October 15, 2014
by floyd
2 Comments

A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS

NOTE FROM FLOYD: This article by friend Carl Medearis is from his website and used by permission. Though it was posted a little while ago, it is very relevant today.

by CARL MEDEARIS

Obama admits to not having a strategy. Duck Dynasty Godfather, Phil Robertson, wants to “Convert ‘em or kill ‘em.”

So what is a thoughtful honest strategy for confronting a terrorist group like ISIS?

ISIS doesn’t need any more explanation. We know what it is – evil personified. They have morphed out of Al Qaeda who were ironically too liberal for their most radical Islamic interpretations, namely that there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge.

ISIS has brutally killed 1000’s, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power. Ethnic Christians and a small people-group called Yazidis have found themselves in evil’s path, but so have the armies of Syria (both the national army and the various rebel groups), Iraq and even Lebanon. It seems anyone who isn’t willing to lay down their “flag” and join the newly self-appointed ISIS Caliphate is deemed a traitor and deserves to die. The execution of two American hostages by beheading has horrified the West and captured our daily imaginations – mostly how we can “demoralize and destroy” to use our President’s words, this new evil encroaching on our freedoms and international interests.

But I’m not a politician, I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus. But I’ve spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family. And the politics of this are complicated to be sure. To bomb or not to bomb? Boots on the ground? It would seem that any attempt at a real diplomatic solution would be ridiculous with such a group.

Then what should the attitude be of folowers of Jesus in the West? How should we talk about ISIS amongst ourselves and if we had the chance to speak to one of our Congressional representatives, what might we encourage them to do? As “people of the book” (the name Muslims give to Christ-followers), what is our posture?

Unlike President Obama or the Duck guy, Jesus had a strategy. Believe it or not, he was smart. He lived under an occupying force and dealt with zealots (men who would have been considered “terrorists”) and lest we forget – he was killed. So Jesus knew pain, suffering, persecution and terrorism first hand.

And he had a strategy for dealing with such enemies. Here are five:

1. “Take the log out of our eyes, before we help get the speck out of someone else’s eye.” Are there logs in the eyes of the West, America specifically, that we need to first recognize? Where did ISIS get its weapons, for instance? And are there logs in the eyes of those of us who claim the way of Jesus as the way for the whole world? If the church had done its job of sharing Jesus in the Arab world in years past, would we have this issue? If the boys who are now men in ISIS, ten years ago, had heard and received the good news of Jesus – would they be doing what they are now?

2. “Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear.” We need to see, hear and understand – it’s the parable of the Sower. There are reasons ISIS exists. We may not like them, and we might not want to understand them, but a mature and wise person will seek to know. Ask the question “Why?” Why is there an ISIS? If you were in their shoes would you be tempted to do something similar? If you grew up in a country with no power at your disposal, no outlet for travel, economic opportunity or education – and someone handed you a gun and said “We can take what should have been ours anyway” would you be tempted? It’s easy to say “No.” But….Are you sure?

3. “The harvest is ripe.” Who has attempted to bring them good news? Saul was a terrorist before he became Paul – killing Christians just like ISIS is doing. There’s always hope. The good news is the Power of God for salvation. Do we believe that? Who’s willing to go? Now.

4. “Turn the other cheek, carry the pack an extra mile and give them the coat off your back.” Jesus was rooted in Middle Eastern culture. He understood the power of shame and employs it brilliantly in these three simple strategies in these words from Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount. Each are used by Jesus to show that the one who is being abused can take power back from the abuser by taking charge of the situation. “Turning the cheek” wasn’t being passive – but a way to force the man who struck first to think about what he was doing before striking again. Forcing a civilian to carry a pack an “extra mile” was actually illegal – so the Roman soldier would be in big trouble for his superiors if someone saw what was happening. Taking of your “outer cloak” and showing your nakedness would have been a huge shame on the one who saw – not the one who took it off – but the one who saw. Shaming is Jesus’ clever way of granting power to the powerless.

What if we spent a billion dollars on creative ways of shaming ISIS – what might we come up with?

5. “Love your enemy, bless them and loan without expecting return.” Develop a long-term strategy for confronting evil. These injunctions of Christ – to love, bless and give to our enemies – are long- term strategies. They may not work right now within the current situation, but we have to be asking about the next generation. Who are the kids playing soccer in the dirty streets of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan who could become successful businessmen and women, OR the next ISIS? We never heard of ISIS just one year ago. We didn’t know about Al Qaeda before 9/11. Who is the next ___________? And how do we move beyond our short-sighted 4-year-at-a-time policies to a more enlightened policy of generations?
To love, bless and give to your enemy speaks of development and opportunity. Are we taking economic and educational reform seriously enough in countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? If not, why not?

