Five Essential Leadership Investments

THE FIVE DIRECTIONS OF LEADERSHIP 

Juba, South Sudan 09/2019Training indigenous church planters.  Contact owm.org/streams to be a part.
Written By: Roy King  updated: July 27, 2020803-269-1453 // roymking@gmail.com  // royking.org

LINK TO 11 MIN. VIDEO OVERVIEW – Five Directions Overview.mp4 

Let me introduce you to a practical framework for  your leadership investment that will improve your own leadership and the leadership of those serving with you.   This simple framework reflects biblical teaching and not only guides your daily leadership decisions but has proven over years of my leadership to help me develop others.

The five directions of relational leadership helps you defuse explosions and the train wrecks derailing a team, work group, or the whole organization.  The five directions define how to make deposits of trust.  The five directions will help navigate times of conflict so they can be more constructive than destructive.

Most people who talk about the Five Directions refer to Dee Hock as the seminal thinker. For his work search by “chaordic leadership”.  He uses slightly different language than the five directions I have included here. Here is the definition found in The Business Dictionary.

The distinction I make is that the horizontal includes those doing the same kind of work that you do, within or outside of your organization.

In Dee Hock’s training he stresses two foundational truths:

  1. Always start with self-leadership.  It is the core of every leadership investment or withdrawal you make.  Those who fail in self-leadership implode and take out others and even damage or destroy the organization.
  2. The reason downward leadership is addressed last is that the core responsibility of the leader is to train all those under his/her influence to do the five directions well. Direct reports are held accountable to transfer it and be sure their people are also living well in the five directions.  I would call this the “secret sauce” of leadership.  It provides a simple grid and common language for every leadership conversation and decision.

FIRST BASE – SELF LEADERSHIP

Hock estimates 50% of the leadership investment is in SELF LEADERSHIP. 

  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?

I heard Geri Scazzero say in a leadership training session, “Do we see our feelings as prophets?”  Our feelings should always alert us to look in a deeper well of our soul to our motives and values to see what in us triggered that specific emotional response.  An example is, “When my boss responded to my request why was I angry and suddenly on the verge of exploding all over the room?”  What is with that?  What goal or expectation was blocked that was connected to the anger?  In what way had I tied my rope of identity and significance to the request?  What should change IN me to diffuse what is coming OUT of me?

  1. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?  If there is one dominant theme in many books of the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Letters of the New Testament, it would be to live with a constant awareness of how much God loves, values, and treasures us.  He grants perfect unconditional love to all who will receive it.  But it is so easy to lose focus and jump back into turning God into the scorekeeper and we become all about performing and earning his approval.  You cannot earn a gift.  A gift is from the heart of the giver apart from the worthiness of the receiver.
  2. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
    1. Faith in the Bible always involves choice.  Very often the choice that involves trusting God is the more challenging one but also reveals a character of integrity.  Taking the “path of least resistance” is usually the choice fueled by FEAR instead of FAITH.
    2. Hope in the Bible always involves two words, endurance and potential.  When I make the choice to persevere instead of quitting it is made in light of a longer term reward.  I am enduring the pain or loss of the moment in light of glorious reward promised in the future.  But hope also includes seeing potential.  “I hope to see this young person grow into a caring productive adult!” So — we see growth and development that  is not yet reality.  Much like a farmer looking over a field that has just been planted and can see the fall harvest.
    3. The Bible says, “God is love.”  It also says God’s plan is to make us more and more like Jesus who modeled the generous, sacrificial, joyful love of God.  Jesus affirmed to his followers that God’s will for them was clearly revealed in the Old Testament and had not changed, “Love God with all you are and have and love others as you love yourself.”   The receiving and giving of God-like love is a refreshing life giving experience.  For us to open our hearts to being loved by God and at the same time opening our hearts for that love to flow return to God and be lavished on others is at the center of mature leadership.
  1. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?

We live in a world of noise, distraction and attempts to engage in multitasking.  But the most effective leaders know the freedom, peace and fruitfulness of “mono-tasking”.  It is noticed when a leader takes his/her phone and cuts it off and moves it off the table as the meeting begins.  It is noticed when a leader takes notes as others share.  It is noticed when a leader listens well and asks a question to draw out more from the person sharing.  It is noticed when a leader is quick to splice together several different strands of ideas from those around the table and connect them into framing a solution or strategy that is needed.  

