Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Foster A Learning Organization

September 30, 2016

There are two institutions in society where time spent matters more than work done–schools and prisons.

I saw this quote in a book some 40 years ago. I forget the attribution. Twenty minutes just went down the drain searching the Internet for it. Oh, well, how many of us resemble this remark?

There was a candidate for a job opening. “I have a BA degree, therefore I’m an expert in that topic.”

Some people see themselves as never done, as in they must always be learning–both inside and outside their disciplines. Marketing guru Seth Godin has another phrase–Fully Baked. “Knowledge workers, though, the people who manage, who go to meetings, who market, who do accounting, who seek to change things around them—knowledge workers often act as if they’re fully baked, that more training and learning is not just unnecessary but a distraction.”

Managers in all manner of organizations are taught to say “people are our most important asset.” Yet, how many of them encourage the continual learning required to keep the organization fresh and innovative. And to encourage their people to grow and develop?

This works for marketplace organizations, non-profits, and churches.

Are you the sort of leader who leads by example? What are the latest books you’ve read? Podcasts you’ve listened to? Conferences you’ve attended? Notes you’ve put into your notebook or Evernote?

Are you the sort of leader who listens to others–indeed one who solicits advice and then acts on it?

And not just business or leadership books. Read outside your area. Learn something totally new. My reading in brain science has deepened my understanding of Scripture and how to change habits to incorporate the new information.

How about a goal? Read at least one book a month for new information. Then maybe you can make it two. Then you can read that mystery for relaxation.

By so doing, you can influence others to also adopt a learning lifestyle.

Michelangelo wrote on a canvas when he was 87, “I am still learning.”

The Joy of Learning

September 28, 2016

I hated school. Well, I was bored for much of it. Then I went through a period of not working hard enough. Then I learned the “game” of school and got good grades…and got out.

There was the time in graduate school when I looked at the professors and thought, “I don’t want to be them. I don’t want campus politics. I don’t like the picky hierarchy.” So, I got a job.

When you’re no longer doing something just for the grade, it’s liberating. Not that I didn’t learn a lot at university. I did. It’s just learning wasn’t fun.

Paradoxically, I’ve had on my mind for months the idea of the joy of learning. A couple of years ago, I went through about 1,800 pages of scholarly work on Paul the Apostle. Had it been a grad school assignment…well, who knows. But such a deep dive over an extended period of time brings an understanding of the person that can only be explained as a great joy in learning–and in understanding.

I missed a couple of posts last week and I’m a little late this morning because I’m on the West Coast. Well, today I’m in Phoenix, not the coast for sure, but the same time zone. What am I doing? Learning. My job for the past 20 something or even 30 years has been to learn about a technology, digest what it means, and then explain and interpret it for others. There is joy in that exercise. The end result is to help others build machines and processes to improve manufacturing and production.

The same holds true for Bible study–or also studying great interpreters. It is the pure joy of learning what the Scriptures really say and then bringing it into a life that builds deeper understanding and a deeper response to life.

The challenge in this sort of study is to understand the gap between knowing and doing. Or as some writers have taught–the distance from the brain to the heart. There is joy in learning, but the goal is to change the way you live. That comes when the knowledge becomes embedded in your entire being. You change the way you live.

Improve Our Spiritual Formation By Helping Others

June 24, 2016

Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.  –Booker T. Washington

For more than 25 years, I’ve had a part in the development of young people through the youth soccer program. When you talk about giving responsibility and then trusting them, try teaching them something about refereeing a soccer match and then sending them out at age 14 or so with a whistle.

I take great enjoyment in watching young people develop into mature and responsible adults. It is the primary job in life for adults–to nurture the next generations.

Take another look at Paul’s letters to his protege, Timothy. He consoles him, challenges him, offers wise advice, and reprimands him. All in two short letters.

A friend told me recently about a thought he’d picked up that the church is called to equip people for ministry. Train them and then send them out.

I’m from the rural Midwest where there are still many people who remember the church as the social center of the community. Of course, almost everyone went to the same church. The public school was for all practical purposes an extension of the church.

For these people even unto today, the church is more like a club where you go meet your friends than a place where you intentionally train and encourage people for ministry.

People learn what they see and experience. If they see Christians as part of a club that withdraws from society once or twice a week, that is one thing. If they see Jesus-followers out in the community helping people, living like Jesus commanded, they learn something entirely different.

Our life is our witness. When our words are not congruent with our lives, then it’s what we do not what we say that is the witness to others. That is our challenge. To withdraw for spiritual nourishment and then live as if we learned something.

When we get that whistle and get in the game, do we use it wisely?

Give Feedback Immediately

June 22, 2016

Just wait until your father gets home! — Old parenting joke

When your child does something out of bounds, when is the best time to give corrective feedback?

