When decision making, there is this wisdom from Proverbs and also multiple references for seeking wise counsel. Problem is, the Father’s direction isn’t always clear and petitioning a team of elders in every day-to-day decision probably isn’t practical.
If we are going to be the good Kings of the Kingdom that lead our businesses, families, and organizations well, we are going to have to do a better job of telling a compelling story. Ironically, the story we have to tell is written on the heart of every human being and it is the one they are all desperate to hear.
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" - Paul’s Letter to the church in Philippi. Paul seems to be referring to exiting Phase 4 and entering Phase 1 in terms of the Hudson Cycle of Renewal. Frederic Hudson, founder of the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, teaches the cycle as part of their overall coaching methodology. It is designed to help figure out what phase an individual or organization is in in their development cycle.
In the certain, stable, and still-watered times, you simply need a good manager or someone to stay the steady course. The problem is, if we are intending to change lives, to bring transformation to the organizations and lives we have stewardship over, we will face certain and almost continual opposition. We should almost expect that trouble, trial, and uncertainty would be the context of our every day existence. The real question becomes whether or not we can take the directive (Take heart!) and trust in the promise (I have overcome the world).
“I’m the CFO and my job is to find the best people and pay them as little as I possibly can.” At least he was honest. Despite managing $1 Billion in bank assets and outperforming virtually everyone in my high-performing peer group, I was still making only a few thousand more than when I started as a credit analyst just out of college. Add to the fact we were expecting our third child and I felt like it was time to go around the boss (who said he was unable to adjust my compensation) and speak directly to the CFO we all reported through.
The best set of eyes are often the newest set of eyes (I think I stole that from Andy Stanley). Someone new has seen other things and ways of doing things that the others likely haven’t. Traditional thinking would say that they know less than our seasoned employees, but in the areas of new thought, ideas, and creativity, they probably know more. The tension is that a newbie presuming to know more, is not well received. The reality is that we are all unique creations. We have all walked different paths to arrive at precisely the same place. We carry toolboxes full of varied practice, knowledge, and the experiential currency gained from redemptive turns in our troubled journey.
It is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. It is the most powerful determinant of your long-term success. It is obtainable. Nothing is more honoring to a father than when a child echoes back truth and nothing is more powerful for a leader’s heart than when the team owns the culture, vision, and values. Nothing is more honoring to our Father than when we understand and intend His Kingdom on earth.
Ironically, the most powerful example of this in my life has been in a corporate setting and not in a church. These last 4 years have been filled with victory, defeat, soaring heights, and bitter disappointments. It has been simultaneously the most challenging and glorious season I have ever experienced. We are finally stepping into the realization of what an owner-to-team led conversion looks like.
Do you know me and love me? Am I important to you? It is that deep knowing and confirmation of the Father’s heart for us that unleashes untold opportunity. If I am unsure of the answer to that question, I am looking to have it answered at every turn, by every person, and in every conversation. How am I able to truly offer to others as a leader if I need something of such great importance from everyone I lead? If I need my spouse, employees, friends, or even my children, to fundamentally and pervasively answer that question, how can I possibly be in the posture of offering that as my leadership requires?
The incredible paradox of this whole thing is that God’s plan was to entrust mankind with His power and He really didn’t have a plan “B.” Whether it is leadership of a ministry, business, or family, we find ourselves in often unchecked and ultimate authority. That puts us in an enviable place per the world but a very precarious place per the Kingdom.
During the filming of the final scene from "Field of Dreams," everyone involved knew something special was happening. Though the scene required a small subset of the cast and crew to film, everyone who knew about the scene crowded the edges of the Iowa cornfield to observe the magic. Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, got the amazing opportunity to reunite with his dead father for a game of catch.
It is interesting contrast to our performance based culture where the one who has the most knowledge of something or who can communicate it most clearly, is typically regarded as the expert and the one most likely followed. The size of the audience determines the measure of success. Our Christian faith and the example of Jesus’ leadership seems to point in almost the opposite direction. The hallmarks of His leadership plan seemed to be proximity, relationship, and investment in a relative few.
A couple of years ago, we were meeting with some young men at our offices. They were there for a marketing related project, but clearly trying to walk the missional road more than a path to worldly success. Before they left they slid a book, “The Master Plan for Evangelism“, across the table. You could tell that it was a pearl of great price for them.
After 30 years on this journey, I have become jaded about many things; the political system, the church, faith-based leaders, and even the latest and greatest book about a new evangelistic method. While I completely trusted the sincerity of these guys, I had a sort of “good for you” but “not for me” response in my heart. I put it in the stack of books that I intend to read when I get the time (that I likely never will). Meaning… it wasn’t going to get read.
Last week I was cleaning a pile of stuff of the dining room table and I saw another copy of that book mixed in with the crayolas and coloring books. One of the other “elders” of our home church dropped it by for a study we were doing. Now, I didn’t really have a choice. Sunday night, we plowed through chapter one.
Coleman makes a case for evangelism based wholly on what Jesus did. He doesn’t do much referencing of the Law. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and he was here to reconcile mankind to their Father… to reestablish sonship and advance the Kingdom. His incontrovertible plan can be summed up in some of the first chapter sub-headings:
- Men Were His Method
- Men Willing to Learn
- Concentrated on a Few
It reminds me of the 1980 hockey team. To turn the tide and produce maybe the most unlikely upset in sports history, something incredibly unorthodox was required. Coach Herb Brooks defied the U.S. Olympic Committee and virtually all conventional wisdom. He didn’t choose many of the superstars of the sport, but the essential building blocks with the ability to be conformed to a system he knew would win. And he did.
Jesus intended something unconventional as well. Rather than using an established model to raise a multitude, He went a different way. Rather than utilizing all the likely players of his day, He focused on a few un-likelies. He had a clear plan and laser focus.
If you want to change the world you need a plan. No better place to get a plan than the Master. Want to accomplish big things? Focus on a few… the right few.
- Who are you being mentored by?
- Who are you mentoring?
- Does your leadership focus on a few or the multitude?
- How does the way you measure your success intend that result?
In both small business management and consulting work, sitting in front of a whiteboard (and sometimes a flip chart) is a familiar occurrence. A blank whiteboard holds the potential for endless possibility and the sobriety of painful truths. It should also allow clear room for our Father to speak. May it be that the power of interpretation in our lives be sourced more from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit than our own mind, will, or emotions.