Fruitful Leadership in the Marketplace: A Mini-Conference if you are in the Louisville Area April 14
On April 14, the Saturday right after T4G, I will be speaking at the Engage@Work Spring Mini-Conference held by Sojourn Community Church from 8 am to noon.
I’ll be talking about fruitful Christian leadership, especially in the marketplace, and will cover about six main things:
- Why we must care greatly about leadership as Christians
- Can there even be a Christian view on leadership? Or, how to learn from secular thinking without infecting the church with the “managerial model”
- What is the essence of good leadership and how does the gospel transform it? The two core principles at the heart of effective gospel-centered leadership
- Leading for the good of others: Transactional leadership versus transforming leadership
- How do you lead well — especially in the marketplace? 8 things you can start doing right now
- Leadership and how the gospel changes our organizations, cities, societies, and the world
Also, bring your questions — the harder the better. Answering difficult questions on leadership, the Bible, theology, and anything else is one of my favorite things to do. (But don’t worry if your question seems more simple — I like those questions as well!).
Everyone is welcome, and the event will be held at Sojourn’s New Albany campus. Registration is $10, and the first 50 registrants will receive a 40% discount on my upcoming book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done when it releases.
It would be great to see you there!
A good post by Dave Ramsey. Here’s the first part:
What makes a customer satisfied with your business or organization? The answer may surprise you. It’s not always about offering the lowest prices or the newest gadgets. According to research from the University of Missouri, employee satisfaction plays a major role.
The study shows that CEOs who pay attention to employees’ job satisfaction are able to bothboost customer satisfaction and increase repeat business from those buyers two-fold. Simply put, when your team is happy, everyone is happy—including your bottom line.
He then gives 5 ways to keep your team engaged and satisfied. Read the whole thing.
The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics recently wrote:
On March 14, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of The New York Times. He described a culture that had become “toxic” and outright callous to the interests of the firm’s clients.
The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) saw the news of his resignation as a teaching moment. Without taking sides, we sought to point out the important and often misunderstood difference between greed and legitimate self-interest.
Their visiting scholar, Jay Richards, and Vice President of Economic Initiatives, Anne Bradley, did this in a very helpful and brief op-ed for The Washington Times. Here’s an excerpt:
On Wednesday, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of theNewYorkTimes. His reasoning: The company’s employees and culture have morphed into a gross entity that sidelines the interests of the client in favor of making a quick buck. By his account, Goldman Sachs‘ culture has become “toxic and destructive.” Mr. Smith no longer wants to be associated with the Wall Street giant. “People who care only about making money,” he argues, “will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.”
Amen! To care only about money is not only unbiblical; it is also — contrary to what many people think — out of sync with capitalism. Contrary to the 80′s movie “Wall Street,” greed isn’t good, and never has been. Greed does not drive the free market, but actually ruins it. What drives the free market is legitimate self-interest — which is very different from greed. Richards and Bradley explain:
This paradoxical biblical principle, that self-denial is in our self-interest, is also an important economic principle. The greedy miser who hoards his wealth closes himself off to greater economic gains. And in a free market, the greedy merchant who swindles his customers is not likely to maintain profitability.
On the other hand, if we seek to meet the needs of others – whether we are hedge-fund managers or plumbers – we are likely to reap personal benefit. Great entrepreneurs who risk their wealth, delay their gratification and successfully anticipate the needs of others can become fabulously successful as a result.
This is the beauty of the free market: It harnesses our narrower self-interest for the common good. Markets bring together the most willing suppliers with the most willing demanders, and exchange takes place. You freely pay the grocer for groceries, he freely sells them, and you both end up better off than you were before.
When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:12-14).
This applies to more than just dinners and banquets. In all that you do, in all areas of life, we are to give special attention to helping those who cannot do anything for us in return.
It is interesting that in Matthew 7, the people who expected to enter the kingdom but were turned away had done many “mighty works” in Jesus’ name (Matthew 7:21-23), whereas in Matthew 25 the righteous who enter the kingdom are described as those who met the concrete needs of “the least of these” (Matthew 25:35-40).
