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Sharing God's Gifts

 

 

         You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus:

               “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

                                  Acts 20:35 NLT

 

 

Be grateful—thank your Father for My lavish provisions.

     Undeserved forgiveness, miraculous healing, infinite mercy,

          unconditional love, indefinable peace, unlimited grace,

          undying hope, invulnerable joy—all are gifts from My throne.

     I send My Spirit to comfort, inspire, and defend you in your journey.

     I sent My Son to show you how to live, and to die for your iniquities.

     I shower you with gifts to show how much I personally care for you.

     Loving Me is the heart of worship.

     Be blessed—share My joy.

 

Be gracious—focus on your life’s purpose.

     To believers, meaningful living is serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

     To disciples, rough roads paved with grace are avenues of service.

     To serious followers, concentration proves heartfelt consecration.

     I give much, so I require much—with privilege comes responsibility.

     Be resolved to continue in My steps even when life is difficult.

     Single-mindedness is imperative—dual allegiance is impossible.

     Honoring Me is the heart of service.

     Be a blessing—share Jesus.

 

Be generous—a friend who loves all people.

     I loved the world so much I gave My Best—now it is your turn.

     Live a life filled with love, and you will be like your Savior.

     Reflect My love in an unloving world of strangers to My grace.

     Be kind when others are unkind or sharply critical of you.

     Follow Jesus’ openhearted example even when it hurts to give.

     Stay close, and I promise I will make Myself very real to you.

     Following Me is the heart of discipleship.

     Be brave—share My journey.

 

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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond                 

Day 331, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

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Good Leadership Starts With Good Questions

Good Leadership Starts With Good Questions

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Good Leadership Is About Asking Good Questions

Guest Post by John Hagel

Originally Posted @ Harvard Business Review

Leaders today need to revisit an overlooked skill: asking questions. In my 40 years as an executive and advisor in Silicon Valley, I’ve often seen leaders assume that people look to them for answers — bold assertions that build people’s confidence in their competence. But in reality, that kind of approach erodes trust, especially at a time when so much is manifestly uncertain. You think you have the answers to all important questions? That suggests that you are either clueless — you have no idea how rapidly the world is changing — or that you are lying. In either case, you won’t find that trust that you’ve been looking for.

Instead, leaders should ask powerful and inspiring questions, convey that they don’t have the answers, and solicit others’ help to find them. The leaders I talk to tend to be nervous about this approach: Won’t it look like they don’t know what they’re doing? On the contrary, however, research has shown that expressing vulnerability and asking for help is a strong signal to others that you are trusting, and you’re more likely to be trusted in return. In fact, if you can learn to ask questions well, it can help you connect with others. Thinking together can put you on the path to solving intractable problems and sparking innovative thinking.

Drucker Forum 2020

This article is one in a series related to the 12th Global Peter Drucker Forum, with the theme “Leadership Everywhere.” See the program here.

Ask Big Questions

To be clear: I’m not saying you should ask pointed questions that put others on the spot, like “How can you deliver 10% higher productivity?” or “Are you missing anything here?” The kind of questions leaders need to ask are those that invite people to come together to explore major new opportunities that your organization hasn’t identified yet. Here are some examples:

  • What is a game-changing opportunity that could create much more value than we have delivered in the past?
  • What are emerging unmet needs of our customers that could provide the foundation for an entirely new business?
  • How could we leverage the resources of third parties to address a broader range of the needs of our customers?
  • How can we move from standardized, mass-market products and services to personalizing our products and services to the specific needs of each customer?
  • How can we develop supply networks that would be more flexible in responding to unanticipated disruptions in production or logistics?
  • How could we harness sensor technology to create more visibility into how our customers are using our products and use this information to deliver more value and deepen trust with our customers?

Focusing your questions on these kinds of new and big opportunities rather than on the existing activities of the organization can also help you to sidestep your fear that questioning will be seen as a sign of weakness, since there’s no way you could be expected to know the answers.

These broader questions also communicate that you have a sense of ambition, that you want to take the organization way beyond where it is today. And you can bolster your credibility by providing evidence of those long-term trends that underlie your question – for example, emerging technologies that are likely to offer new opportunities, or demographic shifts that will create some significant unmet needs among your customers.

Involve Others

These questions also invite collaboration. To make the most of them, don’t ask them in closed leadership meetings. Instead, broadcast them throughout your organization and even beyond it. It’s not just you posing a question to your people, it’s your brand reaching out to learn from its consumers. Reaching out beyond the institution to connect with expertise and perspectives from a broader set of more diverse sources will help your company learn faster.

For example, take Domino’s Pizza. About 10 years ago, Domino’s was hearing from customers that they did not like the company’s pizza. Many organizations might have tried to hide this information or work behind the scenes to correct the problem. Domino’s Pizza did something different. They made public the feedback they were receiving and asked for suggestions on how they could improve the quality of their pies. This open question generated an avalanche of suggestions that proved very helpful in improving the pizzas.

But beyond an open innovation success, the impact was even more fundamental: by expressing vulnerability, I believe that the company built trust with customers. Here was a company that was willing to acknowledge they had a problem and to ask for help in addressing the problem. If more organizations were willing to ask for help from their customers and other stakeholders when experiencing a problem, they would likely have much greater success in re-building trust.

Change Your Culture

Anxiety can run high in volatile times, and by asking these kinds of questions you can help people overcome some of their fears. It’s well established in the psychology field that coming together with others can reduce anxiety — that’s the idea behind group therapy. And achieving real impact can also help overcome feelings of being overwhelmed. Thus by helping people to focus on short-term actions they can take together, your questions can provide a focusing and calming effect during a crisis. .

By asking questions as a leader, you also communicate that questioning is important. You’ll inspire people to identify new opportunities and to ask for help when they need it. These behaviors lead to a culture of learning, which is critical, since the institutions that will thrive in the future are those that encourage everyone to learn faster and more rapidly expand the value that they deliver to their stakeholders.

This will be especially true if you encourage exploration that can generate new insights into potential answers to your questions, rather than simply expecting complete answers and nothing less. This will encourage people to make small moves initially that can quickly help to increase excitement about the question since participants can quickly begin to see progress. As early answers to your question begin to emerge (as a result of experiments or research, for example), share them, even if they are not groundbreaking. They’ll contribute to your culture of learning and show your stakeholders that your questioning is generating new insights, increasing their confidence in your methods.

