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THE THREE _______________ ? (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

I love that Bible passage. I have seen it spiritually lived out in so many different ways. I’ve seen it work for good and I’ve seen it work for evil.

I haven’t posted in awhile, so before I get a new routine going again with some blogging about the Teachings and Commands of Jesus, I want to blog about and epidemic crisis going on throughout out too many churches around the world. If what I’m about to write is offensive then I would suggest that “the shoe is fitting you” and God might be using this post as a way to ask you to change.

A triple braided cord is not easily broken. Obviously true or it wouldn’t be in the Holy Bible. If you want to physically experiment the truth of this statement then go grab some dental floss. Take one strand of it and wrap it around a finger on each of your hands and pull and break it. Did you notice how hard you had to pull to break the strand? Now, take 2 strands of similar length and twist them together and repeat. You had to pull much harder to break it…some might not have even been able to break the two strands. Now repeat it, but use three strands that you have actually braided together. Its incredibly hard to break them, nearly impossible!

I have enough of a personal ministry network across the USA that allows me to hear and see many circumstances play out in the every day life of the local church. I hear stories that make me want to fall to my knees and thank God for such incredible news. I hear stories that make my heart ache for the pastor who is having to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I have personally walked through both scenarios. I’ve been around long enough to personally experience both scenarios and seen enough scenarios play out in other places that I have been able to see and link patterns. Its quite fascinating, actually.

The pattern deals with people and leadership.

The stories of triumph are preceded by a church that has a pastor that is connected with his elder board through honoring each other’s strengths and having intense team and trust. I love that kind of triumph.

The stories of walking through the valley of the shadow of death are typically preceded by a gathering of a pastor with a board. Usually the lack of team and trust and the lack of acknowledging each members strengths, this board typically and eventually dwindles to three. I don’t know why three, but I think somehow, someway this Ecclesiastes 4:12 passage ungirds it all.

I don’t need to go into too much detail about the Leadership Board built around strengths and team and trust. You can call the circle of people anything you want because when you boil it all down it’s the same thing. Elders, Deacons, Administrative Team, Corporate officers, Trustees, committees. ITS ALL THE SAME. People with positions of power. When this team of people come together and honor each other’s strengths and rely on each other’s team and trust, this team can accomplish nearly anything. This group of people live the Holy Scriptures in their personal lives. This group knows how to laugh and most definitely do not take themselves too seriously. This group is a group of people that are inspiring to be around. When this group comes together, success happens naturally through organized thinking, holiness, planning, prayer, and vision that is united in what Jesus wants. Period! This group naturally and without resistance rotates its leadership because not one single individual in the circle needs to have the position. Each individual in this group has developed their identity in who Christ says they are, instead of needing the position so they can have an identity. There is a lot of depth in that last sentence. If you pause for even 30 seconds you will be able to think of people in your life that fit both those descriptions. Which person are you? Which person would you rather spend time with…especially in a meeting?

This group of people very rarely, if ever, has the problem of the group shrinking to just 3 people. This group is of such that its actually fun to attend meetings and as birds of a feather flock together, this type of group attracts more people just like them. There’s never a shortage of people to ask to be a part of this type of rich environment. So cool when this happens.

So, there is a flip side to this environment. Again, call the group whatever you want, its all the same. However, this type of group usually has such an environment that it typically ends up only having 3 people who are left in it. Its hard to find new people to fill the absence of those who just couldn’t survive the walk through the valley of death type meetings. Death by meetings. What’s the difference from the description above? Why is there typically just three people left? The difference is simply the opposite of my first description. The Valley of Death environment is lead by a group of people who create their identities based off their position. This position puts them in such a spot that it allows them to pursue their personal interests. When you have a group of people in a meeting where three or more in the group are always vying for their personal preferences, you have, eventually, just three that are left and you end up with an organization that is full of things that these three people wanted. Everybody else in the group just shriveled and then disappeared. There voice wasn’t heard, because the big three continually cut them off and ignore their suggestions. The three people that typically remain are of two different types of people. The first type of three that might remain are the three that are very out-spoken, tend to be a bit arrogant and have a bully type personality about them. They control the meetings. They fight, endlessly, for their personal preferences. This type of person will say that they know what they are doing and that their ideas are God directed. The problem with this, is that they use God as the excuse to pursue their personal interests. The real problem is that each of these bully types will argue for their personal preferences and say that God has given them this position of authority to pursue their idea. Many times they will say that God gave them the idea. Then the next guy will say that God told them something different and has given them the position of authority to make the idea come to fruition. What you have is a meeting where God seems to be schizophrenic and can’t make up His mind, telling one person one thing and the next person something else. These meetings are maddening. They are made up of a few people all fighting for their personal preferences. There is a serious lack of Christ-likeness in these meetings and in a matter of time, there usually are only three left. If its not the 3 bullies that are left, then it usually means that even the bullies got impatient and left, leaving the very kind and gentle people sitting around the table wondering what to do next. This group will be too nice to make any tough decisions so the meetings usually last for hours while the group simply talks about ideas and never activating any of them. This last group of three remaining is very rare… most of the time all you have left in these leadership meetings are the three bullies. They love their position. They get their identity from their position. They individually try to win more followers over so they can get popular vote and power. These kind of people have a lot of meetings before and after the “official” meeting. I call this group of three, “The 3 Kings.” Self-appointed of course. The very kind and soft spoken group of three that rarely remain, we can call them “The 3 Stooges.” Kind of mean, but you get the point.

