Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm taking a sabatical.

Thank you readers for following my leadership blog for the last year or so. I am currently working on a leadership curriculum that requires my full attention (besides my other work, family, and school projects), so I am taking a sabatical from blogging until I get that curriculum ready for delivery. Blessings!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Review: Making Room for Leadership

MaryKate Morse's Making Room for Leadership (2008, InterVarsity Press) explores how body language communicates leadership status. Dr. Morse's professional credentials and leadership experience provides her with the necessary critical insight for such a book; she is a professor of leadership and spiritual formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary who has planted two churches with leadership teams. She also serves as a mentor to church and parachurch leaders.

Using personal illustrations, analogies, and leadership research she documents how people gain or lose the ability to influence others. Particularly helpful is her discussion on how embodied power can be used for good or ill among Christians. She challenges the often popular notion that power is a bad thing, and she convinces her readers about what should be obvious (though many Christians are put off by the notion): if you really want to impact a situation, you must have power.

Thankfully Morse leaves room for the Holy Spirit's powerful influence as well, documenting cases where personal power seemed lacking, yet servant-leaders still influenced situations that needed strong leadership. Her ability to discuss both the physical and spiritual realities for Christian leaders in a manner that refuses to settle for trite statements (all too common in much of the popular literature on Christian leadership) makes her worth reading.

Recommended for thoughtful readers who are interested in connections between faith and leadership, this would make a nice Christmas gift or a resource for the new year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Time to study!

Due to the intensity of my PhD coursework, I am taking a brief hiatus. I plan to be back in early December. Please check back then, and remember to vote on November 4.

Though some may argue that the power of a president is quite limited. I would argue that, at minimum, the president's role as a symbolic leader is unparalleled in America or the world. Right now, America needs a level of leadership unlike any it has needed in a long time.

Likewise, some will argue that the electoral college system relegates the vote of an individual to meaninglessness. I disagree. The popular vote sends an important message.

Blessings to you and to our nation during this important season.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Presidential Beliefs

Wow. What a week. I suggest that Americans are thinking more about presidential leadership this election year than they have in a while. I don't have any "idea leaders" to post this week. I'm brain-dead from attempting to teach myself both statistical theory and statistical software (SPSS), so I'm going to share some interesting web postings.

No matter what you may think of them politically, I suggest that NPR is a great resource for thoughtful and thought-provoking programming. I especially enjoy their "This I Believe" series of audio essays. This week, they posted two essays from two former presidents. Click here to check it out.

Second, from Christianity Today.

I'm a big fan of Christianity Today. It is another major media resource for me. This week they posted articles on both Obama and McCain. Today they posted an article from Chuck Colson about voting. Good stuff.

Third, from Jeremie Kubicek.

You probably have not heard of Jeremie. He graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University a year ahead of me. He is a good guy with a passion for leadership. This week he posted an interesting article on the president as a "merchant of hope."

We have an important election before us, friends. Let's make sure we know why we are voting for whom we are voting. Blessings.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Searching for the perfect job?

Are you tired of your current employment? Do you feel like you aren't making a difference? Are you looking for new opportunities? Let me suggest a great search engine. Try using your imagination.

Does that sound trite? Certainly. But is it correct? You bet. There are two reasons why. First, there is no perfect job (remember, we live in a fallen world), so your imagination is the only place you will find such. Thankfully my second suggestion is more constructive: your imagination can become a tool to help you reshape your current job. Two particular skills will help.
  • First, think about what you actually like about your job. What are its positives? What part of it energizes you? Think about where you can maximize these opportunities. Admittedly, if there is nothing about your job that energizes you, then you probably should think about finding something else to do.
  • Second, think about where you can make a difference in your current position.
Middle-management readers may think, "Yeah, right. My job is all responsibility and no freedom. There is nothing I can do differently without my bosses permission." I sympathize. I've been in middle management. Yet I did find one place where I could make a difference - I chose to treat people like they were human beings made in God's image. The amazing thing about that was how most people seemed to really appreciate it. (I had a supervisor once tell me that I had to make a choice between being a nice guy and being an effective leader. I rejected that dichotomy - and I left that job.)

From my first formal job (at 16) until today, I've worked for non-profit organizations. There were times when I focused on what I wasn't getting in benefits, and those times were miserable. There were times when I focused on how I could make a real difference, and those times were much more enjoyable. The difference: to what end I used my imagination.

IDEA LEADERS: (1) What role does imagination play in your life? (2) On what part of your job do you focus? (3) How can you make a real difference at your work?

Friday, October 3, 2008

More on Machiavelli

Several months ago I mentioned Machiavelli's oft-quoted question: is it better to be loved or feared.  Click here for a recent article on Machiavelli, "The Florentine."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

So What Went Wrong?

Let's review: according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, humanity was created by a purposeful God who made people in his own image and who also made them to be productive. That sounds pretty great - so why do we have all the trouble we do today?

One word: the Fall.

No, not the season. Rather it is a mistake made so early in humanity's history that it effected our past, and it continues to effect our both our present and our future. The Fall occurred when humanity knowingly chose to do evil rather than remain in a state of trustful innocence.

The story itself occurs in Genesis chapter three. That chapter is complete with a talking snake, seemingly magical trees, and God himself walking in the garden. For modern folk, all this can seem a bit fantastic. In the classes I teach, I often mention the correspondence test for truth. The correspondence test basically asks if we can see a concept evidenced in the world we live in. I will be the first to admit that I can not show you a talking snake, but I can tell you that when I knowingly choose to do wrong, the process parallels the temptation in Genesis. Though not in these exact words, I often think "Did God really say . . . ? Wow, that looks good . . . . OK, I'll just try it . . . ." The end result: death. Sometimes it is the death of innocence; sometimes it is the death of trust. Sometimes I get hurt, and other times I hurt others.

Genesis chapter three deserves much more commentary that I can appropriately provide in this blog, but allow me to conclude with one final thought.

The Fall story is not the death of all human goodness, nor is it a story of abandonment by God. After the sin occurs, God seeks out Adam and Eve, and he even provides clothing for them. In spite of our fallenness, God is still in the business of providing. That gives me hope.

IDEA LEADERS: (1) How do you know the difference between right and wrong? (2) When you cross that line, how does it effect those you lead? (3) In spite of this world's brokenness, where do you find hope?