Leaders who ask powerful questions have the greatest success in both seizing new opportunities and addressing unexpected challenges — and they build cultures that will carry these benefits into the future.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Hagel is a trusted advisor who has been based in Silicon Valley for over 40 years but who has worked with leaders around the world. On the side, he has published 8 books, including his most recent, "The Journey Beyond Fear"  You can connect with John @ JohnHagel.com

 
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#ReimaginePRAYER…this Advent

    In the Christian year, we're about to enter the season of Advent - and be reminded that we are still waiting for God to fulfill the all that has been promised in Jesus for us and for the world. That space of waiting reminds us that our posture should be aligned with that of Mary when she received the annunciation from the angel Gabriel: "may it be in me according to your will" (Luke 1:38)


     My Advent prayer for myself, for The Initiative, and for each of you who reads these updates is that we will continue to yield ourselves and our structure to be formed and shaped according to God's good purpose and loving design.



Yours in Christ's Love,
       Scott Brill
       Executive Director

https://theinitiative.org/

 

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Knowing God's Reality

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        As I was walking along I saw your many altars.

   One had this inscription on it—“To an Unknown God.”

You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is,

                 and now I wish to tell you about him.

                               Acts 17:23 NLT

 

 

 

 

I am not a founder of a religion—I am the Redeemer.

     On the altar of Calvary, believe Me and know complete salvation.

 

I am not a teacher of a philosophy—I am the Prince of Peace.

     On the altar of reverence, seek Me and know indefinable serenity.

 

I am not a charlatan—I am the Wonderful Counselor.

     On the altar of faith, follow Me and know unflinching assurance.

 

I am not an abstraction—I am the Almighty.

     On the altar of expectation, depend on Me and know graceful strength.

 

I am not a security blanket—I am the Savior.

     On the altar of repentance, receive Me and know unfailing love.

 

I am not a concept—I am the Creator.

     On the altar of humility, recognize Me and know ultimate meaning.

 

I am not a hallucination—I am your Helper.

     On the altar of trust, rely on Me and know unflappable equanimity.

 

I am not a superstition—I am the Sovereign.

     On the altar of wisdom, learn of Me and know infinite worth.

 

I am not a fabrication—I am your Friend.

     On the altar of truth, walk with Me and know heavenly compassion.

 

I am not a lunatic—I am Lord of all.

     On the altar of surrender, give Me your heart and know total freedom.

 

I am not a creed—I am the Christ.

     On the altar of sincerity, obey Me and know perfect reality.

 

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  © Pastor Johnny R. Almond                

Day 330, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

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Second Coming - Second Thoughts

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Just as the lightning flashes from the east and shines and is seen   

   as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.     

        Watch [be cautious and active] for you do not know

              in what kind of a day your Lord is coming.

                  Matthew 24:27, 42  AMPLIFIED BIBLE

 




My return will be evident to skeptics—the end of the world for atheists.  

   Those who thought it would never happen will be convinced—too late.    

   My Presence will be as obvious as lightning lighting up the entire sky.      

   The Second Coming is more than a doctrine—it will really happen.  

   You can count on it—you have My Word.

   The King’s return will be unmistakable.

 

My return will be exciting to saints—the ecstasy of worship for believers.  

   The King of kings will unite unsettled nations and rule the universe.

   The surprise and shock will be more than many people can bear.

   The Second Coming will bring the future perfect tense I have promised.

   Everything will be transformed for the better when I put My foot down.

   The King’s return will be unimaginably beautiful.

 

My return will be enlightening to the sincere—

   the encouragement of wonder for the redeemed.

   The triumph of righteousness will obliterate the darkness of evil.

   Constellations will fade in the light of the Bright Morning Star.

   To the lost, My return will mean tragedy—outer darkness with no exit.  

   To the saved, My Second Coming will mean triumph—eternal light.

   The King’s return will bring unending celebration.

 

My return will be embarrassing to the slothful—

   the exposing of waste to the lazy.

   The unprepared will blush with shame—and cry tears of futile regret.

   The King’s return, to them, will be uncomfortable—to say the least.

 

Are you surrendered to Me as your King? Then be subject to change!

Are you convinced I am actually going to return? Then live like it!

Are you persuaded you have an interview with Me? Then get ready!


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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond           

Day 311, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

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GUEST POST: Redemptive Relationships

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GUEST POST: Redemptive Relationships

4 Ways to Build Redemptive Relationships

By Gary Reinecke on Nov 16, 2022 10:03 am

In a post-Christian context, one of the challenges when building redemptive relationships is discerning where to start. In our efforts to relate, serve, and ultimately build trust, sometimes we inadvertently do more damage than good. It can happen in subtle ways through words and actions that are intended to build bridges but, instead, create deep divides that are challenging to navigate.  

Have you said something that was received with a surprised look, hurt, or even anger?  I know I have. Fortunately, when this happens I have people around me that make me aware and those on the receiving end have been kind enough to forgive. There are times, though, when things are said that are offensive and insensitive that can lead to rifts in relationship if not quickly addressed. That’s what I would like to address here.

4 ways to build redemptive relationships

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1. Listen

Listen to understand so that you learn where a person is coming from. This is easier said than done. Before you form a judgment – stop, remain curious and ask questions. When you feel the urge to share your own thought or relatable story, decide instead to listen and understand.

2. Empathize

If there is one thing that followers of Jesus need to lead the way in, it is the art of empathy. With the ability to put yourself in another person’s position, you can earn the right to ask questions. The only way to do this is by getting into the muck and mire of people’s lives. Watch Brene Brown on Empathy.

3. Nurture Trust

This is vital. Until you have implemented the first two, listening and empathizing, you will find it challenging to build trust. Nurturing trust is not a one-time event, but a repeatable process that needs to be reinforced. 

4. Contextualize your message 

What about when you have something to say? There is a nagging question in the coaching community about feedback and it’s true, sometimes it’s important. We cover that topic in the post Coaches and Timely Feedback. If you are confident it’s time to speak up, remember to make sure what you offer is principle based and appropriately contextualized. 

Paul was astute at relating to people from different worldviews than his own. Think of what he encountered throughout his ministry:  navigating cross-cultural barriers, paradigms that were contrary to his, and an array of theological assumptions. A favorite example is when he encountered the “unknown God” in Acts 17:22-23

So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with. —The Message

Become a More Effective Witness

Reflect on these questions to assess how you can adapt your approach and build relationships with people outside of the church.