What the Church needs is a group of men that is described in the first group I wrote about above who all bow down to the real and mighty three. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. That is the ultimate group of three that can’t be broken. If every Church/Org/Corporation/Gov./etc. were lead by such a group, wow…the world would be better.

Be careful what you think the role of a leadership group is. (Call the group what you want, its all the same.) Be careful if it seems the group that is leading your church carries a heavy stick. Jesus didn’t carry a heavy stick…except to the bullies. Jesus kicked the bullies butts all the time. They eventually killed Him, but then He kicked the bullies butts again 3 days later. What is it with the number 3! Be careful relying on a group of people to give you directions of how you should live your life. You have a Bible for that. I suggest we all follow the great 3.

The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. When those three are leading, incredible things take place, no matter the personalities of the others sitting around the leadership table. Take a look at your organization, your Church, your Government, your personal family. If there is dysfunction of any kind it can be traced, more often than not, to a group of three who are not listening to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, but are listening first to their personal preferences, which are being swayed by a group of people they are trying to please.

We as God’s creation are better than this. The solution to the problem of ending up with the 3 leftovers, is for everybody to follow the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When you have a group of three left over that aren’t doing this…look out! Danger and Death with hovering everywhere. In the Church world, God nor the Devil is present in this kind of setting. The great 3 show the Lord that they don’t need Him and they lead on. This also dismisses the devil’s need to be present, for when people are in control, the devil doesn’t need to be around to cause chaos, it will be prevalent without him around.

What do you do?
Figure out a way to get the 3 removed. If that is impossible, then remove yourself from the organization and the dysfunction. Life is too short and…there are enough exciting and dynamic organizations/churches/families out there, that you don’t have to be trapped in one that is lead by the 3 Kings or the 3 Stooges.

Choose THE FATHER, THE SON and THE HOLY SPIRIT! It won’t be easy, but its what’s best!

A triple braided cord is not easily broken. This is true if the braid is holy or evil.
Don’t forget that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.

So, I recommend that you check the fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. While checking, if you find a group of 3 people who say that they know what they are doing and that you just need to trust their leadership…well…choose wisely, your choice will have consequences. Remember that life is challenging enough as it stands and I would recommend that find a group of people who fully submit to only the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

They are truly the Great Three.
Keep their desires at the very center of your life.
It won’t be easy, but it will be right!


HYDRATE – Winning From the Inside 31 (Matthew 6:24) Magnify

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

A man named Hippolytus was martyred in Rome in the third century. In the recorded incident it says he was a soldier who participated in the torture execution of St. Lawrence but converted as a result of that martyr’s example. He was then sentenced to be torn apart by horses. I mention this gruesome story for the purpose of trying to brand an image in our brains as to what happens to us (not physically…but every other way) when we try to serve multiple masters.

Have you ever said, “I’m torn between two ideas…I’m not sure what I should do?” Jesus warns us straight up that if you and I have multiple foundational authorities then we will end up hating one and loving the other. Which one do you think we naturally will have a tendency to obey? Its fair to say that if you obey one, that’s the one you love. If you disobey the other, that’s the one you hate. I think we naturally are drawn to love the easy master, the popular master, the master that requires less resistance, less sacrifice. That all sounds good until we think about the other master…the one that requires us to sacrifice, give, work hard, put in the extra effort, pay the price. What’s wrong with taking the easy road? I say, everything! I know you agree with me that the route that requires sacrifice, giving, hard work, extra effort, a price, is the route that is ultimately better for us. It most definitely makes for a better story when its over. But its so natural to want to travel the easy road. When we choose the easy road, who pays the price? The road doesn’t. We do! Why is it that we naturally want to choose the easy, lazy, and damaging path for a short term reward at the cost of a long term lasting reward? Its all crazy! The pull of the two forces is exhausting. We are actually told this in the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote about it in Galatians 5:17. He said, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” That passage has a heavy feel to it. It paints a picture of a man/woman in a continual wrestling match. A continual wrestling match is exhausting from all perspectives. It leads me to take another look at the picture above of the man being pulled apart.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Paul warns us that the two forces are constantly fighting each other. It doesn’t say that they will constantly being striving to pull you apart, it says they fight each other. This idea gives me hope in that it seems I can train myself to obey the right way every time. Isn’t that a possibility? If I have no hope that I can actually develop the discipline to choose the right path every time, then I am a dejected and hopeless man. Jesus says not to have two masters. Paul says the two masters will continually fight each other. We know that we will be tempted by both masters until we die, but we also know that we get to choose which one wins. This fact comforts me, challenges me, and inspires me to want to win and thus choose the right master/choice every time!

Some might argue and say, “Trent, we are sinners and none of us are perfect, its not possible to choose right every time.”

I would disagree. If I get technical with this argument then I would argue back that a choice is always a choice that can be made in the right way…every time. A mistake, an accident…even when it’s sin, isn’t necessarily a choice…sometimes mistakes/accidents happen so fast, it really wasn’t a choice. It happened. I think these accidental sins are what John references in 1 John 5:16-17. John mentions a sin that doesn’t lead to death and sins that do lead to death. Choosing sin and Falling into sin are very different motives and very different sins. Jesus has compassion for one and despises the other, although both can be forgiven, if the person who sinned confesses and repents as 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I believe that we can choose the right way every time. Examples?
You can choose not to murder…every time you are tempted.
You can choose not to gossip…every time you are tempted.
You can choose to forgive…every time you are hurt.
You can choose to not to steal…every time theft is an option.
You can choose to only drink a little and not get drunk…every time you have alcohol present.
You can choose to do the right thing every time…even when the wrong thing is easier.

