Archives For April 2013

Forever Grateful

April 30, 2013 — 1 Comment
countdown 3_20130430174727220

RL 2013 #inspiredbyJeanVanier

Reflection:

‘A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise’ Ps.51:17 (ESV)

‘We are afraid of showing weakness. We are afraid of not succeeding. Deep inside we are afraid of not being recognized. So we pretend we are the best. We hide behind power. We hide behind all sorts of things. However, when we meet people with disabilities and reveal to them through our eyes and ears and words that they are precious, they are changed. But we too are changed. We are led to God…when we listen to stories of terrible pain and know we can’t do anything about it, we touch our own vulnerability…We cannot really enter into relationship with people who are broken unless somehow we deal with our own brokenness…we have a call to make history, not just accept history’

(Vanier, J 2008 Living gently in a violent world, p.63)

Response:

Father, Son and Spirit.That you see fit to stand for us everyday…thank you. That your work is unseen, often hidden and sometimes beyond my acknowledgement…thank you. That you run to us and embrace us, when we appear before you desolate…thank you. That you saved a sinner such as me?….I am forever grateful…thank you!

We are all noobs…

April 29, 2013 — 1 Comment

Day two and I have almost concluded the task of evaluating Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges’ book ‘Lead like Jesus’. In fact I’d say I am pretty much done. Frankly, after having squeezed every ounce of relevance from this theological morsel, I am unlikely to revisit ‘Lead like Jesus’ again anytime soon.  Therefore allow me to share one last insight with you before I close the book on this one.

According to Blanchard and Hodges there are four learning stages. These are ‘novice, apprentice, journeyman and master’. In unpacking the relevance of this for a 21st century understanding of leadership, I found it helpful to employ the online gamer term, “noob”. For the non-gamer: the term “noob” essentially means “new”. It is also a pejorative term, slung like cow dung at gaming veterans, from other gaming veterans, in what can only be described as an alpha contest between time-rich buffoons. Yet, in spite of these negative connotations, the term “noob” is useful. This is because it helps us identify the importance of vulnerability, trust and humility in a leadership paradigm that is modelled on Jesus the Christ.

When a leader and follower acknowledge that they are “noobs” in certain areas of their lives, it motivates humility, compassion and empathy for the people around them. Blanchard and Hodges concur with this assessment when they say that ‘at any one time in our work life or in one of our life role relationships, we could be at all four learning stages’ (2005, p.139).   With this understanding we can properly frame the ‘response and responsibility’ (Blanchard & Hodges), by which a servant-leader introspectively acknowledges where they are at, in regards to each of the four stages of learning. For example:

 ‘Getting things right is simply part of the learning process that precedes getting things exactly right on a consistent basis. Leaders, seeking to grow and develop people as an end goal of equal importance to results, need a healthy capacity to forgive, correct and move on’ (2005, p.77).

The benefits of applying such a perspective – minus the pejorative use of the word “noob” – are numerous. One area of potential effectiveness is that it energizes conflict resolution. This is because it calms conflicting emotions and opens up a world of communication and understanding, as opposed to a world of hurt. For instance: this type of leadership sees the value of holistic reviewing procedures, such as making better use of critical incident reports. A feature of this could be that it acts as a preventative by minimising conflict.

Alignment is an important consideration here (KayWee Sim, 2013). This is because alignment evidences the divergence between a leader who ‘judges and discounts vs. one who forgives and redirects’ (2005, p.77 & p.94). In brief, the idea of alignment converges with Blanchard and Hodges’ statement: ‘leaders set course and direction, they serve by empowering and supporting others in implementation’ (2005, p.84). In other words leaders are aligned towards an ethos that views vulnerability, humility and ‘grace as the currency of all true relationships’ (citing Fr. Joseph Fox 2005, p.79).

Clearly humble ground becomes Holy ground, when this is played out “on the field”. In short, humility wins. A servant leader aims to bless, rather than impress. The grand finale for Blanchard and Hodges is that a servant leader knows when to follow, who to follow, when to lead and ‘how to stay aligned’.