  1. What values do I need to hold true to?
  2. Which issues are non-negotiables for me? Really?
  3. What issues am I willing to let go?
  4. What am I unwilling to risk in this conversation?
  5. How can I create a win-win for this conversation?
  6. What should I look for to determine if people are uncomfortable?
  7. How will I respond when I encounter a sensitive topic?
  8. What possible subjects will this person find potentially offensive?
  9. How can I share what I need to share in a way that it can be heard?
  10. Who else could I include?

Cover Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The post 4 Ways to Build Redemptive Relationships appeared first on Christian Coaching Tools.


#ReimagineEVANGELISM...

 

Recent Articles:

7 habits to nurture mindfulness in your coaching
The Barnabas Questions
Five Questions to Greater Clarity
A risk that will make you a better coach
3 Essentials When Establishing a Coaching Relationship 

 

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Christ Accepted--the Secret of Glory

 

 10882211101?profile=RESIZE_400xThis message was kept secret for centuries and generations past,

     but now it has been revealed to his own holy people. 

For it has pleased God to tell his people that

     the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too.  

For this is the secret: Christ lives in you,

     and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.

     Colossians 1:26-27 NLT

 

Christ’s promise in your mind is your hope of an eternal destiny of joy.

Christ’s love in your heart is your absolute guarantee of a heavenly home.

Christ’s Spirit in your soul is your personal security you are bound for glory. 

Christ’s presence in your life is your foretaste of glory divine. 

 

The entire universe with its innumerable galaxies cannot contain God—

     yet God has taken up residence in the hearts of all who welcome His Son.

Because Christ lives in you—

     you can count on inheriting the blessing of sharing in His glorious reign; 

     you have been rescued from the dark side, and live as a child of the Light;

     you have been made a privileged citizen of His eternal Kingdom;

     you have been freed from sin’s addiction and destructiveness;

     you have been forgiven of sin’s guilt, and can face eternity fearlessly.

 

Certainty of eternal life is not based on doubtful faith, but trusting reliance. 

Promised glory is not mere wishful thinking—God’s promises will materialize. 

Your ultimate destination is a land beyond time, change and decay.

     Heaven on earth will be a deathless, tearless, painless, sinless place.

 

Looking forward to the ecstasy of infinite glory—

     you are motivated by a changed purpose—Christ, not yourself;

     you anticipate a changed destiny—heaven, not hell;

     you demonstrate a changed lifestyle—holiness, not wickedness.

 

Identified with Christ, you are victorious over sin and death now;

     and you are destined for unimaginable glory someday—

     more beautiful than any painting can picture,

     more joyous than any symphony can convey,

     more magnificent than any literature can describe.  

 

Roman generals returning from victory were greeted by a great procession

     lining streets and cheering, vanquished troops marching in chains,

     strange animals brought from subjugated lands, musicians and singers    

    celebrating conquests, his children robed in white riding trace horses,

     a slave riding with him in his chariot holding a crown for him

     and whispering in his ear, “All glory is fleeting.” And so it is. 

The one exception is Christ’s glory awaiting you—it is not too good to last.

An eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison will reward your faith. 

 

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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond                               

Gentle Whispers from Eternity

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GUEST POST: Lead a Reimagine Journey

                       GUEST POST: Lead a Reimagine Journey

Capitalize on your strengths

New blog post from Marcy Bradford
 

No leader is perfect. Rather than focusing on your weaknesses, you can learn how to make the best use of your strengths to get where you want to go.

One of the books I consistently use when I teach leadership in the Fuller Seminary D Min program is Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. It’s the newest edition of the book based on the classic StrengthsFinder Assessment—now renamed Clifton Strengths, after its inventor Don Clifton (1924-2003). 

 

Strengths Based Leadership

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The genius of the assessment—as well as the leadership books built around it—is that by knowing and embracing your strengths as a leader you can capitalize on them.  For example, the book makes a point that Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi were both great leaders, yet quite different from one another. There is no one profile of a leader, but rather a leader is one who makes use of his or her strengths to lead effectively. Essentially, use what you’ve got. 

Know your team

A corollary is then that you’ll need others on your team who can help you shore up the areas where you aren’t strong. For instance, a strong visionary leader may need an organizer to come along after them to put all the necessary follow up into place needed to bring the vision to reality. 

There is a great section in the book that breaks down the 34 strengths (or themes) into four domains: executing, influencing, relationships building, and strategic thinking. Ideally, a good team will have members representing strongly in each of those domains. 

Know your audience

Yet one of the best new features of this book is the addition of a section on why people follow. What needs do people have that good leaders meet? Rath and Conchie break down the four basic needs of followers, and then discuss how different kinds of leaders can meet those needs. I won’t give away any spoilers here, but this section along is well worth the price of the book. 

Know yourself

The core value of the book for anyone new to StrengthsFinder—is the ability to take the assessment itself and determine their own top five strengths. Knowing this information helps you utilize your strengths more effectively, determine who to work alongside on your team, and understand how you are uniquely positioned to meet followers’ needs.   

Five stars—highly recommended! 

The Leadership Difference

Effective leaders don’t come ready made. Sure some have a natural leadership ability but the best leaders hone and develop the skills needed to be effective. If you are running up against barriers in your ministry that aren’t specifically theological but are more about how to lead people and get along with them as you work together, The Leadership Difference is for you. LEARN MORE HERE.

Photo by samer daboul

The post Capitalize on your strengths appeared first on Logan Leadership.


 

 

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Answers You Can Live With

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                              The Lord God is my strength and my song;

                                            he has given me victory.  

                                                  Isaiah 12:2 NLT

 

 

 

How can you go on when you feel like giving up?

     How can you face another day if you don’t want to get out of bed?    

          My power is the answer to your problem of weakness.

 

You can be stronger than you feel achievable—if you let Me carry you.

You can accomplish everything I ask of you if you rely on My grace.

You can survive harrowing situations if you trust Me.

You can be ready for anything the future holds if you lean hard on Me.

You can be victorious over evil habits if you depend on My Holy Spirit.

You can avoid self-pitying quicksand if you stand on the Rock of Ages.

You can hang in there when you are bone-tired and weary if you pray.

You can persevere until the finish line if you stay focused on the cross.

 

How can you celebrate when the world is falling apart?

     How can you rejoice even in the midst of discouraging circumstances?   

          My peace is the answer to your problem of woe.

 

You can be happier than you think possible—if you let Me comfort you.

You can be optimistic about a bright future if you believe My promises.

You can learn to dance for joy even on cloudy days if you follow My lead.

You can have cascading joy in a sad world if you drink of My Spirit.

You can get over singing the blues if you listen to My toe-tapping jazz.

You can know peace in pandemonium if you keep your mind on Me.

