Monday, August 30, 2010

The Evolutionary Advantage of Believing in God

If you are an evolutionist, and an atheist, what is the scientific explanation for the almost universal nature of religion? People in every age in every place have developed a religion of some sort. Just about everybody who has ever existed has believed in the gods. Why?

NPR posted an article on just this issue titled: Is Believing In God Evolutionary Advantageous. Fascinating insights on how some in society account for God and religion in our modern world. Even within the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament - stories of Israel resisting the religions of the surrounding nations and staying loyal to the One True God - one wonders, where did all those other religions come from? By the time we get to Abraham, YHWH has to call him away from the gods and idols of his ancestors. Where did those gods and idols come from? Who decided what to worship?

The NPR article follows a story of a scientist who works to develop a credible theory for why we moderns still worship God or gods. The conclusion? Believing in a deity that will reward or punish you is effective. Scientific studies and sociological data reveal that people behave better when they believe that a supernatural being is watching their actions. This results in more human beings able to better cooperate, it fosters more kindness and hence creates for a stronger community. Thus, from a evolutionary point of view, religious people survived, and irreligious people didn't. Belief in God has gotten into our genes, it has preserved us, and it now sustains us.

All sorts of interesting conclusions can come from this study, and it also prompts more questions. Does it matter what kind of supernatural being is watching over you? Are there some supernatural beings that prompt better cooperation and stronger community then others? How sincere does the belief in the deity need to be to shape behavior? What kind of punishment is required in the belief system to "encourage" cooperation and community? Does it matter what the reward is?

Obviously belief in gods and goddesses came from somewhere. They were around before Noah and Abraham and Moses became acquainted with God/Elohim. There has been substantial changes over the past several hundred years in how modern citizens experience religion and relationships with the gods. Science has explained much about our world that used to be attributed to the divine. It seems that one of the few uses left for God is to prompt integrity, cooperation and participation in community - under threat of punishment.

Provocative ideas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are You Indispensable?

The world has changed (again) and the stakes are higher than ever.
Now we're facing a full-fledged revolution - a hypercompetitive world involving art and gifts and fear and the ability for you (for anyone) to make an indispensable contribution to something you care about. If you're not indispensable (yet) it's because you haven't made that choice. 
My goal is to help you see that the choice is yours.

So says Seth Godin.

If you have a job, you need this book. If you are looking for a job, you really need this book. If you have friends who need a better job, you ought to read this book. What is this book? Linchpin. (Click here to for lots of insightful reviews, and to purchase...)

It's a call for people like YOU to make the kind of choices that make YOU indispensable at work. But to become indispensable requires that YOU make the kind of choices that bring humanity to your work, your whole-self. Think about it: what would make YOU indispensable where YOU work? This book seeks to light a raging fire of motivation for YOU to be the kind of person who is indispensable.

I'll be posting more blog entries in the weeks to come as I work my way through the book. Here's some ideas from the beginning of the book:

A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck.
So the question is: Have you ever done that?
Have you ever found a shortcut that others couldn't?
Solved a problem that confounded your family?
Seen a way to make something work that wasn't working before? 
Made a personal connection with someone who was out of reach to everyone else?
Even once?

No one is a genius all the time. Einstein had trouble finding his house when he walked home from work each day. But all of us are geniuses sometimes.
The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.
This book is about love and art and change and fear. It's about overcoming a multigenerational conspiracy to sap your creativity and restlessness. It's about leading and making a difference and it's about succeeding. I couldn't have written this book ten years ago, because ten years ago, our economy wanted you to fit in. 
Now, like it or not, the world wants something different from you. We need to think hard about what reality looks like now. What if you could learn a different way of seeing, a different way of giving, a different way of making a living? And what if you could do that without leaving your job?

Go to the library and check out this book. Better yet, borrow mine when I've finished reading it. Or buy your own - it's worth the investment. Just get the book in your hands, the ideas in your brain.

