Six Ways The Church is Missing the Boat

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I hate when I miss an opportunity to do something great. Something that will result in real change. Many times these opportunities will just present themselves and then be gone in an instant. I feel like the Christian church is at a time when She can be a real force for good. The Church has a huge amount of resources and some of the greatest people that the world has ever known. Yet the impact is watered down. I think we are missing the boat. There are many reasons but here are a few:

Division Between Denominations: The continued lack of a cohesive force between all denominations has neutered the impact of the Church worldwide. Do you really think that when you reach heaven that the Father will tell you “well done faithful servant” because your theology/doctrine/way of doing church was correct? We spend way too much time and effort trying to be “right” and miss the boat on what the focus should be. Serving others. Feeding the poor. Helping others. Sharing your faith. Mentoring the next generation. Being a united force for good. Right? Do churches cross over? Rarely. It’s like the Tower of Babel. Churches want to talk- but have a very difficult time listening.

Super Christians: Every church has them. The super spiritual. The ones that have memorized the Bible or can sling the bible darts on command. They do two hours of quiet time each day. Searching out the next great awakening or the latest prophet. This dedication sounds good, but the result is that these distinctions lead to cliques and division in the local church. Are they really better?  The rest of the congregation just doesn’t “get it”. They are lesser Christians. They are just not dedicated enough. They can’t be a leader or have real influence. They are not as close to the Father as the rest of the extra spiritual group. Doesn’t this sound like a Pharisee? Does to me.

Inwardly Focused Churches: Many churches are great at the Sunday morning experience. They have great worship teams, children’s ministry, coffee bar, etc. I get it. The Sunday morning thing takes a lot of resources and the average Christian family expects a pretty high level of service. But aren’t we called to reach others? Aren’t we called to get out of the church? Why do we spend so much of our resources on the Sunday morning experience? We are missing a great opportunity for good instead we are spending huge resources on facilities, staff, utilities, etc. just to do Sunday morning.

Inwardly Focused Christians: Many Christians are very dedicated to intimacy with the Father but they do not get out and serve. If Jesus on earth is the perfect model, Jesus did spend time in prayer and time with the Father, but he spent much more time ministering to the poor and needy. Experiencing God is part of the journey, but the highs can be like a drug. You want more and more and this want is completely focussed on yourself and not on others. We are called to disciple and serve others. You are here, not heaven. You need to get out and serve!

Fractured Community: The most powerful force in joining people together is serving together. When you minister together to help others, you form a strong and powerful bond. The act of serving provides a great opportunity to share your experiences, gifts and passions. This is a very natural way of sharing your story with others. Serving as a church can bring bonding across age groups, genders, cultures and economic differences. Without a way of providing a cohesive bond that crosses these barriers, the church will look like a bunch of distinct groups. New folks will struggle meeting others. The young will not learn from the old. Discipleship will not occur. A sick church.

The 80/20 Rule: Last but not least, the Church is not mobilizing the congregation. The old adage says 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church. Can you imagine the power of 100% participation? It’s time to mobilize everyone is the church. This means finding the passions and gifts of every member and getting them marching forward in the work of the Kingdom. Everyone is equipped for a special purpose to advance the Kingdom. This might not be your vision.  We need to encourage others to walk into that purpose. Instead we are trying to coax them into whatever the vision is of the church as outlined by the leadership. What about their special calling? Aren’t they uniquely designed for a special purpose from the Father? If you don’t recognize this then where are they? Following your vision????

We have a long way to go. We have been entrusted with the most powerful force on the planet. When will we step into the role we were made for? When can we stop the power games? If we truly believe that He will take care of us, then the rest is our pride our insecurity? Right?  Can we own up to that? What will you do? You tell me! Please! Please!  Please! I want to know what you think!

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Photo Friday: The Little Things

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Photo Credit:  Snapwire Amarpreet Knur- CC Public Domain

I’m traveling again on business. At the TSA check today, I pulled out my toiletries out of my bag and spotted a little note card that my wife put in my bag about five years ago. I was leaving for a men’s retreat and she snuck the note in my bag along with some other stuff. The note is now yellowed and showing the wear of thousands of air miles

I looked at the note and smiled. The smile came at the right time. I was tired, just out of gas and getting on another airplane. Heading out again. But there was that note…again. Reminding me that I have someone who is supporting me. Someone who is on my side. Someone who I can count on no matter what happens.

These little things are big. They have weight- at least to me. I also have come to realize that some folks go through life kinda clueless. They don’t have any idea what is going on around them. They are rushing through everything. They are missing so much of what is going on around them.

But I see the little things. And they brighten up my day. And that makes all the difference!

