August 2013

The Struggle

It is not an exaggeration to say that on a daily basis, as I interact with people, issues of Self-Awareness (and its ABSENCE) are at work. 

Behind my brief thoughts in this post, are some of my deepest understandings of the nature of our humanity and our experience of life.


There is wrongness in the world. There is evil within us and around us. There are dark forces of existence that resist what is Good, Beautiful and True.


The Glut of Social Media

. . . Help I am Drowning

Did you ever play the game Trivial Pursuit? You probably already know where I am going with this. The idea of Information Overload is one of the facts of life today.

Social Media is intensifying the Information Overload of Trivial Pursuits 



. . . I've been wanting to write this post for some time now!

So instead of procrastinating any longer, I'll dive right in with some suggestions to deal with it.


1.  Recognize the condition of modern life is that of OVERLY-BUSY. It's just the way it is. Options proliferate. Responsibilities increase. Workload is on the rise. Information overloads us. Procrastination, for some, is a way of escape and denial.



. . . Needs to Replace MultiTasking

I am still surprised when I hear people talk about how well they Multi-Task.  I am tempted to be blunt and tell them: 


"No you don't! You are terrible at multi-tasking. You just think you are good. In fact, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. That is not how the brain works. Instead, you are a Switch-Tasker. And most likely, you are an inefficient Switch-Tasker."


What's In Your Email In-Box

. . . and What to Do About It

How many emails do you receive each day? I'm not asking about the spam, which hopefully gets filtered out. But the real ones: 50?  100?  200?  More? I have four different Email Accounts. I have them set up according to specific functions and needs. Between these accounts - 150 emails is a LITE day.

What Does It Mean to Be Present?


With a passion for 'lifelong learning', bookstores are one of my favorite places to browse.  I also have grandchildren so occasionally I find myself in the kids section of the store.  I have always liked picture books because they were easy to read.  It also provides a fuller learning experience by using words and pictures to connect.  While I was purusing the shelves I was surprised by a simple kids book by Rana DiOrio, "What Does It Mean to Be Present?".  It had very nice pictures but also an amazingly simple storyline.  

Change and Lifelong Learning


LCI has 'lifelong learning' as a bedrock concept.  Without lifelong learning transformation is impossible.  As long as we think of it as just reading and being open to new ideas we are not being honest about what lifelong learning is really about.  Isn't it really about change?  If we aren't changed have we really learned anything?  That changes the dynamics of lifelong learning for me.

To Be Really Happy, Try Being Counter-Cultural

This is not your typical, standard, "common-sense" piece of advice/wisdom you are going to hear very often.

I am sure you have heard the witty reply about "common-sense."

What passes for common sense is neither common nor does it make much sense. 

I also like the "tongue in cheek" comparison of common sense and DEODORANT. But I digress . . .

The Five Temptations of Senior Leadership

Patrick Lencioni is so good as a teacher of leadership, because he knows how to take complex matters and give simple (but not simplistic) guidance.

He does this by: (1) identifying a small number of CORE THEMES which he connects in an pattern. (2) Then, he illustrates these themes with an extended "fable" or story. (3) At the end of each book, he gives a summary of the themes. It helps quite a bit that (4) he has a nice slogan or tag line to communicate the big picture.


Pride and Humility

My son has been doing a lot of summer reading. C. S. Lewis in particular (The Great Divorce, Mere  Christainity, Screwtape Letters) and books on leadership by Jim Collins, Kouzes and Posner and Lencioni. Late last night he said, "In these books, pride and humility is the main thing." I thought about it for a minute and agreed with him. Pride and humility are at the center of life, relationships, work, leadership . . .

Pride is that Original Sin. It is the "mother-lode" of all that has gone wrong in the world. It is the slumbering Smaug, that when awakened, wrecks havoc and ruin. Pride has ended careers, destroyed families, and robbed bright futures. It limits a life and it disrupts an organization. No wonder the best authors write about pride.

Reach Beyond Your Grasp

Robert Browning spoke of men, but I will borrow his words and speak of both men and women.  

A man's reach should exceed his grasp.

He spoke of having dreams, longings, desire, passion, vision . . . for something more. For something worthy. For something that matters. For the things that make a difference. For that which is beyond your ability, your gifts, your charisma, your time, your experience, your expertise . . . For when your vision is within those things - you are in your COMFORT ZONE. 

Gratitude, the Source of Happiness

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with one of my grandsons which often brings new insights into who I am and how I think.  We had worked on a carpentry project together which included going to the local hardware store, cutting the wood and beginning the assembly process.  I made sure that he was actively involved in each step.  We had some good conversations and interactions.  At the end of the day I asked him what was the best part of the day and he said that I had given him a piece of gum at the store.  'Really' I thought, that was the best part of the day?  As we discovered later he had told his Mom that he got to build a project with Papa which was encouraging.  As I thought more about his response I realized that I look at life the same way as he does.  God does some amazing things in my life and I focus on the little and pr

Decide Then Follow Through

It is that simple! And apparently that hard!

Here are two leadership skills that flow together, for one without the other leads to problems. Decision making and then implementation of what is decided.

