Peter was Sleeping

I was reading my Bible tonight in Acts 12, and something caught my eye. Herod killed James, one of the apostles, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews (apparently there was political motivation behind this persecution), he had Peter put in prison. His plan was to bring him before the people after Passover.

This really is reminiscent of what happened to Jesus.

Anyway, what struck me was this. Peter was in prison with numerous guards watching him. The prospect of death wasn't really that far off base. And what was he doing?

"And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping...." 12:6a

When I read that, I was reminded of what happened in Mark 4. The disciples were with Jesus in the boat, and the storm was raging. Who was asleep then? It was Jesus. The disciples were all freaking out, and Jesus was asleep. So they woke Him up and asked Him if He cared that they were going to die. Then He calmed the storm and said two things to them: Why are you so fearful? and How is it you have no faith?

So what's the picture? Freaking out in your situation = having fear and no faith. Sleeping (having so much peace and rest that you DON'T freak out in your situation) = having faith and no fear.

Oh that God would move me more toward having faith and no fear.




Leadership Summit: Session 7

John Ortberg

Well, I've never heard this guy speak, but I've seen his name on a few books. I never read any of his stuff either...but he was good. He said:

"Leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can stand."

That was pretty good.

Anyway, he basically gave a sermon on Esther. The funny thing is, it didn't feel like a sermon. There were a lot of good things he pulled out of that text. The whole basis of his talk was this idea of having a shadow mission. A shadow mission is basically something that has a bit of a resemblance to what we are really called to do. It's parallel to our real mission, but it's dark, shadowy, selfish, and evil. In other words, my mission in life might be to be a full-time pastor. So my real mission is to love people, to teach the Word of God, and to help people through that to become free. My shadow mission might be then to use my gifts to create a name and reputation for myself, to sell books and make money, and win people's admiration and respect. The thing about that is, while it may look like I'm accomplishing my real mission, I'm accomplishing my shadow mission. The thing of it is, other people are at the heart of my real mission, while I am at the heart of my shadow mission. Pretty creepy, huh?

Here are a couple of things Ortberg posed to the crowd:

What is your depraved shadow mission?

What is the shadow mission of the church?

Who's the Mordecai in your life? Who's ready to challenge you when you're about to slip into your shadow mission?

Chronic sense of soul dissatisfaction: will you name and challenge the shadow mission of the people you lead?

Are you trying to figure out some less costly way than the cross to fulfill your mission?

**God is at work behind the scenes.**

Leadership Summit: Session 6

Bill Hybels interviewed Colin Powell during this session. It was pretty good. The thing that struck me most about Colin Powell is that you could see clear decisiveness in his demeanor. He seemed to be a no-frills guy. 'Here's what's going to happen and how we're going to do it. Go do it.' He wasn't in the least bit wishy-washy like I can be sometimes.

Here are a few highlights:

Allow a Clash of Ideas
-take advantage of differing viewpoints and experiences

Only People Get Things Done
-you can sit around and talk, plan, strategize, etc., but people get things done

Reward Best Performers, Get Rid of Non-Performers

Be Prepared to Disappoint People
-check ego at the door; don't wear your heart on your sleeve

Have Fun along the Way

Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier
-things always look better in the morning
-people will see your attitude and trust you

All of us have a debt of service we may not be able to repay.



Leadership Summit: Session 5

Ok, well, this is a couple of days after the fact, but I thought it would be good to go back over my notes.

During session 5, Michael Porter, a Harvard business professor, gave a talk on how important it is for us to think strategically when it comes to philanthropic efforts. When it comes to business, we have things down to a science, quite literally. We desire to maximize our profits while minimizing cost, and therefore we think very strategically as to how we might accomplish this goal the most effectively and efficiently. Porter's argument was that so often this type of strategic thinking is not applied to our wanting to serve in the community. And so what happens is that what we do is not done efficiently or done with excellence. He spoke of "adding value" to our efforts. We do that in the business world, and how much more important is that in the world of helping those in need? In other words, for our efforts of service and giving to be "worth" anything, we need to think strategically on how to get things done with excellence.

