Leading From The Bottom

Maybe you are starting your first full-time post-college job.  Or maybe you are starting over in a new place.  If so, this post may be for you.

Your Situation

It’s your first week on the job.  Let’s recognize the obvious.

  • First, every job has a “honeymoon” period.  As in life, the weather changes.  When the storm comes, you will question whether you’re are where you should be.
  • Second, some conflict comes naturally.   Disagreements and feelings of frustration are not unusual.  The remedy is to understand the source of the conflict.  Is it shallow or deep?  Is it about personality or culture?
  • Third, you weren’t hired to be a change agent.  And even if you were, be patient.  According to Heifetz et al (in The Practice of Adaptive Leadership), people aren’t afraid of change, per se.  They are afraid of losing something.  Therefore, when they sense change is approaching, they become emotionally attached to what is, not what might be.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Best to listen and learn and leverage the good already occurring and be changed yourself.

The first thing to do in terms of self-change is to take a back seat, listen, and learn. The more you know at the beginning, the better you will be prepared to deal with what comes later. What you will want to know in the beginning is the culture of the organization, and the leadership styles of those in power over you. What you want to develop is greater emotional intelligence and an understanding of what it means to be a leader. Then you can develop a short-term and long-term plan for making a difference.


Soon you will be second-guessing your decision to choose the company and job you did.  Why?  One reason is the culture of the organization.  It may not be what you expected or are accustomed to.  So it is good to understand it.

To understand the culture of your organization, begin by mapping it.  Consider Cameron and Quinn’s “Competing Values Framework” (in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture and http://www.artsjournal.com/fieldnotes/2012/12/the-competing-values-framework/). Organizations serve different purposes.  They  vary in terms of their values.

  • “Clan” cultures value the “development” of people and therefore seek to practice collaboration and emphasize “human relations.”
  • “Market” cultures are diametrically opposed to “Clan” cultures and value “performance.”  People within them “compete” against themselves and others.   They emphasize achievement and “rational goals.”
  • “Adhocracy” cultures value disruptive innovatation and utilize “open systems.”  They are organizations without permanent structures.  They seek “breakthroughs” — that is, disruptive innovations.In them people jump from project group to project group to understand and solve problems.
  • “Hierarchical” cultures are diametrically opposed to “Adhocracy” cultures.  They value “incremental” change” and seek to “control” or reduce chaos within their organizational boundaries.  Instead of utilizing open systems, they utilize internal processes to standardize and drive efficiency.

Generally, organizations are each a unique combination of several cultures.  Even so,

Thus, if you are a person who likes to innovate and implement fast, you will be frustrated in collaborate or control cultures.   If you are a person who likes to work closely with people in a slower-paced predictable environment, you will be frustrated in create or compete cultures.

Leadership Styles

A second reason you may be guessing your decision is your supervisor’s leadership style. Cultures tend to be influenced by and to influence leadership styles.  To some extent, the CEO influences the culture of the entire organization.  But the influence of the leader is more salient in sub-units.  Thus within sub-units, cultures can change depending on the style of the leader.  Best to understand your leader’s style of influence. Parker (in “Leadership Styles of Agricultural Communications and Information Technology Managers: What Does the Competing Values Framework Tell Us About Them?” in http://www.joe.org/joe/2004february/a1.php) has a helpful framework. For instance,

Likewise, Goleman (in “Leadership That Gets Results” and http://www.comindwork.com/weekly/2015-07-13/productivity/the-six-leadership-styles-goleman) has a useful model for understanding leadership styles.


Goleman’s styles reflect Parker’s findings.

