Last April I was part of the Lausanne Orlando 2011 Leadership Consultation, a follow-up to the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization last fall.
The leaders of the consultation have recently compiled and synthesized the notes from the discussions and made them available in a pdf.
The document is divided into four sections:
- Best available resources
- Resources needed
- Best practices and strategies
- What is not working
This seems like a helpful, basic outline of resources and strategies to take a look at if you are engaged in the work of global missions — either as a goer or a sender.
And, one thing we need more of are people giving thought to strategy and leadership in the cause. This document might be a helpful catalyst.
Stated that way, it sounds like it’s a set-up to say “no, we need less people on the planet,” and so forth. I don’t think that way, and only gave the post that title because it’s the title of a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal.
And, the answer of the article is: “Yes, says Nestle’s chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, but not if we burn food for fuel, fear genetic advances and fail to charge for water.”
I agree that the world can continue producing enough food for a long, long time as advances in technology and so forth continue. I don’t have any fear that the resources of the planet are insufficient to meet the needs of a massive, growing population. And, for those who want to see the new heavens and new earth as populated as possible (as I do), the growth of world population (and the corresponding spread of the gospel) is a wonderful, excellent thing. Along with it, of course, we have a responsibility to be wise and smart (and ambitious!) in fighting global problems, chief among them poverty in the developing world.
Now, back to the article. What I found interesting about it, and what I hadn’t thought much of before, was the connection between hunger in the developing world and conversion of food into fuel.
Here’s the first part of the article, which talks about that:
As befits the chairman of the world’s largest food-production company, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is counting calories. But it’s not his diet that the chairman and former CEO of Nestlé is worried about. It’s all the food that the U.S. and Europe are converting into fuel while the world’s poor get hungrier.
“Politicians,” Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe says, “do not understand that between the food market and the energy market, there is a close link.” That link is the calorie.
The energy stored in a bushel of corn can fuel a car or feed a person. And increasingly, thanks to ethanol mandates and subsidies in the U.S. and biofuel incentives in Europe, crops formerly grown for food or livestock feed are being grown for fuel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent estimate predicts that this year, for the first time, American farmers will harvest more corn for ethanol than for feed. In Europe some 50% of the rapeseed crop is going into biofuel production, according to Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe, while “world-wide about 18% of sugar is being used for biofuel today.”
In one sense, this is a remarkable achievement—five decades ago, when the global population was half what it is today, catastrophists like Paul Ehrlich were warning that the world faced mass starvation on a biblical scale. Today, with nearly seven billion mouths to feed, we produce so much food that we think nothing of burning tons of it for fuel.
Or at least we think nothing of it in the West. If the price of our breakfast cereal goes up because we’re diverting agricultural production to ethanol or biodiesel, it’s an annoyance. But if the price of corn or flour doubles or triples in the Third World, where according to Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe people “are spending 80% of [their] disposable income on food,” hundreds of millions of people go hungry. Sometimes, as in the Middle East earlier this year, they revolt.
Great post by Seth Godin:
“What would you have me do instead?”
To the critic who decries a project as a worthless folly, something that didn’t work out, something that challenged the status quo and failed, the artist might ask,
“Is it better to do nothing?”
To the critic who hasn’t shipped, who hasn’t created his art, anything less than better-than-what-I -have-now appears to be a waste. To this critic, progress should only occur in leaps, in which a fully functioning, perfected new device/book/project/process/system appears and instantly and perfectly replaces the current model.
We don’t need your sharp wit or enmity, please. Our culture needs your support instead.
Each step by any (and every) one who ships moves us. It might show us what won’t work, it might advance the state of the art or it might merely encourage others to give it a try as well.
To those who feel that they have no choice but to create, thank you.
We all know the story: A ruler comes to Jesus and says “what must I do to inherit the eternal life?” Jesus, instead of saying, “believe in me,” says “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother” (Luke 18:18-19).
Already, this seems strange. We would expect Jesus to say: “Believe in me.” But instead he seems to say: “Keep the commandments.”