No, this is not a trick question. And I know that for some (many?) of you, it’s a shock to discover that your 14-year-old (or 2-year-old) can do something wrong.

Right! You provide the feedback at the time. If you wait, the feedback loses immediacy and impact.

Henry Cloud uses the example in his latest book The Power of the Other of a pair of mountain climbers. When is the best time to give feedback on a faulty foot placement? Before or after the slip and fall?

“Get behind me Satan.” Jesus to Peter

When Peter gave a wrong answer to Jesus, he received immediate feedback. In the course of three years, Peter received a lot of immediate corrective feedback. And he developed into a great leader.

Cloud uses the picture of a rectangle with four corners. He defines four types of relationships. Three are dysfunctional. The Corner Four relationships build you up, provide energy, and also sometimes corrective feedback when necessary. A true friend will give you the metaphorical kick in the butt when you need it.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.

When I was editor-in-chief of a magazine, I routinely asked of people during my travels how I and the magazine could improve. What might be lacking? Where could we be going? Mostly I heard, “You’re doing a great job.” We like positive remarks, of course, but if you are looking for continuous improvement, then you need some corrective feedback. Maybe gentle, maybe a little harder to wake us up.  But it’s important.

One point–when you are looking for feedback beware the “skeptic” as defined in Proverbs. They are always critical of everything. They may or may not be helpful. Look for your Corner Four relationship, a friend or someone who cares about you. They know you and have a feel for what feedback is useful for your growth.

Oh, go buy the book, read it, digest it. Cloud will help you add depth to your relationships.

Leaders Struggle, Too

May 20, 2016

Peter, the apostle, grew up with a fixed set of beliefs. There were beliefs about religion. Beliefs about types of people. Beliefs about interactions among different types of people.

He met Jesus who proceeded to blow away every stereotype and belief he’d grown up with.

When he became the leader, his struggles were public–at least within his group.

What am I supposed to do, he must have been continually thinking.

I’m not supposed to eat from this long list of foods. Yet, I find myself in situations where hospitality, and yes, love, require that I eat some of those foods.

I’m not supposed to associate with certain types of people–even to the point of not entering their house. But there I am associating with one of “them”, even worse healing one of “them”, even worse preaching and sharing the gospel, even worse baptising them.

These are all recorded for all of us in the book called The Acts of the Apostles.

Surely for a reason, we can still read this.

This does show us that great leaders can struggle with issues and change their minds. They can grow publicly. Imagine one of our presidential candidates doing that! The media would be highly critical. But if one actually had the courage to say, “I’ve grown. God has shown me how I was wrong and how I need to grow”? How refreshing an example that would be.

Sometimes people become leaders and have a solid view on the nature of the organization, the market, the team, themselves. The good leaders grow. They adapt to changing circumstances. They don’t make themselves into a persona that says they are God. They acknowledge that sometimes God says I’m going down the wrong path. It’s OK to change.

Leadership Means Establishing Responsibility and Accountability

April 22, 2016

Responsibility and accountability. These are both spiritual formation values and leadership essentials.

One of the organizations I work with has developed a system of diffused responsibility and accountability. When there is no one person responsible for a function, that task will be undone and the function will not grow and prosper.

Think about Jesus. He made people responsible for themselves and for certain roles. His last instructions to his followers we call the “Great Commission.” He did not give the instruction to an organization. He gave it to those who follow him.

Then he told stories, such as that of the talents. The servants were given responsibility to make the most of the money the master entrusted them with. But then the master returned and held each accountable.

As a leader or part of the ruling board or committee, the essential task prior to oversight is to establish clear responsibilities and accountability. Do not put two different committees or point leaders in charge of the same thing. Now no one is accountable.

Establish point leaders for each important function that must be done. Start with the overall manager and then each functional area. There are certain things that must be done if the organization is to succeed. Assure that these are defined.

Just so in personal development. We are each responsible for our spiritual formation. No one will do it for us. We can search out guides and mentors. In the end, we are each responsible for what we did in response to Jesus’ commando–“Go into all the world and make disciples…” We are each responsible for deciding to be a follower and developing and using our gifts in the service to God and to all other people.

We cannot escape being held accountable for how well we accomplished our responsibilities in life. As Paul laid out in Romans, life in the spirit begins with faith and completes with how well we lived.

Quitting My Facebook Addiction

February 12, 2016

I am not one given to hate. I don’t hate specific ethnic, racial, or gender groups. There are individual people I don’t particularly like. But hate…that’s way too strong.

What I do hate is distraction–mine–when I allow myself to get distracted from what’s important. I hate unfounded, uneducated, prejudiced opinions. Not the person, most of whom I don’t know. (I guess it’s easier to hate people you don’t know, though.)

So, why do I get sucked into reading Facebook posts? And the comments? Many of those hateful or ignorant (meaning uneducated and not thought out) opinions are from people who also describe themselves as Christian. I have to imagine when they meet God and explain themselves, He’ll pull out all these posts and say, “What were you thinking????”