 

How can you find real significance in a society playing trivial pursuit?

     How can you make God’s dream for your life come true?

          My purpose is the answer to your problem of wandering.

 

You can be nobler than you deem attainable—if you let Me control you

You can find an exciting reason for living if you honor the King of kings.

You can be resurrected above narcissistic culture if you bury your self.

You can aim for goals death cannot kill if you think vertically.

 
  

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© Johnny R. Almond                          

Day 265, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

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#ItSeemsToMe...

Phil Miglioratti

 

#ItSeemsToMe...the "lie" of #ChristianNationalism is the lie self-identified-Christians believe that the white-male-middle-class-America version is the only biblical application of the #Gospel.

Dogma ("a set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true"), including #evangelical systematic theologies, blend cultural perspectives and presuppositions with biblical truth. It is impossible to have a biblical statement of belief that does not get contaminated at points of application or intermixed when applied in social or political realms.

"Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the (religious) leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”" John 18:36 

Christian Nationalism, while for some is a simple desire for liberty and justice for all peoples, is inexorably bent toward the good old days of a Euro-centric culture which must be restored at any cost.

 

"I Am Not Not A Conservative"

 

You can be a Christian who is a conservative person but I do not believe we can be conservative Christians. Christ was radical. Authentic CHRISTianity must not be swallowed up by liberalism nor conservatism. Nor can we be anti-liberal (per se) or anti-conservative (per se). Liberal and conservative perspectives come from persons who are created int he image of God, who is righteous and just while calling for obedience and the freeing of captives. 

 

#ReimagineCHRISTIANITY...In America

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The #Reimagine Journey is the road less travelled towards God's wisdom
 
Did you know that the path of least resistance is seldom the best path?
 
Glenn Bleakney
That’s why so many believers swallow hook, line and sinker, the so-called wisdom of the world...
Because it is so often the path of least resistance. It's all about cutting corners, short cuts, overnight success without putting in the effort and it seldom delivers true and lasting value.
 
James 3 lets us know that there is wisdom from below (earthly wisdom) and wisdom from above (Godly wisdom) with the latter being the one that is truly POWERFUL!
 
You don’t want man’s wisdom, even though that is what is most commonly offered by men preying on the naïve and/or desperate. What you need in difficult times, indeed at all times, is the wisdom that comes from above. 
 
1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us that “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us WISDOM from God…” Paul goes on to tell us that we have been given the very mind of Christ, (1 Corinthians 2:16) who is the possessor of God’s wisdom, the revealer of secrets and the repository of all knowledge.
 
As Jesus Himself said, “wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:19) So while it may look foolish, the proof is in the pudding as they say. When you think about it, wisdom is like money. It accomplishes what money can do, (and more). Solomon said, “Wisdom is a defense as money is a defense." (Ecclesiastes 7:12)
 
Wisdom is not some stored up suite of information. It is inseparable from God’s Word – the Lord Jesus Christ, who became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) 
 
When you have Jesus living in you, you have at your request all the wisdom you need for any situation. If you seem to lack it, ask God who gives to all men liberally, without shaming you and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
 
Accessing this kind of wisdom is just one of the secrets of God that will propel you past (or through) any obstacle.
 
 
 
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Visit our websites to learn more about us. https://AwakeNations.org https://KingdomCommunity.global https://KingdomCommunity.tv

 

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#ReimaginePRAYER... 

Guest Post by Judy Douglass

LINGER WITH GOD: FIVE QUESTIONS I ASK HIM

I love long prayer walks. The beach is my favorite place, right at water’s edge. Mountains are a beautiful setting, but just breathing takes a lot of my attention. Wherever I walk, the time is always a treasured conversation with God—living out my word for this year, linger.

I talk with all of God—sometimes to the Father, other times to Jesus, also to the Holy Spirit. Or just to God or Lord. And even to various names He goes by—El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Shepherd….

I invariably begin with a time for praise and thanks. Our God is so good, so worthy, so generous, so gracious. Last week I shared 7 Things God Loves to Hear from Me—some of the things I say to Him often.

And then I ask Him a question, or several, depending on what He has to say to me.

I always start with this first question, then go from there.

What do you want to say to me, Lord?

He opens—always—with words to affirm love and affection for me, of His pleasure with me. He tells me I am His daughter, His treasure, His beloved.

He usually gets specific about how I’m growing, where my life is looking like Jesus, a project I have done well, a situation I have responded well in….

These affirming words lead me to my next question:

Why me? Why are you so merciful, gracious, gentle, willing to use me?

Sometimes I think I hear Him chuckle. “Oh Judy, you know. I’m crazy about you. I love to do good to you, give gifts to you, see you shine. I made you the way I wanted you, with all those good works prepared for you. I love that you are seeking to do what I made you for—and I still have more waiting for you.”

What needs changing? 

What do I need to work on? What is keeping me from being and doing all that you have for me right now?

These days He keeps reminding me I seem frazzled and fatigued. In a hurry, or too worn out to do the next thing. Am I doing things He hasn’t asked me to do? Or ignoring something he wants me to address?

What am I missing? 

He whispers to me, “Remember, Judy, you can do nothing in your own strength, wisdom, even with the gifts I have given you. But I have given you, through the Holy Spirit, all that you need to do what I ask you to do

“Indeed,” he adds, “what I have called you to is impossible. But nothing is impossible for me. Let me fill you up, infuse you with my wisdom and creativity and unleash the power of the Spirit in and through you.”

What do you want me to do? 

“First,” He replies, “roll those cares on me. Remember, your burden is heavy, but I will gladly take it off you and give you my light burden instead.”

“Stop for a bit.”

“Listen.”

“Let’s go over that list of all you have to do.”

So He points out the things He didn’t ask me to. He assures me he is pleased with my progress on things I need to keep pursuing. And then He reminds me of the highest priorities. Yes, some tasks. But in reality the true priority is people he has asked me to love, encourage, shepherd.

I wish I did this every day, but the beach is not out my door. And life has many demands. This I know: when I make talking with Him a priority, when I linger with Him, when I ask what He wants for me more than I ask for what I want—my life changes.

I rest more. I listen more. I gain greater clarity. Peace increases. Energy expands.

Linger.

Want to join me?

What about you? What questions do you ask God? 

Judy Douglass is a writer, speaker and encourager.  She partners with her husband, Steve, to lead Cru. 

A former magazine editor and author of five books, Judy travels the globe to love and encourage staff to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through them. 

