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Having Done in Room 1501 (Wk 10) No Looking Back!

JCS Crest 2014

 

 

Room 1501 pic

 

I can’t believe I just completed week 10 at Joy Christian High School as a first year professional teacher.  I love Room 1501 and even more the students that darken its door everyday.  I am still “taking notes”, and “the jury is still out” in regards to me speaking about the differences between being a Bible Teacher in a teaching profession, and being a Senior Pastor of a large and growing Church.  Having now done both…I’m having fun comparing the two.  One little thing I’m noticing, which I will blog about in the future…is that whether I am teaching in a classroom setting, leading my mission org called Return Hope International, or being a Senior Pastor of a Church on some street corner….they are all the Church.

I believe our Christian culture has done a huge disservice to the work of the Lord

by compartmentalizing Jesus’s bride.  

What do I mean?  We have mission orgs, Christian schools, other Jesus centered industries, but for some reason we only call the building on the street corner The Church.  I don’t want to get off track as to what this blog post’s purpose is, but the day is coming soon where I will blog about this huge disservice.  The Church is way bigger than what we have dismantled it to be by compartmentalizing it the way we have.  Sadly, we as the Church are the ones who have done the compartmentalizing.  We must change this.  (Another blog, another time.)

So on this week 10...I only want to blog about one day of it…and it was actually something that did NOT happen in Room 1501, but in the Library of Joy Christian School at 7am on Wednesday.

Wednesdays at JCS are not only chapel days for our whole school, but they are also Staff Devotion day for the JCS Staff.  I have been asked to lead these devotions and I consider it a huge honor.  I am very grateful for the trust and acceptance that the Joy Administration and the Joy Teaching Staff have entrusted to me.  I will never take it for granted and I always look forward to Wednesdays.

Week 10’s devotion was only a half devotion due to the fact that Scott Brown, JCS’s Executive Direction, asked if he could have 15 minutes to speak to the whole staff.  I think Christ-like character is displayed when the boss asks instead of tells.  When Scott asked to have the 15 minutes, he could have just told me, but he asked.  I love to follow this kind of leader.  If you are reading this blog, I ask you to lift the Administrative Staff up in prayer as they make tough decisions to lead Joy into the future.  It is not an easy task and they need our prayer and support.

Today’s blog is not focused on what I said on Wednesday at the devo, but what Scott Brown said in his 15 minutes immediately after the devotion.

Before I blog about his 15 minutes, I think it is apropos to first take a look at some phrases I wrote down at All Staff Training Day back on June 30, 2014, before JCS school officially started.  So…back on that June 30th training day…

Scott said,“It’s time to change the conversation.”  

He also said, “Be terrible at looking backwards.”

So, this past Wednesday was a refresher, on those two phrases and others, that we as Joy Christian School staff all agreed on when we signed up to accept the teaching and administrative positions we were offered.

Scott, taking the time to remind us of our commitment to keep Joy moving forward with positive change and growing academics at JCS, is the mark of a strong leader prodding our team to stay in alignment.  He challenged us to focus on the positive, to think about the things that are admirable and to work extra hard to keep focused on what the main mission is at Joy Christian School… “Building Christian Leaders.”  He talked about how we will fail in attempting to accomplish that mission if each one of us do not keep our eyes on Jesus, and check our actions to make sure they are matching Jesus’s.  I know all of the JCS leadership and teaching team agree that we want Joy to move forward with great success in its mission.  I think it is headed in that great direction and it will take many other challenges from our leader and each other to keep the focus on that forward movement.

What was amazing to me about this past Wednesday’s devotion, which was split up into two 15 minute segments, is that the theme was the same and Scott Brown and I didn’t plan it that way.  It’s amazing to me how God knits things together.  Before Scott stepped up to re-challenge us all, I read the passage in Scripture that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-8.

“4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

I hope that passage impacts you as much as it does me.  I like to say, “You and I will find what we are looking for.”  What does that mean? It means that if you want to find negative about JCS, you can go looking for it and I know you will find it.  The same can be said for your part in your marriage, your work, your attitude, your life.  If I want to find negative about any one or all of those in your life…if I look and start asking around….I will find it.  It is a fact that you and I will find what we are looking for.

So…let’s look for the positive…I know we will find it too!

If you totally focused on the Scripture passage above throughout the rest of this week…I’ll bet you find yourself having a great week.  In fact, I don’t think you’ll find a great week.  I don’t think great weeks are found…they are made.

So, as a very dear friend to me often says…

“MAKE IT A GREAT WEEK!”  

Great days/weeks are made, not found.  And I think it’s all about attitude and focus on the good that is happening all around us.  I pray that your week is a great one and that you will make great decisions that lead to more Christ-like unity and impact.  I’m trying to do my part and I’m always looking for others who are contributing to the great as well.

 

 


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!


HYDRATE –WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 9 (Mt.5:13) “SALT”

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Matthew 5:13

DRINK IT IN:
According to the Salt Institute, there are approximately 14,000 different uses for the mineral called SALT.

14,000 different uses for salt! Really?

So when I started going to Sunday School back in the mid 1980’s as a Jr. Higher, and was asked what it means when people say that Christian are to be the salt of the earth, and I answered, “we are to bring purity into every thing we do,” was I wrong? No. That is a right answer. But it is also what I call the typical “Sunday School Answer.” A Sunday School answer is the kind of answer that Christian’s like because its simple, concise and it doesn’t take a lot of thought. Again…not wrong, but not a “full” and insightful or inspiring answer. Its a little “bland” for the kind of answer that God deserves for the creativity that he invented in salt. So…what is a better answer?

I think that if we, as people, can discover 14,000 different uses for salt, then surely we as Christians can have a deeper meaning to what Jesus meant when He said that we are the salt of the earth.