Photo Friday: Service and Sacrifice

Deer Point

This picture was taken on the rear patio of the old Officer’s Club at Deer Point (Now called the Bayview Restaurant) at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  As I looked over the bay at the sunset and snapped this photo, I realized that thousands of servicemen and women have stood at this same exact spot looking over the bay and thinking about there loved ones who were far, far away.  There are few places that you could be that are more isolating than Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

My visit to the base was a real eye opener for me.  I was overcome with the realities of what it must be like to be a military family.  These great Americans sacrifice a portion of themselves and share their families interests, to serve our country.  I think we tend to focus on the danger of loosing their lives and miss that fact that they are really giving up their lives as they live and serve the country.  They are far away from home and stuck on a base isolated from the people and the things that they love and cherish.  I was reawakened to this sacrifice made by millions of men and women during the history of the United States.

These men and women who sacrifice to serve our country are truly the greatest Americans!

So what do your think?  Are you from a military family?  Have you experienced the sacrifice first hand?  Have you stood in this same spot before?  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think! Click on “like” if your agree with me!

Twenty Questions

One of the most common management practices is to enter the office of your report and after a few little icebreakers, begin to fire off the questions:

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Is the project on schedule?

Have you handled the budget overrun?

Were you able to engage a vendor yet?

Did you fix the issue with the client?

And on and on it goes….

After the twenty questions and reassuring answers from your report you leave the office feeling good about the project as well as your special abilities as a great manager. You can now check the “I managed” box. I took care of my management duties!

But did your really manage here? Did your twenty questions change anything? Have you really made an impact?

Maybe or maybe not!

The fact is that the answers to your twenty questions are probably half truth. Most employees that know the twenty questions management style will tell you what you want to hear. They may not be actually lying to you, but they may spin the facts or tell you only part of the story. You may be only making yourself feel good regardless of your ability to craft great questions. So what can you do other than twenty questions? Do you need to be an interrogator or have the skills of prosecuting attorney in order to manage a person or a process? Here are a few ideas beyond the questioning:

Look at the numbers: The truth will likely be in the numbers. Always. Develop systems to track things statistically. It’s tough to spin facts and figures. Find ways to track performance with numbers.

Look downstream: Instead of quizzing your report, ask others downstream, your clients or other stakeholders for feedback. This will be results driven feedback- not a measure of action or effort by the report.

Be observant: Most problems will leave clues long before they blow up into a full fledged forest fire. Watch for hints that things are not progressing properly. Build some early warning systems to head off problems. Don’t simply rely on talk.

Build trust: The best way to manage is to have the report come to you for help or to get advice on a situation. If they don’t feel that your office is a safe place, they will never walk through the doorway. It is far better to learn about a situation or problem in this manner than trying to pry it out of them.

Face the music: Most of us tend to be inherently optimistic and believe that things will work out in the end. If things are going poorly, they are likely to continue going poorly and changing things from bad to good can be very difficult. Face your problems head on. Don’t fool yourself that things are going to get better because you received answers to your questions that make you feel good.

Twenty questions can be a dangerous way to manage people. Asking good questions is valuable in management, but you can’t rely solely on the answers that you get. Don’t be fooled. Put systems in place to measure progress. Keep your eyes open to what is really going on and make yourself open to be a resource instead of an adversary. If you really enjoy the questioning- then go ahead and change careers and go to law school!

The Hero and the Villain

A good action movie or a novel generally has these roles.  The villian is the dark and scheming character who is struggling to get what he wants in an unscrupulous way.  The hero is the character who is on the right side of things. The hero struggles with the villain and his schemes and works hard to make things right.

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A wise woman once described a relationship issue I was experiencing in the metaphors of the hero and the villain.  But this description is much different than what you would see in the movies.

The hero in this situation convinces themselves that the other person- the villain, is broken, weird, evil, twisted, crazy, or just wrong.  This gives the hero the license to do whatever they want.  The hero feeds off of competition, power and control.  The hero is always right.  They have to be at the front.  They have convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up they can treat them in a way that can be cruel, unfair, and disrespectful.  Or they see the villain as competition. The hero can distort the facts so they feel like they have to take care of things.  The hero has convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up that all regular conventions do no apply.  They have free rein to do whatever they want.  And its their job as the hero to jump in and make it right.

Meanwhile, the villain is just doing what they always do.  They may be way different from the hero- but their heart is right.  The villain may be unattractive or introverted or eccentric or have problems that the hero can’t understand.   Things that really grind the hero.  But generally, they are just different from the hero.  The villain can’t understand why they are treated so harshly by the hero.  They see the hero as someone they respect.  They can’t understand why the hero wants to continually put them down.  And the actions of the hero can be so subtle that the hero doesn’t even know what they are doing.  But I can assure you- the villain can see it.