She writes at “Kindling” and tweets @Jeedoo417

{WIth thanks to Bob Tiede at Leading WIth Questions}

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Honoring Steve Douglass - My Cru Colleague

{GUEST POST - A Tribute to A Man Who Used Questions To Share His Faith}

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Today’s post is going to be a departure from my normal LeadingWithQuestions.com posts.

This past Saturday afternoon, October 29th, Steve Douglass – President Emeritus of Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) took his first breath of celestial air.

Steve Douglass was my colleague and friend since 1980. He was also my mentor, not in a one-on-one way, but by being influenced through observing his leadership! He was one of the most genuine, caring, wise men that I have been privileged to know.  

Steve came to the ministry of Cru after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School. Through more than five decades of service, he held a variety of positions, including Vice President for Administration and National Director of the U.S. Ministries. In July 2001, Steve took over as the President of Cru from its founder Bill Bright. In October 2020, he passed the baton of President to Steve Sellers.

There are so many stories I could share – but one of my favorite Steve Douglass stories took place in Russia in 1994. Steve and his younger daughter took part in our mission trip to deliver food/medicine/clothes/toys to Russian children in hospitals, orphanages, and schools. Steve and his daughter just wanted to be regular volunteers and were assigned to a bus with 28 other volunteers.

On the very first day, one of the women on that bus came to Steve to share that her Dad, who was on the trip, was not a follower of Jesus and asked if Steve would please share with him. Steve, of course, agreed. But the week had passed without Steve finding any opportunity, until the final morning when Steve and this man ended up sitting across the bus aisle from each other as they headed out to their final day of distribution. Steve also noticed the man’s daughter sitting in the row behind them. She caught Steve’s eye and folded her hands and nodded – of course encouraging Steve to take advantage of this opportunity.

Steve began to engage her Dad in conversation and soon shared his story of how he had come to faith in Jesus. Steve then pulled out a little booklet, called “The Four Spiritual Laws.”

Her Dad quickly responded to share that while he meant no disrespect – he was not interested. So Steve put the booklet back in his pocket and continued to engage the man in conversation. He discovered that he had just retired at age 65 and had started saving for his retirement at age 22 and had been very disciplined in putting money aside every month and wisely investing it. Steve commended him for his efforts.

Steve then asked him how long he expected to live.  He said he hoped to be at least 85.

Steve then asked him, once you die how long do you expect to be dead? The man smiled and said, “I think that will be forever.”

Steve then asked him this question: “If I understand correctly you prepared for 42 years for your retirement which you hope will be at least 20 years. Am I correct?” The man confirmed that was true!

Steve then asked him this profound question: “How much time have you spent preparing for forever?”

The man was silent for quite a while. He then asked if Steve still had that little booklet, “The Four Spiritual Laws,” handy – as he was now interested in hearing!  Steve shared the booklet with him and when Steve shared that he could place his faith in Jesus right there on the bus, this man prayed with Steve to ask Jesus into his heart.

Steve shared with me later that it was God, who in that very moment, had given him those words and questions to ask. This was not something he had ever previously used.

If Steve was visiting with you today, he might ask you the same question: “How much time have you spent preparing for forever?”

One of my forever memories of my colleague Steve Douglass is that I do not remember ever a time that I was with him, either in person or via a phone call, that he did not end our time by praying for me! Every single time!

Here Steve shares his story of coming to Christ:

 

Below – I am reposting a “Guest Post” from Steve that posted this past February – of course sharing how he frequently engaged people to hear about Christ by asking them questions:

Helping People Become Interested in Hearing the Gospel Through the Use of Questions

 

Guest Post by Steve Douglass

We all have needs in our lives, don’t we? Some are pretty easy for us to meet—we are hungry, so we buy or fix something to eat. But some are much more challenging and seem to be beyond our ability to meet.

One time I was writing an article while sitting at a table in a McDonald’s restaurant. I was very focused and didn’t notice a woman walking toward my table until she was standing right in front of me.

She pointed and said, “Is that your Bible?” I said, “Yes”. Then she asked, “Are you a Christian?” Again, I said “Yes”. At which time she started explaining that she thought she was a Christian too but had some problems which were really bothering her. She had been living with a man for the last 10 years and had a child with him. The child was “special needs” and was challenging to care for.

After she went on for several minutes, I said, “Time out, time out! I think you are saying that you want to follow God as a Christian, but don’t seem to have the power to do that, right?” She said, “Yes”, to which I said, “Please sit down; you have come to the right table.”

She did sit down, and we talked for 20 minutes or so. I shared how she could appropriate God’s power to live her life according to God’s will. We prayed together and as she looked up, a big smile was beaming from her face. She had to go to work, and as she left I remember joyfully thanking God for what had just happened.

Think back on that interaction. I started by listening, discerned her need and asked if she felt she needed power to follow God. Normally I have to ask a few more questions to discern a person’s need. But once the need becomes clear, it is most often possible to connect that person with the powerful, wonderful fact that God is available to help, if the person is willing to trust Him.

I have found there are many needs which often surface:

  • Peace/Freedom from anxiety
  • Significance/Purpose in life
  • Love/Belonging
  • Forgiveness/A fresh start
  • Happiness/Enjoyment

And, I have found it is very helpful if I can give an example where God has met similar needs in my life.

So how do I find out what a person’s specific need is? I simply ask questions and pursue what I begin to learn about the person with more focused questions.

Let me give you an example. I was flying to Chicago O’Hare Airport. Across the aisle from me was a woman with whom I struck up a conversation. Her name was Joanne. Early in the conversation, I asked her “Where are you going after you land at O’Hare? I assume you might be connecting with a flight to another city since O’Hare is a hub airport.”

She said “no”, that she was driving on to her hometown. I asked, “And where is that?” She answered, “Rockford, Illinois”. I exclaimed, “You have got to be kidding me! That’s my hometown.” I asked a few more questions and found out that I had actually been in the furniture store her dad owned on the east side of town.

Before long she felt the freedom to volunteer that she had just gone through a divorce and was raising four young children by herself. I said, “Well, Joanne. I have never gone through a divorce, but I can only imagine that has caused you a lot of pain. Is that true?” She said, “Yes it has”. So, then I asked, “Could I tell you about how I have learned to deal with pain and anxiety in my life?” She said, “Yes, please do!”

Let me pause the story here and comment on what God used to get us to that point. Through initial questions and conversation, we established a measure of trust. Eventually, she was vulnerable enough to share a need she had that was beyond her ability to meet. Then, through two simple questions, it was possible to bring her to the point of listening to a portion of my experience with God.