Of course, there is a legitimate argument to be made, that when people such as those within ISIS submit themselves fully to evil, war is our last option. Christians and those committed to the ways of Jesus have argued that position through the lens of “Just War Theory” since the days of St. Augustine. However, I believe we are too quick to employ that as a strategy when Jesus gave us some clear methods for confronting our enemies. His way is not passive. The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.

Ironically the Phil Robertson’s of the world use the exact same language as ISIS – “convert or die.” There is another Way!

Paul summarized this way of Jesus well when he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ISIS is evil, but they can ultimately be overcome by good.

Carl Medearis is an international expert on Muslims/Christian relations and Arab/American relations. You can learn more about him on his website:

www.carlmedearis.com

Follow Carl on Twitter.

Find Carl on Facebook.

October 13, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

The Art of Conversation

“A conversation, even a brief one, should have all the best features of any functioning human relationship, and that means genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves, and some dashes of tact and perception.  Conversation can be such pleasure that it is criminal to exchange comments so stale that neither really listens”   Barbara Walters 

(http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/07/16/barbara-walters-how-to-talk/)

Great conversationalists listen more than they speak, but when they do speak, they express genuine interest in the other person.  At the heart of good conversation is the ‘value’ of others.

From the BrainPickings.org site I quote Barbara Walters again as she debunks a common myth about the key to great conversation:

“I happen to disagree with the well-entrenched theory that the art of conversation is merely the art of being a good listener.  Such advice invites people to be cynical with one another and full of fake; when a conversation becomes a monologue, poked along with tiny cattle-prod questions, it isn’t a conversation any more.  It is a strained, manipulative game, tiring and perhaps even lonely.  Maybe the person doing the talking enjoys himself at the time, but I suspect he’ll have uncomfortable afterthoughts about it; certainly his audience has had a cheerless time.”

To be an artful conversationalist, one must learn to…

  • put themselves and others at ease
  • establish common interests
  • involve everyone in the conversation
  • be genuinely interested in others – even the ‘bore’
  • adopt an attitude of ‘learner’

Being adept at introductions is a key to starting a good conversation.  Awkward introductions often lead to awkward conversations.  There are three ingredients to a good introduction:

  1. When saying who the person is use their name and title, including Dr., Rev., Prof., or simply Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
  2. Address the person with greatest honor, rank or age first, e.g., ”Prof. and Mrs. Brown, I would like to introduce to you Ms. Jones…”  In our very informal Western cultures many young adults have never learned the courtesy of making a good introduction.
  3. Give a little detail of their relevance, i.e. how you relate to one another or the event

When training younger leaders a few years back, Sally and I taught how to make an introduction and we practiced until everyone was at ease with this lost art.

Steps to greater depth of conversation:

  • Recognize and acknowledge the value of the other person
  • Introduce a topic of conversation with a short statement of personal belief or opinion
  • Pursue the topic with thoughtful comments followed by a further question
  • Confirm the validity of the other person’s opinion or emotions even if you disagree
  • Share personal feelings or experiences without dominating or being disagreeable
  • Hear what other people are saying versus what they are telling you

Remember:  directness in conversation is the privilege of intimate friendship.  One can be honest while being tactful and sensitive.

To end a conversation politely:

  • Address the person by name and thank them for taking the time to speak with you, or:
  • Ask the person to give your regards to their friend or spouse etc., or:
  • Tell the person you are glad to have been able to hear their perspective and to connect with them.

On a personal note:  While living in Afghanistan many years ago, Sally and I were invited to the home of the American ambassador.  We were out of our depth for sure.  We were the hippy couple trying to act natural with heads of NGO’s, business people, a few CIA types, and an ambassador or two thrown in.  At a certain point, the assistant to the American ambassador made the rounds and politely said, “Thank you for coming this evening.  The ambassador would like to greet you as you go.  He will be by the main door for the next 30 minutes…”  It was time to end the conversations!

One more quote from Barbara Walters from BrainPickings.org about escaping from tedious conversationalists:

“I’m not in favor of escape as a unilateral policy.  There are painful, tedious people in abundance and some of them must be suffered kindly, maybe even until they run down and have nothing more to say.  Things being what they are in the world today, we are more and more driven to depend on one another’s sympathy and friendship in order to survive emotionally…    Furthermore, warm, sustaining relationships become especially important during those periods when we are our least loveable.  People bursting with good will and abundance of mental health are charming company; their need for ego-boosting, however, is minimal.  People sinking into self-pity and depression are dreary, but they can’t get out of it by themselves.  So every now and then, just sit there and listen, listen, listen.  You’re paying your membership dues in the human race.”

The way Walters advocates for listening as an act of sorely needed compassion, especially in those conversations where our impulse may be to flee, is essential in learning to value others no matter their likability.  Her warm wisdom rings all the more urgent, even if more difficult to enact, in our age of online conversation, characterized by a propensity for knee-jerk reaction instead of thoughtful response.

