When Anne Patel Grey Blew My Mind

Part 2

As I noted prior, I was taking Dr Kip Elolia’s class on Liberation Theology and didn’t want the experience to end when the final exam was complete. I knew that God had vital lessons for me that I needed to keep learning, so after class ended, I kept reading liberation theology and was shocked to discover that our tiny seminary’s library had a robust collection of Aboriginal Theology.

How, you might ask, does a small seminary in upper east Tennessee* happen to have a selection of works from Aboriginal Australians? I have no idea, but I checked out, and subsequently own Anne Pattel-Grey’s “Through Aboriginal Eyes: The Cry From The Wilderness.”

For you liberation theology nerds out there, Pattel-Grey would be considered a Womanist Theologian, but her emphasis here is on general racism and white blindness to the gospel.  Continue reading “When Anne Patel Grey Blew My Mind”

TBT: Holiest or Hungriest?

A few years ago I was sitting in a pastor workshop and Larry Osborne was teaching.  Larry, by the way, is the living embodiment of pragmatic wisdom, but I digress.

So Larry was teaching some lessons from 40 years of pastoring and he said, “Pastors:  stop trying to live like a pastor.  Just model a life of a mature believer for your people.”

I knew exactly what he meant.

I was trained in a ministry approach that could be summarized, “be the holiest guy in the room.”  While we were in college we actually had a visiting pastor tell us that if we were in old clothes, changing oil on our car and needed to run to the auto store for more oil, that we should stop, shower, put on a suit and tie before we go to the store because it was important to always look like a pastor in public.


Sure, that visiting pastor is a caricature of the problem, but he’s a good example of the temptation to look holy for your people.  This approach causes pastors to either become weird or unapproachable to the rest of the world.  It also leads a pastor into temptation to appear different than they really are.  Such an approach doesn’t lend toward these kinds of complements.  Such an approach doesn’t help everyday people see what a life lived for Christ can look like.

In contrast, Larry is suggesting that we lead not by looking holy, but by simply living for Christ on display for others to see.

Being hungry and hungering after Christ more than trying to become holy, which is Christ’s work in us.

The thinking is, if we’re truly hungry and we’re a display of how Christ fills us, it will cause others’ stomachs to rumble.

I think this is what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 4:16, when he told the church to “imitate me” and then again in chapter 11, “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” Honestly, I was never comfortable with Paul saying this until I realized that what he is saying here is, “I will live a concrete example of a person hungry after Christ.”

What makes Paul really cool is how he then went on to display his hunger:  weakness, sin, slavery, hardship. He put on full display his own shortcomings and therefore his life was the living embodiment of the Power of Christ, Grace of Christ, Tenderness of Christ. Hearing Paul talk about it makes me hungry. It also gives me a model by which to lead.

Hungriest not holiest.

Dave Runyon on Life Change and Alignment

Dave Runyon stopped by our staff meeting on Tuesday to share his experience with aligning his gifts and passion with his primary vocation.  Dave lives what he believes and to his point below, changes his life to align with his belief and core conviction.  His impact in this city is profound and pervasive and I always come away from time with Dave having learned something.
What I’ve learned to make my life work better.  
— If vocation is 40 – 60 hours per week, how can I find something that doesn’t feel like work?
— For whatever you’re doing right now, the odds are this:  the demands of your ministry exceed your actual capacity.  I bought the lie that increasing my capacity would make it all work.  But the other way to do it is to have an honest assessment of the demands.  What are you going to take on, what are other people putting on you, what urgent matters are driving you?  My inbox and voicemail were driving my schedule and demand.  Living like that drifts you out of alignment with your values and calling.
— All the external metrics of my ministry were working – I experienced external success and affirmation.  But internally I was living out of alignment with who I was and what I was about.
— Watching a key leader have a public moral failure gave me an out.  I could see where my life was heading.  I watched what happens when you deal with your internal problems through a secret life. This was a huge struggle because I believed the lie that I was living the dream – and that it was my only opportunity to make a kingdom impact.
— I was a teaching pastor teaching people how to live out the text, but I wasn’t neighboring at all.  The pace and demands of ministry interfered with my obedience to Jesus. I had to slow down to love my neighbors.

