Business

Posts about different aspects of business as I learn.

5Q: Answers to a Decade (or more) of My Organizational Questions

disclosure statement: I was given a copy of this book, 5Q, by Alan Hirsch to give an honest review of it.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I can’t put this thing down. I’ve planted a church and started a business in Taiwan, a culture which has traditionally been more resistant to the gospel’s work, with around 3% of 23,000,000 people professing faith in Christ. There have been successes in our ministry. Just a few days ago we were recounting what God’s done and noted that 34 people have been baptized since 2012.  and I’ll be one of the first to admit I often feel I have no idea what I’m doing. The reason I couldn’t put this book down is because Hirsch is putting into words feelings I’ve had for nearly a decade (which is a lifetime for a millennial). The premise of Hirsch’s latest work is that Jesus Christ has already given us a blueprint for what leadership, mission, evangelism, care and teaching should look like and how it’s done. He’s calling us to allow the latent seeds of the fivefold gifts, also referred to as APEST or 5Q, Christ gave the church to begin to grow again. APEST, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are five different gifts or ministries that Christ placed in the church as a result of his ascension (Ephesians 4:1-16). He writes, “In it’s simplest form, 5Q is the synergy of a holistic recombination of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching (APEST) capacities referred to in Ephesians.” These gifts were given so that we could minister as the body of Christ and ultimately attain to the fullness of Christ. But Hirsch argues the archetypal evidence of APEST predates the establishment of the church and is actually part of the prevenient grace that God established when He created the world. Essentially, understanding and utilizing the fivefold is THE KEY to healthy, thriving organizations across the board whether in business, church or elsewhere.

By understanding 5Q, we are able to assess the health and capacity of our organizations, churches and businesses included. Hirsch traces biblical foundations, primordial forms and archetypes and ultimately the life of Jesus as the architect and builder of 5Q. Jesus shows us that the patterns of 5Q can be used to understand and assess His ministry as well as his commandments to the church. He outlines the fivefold functionality of the church and society at large. In utilizing 5Q, we have a clear trajectory for how to impart, empower and deploy the greatest move of God the world has ever seen! Hirsch gives numerous accounts of how utilizing 5Q in our organizations will invariably lead to transformation on all levels of society.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  1. It is not coincidental that this breakthrough has come at a time in my life when my spiritual life has never been better–I am experiencing God in a whole new dimension. I find myself spending whole days in prayer and meditation. My prayer life is rich to the point of overflow. In a real way, I believe that 5Q has played a significant role in this sense of overflow. 5Q feels both personal to me, but I also feel its universal significance.
  2. If you want transformational gospel movement–really want it–then you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some new–and yet paradoxically more ancient–more authentically biblical ones. You’re a leader; I speak to you as a leader responsible for your generation.
  3. In fact, I hope to show, fivefold-thinking (5Q) reaches into our deepest instincts for ministry by reconnecting the ministry of Christ with the Body of Christ.
  4. Jesus “gave” APEST to the church, distributing it among all the people as he sees fit. It is vital that you, the reader, feel the weight of the grammar that Paul uses to talk about the constitutional givenness of the APEST ministries to the church. The verb form used for “given” (Gk. edothe, the aorist indicative form of didomi) is an aorist indicative, a very resolute verb form perfectly suited for use in constitutions. This is because aorists reflect actions that took place in the past and as such they are once-and-for-all-time events. The effects of the past event are still felt in the present. They are historic in a similar way that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic—it will impact America’s self-understanding for all time…Jesus is actually present in the church, and by which he extends his own ministry through us.
  5. Because they operate within a system, each individual APEST function enriches, counterbalances, and “corrects” the particular bias of each of the others.
  6. The good news is that all five functions/callings are like seeds latent in the system. They are already there by virtue of the defining Word of God. This is a liberating idea—all the potential for a tree is actually already in the seed; we don’t need to mess much with that. What we need to do is simply focus on the environment that will allow the seed to flourish.
  7. [M]issional movements are essentially a recovery of the apostolic impulse; prayer and justice movements are manifestations of the prophetic impulse; revivals are an aspect of evangelistic; community and charismatic renewal is a recovery of the pastoral ministry; and theological renewals are largely related to a rediscovery of some lost motif in Scripture.
  8. It is this relationship between high internal resonance and explicit social patterning that this chapter seeks to address. The idea here will be to try to connect the resonance that you should feel in regards to APEST functions and callings with the community in which you are called to express faith.
  9. Giving the answer is always easier than teaching the process…I often say to leaders that we can change our structures in four to eight months, but it takes four to eight years to change our culture.
  10. We see the five marks of the church defined by APEST as follows: missional impact (A), covenant faithfulness (P), gospel proclamation (E), reconciled community (S), deep wisdom (T).

