Sunday, April 24, 2011

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

Edited Review by C.E.
This is another good read by Seth Godin in his new book, Poke the Box..

Not too long ago, I read Seth Godin's "Tribes." It was very thought-provoking and filled with an incredible array of truth and ideas around the concept of Tribes and how it relates to our daily lives in the marketplace. 

So I ordered "Poke the Box" and Seth overwhelmed me with his passion and force. I read the book and listened carefully for all the take-aways from the book that I could grab.

If "Poke the Box" communicates nothing else, it presents this one message with a megaphone voice: "Go!" "Start now." "The worst thing you can do is nothing."

You've got to be out there trying and risking failure, or you'll be irrelevant. There are too many people out there and too many tribes so that if you do nothing or are too cautious, thinking that you can control the whole process, the chances are you'll end up marginalizing yourself. The important thing is to be out there, thinking, inventing, trying, and experiencing, for that is how we learn and create.

Poking the box, therefore, means being willing to poke, to get things started, and to stir things up. And that's something that I personally need to hear, for my tendency is to caution and fearfulness. "Poking the Box" is the culmination of many other books I've read that have also convinced me to begin now and take the initiative. One of the most important times I did that was when I dared to write a daily Bible devotional for every passage of the New Testament. I had a lot of reasons why I couldn't or shouldn't do this or why I'd never complete it. But God told me to start one day, and so I did.

Poking the Box is about recapturing all of the moments in your life when you started something new and were jazzed about it and the world seemed wonderful and mysterious again. Poking the Box is about recapturing that feeling by taking real action in something you've already been thinking about but haven't had the guts or inspiration to carry out. Read "Poking the Box" for yourself, and see if it doesn't re-energize you to find old dreams or execute new ones!

When should you poke the box? When the cost of poking the box is less than the cost of doing nothing. It also means working hard and committing to finishing.

"The market is waiting for people to step forward," Seth says. And so are the tribes that we lead and that each of us are a part of. If you're a religious leader as I am, then so are the people of God, who all too often have become fearful and weak.

Thank you, Seth, for giving me a little more courage to "Poke the Box" in my chosen field! Who knows what you, yes YOU, may come up with if you too "Poke the Box"!

I'll close with some quotes from "Poke the Box." Like me, you may not completely buy into them, but they are certain to "poke" you:

"There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth. Not going all the way and not starting." (Siddhartha Gautama)

"Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them."

"Poking doesn't mean right. It means action."

"This might not work" isn't merely something to be tolerated; it's something you should seek out.

"Risk is avoided because we've been trained to avoid failure."

"Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself."

"Where did curiosity go? Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity. The difference is that the creative person is satisfied once he sees how it's done. The initiator won't rest until he does it."

"The people arguing on behalf of accepting the status quo are the ones who, years ago, set out to change it. As disillusionment sets in, people stop poking."

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee by Brian Klemmer

--Leaders change the situation instead of being changed by the situation 

What are you most like: a carrot, an egg, or coffee?

A carrot starts out firm, but when you put a carrot in boiling water it becomes limp. An egg starts out with a hard shell and is soft in the middle, but place it in boiling water and the inside becomes hard. And when you put coffee in boiling water, it changes the water completely.
What challenges have you been experiencing in your career, family life, physically or spiritually? Think of any of those situations as the boiling water.

Some people are like carrots. Oh, they act tough enough, but the challenges of life soften them, they wilt and won’t stand up for themselves any more.

Other people are like eggs. As they confront challenges they get hard on the inside. They’re calloused, they become unable or unwilling to feel and do not allow themselves to connect and relate with other people.

Leaders are like coffee. When thrust into the challenges of life they actually change the situation.
Have you been a carrot, egg, or coffee? Buy some coffee, even if you don’t normally drink it, and put it in a bowl on your desk. Let that “trigger” you to be a leader who, like coffee, changes the situation you are in for the better.