Continue reading “Dave Runyon on Life Change and Alignment”

Kim Skattum on Long Term Leadership Health

Kim Skattum stopped by our staff meeting recently to share some of the lessons he has learned after 35 years of leading in a local church.  Kim is a local church pastor whom many of us count as a mentor.
What I wished I knew when I started
1) Be intentional about your self care.
– life issues are much deeper when you are in ministry.  you get drawn into deep emotional situations and it takes toll.
– Col 3:23 was a chain around my neck and I worked too hard.  gained a lot of weight, never wanted to let anyone down.
– “I believed that if I took care of myself, I was not taking care of other people.” Advice I was given, “you take care of God’s children, God will take care of your children.”  This was stupid advice.
I changed my calendar from being an enemy of my family to become a defender of my family.
2) You Can’t Fix People.  
– I was pastor Kim on the spot.  I never evaluated the need, I just always went.
My counseling was always open ended rather than heading toward closure.  I would keep meeting with people until we were all frustrated and I was burned out.
– Now I seek to listen to people until I understand them and they know I understand them and then I pray for them.  Agreement is often immaterial to listening – people are seeking understanding as much as anything.  If someone feels understood by you, they often feel loved.
– You need a hobby that you can “fix.” I spend two or three hours per week apprenticing at a bike shop.  I love it because it is the only area of my life that I can fix it.  I can apply a skill and fix something.  Often times, pastors need hobbies with tangible results for their own wellbeing.
3) Replace Yourself.
– All our staff and volunteers are required to actively replace themselves.  Actively pour yourself into another person who could replace you.  They may replace you in your setting or they may be able to do your job in another Kingdom setting.
– We give the people we’re mentoring as much of us as we possibly can.  We give them training, but we also give them authority.
– We applaud people who are applauding people.
– We’re all interims.  We all have a limited shelf life.  Whether you leave, get sick, retire or die.
– Leaders don’t volunteer, they are recruited.  They respond to a personal invitation, not a general announcement.  Real leaders want to be invited in.  You are doing something that other people are interested in.  Your job is to find them, invite them, mentor them.

Rigidity, Fluidity and the Mixed Message

Toward the end of the cuban missile crisis in 1962, tensions were rising and nuclear war was becoming a near certainty. Russia and Cuba were constructing a nuclear site on Cuba with a firing range that could devastate over 80% of USA’s land. Russia famously denied any such plan at the United Nations Meeting that year, but USA had spy photos confirming the activity.

Public threats, navy blockades, back channel communications. Kennedy vs Khrushchev. But also behind the scenes the Kennedy brothers were battling their own military brass who were itching to fight the communists.

On day 11 of the crisis, Khrushchev telexed the White House agreeing to pull out of Cuba. After all the meetings and threats the crisis was over. On the morning of day 12, the Kremlin sent another telex contradicting their telex from the night before: they were proceeding with the Cuban site and threatening war.

What do you do when you receive a mixed message from someone?  How do you handle contradictory signals?

The White House was at a loss of what to do. Had Russia experienced a Ku de Tat overnight?  Was Khrushchev still in power?   Were both messages from him, or did two different people send two different messages not knowing about the other? When you’re in cold war with someone, you cannot simply pick up the phone and ask. The White House was in a dilemma and the stakes were as high as can be.

Bobby Kennedy suggested what appeared to be an absurd solution: act on the message you like, ignore the message you don’t like. Proceed as if you never received the second message. It worked and has since become a literal textbook case in human communications.

We receive mixed messages from people all the time and they cause anxiety in us because they put us into cognitive dissonance. The worst form of mixed message is a “double bind.”

Here is an example of a classic double bind: A mother gives her son two shirts for Christmas, a blue shirt and a red shirt.  The son likes both shirts equally, but later in the day, he comes to the dinner table wearing the blue shirt.  The mother remarks, “What’s the matter, don’t you like the red shirt?”

A double bind is where you cannot possibly hit the target.  Narcissists and abusers are specialists in putting people into double binds. If you are in a relationship of frequent double binds, seek help as soon as you can.

But for the more frequent, less toxic mixed message, the Bobby Kennedy solution is effective: proceed with the preferred message. Ignore the contradictory message.

The reason this little dynamic works is because of the simple reality that most communication is fluid, not rigid, yet we often receive communication as rigid.  Very rarely does someone communicate rigid, fixed unbending message. Often times, people do not even realize they are sending mixed messages. By proceeding with one, ignoring the other, you place the burden of clarity where it belongs – back onto the communicator.  The communicator can then clarify what they really mean or as often happens, passively do nothing.  Amazingly, that is what Khrushchev did.  When JFK took his brother’s advice and proceeded to act on the preferred message, Russia complied and the crisis was averted.

#GLS15 Overall Reflections

I’ve had a few days to reflect on the GLS and in the spirit of our youth ministry debrief technique, I offer the highs, lows and weirds.