Near the end of the book, Hirsch quotes Peter Berger who notes, “Ideas do not succeed in history by virtue of their truth but by virtue of their relationship to specific social processes,” and as such we are called not only to revel in fun ideas, but to actually begin applying them. Thus, my personal plan to 5Q implementation: do it. In all seriousness, I am indebted to Hirsch and the rest of his team for packaging a biblical, theological treatise on 5Q. For me and my team, we typically think about church in three terms: personal growth, community growth, and missional growth. These are the outworking of pondering Jesus’ Great Commandment (love God, love others) and Great Commission (make disciples in the world). If we are affect the cultural fabric of society, speak truth to power and life to dry bones, plant the seeds of the good news and win souls for Christ, gather God’s sons and daughters, and ensure God’s Truth is passed on correctly, we are in desperate need of 5Q thinking, systems and action. APEST provides an excellent framework, aspects of which we are already integrating. We speak cultural transformation (A), share the good news regularly (E), and teach truth (T), but I have seen how we can and must grow in all areas of APEST and I’m confident with teaching and tools outlined in this book, we are already on the right path.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check out additional resources online. The diagrams offered are more than worth the price of admission. Hirsch will offer insights into the fivefold ministry that will shape your ongoing business and ministry endeavors.

That’s a S***** Move

shrewd-move

Sometimes, as leaders, we have to make decisions that people disagree with. Sometimes, we’ll be pegged as out of line or even mean. Your job isn’t to make everyone like you. It’s to be a steward of the gift God’s given you. In leadership, that often means we’ll be called the “S Word.”

Before you click “dislike” or unsubscribe, please understand me. The S Word I’m referring to is “shrewd.” It’s no fun to be shrewd, because it means that you’ll have to deal with difficult situations, say things people don’t like to hear, and ultimately be held responsible when tough times come.

But, it means you have a backbone. It means you’re willing to make tough decisions and have difficult conversations. It means you’ll stay in it long enough to see the process through. It means you don’t abandon people or projects. It means you work hard (and smart) to find the best way to get the job done. It means you walk in excellence.

The shrewd manager mentioned in Luke 16 was commended because he knew how to deal with difficult situations in a way that benefited him. He was wise enough to know the outcome of a situation and a way to make it positive in the end.

You can be like the shrewd manager. In fact, Jesus challenges us to make tough decisions and be generous just as the shrewd manager was. Don’t settle for less than excellence just because it’s easy. Being shrewd isn’t easy. When you settle for less in the beginning, the end will come back to bite you in your rear end. Here are three ways we can learn from the shrewd manager and begin to walk in a shrewd (spelt e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-c-e) manner:

  1. Pray. The shrewd manager didn’t do this; but it’s our secret sauce. When we begin with prayer, we’re tapping into Excellence Himself. We’re allowing God to speak to us. This realigns us with His vision, reminds us of our identity in Him, and resets us on the path of excellence.
  2. Make tough decisions sooner rather than later. The shrewd manager sat down immediately and figured out how to position himself with his boss’s debtors. He didn’t wait, and you shouldn’t either. I love to procrastinate. All that does is make it more difficult when I finally get around to making that tough decision. I’m committing myself to making the tough decisions earlier in the game. It makes it easier for me and for others.
  3. Hang in there. The shrewd manager knew that if he was to stay alive for the long haul, he needed to prepare. He did that and the outcome was his boss’ commendation and preparation for the next step. Brian Johnson says, “Cool is cool as long as cool is cool; but excellence lasts a lifetime.” Don’t quit when it gets hard. If you’re prepared well, you’ll be able to keep going.

I want to be known for making “S***** Moves.” I hope you’ll join me.