We worship a God who is fully present.  We can pray at any time knowing we have his full attention.  As we stated above LOVE is at the core of being a good person and we can only love when we are fully present.

God created time.  He created work time and rest time.  He created a daily rhythm (day and night) and a weekly rhythm (work and Sabbath).  When we order our choices within his created design we experience life more abundantly.

SECOND BASE — UPWARD LEADERSHIP

Upward leadership is providing those over me with what they need to lead me. Many senior leaders or boards have very little training or experience of leading down in a way that encourages healthy leading up. Top leadership often assumes, incorrectly, that if they hire good, competent people, it will just happen. Wrong. Leadership relationships, like a good marriage, require focus and intentional effort.

Leading up is taking the initiative to share with those over you whom God has created you to be, what you can contribute to the mission, and how you can be most productive over the long term. Leading up is offering encouragement, influence, creativity, and assistance to the person or persons placed over you, so they know what you need to be empowered to be effective.

  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
  1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
  2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
  3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)

Many leaders leave meetings with a supervisor or leadership team and are frustrated.  They went in seeking partnership or provision and instead felt they were patted on the shoulder and given permission to go out and tackle the world.  Permission can be a cheap way out for those over you.  They do not have to face or solve the resource challenge.  They preserve their authority over you by holding the power to approve or stop your movement.  So they have a sense of control and leave the meeting thinking the issue has been solved and yet they do not have to invest further in it.  They simply need to wait for the results to come rolling in.  

  1. How do those over me need me to communicate with them? 

You may be a verbal processor who enjoys the leisurely discussion of all of the options and the case for each but perhaps your supervisor would prefer one paragraph on introducing the process you went through to come to a solution and then the rest of the page outlines the solution and what will it require to implement it.  

They may prefer voicemail and you prefer text messages.  They may prefer working off an appointment schedule except in rare emergencies or they may prefer a daily walk around and taking questions on the fly.  They may prefer an open door or insist on a closed door.  

The ground rule is — Ask questions.  Listen to what they prefer.  Honor their preferences by adapting yourself to it. Here are some examples of questions that uncover work language or style: 

1. How do you prefer to communicate? (Face-to-face planned meetings, as you walk by, email, text, phone, etc.)

2. How do you prefer to address conflict? (Write up a summary and then ask to meet to follow-up, over lunch, etc.) 

3. How do you prefer to evaluate results? (Standard reports of benchmarks, surveys, daily tasks accomplished, etc.) 

4. How do you prefer to handle personal non-work issues in my life? (Leave it at home, let’s have coffee, at weekly meetings, etc.)

  1. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? 

Do I expect those over me to be mind readers and know what I need?  Do I expect them to have that skill simply because they are in the position over me?  From over 40 years of experience let me assure you, your supervisor or board did not get a special mind reading gift when they accepted the oversight role.  

Bottom Line — We are ALL developing competence in leading UP to those over us and DOWN to those under us. Stay humble and ask this question, “What am I doing that is making your job more challenging or difficult?” Listen and act on what you hear and follow up in a few weeks to see if you have improved.  By the way good active listening often begins with taking notes!

THIRD BASE — PEERS INSIDE / PEERS OUTSIDE

  1. Peers — Inside

I find this is often the most challenging group to identify.  You may be full time but some of your peers may be among the part time or volunteer ranks.  Think more in terms of comparable levels of authority or circles of responsibility.  One danger to avoid with peers.  Do not complain to them about those over you.  Good rule of thumb is to only express concerns or challenges to those with authority to do something about it.  Once a culture is polluted with complaining about those who are not in the room, it is very difficult to clear the air, rebuild trust, and engage in positive conflict or relationship reconciliation.  My motto is “The Absent are Safe With Us”.

  1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?

Spend time with peers reviewing the overall mission of the organization and how each person or department makes a valuable contribution to it.  Share and support one another in openly laying out problems or challenges each of you are facing.  Don’t be quick to offer advice.  Be quick to listen and then ask, “Would it be helpful for me to share how we have handled a similar issue?”  Respect a boundary that honors their authority over their area or people, but be willing to assist if invited.

  1. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?

The more I see peers as God sees them the more I can value, esteem and encourage.  Encouragement is a gift that keeps on giving.  I have known it to help reverse a person who is headed out the door because they feel they are making a meaningful contribution.

  1. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?

