Thursday, September 28, 2006


Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Joe Noland on you.

I get a regular email from Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders. I get it because I bought something once or signed up for something or was randomly selected by The Committee to Send Emails. Anyway, I like to read them sometimes to remind myself that I'm in church leadership, not simply in property management, architectural design, community politics, traffic engineering or any of the other aspects of my current iteration of church leadership.

I got this one recently which contains a reprint of a Bill Hybels article on leadership. The whole thing is good and I have some thoughts on my personal style below, but I think reposting the whole article here would be plagiarism or might get me kicked off the email list. If you want to read the whole thing and I recommend it, go here. Here's an excert:

Leadership Journal, Winter 1998
Finding Your Leadership StyleTen different ways to lead God's people. by Bill Hybels

"A few years ago, I began to notice major differences in the ways gifted leaders led their teams. They all had the spiritual gift of leadership referred to in Romans 12:8, but they approached the challenges of leadership differently.
1. Visionary leader
2. Directional leader
3. Strategic leader
4. Managing leader
5. Motivational leader
6. Shepherding leader
9. Re-engineering leader"

So there are 9 of them. The other 3 are the ones I'm thinking about these days in conjunction with what I'm doing. I think I see myself possessing and using numbers 7 and 8, Team-building and Entrepeneurial leadership. I think I need to possess and use number 10 Bridge-building leadership. I'd appreciate any insights those of you who know me well might be able to share about whether you agree with my self-assessment and how to get there on the areas in which I need to grow.

I should be careful as Hybels ends the article with this encouragement:

"It concerns me that there is a certain amount of "gift envy" among church leaders these days. God gave each of us our gift mix for a reason. When leaders adopt someone else's style, they miss the unique opportunities God has given them.I celebrate when I look around the world and see flourishing churches of all kinds, with many different types of leaders, because it's going to take a variety of churches led by a variety of leaders to reach our world with the love of Christ.Whatever your style, recognize it, celebrate it, and step up to the plate and lead."

7. Team-building leader
Team-building leaders have supernatural insight into people. They find or develop leaders with the right abilities, character, and chemistry with other team members. They place people in the right positions for the right reasons who will then produce the right results.
When the team-building leader gets everyone in place, he or she then says to the team, "You know what we're trying to do. You know what part of the mission you're responsible for. You know what part of the vision the rest of us are responsible for. So head out. Work hard. Achieve your objectives. Communicate with your co-laborers, but lead."
The team-building leader might not nurture or manage people well. He or she reasons that shouldn't be necessary. If the right people are in the right slots doing the right things for the right reasons, they'll get the work done without the leader looking over their shoulder. Few things are as exciting to me as drawing together the right people, putting them in the right positions, then letting that team play hard and have fun.

8. Entrepreneurial leader
These leaders possess vision, boundless energy, and a risk-taking spirit. Their distinguishing characteristic is they function best in a start-up operation. They love being told it cannot be done.
But once the effort requires steady, ongoing leadership—once things get complex and there are endless discussions about policies, systems, controls, and databases—the entrepreneurial leader loses energy and may even lose focus and confidence. He or she starts to peek over the fence and wonder if there's another start-up project out there.
Entrepreneurs often feel guilty at the thought of leaving something they gave birth to. But if they think, I can't give birth to something every few years, something inside them starts to die. That's their style. It's important in the kingdom.
The apostle Paul was an entrepreneurial leader. He wanted to build churches where Christ had not been named. He wanted to pioneer them, then let someone else run them so he could move on. He made no apologies for his leadership style.

10. Bridge-building leader
This leader brings a wide variety of constituencies together under a single umbrella of leadership so that a complex organization can achieve its mission.
This feat requires enormous flexibility in a leader—the ability to compromise and negotiate, to listen, understand, and think outside of the box. It requires not only the ability to be diplomatic; it requires also the gift of being able to relate to diverse people.
In a start-up venture, a leader is surrounded by those who share his or her vision. Contrast that with a church or parachurch organization made up of scores of well-defined constituencies, many of whom care little about the overall vision of the ministry anymore. They just want to make sure their interests are served.
I talked to a pastor who said, "I'm dying. The choir wants new designer robes. The youth want a new gymnasium. The missions department wants to give more money away. The Sunday school department wants more classrooms. The production people want more equipment. The seniors want large-print hymnals, and the Gen Xers want to turn the board room into a cappuccino bar."
The variety and velocity of those requests had him imagining each of those subministries as the enemy. But that situation fires up a bridge-building leader. A bridge builder becomes the best friend and advocate of all the constituent groups. He or she seeks to unite them and focus their efforts.

Bill Hybels is pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

Friday, September 22, 2006

33 Things I've Learned

Birthdays are times to take stock, to evaluate where we stand, where we've been, where our lives are going. I thought it might be appropriate to mark my 33rd birthday by sharing 33 things I've learned over those years. This list should not be construed as connecting to each year of life--number 7 is not the thing I learned the year that I was 7. Nor is it a ranked list. Number 1 should not be considered as more important than number 33, but both of those are probably more importnat than number 3. Some of it might be considered deep or thoughtful. Much of it is halfway to foolish and I make no apologies for that. Some of the items may be immediately applicable to your life. Some of them will make so little sense to you that it will annoy you the rest of the day.

