Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wisdom on Sorrow From Oswald Chambers

Photo Credit: MorkiRo
Taken from today's entry from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
"As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. 
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them. 
Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. 
You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (6/21/17)

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

How Billy Graham Mainstreamed Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald (The Daily Beast)
"Graham was, as he himself said, still a country boy. Tall and awkward, he had a rough-hewn voice and was given to flailing his arms and stabbing the air with a raised finger. When he told Bible stories, he used slangy vernacular and acted out the parts—preening and strutting in the role of Belshazzar, or prancing around like an uppity pig in the story of the Prodigal Son. Calling for revival, he would stalk the platform, assaulting the audience with vivid descriptions of the horrors that came from man’s rebellion against God. According to his Youth for Christ peers, Graham had a kind of incandescence on the platform that came from his passionate sincerity."
Practicing Privilege in the Local Church by Michelle Van Loon (Patheos)
"Most of us are occupied trying to get our needs met for belonging and significance. Those needs are really important! God himself wired us that way. When a church staff, each holding positions of social privilege within that small community, are focused on their own “interpersonal dynamics and church politics”, it communicates that they might be focused on getting their needs for belonging and significance met. The experience B. had in the church gave him a new way to think about how he’d functioned in his previous role as pastor. Though he was a very others-focused, servant-hearted guy, he recognized he’d succumbed to the temptation to form and hoard a clique around himself so he could get those needs of his met."
The Number One Reason Missionaries Go Home by Paul Akin (The Gospel Coalition)

I have heard it often communicated that the primary reason why missionaries leave the field is because of difficulties with other team members. Here, Paul Akin suggests five common reasons why this happens: 1) Unmet expectations, 2) Conflict, 3) Stress 4) Comparison/Jealousy and 5) Sin. He briefly offers a few suggestions as solutions.

If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists by Margarita Mayo
"Charismatic leaders can be prone to extreme narcissism that leads them to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims.” A clinical study illustrates that when charisma overlaps with narcissism, leaders tend to abuse their power and take advantage of their followers. Another study indicates that narcissistic leaders tend to present a bold vision of the future, and this makes them more charismatic in the eyes of others. Why are such leaders more likely to rise to the top? One study suggests that despite being perceived as arrogant, narcissistic individuals radiate “an image of a prototypically effective leader.” Narcissistic leaders know how to draw attention toward themselves. They enjoy the visibility. It takes time for people to see that these early signals of competence are not later realized, and that a leader’s narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members and often negatively affects group performance."
The Uniqueness of University Evangelism by Tim Keller & Michael Keller (The Gospel Coalition)
"Universities create environments that encourage students to rethink the beliefs of their upbringing, including their meaning in life, values, and identity. That, of course, is a challenge to students who come into undergraduate courses with a Christian faith. But it also means students from other backgrounds and communities are dislodged from them and are freer to consider the claims of Christianity than they would’ve been at home. Also, while it may be considered impolite in much of society to try to convert people to your belief system, on university campuses this is essentially what everyone’s trying to do to everyone else, with vigor. The free market of ideas and the discussions that ensue inside and outside the lecture room aren’t value-neutral exchanges, but rather places of persuasion where individuals debate and accept differing explanations of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Evangelism fits right in."
Why Parents Need To Limit Screens And Make Boredom Great Again by Brooke Shannon (The Federalist)
"Unfortunately, the increasing ubiquity of screens diminishes opportunities for children’s brains to wander, create, and imagine. From carpools to the classroom to big sister’s sporting events to the dinner table, screens are destroying boredom. Why would a six-year-old stare out the car window or talk to a friend on the way to school when the latest episode of “Paw Patrol” is on? If a three-year-old can play a game on a tablet, why would he watch his big brother’s soccer game? Many waiting rooms have become quieter, and some dinner tables have gone silent. But at what cost? Too much screen time—and not enough boredom—can lead to poor social skills, shorter attention spans, and a need for instant gratification. How many future inventors will be lost without experiencing boredom? Where will the great orators and writers of this generation come from if imagination is not nurtured today?"
Why We Argue Best with Our Mouths Shut by Christine Herman (Christianity Today)
"The problem with persuasion is not just that people are stubborn; people change their minds all the time about all sorts of things. The real challenge arises when someone’s beliefs are tied to their identity. If changing your belief means changing your identity, it comes at the risk of rejection from the community of people with whom you share that identity. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that people tend to seek out information that confirms a belief and outright reject anything that conflicts with it, says Dan Kahan, a psychology professor at Yale Law School. 
“They might not perceive it that way consciously,” he says. But research has shown that this phenomenon—known to psychologists as confirmation bias—is real. Kahan illustrates with a sports analogy: “Fans of opposing teams tend to see different things when there’s a close call,” he says. “And it wouldn’t be good if you stood up on your side of the stadium and said, ‘I think the guy really was out of bounds.’ ” Being rejected by the group around which we have formed our identity can be painful. Thus, in the face of evidence that runs contrary to our beliefs, it only makes sense that we put up our guard."
What Apple Thought the iPhone Might Look Like in 1995 by Adrienne LaFrance (The Atlantic)
"To those who had been watching Apple since the 1980s, however, shrinking computers and videophones seemed to be always just tantalizingly out of reach, emblems of a future that would, fingers crossed, eventually arrive. But when? By 1995, even though Apple’s laptops had dipped to a svelte six pounds, and the transformative power of the internet was becoming apparent, the next great iteration of the web was barely imaginable. Today’s mobile web, the one that would be ushered in by smartphones, was still out of reach. But there were hints of what was to come."
Stuff Dads Never Say