  • “Pacesetting” corresponds to the “director” or “producer” roles.  “Market-oriented” supervisors influence people by “telling” them to do what is needed by setting high goals.  They say: “Here’s the goal.  Beat it.”
  • “Affiliating” corresponds to the “mentor” and “coach”  roles.  Affiliative managers ask  “How do you feel?” and “Why do you think you feel that way?”
  • Being “democratic” corresponds to “facilitator” role.  “Clan-oriented” supervisors influence people through “participative” strategies — inviting people to contribute their unique gifts to understanding and solving problems, and at the same time seeking “buy-in” or “consensus.”  They ask  “What do you think?  What is your opinion about this issue?”
  • “Visionary” corresponds to the “innovator” role.  “Create-oriented” supervisors are “transformational” and strategic in nature, because they lead people to a new place that, one that “transcends” old ways of doing things in order to more closely align the organization to fundamental values.  They ask “How can we get there?”
  • “Commanding” corresponds to the “monitor” and “coordinator” roles because it involves compliance with one “right” way.  “Hierarchy-oriented’ supervisors “force” or incentivize, positively or negatively, people to “comply.”  They say: “Here’s the process.  Follow it.”

Thus it is important for you to know your personal leadership style and the styles of others in your sub-unit.  People change faster than culture does, therefore the culture of sub-units change faster than the culture of the entire organization.  Better to be in sub-culture and work for a person whose leadership style fits you best.  Also, better to know yourself emotionally in case you don’t.  If, for example, you crave vision and strategy you will be frustrated in a affiliative, clan culture.

One of the least valued yet most important skills is managing your own emotions and positively influencing the emotions of those around you.  But first you must see and understand them.  Doing so will prepare you to alleviate a lot of frustration later. Understanding your own and the emotions of others is the art and science of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

Becoming more emotionally intelligent involves:

  • Becoming more aware of what frustrates you and what gives you energy and why (self-awareness) and what frustrates others and gives them energy (social awareness) and why.  It means coming to grips with your competing values map and the competing values maps of others.
  • Becoming more emotionally intelligent means managing your emotions (self-management)  so that you can see and take things in perspective.  So that you can step up to the balcony to gain a better understanding of what is going on all around you.

Here are some signs of a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

  • It seems the followers don’t get the point and it frustrates the boss.
  • The boss is surprised when others negatively respond to their comments/jokes and he/she thinks they’re overreacting.
  • The boss believes it doesn’t matter if he/she is liked at work.
  • The boss weighs in early with assertions and strongly defends them.
  • The boss finds others to blame.
  • For more, see Muriel Maignan Wilkins’ “Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence” (https://hbr.org/2014/12/signs-that-you-lack-emotional-intelligence).

The point is that you don’t want to be an emotionally-toxic person. The other is that you need to be able deal with someone who is.

Leader or Manager

One helpful framework for understanding your cultural situation and emotional intelligence is to understand the difference between a leader or manager.

  • A manager focuses on systems and structure, a leader focuses on people; a manager maintains, a leader develops; a manager relies on control, a leader inspires trust (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: http://www.appleseeds.org/Manager-Leader_Bennis.htm). “Leaders don’t care very much for organizational structure or the official blessing of whatever factory they work for.  They use passion and ideas to lead people as opposed to using threats and bureaucracy to manage them” (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 22).  “Managers manage by using the authority the factory gives them.  You listen to your manager or you lose your job” (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 22).

  • Managers administrate, leaders innovate; a manager has a short­-range view, a leader has a long-­range perspective; a manager asks how and when, a leader asks what and why (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: http://www.appleseeds.org/Manager-Leader_Bennis.htm). Thus, leaders are curious persons who explore first and then consider whether or not he/she wants to accept the ramifications (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 63).  Managers are people who consider whether the fact is acceptable to his religion before he/she explores it (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 63).  Leaders ask for  forgiveness (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 70).  Managers ask for permission (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 70).
  • Managers have their eyes on the bottom line, leaders have their eyes on the horizon (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leaderhttp://www.appleseeds.org/Manager-Leader_Bennis.htm). Leaders have faith (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 80).  Managers have religion (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 80).
  • A manager imitates, a leader originates (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: http://www.appleseeds.org/Manager-Leader_Bennis.htm).  Leaders respond (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 86).  Managers react (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 86).  Leaders do things (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 87).  Managers have things happen to them (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 87).
  • A manager is a copy, a leader is an original (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: http://www.appleseeds.org/Manager-Leader_Bennis.htm).

