So I've been percolating on the idea of starting a #livinginthetension series.
Today seems like a good day to start.
I love the irony and the tensions we live in without knowing.
There's no stones being thrown here. I'm right in the mess with the rest of you so lets poke a little fun at our inconsistencies. Most of these will be an inspiration from my own life anyways like the good ol Entrepreneur!
Friday, April 26, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
The book Assumptions that Affect our Lives (Overman, 2006) highlights how different worldviews essentially determine the values and behaviors that shape and influence culture or counter-cultural currents. The intended outcomes of this book are to leave the reader with the ability to identify the plethora of non-biblical concepts that have become embedded into our current day way of life, along with the tools needed to adequately respond to those who have embrace them (Overman, 2006, p. 9). The book begins with a fascinating historical comparison of Greek and Hebrew culture along with how those traditions have continued to influence our cultural assumptions in present times.
There is a great discussion in the book about the confusion between God and Mother Nature considering most people assume Nature “is the source of Its own creative power, as though It were some sort of immense perpetual motion machine that just created Itself (intelligently, no less) and keeps going on Its own”(Overman, 2006, p. 25). The Ionians, a group of Greeks who lived over 2,500 years ushered in a whole new way of thinking that undermined the belief that nature was something God created. “What is so remarkable about the Ionians is, as far as we know, they were the first people in history to dismiss the supernatural altogether” (Overman, 2006, p. 27).
While everyone else was paying homage to a creator of some kind, the Ionians were ushering in secular thought, still prevalent today that says, there is no such thing as God, nature is all that existed and it essentially created itself. This also inspired the drive and elevation of the development of the Sciences, which exclude faith. Clearly this would be in direct conflict with the Hebrew ways of thinking that see nature and science as something that exists within the framework of a God that created the world and the life that inhabits it.
Overman (2006) also highlighted the strong difference regarding human life in Sparta and Athens at a certain point in history where we find “these concepts the Athenian exaltation of individualism, and the Spartan exaltation of collectivism – has never died” (p. 41). A more recent modern example of how these concepts have continued to influence our worldview and values can be found in the United States 2012 presidential race where “on one side is the collective view (represented by President Barak Obama), and on the other, the idea that individual succeeds on his or her own (promoted by Mitt Romney)” (Michaud, 2012, para. 1).
The challenge humanity has always faced is to institute the best systems to manage broken people. Whether it is democracy, socialism, capitalism, communism or the other attempts found over time, we have seen that all systems carry not only their own flaws but also the flaws of those who manage them. The challenge for Christians across the globe is to seek out ways to live that are consistent with the Kingdom of God and in doing so we have to ask Him to what degrees collectivism and individualism can co-exist. We are living in the tension of a God who died for the individual yet is coming back for a body of believers.
This has been a great book to remind me just how much of my current day beliefs are influenced by history. How I should live and respond to those who are operating within the boundaries of beliefs that are inherently harmful to them? Further I sense the need to dive deeper into the past to identify the beliefs that are hindering me personally from living out Kingdom principles here on earth. God chose the Jews to tell His story to the world, which makes me wonder whether their traditions and values carry some special insight into His heart for all peoples?
Michaud, A. (2012, November 6). Michaud: Individualism vs. collectivism is a false choice. Newsday. Retrieved from http://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/anne-michaud/michaud-individualism-vs-collectivism-is-a-false-choice-1.4193981
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
By Robert Murray.
The book Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership (Sipe & Frick, 2009) was written to help enhance the education of leaders seeking to further implement servant-leader principles. The authors felt it necessary to convert “the characteristics of Servant Leadership into sustainable, measurable competencies, without neglecting matters of the heart and soul, which make leading by serving truly worthwhile” (Sipe & Frick, 2009- Kindle Locations 88-89). The book explores seven pillars of a servant-leader, which are: Person of Character; Puts people first; Skilled Communicator; Compassionate Collaborator; Foresight; Systems thinker; Moral Authority.
A foundational pillar of a servant-leader is someone of strong character who maintains a life of integrity, demonstrating their humility by serving and elevating God in all that they do. Sipe and Frick (2009) suggest that many of our defining moments that build character happen in private and their effects may never be witnessed by anyone else, but those decisions none-the-less become a point of contact that will be ingrained into the fabric of our being (Kindle Location 332). Integrity is one of the most powerful tests of true character and servant-leadership.
