Accept the Blame, Give Away the Praise

Photo by hobvias sudoneighm

During President Obama’s press conference yesterday, there seemed to be a recurring theme. It wasn’t the main point he was trying to make, I think, but I picked up on it nonetheless. Whenever he talked about an issue where he perceived there is a problem he said something along the lines of “the minority in the Senate is being stubborn,” which basically meant I heard him say “it’s not my fault, blame the Republicans.”

Whether or not it’s true that the Republicans in the Senate are just being stubborn and trying to drag things down is not what I’m most interested in. I’m not a huge fan of politics in general, but I am a fan of leadership and learning leadership lessons. And since the President is the most visible leader in our country, and possibly the world, I think we can learn significant leadership lessons from him.

What I saw him doing yesterday was blaming others for the country’s problems. I don’t think that’s good leadership. Again, it might be true that it’s someone else’s fault, but when you’re the leader and you blame someone else it comes across as immature to me.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discussed this concept in what he calls the window and the mirror. According to his groups study, great leaders look in the mirror when there is a problem. They are the first to say “I was wrong” or “I could do a better job.” The reason for this is that ultimately the whole organization rises and falls on leadership on one level or another.

On the other hand, if there is praise to be given a leader should look out the window to the people in his organization. When people praise great leaders respond by saying things like “I’ve got a great team” or something similar. This shouldn’t be done with false humility, but it’s an honest assessment of the situation. Without a great team a great leader won’t accomplish much.

It was a good reminder to me that it’s easy to slip into the opposite attitude. When things aren’t going well we point the finger to blame someone else. We’ve been doing this as humans for a long time. But when things are going well our egos tend to puff up and we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.

So, accept the blame but give the praise away. It’s the best way to lead others.

Quick Review of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

How to Win Friends & Influence People How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was expecting this book to be geared more toward salesman and those interested in self-help books, but what it turned out to be for me was a reminder on what leadership really is: influence. The overall premise of the book is that you should treat others not only as you’d like to be treated, but as if they’re actually more important than you are. There were a number of useful ideas, such as:

– Become genuinely interested in other people.

– Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

– Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely.

– Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

– Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

– Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

– Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the otherperson.

– Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish inyour praise.”

I’d highly suggest this book to almost everyone.

View all my reviews.

Innovation³ Main Session #4, Wed Afternoon

Reggie McNeal, Leadership Network
Missional has become the latest buzzword that all books have started to include in their titles. We may end up losing focus on what missional is while we’re in a rush to become it. It’s a shift in how the church sees itself and its function(s) in the world.

In India, church leaders don’t have time to “evangelize” because they’re too busy growing and reaching new people. The percentage of Christians in the country has grown from 2% to 10% of the country’s population.

We, in America, are in the backwaters of the church growth movement. The missional movement is an entry-point into God’s work on earth. e need to get into what God is doing worldwide.

Five Indicators that we need to look at the church through Kingdom lenses instead of looking at the Kingdom through church lenses:

  1. Church moves from a what to a who. It’s not a place where things happen. It is not an it. We talk about “our churches” “a church,” but the Spirit is moving people world-wide to refocus on the fact that “I am the church.” When you move from what to who you’re able to legitimize and celebrate a whole bunch of different expressions of the local body of Christ. There are a whole lot of groups of people who will never be able to “go to church” (hospitality/service industry). We need to be the church there if there’s going to be the church. We’re not the point, the mission’s the point.
  2. We need to stop thinking about church as the destination and more of the connector. When an airport has a bunch of planes on the ground and is full of people and activity the airport is not winning. People are angry when that happens. No one has a book “Great Airports of the World.” When you screw the scorecard up you screw up people’s lives. People want to go somewhere. Jesus didn’t say, “I have come to give you church and give it more abundantly.”
  3. There are going to be a lot of church life forms that we don’t currently have a taxonomy for. Some life forms aren’t going to survive, but that doesn’t mean you have to shoot it.
  4. There’s going to be a shift in the scorecard. In the church world we measure who shows up here. In the missional world we dare to measure what happens beyond us.

If you don’t have questions you’re not paying attention.
If we don’t have a worldview where we have an impact beyond us our vision is too small.

Dino Rizzo, Healing Place Church, Baton Rogue, LA

If we don’t understand the power and necessity of diversity we can never be used in a powerful way for the Kingdom. The church is not about my wants and desires, it’s about reaching all kinds of people.

John 5. We must be about reaching people, not just crowds.

Two thoughts for the coming future:

  1. Opposites are going to have to attract.
  2. The integrity of our ministry is not dictated by how well we minister to the masses, but how well we minister to the one (and the one is usually different than us).

Neil Cole, Church Multiplication Association
What is a church? Is it by-laws & constitution & elders?