If you recognize some of this wisdom, please be flattered, not offended in the case that it came from you personally. That means you've instructed me or played a significant role in my life. I'm not stealing from you (this time, see number 15). I'm acknowledging what you've given to me with gratitude. Where I am using quotations from others, I've tried to attribute them as best I can.

1. A happy wife is a happy life
2. "Time will heal all wounds but until then you will bleed profusely." Julius Caye
3. Don't drink grape juice with tomato soup.
4. A lot of the time, I speak more loudly than I think I am.
5. "What mommies and daddies think is warm, kids think is HOT!" - Riley Forster
6. Even the most thoughtful, beautiful, wonderful, loving women in the world are sometimes incapable of putting jelly on toast or a bagel without making a complete mess.
7. The Enemy likes to use our areas of greatest giftedness as the most effective avenue to great temptation.
8. I am not six minutes older than everyone else my age (a rude awakening I experienced around the age of 8).
9. Wearing a "Caveman in a Bag" costume while barefoot and walking around on flagstone in New Haven, CT on Halloween night is NOT a good idea.
10. Ten years later, you will always look back at yourself and realize how little you knew.
11. Cheesecake never tastes quite as good as it sounds or looks.
12. Vacation truly means having no idea what time of day it is and not caring.
13. Like all other forms of intolerance, Lactose Intolerance is a disease of denial.
14. We are far more selfish than any of us likes to admit.
15. Wisdom borrows. Genius steals.
16. No event in life has meaning more fleeting than taking the SAT
17. No email is clever enough in its content to justify forwarding it to Tim Miller.
18. Sledding down a grassy hill on a cardboard box after all the snow has melted almost always leads to your home being burglarized.
19. Family traditions are easily created and hard to break.
20. ."The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." - a great quote attributed to many people, so I'm not sure of the original author of this one.
21. Birthdays drop significantly in their importance after 21. After 25, the only ones that really matter for the rest of your life are 50 and 100.
22. If you have the choice of buying a child a sleek and expensive toy or simply handing them a cardboard box and asking what can be done with it that would be fun, go with the cardboard box every time, but only if you're prepared to stick around for whatever is fun.
23. I do my best work when under pressure.
24. Rarely do people or institutions conspire nearly as much as we give them credit for.
25. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." -Jesus
26. The greatest movies and TV shows ever produced during your childhood were full of bad acting, predictable dialog and completely weak special effects. For me, this list includes but is not limited to: the Star Wars Trilogy, the Dukes of Hazzard, Chips, and the Dark Crystal.
27. A favorite shirt is like a truly good friend. They should not be taken for granted and there's nothing quite as comfortable as being close to them.
28. The story of Lance Phondjo could quite possibly represent the single most ingenious use of one of those felt letter boards in the history of humanity.
29. One of the requirements of deep friendship may be hearing the words "I hate you" at 7 o'clock in the morning.
30. Happiness can be found at many tables provided three things are present: Crab Rangoon, Boneless Spare Ribs and my friend, General Tsao.
31. Writing a witty birthday list on very little sleep is harder than you think.
32. Sharing any gift that's been given to you is far more rewarding than hoarding it for yourself.
33. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." --God

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Signs of Life

Funny how My Computer is a good indication of My Life.

Monday, September 11, 2006

One Nation Under God

There will be many moments of silence on this solemn day as we pause to remember. My prayer for today is that God will be manifest in those moments. I don't know what people say (silently) or do during moments of silence if prayer is not a regular event in their lives. I just pray that while the nation is silent that
God's presence is incarnated
God's power is in effect
God's plan is enacted.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Props to Atari Nation

Ok, lovers of the Big 80s, you have to check out this great stop-animation video on YouTube. It starts with a tribute to the most under-appreciated Atari game of them all: Centipede.

Got to love guys who live in their mother's basements and have way too much time on their hands. I'm gonna guess this guy was sporting parachuete pants and his Member's Only jacket while he edited this video.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Riley Forster: Kindergartner

So, today the world changed. Riley started (full-day) kindergarten at the Cottage Street School. She's in Ms. Sullivan's class with 21 of her new closest friends. It was a sunny day, more like summer than fall. I never bargained for what it would be like to send our first off to kindergarten, even after 2 years of pre-school. Jen was the strong one. I was a mess from the moment I stepped into the living room and saw her dressed in her first day outfi. Let's just say I ducked behind several corners and kept my comments to a minimum. Riley was excited to get going and Sydney would not be left behind with Auntie Jodi and Uncle Phil who were in town visiting. Getting Syd out of the classroom when it was time to go was a great challenge.

Dinner was an event as Riley ran down the day's events, starting with gym, but they didn't do gym, they just read a book about a boy in a class with a fat gym teacher that told them what they would be doing in gym. 2 recesses. Lunch in the cafeteria. She didn't eat her banana. The teachers didn't know the rules, so the kids had to make them up. Riley's addition to the rules was "no pushing." Sand table, drawing table and home again in one piece. Jen was beside herself because she was 10 minutes late to pick Riley up and all of the halls were empty when she arrived...because she was 10 minutes early and everyone was still in class.

So tomorrow is day 2 and maybe it will become easier to believe that this is all happening.