Servant-leaders understand there are always going to be those “gray” opportunities in business they will have to forfeit in order to uphold their integrity and these decisions will come at a cost to them but they know “it is always right to do what’s right, even if it turns out wrong”(McManus, 2002, p. 67). We live in a world where so many people take shortcuts that lack integrity, hurting others directly and indirectly but the Bible encourages us in Psalm 37:1-2, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”
“Foresight is a practical strategy for making decisions and leading. In fact, Greenleaf said foresight is the only "lead" a leader has (Sipe & Frick, 2009 - Kindle Location 1235). A Servant-Leader understands that foresight is central to their leadership capabilities and they therefore give credit to their intuition which will allow them to be more discerning and decisive in their decision making process.
The logical way for planning is to analyze the present and project it into the future or to project several alternate scenarios, but these straight-line projections are very rarely played out in reality. “Robert Greenleaf, goes beyond these mostly-analytical tools, taking advantage of resources in the head, heart, and gut to access the intuitive mind (Sipe & Frick, 2009 - Kindle Location 1288-1289). I believe God has hard wired us to operate in dimensions beyond those we can touch, taste and see. There is a “knowing” that can be accessed by Servant-Leaders if they make the time and space in this loud, busy world to access their intuition and what I believe to be the voice of God being whispered through the Spirit.
This book was a joy to read and has solidified my desire to grow and give myself to the development of these servant-leader principles. I have already pursued to live a life of integrity for sometime now but I am reminded that there is always the opportunity to shine a light on the dark places of our hearts to further our quest for righteousness. I also realize that I have failed to give credit to my “gut” in many situations where logic seemed more fitting. To become a man who lives by the Spirit I will obviously need to give more credit to the sensing’s I cannot see nor touch.
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009). Seven pillars of servant leadership. Retrieved from www.amazon.com
Friday, December 7, 2012
I recently compiled a motion graphic slideshow designed to open up the conversations around God, work, people, and the church. My goal was to present the connection between faith and work in an understandable way.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
By Robert Murray
The book Stewardship (1993) challenges organizations and individuals to consider new ways to approach the distribution of power, purpose and rewards within the workplace. Typical work environments, institutions and systems rely on heavy-handed control and/or compliance to operate but this book sets out to “quicken our efforts to reform our organizations so that our democracy thrives, our spirit is answered, and our ability to serve customers in the broadest sense is guaranteed” (Block, 1993, p. 3).
Leadership is replaced with stewardship, patriarchy with partnership, safety with adventure and self-interest with service.
It is easy to embrace “victim” status within our work environments. You do not have to look far to hear about someone complaining about his or her inadequate boss or the horrible company they work for. By believing that change starts within ourselves, the question therefore becomes “how many people do you know, including yourself, who are willing to consider that their way of relating could be the root of the problems about which they complain” (Watson & Tocchini, 1996, p. 37)?
To rise above victim living, we should revisit the expectation employees have whereby all vision, direction and next steps have to be handed down from leaders above. Instead the exciting and empowering opportunity exists where we can “create in our own unit what we would like to see embodied in the whole organization” (Block, 1993, p. 37).
Bakke, Hendricks, & Smith (2005) stressed that because of the Fall, most people do not know what their giftedness is and “have only a vague awareness of what their real contribution can be” (p. 59). It is no wonder the workplace is filled with people who have no idea how to expand beyond the orders they are given. Block (1993) further addresses this issue when he said, “patriarchy becomes a refuge for our own reluctance to choose adventure and pursue our own purpose” (p. 89).
There is a great conversation to have about breaking the pattern of unstated emotional wants in the workplace. “The institution wanted compliance and loyalty, and in return we wanted them to provide us with safety and self-esteem” (Block, 1993, p. 82). This is an unhealthy social contract, which need some serious reform. The first step forward will be the simple acknowledgement that these unstated emotional wants even exist and have power over our workplace activities.
I have been made aware of the subconscious contracts I have made with employers to trade my loyalty and compliance in exchange for safety and self-esteem. These deals have to go! The only way we can be a part of creating something of value in any work environment, enduring the risk, sacrifice and adversity is to “commit to something outside of ourselves” (Block, 1993, p. 10). Colossians 3:23-24 says “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.
Block, P. (1993). Stewardship Choosing service over self-interest. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Watson, D. M., & Tocchini, D. L. (1996). Killing the victim before the victim kills you. Santa Rosa, CA: Mashiyach Press.
Bakke, Hendricks, & Smith (2005) - Joy at Work Bible Study