Highs: So many highlights from the Summit this year. For pure practical leadership and management application, I would rate this the best Summit I’ve been to.

  • Kudos for the video testimonies. Seeing how the Gospel informs business practices and national politics was incredible. Angola, NatureSweet, Duarte, Walgreens, Idi Amin’s son…..all incredible.
  • Surely the Satellite Location Experience is directly linked to the host church’s ability to be hospitable. By that criteria, Crossroads Church knocked it out of the park for us.  Amazing hospitality and great hosting between sessions.
  • The overwhelming majority of speakers brought a combination of passion, clarity and good delivery. Our team came away with copious notes that are implementable.
  • Bill Hybels is aging like fine wine, in my opinion. I always look forward to his annual talk, because he is usually very open about what he is currently learning. Great session on the intangibles of leadership. Bill is smart to openly share his own blindspots and mistakes.
  • Bill is a great example of faithful leadership over a long period of time.
  • I am loath to pick a favorite speaker. It is so subjective, based on expectation, what I had for lunch and who I’ve heard before.  So many of the sessions were excellent.
  • Ok fine. Brene Brown was my favorite. Her ability to be brave, tell a well crafted story seemingly off the cuff and get to the heart of the matter is mind blowing.
  • But wait, what about Horst, Sam, Sheila, Brian, Ed and Liz? All very strong. Jim Collins was his usual strong and is at an unfair disadvantage because he always brings it 🙂
  • Bill Hybels is a living example of his own convictions.  Every Summit, he clearly presents the gospel, knowing unchurched people are there.  He disarms them by letting them know ahead of time what will come, but then he always brings a clear message of the good news of Jesus.  This year was another brilliant presentation of what its all about.
  • While I’m sharing the Hybels love, he is a great example of how to ask for money.  Clear, succinct and concrete in his request, but not a lick of emotionalism.  A good model for us all.

Lows: sorry to pick on a guy, but Adam Grant, what were you thinking?   Continue reading “#GLS15 Overall Reflections”

#GLS15 Session 6: Sallie Krawcheck

Thanks to Owen Smiley for providing these notes while I went back to work.  

Leadership and Ethics on Wall Street

  • The retirement savings crisis is so hairy, such a downer, that we’re not even talking about it anymore. $14T missing dollars, assuming Social Security and Medicare are solvent (they’re not).
  • What if you knew there were huge strides that could grow the economy in the US by 9%?
  • We need to shift our lens. We need to look at a different lens and recognize that the retirement savings crisis is a woman’s crisis. Women retire with 2/3 the money and live 6-8 years longer.

Continue reading “#GLS15 Session 6: Sallie Krawcheck”

#GLS15 Session 7 Albert Tate

Thanks to Owen Smiley to providing these notes while I went back to work.  Italics are Owen’s thoughts.  

Can I just say the video before this about Angola prison in Louisiana was incredible?

“God doesn’t just say ‘do this’ or ‘do that.’ You think it, and then you think, ‘that’s an awesome thought. I couldn’t have thought of that on my own.'” says Warden Cain

Leading with Leftovers

  • Who should you believe? Lies in truth’s clothing or the naked truth?
  • A lie about leadership: you’re supposed to give it 115%. No you don’t because you don’t live on the field, you live at home, and if you leave it all on the field then you have nothing to take home.
  • How do you lead in a way to have something left? How do you lead not with an eye on your resume but an eye on your eulogy?
  • John 6: feeding of the 5,000. Jesus gives us insight on how to lead with leftovers. He asked how much money they had to buy food. It was a dumb question but Jesus asked on purpose because he wanted it to be clear they couldn’t have done what they are about to do on their own power.
  • The disciple has a dumb idea: hey, I found this boy with two fish and five loaves. I know it’s dumb but I had to say it. This disciple is not laughed out of the room – Jesus says to bring him forward.
  • There is power in dumb ideas, in dumb questions. You need freedom to ask these and think these. Dumb + God’s plan = life transformation.
  • It’s amazing how Jesus specializes in dumb ideas. “Hey Moses, you stutter. Hey Moses, I need somebody to go talk to Pharaoh and tell him to let My people go.”
  • Homeboy Industries. Google it to learn the story of this dumb idea.

Continue reading “#GLS15 Session 7 Albert Tate”

#GLS15 session 13: Craig Groeschel

I’m pretty sure Craig is 50% more man than most of us.  Dude is distubringly handsome, ripped and coifed.

