Descension

Christine’s now 26 weeks along in her pregnancy. As we’ve been tracking what’s going on through babycenter.com, here’s the important developmental activity going on with our boy so you know what’s happening…

“Your baby now weighs a little less than 2 pounds and measures about 14 inches. His weight will more than triple between now and birth as he rapidly puts on baby fat. He’ll need that fat to help adjust to colder temperatures outside the womb and as a source of energy and calories in the first days of life. If you’re having a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend into his scrotum — a trip that will take about two to three days.

So now you know what to pray for in the next 2-3 days – very important stuff.

A long trip back

After a few great days with Christine’s family, we made the long journey home to Southern California yesterday. We were going to go in 2 days, but we were making great time and Morgan was doing great so we decided to keep going and try to do it in a day. We were on target to get home around 10pm last night, but Cal Trans had something to say about that.

On the 15 near Hesperia they closed 3 of the 4 lanes for construction. So we sat in traffic for an hour and 45 minutes while Morgan was frieking out about all the big trucks around us. We got in a little after midnight and are now recovering.

We were so excited to get home after 2 months of being away and it’s like our native Southern California gave us the finger before we could get too excited about it.

Silent Library

Just to mix it up a bit and to show a bit where my mind is starting to go after 10 days of conferences, I had to post this you-tube video that my friend Jason sent me. It really hasn’t gotten old for me yet so if you’ve got 10 minutes to kill or need a laugh, here you go.

On a ministry note, given that we’re working to pioneer new ministries on campuses in Tokyo, this actually gets me more excited to reach Tokyo students with the gospel. Students are students, no matter where they are 🙂

CCC Staff Training and Donald Miller

Well our bi-annual 12 day national staff conference started a couple days ago. There’s a lot more people in Fort Collins now than there were last week. It’s a little overwhelming for sure. It’s a little information overload to go from the leadership track to 12 days of conference.

One of the first speakers was one that I was most motivated to hear – Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and a few other books. The point I most resonated with in his message was that truth can only be found in meaning. Or in another way, truth cannot be divorced from meaning. He spent most of his time talking about truth and meaning in the context of story, a narrative approach to life and the Scriptures. It’s a good message for our ministry to be exposed to and to wrestle with.

Leadership&Perspective Taking

In this second post from Tim Muehlhoff’s message to the leadership track, I want to highlight a couple of the concepts Tim emphasized regarding listening and bridging for understanding, especially with differences or conflict is at work.

He stressed the need for “perspective-taking” which means seeing the world from another point of view. We can’t empathize or compromise unless we know some of the other person or person’s history and context. This involves life experiences, past hurt and pain, as well as who the influential people are in their life. When I think about it, this is a fundamental task for all leaders who work with people. The campus ministry’s leadership model (the 4-R Leadership Model I studied at Bethel) identifies this capacity as intellectual flexibility and it is central to the relationships of a leader.

One of the more fascinating parts of Tim’s talk was when he made the connection from perspective-taking to “cognitive complexity theory”. This theory essentially involves the complexity of one’s view of the world and of other people. The less cognitive complexity one has translates to greater rigidity in relationships and being able to connect with people on their teams. The more cognitive complexity one possesses, the greater capacity they have for authentic listening and empathy and understanding.

The result of perspective taking is empathy, even for those we have been wounded by. Tim quoted some words from Longfellow, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

How deep and complex is our view of others and the world? The world likes to label things and put things into categories. My readings of Jesus’ ministry blow me away on how he was ability to communicate so effectively with people of all backgrounds: Pharisees, Romans, Widows, Saducees, Samaritans, Zealots, and children. He was able to see into their worlds, which led to compassion, which led to his ability to communicate effectively.

What I am taking away from this is that redemptive action first starts with seeing. And I’m afraid that many believers and ministers fail to see, relying instead on their own native (& maybe naive) worldview.

Leadership&Listening

Another of our guest speakers earlier in the week was Dr. Tim Muehlhoff who happens to be a professor at Biola University. He has a long-standing relationship with Campus Crusade and I believe he was on staff for awhile. He has spoken at our region’s Christmas Conference before as well.

He spoke on the issue of leadership and listening. There were great insights related to cross-gender and cross-cultural listening, but one of the powerful statements he made related to Proverbs 18:13 and leadership.

Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”

Tim’s statement from this passage was that, “It is shameful for a leader to believe that they don’t need to listen to someone else just because by position you believe you don’t have to.”

I think this in some ways connects to what Mark Gauthier expressed about leadership and power. Leadership culture will NEVER be established as long as leaders fail to listen to those “under their power or domain.” And Proverbs 18:13 indicates that such leadership and expression of power by leaders is to their shame and that such behavior is folly.

Mark Gauthier On Creating a Ministry Leadership Culture

This topic has been on my mind a lot of late. A couple weeks ago I met with our national director of Human Resources in the Campus Ministry, Marc Rutter. He’s the guy that gave the Leader’s at Risk talk I blogged about a few weeks ago. We spent a lot of time talking about leadership culture and what’s required or needed to shape such a culture.

A couple days ago, Mark Gauthier, the national director of the campus ministry for Campus Crusade for Christ, spoke with us and shared a lot about what God was doing in His life as it relates to drawing him back to the simplicity of the gospel in his life. He mentioned some things about creating a leadership culture in passing in his talk. He had a brief Q & A time so I asked him to elaborate on what kinds of things does he see as being important in establishing a leadership culture. He seems to have a lot of energy in his response as his answer was about 7-8 minutes long. Here are the basics of his response on what is needed for a leadership culture in the ministry or the church:

1. Leaders on every level that are personally owning the mission.
2. Leaders on every level that are personally owning their own growth and development
A. Growth = their own walk with Jesus and transformation by the Holy Spirit
B. Development = their growth in ministry proficiency and skill areas as leaders
3.Leaders who are resisting “over-leading” at their level of the ministry

A. By “over-leading” he meant leaders who try to keep control and fail to free up and empower their people for the mission
B. He emphasized the the need for leaders to give power away and empower others to lead out in the mission.Mark asked one question that I thought really nailed the question of “over-leading.” He asked, “What’s the one thing leaders have that no one else has?”

The answer is, “Power.” Mark emphasized that leaders can use that power to control and “over-lead” or they can give it away for the sake of empowering others. I thought that really nailed it and I was really thankful that he spent so much time talking about this issue in particular. I really think this concept of power is one of the things leaders have the hardest time understanding and living out and as such it’s probably a good topic for the future.

Hypocrisy and the Ministry

We finally wrapped up the leadership track on Friday. The national director over all U.S. ministries, Steve Sellers, spoke on the last day and spoke on the danger of hypocrisy. It was a challenging message and discussion because the emphasis was on how easy it is to drift towards hypocrisy when you are in an ongoing ministry leadership role.

I think it is a message for all believers, but ministry leaders can be especially prone to hypocrisy because of the routine we can develop as “professional ministers.” It develops over time where we start relying more and more on our own gifts, abilities, and strengths than the work of God in our own hearts.

He presented the area of prayer as the key area to discern the level of our dependence on God. He didn’t present a question for self-evaluation, but the question I would identify is as simple as “Am I praying?” Steve was specific to point towards intentional prayer focused on dependence in the ministry as opposed to the moment by moment kind of prayer to stay Spirit filled. That’s a challenging, convicting, and yet very motivating message for me and for ministry leaders today.

Leadership Formation & Development Within Systems and Organizations