Do not always show up at meetings with peers asking for their help with your work.  Leave your agenda on your desk and instead find ways to use your resources to help them win.  There will be an opening later to share some of your needs they may be able to assist you in addressing.

  1. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?

One of the descriptions of Jesus is that he was full of grace and truth.  Both are valuable gifts God wants us to be able to offer as well.  Take either of these by itself and it becomes more destructive than helpful.  Blended together they can be restoring and empowering.  But to mix them properly requires wisdom and discernment often gained through prayer

  1. Peers — Outside

Those doing similar work to us in other places are a great gift.  These peer networks can go far beyond professional development to a deep network of friends who can share wisdom and struggles together.  Years ago I had the opportunity to serve a race car team and be in the pits with them for some of their races.  Here they are parked in a  row with the competing race teams yet there was a sense of community on so many levels.  I was invited to a baby shower for one member of a different team and then later saw the teams offering tools and equipment so their competition could have what they needed to race.  They shared common challenges and lifestyles.  In the competition they had forged friendships.

  1. Who  are the people and where are the places for me to explore and discover how I can be more effective?

You may have to visit a few different conferences and networks to connect to the ones helpful to you.

  1. Who shares best practices with me?

Be alert to retired leaders or those who used to serve in an area similar to yours.  

  1. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?

A confidential small circle outside your organization may be a safe place to share struggles and gain wisdom and avoid polluting the culture of your organization.

HOME BASE — DOWNWARD LEADERSHIP

I BELIEVE A LIFE GIVING JESUS LEADER WILL ALWAYS BE MULTIPLYING OTHER LEADERS.  Just as Jesus passed the baton he has sent us to not only be contributing to His cause but to be spotting, encouraging and transferring leadership to others.

  1. How have I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?

If those downstream from my leadership are practicing the five directions well many of my leadership struggles are greatly reduced.  It also gives clarity when I engage in supervision.  We can identify together whether this is a self leadership, peer leadership, or downward leadership issue.  OR even own that the problem is their supervisor; ME.  I can ask forgiveness if needed and surely listen and learn to lead them more effectively.  

It also clearly positions me as the coach to assist them with challenges they are facing at the peer or downward leadership without me taking the responsibility  out of their hands. 

  1. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?

One question I have asked hundreds of times over the years to those under my leadership is, “What am I doing or not doing that is making your job more difficult”?  It also works with those over you or peers around you.  I have been surprised many times by the things they do not bring up that I see as shortcomings in my leadership.  They did not perceive, what I consider weaknesses, as a roadblock for them.  But I am also surprised by what they bring up.  I was totally blind to its impact.  

  1. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

In study after study job satisfaction is linked to positive and helpful feedback.  To let the other person see that you appreciate the investment they are making and the impact it is making will often bring as much or more motivation than a raise.  Not in every case — but with a good employee or volunteer you really want to keep on the team correcting mistakes and bringing clarity to their confusion is deeply appreciated.  We all thrive when we are corrected but not attacked.  Instead  the choices, words or attitudes of the person  are honestly addressed.

WAYS TO APPROACH NEEDED CORRECTION:

“Dear associate, I love you enough to risk wounding our relationship by telling the truth as I see it.”

“Help me understand more about this choice you made.”

“What in your work for the past three months do you celebrate and feel good about?”  Listen closely and seek to add to their list.

“What in your work over the past 3 months do you feel could be improved and what did you learn from the disappointment?”  Again — listen well and be ready to offer your input.

How do you begin to implement the Five Directions?  

Download the Questions below

Begin to improve your investments in each direction and then begin to have conversations with those in each of the directions seeking ways you can grow.

RUNNING THE BASES 

Questions to Reflect on the Five Directions

FIRST BASE – SELF LEADERSHIP

  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?
  2. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?
  3. How do I sense God being with me and for me?
  4. Can I reflect and discover what is going on inside of me to prompt certain feelings?
  5. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
  6. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?
  7. Am I living consistently out of a rhythm of daily and weekly life?

SECOND BASE — UPWARD LEADERSHIP

  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
    1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
    2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
    3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)
  2. How do those over me need me to communicate with them?  
  3. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? (Do I expect them to be mind readers?)

THIRD BASE — PEERS INSIDE / PEERS OUTSIDE

  1. Peers — Inside
    1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?
    2. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?
    3. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?
    4. Do I choose to complement instead of compete?
    5. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?
  2. Peers — Outside
    1. What are people and places I could go to and explore and discover so I am more effective?
    2. Who shares best practices with me?
    3. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?