I had the privilege of visiting my home church in Michigan - Colonial Woods Missionary Church - this past Sunday, Father's Day. This video was shown during the service and I got a big kick out of it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diversifying Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations

Photo Credit:
Global Partnership for Education - GPE
One of the greatest challenges facing non-profit organizations that are seeking to be ethnically diverse is understanding that it is not just about having a diverse staff. Having more ethnic minorities in the top levels of leadership is critical for organizations that are seeking to become more diverse. But a multitude of barriers often exist in turning this vision into reality.

A recent study by the Building Movement Project-- Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap -- illustrates that many attitudes about how a non-profit can increase its number of leaders of color might not be accurate.

Cyndi Suarez of NonProfit Quarterly comments on the findings:
"The report has a high-level message: “The results call into question the common assumption that to increase the diversity of nonprofit leaders, People of Color (POC) need more training. The findings point to a new narrative. To increase the number of People of Color leaders, the nonprofit sector needs to address the practices and biases of those governing nonprofit organizations.” 
In other words, while many investments in people of color leadership focus on training and other capacity building for people of color, the real need for capacity building is with the people who hire for executive leadership positions. 
Other studies have hinted at this. The Daring to Lead reports of 2006 and 2011 of more than 3,000 nonprofit leaders found that 82 percent of respondents were white. More recently, in BoardSource’s 2015 Leading with Intent report of non-profit boards, 89 percent percent of respondents identified as white. For over a decade now, survey reports consistently show that less than 20 percent of nonprofit executive leaders are people of color."
The report indicates that while it is important to intentionally focus on the development of leaders of color -- just as that is important for any emerging leader -- much greater emphasis needs to be placed on the development of non-profit leaders in the areas of cultural intelligence. In many non-profits there are structural and organizational barriers that limit the opportunity for ethnic minorities to advance in leadership.