So, I shared a personal example of how God gave me peace in spite of a challenging negative circumstance. And then with two more questions, I transitioned from my testimony to the gospel: I asked, “Joanne, have you ever experienced a relationship with God like the one I have experienced?” She said, “No, I never have.” Then I asked, “Would you be interested in hearing how you can?” She exclaimed, “Yes, I would love to hear about that!”

So, I explained the gospel to her and at the end asked if she would like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, accept His forgiveness, and begin to operate in His power. She said she thought she might have made some decision like that when she was young, but she eagerly prayed to be sure and especially to be sure she was operating in God’s power and peace.

SUMMARY: So, what am I saying? We all have needs, some of which are beyond our human strength to meet. But God is able to meet those needs. He does that if we confess our sins, accept His forgiveness, walk in fellowship with Him, and trust and obey Him. And the best way I have found to help someone be motivated to consider the claims of the gospel is to:

  • Ask questions and listen.
  • Discern what they already see is beyond their human capacity to cope.
  • Share how I have experienced God’s love and provision, even in challenging areas.

Almost always, at that point, people are very willing to hear how they can have that kind of relationship with God.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Douglass was President Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru.

Steve is survived by his wife Judy and their three grown children and ten grandchildren.

Steve was the author or co-author of several books, including How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun and Enjoying Your Walk with God. His radio program, Making Your Life Count, aired daily on 1600 stations.

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A Dream Come True

 

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Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while,

and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.

And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come,

and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2:6-7 KJV

 

You have an extraordinarily wonderful event to look forward to—

     the return of your Savior Jesus, the awesome reign of the Messiah. 

You can be absolutely certain it will happen—you have My Word on it.

     My Holy Spirit in your heart convicts you of realities as yet unseen.

 

There is joy too wonderful for words ahead—heaven is just around the corner.

Though you go through agonizing nights now, ecstasy will soon dawn. 

 

You live in a humiliating body—limited, weak, subject to disease, mortal. 

When Jesus returns, He will resurrect dust into an immortal and vibrant body. 

 

You have heard about Christ’s return and read My promises many times.

But you cannot imagine the transformation that will occur when He descends.   

 

I am planning a celebration greater than anything you have ever experienced.

The redeemed from all nations will join millions of angels singing My praises. 

 

Nations rise and fall . . . superpowers fade into oblivion . . .

     countries prosper and die . . . conquerors are in turn conquered.

     But My Kingdom will last forever—it is not too good to last.

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream will come true—

     I will inaugurate an indestructible, invincible Kingdom.

     The Rock will shatter all governments and wield unquestionable authority.

My dream will come true—you will ultimately become like My Son.

The noblest dreams of the saints of all ages will come true. 

 

The universe is infinitely larger and grander than you can fathom—so am I.

It is impossible for you to write a check too big for heaven’s bank to honor.

There will be peace at last—wars history, nations united, earth resting.

I will make My home with you—a down-to-earth God you can enjoy forever.

I will turn everything upside down and start over—

     I will overthrow tyrants and dismantle weapons of mass destruction.

Stars will fall, heads will roll, hearts will fail, tears will flow, knees will bend.

The King of kings—God-of-the-Angel-Armies—will marshal troops of heaven,

     strike godless nations, and vanquish the evil one.

Keep this dream alive!  Skeptics may call you a dreamer, but do not worry—

     your faith will be vindicated; your prayers will be answered;

     your hopes will materialize; your dream will come true.

 

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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond                       

Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

 

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Following Gods' Way

   

 

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        He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus,a

          sking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way.

              He wanted to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.

                                               Acts 9:2 NLT

 

I am the Way to God.

     All roads do not lead to Rome; neither do they lead to glory.

     Be My follower—travel Holiness Highway by faith,

          and someday you will arrive at the glorious destination of heaven.

 

I am the Key to truth.

     I am the Embodiment of Unfailing Love and Unvarying Faithfulness.

     All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in My heart.

     Be My student—learn My way and relax in My grace.

 


I am the Secret of Life.

     I invite you to open your personality to My Presence.

     Be My guest—accept My hospitality, take a seat at My table,

          then feast on My abundant provisions for your soul.

 

I am the King of hearts.

     I ask from you what a bride asks of her spouse, a father of his children,

          or a philosopher of his friends—your heart.

     Be My disciple—follow My orders, and I will make Myself real to you.

 

I am the Unifier of believers.

     I am Love, and I command all who love Me to love others who do.

     Be My saint—be affectionate toward your spiritual siblings,

          and enjoy the pleasure of the company of My eternal family.

 

I am the Goal of faith.

     Believe in Me, though you cannot see Me, and walk in My light.

     Be certain one day you will see Me—purify yourself for that eventuality.

     Be My worshipper—and I will coach you to the finish line.

 

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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond                   

Day 327. Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

 

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​Deconstructing or Reconstructing Faith​?
 
​Phil Miglioratti @ The Remagine.Network

Most pastors have heard of deconstruction and some say they’ve seen it in their pews, but no one knows exactly what faith deconstruction means.
Just because someone is re-evaluating what they believe, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve quit believing entirely.”​ ​ Li​z​zy Haselstine
 
#ItSeemsToMe…some ​evangelicals ​are deconstructing but many of us are reconstructing. Inviting a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed review and, as necessary, revision of the containers we have designed to ​carry, the templates we have constructed to ​codify​,​ our beliefs and perspectives. A faith journey to ​assess where​ true faith ​has been contaminated or compromised by traditions​​ and​/or​ cultural biases ​we have​ begun to think of as correct - faultless - universal expressions of Holy Scripture
 
“Many have been influenced by culture instead of by the church” ​(LH) ... ​but reconstruction recognizes that ​norms and standards of ​culture have also influenced the church. Identifying ​customs-traditions-values that steer or dilute Scripture is essential to both personal ​discipleship ​and corporate ​culture​.
 
“People rely on their circumstances to create their worldviews” ​(LH) ... ​but so does our theologizing. Our creedal statements remain foundational but our interpretations and applications need constant​,​ thoughtful reflection ​to​ identif​y​ perspectives that are based ​up​on ​or shaped by​our tribal​/temporal​ context.
 
“Before we self-righteously point fingers at someone questioning God, take time to consider what that person may have gone through or be facing and pray for them. When someone is deconstructing their faith, it is not a time to criticize or be skeptical of them but to love them well”​ (LH) ...​ and to listen. They may have wisdom from the Spirit that applies to us as well.​ Failure to listen and learn will only result in more deconstruction (unbelief) than reconstruction (renewed belief).
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Celebrating God's Presence

 

 

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Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins.

Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord,

and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again.

Acts 3:19-20 NLT

 

 

 

 

Searching for a clean heart? I justify you by My pardon.

     Here is the path to a clear conscience—turn from sin, then turn to Me.

     Fall to your knees in repentance, and stand tall by grace.

     Do an about-face from evil, and march in My direction.

     Change your mind about Me, and I will change you from inside out.

     The Pure and Holy One is your only solution for inner cleansing.

     The Just One who died for the unjust is your means of forgiveness.

     I know the skeletons in your closet, but I choose to bury them forever.

     I am aware of your dark past, but I remove your guilt—walk in My light.

 

Yearning for a celebrative heart? I make you joyful in My Presence.

     Here is the path to ecstasy—obey Me, and I will make Myself real to you.

     To know invulnerable joy, live in the holy land of the broken heart.

     I am the Source and Author of life—enjoy the pleasure of My company.

     I am your Travel Companion—stay close to My side and sing for joy.

     Satan is a killjoy—I am the Key to real life in all its richness.

     I am the Prince of Peace—I calm your heart in life’s pandemonium.

     I am the God of peace—I grant you My peace in life’s combat zone.

     I know life is difficult, but I graciously help you—hold My hand.

 

Wanting a confident heart? Journey with Me toward paradise.

     Here is the path to hope—Christ in you, you are certain of immortality.

     Heaven is your ultimate home—look ahead, not just around.

     When you worship Me in heaven on earth, you will dance for joy.

     A deathless, tearless, painless, sinless world will replace the old one.

     You can depend on it—I have given you My trustworthy and true Word.    

     God’s Son, the Man from heaven, condescended to be your Savior.

     God’s Servant, the Messiah from heaven, has become your Sovereign.

     I understand your anxieties, but I promise to get you home—trust Me.

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 © Johnny R. Almond                                Day 326, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

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The Instructed Disciple

 

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All Scripture is inspired by God  and is useful to teach us what is true,

and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.

It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.

It is God’s way of preparing us in every way,

fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

                               2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

 

Teaching of Scripture gives you vision in a despairing world.

Positive about ultimate reality, look above and beyond perishing things.

Do not pin your hopes on political promises and government plans.

Trust My plan—it is more significant and absolutely certain to happen. 

Your destiny hinges on My trustworthiness—so do not wring your hands.

Knowing everything seen has a destroyer, invest in eternal treasures. 

Believing the future will be as beautiful as My promises, wait patiently.

Anticipating the dawn of the bright morning star, whistle in the dark.

Reviewing My eternal blueprint, look forward to heaven’s open house.

You have My Word—believe My promises and rest assured of glory.

 

 

 

Reproof of the Holy Bible teaches you virtue in a depraved world.

Pure in thought, word and deed, enjoy a good conscience.

To avoid sinning, internalize and treasure My Word in your heart.

To be a person I can use, keep your mind clean and your heart childlike. 

When you realize you have gone wrong, exit that devilish detour.

Learn from your mistakes—stay out of the devil’s dark, dingy places.

Live as a child of the Light—shine like a diamond on black velvet. 

I want you to be My work of art—yield to My Spirit and honor Me. 

 

Correction of My Word brings you victory in a deceitful world.

Passionate about right behavior, avoid hellacious propaganda.

Satan’s native language is lying—stay in line with the Truth. 

Stay off crooked dead-end roads—travel the straight and narrow.

Run from all lustful stimuli—run toward everything that promotes love. 

Want to win battles against the evil one?  Then follow My Field Manual.

 

Instruction of the Book from Heaven gives vitality in a dying world.

Productive in good works by staying near Me, revel in a fruitful life.

Independently, you can do nothing worthwhile—you are weak.

Dependently, you can do everything I ask of you—I am your Strength. 

Searching the Scriptures to find eternal life?  I am your Savior. 

Want to prove your love?  Do as I say and I will make Myself real to you.

Yearn to know Me better?  Then live by the Book.

 

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© Pastor Johnny R. Almond                         Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

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GUEST POST ~ Don't #Reimagine Without This

 

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GUEST POST ~ Don't #Reimagine Without This

 

Dear Friends,

For most of my life I have struggled with finding a healthy sense of myself. To put this into a question I think we all have asked at some point: How do I live a life of genuine humility? I have spent considerable time in the ditch on one side of the path leading to genuine humility by thinking so poorly of myself that I never could find deep satisfaction and peace in my spirit. One of the advantages of growing older is that this has been less-and-less an issue. The danger for me now is to fall into the ditch on the other side of this path; i.e., to think too highly of my life and what I have accomplished by being faithful. Put very simply, I must be brought back again to two basic and life-changing questions: What is humility and how do I seek it and find it?

There is an old joke that says there was a minister who wrote his memoir and titled it: “Life Lessons in Humility and How I Attained It.” We laugh at this but the real danger is we neither know what humility is or how to pursue it. So few memoirs help us in this quest. Recently, at the encouragement of my dear friend Dan Brennan, I began to read a life-changing book titled: Humble: Free Yourself from the Traps of a Narcissistic World, by Daryl Van Tongeren, a professor of social psychology at Hope College (The Experiment: New York, 2022). This is an awesome and transformative work. 

Researchers have offered various definitions of humility. (Christians very often misunderstand this virtue by applying various false ideas to the Scriptures.) The core of humility is to have an accurate view of yourself, a view which includes both your strengths and your weaknesses. Van Tongeren says, “Humility is knowing yourself, checking yourself, and going beyond yourself” (italics are his). When we argue that we should not think about ourselves, or our strengths, we fall into an emotional and spiritual trap. Humble people know where they are strong and where they are weak. They are deeply aware of themselves. I am reminded that John Calvin said we need two parts of knowledge. He called these the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. 

What then does humility look like? Van Togeren sees four types of humility. (1) Relational Humility, which is being other oriented and able to check your ego. (2) Intellectual humility, which is being open to new insights and always seeking learning. (3) Cultural humility, which is learning from others and not viewing your own culture as superior. (4) Existential humility, which is feeling grateful to something larger than oneself. For Christians this means we understand that God is infinite and beyond our ability to fully process in our categories, either theological or spiritual. We affirm truth but we do so knowing we could be wrong. Our perception is not THE TRUTH. Such a view creates the type of humility which fosters consistent openness and leads us to value others deeply. This 

There is consistent data to show that Americans are increasingly unhappy and anxious. This spills over into family life, church life, cultural life and politics. The cause of this anxiety is multi-faceted but social psychology shows us that we have raised several generations of adults who focus on themselves in unhelpful ways. Often these ways lead to serious narcissistic behavior patterns. I have seen this more and more in people I meet and interact with, especially some pastors who are often way too self-confident. Many pastors live out of a sense of their felt needs in order to be successful. They try to move churches and people to follow them as leaders to fulfill this deep need for affirmation. Frederick Nietzche was right when he called this way of living “the bitch goddess of success.” This form of modern idolatry nearly ruined me around my fortieth birthday. (God heard my cry for him and met me in a way that led to real deliverance.) 

