Archive for May 2008

Please Forgive Us…

Drumroll please. Here’s a ‘Tah-Dah’ that might actually open a peeper or two. If you have been asleep, ask someone to wake you by whatever means necessary – (yes, there is now and then a good reason to sign the ‘Whatever It Takes’ waiver – for times just like today.)

RISE AND SHINE BUEHLER! (high voltage cattle prod, stun device of your favorite accessory color, or a flick on the ear ala Mr. Schmidt your 10th grade earth science teacher).

Before – we – can – convey – a – bit – of – information – regarding – God’s – kingdom – we must – begin – to – regain – credibility – with – not – yet – believers.

We – must – make – amends – for – the – Bozo – shenanigans – the – Church – has – done – to – people – REAL – OR – IMAGINED – even – though – we – likely – disagreed – with – said – matters.

There is much more to explain than this opening thought. But make no mistake. We are in the middle of the Church age that requires us to seek forgiveness with nearly all we connect with before any hope of credibility is established.

Chew on this. Stay tuned kids. There’s more!

Please Forgive The Confusion…

I’m making a New Year’s resolution… now that it’s late May.

I caught onto the futility of the resolution thing a long time ago and stopped doing them. Such things are useless in my mind (no offense unless the shoe fits…) To do so is akin to

“And this year I’m going to push a different colored car uphill while the transmission is in ‘Drive’ with the engine off and the parking brake set.”

In other words, ‘Can’t get there from here.’

Resolutions accomplish one thing. To those paying close attention – they point out we can do nothing apart from God’s intervention in our trek continually. Even with such an ‘Interventional life’ we are going to screw things up in a jolly big way. Guaranteed.

“So,” you ask, “why the resolution since you are so not into it?” I use this merely as an expression, not as something I’m seriously seeking to accomplish with a mighty college effort. The goal here is to zero in on the matter closest to Jesus’ heart (that is, if the Scriptures are to be taken seriously).

Gathering – is – priority – one.

Okay, that’s not news. Gathering is just a new fangled way of saying ‘Evangelism.’ Many have made this point over and over and over… (someone do me a favor and hit the ‘endless loop’ feature on the GarageBand software). ‘There are no ordinary people. All are extraordinary because they are all everlasting. They are all created by God. He loves them all beyond our ability to grasp a percentile of.

Just a thought to put on the back burner: The word ‘Evangelism’ is so vastly misunderstood maybe we are wise to invest some time as leaders / activists digging into the ‘E-word’ as I dubbed it in Conspiracy of Kindness fifteen years ago. (The word is a combination of ‘message’ and ‘angels’ – roughly translated, ‘The message of the angels.’ Lay that next to the outworking we see today and the above suggestion begins to bear merit).

Confessions of An…Increasingly Clear Leader

Everybody Needs a Model Or Two To Be Effective

‘People never do what you say – only what you do
…then only after you have salted them down…’

What / Who Is An Approximate Leader Metaphor You Relate To?

As we venture through life, influential personalities pass our way. Some of these are distant influencers. They touch us through their books, blogs – the proverbial ship passing in the night. Others stay longer. Rarely does an influential we come to love and respect leave without heat though. ‘Parting is with great sorrow’ as Shakespeare captured it so well. This fascinating dynamic is a worthwhile study in various biographies that are honest enough to get past the silly surface-grin and down to what we all know to be the real story we all suffer through. (Bobby Clinton has a grasp on this matter as well any anyone on the planet. His tomes The Making of A Leader and Connecting are in my top 100 list of ‘Just Gotta Buy, Read, and Re-Read.’ Don’t ask for this list – it’s not together yet…)

(NOTE: I officially no longer waste my time actually ‘reading’ books unless they ‘re-read’ worthy. As many know, I am a graduate of the ‘Evelyn Wood-Head Sped-Redding School of Sped Redding’ to quote Cheech and Chong. I do scan lots of books still – but scanning and carefully reading are far different matters.)

All effective leaders have lived long enough to realize they lack the marbles to accomplish the humongous goal Jesus has placed in their heart. To get there, some amazing, serendipitous supply is needed. The greatest part of God’s supply will always arrive in the form of content – the wisdom God provides that can come from people alone.

Question:

Is there a metaphor you can use to help people relate to your leadership style?

There are numerous aspects needed to describe the breadth of how you relate as a leader:

  • The communication aspect of your leadership
  • The way you connect with people; the way you don’t connect (more important)

People now tell me who I remind them of so I don’t really need a metaphor often.

May I recommend one to you if you are searching or starting out?

