Every Day is NOT Friday

I walk the hallways of the rehab and care facility where my mother is recovering from a fall – a broken rib, gash in the head, skin tear on the arm, and ongoing healing from a minor operation – and I look and listen.

The hallways are filled with nurses and caregivers, pushing their portable healing stations, dispensing medications and changing bandages, filling out charts and greeting patients. Sliding past them are janitorial workers, therapists, doctors and administrative staff, all working to make this 200-bed rehab/nursing home facility run smoothly and efficiently.

And then I turn and look, from left to right, into each open door along the hallway, and face the reality of longevity. For the most part, it’s not pretty. Part of me does not want to look. But like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol I am forced to confront my life and my past, and I ponder the realities of suffering and dying and life’s ultimate meaning. And I grieve.

But I also choose to learn, remembering the wise writer in Proverbs 24:32.

I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.

My eyes meet the gaze of a woman in her 90’s, lying on her side, a red-white-and-blue stocking cap on her head to celebrate the 4th of July. We smile at each other. Her eyes twinkle. Her body is broken, frail and withering but something in me whispers, “Don’t judge too quickly, Bill…there’s a lot of life in that smile.”  Yes, and our smiles are gifts to one another, a momentary treasure we share.

I look across the hall and see a man who stares at me from his crumpled bed sheets, lying awkwardly, clearly with multiple maladies. His body is present…but his mind is not. This time I hear an unwanted voice, one that haunts me for a moment…”This is where your life is headed, Bill…Someday one of these rooms will be yours.”

So I do the math. I am 56, my mother is 85, and many here are in their late 80’s and 90’s. Maybe 30 years…maybe much less. If you are over 40, look back at the last 30 years. How quickly did they pass?

Ok, so this is not winning “Positive Post of the Day!” But let’s be real –  every day is NOT a Friday.

Now a new voice is speaking. It is His voice. “Yes, Bill. Life is short and fragile and hard. So what choices are you making today?” I see a man looking at me two rooms down the hall. As I approach I smile, and say hello. “How are you today?” I ask.  “Dumb question,” I think to myself. He is in a rehab center, moron!

With a slight smile he surprises me and says, “Pretty good,” shifting from his slouched position to an energized upright posture. I ask how long he will be here in rehab. He does not know, but likes it here much better than where he lives. Hah! It is all a matter of perspective. This is a prison for my mother for 2 weeks, but an oasis for this guy!

Suddenly, I am aware my perspective is changing. Partly because of this man. Mostly because God has been teaching me all along this hallway journey. This place has served as a metaphor for life, filled with all the sadness and pain it brings, along with joy-filled surprises and gentle graces along the way. Soon I will leave, passing through a doorway into the blaring sunlight, taking in the fresh air carried along by a warm summer breeze.

Soon many here will also depart to a new reality. But I am wrong to picture them simply as people with one foot in the grave when, in reality, they stand at a threshold. Beyond lies eternity…and for some it is filled with light and joy and freedom from all that holds them captive in this bed. For others, a sadder reality awaits. Are they ready?

More importantly, am I ready? Is my life what I hope it can be, what God desires it to be?

I sit here today fully aware of my past and I regret the foolish choices, bad decisions, mismanaged relationships and other disasters that lie in my wake. And I am tempted toward depression, anxiety and grief. But then, as if on cue, in perfect timing, His voice whispers once again. Actually, this time it shouts, “Forgiven! Loved! Redeemed! Gifted! Treasured! Loved! (Did I say Loved??!!)” And I am free. Inside I smile.

I have today. . A day to serve and love the least of these, praying some prayers, sharing some smiles. And I take joy in this moment, and in this place that so many people want to avoid. And I watch my mother, who for two weeks has been loving people here and sharing the good news of Jesus with nurses and just about everyone who enters her room whether they are ready to hear it or not! (This is one of the cool things about being 85!)

And I smile.

Today may not be a Friday. But is it a good day. Not because life is good; but because God is good. And if you and I are willing to listen, today He will teach us…right where we are. And He may just show up in the smile of an elderly, bed-ridden woman wearing a red-white-and-blue stocking cap.

And that will be your gift today.

The ABC’s of Deep, Personal Change

We Admit we are powerless…

 We Believe a Power greater than ourselves can heal us…

 We Conform our will to God’s by turning our lives and wills over to Him…

These paraphrases of the first 3 steps of AA/Al-Anon are essential to any program or process of spiritual growth. In effect they are all aspects of surrender, something about as desirable as warm, mayonnaise sandwich with a sour glass of milk.

