Category Archives: Blogference

Quick Review: Self to Lose – Self to Find

Last week I gave a quick review on the enneagram book The Road Back to YouHere is the second book I’ve read recently in my attempts to explore and understand the enneagram as a tool to help myself and others dig deeper into the heart issues that drive behavior.

Self to Lose Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types by Marilyn Vancil was a much shorter treatment of the Enneagram types, but had much more depth to it from a spiritual standpoint. Half of the book is presenting a theology of Spirit-filled living, unpacking a framework of spiritual formation through the paradigm of dying to self and grounding one’s identity in the person and work of Christ.  This was a solid treatment and helpful for both those who jump into these things for the quick rush of finding their “type” like its a horoscope as well as those trolls out there who are quick to try to destroy anything that feels different to what they are used to.  I still am exploring how useful the enneagram is in life and ministry, but Vancil does a great job laying a solid framework for the bigger picture of how self-awareness is in service of our journey to put off the old self and put on the new self.

Self-awareness is something we all need and most people in leadership and ministry are trying to help other people develop in as well.  But often, the foundation of why we should pursue self-awareness is shaky or fuzzy. I like the beginning of this book as a primer of self-reflection and the Enneagram stuff aside, the rest of the book unpacks a helpful framework or process for cultivating Spirit-facilitated self-awareness. Vancil entitles that process with the acronym OWNUP, which links the process of reflection with the fundamental taking of responsibility inherent to what it means to “die to self.”

The descriptions themselves of the 9 types are helpful and framed more from a Biblical perspective with some helpful categories to give insight to the types such as core sins, core fears, and several other areas helpful as a road map for personal reflection.

While the strength of the book is framing everything through a clear Biblical framework for following Jesus through putting off the old self and picking up our cross daily and embracing the new self, the cost is at more contextual content related to the specific types. I find that I need more context and content on each type to really get a handle on them, but having already read The Road Back to You and listened to some other content really helped. I am not sure this is the first book I would recommend to someone on the Enneagram for that reason. I benefitted because I already had some context.

Another disappointment was the section on wings was practically non-existent. That’s something still confusing to me and Vancil really doesn’t try to tackle that outside of making a small argument that each type is affected to some degree by each wing to the number’s left or right. That seems like a different take than some of what I’ve heard so far.

There are two unique contributions to the Enneagram as a spiritual encouragement. First, there’s a section where the author includes an “invitation” through God’s perspective to each type through a more Biblical lens and vision for what God may want for each person based on Scripture. Second, there’s a section of prayers from the perspective of each type that walk through a process of confessing core sin patterns and inviting God into the core needs and desires.  Both the invitations and the prayers were great and I think provide a helpful roadmap for people how to approach God authentically and in full surrender to His purposes and power.

So if you are into the Enneagram or are exploring it, I think this is a great resource – but its strength is in providing Biblical foundations and a framework to understand how this can be in service to God’s work of sanctifying a person. It is not the comprehensive resource for descriptions of the types themselves or other nuances, though the material that was included was helpful in what it tried to do.

I still plan to read a couple more, but will take a bit of a break from the Enneagram for a couple of months but hope to come back to it around the holidays when I have more time.

 

Quick Review: 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness

Over the past year I have, as the opportunities have allowed, have worked my way through Eric Metaxas’ book 7 Men and The Secret of Their Greatness.  I took this book slow and when I was in the mood for a brief biography this was a great go to book, especially via the audiobook version.  Each biography is about 50-60 minutes on the audio book, basically the length of my commute to and from work.

The book includes 7 biographies of men of faith that have had a significant impact on others and society.  The list includes George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Chuck Colson.

Many of thus are well-known figures, some with movies documenting parts of their stories or journeys. Amazing Grace came out on William Wilberforce, Chariots of Fire on Eric Liddell, and most recently 42 on Jackie Robinson. I recommend all of them.

I personally learned new and significant things about each man that I didn’t know before even though I have been quite familiar with many of these men.  I enjoyed all of the brief biographies, but I was particularly encouraged from my learning on the lives of Pope John Paul II and Chuck Colson, who I did not know as much about. These men are quite different in their personalities, gifts, and historical and social contexts. But the faith and integrity demonstrated that showed up tangibly in service to others is quite the powerful common thread to their impact.

I am not typically a “biography” guy, but this was a great way to expose myself further to the lives and examples of these men and leaders, each in contexts that carried such great challenges.  I recommend the audiobook, which is my preferred mode to do biographies. It was a great antidote for traffic and long commutes.