As a child, I saw people as one of two types: There were the nice caring compassionate people. They didn’t seem to make much happen, didn’t date the nicest girls or guys, and weren’t movers and shakers. Then there were the people that made things happen, but they were often arrogant, hard, and self-centered.

It didn’t seem fair. I wanted to be compassionate and caring and yet able to change the world. I wanted to be what I now call a “Compassionate Samurai:” a warrior with a heart for service and contribution.
That’s what it will take to change things, like the fact that one out of every eight children drops out of school in the USA, rampant illiteracy in the world, a marriage that is not working, or a satisfying career in an uncertain economy.

Carrots and eggs won’t do it. This week, be like coffee. Be a Compassionate Samurai, a warrior with a heart for service and contribution who alters the world you live in.

Leaders change the situation, so even after they leave, things are different than when they arrived.

Action Step #1
Buy a bag of coffee and put it on your desk as a trigger device.

Action Step #2
Write a brief paragraph describing the biggest challenge you face in your life right now. Then, write another short paragraph on exactly how you’d like your life to be in that area right now. And finally, write a sentence that describes one specific action you will take this week--no matter how big or small it seems to you--to change your life to being exactly how you’d like it to be.

An Example
Early in my career in the seminar business, my mentor sent me to San Diego to save the failing market there. The seminars were so poorly attended they were considering closing down our San Diego office.
When I arrived, I noticed that a lot of teenagers were hanging around the office. The environment and feeling created by all those kids was driving away the more conservative, successful business people we also wanted to bring into our seminars.

Like attracts like.

The teenagers were good people who deserved to be supported and served, but it was hurting our bigger market. So I created another place for the kids to hangout and made it clear they were not to be around our office.

It was not an especially popular action for many of our seminar graduates, but it changed how the rest of us thought about the organization and who we attracted. Within a short period of time, San Diego was a thriving market for our seminars.

That is what coffee is all about!

“What we are depends mainly on what we look for”
--John Lubbock

Treading Upon Lions and Serpents by James Ryle

“You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot” (Psalm 91:13).

The symbolism of this language must not be dismissed; not should we pass too quickly from pondering its weighty significance for our lives today. For the language used in this verse is consistent with a recurring theme found throughout the entire Bible.

In the Garden of Eden we first see Satan in the guise of a serpent. Then moving forward to the writings of Peter in the latter pages of the New Testament, we are told that our adversary, the devil, “goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).

Lions and Serpents. These are two of the devils favorite disguises. He also likes bats, hornets, spiders, scorpions, cockroaches, and all sorts of creeping things. He likes buzzards, but not eagles; ravens, but not doves; flies, but not honey bees.

He is a nasty sort of being, and associates himself exclusively with those earthly creatures that provide him a suitable cover for his onerous presence. However, deceitful to the core, he also dresses himself up as “an angel of light” from time to time, and thereby dupes countless souls who are too gullible to see through his costumes.

But may it never be said of us! May we walk the crimson path in the footsteps of our triumphant King, following closely all the way and seeing His victory become our own. May we walk by faith and tread upon lions and serpents. May the confession of the first disciples now find life upon our lips in these days so close to the End – “Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Your Name!” (Luke 10:17).

I love the Lord’s response to those early disciples – “I know,” He said, “I was watching as you went forth in My Name, and I saw Satan fall from heaven like a bolt of lightning!”

Then He added these words, “See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God, but what God does for you — that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” (Luke 10:18-20 The Message).

Whether it be bold opponents who come against us straightway like roaring lions, or treacherous adversaries who, like serpents, work their schemes against us with charm and subtlety – both alike shall be trodden down by the man and woman whom God protects.

May YOU be such a person!

Un Corazón que No se Ofende by Francis Frangipane

Os daré corazón nuevo, y pondré espíritu nuevo dentro de vosotros; y quitaré de vuestra carne el corazón de piedra, y os daré un corazón de carne. (Ezequiel 36:26)

Dios tiene un nuevo corazón para nosotros que no se puede ofender, un corazón “inatendible.” Amados, poseer un corazón que no se ofende no es una opción o un lujo; no es una cosa pequeña. Un corazón ofendido está en peligro de tornarse en un “corazón de piedra.”