Unless you want to change.

When my pain is great, my hope is small and my problems seem overwhelming, surrender is my only option. Forget the fact that it is the best option in the first place. Which is perhaps why virtually all people point to pain or suffering as a major factor in spurring them on to real change and growth.

So why do we often start our “discipleship programs” with Bible memory, attendance at events, “accountability” partners, quiet times and serving opportunities? Why not start with these words.

“Tell me about your pain.”

Because it sounds “too therapeutic” and what do therapists know?  (News Flash – therapeuo is the NT Greek word used for physical and spiritual “healing.” ) In Matthew 9:12 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy but the sick who need a Physician,” and it’s pretty obvious that the Great Physician does not do surgery on healthy patients.

Are you sick? Where does it hurt? What is broken? What do you hunger and thirst for? What needs attention? Let’s start there. It could be…

  • Your unhealthy or distorted view of God
  • Your false view of self
  • The way you hide, run, or withdraw from deep friendships
  • How you avoid challenges or suffering
  • How you medicate your pain
  • How your family reacted to loss or failure in your life and theirs
  • The destructive habits/patterns that hurt you and others
  • Whether you believe what others said about you is true

Or dozens of other ideas, events or beliefs that have shaped you into who you are right now. This is who you are, and yes, the causes behind how you got here do matter and should be explored. But they cannot be changed. Being attentive NOW and taking responsible steps to move forward TODAY is the only choice you have.

Are you willing to surrender? To give up and let God begin His redemptive work in new ways, and in new places in you? I thought I had done a lot of that work early in my Christian life. And maybe for that phase, I really did. But the reality is that I need the first 3 steps again today, and every day – not an event, but a daily process of awareness and a bold declaration that I cannot fix, manage or control all the people and circumstances surrounding me. I must place them in His hands and work, by His grace, on me.

I need God to show up in ME first. And so do you.

Your “symptoms” – anger, fear, arrogance, control, pride, self-hatred, are all indicators that places deep within are damaged. It is who you are right now.

So let’s start there. If you want to.

Or, you can focus all your energy on the outside – language control, showing up at the required meetings and services, following the program, memorizing the material – all of which is good. But can also make you a good Pharisee if the inner work is neglected.

Don’t get me wrong. The outer practices and support structures are necessary and helpful for long-term growth. But be careful never to confuse the structures that support spiritual change with the processes that produce it.

The ruling religious elites in Jesus’ day saw the structure, not themselves, as the problem. And it was other people, not themselves, who were ill and sinful; and “those people” needed to be managed and changed and to get with the program. This kind of thinking is a sign that legalism is taking root, not to mention evidence mental illness.

So begin with surrender. Listen to your pain and sorrow – they are great teachers who will tell you where to start.

They will point you to the Great Healer, and your “discipleship program” can begin.

So let’s start with the letter A, then B… then….OK , you get it. Now you’re making progress!

Do You…(I mean, I) Have The Courage to Change?

Change is hard. Change is necessary. Change is good.

And I do NOT want to change. Not really.

Well, …maybe a little.

In recent months I have come face to face with my real desire to change. Unhealthy patterns, undesirable habits, unrealistic ways of thinking, unnecessary actions; do I really want to get beyond them and re-form my life?

Of course I do…and so do you. At least intellectually we do. Trust me, my intentions are good. (What is it they say about good intentions? That “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and “God save us from people who mean well!”).

Here’s the truth sometimes – maybe too often – about me. I intend to change. I think about intending to change. And I even sometimes consider thinking about intending to change.

But of course that does not bring about change.

I have a decision to make and some actions to take. A woman shared this morning in a meeting I attended that “nothing changes if nothing changes.” This is not just some simplistic slogan or positive-thinking hype. It is just a plain, simple observation about the spiritual life and about any organization or organism on the planet.

To be sure, there are those who think God does all the work for us. I believe this is a theology driven by fear, not truth, an abdication of our God-given responsibility. If we screw up, then we can blame God, say He caused it, or make some theological excuse for our inaction (“must be His will I do not have a job” even though I do not look for one.) How sad it would be if God caused everything.  (FYI: I believe God is so powerful that He can control everything without causing everything).

