The Story Part 3

25 12 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!! Here it is, Part 3 of “The Story”. The students absolutely nailed it and I thought today would be the best day to share the final chapter pf their work. I hope you all have a blessed day.

CS Lewis on Christmas

21 12 2010

CS Lewis had some interesting ideas about Christmas and I’ve listed them below. There is a great deal of truth in the words Lewis wrote but they do not represent typical Christmas cheer. Actually, he sounds pretty Scrooge-y. Scroogiosity is an area I’ve been deeply challenged in this Christmas (I wrote about it a bit here). Throughout December I’ve been warming up to the idea of Christmas more and more everyday. I even have a “Cookies for Santa” candle in my office and it smells AMAZING. I’ve learned a lot about the love certain individuals feel from a thoughtful present, receiving gifts well, the joy of family and friends coming together, and a prevalent hope surrounding individuals in all walks of life this time of year. I’m really starting to enjoy Christmas.

As you can see, I don’t know if I agree with Lewis this time around (a rare occurrence), but I thought you still might be interested.

From “What Christmas Means to Me”:

“Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about  it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.

I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers. Neither of these circumstances is in itself a reason for condemning it. I condemn it on the following grounds.

1. It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out—physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.

2. Most of it is involuntary. The modern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own. It is almost a blackmail. Who has not heard the wail of despair, and indeed of resentment, when, at the last moment, just as everyone hoped that the nuisance was over for one more year, the unwanted gift from Mrs. Busy (whom we hardly remember) flops unwelcomed through the letter-box, and back to the dreadful shops one of us has to go?

3. Things are given as presents which no mortal ever bought for himself—gaudy and useless gadgets, ‘novelties’ because no one was ever fool enough to make their like before. Have we really no better use for materials and for human skill and time than to spend them on all this rubbish?

4. The nuisance. For after all, during the racket we still have all our ordinary and necessary shopping to do, and the racket trebles the labour of it.

We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write it off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.”

Lewis, C. S. Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces. London: HarperCollins, 2000. (Originally published in Twentieth Century, Volume CLXII, December, 1957.)

As found on the blog of the late Zac Smith.

The Story Part 2

17 12 2010

Part 2 of the Story. I love seeing students read the story of Jesus’ birth and put into action how they envision it playing out today.

Jujitsu Leadership

16 12 2010

Every Thursday I have the opportunity to meet with a solid group of guys to go through The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. This past week we studied a chapter entitled “Learning to Bless Those Who Curse Us”. As we went through examples of how Jesus reacted to injustices Smith stated:

“This way of responding to injustice reminds me of jujitsu…jujitsu teaches a person how to overcome an armed opponent with no other weapons than intelligence.”

My cousin recently moved to Thailand to learn Muay Thai and teach jujitsu. He has been involved in Mixed Martial Arts for a few years and every time I see him I am captivated by his training regimen, dietary restrictions, and discipline. The stories of victory and defeat and certain situations that occur outside of the gym are fascinating to me. I absolutely love hearing how my cousin reacts to different circumstances. Here’s a pic of him breaking someone’s arm or something:

While thinking through what we discussed in our life group about jujitsu and about my cousin, I began to wonder how this applies to leaders. What would a jujitsu leader look like? How do we overcome our opponents or problems “with no other weapons than intelligence”? I’m reminded of three qualities a jujitsu leader would exemplify…

1. Security– Someone practicing jujitsu has confidence in their abilities. Insecurities give way to envy, jealousy, and pride. A lack of security causes decision making that is not beneficial to the leader or the organization. Consequently, our greatest mistakes can come from insecurity. Lead with boldness, conviction, and honesty and know you are in the position you are for a reason.

2. Awareness– I feel any individual involved with martial arts is very aware of their surroundings. For some reason I automatically think of the Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio, not little Will Smith). Leaders are aware of their surroundings socially/economically/culturally, they know when morale is up or down on their team, and they are able to discern when change or movement is necessary.

3. An understanding of limitations- Even the best MMA or UFC fighters have a weakness that their opponent will try to attack. When you have an understanding of your limitations you have options. You can protect yourself and your organization from those weaknesses and limitations and can make sure they aren’t detrimental to your leadership abilities. To do this you must ask for help, seek training, and surround yourself with individuals that make up for your deficiencies. Even the best jujitsu-ers have coaches; we could use a few too.