It is not the way you treat the great that shows the state of your heart before God, though it is of course important to treat everyone with respect. What truly shows the state of your heart before God is how you treat those who are in no place to do anything for you, if you do it for Jesus’ sake.
These are tough words, if you think about it. So don’t forget. Live your life in such a way that it is filled with all sorts of actions and activities and other good works that you will not be and cannot be repaid for here on earth. And, if you do this from faith and by the Spirit, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
This is a guest post by Loren Pinilis, who blogs on time management from a biblical perspective at Life of a Steward.
In Exodus 18, Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, offers sound advice that all leaders should take to heart.
From morning to evening, Moses would judge the disputes of the people. And from morning to evening, they would stand around waiting to have their cases heard. Jethro counseled Moses: “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.”
Moses was essentially micro-managing things by allowing all decisions to be funneled through him.
Note that Moses had good intentions. He wanted the people to know and understand the law, and he took his influence and responsibility over the nation seriously. He judged each case personally because each case mattered to him and to God.
It’s the same for leaders today, particularly in ministry roles. We have a reverence for even the smallest areas under our influence, and we have a healthy respect for our duties as leaders.
But there are very serious consequences when we let our concept of a sacred duty turn into micro-management.
Jethro could see that this pattern of behavior would cause utter exhaustion for Moses, and that’s what most people focus on when they mention this passage. But Jethro also realized that Moses’s leadership style would have a negative effect on the people. The court would get backlogged, the nation would be frustrated, and eventually many would abandon the idea of receiving justice.
When a leader insists on making or approving every decision, an organizational bottleneck is created. The limiting factor for that organization’s effectiveness becomes the time and attention of the leader.
An interesting thing then often happens. The leaders recognize that they can only do so much. But rather than delegate some of their decision making (often out of a well-intentioned respect for their responsibility), they engineer the system to accommodate for their limited time.
Teams prepare proposals and reports to pre-digest the information for those who have the ability to pull the trigger. It seems sensible: you’re minimizing the time the leaders spend on approving decisions and therefore maximizing what your organization can do.
But this is designing the entire organizational structure around the limitations of the leader. It’s the exact opposite of how leadership should work.
Imagine how many hours the team spends preparing reports to save the leader a few minutes. Imagine what else could have been done with that time and energy. This is the price of micro-management.
Jethro’s advice wasn’t to streamline the court. It wasn’t to appoint people who would summarize the information for Moses so he could render quick verdicts.
Instead, Jethro’s wise counsel was to delegate: to train up leaders who could take a portion of Moses’s authority and participate with him in caring for the nation. Moses could lead instead of holding everyone back.
He could handle his workload. The people wouldn’t be frustrated. Leaders would be trained for greater things. And Justice would be administered.
Sounds obvious. Most of the time when people think of a Christian view of work, they think “work hard and be honest.” This is so obvious we easily take it for granted.
But what is the textual basis for working hard? Is it truly biblical, or just a Western idea that we’ve uncritically absorbed?
It is indeed truly biblical. If the West is known for its work ethic, it is in part due to the influence of the Bible. Here are just a few texts, divided into two categories.
1. Paul worked hard, not only in his ministry but also in non-ministry work, in order to give us an example that we all ought to work hard as well:
You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:34-35).
“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
2. Proverbs tells us that if you are slothful in your work you are not only lacking sense and hurting yourself, but are actually akin to a vandal:
“Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth” (Proverbs 12:27).
“Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense” (Proverbs 24:30).
“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
Don’t be a vandal. Work hard!
Jesus says “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6).
In the Middle Ages, before the Reformation, it was thought that life was divided into two areas — the “perfect life” and the “permissible life.” Those in “full time Christian service” lived the perfect life, and everyone else was relegated to second class — your life was acceptable, but not most important. If you wanted to live a truly important life, you had to be in “ministry” (which was also conceived of very differently then).
Jesus explodes this error.
He doesn’t do this by saying “the things of the world are as important as the things of God.” The teaching of the Bible is not that there are no priorities in life. Seeking the kingdom of God is the most important thing.
But the revolutionary teaching of Jesus and the Bible is that you don’t have to be a pastor or missionary or full-time Christian worker to do this.