I’ve been the villain.  More times than I can count.  I am different.  I am introverted.  I am not competitive.  I am an easy target.

Have you been any of these characters?  Let me give you some dialogue/thoughts you may be able to relate to:

  • All my son wants to do is play video games.  I can’t get him outside and he hates fishing.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  I’m going to take away those stupid games.
  • I’m just going to go talk to the client.  John is just not good at this.  I can’t trust him to take care of it.  He’s not like me.  I will close the deal.
  • I have to take control of things.  My husband is so passive.  Yes, I can be a little bossy- but I have to.  Somebody has to do it.
  • Why do I have to do everything around here.  When I give you a task to do you always take too long and make mistakes.  Good thing I am here to clean up your mess.
  • There is no way I could promote her.  She barely talks to anyone.  How can she be a manager?  I’ll continue to take care of it myself.
  • He is so weird.  I am afraid to take him to any meetings because he will make us look bad.  He just sits there and when he talks he makes weird comments.  I am so glad I am good at covering up his comments.
  • I don’t get her.  She hates shopping.  What woman hates shopping?  I am surprised she has any friends.  All my friends love to shop.

And so it goes.  The discouraging thing is that once the roles are set the hero rarely changes.  They continue to see the world as though they are the only person who is equipped to handle things properly.  This sounds as though they are well equipped, right?  No.  The truth is the hero is actually very insecure.  They see the world as a stage and they need to have everything looking good.  Any opportunity that could make them look bad is intolerable.  The hero must continue to be the hero and will fight for it at all costs.

So where are you on this?  Have you seen the villain or the hero?  Maybe a hard look at your relationships is in order.

Remember that different is good!  And just because someone is different than you does not give you a blank check.  If you are inherently competitive or have an issue with control you may need to do some self-examination of your real motives.  The villain is not broken.  They are just different than you.  And you need to give them some space!

So what do you think?  Have you seen these roles played out in your life?  Do you have a story about one of these roles?  Click on “Leave a Comment” if you want to join in or click “Like” if you agree with me!   

Reaching Down

My grandfather was an avid golfer.  He simply loved the game.  I remember thinking when I was a young kid just how great it would be if my grandpa invited me to play golf with him.  I actually visualized it often, but I knew that it would be a pain for him.  I would be sending the ball all over the place and it would be frustrating for him to watch and try to teach me the game.  My grandpa would visit with us often and we would watch golf together on television.  I waited for the day that he would invite me to play golf with him.

But the invitation never happened.

My grandfather passed away when I was twenty something.  I wonder now what our relationship could have been if we would have played golf together.  See, golf was his game.  I saw how he came alive watching golf on TV.  I wish I would have had the opportunity to watch him play the game that he really loved and enjoy spending time together on the golf course.

I thought about asking him to take me golfing.  But I didn’t want to be a bother to him.  I knew that he would rather golf with someone who knew what they were doing.  The problem was, I was not in the right position to initiate the golf game.  My grandpa was.  Even though his position was above me he could easily reach down and pull me up to a golf game with him.

I believe that this condition relates to many relationships.  I believe that the person in the power position has the more natural path to initiate the connection.

To bring others along and walk with them.

To spend time together.

To share problems and struggles.

To teach and mentor.

To share wisdom and experiences.

Do we seize this opportunity or do we let it go by?  If you are in the upper position it’s as easy as reaching out your hand.  If you are in the lower position it is much more difficult as you have to get past “the ask”.

I can tell you, in relationships of growth, even the smallest of things can have a significant impact.  I am reminded of this every time someone repeats some rather obscure instruction, story or lesson that I gave years ago that I have long since forgotten.  I promise you- they are listening and watching.  You have a greater impact than you believe.  If you want to experience more- reach down.  Pull them up with you.  They are waiting.

So what do you think?  Do you have a story to share where you pulled someone up?  Did this get you thinking about your position in relationships?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think! 

Maybe A Smoke Screen?

John is a real charmer.  He is good at getting what he wants.  First it was a cookie from Mom.  Then an extension on an assignment at school.  Then a date with the homecoming queen.  A promotion at work.  You get the picture.  He was attractive and engaging.  He found it easy to win people over.  It was his “go to” when he was in a tough spot or if he really needed something.  It was John’s secret weapon.

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So are charm and good looks the keys to influence?

A big smile and just the right witty responses and we can be rewarded with instant engagement.  I have watched it over and over again.  Some people are simply masters at it.  They have a way of pulling you in.  They have a special power that you just can’t explain.