HOME BASE — DOWNWARD LEADERSHIP

  1. How have  I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?
  2. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?
  3. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

How would congregational and not for profit ministry and mission structures be different if we intentionally embrace them as “chaordic”?

“What do the Internet, Alcoholics Anonymous, and VISA International, the organization that brings us the VISA card, all have in common?

You can find them just about anywhere on earth, that’s one common thing.  They have not spread through unrelenting market push, like Coca Cola.  Rather they are pulled by demand, because they meet real needs very effectively.  They serve their purposes successfully year after year without any obvious headquarters, no glittering center of power, no centralized command.  No one owns any of them.  VISA does $1.25 trillion worth of business a year, but you can’t buy a share of it.

Dee Hock, who founded VISA, would say these are all chaordic organizations.  He made up that word by combining “chaos” and “order.”  Chaordic organizations are self-organizing and self-governing.  They operate not through hierarchies of authority, but through networks of equals.  It isn’t power or coercion that makes them effective, rather it’s clear shared purpose, ethical operating principles, and responsibility distributed through every node.”

SEE: http://donellameadows.org/archives/a-new-kind-of-organization-based-on-purpose-and-principle/

Donella Meadows – A NEW KIND OF ORGANIZATION BASED ON PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLE

December, 1999.

Matthew 20:25But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NLT

Among you (followers of Jesus) it will be different (Life giving Jesus leadership will always be counter cultural).  Using the Bible to shape our world view and our leadership framework we cut a new path from the way leadership operates in our culture.

God’s View on My Fear

YES — We are living in days of uncertainty and restrictions. YES — It is challenging to even know who or what our hindrances and challenges are around us. YES — There are many conversations and news stories that stimulate a spirit of anxiety.

Try this for a response to your fear filled heart.

Psalm 2 — YES — there are enemies and rebellion against God alive and well in the world — but the call is to humble surrender and trust before the King

Psalm 131 — YES — there many decisions we face that feel overwhelming but we can talk to our soul and invite it to be with trust and hope in God like a weaned child with his/her Mom.

My Grandson – Abel – a weaned child! Can I rest in God’s arms like this!

Philippians 4: 6-7 — Be deeply aware of our anxiety and inability to make plans for just a few weeks out — can bring bring me to a place of calling out to and naming all of our concerns to our God. One can only really recognizes a suddenly calming in the air when we have been walking in a strong wind. One only recognizes an inner peace from God’s touch when we have been in a very anxious unsettled place.

1 Peter 2:11-12 — We are not the first to be in days of challenge, loss and uncertainty. There is a vision of how God is our safe place in these two verses which stirs up quiet hope. Here are a few phrases from The Message New Testament.

'Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles (WHERE IS OUR TRUE HOME ADDRESS?  THERE IS NO CV19 VIRUS IN THE KINGDOM) to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (IF YOU ARE HOME AND AWAY FROM A NORMAL RHYTHM AND ACCOUNTABILITY -- BE ON GUARD WITH WHAT YOU SET BEFORE YOURSELF.) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds (EVEN IN THIS CLIMATE THERE ARE GOOD DEEDS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PROMPT US TO SEE AND CREATIVE IDEAS ON HOW TO STEP OUT AND BE THE HANDS OF A LOVING GOD) and glorify God on the day of visitation. ' 

What helps you see fearful stuff from God’s perspective? Share your best thoughts.

How To Respond to Problems In A Church – sermon by Roy King

DrRoyKing_6I am sure the churches you are part of never face conflicts, divisions, or confusion. Well, the ones I have been a part of sure have some of these challenges.

I believe Jesus is not surprised when the church he is building encounters and creates problems. I also believe the Spirit placed some hope for how to move through these problems.

Here is a sermon where I attempt to look at First Corinthians as a guide given by Paul, the church planter, to a church now four years old and struggling with painful divisions and struggles.

There is HOPE. But like going to a doctor when we are in pain the path of healing requires getting beyond the symptoms to the root cause and then addressing this source.

I WOULD WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS

 

“God Does Not Do Rabbit Trails”

20180813_174702Pandora is one of my best wise counselors.  During our time in Egypt we were discussing some opportunities to serve with some other ministries.  We both agreed the new open doors fit in our focus for this chapter of our life.  She shared with me, “Roy God does not do rabbit trails.  We need to look for the convergence; how God is fitting these puzzle pieces together.”

