Monday, August 30, 2010

Stumbling Over Jesus

A local service organization was interested in packing gift-filled shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and set a goal of packing 50 at their meeting at the end of the month. But then they realized that Jesus is literally at the center of the program. As Franklin Graham said at last year's media events, the project is Operation CHRISTmas Child.

The service club said they were fine with packing boxes for a Christian organization. They pray at their meetings. But when they heard the name Jesus--well, that was just going too far.

Jesus does that to people. In one of his songs, Michael Card calls Him, "the Rock that makes men stumble." Jesus stands there and forces a choice.; you have to do something about Him. People will listen to prayers to what they think of as a benign heavenly one-faith-fits-all Father. But Jesus? He's just too offensive.

Jesus, who came to earth to take on humanity and become sin for us, we lift you up as the rightful center of Operation Christmas Child--The Greatest Gift of all. These boxes filled to the brim with toys and school supplies and candy and clothing are empty without You. Jesus, be the center not only of this project, not only of each of these millions of boxes, but of my life.

I stumble today over fear and doubt and worry and insecurity because in too many moments I've lost my Center.

Jesus, I stumble back to You.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Into The Boat

I've concentrated a lot over the past few years on asking God to help me get OUT of the boat and walk to Him on the water as He calls me--to not be afraid to follow where He leads. But yesterday's sermon based on Jesus' calling of Peter, James and John in Luke 5 made me realize that sometimes I need to get INTO the boat.

Jesus used Peter's boat to get out onto the water to speak to the crowd. Peter was done with his work for the day. He'd worked all night and hadn't caught any fish. He was cleaning the nets and finishing up his work--ready to go rest.

Then Jesus said, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch." Peter was tired and his equipment was cleaned. He wasn't ready to go back out to work again. Despite that, though, he simply obeyed and said to Jesus, "But (I love that word) because you say so, I will let down the nets."

And because Peter obeyed they caught such a large number of fish their nets started to break.

God used this to speak to me so clearly yesterday. We've been talking about the possibility of having a second large packing party in the Albion/ west county area after our large packing party at Grace Church this fall. I've been reluctant, though. All I can think of is getting through this packing party on September 25th and the thought of facing another one after that just seems too daunting.

On September 25th my nets would be cleaned and I'd be done packing for the year. But yesterday I started feeling that God may be calling us to let down the nets again. Boy, I sure don't want to miss a huge catch of 'gospel opportunities' just because I'm tired and don't want to do another packing party.

We're going to keep praying about this and asking God for His leading. Please pray that we don't miss getting INTO the boat if that's what He's calling us to do.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


While I was running this morning I had some pretty convicting thoughts. Last night we had our monthly Operation Christmas Child Area Team meeting. We spent some time praising God for all He's done for and in our team since last November. Then we looked at our ministry plan--our goals for the year--to evaluate how we're doing.

Goals are necessary to give us a structure for ministry but as I ran this morning I realized that too often those ministry goals are keeping me sidetracked from the elemental goal, or mission, of my life.

If I were to articulate my personal mission statement it would be "To enjoy and glorify God and to allow Him to work in me to help as many other people as possible to enjoy and glorify Him too."

Here's the confession: I think I've been focusing too much on specific ministry goals (ie: praying for 30,333 shoeboxes in our area this year, begging God to give us 30 new participating churches, obsessing over details for a giant Operation Christmas Child packing party) and not nearly enough on enjoying and glorifying God.

God, You know I'm achievement oriented. You created me so You know my tendency to relentlessness and I believe You want to use it for Your glory. But You really want me to follow You relentlessly. And You're relentless in that pursuit for my life. In the words of the song, "You won't relent until You have it all."

God, I want as many people as possible in this world to enjoy and glorify You with me. That's why I'm asking you to give us more than 30,333 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes--gospel opportunities--from Northwestern PA. And I'm asking for 630,000 from the Mid-Atlantic region. And 5.5 million from the US. And 8.5 million worldwide. But God, will you keep reminding me of the elemental reason for working so hard to get all these shoeboxes?

Because in the midst of the victories--the successful packing parties, the trucks full of shoeboxes, the goals achieved--if I fail to enjoy and glorify You, then I've relentlessly failed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--T.D. Jakes--Combustible Passion

Coming into the final session of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit and hoping T.D. Jakes will give more insight on developing combustible passion for Operation Christmas Child.

Bill Hybels says the church is the hope of the world but in order for it to reach its potential it has to be well led. That means people with leadership gifts have to step up and have to step it up. Bill says he does leadership development just out of discipline not because he feels like it. Leaders take responsibility for your leadership development and read more to get better. Ask others to help develop you. Go where leadership is taught. The church would fold if it weren't for marketplace leaders who step up to minister in the church.