Nothing is quite so rare as a great conversationalist.  Artful conversations don’t take place by accident, and are the result of intentionality, courtesy, humility and regular practice.  Enjoy!

 

 

October 10, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

Learning to Love People You Don’t Like

I wrote a book by that title.  It sold well.  Better than the earlliest edition of the book, titled, ‘Father, Make Us One’.  I think people appreciate the ‘realness’ of the new title.

It’s hard to love some people.  If you’re like me, I enjoy some people, patiently endure others, and actively seek to avoid a few.  That’s brutally honest, but needs to be said if you’re going to believe anything I write on this topic.

Love…real love…is not all about squishy, warm feelings of affection and devotion.  Love is hard.  At least, Jesus found it that way.

Jesus had a lot of disciples, and he chose to spend more time with some than others.

Jesus has to be our source of guidance when it comes to loving those we do church and life with.  I think we fear turning to Jesus’ words and example because deep down we know He is going to tell us to get over ourselves,  forgive and give everything up for people we hate being around.

But that is not the case.  Jesus also endured some of his disciples and avoided others.  Quite a few of his team members left him.  He confronted some of them, and a few, a small handful, became really close friends.

So how do we deal with loving people we don’t like?  Here are a few guidelines that have served me well over the years, hard learned guidelines, I might add:

1. Be honest with yourself and with God.  Spirituality is not genuine if it is not honest.  God loves truth in our inner selves.  Truth is not just who God is, a statement of doctrine, but also how we approach God.

So, if you are struggling to love or like someone, put words on that feeling to the Lord.  If they irritate you, tell God.  If they hurt you, express that to Him.  If they are offensive, say so to Him.  Tell God how you feel about that person…share with Him the deep truth of your heart.  He can handle it and you won’t grow unless you’re honest.

Tell him your struggles, then take the next step in the journey of healthy Jesus style love…

2.  …ask God to let you see people with His eyes.  To see them as He sees them.  Seriously, this is not a spiritual cop-out.  If you want to mature in your love for people, you need to develop breadth in your love of people.

Get a bigger heart.  Ask God to help you grow greater breadth, greater capacity for loving people who are different to you.  If you want a greater influence on people for the kingdom of God, you need to grow in your appreciation of different kinds of people.

That doesn’t mean you are going to fall head over heals in love with every person you work with, but it does mean that you are going to learn to view them with respect and appreciation.  To have a greater awareness of their upbringing, their culture, their unique personality (given to them by God, by the way), and their special contribution to God’s kingdom.

3.  Give yourself freedom to enjoy some friendships while you tolerate others.  You won’t connect deeply with everyone.  You need some close friendships in your life if you are to survive and thrive as a leader.

4.  Lastly, work hard on overcoming pain and disappointment.  One of the greatest hindrances to loving the people we work with in a healthy way, is unresolved pain in our relationships.  If your reservoir of pain is getting bigger and bigger with time, the dam will eventually burst and anger, resentment, avoidance and all manner of negative emotions will flow out.

God teaches us to love by allowing, and sometimes even causing, us to be with people who offend or annoy us.  Don’t bury your irritation or pain with these people.  Don’t ignore your disappointments with them.  Deal with your pain daily with God.  Keep short accounts.  Pray for compassion.  Forgive them when they hurt you.  Keep on forgiving every time you think of them, until God releases His love in your heart for them.

Love is multi-faceted.  Set your sights on learning to love people you don’t like.  Meanwhile, enjoy the ones you do!
* To explore this topic further, you can order a copy of my book, ‘Learning to Love People You Don’t Like’ from our office in South Africa at 021-785-7201 or info@all-nations.co.za or you can order it from Amazon in other countries.

October 2, 2014
by Sally
8 Comments

Update After Round Four

Dear Faithful Intercessors and Friends,

When I went in last week for chemo, they said my blood work showed my numbers were too low to do the treatment. They wanted to do the blood work again that morning. I sat waiting for a couple hours and finally “passed.” My neutrophils were a bit below minimum, my white cells just above…..so they let me have the treatment. The chemo has been moving along successfully, so I was hoping not to break the rhythm!

I also got some good news from the doctor! I had done a CT scan the day before. It showed a slight improvement in the right kidney we’ve been praying for that wasn’t functioning because the large tumor had blocked it. That is encouraging news! Please keep praying for a full miracle of restoration.

I’ve been through hard times physically before. I can even say now that I’m grateful for them because walking through them has given me “tools” for dealing with this hard time. But I have to say that cancer is a different beast…….in a league of its own! It affects every part of the body. It impacts the mind and emotions. It touches on the heart – the spiritual realm because it’s dealing with life and death. It impacts relationships – some people have a hard time dealing with it themselves so they don’t know how to relate to me. It is so all consuming!