A retweet reminder about relevance…

14 12 2010

Andy Stanley constantly asks the question, “What are we doing that no one else has tried before?” If you take a look at how North Point services are ran, Andy’s teaching style (we’re on a first name basis because we met once), and some of the risks they take, it’s not hard to see how important and foundational this question is. I think this philosophy definitely pours out into their Sunday morning program. Check out this video for example:

I’m sure most of you have already seen this video and if you haven’t you’re probably replaying the last song again. After watching this last week, I had to share it with the world (or at least with the people who follow me on Twitter and facebook). There is one friend that I knew would really enjoy this particular video. He works in the music industry in LA and really knows what’s going on in the world of social media and entertainment. After pointing the video out to him he retweeted this video that had “North Point Community Church” written all over it. My good buddy isn’t really a church goer and I’m not sure if he would call himself a Christ follower.

BUT, he thought this was cool and interesting and relevant enough to share it with the people in his circle of influence. The church has tendencies to slip away from being relevant. We are afraid to try something new because it differs from what we have done before. It drives me crazy when people get upset about a church that plays a secular song in the service or does something like North Point did because “it doesn’t glorify God” or because “it brings the world into the church.”

Isn’t that exactly what Jesus wants us to do? Does he not want the world learning God’s truth? God wants the church in the world and I hope you know He wants the world in the church. Just because something is relevant does not automatically put it in the “not-spiritual” category. You don’t have to risk one to do the other, they CAN coexist. If that makes one person notice the church and check it out, then it was well worth it.

I appreciate what North Point does and I get excited when my friends who don’t normally step into a church see relevance in what we are doing. I hope we challenge ourselves to ask these questions, to take risks, and to long for those absent in our community and creatively provide ways for them to experience God.

HSM: The Story Part 1

9 12 2010

We recently started our newest series entitled “The Story”. Students gave us their depiction of what the news of Jesus’ birth would have been like today. They definitely exceeded expectations and Jordan did an incredible job editing.

Check it out:

What I learned from “Undercover Boss” and then some…

8 12 2010

A few things I’ve learned/been thinking about lately in regards to leadership…

1) Leaders appreciate those around them.

Ever seen the television show “Undercover Boss”? I started watching this incredible television program during a “dark night of the soul” time in my life and learned an extremely valuable lesson in leadership. PEOPLE WANT TO BE APPRECIATED. There are individuals on different teams that do not get recognized for all the hard work they put in. They aren’t even noticed. When there is someone on your team that is doing a good job, tell them about it. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the strategy and vision and momentum that leaders look at. Eventually, it causes us to look right past the people that are going to make those things happen. A personalized text message, a specific positive statement about an individual, or a hand written note makes such a difference (believe me, I just tested it out last week).

2) Leaders take risks, but not with their families.

I admire risk takers and I try to be one myself. Risk takers are not afraid of failure and try to do what no one else is doing. They are leaders that do not fear failure, but embrace it because they know it will make them better. As Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy we see a few descriptions of leaders within  the church. One of the most interesting statements is the one made in 1 Timothy 3:4.

Great leaders are not just great leaders within their organization.  Great leaders lead their families well. I’ve been around a few leaders that are risk takers in the work place and risk takers in life (and no, I’m not talking about skydiving or bungee jumping).  These people take risks with the health and stability of their family. Their families take a back seat to work, other relationships, or whatever the new kick is. THIS truly is risky business. If you are taking risks with your family, the failure that will inevitably come from your risk will NOT make you a better person. It will however, lead to destruction, sorrow, and regret.

3) Leaders learn humility.

Leaders are definitely learners and one of the most important characteristics that a leader can learn is humility. Humble leaders are secure in who they are. They don’t need to be validated by those around them because they are too busy leading. To kind of play off the words here, I’ve actually seen young leaders (and at times am guilty of this myself) that are proud and arrogant about what they are learning. People usually don’t care that much about what you are learning. Put it into practice and SHOW your newly found wisdom and insight to the people around you  and observe the fruit that comes from your efforts.

“A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.” -CS Lewis