T.D. Jakes--how to impassion and motivate those who serve under you--
When people are passionate about what they do they are far more effective at what they do. Church leadership is unique--people don't come to follow you, they come to follow Jesus--and then they get stuck with you.

We cannot be clones when it comes to passion. It's not about mimicking other people.

God used Samuel to bring Israel through transition. Leadership is not just maintaining--it's bringing us from 'here' to 'there'. People follow people who move. God can't use people who don't have a real connection with Him to do His work. Samuel's first job was to make sure the lamp in the temple did not go out. Our job is to make sure the lamp does not go out in our ministry, leaving people serving without passion.

What you envision happening should not be diluted or polluted as it comes down "from the head to the beard to the skirt". The passion and vision should be the same all the way down the line.

Constantly evaluate people to be sure they can do what you're asking them to do. Challenge them without overwhelming them. No one feels passionate if they're defeated. You need to have a good sense of gift assessment. People often recognize giftedness in others better than in themselves.

Make sure the staff under you delivers on the promise you've projected. Being a person of faith is an asset because you have divine assistance. If you do something that's from your heart, for everything that comes up short God will make up the difference.

People are ignited by passion which is more than emotionalism. Passion is the fuel that makes the engine go.

Two different kinds of leaders--builders and bankers. Builders can make a fire out of little or nothing. Joseph was a builder. He prospered in Potiphar's house; he prospered in prison. He could build out of anything. Generally builders are better at building than at maintaining. Builders need bankers to maintain. Banking the fire makes it burn all night without going out. Builders tend to want to hang with other builders instead of bringing some bankers around them. We need both types to build a ministry and keep it going. If you're only surrounding yourself with people like you they compete with you instead of completing you. Builders need bankers. And bankers need builders to create and start the ministry. Jesus started His ministry with 12 people and NONE of them did what He did. Good teams are not teams with people who are good what you're good at. Good teams add to you and accessorize your life. You need people who are assets and not liabilities.

Confidantes are your personal friends and if you have 2-3 in your lifetime you're a rich person. Confidantes are "for you" no matter what.

Constituents are not people who are "for you"; they are people who are "for what you are for". They serve with you because they believe in your mission. They are your scaffolding. Don't try to hold people too tightly who are meant to come and go. (Some people are like the King James Version--they came to pass.)

Comrades are people who are "against what you are against" and are motivated by the fight. You need to keep at least one 'ear cutter' on your team. Joshua was a fighter--not a briefcase carrier. If you don't know how to use them, they will end up fighting you. Handle them to get them to fight for you and not against you.

Good leadership takes the passion of the leader and divides it on the team. You work best with people you read well. If you're going to lead people like Jesus you have to be willing to show them your wounds. Jesus, after his resurrection, showed his wounds to the believers so they learn as much from His struggle as they do from His strength.

You have to fight not just battles but normalcy and mediocrity. It's the long walk between the battles when you have to keep people motivated. You can get tired of encouraging people because they take your courage and you become discouraged.

The Good Samaritan offered a small amount to the innkeeper to take care of the man he found on the road and said he'd pay him when he returned if he owed him anything. And that's what Jesus says to us.

When you find yourself running low and your fuel tanks are blinking and your smile is low and you're tired--you have a God to Whom you can turn and say, "Help me so I can help them and give me fire so I can pass it on."

What do you do when you wish you had someone to encourage you? When my heart is overwhelmed, I go to the Rock that is higher than I. Renew my strength. Increase my faith and send me out there and I'll do it again.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Jack Welch CEO of General Electric

At Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this afternoon listening to an interview with Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, by Bill Hybels. Hoping to get some tips for leading with Operation Christmas Child.

Leaders have to be authentic. Don't portray yourself as something other than what you are. Be someone they can count on for the truth, for support. Some people come out of the womb with a vest on and try to behave a certain way. People should be comfortable and speak the truth with each other.

(WOW, Willow Creek just had to bleep Jack Welch)--lol

Anyone can be a whirling dervish but you need to learn to energize and excite people about your mission and vision. Don't hustle people to join. Tell them the story. Energizing people is not hyping them; it's getting them to feel this vision. Of course you have to believe it. (Jack says, "If you don't believe in it, why the h--- would you do it?")

Jack met for 10 hours with a group of call center workers. He had no plan for the meeting but had to get them to talk and express themselves. "When you start to see 2 or 3 buy in you keep going..."

Huge emphasis about candor--gives the organization a huge advantage.