Matthew 16

  • The first question we need to ask is not who are we trying to reach, it is “Who is Jesus?”
  • Jesus didn’t say you will build the church. He said I will build my church.
  • The church should be growing. Buildings don’t shrink while they’re being built.
  • Gates are not offensive weapons.
  • The only thing holding us back from accomplishing the mission of the church is our own lack of faith.

Churches have a DNA:
D – Divine Truth
N – Nurturing Relationships
A – Apostolic mission

Every church will be judged not by the quality of its programs, but the quality of its disciples.

Matt Carter, Austin Stone Community Church

  • Excessive numerical growth in an extremely short amount of time can be a bad thing if you don’t have a plan for it.
  • Mission creates community. When you’re on a mission of significance together you form a deep bond.
  • Jesus called his disciple to himself and to mission.
  • They shifted the focus of the group from study/fellowship to missional communities.
  • A missional community doesn’t focus on how its needs are going to be met, they do life together and meet needs.
  • When we aimed simply for community, we got neither mission nor community. When we aimed for mission, we got both almost every time.

Innovation³ Main Session 3 (Wed AM) Notes

Ed Stetzer, What does the dangerous church of 2010 look like:
– Cautions

  • Don’t believe the hype
    • Many who promote bad news have a program to fix it.
      • These people are probably passionate about the future and have data to support their findings.
    • Be more cynical.
      • We tend to believe things too soon.
  • Be people of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32)
    • There are trends we can an should watch.
    • Skate where the puck is.
      • Many churches live in a past era where the puck used to be or maybe where the puck never was.

– Cultural perspective

  • The dangerous church will have
    • Seized economic opportunity
      • Economic growth and evangelical church growth are counter-cyclical
      • Prayer for spiritual growth may hinder spiritual growth, but you should still pray for both.
    • Addressed sexual brokenness
      • 30 years ago having a gay bishop pray at the inauguration would have been the controversial choice to pray instead of the protestant evangelical pastor.
      • Most churches don’t know how to address brokenness. Churches that thrive will have to address homosexuality, brokenness, and sexuality in general with a solid biblical perspective.
    • Wrestled with gender inclusion.
      • It will become an increasing challenge.
      • This will become more of a problem to attendees who go to a church without a woman in a pastoral role.
      • Bent Tree has had two statements about their stance on women in ministry.
      • We need to be able to explain it and have a biblical rationale for it.
      • 65% of young adults polled said that a church that didn’t endorse women ordained for ministry would have a negative impact on their decision to attend.
    • Faced increasing intolerance
      • This is not the same thing as persecution. Someone not saying “Merry Christmas” at the grocery store is not persecution or an excuse to snap back “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”
  • The dangerous church will have
    • Navigated the Post-Seeker Context
      • Boomers have come back, so unchurched don’t have a Christian memory at all of what church used to be.
    • Regained confidence in the Gospel
      • The church and its Gospel has lost credibility in our culture.
      • We may have a wrong understanding of what the Gospel.
      • The New Reformed and Emerging church get the most media attention
    • Addressed Evangelical Confusion
      • Defined from John McCarthur to Joel Osteen. Broad spectrum
    • Rethought discipleship
      • Reveal from Willow Creek shows that we’re not making disciples well.
      • 2,500 Protestant churchgoers surveyed. Same people were surveyed a year later and barely anyone had grown
    • Worked through denominational catharsis
      • Many are rethinking how their denomination functions.
    • Found networking strategies
      • Acts 29
      • Sometimes we end up cloning ourselves, but we need to not just copy each other
    • Implemented New Innovations

Nancy Ortberg, TeamWorx2
Innovation is not a buzzword. It’s an essential part of God’s work here on earth. We innovate so that people will be transformed by the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is always provocative and is never boring.

How do leaders create an environment that demands change and innovations?