That wisdom has set me reflecting before the Lord for his perspective on our life.  Where do we sense God’s converging work? I see it as the Lord mixing baking dough.  As he dusts the dough with a new ingredient he gently works the dough with his hands until it is consistently worked through.

For us the dough seems to have two primary ingredients; individual people and ideas.  In the past month I have spent time with four different leaders in churches and ministries.  After our time they would share how helpful the time was and how they had greater clarity for moving forward.  YES!  The Spirit showed up and used me to deliver some of what they needed.  It is fun to deliver God’s mail.

The doors opening for Pandora use her rich background in special education but often branch off in other life on life conversations and burdens to pray for others.

In recent months I have received encouragement and opportunities to do some additional writing projects. Pandora is creating new presentations and also developing tools for consulting.  It seems God is letting us share ideas from what we are learning here and overseas with the people who share our journey.

So — Convergence for us is quality time with individuals and capturing, distilling and sharing ideas.

How about you?  What does convergence look like for your life?  What needs to be pruned or started?

Accelerating Your Growth of Wisdom and Discernment

RoyAllBlacksTMay2010-e1295093522512A common challenge for the Ministry Leaders and Business Executives I coach is how they can learn from their daily encounters and experiences.  The art of reflection is often neglected in the push to add another meeting or another appointment to the day.

Yet I am often reminded of the words of my mentor Dr. Bobbie Clinton, “The number one reason leaders fail to finish well is they plateau.” They stop growing.

Here is a simple way to stay in a learning mode which will allow you to make better decisions and relate to the challenges and relationships in your life with wisdom and discernment.  You must create the space by hitting the pause button and reflecting on a short period of time.  Once a week will not work.  Too much is forgotten and goes stale before you can gain from it.  Instead install a “startup” and “shut down” rhythm to your day.  Here is a suggested pattern I use.  It has been refined over the years as I borrow ideas from other leaders.

A PRACTICAL TOOL TO HELP REFINE, STRETCH, and CORRECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE:
The shutdown ritual should be they last commitment in your work day.  Set the appointment with yourself in a quiet area.  The same technique is very helpful  as a recovery and buffer pause to capture key learnings after a messy challenging encounter.

SHUT DOWN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF:
(10 to 30 minutes)  at the end of each work day or right after a strategic meeting.

Use a consistent tool to capture your thoughts as you examine your day.  Consistent capture tools may be 3×5 cards, a written journal or private document online.

QUESTIONS TO ASSIST YOU IN REFLECTION:

What did I see today about individuals with whom I had interaction?

What did I see today about our culture? (NOTE PLUSES AND MINUSES)

What di I see about myself today?

What do I offer up in thanks to God?

What do I lay before God in confident faith he will provide the way forward?

How do we want people work together differently?

Based on what happened today what 3 things do I need to do tomorrow and what do I change in my daily plan for tomorrow to create space for these actions?

PART OF THE SHUT DOWN RITUAL IS TO RETURN THE GIFT OF THE DAY BACK TO THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO YOU.
LAST ACTION BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR WORK DAY…

HANDS — PALMS DOWN ON DESK.

THANK GOD FOR LETTING YOU STEWARD THE DAY.

TRUST HIM FOR GRACE AND STRENGTH TO BRING FRUIT AND GROWTH FROM TODAY’S WORK FOR HIS GLORY. GIVE THE DAY BACK TO HIM.

Once you have the shutdown routine in your rhythm add a “start up” routine

When you first wake up in the morning turn on to your back and look up.  Raise both arms with hands palm up to God.

A sample prayer could be: “Father thank you for the rest during the night and now you are offering me a new day to manage.  Today is a (work day, play day, rest day, family day, etc., define the major purpose for this day).  You have gifted me with this day. Help me to be a good steward and invest it for eternal reward.”

Caution yourself to not pollute the day.  If it is a work day don’t lose focus and waste time tracking your teams online.  If it is a rest day do not pollute it with work.  You get the idea.

Now begin a “perspective” and “getting current” mini-retreat

Read David Allen’s GTD – Getting Things Done book for an excellent overview of a weekly check in.  To his words I would add these ideas.  In a period of a storm of major changes you need this mini-retreat once a week.  Let me suggest you set aside 1/2 of a day to fast, pray, rest, and look back over the recent days by reviewing your daily shut down notes and review your commitments to see if you have not drifted off course.

