Archive for April 2008

Confessions of a Budding Realist…

Short People Got No… Need For Toilet Plungers

… of strengths, limits, liabilities

While in Denver recently doing some city-wide training with leaders, I stayed with some friends. They have renovated a house that is beautiful, ornate… and has old plumbing.

This couple have children that are adults, are out of the house. Both of them are just over five feet tall. Their children are about the same size. Fortunately they are Hispanic so they have not been tortured by Hobbit jokes (Hobbits look nothing like a Central or South American).

Here’s the problem: I am nearly 6’3″. In ALL WAYS my life is different than theirs for the most part.

Without ruining your appetite for the next 48 hours, I will put this delicately. These kind, wonderful folks were gone most of the day when I arrived. That’s fine by me – I write all day. Just need oxygen, water, a Venti Starbucks dark blend, enough half and half to color the coffee khaki and three Splendas. I’m in my own world(s) for 8 to 12 hours. Nature does call however. When it did, their flushing mechanism was clearly not designed for people of normal size – IE, over 5 feet tall and all that goes with that (enough said). Upon a search, I discovered they have no plunger. I called them. “We’ve lived there for fifteen years and have never needed a plunger.”

“Do you ever have people over five feet tall here visiting?”

“As a matter of fact, only family visits. You’re right – they are all rather short like us. How did you know?”

“Lucky guess.”

I walked down the street to Wal-Mart and bought them their first two plungers (Sam’s was less expensive but they didn’t need two dozen).

In writing and posting this blog I hope you as a reader can appreciate the risk I am taking with those who – uh, aren’t members of the Servant Evangelism or Steve Sjogren Fan Club.

But hey, I’m game for stepping out on the limb to make a point or two.

1. Leaders, it’s time to face up to our limitations.

The notion of the Peter Principle – we tend to gravitate to our greatest strength – then we take one more step. That last step occurs when others ‘promote’ us and we don’t speak up… when we fail to tell them, “I’m not about this. I’m not qualified. I’m not called. There is not fruit here. I’ve gotta be me.”

Re-read Dr. Peter’s book (you can find it on Amazon). Memorize the simple principles. Pray for utter, cut-throat self-honesty. If you don’t, you are dooming yourself and those around you – most sadly your family who choose loyalty to you in spite of an utter lack of skill, anointing, ‘getty-up.’

2. With strengths (some think being 6’3″ is a good thing) always come liabilities.

Real short on this. You are a genius at something. SomeTHING as in singular. You may do another thing that is pretty outstanding. There may be a third matter you are way above average. If you are a wise person, you will develop those three – then gather a team around you. You will not need to apologize for being who God made you to be. You will merely need to be brutally honest. To fake or miscommunicate on the fourth matter and beyond…

To quote the prophet Forrest Gump, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’

Ecclesial Sabotagology – Part 1

– the fine art of church suicide

“My word… I now know for certain. My church has lost its collective mind…” – Bob, the cowboy commentator and church consultant

My friend Bob looked up from reading the blog on his laptop. He pulled off his reading glasses with some drama as he does when miffed (an effective technique – you might consider picking up a pair of spectacles whether you need them or not).

Bob explained his ‘Mad-as-a-hornet, can’t take no more’ response.

He wasn’t one bit negative. Deep love and pain was emerging.

“I’ve always thought when someone takes their own life that they are out of their mind – at least at that moment. Maybe this holds true for groups when they do the same…”

Bob’s words hung in the air – like a slow moving indoor cloud hovering in the room. Bob spoke a drop dead amazing truth.

One thing is certain – 100% of the innumerable groups who succeeded in a suicide attempt – not one was thinking clearly at the moment of the ultimate deed.

Is there a pattern that leads up to a church or a spiritual movement to self-destruct? Ponder these common patterns that lead up to what lemmings do each spring.

•Celebrating The Tragedy of Others… other leaders / churches!

“They finally got what was coming them them / him / her. Yep, God got ‘em good. You can’t fool Him…”

If you haven’t thought this or said it you likely aren’t thinking back hard enough. Human nature makes such behavior tendencies natural to us all. Call it “The Martha Stewart Effect.” She goes to prison without protesting the initial sentence dished out to her. Amazingly, the vast majority of Americans decided they hated Martha – they decided to enthusiastically believe the worst about her. There is something particularly savory about believing the worst about those who have been highly successful in life. This goes double for the leaders of large churches. ‘They are large because they are doing something that’s not kosher…’ (No names here please…)

Recommend: Start praying for a church each week like this, “God we ask you to bless this other church today – we ask you to profoundly touch them today more than us…”

•Church Suicide Comes From The Passive Condoning of Toxic Attitudes
Rarely will leaders in the local church clearly say aloud what is as negative as what is carried about in the heart. “We really don’t like people who aren’t like us…” Who in their right mind would cop to that?… especially official leaders. Yet can you explain how it is that great public efforts are taken to increase attendance yet the ‘backdoor’ siphons more out than in?

Recommend: If you are one who speaks or has a voice into the leadership, be candid about your heart. Fear keeps us stuck and away rather than toward people. To like people is more costly than to love people very often!

•Church Suicide Begins With Bombastic Attitudes
“We really are all that – and more!” No comment necessary.

Recommend: Pray with an honest, open heart. Start with confessions. When God shows up honesty tends to happen.

Bob never told me what upset him that day. That wasn’t the point. He loves his heritage. Even more he loves the Church at large – as do I on both points. Maybe we are on the same boat as it works in fellow-ship.

Steve Sjogren Radio Interview

Check out this recent radio interview with Steve Sjogren and Colin Lambert on the Moody Broadcasting Network! Steve and Colin discuss Outflow and learning to notice your way into other people’s lives.