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I do not want to say this very loud, but I think spring might actually be arriving. The temperatures (although very cool today) are beginning to climb and remain higher than they have been over the last three months. With all this change in temperature comes the inevitable flooding of rivers from their banks. For me, this imagery coincides with the flooding of needs that I am feeling as a leader. Just as it seems that the water of the rivers are a bit uncontrollable during this melting of winter, the various situations which are calling upon me as a leader seem uncontrollable. However, I can learn from the rivers and the land around those rivers some valuable lessons that I can apply to my work as a leader.
First, this situation is not permanent. As we continue to progress through the spring, the amount of snow and ice that is melting will diminish. With the diminishing of the snow and ice, there will be less water filling the rivers and streams so their levels will decrease. The timing of this will depend upon the amount of snow and ice upstream, the change in temperature rates, and the amount of additional precipitation which occurs. However, from experience, we know that the river levels will decrease and the flooding of lands will end. This can also be said in regards to the demands for attention and involvement in situations by me as a leader. There are many situations that are placing a large demand upon my time and energy. I can easily feel overwhelmed by all of this. That being said, I know from experience that this will change and the demands will reduce. I have no idea the exact timing of this reality and like the river levels, there are many variables that will impact the timing, however it is not a permanent situation and it will subside.
Second, there are some ways to reduce the impact. During flood situations, people establish sandbag walls and other types of levees to keep the water from overcoming areas which they wish to preserve. While it is true that these temporary attempts do not always work, they usually at least reduce the lasting impact that the flood waters may have on the area. This is true in my situation as a leader. I need to create barriers or boundaries to protect the important areas of my life. In order to do this, I need to make very conscious decisions regarding the amount of time I devote to any given situation. It does not mean that I ignore the situation or those involved, but I make clear decisions when I am going to respond and when I am going to dig into the situation. Every situation seems like a crisis for the individuals that are directly impacted. I must be sure that I evaluate each situation and access priorities. I must make clear decisions regarding the amount and type of communication that is necessary. In this time of emails and text messages contact is almost instantaneous, however, I can choose the timing and frequency of my reading these messages and my responses. I need to determine what are the most effective means of dealing with each situation. By creating boundaries, I ensure my mental well-being which will make me more useful for the individuals in each of the situations. I can mitigate the impact of the flood.
My hope is that these lessons from nature will help me be a better and wiser leader. If that is true, I will be able to provide stronger benefits to those who look to my leadership.
Alright, if you are one of those who does not pay attention to the titles place on blog posts, go back and read the title of this one now.
Now that everyone has the title in their minds, I am sure that many of you are thinking that I might be posting on something regarding climbing a corporate ladder. While that might be applicable in this situation, that is not the direction that I am intending to take this post. Instead, the title was triggered by a quote that I read which someone had posted on Twitter this morning. Here is the quote:
“The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.” – Oprah Winfrey
I found this quote to be very thought-provoking. I totally agree with the premise of what Oprah is saying here. For me it has to do with being willing to take the risk and being willing to fail (or tumble). I am the first to confess that I do not have a lot of that willingness in myself. However, as I grow older, I am finding more and more willingness. I attribute that to experience, observation, and a realization that only through some level of risk will I ever be able to grow and move toward my life goals. I am becoming more and more the spokesperson for taking risks and accept times of tumbling.
These thoughts have allowed me to do some self-examination this morning. I have thought about the times that I have chosen not to take the risk and climb the ladder to the high wire. Through this self-examination, I have discovered that the problem is in the climbing the ladder. Now I have never attempted to climb an actual ladder to an actual high wire but I am able to speculate what it might be like. I would envision that the climbing of the ladder gives opportunity to do a lot of thinking. With each rung, you realize that you are one step closer to that high wire and that once you arrive at the platform it will be expected that you step out on that high wire. For me, that is where the problem lies. I would overanalyze the situation. I would most likely rationalize myself away from actually taking the step onto the high wire. I think that is where my risk taking often becomes derailed. I think through everything and determine that it is unwise to take the risk and so I do not.
However, Oprah’s words ring true. If I am not willing to take the risk and step out on that high wire, knowing that I may tumble, I will never know what it is like to truly own the moment.
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Today is the day in the Christian calendar when we pause to take inventory of our lives. As people, we often seem to run from our mortality and often try to run from our sin. This day is a day when we acknowledge both. Throughout the world, Christians will attend a worship service where ashes are placed on their foreheads and they are reminded of both of these facts.
Some view this day as a day of sadness. I would agree that it truly could be a day of sadness if it were not for the reality of the cross. If we believed that at death everything ended and our existence was gone forever, then sadness definitely would fill us when we think of our mortality. If we believed that our sin is every with us and there is no way to have it removed, then sadness would fill us.
