Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thoughts on Burning the Qur’an


2010
09.10

Perhaps I should stay out of this, but right or wrong, here are some brief summations of what I’ve been thinking. Enjoy or get mad if you must. That is your right.

FIRST REACTION
I admit, my first reaction was if the roles were reversed then people would be saying, “They have every right to burn Bibles even if Christians don’t like it”. I was actually a bit angered at that thought, but quickly realized that may not be the right thinking.

(For the record, I feel the same about the controversial proposed Mosque in New York. I may not like it, but they have a right to build it.)

INITIAL THINKING
After reflecting on the matter, I see a few issues:

1. Muslim Reaction – The fact that it could move moderate faithful Muslims into the radical Jihadists column is the biggest tangible problem.
2. Christian Responsibility – My faith demands that I love even my enemy. This is the biggest non-tangible issue. My friend Tony wrote a good post on this… http://www.watersedgegathering.com/blog/?p=133
3. World View (of the USA) – This could drive an already negative picture of America worse.

I’m sure there are other issues, but I want to keep this short.

ON SECOND THOUGHT
Now I have another question for you and myself.
If in fact, this is within his rights, what does not allowing this mean?

1. Freedom of Speech – Where are the usual suspects? The ACLU, Rev. You Name It, etc. who regularly fight for people who want to do something dividing yet legal.
2. War on Terror - The idea of terror is to paralyze people with fear. I DO NOT want to see another soldier or American citizen die as a result. However, if fear removes our freedoms, who is winning the war.

FINAL ANALYSIS
It’s not about rights… it’s about responsibility.

1. Rights says, “Screw you! I can do what I want. Consequences and other people don’t really matter. This is my right.”
2. Responsibility says, “We may not see eye to eye, but I recognize that we live in the same world. I realize that sometimes exercising my “rights” can be very wrong.”

CONCLUSION
I could be politically correct and say this guy is crazy and needs to be stopped. I can recognize his rights and jump to his defense. I could say nothing and let other people sort it out.

Instead, I’ll share these thoughts with you above and below.

Nothing I think or say will effect this man’s decision tomorrow, but maybe as you read this it can be applied to your world. You have rights and so do those around you. How you treat those rights and people make all the difference… and there is no catch-all solution. Sometimes giving up your rights makes the greater impact (Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13). Yet, other times having your rights taken away in fear can have costly effects. Life is filled with very tough choices and how we react when our “rights” are challenged could be the toughest. But, the choice is your right to make… and your responsibility.

Identity


2010
08.04

Vision (via dictionary.com)
1. The act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.
2. The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.

To see. To anticipate what will or may be. I need vision to drive. With vision, I can avoid other vehicles, pedestrians, and potholes. I can stop at red lights or hit the gas pedal when it turns yellow. In fact, outside of some cool modern technology, it would be almost impossible to drive without it.

Vision, when applied to corporate direction or mission is not much different. We think of vision as what we want to happen. For example, New Hip Community Church is contemplating vision. As a team they begin to process new ideas they each learned at conferences and networking with like-minded people. They begin to dream and dream big. They envision a church triple their current size with it’s own private jet for mission trips to Azerbaijan. They begin to set goals based off of these ideas and place milestones on the shared google calendar. I’m all for dreaming big, but this is not really vision.

Vision, remember, is “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”. Vision is not the ability to create the future, but the ability to simply see it or get a very close picture of it. If you don’t like what you see then take action, but you need an accurate picture of yourself to do so. I guess my real purpose for this post is to help those that stress over trying to “produce” vision instead of just discovering it.

Enter Identity. I have a pretty good idea that when I get to my parents house in Mobile, AL on Thursday it will take less than an hour to hear (or say), “Anyone seen the dominoes”. It will be one of the few times a year that all of my brothers will be in the same place… and that means, moon, golf, disc golf, and hopefully Kamikaze in the pool. We’ve been doing this far too long to be wrong on this one. That is because I know my family. I could even attempt at how long it will take for the first argument to start, but “if you don’t like what you see then take action”. And I fully intend to do a little better at that one.

People try to cast vision without discovering identity first and it does not work. Identity is foundational to vision and mission. Identity is composed of capability, personality, and character. Capability is the talent level or potential – what one can do. Personality tells us how and if it will be carried out. Character dials in the moral compass. Determining these three things is like putting a quarter in a viewfinder at Lookout Mountain.

Once you have a clear picture of Identity, then you can begin the discussion of Vision. Once you begin to see the future, you can start setting goals.

