Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 3)

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 2)

Of the last week I've been writing comments on the 6 lesson from the Adventures of Johnny Bunko: the Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Dan Pink. To reiterate, Pink doesn't specifically write from a world view reflecting the teachings of the Bible, but I think that his point correspond to some biblical principles. Today I will complete the final two lessons. Allow me to list all six again:
  • There is no plan
  • Think strengths, not weaknesses
  • It's not about you
  • Persistence trumps talent
  • Make excellent mistakes
  • Leave an imprint
Make excellent mistakes. Many Christians would challenge this point. We serve a perfect God; we aught not strive for anything less that perfection, or Mistakes are sins, they might say. I disagree with this perfectionistic thinking. God doesn't expect us to be without imperfection, rather he makes us perfect.

On the other hand, we see many examples of places in the scripture where God challenges people to be stretched beyond their abilities. In that, mistakes happen, but he is faithful to guide us through those mistakes. Job made mistakes of being frustrated, nearly giving up on God. God still held him up and honored him. Moses was weak at times, not wanting to represent Israel and challenging a Egyptian to his death. David made mistakes. Yet, God holds both David and Moses as great leaders. Peter, who was Jesus' right hand man, was always sticking his foot in his mouth as he tried to think beyond his capabilities. Yet, Jesus challenged him with leading the early church.

Sure God punished appropriately Moses, David and Peter for their sinful or faithless acts, but he strengthend them to continue forward. Mistakes came mostly as they were challenged to expand their leadership and their creativity. Think about it. When Peter stuck his foot in his mouth, he was the only disciple that was willing to speak at all. He was being a leader testing new ideas.

Leave and imprint. This one is clear to me. Leaving an imprint is a matter of your legacy. Obviously, as followers of Christ, we need to leave a legacy that points people back to Jesus. If you're a parent, the imprint you should leave is the life you live in Christ before your children. If you're a neighbor, the imprint is how you love your neighbor unconditionally. If you work in an office, it is your integrity and the way you put other's needs first. (See Lesson # 3.)

I guess you can leave an imprint by chasing money. Howard Hughes did. But wouldn't you rather leave on like Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, James Hudson Taylor (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), or Everett Swanson (Compassion International). Not everyone will have the opportunity to be on a stage as big as these folks, but you can make a similar impact by living your life for the poor or to help others know God grace personally.

Leaving an imprint is about having a goal. Lesson #1 was that we don't have a plan, that's something different. We don't plan the end, but we work to make the lives of others better that the world will be a better place for our being here. I think that's the kind of imprint that God would have us make.

I think the 6 Lessons of Johnny Bunko are excellent teaching points for people who want to know how to serve God better. My hope is that all people can learn to use the tools that they have to serve God and make the world a better place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Play vs. Work | Accidental Creative

Play vs. Work | Accidental Creative

This is a good challenge to me to keep the right perspective in my work and to focus on the things God has prepared me to do. I think work looses its play when we are too busy trying to make others pleased with what we are doing rather than doing what we are driven to do. When we follow God in our vocation, I think we should find it so rewarding that it crosses the line from work to play.

I need to constantly re-discover that line in my ministry.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Church leadership and experimenting

I'm a slow reader. Slower yet during the busy weeks of VBS, soccer camp and adventure camp. (Welcome to my July; 3 out of 4 weeks are in some of the most time intensive programs I have.) While I am a slow reader, I am usually working on a book. Right now, I'm chugging through Tim Keel's Intuitive Leadership which I reported first earlier this week.

I like the point that Keel is trying to make and how it differs from so many leadership books I've read over the years. He's telling Christian leaders to experiment rather than imitate. I don't like imitations. I think the Church (universal) should be bolder than that. I like to try new things. He uses the free flowing experimentation of a jazz musician for an analogy, but I think any art form would do.

My question is how does he identify a successful experiment? I don't think it should be tested by the appeal to the masses. Hannah Montana appeals to the masses but is lousy art in the like of the Back Street Boys, Brittney Spears or so many other pop artists. Similarly, I don't think it should be tested by the experts. That would be too modern according to Keel's assessment.

So how should it be tested? I hope I learn he position on this before the end of the book.

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 2)

A World that I'm Partly Made of: A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

This is my second installment about Dan Pink's manga comic book about career planning. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is a comic book written to with 6 lessons to help the young (or old) career minded person to understand their search for the right path in a different way. In part 1, I reviewed the first two lessons of JB and how they relate to Biblical principles. In part two, I'll continue with the middle to lesson.

I must remind readers that there is no evidence that Pink has a particular world view. Still, I think that Pink understands the needs of humans, particularly to be creative, and in his understanding human, I see some principles based in scripture that should be highlighted. These principles are important for every teen, college student, parent or employee to understand.

To review, the 6 lessons of Johnny Bunko are:
· There is no plan
· Think strengths, not weaknesses
· It's not about you
· Persistence trumps talent
· Make excellent mistakes
· Leave an imprint
I'll focus on the middle two lessons (in bold) in this post.

It's not about you. This should be the most obviously Christian principle. Jesus makes it clear that life is not about us; it’s ultimately about God. And if life is about serving God, we are to serve other's needs ahead of our own needs.

The Great Commandments, to love God and to love your neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), are Jesus clear directive that life isn't about yourself, but about serving God through others. It's hard to find a point in scripture bring the point that we are not to live for our own needs yet, too often we are caught in that trap that we set for ourselves.

God give people freedom, and that freedom can be used for serving selfish desires, but Paul makes it clear that serving selfish needs is sinful behavior. Serving others in love is God hope for our freedom (Galatians 5:13). It makes sense to me that if we are serving others and, therefore, in God's will, he will bless us.

