Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mary Kate Morse on Leadership as a Stewardship of Power

Photo Credit: pedrosimoes7

"When we walk into a room, the visuals and viscerals of our presence are quickly calculated by the members of the group as they figure the amount of influence they will give us. The process of addition and subtraction are continually active.

We all do this in social settings. We make snap decisions about whether newcomers are safe and can be trusted with who we are and what we're about. These decisions have sticking power; once they're made, they're hard to change.

Each of us is given a measure of power. There is a steady exchange of power potential negotiated within groups. Like dance partners, we move in social space exchanging meaning in a quiet rhythm of relational cues and discernment. Some people are given more power and some less, but everyone is involved. Power doesn't belong to any one person -- it belongs to the group that constitutes it. The exception is when force is used to make the group follow the will of the leader. 

So the use of power is not just a moral issue...it's also a stewardship issue. God called us to steward the resources of his creation, and I suggest that power is one of those resources. The acquisition, management, consumption and distribution of resources are economic issues. So also are the acquisition, management, use and distribution of power for equipping people to do the work of God's kingdom. Anyone who has an interest can learn to understand the economics of the forestry industry or small business. But how can we understand and manage the economics of power?

Even though we value servant leadership, which has a lot to do with the use of power, we usually aren't mindful of the stewardship of power. We tend to equate servant leadership with spiritual, internal character qualities manifested in a leader's public behaviors. However, authentic servant leadership involves stewardship of power, power used thoughtfully for God's purposes as an exchange with a group. It is a kind of bean-counting that acknowledges gestures, invitations and "time attended to" all add up and matter. What a leader brings into a social space plus what happens between people in that space results in influence. Everything about the leader, from the first hello to the final decision, is a reflection of his or her stewardship of power - either for service of for personal gain."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (3/11/17)

Photo Credit: LaMenta3
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

Five Reasons Why Pastors Are Getting Fired Because Of Their Social Media Posts by Thom Rainer
"By the way, churches will not always tell the pastor the specific reason for the firing. But, once we begin to infuriate our church members with our posts, many will find a myriad of reasons to give us the boot. I recently recommended a pastor to another church. I think very highly of him. Indeed, the search committee chairman seemed genuinely enthused when I recommended him. He contacted me a couple of weeks later with this comment: “We can’t consider him. He’s just too snarky and sarcastic on social media.” Of course, this pastor was not fired. But he never had a chance to be considered by another church."
Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: A Reflection on This Last Day of Black History Month by David Fitch (Missio Alliance)
"As he spent time there with African American people, working alongside them in their struggles, he was able to see a new Jesus, a Jesus not entombed by German nationalism, and, he went back to Germany a different man. He resisted the sinister forces of the Deutschen Christen movement who had amalgamated their Christianity with the German nationalist Aryan agenda of Hitler. Bonhoeffer became a singular force in resisting the powers of evil and injustice of the Nazism infested culture. Anytime I read about Bonhoeffer’s life I am immensely challenged. But this book, gives us insight into how to decontextualize ourselves from our own culture-bound Christianity, being with people of another culture (even those within our own country), and how that becomes the means of transforming our own church. This singular truth is why I am so committed to the study of contextual theology."
Conversations With College Students on a Politically Divided Campus by Emily Deruy (The Atlantic)
"On Tuesdays, the group arranges a few desks in an unlocked classroom in a circle, sits down, and talks. It can get tense, but no one yells, no one storms out, and everyone has a chance to explain why they feel the way they do. Afterward, they sometimes go for drinks and late-night snacks at the Applebee’s nearby [the Central Michigan University campus]. The society is one example of how, at a time when Washington and much of the rest of the country is gripped by political polarization that can make substantive conversations about policy differences difficult, college students on politically divided campuses, who are part of a generation many older Americans expect to be apathetic, have found a way to have those conversations in a productive way."
Leading Someone Who Dislikes You by Dan Reiland
"I’m confident you love the people you lead, but that doesn’t mean you show it and they know it. You may show you love them, but not in a way they receive it. The pace of ministry leadership is often fast. That reality combined with the pressure to get things done can squeeze out the foundation of all good relationships, which is love. And for leaders, loving means giving more than you take. If you are not careful, the pressure to produce will cause you to take more than you give. When you are yourself, and give more than you take, people will trust you. If they trust you, they will follow you. I can almost guarantee that the individual who doesn’t like you, doesn’t feel loved by you. And if that is the case, they will never let you lead them."
A UPenn psychologist says there's one trait more important to success than IQ or talent by Shana Lebowitz (Business Insider)
"For instance, she [Angela Duckworth] conducted a study that found "grittier" kids — those who studied more and competed in more spelling bees — were more likely to perform well in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. To be sure, verbal intelligence also mattered, but verbally talented spellers didn't necessarily study or practice more. Similarly, Duckworth found that West Point cadets who scored higher on the grit scale were more likely to stick it out through "Beast Barracks," an intensive seven-week training program. (The grit scale includes items like "I don't give up easily" and "I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.") Grit was a better predictor of who would stay through Beast than things like athletic ability or SAT scores. As Duckworth writes: "Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another."
Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman: ‘Trust God’ through tragedy by Adelle M. Banks (Religion News Service)

Here's a nice profile on my favorite musical artist -- Steven Curtis Chapman -- and the story behind his new book, Between Heaven and the Real World.