The rich young ruler then responds: “All these I have kept from my youth” (v. 21). To which Jesus responds: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (v. 22).
Why didn’t Jesus say “believe in me?” Why did he seem to tell this person that he would be saved by obeying the law?
A common interpretation is that Jesus was showing this guy his sin. Jesus’ point was not that he would be saved by keeping the commandments; his point was: “you haven’t kept the commandments, so you must be saved by another way — namely, by faith in me.”
Some people say that this interpretation is importing a theological system onto the text. That it seems too complex of a treatment of the passage.
But I don’t think it is. This becomes clear when you consider the account in Luke. For, in Luke, right before this Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
We all know that parable as well: The Pharisee came to the temple and said “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). The tax collector, on the other hand, wouldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven, and said “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (v. 13).
Which one of these was justified?
No. Only the tax collector. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other” (v. 14).
Here’s the point: The rich young ruler failed to learn the lesson of the Pharisee and tax collector. Jesus had just pointed out how the guy who claimed to have kept all the commandments was not justified. He then told us how we do become justified — namely, by acknowledging that we are sinners, like the tax collector, rather than law-keepers. It is after this that the rich young ruler comes up to Jesus and says “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
When Jesus says “you know the commandments,” and the rich young ruler responds “all these I have kept from my youth,” he is echoing the Pharisee from the passage just a few verses earlier. He, like the Pharisee, thinks he is a law keeper.
This stands out starkly in the text, simply due to the proximity of the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector, and the story of the rich young ruler. I know someone might say “well, these things might not have occurred so close together in Jesus’ actual ministry.” That might be true. But either way, the proximity in which Luke places them in his gospel tells us something about Luke’s intent and the point Luke wants to make.
And so, with the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector coming just before this (with the instance of the children coming to Jesus right in between — which makes the same point as the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector ["whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it"]), it is hard to escape the conclusion that Luke is indeed seeking to drive home the same lesson. It is hard to miss the similarity between what the Pharisee said about himself being a lawkeeper (18:11), and the rich young ruler claiming to be a lawkeeper (18:21).
Since the point of the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector is that the Pharisee was not a lawkeeper, but that all of us are like this tax collector — that is, sinful and in need of mercy (18:13-14), we ought to read the rich young ruler’s claim to have kept the commandments and say “no, you haven’t.”
And that’s what I think Jesus’ point is. When Jesus responds to him by saying “go sell all that you have,” Jesus is challenging him. Jesus is pressing further to make him see that he is not, in fact, a law keeper. Jesus is essentially saying to him: “OK, you don’t get it. So I’m going to show you that you aren’t a law keeper by challenging you on this point.” So he challenges him with the first and tenth commandments — to have no other gods and not to be covetous — by saying “go, sell all that you have.” And when the rich young ruler becomes sad at this, it shows that, like the tax collector, he is not a lawkeeper after all — he has broken the tenth commandment and first commandment by preferring money over God. (And by breaking these commandments, he has broken them all — for the tenth commandment is a restatement of the first, and the first commandment is the essence of all of them.)
But now the rich young ruler is actually in a good position. Jesus has just shown him that he is not a lawkeeper. He should now, like the tax collector, acknowledge his sins and turn to God for mercy. And Jesus even hinted at this when he also said “come, follow me” (v. 22).
Here’s the point: When Jesus said to him “you know the commandments” and even “go, sell all that you have,” Jesus was not saying that we become saved by keeping the commandments. That would contradict the point of the parable he had just told before this about the Pharisee and tax collector (18:9-14).
Rather, his point was to reinforce the point of that parable — that none of us are lawkeepers but are only justified by acknowledging our sinfulness, as the tax collector did (18:13-14). This is what it means to receive the kingdom of God as a child (18:17) — you don’t rely on your own efforts, but simply cry to God for mercy. Jesus was bringing the rich young ruler to see the same point about salvation that he just made in verses 13-14 and verse 17.