Concept of differentiation--ranking of staff where top 20% were identified, then the vital 70% and then the 10% of the lowest performers that were compensated accordingly. Mr. Welch says business is competitive, just like sports and this differentiation is an extension of his candor principle.

No leader should go to work and not have his staff know where he stands. In every organization people know who are performing well. We spend too much time trying to fix the people at the bottom. Don't waste your time on them--try to help them move on to a place that suits them better.

The top people are filled with energy, likable, have good values, and they have a gene that makes them love to see people grow and be rewarded. They're not mean-spirited or stingy. They're not afraid to have great people around them. The mean-spirited leader hides good people.

The vital 70% (V people)--are hard-working but maybe not as gifted as the top group. Identifying the top 20% runs the risk of demoralizing those who are very near to making it into that group.

The bottom 10% are low-energy, acidic, not team-players. Nothing is worse than taking the energy from an organization. They can be disrupters.

Boss-haters may have brains and should be listened to sometimes. The hallway whisperer is more dangerous than the one who disagrees openly.

Do everything you can to stop the meeting after the meeting. Talk about it at the meeting instead of griping about it afterwards.

Top 20% need to be rewarded in any way possible. If you can't do this you'll lose your best people. In regard to churches, people CHOOSE to join for the work. But they still need to be rewarded. Sometimes non-profit means non-performance.

Jack says "You never move fast enough. You might make some mistakes but go. Do. Don't ponder." Have the confidence to do it (act) when you think you have the answer and that builds more confidence to do it the next time.

How do you pass the baton on to the next leadership generation? Jack started planning 8 years before his retirement. The last 3 in the running for the position had been longshots 8 years before. You don't always know how someone will behave at the next level.

If a leader isn't celebrating even small victories they're missing opportunities.

Global Leadership Summit--Daniel Pink--What Motivates Us?

Daniel Pink comes to talk to us at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit about human motivation. What motivates people to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? Hoping to find out how to motivate more.

human motivations--
Biological drive--hunger, etc.
Reward & Punishment drive
Relationship & Meaning drive (routinely neglected in organizations)

50 years of research in the science of motivation can shed light on this.
One study in rewards done in Cambridge, MA with MIT students. Tasks were given increasing rewards and when the tasks were mechanical the higher the pay the better the performance but when tasks called for even rudimentary cognitive skill a larger reward led to worse performance.

if / then motivators work well for simple tasks but they don't work well for complex conceptual tasks that demand creativity because they give you tunnel vision.

Red Gate Software company had a sales force with commissions and the employees started gating the system. The company decided to eliminate commissions and instead raised the base salary and gave them profit-sharing at the end of the year.

One of the problems is that we make the wrong assumptions about people. Two false assumptions are:
1) Human beings are machines (complicated but mechanistic)--not true and 50 years of science verifies this
2) Human beings are blobs (passive and inert)--not true--our nature is to be active and engaged (I defy you to find me a child who is NOT active and engaged--that is our default setting)

Three keys to human motivation: Autonomy; Mastery; Purpose

Autonomy--compare to 'management'. Management is technology from the 1850s designed to get compliance. Management does not lead to direction; self-direction leads to engagement. This works better than giving out carrots, especially in the church where we don't even have many carrots to give out. We need to give autonomy in time, team task, technique.
Australian software company gives each Friday to intense undiluted autonomy where employees can work on anything as long as it's not related to their job and they have something to show everyone at the end of the day (called Fed Ex Days). It worked so well that now employees can spend 20% of their employees working on their own on whatever they want. Google does this in the US. "Just about all the good ideas here have bubbled up from 20% time"
How to apply this in a non-profit situation?--need to go slow in implementing this. Need to provide some scaffolding to help people get there. Try some Fed Ex days to train people. Or start out with 10% time.

Mastery--Playing the bassoon on the weekend doesn't fulfill biological or economical needs but it provides meaning. Large study of motivation showed the largest work motivator was making progress. (No wonder I struggle in my job as a school nurse.) More likely to have this in work rather than leisure.
To achieve mastery you have to have feedback. The workplace is one of the most feedback deprived places. An annual review is not much feedback. You need to set your own goals and self-evaluate.

Purpose--There's a sense that a page is turning. We're seeing the limits of the profit motive. There's a rise in the purpose motive. Concentrating on profits can lead to mediocrity. Businesses are now starting to follow the lead of the non-profit sector to focus on meaning rather than profits.
Listen to the pronouns used when people describe their organization. Is it 'we' or 'they'. The 'we' organizations are high-performing.