Stewarding a Multiethnic Campus by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (The Gospel Coalition)
"Campus Outreach was started by the predominately white Briarwood Presbyterian Church on the campus of Samford University, a Baptist affiliate that resisted integration until the American Bar Association pressured Samford’s Cumberland School of Law to admit the university’s first black student in 1967. The rest of the university followed; however, in a city nearly three-quarters African American, the school is still more than 80 percent white. So it’s no wonder that in the beginning, Campus Outreach ministered primarily to white students. 
But within the last decade, the ministry has undergone a remarkable change. The Campus Outreach franchise in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is about half black. So is ministry at the University of Memphis. And across the 87 American campuses, the share of black students has reached 13 percent, which matches the overall percentage of black students at schools where Campus Outreach is working. Moving to a multiethnic Campus Outreach hasn’t been an easy process; to those working at Campus Outreach, it also seems frustratingly slow. But what they’re doing—shifting gears mentally to steward students of every shade—is proving enormously effective."
Why ‘This Is Us’ Makes Us Cry by John Jurgensen (The Wall Street Journal)

Here's a piece explaining why NBC's new hit show, This is Us, has connected on an emotional level with so many viewers.

BBC Expert's Kids Interrupt Important Live Interview

This is simply too funny not to share. I'm sure anyone with young children that attempts to work from home can relate.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Dealing With Change When You Don't Want To Change

Photo Credit: tarale
In his popular 1998 book dealing with organizational and personal change, Spencer Johnson famously asked, "Who Moved My Cheese?" Johnson helps the reader address the anxieties often associated with change and emphasizes the role that our attitude can play in positively managing change.

But what happens when you feel like someone has not just moved your cheese...but taken it altogether?

In many ways I am experiencing a profound season of change.

I'm personally going through changes. Now in my mid-forties, I'm not as "spry" as I used to be. The aches and pains from enjoying a game or two of pickup basketball don't go away as quickly as they once did. A Saturday afternoon of yard work often means a Saturday evening of ice packs and heating pads. The gray hairs seem to multiple by the week.

Simply put, I'm getting older.

Our family is going through changes. Of course, there are the expected adjustments that come with a growing family. Our family of six now includes three teenagers -- and all the hormones and calendar activities that go along with that stage of life. My kids don't find my "dad humor" as funny as they once did. The only child that will still hold my hand in a parking lot is our nine-year-old son.

Simply put, my kids are growing up.

Our church is going through changes. A church plant of which we've been a part since its beginning eleven years ago, we're experiencing the normal challenges that a growing church goes through. People leave the church. Key members receive job transfers to far away places. Staff members transition. New opportunities are given attention.

Simply put, our church is maturing.

Our ministry is going through changes. After 25 years of one structure, the department in which I provide leadership -- Cru Campus -- is changing how we're organized. Though our mission and calling is not changing, how our leadership structure is set up is undergoing a massive overhaul. Jobs that once existed will no longer be there. Some teams will change. Some people will have to move. Our ministry is positioning ourselves to better reach the students and faculty of the world with the good news of Jesus.

Simply put, our ministry is adapting to a changing world.

If I'm honest with myself, I realize that I am a creature of habit. My morning routine of getting ready for each day is consistent. My daily driving route to the office doesn't vary. I like to eat dinner at the same time each day. I follow football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the summer.

Simply put, I like things the way I like them.

Now, many of the things I like are changing...and I have very little control over it.

Part of my processing of these changes is acknowledging that I haven't chosen to go through much of it. There are emotions I need to experience in order to positively deal with the change.

It's a healthy thing for us to allow for the full range of emotions when dealing with unexpected or unwanted change. Not only are things like grief, mourning and lament good for the soul, but they are quite biblical (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14, Matthew 5:4, II Corinthians 1:3-4, I Peter 2:19).

As true as these things are, it's also important to realize that we have control over our response to change. In other words, we have jurisdiction over our attitude. In confronting reality, we tell ourselves: "This happened (or is happening). I don't like it. What do I do now?"

Look at what Chuck Swindoll says:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Another way of saying it is that how we respond to change might very well influence how we experience the change we're facing.

Whether I'm responsible for the change or whether I feel like the change is happening to me, I'm responsible for my attitude.

It's helpful for me to remember that.