Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

Top Ten Leadership Commandments

June 26, 2015

Organizers of the conference a couple of weeks ago gifted us with some books. One of mine was “The Top Ten Leadership Commandments” by Hans Finzel, President and CEO of WorldVenture.

The book itself is fairly autobiographical, but the list is good as lists go. The sub-theme of the book is taking leadership lessons from Moses and extrapolating to present day problems.

The Top Ten:

  1. Thou Shalt Cling to the Vision
  2. Thou Shalt Not Serve Thine Own Ego
  3. Thou Shalt Practice Servant Leadership
  4. Thou Shalt Be Opposed, Resisted, and Misunderstood
  5. Thou Shalt Have a Life
  6. Thou Shalt Sweat the Small Stuff
  7. Thou Shalt Spend Time in the Tent (get away and meditate)
  8. Thou Shalt Lead to Leave
  9. Thou Shalt Never Give Up
  10. Thou Shalt Keep Thine Eye on the Prize

Those of us who have been a leader of something during our lives can look at this list and cringe in remembrance of things we missed. Maybe getting a little too full of ourselves. Maybe ignoring details. Maybe not taking time to refresh.

One of the hardest, at least for me, would be number 4. “I’ve thought this out, what do you mean that you don’t think it’ll work????” Or, worse, when a clash of personal agendas takes everyone’s eyes off the prize.

In the end, Finzel is optimistic and encouraging, even when acknowledging the pain. Go forth and lead!

Reflection Empowers Your Day, Your Life

June 19, 2015

Life requires a rhythm. Almost all successful people rise early and get important thought work done. They are in bed by 10.

I usually am up by 5:30. Make coffee and a piece of toast. Read from various sources, meditate & pray, plan the day. Usually I write this blog. Then I am off for a workout–run in the park (or a treadmill), weights 3x per week, short Yoga series. Then off to the coffee shop to write.

There are three pauses that can make all the difference in your effectiveness, balance, and outlook. They are daily, weekly, monthly. I also set aside a couple of days between Christmas and New Years to think about the coming year.

The monthly pause comes easier for me. Take a Sunday evening at the end of a month. Gather you to do lists and notes. Review your lists and notes–checking what you’ve done, not done, and wish you had done. Take a longer view of what you wish to accomplish this year and where your focus should be for the month. Perhaps take a note card and write six things that you wish to devote energy toward in the coming month. Carry this card and refer to it daily. This period of reflection could last an hour or two. Probably no more.

The weekly pause comes less easy. Sometimes Sunday evening comes with a sigh of relief, and I unwind and go to bed. But even 15-30 minutes to review the coming week’s calendar and to do lists before you go to bed will feed information into your unconscious mind and help you start the week productively.

Benjamin Franklin kept a meticulous time planner. He asked himself daily two things. When he arose, he asked, “What good shall I do today?” At the end of the day he paused to reflect, “What good have I done today?”

Sometimes days and weeks get hectic. We fall into bed exhausted. We awake exhausted.

Sometimes we take that pause for reflection. It calms us and focuses us. And we are better prepared for the day.

Take That First Step in Faith

November 26, 2014

“My child, if you accept my words
and treasure up my commandments within you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 if you indeed cry out for insight,
and raise your voice for understanding;
4 if you seek it like silver,
and search for it as for hidden treasures—
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.”

Proverbs 2

The situation in Ferguson, MO keeps invading my consciousness, picks at it like a sore you just can’t keep from touching. It is a tragedy on so many levels. There is no obvious quick solution.

On the one hand, we can’t have mob justice and survive in a country based on rule of law. On the other hand, when there is such little respect for the authority of those entrusted to uphold the law, then where is justice?

I came of moral age in an era in the US of police brutality that was either outrightly condoned or at least hidden. And especially toward black and poor. In my all-white community of 1,000, I don’t know why I developed a deep sense of the need for justice for black people. I never had talked to any non-white person until I was 17. But, that’s where I am. So, I have deep empathy for the community—not for violence which is something I abhor—but for injustice.

The distrust on both sides in that community is so high, it will take a very strong person of faith and integrity to break that cycle. And it won’t happen in a short period of time.

Wisdom, the writer of Proverbs, pleads for a heart of understanding. If you seek it, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, she says.

Bill Hybels, founder and sr. pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church, recently talked about how the Bible teaches us to have faith that we’ll get help along the way—you have to take the first step in faith, then God will help. We need those people that step out in faith. Ferguson needs someone to rise up from its community to step out in faith to start a healing.

That brings us to another question. Where do we need to take the first step in faith to bring healing to a situation? Are we seeking Wisdom to guide us toward understanding? It’s a challenge.