 

Self-Leadership: The Adventure of Spoon Collecting

If your self-leadership development efforts were illustrated through spoons on a wall, what would it look like? Would you have many spoons…or two…or maybe just one?

spooncollecting1

My mom has always had a collection of spoons – those little souvenir spoons that you can find while you are traveling. She has spoons from most countries in Europe and other places she has visited in her lifetime and they have been on the wall of her living room since I can remember.

That’s what I think our self-leadership development should look like–having a lot of spoons on the wall. Those spoons to me symbolize various takeaways, wisdom, insights, and experiences from a variety of different places and people and times in our life. Looking at the collection, I can’t help but appreciate the diversity of the spoons as well as the personal stories behind them.

It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that your development should be provided to you from whoever is leading you or through your immediate context. Should your leaders be seeking to provide development for you and those they lead?    Absolutely.

Should you expect them to provide all, or even the majority, of your development or what you need to increase your leadership capacity and grow?    Absolutely not!

Waiting for someone who is supervising you to provide all of what would help you as a leader is foolish, passive, and can be at times even childlike. You’re putting your own development completely at the mercy of one other person’s strengths, limitations, motivation, and capacity to develop you. And you know what – they aren’t you! Chances are you need, and even want, different types of development than your leader because you are a different person and a different leader. Even the greatest leader can only give you so much.

So let’s own our development and continue our journeys towards learning, growing, changing, and increasing our capacity to serve and lead others. Here’s what I recommend:

Go get some spoons!

1. VISIT!

Go visit the people and places that have the spoons you want or you feel like you really need right now as a leader. My mom wouldn’t have all those spoons if she never went anywhere. Waiting for your leader to do all the work for your development is like waiting for a spoon to show up at your front door. That’s anti-adventure, anti-adult, and anti-leaderlike.

2. COLLECT!

What’s the point in going somewhere or visiting someone for the sake of development and learning if you don’t actually take something away that can help you be a better person or leader or even help you execute your responsibilities better. So find spoons that help you refine your strengths and growth areas. Find spoons that help challenge your thinking and paradigms. Find spoons that will speak into your life, inspire you, help you dream big, gain new skills. Find spoons that help you in your personal and emotional life as well as in your personal and leadership relationships. There’s a lot of spoons out there that can help you grow into the person and leader you want to be. Don’t wait for people to drop them off at your door. GO GET ‘EM!

3. POLISH!

One of my chores growing up was polishing my mom’s spoons. It was fun to dip a spoon into a cleaning solution so half of the spoon was dirty and the other half was perfectly clean. When polishing a spoon, it would became so shiny that it was like I was seeing it the first time.

The task of polishing all the spoons also served the purpose of reminding me of all the places and types of spoons that my mom had collected. When they were hanging on the wall they were easily forgotten, but taking them down to polish them would evoke memories and a renewed appreciation for what they looked like along with the backstory behind it. You can go and get a lot of “spoons” over time, but if you forget those insights and takeaways
they won’t transform your leadership much over time. Find ways to remind yourself of those great insights and transformational experiences that you already have on your wall!

One of the best developmental “spoons” I’ve picked up over the years is that when it comes to your development as a leader, you have to own your leadership development LIKE a leader. That means it’s no one else’s job to make sure you have a good spoon collection. It’s your job, your calling, your journey. And spoon collecting should become a passion! I’ve picked up spoons from my leaders over the years, from seminary, from reading books, from friends, from my teams, from countries I’ve been in, from media, from church, from social media, from conferences, from blogs, and a host of other places and experiences too.

There’s a lot of spoons out there to be collected!

So figure out where you want more spoons, where you really need more spoons, and maybe check out what kind of spoons others around you have for ideas about what kind of spoons can best help you. It’s also good to remember that we don’t collect spoons like we collect data or information. We collect the spoons of leadership development for our own transformation and so we can serve others and ultimately help them learn how to start spoon collections on their own.

But whatever you do, don’t settle for a wall with one or two spoons on it. You just end up looking like you’ve not really visited that many places. The people we lead and influence deserve more than one or two spoon’s worth of leadership!

Where are you going to get your spoons? What advice do you have?

How are you managing to remember and consistently apply insights
and takeaways you’ve gained in the past? Any suggestions?

 

Originally Posted March 24, 2011

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry

**This is a re-post of the recent post I co-wrote with Destino Eric from destinoyearbook.com to platform and provide context for the article we co-wrote along with Tommy Forester mentioned here.  I’m re-posting for those that would feel more comfortable engaging the discussion here and just to let you know if you never visited the blogference.  Enjoy!

Reaching ethnic minorities has become more important than ever. As we cross cultures it is important for us to reflect on how we relate to the people we are trying to reach.

