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How are your gauges? I check the ones on my car frequently. The readings on the gauges provide a snapshot of reality. They rarely lie. We ignore them at our peril. I am glad my gas gauge has a yellow light that tells me I have about a gallon or 2 left before I wind up hitchhiking on some dark road in the middle of nowhere.
How about your Leadership Gauges? There are 3 to pay attention to. Where would you mark each gauge in relation to your life?
1) Spiritual Gauge: Empty…..Half ……Full?
This gauge moves toward empty every time you invest spiritual energy in others. Helping people connect with God, providing soul care and engaging in great moral or ethical battles can sap your tank. Though especially true of pastors and non-profit leaders, this can affect every leader.
The spiritual life must be replenished. Times for prayer, meditation, solitude, reading and silence are usually sufficient to refuel the tank. Pay attention to the soul and to the heart. Life flows from those places and, like a garden, they must be tended to and weeded regularly.
2) Emotional Gauge: Empty….Half….Full?
Are you experiencing unresolved conflict with co-workers, family or friends? Are you continually sad and depressed, filled with fear, easily aggravated or overly defensive? Then your emotional gauge is likely near empty.
Getting relationships back on track, addressing conflict head on, and forgiving people who have offended you will help move the needle back toward Full. It is important to process these emotions with a trusted friend or safe small group who know you and want to see you find healing. Consult a professional counselor if needed, especially if there have been serious losses in life; a death, job loss, a broken dream, or a relational breakdown.
3) Physical Gauge: Empty….Half….Full?
Lack of sleep, poor diet, too much caffeine or sugar, illness, and too little exercise or fresh air will drain this tank quickly. Some of these we cannot avoid, but we must address. Allow time for healing during an illness. Too many of us get heroic and come back to work before we should, infecting others and slowing our healing. The result is poor performance and fractured relationships.
So pay attention to your gauges, and make two decisions. First, build some margin into the calendar. Put “ME” on the schedule just like any serious appointment and stick to it. Set vacation time NOW. And second, set clear boundaries. Say NO and mean it. You do not have to do it all, and your kids do not have to sign up for everything. FOCUS is your friend!
Lead at full capacity, and your leadership will flourish.
Just Released! Small Group Insights DVD Leader’s Kit! Act now for your chance to receive a copy of Small Group Insights! To celebrate the release of this new resource we are hosting a week-long DVD giveaway! (For more about how the SGI Kit can transform the relationships in your group or team, read my Post, Real Relationships: Real Groups & Teams).
To be eligible for a free copy, comment below by answering this question: How would improving the relational dynamic of your team increase its effectiveness? There will be multiple winners per day! You can also follow me on Twitter or “Like” Dr. Bill Donahue on FB for more chances to win!
The SGI assessment has been used with universities, hospitals, churches and businesses. It is a proven tool that we have refined for greater use. So we added a simple leader’s DVD to help guide a group or team toward health and productivity. The multiple-page SGI results (sent immediately to each person online) provide awesome feedback about how each member of the team connects with others. This insight into each person, combined with information on how to work better as a team, will create an authentic environment where you can build healthy relationships and get the mission done more effectively.
Respond below for your chance to receive a free copy!
Leaders thrive in tension. But they can also be torn apart by poorly navigated tension. This is especially true when dealing with personal and organizational values. Zealots of the past age embrace the tried and true while visionary dreamers of amazing futures are guided by the new, the hip, and the “just imagine what we could be!”
So which values make it on the list? Or better yet – WHOSE values? Those of the senior leader? The team? The customer/target audience? When you start talking values – as I do with groups and leaders I coach – you get a lot of tension. It looks like this:
Preserve the Past ————-VALUES—————Embrace the Future
The tension created here is no small thing. Preservation of the past is not bad. There is “value” to what got you here. The people and leaders who shouldered the problems of the past should not be ignored as you shape the paradigms of the future. The energy that fuels the future must be unleashed without crushing the spirits of those who built the past.
