August, 2011

Aug 11

Keeping Your Edge

Today I’d like to challenge you with a simple question, “Are you keeping your edge?” Many of us who are called by God to a special work can easily reach a point where we “lose our edge”.

I recently did.

Those of us who are strategists come up with vision and strategy, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are pastors come up with sermons, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are counselors relate with people, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are authors keep writing, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are worship leaders sing songs, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are servants and givers keep serving and giving, but we’re missing something.

Those of us who are reaching out keep expending ourselves, but we’re missing something.

What is it?

It’s the “edge”.

It’s that special touch that comes from a life that is in communion with God. It’s a heart that is in sync with the heartbeat of heaven.

It gives your life purpose. It gives your words power. It makes you eternally productive.

It is not a mind that consumes more of the Bible. It is not a mouth that recites more prayers. In fact, it might mean little outward change.

What is it?

It is a heart that is deeply connected with the heart of the Father and that walks in step with Him.

Father, let all weariness fall from my shoulders and allow me to encounter your heart in a fresh, life-giving way so that through my life, You would receive more glory on the earth!

Aug 11

How Much of God?

We all want God, but many of us want Him in safe measures.

We want enough fear of God to keep us going in the right direction, but not so much as to get us in trouble.  After all, the fear of man cannot abide with the fear of man. Won’t the fear of man keep us safe?

We want enough faith to look good, but not so much as to be labeled fanatics (or worse).

We want enough grace to cover ourselves and our own weaknesses, but we fear what might happen if there’s enough grace for the prostitute.

I like to think of myself as a great Christian, but when God starts speaking to me on these terms, everything looks different somehow. With godly determination I say, “All of God!”

Aug 11

The New Visionaries

I see a new kind of visionaries arising. They are ones who are driven not by causes or needs but by people.

It is servant leadership, except we’ve lost the wonder of servant leadership. It is an upside-down pyramid, except we’ve lost the impact of that imagery. In fact, I dare say it goes farther than even those images.

That’s why I call them a new kind of visionaries.

Their question is not, “What people do I need for my organization or to fill my need?” Rather, it is, “What platform do I need to create for my people?”

They don’t need to recruit people because their people are already recruited.

They don’t need to motivate people because their people are already motivated.

What do they need?

They need a lot of creativity and wisdom because they are no longer scientists but gardeners. They need both resources and resourcefulness. They need access to new tools, and they need to be able to use the tools they already have.

According to the mighty power of God working within me, I am choosing today to become that kind of visionary!

Aug 11

Cast Your Nets

Do you remember Jesus’ encounter with Peter after he had returned to his old occupation of fishing? Peter had tried to catch fish all night. Then Jesus showed up and told Him to throw his nets on the other side, and Peter was practically overwhelmed with his catch. Jesus then said, “You will become a fisher of men.”

I thought Jesus was trying to make a statement about a new call for Peter–not catching fish but people. However, all my life, I’ve associated “fishers of men” with Peter’s long, tiresome night with no catch. Jesus was making a second, powerful statement.

Peter’s new work would be  done with Christ’s power with Christ’s abundant results.

Can you remember what happened immediately after Pentecost?

Where is Jesus telling you to cast your nets?

Aug 11

A Bigger Definition of YOU: Self-Awareness

Leadership means getting a bigger definition of you. For leaders, the definition of YOU must move from an individual to an organization.

Moving from a small definition of YOU to a big definition means moving from self-awareness to group-awareness.

The past several months, I have learned a lot about what motivate me, what I struggle with, and what I’m good at. That kind of self-awareness is part of becoming a mature person.

However, my greatest challenge in learning leadership has been broadening my self-awareness into group-awareness. What are the things motivate the people I work with? What controls the group’s choices and direction? How can I provoke positive change within this group?

Last week, someone very kindly reminded me that one of my weaknesses is that my self-awareness revolves around a small definition of YOU. I need to grow my definition of YOU beyond myself. I need to learn to make the shift from self-awareness to group-awareness.

Are you as group-aware as you are self-aware?

Aug 11

A Bigger Definition of YOU: Living Organisms

Leadership means getting a bigger definition of you. For leaders, the definition of YOU must move from an individual to an organization.

An organization is not merely an entity. It is a living, breathing organism. Just like YOU, only bigger.

Getting to know an organization is not like getting to know accounting. It’s beyond mere calculation and mere facts. Getting to know an organization is as complex as getting to know a person, in all of his or her idiosyncrasies.

While it’s true that you are mostly water with some bones, muscle, and skin, nobody wants to relate with you that way. Of course, your doctor might need to know these details about you when you break your leg, but all of your relationships go much deeper than that.

