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Saturday, March 13
Monday, December 14
I love good books on leadership... especially practical leadership books. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni was a really good practical leadership book... and it should be required reading for all members of any business. I think if both employers and employees take to heart the message of this book, we would have much better corporations, churches, schools... you name it.
First, Lencioni is an absolute master at writing parables based on the principles that he's aiming to put forth. People love stories, and if you can center what you're trying to teach around a story, you'll always have alot of ears.
Lencioni's story is about a man who's been very successful as CEO of a thriving company... he retires, relocates with his wife to a skiing town... but discovers there a small, local Italian restaurant that he feels is operating way below what it should. So, he challenges himself to step in and see if he can help turn things around. Whether he does or not, I'll let you find out for yourself... but his goal is to instill into the culture of this restaurant some things that has helped him in his business endeavors, wherever he's been. Brian (our CEO) believes that if you can eliminate 3 things within the culture of a organization, then business will boom:
1. ANONYMITY - no one wants to be anonymous at their place of employment. Brian argues, and tries to show within his companies, that the more employees are known at the job, the better employees they'll be. Conversely, if an employee constantly is coming to a place where he works for someone who doesn't know him (and doesn't act like he/she cares much for him), that employee won't put forth his best effort on a regular basis. Everyone longs to be known... even at work. An employer must initiate this, and get to know his employees: find out what matters to them and what they're passionate about, about their families, their schooling, etc. An employee will work his/her best when they know their employer cares for them beyond the job.
2. IRRELEVANCE - everyone longs for significance, even at their job. Employees need to know that what they do matters... and they need to know to whom it matters: their customers, fellow employees, managers, etc. And who's responsibility is it to see that this happens? This is their employer's responsibility. If, as an employer, I think my employees should be able to motivate themselves to produce great work, simply because I give them a paycheck... I am sadly mistaken. It is my responsibility to make sure that every employee understands his/her significance to the organization... no matter what their role.
3. IMMEASUREMENT - all employees need measurement for what they're doing... a way to know that what they are doing day in and day out is on track with what their manager's expectations are. What goals are set for them? What production standards are being held for them? Too many companies expect "continual volume", with no rhyme or reason for their employees... but when there is no clear means of assessing progress on a job, it only breeds frustration. Again... this is the employer's responsibility. A manager cannot leave it to his employees to figure out how to measure their progress. The measurement should be concrete, and it should be agreed upon. That way, everyone is on the same page... and there are no surprises if the goals are not attained: both manager and employee can figure out ways to get where they need to be.
Lencioni argues that the result of eliminating these three negative factors will lead to job fulfillment for the employee, as well as increased productivity, greater retention (of employees)/lower costs, and a sustainable cultural differentiation (creating a culture that is unique from your competitors).
Again, great book... a must-read for all employers and employees alike, no matter what the organization!
Monday, December 7
Been away for a bit, but hopefully back to stay this time. :) Sometimes when you're going through tough times, you just need some space. Not everybody understands that, but it is what it is. Now, with some pastors, very mature believers, and good friends around me, I'm ready to "venture back outside".
I've definitely learned alot over these last 6+ months. Here are some things I've come to understand in my (for lack of a better term) wilderness wanderings:
* SIN STINKS! Yezzir! No question... you play with the bull; you get the horn. Sin has consequences... even forgiven sin.
* PEOPLE CAN BE NOSEY! Now, I'm not talking about friends or those who are really concerned... I'm talking about the people who never called, never checked up on me or my family, never supported our ministry, etc... but now, they want to be "involved" and they "care enough to call." No, they just want information to gossip. :)
* MOSAIC CHURCH IS A PLACE OF GRACE! For this, I'm grateful. The place where I poured my heart into for over 2 years really got it. I've received nothing but grace from the members, even though I'm no longer there. I love you guys with all my heart.
* The Church has no clue of how to handle fallen pastors. Of course, this is generally speaking. I'm sure there are some places out there (I know of a few only) that do a relatively good job with this, but most places suck at it... I'm just being honest. Everyone is so quick to throw stones and castigate the fallen... no matter how much they say they "love" you, if you don't respond their way, they're gonna get you. Period. Well, the truth is, they want to "get" you period. That's what they're after.
* I'm thankful for some godly, wise pastors in my life. Regarless of the "stone throwers", there have been a handful of men who have been walking with me throughout the duration of this situation, and even a while before. Please understand: you cannot give everyone an access pass to walk with you... no matter what their role in your life was before. Here are a few of the criteria I use to tell people "no thanks": 1) if they feel they have a sense of entitlement, and will "force themselves" upon me... NOPE! 2) If judgment is on their lips at all... NOPE! (understand that there is a difference between "challenging" and "being judgmental") 3) If you haven't been clearly in my corner... NOPE! See, when you've fallen and need restoration, it will ONLY come from those who have always had your back! If you have to clear away stuff to uncover people's motives... if it's not crystal clear that they're for you... they're not for you. Period.
* When you fall, some who are your friends won't stay friends. This has probably been the most hurtful for me, because people stop being your friend and often don't even know what happened... they only go by what they've heard. But the truth is, even sin has a context and a story. True friends never turn their back... and even if they think they have grounds to do so, they shouldn't without understanding what happened. Having said that, I also know there are some who simply don't know what to say... so they simply say nothing. I don't understand that, honestly... but I hold no grudges, either way. The amazing thing is that God brings new people into your life during dark times who might've never been there before... and now they are there for the duration. Sweet! :)
* My heart belongs to Jesus. I don't know why, but alot of people think that because you've fallen, you've also turned your back on God. :) That's crazy! Though some, I'm sure, do... I have not. I still love Him with all my heart, and am seeking to obey Him fully. That doesn't mean I have everything figured out, nor are all the puzzle pieces in place (are they ever?), but I'm facing Him - He's in control... not me... not you... not anybody, but Him.