One objection: After the rich man goes away, Peter basically says “Hey, look, we did what you told him to do — we did leave our homes and follow you” (18:28). So does this indicate that, since Peter did do what Jesus told the rich young ruler to do, Jesus was actually saying he would be saved by selling all his possessions?
Not in the slightest. For if you look back to when Peter left everything to follow Jesus, you see something striking. After Jesus demonstrated his power by enabling the large catch of fish, notice what Peter did:
“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’” (Luke 5:8).
Notice that this is also in the gospel of Luke. Luke clearly intends for us to remember this. Here’s the point: Peter entered the kingdom just like the tax collector in the parable. He entered the kingdom by, like the tax collector, acknowledging his sinfulness and looking for mercy. And Jesus gave him mercy, and then Peter left everything to follow Jesus.
Acknowledging our sin and looking to Christ for mercy comes first. Then, lawkeeping follows. Those who think they are following the law without having humbled themselves like the tax collector (18:13-14) or a child (18:17) or Peter (5:8) are not following the law and are not saved.
But those who, like Peter and the tax collector, know that they are sinful and look to Christ for mercy — these people are then able to follow Jesus in radical obedience. But humbling ourselves by looking for justification apart from works comes first. Then, out of that, radical obedience flows — sometimes even to the point of, like Peter, leaving all our possessions in following Jesus.
Here’s the first part:
“Few of our own failures are fatal,” economist and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford writes in his new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. This may be true, but we certainly don’t act like it. When our mistakes stare us in the face, we often find it so upsetting that we miss out on the primary benefit of failing (yes, benefit): the chance to get over our egos and come back with a stronger, smarter approach.
According to Adapt, “success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time.”
Well said, from Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer:
“The Christian leader must not be dictatorial. ‘Not lording it over those entrusted to you’ (1 Peter 5:3). A domineering manner, an unbridled ambition, an offensive strut, a tyrant’s talk — no attitude could be less fit for one who claims to be a servant of the Son of God.
The Scriptures command us to be gentle and kind to unbelievers, not because we are not at war, but because we’re not at war with them (2 Tim. 2:26). When we see that we are warring against principalities and powers in the heavenly places, we can see that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). The path to peace isn’t through bellicosity or surrender, but through fighting the right war (Rom. 16:20).
Let’s join the rest of the world in remembering September 11. Let’s not flinch from the trauma, but let’s not be paralyzed by it either. And along the way, let’s remember to have sympathy for those who flinch at the trauma of our gospel, who wince when the light of God’s judgment exposes their dark places. Let’s remember that the hands we are reaching out with are scabbed over with Roman spike holes, and the cross we are holding out is caked in blood.
Let’s remember, too, that the gospel brings peace and reconciliation to every Ground Zero in the cosmos. On the day when graves are opened, even those accidental tombs beneath the rubble of terror, we will see just how good this news is, even better than our shiny churches and happy choruses can convey.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
Here’s an excerpt from my book. This is not like most excerpts, probably, because it’s still a rough draft and will likely be improved and re-done before the final version.
I wrote this section a few days ago and I actually don’t yet know where it fits. I tacked it on at the end of the chapter it is relevant to, but that chapter is already mostly done and this brings together some of the ideas from it in a different way. The reason I’m posting it here is because it is largely self-contained and because of the fact that I now have to figure out where it goes (and if it will go in at all)!
So, this gives you not only a sample of the book, but a window into how books take shape.
Here’s the excerpt:
Don’t Wing It!
Just a quick final word on the importance of personal management. The last thing I am advocating is an ultra rigid approach to life. That would be massively boring and, frankly, makes you look mean. I am a fan of discipline, but I am not a fan of strictness. So, be flexible.
But don’t only be flexible. In fact, being flexible implies that there is something to flex — some type of structure and discipline to your life. You need to have that. Different people will have it in varying degrees, and the place where you set the needle is up to you. But you need to do something. Don’t wing your life.