Considerad: Jesús nos advierte que, a medida que nos acerquemos al final de los tiempos, la mayoría de las personas se ofenderán de tal manera que se apartarán de la fe. Escuchad con atención su advertencia:

“Muchos tropezarán entonces, y se entregarán unos a otros, y unos a otros se aborrecerán... y por haberse multiplicado la maldad, el amor de muchos se enfriará” (Mateo 24:10-12).

“Muchos… se ofenderán.” ¿El resultado? El amor de “muchos” se enfriará. Mi oración es que escuchemos Sus palabras con temor santo.

Cuando permitimos que una ofensa permanezca en nuestros corazones, provoca consecuencias espirituales graves. En el versículo antes citado, Jesús nombró tres resultados peligrosos: traición, odio y amor frío. Cuando alguien nos ha ofendido, incluso alguien que nos importa, debemos acudir a ellos. Si no hablamos con ellos, comenzaremos a hablar sobre ellos. Traicionamos esa relación, hablando con malicia a sus espaldas, descubriendo sus debilidades y sus pecados.

Tal vez enmascaramos nuestra traición diciendo que estamos solamente buscando consejo, pero cuando volvemos la vista atrás vemos que hemos hablado de forma negativa a demasiada gente. Nuestro verdadero objetivo no era buscar la ayuda espiritual para nosotros mismos, sino buscar la venganza hacia aquel que nos ofendió. ¿De qué manera tal acción no es una manifestación de odio? Para un alma ofendida, el amor frío, la traición y el odio son un camino hacia las tinieblas.

La mayoría de las personas no se tropiezan con las rocas; tropiezan con piedras, cosas relativamente pequeñas. Tal vez la personalidad de alguien en autoridad nos molesta y muy pronto nos ofendemos. O, un amigo o un familiar no cubre nuestras expectativas, y la ofensa entra en nuestra alma. Amado, si queremos “perseverar hasta el fin”, tenemos que confrontar las cosas que nos molestan.

Cuando Jesús nos advierte que nos hace falta perseverancia, nos está diciendo que es más fácil comenzar la carrera que terminarla. Entre ahora y el día en que usted muera, habrá muchas ocasiones para que se ofenda, y necesitara vencerlas. Tal vez este usted en un momento así ahora mismo. ¡No subestime el peligro de guardar una ofensa!

Nadie planifica apartarse; nadie dice, “Creo que hoy voy a desarrollar un corazón duro y frío.” Tales cosas entran en nuestras almas sigilosamente y es ingenuo suponer que nunca nos puede ocurrir a nosotros. Conozco muchas personas que se han ofendido de forma constante acerca de esto y aquello. En lugar de tratar con las ofensas, orar sobre ellas y entregárselas a Dios, las llevan consigo hasta que su peso imposibilita su caminar con Dios. Quizás hoy va bien, pero puedo garantizarle que mañana ocurrirá algo que, inevitablemente, le decepcionará o dañara; le golpeará alguna injusticia, exigiendo que reaccione en la carne. ¿Va a encontrar más amor, y por tanto, continuara su crecimiento hacia la semejanza a Cristo? ¿O va a permitir que esa ofensa consuma su vida espiritual?

La Raíz de la Ofensa
Una ofensa puede atacar nuestras virtudes o nuestros pecados, nuestros valores o nuestro orgullo. Puede penetrar y herir cualquier dimensión del alma, tanto el bien como el mal. Una vez prediqué una serie de sermones acerca del chisme. La mayoría de las personas vieron su pecado y se arrepintieron, pero un núcleo de chismosos se ofendieron mucho y, finalmente, dejaron la iglesia. Cuando el Espíritu Santo expone el pecado en el alma de alguien, si rechazamos la oportunidad de arrepentirnos, a menudo nos ofendemos con la persona que trajo la enseñanza. Para decir la verdad, la mayoría de las veces, no tengo ni idea de quien, específicamente, necesita escuchar lo que estoy enseñando, pero Dios sí lo sabe.