* Life happens! This is the biggest lesson I've learned! As a pastor, it's easy to give people their "biblical medicine" and expect perfect endings. And when those endings don't come, we tell people they need more medicine. The truth is, life happens: people mess up, they blow it... and things get messy. However, there simply is no manual (and, NO, God never intended even the Bible for this purpose) to turn to a particular page that lays out in black and white for each and every situation. Our quest for everything to be cut and dry, black and white, is killing folk! People lash out in anger... children go wayward... marriages blow up and sometimes end... because we're in a sin-ridden world! People need to be LOVED in the midst of their pain... not made to feel like they're 2nd-class believers because they mess up. That's not excusing the sin... that's being there for them in the midst of it. Call sin by what it is... but then help people out of it.
* People are hurting. I know this now more than ever. I'm one of "them" now... a "church skeptic", wondering if church leaders have answers for those of us in pain. When I think of some of the messages I preached, I feel sick to my stomach. I thought I had "answers", but was only stirring up more questions... and leaving the main one usually unanswered: "What do I do with my pain???" I have experienced this now first-hand...
* I may be somewhat of a skeptic now, but I still believe in Christ's Church! Though I haven't been handled (by some) graciously, I still believe that the Church through Jesus Christ... when it's at it's best... is the hope of the world! It can still be the best place on earth to meet the true and living God... but it starts with people: loving them, accepting them, dealing with them patiently in the midst of their pain... and helping them through it.
Well, that was a start... I'll write more later this week, and bring you guys up to speed with where I am these days. Much love...
Tuesday, August 11
Okay... So, today I posted a "tweet" (from Twitter, for those who still don't get it, lol) asking folk to join me in reading Philippians everyday for the rest of this month. I did anticipate a big response... and I'm excited to see people from Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Eastern Shore of MD, (of course), Virginia, and the DC area (of course) all getting pumped up to faithfully read God's Word! I believe - in some not too small way - all of our worlds will be rocked. You watch and see. ;-)
So, why Philippians... and why now? Well (for those who haven't followed my blog), I've been going through a "personal wilderness" of sorts... and have really been down in the dumps for much of the last few months. But I just finally said to myself, "Self (for real, that's what I said!), this is crazy. Just because you're going through doesn't mean that God is through with you... GET UP, and face God!" Well, I'm from Takoma Park and I don't know all there is to know... but I do know that you can't face Him without getting in His Word. So, I decided to do just that... but not just do it - but JUMP INTO it! Then I thought, "Hey, maybe others would like to journey with me on this!" So, I put it out there on Twitter & Facebook... and, wouldn't you know it, people began to respond... BIG time!
So, here's what we're doing: we're reading through the ENTIRE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS every day... there are only 4 chaps, so don't complain... it should take you all of 15-20 mins to do. Keep a little notepad of what God is saying to you... then, on FRIDAYS, post ONE SIMPLE THOUGHT that the Spirit has used to impact your life that week. Put it in your status, and let folk comment to death on it. Invite others to do the same, and then go comment on their pages. If you blog, post a short devotional or something (send me your blog address and I'll get it out there, too!). The point is for the Word to become a contagion in our lives, as we get others interested in reading - and living out - God's Word.
Hey, look... I'm pretty much still in my wilderness, but I'm not letting that stop me. I've been going through... but I'LL BE COMING OUT. And when I do... my guns will be blazing, and my heart will be strong.
I'M READY FOR GOD TO ROCK MY WORLD! WHAT ABOUT YOU??? ;-)
Labels: The Bible
Monday, August 10
That's really all I can say.
Have you ever been forced to look at yourself? I mean, your real self... not the self that you project to others at the job, or at church, or at school. I mean the self that those CLOSEST to you see on a regular... as well as the self that NO ONE sees... except you.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN FORCED TO LOOK AT YOURSELF?
I have. And what I've seen is not pretty. I just recently saw the movie The Ugly Truth, with Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy, 27 Dresses) and Gerard Butler (300, P.S. I Love You)... a movie that depicts (very badly, I must say) the ugly truth about men and women and romance (read that, lust). The main thrust of the movie is that we must face the ugly truth about what the opposite sex is really looking for.
In the same way, we must face the ugly truth about who we really are... deep down inside. And believe me... to face it, is NOT pretty. I am coming face to face with the fact that I am prideful, I am selfish, I am lustful, I am angry, I am moody... I am a lot of things that I've pointed my finger at others about. In short, I... AM... SINFUL!
There it is... I've said it! The "S" word! We don't like to say we're sinful... we just "have issues." Yeah, we do have issues... and at the top of the issue list is that WE'RE SINFUL!! I hate the fact that I'm such a sinner... because I'm so daggoned good at it!! I don't wanna be, but it seems I was born an expert at this thing...
But you know what? Having seen the real me... and having recognized me for who and what I am... I feel a little better. No, I don't like what I see... but I feel better, because acknowledging there's something wrong is half the battle. There is a REASON why the Bible says that the "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jer. 17:9); there is a REASON why the apostle Paul said that "nothing good dwells in" us (Rom. 7:18). Because the UGLY TRUTH is that we're sinful, we need Jesus to save us, and we need Him to live His life through us... because we simply cannot do it on our own. I can't. You can't. And that's the UGLY TRUTH.
But that's not a totally bad thing...
... knowing the UGLY TRUTH is half the battle.