Don’t wing it because, first, it doesn’t work. Scott Belsky points out that even among creatives, who are known for winging it, it doesn’t work:
This book aims to take pie-in-the-sky notions of how the creative process unfolds and bring them down to earth. Creative people are known for winging it: improvising and acting on intuition is, in some way, the haloed essence of what we do and who we are. However, when we closely analyze how the most successful and productive creatives, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople truly make ideas happen [and to his list I would add pastors, non-profit leaders, and many more], it turns out that “having an idea” is just a small part of the process, perhaps only 1 percent of the journey.
And, second, don’t wing it because it’s not biblical. The Bible speaks very highly of discipline and planning: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4). “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son [note: there is an intentionality here (“in summer”) -- not randomness], but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame” (Proverbs 10:5). “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). “Whoever gives thought to a matter will discover good” (Proverbs 16:20). “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Perhaps the most forceful verse, though, is Proverbs 21:5: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Note that not planning is analogous to being hasty. Don’t be hasty — don’t live your life by the seat of your pants. Give thought to what you will do with your days and weeks and years.
Don’t be overly rigid (see above) and don’t make your plans independent of God. But do have a measure of thought and intentionality to how you go about your life.
(Note: the next several chapters after this one then go into various practices for improving your productivity and managing your life more effectively, in a biblical and creative way.)
Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God will be released November 1.
Here’s the description:
There has never been a marriage book like THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE.
Based on the acclaimed sermon series by New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller, this book shows everyone-Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged-the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible.
Modern culture would make you believe that everyone has a soul-mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong.
Using the Bible as his guide, coupled with insightful commentary from his wife of thirty-six years, Kathy, Timothy Keller shows that God created marriage to bring us closer to him and to bring us more joy in our lives. It is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious. With a clear-eyed understanding of the Bible, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.
It’s already available for pre-order. I’m very much looking forward to it.
And for those who want to pick up a book on marriage now, I would also recommend John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.
One of the key points I am making in my book is that we should not simply do good when a need crosses our path, but that we should proactively make plans for doing good for others.
I bring together the various strands in the Scriptures that teach this, one of which is that evildoers are presented in Scripture as making plans for evil (Satan himself being the chief example — Ephesians 6:11 [note the word "schemes"]). If the wicked create plans for harm, how much more should those who follow the Lord create plans for good.
Here’s something interesting on that. Proverbs 24:9 says: “The devising of folly is sin.” In other words, not only is carrying out plans for harm sin, but the actual planning is itself sin.
Conversely, it stands to reason, then, that making plans for good is itself righteous and good. Carrying out plans that serve others is good, but so also is making those plans in the first place.
That should be an encouragement not only to take initiative and be proactive in devising good things we can do for people; it should also be an encouragement for those who have sought to do good things for others but been hindered in the execution.
Take heart that recognizing the opportunity to serve, along with the planning and intentions and forethought, were themselves good and pleasing to God — even if you weren’t able to execute and make them happen.
No. It’s only against planning done with a mindset that we are the final authority, rather than God:
The Bible Affirms Planning that is Done in Dependence on God: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
The Bible is Against Planning that Does Not Take God into Account: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . . Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
Here’s how we can put it: The Bible is highly in favor of planning, and in fact commends and, it can be argued, commands planning.
But planning can be done in two ways: God-dependent and godless. And, godless planning is not what you might expect. It can seem innocent. But godless planning is any time you create plans without taking God into consideration — without acknowledging his authority over all things, and that heaven rules, not you. It calls this type of planning arrogant. And we can fall into it without even knowing it.
The Bible is pro-planning. But it is anti- what we might call arrogant planning.
And arrogant planning doesn’t mean necessarily being high-handed and in opposition to God. It can mean simply forgetting about him in making your plans.
Getting things done:
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4)
You need to do both. But things will not stay perfectly organized, and there will be times when they get almost totally out of hand.
That’s OK. The manger won’t always be clean, and it’s worth it.
Keep things as orderly as you can, and when they get out of control for a while, make sure to eventually take time to clear the decks.
