Month: October 2017

One (more) Thing I Got Wrong

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I was recently in a meeting where someone talked about the product vs the process. I googled it, obviously to find out some rock-solid information, and most it pointed to teaching children’s art. Absolutely, that makes sense. When I’m nine, I should be learning about the process of making art. We all know my drawing (if you can even call it that) might not be worthy of the fridge, much less the museum. But if I can get at practicing, if I can learn the correct processes, there’s a chance I may learn enough to begin putting together things that might be worth looking at in the future.

But now I’m 32, No more art classes for me. Does this apply to other aspects of my life? How? Perhaps, the idea of the process needs to be developed beyond my 3rd grade art class. One place that has stuck out to me is in the place of Crucial Conversations. Everyday, we have conversations that make or break relationships, products and organizations. These crucial conversations are much more manageable when we 1) learn a healthier process, and 2) act in ways that are conducive to engaging in ongoing relationship.

Crucial Conversations are one example of how important the process is. Let’s continue caring about the end product, but realize that the process is equally as important.

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Judgment and Hope: A 5 Week Series on Isaiah

As church leadership, we recently felt drawn to the book of Isaiah. Sometimes, the Old Testament can feel distant for Christians. However, it’s as relevant today as it was when Isaiah wrote it thousands of years ago. His words are a reminder of God’s majesty, holiness, judgment and hope. He’s the Almighty God, the beginning and the end. There’s no other God like him. We’re all invited to a closeness with Him. Over five weeks, we discussed the implications of Isaiah’s 66 chapters for us as a community. Here are a few of my favorite points from the series. You can also watch the sermons on our Facebook Life Feed.

  • Isaiah is a “Little Bible.” It has 66 chapters just like the Bible has 66 books. The first 39 (as many chapters as there are books in the Old Testament) focus on the judgment of God and lay a foundation for God’s restoration and hope. The last 27 (as many as there are books in the New Testament) focus on the hope and restoration of God along with His epic plan for humanity. Isaiah’s narrative and prophetic words fit in the greater context of Scripture; written over thousands of years, the narrative of the Bible points to one person as the Savior of the world: Jesus. “Isaiah” means “The Lord Saves.”
  • Isaiah is preeminently the Messianic prophet. This means he prophesied about the Messiah (Christ). More than any other Old Testament prophet, Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ (2:1-4; 4:2-6; 7:14-15; 11:1 – 12:6; 24:21-23; 25:6-8; 26:1-2; 27:12-13; 30:18-26; 32:1-7,16-20; 33:17-24; 35:1-10; 42:1-9; 49:1 – 55:13; 60:1 – 62:12; 66:18-24).
  • God is big. He’s powerful and strong (40:12). God created us and knows us (43:7). He knows what’s best for us (10:15). People have rebelled against the way God originally intended us (1:5, 59:3). to be, and this rebellion has come at a cost (53:5-6, 1:2-5). There is judgment (24:1). God sows a seed of hope in our lives (51:5, 57:10, 60:9). Jesus is our Sure Hope (7:14, 8:8). We are chosen to share that Sure Hope with others around us (6:8, 49:6, 60:3). God’s ultimate plan is redemption and restoration into the family of God and the establishment of a new heaven and new earth (60:19-22, 66:22-23).
  • Isaiah had unique access to the rulers of Israel at the time and was able to be highly influential because of the place in which God put him.
  • In an increasingly unclear and confused society, God uses Isaiah to bring clarity to our situation. There are two kinds of people: those who are following God and those who are not. It’s not our job to convince God to be on our side. He’s already established His side in Jesus. It’s our job to make sure we’re on His side by submitting to His will in every situation.
  • In the story of Hezekiah listed in 36-39 (also in 2 KIngs 18-20), we come to understand an ongoing plot issue that the Israelites, and ultimately all of us struggle with. Reliance on God in the midst of trials and judgments. Don’t rely on other people or other gods (36-37), yourself (38), or your treasure/accomplishments (39).
  • God is clear that there are judgments: past (like Noah and the flood, Genesis 5-6), present (we are to judge each other in the church, 1 Corinthians 11) and future judgments (the book of revelation). His judgment is meant to bring us back to Him and right living. It’s meant for restoration, like the good discipline of a father.
  • We have hope, the knowledge that God will come through, because of His Character (Isaiah 40:1-8), His past works (Isaiah 43:1-7), and His current work (Isaiah 43:18-21).
  • Our response to God is to draw near and wait on Him (Isaiah 40:28-31).
  •  If God is who He says He is; if He’s a righteous judge and the giver of hope, then what is our response His hope in our lives? We are to respond to the Holy Seed (Isaiah 6:13) placed in us by living lives of holiness before Him.
  • Personal holiness means that we put off our old self (Isaiah 44:13-20, Ephesians 4:23-32).
  • Community holiness means we live out the fruit of the Spirit (Isaiah 54:1-5, Galatians 5:13-26).
  • Missional holiness means we shine our light (Isaiah 49:6) and preserve God’s justice (Isaiah 56:1-2) by sharing the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
  • God has given us work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).
  • God will judge us according to two things: 1) our actions, and 2) our hearts. You can’t divide these two things.
  • Jesus came as the perfect example of life lived in and held onto hope.