FINDING IDENTITY
Questions to jump start your team conversation:
Who are we?
What do you care about (personally)?
Does our organization/community have a personality?
How does it feel to be a part of this organization/community?
What drives our decision making? Bottom line, member benefits, difference making, etc.
What other organization/community do you dream about being a part of?

Don’t focus on getting the questions answered. Focus on letting conversation happen.

Brainstorm Gumbo


2010
02.22

Brainstorming is a journey of discovery rather than idea creation. It doesn’t have to be awkward and filled with pressure. I have brainstormed with many different people and teams over the past 15 years. Some experiences have been successful, a few were flops, but most have had a lot of untapped potential that never made it to the table. I want to help bring a little nourishment to your team with my Brainstorm Gumbo.

Overview

Brainstorming, like gumbo, has some elements that need to be done in order and some that don’t. One common mistake I find is when people try to “organize” a creative meeting. Some structure and preparation are good, however, the outline needs to be flexible and expectations should be reserved for the end result. Brainstorming is a journey. I’ll expand on these thoughts at a later date. We are going to break this down in four parts: Roux, Ingredients, Rice, and Extras.

Roux is foundational. [Ideas start with conversation]

You can’t mistake the smell. I remember smelling it and walking into the kitchen with my mom stirring flour and oil in a cast iron skillet. Oh yeah baby….gumbo tonight. Roux is the thickening base – the foundation to a good gumbo. If you don’t start with a good roux you shouldn’t have started at all.

Conversation is the “roux” of brainstorming. I have been to so many creative meetings where everyone is expected to open their mouths out of the gate and let the creative thoughts flow. Some of those meetings have produced way more ideas than you can actually manage. Then you have to whittle them down hurting someone’s feelings along the way and killing some great ideas that may never surface again. These same meetings usually have some prep time and the expectation of bringing your 5 ideas with you. Well, I really hate putting a lot of thought and research into one idea that no one likes, much less another 4. Preparation is good, but don’t stress over bringing a bag of goodies with you. Ideas come (Again…more at a later time). Other times these meetings have started with awkward silence because either no one was prepared, no one was actually creative, or no one was brave enough to speak first.

Ideas start with conversation. Tell me about what you want to get across. Tell me about what you want to accomplish. Let me respond. Let me ask questions. Ask me questions. Let me challenge the core idea. Solidify the idea in your brain. Help me understand. Better yet… let me discover as I listen to you… and to myself. As we enter a conversation about the end result, ideas begin to grow. You don’t have to rule out bad ideas because good ideas rise to the top. Suddenly people who are too scared to speak open their mouths and make sounds because they are entering a conversation and not being exposed as a non-creative (btw – while synergy is important, anyone can add value to a creative meeting {more on that… well you know}).

Within this conversation emotions surface, ideas emerge and the creative process begins.

Ingredients determine potential. [Ideas expand with creativity]

Do you want seafood or chicken and sausage gumbo? Do you like okra in yours? What about boiled eggs? Gumbo has several variations – many of which I will not touch. Even within these variations are even more options and ingredients that can be included. While some ingredients may be universal, the type of gumbo you choose determines what possible ingredients can be included.

Creativity lives within the ingredients. When you build on the conversation, ideas begin to grow and creativity takes over. Light bulbs go off and hands raise. People get on the edge of their seats waiting to jump in (I love this part). You begin to hear stuff like, “Hey, what if we…”, “Yeah! And you know what else…”, “Wait a second, we could…”.

Ideas expand with creativity. This is the part of brainstorming where ideas are like popcorn. But, the ideas, while some can get out there, are conceived out of the conversation and usually are strung together instead of several different ideas. The ideas that rise to the top get bigger and/or sharper.

The honing process takes over at some point and you take the expanded ideas and whittle away until the idea takes shape. The craziness you just experienced comes back to reality and then (my fav) ideas that seemed out of reach become possible. Remember this is a journey of discovery. The right idea is out there, you just have to find it.

Rice makes all the difference. [Ideas need timely development]

I love gumbo. I love the expectation of gumbo. When my wife tells me she cooking gumbo, I can think of nothing else all day (a little exaggerated for effect). As much as I love gumbo, I equally hate when the gumbo is ready… but the rice is not. You can’t rush rice. You can’t turn the heat up and you don’t want to eat it under cooked.

The second and maybe the biggest mistake I see is with the development of ideas. 1- No one develops it at all until a week out and then it’s rushed. 2- Responsibilities are handed out, but the work we just accomplished as a team is now up to individuals to carry out.

