Dilbert on “Why Leadership is so Hard”

Thought this was funny. This could also be titled, “Why following someone is so hard.”

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Questions to ask Yourself about Electronics

Michael Combs, second from left, with his family using electronic devices.

Many in our culture act as if electronics, social media and TV are neutral. They are simply there. That is naive at best. Electronics are not neutral. They dictate our lives, pump us with more desire for approval, and often help us waste time and miss out on relationships with family and friends. They can keep us from work and ultimately, run our lives and ruin our lives.

Below are some helpful questions from Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions by Arthur Boers to ask yourself about your relationship with electronics:

Attention: What is the primary and ongoing focus of our awareness? Screens and virtual relationships? Family and neighbors? Voyeuristic television “reality shows”? Nature and our surrounding environment? Is our capacity to pay attention, dwell, and be aware diminishing? Are we so overwhelmed with information and stimulation that our ability to respond is affected? Are we moving from receptivity to expecting to control what we perceive?

Limits: What guides our sense of what is appropriate? Do we have the moral strength to recognize when something is beyond the pale and that we need to say no? Or does technology, which makes more and more things possible, including voyeurism, pornography, and gambling, also make all things permissible? Which taboos are worth guarding? How does technology free us from moral constraints and accountability? What is the relationship of technology to addictions? How does technology reinforce addictions? How is technology itself addictive?

Engagement: How are we coping with life and its challenges? Do we approach our day and those we love with calm anticipation, eager to be and work together? Or do such rushed and harried attention spans lead us into being demanding and curt? How does technology speed encounters, making conflicts and misunderstandings more likely? Does planned and perceived obsolescence contribute to eroding commitments?

Relationships: Do our lives include rich networks of loved ones, supportive friends, caring confidants, and casual acquaintances? Are there people who know us in our fullness, care about our hardships, and challenge us to grow in virtue? Or are our lives characterized by growing isolation and loneliness, our relationships dispersed and fragmented? What are the implications of having relationships increasingly mediated by technology while opportunities for face-to-face conversations decline and in-the-flesh friendships decrease? How does technology reinforce casual approaches to relationships, ones that are easy to enter or exit but do not necessarily sustain? What kinds of communities are created by our technology use?

Time: Do we have a sense that there is enough room in our lifestyles for the things that truly matter—work and play, rigor and rest, love and laughter? Or are we too busy to live according to our deepest and highest priorities? Do distracting demands and pressures lure us away from our highest values? How does engagement with technology make us busier? And how does technology erode and displace opportunities to pause and determine, reflect on, and honor ultimate priorities? Space: How well connected are we with the geography and places where we are located? Are we rooted in neighborhoods, connected to the earth and our environment? Or is much of our life lived abstractly in “virtual” reality?

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Being a Leader People Want to Follow

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I love the way Mark Miller writes. He is very similar to Patrick Lencioni in writing business/leadership fables. His latest book The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People want to Follow (kindle version) is no different.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • If your heart is not right, no one cares about your leadership skills.
  • I’ll let you in on a little discussed fact about leadership: As important as the skills are, lack of skills is not what derails most leaders; skills are too easy to learn. If you want to predict people’s ultimate success as leaders, evaluate not their skills but their leadership character.
  • There is a lot more to leadership than great individual work
  • You can lead, with or without, a title. If you wait until you get a title, you could wait forever.
  • Ninety percent of our success as leaders will be determined by what’s below the waterline. It’s our leadership character that ultimately drives what we do, and why. It is a true reflection of who we really are as human beings.
  • Leadership character is the primary driver of your success as a leader.
  • The lack of skills is not what derails most leaders—skills are too easy to learn. It is ultimately leadership character that determines our opportunity for influence and impact.
  • When leaders fail to thrive, the culprit is often their leadership character, not their lack of skills.
  • The servant leader constantly works to help others win.
  • Don’t confuse opportunity with leadership.
  • Get ready to lead and opportunities to lead will not be your problem.
  • Many people in the world see events as they are; leaders are different in that they see things that could be. And the future they see is always a better version of the present. We believe we can make a difference; we think we can make the world, or at least our part of it, better. Leaders are generally more optimistic than nonreaders.
  • People generally rise to the level of expectations placed on them.
  • When faced with a challenging or difficult situation, the best leaders most often respond with courage; less mature leaders, or nonleaders often choose another path—a path with less risk, less conflict, and less personal discomfort.
  • Leaders usually don’t wait—they initiate.
  • Leaders get what they create and what they allow.
  • Leaders respond with courage when they: Articulate the vision for the future. Build relationships with challenging people. Challenge people to grow and change. Mend broken relationships. Confront difficult problems. Make hard or unpopular decisions.
  • When leaders lead well, not everyone is going to be happy.
  • If there were no challenge, there would be no need for courage—or leadership.
  • To blame others is not the path leaders take. Leaders accept responsibility, in part, because they are sold out to the vision.
  • Leaders are different. They see the world differently and they cultivate different character traits.