Here are some steps to help along the way:

1.) Have we really clearly defined our goals? What are our goals for this particular endeavor?

2.) What community needs are we going to address? Is more better? No. We probably won't be able to address everything. So we need to pick something and do it. We prefer results, not just activity.

3.) We need a clear strategy on delivering value.

4.) We need alignment in the organization.

**We need a sustainable solution model--something that will meet long term needs.**

Now here are some off-the-cuff notes that I jammed into my notebook. They are really good questions to consider:

Goals-need to be very clearly defined
-obligation to create value
-social benefits per dollar expended
-obligated to use resources well

Worthiness of the cause is NOT the basis for choosing a project
-look at sustainability and commitment to the project
-where can you add the MOST value?
-where can you do the most good with the resources you have available to you?

What does the congregation/community need? What are the most pressing needs?

What organizations are available for these needs? Are they doing this work just fine? Should we just support that organization?

What capabilities/resources/skills/relationships/companies do we have access to? Where can we do more than just giving money and providing unskilled labor? Do we have the resources available to us to give somewhere in a unique way?

***Do too many things and you'll have limited impact!***

Be careful not to underutilize volunteer capabilities

We want to strategically streamline the delivery of our services. This will increase effectiveness and deliver value to our "customer base."

Here's what holds us back

Multiple/Conflicting/Unclear Goals
Personal Preferences and not Value
No Attempt to Measure Performance
Inability to Stop Mediocre Efforts

Wow....again, these are pretty much a copy of my notes. It's a little disorganized, but I felt like I was in college again. There are definitely some good things to consider here.




Leadership Summit: Session 3 and 4

Session 3:

Not much that I remember here. Could it be the after lunch slot?

Session 4: Marcus Buckingham

I have to say, this guy was good. He was humorous and very engaging. His talk was all about strengths. What we need to do is identify our strengths and work on those. So often we concentrate on our weaknesses because we feel that's where we have the greatest potential to improve. Perhaps that's true, and we definitely do need to address our weaknesses, but we need to cultivate our strengths first and foremost. We need to make a contribution around our strengths.

Probably the most impacting statement for me was the third myth he addressed. That myth is: a great team member puts aside his strengths for the good of the team. I've thought this exact thing. I'll serve where there's a need. But the truth of the matter is, God is assembling the team as He wants it, and He is gifting each individual to serve best in each area of need. We need to leverage our strengths and give around those things, rather than serve where the team needs.

Actually, now that I think of it, I just read this concept in Acts: "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists,because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.'" Acts 6:1,2

It just simply was not a good strategy to have these guys leave teaching the Word of God to take care of these widows. I'm not saying that this type of ministry is not important; it is. But God had other people in mind to take the lead on this and do it with excellence. Their strength was teaching the Word. Someone else's strength is helping with the daily distribution. Let's get the right people in the right spots on the team.

All in all, I think this was my favorite session yet.



Neat Quote from Bill Hybels

Saw this in the intro to the Leadership Summit:

"The best leaders I know are incurable learners. They have an insatiable appetite for leadership development and relentlessly pursue ways to stretch their minds, broaden their horizons, and expand their hearts. They're only satisfied when they are getting better, because they know the cause of Christ demands it!"

-Bill Hybels



Leadership Summit: Sessions 1 and 2

Today I'm hanging out at Granger Community Church, a satellite location for the Leadership Summit. Leaders from around the world convene in early August to engage in some awesome leadership development opportunities. So far we've gotten through sessions one and two, hearing from Bill Hybels (one of the pastors of Willow Creek) and Carly Fiorina (former CEO of HP). So far here's what I've gleaned from the talks:

Session 1: Vision

"Nothing matters more than the ownership of a vision."