Expanding Your Leadership Capacity

  • Your brain doesn’t understand what your body is capable of.  Craig’s story of holding his breath under water and the recurring response, ‘there is more in you.’ He thought he held his breath for 2 minutes, but actually held it 2 mins 45 seconds.  
  • There is more in you than you thought was possible. 
  • A family with 6 kids has a different mindset than a family with 2 kids.  As your organization grows, your mindset about leading that organization must change. 
  • Anytime my organization starts to settle or struggle, I always assume that my mindset needs to change, I need to expand my capacity.  
  • Five C’s of expanding your capacity. Choose to work on just one of them.
  • Build your confidence.  Your words give you away.  Your language keeps speaking about ‘a lid.’  Change your self talk – no longer, ‘I need to clone myself…there aren’t enough hours in the day’ etc.  step out of insecurity and fear and step into calling of God.  Take one step forward out of your lack of confidence and step into the confidence of God.  You are not who you say you are, you are who God says you are.  
  • Expand your connections. Show me who yo listen to and I will show you who you are becoming.  You may be one relationship away from changing the course of your destiny.  
  • 136 church services each week at Lifechurch.  Mind blowing.  
  • Don’t copy what mentors do, learn how they think.  
  • Enjoy and embrace the gift of disorientation when you’re around people whose thinking you don’t understand.  
  • Improve your competence. What specific area do I need to improve. You may not know what it is, but everyone around you knows what it is. 
  • If you are not listening more than you’re talking, your organization is in trouble.
  • Delegate authority, not a task, if you want to develop leaders. I can never hear that enough,  such good, simply advice. 
  • ‘Honey, what in my preaching needs to change?’ It looks like you’re carrying a box and you need to put down the box. LOL!
  • Strengthen your character. Talent can get you to the top, but only character will keep you there.  If your character is not strengthening, your future potential is weakening.  Check your life for leaks. How are your important relationships, how is your time with God, are we telling white lies? Are we portraying something inaccurately? Unconfessed sin? 
  • If there is something in your private life that could affect your public life?
  • Why resist a temptation tomorrow that I can eliminate today? Eliminate temptations that can be eliminated. (Through guidelines, Internet accountability etc.)
  • Increase your commitment.  Hard to take notes here, because Craig entered into old time revival preacher/80’s motivational guy during this part.  He’s right, but it’s hard to take notes on it. 

Craig is having people stand up for the area they want to work on.  Good to declare publicly  what you’re committing to. For me it is increasing my competence.

Craig could use some modulation – the message was like having a relationship with a jackhammer, but the content was great. 

#GLS15 session 12: Liz Wiseman

Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing

  • Is it possible we are at our best when we know the very least, when we’re new, when we’re naive?
  • The rookie has the advantage because they ask a lot of questions and often they don’t know the ‘correct’ questions, and often the ‘incorrect’ questions help figure out what to do.  
  • Experience has obvious upside, but the clear downside: knowledge leads to assumptions, often bad assumptions.  
  • When you’ve seen something before, your mind fills in what is not actually there.  OUCH! Been there. 
  • Job Satisfaction level increases when challenge level increases.  Increased challenge forces a person to figure it out, thus decreasing the challenge level.  
  • Rookies are motivated to reduce risk, reduce tension and not stick their neck out, but rookies can give a gift to the rest of the team.  
  • Giving people work they already know how to do is demotivating.  
  • Signs you’re on a plateau: things are finally running smoothly, you already have the answers, (ready answers for known problems), you get positive feedback, you’ve become the mentor. 
  • When you’re at the top of your game, you’re in danger of getting stuck at a plateau.
  • The worst: busy, but bored.  This is contagious.  
  • Comfort is stealthy.  It enters the home as a guest, and then it becomes the host and eventually becomes the master.  
  • Can you lead as a perpetual rookie? Fantastic question!  You can do it, by pivoting between the dual roles of leader and learner. 
  • Pivots: throw away your notes, (my students deserve fresh thinking.), ask the questions. Admit what you don’t know, let someone else lead, take a new job that you’re incompetent for. 
  • There is no more powerful shift for a leader than pivoting from the person who knows to the person who asks.  BOOM!
  • In a growing organization, you’re under qualified every day.  Why not publicly admit that to your team. 
  • ‘Everyone here knows there is no such thing as vacation with small children.  You’re just shifting the zip code of where you work.’ So true!
  • Spend time with the new converts to renew your own spiritual growth. 
  • In our state of not knowing, we come to know God.

Wonderful YouTube video of ‘zia’ the 10 year old who tackles the steep downhill here