schools once opened after Labor Day since they were not air conditioned and days are becoming cooler–at least in the north.

It’s a day of grilling on the patio with some family or a final weekend for camping and boating.

And labor?

Not so much respected for the last 70 years or so. We have developed a gerbil exercise wheel culture of ambition and activity where we think that the only people of worth are those ceaselessly striving for riches and power.

Many manufacturing leaders have adopted a management style called “Lean”. The central tenant of this movement is respect for people. The idea that everyone, including laboring people, has values and can contribute to the overall success of the enterprise.

I wholeheartedly support this. As a writer on manufacturing with a fairly large following (my Website is starting to nudge 200K viewers a month, very good for a niche publication), I’ve had the opportunity to visit many plants both in Europe and the US practicing this methodology.

It is not only industrial and manufacturing “labor” that serves us. Let us pause, even in those countries not celebrating the holiday, and thank all the people working in hospitals and other healthcare facilities whose stressful work keep us alive even when we don’t practice good health habits. People work even through the holiday to serve us at stores and restaurants and fix our Internet connection and restore our electricity and so forth.

They serve us. We can serve them. I’ve been reading in Evagrius who taught that service (charity) was a spiritual discipline that helps us overcome some of the spiritual ills we face.

Attached To Your Power Source

May 28, 2021

This week I interviewed the CEO for my technology blog. The company manufactures fabric with solar cells stitched in as part of the finished product.

Imagine that you are hosting some sort of outdoor reception. Perhaps in the large back yard of your mansion. Or perhaps at a park. You would like to have some lights. Perhaps you are generous and thoughtful enough to wish to provide some power outlets for your guests to charge mobile phones. Or wire one or more as a WiFi hotspot to provide Internet connection to your guests so that they can be rude and check social media during the reception (OK, I joke).

This company provides fabric for tents, canopies, or even large coverings perhaps to cover outdoor storage in an industrial setting providing enough electrical power to charge an electric fork lift.

The power source is attached to the product. It’s integral with the fabric.

This morning I thought about how life in the spirit must be like that. We have receptors like solar cells build right in. If we are so inclined we can tap into the power source.

The writers compiled into the New Testament must have had a vision similar to that. About us connected directly to the power source of the spirit. Our lights on and WiFi available to serve others.

Edging Toward Normal

May 3, 2021

I’ve been back in Ohio this weekend for my first soccer weekend in two years. Sunny. Temperatures in the 70s. Beautiful weekend.

Of course, I witnessed all the varieties of personalities and emotions that are exhibited during competition. That would just be humanity. But 600 kids having fun and hopefully growing some. 1200 more or less parents cheering them on. Given 95 games very few examples of poor sportsmanship.

There is money to be made by the clubs sponsoring these American youth tournaments–of which there were four in southern Ohio this weekend. But not mega-millions.

We can contrast to the money grabbing of a half-dozen owners of the world’s largest soccer clubs recently. While our kids were playing, parents had mobile phones out tracking the events at Old Trafford in England where fans put on a giant protest about the owners of Manchester United leading that money hunt.

Once again, humanity. On the one hand, good competitive environment providing opportunities for kids. On the other hand ego, pride, greed.

Every moment of every day in which we draw breath, we get to make that choice. Are we helping other people? Are we wrapped up in our own pride and greed?

Choose wisely.