Updates for October

Long time, no see. So, we’ve been busy. Who isn’t, though? So far, it’s been a great fall. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Mrs. Jones and I have started working with Mercy Clinic Fort Worth to provide communications services. You should go check it out (after you’re done reading this post, of course).
  • Miss E was the cutest Halloween strawberry:
    halloween strawberry
  • The MBA is coming along nicely. It’s just the academic challenge I’ve been itching for. Each class is a window into a world of insights that I honestly didn’t know anything about or just refused to see. Such as:
    • In Economics (the market kind, not the Marxist kind), did you know that competition isn’t between sellers and buyers, but amongst sellers or buyers. I didn’t. Probably through a combination of bad information and English professors, I had just come to a meandering conclusion that to sell anyone anything meant accepting a certain level of being ripped-off, as if the whole world were populated by unethical used car salesmen (what can I say? I went to a state college with a strong populist bent). I was wrong. Capitalism may be about competing for market surplus, but it can’t survive if everyone is cheating each other.
      People who cheat won’t survive in the long run… which sounds an awful lot like Proverbs 10:2: “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.”
    • The four functions of management are: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (monitoring). Note this does not say: “ordering people around.” I’ve got a whole other post coming up about this.
      Bill Lumbergh

      Bill Lumbergh… the classic middle management caricature.

      So, yeah… not coming in on Sunday.

    • Any group of humans who manage to stick together long enough to accomplish something have a system of rules – some explicit, some implicit – which govern behavior. It’s the implicit rules, or culture, that usually trip up newcomers. I’m not sure why I’ve refused to acknowledge this reality — I’ve always seen it, but refused to accept it. I’m not sure why I expected ministry to be different — people are people, even the saints.
    • Good strategy comes from the top. Good feedback comes from the bottom (and the top). When this cycle is disrupted, there will be problems. Guaranteed. How is this cycle disrupted? A combination of bad internal communication and misunderstood culture (see the point above). When I think about the dysfunctional organizations I’ve been a part of, this stands out big in my mind.
    • Black Friday isn’t a bargain. Most people know this. It’s not about the bargains; Americans like the thrill of the hunt and competing with one another (see my first point above).
    • A good attitude is vital to your survival. When I say good, I mean healthy not unrealistically optimistic. Some days are going to be fantastic and others will be rotten. A good attitude is a mindset of responding in a correct and mature fashion.  There is nowhere you or I can go that will ultimately reward us for having a bad attitude. The struggle is real, but struggle we must.
    • Showing up (aka. doing what you say you will do when you said you will do it) is definitely more important than being the smartest person in the room. Again, the struggle is real. If you struggle too, do what I do — tell yourself a new story: “I am a person who shows up.” Then do it. When you struggle, don’t change your narrative — admit your limitations, and just keep swimming.

Business school has been great for me. Modern management shares many commonalities with stewardship. Every class I learn something and think to myself: “Wow. I can’t believe I want to serve the Church, and I didn’t know that!” This is definitely Phase II of equipping myself so that I can equip others.

Until next week (yes, showing up is part of my narrative now)!

Oh, and don’t forget! Check it out: mercy-clinic.org

Hackers, Hypocrisy, and Hidden Sins

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. - Luke 12:1b-2

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. – Luke 12:1b-2

There’s nothing like yet another news story about a hacked database to remind us that what is done in secret will come to light. It seems that hackers occupy this space in the modern narrative as the whistle-blower and exposer of corruption. And yet, it is not the mythical hacker that ultimately exposes hypocrisy or reveals hidden sins but the will of Someone much greater. So, how do we avoid the hacker’s snare? [Read more…]

What is Stewardship? | Knowing Our Limits

sitchain

A chain with a sign — no ambiguity there!

I am often terrible at knowing what I can take on. I waffle between taking on too much and overly limiting myself. Often my first reaction in decision-making is “are we allowed to do this?” I like clearly prescribed limits. And straight lines. And groupings of objects in odd numbers (but I digress). I still read EULAs and Terms of Service agreements; I’m a fine print kind of guy. Did I mention that my first career path was law? The concept of limitations confuses me — if I have to be the one to define them. Do you struggle with knowing your limits?

Knowing Our Limits

Knowing our limits is boiled down to these two things: 1) understanding the scope of our ability, and 2) understanding the scope of our responsibility.

I struggle with understanding my limits because I struggle with an honest view of myself. Sound familiar? I often want other responsibilities than what I have. I go back and forth on believing whether I am capable of the responsibilities that I take on. On and on it goes.

So, how do we learn to understand the scope of our ability and responsibility? First, we must learn to discern our spiritual gifts. And then, we must learn embrace what God has planned for us.

Equipped to Serve

The gifts that we receive from the Holy Spirit have a purpose: God gives to each of His children gifts of the Holy Spirit for use in building up His Church. Spiritual gifts are key to understanding our individual responsibilities within the Church. Each Christian has a ministry, and spiritual gifts enable us to accomplish it.

Though we all have a ministry, not all of us are called to vocational ministry. Those who are called to vocational ministry serve the church by equipping the members to do ministry. Our job is to make sure you have what you need to engage the world with the gospel of Jesus. Nevertheless, we are all called and gifted for one goal: to fulfill the Great Commission.

If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, reach out to your church leaders — it is their job to help you discover how you are gifted and how God may be calling you to serve Him best.

A Life of Service

When we embrace our gifts and calling, we are acting on faith that God will direct our path. It is true that we cannot know the mind of God, except for what He has revealed — but He has revealed much! Yes, the Scripture teaches us the history of redemption and the part we are to play in it, but ultimately, it reveals the Son in whom we have our hope.

Our faith in God is crucial to accepting the scope of responsibility to which He calls us, because without Him, we are incapable of fulfilling to that which He has called us. The daily act of trusting God and following His guidance is the foundation upon which we build a life of service.

A life of service is a life of duty. Stewards embrace their responsibilities as an act of duty and love towards their Master. Nowhere in Scripture are we called to be freelancers for Christ!

So what if we don’t get to do that other thing that someone else is doing? Our service doesn’t primarily flow from love of the job — it flows from love of the Master. Love for the job ebbs and flows, but our love for the Master should only grow.

When we are first devoted to the Master, then we are better able to embrace the calling and gifts He has given to us. As we learn to embrace God’s calling and gifts, then we will find ourselves spending a lot less time taking on the wrong activities or second guessing what we can take on. Once we know our limits, we can spend our time filling them up!

Why Vacations Are Important

DistrictThis past week, Mrs. Jones, Miss E, and I spent a much needed break in New Orleans. We had two goals: good food and good rest. We met the first goal spectacularly, and made a real effort on the second one. The week reminded me why vacations are important: rest, reflection, and realignment. [Read more…]

I Hereby Resolve to Follow the Recipe

Follow the recipe

Just a few of our cookbooks.

I love to cook. But I must confess to a bad habit: I don’t like to follow the recipe. And this isn’t usually a problem… if I’m cooking on a stove top or grilling. But baking? Let’s just say that it’s coin toss. I’m like most people: I avoid areas where I’m weak. I don’t bake. Grilling steaks or burgers? No problem. Four burners to make an entrée? Child’s play. Sauces? Just give me the whisk. Turn on the oven? Nope!
[Read more…]