You will find more leaders in Collaborative (Clan) and Create (Adhocracy) cultures. If you and your boss make decisions by imitating what your competitors do, both you and your organization are on a path to slow death.


So how does one lead from the bottom?  In the short-run:

  • Know the culture of your organization and sub-unit.
  • Know your own leadership style and the leadership styles of those around you.
  • Understand the basis of your frustration.
  • Begin to build relationships by learning from and loving your new neighbors.


If you believe in eternity, lead for the long-run:

  • Be the type of person you wish others to be.
  • Seek to do the right thing more than doing things right.
  • Be creative and collaborative across bureaucratic silos; build a tribe.
  • Grow into a “Level 5 Leader,” a person of “personal humility and professional will” (Jim Collins, Good to Great).
  • Become more spiritually mature — a person of character.  For the long run, think of Servant Leadership as a good EI strategy.  (See http://modernservantleader.com/servant-leadership/jim-hunter-servant-leadership-interview-series/.) 
  • Empower others to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.

When you are in your first full-time job post-college or starting over, it can initially feel as thrilling as walking on water.  But the storm and waves will come. And soon you will sink. You may find yourself drowning.  Just remember that whatever happens God is in control.  Ground yourself in him and don’t worry. Easier said than done.



Soul Entrepreneurship

By Richard J. Goossen and R. Paul Stevens (2013):

“Note the significant dimensions of Christian spirituality.

  • First, it starts with the initiative of a loving God who is seeking a relationship with his creatures.
  • Second, spirituality then is not our attempt to ascend to God by spiritual practices or to discover our own internal divinity, but takes the form of ‘recognition and response.’
  • Third, the result of this responsiveness to seeking God is not that we become angels or religious persons, but more fully human….
  • Fourth, spirituality then is not a once-for-all event but a continuous process that is concrete but never finished.
  • Fifth, the practical outworking of this spirituality is that we align ourselves with God’s intention for his creation, which is the kingdom or pervasive and life-bringing rule of God on earth.  Creating wealth and bringing well-being to people is part of this….
  • Finally, this spirituality is not cultivating extraordinary experiences but rather the infiltration of ordinary life with kingdom justice and holiness” (pp. 64, 65).

“Life, for biblical persons, is total and cannot be segmented into two parts: a disposable and normally evil shell (the body), and an indestructible spirit core (the soul).  Thus the familiar psalm ‘Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name’ (Psalm 103:1) may be simply and helpfully translated “Praise the Lord, with my whole life!’” (pp. 65, 66).

“Most significant of all, the New Testament hope is not for the immortality of the soul–an essentially Greek concept that involves disparaging the body as a useless encumbrance to the life of the spirit.  Instead, the great hope in Christ after death is the resurrection of the body–full personal and expressive life in a new heaven and a new earth” (p. 66).

“When we receive Christ, we get saved, not just our souls in the Greek sense.  This is a two-stage process.  First, our souls, our inner and longing persons, are substantially saved by being inundated by God’s Spirit, thus giving us new bodily and personal life on earth.  Second, after our death and when Christ comes again, we are given a new and perfect embodiment  through the resurrection of our entire selves, bodies included” (p. 67).

Soul Entrepreneurship

  • “First, it means you go to work as a whole person — not just mind or body, but all that inner yearning and expressiveness that links us with God….
  • Second, as soul persons with capacity to relate to God, we are given ideas, visions and perspectives that can be implemented through entrepreneurial activity.  These may be in the area of church life but also in family life and enterprises in the world….
  • Third, our actual experiences of envisioning, inventing and implementing as entrepreneurs are an arena of spiritual growth….
  • Fourth, being a soul person (and a whole person) means being relationally alive through love.  We are most godlike in relationships….
  • Finally, Christian spirituality and its recognition of a soul dimension to human life and work means that personal growth is not a human achievement (through disciplines and practices) but a response to the Spirit’s initiative….Christian spirituality is…God’s empowering presence calling human beings into dynamic relation and expressiveness” (pp. 68, 69).