Why create a community of people for the sole purpose of manipulating and causing their every thought, word and action? If that is true there is really no need for change. We are simply floating adrift on the sea of predetermination. Let’s just pull in the oars, take down the sails, let go of the rudder and take a nap, arriving wherever, whenever. Whatever!

What a waste of Divine energy and power…coercing the actions and activities of 7 billion people 24/7. This cannot possibly be a joyful use of the Creator’s power.  (Ever notice how much work it talks to try to control just one person so they do what you want? Imagine manipulating a whole planet!)

If God is simply the Great Manipulator instead of the Glorious Creator then there is no need for His help or our prayers. No need for the power of His Spirit, no need for the guidance of His Word or the sacrificial life of His Son. All that remains is a dark fatalism, and unending circle of boredom and depression, and the ultimate realization that we do nothing and are nothing (or as one ill-trained pastor has said, “We are all just worms.” WOW… THAT’s a day-maker!!).

But if I really believe I can change, that God has given me the power to change, then anything really is possible – even my growth! I can affirm that I really place my trust in Him (and—here’s a scary thought – that He trusts what He is doing in me!), that my decisions and actions to cooperate with His will and purposes make a difference, that when I obey the scriptures to “make every effort” to live in the truth, I can grow!

When I admit the truth about myself, about God and about the world, then there is HOPE! As I walk with Him as Father, Friend, Leader, Lover, Forgiver, Healer, Victor, and Teacher, I enter a new, ultimate reality! I discover there is meaning and activity and purpose and joy and work and reward and celebration and love and …LIFE !!

“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” – Jesus of Nazareth, The Message, John 10:10

And so I persevere, not because I can bring change on my own but because my God is with me. He is before me to guide me and behind me to urge me on, beneath me to carry me and above me to protect me, beside me to walk with me and inside me to empower me.  And He beckons me to act!

So today I will act – I will pray, I will listen and I will step out in faith and with courage (even if only taking the tiniest of steps), and I will find He is there, He is already at work, and I am growing.

 

I can change. And I want to. Really.

 

Do you?

When Leaders Get it Right

News stories tend to focus on destructive and tragic events in our culture. Like most major metropolitan areas, the Chicago evening news fills the first ten minutes with murders, fires, accidents and natural disasters. Kind of a “bad news, then good news” approach, with emphasis on the bad news (like some preaching we hear!).

When it comes to leaders, we like to point out where they got it wrong. Politicians behaving badly, pastors talking arrogantly, athletes living shamefully – all these provide journalists with more than ample fodder for “BREAKING NEWS” at almost any moment of the day.

Because so many of us have a stake in a leader’s failure, we tend to overlook the leadership successes around us. After all, when a notable leader stumbles, it makes us feel better about ourselves, gives us someone to blame for our apathy and ignorance, or provides interesting lunch conversation for our otherwise boring and meaningless lives.

But when leaders get it right (and many do!), a lot of good stuff happens. We need to tell their stories – to our teams, our friends and ourselves!

Because when a leader gets it right…

Energy flows to creating solutions and rather than making accusations

Team members feel empowered rather than overpowered

A compelling shared vision replaces a crippling ego-driven “visionary”

Conversations are truthful and gracious, instead of ruthless and tasteless

Tough decisions are boldly faced and, not cautiously feared

Movement is fostered by a mission, not forced through manipulation

Justice is rightly pursued not wrongly ignored

People feel honored and valued, not shamed and used

Success measures how people are treated, not just how profits are made

Workers are promoted by quality performance, not a deal-making cronyism
We need more of leaders who get it right, and we need to ferret out the real ones from the posers, the platform personalities who talk the leader game at conferences and conventions, but who play by a different set of rules behind closed doors. Lance Witt  describes this difference by comparing the leader you see on the front stage versus what is going on “back stage” where character, the soul and the real personality are seen.

Replenishbook

We need real leaders whose performance “backstage” – off camera, away from the excitement and spotlights – is congruent with we see up front. Some are pressured to perform even thought their souls are damaged, and they cover their broken parts. Others are just mean “Jekyll and Hyde” types who present well publically but are awful to work with, toxic to their staff and self-centered ego-driven tyrants.

Ask people who work with these leaders about the “back stage” persona – is it the same person you see “up front” in public settings? Are they as funny, winsome, easy going, and likeable after their scripted, “front stage” persona is set aside and the back stage personality – the real person – emerges in the darkness?