Here’s my attempt at a better answer. Individual pieces of salt all by themselves are pretty much useless. Try it at home. Separate one tiny granule of salt and place it on your tongue. I just did it. It took me a little longer than I thought to actually get one tiny piece onto my tongue. My hands are big and my fingers struggled to get control of one tiny piece. But…I finally got it. Now, you should understand, that I do not have a strong sense of taste or smell in my life. It pretty much allows me to be able to eat anything as long as the texture doesn’t gross me out. So, as I put this individual piece of salt on my tongue, I think I tasted salt, but I couldn’t prove if it was just my imagination telling me it was salty or if I could actually, finitely, maybe, actually taste it. Either way…it was pretty unmemorable as far as experiences go.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Now go back to your salt shaker and do it again, except this time, lick your finger, put it in the salt and then back to your tongue. Big Difference! It actually made me grimace and get one of those faces that we get when we put something really sour in our mouths. It made the glands in the back of my mouth produce some extra saliva. It definitely caught my attention. You? (Don’t tell me that you just sat there reading this without actually doing the “test…if you haven’t…GO DO THE TEST!!”)

One tiny piece of salt, all by itself, is pretty uninspiring. It really doesn’t have much saltiness to it. Jesus says, in the passage I’m referring to above, that if “salt loses its saltiness, its not much good for anything except to be thrown out and TRAMPLED by men.”

Is it just me or is there a lot of trampling going on to the Christian Faith in our American Society? I’ve traveled to South America, Africa, Europe and have been to the Holy Lands. I do not sense the “trampling” as heavy in these places as I do here in our very own, “one nation under God.” So here is my thought. America is the greatest country in the world, and we know that its not perfect. I love the independent nature of an American. We as an American society are becoming more and more independent. God said in the very beginning, right after He created Adam, “its not good that man should live alone.” I could retranslate that sentence God said to, “Its not good for man to be totally independent,” and really not change the message that God intended.

One independent grain of salt is a good thing. Its what God made it to be, but all by itself, isn’t that great, doesn’t have that much impact, is kind of invisible. Agree?

If there are 14,000 uses for salt, then we can do better as Christians when it comes to being the Salt of the earth. I’m not going to have a brainstorming session with you right now about all the uses we as Christians could be in our world to prove that we are salt. What I want you to think about is how alone you might or might not be. Do you have other Salt pieces in your life that you team with, and together you are much “tastier” and noticeable to a world that has become a bit “bland.”

I love the passages of Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. There are other Bible passages as well, but these two passages in the Bible talk about most of the SPIRITUAL GIFTS that God gives to Christian when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and have the Holy Spirit move into us. These gifts that we now possess as a Christian are a part of what defines who we are and what we are good at. If you have the spiritual gift of mercy, you are an amazing person to be around when I am hurting. If you have the gift of teaching, you are amazing to be around when I am hungry to learn. If you have gifts of leadership, you are amazing to be around when I need somebody to point me in the right direction. But Hold On! If you are all by yourself…individual…independent…and you have the gift of mercy, but I am in need of the gift of teaching…your mercy will leave me still needing teaching. If you have the gift of teaching and you are all by yourself and I need someone with leadership, then your encounter with me will leave me still in lack of leadership. If I am somebody with the gift of leadership and I encounter you needing someone with great gifts of mercy…then I’m probably going to hurt you as you need more mercy than I am gifted with.

Do you understand what I am saying?

What if…we as a bunch of individual pieces of salt, got together and used our “spiciness” to push each other on to do good in the world. What would we encounter that we WOULDN’T be able to accomplish together? NOTHING! Think about your local church and the total number of people you have together, with all the different gifts you have amongst each other. What can’t you do? You can do anything! Even the average size church in America, which is approximately 85 people, can do anything…together!

We are the Church. We are the Salt of the Earth. We can do anything…as long as we stick together. Please don’t allow yourself to be separated from the “salt shaker.” It takes my breath away when I think about how many people, who fall onto hard times, quit showing up for Church services, and quit serving other people. Think of it this way….What happens to a Zebra when it gets separated from the herd?

The Bible describes the Devil as a roaring lion waiting to devour you. If you separate yourself from your group for any reason…lunch will be served. You are “salty” too! The devil loves a good Christian for breakfast, lunch or dinner…or just a midnight snack.

Stick together! If you don’t have a local church home…keep searching. If you don’t have somebody you can call when you fall on tough times…be one to somebody else and that will solve your independence and separation problem.

SWEAT IT OUT:

Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? If you do not, please contact a local pastor of a Christian Church and ask Him to help you. If you can’t find help with this, please ask me to help you. If I can’t personally help you then I will get you connected to a local church pastor that you can trust…wherever you live.

Are you using your spiritual gifts in the local church? Don’t forget that the local church is really just a big salt shaker. You are a granule with millions of other granules spread around the world in a bunch of different “salt shakers.” Be encouraged by that powerful fact! If there are 14,000 different uses for Salt, but you, as salt, do not use your “use,” then the church is really only 13,999 uses. Not bad…but not complete! Jesus wants COMPLETION, when it comes to the huge things He would have us being responsible for.

You are the salt of the earth! What a huge compliment Jesus gives you. Please don’t take it for granted. Make sure you are adding your spice to this world. The world hungers for what you can provide. You are needed.

The world is a better place because you live in it right now.
I hope you believe that. I believe it about you.

Today and from now on…use your strengths and giftedness to add some great spice to other people’s lives. I know that you will agree with me when i say that little things matter to people. So, how can you use your “saltiness” in a way that makes a little impact in the life of someone you now today? Try it. What do you have to lose if you try?

I say it again…the world is a better place because of you.

I hope you will live like you believe that!