Friday, June 22, 2018

Leadership Lesson Series: Taking A Que From Nature


"Manage an organization as nature would: A) Show neither malice nor pity. B) Abhor a vacuum, whether of power or action." - Richard S. Sloma No-Nonsense Management


Nature offers many lessons on good leadership. One of the most important is never let emotion cloud your judgement and decisions. You must show equal impartiality to all those who you lead. Once you let emotion influence your judgement, it is extremely difficult to remove it again. Not only is it hard for you to change your thinking back to that of impartiality, but your followers will expect and try to pressure you to make emotional decisions that benefit them. Emotion is a powerful human factor that leads to bad and one-sided decisions. Followers look to you to make the hard decisions that are in everyone's best interest. You can and should express empathy and understanding, you aught to be polite and respectful, but at the end of the day, an emotional decision will always come back to bite.

Another lesson is to despise a vacuum. A gap in power or action leaves a dangerous space that can quickly cause trouble. When followers sense true weakness in their leader, someone is likely to take advantage of it. True power is not control, but strength. In nature, followers always favor the strong. For leaders, a power gap often comes when they are indecisive or neglect to enforce the rules. Nature is ALWAYS decisive and NEVER neglects the rules. Of course human rules can become outdated unlike the rules of nature. So a good leader knows when to break or ignore a rule, but this is rare, not the norm. And the decision to do so must be made emphatically and never based purely on emotion. A decision to break or ignore a rule should be fair and practical.

Inaction, or a gap in action, is likewise a bane to good leadership. Inaction by a leader is often a sign of weak leadership and leaves a power gap just waiting to be filled. Inaction on the part of followers should not be tolerated, especially when in regard to their duties. Nature shows little mercy to the lazy. When you sense inaction, intervene personally. This demonstrates power which motivates action. Create a reasonable timetable for the desired action to provide accountability. A general time of inaction with noting to do is also a concern. Boredom and inactivity are a recipe for trouble. This is especially true when working with youth and young people who typically do not have fully developed reasoning skills. Always be prepared with some easy ways to fill a void of inactive time.

A third lesson that nature teaches well is that change is inevitable. Change is often a good thing, although often uncomfortable. Nature holds the key to appropriate change. Most of the time it should be slow and incremental. Too slow and people will become complacent. Too fast and some may be left behind. Yet, sometimes rapid and drastic change is beneficial. Change should be expected by both leaders and followers. This is called flexibility. The more flexible you are to change the better leader you will be.

Lastly, promote growth. Nearly everything in nature promotes growth, even death. A good leader promotes the growth of their organization or group and also those they lead along with themselves. When followers understand that you desire their personal growth as well as that of your own or your organization's, they will willingly follow. You have given them a vested interest. At times a good leader no longer seeks their own growth but only that of others. In fact, this is the ultimate goal of leadership-- think wholly of the good and growth of those you lead. When focused on the growth of others you will inextricably be promoting your own growth and the growth of your organization or group.


Written by David F. Garner

Friday, June 15, 2018

Leadership Lesson Series: Humor




Before beginning the service, a pastor read aloud a note he’d been handed moments earlier. “It says here that I should announce that there will be no B.S. tomorrow morning,” he said. Smirking, he tucked the piece of paper into a pocket and added, “I’m hoping they mean ‘Bible Study.’” There are many leadership traits worth pursuing. One that should be at the top of your list is humor! This trait is often neglected or discounted by aspiring leaders. Many see humor as simply a hereditary characteristic, either you have it, or you don’t. Humor is in fact, a trait that can and should be developed.

Some people seem to be blessed with a great sense of humor. They are able to walk into any room and have all the occupants clutching their sides with laughter within minutes. Others seem to lack much of a sense of humor. But research has demonstrated that we can be taught humor.1 As children grow they learn about new types of humor and also how to make people laugh. Adults can learn humor too. Of course, some people will always be more funny than most of us. Variety is a good thing.