Maybe that is why we give the media so much material to work with. But if we can become leaders with increasing integrity and healthier souls, admitting we are not the center of the universe, not letting the front stage make us posers, we will get it right.

And when leaders get it right…great stuff happens. It really is amazing. And the stories … oh, the stories are grand. They won’t make the evening news—they’ll just make the world a better place.

And that’s the real story.

 

How to Have Healthy Conversations About Tough Topics

Nothing creates fear in a relationship more than entering a difficult conversation. We tell ourselves that so much is at risk, that we fear the very thought of failure in the convo and so we avoid it altogether.

Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillian and Switzer is a researched base guide to “talking when the stakes are high.” And the stakes are always high in a marriage, business partnership, church staff meeting or a dozen other high expectation environments.

In their chapter about how to speak persuasively not abrasively, the authors offer this acronym as a tool: S.T.A.T.E. my path. I have found this helpful and want to pass it along.

Share Your Facts
Tell Your Story
Ask for Other’s Paths
Talk Tentatively
Encourage Testing

Share Facts: Facts are not very controversial or insulting, so simply state the reality. I like to say, “here is what I am hearing…seeing…feeling…what I observed that happened.” Don’t start with your story (how you are feeling about the facts), but start with the facts themselves. “You tend to look around the room when I am talking to you and it appears to me you are not listening.” IF I add anything to that like, “and that’s just awful” or “and it hacks me off!!” then I am going beyond the facts.

Tell Your Story: Here is where you add your feelings or reactions, but do it with discernment. “You often raise your voice when you disagree with the discussion. That makes the environment really emotional for me because I am not sure if you are mad at me or just don’t like the idea I shared.” Use grace but be direct, clear and – according to the authors – do not apologize for your views.

Ask for Other’s Paths: Here is where you ask others to express what they are seeing and feeling. Don’t dump all your truck. Share Facts, Tell some of your story, and invite a reaction, input and their point of view. “Do you see this happening like I do? Help me understand …”

Talk Tentatively: You can be direct, but using the right words signals you have humility, are open to dialogue and might even have some of the facts wrong. “I might be wrong or have misunderstood what you said, but it sounded like…” is a softer way to engage a difficult topic. “I was wondering if our meetings seem as contentious to others of you in the room as they feel to me at times (then provide some general observations about the tone of conversations the team has had.) Not too hard (you are rude!) and not too soft (I feel really bad having to say this) but just right (it appears when we argue a point we can get edgy with one another pretty quickly).

Encourage Testing: As you invite others to talk you must genuinely want to hear their ideas and be open to the fact that you are not seeing everything clearly or accurately. The authors exhort us to really mean it when we invite input. I served in a church environment where the top leader invited input but it was clear to everyone he had already made his decision. It killed creativity, broke trust and built walls. The authors say,

“You must be even more vigorous at encouraging –even pleading with—others to disprove it. The real test of whether your motive is to won a debate or engage in real dialogue is the degree to which you encourage testing.”

How do you handle tough stuff in personal relationships? How does your team engage and process tough conversations at work? What insights can you add to this that have helped you along the way?

 

The “Business” of Church can Corrupt the Church

I struggle to hold 3 aspects of the Church in tension – the Community, the Cause and the Corporation. These 3 C’s (I was first exposed to this triad in the 1990’s) each reflect some aspect of church life in the western world.

We love the Community – the people of God, the called out ones, the ekklesia, the family of God. Relationships matter and our triune God is first and foremost a relational God.  Many people think of this “community” when the word “Church” comes to mind.

Then there is the Cause – the Kingdom-building mission of God for which we give our treasure and talent, our very lives. This cause – often described by the great commission and great commandment – frames all that we do and how we express it in the world. We love the cause, we sacrifice for the cause, and many have spilled their blood for the cause (and Christ himself led the way for us).

Then there is the Corporation – the structure, resources, strategies and leadership responsibilities. Depending on church models and approaches this can include everything from policies and governance to strategic planning to fundraising. It can involve management and HR issues, office space allocation, rental costs, equipment and technology, real estate, classrooms, parking lots and playgrounds.

While the Community and the Cause can present challenging issues and concerns (some of them massive), I believe that the hardest part can be this “Corporate” aspect. And when you add money to the mix (salaries, budgets, campaigns, benevolence, stewardship, perspectives on debt, and so on) it can get downright oppressive!