Pablo insta a Timoteo a “redargüir, reprender; exhortar” (2ª Timoteo 4:2). El no dijo “exhorta, exhorta, exhorta,” pero en la mayoría de las iglesias lo único que recibimos es exhortación. Por supuesto, necesitamos que se nos anime, pero también hay momentos en los que necesitamos ser redargüidos y reprendidos. Hoy en día hay predicadores que tienen miedo de predicar la verdad por temor a la reacción de la gente, y que dejen la iglesia. El resultado final es una iglesia de personas que se ofenden fácilmente y no pueden crecer más allá de su incapacidad de recibir corrección.

Las personas no cambian únicamente por medio de la exhortación. En todos nosotros hay áreas que necesitan ser confrontadas y disciplinadas. El pastor que se niega a disciplinar y corregir a los que están en pecado, está desobedeciendo a Dios. Es incapaz de llevar a las personas hacia cambios en sus vidas que realmente los transformarán; no van a “perseverar hasta el fin” si no se les puede corregir (Mateo 24).

Necesitamos convertirnos en un pueblo que dice, “Señor, muéstrame donde necesito cambiar.” Estoy hablando de madurar. El necio menosprecia el consejo de su padre: Un hombre sabio recibirá una reprimenda y prosperará. “Mas el que guarda la corrección vendrá a ser prudente.”(Prov. 15:5).

La Ofensa Personal
Con frecuencia es nuestro orgullo el que sufre ofensas más fácilmente. El orgullo nos lleva a esperar más de lo que merecemos. El orgullo es una forma de auto-adoración. Dios debe destruir nuestro orgullo, y para hacerlo, permitirá que las ofensas expongan lo que nos falta en humildad. No está mal esperar aliento por nuestras buenas obras, pero no podemos ofendernos cuando no ocurre así en el tiempo que esperamos.

Años atrás, cuando era un pastor novato, participe de una conferencia donde el líder principal decidió saludar personalmente a cada ministro y su esposa. Saludó a la pareja que estaba a nuestra derecha y luego giró hacia un miembro de su equipo para hacerle una pregunta.  Un momento después volvió la mirada, pero nos pasó de largo y se dirigió a la pareja a nuestra izquierda. Todos los que estaban a nuestro alrededor vieron que fuimos salteados. Nos sentimos avergonzados y ofendidos. Pero mi mujer, sabiamente, observó que podíamos permitir que esta situación nos dañara, o lo podríamos utilizar como una inversión para aprender a ser sensibles a los sentimientos de otros. Esta ofensa nos enseñó como otros se sienten cuando son ignorados. ¿Pueden ver esto? Usted debe hacer que la ofensa se convierta en una oportunidad para ser más como Cristo.

Las ocasiones para sentirnos ofendidos son casi interminables. De hecho, a diario se nos brinda la oportunidad de ser ofendidos o de poseer un inofendible corazón. La promesa del Señor es que nos ha dado un corazón nuevo: un corazón blando, vulnerable que se puede ser lleno de Su Espíritu y abundar en Su amor.

Señor, perdóname por sentirme ofendido con tanta facilidad y por cargar ofensas. Padre, mi corazón es necio y débil. Concédeme el corazón de Jesús que no se ofende. Amén.

Unoffendable by Francis Frangipane

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 36:26).

God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended, an "unoffendable" heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it's not a little thing. An offended heart is endanger of becoming a "heart of stone."

Consider: Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith. Listen carefully to His warning:

"Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).

"Many" will "be offended." The result? The love of "many" will grow cold. My prayer is that we will hear His words with holy fear.