I have never been much of a charmer.  I am more of a “tell it like it is” kind of guy.  There are times that I wished I had this mysterious power over people.  I think it can be a gift.  I also think there are dangers here.

People who use charm to get what they want often abuse the power.  They begin to believe that they have the ability to get whatever they want.  They have seen it work over and over again.  They begin to feel invincible.

Leaders can fall into this trap.  The smile.  The endearing comments.  Charmers make you feel important and valuable.  Soon you find yourself doing whatever they ask.  Eventually, however, you will begin to see through the charm.  You will get a glimpse of their heart- either good or bad.  Charm can be a real smoke screen.

Just like that date who has only one thing in mind- the truth will come out.  If you truly care for your team, employees, friends…. they will figure it out.  It’s a heart issue.  You simply can’t hide it for very long.

If you are a charmer- be careful!  You may have honed your skills when you were young and the stakes were not all that important.  You were a popular kid.  Captain of the whatever team.  There is nothing inherently wrong with being charming and engaging- unless the goal is to manipulate to get what you want.  Unless the goal is not the common goal.  Maybe it’s just your goal?

Sincerity is built through action.  You will have a difficult time convincing someone of your sincerity with just talk.  The fact is- they are watching you!  They know where your treasure lies by your actions.  You are not fooling anyone.  The smoke will eventually clear- it always does.

So what do you think?  Have you been charmed and later found out the truth?  Have you seen this in action before?  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!

Power Shortage

“Nobody will ever love you quite the way you want them to.  You just have to let them do their best.”

 

I saw this quote on Reddit the other day and it really hit me hard.  We really are selfish in everything- even in the way we are loved by others!

Why would I expect someone to love me just the way I want to be loved?

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Let’s face it- we are not mind readers and we are all wildly different.  And this does not even address the gender and role differences!  Yet through all of this, I can get to a place of feeling completely misunderstood.  I can sink into this feeling that folks just don’t really care about my desires, my feelings, my happiness.  I’m sure that I’m not alone.

Yet- How could they know?

I believe you can and should know how someone wants to be loved.  The problem is that we tend to default to loving others the way we want to be loved.  If you like words of affirmation, then you assume that everyone else values this action in the same way you do.  If its gifts or money, you are convinced that all you need to do is buy something for them.

 I believe this is also true for managing people.  You can’t expect that a “one size fits all” view of wants and needs is realistic.  I struggle with managers who are one dimensional in their approach to managing and motivating others.  So what do you do as leaders to love better?  How can you make your team feel truly loved and appreciated?  Here are a few hints!

Go Deeper:  If you are seeking to build strength in your team you must work to build a stronger relationship.  This takes risk.  You have to be willing to get past the surface and go deeper.  Lower your guard.  Find out what they are struggling with.  Find out what brings them joy.  By building your relationship, you will strengthen trust and understanding.  You will be able to tap into what truly motivates them.

Be a Noticer:  Watch for hints and feedback that give you a window into the person’s values and priorities.  I am always amazed how some folks can spend a large portion of their lives with someone and still not really understand them.  Be observant and get your mind off of yourself, the money, the day to day junk, the crisis of the day…and truly look at others on your team.  Simply watching and listening can provide you with a huge amount of information about others and allow you to connect with the things that are important to them.  The things that give them self worth and value.

Ask Questions:  Instead of barking out the orders and moving on, ask questions.  Engage your team members in meaningful dialogue.  Ask them for their opinion.  Make them part of the bigger story that you are trying to tell your customers and clients.  When you get your team involved, you are placing value on their opinions and their worth to you and the company.  You are acknowledging their expertise.  Ask them what they want, what they desire, where they see their role.

Gosh- such simple stuff but really powerful!  If you treat your team as if you don’t really care for them- how do you expect them to care for you and your companies goals?  Should you love your employees?   Yes- absolutely.  Should you try to give them what they want?  Yes- absolutely.  Should you make them feel part of the bigger picture?  Yes- absolutely.

If you give marginally to your team you will get marginal results back.  Is that what you want?  Not me.  Life is too short for a mere passing grade.  Get to really know your people and give them what they need.  Need a new jolt of power in your business?  The power is in loving well!

 

Your Fooling Yourself!

 

I am a noticer.  I notice the little things as I do life.  Small things of beauty as I walk.  Reactions from social interactions.  Ugly things that appear out of nowhere.  Attitudes and enthusiasm.

 

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This is really a blessing and a curse.  I often think that it would be better to approach life like a child where everything is fresh and taken completely at face value.  But you can’t go back.  You can’t brush over what you see.

Through interacting with others, I can interpret what is really important to them.  I don’t need to ask them.  They will tell me through their actions.