Corruption can creep in to any church that misunderstands the complex nature of the “Corporate” aspect of Church. Yes, some very small, simpler group-based models where 30-40 people are the church may offer some exceptions. (Though I have seen churches this size split over what I would call the “Corporate” aspect of what they did — or did not — pay attention to, namely $$).

Mismanagement of staff and volunteers, well-meaning but ill-conceived funding strategies, wide ranges in compensation packages among staff, personal and biblical misunderstandings about debt, and hierarchical leadership models that oppress rather than empower others are some of the big problems.

Every leader must pay attention to this aspect of “Church” and must wisely enlist a team of people who can, in community and for the cause, address this with integrity, humility and authenticity. 

 

Where do you see challenges here? How can we handle this well without inadvertently damaging the community and abandoning the cause? 

Willow Creek Reboots Connection Strategy

I sat in on a meeting at Willow Creek last week while Bill Hybels was casting some vision for the church’s new connection strategy…helping people find a place of friendship based on where they sit on weekends, then inviting them to connection events and gatherings.

http://www.willowcreek.org/section-communities

It is not a new strategy; many of you have used this for decades with a twist or two in the method. And some of you will remember we taught this for years to group life to point leaders, encouraging them to “Leverage Your Auditorium” as a strategic step for connection.  But some churches are still missing an opportunity to connect people at weekend services.

While this remains an “attractional” strategy (connecting people who come to the campus versus going into the community), it is a ripe opportunity each church has to connect with people who are already sitting there.

As I listened to the talk (1 of 4 vision Bill is doing for core leader teams) I had a flashback to my arrival to Willow in 1992. We were laser-focused on making disciples as the central part of our mission at that time.  There was much fruit in those days that came from the hard work of hundreds of disciple-makers led by Mark Weinert, Don Cousins (http://www.doncousins.org) , Judson Poling (http://www.thecrucibleproject.org/leadership.html#judson) , and many others using a group-based discipleship model. It was a whole-team effort with a clear strategy to support it.

Our challenge was how to get more people into the process and make group life more accessible for those who had trouble finding a group. So we focused on the one thing you absolutely must do in disciple-making; connection.  As we wrestled with the right wording for building a church filled with group life, our team leader asked: “What is our infinitive? To grow…to disciple…to reach…to develop? What is it? How will you being your mission focus. Because it will become the central purpose of our mission in the first phase.”

What is your infinitive? What a great question!

After much discussion we made a decision. Our infinitive would be…

“TO CONNECT.”

Why? Because you cannot make committed disciples without connection. You can certainly try. Especially if you have a definition of “connection” that is less than personal and relational. Yes, there are non-relational strategies used in closed or persecuted countries, but you can bet there is not one follower in these countries who thrives by being alone. Discipleship requires People-ship. (A word from the Donahue Lectionary of Community-building!).

Our mission for the group life ministry at Willow in 1992:

To connect people relationally in groups of 4-10 people for the purpose of growing in Christlikeness, loving one another, and contributing to the work of the church, in order to glorify God and make disciples of all nations.

I did not hunt through old folders to look that up. I did not need to…I have it memorized, ingrained in my head from the beginning. TO CONNECT.

If you do not connect people, you cannot disciple people. Period.

…and he chose the 12 that they might be WITH HIM and that he might send them out to preach… (Mark 3:14)

So today…21 years later…Willow Creek is re-focused on a workable connection strategy so that people who arrive unconnected can find a relationship. Such a strategy must be about more than just filling seats at services. There must be an overall disciple-making strategy, equipped leadership, empowered people based on gifts (not just ministry slots to fill on campus), and movement beyond a come-and-see outreach focus to a missional go-and-serve/love/gather strategy off-campus.

You need a comprehensive approach, and I can help you process that change if you want to chat about that.

Remember: You cannot stop at connection…but you cannot start without connection.

To reach out to the many disconnected, pass-through people (visiting a couple weeks and out the door a few weeks later), it will provide an essential first step along the path.

What are you doing to leverage your auditorium or worship center for connection? Do people feel welcome, known, and cared for during their weekend experience at a service? 

Are We Fighting Against God?

YOUR ARMS

Your Arms Too Short to Box With God” was a gospel music theatre production in the late 70’s based on the Gospel of Matthew.

In its gritty, direct way the phrase captures the tense drama in a scene from the book of Acts.

After hearing the good news of forgiveness and joy in the life, death and resurrection of Messiah Jesus, people found faith, hope and freedom. But the religious elites and power brokers of the day became jealous (Acts 5:17), and put the whole thing on lockdown, attacking the apostles.

