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Friday
Apr022010

Beyond the Cross

Every year, thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought thorugh the rough thicket and-to his surprise-came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the Empty Tomb of Jesus Christ. It was neglected and run down. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but there they had stopped.

Far too many people have gotten to the cross and have known the death and heartbreak the seems to be there. But far fewer have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed! That is the rest of the story.

Taken from "The Grapevine"-Pastor Mike Coppersmith lead pastor of Our Savior's Community Church in Palm Springs, California.

 


Tuesday
Mar302010

Linchpin

Just finished a wonderful book that will inspire, motivate and set you free to follow your God-given dream.  Slip over to Book Notes and read my clips from Seth Godin's book, "Linchpin."

Here is something to whet your appetite...

You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better. Every organization needs a linchpin, the one person who can bring it together and make a difference.

Some organizations haven’t realized this yet, or haven’t articulated it, but we need artists. Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done.



Thursday
Mar252010

Can or Can't

For every visionary leader who says, "We can do this" there are five who will give you a plethora of reasons why it can't work, why it won't work, why it shouldn't be done!

Have you ever faced any "can't do's" in your attempt to do God’s will?

Has anyone ever tried to talk you out of what you know God has told you to do?

We find lots of “can’t do’s” in the Bible.

  • They talk a lot, they criticize, they murmur and complain

  • They see a sand trap next to every green

  • They see the glass as half empty rather than half full

  • They threaten, they lie, they discourage

  • Their voices need to be drowned out by the promises and character of God

  • They tried to Keep Nehemiah from building the wall

  • They tried to keep Noah from building the Ark

  • They tried to keep Moses from leading Israel into the Promised Land

  • They tried to keep Joseph from realizing his dream

  • They tried to keep the early disciples from spreading the Gospel

  • They tried to keep Paul from finishing his course

If He is calling you to do something, don't be deterred by the “can't do's.” If what you want to do is gospel-centered, Bible-based, Holy Spirit- empowered and Jesus-honoring, then press on and…

  • Build the wall

  • Build the boat

  • Build the Kingdom

  • Enter the land

  • Lead your people

  • Leave your safety zone

  • Sail away from the shore

  • Drop your nets into the deep for a catch!

“Jesus looked at them and said, with man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27 ESV

 



Friday
Mar192010

Rembering and Forgetting

As leaders, we sometimes forget what God wants us to remember and remember what God wants us to forget.

We need to remember his faithfulness and his promises, but forget the results, good or bad! The entire book of Deuteronomy is a book of remembrance; the Israelites are being reminded of God’s promises and faithfulness as they prepare to enter the land. If they dwell too much on past mistakes and failures, they will lose courage and the hope of entering the land. They needed to be reminded of God!

Learning from the past but not stuck in the past

Paul explicitly states in Philippians 3: 13,14 that the one thing he does is to forget what lies behind, straining forward to what lies ahead. I believe one defining characteristic of a leader is being future-oriented. There are, undoubtedly, times to look back in order to learn, but the key is not to get stuck there, either with the failures or the victories.  I like to think of using the past as a guidepost, not a hitching post.

My leadership philosophy is to learn from the past, plan for the future and live in the present. Living in the past or living in the future can rob one of the energy and focus to live in the present--what God is doing right now.

I love what Sparky Anderson, of baseball lore, said: “I have my faults but living in the past isn’t one of them. There ain’t no future in it.” You can’t move forward if you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror.

Joseph’s two sons

The naming of Joseph’s two sons is very instructive on this issue.  In Genesis 41 we read that Joseph named his two sons:

  1. The first son he called Manasseh, which means God has made me forget

  2. The second son he called Ephraim, which means God has made me fruitful

I believe one of the steps to fruitfulness is being able to let go of the past; good and bad. Repeating methods (without updating due to changing times) that led to past successes can lead to irrelevance and failure in the present.  Dwelling too much on past failures can lead to paralyzing fear that keeps one from trying at all. So, learn from the past but don’t live in the past. Remember what you should remember and forget what you should forget.

 

Friday
Mar122010

Compliance or initiative?

A compliance culture is old school. An initiative culture is new school. When it comes to job enjoyment, organizational morale and increased productivity, new school is better than old school; initiative better than compliance.

 Compliance has to do with rules, regulations, policy and procedures. These are not bad in and of themselves, but when they dominate and lead to the slow death of personal initiative they are very much counter-productive and kill creativity and innovation, which are at the heart of any group or organization’s longevity. We need both/and.  Top down to keep vision and values in place, and bottom up to generate new ideas and solutions to vexing problems and issues.  Too much compliance kills imaginative initiative.

 Here are a few thoughts on how, as a leader, you can keep healthy compliance while at the same time creating and fostering a culture of initiative-taking.

 These are adapted from “Bits and Pieces.”

The more freedom you give people to do their jobs the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work. Most leaders are supposed to be a little smarter than other people and, in most respects, they probably are. 

But if leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations, if everything has to be done THEIR way, what’s left for the people who work for them to dream about and create?

How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job that is completely programmed, where your muscles or brain are used to perform repetitive operations already planned and dictated by someone else? There ought to be something in every role and job that’s satisfying to the person who does it. Unfulfilled people can be just as serious a problem as ineffective methods.

Creating a climate of initiative and empowerment that gives people some independence, without losing control, takes a lot of leadership skill.  It also hinges on the content of a job and the judgment and ability of the person handling it. 

 Here are four ideas used by successful leaders:

  1. Agreed upon end results - Giving people a clear idea of  your expectations and the results you want to achieve and leaving the methods to them.

  2. Suggesting methods rather than dictating them, with the understanding that people are free to devise something better.

  3. Consulting people affected by a problem or a proposed change and asking their ideas, regardless of whether you think you need them or not.

  4. Enriching jobs by delegating decisions and fostering initiative as far down the line as possible. If a worker is capable of being trained to make a certain decision intelligently, why have it referred to a supervisor?  If a supervisor is capable, why refer to someone above?