Because of the impact on every part of my life, I’ve sometimes felt like I’m broken into lots of pieces……and I’m just trying to keep it all together. A friend sent me the photo and definition that I’ve attached to this update. Kintsukuroi pottery……more beautiful and very costly for having been broken and repaired with gold or silver. As I pondered and prayed over this photo my friend sent, I heard the sweet voice of the Lord saying I would come out of this season more beautiful than before. In fact, that’s what God wants to do in all our lives when we go through the difficult seasons. The hard time is not the end! God is using the difficulty to make us more like Him with His gold repair work in our lives. The piece of pottery is beautiful….more so for the gold worked into it!!

As you know, Floyd is away for 10 days. I was quite concerned about how I’d do without him. I have become so dependent on him. We’re half way thru his time away. His trip has been good – we’ll share news when he returns.

One day while Floyd’s been away I was thanking the Lord for the sweetness of His presence. I felt I could almost touch Him – He felt so close. In that moment, I realized that “aloneness” is an illusion that the enemy tries to burden us with. I can’t see the Lord, but I’m not alone. He is so with me!!! And because of Him, every moment of my life is good and meaningful…..even these chemo ones that I don’t like.

AND – I’ve done well this round while Floyd has been away. :) Your prayers have been carrying me…..and have been answered. Thank you!

With our love & gratitude,
Sally & Floyd

P.S. Floyd will be sharing reports from his trip on our website, and, when I’m able, I’m sharing in a blog on Cancer and Joy. Please visit us when you have time. www.floydandsally.com

photo

 

October 1, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

Why Some Leaders Fail to Get Things Done

When leaders fail to get the ‘main thing’ done it is because of one simple, fatal shortcoming: failure to perform. It is not a lack of vision, or shortage of brainpower. It is the inability to act decisively when decisive action is called for.

When asked why Microsoft rose to the top amongst so many competing computer companies, some of which had better products, Bill Gates said: “Immediate and massive action.”

It’s as simple as that: not getting things done, being indecisive… not delivering on the goods. Failure as a leader is never final, and sometimes it can be influenced by flawed strategy, refusal to confront reality in their area of responsibility, etc. etc. but the greatest cause of leadership failure is failure to execute the ‘main thing’. Good leaders learn to focus on one thing… the main thing.

In a local church or missional community the same principle applies. Churches that stagnate do so because of a lack of passionate, focused vision from their senior leader. This ‘vision void’… not focusing on the main thing, results in a lack of motivation in people to ‘make it happen’.

Why do Leaders Fail to Get Things Done?

Why do leaders fail to execute? There are many obvious reasons, including personality, gift-mix and experience. But there seems to be a pattern in recent firings in the business community that shed light on why leaders fail to perform. Church leaders would do well to learn from their secular counterparts.

Failure to put the right people in the right jobs. Leaders who don’t deal with people-problems quickly allow those few subordinates with sustained poor performance to deeply harm their endeavor. Most leaders usually know when there is a problem; their inner voice tells them to act, but they suppress it.

This tendency in some leaders to suppress their inner voice can be due to a lack of emotional strength. Emotional strength to seek information and input from multiple sources, to deal with conflict, to resist denial and take the necessary steps to deal with the problem in time.

Leaders lacking in emotional strength often justify their failure to deal with problem people by making excuses…

“He has to succeed.” Such a leader may be the victim of mental or emotional seduction. Convinced that his ‘hand picked’ subordinate will succeed regardless. If the protégé fails, and this leader cannot bring himself to face the failure, he is in big trouble.

“He’s my guy!” This is a problem of blind loyalty. Maybe they have worked together for a long time or there is a deep bond of relationship. In this case, a subordinate who is failing to grow, or lacking the skills necessary to get the job done, will continue on without consequence as his leader, ‘blinded’ by loyalty, fails to act.

“I can coach him.” If the subordinate is not a quick learner, then the organization or ministry will downgrade to the skill and management level of the person in charge.

“The people like him – he must be okay.” Some subordinates forge links with others so as to build a power base for their continued service. Others build connections with the board, or donors. However, poor performance is poor performance, and no matter how nice or well liked, if this person is not removed, they will hinder the organizations ability to fulfill its mission.

“There is a lot of transition going on, and many people have left already, people won’t like it if he leaves.” If the subordinate is failing, delaying taking action just makes the problem worse. Transition is probably the best time to make changes. Rather get it done while things are up in the air, instead of waiting for things to settle only to disrupt them again.

“He’s in the job, and I will take the devil I know over the devil I don’t know.” Such a leader may be insecure over his ability to hire the right person, especially if it is someone from outside the organization. There may be a fear that the new person will not fit into the culture and values of the group.

