February 2016

Cobwebs and Org Charts

Life is more like a cobweb than an organizational chart. Ross Perot

I have seen some pretty complex org charts. I understand why we have them, and why we need them. Such a chart seeks to provide order, structure, and accountability to the life of an organization. Without order, structure, and accountability, you have a Book of Judges situation. "There was no king in Israel, and everyone does what is right in their own eyes." That is a recipe for missional failure and short lived organizations.

BUT... org charts do not capture the nuances and intricacies of what is well know today. And that is the nature of networks and connections. We are more connected than ever before. (I know we can and should discuss the quality of those connections... and perhaps the "illusion" of being connected.) 

Defining Leadership

Leadership is bringing out the best in people for the common good of the organization, and placing credit where it actually belongs - with the team. Steve Siebold

I am always on the lookout for those short, concise definitions of leadership. This one by Steve Siebold is a pretty good one.

If you are leading, this is what you must do today.

Bring Out the Best in Everyone You Lead. How you do that will vary from person to person... but that is what you MUST DO.

And you do it, not for your own sake, your own ego, your own agenda. You do it for the sake of the organization. This is being a SERVANT of others and of the organization.

Perception, Reality and Other Messy Things

Karl Menninger, it's not the event that does us in it's how we perceive it"It's not the event itself that does us in, it's how we perceive it."  Karl Menninger

Karl Menninger was a psychiatrist and author, famous for his book, Whatever Became of Sin? Click here to read a very nice essay on it in the Huffington Post.

There is reality. And there is our perception of our reality. They are not the same thing.

Reality is REAL reality and perception is perception and PERCEIVED reality.

The perceived reality may have more power over you then does the real reality. 

Vital Optimism and Communication

I have a running joke with a good friend of mine. He calls me a preacher. I say - I am not a preacher! That is not a positive word in our culture today. I am a Communicator. I communicate on Sunday mornings, in mid-size communities, in small groups, through writing books, blogs and tweets... in large and small ways - I am a communicator. Okay, okay! I am also a preacher. It is a good word and it is a great calling. It is just that the connotations of that word are so bad in our post-Christendom culture. So when I can, I communicate...

But that is not my point for this post. 

Here's my point. I have been listening to quite a few "communicators" in recent weeks. Typically I only listen to communicators when I am driving and have the radio turned on to catch part of the radio preachers. I generally don't watch videos of preaching... but I have been. 

This is still not my point, but I am getting closer to it.

Recognition & Ribbon Giving

I have discovered a fascinating thing: men will die for ribbons. Napoleon Bonaparte

Fascinating Indeed!

There is good and bad in this, light and dark, potential and peril.

To be human is to need affirmation, appreciation and encouragement. To be human is to want to make a difference, and to know one is making a difference. Try as much as we like, but we cannot eliminate these dynamics from our human experience.

Wise leaders understand this... and they treat it with caution and care.

Flattery is bad... it is fake, phony, insincere, and almost always attended by an ulterior motive.

The Mystery of God, the Dove that Flies, the Joy of Being a Theologian...

(and) "How to Write a Theological Sentence"

"How to Write a Theological Sentence" was the essay by Stanley Hauerwas I read this morning. Well, I tried to read it. Because every pargraph in his essay DEMANDED that I stop reading... and reflect, write, dream, imagine, and engage. I am not exaggerating when I say this:

This essay may be one of the most important essays I have read in many (many) years.

Because I had to read, reflect, write, dream and so on - that meant I was doing what Sven Birkerts calls Deep Reading... a practice that has much in common with Lectio Divina. 

John Wooden on Praise and Criticism

You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one. John Wooden

Wow, did this quote ever from the great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, hit me. (Be sure to see the quote I provide at the end for a great lesson.)

Praise and criticism both appeal to the same ego, but from opposite ends. The same ego I speak of is the insecure ego. Insecurity, especially when it is in a leader - is a most dangerous situation. The insecure leader acts to quench insecurity.


Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect. Samuel Johnson

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. Albert Einstein

Two great quotes from two great creatives. Samuel Johnson was one of the most brilliant writers ever produced by England. Everyone knows who Einstein was. I found it of great interest to see the value the attached to curiosity.

Leadership and Self-Deception

I read a lot of books on leadership. Most of them are good. Every now and then one is a dud. And a few of them are great. Leadership and Self-Deception was one of the great ones. I read it years ago. About six months after I read it... I read it again. It has been many years since I read the book. I saw there is a second edition available. So I decided, I am going to read it again.

Some of this was motivated by recent study in Matthew 23 - one of the hardest chapters in the Bible. Jesus is speaking about the Pharisees... and one word appears over and over. Jesus tells them they are blind. Spiritually blind. Spiritually deceived. Self-deceived in their case.

The Seven C's of Hiring

In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. If they don't have the first, the other two will kill you. Warren Buffet

There is a simple but good model for hiring and staffing. Look for character, chemistry, creed, competency and capacity. For work in the Christian context, there are two more aspects as well.

1.  Character: Who you are on the inside - like integrity, wisdom, love, goodness, empathy... I add emotional intelligence and relational intelligence in this category. Without a solid character, everything else is going to cause you problems. That is what Buffet is getting at with his emphasis on integrity. 

Describing Wisdom and the Wise

Ephesians 1:17-18, eyes of your heart may be enlightenedHere are some short reflections that were directly inspired by Doug Blomberg and his book, Wisdom and Curriculum, Christian Schooling After Postmodernity. Blomberg was poetic to introduce a section of the book. I took his words, used some of them, adapted others, added my own. But his words were the inspiring source.

What I believe about WISDOM . . .

WISDOM is learned by living. We become wise by our experiments and explorations. Wisdom is always contextual, gained in a location, a space, a place.

WISDOM is expressed in a way of life. Wisdom habituates us and forms habits of the heart. (So does foolishness!)

The Bible on Wisdom

Where to Begin?
The Bible is so VAST in what it says about wisdom, it is hard to know where to start. But Proverbs 1:7 is surely a starting point contender!

If you want to study what the Bible has to say about wisdom, here are a few suggestions.

Read through the Book of Proverbs and underline every verse that mentions wisdom. Look at the context as well. Jot down your most significant impressions. Proverbs uses the word wisdom 55 times and word wise another 56 times.

Then read through Ecclesiastes. It uses the word wisdom 25 times and wise 23 times.

The Pursuit of Wisdom: Words From the Wise

Bear with me for a minute... or if the next few ideas are too abstract, then just go to the quotes.

  • Meta-thinking is thinking about how to think.
  • Epistemology is the philosophy of knowing, which wants to know - how do we know?
  • Philosophy literally means, "the love of wisdom."
  • Theology is "the study of God" or the study of the things of God.

Wisdom is a major theme in the Bible. Tomorrow I will share a few thoughts about the Bible on wisdom. But today I simply wanted to show you that the world's great philosophers and religious founders are quite unanimous on the goodness of you and I pursuing wisdom. Some might even say that it is the pursuit of wisdom that is the way to happiness.