As a leader, humor is a tool. You do not have to be the funniest person you know. Simply knowing how to insert a joke like the one in the opening paragraph at the right time during a conversation makes the difference between a marginal leader, and a good leader. This will become apparent if you think back to all the great leaders you have admired. Some mistakenly equate humor with weakness or foolishness. Certainly, too much humor and clowning around is a barrier to good leadership. There is a time for such excess mirth. But a good leader is one that knows when to use humor and how much is appropriate. How can you learn to use humor?

Humor is a type of communication. As with all forms of communication, it is not an easy skill to master for most. This is because humor is more of an art form than anything else. It requires practice and time. It will also require trial and error. The key to successful humor is to never offend. It is better to neglect humor than to cause offense. If you accidentally do offend someone, correct your mistake by humbly apologizing as soon as possible. Offenses can usually be avoided with a bit of homework. Listen to conversations around you. Learn from other’s humor. Learn what hurts other’s feelings and avoid those remarks. This is especially important when you are working among a culture that is not very familiar to you!

A great way to begin to use humor as a tool in leadership is to borrow jokes. When you hear one that makes others laugh, write it down and memorize it. One of the greatest comedians of the 20th century, Phillis Diller, had several file cabinets of hundreds of jokes she used regularly! Humor does not have to be original, in fact, it very rarely is truly original. The key is to repeat a joke in new company, and don’t repeat it in the same company for some time. If you heard a joke at the store, then it is easy to repeat it at work (assuming it is appropriate). Avoid repeating the same joke too often or with in the same company as it will likely not be as funny the second or third time around. It is also useful to modify a joke slightly to new circumstances. This keeps it fresh.

In leadership, humor becomes a tool when used at the right time. Cracking a mildly funny joke to break the tension in a heated conversation is a priceless ability. A few punch lines or funny stories inserted into an otherwise boring talk or sermon will help keep your audience interested. A bit of self-deprecating humor goes a long way to earn the trust of new acquaintances, especially those who are your new subordinates. It can express humility. Sarcasm can be funny at times, but it should be used modestly, or it becomes grating. Exaggeration is another humor technique. It is also best used in moderation.

Wit is perhaps the best type of humor to use as a leader. It demonstrates creativity and deep thinking. It can also be one of the most difficult types of humor to learn. It requires spontaneity, which does not come easy for many leaders. To improve your wittiness, you must first convince yourself it is something you can learn! Next you must be patient. Wit takes practice to master. If you are a shy leader, engage in conversation, focus on what makes different people laugh. Most importantly, discover what makes you laugh. What type of humor do you enjoy. If you find something funny, there are bound to be others who will find it funny too. Analyze your own conversations to distinguish what types of things you say that make others laugh.

I have observed in religious circles humor can sometimes be looked upon as unwelcome or even ungodly. This I think is unbiblical. Jesus himself used humor in his public ministry. If you have never laughed when reading the Bible than you are reading it wrong. God invented humor! Just look at creation, how many animals have you seen that make you laugh aloud? Social media is full of videos of cute animals doing silly things! King Solomon wisely proclaimed the benefits of a merry heart when he said it is a fantastic medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Humor always brings cheer and makes your heart merry! Jesus is not just a powerful God to fear, he is also a friend who wants to engage in every aspect of our life, including laughter!

Laughter has many benefits including reducing stress and increasing the interpersonal bonds among all those who share it. Two key goals of any leader. Some leaders mistakenly relegate humor to certain times or places and leave no room for it when getting “down to business.” Good leaders understand that a bit of humor allowed even while conducting “business” will improve attitudes and increase productivity. It will improve your appearance as a leader and others confidence in your ability. A good sense of humor will help reduce burnout and increase the likelihood people want to keep you in a leadership position.

Whether you feel your sense of humor is already good or quite lacking, it is time you seek to improve it and learn to use it more effectively. Seek to implement the tips above and read more about developing a good sense of humor. You may even find it useful to get instruction through a humor class. An effective leader will employ humor more than harshness. Grow your own sense of humor as a leadership trait and pray that God will give you the wisdom and ability to do so. Seek to discover how God uses humor throughout the Bible. A good leader enjoys laughter. As famous comedian Bob Newhart said, “People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric and more realistic in their view of the world and more humble in moments of success and less defeated in times of travail.”