A leader does not need to be ruthless to get things done. Successful leaders have an inner value that drives them: ‘people first…strategy second’. This points to the need for a leader to make sure they have top caliber, committed, hard working people on their team, who will follow their example to focus on the ‘main thing’

The excuses of those leaders who fail to execute are often unconscious but in actuality they are mechanisms for conflict avoidance, and they prolong the inevitable.

Below are some significant hindrances to getting things done:

  1. Commitment to a favorite organizational model.
  2. Consensus decision-making.
  3. Losing sight of the main thing and making the process the end goal.
  4. Cliques.
  5. Changing vision often, the “flavor of the month” version of leadership.
  6. Failure to do whatever has to be done to achieve results. Failed leaders ask, “Why can’t people do it themselves?” or “Why can’t people solve problems without my help?”
  7. Denial. Leaders who fail to execute avoid facing the realities of their situation. They quickly end up becoming prisoners of one or two friends, listening to the ‘Pollyanna’ reports they love to hear. Some just can’t take responsibility for failure, so they blame others or circumstances for lack of results. They may have gotten used to winning for so long, all the way back to high school sports or college politics, that they can’t face the reality that they have to change things immediately if they are to be successful. Typically, they can’t believe that when something is going wrong, it is their fault.

The best thing that could happen to some of these leaders is a good, straight talk. But who is going to do them such a favor? Subordinates tend to keep their senior leader happy by feeding their ego. These leaders need to be taken to the woodshed. Deep down, they may even want it, but they are afraid to reveal their deep insecurities. Some of these poor leaders sit in a cocoon of isolation at the pinnacle of their career. They can’t see the seeds of destruction slowly growing under the surface.

Danger: there is a fine line between denial and optimism. A senior leader has the twin responsibility of being a cheerleader and the one to call the hard shots. A great leader acknowledges the negatives while providing hope and confidence. Warren Buffet warns, “The senior leader who misleads others in public eventually misleads himself in private.” It is called deception. Leaders who can’t face reality, don’t want to.

Deniers tend to be inveterate optimists, seduced by past glory and living in the hope of future success.

Leaders who fail to perform are typically the kind of people who serve on too many boards, attend too many meetings, travel too much, and have too many irons in the fire. They see themselves as ambassadors for their movement. They are dabblers, unfocused. Whatever the cause, indecisiveness takes over, and they fail to lead effectively.

Effective leaders use decision-making processes to drive results, not delay them. They start by focusing on initiatives that are clear, specific and few, and they don’t launch a new one until those in process are embedded in the DNA.

Effective Leaders are implementers through a process that seems simple, even obvious, but has profound effects. They note at the end of meetings who is to do what, by when. This type of leader goes over action steps with everyone before the meeting closes, and they probably send each one a reminder afterward.

It is fascinating to watch what happens when a leader who executes well brings these habits into a company where they didn’t exist before. The whole tone changes. People prepare for meetings differently. They interact differently. They stay focused. Commitments are highly valued. Great leaders hold people accountable, always.

Keeping track of critical assignments, following up, evaluating performance – isn’t that kind of, well, boring? It may well be. It’s a grind. At least, plenty of intelligent, never-the-less failed, leaders say so. And in a way you can’t blame them. It is hard work to lead well. It takes discipline, faithfulness, and follow through.

The problem with leaders who fail to execute is not a lack of brains or ability nor a lack of clear goals or strategy. It is the failure to make things happen. The problem with these leaders is drive. They find no reward in getting the job done, or finishing well. They find no incentive in continually improving how things are done. Failed Leaders ask, “Why don’t people follow through on things I ask them?” They’re afraid of appearing too controlling, of “micro-managing.”

Great leaders succeed because they have a desire to compete – all the time. They have a willingness to confront. They get a charge out of pushing a thing to completion, of improving and then improving some more. They love to set up systems and get the right people to run them. That is why they are so hungry for information, for reports from the battlefield. Effective leaders have a strong external focus and get stimulated by details of what’s happening in their area of responsibility. The details others find boring. They are haunted by the very real possibility that the boss is the last to know. To prevent this from happening, they ask hard questions. They pull in loads of data.

Great leaders know that having the right strategy is important, but it is only half the battle. Someone has to make it happen, and stick with it to improve it and make it work, day-in and day-out. That responsibility cannot be delegated to a second in command or an executive pastor or CEO.