If I really love you, then I will stick to my guns on this thought. You and I can choose right every time! When we don’t choose right, the only person we should blame is ourselves. When we choose wrong, then the reality is that we actually chose wrong twice. When I choose wrong, I chose to commit a sin and also chose to ignore my best master Jesus Christ. Choosing to do this is inexcusable. I think when I make the wrong choice, I can explain it, but it doesn’t excuse it. I must, then, face the truth and admit that I simply chose to ignore what Jesus commanded me to do. When I do this, I can’t think of more dangerous way to live.

The hard truth is this. These choices to sin don’t just happen in one instant. A tough example is the example of when someone has a sexual affair. The people committing the sin didn’t just wake up the next morning wondering what happened. No! The affair more than likely started months earlier. In the case of a man who chose to go to a bar and have a one night stand, he actually started having marriage problems way earlier than just that night. In the case of a couple who had a sexual affair, it actually started at the office when they chose to begin to playfully and “harmlessly” tease one another. Then over the next couple of weeks and months this teasing couple actually look forward to getting to the office a bit early, they put on an extra spray of cologne/perfume before they leave for the office.

When we choose to obey the wrong choice at the cost of obeying Jesus, it actually started with a secret. In option one above, the man who had the one night stand refused to talk to his accountability partner at church and instead chose to keep it a secret that he was struggling in his marriage. In the example of the couple at the office, they both, secretly, put that extra spray on, and left for the office early.

Honoring the wrong master…always…starts with a secret. Whether the master is money…which I haven’t talked about in this post, or any other master that is trying to pull you away from Jesus who paid the price to be your master. Jesus earned the right to be your master. Every other master is simply a selfish bastard that wants to justify its evil by having you as company!

Here’s the way to wrap this post up. A Master is simply a Magnifying Glass. Many times the two masters that are pulling at you, are both good. In fact all sin is usually doing a good thing…out of bounds. Examples? Sex is good thing…only with your spouse. Money is good…love of money is the root of all evil. Alcohol is good…too much alcohol is evil. Ambition is good, selfish ambition is evil. Lust is good, lust for created things is evil.

Which master will you choose? Each choice you make, actually is two choices being made. Love one…Hate the other…two choices. When we choose the master who is not Jesus…we actually are saying with our actions…(actions speak louder than words)…”Jesus…I hate you!”

Masters are simply magnifying glasses that show, in a big way, who we really are. Money is just a magnifying glass that exposes who you really are and thus magnifies how you use the gift of money. Sex is a magnifying glass that exposes (no pun intended) who you are as you choose who you have sex with…do you honor God with your sex or the devil with your sex? (Love one/Hate the other) Jesus Christ is a magnifying glass, that when you choose to live for Him, it magnifies to everybody around you, who you are. The devil is a magnifying glass, that when you choose to live for him, he magnifies to everybody around you, who you are.

It helps me to think of everything as a magnifying glass that when I choose it, the whole world sees who I am, MAGNIFIED. Do I live big for Jesus or for other masters?

You cannot serve two masters…you will hate one at the cost of loving the other.

I choose to love Jesus Christ. I want to Magnify Him and when I do, He magnifies me back…and the world notices!
You will be presented with the opportunity to follow many different masters today.
Which one will you allow to magnify you?


All the slow Brides are dying.

The local church since around 33 AD, has been called by Jesus of Nazareth, to be nimble and quick, and has been warned by Jesus, that if they are not, the Lord will jump over their candle stick.

Around 30 years later Jesus “whispered” in the ear and heart of the Apostle John to warn the local church about this and John’s recording of this prompting is found in Revelation 2:4-5, “4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Another warning from Jesus, recorded by John is Revelation 3:1-3, I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

These warnings are not written to unbelievers. These warnings are written to the Bride of Jesus of Nazareth, a.k.a. The Church.

The Church was created by God to be the Bride of Jesus Christ. A bride is only a bride when she is married and unified with a groom. The purpose of a groom and bride being wedded is love. The love, that this couple develops, creates and leads to reproduction of life. It is arguable, that in nearly every instance, true love produces new life. If new life is not produced it is usually due to a problem of bad health or lack of love.

The Church is wed to Jesus. The purpose of this wedlock is love first and reproduction as a result of that love. If the bride of Christ is not reproducing new life through this union of love with Jesus, then someone in this wedded union is unhealthy or lacks love. It doesn’t take a marriage counselor to determine who the guilty party is.

Now, I believe that the hope of the world is squarely centered in the local Church that is producing new life daily. My comments are not anti-church. My comments are anti church sterility.

Over the last 50 years too many have been witness to the dying of local churches in urban and rural America. A recent headline stated that Muslim congregations in America are beginning to purchase the facilities of former brides of Christ who quit reproducing. (The Old Testament is full of headlines just like this because God’s people quit being faithful to Him and the high places of their homeland became places of worship of idols.) I liken these churches to roadkill as a consequence of high speed culture flying down the highway of life. These dead brides, having the God given gears to travel at high speeds, mortally chose to faithfully walk and not faint on the spiritual autobahn. There is a time to walk and not faint, but there is also a time to soar as on wings of eagles. Church be nimble, Church be quick, or Jesus will jump over your candle stick as He travels nimbly and quick. Is Jesus quick and nimble? Jesus’s very nature is to keep His eyes on the will of the Father and complete what the Father asks of Him. Jesus had 3 years to land on earth and accomplish the payment for all mankind’s sins, past, present and future. I have heard stories of recent roadkilled churches, and how this once vibrant bride of Christ, somehow quit moving quickly and literally took 3 years to determine whether or not the carpet should be replaced in the sanctuary. It then argued another year about what color the new carpet should be. There are churches taking 3 years to decide what they should do with the $350,000 in the missions fund, all the while in that same 3 year period, approximately 20 Million children under the age of 5 will have died from the lack of food and clean water. The ghosts of this roadkill quote Bible passages to justify their death. They justify their death by saying they refused to conform to the patterns of the world and think themselves as martyrs. This inability of responsibility reminds me of a teaching of Jesus describing this very tragic behavior. It is found in Matthew 6:23, “And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

Conforming to the patterns of the world has zero to do with church speed, or nimble and quick and holy decisions! Zero.