This summer three majority culture ministers working with Impact, Epic, and Destino wrote an article describing some of the various postures we have taken or seen others take in the process. This excerpt from the article, “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry” sums it up well:

“As Caucasians [white, dominant culture ministers], we carry with us the capacity to reinforce much of the pain that ethnic minorities have experienced and absorbed both in their lifetimes and through generations of systemic marginalization. We can’t escape the larger story of which we are all connected. But when we as Caucasians begin to relate to ethnic minority communities in ways that bring honor, rather than take it away (albeit often unknowingly), there are great opportunities to open doors for healing, reconciliation, and empowerment.

We think most ethnic ministry is done with good intentions. But not all seek to partner in ways in which there is mutual blessing and dignity. We cannot partner in ethnic ministry from a position of “above.” We can fight for people and influence them from above, but we can’t really partner with others in a redemptive and honoring way without fostering mutuality and dignity.”

Most people we know would want to be in the fifth posture we cover in the article: advocacy in partnership.  They have good intentions and desires in a lot of ways. But sometimes we don’t understand when our good intentions are mostly “good” when viewed through our own cultural lens.

We (the authors) have had our own journeys of learning what types of efforts and interactions are truly good when stepping into the ethnic minority world.  That’s some of the journey – being willing to move from what seems good to us towards what truly is good for those people we are trying to serve and love well.  Postures 2-4 represent frequent postures that we white, dominant culture ministers often think are serving and helpful, but when examined in light of the big picture they begin to show us something about what God still wants to do in our hearts.

When given status or power, we’re called to steward that power to serve and empower others.  White ministers can play a very redemptive role in shaping the future of North America by embracing what it means to advocate in partnership.

Read the full article here: Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry (mobile friendly). If it’s not working you can view and download at this link.

Consider these questions as you respond and comment.  Share your story! We all need to be learners together.

If you are a white staff person or minister, where are you at in your own journey of learning to cross-cultures? What have you learned?  What have been your own challenges and successes?

If you are a non-white staff, student, or minister and you resonate with the ethnic minority experience, we’d love to invite you to share what you have experienced as being truly GOOD for you in your journey.  What has served you or what has helped empower you as a person and a leader?   And what have been the challenges – whether they are captured in the article or not?

All of us can benefit from reflecting upon this question: Given the capacity I currently have, as I reflect on the idea of advocacy, what might be a good step for me right where I am towards learning to enter into healthy partnerships across majority-minority or ethnic lines?

The Fall 2011 Blogference Starts Monday!

Wanted to let you know that there’s an online interactive conference for ministry starts and leaders happening from Monday to Wednesday through the blogging medium.  I’ve been a contributing writer to the blogference for the last four years since it’s early days and it’s grown to include people from over several dozen countries.

Please participate! If you have time Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week to check out some of this year’s topics and engage the discussion please do.

I’ll be posting again in my 5th Blogference.  On Wednesday, I’ll be co-posting with my friend “Destino Eric” from destinoyearbook.com and who was one of my co-authors in writing the article you might have seen here this summer entitled “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Ministry.”  We’re going to be posting an excerpt from that article with some context and summary thoughts to open up discussion related to the issue of white approaches and postures towards ethnic minority ministry.  If you have read the article – come engage the discussion on Wednesday!  If you haven’t read it, get a head start by clicking this link and reading it now or downloading it to read.

We’d love for you to participate in the discussion!  But visit the blogference starting tomorrow as there will be a handful of topics to start things off from leadership to evangelism to social media and moms in the ministry.

But if you’re in the mood to see some past blogference content, here’s a link to all my blogference posts from the past several years:   http://www.brianvirtue.org/2009/04/my-blogference-post-links/

 

My post is up! Come engage!

Hey all all,

My post just went up at the blogference.  Follow this link to come check it out and share your own thoughts on “Self-Leadership Development: The Adventure of Spoon Collecting” here.

Also check out a post by Ken Cochrum on leadership selection titled “What Would Jethro See in Me” if you have time!

The point is engagement and discussion so don’t be afraid to come and leave your own thoughts and questions and see what others are saying!

 

2011 Blogference Starts Today

Hope you are doing well!

Wanted to let you know that the 2011 Blogference is starting today and will continue over the next few days.  Come and check out a variety of posts related to ministry, organizational, or spiritual leadership.

I’m excited to be able to contribute for the fourth straight year.   My post will go up tomorrow (Tuesday) so go over to the site below and look for my post there.  My post is titled “Leadership Development as Collecting Spoons” and will be focused on self-leadership development.

Help me out with some comments to get engagement going!   And check out some of the topics.

The overall site for the blogference is http://www.metabelle.com/

Today there was a good leadership post that is beneficial entitled “Leading From A Future-Focused Perspective” by Dave Kraft that got me thinking about a couple really interesting things.