The idea here was that, with widespread ownership of a vision, the organization, institution, or orgranism (as is the case with the Church), can move forward with quality people on board. Everyone is working toward common goals and the accomplishment of a common vision. How can this be accomplished? We need to take the team approach when it comes to forming a vision. Get the team, get key leaders, get input from a lot of people when it comes to forming a vision for the people you lead.

When leading, people will know if you're a true leader or just a hired hand. Ultimately what it comes down to is this: are you willing to pay a very heavy price for the vision God birthed in your heart? People will follow and pay a high price for the realizing of a vision if they realize that you would pay the price first.

It's kind of crazy, but I started to think of some of these principles and how they apply in my classroom (I'm a high school math teacher). I have a vision for that classroom: I want the kids to be able to think for themselves, to reason things out and figure things out for themselves. I also want them to come into class each day and just do a good job. However, I've never communicated this vision to a class. And I'm sure that some of the kids' visions of math class are quite different. I'm wondering if I can do something about this.... The last thing I want is a repeat performance of the mediocrity I've seen in the past.

Session 2: Carly Fiorina

This was basically an interview between Bill Hybels and Carly Fiorina. She said some cool things about leading corporations and stuff like that: leading with integrity, honesty, respect, innovation (which I thought was cool), and a few others. But a random thought passed through my mind as I sat there. I don't know where it came from because it was somewhat unrelated to what she was talking about, but here it is:

Be a good leader in your family.

I need to work on setting the example in my family.




A Problem of Ethics

Recently my brother got into a bit of an email debate with a former science teacher of his about origins. I've seen and heard some of these kinds of debates before: the Christian adamantly asserting a young earth and pointing out common flaws in the theory of Evolution, and the Darwinist begging the Christian to leave behind antiquated superstitions in the name of scientific reason. My brother wanted to make sure the teacher knew of his conversion to Christianity and the seeds of doubt planted in his mind with regard to the truth of Christianity in this class. And boy, did he let him know!

One of the arguments brought up in the discussion was that of morality and ethics. My brother made the argument that, given Darwinism, morality (or at least the idea of universal right and wrong) could NOT have "evolved." In other words, if we are just advanced animals, how can anyone claim murder in the human world, when murder is is a preposterous claim in the animal world?

This science teacher retorted that morality did evolve, or at least appeared at some stage in our "evolution," and that morality is just evidence of our becoming more "fit" for the "survival of the fittest" game each species is playing.

I disagree with this. The following (between the asterisks) is what I believe would be a reasonable extension of this guy's reasoning about morality.


If we were to take a completely Darwinian approach to our species, I claim that the illusion of morality keeps us from evolving faster. In the survival of the fittest doctrine, if it is the fit that survive and the less fit that eventually fizzle into extinction, thus leaving the "better" species to inherit the earth, then I maintain morality is holding us back.

For instance, I think we need to manage the species, in much the same way we manage renewable resources. We always want the best resources, and so those inferior resources that keep the best from thriving need to be eradicated. So I say we need to figure out everyone's IQ and eradicate everyone whose IQ is less than say, 115. We should also eradicate everyone who is old, handicapped, and carries a gene mutation that is not helpful but harmful to our species. Over time (and if we do this right, over a much shorter period of time than if we left it to nature's course) we could do a great deal of improvement to the overall gene pool, thus furthering our species and making it even more "fit" for survival.

Now it is unfortunate that "morals" and "ethics" have been introduced into our species, be it through religion, superstition, or evolution, because a great number of folks would disagree with my plan based on the idea that eradicating those with inferior genes is not "compassionate" or "just" or "right." These folks hold us back from evolving, because these inferior genes will either never go away, or it will take an incredible amount of time for them to be "naturally selected" out of the gene pool.


What a disgusting line of reasoning this is! Nevertheless, if you subtract any spectre of justice, morality, ethics, right and wrong, compassion, and love from the picture, this line of reasoning is not all that unreasonable. And yet, an overwhelming majority of people would be absolutely appalled at just such a suggestion. Why would that be?