How do we change things? You can't change your organization. One person can't do that. The question should be--can I change what I do tomorrow? And the answer to that is YES.

Anything good in life begins with a conversation. That's what changes the world. The more we have conversations about this the more change we can bring.

Global Leadership Summit--Terri Kelly from W.L. Gore

Here at Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit we're getting ready to listen to Terri Kelly from W.L. Gore--a company that's never experienced a loss in 50 years. She has 4 daughters from ages 5-13 and that qualifies her for leadership in my book. Excited to see how this will apply to leadership with Operation Christmas Child.

The Gores cared deeply about the kind of organization they were going to create in their business. They wanted a collaborative environment and worked to foster that.

The power of small teams helps employees stay connected even in a large corporation.

Peer-based organization. Everyone's job is to make everyone else successful.

On-demand hierarchy--power shifts depending on who has the knowledge to make a particular decision.

They are a lattice organization (connected to one another) rather than a ladder organization. Everyone needs to connect within the network.
"We don't tell people what to do and we don't tell them what projects to work on." Leaders influence other employees and share the ownership.

When you join Gore you buy into their core values (respect of the individual; power of small teams; we're all in the same boat; taking a long-term view of success and not based on finances alone)

Every associate (their term for employee) needs to influence others to get on board with their ideas which are subject to peer-review so the teams can choose which projects are best to work on. Associates are rewarded by peer review. Those who are making the greatest contribution get paid accordingly. (I'm wondering how this relates to volunteers in ministry.)

To have the leader responsible for mentoring all in the organization is very limiting. Instead, each of their associates has their own 'sponsor' or mentor to help them be successful. This is separate from the supervisory role.

They try to keep each of their plants small enough to have only 200-250 associates in each, even though they have a total of 9,000 workers in all. This leads to greater ownership. (I wonder how this applies to size of churches?)

To protect their culture at Gore they're very careful in hiring to make sure they hire persons who are 'on board' with their core values.

The water line principle means they don't have a lot of manuals to guide practices but they caution associates not to "drill holes below the water line" which means they're not to take risks that can harm the entire organization.

Leadership is defined by followership. You're only a leader if someone wants to follow you. Leaders take a lot of time explaining the reasoning for their decisions.

Trying to stay true to their values while changing to stay relevant as culture changes.

They believe that it's better for more associates to consider themselves as leaders and by survey 50% of their employees do think they are leaders.

---In the church, everyone is responsible for making a contribution. The team equips the individual as the individual contributes to the team. This is the ideal model for the church. This is the kind of church Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against.

Global Leadership Summit -- The Land Between

I'm sitting at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit via satellite and God just used a session called The Land Between to touch my heart and remind me that I need to evict complaining from my life and ministry with Operation Christmas Child and replace it with trust.

Moses and the people of Israel were in the desert in the Land Between and they turned away from trusting to complaining in a way that bordered on rebellion against God. I, too, find myself complaining too often as I wait for God to do what I'm praying for.

God raised up 70 leaders to help Moses bear his leadership load and I know God will raise up partners for me as well. It's this waiting in the land between starting this area team for Operation Christmas Child in Northwestern PA and seeing it become complete and functioning that sometimes leaves me fearful and frustrated. Four points by Jeff Manion who wrote the book The Land Between.

1) The Land Between is fertile ground for complaints.
2) The Land Between is fertile ground for provision.
3) The Land Between is fertile ground for discipline.
4) The Land Between is fertile ground for transformational hope.

I want to cling to that hope even as I turn my complaints into trust and watch God's provision and see Him refine me with discipline.

I cling to God's promise that He WILL take me from "here" to "there".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Digging Ditches

Some days the shoebox work for Operation Christmas Child can seem almost like digging ditches. There's a lot of manual labor involved and we joke that we do 'shoebox workouts' as we haul loads of items and sort and stack them into our storage facility. Twice in the past week I loaded 63 cartons of crayons (3024 boxes) into my car at Wal-Mart and then unloaded them again. Today I spent four hours in a hot storage container sorting cartons full of shirts into the proper age and gender groups.

But as I read 2 Kings 3: 17-18 I realized that I want to be digging ditches in another sense, too. "This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord"

It is an EASY THING for God to fulfill His promises and I won't even be able to figure out how He does it. He promises to meet my every need for every shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. He just wants me to prepare for His blessings in faith--to do the hard work of digging the ditches to contain those blessings.

So when we scour stores for sales and haul and wrap donated shoeboxes and sort and carry and store all the items we're really just digging ditches to prepare to receive the water of God's blessings.

It's an easy thing for Him to fill those boxes with blessings. We just have to dig the ditches to get them ready.