Many, unrepentant contributors to the cause of the roadkill justify their inability of responsibility by saying the kill is a product of a satanic attack. I, humbly, beg to differ. If the deceased church had the ability to move quickly and celebrate the risk of living married to Jesus of Nazareth, to spend large amounts of money on fulfilling the wishes and commands of Jesus, but chose not to…Why would satan need to attack such an infertile or castrated organism? I do not give credit to the devil for such roadkill. The roadkill can be explained by the simple choice of mankind to stop loving Jesus. In the passages that John recorded in Revelation there is a whisper from Jesus beckoning His bride to return to her first love. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey me.” If the bride doesn’t obey Jesus and thus return to her first love, then Jesus simply jumps over the candle stick and moves on. Another way to describe this moving on, is for Jesus to divorce this specific bride. Thus, roadkill.

Spiritual roadkill is not a product of satanic attack. It is a product of lack of love, light and ultimately life. It is best understood as men and women in the form of a fruitless bride of Jesus, worshipping the idol of one-another, circling the wagons and becoming the product of the circle of the cursed life. Men and women groping for power and influence and control, being made sterile or castrated by the worship of the idol of personal preference. It is the bride of Jesus of Nazareth having a love affair with herself right in front of her husband. When this happens, Jesus moves on. Thus, roadkill.

Is there any good news as we travel at high speeds down this spiritual autobahn that is littered with roadkill every quarter mile? Of course there is!
God said in Isaiah 61:3 that He can make beauty from ashes. The only way we can have less roadkill happening, is through the process of Christ-like evolution. Dare I say Christ-like elimination? Do not forget that a kernel of wheat must die before new life begins. In Revelation, Jesus whispered to the probable roadkill to return to her first love, and if she doesn’t obey, he nimbly and quickly moves on. What this leaves behind, is a bride that the devil does not need to concern himself with, and the Holy Spirit can’t even see in its rear-view mirror. This leaves a stranded bride in the middle of the highspeed road of life. It is not a surprise to the world, that all that remains, is another roadkill that vultures get sustenance from. Tragic.

The beauty that God can make from these ashes is the fact that slow brides become former brides and thus are unable to produce more slow brides. I am struggling to see this fact as beautiful, for there is nothing more disgusting in all creation than to see a church become non-living. I’m heartbroken to even write about it. However, talking or writing about it in a politically correct fashion is not the solution. Ignoring it, is not the solution. Calling it what it is, repenting of it, and changing gears is the solution. In one word, Change. If you can’t shift in this shift happens society, you become roadkill.

Heres the real truth. Church will go on. With or without you. Jesus told us all, that the gates of Hades will not prevail. Jesus promised, that this all ends in victory for the church. I think it is important to warn that the victory goes to the church. Not the roadkill. The roadkill used to be the church in its former state. If your former state is the church, then your current state is not the church. Only the Church is victorious. The Church will speed on.

The Bride of Jesus is meant to live for eternity. She is never meant to be roadkill. God doesn’t cause roadkill. I do not think that satan causes roadkill. People cause roadkill. It is not the driver, obeying the speed limit, that causes roadkill. It is the driver that thinks the road is all hers and is ignoring the speed of life that becomes roadkill. Lack of speed kills too.

You are the Church.
You are the Bride of Christ.
What gear are you in?
What gear is your church in?
Q: If your gear is too low and slow…who is to blame? A: Only you.
Q: If your church’s gear is too low and slow…who is to blame? A: My personal experience has proven, that the committees and groups of deacons and groups of elders that demand to control the movement of the Bride of Jesus Christ are the guilty ones. Also, the founding members who refuse to shift gears are the guilty ones. Also, the spiritual leaders who ignore their biblical mandate to lead diligently are the guilty ones.

The control monger committees, deacons, and founding members along with timid and diligent less leaders, afraid to pick up speed, simply will become a turtle with her head tucked “safely” away sitting on the fastest speedway of life and consequentially roadkill for passersby to gross out about.

The very people who Jesus died for, are traveling this speedway, and are witness to all the roadkill, and what they see is causing them to choose not to become the bride of Christ, for fear of becoming roadkill themselves. I believe that spiritual roadkill is the number one reason why unchurched people refuse to be a part of the Bride of Jesus of Nazareth. Nobody wants to drive in a pretty and slow car. Its embarrassing. Fears of becoming roadkill are strong influences.

The people, who are far from Jesus, are eternally dying to get behind the wheel of the greatest drive life can provide. That ride is supposed to be the Bride of Jesus. The Church. People, who are far from God, want to ride, but refuse to ride in the way that causes them to become roadkill.

The times we live in demand for the Bride to be swift and healthy and reproduction focused.
The times we live in demand quick and nimble churches.
The times demand urgent churches.
The times demand churches of responsibility and repentance of fruitlessness.
The times demand the church to be obedient to the King of Kings.
The times demand churches of mobility, maneuverability, and quickness of holy decisions.
The times demand the church to live in the now.
Speed up or get run over.
It is a choice.
vroom!