Ideas need timely development. And developing ideas is best in (smaller) teams. You do not have to regather the entire creative universe to develop an idea, however, the right 2 or 3 usually works better than 1. I’ve written scripts myself – and they worked well, but the greatest scripts have been with someone else and it’s a lot more enjoyable and a lot less stress. Everyone should leave the meeting knowing what is expected and when. And I don’t mean a general understanding. Get specific with expectations and deadlines. Follow up with good communication. If something is due in 2 weeks, don’t wait until day 13 to call Bob and see if he ordered the daisies.

Like the rice, you can start it early and let it sit in the cooker, but if you wait too late, everything will be stopped in it’s tracks.

Extras make it taste just right. [Ideas need reflection]

My dad puts his potato salad (“you say potato I say potat…uh” that doesn’t work with text does it?) in his bowl of gumbo. I don’t even eat potato salad. However, I’ve never seen a bowl of gumbo that couldn’t use a little Tony Chachere and gumbo file (fee-lay). I like mine a little saltier than most.

Ideas need reflection. This can be before, during and even after the rice. Reflection may not be the best word, but you have to stay open to the right touch that turns a good idea into a great one. This can come at any time. My wife calls it “The Constant Storm” with me. I really should stop letting my brain spill over at inappropriate times… like 3 in the morning when she is sleeping. But it’s true that our minds never stop and you never know when the icing will hit you.

Leftovers

If you know gumbo then you know that it’s even better after sitting in the fridge a day or so. Try out my recipe and you’ll find the same here. The creative process should be fun and productive. If it’s not, change the process or do something that is. I plan to write more about about brainstorming, but that’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

Dare to Care/Care to Dare


2009
03.28

I have found myself on both sides of leadership in the church. I have held positions of leadership where I was directly responsible for people serving with me, and I’ve held down a pew at times. There have been times when I’ve helped as a volunteer and even “lay-leadership”. I’ve seen the church from almost every angle out there (except for Senior or Lead Pastor roles… God be with you all). It has been easy to fall into two basic roles: the leader that thinks I know better than the “volunteer” and the volunteer that thinks the “paid” guys should do all the hard stuff, “just sign me up for anything FUN!”

Today I was reading in “Seeking His Mind” by Fr. M. Basil Pennington. The title of today’s reading is “Not Far-But Not There Yet”. He asks, “Are we indeed lacking in soul?” Using a story in Mark 12, he tells of this exchange between a young scribe and Jesus in which the greatest commandment is being discussed.  He points out that we don’t really have a problem with heart (“willpower), mind (“understanding”), or strength (“doing”). However, soul (“source of caring”) seems to be a little tougher. He concludes with this:

“We haven’t arrived at fulfilling the most important commandment, if we have not cultivated a tender, caring love for the Lord Jesus, for it is precisely in him that we find our God. Nor have we fulfilled it if we do not cultivate the same tender, caring love for our neighbors-our friends, our brothers and sisters, our colleagues, our companions on the journey toward the reign of God in our lives and in our world.

How far are we from the kingdom of God?”

(I’m continuing 30 hrs later so my thoughts may be scattered)

Dare to Care-Let’s play the volunteer role for a sec. Or, maybe you can relate to a “lower on the totem pole” position on your job. Maybe you do all the hard work while middle management ruins your life, and upper management is trying to convince you to care about the company.

I dare you-dare yourself-to care about the world around you. You’re surrounded by people that need someone to care. And I’m not talking just about the bum on the street or the abused and neglected in the world. Your boss needs someone to care. The ministry staff needs someone to care.

For me it’s back to the church. It’s easy to slip through the cracks and not really care. Why should I? “No one is paying me to care.” “It’s not my responsibility to care.” “My opinion doesn’t matter anyway.”

BULL @#!$% (MALARKEY)! Care…about your church. Care…about your leaders. Care…about your responsibility. I dare you to care just as much as if you were paid to care.

Care to Dare-Shall we put on the leadership hat? I think I’m pretty smart. In fact, I’m smarter than most. Well, I was…I’m not really paid for that anymore. Sound ridiculous? It’s not as ridiculous as thinking just because you’re paid to do something, you’re the only one that can or may do it. I’ve been down that road!

The problem is not really ego or arrogance. The problem is hording. When you save all the “important” stuff for yourself, you’re keeping other people from having a little adventure. Care enough about the people you serve to dare them into action.

Dare people to do things they don’t know they can do. Dare people to rise above the mundane. Dare people to care as if they were paid to care.