Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Change the conversation, change your thinking, change your life.
…(M)aybe the audience creates the performance. Maybe the listening creates the speaking. Maybe citizens create leaders, maybe employees create bosses, maybe students create teachers and children create parents. Maybe the purpose of problem solving is to build relationships.
The only way the future gets created … is through invitation.
I’d rather have two people in the room who chose to be there than a thousand who were sent.
…(T)he idea of invitation is very powerful. What constitutes a powerful invitation? One that says, “Please come, and if you come here’s what’s required of you.” Most invitations are too soft, there are elements of begging: “Please come, it’s going to be great, nothing much will be required of you, it’s not going to take long, we’ll be fast, it’ll be organized, Robert’s Rules of Order, there’ll be food, there’ll be drink, the seats will be comfortable, and if you can come late, come at all, leave early, whatever, please come. God bless you.” A powerful invitation is one that says, “We want you to come! Now if you choose to come, here’s what will be demanded of you. You’ll have to show up. You’ll have to engage with your peers in powerful conversations. You’ll have to leave your interests at the door. We didn’t come together to negotiate; the future’s not created through negotiation, it’s created through imagination. It’s created from a dream… (A) possibility creates an alternative future. We’re not coming to negotiate. Leave your interests at home. You’re coming to engage in the primary actions between you and other citizens, you and other people who came. If you’re willing to live by these requirements, please come.”
To me servant-leadership… is a leadership that confronts people with their freedom.
… (T)he act of love is to confront people with their freedom, is to assemble, lead, in a way that says the choice resides in all of us. What greater gift can you give somebody than the experience of their own power, the experience that they have the capacity to create the world?
The skill of servanthood to me is to get good at questions that no matter how you answer them, you’re guilty. No matter how you answer this question you’re on the hook for being a creator of the future. You’re on the hook for being accountable. You create questions so people will choose accountability. We can’t hold each other accountable. We think we can legislate accountability. We can do performance management, we can have rules of the road that we’re (going to) enforce, but people talk about empowerment when all they really want to talk about are boundaries and limits, what will happen to me; we talk about consequences, there’ve got to be consequences; all of these are forms of patriarchy and they have no power. They have no power to create an alternative future. They have no power in the world. The question is, “How do I engage people so they choose to be accountable?” Well, questions do that. There are certain questions that if you start to answer them, you’re in trouble. No matter what you answer, you are responsible for creating an alternative future. The task of servant-leadership, in my mind, is, “Change the conversation, change the future.”
…(T)he questions have to be ones that have embedded in them the notion that choice resides in the world. It doesn’t reside in leaders; it doesn’t reside in the cause. It’s not in the performer, in the parent, in the teacher; cause resides in people’s connectedness to each other, in individuals.
Most of our organizations and communities are parent-child, boss-subordinate, mayor-citizen conversations — we think that matters. We think the boss-subordinate relationship matters, but I don’t think it does.
We think bosses are responsible for the emotional well being of their subordinates. If they have a depressed, low-morale team, it’s their fault! ...Maybe people are responsible for their own emotional well-being. What would it be like to be in a world where individuals were responsible for their own emotional well being, and we didn’t pretend that the boss was cause and subordinate was effect?
Here are some thoughts about conversations that have the power to create an alternative future. One’s the conversation of possibility. What’s the possibility I came here to live into or to create?
There’s a conversation of ownership. Take whatever you’re complaining about and say, “What have I helped do to create that situation?” Beautiful question. “What’s my contribution to the problem? What have I helped do?” It means I’m an owner. Whatever I complain about, let me turn that question and say, “How have I created that thing?” It’s a conversation of ownership.
There’s a conversation of commitment. Commitment means, what’s the promise I’m willing to make with no expectation of return? That’s a commitment. …“What’s the promise you’re willing to make with no expectation of return?” … Now who do I make the promise to? To peers. If you’re in a leadership spot and you want to create choice, engagement among people working for you, then you say let them make promises to each other. Let them sit in witness of those promises, peers, and say, “Okay, is that enough?” and that shifts the focus from boss-to-subordinate to peer-to-peer.
(W)hy not ask each individual, “What are you here to create? What’s the vision you have?” Now people get nervous: “Suppose we don’t have agreeable, compatible visions,” but I’ve never heard a vision that wasn’t embraceable. I’ve never heard an individual say, “The possibility I’m living into is to walk over people. To succeed at the cost of others.”
“Well, suppose my only purpose in leading would be to bring the gifts of the margin into the center. I just love that thought. I have no idea what it means, but I love the thought. And suppose when we come together we agree for the next six months we’re only going to talk about gifts. And we do it in the moment. We do it with each other and say, “You know, here’s the gift I’ve gotten from you in the last ten minutes.” And you teach people to breathe that in. Most people, when they’re given love or given a statement of gifts, exhale. And they begin a story. And so that’s the thought. And then you devise ways of doing that. So the gift conversation has a lot of power to it.
…(H)elp is just a subtle form of control. People want to give advice to each other. They want to tell you what they did when they were at your stage of life. They have an answer for you, and it’s called generosity; for me it’s mostly a conversation stopper. Whenever you engage people in powerful questions you have to set them up very carefully and tell them, do not help each other. Do not give advice. Do not mask your advice in questions: “Have you thought of this, have you thought of that?” Do not tell them what you did at this stage.