When we allow an offense to remain in our hearts, it causes serious spiritual consequences. In the above verse Jesus named three dangerous results: betrayal, hatred and cold love. When we are offended with someone, even someone we care for, we must go to them. If we do not talk to them, we will begin to talk about them. We betray that relationship, whispering maliciously behind their back to others, exposing their weaknesses and sins. We may mask our betrayal by saying we are just looking for advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively to far too many people. Our real goal was not to get spiritual help for ourselves but to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred are a walk into darkness.

People don't stumble over boulders; they stumble over stones, relatively small things. It may be that the personality of someone in authority bothers us, and soon we are offended. Or, a friend or family member fails to meet our expectations, and we take an offense into our soul. Beloved, if we will "endure to the end," we will have to confront the things that bother us.

When Jesus warns that we need endurance, He is saying that it is easier to begin the race than finish it. Between now and the day you die, there will be major times of offense that you will need to overcome. You might be in such a time right now. Do not minimize the danger of harboring an offense!

No one plans on falling away; no one ever says, "Today, I think I'll try to develop a hardened heart of stone." Such things enter our souls through stealth. It is only naiveté that assumes it couldn't happen to us. I know many people who consistently become offended about one thing or another. Instead of dealing with the offenses, praying about them and turning the issue over to God, they carry the offense in their soul until its weight disables their walk with God. You may be doing fine today, but I guarantee you, tomorrow something will happen that will inevitably disappoint or wound you; some injustice will strike you, demanding you retaliate in the flesh. Will you find more love, and hence, continue your growth toward Christlikeness? Or will you allow that offense to consume your spiritual life?

The Root Of Offense
An offense can strike at our virtues or sins, our values or our pride. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul, both good and evil. I once brought a series of messages about gossip. Most people saw their sin and repented, but a core group of gossips were greatly offended and ultimately left the church. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in someone's soul, if we refuse the opportunity to repent, we often become offended at the person who brought the teaching. Instead of humbling our hearts, we are outraged at the person who exposed us. Truthfully, most of the time, I have no idea who specifically needs to hear what I'm teaching, but God knows.

Paul told Timothy to "reprove, rebuke, exhort" (see 2 Tim. 4:2). He didn't say, "exhort, exhort, exhort," but exhortation is what we receive in most churches. Certainly, we need to be encouraged, but there are also times, beloved, when we need to be reproved and rebuked. Today, there are preachers who are afraid to preach truth for fear people will react and leave the church. The end result is a church of easily offended people who cannot grow beyond their inability to accept correction.

People don't change by exhortation alone. There are areas in all of us that need to be confronted and disciplined. The pastor who refuses to discipline and correct those in sin is in disobedience to God. He is unable to lead people into any truly transforming changes in their lives; they will not "endure to the end" if they cannot be corrected (see Matt. 24).

We need to become a people who say, "Lord, show me what needs to change in me." I'm talking about growing up. A wise man will receive a rebuke and he will prosper. But a fool rejects his father's discipline (see Prov. 15:5).

Personal Offense

It is often our pride that suffers offense most easily. Pride leads us to expect more than we deserve. Pride is a form of self-worship. God must destroy our pride, and to do so, He will allow offenses to expose what we lack in humility. It is not wrong to expect encouragement for our good works, but we cannot be offended when it doesn't happen in the timing we are expecting.

Years ago when I was a young pastor, I attended a conference where the main leader decided to personally greet each minister and spouse. He greeted the couple on our right and then turned to his staff to ask a question. A moment later he returned, but passed us by and went to the couple on our left. Everyone around us saw we were bypassed. We were embarrassed and offended. But my wife wisely observed that we could allow this thing to hurt us or we could see it as an investment in sensitivity toward other people's feelings. The offense taught us how others feel when they are ignored. Do you see this? You must make that offense become an opportunity to become more Christlike.

The occasions for taking offense are practically endless. Indeed, we are daily given the opportunity to either be offended by something or to possess an unoffendable heart. The Lord's promise is that He's given us a new heart - a soft, entreatable heart that can be filled with His Spirit and abound with His love.