Tension is good and necessary. Why?
Tension and leadership are partners. Without tension, there is no need for leadership. Navigating the “pull” of many good forces in many different directions is the challenge of every leader. Today, for example, I will have to manage the tension between some self-leadership issues (taking advantage of some personal growth opportunities) while still reaching out to others to serve them through my coaching and consulting. Both are necessary for me.
Personal and organizational values are tested and forged in such tension. So here are three questions to ask when shaping values, given to me by a mentor many years ago.
1) What to we want to Avoid? Those who wish to preserve the past love this question. It is the guiding motif behind their energy and commitment to “keep both feet firmly planted” in what they believe. Fear – sometimes legitimate fear — of losing hard-fought ground is behind this. Or people are worried that a core value will be lost in the future.
Example: A company wants to receive just-in-time data for decision-making. Sounds like a great value (“there should be no one standing in the information line!”).
But without a filter or a process for sifting through that information (guided by strategic values and frameworks) the leadership team may act impulsively: “well, the new data tell us that we should…” So leaders who embrace the value of timely information and data must wrestle with the value to maintain brand quality, vision clarity, and consistent implementation of strategy. Or else the group will shift and sway with every new piece of data that comes down the pike.
So what might these leaders want to avoid? Impulsive decision-making; the kind that comes from an effort to be hip or current, instead of being wise.
2) What do we want to Preserve? Example: A new effort is being designed to get everyone in a group or on a team, because of a timeless value — No One Stands Alone. If we hold to a long-term value like this in the face of needed change, do we appear to be stuck in the past? Be careful here. A long-held value does not imply a lack of creativity. It simply means a desire for continuity at the core level. Fresh strategic thinking can still embrace enduring values while adding new values that will guide the future.
It can be a win-win effort.
3) What do we want to Achieve? Those committed to taking the proverbial “next hill” love this question. The problem is they often leave those committed to #1 and #2 above lying wounded on the previous hill. Vision-casters are “next hill” people. We need them. But they will look over their shoulders and see no one following if they do not re-group, re-align, and re-invest in the development of staff and volunteers who fought the last battle.
Potential achievements must never eclipse past accomplishments. Reward and recognize as you renew and re-envision.
Final Thoughts: Obsession with the future at the expense of the past is leadership suicide (let’s watch how Apple handles this the next 12 months) and obsession with the past at the expense of the future is organizational suicide (go to school on the last decade and present decisions by HP!).
Granted, there are people who will never move ahead. But there are many who will, and they just need someone who values their contribution and challenges them to become a learning community with eyes to the future. Strong companies, schools, churches, boards, and agencies that have been around understand this.
They may lack the sizzle of a Groupon. But they won’t get fried either.
How are you navigating the “Values” tension with your team?
Ask people what we need more of in this world and many will say “love” or “hope” or “justice.” All of these are good answers. Especially as we reflect on the 10 years since the tragedy of 9/11/2001. But today I was challenged by some comments in the editor’s introduction to the Weavings Journal for Sept/Oct 2000. Founding Editor John Mogabgab writes,
“…The real explanation for the force shaping the course of things is gathered up in one radiant word: mercy. Creation in its entirety is a work of God’s love and though it is fractured by every sort of strife, it cannot escape the gravity of mercy. God’s mercy fills the earth (Ps. 33:5), an outpouring of costly care that is not merely one among several of God’s dispositions toward misery and need.
Mercy is the deepest quality of God’s love, the most encompassing movement of God’s heart, the most stunningly unexpected evidence of God’s generosity, the most enduring commitment of God’s sovereignty…Flexible and strong, mercy is capable of bearing sorrow’s weight and of supporting every honest effort to build new life.”
I was taken aback by the richness of these thoughts and the depth of God’s compassion — to all who have experienced grief and loss and pain and despair. We need mercy. Leaders need it, politicians need it, teachers need it, pastors need it, and God knows I really need it.