I want you to substitute curiosity for help. Every time you have the instinct to be useful, helpful, to have an answer, to give advice... Ask the other person, “Why does that matter to you? What’s the meaning that that has to you? What’s at stake for you?” In a deeper sense you say, “I came here to serve you by valuing meaning over speed. Meaning over efficiency. Meaning over problem solving.” People say, “I’m a problem solver.” I know you are, but it’s only a part of who you are. You have to inoculate people against the search for the quick answer, by asking them: “What does this mean? Why does it matter to you?”
Monday, December 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Even pulling the Bible out of the picture, this has been an ongoing philosophical battle for decades in the US. I am a big fan of Ayn Rand and her Magnum Opus: Atlas Shrugged. It is perhaps the most comprehensive philosophical and narrative argument for Capitalism. However, it is an idealized Capitalism, not an actual one. I struggle with her theories in my head because that is the only place her reality has existed. Socialism, on the other hand, shares much of the same story. Socialism DOES NOT = COMMUNISM. There is a difference. I think that socialism is another "ideal" that has yet to be realized. Both, in my humble opinion, have their strengths and flaws in the utopian philosophical arguments.
However, CNN has a post that puts these two ideas in debate. I DO beyond a doubt think this is a great discussion for Christians and the Church to have. However, as much as I like this conversation, I must remember that Jesus was BEYOND either systematic thesis. The Kingdom of God (again IMHO), is bigger than this. But, if we want to bring about the Kingdom of God on this earth, then we have to do so with the systems that are in place. Wether it means subverting a specific system or embracing it, we have to use the best of it to heal while we in turn, heal the broken parts of our system.
It seems to many (I'm not sure I agree) that our government is sliding into a more socialist identity. While this is not a political blog, I'm not sure that some synthesis of the best parts of a socialist and capitalist mindset are truly at odds. A government's job in the USA is to protect and care for it's people. I'm not sure how you can do this with an Ayn Rand type of Capitalism. Then again, we have yet to have a truly successful Socialist experiment without the corruption and disenfranchisement of the people. Yet as a Social Conscious Christian, I find myself asking, "in what areas would a more Capitalist/Socialist approach truly do things like:
Alleviate corruption in government (this must be done, not to be political, but because to truly heal a situation, the system itself that is causing or at least allowing oppression, must be fixed).
End World Hunger
Give equal rights to all men and women
AND THE LIST GOES ON......
In any case, as always I have more questions than answers to offer. So in my offering I give you the link to the following debate/article and the video clips.
Enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
But what I’ve noticed over the many years in the church, in spirituality, in Christianity, is that the nastiness in religious domains is more subversive. Christians, I’ve concluded, generally want to be nice, sincere people of faith. They would never want to hurt anybody.
So when something upsetting happens to them against their will, rather than get consciously angry, mean, manipulative or deceitful, they drive these unpleasant thoughts and feelings deep underground and cover it all in a sentimental spirituality laced with ultimate concern for the church, God’s will, and mission.
What actually happens is this psychologically separates the unconscious drives from the conscious ones, allowing the unconscious ones to bloom with full sanction under the guise of genuine concern. Anyone with any discernment can see the monstrosity of the person’s thinly veiled ulterior motives, lack of honesty and integrity. But the person himself is completely blind to them. His spirituality won’t allow him to recognize it. He lacks integrity. In other words, he is not an integrated person. He is not integrating his unconscious with his conscious, his dark side with his light, his sinner with his saint.
To address the issues head-on would fall on shocked, offended and deaf ears. It is useless. Unless a close friend or relative points it out. Then maybe. Otherwise, from my experience, it takes the mortifying trauma of an understood bad dream, a revelation, self-awareness, or realization (whatever you want to call it) for it to be addressed. Plus humility.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Up for review for theooze.com: Colors of God: Conversations about Being the Church
FROM THE PUBLISHERS:
OK, so the Church is broken, now what?
If you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of books containing theory as to the why and the what of church problems and solutions. But what if we had a collaborative effort of church theorist-practitioners who produce solid paradigms, but do so in the context of sharing and testing in a local congregation? We do: It’s called The Colors of God.
This memorable collaboration, involving Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen and Randall “Peg” Peters takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual and practical exploration of the Christian faith as it is lived out in neXus church in Abbotsford, BC.
In Colors of God, the three authors utilize a unique conversational style to raise key questions and challenge theological assumptions about what constitutes Christian faith and how to embody that within a local church community. This book finds itself within the ‘emerging church’ stream and yet moves beyond simple theological arguments.
Instead, the authors attempt to lay out a useful framework for what it means to practically live out one’s faith in light of the Kingdom of God. Using colors to depict the different aspects of the Kingdom, they move beyond creed and belief into color, art, action and grace. Something I especially appreciate is their seriously playful effort to incorporate the grace-soaked insights of Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon into the DNA of their congregation.
Colors of God is the perfect book for anyone who questions aspects of their beliefs and longs to integrate better assumptions with a holistic faith community.
http://nexuschurch.com - the congregation these authors started
Monday, July 19, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
It is interesting to me how we are wired and how empathy is in our nature. In fact it seems to be our default. As my wife said, "this all makes sense and is nothing earth-shattering", yet somehow it is. Why? Because we find empathy so hard! We fight against our very NATURE, the IMAGE in which we were created (IMAGO DEI).