June 2014

How the Mighty Fall - Decline Happens

organizational declineGreat Leadership Lesson, Note 19
Without Constant Resistance Entropy Wins in the End

Decline. Decay. Diminishment. Disintegration. Regression. Going Downhill. Whatever you want to call it. It happens. To all of us. Even to the best of us. Individuals, families, teams, organizations, nations - Decline Happens.

The Boston Celtics are my NBA Team. They were so great (years ago). Now it is hard to watch them!

The Dallas Cowboys WERE my NFL Team. They were great (decades ago...sigh). Now I won't watch them!

The Preacher as Bard

The God-Hungry ImaginationHere is a great paragraph that inspired me from The God Hungry Imagination by Sarah Arthur.

As Christian preachers and teachers . . . we must always remember that we're not meant to be journalists, merely relaying the facts; we're meant to be bards, speech-weavers, spinning a spell that captures the imagination. Yes, the gospel is the "good news" . . . but it is just as importantly the "good spell," a Word that has the power to capture and transform the human imagination.

Whether it is C.S. Lewis (the quintessential imaginative weaver of stories)
or Walter Bruggemann (the towering preacher, poet, prophet of the Old Testament)
or Garrison Keillor (narrator of the always delightful Lake Wobegon stories)
or Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz - will you ever forget that book title?) 
or Jesus Himself who taught those wondrous parables and had a never-ending reservoir of metaphors . . .

Who Needs a Fresh Start?

and you are positioned to make it possible...

I was out for lunch yesterday. From time to time I go out to do some work. Every now and then I need a different atmosphere to think and write. So I drove over to my "go-to" Chinese buffet. I usually go late in the lunch hour so the crowd is small. I walked in and as the hostess led me to a table, there was an acquaintance I had not seen for several months. He lit up when he saw me, waved me over and asked me to sit down and join him.

I recognize divine redirects when they happen, so I did. No sooner do I sit down and he says, "I can't believe you walk in. God brought you here." It turns out he almost never goes to that restaurant. He was on his way to work... went out of his normal routine and there we were.

Leaders Get Results

Last week I had one of those serendipitous experiences.

I met with a friend for a morning cup of coffee. He is a young leader and already a really good leader. He is a life long learner. He thinks "hard" about leadership. He enjoys people. He has specific technical skills in his field. He has a great future ahead of him.

Behaving in a Moral Way Takes Will Power!

This One Really Caught My Attention!
"Behaving in a moral way takes will power," says Alex Lickerman, M.D., author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing in Indestructible Self. "Unfortunately, will power is a weak mental force that declines as the day goes on or as you use it."

How many times do you hear someone talk about "people are naturally good?" Well, this particular scientific study on moral behaviors has a different vantage point. 

The Sleep You Need

Here is a short article with a nice info-graphic.
In a nutshell, the greatest minds are getting a full eight hours of sleep a night.

How much sleep are you getting?

The Sleep Schedules of the Great Minds in History.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


Male-Female Communication Differences

I am always interested in this issue of gender issues. There can be some tendency to make inaccurate and inappropriate generalizations based on gender. On the other hand, there is certainy enough research that continues to suggest there are differences. And just about every leader I talk to, both women and men, always have anecdotes about problems in communication with the other gender.

If we realize two things:

(1)  That there will always be many exceptions to these "general statements"
(2)  And that personality difference is an important part of what creates these exceptions...

then such studies can be helpful. They give us some ball park mindsets to help us navigate the difference.

Why You are Broke...

...and Will Remain Broke Without Aggressive Action on Your Part

A few weeks ago, a U.S.A. Today article reminded us of what we already know. We are BROKE. And we even know why we are broke. It is nothing new. But we need reminded over and over.

How Not to Go Wrong

Know Your Motives - Have the Best of Motives
Christianity has always been interested in "motives."
What are the reasons we have for doing what we do?
What is the desired outcome?
What is the driving passion behind what we do?

Two Questions

The Holy Spirit is always working and the work of the Spirit is always to exalt Christ and to lead us deeper into intimacy, transformation and obdeience to Jesus.