Why? What’s wrong with good news?

BAD NEWS

Bad news sells. Look at the first 10 minutes of your evening news. Fires, murders, rapes, gang violence, and political corruption (vote early, vote often, as we say in Chicago!) flood the screen.

Bad news stirs up fear…Good News serves up freedom.

6 Shifts Happening in Your Organization

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

6 Shifts Happening in Your Organization image of change ahead

 

Your organizational culture is shifting – are you prepared to lead in these new realities? The following video discusses the 6 shifts happening in your organization and how you can engage these shifts in your leadership role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transcribed

I get to speak with and work with organizations and institutions whether they be larger churches, businesses educational institutions; I’ve observed these institutional and organizational movements over the last few years. Many have been written about, some of already taken place, some are emerging. I’d like to talk about a few of them and maybe some implications for your leadership related to those.

 

The first is from a focus on the organization to focus on the organism. You see that now with less focus around all the little slots and things that relate to the organization as something in and of itself to be maintained and more emphasis on what is happening inside the culture of where we work or where we minister or where we live. What’s happening with the people, what’s happening with emerging ideas and systems and the integration of those things? So it’s more organism oriented the culture itself the vibe that is coming from within that if you will than around maintaining the organization or putting too much emphasis on the structure of the organization.

 

That leads to a second one which is instead of being institutionally, driven being institutionally supported. The institutions important but what’s the role of the institution? Is it to drive everything and pass everything down or is it to support emerging ideas, new leadership developing, new teams, new formats, and new engagements? I use to have this mantra still do but for many years the structure serves the people, the people don’t serve the structure and so what we’re seeing is more of a shift to moving structures that can accommodate what’s happening within the organization, so to speak, or for the organization’s mission and shaping the institution to support people versus to make them support the institution.

 

That’s related to another one I’ve observed and that’s obviously the move from out more of a hierarchical to a flatter structure. I don’t think we’ll ever be totally flat in many institutions and organizations. I don’t want to be overly idealistic about that but I think there definitely is a movement away from strict oppressive sometimes hierarchies where power is centered in only a few and the many are just left as implementers. And you’re going to see a flatter leadership as we become organic as we continue to become more are shared in resources and in other strategies that we have. And frankly a younger emerging leadership corps desires that and I think you need to accommodate that. Another one is what I would call a shift from content to value. In other words it’s not just our message and what we think about it and how we deliver it, but what value we bring and what are the underlying values behind that? It’s more important for us to understand as a working culture, what are the core things at the heart of who we are verses simply what’s the message we’ve given, always given, how do we keep giving it, how to get the same message to more people? There’s truth in some of that and a need for some of that but what are the underlying values behind the message? People need to hear that and be motivated by it. It’s also the sense of a movement from an event to a lifestyle. Whether you’re in business or non-profit or whatever, this is particularly true in I think a lot of ministry situations but it’s not limited to that. Where the event for example in a church, the Sunday service or in a business, the sales transaction perhaps it’s not all about just the event it’s about a lifestyle. In other words we don’t just gear up to present something we’re trying to become something and as leaders and as an organization the emphasis is on how are we living out these values and beliefs that we have?

 

Another thing I see is a shift from creating just distribution channels, again core product or ideas being disseminated, to what I would call missional hubs, where ideas are being generated all around the organization and out in the culture so that we’re not just a centralized group finding more ways to create more distribution channels, that’s valid when we have a quality product or service, but it’s how do we create more hubs that are themselves generating product and ideas so it’s not always all coming from sort of central base.

 

And finally, from being more silo to being more integrated. I think we’ve seen that across a number of kinds of institutions and organizations instead of it’s just sales and marketing and distribution and R&D and so on in the corporate areas. Or in education where we just have administration and then there’s faculty and then or the disciplines I teach history you teach science or you teach theology, we don’t talk to each other. That’s breaking down to where we see more integrated aspects because educationally, developmentally we need the integration of ideas, we need to expose people to one another so more and more cross-functional teams, more ad hoc teams, more conversations around the lunch table from people from various disciplines helps each of us grow and develop in our leadership. The implications of these shifts are, as I mentioned, I think a flatter leadership, people who are more relational in their leadership, more able to build teams and connect with them. I think in general people who are more interested in modeling the values than simply disseminating again the information. So I think for us as leaders whatever my organization or institution is I need to embody that first and foremost. It’s more important that I live in the world of being what I am advocating not just doing some things around the principles and values.