Decision Making.
For some it is easy, for others it is painful. (1) It is painful when you don't know if you have all the relevant information to make a good decision. (2) It is painful when you have multiple options and they are all good ones, but now you must choose one. (3)  It is painful when you must choose and your "best choice" is risky. (4) And it is painful when you don't want to be responsible for the choice. But life, ministry and work require decisions. Good leadership requires decision making. You must learn how to make good decisions (and this is itself a large field of study with excellent resources available to leaders).

"Fixed Intent" to do God's Will


Obedience to God's word is foundational to a life of spiritual formation.  That is easy to say but it's where 'the rubber meets the road' the reality of our faith.The Message puts it this way in James 2:14-15 'Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?'  John Wesley refers to a 'fixed intent to do God's will'.  I am often so half-hearted about my intent. I want to do his will as long as it is convenient and easy, doesn't require much pain or difficulty and of course it makes me look spiritual.  But 'fixed intent' is much more substantial, primary and basic to obedience.  It is not about feeling it in the moment but a deep longing and desire to follow God's will and direction for my life.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

This image and this quote from Nietzsche are very moving for me. I believe this is the mindset needed for all who will follow Jesus in our "post-Christian" culture, which is also becoming steadily "anti-Christian." 

Bonhoeffer called it the "cost of discipleship."

Jesus said, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

The Apostle Paul says (paraphrased) "I have not yet arrived, but I know where I am headed and I press on: (Philippians 3:12-17).

Leadership: Of Course it is Hard

A real simple message for today's post.

This is why leader's need a profound and sustained, empowering relationship with Christ. You just can't do it on your own. You will burn out, blow up, drop-out, mess-up (royally) and not only hurt yourself, but a lot of other people along the way.

Intimacy and friendship with the God who loves you is ESSENTIAL (that is too mild of a word). Nothing else is as important.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

Worshipping in Spirit and Truth (Reflection on Spirituality and Theology)

I want to know God. I want to enjoy God. I want to love God. I want to follow and serve God. i want to glorify God. It is good that I want those things, because God himself wants me to want those things.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.  John 4:22-24

Spirit and truth. Truth and Spirit. It is actually even closer then that for Jesus says the Helper/Advocate is "the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16-17). And you will experience the Spirit of truth - with you.

Work Smarter Not Harder! Really?

There are some catchy phrases (Tag Lines) that have entered into the "Common Wisdom" of our day. Unfortunately, just because something is common and even accepted as wisdom, doesn't mean it is.

You've heard one of those catchy Tag Lines many times. It goes like this: Work Smarter, Not Harder. Really!?! Who came up with that piece of advice? What is the research to show that it really generates results. Here is the problem. In many, if not most cases, we create these popular EITHER-OR dualisms that are really unhelpful. In this case it is the EITHER-OR of smarter or harder. Smarter and harder are set in contrast, in opposition to each other. That is the mistake right from the beginning. It is a FALSE dualism that is simply not true. 

Instead - the truth is that Good Work requires you to work smarter AND work harder. 

Spiritually Tone Deaf?


As a worship leader, I would occasionally come across someone who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.  They were what the dictionary refers to as 'tone deaf'; "unable to distinguish differences in pitch in musical sounds when producing or hearing them". They would love to sing which made it hard for them to be on the worship team because of the dissonance it caused.  Even though God enjoys our worship when it is a joyful noise rather than a melodious song it still doesn't blend well when leading worship.

More Thoughts on Reading

I thought I would follow up the excellent post from John Hilliard a few days ago by posting some quotes about reading.

You are what you read.

Woman reading.

On reading texts well.

The Reluctant Leader

I was working on one of the articles in the new Invitation to Leadership volume that is the first volume in our series of book to develop leaders. The theme was: 

The Reluctant Leader.  

Here is a little bit of that article:

Is Reading Really That Important?


During The Gathering I talked about reading, active reading, reading that engages the author that actually connects with the author.  I have to admit that I haven't been that active.  Sure I have read a lot of books, probably close to 4-5 per month.  That's pretty good compared to what I used to read but the reality is that I haven't been that engaged.  I have seen a lot of words in each of those books, knew what the words said, but I didn't read in a way that would make it part of me. 

Changing Minds, Renewing Minds

I've been in a "mind-changing process" about a number of things. It is a long, hard, slow, difficult process. And I have been relatively OPEN to the change taking place!

Leaders, teachers, mentors and more are in the ministry of influencing people. That often means we want to help them change how they are currently thinking, feeling, and acting.

It is hard to change how people think when they have:

a long term commitment to a particular belief or idea
the idea has a strong emotional component to it
they have spoken publicly about their view.

People are much more likely to change when:

the idea is relatively new,
it does not have strong emotional content with it
the idea has been kept personal and out of the public

Visiting the Holocaust Museum

Over the weekend I was in Washington D.C. with two friends who stayed after The Gathering was over, for an extra day. We toured the main monuments and museums, and late in the afternoon we stopped in to see the Holocaust Museum. We didn't realize that tickets/passes were limited. So we did not get to see the main exhibit. But even the supporting exhibits were quite powerful and moving.

The Gathering Concluded

We had a great week together. Here are three group photos (or partial group photos, since we never had the entire group together at the same time).