So, this week, perhaps a thought about mercy. Mogabgab observes, “In the paradoxical economy of God’s realm, what is freely given away often returns greatly multiplied (Mk. 6:30-44).”
Mercy is exactly what you need. So go ahead — give some away.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Mt. 5:7)
You and I believe a lie. Recovery Groups are for really sick people. But here’s the truth – we all need recovery because we are all sick. Recovery is not a place or a program or a kind of group – it is a way of life, a process where we “recover” from the effects of the Fall. We are all wounded emotionally and damaged spiritually. Emotional health and spiritual growth are mutually dependent. This has implications for how we build community in the Church.
Here’s a few things to consider as you build groups and guide leaders.
1) Emotional health is a pre-requisite for long-term spiritual vitality.
2) Leaders and Pastors need healing just like the rest of us.
3) The “really sick” people in our churches and communities are not just the “addicts” or the “abused” or the “formerly incarcerated.” We all need a doctor.
4) Group life flourishes when churches become safe places.
Becoming a “Hospital Church”
If you talk with James Reeves, the first and only Pastor of the 25-year old, 1500 member Celebration Fellowship in Ft. Worth, TX you will hear this mantra: “The Church has to be a safe place and the Church has to have a safe process.” The first funeral he did, at age 18 was his own 41-year-old alcoholic father. Alcoholism impacted his entire life, yet Reeves dislikes using terms like addiction and recovery because, “It sets up barriers between us and them; between the so-called healthy and the sick people. But we are all sick.”
Known as the Hospital Church, a place where everyone is “in recovery” from the effects of sin, the ministry has about 35 Home Groups for basic support and community. But people need a focused Support Group for deeper personal work, to confess secrets that destroy the soul, and to find tools to overcome destructive lifestyles. These groups must be safe, healing, provide real process for change and must foster the recovery of genuine intimacy with God and others. And they must be seen as “normal” – not special groups for “those kinds of people.”
The church’s emphasis through Reeves’ teaching is learning the “ABC’s of Life Change” which creates the environment for spiritual and emotional growth. Leaders are required to participate in two 14-week cycles in a Support Group, then another cycle as an apprentice leader before leading a group of their own. The biblically-rooted 12-step process is foundational to the experience.
Reeves observes that “The Church has historically said, ‘just love Jesus more’ but often people do not know how to be intimate with God or others, because of emotional wounds.” Those wounds create blocks to intimacy in both directions. These holistic groups and the process used help people remove the blockage and find freedom.
And we need a lot more of that — I know I do.
I am aware of some things today that are essential to functioning as a leader who tends to his soul. And I think every leader would do well to attend to them. However imperfectly I engage these, I am committed to working at them
1 Face Reality about Your Sin and Weakness: Always the first job of a leader, naming reality — about self and the organization — is of prime importance. I do not like this part, but it means honest reflection, humble confession and then a commitment to “let it go” and move ahead.
2 Declare Your Personal Dignity: Almost in contrast to the above, remind yourself that you are gifted, called, blessed, loved, forgiven, protected, significant, and loved (did I say that already??!!) in the eyes of God. This is your true identity in your relationship with Christ. Declare this daily!
3 Live a Shared Life in Community: Relational integrity stems directly from authentic communal engagement. You are, at some level, the product of your community. Living with others, as Jean Vanier says, reveals our pride and ego, and yet gives opportunities to be “for” others and share their lives. this practice keeps every leader from thinking to highly of himself/herself, and from self-absorption
4 Take Responsibility for Your Own Growth: It is up to me and you to read the book, have the conversation with a mentor, reflect on the Bible, expose the mind to new ideas, network with fresh thinkers and engage in serious debate and discussion. It is job one!