 

And finally I think that we’re seeing ideas come at the core of leadership not just mandates and control and management but ideas. That’s the ideas for the future that will drive the future organization, the future institution.

 

So these are some of the things I think in our leadership which as it becomes more collaborative the more shared, not without authority, now without power, but I think these movements and shifts demand that kind of leadership.

 

I’m interested in what you think about these 6 shifts happening in your organization. So let me know, as I work with leadership teams and teach and do conferences I understand that these shifts are happening and I’m trying to help leaders and engage those things.

 

What are you doing to engage these shifts?

 

I’d be interested in hearing from you. So have a great day!

 

 

Your Life Story: True Self or False Self?

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

The man awaiting the verdict in the courtroom was a Yale Law Professor, owned several Picassos, drove a Rolls Royce, flew private jets and lived a life of an eccentric multi-millionaire Wall Street Investment Banker. Some would say a dream life.

“But he hit a brick wall when he bought the Biltmore property,” Phoenix reporters say. The mortgage was $17,250 a month, interest only. So, to pay for it, Michael Marin created a scheme. He set up a raffle, selling tickets at $25 a piece, to raise the $1million needed to pay off the home. The proceeds for the raffle were supposed to benefit a center for children in crisis.

In reality, the home was $2.5million, and the $1million mortgage was bogus. But the story is stranger. In 2009, the luxury home burned to the ground, and using scuba gear in his bedroom and a ladder, Marin barely escaped the smoke and flames. “I just happened to have the gear in my room and used it to breathe oxygen.” Local news even carried the amazing escape on the evening television broadcast.

Fire fighters arrived to find a man in scuba gear standing outside his burning home. But soon investigators discovered it was arson, his attempt to collect insurance money. He was arrested, and now in 2012, his trial had come to a tragic close. Watching the courtroom video, reporters describe what took place.

Upon hearing the guilty verdict, Marin dropped his head into his hands in despair. He then slid his hands up and appeared to place something in his mouth….and he took a drink.

He began to convulse at first lightly. But quickly it grows more violent. His attorneys called for help.

Marin hunched over, slowly collapsing to the ground as others rushed in to help. Someone asked for someone to call 911 and several people ran to help him…He was later declared dead.

I watched the courtroom video and wondered how this man arrived at this point.  How did he live this way? Why did he die this way? And then I understood something.

 

I am Michael Marin—and so are you.

To be certain, the facts and idiosyncrasies are different. They are likely much less bizarre, but no less toxic. If we look closely into the mirror we will find a lot of Mr. Marin staring blankly back at us – perhaps more than we care to admit.

Marin created a false self, a life designed to impress, intimidate and control others. He manipulated people, circumstances, resources and his environment to keep that false self alive.

And so do we.

 

Robert Mulholland, in his book The Deeper Journey, challenges us to discover our true selves and to die to the false self, especially the religious false self.

Our religious false self hides its fear behind a wall of activity. Our religious false selves can be as frenetic in our religiosity as secular false selves are in their performance-oriented attempts to authenticate their identity and value. A welter of worship services, Bible studies, prayer meetings, accountability groups, fellowship meetings, retreats and workshops often enable us to calm our fears and assure ourselves that our religious identity and value is secure.

Like Michael Marin we are afraid of God and exposing our true self. We want the world to believe we are something we are not, that we are holier, wiser, more spiritual, courageous, faith-filled, righteous, correct, etc.  We really want to be that person because we think God wants us to be that person – and we fear that others need us to be that person.

But being that person is so draining, demoralizing and shallow. Going deeper means letting go and putting to death the façade, the expectations of others, the moralizing of self-righteous pundits. It means, as Mulholland says, “being in God for the world” instead of “being in the world for God.”

It means being free.

 

More than ever we need people who are free to be what God made them to be, not what they think they should be or even want to be. We need people who see their true selves in partnership with the true God. To see God in all his unpredictability and mystery, wild and roaming the earth inviting us to join him in a kingdom-building adventure where we are fully alive.

Michael Marin did not die in that courtroom. He died years earlier, when simply being Michael who was not good enough for the world, not good enough for him.  It happened when he chose to be alone with his false self instead of being fully alive, at rest in God.

The false self must die. It must be disconnected from the life support systems that keep it breathing.

 

It’s time for us to pull the plug.