Profile of a Leader Who Gets Things Done

  • Decisiveness: the senior leader faces conflict, pressure, internal dissent and fear of rejection with equanimity. They do what has to be done to get the job done and get it done right. They know the main thing and will not be deterred from seeing it accomplished.
  • Character: integrity, maturity, and spiritual energy. Self-confidence is essential.
  • People skills: judging, building teams, growing and coaching people, firing where necessary.
  • Business acumen: instinctive feel for how a company makes money, and a corresponding understanding of how to make that happen.
  • Organizational ability: engender trust, share information, listen expertly, diagnose problems and know how to bring about full potential; they deliver on commitments, are decisive, attract good staff and set up effective systems.
  • Insatiable curiosity: intellectual capacity, global mindset, externally oriented, adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns. They read and ask questions, lots of them.
  • Superior judgment: good observation skills, discerning, listening, good counselors, they have a foundation of moral principles and convictions to build on.
  • Hungry for growth and accomplishment: result oriented, focused, faithful, follow through, willing to say no. They are ambitious in the best meaning of the word.
  • Learners: motivated to improve, to learn from mistakes, gatherers of information, inspired to know and convert what they learn into practice.
  • Vision: they see the outcome and work toward it with tremendous focus and energy. Outcome oriented.
  • Knowing the main thing. Leaders have one primary responsibility, and that is to see to it that the main thing is always the main thing. They know that in the end, winning popularity contests won’t produce results. So they get the job done.

In the Christian arena, these leaders usually don’t have a great number of ‘hang-out’ friends, but they respect people and treat them well. They are focused, they live with a driving ambition to fulfill their calling. They want to finish the race and win the prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 29, 2014
by Floyd
3 Comments

Ten Keys for Casting a Compelling Vision

 

  1. Make sure it is clear in your own mind.    What is the vision that burns in your heart in 25 words or less. If you need hundreds of words to summarize it, it’s not compelling.
  2. What did God say?    Share the story of your spiritual journey and the amazing “co-incidences” that convince you that the vision is from God, how it gripped your heart, that it’s something you are willing to give your life to.
  3. Share it with change agents first.    Win key decision makers over, before you go public. Follow the appropriate process and protocol to have the vision approved. Meet with them one-on-one and inspire them with the vision that grips your heart.
  4. Paint a compelling picture.    Stir the hearts and minds of people to mobilize them to work together to bring about the vision. Vision precedes reality. Visionaries stir people to action by creating a picture in their minds of what can happen. Share the opportunities more than the needs. Build with inspiration, not shame or guilt. Inspire people with what will happen when the vision is accomplished. If you want to build a ship, describe the ocean you will sail on more than the wood you will build with!
  5. Share your vision consistently.    Changing from one vision to another creates confusion and lack of credibility where trust is quickly lost. Stick to your vision and share it everywhere and with everyone!
  6. Proclaim the vision as widely as possible.    The vision should be given visibility. Cast it from the platform, in newsletters, via video, on audio tape. Use slogans, banners and brochures. Drive it home to your staff, board, friends, family, leaders, and supporters.
  7. Share your vision over and over again.    Sharing vision takes time, effort and sacrifice. It requires planning and effort, with continuity and repetition. It must gain trust through consistency and perseverance. It must be perceived as more than a pipe dream. It takes ruthless determination, unswerving dedication, relentless tenacity, and honest evaluation. Repeat the vision every time you meet. Never presume that people remember why they are working so hard and meeting so much.
  8. Connect from the heart.    Share from your heart what motivates you. Be personal. Let people know how you feel about the vision, and their part in it. Find out what motivates them, and what they dream about. Find out what makes them tick, their concerns, their fears. Express your need for them – and tell them why.
  9. Tell your vision passionately.    If you are not excited and committed, will others be? Share the stories of how people are buying in to the vision and how they are making it happen in their lives. Story, story, story!
  10. Build a team that owns the vision.    Share ownership with others. Speak of “our” vision and what “we” are doing. Delegate important responsibilities to key people, but make sure they understand the values the vision is built on. Ask their input, listen to their criticism, start where they are, evaluate frequently and go together toward the goal. Have ideals but avoid idealism. Start where people are at. Encourage their hearts and listen to them in order to work a ‘fit’ that gives them a share in what is being built.

 

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2014
by Floyd
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Four Questions to Ask When Dealing With Disappointment

A young man, whom I respect, recently asked me for some insight on dealing with a situation that brought him much disappointment. He had been journaling and reflecting on his experience but wanted some help in processing it constructively. I encouraged him to ask himself four questions as a way of turning his disappointment into an opportunity for learning and growth. These questions are also helpful in processing the pain we experience in disappointment…

  1.  “What was life giving about the situation?”    Rather than asking in an accusing voice, “Why did You do that to me?” I have learned to ask, “What do You want to teach me through this, God?” To ask myself, “What was God up to? What did I learn? What good came out of it?” It is important to see the hand of God in the choices we make. To know and believe that God is guiding and using every circumstance of our lives to work in us, to shape us, to teach us. I believe these questions can focus us on what God is doing instead of what we want a situation to be.
  2. “What is it I value about what I went through?”    Learn to look ‘behind’ what actually happened. Look deeper to find the principles and values that you learned which could lead you to greater maturity.
  3. “If I had three wishes concerning this situation, what would they be?”    This is where you can evaluate the situation, take what you have learned and see how you would do things differently if it happened again.
  4.  “How do I put into practice what I have learned from this situation?”