5 Pursue a Life of Simplicity: Rid yourself of the things that tangle up your leadership — unnecessary meetings, committees and teams; stuff that clamors for attention; people who are draining and never desire to change; varying from your core mission. You must ruthlessly shed these distractions so that you can give maximum energy to “this one thing I do” in the moments such focus is required.
What would you add to this list?
It was my first trip to Amsterdam speaking for the WCA and I wanted to see some of the best the city had to offer. I was quickly caught up with its European splendor and beauty. Outdoor café’s and coffee shops, fabulous architecture, a vast array of shops and dazzling flowers along the canals and waterways, enclosed by Holland’s famous dikes.
I had asked the person who arranged my trip whether there was anything special I should see if time is limited. Two recommendations were offered. “You will want to see Anne Frank’s house, the hiding place where she and her family had been hidden from the terror of Nazi’s seeking to exterminate all Jews.”
“Oh, and if you like art, make sure you see the Rijksmuseum.”
I asked, “Is there any special work of art I should look for?”
“Don’t worry, you will know it when you see it,” was the reply.
I have seen 3 incredible works of art that literally took my breath away and left me simply frozen in awe. One is “Miracle at Pentecost,” the 124-foot-long painting of the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts (unfortunately now destroyed by a fire that devastated the Biblical Arts Center in Dallas). Another is “The David” by Michelangelo in Florence (the original in the Academy Gallery, not the replica in the piazza).
In the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam I saw the third.
I cannot describe the rush of thoughts and feelings—words are inadequate. There it hung on the wall and all I could do was stare with disbelief and wonder. You know what I mean—something so beautiful and inspiring that you can’t get take your eyes off it, you can’t get it out of your mind.
I turned the corner, and entered a room. There before me was The Night Watch by Rembrandt. You might think, “No big deal. Just a painting from the 17th century.” Maybe you’re right – maybe it is just beautiful to me—like staring into the hospital nursery after your first child is born thinking, “WOW – look at my child! She makes everyone else’s kid look so pitifully ugly.”
The Night Watch produced a similar reaction because it dwarfs the rest of the artwork — in scope, grandeur and depth.
But the artwork has a story beyond the surface beauty.
Though beautiful, it was later feared the work would be further damaged by the effects of the elements. In order to protect its beauty, it was covered with a dark varnish. As a result, people thought is was a night scene and hence it’s name was changed. Actually it is a scene in broad daylight, and was originally named after the main character in the work. You can read the story if you have time.
The painting is famous for a few reasons – one, it is a dramatic example of the use of light and shadow. Second, it’s story — a masterpiece covered in thick darkness later revealed in the light of restoration.
Granted, the subject matter in this portrait does not hold the mystery and power of Rembrandt’s other biblically-based works (like Return of the Prodigal Son). Maybe that is what I like about it. The redemptive power is more subtle. It requires meditation to understand.
Another reason it catches your attention is that it does not simply hang on the wall–it virtually covers it. The painting was 13′ x 16′ in it’s original dimensions (still very close after some restoration). Its sheer size and scope causes even the casual observer to pause. You might stroll past other paintings in the gallery and hardly notice some of them. Not this one. Here you stand and stare in wonder.
I sat pondering for an hour, as I did with The David and The Miracle at Pentecost, wondering, “How can someone create something so captivating, so beautiful, so stunning, so filled with wonder?” I felt like an hour of staring at it did not do it justice — like only reading the first sentence of War and Peace.
It is hard to imagine but that is how we will look at God one day. Staring in awe and wonder. And in that moment we will discover that he has been staring at us long before we ever knew he existed. Like Rembrandt, he envisioned a masterpiece, and then painstakingly applied his brush to our canvas. The results were… Perfect.
But later, after some rough handling, the corruption of the “elements” and layers of “protective varnish” to hide our true selves, our portrait sat covered in darkness. And then we were wrongly named — by what others saw on the outside.
But God, in his grace through Christ and with the power of his Spirit, broke through to the original and made us new, removing the thick darkness and exposing our Christ-like beauty. He gave us a new name; one that reflects the light. And someday, after all the work of restoration is complete, the unveling will come.