Face the Facts; Keep the Faith

A long time ago, I read a book in which the author penned, “Great leaders can face the facts and keep hopeful expectation for the future” (Collins in Good to Great).  I’ve been challenged to do that even more recently. The fact is, there’s a lot that I can improve on as a leader and manager. I recently got some fantastic feedback based off a book called 42 Rules For Your New Leadership Role.

I asked a key leader in each area of Aroma along with two people I knew would give honest feedback beyond their role to give ratings to each of the 42 rules. It was tough feedback, but filled with clear, actionable data to move forward on. Here are four things I suck at and a brief preview of how I plan to improve them in the next quarter:

  1. Set your milestones. It’s hard to reach a goal if you’re not sure what the goal is. I often fail to be specific in setting goals. Another book offers a great way  to outline clear goals: “From X to Y by Date.” If I can be clearer with a goal that is a “WIN” (What’s important now), people are going to know more clearly how to focus their work. This is highly related to Boundaries for Leaders. What’s important right now? If I don’t clearly say what’s most important, I have no right to be frustrated when people aren’t making forward progress on that a particular issue. It’s time for focus and clarity.
  2. Tune up your team and Launch 1:1’s that actually drive performance (2 combined). I work with many amazing people. I’m excited to see them continue to grow. I put these two together, because they’re intimately connected. As one leader recently challenged me, “You have to be spending more time with your key people.” I often turn those times into sessions that are longer than they need to be. Again, being clear about expectations at the onset allows people to focus on what’s most important. Spending tim with each person on the team is highly valuable. It’s good for their health, mine, and their future growth both personally and for the organization.
  3. Run unmissable meetings. Sometimes, I don’t even want to go to the meetings I call. That has to change. Meetings need to be compelling because they have unmissable information, healthy debate, decisiveness, and a small dose of engaging humor.
  4. Model healthy paranoia. As a big-picture, idea guy, I sometimes get annoyed when people ask things like “How’s that actually going to happen.” Fortunately, these people haven’t given up just because I’ve been rebellious. I’m learning, through more than one source, that healthy paranoia is more than useful!

I actually got a rating a little higher than an F. The good news is I passed. The great news is I still have tons of room for growth. I’m looking forward to this next season.

I encourage you as a leader or manager to ferret out feedback (one of the 42 rules) from people that you work with. It’s one of the toughest, but most fruitful, ways to learn and grow personally and professionally. If you’d like to know more about the book, the test I created, or how you can grow as a leader and manager, please drop me a line. Here’s to your success!

The Most Overlooked (and Most Necessary) Skill In Your Organization

The ability to cast vision, lead and organize is a gift from God. Check out what that means.

I once wrote “administration is a holy gift from God” in an email and someone asked me to explain.  Here’s what I wrote in response:

  • Administration” is defined as “the process or activity of running a business or organization.”  It can also be defined as “The management of public affairs; government.”  With that being said, here are a few Scriptural precedences for administration. The Greek found in Scripture is kubernesis, which refers to “steering a ship” “ruling” or “governing.”
  • It’s a good and useful thing, so it must be from God.  Just as James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect thing comes from above.”
  • It’s a theme on God’s heart throughout Scripture. God gives good gifts of all kinds.  Any form of leadership and management requires some kind of administration.  You can see examples of this starting in Genesis and going all the way through the New Testament.  Examples include Joseph’s wisdom in managing the food crisis in Genesis 46, Mosesleading and organizing millions of people to leave Egypt, Nehemiah organizing a rebuilding of the wall, Paul’s organization of churches all over Europe and Asia, the 12 organizing the people in Acts 6, and Jesus gathering the 12 and organizing them to basically dominate the world with the gospel after he went back to heaven.
  • It’s directly in the Bible.  Paul labels it as a gift in 1 Corinthians 12:28, and actually, in this list, it comes before speaking in tongues.  Some Bibles translate it “administration” and others call it “government” which fits with our original definition quite nicely!
  • Here are some more resources to check out: Paul Manwaring at Bethel has written and spoken a ton on Administration.  He’s actually offering a class on it that Steven and I are taking.  We’ve got PDFs of his book (that he gives through the class) if you’re interested in learning about it more specifically.  Here’s a 7 Minute preview (it’s a video, watch it :-). One quote, “Administration without the supernatural will kill a move of God.  Supernatural without administration is unable to pass it on to the next generation.”
  • Here’s an overview of spiritual gifts in general. My point in this link is that while this is a list from Scripture, I don’t think spiritual gifts are just limited to these.  It’s a full circle to my first bullet point, every good and perfect thing comes from God.  There’s a podcast from Kris Valloton I can find if you’d like more info.