This is Crucial…

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“Crucial” is defined as “decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something.” If something is crucial, it means, we better pull it off, or we can expect failure of the project, relationship, and even society. There’s a crucial happening going on around us as a generation.

I recently perused a book called “Crucial Accountability,” written by the same people who wrote Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and David Maxfield. In this text, the authors propose that everyday around us are opportunities for conversations, particularly regarding accountability, that either never happen or aren’t done well. As a result, our families, friendships, workplaces, organizations and ultimately our societies suffer. Instead, they argue, we can use these crucial conversations and opportunities for accountability to help those around us thrive. As our relationships thrive, our workplaces will hit more of the goals we’ve set out. Employee morale will improve. Society will advance.

I know it’s a big premise, but I see it clearly happening in my context. The times when I avoid an accountability conversation are the times when those around me suffer. They suffer because they don’t grow. They suffer because the job doesn’t get done. They suffer because someone else has to pick up the slack. Morale goes down. We miss the mark of the vision we have as an organization. We fail to walk in excellence. We miss out on the best that we could be experiencing.

I believe part of this struggle is the result of a societal draw to avoid difficult conversations and a lie that’s said, “You can’t judge me.” The truth is we’re called to judge right from wrong, we’re called to hold each other to a higher standard. I don’t regret people holding me accountable. So why do I fail to do that to others? Perhaps, it’s fear. Perhaps, it’s being overly busy. Perhaps, it’s any number of things. But I know this: it’s going to change.

I want to commit to holding those around me accountable for their best. I once heard another pastor say accountability is helping someone “account for their ability.” You have a great ability and a destiny. I’m robbing you of that destiny by not challenging you to your best. I’m also hurting our organization by not challenging you to more. You’re here for a reason. Let’s move forward together. Here are a couple headlines from Crucial Conversations. If these peak your interest, I’d encourage you to get a copy of the text and read it for yourself!

  • Consider “what” and “if.” Decide if it’s necessary to have the conversation.
  • Master your stories and the stories of everyone involved. Understand the situation as a whole.
  • Describe the gap. Explain the gap that exists between what you thought was to happen and what actually happened. Make it a safe space. Share your path. End with question.
  • Make it motivating. Perhaps, they aren’t motivated to close the gap. Figure out the deeper issues regarding motivation.
  • Make it easy. Perhaps, they aren’t capable of closing the gap. Help them discover reasons why they aren’t capable.
  • Stay focused and flexible. As new problems arise from discussion, stay focused on the original problem or be flexible to address a new area first and then come back to the original problem.
  • Agree on a plan together.
  • Deal with the “Yeah, buts.”

I look forward to utilizing many of these tips and pointers in my conversations with my team and others around me. I’m excited to see how we can develop a culture of accountability. Here’s to people living life to the best of their ability!