And we shall be like him. Priceless. We will not casually stroll past by any portraits in this eternal gallery. We will stare in awe at the work of the Artist. And all the beauty in the Rijksmuseum will pale in comparison.
Lord, remove the darkness that covers me, and let your light shine for all to see.
Personal pronoun. Third person plural. They. THEY are the problem. It’s about them. Let’s blame them. They did it…they said it…they promised…they want us to believe…they are the culprits…they are the ones to be feared, hated, attacked, confronted, voted out, labeled and demonized.
It’s so much easier when it’s about them. When THEY are to blame, I have no responsibility, no accountability, no culpability. I can relinquish my personal authority and avoid my civic responsibility. Why work so hard to be part of the process when all I have to do is expose “THEM” to the world? That way I can “tell it like it is” and not worry about working to make it “like it should be.”
Then we can all get angry at THEM, lament the affect “THEY” have on us, and go about doing our lives without changing. BUT WHAT IF…
What if I replaced THEM (they) with that awesome small group — me, myself and I? What could the 3 of ”us” do if “we” put our head, hands and heart into it? Oh my…we may never know. It’s so much easier to crack open a coke or a brew, hit the remote and shout, “Tell me like it is!”
Sure. Just let the media distill the truth down to a soundbite that fits the agenda of Rush, Keith, Glenn, Sean, Rachel, Ed, and the whole conglomerate ABC-CBS-NBC-FOX-MSNBC-CNN info-machine. After all, they are watching out for me, covering my back, setting me straight, representing my point of view (which, under no circumstances should ever be challenged!).
OR…I could actually DO SOMETHING.
Like read real news, search real websites and data, talk to real people, really look at my own heart and soul and actions. Or I could serve on a school board or volunteer at the shelter or call my Congress person or attend some meetings or write an op-ed or take my local rep to lunch or actually read the report for myself.
OR…OR…OR…oh my… I am getting tired….all that effort…
That sounds like so much work. I’m so busy….Where’s my remote? Oh, good. There it is.
Click…AHHH…Now, that feels better. Where’s my mug? Slurp. Ahh…Yes…phew!
Go ahead…I’m all ears. Tell me like it is.
Don’t Do It! – Never. Just Don’t. It’s not worth it.
When you do you will be crushed, wounded, saddened, disappointed, frustrated, filled with regret and gripped with remorse. Fear Not!
That’s the message of Christmas…DO NOT BE AFRAID!
And if you FEAR NOT you WILL…..
Not be Afraid
Not Let Your Heart be Troubled
Not Wear Yourself out to Get Rich
Not Return Evil for Evil
Not Withhold Discipline from Your Children
Not Let Your Heart Envy the Wicked
Not Speak to a Fool
Not Boast About Tomorrow
Not Exalt Yourself
When I am captivated by fear, I will do all of this. But..WHEN I FEAR NOT, I WILL NOT. So I rest, trust and I will make every effort to put away fear.
Have a Wonderf-filled, Fear-free Christmas!
Was thinking today about the mad rush for stuff, for sales for early shopping. No doubt there are some great deals out there and if you have a specific purchase in mind and you can save a few hundred, go for it. I am already writing this way past the store openings. But I did have some thoughts.
On Good Friday darkness covered the land.
On Black Friday excess covers the land.
On Good Friday He paid our debts.
On Black Friday We make our debts.
On Black Friday the prices are very low.
On Good Friday the price was very high.
On Black Friday the stores move into the black.
On Good Friday He stepped into the black.
Before Black Friday shoppers stay up all night to make a deal.
Before Good Friday He was up all night to settle a score.
What happens on Black Friday is barely remembered.
What happened on Good Friday is never forgotten.
Only some get a bargain today, Black Friday.
But we all got a deal on Good Friday. Hard to pass that one up.