Innovation vs. Discovery (Part 2 of 2)

The Spirit of Discovery…

I am nearly breathless after trying to describe Innovation in my previous post. I want to now take a look into the spirit of discovery. So, keeping it old School…Webster says that Discovery is, “The act of finding or learning something FOR THE FIRST TIME!

Wow…my heart beats faster, just after reading that definition. You’ve read the headlines…“Her research led to a number of important discoveries. Reporters discovered that the Governor had been unfaithful to his wife. Discovered a talented musician. Voyage of discovery. It was one of the most important discoveries in the history of _____________!”

Discovery! Think of Lewis and Clark and their expedition of discovery. It required teamwork. It required admitting that they had no clue what they were going to really encounter. Discovery has a knack of showing all involved that they are not in control. Discovery forces all involved to admit this phrase; “I don’t know!” Therefore, discovery creates humility.

Here’s what is exciting to me about the key difference between innovation and discovery. I wrote earlier that Innovation breeds arrogance…meaning you have to have some arrogance to breed more arrogance. What’s thrilling about discovery is that it creates humility. Somebody can have total arrogance and they can be put in the environment of “discovery” and they will be forced to be humble. Humility is born in the middle of uncertainty and danger. Opening yourself or your organization to uncertainty and danger creates humility. Innovators have to do what they’re told and use a previous example to do it. Innovation companies rely heavily on their policy manuals. Policy and policing go hand in hand and are abundant in innovator type companies. Please don’t misunderstand me, there is a deep need for policy. The attitude behind the policy is where innovative companies are different from companies of discovery. It’s the difference between arrogance and humility. Discoverers have to rely on and trust each other. Which team would you rather work on? Don’t forget that Innovation and Discovery are both good. I just personally am bent towards discovery and that is the bias you are reading in this article. An example is from the book of “Good to Great” written by author Jim Collins. In his book Collins differentiates between Levels 1,2,3,4, and 5 leaders. Jim collins talks about how level 4 leaders and level 5 leaders can produce very similar results, but a key difference between a level 4 leader and a level 5 leader is humility or lack there of. Level 5 leaders always lead through humility. Level 5 leaders tend to lead companies with the reputation for being Discovery oriented. Now a side note for those looking for some loop holes here. There are many companies known for being a company of discovery and their leaders seem to be arrogant. Maybe a fair example would be Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. Steve Jobs has been accused of being arrogant. However I think there are some fine differences between arrogance, confidence or ego. Many times all of those traits are just written off as arrogant.

A good example of creating humility through discovery would be taking a controlling “type A” person that struggles with arrogance and put him in the front of the raft as you White Water Raft down some serious rapids. This control type person and his arrogance washes away (in this case maybe literally washes away) into humility as everybody else in the raft hears him scream like a girl child who saw a mouse run across the room. HUMILITY SERVED!

That is what I love about discovery. It is teachable.

Discovery is the mentality that focuses only on the cause…even invests fully in the cause regardless of the effect or the end result. I said earlier that I am a pastor. So if I study the life of Jesus I can see that He was a man who even knew the end result or the effect of His life. He was going to be badly beaten, and murdered. Yet he stayed with the cause. By cause, I mean the foundation, the reason, the why, the origin instead of focusing on trying to control the end result, the effect, the outcome. In the people business, like ministry, the outcome/result/effect is God’s job, not mine. My job is to focus on the cause regardless of the effect or result. In the Lewis and Clark discovery expeditions they couldn’t control any effects or results. Every step could have been their end. They had to simply live in the moment and keep discovering what was new around every corner, and river and crevice and tree. The end result for them took care of itself…they desperately needed to stay faithful to the cause and let the effect be just that…the result of their faithfulness and determination to humbly keep in discovery mode.

Innovation focuses on the outcome and effects…the end result. Discovery focuses on the cause…the behavior, while on the journey, no matter the end result. Innovation measures results. Discovery measures faithfulness to the cause. One is motivated by control and one is motivated by love for the cause. One is living for the future and one is living in the moment and letting the future be in the hands of God. It’s a scary thing to leave the results in the hands of God. I think leaving things in the hands of God is the safest risk you could ever take. In the Big Picture of life…the most important things are not at the end of the Journey, its what develops and shapes along the journey that makes champions…and…usually creates the kind of champions that ultimately produced greater results than the innovator. If a climber of Mount Everest only focuses on the end result of attaining the top of the mountain…then what happens once that result is achieved. (Many Everest Climbers have witnessed people who only focused on the end result…and forgot to focus on their next step, resulting in a fall to their death.) Also, once the climbers of Mt. Everest achieve the end result of getting to the top of the Mountain, those who were too focused on the result, many struggle with depression soon after. The Journey…the cause…that’s where great things happen. The end result…tends to be the end.

Discovery is all about the mentality of facilitating the purpose and progress of others. Discovery is fun along the way because of the thrilling unknown yet to be discovered, but it is not about you. It has to be about others. Discovery mixed with selfishness kills people. Discovery, in its purest form, is about team and trust, and reliance on the critical factor that everybody on the team has each other’s interests above their own interests, as they cut a path towards a new discovery.

Discovery admits that the questions never change…but the answers do. So a person of discovery never has the answers for tomorrow and only has his/her own same questions to keep asking.
Jesus taught that people shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, for today has enough problems of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

People with the Spirit of Discovery keep on asking…“How should I treat this person right here right now?” How should I behave as I proceed into this business meeting?” “How can I focus my attitude to deal with this next situation that will impact my company for good?” “In this current conflict, how can I respond to this person to show that I do care about them, even if our conflict results in separation?” “Should I raise my voice and demand accountability for bad behavior with this team I’m about to confront?”
Discovery lives for the cause regardless of the effects/results.