  • Tensions
    • Leaders know that struggles foster growth
    • You need to develop infrastructure
    • You need to activate gifts without elevating them. Innovators are not any more important in the church than those who live for infrastructure.
    • A partnership is needing between incremental and exponential growth. We need to be comfortable and embrace both.
    • Passion & Humility – We need to embrace the confidence that comes with passion, but not allow that confidence to allow us to set aside humility.
  • Innovation happens best in teams
    • Patrick Lencioni writes about teamwork
    • There is magic in a team. We are holding back the potential of the church if we don’t embrace teams as the model of leadership.
    • We need to have Spiritual Gift radar and see clues as to what people’s gifts are. Work toward being able to identify someone’s gift within 4-5 sentences of talking with them.
    • Pursue leaders who are better at their gift than you are. Don’t be threatened by them or try to control them.
    • Learn to orchestrate the team and guide them.
    • Mature leaders need to pull back intentionally so that we can light a fire in younger leaders to allow their passion to grow and then take off.
  • Behavioral Values Needed for Innovation. Core values inflict pain. They force you to make choices.
    • 1 – Ask Questions.
      • Learn to ask, “I don’t know, what do you think?”
      • Be inquisitive, not judgmental (using tone).
      • People change on a quest or in a crisis.
      • Rhetorical questions plant seeds of provocation in people’s brains that the Holy Spirit fosters throughout the week.
    • 2 – Risk.
      • Failure & change go together.
      • Evaluate where people took a risk and failed. Ask what they learned from the experience. The only failures that should be tolerated should be for lack of effort.
      • You don’t know which ideas will take off. We criticize ideas too soon.
      • Fear.
      • Increase the amount of curious
    • 3 – Collaboration.
      • This doesn’t mean that the leader brings in his idea and asks for everyone else to implement it.
      • Gary Hammil – The Future of Management. “We need divergence before we have convergence.”
      • Compromise = mutually agreed upon mediocrity.
    • 4 – Trust.
      • Covey, The Speed of Trust.
      • Trust implies we have patience with each other. It is a build value.
  • We have moved so quickly from a chruched culture to an unchurched culture that we have no choice but to be innovative.
    • Monvee
    • Innovation comes from hope and hope is deeply tied to the Gospel.

Bob Roberts, Northwood Church, Keller, TX

  • The church is exploding like never before in history, just not in America.
  • We need to understand our context before we can expect to be able to grow.
  • When it comes to globalization we’re incredibly old-fashioned.
  • The greatest thing you can do to learn how to be innovative is to take a mission trip, find a local pastor, sit down, shut up, take notes on what he’s doing, and then do what he says.
  • We need more than lip-service to the Gospel.
  • We need to be less about missions and more about the Kingdom of God.
  • Sometimes we talk about being missional, but we’re just talking about serving the poor. Those are fishing pools.
  • We need to avoid bringing “the four spiritual laws” overseas without getting to know them.
  • When people became disciples in the NT they were making a choice of abandonment in which they were willing to die for their faith.
  • When we see bad news on CNN it’s God saying “Over here.”
  • The disciples were more passionate for their faith and they didn’t have the whole NT.
  • Abraham was the ultimate disciple. He was to be a blessing to ALL NATIONS. God has good promises for the children of Ishmael.
  • Some people want deeper theology, I want Jesus.
  • Jesus said “blessed” eight times to start the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Reinvent your disciples and you’ll reinvent your church.
  • Lessons from Middle-Eastern mega-church leaders
    • 1 – Focus on the Holy Spirit instead of pragmatics
    • 2 – More an obedience to the Word of God than a right understanding of proper theology
    • 3 – Gratitude towards Abraham and what he did, but a focus on Ishmael. We’re going to have to learn to love Muslims in order for the Great Commission to be fulfilled.
    • 4 – Don’t care as much about trying to develop a particular type of church (house vs mega).
    • 5 – Integration of faith, life, and everything. We take disciples and make them.
    • 6 – Theology of context of God.
    • 7 – No money, so trusting God is needed.
    • 8 – Driven by living heroes instead of dead saints.
  • It’s never been about how much money you’ve had, it’s about obedience.

John Bishop, Living Hope Church, Vancouver

  • Innovation is most about simplification.
  • Our plans sometimes trump God’s purpose. Our five-year plans many times put the Holy Spirit out of the equation.
  • God does his best work in our weakness, but we hate weakness. Why do we want to hide our weakness?
  • People in this generation want unbridled truth. We’re responsible for presenting the Gospel in a way in which people will respond to it.
  • “Pure and simple devotion to Jesus”
  • Pastors who say they don’t count people are saying a bunch of crap. The book of Acts counts people.
  • Are we doing everything we can to reach the people in our community?
  • Are our methods for our purpose or the unchurched?
  • We have to ruthless and desperate to reach people who do not belong to God.
  • If you’re not reaching people, don’t ask the people you work with, ask the ones you’re trying to reach.
  • Celebrate each others victories. If you hurt, I hurt. If you win, I win.
  • We need to practice on the earth what you’re going to do on the other side of eternity.
  • Why don’t you quit worrying and start praying. Repent of your worry.
  • People don’t want to see fancy programs, they want to see love and unity.
  • Revelation 3, we’re indifferent.
  • Over time we tend to see people as tool instead souls to win for Christ.
  • People matter, so change whatever you need to change.

Innovation³ Main Session #2 Notes

Dave Gibbons, NewSong Church, Irvine, CA
– There’s a great shift going on in our world today.
– “The Job” video…”I need two CPAs, two CFOs,…”
– Things to be encouraged about in the church

  • Bad news is better than no news
  • Scarcity brings clarity: why do we exist as a church? What are our missions & values?
  • Waste less.
  • When darkness occurs the church can shine. We are never brighter than in darkness.