Wherever you are, whatever your job, you can and must seek the kingdom of God first.
That’s the doctrine of vocation. The doctrine of vocation does not say that you don’t have to seek the kingdom of God first. Rather, it says that this life is open and available to everyone, regardless of your job or station in life. All of us, no matter where we are or what we do for a living, are equally able to seek the kingdom of God and put it first.
As Paul said, “if then you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1ff.) And as he shows through the rest of the chapter, we do this not by retreating from the world to live like monks, but by obeying Jesus’ teaching in all areas of life.
You don’t have to leave the world or be a pastor to obey Jesus’ teaching. You just need to do all things for his glory and the good of others in all areas of life, and you can do this even if you have no control at all over your job (Colossians 3:22-25).
That’s the revolutionary doctrine of vocation. Not that the things of this world are as important as the things of God, but that you can seek the things of God from any station and calling in this world. This, then, transfigures all of life with the presence of God.
As Christians, what are our primary motivations in our work? Here are 7.
1. The glory of God
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. . . . You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). ”…rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Ephesians 6:7).
2. The good of others
But how do we do something to the glory of God? First by offering it to him — doing it for his sake and in his power. But, second, by seeking the good of others. The first commandment is to love God with our whole hearts (Matthew 22:37). But the second is like it: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Loving your neighbor is not some abstract thing you need to go to Africa to do; rather, we love our neighbors primarily in the context of our vocations — the things we do every day, like our work. Our work is an avenue of doing good for others.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Ephesians 6:5-7). When Paul tells slaves to “obey” their masters, of course this means doing what they are told and not being disagreeable. But it means more than that. It means employees are to seek the good of their employer. Don’t just do the minimum; take initiative and go the extra mile. Don’t be a clock-watcher; render service with a good will that seeks and desires the good of your employer — and your co-workers, any who work for you, your company or organization, and ultimately the good of your city and society in general (Jeremiah 29:5-7).
3. Enjoyment of the work itself
You don’t get more spiritual points for hating your job. And you don’t get docked spiritual points for loving your job. As Christians, we are to love our jobs. Not just the fact that our jobs are a service, but also the activities of our jobs themselves. “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). “I perceive that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil — this is God’s gift to man” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).
4. To earn money to support yourself, give, and enjoy
Earning money is a legitimate motivation for our work. It’s just not the first motivation. We earn money so that we can support ourselves without being in need: “…and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). And, if you notice the connections that exist within 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, you see that working such that you are not dependent on anyone is actually a form of love.
So we work in order to support ourselves. We also work in order to have something to give: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28). Don’t work to get merely; work to get in order to give.
And, with some of the money we earn, it is right and good not simply to support ourselves and give sacrificially for the good of others, but also to enjoy it and do interesting things. For God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17) and “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). The problem is in putting your hope in riches, being arrogant, and being stingy (1 Timothy 6:17-18), not in enjoying the fruits of your work.
Sometimes we are underpaid in our jobs here, and not all the good that we do is seen or rewarded or cared about on earth. But the Lord sees it all and will reward it all: “render service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free” (Ephesians 6:8).
Likewise sometimes we are treated unjustly in our work and wrongs are committed against us. Further, sometimes those who have greater authority are shown partiality so that they get away with things they shouldn’t. So also here, we are able to continue on in the hope that God notices those wrongs as well, and will address every wrongdoing either on the cross and through repentance, or in judgment: “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:25).
6. The gospel
We are able to do these things ultimately only because we have been made alive in Christ through faith in him. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is” (Colossians 3:1). As the flow of the chapter shows, seeking the things above does not mean retreating to the wilderness to grow wheat and wait until Jesus comes, but to live according to his ethic here and now, putting to death evil desires (vv. 5-9) and putting on love and kindness and humility towards others (vv. 10 – 16) and doing this in the here and now (v. 17), including our vocations (vv. 18 – 4:1), not by retreating into the wilderness.