Listen to Wisdom

November 5, 2014

32 For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.

–from Proverbs 1.

Wisdom embodied as a person is talking to us. She pulls no punches. She calls out the fools and the simple–and the wise.

Those who go their own way, who live only for themselves and their pleasure, who know no rules, those are killed. Killed in the soul. Probably killed prematurely in the body.

But the complacent are destroyed. Those who have settled into a life that is “all about me.” The Baby Boomer generation were characterized that way by the early 1970s. Studies have been done and books written about the narcissism of the generation today.

I see it in society, politics and the church. Maybe I’ll give a little money to assuage my guilty conscience. Or maybe I don’t even have that little voice nagging in me anymore and I may donate a little out of habit. And I just live a life of comfort. Seeking nothing. It’s all around us.

The way of Wisdom

Those who follow the ways of Wisdom, those who are wise, are promised security. The ability to live at ease–without a nagging voice within us whispering we’re on the wrong path.

The wise are diligent, hard working, living in the Spirit of God, generous.

The fool mocks that life. In a sense, I did intellectually in my youth. But we learn the truth of Wisdom.

If you are lost in the travel of your life. Can’t find a path. Thinking that somewhere there is more than just living for yourself. Then find and practice the path of Wisdom. Find the joy of living for other people. Find the peace and joy of living the with-God life.

Love Discipline Love Knowledge

October 17, 2014

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge
But whoever hates to be rebuked is stupid.

Psalms 12

The story I received as a young person was that the Methodist Movement was so named by the habits of the founders. It seems that while at the University, John Wesley and his brother Charles and a small group of friends arose early every morning to study and pray. They were “methodical” in their approach–hence, methodists.

Story after story can be found of people who became dissatisfied with the direction of their lives (rebuked comes to mind) and decided to change. They began getting up earlier in the morning so that they could study and pray.

“Fifteen minutes in the chair” is a phrase famous among Willow Creekers. It comes by way of one such man who was convicted of the way his life was going. He began getting up early, sat in his favorite chair, read from the Bible, and prayed. He grew in knowledge and wisdom. The change was noticeable.

I’ve heard of men whose careers were going nowhere. They were frustrated. Disillusioned. Then they got up 15 minutes earlier than normal to read. Then the 15 became 30. Then an hour. And the discipline changed their lives and their success.

It is perhaps time to pause and reflect. When is the last time we felt rebuked by God for a pattern of life that is leading nowhere? When is the last time that we changed what we were doing or what we were thinking because of a rebuke from God (or from someone speaking for God at that time)?

Forget the early bird versus night owl stuff. It’s all a pattern of life. The real pattern is to practice discipline and gain knowledge. And with knowledge, wisdom.

Where is your chair?

Choosing The Right Advice

September 12, 2014

Fools think their own way is right; but the wise listen to advice.

I have had a very busy week with little time for reflection except in snippets. My own advice I should have listened to–as Yoda might put it. I took the last flight out of Chicago Wednesday. Delayed an hour. Arrived home Thursday morning at 1:15 am. Not conducive to getting up at 5:30 and meditating and reading.

What has been on my mind this week is puzzling out people who do not seek the facts of a situation, but proceed on rumor and innuendo. On the other hand, I’ve also run into people who go the other way and wait for all the facts to come in to make a decision.

The quote comes from Proverbs. Those who proceed to action from their feelings based on information that comes in that they feel disposed toward believing, will make bad decisions. And they will stir up divisiveness.

These people reflect what happens when a personality type tips out of balance. It’s when the “feeling/judgmental” type as described by Myers-Briggs goes to excess. This is where the wise seek out and listen to good advisors. They remind themselves that they don’t know everything and that maybe they should still learn.

The other type, meanwhile, is when the opposite, the “thinking/perceptives”, need to take in more information and more information and have trouble acting. That’s when you test your advisors, trust the proven ones and finally decide “I know enough to take action” and do so.

Philosophers have taught us from ancient times that balance is all important. We need to seek balance in our lives. We need to seek balance in our personalities. We need to study, think, act. Not act, think, study.

Pride Or Wisdom

August 14, 2014

I, Wisdom, live with prudence,
and I attain knowledge and discretion.
The fear of The Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
–Proverbs 8:12-13

So many things that we do in life that separate us from God have their root cause in pride and arrogance. Solomon knew this 3,000 years ago.

As we grow older, we often begin to attain knowledge and discretion. Some don’t. And young people (we’ve all been there) think they have already attained knowledge. But living with God, eventually you look at people in their 30s and 40s who are striving against others for wealth and power–if even only on a relative scale.

Then we look back at those years and those who are there now and understand.