A comment about disappointments: they are usually from unmet expectations. We can’t control every situation in life, but we can learn to define our expectations before we enter a situation. Then, if reality is different than what we expected, we can take those expectations to God and ask Him what we should do about them… Sometimes we just need to change our expectations, sometimes we need to surrender to God’s refining work, sometimes we need to realize that we did not research the situation adequately before hand, sometimes we need to simply forgive, and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

There are three classical ways of dealing with disappointment and loss that hinder us instead of help us:

  1. Analyzing our disappointment intellectually. Avoiding the pain we feel prevents us from addressing our disappointment on a heart level.
  2. Blaming others. A “looking for the sin in the camp” approach to problem solving prevents us from learning and growing through a situation. It is usually a subtle way of punishing others for the pain we feel. Obviously, it does not release us to move on with our lives. We carry with us what we do not forgive.
  3. Seeing it as a spiritual matter. The devil may be at work, but he gets a lot more credit than he deserves. It is much more beneficial to discern what God is doing than what Satan is trying to do.

In my studies from the life of King David in the Old Testament, I have observed that his life was filled with disappointments. The Bible records David’s disappointments and his responses to them, honestly. I encourage you to study David’s life from this perspective.

David’s psalms of lament teach us the value of grieving loss in our lives. Grieving is only one aspect of dealing with disappointment, but it is a vital one. We cannot learn and grow if we do not know how to grieve well. Covering up or denying the pain of loss and disappointment does not make it go away. Those feelings remain deep inside us, eating away at us… Until we acknowledge our loss, embrace the sadness it brings, and accept our present circumstance, we cannot move forward emotionally or spiritually.

Worship does not only involve praise, it also means sacrifice. Bringing our sacrifice of sorrow over our loss is a form of worship that is precious to God. When I come to God and acknowledge what has been lost in my life, and present that loss to Him, it is my way of saying “I trust You. I look to You for help. I cannot deal with this disappointment by analyzing it in my mind, I need Your comfort for my soul.”

In the end, responding to God with trust in the face of disappointment is a profound form of worship… our way of bowing – mind, body and soul before Him.

September 18, 2014
by Sally
4 Comments

Cancer and Joy – Carried Over the Wall

When I was told that I had an ovarian tumor, a large almost 8 pound one, and then, subsequently, that it was malignant – my first thought was how am I going to get through the surgery and chemo treatment? It seemed like a huge, giant wall in front of me that I had no idea of how to get through or over.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.54.03 PM

My friend’s picture of Jesus Carrying Me

Right at this time, I received an email from a dear friend in Indonesia. She was praying for me and was impressed with a picture in her mind for me. She actually drew it out for me.

The thought that kept coming to me was that Jesus would help me with the “wall” I saw in front of me. My friend’s drawing, and what she shared, was that Jesus was carrying me over a wall in this season. All I needed to do was relax, trust, and let Him carry me.

That has been a HUGE unexpected joy, maybe more than joy, but certainly it was hope. I don’t have to work, earn, worry, do anything on my own. He is with me…I can let Jesus carry me.

And He is doing that, day by day. When I don’t think I can make it, when I am discouraged, I remember the picture of Him carrying me – and it gives me words to pray, “Lord Jesus, please carry me now.” And He does.

“The beloved of the Lord rests in safety – the beloved rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12

September 17, 2014
by Floyd
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Adventure With God

What makes an adventure an adventure?

I got in trouble a few years back while speaking to a church in Canada.  As I introduced my wife, Sally, I said “she doesn’t like adventure, like I do…” The folks in the church had a good laugh at my expense. They knew Sally and the wild lifestyle she has lived for Jesus.

What I intended to say is that Sally is not an outdoors type, doesn’t climb mountains, hunt with a bow, other stuff I like to do. I was doing the thing a husband should never do, I was comparing Sally to me. I made myself the standard. Really dumb!

But adventure? Are you kidding, me? Sally is the epitome of adventure. She left home as young 16 year old from Texas, and journeyed by faith half-way around the world to Samoa. She lived in Afghanistan, where she gave birth to our first child with a mid-wife in Kabul, pioneered in the Red Light District of Amsterdam and shared her home with 35 long-haired drop-outs on two houseboats. See what I mean? I misspoke big time!!

What I should have said is, “what I have learned from Sally is that embracing adventure has nothing to do with personality or disposition”. She is a high introvert, neat and tidy in everything.  But, more than her personality and love for order, is her heart to obey God.