7. Adorning the gospel
By living all of our vocations for the glory of God and good of others, doing them well and in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, we create a good testimony that supports and demonstrates the truth of the gospel and shines the light of Matthew 5:16 in such a way that some people will become Christians through our witness (that’s the meaning of Ephesians 5:7 – 17, one of the hardest to understand passages in the NT until you read Peter O’Brien’s commentary). “Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior” (Titus 2:9-10).
Your work is intrinsically valuable and justified in its own right, simply by virtue of the creation mandate (Genesis 1:28). You do not need to justify your work on the basis of its evangelistic usefulness. At the same time, work does serve as a testimony to the gospel and we should be mindful of that in our work (that’s part of what it means to “walk in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5; cf. Proverbs 11:30).
By doing good work and enjoying it, for the glory of God and good of others, you not only serve your workplace, but, through that, you serve and transform society as well. If dozens and hundreds and thousands and millions of Christians all did their work in this way right where they are at, society would be transformed by the gospel because it is in our vocations that we most effectively carry our faith into the world.
My friend Doug Wolter is a pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church and is preaching through Colossians. He invited me down to preach on Colossians 3:22-4:1 yesterday, and I preached on what it means to do our work unto the Lord and for the good of others.
This also involved laying out a bit of a Christian doctrine of work from this text, since what the Bible has to say about our work is so often overlooked these days. You can listen to the message here.
It’s because we are weak in the doctrine of vocation. Consequently, the way many churches are run does not develop or attract leaders.
This is not to say there are no good leaders in the church. Quite the contrary. But it is to say that it is often extra hard to become a good leader within the context of a vocation that is structurally connected to the church.
These words, from a book I read a few years ago on marketplace ministry, are worth pondering:
As a whole, the modern church has not created nor attracted strong leaders. Meanwhile, the marketplace attracts and produces leaders by the truckload.
Gifted leaders gravitate to opportunity, challenge, and learning environments offered by businesses. They are repelled by the small vision, autocratic leadership [take note -- I think this is more common in the church than we realize!], lack of objectivity, chaos and foolishness that characterize many church environments.
The best leaders avoid the political environment as well because of its small-mindedness, blind ambition, dishonesty and inability to address real issues [again, note that he is speaking in generalities]. In church and politics, there is often little recognition or reward for effective leadership. But in business, leaders find their natural environment. They are almost always welcomed, rewarded, groomed, and given opportunity.*
This doesn’t need to be the case. Business should and will always be a natural environment for developing leadership. But the church can and should be as well.
If you read the Old Testament, in some sense leadership is a major theme that runs throughout. The judges and kings of Israel were leaders, and we have example after example of good leadership and bad leadership.
Further, God says in Jeremiah 3:15 that he will give the church “shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and insight.” This is in contrast to the shepherds that scatter God’s people and rule them harshly and for their own personal benefit (Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34).
Again, I’m not saying that the church has completely failed in developing leaders. There are many, many solid pastors and other leaders throughout the church. But I am saying that we haven’t done nearly as good a job as we can — and should. We need to do better. And, perhaps, it is actually prophesied that this will continue to happen more and more (Jeremiah 3:15; Isaiah 32:1-2).
The key to doing better is to recover the doctrine of vocation. Ironically, by recognizing the value of all vocations before God, we gain the framework for understanding what effective leadership really looks like in the church and how to develop it better.
A great podcast by Michael Hyatt on how better productivity practices don’t help unless you are headed in the right direction in the first place.
Here’s his summary:
In this podcast episode I talk about the relationship between vision and productivity. I share the story of becoming a divisional leader at Thomas Nelson. Better productivity would not have improved our operating results. We needed a better vision.
And here’s his outline:
I discuss how any leader can develop vision by following these seven steps:
- Get alone with a journal and a pen.
- Make sure you won’t be interrupted.
- Close your eyes and pray.
- Jot down your current reality.
- Now write down what you want to see happen.
- Share your vision with those who have a stake in the outcome.
- Commit to reading your vision daily.
This was funny, and insightful. It discusses five leadership mistakes embodied by the Galactic Empire in Star Wars.
Here’s a key part:
Mistake #2: Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.