However, we do not believe those things. We believe that through the actions of Jesus Christ, both of these concerns are removed. First, through his death on the cross, we have been given forgiveness for any and all of our sin. Second, through his resurrection on Easter, we are given eternal life beyond the grave. So this does not need to be a day of sadness.
Instead, today is a day that reminds us of why Good Friday and Easter are so very important. We are reminded of our sin and the resulting death. Yet, we are also reminded of our forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life.
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There are times that I feel I am on a never-ending quest. This quest started before I was even aware that it existed. I have a feeling that this quest will continue until the day I take my last breath. The quest of which I speak is the quest for answers. It is a quest that I know I am not on alone. I am confident that there are millions of other people on this same quest. This quest can be very energizing and yet at the same time, it can be very exhausting. This quest contains much joy but still is filled with frustration. This quest is what drives scientists, religious scholars, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, leaders, and almost every human that I know. Everyone seems to be seeking answers.
One of the amazing aspects of this search for answers is that there are so many questions. The questions are based on our perspective, our experiences, and our current circumstances. In fact, part of the search is a search for the “right” questions. It is impossible to find answers when we do not even know the question. So our quest begins with determining the question which we desire to have answered.
Another amazing reality on this quest is that there are so many sources trying to provide us with “the” answer. There are ancient writings and contemporary discoveries. There are experts from every venue to offer us input. There are books, podcasts, articles, television programs, TED Talks, and the internet. In fact, there is so much input that often it seems even more difficult to find answers because sorting through all the data just creates confusion.
I must confess, there are times I wish that someone (preferably the Lord) would just give all the answers to all the questions and I could be done with the quest. However, that is not how the world has been designed. When God created us, God chose to give to us an inquisitive mind. God placed the first question in our thoughts and much like a flower opening to the sunlight, we continue to blossom with answers and new questions.
So the search continues. I have learned that I must accept that for every answer I think I find, there will be at least three more questions that come from that discover. I have learned that this quest for answers is the force that moves life. I have accepted that there will be energy, exhaustion, joy and frustration which I will experience on the quest. I am grateful that I make this journey not alone but with other humans and, most importantly, with my Lord.
Everyone seems to have an internal craving to have a place where she/he belongs. This was made evident to me in the popularity of a television show that was extremely popular a few years back. Maybe this intro will bring back those thoughts:
What would happen if the church became a place where anyone felt they belong? We give a lot of lip service to the concept but I do not see that it is how we live in the church. We have so many barriers. We have so many rules and limitations. These are items that humans have applied. These are not given to us by the Lord.
I dream of a time when the church truly was a place to belong.
Originally posted on Ed Robinson's Blog:
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It certainly has its ups and downs and can test anyone’s emotional fortitude. However, this is the very reason so few people can do it well. If you take every small slight and failure personally, the job will eat you alive. Whenever you assume a position of responsibility, you automatically also assume a roster of critics and malcontents who aren’t always aligned with your leadership vision. Since you can’t realistically fire everyone who disagrees with you (nor is this advisable), then you need to figure out other ways to handle the pressures and scrutiny.
I’ve found that the best leaders I work with welcome the criticism. They don’t always like it, but they accept that a key aspect of leading people is harnessing disparate points of view and feelings. I don’t care how smart you are, no one person has all the right…
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Individuals who are contemplating starting a new business have to consider what their business is going to offer. So they may do some market research in their area and compare that to what they feel they are capable of providing before making a concrete business plan. Companies that have been in existence over a period of time often arrive at a time when they must evaluate if what they are offering to the general public is something that remains of value or if they need to adjust and offer something new.
Now I am not one that believes that the church should operate identical to a business. In fact, I see a whole variety of flaws in this type of thinking and approach. The church is not a business and using all business practices in a church setting leaves out space for the Holy Spirit. However, there are some aspects of business behavior that can shine some light on the decisions and activities of the church.
One place that I find might be helpful for the church to adopt some business-like approach is in regards to what we have to offer the general population. The easy answer to that is that we have God, as known through Jesus Christ, as the item that we have to offer. However, I am not always convince that many churches actually do offer that to people. I also think that the ones that attempt to offer God to the people need to re-evaluate their methods for doing such offering. Sometimes I feel that the church offers their human concepts and approaches much more than they ever do God’s. At other times, I find the offering of God to be according to the church’s interpretation of God and how they feel God should behave.
I am finding it more and more important to realize that God does not have to be offered by the church. I strongly believe that God does a perfectly fine job of marketing and presenting God’s self to the world. Instead, I feel the church should be offering opportunities for people to explore and discover God. Exploration means that we do not define or judge a person’s discoveries but instead, we provide support for them along the path. We cut down the branches and move the boulders so that they can safely journey toward God. Along the way, we demonstrate that love of God which provides the nourishment and encouragement necessary on what can easily become a difficult journey.
So I would have to say that I do not believe the answer to the question that headlines this post is GOD, but instead it should be a partner on the journey to discover God.