So, to try and get this right, let me say what I think of when I think about adventure…

I think there are risks involved… some danger.

Adventure means difficulty… challenge… attempting the impossible… sacrifice.

There is the unknown… Adventure is not adventure if we know all the possibilities and control the outcomes.

Then there is the element of surprise… what if? What could go wrong?

And of course, when I hear the word adventure, I also think of fun, adrenalin, wild animals in Africa, the ‘rush’ of walking through the bush with hippos on your left and lions or elephants up ahead, tangible danger!

An adventure has drama and tension, like a great movie or a good story… take away the risk, the danger, the ‘unknown’ and what you have is predictable, safe and boring… not an adventure at all!

Adventure also means comradeship… friendship. What’s an adventure without some friends to share it with?

An adventure is a mission. We were created for mission therefore we were created for adventure. God’s original plan for us was to join Him on His great mission on earth. That’s where the greatest comradeship exists.

We were made for God adventure. If we take God adventure out of our lives, then we will selfishly turn people or money into our adventure.

The Bible is full of stories of unlikely adventurers with God. I call them ‘The Unlikelys’…

• Rehab – woman of disrepute, who helped spies escape capture
• Daniel – teenager taken hostage by the ISIS of the day
• Joseph – the rejected brother who was trafficked to a foreign land
• Abraham – a sheep farmer going where he did not know
• John Mark – Paul’s rejected team member
• John – son of a self-righteous religious extremists
• Mary – who pondered a prophetic mystery
• Gideon – man of fear
• Hosea – who was led by God in the most unusual way

To take adventure out of following Jesus is to rob our life of spice. It removes the emotion from life. God’s invitation to adventure is like a fork in the road. If we say no to God everything in our life changes from that point on.

Think what would have changed if Esther had said no to the invitation from God to rescue her people?

What would have happened if the rich young ruler had said yes to Jesus’ command to sell everything he owned?

My advice? If life has become safe and stable and, let’s face it, boring, it’s time to get some adventure back! Take up the hobby you have always wanted to. Go camping, buy a bike, or take an art class. Do something fun!

And say yes to Jesus. Don’t negotiate. Don’t bargain. Just trust Him and say yes!

See where He leads!!!

September 17, 2014
by Sally
0 comments

Cancer and Joy – God’s Compensations

NO ONE WANTS CANCER! But after the initial shock of discovering I have cancer, I concluded that God was with me in this journey. Consequently, I could expect God to reveal Himself to me every step of the way, in small and great ways.

Cancer is something that all of us fear – dread – don’t want – think will never happen to us, especially if we’ve been good about check ups, doctor’s appointments, etc. Which I always had been! But, it can happen to any of us – as I’ve just found out. There are no guarantees in life – young, old, in between, there are things we all go through. There are days when I still think this is a bad dream, and I’m going to wake up. It’s still a challenge to say the words – “I have cancer.”

I’ve found in my life that I go through seasons, good seasons, hard seasons, seasons I wish I didn’t have to go through. I’m in that third category now: cancer and chemo-therapy.

I have moments of courage in facing this season, and I have moments of weakness in thinking, ‘How in the world am I going to get through this?’

It’s not at all the season I was planning. My husband and I live in South Africa. We were in the midst of planning an extended visit to the U.S. to see family and friends, especially looking forward to time with the grandkids! We hadn’t been back for a visit like this for 2 years.

Then suddenly, cancer.

As much as I wish I wasn’t in this season, I have to say I’m finding small joys along the way.

That includes friends praying for me. I feel very “carried” by them. And I feel enveloped in peace and comfort from the Lord.

I guess the thing that has been most surprising to me is the moments of joy I’ve experienced. I’m calling them my “unexpected joys.” Even though God has given me wonderful gifts of joy all through life, I needed to open my eyes and heart to receive that in this difficult season. Once I did that – wow! I’ve had lots of it. I see and experience joy daily. Joy didn’t disappear because I have cancer. In fact, I think I’m more aware of it because it’s such a contrast to the heaviness of cancer.

God is the wonderful, gracious giver of joy in every season we walk through. There are moments I actually don’t want joy. I just want to curl up and sleep, hoping when I wake up that it has all gone away. But there it is, intervening, waking my soul to His goodness.

I learned many years ago that even in the hardest circumstances in life, I can look for the little things God brings to show His goodness. They are what I call “God’s compensations.” In so many ways He reminds me that He is “just in all His ways and kind in all His doings.” I’m finding His compensations of joy all around me in this season of cancer. They stare me in the face every day.

I’ll be sharing my “unexpected joys” on this blog. Being able to do that brought an immediate, unexpected anticipation: what will God do next that I can share with you? In the midst of it all, the pain, the nausea, the sleepless nights, there is a small stream of hope flowing through this hard season, breathing life into me.

 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”   Psalm 30:5