– Three metaphors

  • Fish & Monkey: Eastern parable. Typhoon coming. Monkey saw fish in distress, dove in the water, and tried to help it by putting it on dry ground. The fish died (Dave had a REAL DEAD fish on stage).
    • In mission in the church we do the same thing.
    • We don’t swim and get to know the fish, we pull it out and let it die.
    • John 4 – Jesus is the living water. Compared to Bruce Lee’s concept of being adaptable like water.
    • John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” where John Nash developed the Nash Equilibreoum.

– Five alternative perspectives

  1. Fueling creativity as opposed to preserving our current culture.
    • When we return to the tried and true it doesn’t work in the new contexts
    • Some of the major fortune 500 companies devote 50% of their resources toward research & development
    • How would our churches change if we tasked our staffs to devote half their time on new projects
  2. Focus on and fuel the fringe.
    • Seth Godin tells people to focus on the early adopters on the innovative curve
    • Jesus said to focus on the marginalized.
    • Ask yourself, “Who’s the fringe in our community?” What’s the hardest group of people to work with in your context?
  3. Develop holistic and sustainable systems/processes, not just the quick fix.
    • Don’t just think about the next generation, think about the tenth generation down the line.
    • We get our focus off the Word of God and get caught up with just words.
    • The purpose of a rabbit trap is to catch a rabbit. Once the rabbit is caught the trap is forgotten.
    • A new focus in search engines is less on individual words but more on semantics and groupings of words that convey an idea.
    • We’re getting too micro at times. We need to get more focused on the macro.
    • Exegesis is good, but we also need overview.
  4. Think Intersections
    • Don’t just go down the same old path. Place yourself at the intersection of multiple cultures.
  5. Seek God & pray
    • There is no way to be artful without being connected to the Holy Spirit. Practice listening prayer.
    • If we don’t listen to the people we can see very well, how do we expect to be able to listen to the God we don’t see?

John Jenkins, First Baptist Church, Glenarden
Courage to Change

– All Pastors have to face the fact that most people don’t like to change.
– King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18) had to take over the kingship and face prospects of change. He was an agent of change.
– If we continue to do what we we’ve done, we’ll never get we’ve never got.
– Change or die. Many of our churches are so set on the way they’ve always done things that they would rather die than change.
– “He removed the high places . . . and the bronze serpent that Moses had made.” (2 Kings 18:4). The people were still looking at something long after it was intended to last…only for a season. He had the courage to take down something that had significant meaning at one point in history, but had long since lost its significance.
– We need to look past treating the symptoms and deal with root causes.
– The greatest hindrance of God’s movement is the last movement of God. You can’t go back to the last time that God moved.
– What are the problems in the world? What are our ministries? What are our ministries doing to address the real problems and issues in the culture of our communities.
– We had been doing church work, but not the work of the church.

Matt Chandler, “Goofy White-guy Pastor” of The Village Church
– Ed Stetzer had been calling him Rain Man, but Matt didn’t know what that meant since he hadn’t seen the movie.
– People have been trying to pitch tents where they don’t belong. Some say we need missional churches. Others argue for deep churches. Both use Paul as an example of why their camp is right. These two ideas tend to try to create ideas as if they are mutually exclusive.
– Paul just kind of wore a cape.
– Paul engaged Timothy in both engaging a culture and deepening faith in a covenant community.
– We need to engage society while at the same time building deep, Christ-centric churches.
– 1 Tim 4 – 7 participles for 7 ideas

  1. v6-being trained: doctrine matters. Getting the Gospel right will always take precedence over innovation. It doesn’t matter the praise given if the praise is wrong.
  2. Avoid myths and pursue godliness. Don’t become a “peddler of the Gospel”
  3. Command & Teach These Things. The Gospel will be the stench of death to some people. You cannot contextualize the Gospel to the point where all who hear it will accept it.
  4. Be the example. You can’t push an idea that you don’t model.
  5. Scriptures are Sufficient. Decide early on that the Bible is the sufficient Word of God or else some new, catchy idea will come along and sweep you away. Christian Hollywood is attractive. Everyone who is on stage because things happened that were well beyond their control to the glory of God. Young men have the desire to have that story at the cost of their souls.
  6. Remember the call from the Holy Spirit. Know that it’s what you’ve been called into, or else you’ll lose heart once the struggles come. Glad submission to God’s will is our only hope.
  7. Progressive sanctification is for pastors too. We start to feel entitled to things once we experience some growth. If you’re not preaching the Gospel, it’s only a matter of time before it all turns into dust. We must play our part well: preaching, teaching, and unpacking the Gospel. Walking in humility. Reveal by word and life whereregenerance is and where it is not.