These days everyone is worried about keeping their job or getting a job or their concerned for their friends and family how are having employment woes. It's rare to find someone who loves their job. And yet, that love (art, gift, humanity) is going to be the key to the future of work. Not because you close your eyes to the hardships of your workplace, but because you bring a new attitude, a new perspective, a new resolve as to what kind of indispensable person you are going to become - and the gift you are willing to give.

Work can't just be about wage. That demeans you and everyone else involved. Work is supposed to bring meaning to your life and those who benefit from your labor. Become indispensable where you work.

Try it, try becoming a Linchpin.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The gods have come down to us...

Is there any use for religion anymore?

As science continues to provide more and more sophisticated explanations for how the world works, there is less and less need to attribute the unexplainable to the gods. Whatever is unexplainable today will likely become an educated hypothesis deducted through rigorous tests using the scientific method. With the astounding knowledge we've gained through science about the earth and our universe, religion is left looking useless and archaic. When it comes to understanding our world better, is religion useful?

It's really interesting to note what the apostles Barnabas and Paul do when local villagers steeped in paganism shout praises to Zeus and Hermes. Somehow, someway, Paul had the ability to heal people. We don't know how he did it, but the stories pile up of his turning lame people into fully alive people. When Barnabas and Paul come to the steep region of Lystra, they heal a lame man who'd been begging at the city gates. Everyone in town knew this guy, and most of the respectable people in town saw the miracle. Their conclusion - their explanation for this unbelievable event? "The gods have come down to us!"

Barnabas and Paul forcefully deny that they are the ancient gods Zeus and Hermes. In fact, the apostles came to town to present good news: the gods of your religion are dead. All the gods of all religions are dead. They have no power, they have no influence, they have no ability. Your religions are dead. But there is one God who is alive, who is good, who cares about you, and he is announcing his new work in the world. In a sense, Barnabas and Paul have come to undermine religion. There is no need to resort to Zeus and Hermes anymore.

As Paul shouts over the mayhem - the local priest of Zeus was parading a bull down mainstreet for the festive sacrifice to honor the miracle - he insists that the God of Israel was the one responsible for all that is good in life. Here's what's interesting: Paul points out that YHWH has purposefully left himself unnoticed for generations and generations. YHWH is invisible, yet he has left some clues to his existence. What are the clues? Just the right amount of rain at the right time, a harvest that provides just enough for everyone through the lean times, a full belly, a happy heart. When you have those four precious things, those are clues of a God you've never met or seen or heard about.

Isn't that odd?

What kind of God is this that he's introducing? An invisible one who leaves scarce clues? Paul will go on to share with the pagans that through Jesus God has come to earth to introduce himself. A God has come down to us... and he's not like anything the old pagans would have come up with. The resurrection of Jesus was the linchpin - it was the one key event that linked Jesus with God, and it was the one event that captured everyone's attention: death was not the final word.

Jesus revealed a God who has chosen to forgive the sins of a world he loves - this is a radical departure from the pagan religions of the ancient world. Paul was introducing a new kind of God that no one had ever imagined - Paul was not introducing a new religion, but a new way of dealing with reality. Death and despair are part of our reality, but the resurrection of Jesus fuels hope for in the face of death and and everpresent despair.

Science is a powerful ally in discerning reality. But Jesus, more than faith in science, is a powerful ally in discerning how to live wisely in this world. Science can't reveal to us what is truth, what is good, what is right, what is noble, what is pure. It comes from somewhere else. In Jesus we get the announcement that God who is the creative force behind our existence wants our life to be marked by forgiveness of sins, works of reconciliation, generosity to the overlooked, diligence that produces beauty, community that lifts each other up. This stuff is beyond the realm of science. Science can explain, but it can't guide.

God has left a lot of his methods and actions unexplained. But he's promised to guide. Leave behind your Zeus and Hermes. Accept what is good in life as a gift, a gift from God to you. Seek better explanations for why the world operates as it does. Look to Jesus as a guide for how to love and serve and lead and heal.

Summer Reading 2010

Reading is good. Reading in the summer by the lake is really good. Reading good books is even better. Here's a list of some of the books I've read while relaxing at the lake - either I started them, or finished them, or started and finished them. Be sure to let me know what you've been reading, maybe I'll give your book a try.