Discovery is focusing on the cause and not the effect…the journey, not the results. It is focusing on the attitude not the end result. Innovation forces an outcome and controls and measures over and over and over. Discovery trusts and cares in the moment and leaves the outcome up to God. Discovery measures, but it measures very different things when compared to an innovator. Sound like a bad business idea? Sound like a plan for the can? If you answered yes to those two questions, you just began to die and your business too. This is the future business model. This is the business model of those that are speeding past you in the success lane of your business as you still are driving in the drive lane of yesterday.

Hopefully you are thinking right now, “I want to be a leader of Discovery!”

The attitude of discovery has no silos. There is a removal of walls that separate people. Innovation creates hierarchies and power pyramids and is led by bosses that control and measure according to a predetermined end result they will strive to achieve at all costs. Bosses and leaders are very different. (Another blog- another time.) Discovery creates circles full of people that honor and trust each other’s strengths. This silo-less circle of discovery team, has a leader without a Boss mentality. Oh, don’t mistake me, the buck must stop somewhere, but the buck stops with the one who is the true leader. A true leader is one who naturally facilitates the purpose and progress of all the others in the circle.

There is no “Boss” in the circle of discovery. Why? Because when you are out discovering and the “boss” finds himself in Quick Sand and about to die, his boss mode just dissipated. He is now the beggar, and now that he is helpless and about to die…depending on how he treated his “underlings,” he might just be left to die and it all be covered up as a tragic accident! I don’t want to be a boss who has everybody kissing my “Assets” out of fear. I want to be a leader who discovers with my team while keeping other people’s best interests ahead of my own. That’s discovery. That’s a level 5 leader.

The spirit of discovery isn’t focused on the organization; its focus is on the environment within the organization. The organization is an end result of a cause that people live for. The end result/organization eventually dies if the end results are all you are pursuing. If the team keeps focus on the cause, and the organization’s environment, then the organization as an end result just grows. Focus on the cause not the effect! Focus on the cause with great purpose and the end result just happens. An end result that happens out of fear, control and force, is not an end result that gets celebrated, except for a bonus check at the end of the year. Who isn’t motivated by a bonus check? The entire next generation of leaders…that’s who.

A discovery type leader rarely, if ever, looks into its own field type for how to do it better. Innovative leaders are so narrowly focused that it rarely, if ever, discovers. However…a company that carries the spirit of discovery can also innovate because it was founded off of discovery. The instant the company of discovery quits the spirit of discovery; its success will die with its last innovation. This company knows its true competition is something out there yet to be discovered and its worst competition is purely itself. I love the slogan on Michael Jordan’s web page. “The only man who could stop Michael Jordan….Is Michael Jordan!” That is true of your company, your church, your family and your self. When a company of discovery finally feels like it has arrived and has the best idea, it has now transformed into a company of innovation and has signed its own eventual death certificate.

Think about it. A company, or in my pastoral sense, a church that begins to decline and fail has only itself to blame. In the church world, the phrase “sheep stealing” is used frequently when people leave one church to attend a different church. If you think about it, well fed sheep don’t stray and most definitely are hard to steal. If your business or your church is losing sheep, then something’s wrong with the quality of your grass. Great churches and great businesses grow great grass and hungry sheep always want to eat.

The company of discovery is full of observation towers instead of silos. It studies and learns (discovery) from its own customer but is full of interaction and actually getting in the life of others outside its own company. A company of discovery never polls its own, only interacts. You can’t poll something that is yet to be discovered and so the company of discovery is full of trial and error. It has a culture of discovery and grace. How many times did Abe Lincoln fail? How many times did Albert Einstein fail? With unknowns around every corner, discovery keeps you and the team humble. It has a great sense of humor and often laughs at itself. It has a mentality of meshing and sharing with others. It has a trust in every individual in the company to utilize and expand on their own personal expertise and strengths. Team and Trust are a must in Discovery Companies. The company of discovery has an attitude of servant-hood and adventure and considers others better than self. There is a fine line here. Its complex. Discovery companies can innovate because they didn’t have arrogance to breed from. Innovative companies rarely discover because they started with an attitude of arrogance. Please understand. I didn’t say one way one is right and one is wrong. It is obvious that I have a bias towards the discovery company and actually carry a bit of displeasure towards companies of innovation. That’s my problem, that I will have to deal with. My simple question is…which company do you want be a part of? Here’s what is awesome about companies of discovery. They never end. They continue to discover and adapt and evolve into the future. The only thing that ends is your ability to work in that company because your age just prevents you from it. Companies of innovation sooner or later celebrate among themselves how they achieved their final result…they nailed their ultimate goal! Hip Hip Hooray….Hip Hip Hooray. Then what? These are the companies people talk about when they think back at what used to be amazing. They usually last one life time. Again…not bad, not wrong. Just not where I personally want to leave a mark on history.

So which one of these two is the company you work in or lead?

Innovative? Then you have good news…you can develop your spirit of discovery and be remarkable. Its time to get your team together and go where no man has gone before. Its scary! It creates humility. Are you up to it?

Discovery? Then stand guard, for it is very easy to start coasting…which can only happen on a downward slope. The instant you think you have arrived, you have now transformed into innovation, but that is okay, because you can make up your mind to go discover some more!