There’s a couple more “niche” posts related to CCC’s proposed name change process and the current Evangelical debates surrounding Rob Bell.  They may or may not fit your world or what you’re thinking about right now, but there’s good interaction going on them as well.

Check it out tomorrow!  I’d appreciate the support!

 

Serving Self Leadership

This is the post that I contributed to the blogference yesterday.  There was some great reflections and thoughts in there as the comments were approaching 40 in number at last check.  If you want to engage those you can go here:  http://www.metabelle.com/re-think-ccc-blogferenceservant-leadership-development/ However, I know not everyone likes to engage in forums like that so if you have thoughts and insights on this topic feel free to share them here!

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Leaders today have a great responsibility to be proactive and responsibility to develop themselves. Leaders who are waiting for other people to develop them, who are hoping their character is going to grow just by physical proximity to other leaders, or who are waiting for others to provide them the magic skills to be successful reveal that they are perhaps not really leaders at all. This is the challenge and responsibility of self-directed leadership development for those of us that seek to make a difference through influence, relationships, and oversight.

Servant leadership is tossed around frequently today as almost a given for ministry leaders, yet servant leadership values and ideas often fail to be integrated into leadership development strategies. Today there are abundant resources to assist in our own leadership development, but one could spend days, weeks, and years consuming them and still miss the whole point. I propose that we as leaders need to re-think what servant leadership truly means and what it would look like to submit all of our self-leadership strategies to this over-arching orientation to power and influence.

So what is servant leadership? I’ll lean on Robert Greenleaf’s words as he writes,

“The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?” – from “The Servant as Leader” in Servant Leadership. (13-14) 

What it would look like for the above picture to be full integrated into your personal leadership development plan and strategies? How would it change what you do or how you think about what you do if you were constantly thinking about having that kind of an impact on human beings?Self-directed leadership development today is usually centered around three things:

  1. Mastery – The development of skills and competence to get results in whatever context one is in
  2. Strength/Gift Development – Finding ways and places to use and develop one’s one strengths and gifts
  3. Soul care – Combating the pressures of leadership and challenges to one’s emotional and spiritual health to have greater longevity, effectiveness, and personal satisfaction in the leadership journey

For most that have taken the step to create a development plan for themselves, chances are 90% or more of it is drawn from these three areas. All of these are important for our development and should be represented in your self-leadership plans, but of what benefit are they for our long-term leadership fruit if our fundamental attitude or understanding of the purpose of our leadership is unclear or off-base?

If we used the criteria of servant leadership as the greatest influence on our plans and strategies, we just may very well choose to focus on the development of different skills, different areas of maturing and character growth, and different strategies for wielding influence and power. Instead of being tempted to chase competence and skill mastery we may find ourselves chasing trustworthiness, capacity for listening, cross-cultural awareness, or the skills of inquiry and question asking instead. Instead of focusing primarily on adding to ourselves (skills, strengths, soul care), what would happen if we changed our focus so that we were increasing our capacity to add to other people?

We are not to be driven by skill acquisition or delusions that we must become little CEO’s of our leadership contexts that have all the answers, skills, and strategies. Self-directed leadership development that is conducted with a north star of servant leadership takes on a different tone. Here’s the question that should drive your self-leadership: “Given who you are, where you are, and what you are called to do – Who do you need to become to embody and live out servant leadership?” And then, “What is going to help me become that person?”

To kick-start the discussion I’ll suggest two practical ways to infuse your own personal leadership development efforts with servant leadership DNA.

  1. Include a statement of vision and values in whatever development plan you choose to use. This is where our values and leadership orientation is expressed and it’s important to work some of this out so that your self-leadership efforts are value-driven and not just need-driven or organization-driven.
  2. Constantly think about three degrees of leadership influence – especially all those people you don’t have direct contact with all the time but that are being influenced through the group of leaders and people that are in your immediate leadership circle of influence. This will help you think bigger than just what needs to get done RIGHT NOW, but about what needs to be deeply embedded in how people view influence and power for the sake of succeeding generations. Who do you need to become and what do you need to live out so that servant leadership is embedded in the DNA of your leadership legacy?

Servant leadership in the Scriptures and in modern leadership theory is not really about us as leaders thinking we are servants. It is about whether those who are following us and those who cross our path are actually being empowered and served through transformational relationships. We have an immense capacity to deceive ourselves that we are being servant leaders all the while those under our influence are not really being served at all.

Servant leadership is also more measurable than we often think – we may need to identify new measurements of our own success and our ministry’s or organization’s success if we want to strive towards bringing our own leadership development in line with servant leadership values and objectives.

What connections do you make when you re-think the nature and end-game of leadership development as it relates to servant leadership and leadership reproduction?

What ideas or suggestions do you have for keeping your leadership development value driven and fueled by servant-leadership?