Jack Black – the funny man who is all about finding the good in people and is not afraid to climb into situations or fend for the downtrodden.
Best of all – Jack is self-deprecating. It is hard to not follow one like this. Today, if you can’t tell on yourself, be yourself, you are sunk.

Mind you, however, that with Jack as a metaphor there come built-in weaknesses to be aware of…

You are an easy target by weak, opportunistic leaders around you who are not living vulnerably.

If you like this topic, tune in to Steve Sjogren’s free one-hour coaching session on ShapeVine.com. Look on that site for the next scheduled coaching session. There you can see, hear, ask questions with the cutting edge technology employed by the ShapeVine.com site.

Oprah: A Catalyst For Kindness?

Have you noticed that on every cover of Oprah’s magazine she is smiling? Think what you want, but I believe her smile is sincere. She does nothing for financial gain—that point in her life passed long ago. For Oprah, it’s about spiritual meaning.

Measuring America’s Spiritual Hunger
If spiritual health is measured according to outward matters, the decline of the Roman, Protestant (you name it) empire is upon us. But maybe spiritual health is not so one-dimensional as 30-second phone polls can measure when we are disturbed in the evening hours.

Attendance, size, the counting of heads is not the sole barometer most “Influentials” in history have relied upon to measure the state of true spiritual affairs.

Jesus did not pay one spit of attention to the fluctuating attendance of the crowds who showed up when He spoke. If He had bought into this emotional roller coaster of such passing silliness, confusion would have perhaps ensued.

If we insist on counting something, Jesus might encourage us to count backward—to measure what we divest ourselves of. America has had it with “come and see” spirituality. Now is the day of “go and do.” And Jesus launched that movement some time ago.

Does Oprah Understand What Others Don’t?
Oprah has vast spiritual influence over most of the Western world. When Oprah speaks, things happen.

This is no news flash, though. Oprah’s vast influence extends beyond the media scene and into the deepest parts of the spiritual heart of the United States. How? you wonder. She is in touch with non-complex heart leanings in each of us—inclinations that have been placed in us by God.

On her hit prime-time show, Oprah’s Big Give, Oprah has noticed the power generosity has to change lives. Like every reality show, this one has an abundance of adrenaline-filled contestants. Jumping abounds. There is an unnatural amount of smiling going on. But her show is unique as well. The winner is the one who gives away the greatest amount of money over several weeks—in as wise ways as possible.

Ms. Oprah has tapped into the depths of all of us. It’s the “if money were no object” dream we talk about—and this dream is becoming viral. Everyone is chatting about it. This virus might just get out of control, in the best sense.

Kindness, Schmindness. So What?
Kindness is a word that has been bandied about in recent years. We confuse it with similar words (like niceness), but it stands head and shoulders above synonyms.

You might wonder, Why bring God into this consideration? The “God factor” is what distinguishes kindness from niceness or other even less powerful encounters. Any of us can be nice when the mood strikes us, when we are feeling rested, well, etc. Kindness is another matter completely. Kindness, to be clear, is only possible when God shows up.

You and I don’t know each other, but this I suspect about you: Regardless of how broken your upbringing may have been, there were moments when kindness occurred along your journey.

I did not grow up attending church (to be accurate, I was downright skeptical of all things church-ish), but I can now see the seeds of kindness that were scattered into my soul, which led to a profound conversion during college. Those seeds were slow-growing, undetected, but they eventually bore fruit. It was God at work beneath the surface.

When our lives have been touched by authentic kindness, we tend to never forget those moments. They are everlasting, living encounters. Only the God of the universe can orchestrate such.

Friend or Faux?
In recent years, many have begun to notice the latent power of kindness, serving and generosity. More than a small percentage of spiritual organizations have sought to use kindness as a tool—something to promote a message. In that equation, the understanding is: We serve; then people will listen. Kindness is not a tool one can use to gain advantage over others!

Any thinking in this direction is to manipulate both God and His people. Neither God nor most people will put up with such nonsense. People are not oblivious when agendas are present. To be kind but not genuine is to destroy the possible conveying of any positive message.

Indeed, a message will be conveyed—a tragic one where cocooning occurs. That is, those in the community isolate themselves further and further away from anything down the road that is real.

Breaking Free
When God’s kindness is loosed, a culture begins to build. Each day I connect with many people in simple ways that ease their burdens—much like Oprah. One hundred percent of them ask why I am showing them practical kindness (paying for their Starbucks drink, showing them respect by remembering their names at the places I frequent, getting cashiers a bottle of water and insisting they take it).

There is plenty to chat with people about when kindness is afoot. Let’s just go and do with a clean heart.