I hope you will discover who you are.
I hope you will discover what could change the world and make it better.
I hope you will discover the freedom of working humbly with a team.
I hope you will discover that the greatest joy in life is helping others achieve their dreams and desires.
When you discover that, you will be living your own dream.
The journey will be unbelievable.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and push backs. I by no means am an expert in this. I am simply thinking out loud. I like to think it all makes sense, but I’m sure there are gaps. I’m still discovering what really works for me and its an adventure that is quite thrilling and very humbling.

Go Discover!


Innovation vs. Discovery (Part 1 of 2)


Are you a person of INNOVATION or a person of DISCOVERY?
They are similar yet very different.

I have been in multiple meetings and have been asking some questions about people’s perceptions of me and of our whole organization. I have had much discussion in the past year of my life about perceptions. People’s perceptions are people’s reality. People’s reality tends to be their truth. People’s first impression of you might be false, but it will be their truth about you. How people perceive you is more crucial than you might like to admit. What are you doing about how people perceive you? How do people perceive you? I want to talk about two popular kinds of American leadership styles that influence how people perceive us. The two styles I want to talk about are the all too famous spirit of Innovation style and compare it to the a style I am in favor of, the spirit of Discovery style.

Please understand that innovation and discovery are strengths and each is important and good. Innovation and Discovery are strengths and attitudes that have a place in society. I am in the people influencing business (Aren’t we all in the people influencing business?”) So I am confident that the spirit of discovery creates more success than the spirit of innovation. This article is long and I hope you can journey with me through this thought process. If, I believe that Discovery is more success oriented than innovation, you must know by now that this article will take a leaning towards being a bit critical towards innovation. If you differ with me in this I would be glad to hear your comments.

In order for you to answer the question as to whether or not you are bent more for innovation or discovery you will have to understand each concept well. I am no expert on the two, but I have taken the time to thoroughly think and study these topics and I hope you can learn from my gleanings.

The Spirit of Innovation
Let’s start by going “Old School” and see what Webster says innovation is. I had to blow the dust off the top of my dictionary sitting on my dusty bookshelf. The dust reminded me to be deeply thankful for the internet. Webster says that innovation is, “to make changes, or do something in a new way.” In Non-webster terms I would say it this way. Innovation is to take something old and make it useable in a new way. Innovation is reformation. Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and using it over here
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Innovation is doing something old in a new way. Innovation is a new and improved way. So far, innovation sounds like a great style. I’m not opposed to the product that innovation creates, I’m nervous about what the spirit of innovation actually does to the innovators. When a group of people innovate something, they become very loyal to the newly innovated product. (By product I mean anything they created. It could be a philosophy, it could be a method of leadership, it could be a brand, or it could be an actual usable product.) This loyalty to the newly innovated product causes the innovator to love what they have innovated. Why? Because they innovated it. It is theirs. They understand it, they helped build it. They sat in the room as the innovation was being argued about. THEY argued about it. It makes sense to them and to the organization that innovated. To the people of the organization, this innovation doesn’t do anything wrong. What it does is the best it could do under the circumstances. Someone who knew what you know would make the very same decision, because under the same circumstances it was the only/best option. So they innovated and they love their newly innovated product.

So…of course, the world should buy from them or commit to them and their product. They innovated, which makes them think they did it better. If they think they did it better they also think they DO it better. They innovated. Innovation is good…Right? That’s a brief explanation of innovation. In short, innovation is to take something old and reform it into something, in your opinion, that is better.

There is a dire side to innovation. Once innovation actually happens, the innovator naturally thinks their innovation is exceptional. It’s human nature to think this way. The innovator loves their new innovation. Once they believe in it, as exceptional, it is almost impossible to innovate again. Why? Because innovation is making something work better. For an innovator to re-innovate is to admit that whatever they first innovated is now needing improvement. Remember, to innovate is to take something and make it better.

When an innovator has total buy-in towards their innovation and it begins to not be as successful as they wished, they will naturally say, “not fair.” No innovator ever wants to admit that their innovation is no longer working. When they believe their innovation is good they will no longer innovate because it’s too hard on the ego. No innovator wants to admit that their innovation needs innovated.

Another problem with innovation is that anything innovated is really not new. It has a façade of new. But it’s not new. Grocery Store shelves are labeled with bright new advertising screaming their message “new and improved.” However, in reality, it’s the same old product with a small tweak, but is marketed as innovated/new. Is it really new?

To innovate something is to think with an attitude of, “needs improvement.” Such an attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Great leaders have the ability to see what’s not working and so whatever is necessary to make it work. What I’m focusing on as I compare the spirit of innovation to the spirit of discovery, is attitude and motive. An attitude of “that needs improvement” is usually preceded by an attitude of “I can do it better.” It’s very difficult to have an “I can do it better attitude” and not be perceived as arrogant.
The person who think they can do something better naturally must criticize whatever they they think should be better. It’s nearly impossible to do this without being perceived as arrogant. The innovator may not actually be arrogant, but is perceived as arrogant. Remember earlier when I said, “People’s perception is their reality and truth.” So, the reality is that the spirit of innovation breeds arrogance. Innovation doesn’t lead to arrogance. I said, breeds arrogance. To breed arrogance you need arrogance to start with. Innovation breeds arrogance. Arrogance innovates and breeds more arrogance. I can’t help but think back to the old movie “Gremlins” and how the arrogant ones just kept breeding. “Just add water!” There are some common errors that innovators make that create their own demise. The Wall Street Journal recently came up with a list of 5 commons mistakes of Innovators. I will give a brief description of the mistakes and if you want to read the full article you can go to HYPERLINK “http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog” http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog

The five common errors of Innovators…And I added a number 6.
1. You believe your own numbers. You insist on “seeing the numbers” too soon and all you have to base your numbers, is your past statistics. Remember that innovation is really not creating something new it is simply taking something old and making something that you think is better. Having a mentality that numbers are the most important thing creates a leadership mindset that RESULTS matter most. I said earlier that I am in the people influencing business. To be more specific, I am a Christian Pastor. Anytime in the Bible that Men/People focused on the results is when that man caused great damage. Innovation plays this dangerous game because it tends to focus too much on results instead of the more important focus of CAUSE which I will share in the discovery section.
2. The Success Trap. When a company gets financial success because it got very good at what it does, it begins to focus on the thing that made it successful. This focus on “what got us here” causes a crowding out of other options and points of view. This might bring immediate further success, but in our culture of fast change, it is only a matter of time before the innovative company gets trapped in the one thing they do so well. Getting trapped also means narrowly focusing on that one thing usually ending in all the eggs getting put in one basket. This causes success fragility. This usually happens to very large successful companies and their death is a frustratingly slow and agonizing death. I believe in our culture of fast pace and change…the slow death isn’t even reality. The company that gets stuck in the success trap has a vividly fast way of becoming obsolete. In fact, in his book “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman, the authors tell the fate of 43 companies recently leading the world that got caught in this trap. Today only 5 of those 43 companies even exist.
3. Believe they know the competition. The innovative company makes a huge mistaken identity gaff when it comes to identifying the competition. Ask your innovative companies CEO, “Who is your competition?” They will usually reply with the company that is most like them. The problem with this is that history proves that our greatest competitors usually come from a different angle. i.e. Shipping companies suffered from the steam engine, newspapers are in trouble because of the internet, watch companies suffer because of time being displayed on mobile phones. In my opinion, Innovative companies get so caught up in the love of themselves that their greatest competitor is also their greatest enemy…themselves! Most wives know this of their husbands. A husband’s greatest enemy is usually himself.
4. Believe that because everybody had always done it this way, it is the best way of doing the next “new” thing. This is my greatest problem with innovative companies. They think they are on to something “new” but in reality the definition of innovation is making something new from something old. So it’s not really new, right? It’s just innovated and feels new. This is a huge problem for companies who are trying to innovate into uncharted territory. I have been in the leadership of a very successful church. In fact, this church has seen so much success that for them to go to new levels means they have no examples to follow in this American Culture. There is nothing to innovate on. If they think innovating is going to take them to the next level, they are never going to get to the next level. For instance, when America landed on the moon. Innovation built the rocket, the space suits, space food, etc. But innovation is not what Neil Armstrong could build off of when he put his hand on the door hatch and opened the door to outer space and took his first step onto the moon’s surface. That was sheer discovery. You can’t innovate that. It had never been done before! When your company is leading the way, and you choose to move forward through innovation, then you have just signed your contract that says you are guaranteed to no longer be in first place. Maybe even just signed your death certificate. Your company, if its leading the way, has to be in the Discovery mentality to go to the next level because there is nothing to innovate off of.
5. Asking the customers for their opinions. The innovative company is really good at answering the questions that their non-customers are NOT asking. The customers have already bought into the company. Why are we asking them what they want? It actually gets worse…Think about it, the company’s leadership team, that has innovated its idea from an old idea, is now sitting around the table making decisions based off of what has been done to try to keep going to next level. This company starts making decisions based off of keeping the already reached customers happy while there are new and unreached people waiting to be “Discovered!” This is innovation’s greatest downfall. Once you innovate something, your own human nature won’t let you innovate anymore because the team would have to admit that their innovated idea “used” to be a good innovation. Meaning its failing now. An innovative company never wants to admit that its innovated product no longer works. To not admit failure is pride and arrogance. “Pride comes before the fall.” Bottom line…Innovation works really hard to appear right, regardless of the actual results that are taking place. It is fascinating to me that innovation is all focused on results, but even when the results are headed in the downward trajectory, the innovator would rather believe the lie that things are okay instead of admit that the innovation they created no longer is working. “Every bad idea, used to be a good idea!” Innovation…it’s a vicious cycle.
6. Stop taking ultimate risks. This sixth point is my opinion. Most innovative companies are led by people who ultimately ARE NOT what could be defined as risk takers. There is a difference between risk taking and calculated risks. Innovative Leaders are “safe risk takers.” They only take calculated risks with what they understand. The problem with this lies in the fact that if you are the company in the lead…which means nobody has gone before you on this journey…you can’t calculate what to do, because their has been nothing done to calculate. There is nothing to do but risk. Companies in the lead usually end up not being in the lead anymore, because the Leader ran out of ideas to innovate from. The company that is top dog begins to focus on how much there is to lose and they begin to settle in on their success and begin to “play it safe.” Its like a Pro football game. The game is close. The winning team has the ball and its just the beginning of the 4th quarter. The offensive coordinator decides to try to protect the lead and thus changes the game plan from, ‘playing to win’ to ‘playing not to lose.’ What usually happens when that game plan is employed? Its called an upset. The team that was in the lead should not have started playing not to lose. They should have kept playing to win. A company that is leading the world in their field has nothing to innovate anymore, and pride to often prevents this leading company from innovating on itself. This company now is headed into uncharted territory and can no longer innovate. This company can only open themselves up to new learning experiences that will make them feel uncertain at best and incompetent at worst. This is hard for an innovative company to shift into, but it can be done. It usually takes the company leader becoming a total risk taker. Due to the fact that there is nothing to innovate on, the leader must now become like Neil Armstrong and go into the uncharted new! This is the mentality of DISCOVERY, and my next blog post will be about that very issue!