By consolidating his power, the Emperor didn’t just ensure that his organization wouldn’t survive his death. He also deprived a key motivation for both his employees and the public-at-large: a feeling of having a stake in the success of the organization. The Emperor disbanded the Galactic Senate, removing the idea of any democratic stake in the government. He wiped out all references to the Force, so there was no longer any guiding ideology. His sole idea for maintaining control of the Empire was building the Death Star, on the theory that, in the words of Grand Moff Tarkin, “Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.” Similarly, while in the first Star Wars film, there was a scene showing officers in the Imperial Navy discussing strategy, byReturn of the Jedi, it was clear that no feedback was being solicited anymore. The Emperor or Vader gave orders and that was it. No further discussion.
But as was ably demonstrated in this exchange in the movie Office Space, this is the worst possible way to get the best work out of your employees. Fear, combined with a sense of powerlessness, only inspires the bare minimum amount of work:
Peter Gibbons: You see, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.
Bob Porter: Don’t- don’t care?
Peter Gibbons: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Porter: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
Key Takeaway: In order to get the best work out of people in your organization, you need to solicit their feedback, engage them in the decision-making process, and ensure that they have a stake in the success of the organization.
Is your organization led like the Galactic Empire?
Stop Stealing Dreams is Seth Godin’s new free e-book on the world of education. Here’s the description:
The economy has changed, probably forever.
School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.
In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting.
Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.
You can read it at the link above, or access four other versions that Godin lists on the Squidoo page for the book.
A good post by Scott Belsky at the 99%. The five types he discusses are:
- Reactionary work
- Planning work
- Procedural work
- Insecurity work
- Problem-solving work
This is a good post by Mike Anderson at the Resurgence.
As some of you may know, I am on the board of The Elisha Foundation (TEF), a superb organization founded by Justin and Tamara Reimer in 2005, being spurred on by their eldest child Elisha, who has Down Syndrome.
TEF ministers to families of people with special needs, pursuing Christ-centered transformation in their lives. One of their key programs is providing retreats where the families of those with disabilities can come, have a break from their ongoing responsibilities, and find refreshment and encouragement in workshops and activities through the weekend in a fun and beautiful environment. They have several other programs as well, and TEF provides all of their services at no cost to those whom they serve.
I can’t say enough good about the ministry of TEF and am very excited about what they are doing. Justin leads TEF as executive director and is a fantastic guy with a great heart, a great head, and great plans for the future of TEF.
Today TEF has just announced that it is putting together a team to trek to the Mount Everest base camp next spring (arriving there exactly one year from today) to help generate awareness and funding to support and grow the ministry. All proceedes from the Trek go to TEF to help fund and expand their programs for families of those affected by disability.
Here’s a summary of the purpose of the trek from the Trek4TEF website:
Trekking to Everest Base Camp, promotes the work of The Elisha Foundation and the opportunity to display the glory and the sovereignty of God in the lives of the disabled. We believe that those with disabilities have been created in the image of God, just as those without. We desire to show God’s glory as our disabled participants climb these mountain trails, just as they navigate the sometimes treacherous paths of their disability. What a testament of the infinite value of those with disabilities to the cultures of the world who find little to no worth in the disabled!
There are three ways you can participate in the trek and helping to fund the ministry of TEF:
- Join the trekking team (the trek looks incredible!)
- Financially support a trekker
- Pray for the ways the trek can bless TEF and its beneficiaries
You can learn all about the trek on the website they’ve just launched and in the video at the beginning of this post.
This is a helpful list from online universities.com. Here’s the intro:
If you want to get to the top in any field, whether it’s business, science, or even construction, you have to have some pretty solid leadership skills. Unfortunately, these kinds of skills often aren’t the sort of thing you’ll find being taught in your college courses, and may take some extra effort to learn and apply outside of your classes.
While there is little substitute for leadership experience through campus organizations, hearing from experts on psychology, leadership, and business can also be a big help in giving you a basic leadership education. TED is one of the best places to find all of these diverse subjects in one place, and here we’ve collected some of the best videos for anyone, young or old, hoping to hone their leadership abilities
Finally. This sounds great.
There’s a great article over at WorldChristians called “So, Your Office is Restructuring Again?“.