The Workplace is the Primary Place for Spiritual Formation

“The marketplace is a location for spiritual formation in three ways.

  • First, it is the place where we get revealed as persons.  Our inside is revealed by what we do outside, bu the way we work, by our relationships with people, by the realities of how we go about doing day to day enterprise….
  • Second, the seven deadly sins, seven soul-sapping struggles that include pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth, and gluttony, are revealed not in quiet times and prayer retreats but in the thick of life, in business meetings, as we struggle over this month’s sales, when we have to deal with an awkward customer or employee….
  • But there is a third reason….The work we do, if it is good work, is some part of God’s own work in creating, sustaining, transforming or consummating (bringing things to a good conclusion).  We are actually partners with God in our daily work” (pp. 70, 71).

The Grand Narrative

The Bible describes the meta-narrative of God’s grand work in the history of the world: creation-fall-redemption. These historical themes apply to the entire created universe.

  • “God created all things good. Humans, elephants, trees, rocks, sand, stars—they were all created in a wonderful harmony. This includes [business]. The cultural mandate [found in Genesis 1:28] implies that God built the potential for [business] into the creation. God created humans in His own image, and so the creativity and ingenuity necessary to [engage in business] comes as a gift from God. He also endowed creation with the natural resources necessary for [business]—wood, metal, silicon, electricity, and more.
  • “By man’s choice, represented in the Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. The fall affected every part of creation. Even [business] is stained by sin. The goodness built in from creation is still present, but warped and darkened by sin.
  • “In the third era of history, Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection broke the power of sin and provided redemption to those that have faith. Believers in Christ Jesus have forgiveness of sins through Christ. Christians in the Reformed tradition stress that Christ’s redemptive light shines not only on our own souls, but on all creation. Christ’s rule and His kingdom stretch from shore to shore of the entire universe” (Quentin J. Schultze, Communicating for Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000, 118–121).

communicating for life

Thus, in whatever role we play we must uncover, practice, expand upon, and celebrate the good and minimize the evil in God’s creation.  Our goal is to be in Christ and be Christ-like in the world.  As Abraham Kuyper famously said:

abraham kuyper

“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper, A Centennial Reader, p. 488.

In the end God will re-reconcile all of creation to himself.  In the meantime, we are called to be co-workers with him in making the world as he intended it to be.  This work not only blesses others, it makes us more spiritually mature. Holy.  Morally sanctified.

Imagine a world in which each person is empowered to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling for the benefit of others for God’s glory!

It begins with relationships.

Grand words.

The Grand Narrative.


Some Thoughts on Love

by M. Scott Peck

The Road Less Traveled: Discipline, Love, Spiritual Growth

Love Defined

“Discipline…is the means of human spiritual evolution….[The] motive, the energy for discline…[is] love” (p. 81).

“I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” (p. 81).

“Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action” (p. 83).

“[Nirvana] or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through the persistent exercise of real love” (p. 97).

“Dependent people are interested in their own nourishment, but no more; they desire filling, they desire to be happy; they don’t desire to grow, nor are they willing to tolerate the unhappiness, the loneliness and suffering involved in growth” (p. 106).

“Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well.  It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing” (p. 111).

“[Genuine] love is self-replenishing activity.  Indeed, it is even more; it enlarges rather than diminishes the self; it fills the self rather than depleting it.  In a real sense love is as selfish as nonlove.  Here again there is a paradox in that love is both selfish and unselfish at the same time.  It is not selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from nonlove; it is the aim of the action.  In the case of nonlove the aim is always something else” (p. 116).

“Genuine love…implies commitment and wisdom.  When we are concerned for someone’s spiritual growth, we know that a lack of commitment is likely to be harmful and that commitment to that person is probably necessary for us to manifest our concern effectively” (p. 118).

Love As Work

“Love…is a form of work or a form of courage.  Specifically, it is work or courage directed toward the nurture or our own or another’s spiritual growth” (p. 120).

“The principal form that the work of love takes is attention.  When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person’s spiritual growth” (p. 120).

“By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening….Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work” (p. 121).