Lord, forgive me for being so easily offended and for carrying offenses. Father, my heart is foolish and weak. Grant me the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ. Amen.

All of God by Dudley Hall

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

After we have finally concluded that Jesus has acted for us in securing our salvation from the penalty of sin, we often try to appropriate the resulting peace through our own efforts to believe and/or behave.

Just as God acted on behalf of Jesus when he was dead, he has acted on our behalf to work in us that which we have no ability to do. How much did Jesus initiate his resurrection? It was not his actions that precipitated the great miracle. It was the love of the Father that raised him. Jesus is the benefactor of God's action on his behalf. In like manner, we are dead even to the ability to sufficiently lay hold of the promises of the new covenant.

God promises to write his law on our hearts and our minds and that we will know him intimately. God's work in our hearts is as necessary as his work on the cross or in the grave. If he doesn't change our hearts we will spend our energy trying to embrace the promises of the new covenant just like the Old Testament people found themselves worn out trying to qualify for those promises.

It is God's desire to have a relationship with us based on trust. His goal is our hearts. It was the heart-issue that made the first covenant incapable of making us righteous. The New Covenant addresses that weakness. The blessing it promises is that God will do whatever necessary to place the proper fear, trust and love in our hearts. We can only trust him to do that. Our faith is not measured by feelings of strength or circumstantial evidence. It is the place of quiet desperation where we breathe a sigh of faith. "Lord, do in me what you promised. I cannot muster enough faith to merit your grace. I can only trust that your promise is true."

The same God who led Jesus from death will perform in us to cause us to love and trust him. He is faithful, and his covenant is in effect.

Burying Your Ego By John Maxwell

Best known to Americans as the Mexican general at the Alamo, Santa Anna consistently made catastrophic political and military blunders. During the course of his public career, Santa Anna lost 1/3 of Mexico’s territory in warfare, and sold another 30,000 acres to the United States to finance his attempts to suppress revolt. PBS, in its series Perspectives on the West, cites egotism as the cause of the general’s failures as a leader:
The dominant figure in Mexican politics for much of the 19th century, Antonio López de Santa Anna left a legacy of disappointment and disaster by consistently placing his own self-interest above his duty to the nation.

The self-proclaimed “Napoleon of the West,” lacked neither courage nor charisma, but he suffered from a marked deficiency of humility. During war, Santa Anna routinely overestimated his skill as a military commander and underestimated his opponents. In peacetime, he used state money to finance a lavish lifestyle, and extravagantly spent money to erect self-glorifying monuments.

Santa Anna even funded an ornate state funeral for his leg! He had lost the limb fighting against the French, and after the battle he returned the amputated leg to his ranch home for burial. Three years later, when he ascended to the presidency, Santa Anna ordered the leg to be exhumed, placed in a crystal vase, and escorted by military parade to Mexico City. Upon arrival, the leg was interred during an elaborate ceremony involving cannon salvos, poems, and other tributes to the greatness of General Santa Anna.

As evidenced by Antonio López de Santa Anna, leaders who are overly concerned with self-promotion eventually wreck their legacies. And, in their efforts to exalt themselves, they often end up looking ridiculous. Since pride can have disastrous consequences, what practical steps can leaders take to keep their egos in check?

Seek Feedback
Humble leaders know they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all other members of the team. Accordingly, they avoid any action that might constrain input or intimidate anyone else from voicing a concern. Leaders with humility actively court outside opinions, and they rely on a trusted inner circle to point out their blind spots. 
Delegate Decisions
Prideful leaders clutch tightly to control, believing they are best suited to make every decision. In doing so, they feed their ego and enfeeble their team. On the contrary, wise leaders, genuinely believe that they do not always know best—so they do not insist on making all decisions. Instead, they empower their teammates to contribute their expertise and to exercise independent judgment.
Express Gratitude
Leaders who show thankfulness seldom fall prey to pride. By giving credit to someone else, leaders uplift their teammates and keep themselves grounded. Routinely appreciating the strengths and merits of others reminds a leader of his or her dependence on a talented team.
Practice Servanthood
Great women and men are always willing to make themselves little. Their field of vision expands beyond their own interests and takes into account the needs of others. By sacrificing time to serve another person, leaders affirm the value of their relationships and stave off superiority complex.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Learning Models in the 21st Century by John Chasteen