Essentially, the gift of administration is an important part of the church, or any organization, for that matter.  If you have that gift, you’re a blessing from God to your place of work and to your church.  Don’t let anyone look down on that. We need you.  Some of us (including me) who lack this gift, need you desperately.  Don’t give up on us because we’re disorganized. We need you.

One Breakthrough You Can Have Today

Our brains are much more powerful than we even know. Perhaps, Lucy wasn’t that far off. A blended thought I had recently came as a result of reading Boundaries for Leaders. In it, Henry Cloud outlines how chemicals in our brains interact based on how much hope we have.

Many of us struggle when something negative comes. We begin believing it’s personal (our fault), pervasive (we do it all the time), permanent (there’s nothing we can do about it). The truth is, many of these are untrue. But we end up hurting ourselves. Our brains actually release a fight or flight chemical that causes our brains to shut down. We get less creative and produce less results. Being aware of these negative thoughts, and taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) can help immensely.

Conversely, when we live in hope and optimism, our brains release chemicals that actually increase “executive functions” including creativity, goal selection, planning and organization, initiation and persistence, flexibility, execution and goal attainment, and self-regulation. As a believer, you are invited to be the most hopeful person on the planet (1 Corinthians 15).  I welcome you to allow Christ’s hope to come into you. It’s not wishful thinking.  It’s true hope rooted in the resurrection and reassured that God is going to do something, and He’s going to do it through you.

It’s science.

The Power of Positive Thinking is a short book (available in free online audio) that continues some of these thoughts while giving some really specific ways of walking this out in everyday life.

3 Ways To Enrich

I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing new interns and coffee shop workers recently.  In the tons of phone conversations, email exchanges, and face-to-face interviews, there are a few themes developing.  I promise you’ve heard this before.  It’s just a good review.

  1. Attitude: The number one most important thing I need as an employer or team leader is for you to come to play with a  great attitude.  Days are tough.  They’re tough for all of us.  But when they tough days come, we can choose to get bitter or choose to get better.  I’ll go with the latter.  Moreover, instead of spending all your time being the one who worries about whether not the other person is accepting you, just be the one who reaches out with a  stellar attitude. You be the one who goes the extra mile.  I’ll be more than grateful to train you, empower, and pay lots of bonuses! But it’s tough to train, empower and bonus you into having a stellar attitude.  I need you to come to play with it!
  2. Communication: Please talk to me.  Please talk to customers.  Please talk to others.  If you can’t talk, I don’t know if we can work together.  The toughest thing for me is when you won’t tell me what’s wrong. I don’t mind listening to problems, because I’d rather try to fix them (see #1).  I also know that a lot of hassle can be saved when we just agree to communicate with each other.  In fact, I’m willing to argue that 1) you can’t communicate enough, and 2) communication is excellent for the bottom line.  Just the other day, we had a bunch of orders made wrong in the shop because we weren’t willing to communicate with each other and double-confirm orders.
  3. Proactive Thinking: If I want a robot, I’ll buy one.  I’m not paying you to be a robot.  I’m paying you (whether it’s financial pay or other rewards) to be you, the one who thinks beyond the step just in front of her.  I’m paying you, and training you, and empowering you to be the one who goes above and beyond.  Perhaps, Seth Godin says it best when he says there is a great get-rich-quick scheme:Enrich your world by creating value for others.Enrich your health by walking twenty minutes a day.

    Enrich your community by contributing to someone, without keeping score.

    Enrich your relationships by saying what needs to be said.

    Enrich your standing by trusting someone else.

    Enrich your organization by doing more than you’re asked.

    Enrich your skills by learning something new, something scary.

    Enrich your productivity by rejecting false shortcuts.

    Enrich your peace of mind by being trusted.

    The connection economy pays dividends in ways that the industrial one rarely did.

To those of you who do this consistently, I thank you!