Sources

1. Jen Kim. Can You Teach Someone to Be Funny? (Nov. 16, 2016). Psychology Today. Accessed March 10, 2018 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/valley-girl-brain/201511/can-you-teach-someone-be-funny.

Written by David F. Garner

Friday, June 8, 2018

Evolution and God Discussion Questions: Faith and Science Resources



As we move farther into the 21st century, more and more people in the United States are moving away from their faith, especially in the God of the Bible. It is up to the leaders in the church to help stem this tide. Those in youth ministry have the greatest opportunity because younger generations are leaving churches the fastest. But for many church leaders, discussing topics of science can seem overwhelming.

Feeling overwhelmed is understandable. After all, the fields of science are vast, complex (with many large words), and ever changing. But a scientific degree is not necessary to talk about the relationship of God and modern science. In my own experience, it is mostly those trained in science participating in this discussion, which makes it decidedly one-sided. More church leaders need to be engaged in this discussion because scientists often only have a cursory knowledge of the Bible and principles of its interpretation. Youth and young people often hear one side of the debate taught at school. At church they have the opportunity to hear another side, but too often church leaders are silent, choosing to not engage rather than risk appearing foolish.

The discussion between faith in God and science does not have to be limited to debating the latest scientific studies. It should rather begin at a broader level of worldviews, definitions, and philosophy. These are topics many church leaders are trained in. Resources are also key. Good resources will enable all church leaders, including lay leaders, to have a reasoned and thought provoking discussion about the relationship between faith and science.

It is key to remember that you do not have to "prove" the issue in one discussion. To expect that would be overly presumptuous. The topics of evolution vs. creation or faith vs. science are too big and complex to "prove" or "disprove" that quickly. The goal is to have an open discussion that gets people thinking. A discussion can help participants see that science has not, in fact, utterly rendered all faith obsolete.

In a recent Scientific American blog article, Christian mathematician of Oxford University John Lennox wrote, "All scientists presuppose and therefore have faith in the rational intelligibility of the universe. Einstein could not have been a scientist without this faith."1 There are still many superb scientists who take their faith in God seriously. And they frequently point out that some measure of faith is necessary for whatever you believe.

It is important to discuss the topic of faith and science and how they relate in church. Church leaders are in a great position to do so. All they need is a little faith and some quality resources. Here is a great and FREE resource to use in starting a discussion about the relation of faith and science titled, "God and Darwin: Are They Compatible?" which can be found here. It offers several discussion questions and and helps guide the discussion.  Find more resources we recommend at this link!

Sources:
1. John Horgan. "Can Faith and Science Coexist? Mathematician and Christian John Lennox Responds." (March 1, 2015). Scientific American. Retrieved on Feb. 1, 2018 from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/can-faith-and-science-coexist-mathematician-and-christian-john-lennox-responds/#.

Written by David F. Garner

Friday, June 1, 2018

O God, This Precious Earth Thou Gave

 

O God, This Precious Earth Thou Gave 


O God, this precious Earth Thou gave 
To us to hold for Thee; 
Thou gave to us dominion over 
Land and over sea; 
Thou gave us mighty power over 
Creatures great and small; 
The Earth: we are responsible 
For caring for it all. 

But when we look around we find 
Our damage everywhere; 
The robins and the sparrows must 
Fly through polluted air; 
The rolling rivers have become 
Awash with our debris; 
The oceans slowly fill with trash 
Far as the eye can see.

The creatures once so plentiful 
Can scarcely now be seen; 
The forests are depleted now 
That once were strong and green; 
Where fish by hundreds once did swim 
In rivers pure and clear, 
The rivers now are toxic gray, 
And fish do not appear. 

Forgive us, God, for what we did 
 In carelessness and haste; 
We never did intend to cause 
Such damage and such waste; 
So as in sorrow we repent, 
We ask on bended knee 
To give us, God, the strength now to 
Restore the Earth for Thee. 