Redemption, by Leon Uris
My mom really likes WW2 stories. So I've read my share of them, influenced by mom's interests. But I also grew interested in WW1 stories. WW1 was the reason we had a WW2. Uris sets up his massive novel about the struggle for Irish independence from British tyranny to also retell the Battle of Gallapoli - an infamous tragedy of that first world war. Oh how history messes with my preconceived notions about why the world is the way it is today. Life is just so much more complicated then we want it to be. Redemption is easy to read, the story flows smoothly, but watch out - your heart will break and your brain will ache.

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2, by Steve Stockman
As a fan of U2, I was intrigued by this book. The spiritual nature of U2's lyrics is obvious, and they've been a source of inspiration and strength to me. The book delves into the stories and events thoughts behind the songs and spirituality of U2, of Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam. If you have been influenced by U2, you'll be inspired by the stuff that Stockman writes about the band. If you are interested to learn more about how to be a Christian who impacts culture, read this book.

The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis
A fascinating exploration of how football evolved around the role of the quarterback and the need to protect his blindside. The story focuses on how a really rich Christian businesswoman finds a poor, abandoned boy who turns out to be a genius at left tackle. The sociological observations, the role of religion and sports and wealth and love in our culture, all makes for a thought-provoking book.

To Tame A Land, by Louis L'Amour
I've been a L'Amour fan since middle school. I've got a ton of his books, and I found one at my folks place I'd never read before. About a boy whose riding west with his pa, his ma had died out east. His pa dies, he's abandoned, and then a man takes him under his wing for awhile. The boy grows up, becomes a marshall in a town overrun by corruption. Come to find out, the man who'd mentored him all those years ago is the one instigating the corruption. Whoops, I gave away the climax of the story.

The Lessons of History, by Will and Ariel Durant
I read these chapters: History and the Earth, Biology and History, Race and History, Character and History, Morals and History, Religion and History, Economics and History. I suppose I got about half way through the book. Fascinating, fascinating points of view on how the world works, why things are today the way they are, and some thoughts on what to do next. Written about forty years ago, it's still a pertinent read for today.  The Durants patiently explain how the geology of the land predetermines so much about what can happen to that community or country. The racial issue, as contentious as ever, gets an evenhanded exploration - which is a cause for discomfort. The role of morals and religion - he comes across a bit jaded, but then he's a student of history and not an idealist. Economics is everything today, and what Durants have to say about capitalism and all the other alternatives should be put in the hands of everyday citizens.

Tolkien: Man and Myth, by Joseph Pearce
The Lord of the Rings was pretty much the only thing I read through middle school and high school. Of course I did read lots of other stuff, but every year I'd read through the Trilogy, sometimes twice a year. As familiar as I am with the story, I'm also intrigued by the author. I'm a few chapters into the biography, and it's been a rewarding experience. Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic, I've learned more about how his theology shaped his story. He also was a gifted story teller who also understood the role of myth in communicating great truths to society. Which is why his trilogy is still so popular. His ideas on myth apply to the writings of Scripture also; Tolkien's contributions are challenging me in deep ways.

The Bible According to Mark Twain: Irreverent Writings on Eden, Heaven, and the Flood by America's Master Satirist, edited by Howard G. Baetzhold and Joseph B. McCullough
Not everything in this collection is easy to read, but what Twain pens about Eden in particular is both profound, hilarious, and disturbing. He has thought about the first stories of Genesis much more deeply and thoroughly than pretty much any Christian I know. Twain is not to be dismissed. There is much to be gleaned from his writings. He and I come at Jesus from different perspectives, but we both care about people and how He gets presented.

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community, by Wendell Berry
If there was ever anyone who soaked up the Gospels and then explained how modern society got into our mess, Berry is the master teacher. Not only does he clearly show how the mess was made, he makes a compelling case for what a renewed society could look like. The diagnosis is severe, and the remedy is costly, but the alternatives are cancerous. Berry's observations make me angry and frustrated - he's able to put into words what I see around me, he makes sense to me. But am I courageous enough to make the changes I want to see in the world, changes that Berry charts out, changes I know I ought to do?