If you are not in a storm of change you may be able to do the mini-retreat every 4 to 6 weeks.

CONCLUSION
The most important person you lead is yourself .  Poor decisions are made in a reactive rather than reflective mode.  It requires discipline to engage in a time of pausing and reflecting which creates space for your thinking and feeling to get to an inner quiet and hear from God.  Those who seek him and his wisdom do grow and develop confidence and contentment in their leadership.

I Am Weary with Christians Fighting Battles We Do Not Need to Engage

Here is a letter I sent to a close friend after our discussion during a break time at a conference.

RoyAllBlacksTShirtMay2010-e1282387057463

Dear Jeff,

Thanks so much for listening to me share about our new assignment we have received from the Father.  (I had shared how Pandora and I are called to plant a network of “micro-churches” starting in Market Common at Myrtle Beach.  “Micro-churches” are churches of 12-20 people meeting in home, businesses and public places.  They gather periodically into one gathering for praise and celebration.  See a two page summary on the strategy by CLICKING HERE.)

As always your strength as a networker shone through and you began to look up some good contacts to share with me on your phone who you know would be keen on working and sharing with us.

I appreciated you also sharing how God was leading you to be part of leading a large church.  I celebrate with you in God’s assignment!   It is such a great gift of God’s grace and mercy to let us play a role in the great work he is doing.

Then you went on to describe being in a gathering of church leaders and how the missional community/house church guys were beating up on the large church leader in the room.  You mentioned how they used the “rabbit” and “elephant” illustration found in the missional community literature as a stick to beat up on the large church leader.  My heart joins you in grieving this needless fighting.

When will ministry leaders wake up and see that God’s Spirit is creative and loves to use many different ways to reach and make disciples of those far from God.  He uses large churches, micro-churches, churches led by men and churches led by women, churches with loud music and churches with very quiet music, churches that use one language and churches with many languages.  God loves those who remember the history of the church and those running into the future and  building bridges for where they see the culture going.

Jeff, I believe those who engage in defending their format of practicing church are often feeling defensive and threatened deep inside.  They lack a certainty they are simply servants carrying out the next assignment the Father has given them.  They tear down or devalue the works of  others in order to gain an assurance they are okay.

I want to cry out, “Look around — go visit the church in Egypt, Iran or China.  Visit the urban poor and the affluent new neighborhood.  Go to the islands and then go walk a mountain trail to an isolated village.  Visit a refugee camp where new people are arriving daily and families living there are living out a cultural family pattern of a new child every year.”  In this kind of world we should celebrate that God can organize disciples of Jesus to work like salt and light in any setting.

There are lost people who the Spirit will convict  and draw as they sit among thousands. There will be lost people who will need a friend who comes and eats in their home, respectfully absorbs their life story, and helps them connect God’s good news to the bad news going on in their life.

Comparing, competing or tearing down the work of another of Christ’s servants is not new.  See Paul’s attacks described in 2 Corinthians and Philippians to remember there is nothing new in Satan’s deceptive strategy of turning the church to devour one another.

Instead of using our energy and creativity to attack how someone else is doing church let us spend time in giving thanks for them and interceding for their fruitfulness.

Let us practice Roman 14 and 15.

“Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. . . . Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I look forward to taking a walk on the beach together and praying for one another!

A fellow servant, Roy

The Kingdom of God is Child’s Play Regardless of Your Age!

MEP_0290-meganpixels  “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  — Jesus

Lord,  May we, in joyful confidence in You

Willingly do small things;

      — Boldly do big things,

                  — and —

      — Be Relentless in doing all things you offer to us.

Like a little child may I run hard, enjoy every waking moment, laugh a lot, cry when I fall down, and run to your arms for your healing Papa kiss that makes it better.

May I so enjoy all the things you give me to do that I say, “I’m not sleepy!!!” and then as soon as I stop I am soundly and peacefully resting in you.

— Your kingdom children, Roy & Pandora

What is the difference between these words?

What is the difference between a problem and an opportunity?

What is the difference between a interruption and a surprise?

What is the difference between a complaint or a burden?

Most often the only difference is our PERSPECTIVE that is guiding our response to a life situation.

I can have a life full of opportunities, surprises, and burdens if I see God as bigger than anything touching my life.  If I embrace his good and loving heart toward me as seen in Jesus then the load is lighter and I am filled with gratitude instead of complaining.