Amen.

by William E. McGinnis


Photo Credit: aamiraimer via www.pixabay.com

Friday, May 18, 2018

This Is My Father's World


This Is My Father's World


This is my Father's world, 
And to my list'ning ears, 
All nature sings, 
And round me rings 
The music of the spheres. 

This is my Father's world, 
I rest me in the thought 
Of rocks and trees, 
Of skies and seas 
His hand the wonders wrought. 

This is my Father's world, 
The birds their carols raise, 
The morning light, 
The lily white, 
Declare their Maker's praise. 

This is my Father's world, 
He shines in all that's fair; 
In the rustling grass 
I hear Him pass, 
He speaks to me ev'rywhere. 

This is my Father's world, 
O let me ne'er forget 
That though the wrong 
Seems oft so strong, 
God is the ruler yet. 

This my Father's world, 
Why should my heart be sad? 
The Lord is King
Let the heavens ring: 
God reigns: let the earth be glad.

by Maltbie D. Babcock

Photo Credit: 12019 via www.pixabay.com

Friday, May 4, 2018

For The Beauty Of The Earth


For The Beauty Of The Earth


1. For the beauty of the earth, 
For the glory of the skies; 
For the love which from our birth, 
Over and around us lies; 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise 
This, our hymn of grateful praise. 

2. For the wonder of each hour, 
Of the day and of the night; 
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r, 
Sun and moon, and stars of light; 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise 
This, our hymn of grateful praise. 

3. For the joy of ear and eye, 
For the heart and mind's delight; 
For the mystic harmony, 
Linking sense to sound and sight; 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise 
This, our hymn of grateful praise. 

4. For the joy of human love, 
Brother, sister, parent, child; 
Friends on Earth and friends above, 
For all gentle thoughts and mild; 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise 
This, our hymn of grateful praise. 
5. For Thy church that evermore, 
Lifteth holy hands above; 
Off'ring up on ev'ry shore, 
Her pure sacrifice of love; 
Lord of all, to Thee we raise 
This, our hymn of grateful praise. 
Amen.

by Folliott S. Pierpont


Photo Credit:  kareni via www.pixabay.com

Friday, April 27, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 70: A Well Worn Saddle




Key Verse

“Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 WEB

Lesson

A horse and saddle are perhaps the oldest form of transportation besides going about on two feet. Little thought is given to the saddle beyond its name. Yet every horse rider can testify to its importance. The saddle is second in importance only to the bridle. The purpose of the saddle is to make the ride easier for the horse and the rider and to aid the rider in maintaining proper position astride the horse. A good saddle must fit both the horse and the rider, or it will cause injury.

An experienced rider has a worn and broken-in saddle. But it is not neglected, it must be oiled and tended regularly. A saddle well cared for can last a lifetime. All saddles may look similar to the untrained eye. But there are many types of saddles all suited for various types of riding. Yet they all perform the same important function – to link the horse and rider and to aid them in whatever quest they may find.1

The saddle is like the Bible in many regards. Any experienced Christian can tell of its importance. Far too many Christians let it sit on a shelf new and shiny like an unused saddle. The experienced Christian will have a broken-in, yet well-tended Bible. Other Christians will say they believe in the Bible, thinking salvation is in its pages. They place the Bible above its Author, yet can a saddle provide transport without a horse? The Bible is only a link connecting us to its Author in whom we find help (John 5:39-40).

The purpose of the Bible is to make our ride on this earth easier and to aid us in our connection to Jesus. It was especially designed for this purpose and we need it to maintain our relationship with him. As Paul the Apostle stated so eloquently in the key verse, every verse in the Bible is for our instruction and growth as sons and daughters of God so that we may be ‘thoroughly equipped’ for our quest of his Kingdom!

Questions

What does it mean to have a broken-in, yet well-tended Bible?

When asked if we believe in the Bible, what would be a good response?

Can those who never know of the Bible be saved?

Sources

1. Deborah Burns, (ed). Storey’s Horse-Lovers Encyclopedia. (North Adams, MA: Storey Communications, 2001): 343.



Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: Bhakti2 via www.pixabay.com