Here are some of the specific conclusions drawn from the report:
› It’s NOT about Differences in Background or QualificationsPeople of color and white respondents have similar backgrounds in education, position, salary, and years working in the nonprofit sector. 
› It’s NOT about a Lack of AspirationsPeople of color aspire to be leaders more than white respondents. For those who do not aspire to leadership, most—across race—are looking to maintain work/personal life balance. But people of color who are not aspiring leaders are more likely to be looking for jobs outside of the nonprofit sector. 
› It’s NOT about Skills and PreparationMost aspiring leaders thought they had the qualities needed to be a good leader. When asked about the training they received, people of color and whites had few differences in the areas of financial skills, goal setting, articulating a vision, advocacy, and collaboration. People of color were more likely to see themselves as visionary and able to relate to their target population, but less ready to fund raise than whites. 
› It IS an Uneven Playing FieldThe majority of aspiring leaders feel prepared to take on an executive role. However, over a third reported they want more technical and management skills, with POC respondents identifying this need more often than whites. People of color were more likely than white respondents to see race/ethnicity as a barrier to their advancement. 
› It IS the Frustration of “Representing”All respondents have challenges, but people of color are significantly more frustrated by the stress of being called upon to represent a community. They are also more challenged by inadequate salaries, the need for role models, lack of social capital/networks, and the need for relationships with funding sources. 
› It’s NOT Personal, It IS the SystemRespondents across race squarely identify the lack of people of color in top leadership roles as a structural problem for the nonprofit sector. They believe that executive recruiters and boards could do more to diversify leadership. Whether due to bias or other factors, respondents of color were more likely than whites to agree it is harder for people of color to fund raise. They also were more likely than whites to see barriers to people of color advancing either because of smaller professional networks and/or the need for more training.
For leaders like myself that serve in predominately white non-profit organizations, it's especially important for us to realize that much of the work that needs to be done in becoming more diverse starts with us. If we as leaders have a myopic perspective on leadership and don't possess the understanding of cultural contexts other than our own, we will continue to create and perpetuate structures and systems that prevent some of the very things we say we want to see happen.

You can download the full report here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (6/10/17)

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

How "Race Tests" Maintain Evangelical Segregation by Joshua L. Lazard (Religion Dispatches)
"As the Bracey/Moore study alludes to, these evangelical churches are spaces that on paper claim that, to put it colloquially, “race doesn’t matter,” or “It doesn’t matter what color Jesus is.” But obviously it does. Reality shows that ecclesiastical segregation is a sociological trend that exists beyond just white evangelical churches. It also includes congregations and denominations that are decidedly liberal and stand at the opposite end of the theological spectrum. Studies have shown time and time again that this segregation has held true for a multiplicity of reasons. While these reasons range from the difference of praise and worship style and doctrinal differences, to residential segregation or the preference of non-whites creating affirming spaces of their own, white liberal churches aren’t excused from being a part of white institutional spaces as defined by this study."
Being Black, a Woman and an Evangelical by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson (Missio Alliance)
"For those black people who are conscious of this American history and still desire to remain true to the scriptural principles of evangelicalism, it costs us something to present ourselves as evangelical. For the most part, we are able to confidently make this claim because we have been trained in evangelical institutions, we love Jesus and the Good Book, and we believe in the gospel as the ministry of reconciliation. It also means that we often find ourselves leading and ministering in predominately white spaces, churches and institutions. It means that we are often one of a few ethnic minorities within white evangelicalism challenging the thoughts and actions surrounding diversity (or most often the lack thereof), racial reconciliation and biblical justice. We are often on tap to contribute to conversations but rarely on payroll to make decisions."
Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations, part 1 by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today: The Exchange)
"Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others, or more. Yet, the fruit remains below-- a culture toxic to all who swim downstream. The leader is often seen (from the outside) as a great leader, but those inside know him/her as someone who is, well, more concerned about outside appearance than godly leadership."
Sports Spectrum Podcast Interview with Ernie Johnson

The personal story of NBA on TNT studio host Ernie Johnson is powerful. As someone that became a Christian later in life, his family's journey of faith through cancer, adoption and other challenges related to their special needs child is challenging. This interview with Jason Romano is worth a listen.

Are You Married to Your Smartphone? by Dave Boehi (Family Life)
"Adjusting to new forms of technology is nothing new. Just think how telephones and automobiles changed our culture. Or air-conditioning. Radio, television, computers, and many other new inventions sparked significant changes in our culture and in the way we related to our family and friends. But the pace of change since 1995 has been breathtaking. We’ve seen the emergence of the internet and of mobile phones, and then the convergence of the two in 2006 with smartphones. We can now be plugged in wherever we are, 24/7. The technology is evolving so quickly that most of us are barely aware of how our behavior is changing and our relationships are affected. As one reader wrote after I wrote about this issue a few years ago, “These mobile devices can take over your life.” Another said, “I understand technology has its advantages, but we are being ruled by the technology rather than using it as a tool.”
How the Internet is Changing Friendship (The Atlantic)