In some post in the Johnny Bunko blog, I get the feeling that we are to use serving others as service to ourselves. I think this point can be twisted. If it is not about me, then it can be that I'm serving others in hopes that they will lift me up. Unfortunately, I've read this sort of stuff in many Christian leadership books. We don't serve others hoping that they will serve us well. We serve others (or principles) because it is right. The reward is doing what is right!

Persistence trumps talent. A few years ago, my daughters were invited to work as ball girls for the high school's girl’s soccer team. As a reward for their service, the coach gave them each one of the team's t-shirts. On the front, the shirts said, "SOUTH." On the back, the coach had printed his philosophy, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." He team went on to win the state championship that year. That was a good example for my daughters to have before them. They still wear those shirts on occasion.

Hard work is a form of persistence. Longevity is another. Sticking through a difficult situation is persistence. The book of James challenges us to consider trails as pure joy. Why? Because they develop persistence and that persistence ultimately leads to our perfection (James 1). This perfection will be fully developed when God makes all things new, but I think he develops it in this temporal world too (2 Corinthians 10:13).

I hope this information is help. I'll complete the final two lessons in the next few days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

A few years back years back I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. I found the book so intreging that I began to develop a parenting curriculum off of some of the principles. I'm didn't get far, but plan to come back to that some day. I hope I can find the time to work on it since I think it will be pretty cool.

Over the last weekend, I ran across Dan Pink's blog. Pink, a former staff speech writer for Al Gore is not a believer as far as I can tell. Still, I think that he brings to light some serious changes in the culture and particularly in A Whole New Mind changes that will affect the readiness of young people for the future market place.

His latest work, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: the last career guide you'll ever need, is a manga illustrated story that unveils 6 lessons necessary to for a successful and meaningful career. Again, Pink doesn't write from a Christian perspective, but I think that the 6 lessons are consistent with Biblical principles that parents, youth and career people should take to heart. Pink is slowly publishing parts of the book on Johnny Bunko's blog. You can read the 6 lesson there and, at this point, the first 56 pages of the book.

I will be addressing all lessons eventually, but today I'm starting with the first two. The six lessons are.
  • There is no plan
  • Think strengths, not weaknesses
  • It's not about you
  • Persistence trumps talent
  • Make excellent mistakes
  • Leave an imprint

  • There is no plan. At first blush this doesn't seem like a Christian principle. It sounds like a young renegade's way of getting out of thinking ahead. However, it's the Boy Scouts who have the moto "be prepared." That's not a Bible verse. In fact, we are to trust God in all things and give all anxiety over in that trust. Pink doesn't mean that we don't look forward. Rather that we don't expect that we can know what the future can bring. Isn't there some story in the Bible about a man who planned to keep all his grain for the future only to find out that God called him that evening. Look at these verse too: Prov. 3:5-6; Phil. 4:6-7; Rom. 8:29-31; and 1Peter 5:7.  [Edit: See also Matthew 6:19-31 and Luke 12:13-21.]

    Particularly, I think Pink's point about making fundamental choices over instrumental choices is a Christian principle. Christians are supposed to make decisions based on God's values, not because they might lead to something better in the future.

    Think strengths, not weaknesses. Too often, we leave our jobs frustrated because we are told our limitations at work. Too often, we tell our students that they have gaping academic wholes without helping them see that they have a lot to offer. Obviously, weaknesses can become a problem in any career, but they shouldn't be the focus. Rather the Bible tells us that we should look at our strengths particularly as God gives them to us. The Bible uses the image of the body to demonstrate that every member of the church has a particular role to play, and particular gifts from God to play that role. God's point: focus on your strengths as he gives them to you, not your weaknesses. (1 Cor 12-14; Rom. 12:4-5)

    God has a plan for us, but we don't have to know it. We need to trust him to guide us day by day. God will work through our weaknesses, but he never asks us to focus on them. He want us to be the person that he created us to be. In creating us, he created our strengths and it is in those strengths we should follow God on our career path.

    Tim Keel's Intuitive Leadership

    I'm reading Tim Keel's book, Intuitive Leadership, as part of my transition plan into my role as Life Development pastor. Why? Because I've read a ton of left brained leadership books written by the likes of Maxwell, Stanley, Collins, etc. I feel it is time for me to broaden my understanding of different kinds of leadership models. I'm hoping that Keel can help me with this attempt. I'm not deep into the book yet, but so far I find that it is mostly a defense of the emergent church movement. I hope he goes beyond that.

    One interesting fact is that Keel left Denver 6 months after I arrived at Denver Seminary. He doesn't say when he graduated from the seminary but aren't too far apart in our time there. It's possible we were on campus at the same time. I have found that I relate very well to his experiences in seminary and getting started in ministry. Particularly, I can relate to his initial excitement on campus being doused the burden of all the academic requirements of the seminary. Unfortunately, I discovered that the seminary (most seminaries) wanted to live in a world where on the one hand they are as academic as any University program and on the other hand they have special requirements for life in the ministry. The result of this dichotomy was I never felt I could spend as much time thinking about things I wanted to think about or serving in ministries I wanted to serve in. Many of my friends felt similar stresses.

    I'll write more on Intuitive Leadership as I get deeper into it.

    Tim Keel's Blog

    Blogging from my phone

    More and more I don't like to bring my laptop home from the church. I just get caught up doing work.

    Too often my home computer is busy being used by others. Stef is blogging these day, Moriah Facebooks. Elie read email, stuff with silly parodies of Harry Potter, or plays games.

    Our computer is busy.

    Today, I'm testing to see how I can blog from my phone.
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