Friday, August 13, 2010

America, Freedom, Religion

Should New York City allow American Muslims to build a community center near the 9/11 site?

First: should Muslims be allowed to build a mosque anywhere in America?
Second: should Muslims be allowed to build a mosque just as freely as Christians are allowed to build churches?
Third: should Christians be concerned or scared that Muslims are building mosques in prominent sites in America?
Fourth: Should New York City allow American Muslims to build a mosque and community center anywhere in the city?

Is the resistance to a Islamic community center and mosque mostly about the location or is it about something else? Are all Muslims the same? The Muslims who hijacked the planes on 9/11 are of a particular brand of Islam. Are all Christians the same? The Christian priests who molested boys - do they represent what is true of all ministers of the gospel?

Here are some interesting links from the New York Times on the issue that I strongly urge you to read before you pass judgment on my post or my questions (remember, this is a blog about asking questions).

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support.

President Barack Obama's support.

And some other links, about a mosque, about judging people wrongly, about identity.

As a Christian, I am not threatened by the Islamic religion. In America, where religion has been enveloped by competition - the stronger Islam gets, the stronger Christianity gets. As an American, I am not threatened by the Islamic religion. America is America because we are the land of the free - and one of the major pillars of that freedom is religious freedom. We are free to worship as we choose, with no government interference. That's a really, really, really big deal.

The government should not intervene to prop up Christianity, to protect it or give it extra advantages, and neither should it be used to prop up or put down any other favored religion. American Christians who do missionary work in the Arab nations are frustrated by the government suppression of non-Islamic religions. Should we respond in kind?

If Muslims in America become violent, they should be arrested and given due process of law. Same thing if any other religious citizen was violent due to the interpreted teachings or supposed requirements of the faith. As America continues to allow Muslim citizens to flourish, we will also require them to be non-violent. Freedom in religion does not include freedom to murder.

Christians are to avoid just as much violence as we require of Muslims. And if we want a new kind of Islam to blossom, letting it bloom in America may be a wise course of action. Islam will not go away if we suppress it in America. Islam has used violence in its past to increase its power. So has Christianity. If both faiths are willing to trade swords for plowshares, maybe the fields of America and the gardens of Ground Zero are the right place to do it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anne Rice & Rejecting Religion

If you've heard of Anne Rice, you've maybe heard that she has turned away from organized religion. She's not the first person to do this, nor will she be the last. For obvious reasons, though, her choice has capture the attention of many. If you go to her Facebook page you will find dozens and dozens of links that Anne Rice has posted - blog links, news-articles, TV interviews and other sources that comment on her decision to denounce her involvement with the Church.

I'm intrigued, as a pastor, by her choice. I've read several of her Vampire novels, and I read her Christ the Lord stories. Her provocative writing and subversive ideas fascinated and challenged me. It helped me understand where many people come from when they see the darkness of the world, a world void of God. I've never lived in that world, but she has, and she helped me empathize with those that have walked in that same valley of shadows.

When she announced twelve years ago her return to the Roman Catholic Church, of her embrace of the Lordship of Christ Jesus, of her renewed life with God, it was met with much rejoicing. A very interesting turn of events. But her encounters with the institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and her observations of the Christian denominations at work in the world caused her unbearable concern.

An intelligent woman who thoroughly researched the best and latest scholarship on the historicity of Jesus, as well as the theology of her childhood, she entered into the Faith aware. But the reality of the hierarchial Church and its pronouncements on social, political, cultural, scientific issues produced distress. She failed to make the connections between the teachings of Christ and the public announcements made by the Roman Catholic Church.

Many of the blogs and other articles have commented on her reasons for leaving, and have focused on the pros and cons of being in or out of a formal church community. I've read lots of articles, and I've not found many which focused on the actual issues that prompted her to walk away from religion. She's deeply loyal to Jesus Christ, but she can't in good conscience stay in the community. The point isn't really about whether she should or should not stay in the community. The more pertinent point is: how can the Church more wisely engage the world a public way about social, scientific, cultural, political, national, and global issues.