Here are two good reasons for restructuring:
- When you notice communication problems are creating mistakes. This often occurs in larger organizations when departments focus on their own projects resulting in conflict or competition with other departments. A restructuring may be necessary to better communicate, coordinate, and unite efforts.
- When several new staff are added, it is necessary to create new structures for communication, connection, and accountability.
And, here are two bad reasons for restructuring:
Reasons that weak leaders use to restructure; if you are in an organization like this, watch out: weak leadership alert!
- When you want to show that you can take charge and lead, but aren’t really sure what to do; restructuring gives the appearance of leadership and buys time until you figure out what in the world you are going to do. If this is your main motivation, don’t do it. Better focus on real, rather than cosmetic, accomplishments for the organization.
- When you don’t have the courage to confront other leaders in the organization; restructuring can get them out of the way without having to confront them personally.
Paul commands us to be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). One thing this means — among many others — is that we should be deferential to others (see also James 3:17; Titus 3:2).
To be sure, we shouldn’t sacrifice matters of core principle, or central doctrines, or ethics of the faith. But when it comes to the arena of Christian freedom, we should have a willingness to defer.
Nonetheless, there is still a need here for wisdom to guide us, because sometimes deferring to others is not the best thing — and it’s not selfish to stay the course.
I made the mistake of “wrong deferring” the other day when I was playing baseball in the street with my kids and some of their friends. They are new to baseball and just coming to understand it. A bit into the game, one of them said “let’s not play in teams, but just individually.”
I thought, “OK, doesn’t sound good, but I guess we’ll give that a try.” And, it went horrible. It wasn’t like a game of home run derby, but was confusing. So about an inning later, I said “let’s go back to the other way,” and I explained some basics of the game that are easy to take for granted. Then it went better.
I think it’s important not to have a “the leader always knows best” mentality. That’s why I went ahead with the suggestion that we change the structure of the game around a bit, even though I had a reservation. But, at the same time, sometimes the leader really does know best. So how do you avoid deferring in those cases, without being a squelcher?
In those cases, you need to ask: “Does this person actually know what they are talking about?”
It’s a simple question. If their suggestion comes from actually knowing a bit about the area, even if it sounds a bit outlandish, go ahead and give it a try if the consequences don’t risk sinking the ship.
But if their idea simply comes from not understanding the area, then be gracious, and don’t defer.
But don’t merely stay on track, either (which often equals discounting the suggestion). Rather, stay on track and do some teaching.
That’s critical, because the point of leadership is not just to go places, but to build people up in the process.
Suggestions are often a time for the leader to learn something. Many leaders need to do a better of job of knowing when it’s time to learn.
And then other times, suggestions and ideas are an indication that the person making the suggestion just might be clueless. In those cases, don’t discount them. But don’t defer, either. Take the time to teach.
… to imitate Paul. Or David, or Peter, or James, or the apostle John.
The reason for this is that, first, Paul points us to his own example. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So, this is the right thing to do.
But, second, the reason for this is that we actually understand Christ better when we see his image expressed through multiple lenses.
For example, Jesus’ earthly life was prior to the giving of the Spirit and the full commencement of the New Covenant. What does it look like to live out Christ’s example today, in the new covenant era?
One way to know this, of course, is to simply understand the gospels very well and apply his example to our situation. But another way, which helps us from potential misapplication at times, is to look at how his apostles, such as Paul, imitated him — which imitation did happen in the new covenant era.
So by looking not only at how Christ literally lived, but how other “inspired” examples (in a sense) interpreted his example and applied it to their context, we get a better picture of how to imitate Christ himself.
And, through this, we ourselves can also become better reflections of Christ’s character in the world so that we are yet another level of example that helps others see what the Lord is like (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12).
My friend Lukas Naugle, who is a principal at Marketplace One, has written an excellent, super informative, well reasoned article summarizing some of the main insights he recently gained from reading a few dozen books on faith and work.
It’s called The Faith-Work Frankenstein’s Monster. Here’s the gist:
Those who haven’t gained a full-orbed view of the integration of faith and business are still the majority, and they come in various shapes and sizes. Here are some of the faith-work Frankenstein’s monsters I’ve met, and how to avoid releasing a monster yourself.