Old Princeton theologian Benjamin Warfield knew this when he reminded us that the beautiful work of the Spirit always leads us to ask (and answer) two questions.

Who are you Lord Jesus?

What shall I do Lord Jesus?

I need to have true knowledge of who Jesus is. I then need to have the appropriate response to who Jesus is.

Right thinking leads to right living.

Knowing Jesus leads to listening to and obeying Jesus.

What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

This is a Definite Summer Reading Book...
What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, Tina Seelig...and then a fall reading book, a winter reading book and a springtime reading book. Basically - read this book and then read it again. And a few months later - read it again.

Theological Study AND Devotional Piety

It Does Not Have to be an Either-Or
Unfortunately, all to often it has been. This is one of the ongoing themes of my own life and the ministry I do with Leadership ConneXtions. This is a value I have as well. If you are regular readers of this blog, you know how we value life long learning. God has given us minds to think. Thinking involves the work of reading, study, learning, analyzing, understanding and growing wise in the teachings of the Scripture.

Practical Atheism

Benjamin Warfield and Parker Palmer agree on this!

Many years ago, in his essay, Leading From Within, Parker Palmer talked about "functional atheism." By this, Palmer meant the Christian leader who speaks about God, but who lives, acts and leads in a way that believes if anything good is going to happen, it is pretty much up to the leader to make it happen.

Functional Atheism!
That phrase got my attention, because it described my journey. I believed in God, but there was very little prayerful dependence on God. For all intents and purposes, the way I led indicated I believed exactly what Parker Palmer described. It was up to my hard work to make good things happen!

Archibald Alexander

Leading others through the labyrinth of the heart...
Archibald AlexanderArchibald Alexander was one of the great theologian-leaders of "old" Princeton and the Presbyterian movement in the United States. He served as president at Princeton Theological Seminary 1812 - 1840.

Alexander was a great preacher, with a strong theology and a warm piety. Here is what one of his students, Charles Hodge (one of the truly great Calvinist theologians in America) said about Alexander.

As with a lighted torch he would lead a man through the labyrinth of his heart, in places where his intelligent consciousness had never entered.

A Story in Leadership

Musician-Leader-Entrepreneur Peter Shapiro
I love stories. You do too.
I love stories about leadership. Since you read this blog, I assume you do as well.
I love stories about music (since I love music and play the guitar and bass). That may not be your area of interest. 
But for me . . . put together a story about leadership and music and that is a winner.

So, when I recently read this GREAT story about Peter Shapiro and his Brooklyn Bowl project - I read it several times. I thought I would just give you the link that will take you to the FastCompany story. Enjoy.

7 Lessons Brooklyn Bowl's Founder Learned the Hard Way

Growing in Grace, Maturing in Christ

The Grace of Sanctification
I am going to have several posts in the next few weeks on this subject. It is an important one. It is one that has been core to the ministry of Leadership ConneXtions International for many years. It is the foundation of all the work we do in spiritual formation and helping leaders develop biblically rich practices of formation.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Who do you say I am? That is a question Jesus asks his disciples. It is a question Jesus asks all of us. It is not a question that can be answered simply by your personal opinion, your preferences and your biases. Nor is it a question you answer by surveying what is currently most popular in prevailing culture. It is a question to which Jesus and the entire Bible gives a multi-faceted, richly splendid answer. That is captured in this digital artwork.

So - who do you say Jesus is? And how profoundly do you believe what you say? The Christian journey is to believe with an ever deepening conviction, Jesus is who HE says HE is. Then, reordering our lives accordingly.


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


Leaders, the Future and Constant Hope

Zestful Confidence!
Here is a powerful thought from educator and cognitive psychologist John Gardner.

John Gardner quote, leaders and the future

Leaders see a better future. That is vision.
Leaders know how to work toward that future becoming a reality. That is strategy.
Leaders need confidence their hard work (even struggles and sacrifices) to bring about the desired future, will not be in vain. That is HOPE.

The question every leader must know is how they will cultivate the quality of hope. The Christian leader has all the resources of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures and the Promises of God that create our Hope.