Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
- 5 Productivity Tips for Moms. Tim Challies writes “Together we found a way. We found a way to be productive—me as a pastor and a writer, and her as a stay-at-home mom, mentor, and church ministry leader. We found it and stuck with it. Even better, along the way we found out why it is so important for each of us to emphasize productivity—the best and highest kind of productivity—in whatever it is God calls us to do. My new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity tells a lot of what we discovered.”
- The Counter-Cultural Vocation of Homemaking. Tim Challies writes of his wife “Aileen had options before her and made her choice. She chose the thing she wanted to do and the thing she felt called to do.”
- Reputation. In this “Minute from Maxwell” John Maxwell talks about our reputations. They take a long time to earn but can quickly be lost.
- Bringing about Courageous Change. Dr. Kent Ingle writes “In leadership, one of the hardest things to overcome is a person’s resistance to change. Whether it’s your own resistance or opposition from people you are leading, it takes a lot of courage to effect change.”
- To Be or Not to Be Inspired. This post from Re:Focus suggests “Let’s not aim to inspire only those who we think will be inspired, or who have job titles we think have the possibility for inspiration. Rather, let’s talk about what we believe to everyone and give everyone the opportunity to be inspired and become a part of something that matters.”
- 5 Things Millennials Need To Learn About Productivity Now. Tim Challies writes “God calls us all to be productive. You can be a productive student, a productive employee, a productive stay-at-home mom or even a productive retiree. If this is all true, there is an important implication: You can be an unproductive student, employee, stay-at-home mom and, yes, an unproductive retiree. So how can you know that you’re living a productive life? You can begin by ensuring you understand what God says about productivity.”
- What Amazing Bosses Do Differently. Sydney Finkelstein writes “No behavior a boss adopts will guarantee happy employees, but managers who follow these five key practices will find that they will help improve well-being, engagement, and productivity on any team. The common denominator is attentiveness. Pay close attention to your employees as individuals.”
- Why it is Unfair to Treat Everyone the Same. I always say that I don’t treat everyone the same, but everyone equally fair. Eric Geiger shares eight ways the people on your team are different.
- 7 Principles to Mastering Change. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Despite the difficulty of not knowing the exact changes headed our way, if you’re leading a family, a team, or a company, people expect you to lead them through the change. Indeed, it’s one of the four tasks that every leader has to master.”
- Five Signs Your Team is Not Really a Team After All. Dave Kraft writes “So, is the team you are on truly a team or just a group of people who happen to work for the same organization? Why not ask your fellow team members to honestly evaluate the team?
- Four Practical Ways to Avoid Burnout. Eric Geiger follows up an earlier article on burnout with those helpful suggestions.
- Showing Appreciation at the Office? No, Thanks. Sue Shellenbarger writes, “The workplace ranks dead last among the places people express gratitude, from homes and neighborhoods to places of worship.”
- Dear God, Thank You for This Crummy Job. David Rupert writes “Rather than let my employment challenges drag me down, I’ve decided to take back the workplace for God’s glory, and I’m doing it through an attitude of gratitude. The seed of thankfulness was first planted by scripture, “In all things give thanks.” It was watered by Ann Voskamp, with her book, One Thousand Gifts, where she dares me to “live fully,” right where I am.”
- 4 Keys to Difficult Conversations. Kevin Lloyd writes “If you’re the type who can slip into bad conversation practices such as: being too emotional, getting defensive or just not having a tough talk with someone, maybe this will help you.”
Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley. Zondervan. 80 pages. 2007.
This small book on vision is one that I recently read for a second time. Stanley is pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, the second largest church in the United States. I have listened to and benefited from his “Leadership Podcast” for the past few years.
He writes that this is not a book for those whose organizations have not developed their vision yet, but rather for those leaders who want to make their vision stick. He has described vision as a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be. He writes that one of the greatest challenges of leadership is making vision stick.
Stanley writes that it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that those within their organization understand and embrace the vision of the organization. However, when a leader blames their followers for not following, the leader has ceased to lead. The leader has to communicate things in a consistent and coherent manner.
He gives five steps to make your vision stick:
Step 1 – State it Simply Stanley writes that people don’t remember or embrace paragraphs, so the vision must be simple and memorable. He uses the One Campaign as an example. Their vision is “To make poverty history”. He indicates that if the vision is unclear to you, it will never be clear to the people in your organization. For your vision to stick, you may need to clarify or simplify it. The vision that Stanley has for his church is “To create a church that unchurched people love to attend”.
Step 2 – Cast it Convincingly He uses Nehemiah 2 from the Bible to illustrate this step, stating that it is the ultimate illustration of casting vision. The wall had been torn down for a long time. Nehemiah casts the vision for why they need to rebuild the wall now. The three parts to this step are:
- Define the problem. People have to realize how serious it is and what is at stake if they don’t get on board.
- Offer a solution. A vision is convincing when people are able to see the connection between the problem and how the organization is offering a solution. Every vision is a solution to a problem. Stanley writes that: “Buy-in hinges on your ability to convince them you are offering a solution to a problem that they are convinced needs to be solved”.
- Present a reason. This is the reason that action must take place now. This is the answer to the questions “Why must we do this?” and “Why must we do this now?”
If the people in your organization don’t feel the problem, they will not be excited about the solution. You need to craft your vision as a solution to a problem. Organizations need to position themselves as a solution to a problem.
Step 3 – Repeat it Regularly Stanley writes that regardless of how often you think you’ve repeated your vision, it’s not enough. He recommends discovering within the rhythm of your organization when the best time is to cast and repeat vision. At Stanley’s church the best times are each January (when they have their highest attendance) and May (when they are recruiting volunteers for the fall). The repetition is done in numerous ways (sermons, emails, recorded messages on CD, mail-outs, etc.).