Source:
Blanchard, K. & Hodges. P. 2005 Lead like Jesus Thomas Nelson publishers, Nashville USA
KayWee Sim, 2013 Tabor Adelaide lecture
Song: How to stay aligned (parody of How to save a life; The Fray)
Game: EVE Online

Eve Online

Pray like breathing

April 28, 2013 — 1 Comment
IMG_20130327_191658_20130428141549641

1 Thess 5:17_#R.L 2013

I started today off with a prayer (which resembled more of a sigh than anything else), coffee and the Dr.Who soundtrack (series 5, not necessarily in that order). The mission was to embark on a tireless effort to evaluate Blanchard and Hodges’ book ‘Lead like Jesus’. I have read a LOT of leadership material over the years, thankfully this material is limited in its use of cliché and stereotypes. It makes writing about it a lot more interesting and in a introspective kind of way, a learning experience. So in my opinion this rates as God showing up in an unexpected place. Of all the exceptionally spot on comments about servant leadership that Blanchard and Hodges make, a cluster of sentences concerning prayer stood out as significant.

They write:

The ‘nature and object of our prayers will determine whether we are Edging God Out (EGO) or glorifying Him’…‘Just suppose a prayer was my first response instead of my last resort when facing a new challenge or an old temptation’…‘it might be a good idea to transform today’s to-do list into today’s prayer list, letting God into the picture’ .This is because ‘God understands the broken language of sighs and groans’ (‘Lead Like Jesus’, 2005 pp.160 – 163)

Given that I have had experience working in a culture that seems to have become fixated on results over relationship, rather than a balancing of the two, I welcome this as part advice and part reminder.  In Romans 8:26 Paul tells us that ‘the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words’.Recently, when I was asked “how my prayer life was going?”, the best answer I could give was “like breathing”. Small things make a big difference.

I came across this whilst reading through the book ‘Lead like Jesus’ (2005) by Blanchard and Hodges.

‘Have you ever thought about that phrase – alarm clock? What an awful concept. Why isn’t it the “opportunity” clock? Or the “it’s going to be a great day” clock? The “alarm” immediately ignites your task-orientated self, and you jump out of bed.
Pretty soon you’re trying to eat breakfast while you’re washing. You race to the car and immediately pick up the cell phone and rush off to meetings all morning, followed by lunch meeting, afternoon meetings, and a dinner meeting. Finally, you get home at 9:00 or 10:00pm and fall into bed exhausted, without any energy to say goodnight to anybody. What happens the next day?
The “alarm” goes off, and you’re at it again…To avoid being consumed by the rat race and the pressure of life, all of us need to develop strategies and spiritual habits that will help us stay on purpose…Jesus stayed on track with His mission by applying five key habits that countered the negative forces in His life.
These were solitude, prayer, study and application of scripture, accepting and responding to God’s love and, involvement in supportive relationships…habits are important because, as Rick Warren says in the PDL, “your character is essentially the sum of your habits“. If we want to develop character like Jesus, we have to look carefully at His habits’.
 (Blanchard & Hodges 2005, ‘Lead like Jesus’ p.153)

This illustration illuminates our sometimes out-of-control routines. It reminded me of Ann Voskamp’s ‘life is not an emergency. Life is eucharisteo’ (‘One thousand gifts’ 2010, p.74)

….Pithy stuff… 🙂

Facile Friday

April 26, 2013 — Leave a comment
Ian's armoured bus_Israel

Armored bus from Israel.(despite what it says – I wasn’t there – FB wall posting mechanics FTW)

I am putting this week down to being one of clarification, alteration and some of that good ole’ conviction we read about in Lk 12:12[1], John 14:26[2] and Heb.11:1[3].

Here are a collection of links from sites which I found particularly insightful this week.

1. Author, Craig Borlase hits the mark in his 2012 discourse about social media and Christianity.

2. Salvation Army Officer, Robert Evans made his mark with the statement “the quality of the human endeavour describes the character of a person whose internal victory speaks louder than their external defeat”read more.