If you are a leader and you are looking for a quick, insightful leadership book to read, this is it.

If you want to see some of the past books I’ve reviewed, go here.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Sensing Jesus

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Sensing Jesus: Life & Ministry as a Human Being (kindle version) by Zach Eswine. This is the second book I’ve read by Eswine. You can read my review of his book Preaching to a Post-Everything world here.

Here is my one criticism about Eswine and his writing. His stuff is great. It is challenging, soul stirring, makes you think. He just takes a long time to say it. What he says in 5 pages I feel could be said in one. Outside of that, his books are great and this one is no different.

That being said, if you are a pastor or thinking about becoming a pastor, you would do well to work your way through this book and chew on what Eswine lays out. Many pastors, in response to the call God has placed on their lives have forgotten how to be human or that their ministry is to human beings, not robots or masses.

Here are a few things that jumped out in my reading:

  • If there is anything exceptional about me and about this ministerial crowd of mine, it is that we are exceptionally broken.
  • God is the remembered one. But this does not mean we are forgotten – not by him. Not by a long shot. In fact, being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world.
  • We cannot fully magnify God without confessing that we are not him.
  • Greatness, even in ministry, cannot escape humanity.
  • Our goal of greatness is not the problem. How we define the word great is.
  • The problem we have rises when we suggest that obscurity and greatness are opposites, that fame in our culture and greatness as God sees it are synonyms.
  • You cannot glorify God by trying to become him.
  • The Bible simply does not teach us that if we say the right words, right things will follow.
  • How come so much of our Christian knowledge robs us of joy, wonder, awe, play, dependence, and the need to learn and humility?
  • Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
  • Going all out for God means more than going all out for our sermons.
  • One can receive accolades for preaching Jesus, yet at the same time know every little about how to follow Jesus in the living rooms of their ordinary lives.

Here is an interview that Zach Eswine did with Justin Taylor about this book:

Tuesday Morning Book Review || To Sell is Human

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others (kindle version) by Daniel Pink.

Let me be honest, I love the work of Daniel Pink. This book is not exception.

Pink starts out by telling us how his book is for more than just salesman. The reality though, is that everyone is in sales. You may not make cold calls or get people to buy things, but you are seeking to motivate people everyday. Whether that is a boss, a child, a spouse or a friend.

For leaders, this concept is enormous, but it is even more important for pastors. Every week, when a pastor preaches, they are seeking to move people. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they seek to help people move from where they are to their next step with God. This takes motivation. According to Pink, this takes sales. While pastors will bristle at this idea, it is also true. Call it motivation or sales, it is the same thing. According to Pink, “The average person spends 40% of their life trying to move others. We’re persuading, convincing, and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got.”

One of the problems Pink points out that we have when it comes to communicating is that we don’t help people identify the correct problem. This is huge for preaching, helping people see what they could fix. Pastors often answer questions people aren’t asking, and therefore don’t move the people they are preaching to.

Another takeaway for me as a preacher is helping people to see what a truth could look like in their life 5 years from now. I’ve started to say in sermons, “Imagine what your life would be like if you believed ____________.” People are often unmoved, not because they don’t understand something, but because they can’t see the benefit or goodness of something.

Here are a few things that jumped out:

  • One of the most effective ways of moving others is to uncover challenges they may not know they have.
  • To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.
  • The correlation between extraversion and sales was essentially nonexistent.
  • You have to believe in the product you’re selling—and that has to show.
  • Once positive emotions outnumbered negative emotions by 3 to 1—that is, for every three instances of feeling gratitude, interest, or contentment, they experienced only one instance of anger, guilt, or embarrassment—people generally flourished.
  • Next time you’re getting ready to persuade others, reconsider how you prepare. Instead of pumping yourself up with declarations and affirmations, take a page from Bob the Builder and pose a question instead. Ask yourself: “Can I move these people?” As social scientists have discovered, interrogative self-talk is often more valuable than the declarative kind. But don’t simply leave the question hanging in the air like a lost balloon. Answer it—directly and in writing. List five specific reasons why the answer to your question is yes.
  • The problem we have saving for retirement, these studies showed, isn’t only our meager ability to weigh present rewards against future ones. It is also the connection—or rather, the disconnection—between our present and future selves.
  • The third quality necessary in moving others today: clarity—the capacity to help others see their situations in fresh and more revealing ways and to identify problems they didn’t realize they had.
  • We often understand something better when we see it in comparison with something else than when we see it in isolation.
  • So if you’re selling a car, go easy on emphasizing the rich Corinthian leather on the seats. Instead, point out what the car will allow the buyer to do—see new places, visit old friends, and add to a book of memories.
  • Clarity on how to think without clarity on how to act can leave people unmoved.
  • The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.
  • Questions can outperform statements in persuading others.

Overall, a worthwhile book for leaders or preachers.