Anne Rice explained what the last straws were for her in rejecting religion while clinging to Christ - and it hinges on the failure of institutional Church leaders to wisely apply in her opinion the teachings of Jesus to the very modern and very complex dilemmas of our age. Anne Rice does not see the world the same way as the official Roman Catholic Church. She can't in good conscience support their conclusions about how the Church ought to respond to the AIDS epidemic, the role of women in religion, the rights of gays, the morality of birth control, etc. Anne Rice has articulated an informed response. Maybe she is very wrong. Maybe she is close to right.

What I like about Anne Rice's perspective is her insistence on the primacy of the teachings of Christ. It is her loyalty to Jesus that has instigated her rejection of organized Christianity. It is controversial. Let's face it, the Church and Science ought to improve their collaboration when it comes to health, the environment, technology, and explanations of how the world works. There is still a greater need for the Church and Society to enrich each other when it comes to morals, ethics, values, politics, art, the economy, community development, and war. Anne Rice is convinced that the Church can do better, and the path leads through the primacy of Christ's teachings itself. Not the primacy of the Pope. Nor the primacy of Protestant power-brokers.

The world is in darkness. Christ comes as the light. The Church - the institution and the vast number of individuals - needs men and women to critique it, to insist on less darkness, more Christ-light. As cultures continue to evolve, the Church must also labor relentlessly to minister in the age that it exists. The controversies will never end over the role of the Scriptures in shaping the decisions of the Church within society. Interpretation of the Scriptures is a vital task, and the conclusions we draw are never final. The more robust the discussion, the more vital the results. Maybe Anne Rice's public defection will further a wiser, more fruitful ministry of the Church in the world's third millennium since the resurrection of Christ.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Keep Leading Where You Are

Everybody has an opportunity to be a leader everyday. If you are in any kind of relationship, you are presented with multiple points where you need to influence the other person. To influence on purpose is to lead. Most people don't think of themselves as leaders. But if you become intentional with your life and continue to influence your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors for good, you are doing leadership stuff. So, the challenge: lead where you are.

Last Thursday and Friday I participated in The Global Leadership Summit. It's a gathering of top-notch leaders from across the nation and the world. Leaders who lead in the real world, who are intellectually challenging, are results-oriented, focused on the long haul. These are leaders who care and who are willing to work hard for the people in their life. 

Maybe you'd like to become better at leading where you are? Here's some of the notes I took from the two-day event - you'll likely find something here that is helpful. If it is, be sure to pass it on.

The ancient Israelites found themselves in The Land Between, having left Egypt as they headed for the Promised Land. We find ourselves in The Land Between when we use the phrase, "For Now...".
The Land Between is fertile ground for complaints and emotional meltdown. We think we were better off before. We dare to think that maybe we were better off without God.
But God provides in The Land Between. 
Do you reject the Lord when you wail?

The Land Between is fertile ground for the Lord's discipline and for transformational growth.
Love includes timely and appropriate discipline for a redemptive purpose.
The Land Between is that place where people of slavery become the people of God, by trusting Him each step of the way for what we need, for hope, for life.
The Land Between is also the place where faith goes out to die.

Complaints resist eviction from the heart. Invite Trust in to replace Complaints.
That place in your life you resent and hate, it is the space where God grows and produces the greatest gifts we most desire and need.

The founder of the company cared very much about the kind of organization he was creating, he wanted people who would collaborate together.
Consider the power of small teams in problem-solving together.
* people do not feel like a number
* everyone wants everyone else to succeed
* decision-points flow to has the best knowledge about the situation

We don't tell people what to do, we influence them in a desired direction - but they must want to do it. 
Have clear core values:
Belief that the individual can make a big contribution
Power of small teams
All in the same boat
Take a long-term view.

If you have an idea, how passionate are you about it? Will you help others buy into it?
Leaders explain ideas and help others understand decisions.
As CEO, take core values and help them adapt to today's fast changing culture; keep developing leaders, keep direction focused on the big picture.

