With is better than For

With is better than for. This is true in marriages, in families, in business, in organizations, in friendships, in life.

In the concept of leadership, consider these principles:

  • Good leaders nurture a with culture not a for culture.
  • Any form of isolation encourages for thinking. 
  • If you view those under your leadership in a for view, you’ll be tempted to be more about the work than the person. This may lead to you consciously or subconsciously offload your work to the for people.
  • If you view those under your leadership in a with view, chances improve that you won’t be tempted to offload your work. You and your team will own the work together.
  • Cultures of for are more prone to be fractured and competitive. Cultures of with are more prone to be unified and supportive.

In any setting, consider these actions to nurture a with culture:

  • Be a delegator. Give others the chance to work with you. Give others the opportunity to own their role on the team.
  • Be approachable. Literally leave your office door open more often. Go to other’s offices spontaneously or even schedule meetings in their space.
  • Go to lunch with each other. You may even need to calendar intentional with lunches.
  • Check your prepositions. Delete fors as much as possible. Be deliberate in saying with.
  • In meetings, ask more questions, give space for everyone at the table to interject. Balance your amount of talking and listening. Listen for any indicators of for thinking and perceptions and immediately address the need to change them. Be a leader in withing.

5 Suggestions on Filling the Empty Space, you know, or, I mean, not

“Uh,” according to dictionary.com, is an interjection used to indicate hesitation, doubt or a pause.

In listening to interviews and conversations, it appears “uh” has some family members. Their names are “you know” and “I mean.”

We all use forms of interjections. You should do some self-, “out-of-body” listening to your own conversations to observe how you fill empty space. Empty space is unnecessarily feared. Empty space is the space between one person’s statement and the next person’s statement in dialogue. If this space is feared, one tends to either talk over the other person or start a response before fully developing the thought in their mind. In either case, the interjections may not reflect the best offering to good dialogue or articulation.

To grow in being comfortable with conversational empty space, here are five suggestions:

  1. Pause: You won’t appear ignorant if you choose to pause before giving an articulated, developed reply.
  2. Develop: You appear less confident by stammering through an undeveloped answer than by taking time to develop your answer during the empty space.
  3. Listen: Listen to the wording of any question in order to use it to better begin your answer. For example, in replying to “What did you think about the President’s speech yesterday?” say, “The President’s speech yesterday was interesting and here’s why I say that. The President said…”
  4. Consider: Consider the need for a pregnant pause. Often the silence of the empty space is the best answer. You might call it marinating.
  5. Breathe: Your audience, even if it’s an audience of one, will breathe with you. In many cases, the speed of the conversation causes you to feel pressure to fill the empty space. You can take control of the speed of the conversation, certainly your side of it, by just taking a nice, deep breathe occasionally. Create ebb and flow. Hit the refresh button.

Know Your Season

There are aspects of a job, of being a parent, of living that are a given that they should always be present. These aspects often actually go through a season where they are heightened to another level of intentionality or necessity. Solomon wrote about these examples in Ecclesiastes (see chapters 3&8). 

Here’s a directional question that could help you get more out of your seasons. Do you know your current season? If so, what intentionality are you getting out of it? If not, how could you determine the nature of your current season? Consider these possibilities:

Season of margin or rest or fun or renewal

  • God actually made this clear from the very beginning (Genesis 2; Exodus 20). He designed you with a seasonal need for rest. The more you intentionally seek it the better that need will be met.

Season of focus/little margin/doing

  • “…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…” You probably spend most of your time in this season. A more directional question to ask yourself is what are you focused on right now and for how long-what is God’s intent for your current focus/doing.

Season of giving

  • You should live with a giving spirit. Some seasons call for more intentionality of giving, not just living in that spirit. For instance, giving care for an unhealthy loved one or providing shelter for needy family members.

Season of receiving

  • Last week someone reminded me that givers and doers are not good receivers. Givers and doers, how can you keep giving and doing if you never go through seasons of receiving? Here’s a key word: balance.

Know your season. Have intention to get the most out of your season. 

Know your season. Balance rest and doing, giving and receiving. 

3 Productive Denials

Production begins with a set direction, a determined goal. Each morning the choices you make determine your direction, your production. So the production of each day is determined by the things you choose to do and the things you choose not to do – what you allow and what you deny. 