Understanding the Shifting Learning Models in the 21st Century

Don't Ask "Are We Teaching."  But Rather, "Is Anyone Learning? "

Learning models in America are rapidly changing. This is due to the fact that a contemporary generation no longer processes life as the previous one did. In light of this reality many of us run the risk of becoming out-dated and even antiquated in our approach to teaching and equipping the body of Christ.

The question we should be asking ourselves is not “are we teaching,” but rather “is anyone learning?”

For most, the change will present a major paradigm shift in the way we currently perceive learning. Some even believe that the sun is setting on many of the previously accepted learning modules. For many who are of the Baby Boomer generation and older, challenges abound. I know because I happen to be a part of this generation.

So what are some of the adult learning models that are shifting in America? And, how do we as the church embrace them and leverage them to reach a generation for Christ? Here are just a few for our consideration:

1. A Shift from the Greek model to a Hebraic One

Most Western models of learning are built upon the Greek method of education. This model says that learning comes from the simple acquisition of information and knowledge. Give me a book, an article or more information and I will know it.

The Hebraic model says that you cannot truly learn something by the mere acquisition of information; rather, one learns by combining information with experience and participation. This is why Jesus called the disciples to “be with him.”

2.  A shift from a Monological style of teaching to a Dialogical One.

Jesus rarely taught through the means of a monologue. When we study his methods we find that most of his teaching, especially in the temple, turned into dialogue or a discussion. Why? Simply put, because adult learners learn best through processing and interaction with information. They perceive truth at a deeper level through interaction with the topic and with others.

The postmodern learner longs for community and relationship in all areas of life, but especially the classroom. They learn best by hearing others views, and at the same time assessing their own thoughts and experiences. Maybe as teachers we need to endeavor to open up more conversational space in the classroom instead of trying to fill it with our expert information. i.e more discussion and interaction.

3. A shift from top down lecturing to a style that promotes personal discovery of truth.

Studies show that adult learners learn on a deeper and more meaningful level when they discover truth for themselves. (Malcolm Knowles) If this is true, then the discovery process itself, becomes imperative. Could this be why it is recorded that Jesus himself asked over 300 questions during his ministry? I think possibly so.

Powerful questions is a tool that forces one to process his or her inner life and engage truth at a personal level. Do you know how to ask powerful questions?


New models of learning are emerging today due to a wide variety factors, many of which we do not have time to address in this article. However, it would suffice to say that many of the influences are the result of a postmodern shift in culture and the rapid rise of technology. Many models that have served us well in the past are now irrelevant and need to be discarded. 

So have you learned how to navigate these modern shifts in learning? Even more important, are you willing to change?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pride Comes Before the Fall by John C. Maxwell

An ancient Hebrew proverb warns, "Pride comes before the fall," and sometimes the adage is swiftly fulfilled. As a case in point, consider the story of American snowboarder, Lindsey Jacobellis. Cruising toward victory in the gold medal race of the snowboard cross, Jacobellis immodestly attempted to showboat on the second to last jump. She lost her balance maneuvering in mid-air and crashed to the snow. By the time she recovered and glided to the finish line, she had to settle for the silver medal.

Jacobellis paid a penalty for pride, yet other people appear to ooze arrogance while thriving professionally. 

Muhammad Ali's brash egotism did not prevent him from triumphing in the boxing ring. Charlie Sheen's sickening smugness may have burned relationships at CBS, but he has never been more popular, selling out several nationwide tour dates in a matter of minutes. The conceit of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been noted by competitors, colleagues, and friends alike, yet he ranks among the world's wealthiest men.