Step 4 – Celebrate it Systematically Stanley writes that the leader has to find ways to celebrate the vision. When you catch somebody living out the vision the way you need to celebrate it. Stories do more to clarify than anything. They bring emotion to phrases and sentences in the vision statement. He goes on to state:
“Celebration clarifies the win. People will repeat what is most often celebrated. Every organization celebrates something. But if your vision doesn’t align with your celebrations, I assure you that what’s celebrated will overpower the vision and determine the course of your organization”.
Additionally he suggests that the first question that should be asked in the weekly staff meeting is “Where have you seen (vision statement) lived out this week?”
Step 5 – Embrace it Personally Stanley states that: “Your willingness to embody the vision of your organization will have a direct impact on your credibility as a leader. Living out the vision establishes credibility and makes you a leader worth following. When people are convinced the vision has stuck with you, it is easier for them to make the effort to stick with the vision”.
He concludes the book by discussing how to know if your vision is slipping. He gives two categories of vision slippage indicators (ways to know when your vision is slipping):
- Projects, Products and Programs Stanley writes that leaders must keep their antenna up for new things that have potential to distract from the main thing. He states: “Our approach stands in stark contrast to a practice many church leaders have adopted. I’ve actually heard this taught as a good approach to pastoral leadership. It goes something like this: When somebody comes to you with a ministry idea, tell them, ‘That’s a great idea! Why don’t you lead it?’ This is heralded as an effective way to involve people in ministry. I think it’s a great way for a church to lose focus. Vision, not people’s random ideas, should determine programming. Vision, not a cool PowerPoint presentation, should determine which initiatives are funded by your organization. Vision, not the promise of great returns, should determine which products are launched.”
2. Requests, Complaints and Stories Stanley indicates that requests, complaints and stories reveal a great deal about what’s on the minds and hearts of the people in an organization. He writes: “Consider this: if there was 100 percent buy-in to your vision by the people you work with, what questions would they ask? What kinds of stories would they feel compelled to tell? What would get on their nerves? Begin to listen. Really listen. If the people around you aren’t asking the right questions, telling the right stories, or complaining about the right things, your vision may be slipping.” He goes on to state that what people complain about communicates their understanding of the vision.
This short book contains much helpful information about how to make vision stick.
- The sign of a professional is someone who makes the difficult look easy. Mark Miller
- 75% of people are leaving jobs because of their leaders. Bob Chapman
- Don’t let success go to your head. Don’t let failure go to your heart. Tim Keller
- Wait for your opportunity to serve and have courage to catch people doing things right. Ken Blanchard
- Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things. Coach K
- Fridays are good. But if you are always straining toward Friday because you hate your job you should rethink what you do. Dave Ramsey
- The key to great retention is selection. Mark Miller
- People won’t care about you until they know that you care about them. Dr. Alan Zimmerman
- I hate turning down good opportunities, but sometimes our no is more important than our yes. Discernment is a key to being successful. Ron Edmondson
- The Christian leader is called to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. Henri Nouwen
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003
Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.
This week we look at Chapter 1 – My Search for a Single Passion to Live By
- This was the story that gripped me more than all the stories of young people who died in car wrecks before they were converted—the story of an old man weeping that he had wasted his life. In those early years God awakened in me a fear and a passion not to waste my life. The thought of coming to my old age and saying through tears, “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” was a fearful and horrible thought to me.
- Another riveting force in my young life—small at first, but oh so powerful over time—was a plaque that hung in our kitchen over the sink. On the front, in old English script, painted in white, were the words:
Only one life
’Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
- The message was clear. You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.
- What would it mean to waste my life? That was a burning question. Or, more positively, what would it mean to live well—not to waste life, but to . . . ? How to finish that sentence was the question.
- That is what I heard in Dylan’s song, and everything in me said, Yes! There is an Answer with a capital A. To miss it would mean a wasted life. To find it would mean having a unifying Answer to all my questions.
- But God was graciously posting compelling warnings along the way. In the fall of 1965 Francis Schaeffer delivered a week of lectures at Wheaton College that in 1968 became the book, The God Who Is There.1 The title shows the stunning simplicity of the thesis. God is there. Not in here, defined and shaped by my own desires. God is out there. Objective. Absolute Reality
- Here was an absolutely compelling road sign. Stay on the road of objective truth. This will be the way to avoid wasting your life. Stay on the road that your fiery evangelist father was on. Don’t forsake the plaque on your kitchen wall. Here was weighty intellectual confirmation that life would be wasted in the grasslands of existentialism. Stay on the road. There is Truth. There is a Point and Purpose and Essence to it all. Keep searching. You will find it.
- C. S. Lewis, who died the same day as John F. Kennedy in 1963 and who taught English at Oxford, walked up over the horizon of my little brown path in 1964 with such blazing brightness that it is hard to overstate the impact he had on my life.
- Lewis gave me an intense sense of the “realness” of things. The preciousness of this is hard to communicate.
- There was another force that solidified my unwavering belief in the unbending existence of objective reality. Her name was Noël Henry. I fell in love with her in the summer of 1966.
- We were married in December 1968.
- In the fall of 1966 God was closing in with an ever narrowing path for my life.
- Finally she found me, flat on my back with mononucleosis in the health center, where I lay for three weeks. The life plan that I was so sure of four months earlier unraveled in my fevered hands.
- In May I had felt a joyful confidence that my life would be most useful as a medical doctor.
- Noël came to visit, and I said, “What would you think if I didn’t pursue a medical career but instead went to seminary?” As with every other time I’ve asked that kind of question through the years, the answer was, “If that’s where God leads you, that’s where I’ll go.”
- From that moment on I have never doubted that my calling in life is to be a minister of the Word of God.