Where does pride leave self-assurance and go too far? Some of us are brought up in households of insecurity and low self-esteem. Where is it that we gain confidence and then where when we go too far and become filled with pride.

It is where you stop living with-God. It is where you put yourself first. Thinking only of yourself. Your desires. Your comfort.

How do you know that you are not in that place of separation from God? It’s when your heart and actions are for the benefit of others. When you listen to what God wants you to do–and then you do it. Humbly–that means thinking of others with no thought of your own gain.

When we arrive at that place, it is like a great weight has disappeared from our shoulders. We live free.

Maybe for some of us, this is a life-long struggle. We have been living in an age of Narcissism. It is all around us. Messages from advertisers and news reports and peers all whisper that we exist only to satisfy our own desires. Breaking free of that is not easy. But it is necessary to achieve the with-God life. And be free.

Passionately Curious

May 5, 2014

As many long-time readers know, if I miss a day or two, I’m traveling. I had many meetings in the Chicago area last week. That enabled me to have an eye exam and try out new contacts courtesy of my daughter-in-law. Then also spend time with my grandkids–ages 4 and 6.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” ― Albert Einstein

We were walking across the parking lot to the restaurant for dinner. My granddaughter was holding my hand and skipping and jumping. One of the things I love about kids is just this exuberance. To have that energy at the end of the day. Reminded me of walks with my grandson when he was 18 months or so. He lived in Florida at the time. Walks could take a long time. We stopped and checked out everything–leaves, bugs, lizards, worms, birds. That’s another thing about kids, curiosity.

I think so many people lose their curiosity. I have always been curious about things. Still am. I think that trait has kept me young even though I’m not.

Along with that thought, I picked up another:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein

Children also know no bounds with dreaming up new things. They can blow up your structured thinking and closed way of looking at the world.

We need this in all areas of our lives. I’ve seen people in church without curiosity or imagination. I’ve seen them especially in business. The people in business who have influenced me the most had these traits.

The smaller children, before they learn differently, also just “tell it like it is.” I’m seeing situations in organizations I’m in where there are some people hiding behind masks. Not seeming to be as they are.

It’s a good thing to be childlike. I’m not sure if that is part of what Jesus said about being like children.

Treat Everyone Equally

January 13, 2014

When most of you read this post, I will be in the air on my way to Mexico to visit the Tijuana Christian Mission. I’m going with three members of our church’s pastoral staff partly so that I can rejuvenate our mission ministry.

One of my small groups is studying James right now. As always, what we study seems to have immediate application. Twice early in his letter, James teaches on respecting everyone. Everyone in the community is equal before God. We should not feel either inferior or superior. We should not treat others as superior or inferior.

That’s one of the things I admire about Pope Francis, by the way. In an organization that retains most of the medieval trappings of power and authority, he is trying to bring some other traditional Christian teachings into the church.

I have traveled internationally enough to intentionally try not to be the “typical American.” But often I’m at engineering conferences. This is a different trip. I’ll be the only engineer. James’ teachings will be at the front of my mind. Although (probably as an American) I seldom recognize personally superiority or inferiority, going on a mission trip with the poor and dispossessed will be different, for sure.

James teaches two things early in his letter–respect for others and awareness of our own motivations. Nowhere does this come out as much as during travel into other cultures. Should be an interesting time.

Copy The Right Master

December 27, 2013

Yesterday, I wrote about human development. How we learn from copying the master and then incorporate those learnings into our lives so that we can then create within our own personality.

What about choosing the right masters to copy from? That is important for art, but even more so in spiritual development.

Jesus is such a hard model to follow. He was so perfect. He could do things that we’ll never do. On the other hand, he taught in the tradition of creating disciples. These are people who follow the master and try to emulate him. In certain Jewish religious circles even today you will see men wearing clothing of a certain style. This is the style of clothing that their master (teacher) wears.

What do we do to look like our teacher–Jesus? I am more and more convinced that the main point of the Bible story is to teach us how to live your lives. Jesus spends very little time talking about heaven. He spends almost all of his instruction time on how to live.

He’ll answer such things as how we treat other people, upon whom do we focus when faced with decisions (hint: God), how we manage our resources, how to teach, what to teach, how to bring healing to people.

People will say, “I believe.” Maybe they will even say, “I believe in my heart.” Jesus would say, “Fine, but what about that decision to spend money on another new TV rather than provide help to the homeless?” Or, “How about the way you treated the people you met today?”

It boils down to whether we focus on what God would have us do or whether we settled for satisfying our own pleasures or wants. It’s whether we model our lives on the way Jesus lived or on a rock star.

Choose your master consciously with discernment.