What can be said, then, about pride? Is arrogance really as dangerous to leadership as some people would insist? On the surface, it seems that pride does not necessarily hinder success. However, I maintain that pride is every bit as destructive to the welfare of a leader as the ancient proverb forewarns.

The True Nature of Success
Along with the propensity to see themselves as superior to others, Muhammad Ali, Charlie Sheen, and Larry Ellison share in common the attainment of enormous "success." However, each also appears to have left a wake of destruction relationally. While their pride may not have cost them professionally, privately it seems to have taken a toll.

In its truest sense, success involves more than material wealth and career accomplishments. When considering the implications of pride, we must remember to see the whole picture. An individual may be standing atop the world with respect to a career, yet still "fall" to the deepest depths. In my estimation, success happens when the people who know you the best, love and respect you the most. In light of this definition, arrogance is utterly incompatible with success.

Many people with talent make it into the limelight, but those who have neglected to develop humility rarely experience satisfaction that endures. An excess of pride alienates them from connecting with others. Consequently, they bounce from relationship to relationship until the star of their celebrity finally burns out.

"This article is used by permission from Leadership Wired, John Maxwell's premiere leadership newsletter, available for free subscription at"

Seven Hallmarks of a Leader by John C. Maxwell

Benjamin Franklin once said, "there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility."

Another of America's founding fathers, John Adams, battled against arrogance as well, "Vanity, I am sensible, is my cardinal vice and cardinal folly; and I am in continual danger, when in company, of being it."

Most leaders have an abundance of ambition, talent, and confidence, but few possess the humility necessary to sustain influence over time. Many shun humility, seeing it as a sign of weakness or self-doubt. Yet, in reality, humility is the pinnacle of wisdom and assuredness. Here are seven qualities humility brings about in the life of a leader.

#1 Responsibility
Humble leaders readily accept responsibility for failure. When things go wrong, they instinctively look within to understand what they could have done differently instead of looking outward for someone to blame. Willing to take ownership of mistakes, humble leaders are quick to fix them; they do not wait for someone else to solve a problem.

#2 Objectivity
In the words of Ezra Taft Benson, "Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right." Humble leaders do not consider their own ideas and projects to be sacred. They do not insist on having their way, but on following the best course of action—regardless of who suggests it.

#3 Open-Mindedness
Humble leaders have awareness of how much they don't know. As such, they're inquisitive, quick both to listen and learn. Secure in their abilities, they are unthreatened by the input of others. Not only do they welcome feedback, they solicit it.

#4 Flexibility
Whereas prideful leaders rigidly adhere to an initial strategy long after it proves to be unfruitful, leaders with humility nimbly switch courses as soon as warning signs appear. Unafraid to admit having made a bad decision, they're able to adjust quickly.

Humble leaders have no qualms about abandoning a product that's past its prime—even if they personally had created it.

#5 Inspiration
Humble leaders are appreciative people. When they experience success, they're quick to shine the spotlight on others. Mindful of their dependence on others, humble leaders regularly express gratitude for the contributions of their teammates. Their thankfulness inspires those they lead and boosts team morale.

#6 Respect
Humble leaders heed John Andrew Holmes' advice: "Remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." They see life as far bigger than themselves, and add value to other people by serving them. By committing themselves to the success of those within their sphere of influence, leaders gain respect and earn loyalty.

#7 Connectedness
Humble leaders embrace the Law of Significance: "One is too small of a number to experience greatness." They recognize that their vision cannot be accomplished in isolation, so they invite others to join them in pursuing it. They cherish relationships and intentionally cultivate friendships. They view life, not as a quest for individual glory, but as an adventure to be enjoyed in the company of fellow travelers.

"This article is used by permission from Leadership Wired, John Maxwell's premiere leadership newsletter, available for free subscription at"

Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell

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