Van Tongeren concludes his opening chapter with a fitting and helpful word to us:

So, let’s abandon our misconceptions about humility. It’s not punishment from the gods, nor is it a shameful humiliation or a badge of the weak. It’s a powerful way to approach yourself, other people, and the world—and it can transform your life for the better (Humble, 19). 

There is much in the broader Christian tradition to help us get humility right. Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” St. Augustine once wrote, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it was humility that makes men as angels.” Let us learn this core truth and develop a deeply balanced and healthy view of ourselves. For truly “Humility helps us become self-aware and accept who we are and the world as it is” (Humble, 23).


Pax Christi,

John

 

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GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

The One Thing That Changes Everything

Bill Zipp 

I love Kmart. But not for the low, low prices or the blue light specials. I love Kmart because wherever I travel in the United States, I can find a dead plant there.

Let me explain…

As a speaker, I’m often asked to address the topic of organizational culture. I begin my speech by putting a dead plant in front of the audience and asking the group what this plant needs. We generate a list—water, air, nutrients, re-planting, pruning—and discuss the ways in which this list parallels the corporate context.

There’s one problem with that ingenious idea, however. Where do you find a dead plant on demand? The solution: Kmart. They’ve never failed to deliver. There’s always a good supply of dead plants on their shelves from which to choose.

When I take my dead plant to the check-out line to pay for it, I ask the attendant if he or she could discount it for me because the plant is, obviously, quite dead. A conversation like this ensues:

“I’m sorry, sir. I’m not allowed to do that.”

“But the plant is dead,” I reply.

“It’s not our policy to discount dead plants. Then everyone would want them.”

“And that would be a problem?“

I’ve learned a lot over the years from dead plants about what it takes to build great organizational culture, but first, allow me to answer these two questions: What is culture and why does it matter?

WHAT IS CULTURE? WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Simply stated, culture is the combination of beliefs and behaviors any group of people embrace, from businesses to churches, families to nations. It’s the way people in these groups think and the way they act over time.

If a sports team believes it cannot win close games, its behavior reflects that belief when minutes turn to seconds on the clock. They stop playing with a sense of urgency and give up. In business, culture drives how we participate in meetings, how we treat our customers, and how we go about pursuing our goals and responding to the obstacles that arise related to them.

Culture is the undercurrent of all that goes on in your organization and the riptide that drowns any initiative that drifts into its flow. It’s the one thing that changes everything. Which makes building great organizational culture one of your top priorities as a leader.

The stark reality is this: you may have the best product at the best price. You may have the most brilliant strategy being executed by the most talented staff. You may have the latest cutting edge technology and the slickest social media presence, but if your culture is broken, all of that stuff—every bit of it—is dead on arrival.

Or in the words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”

THREE P’S OF CULTURE

Okay, here’s what I’ve learned about culture: Great organizational culture has three intersecting lines. The first of these lines is your company’s guiding principles, its core values. That line then intersects with the products and services you provide and the way you treat people. Let’s address each in turn.

1. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The starting place for culture is with beliefs. That is, a common set of characteristics a company is committed to carrying out, no matter what. You may refer to these as core values, or, as I do here, as guiding principles.

Companies with great organizational culture have intentionally identified a handful of these qualities and defined them as a group. Often, this process begins with individuals in the organization identifying their own core values, explaining them to each other, and affirming the shared commitments that surface in the process.

Don’t, however, jump into this process lightly. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

“Coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires real guts. Indeed, an organization considering a values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values inflict pain and demand constant vigilance,” warns the ever-insightful Patrick Lencioni in Harvard Business Review. “If you’re not willing to accept the pain real values incur, don’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement. You’ll be better off without one.”

2. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

If you’ve ever participated in a core values exercise like the one described above (It was all the rage a few years ago.), your company may have assembled a list like this: communication, respect, integrity, excellence.

Don’t those words sound great?

Here’s the problem with the items on that list. They were the core values of Enron as stated in its annual report shortly before the company’s epic meltdown, one of the worst scandals ever to have rocked the business world. Ouch!

The challenge, then, in building culture is not coming up with the ideals we espouse but actually embodying those ideals in the demands of day-to-day life. Doing them /no matter what/.

This means having your guiding principles drive the quality of the products you bring to market and the integrity of the services that support those products. It may mean declining to offer certain services because they don’t align with your values or refusing to provide certain products, regardless of their profit margin.

In other words, the creation of a company culture that’s consistent with its convictions requires that your values inform every marketplace interaction—from advertising to sales, from accounting to operations—or they are, like Enron, empty words on the wall (or in a glossy annual report).

3. RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE

Culture begins by what we say we believe, our guiding principles, and it continues by acting on those beliefs with specific, repeated behaviors. First with our products and services, and next in our relationships with people.

Token phrases, such as, “People are our greatest asset,” cause instant eye-rolls and cynical skepticism. Not, however, within companies with great organizational culture. These firms have allowed their values to inform daily interactions with their employees, creating an environment of mutual trust and respect.

Granted, working with human beings is infinitely more difficult than bringing products and services to the market, but this is where culture becomes deeply embedded in a company. And while volumes have been written on the subject, I offer some simple advice. Be honest. Be human. Be both at the same time.

Being honest involves speaking with clarity and candor and avoiding the deceptive guise of minimization or exaggerated overstatements. Honesty without humanity, however, can be harsh and hurtful. So along with clarity and candor, provide kindness and compassion. In other words, be human. And while you’re at it, be humble.

For my faith friends, you’ll recognize this concept as becoming more like our Savior, who is ”full of grace and truth.” Again, not one or the other but both completely. A fullness of grace and truth has the potential to create the greatest culture your company has ever experienced.

If your organization were a plant, how healthy would that plant be? Would it be dying on a shelf at Kmart or thriving in a fertile garden?

The choice is yours as a leader. It’s a choice to pay attention to the one thing that changes everything, empowering your people to stay true to their guiding principles with all your products and services and all your relational interactions.

 

With thanks to BillZip.com

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