You shouldn’t generally have to chose. But if you have to for a time, fruitfulness is more important than organization.
And, don’t begrudge the time you have to spend getting and keeping things organized. That’s a necessary part of things, which is the main point of the verse.
I know that most semesters started a few weeks ago, but Alex Chediak’s book Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! is worth remembering at this time of year.
If you are in college I would highly recommend getting a copy of Alex’s book, and if you have a friend or family member in college, I would highly recommend getting them a copy.
I’ve blogged on the book before, and here’s the description from Randy Alcorn’s blurb, and a few other blurbs as well:
“Most Christian young people go to college without specific goals and are unprepared for the challenges that await them. While some prosper spiritually, most get derailed, and an alarming number abandon their faith. Alex has written an insightful and useful book to help college-bound people know what to expect, how to prepare for it, and what to do to avoid the pitfalls.” Randy Alcorn
“There is no better guide to college than this.”
Alex and Brett Harris, best-selling authors of Do Hard Things
“Written by an ‘insider’–a former student, now a professor, this book addresses all the issues a student might face. An excellent gift for all high school seniors.”
Jerry Bridges, best-selling author of The Pursuit of Holiness
“A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work.” (Proverbs 16:11)
And, God doesn’t have the sacred / secular distinction that many today have, in the sense of implying that the secular arena is insignificant and unimportant. For God is not only the one who is ultimately behind all justice; he actually takes delight in it:
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)
For more on this, see John Piper’s sermon “The Pleasure of God in Public Justice.”
From Scott Belsky, in Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality:
- Improving your personal organizational habits
- Engaging a broader community
- Developing your leadership capability
Two Articles I Just Cited in My Book on Fitting Hard Thinking into Busy Schedules, Which I Highly Recommend
- Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule
- Getting Creative Things Done: How to Fit Hard Thinking in a Busy Schedule
And both of these are simply an application of what Drucker said in The Effective Executive:
“To be effective, every knowledge worker, and especially every executive, therefore needs to be able to dispose of time in fairly large chunks. To have small dribs and drabs of time at [your] disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours.”
Perspiration is the best form of differentiation, especially in the creative world. Work ethic alone can single-handedly give your ideas the boost that makes all the difference.
Unfortunately, perspiration is not glamorous. Endless late nights, multiple redrafts, and countless meetings consume the majority of your time — all with the intention of breathing life into your projects.
Passion for your work will also play an important role. Passion yields tolerance — tolerance for all of the frustration and hardship that come your way as you seek to make your ideas happen.
Now this is interesting, because I’m writing about this right now in my book: Creativity works best when channeled within the framework of a basic schedule.
In order to channel your ability to focus — and perspire — for extended periods of time, you will likely need to develop a consistent work schedule. Structuring time spent executing ideas is a best practice of admired creative leaders across industries.
It is the only way to keep up with the continuous stream of action steps and allocate sufficient time for deep thought.
Here’s one reason:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Sometimes, the truth that we are just and sinful at the same time is misunderstood.
It is rightly recognized that, even as Christians, we still sin and still have sinful dispositions. So the “sinful” part of the picture is usually understood correctly.
But the “just” part of the equation is sometimes understood to mean to refer to what we will one day be – namely, perfectly righteous in our character and actions.
In other words, it is thought that when God looks upon as as what we are, he sees that we are still sinful and imperfect. But when he looks upon what we will one day be, he considers us just. So we are sinful in regard to what we are now, but we are just in regard to what we will be.
While it is true that we will be perfectly holy one day (and that we are died to sin now), this is not what is meant by the fact that we are at the same time just and sinful.
As I mentioned, it is true that we are sinful in respect to our character and actions right now — we are imperfect in ourselves. But we are just not because God looks out to what we will be at the judgment, but because he looks to Christ and regards Christ’s own righteousness as ours.
God considers us “just” not because of our future holiness, but because of Christ’s righteousness — which we have right now.