“An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, stepping in his or her shoes” (p. 127).

“The energy required for the discipline of bracketing and the focusing of total attention is so great that it can be accomplished only by love, by the will to extend oneself for mutual growth” (p. 128).

“Since love is work, the essence of nonlove is laziness” (p. 130).

Love as Courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future” (p. 131).

“The essence of life is change, a panoply of growth and decay.  Elect life and growth, and you elect change and the prospect of death” (p. 133).

“[All] life represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our lives the more risks we take” (p. 134).

Eulogy and Resume Values

We are “Adam I” and “Adam II.”  We straddle the pursuit of our “resume virtues” and our “eulogy virtues.”

See David Brooks’ TEDx video: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_brooks_should_you_live_for_your_resume_or_your_eulogy?language=en

Road to Character

Adam I Vs. Adam II

“Adam I is the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature.  Adam I is the external, resume Adam.  Adam I wants to build, create, produce, and discover things.  He wants to have high status and win victories.  Adam II want to embody certain moral qualities.  Adam II want to have a serene inner character, a quite but solid sense of right and wrong — not only to do good, but to be good.  Adam II wants to love intimately, to sacrifice self in the service of others, to live in obedience to some transcendent truth, to have a cohesive soul that honors creation and one’s own possibilities.

While Adam I want to conquer the world, Adam II wants to obey a calling to serve the world.  While Adam I is creative and savors his own accomplishments, Adam II sometimes renounces worldly success and status for the sake of some sacred purpose.  While Adam I asks how things work, Adam II ask why things exist, and what ultimately we are here for.  While Adam I want to venture forth, Adam II wants to return to his roots and savor the warmth of a family meal.  While Adam I’s motto is ‘success,’ Adam II experiences life as a moral drama.  His motto is ‘Charity, love, and redemption’” (pp. xi, xii).

“Adam I — the creating, building, and discovering Adam — lives by a straightforward utilitarian logic.  It’s the logic of economics.  Input leads to output.  Effort leads to reward.  Practice makes perfect.  Pursue self-interest.  Maximize your utility.  Impress the world.

Adam II lives by an inverse logic.  It’s a moral logic, not an economic one.  You have to give to receive.  You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself.  You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave.  Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride.  Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.  In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself.  In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.

To nurture you Adam I career, it makes sense to cultivate your strengths.  To nurture you Adam II moral core, it is necessary to confront your weaknesses” (p. xii).

Modern Life

“We live in a culture that nurtures Adam I, the external Adam, and neglects Adam II.  We live in a society that encourages us to think about how to have a great career but leaves many of us inarticulate about how to cultivate the inner life.  The competition to succeed and win admiration is so fierce that it becomes all-consuming.  The consumer marketplace encourages us to live by a utilitarian calculus, to satisfy our desires and lose sight of the moral stakes involved in everyday decisions.  The noise of fast and shallow communications makes it harder to hear the quieter sounds that emanate from the depths.  We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character” (p. xiiii).

“The central fallacy of modern life is the belief that accomplishments of the Adam I realm can produce deep satisfaction.  That’s false.  Adam I’s desires are infinite and always leap out ahead of whatever has just been achieved.  Only Adam II can experience deep satisfaction.  Adam I aims for happiness, but Adam II knows that happiness is insufficient.  The ultimate joys are moral joys” (p. 15).

Vocation vs. Career

“Today, commencement speakers tell graduates to follow their passion, to trust their feelings, to reflect and find their purpose in life.  The assumption…is that when you are figuring out how to lead your life, the most important answers are found deep inside yourself….You should ask certain questions: What is the purpose of my life?  What do I want from life?  What are the things that I truly value, that are not done just to please or impress the people around me?”  By this way of thinking life can be organized like a business plan….But [she who was called] found her purpose in life using a different method….In this method, you don’t ask, What do I want from life?  You ask a different set of questions: What does life want from me?  What are my circumstances calling me to do?  In this scheme of things we don’t create our lives; we are summoned by life.  The important answers are not found inside, the our found outside.  This perspective begins not within the autonomous self, but with the circumstances in which you happen to be embedded.  This perspective begins with an awareness that the world existed long before you and will last long after you, and that in the brief span of your life you have been by fate, by history, by chance, by evolution, or by God into a specific place with specific problems or needs.  Your job is to figure certain things out: What does this environment need in order to be made whole?  What is it that needs repair?  What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed?” (pp. 21, 22).