And here’s one of the best parts (among many others):
It’s important to affirm that business activity has intrinsic value in God’s world, not just instrumental value. Unfortunately, many faith leaders seem to focus on the instrumental value of business. The boss, the client, the church, and perhaps even the family often can treat the businessperson like a tool. We love to be useful to people, and our instrumentality is meaningful, but it’s not healthy to be a tool. Tools are manipulated, abused, demeaned, and wear out over time. A vision of mere instrumentality often leads to the erosion of meaning and motivation in a person’s work.
If you recognize yourself in one of the “monsters” he describes at the beginning, don’t fear. Keep reading to gain a well-articulated, biblical correction to many approaches to integrating faith and work that have some elements of truth, but ultimately fall short.
Here’s an important press release from Live58.org. I received this back in January but had to put everything that wasn’t urgent on hold while I got my book done. I strongly believe in and love what Live58 is doing, and this is just as relevant now as it was in January:
58: GLOBAL IMPACT TOUR SEEKS TO END EXTREME POVERTY
Breakthrough online “tour” unites Christians to fast, pray, and give to support
12 effective poverty-fighting projects in 12 countries over 12 months
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – 1-20-12 – Today, 58: launched the 58: Global Impact Tour at http://www.live58.org/tour. Over the next 12 months, this innovative online “tour” will feature 12 countries, 12 issues, and 12 poverty-fighting projects.
58: is a global alliance of Christians, churches and world-class poverty-fighting organizations working together with one goal: end extreme poverty by 2035. The alliance takes its name from Isaiah 58’s mandate to care for the poor and oppressed.
This ambitious effort to end extreme poverty is driven not by blind hope, but by hard data. More than half the world’s population – 52% – lived on less than $1.25 per day in 1981. But by 2006, that number was cut in half to 26%. The 58: alliance believes that God has given the Church everything it needs to end extreme poverty in our lifetimes.
The Global Impact Tour invites Christians to live the “true fast” of Isaiah 58. In that chapter, the prophet Isaiah chastises God’s people for empty displays of religion and calls for a true fast: to remove the chains of injustice, to set the oppressed free, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, and to clothe the naked.
Created to inspire and equip Christians to respond to Isaiah 58, the “tour” is an interactive online experience that brings Christians together to fast, pray, and give to fight poverty:
- Educating people about a different poverty issue and solution each month
- Encouraging people to pray for specific needs, issues, and countries
- Asking people make some kind of personal sacrifice (or “fast”) to help the poor
- Inviting people to donate to a featured poverty-fighting project each month from a 58: Alliance member that has a proven track record
“It’s clear from Scripture that God has a heart for the poor and calls us to help the hurting and oppressed,” said Steve Grey, Executive Director of 58:. “Imagine what could happen if every Christian in the U.S. were to fast, pray, and give to help the global poor. At even $10 or $20 per month, fasting a meal, or skipping a new purchase is a small sacrifice for us, but could mean changing a person’s life. That’s what it means to ‘live 58’.”
The 58: alliance includes 10 of the world’s leading poverty-fighting organizations * committed to the principles of Christian holism. They were selected because of their reputation for excellence in fighting poverty.
Dr. Scott Todd, Senior Advisor at Compassion International and one of the architects of 58:, is seeing the momentum: “The question now is not, ‘Can we end extreme poverty?’ The question is, ‘How fast?’ We are halfway there. Generosity and new engagement by Christians can propel us to the finish line.”
To join the 58: Global Impact Tour, go to www.live58.org/tour.
Here’s the footnote, listing the organizations that are part of the 58:Alliance:
- Christian Reformed World Relief Committee – focused on community development
- Compassion International – focused on child and leadership development
- ECHO – focused on sustainable agriculture
- Food for the Hungry – focused on food security
- HOPE International – focused on microenterprise development
- International Justice Mission – focused on justice and human rights
- Living Water International – focused on safe water access
- Micah Challenge – focused on government aid and policy
- Plant With Purpose – focused on environmental stewardship
- World Relief – focused on disaster relief