Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mentoring a Younger Guy

Most of you reading this should be mentoring a younger guy.

(Yes, I've heard all the excuses.)

It's good for you, it's great for them.  Number one excuse I hear that sounds half-way valid: "I wouldn't know what to say, or how to advise them.  I've made so many mistakes, who am I to mentor another?"  My responses for this:

First, you can rely upon the Holy Spirit to work.  Really, you can.  "Do not fear," is a command we need to remember.

Second, only men who've made mistakes are qualified to mentor others.  Perfect men aren't needed.

Third, being with him, investing time with him, conversation with him, is more important than you having "the right answers."  In the months and years to come the fact that you cared enough to be with him far outweighs any particular advise you have for him.

I suspect that while reading this a guy or two came to your mind.  Act on that -- call 'em, set up a time to get together. This kind of mentoring doesn't have to be a long-term thing ("we'll meet weekly for the next eighteen years...") at all.  Start with a coffee break together.  But get started.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Invest 10% in Learning

There's an old adage about giving 10%, saving 10%, and living below your means in order to be generous -- many lifetimes of wisdom to respect in that concept.

As fast as the world is moving today (technologically, economically), I wonder if we should add "invest 10% for continuing education and learning opportunities."  In most organizations today being reactive is no longer fast enough -- you have to anticipate, adjust, adapt, grow.  Even those of us who have been paid by one company over years and years are working differently than we used to -- and will work differently in the months and years to come.

We stay constant on relationship and leadership principles, because people will still be people.  But practically everything else is changing rapidly -- and the rate of that change is increasing.  

I believe this is something we need to talk about with our older children.  They're growing up in a very different economic/technical/globalized world than we did.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Observed Time Rhythms, vs. Revealed Time Rhythms

(Note: this is a cross-post from my blog for Bible teachers.  -- Glenn) 

Teachers, you need a rhythm of work that includes rest.

These time periods are observed from the astronomical rhythms (which, of course, are God's design):
The day
The month
The year

But the concept of a week is a revelation from God.  There is nothing astronomical about a week.  While your body has a daily need for sleep, there is nothing 'natural' about needing a rest day each week.  These are revealed to us by God as good for us.  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

Incorporate a day of rest in your teaching ministry.

1, 2, 3, 4 ...Christian Worldview

Dads, here is a very helpful outline to ground your kids in the distinctives of a Christian worldview.  (Source: Kevin DeYoung)  This would be an excellent dinner conversation while families are together for Thanksgiving!


One God. We worship one, personal, knowable, holy God. There are not two gods or ten gods or ten million gods, only one. He has always been and will always be. He is not a product of our mind or imagination. He really exists and we can know him because he has spoken to us in his word.

Two kinds of being. We are not gods. God is not found in the trees or the wind or in us. He created the universe and cares for all that he has made, but he is distinct from his creation. The story of the world is not about being released from the illusion of our existence or discovering the god within. The story is about God, the people he made, and how the creatures can learn to delight in, trust in, and obey their Creator.

Three persons. The one God exists eternally in three persons. The Father is God. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is God. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is also God. And yet these three—equal in glory, rank, and power—are three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity helps explain how there can be true unity and diversity in our world. It also shows that our God is a relational God.

For us. Something happened in history that changed the world. The Son of God came into the world as a man, perfectly obeyed his Father, fulfilled Israel’s purpose, succeeded where Adam failed, and began the process of reversing the curse. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead on the third day. By faith in him our sins can be forgiven and we can be assured of living forever with God and one day being raised from the dead like Christ.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Are Your Man Enough to Handle This Challenge Today?

Men, gather 'round, listen up for today's challenge:

Be still before the Lord.

Intentionally set aside 10 minutes and be still. If your mind is still noisy, keep going.

Listen to the Lord!

Now, follow-through and obey.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Performance Is A Function of Preparation

Athletes and the military live and breathe this truth, but I don't observe that enough business and non-profit leaders ​see preparation as essential.  I say that because I don't see people investing a lot of time and effort in preparation.

Yes, people will -- on a deadline -- pull together a presentation and rehearse a bit. 
Yes, people do -- when pressured -- work on non-urgent tasks.
You are likely thinking right now, "I agree that preparation is important. But WHEN would I POSSIBLY have the time to do more preparation?" 

No way to sugar-coat this answer: make practice and preparation and rehearsal a priority that tops the priority of lower-level things which others could do, or don't add a lot of value.  Delegate important work to others.  Don't do "stuff" just to be busy.

Look at your calendar for the next 3 weeks. Some questions for you:

What are some important meetings that you should invest time to be prepared for?  Can you anticipate the questions that will come up, and rehearse excellent answers?  Can you think through the critical issues and write out your perspective, so you can succinctly cover it in the meeting? 

What is something important that is not on your calendar that should be?  (Remember, calendars are not just for meetings, but for scheduling blocks of focused time for to work on high priorities.)  Hint: review your performance goals, both individual and group.

Another suggestion: pick an area where you would like to get better, and then schedule time for this.  Let's say you want to be a better communicator in oral presentations.  Schedule time for action on this.  For example:
Buy that book Glenn recommended by
Read that book by
Use what I learn in the _____ meeting on
Make notes about that presentation, and decide what to do differently next time
Pick another presentation by
Join Toastmasters by

The more focused time you invest in practice and rehearsal, the less likely that you'll be stuck in a performance rut. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Careful With That Extrapolation!

Consider these four quotations:

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
- Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi

“If a bacteria cell divides every twenty minutes, then in 24 hours a single bacteria cell will produce a colony of bacteria which weighs more than planet Earth.” (Grade 6 Science textbook)

“At this rate of adoption, every man, woman, and child on the planet will have two cellphones each by 2014 – and an iPad.” (Industry trade magazine)

“The lily pad doubled in size every day.  It completely covered the pond on day 23, but hardly anyone noticed it until day 20 when it covered  1/8th of the pond.  By then it was too late to do anything.”