There is a saying that says “talk is cheap.”  I have come to understand this saying.  I hear things and they don’t always align with the actions that I see.

 

I really care for my employees!  Then you see petty rules and reactions.

I love to spend time with my kids!  Then you see golf is really more important each Saturday.

I love my wife!  Then you see that the TV is more important when you come home from work.

I love my husband!  Then you see that the kids or time with the girlfriends is the focus.

 

We just plain fool ourselves!  We say that some things are important but what we DO is actually the key to your heart.  And when you really LOOK at what you are DOING you could be quite surprised.

 

Ok- the excuses.

I need to work to support my family…

I need some time away for rest and relaxation…

I need some time with my girlfriends…

I need to help them with their problems…

I need to have rules so we can have order…

I need, I need, I need….

 

You see the issue here.  It’s really what YOU want.  You may tell yourself that you are a great friend, mother, husband, manager, brother, sister… But talk is just talk.  You may be building an illusion in your mind.  Just telling someone how much you love your “fill in the blank” doesn’t mean anything.  In fact it is just building up your own ego.  The reality is that sometimes we are telling ourselves something so we can just check the box and feel secure.  We naturally gravitate to the areas in life that make us feel better about ourselves- where we get the most approval, comfort, power, accolades…

See- it’s just talk.  If you REALLY believe in it, you will do it!

Take an inventory of what you did last week.  Did you spend quality time with your kids?  Did you help your wife with housework or running the kids?  Did you take time to interact with your employees? If you think your sliding by and getting away with it you are most likely fooling yourself.  There are other noticers out there!  They are seeing what you are doing.  A picture of where your heart really is.  Maybe it’s time to make some changes?  Maybe it’s time for some heart surgery?

 So what do you think?  Do you see a difference in words and actions in the folks you interact with?  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!

Playing the Game

I’m not a big TV guy.  However, on occasion, I have followed some of the TV show “Survivor” seasons.  I think the draw for me is the struggle with the environment more than the personalities.  Dealing with a deserted island or braving the harsh environment is more appealing than the chatter, deceit and alliances.

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One thing that has intrigued me about the show is how they refer to the struggle of competing and surviving as “playing the game”.  From my vantage it seems like more than a game.  Trying to survive in a desolated area, hungry, thirsty, doesn’t seem like a game to me.  I know- Hollywood is always there to rush in and save you if it gets too real!

So what is playing the game?  How do you win at Survivor?  You win by manipulation.

You know what you want.

You know how to get others to respond so you can get it.

You put the wheels in motion.

You get what you want!

Remember the great and powerful OZ?  The man on the levers behind the curtain?  This is how some view leadership.  You have the position and power and you know how to influence others to get you what you want.  I wish I could tell you otherwise, but this strategy often works.

And it’s a shame.  You can play with their heads.  You can apply pressure.  You can grab the levers.  The difference is that you will likely get what you want- but nothing more.

The real difference is found when you get more than you could imagine.  Much more than you thought possible.  How does this happen?

Rather than manipulate you inspire.  You loosen the reins and give your team the power to run.  The power to innovate.  The power to let those who do the work determine how is best to accomplish the task.

Inspiration is not intuitive.  We default to defining, controlling, manipulating.  Fear, tradition, and resistance to change will hold you back.  To inspire you need to model the behavior.  You need to believe in what you are doing.  You need to paint the picture for your group. You need to excite your group to march with you and you must march with them.

So what’s holding you back?  Are you stuck in default mode?  Are you ready to inspire rather than manipulate?  Here are some keys:

Define the goal:  Provide a clear understanding of the goal that you are trying to accomplish.  Why are you striving to make this happen?  What is the ultimate purpose of all of the work?

Personalize it:  Define the rewards for those who participate in the success.  What will I receive if we make this happen?  What is my piece of the pie?

Add milestones:  Give some intermediate goals to show progress.  This is the same reason you see landings on stairs.  A spot to rest and reflect for a minute.  A place to measure just how far you have come.

Unleash creativity:  Provide an environment where creativity is encouraged.  Let go of the wheel and let the team members determine how they will solve problems to reach success.

Celebrate accomplishments:  Have a victory celebration when you reach success.  Give credit to those who made it happen.  Acknowledge the efforts of your team and the roles that each played in the success of the project.  Give the credit to those who actually performed the work.

Inspiration provides an environment for exponential growth opportunities.  Are you taking full advantage of this power?  Or are you stuck in the command and control management style?  Maybe it’s time for you to step away from the levers?  Give inspiration a try.  It’s much better that way!

What do you think?  Do you know any manipulators who get away with it?  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!