We are right now fully, completely, 100% just and righteous before God because the gospel means that he regards us not as we are in ourselves, but rather as we are in Christ. And the righteousness in Christ by which we are fully just before God is not the internal righteousness that he is working in our character (either now or perfected in the future), but rather an alien righteousness — a righteousness accomplished by another and reckoned as belonging to us.
So the sense in which the Christian is simultaneously just and sinful is this: we are sinful in relation to what we are in ourselves, but righteous in relation to how God regards us in Christ. This righteousness is outside of ourselves — it is not a righteousness of our character (either now or in the future), but the righteousness that Christ accomplished and has credited to us. God looks upon us as perfectly righteous because he has imputed Christ’s own righteousness to us.
This gives us perfect, unflinching security because, as Bunyan said, our righteousness is in heaven. And, as the great hymn “Before the Throne of God” says, “we know that while in heaven he stands [which is forever -- times a trillion!] no tongue can bid me thence depart.”
I’m not super in to “tips on managing stress” and the like. But stress is a significant reality in our era, and it’s worth learning some things about.
I just noticed that The Teaching Company — which has a host of excellent courses on all sorts of subjects, from science to philosophy to mathematics to history — has the course Stress and Your Body on sale for 70% off right now.
One of the things that looks interesting about it is the way it looks at the physical effects that stress has.
You can get it by audio download, CD, video download, or DVD.
When you go through seasons where you feel — and are — utterly overwhelmed, here’s the ultimate reason:
“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death itself. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Obviously Paul is speaking of great affliction here. But that doesn’t mean this only applies literally when your life is in danger or at risk.
We often limit the scope of what suffering is to only large, dramatic things — and this is unbiblical, as I’ve argued elsewhere.
This passage here applies to all forms of suffering, great and small.
Even if it feels like a small thing in relation to everything else going on in the world, when you feel overwhelmed there is a purpose behind that: it is to to lead you to rely more and more not on yourself, but on God.
Stephen Covey describes these circumstances well in First Things First:
A low-trust culture is filled with bureaucracy, excessive rules and regulations, restrictive, closed systems. In the fear of some “loose cannon,” people set up procedures that everyone has to accommodate.
The level of initiative is low — basically “do what you’re told.” Structures are pyramidal, hierarchical. Information systems are short-term. The quarterly bottom line tends to drive the mentality in the culture.
In a high-trust culture, structures and systems are aligned to create empowerment, to liberate people’s energy and creativity toward agreed-upon purposes within the guidelines of shared values. There’s less bureaucracy, fewer rules and regulations, more involvement.
Good words from Dan Pink.
Here’s a key paragraph:
“It is the discipline to discard what does not fit – to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort – that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”
Now, one qualification. I’ve seen people do this wrong — incredibly, horribly, terribly wrong.
The point is not about merely subtracting things. Some people get on this bandwagon and start chopping away, thinking they are being disciplined. They aren’t.
You need to get rid of the right things.
Lack of discipline is not merely doing a lot of things. It’s doing a lot of things outside of your hedgehog concept — the intersection of what you’re passionate about, what you can do with excellence, and (for organizations) what drives your resource engine.
I’ve seen people cut out a lot of great things that were inside their organization’s hedgehog concept and which there was staffing for, and the organization suffered. These people just didn’t know what they were doing. They got a hold of an important management concept, but they didn’t understand it rightly, and so misused it — to the organization’s detriment.
It is valuable to have a lot of things going on — as long as they are inside your hedgehog concept. The key to discipline is to stop doing the things that are outside of the overlap of those three circles.
Josh Harris, in Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last:
Being a Christian means being a person who labors to establish his beliefs, his dreams, his choices, his very view of the world on the truth of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished—a Christian who cares about truth, who cares about sound doctrine.
Peter Drucker, from his article “Managing Oneself” (pdf):
Successful careers are not planned.
They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person — hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre — into an outstanding performer.
A helpful resource that fleshes this out is Daniel Pink’s The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.