In the real world of growth and declines, we have to pay attention to trends and possible extrapolation in order to decide how to act.  Extrapolation is a necessary skill for managers in order to assess situations and proactively plan for the future.

But the Mississippi River is still over 2300 miles long, more than a hundred years after Mark Twain penned Life on the Mississippi.  Bacteria colonies have never weighed as much the planet.  There are many reasons why cell phones will not be uniformly distributed worldwide.  Lily pads will not grow forever. 

Here’s the key: Pay attention to constraints and counter-balancing trends as you consider extrapolations on trends.  Think about limiting factors to growth (or decline).  Don’t make linear or exponential extrapolations assuming conditions for that growth or decline remain constant.   

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stuck on a Problem? Go Up or Down a Level

​David Allen pointed out an excellent approach to problem solving in his original book, 'Getting Things Done.'  He said that when we get stuck on a problem, we need to either move up a level (bigger picture, more context, more abstract) or move down a level (more details, a smaller view, a narrowed perspective) to find the solution. 

"The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them." (Albert Einstein)

Try this out for yourself the next time you feel 'stuck' on a problem.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Great Examples In History

It’s been said that all genuine leadership is by example.  Studying history and biography is helpful!  Some good choices for books on strong but imperfect leaders in difficult situations:

Harry S. Truman  -- I recommend McCullough’s outstanding biography Truman

Lewis & Clark – Into the Unknown

Earnest Shackleton – Endurance

Robert E. Lee – Emory Thomas wrote (in my opinion) the best biography

Golda Meir – Golda

Margaret Thatcher – Portrait of the Iron Lady

Theodore Roosevelt – Mornings on Horseback (McCullough) and Theodore Rex (Morris)

George Washington – Washington: A Life

FDR's Prayer -- Appropriate on Veteran's Day

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Call to Prayer

June 6, 1944

Franklin D. Roosevelt's call to prayer, 6 June 1944, as 57,000 American and 75,000 British and Canadian troops were in bloody battle to establish five beachheads on the coast of Normandy:
My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Trust and Manliness

Here are some good insights from Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants:

Trust is a peculiar quality. It can't be bought. It can't be downloaded. It can't be instant--a startling fact in an instant culture. It can only accumulate very slowly, over multiple iterations. But it can disappear in a blink. Alan Weber compares its accretion to a conversation: "The most important work in the new economy is creating conversations. Good conversations are about identity. They reveal who we are to others. And for that reason, they depend on bedrock human qualities: authenticity, character, integrity. In the end, conversation comes down to trust."

Consider how important the manly qualities (authenticity, character, integrity) are to building up relationships and families and communities.  Let us be grateful for new hearts made by Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us!

Monday, November 07, 2011

How to Question Fears

Ron Edmonson gives 7 questions to ask when facing fears:

Is it a God-given or a man-made fear?
Is it a rational or an irrational fear?
Is it probable or improbable?
Can anything be done to diminish the risk?
Is what I’m fearing necessary or unnecessary?
Is the fear personal or impersonal?
Are you satisfied with the status quo?

Read the whole article, very good.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Obligation Nestled into Thanksgiving/Fellowship/Gospel

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Romans 1:8-16 (emphasis mine)

Recently I was captured by v14: I am obligated. I am obligated to everyone (that’s what “Greeks and non-Greeks, wise and foolish” means).  This is duty; it is calling; we’re under orders.  We do not have the right to be selective in whom we love and serve.

One of the gracious patterns we see repeated in the Scriptures is that commands are in the context of grace and love and power to fulfill the commands.  We need to see these connecting arcs, rather than pulling out commands in isolation. 

Here the obligation of v14 is in the context of
  • ·         Giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ for the evidence of His work (v8)
  • ·         The desire to serve others – and be mutually encouraged in Christian fellowship (v12)
  • ·         The power of the Gospel message to bring salvation to everyone who believes (v16)

Quick side-note: doesn’t our experience confirm that as we give to others we ourselves are encouraged and strengthened?  Let’s remember this when those natural fears of “I can’t give to this person” come into our hearts.

Praise God for putting such a rich calling of obligation into the context of thanksgiving, fellowship, and life-giving power of the Gospel!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Christian, and Living Together?

Increasingly, Christian couples are living together without or before getting married.  (Mirrors the societal trend as a whole.)  Listen to this pastoral advice from John Piper. He helpfully points out that you must be concerned about the testimony to people around you -- and suggests you fast-forward to consider what you would say to your daughter sixteen years from now.  Remember, much wisdom in these situations comes when we acknowledge "it's not about me."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Does Watching TV Make You Less Fearful?

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." (2 Tim 1:7)

Battling fears is everyday work for husbands and fathers.  Paul reminds Timothy that God does not make us timid and fearful and weak -- but powerful to love others.  (Quick sidebar: it's curious to me that Paul does not say that the Spirit God gave us makes us super-intelligent, perfectly eloquent, with six-pack abs!)

My observation is that a lot of television, radio, newspapers, blogs, and Facebook time is pumping things into our minds and heats that provokes timidity, fearfulness, anger, frustration, hopelessness.  We tolerate this because we've been convinced that we should be "well informed."  Instead of well informed, we're badly skewed, pushed off-balance, easy marks for foolishness.

Let us come to the news of the day with discernment and confidence in God's sovereign work.  That means a regular diet of the Word, of gratitude, of remembering God's faithfulness in our own lives.

Build yourself up by putting good things into your mind and heart.  Here's one example, Casting Crowns' new song "We Were Made To Be Courageous":