I am NOT describing a spiritual denial — NO certainly not!  I am holding up a trust and confidence in God’s presence and activity in all spheres of my life.

He holds my whole world in his hands!

Our calling is to live daily with Jesus (period).

WEB-0027The last 48 hours God has used a quote from CS Lewis (see the article below from Relevant magazine) to stir my heart and call me to cry out to God in new and deep ways for the “daily bread” including His provision of grace to respond to his leading today and trust him for tomorrow.

C.S. Lewis reveals the alternative in Mere Christianity:   A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never … commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

The Christian Case for Carpe Diem

Why seizing today matters.

BY MICHAEL D. GIAMMARINO

A couple of years ago I remember seeing an interesting Pepsi ad. It depicted young people celebrating, socializing, and having a generally great time on what seemed to be a rooftop party. The ad concluded with the campaign’s slogan, “live for now.” The whole thing felt like a promotion for a life of depravity and debauchery—essentially, that one should embrace momentary pleasures with disregard for future consequences.

Commercials like this Pepsi one have long influenced me to think that living for the moment was a bad thing. There couldn’t be a more naturalistic perspective, I thought. Christians are to be the most future-oriented people of all with eyes gazing past death and into eternity, right? What’s more, I found the Church reinforcing this mindset by saturating sermons with encouragements to “Follow your dreams,” and that “Your best days are right ahead of you.” Simply put, I’ve never been exposed to a “live for now” outlook on life that has come from the Christian community.

That is until now, of course.

You see, living for the moment and living wildly do not necessarily go hand in hand. Where the secularists get it wrong is that they conclude something like, “If I live for today, I’ll just pretend I won’t have to deal with the ramifications of my decisions.”

But that’s not how that goes. After all, by putting greater emphasis on the present, wouldn’t someone be more inclined to make better decisions since it would require more focus and time? It is the person who is so future-focused that they neglect the importance of smaller, everyday actions and thus unwittingly damage their future. He is sawing off the branch on which he sits!

C.S. Lewis reveals the alternative in Mere Christianity:

A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never … commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

Living for today is all that we can do. We can’t live and take action tomorrow because we only exist today. We have no control over tomorrow and we never will. Duty can only be done and grace can only be received today, in this moment.

Today is what we are given. That is all.

After the Lord personally showed me this reality, it ushered in a deep sense of relief followed by conviction. I was relieved because for the first time I felt I didn’t need to strive endlessly in mind and body to make tomorrow turn out the way I hoped. I often became frozen, like a deer in headlights, in deep thought about my future. It was very stressful, to say the least. And that is precisely why I was convicted. I finally understood that the reason I stressed tomorrow so much was pride and control.

I needed to control my future because surely I knew how it should pan out better than God. I couldn’t fully let go of my hopes for tomorrow and place them into His hands. That’s asking a great deal of me! What if He doesn’t come through? Or worse, what if His plans aren’t what I want them to be—what if they aren’t my plans?

But as Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, God’s plans are good! Plans of “hope and a future.”

I also realized that I made an idol of my future. Frequent daydreams of that perfect life drenched my mind. It’s coming soon. Certainly. I thought to myself. I just need to hurry through this scrappy present so I can receive my future. Once I’m there, in my perfect life, I’ll be happy. I hadn’t realized that it was an idol. I did what Lewis advised against: I committed my virtue and happiness to the future.

How often I have neglected the small joys and blessings of everyday life because I was moving too quickly to receive them. I knew little of the irony that in receiving those momentary blessings, the future takes care of itself. It doesn’t work out in spite of a slower paced, live-for-the-moment kind of life. It works out because of it. By embracing today by receiving and giving all you can in it, you are surely setting yourself up for a better tomorrow.

This is no surprise. Jesus Himself told of this simple principle for healthy living:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:33-34

God knows your desires. So just loosen up your death clutch on life and give it to God.

Tomorrow can surely be thought of, hoped for and even planned for. It must certainly be prayed for. But we are nonetheless given today. That is all we have. We’re given this moment and it is our duty to live it out in a way that honors God. He’ll deal with the rest.

Carpe diem.

MICHAEL D. GIAMMARINO

is the author of Discovering Justice, a book that analyzes the modern concept of justice in light of a historical Judeo-Christian framework. He currently resides in New York City and studies business and theology at Oral Roberts University located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.