To be productive, here are three things that should be denied:

Deny any bend toward laziness

  • A productive day begins with exercise of mind, spirit or body – determination to get up and start moving, to stretch your mind, to engage your spirit (Proverbs 26:13-16)

Deny any bend toward holding on

  • A productive day begins by resisting temptations of anger, bitterness, negativity, unforgiveness (Philippians 3:12-16)

Deny any bend toward independence 

  • A productive day begins by admitting we are better together (Psalm 49:13-14)

Pray, “Lord, I desire to be productive today. Whatever bends I have away from you, I deny them in order to move toward you. Your will be done today as it is in heaven.”

Dr. Henry Cloud on Worry

In this Q&A video, move forward (the whole video is good, btw) to 5:30 to listen to Dr. Cloud answer this question about worry: “How can you train your mind to not worry?”

His answer may help you apply Scriptures like Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:4-8

Recovering Demanders

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This Psalm came to mind when I read this sentence in Breakfast with Bonhoeffer: “Fellowship can be entered when participants enter not as demanders but as thankful recipients.”

Many churchgoing people are recovering demanders. Some know it; others are still figuring it out. Were they to write a Psalm about how to enter church, it may quip, “I’ll enter so long as it suits me.” They may not say it, but they enter the court with expectations, maybe even unspoken demands.

Psalm 100 gives it’s own demands that can help recovering demanders:

  • Make a joyful noise – unashamedly
  • Serve with gladness – service has a way of producing thankfulness and squelching demanding
  • Come with singing – indicates coming with a participatory spirit rather than a sit-and-watch posture
  • Know the Lord is God – the focus is not on any human leader or human preferences
  • Enter with thanksgiving...Give thanks to Him – indicates entering already in a thankful spirit
  • Bless His name – this mindset puts the follower/the created/the child in the right position under their Leader/their Creator/their Father

Psalm 100 establishes a case plan for recovering demanders.

Bonhoeffer on Obedience & Submission

Reading through Breakfast with Bonhoeffer thinking I’m not getting much. Then here come these quotes from chapters 7 & 8:

Bonhoeffer says Jesus calls us to a concrete faith. We can’t just have faith in general; we must take specific steps of faith – visible, concrete steps. And the steps can’t just be anything; they must be the steps Jesus tells us to take. We can take great risks, thinking they will please Jesus, but unless Jesus initiates them, they are faithless steps…Obedience doesn’t merely reflect faith; obedience leads to faith.

Bonhoeffer has convinced me that the number one reason so many of us are stuck in spiritual immaturity is that we commit to Christ rather than submit to Christ…Commitment still leaves us in control, deciding, according to our own agendas, when or where we’ll serve Jesus. Submission means we yield to the will of Christ and do what he tells us to do day in and day out, altering our lives in obedience to him and his word (Galatians 2:20).

I’m awake now.

Questions to meditate on: 

  1. Am I committed or submitted?
  2. What area in my life needs altering in obedience?
  3. What concrete steps of faith in my past can I look back on and see where my obedience led to faith?

Please leave any comments or stories that might encourage others with their obedience and submission.

7 Suggestions on Admitting “I Don’t Know”

Today I listened to two leaders on #5leadershipquestions, episode 72, discuss admitting, “I don’t know,” to anyone you lead. One said it was the most freeing thing he says each week. The other replied that it is only freeing to the leader who is secure in their identity and calling.

So here are some thoughts on when and how to say it, and when and how not to say it:

  • As crazy as it might sound, practice saying it to yourself first before testing the waters with others.
  • The first person(s) you say it to should be trustworthy.
  • Say it when it’s honest; don’t say it when it’s revealing nonchalant laziness.
  • Say it with genuine desire to pursue finding the knowledge; don’t say it with a suggestive “Sorry ’bout your luck” quip.
  • Say it decisively, just like you would any other answer; don’t say it woefully.
  • Say it to create trust; don’t say it to belittle yourself.
  • Say it to test the freedom; don’t say it “just because.”

Have you worked through this already? Is this something that troubles you? Leave a comment with other suggestions or thoughts on these suggestions. 

You Might Be Proud

If you get aggravated that there are too many handicapped parking spots at WalMart, you might be proud.

If you turn your nose up at the mom with the buggy-caged, screaming child at Publix, you might be proud.

If you believe, out loud or silently, that your education level determines your worth, you might be proud.

If you smile and nod while hearing advice but are only listening to the advice in your own head, you might be proud.

If you insist the TV channel is always determined by your mood or preference only, you might be proud.

If you ignore your aging parents because they only talk about things in their world, you might be proud.

If you are disgusted by humans who look/worship/talk/dress/pray/eat/do life differently than you, you might be proud.

If you write a blog pointing out other’s pride issues, you might be proud.