Human motivation has three basic drives:
Biological Drive for hunger, warmth, sex, shelter
Reward/Punishment Drive
What I'm Interested In Drive
It is not humane to rely on on the first two drives when seeking to motivate those you work with.

The Reward/Punishment Drive is effective when the tasks are manual labor, mechanically oriented. It is least effective when the tasks require cognitive problem-solving and mental work of creativity.

If you begin with the wrong assumptions, you'll draw the wrong conclusions. If you believe that people are machines, or if you believe that people are blobs, you'll fail to properly motivate them. What you believe about people shapes what you can motivate them to accomplish.

Three Enduring Motivators:

Management is a technology from the 1850's designed to get compliance from people. What we really want from our coworkers is engagement. Enforcement of compliance: time, teammembers, tasks, techniques does not bring out the best in people. Come to agreement on what needs to be accomplished, and then let your fantastic people figure out for themselves when, with who, how it will get done.

Making progress is the highest source of motivation. Give people a big challenge, but then also give them ways to make progress. Give feedback. Clarify next right steps.

Profit is certainly a motive, but it is not enough. The purpose motive is more enduring. 

Authenticity: Be yourself. Don't misportray yourself. Be comfortable in your own shoes. Be someone who can be counted on. Avoid persona's.
Energy: energize people, bring them on board, get people onto the same page. Feel the vision. Accept that you don't always know what to expect. Raise the intelligence bar in the room by drawing out knowledge from those in the room. 
Candor: you need to get people to put on the table what they really think and feel.

Non-profit doesn't have to mean nonperformance.
Have the confidence to make the decision when you know you are right.
Don't ever, ever give up on a person.

Passion drives the best work.
People don't come to follow you, they come to follow Jesus. But they get stuck with you.
Passion poured out comes from passion poured in.
You can't be clones when it comes to passion.
Make sure your passion doesn't get diluted or polluted.

You need to know and feel that what you are part of is bigger, more important that yourself.
Ask people to stretch for what is reach of them, when you overwhelm them, you lose them.
It is easier to see the gifts in others than to see it in yourself.
Help people deliver what you promised.
Passion is: intensity, will, desire, and inspiration.

There are two kinds of leaders: builders and bankers. 
Builders get something started, Bankers keep it going. Both kinds of leaders need each other.

Confidants are those people who are for you.
Constituents are those people who are for what you are for.
Comrades are those people who are against what you are against.

For a leader and the followers (confidants, constituents, comrades), the followers go in the flow of the leader - who the leader is becoming will shape them.
You work best with people that you can read, who share the same spirit, the same big heart.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lead Where You Are - In the Afternoon

Everybody has an opportunity to be a leader everyday. If you are in any kind of relationship, you are presented with multiple points where you need to influence the other person. To influence on purpose is to lead. Most people don't think of themselves as leaders. But if you become intentional with your life and continue to influence your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors for good, you are doing leadership stuff. So, the challenge: lead where you are.

Last Thursday and Friday I participated in The Global Leadership Summit. It's a gathering of top-notch leaders from across the nation and the world. Leaders who lead in the real world, who are intellectually challenging, are results-oriented, focused on the long haul. These are leaders who care and who are willing to work hard for the people in their life. 

Maybe you'd like to become better at leading where you are? Here's some of the notes I took from the two-day event - you'll likely find something here that is helpful. If it is, be sure to pass it on.

The goal of a teacher: help your students get an A.
The goal of a coach: help your players get better.
The goal of a leader: help those you lead get better in what they do.
Stubbornness is a virtue if you are right.
Be efficient with your time, don't waste it. Do great work, and then go home. 
Don't mistake long hours for productivity.

To mentor is to show what you are doing.
First: be willing and available to mentor others.
Second: who do you admire? ask them questions. Read books by who you respect. 
Relationships are about trust, about being able to speak into the life of another.
Who can you mentor? Look around. Young people are always in need of someone to speak into their life, if you are willing to build the trust. 
Consider the power of fathers and mothers as mentors. 
Jesus it the master mentor, for those that can respect his ways.