Similarly, while an organization is made of systems and positions, you can’t relate with it strictly on that level. You need to go deeper than that. An organization has its own mind. It has its own spirit. It has its own personality. It has phobias. It has attitudes. It has good days and bad days.

As a mature adult, you have learned to identify the ways your thinking is wrong. You have learned how to correct wrong attitudes. As a leader, however, you need to move your definition of YOU from yourself to the people around you.

The question, then, is how to apply these principles to an organization. Where its thinking is wrong, how do change the way it thinks? Where its fears prevail, how can you break past them? Where its attitude shows, how can you change it?

Is it abstract? Is it messy? Is it hard? Yes.

Welcome to leadership.

Aug 11

A Bigger Definition of YOU: Introduction

Leadership means getting a bigger definition of you. For leaders, the definition of YOU must move from an individual to an organization.

A mature person is someone who is able to care for himself. A mature leader is someone who is able to care for a group of people, such as an organization or a church.

This means we now have much bigger, much more complicated answers for questions like:

  • Who are YOU?
  • How are YOU doing?
  • What are YOU doing?
  • Why are YOU here?
  • Are YOU healthy and fulfilled?

Unless a leader grows the definition of YOU beyond himself to include the people he leads, he will always lead them with selfish and probably harmful agendas. A caring leader is one who has adopted a broad definition of YOU.

Whether you consider yourself to be a leader, how does your definition of YOU need to grow?

Aug 11

Underpinnings: Rest

This is one of my underpinnings, which are the basic assumptions that drive my life but that pass undetected to the naked eye.

One of my friends recently asked me, “When do you rest?” Contrary to popular belief, I actually do sleep at night, just like the rest of the world! He was wondering how I could be so active and busy and still be thriving.

My life revolves around a simple assumption that rest is a lifestyle. It isn’t really about how much you do, but that it’s mostly about what you do.

I make a distinct effort to move myself closer and closer into the things that give me life and make me feel strong, because I believe these are the things I am the best at, and I believe this is the way that I can best glorify God.

It means applying the investor mentality to my energies. I try to invest my energies in a way that, when I’m done, I have more energy to invest somewhere else.

I am surprised how many people live at burnout’s brink because they base their decisions on obligation. They will do anything asked of them because someone “needs help” or something “needs to be done.” I have lived in that place long enough, and it’s something I continually fight and guard against. While I don’t doubt that these things need to be done, I do question who should be doing them. We are most productive when we thrive, and our decision to help one person might be a decision to rob ten others.

I am not encouraging laziness. I am only challenging you to take care of yourself. You might need more relaxation, but just as likely, you need activities that play into more of your strengths.

What are the things that give you life? What are the things that rob you of life? How can you enter into a lifestyle of rest?

Aug 11

One-Year Anniversary

One year ago I started blogging. Since then, I’ve written a hundred articles since then. It would have looked overwhelming to do it all at once, but taking an hour here and there eventually led me here.

Much of this was in response to a friend’s challenge to utilize my gift of writing. I disciplined myself to sit down and write out what God was teaching me and what I was learning.

You have gifts that God has placed in your life. Maybe you’re already using them, but maybe they’ve lain dormant.

In one year from now, what will those gifts look like? Will you have invested them, like a faithful steward, to grow into something more than what they are today?

Aug 11

Underpinnings: Christ in You

This is one of my underpinnings, which are the basic assumptions that drive my life but that pass undetected to the naked eye.

Some of my most basic assumptions about life are some of the most difficult for me to articulate.

That I believe that Christ lives in me is no surprise to those around me, but they might not know how thoroughly I believe that, and I how thoroughly I want to live it. Paul wrote that we as believers are one spirit with Christ. If fact, he even went so far as to call us Christ’s body. We know that humanly speaking, there’s no practical way to separate the head from the body. My head is part of me, and my body is part of me. So it is with us and Christ. We are His body. Jesus was called the Anointed One (Christ), and it is for this reason we are called Little Anointed Ones (Christian).

Paul writes that we are new creatures and that all things have passed away. We died with Christ and were raised up with Him in His resurrection power. I embrace this reality by faith.

Having said this, I am in no way undermining the reality of the flesh. However. Paul also writes that Jesus died to set us free from the obligation to serve sin, which means that we have no obligation anymore to serve the flesh. As a believer, my job is not to define truth but to believe God.

This basic assumption affects my daily decisions. It affects the way that I pray. It affects how I discern God’s will. It affects how I interpret my circumstances. However, all of those things are merely outward workings of this internal assumption.

Christ in you is the mystery of the gospel. What are the things that change when you really ponder the reality of Christ in you?