3. N.T scholar, Scot Mcknight included some interesting reading in a blog post entitled ‘A competent creator?’ Mcknight pointed to Daniel Harrell’s book ‘Nature’s witness: How evolution can inspire faith’ and pulled out the following quip:

A scientist tells God that he’s figured out how to create life from the dust of the ground, just like God did in the beginning. Consequently, the scientist says, he’s shown that God is no longer a plausible hypothesis for the origin of life. Impressed, the Lord tells the scientist to do it again; he’d like to watch. So the scientist picks up a handful of dirt. But the Lord stops him right there.

“Uh-uh” God says. “Get your own dirt.” (p.69)

4. Blogger ‘the Ink Slinger’ gave a perceptive response to claims that ‘people within Islam view extremists with the same caution as Christians who view  Westboro Baptist church’ as being a reactionary group who are notoriously grim (and theologically misguided)…read more.

5. A friend of mine pointed me towards this youtube rocker, ‘331Erock’s’ enchanting metal arrangement of the theme songs Dr.Who, I am the Doctor’ and ‘Skyfall’. It really does goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Adele and screaming guitars?…great combo!

6. Ps.Walter Bright gets a sound out from me because of this poignant piece. Basically, WB encourages us to ‘go beyond information to transformation’. Food for thought for those of us with an almost unquenchable thirst for intellectual-theological engagement.

7. Finally, a big thanks to those who stopped by the blog this week. I have included a picture of an armored bus a friend of mine took whilst on a trip to Israel recently. Until I saw the picture I was thinking A-teamesk iron-plated-silver panelling, with small rectangular viewing slots lined up and running down the side, with maybe a few spotter turrets on the top. Who knew, heh…it was completely different to what I had imagined and actually looks quite comfortable. 😛


[1] ‘For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Lk.12:12, ESV)
[2] ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you’ (Jn.14:26, ESV).
[3] ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb.11:1, ESV).

A few years back, I’m talking 1997-2000, some friends and I pulled together a band. We formed up from a worship team we were involved in. This particular event was the last time we played together, minus our drummer. The drummer pictured in the video was a fill-in, who did a fine job of holding time and rhythm, especially given the length of time he had to practice with us. The video is not professionally produced, so it may seem a bit kitsch to be posting it. In any case, the work inspired me then and still does today. I hope it speaks to you as well.

The lyrics and melody were written by a mate of mine, who is also the gent singing in the video.Another mate of mine (pictured) created the baselines. As the guitarist, I helped layer that with riffs, lead melody and some harmony.

The lyrics bring our attention to the intense theological wrestling, which we encounter, when we ignore our sin or use self-justification as a tool to tame a wildly-for-us grace. This is found in the clash, within human experience, between sin and truth. It involves examining the subsequent lies and self-condemnation we put ourselves through, and  how important it is to replace that with the God whose just judgement, bring himself to us in Christ’s humanity, so that we may become fully human and wholly His. (2 Cor.10:4-5/ Num.23:19/Hos.11:9).

What are the false-beliefs and lies that you need to unembrace and replace with God’s truth today?

Lyrics: of God and Self.

You’ve fallen down, I saw your face
Whispers of the pain
Wakes the vain
as your walls fall down around their lives

You’ve fallen down, I saw your face
Whispers to (of) the pain
makes us sain
as the walls fall down

You crossed that line
of God and self
Now your gone away from Him to die
You’ve fallen down
veil has dropped
whispers of the pain wakes the vain
around you life

©Seven7Fold music.

Anzac Day, 2013

April 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

Right or wrong, ninety-eight years ago, Legacy Anzac DayAustralian and New Zealand troops, joined their British and Indian allies, in a Commonwealth assault on the beaches and cliffs of the Dardanelle straits. This was part of a Commonwealth war effort to open up a third front, in the hope breaking the stalemate in France during World War One. Along with other serious conflicts Australia has been involved in throughout the 20th century, today we commemorate that event . In addition, we take the time to remember the danger of ideology, the cost, complexity and brutality of war.