So, I read them–sometimes. Then my nice, usually calm, outlook gets agitated like when you stick your hand in an aquarium.

It’s worse when I actually make a comment. I know that there is no such thing as a true conversation on Facebook. It’s more like ping pong. Batting opinions back and forth to no useful purpose.

I was on AOL back in the early 90s. It was supposed to be about conversations. I never saw one. It was much like today’s Facebook–except that the opinions have become more strident and violent.

It’s nice to stay in touch with friends and family, but golly the whole conversation has degenerated. And I’ve even muted dozens of people.

Anyone want to have an honest conversation even if you disagree. It is said that Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil were the best of friends even though they disagreed on many policies. Try that today in our political discourse. Please.

As for me, if I miss your post on Facebook, sorry. I have to narrow my reading. We have to choose what we fill our minds with–that determines our character.

Become A New Creation

December 31, 2015

Decide first for the year not what you will do but who you will be.

I was led to study 2 Corinthians 5 this morning. While reading and contemplating, this phrase popped, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.”

Devoting ourselves to spiritual practices, or disciplines, is simply a means of working on the maturity of that creation.

I may be a new creation, but there seems to be continual work on becoming the sort of person that I should be. I don’t think Paul thought we stopped at becoming the new creation or he wouldn’t have written the last few chapters of Romans. It’s on how you live.

The Bible as a whole is not a text book of science, or of philosophy, or of theology, or of history. The Bible is a manual. It is our guide on how to live, how to relate to God, how to relate to others, how to become the sort of person pleasing to God.

We get off the track when we get into petty arguments. We are on track when we ask at the end of one year and the beginning of the next:

What kind of person was I last year? What kind of person will I be next year?

Generous? Joy filled? Sober? Filled with gratitude? Peaceable? Helpful?

Or the opposite.

You can make your daily decisions about how to act in the situation by firmly being aware of what kind of person you wish to be.

Choose wisely!

Review Last Year, Choose New Habits For This Year

December 30, 2015

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

The last post talked about finding your mountain of “stuckness” and turning.

This week is an ideal time to take a thoughtful look back. Get out your calendar. See where you went; what you did. Where did I waste time? Where did I invest? Is there a trip I made last year that I should do again and improve upon?

Open your list manager. What did you accomplish? What is left? What can be dropped? What must be added to be what I want to be this year?

Who are the people I met with? Who should I have met with? Where can I set aside time to intentionally find people with whom I should mentor or converse next year?

Now, let’s take a look at our friend Aristotle.

We are what we repeatedly do.

That means what we need to work on this year are a couple of new habits. Steve Carter talked about lifting the idea of 40 days from the Deuteronomy story that related to the Hebrews. Do something for 40 days. Make a commitment.

Each day for the next 40 days, I will [fill in the blank]. After 40 days it will become a habit.

Sometimes we fall into bad or sloppy habits. Reading the wrong thing, sleeping in, talking instead of working out, eating that doughnut.

We must become self-aware. See ourselves as if from the outside doing that behavior. Then we decide to replace that bad habit with a desirable one. That is practice.

Let’s repeatedly do excellence. It really is a Spiritual Discipline.

Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet

December 28, 2015

The church staff planning meeting must have been interesting. Well, December 27 is the Sunday after Christmas and before New Years. We need to have a New Year’s Resolutions teaching.

Steve, why don’t you take that? What text would you use?

How about Deuteronomy?

Of course, Deuteronomy. Why didn’t I think of that? <cue head slap>

Teaching Pastor Steve Carter of Willow Creek taught as well about the famous resolutions problem as I’ve heard. You can click the link and watch or listen.

From Deuteronomy 1:6-7–plan your journey, turn toward the promise, go. But before all that, figure out what your Mount Horeb is.

For the Israelites, it was a place of rest and seeming comfort following years of aimless wandering through the deserts.

Problem–the promised land was just “over there.” But they weren’t looking “over there.” They were stuck. God said, “Turn.” Then God said, “Go.”

Our problem–

Where did we get stuck last year. What was your Horeb? Carter says to stop, contemplate, and then name your mountain. Overeating? Overstressed? Overrevving? Overreacting? Overwhelmed?

I’ve always used this week of the calendar to contemplate and review. Yes, years ago I did the self-help guru advice of goal setting and New Year’s Resolutions. I wrote them down. Put them in the front of my DayTimer calendar.

I accomplished exactly none of them.

Then I discovered first getting my heart right. Then uncovering where it seems that God is leading me. Then determining one or more–but not too many–projects that will move me forward. (Note: a project is something that takes more than one task to complete.)

This allows for much more serendipity to enter my life. I can move with changes. Yet, I’m still moving toward being the person God wants me to be.

Name your mountain; turn toward the promise; go.