Jesus in Preaching

“One of the most fascinating of all the preacher’s tasks is to explore both the emptiness of fallen man and the fullness of Jesus Christ, in order then to demonstrate how he can fill our emptiness, lighten our darkness, enrich our poverty, and bring our human aspirations to fulfillment. For to encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence. He gives us a sense of self-worth or personal significance, because he assures us of God’s love for us. He sets us free from guilt because he died for us, from the prison of our own self-centerdness by the power of his resurrection, and from paralyzing fear because he reigns…He gives meaning to marriage and home, work and leisure, personhood and citizenship…The main objective in preaching is to expoud Scripture so faithfully and relevantly that Jesus Christ is perceived in all his adequacy to meet human need.” – John Stott, Between Two Worlds

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Awesome night
  • Great way to end our series in the book of Hebrews
  • The band killed the song “Human”
  • Loved the missional vs. missional video, really funny
  • Love preaching on the topic of being missional
  • As a follower of Jesus, being missional is not optional, it is something we are
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to the message here
  • Two great books to check out that go along with tonight’s topic are Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church can Become a Missionary in Your Community and The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church
  • Really excited about our next series
  • We are going to be doing some of the really creative stuff and making some in-house videos
  • First time we’re doing a game show in church and we’re going to try to pull off “Rock Band”
  • Along with a video parody of TV evangelists, Rev. Benjamin Formee
  • “When benjamins are for you, who can be against you”
  • Love the moment between series
  • When I put the last series commentaries back on the shelf and take off the new ones
  • For me, it’s exciting
  • Beginning of something new
  • You do not want to miss our BBQ/Baptism next Saturday, we are doing that in place of church so don’t go to our church, come to the baptism
  • Love seeing people take that next step and the stories that go with it
  • You want to get dunked, let me know
  • I keep getting asked, so here is my weight loss “secret”
  • Check out what God is doing at Revolution, love being a part of the adventure
  • If you missed the links of the week this week, check them out, there are some good ones
  • Katie’s dad and stepmom are coming out this week, they’re in the country from Kuwait so it will be good to see them
  • Katie’s dad hasn’t met Gavin or Ashton yet, so that will be exciting
  • We have our small group tomorrow, we’re discussing whether or not marriage is a contract or a covenant
  • We had a great discussion on roles and submission last week, always fun topics with a group of people
  • Brings out a lot of passion (and misunderstanding)
  • Really excited about watching the US/Brazil soccer game tomorrow
  • My prediction? Brazil 2 – 0
  • Finally got my new phone to sync up with my computer and e-mail system
  • I basically had the perfect storm of phone/computer/email problems this past week
  • First time in a long time that I longed to not have technology in my life
  • Love this tweet from Katie (she meant to say lust)
  • Went to get my wedding ring resized this week, it’s gone down 2 ring sizes, crazy
  • Loved Paul’s reflections of being at Revolution for 6 months
  • It has been amazing what he and Jennifer have brought to our team
  • It’s been an unbelievable night
  • God was moving and working tonight
  • I’m beat, so off to relax and watch a movie
  • Then bed
  • Peace out!

Wholeness and Humanness

“Genuine holiness is genuine Christ-likeness, and genuine Christ-likeness is genuine humanness – the only genuine humanness there is. Love in the service of God and others, humility and meekness under the divine hand, integrity of behavior expressing integration of character, wisdom with faithfulness, boldness with prayerfulness, sorrow at people’s sins, joy at the Father’s goodness, and single-mindedness in seeking to please the Father morning, noon, and night, were all qualities seen in Christ, the perfect man.” – J.I. Packer

Favorites of 2008

I’m a huge fan of books, movies, and music.

Hint, Hint, think gift cards.

Below are my favorites of the year:

Books:

  1. “Leading with a Limp”  (Dan Allender)
  2. “Humility”  (C.J. Mahaney)
  3. “It”  (Craig Groeschel)
  4. “Sex, Romance & the Glory of God”  (C.J. Mahaney)
  5. “Under the Unpredictable Plant”  (Eugene Peterson)
  6. “The Emotionally Healthy Church”  (Pete Scazzero)
  7. “Jesus Wants to Save Christians”  (Rob Bell & Don Golden)
  8. “The New Christians”  (Tony Jones)

Movies:

  1. Dark Knight
  2. No Country for Old Men
  3. Valkyrie
  4. We Own the Night
  5. Vantage Point
  6. 3:10 to Yuma
  7. Get Smart
  8. Traitor
  9. The Golden Compass
  10. Juno

Music:

  1. “Viva la Vida” (Coldplay)
  2. “New Surrender”  (Anberlin)
  3. “Dial M”  (Starflyer 59)
  4. “A Hundred Million Stars”  (Snow Patrol)
  5. “Appeal to Reason”  (Rise Against)
  6. “Dark Horse”  (Nickelback)
  7. “Human”  (The Killers)
  8. “Sleep Through the Static”  (Jack Johnson)

What did I miss? What were your favorites of 2008?