Ways to Resist Temptation
1: Remember who you are.
2: Recognize the consequences of your actions.
3: Rededicate yourself to God.
4: Reveal your struggle to a trusted friend.
5. Remove yourself from the situation.
Say no to the moment of the maybe.
In marriage, a husband and wife will continually fall in and out of love. You won't always feel in love. 

All of us are tempted as human beings.
* There are always consequences for sinning.
* There can be grace and restoration and renewal.
* No one is beyond redemption.
* Better to resist the temptation than to wreck what is good.

Myth: all problems can be solved, all tensions can be resolved.
Reality: leverage unsolvable problems, use unresolvable tension for progress.
In a marriage, the tension between time at work and time with family cannot be eliminated, only managed.
In a church, the problems between taking care of those already there and reaching out to those not yet there - the problems will not go away, they are to managed.
If two people hold valid opinions on two different sides of the issue, you have tension that will not go away, you have a problem that needs to be managed. 

Lead Where You Are - In the Morning

Everybody has an opportunity to be a leader everyday. If you are in any kind of relationship, you are presented with multiple points where you need to influence the other person. To influence on purpose is to lead. Most people don't think of themselves as leaders. But if you become intentional with your life and continue to influence your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors for good, you are doing leadership stuff. So, the challenge: lead where you are.

Last Thursday and Friday I participated in The Global Leadership Summit. It's a gathering of top-notch leaders from across the nation and the world. Leaders who lead in the real world, who are intellectually challenging, are results-oriented, focused on the long haul. These are leaders who care and who are willing to work hard for the people in their life. 

Maybe you'd like to become better at leading where you are? Here's some of the notes I took from the two-day event - you'll likely find something here that is helpful. If it is, be sure to pass it on.

Leaders move people from HERE to THERE.
An important key in moving people from HERE to THERE includes a clear vision of what THERE will look like. But even more important is a clear case for why we can't stay HERE any longer (this is the first task in influencing people in a particular direction).
As a leader who is a Christian in the Church: first discern what is breaking God's heart, then join Him in the that work.
You can't lead alone in the Church; seek to develop and attract fantastic people who will collaborate with you and others to get people from HERE to THERE.
When adding people to the team, look first for Character, then Competency, then Chemistry, then Culture.

When influencing people from HERE to THERE, be sure to celebrate key steps along the way, note the milemarkers - it's the middle of the journey that is the hardest, so sustain hope, lift up the vision, affirm the direction.
When influencing people from HERE to THERE, be sure to listen to whispers from God about what to do next. The journey is never in a straight line, life happens along the way, and there will always be moments when God speaks at just the right time. His prompts will save us from boredom, they will also save us from self-destruction.
The Spirit of God will prompt next steps, he will prompt ideas, he will prompt whole movements; he prompts often with short phrases, simple words. Don't blow off the whisper, listen, reduce the noise around you, trust him.

Be of great use to do great work. 
Good is the enemy of the great.
Greatness is not a matter of circumstance, but a matter of conscience and discipline.
Great enterprises fall from great to good to mediocre to bad to irrelevant to gone.
Anyone can fall, many do, but not all.

Great leaders understand that it is not about them, and they never, ever give up on what is right. They do whatever it takes, they make the right decisions, are humble about it, yet intensely focused. They are ambitious for the success of the group.
Bad decisions done with good intentions and noble purposes are still bad decisions.
Optimists die of broken-hearts. Never confuse faith and facts.
Greatness is a cumulative process, never the result of one moment, one event, never a surprise.
Execute growth with competency and with fantastic people. Resist growth until the right people are available to do it.
Preserve the core AND Stimulate progress.
Be Ambitious AND Be Humble.
Have Faith AND Accept Facts.

Lots of dark hopelessness in every neighborhood and in all nations.
This is our time, our generation: what are going to do about what is going on in our world on our watch?
Do we lead from a place of hope?
The truth will set you free - Jesus is still in the business of healing broken lives.
Think of the one, not the million.
People will let you down, and circumstances won't work out, but Jesus is always an Anchor for our life.
Hope compels us to go as a little bit of light into great darkness. All it takes is a little light. Go find some darkness.
Pray for change, and then work to answer your prayer.