“Few people are put in circumstances that horrific and extreme [as Viktor Frankl in concentration camps during WWII], but all of us are given gifts, aptitudes, capacities, talents, and traits that we did not strictly earn  And all of us are put in circumstances that call out for action, whether they involve poverty, suffering, the needs of a family, or the opportunity to communicate some message.  These circumstances give us the great chance to justify our gifts” (p. 24).

“A vocation is not a career.  A person choosing  a career look for job opportunities and room for advancement.  A person choosing a career is looking for something that will provide financial and psychological benefits.  If your job or career isn’t working for you, you choose another one.  A person does not choose a vocation.  A vocation is a calling.  People generally feel they have no choice in the matter.  Their life would be unrecognizable unless they pursued this line of activity” (p. 24).

“A person with a vocation is not devoted to civil rights, or curing a disease, or writing a great novel, or running a humane company because it meets some cost-benefit analysis.  Such people submit to their vocations for reasons deeper and higher than utility and they cling to them all the more fiercely the more difficulties arise” (p. 25).

“She [Frances Perkins]…reflected on a distinction that had once seemed unimportant to her.  When a person give a poor man shoes, does he do it for the poor man or for God?  He should do it for God, she decided.  The poor will often be ungrateful, and you will lose heart if you rely on immediate emotional rewards for your work.  But if you do it for God, you will never grow discouraged.  A person with a deep vocation is not dependent on constant positive reinforcement.  The job doesn’t have to pay off every month, or every year.  The person thus called is performing a task because it is intrinsically good, not for what it produces” (p. 44).

“The essential drama in life is the drama to construct character, which is an engraved set of disciplined habits, a settled disposition to do good.  The cultivation of Adam II was seen as a necessary foundation for Adam I to flourish” (p. 53).

Knowledge Vs. Education

“Knowledge is not enough for tranquility and goodness, because it doesn’t contain the motivation to be good.  Only love compels action.  We don’t become better because we acquire new information.  We become better because we acquire better loves.  We don’t become what we know” (p. 211).

Education is a process of love formation.  When you go to school, it should offer you new things to love” (p. 211).

“He [Augustine] started with the belief that he could control his own life.  He had to renounce that, to sink down into a posture of openness and surrender.  Then, after that retreat, he was open enough to receive grace, to feel gratitude and rise upward.  This is life with an advance-retreat-advance shape.  Life, death, and resurrection.  Moving down to dependence to gain immeasurable height” (p. 211).

Road to Character (“The Humility Code”)

  1. “We don’t live for happiness, we live for holiness” (p. 262)
  2. However we have an “innate tendency toward selfishness and overconfidence.” We tend to see ourselves as “the center of the universe” (p. 262).
  3. Even though we are flawed, we are “splendidly endowed.” We do sin, but we “also recognize our capacity for sin” (p. 262).
  4. Humility – having an accurate assessment of our own nature and our place in the cosmos – is our “greatest virtue” (pp. 262, 263).
  5. Thus “pride is the central vice” because “it blinds us into thinking we are better than we are” – our abilities and moral weaknesses (p. 263).
  6. “The struggle again sin and for virtue is the central drama in life” (p. 263).
  7. Character is the result of “inner confrontation.” It is “a set of dispositions, desires, and habits” that are slowly developed through a “thousand small acts of self-control” (pp. 263, 264).
  8. What leads us astray are short term things: “lust, fear, vanity, gluttony.” The dimensions of character, in contrast, are long-term in nature: courage, honesty, humility” (p. 264).
  9. No one can achieve mastery of the virtues alone (p. 264).
  10. “We are all ultimately saved by grace. The struggle against weakness often has a U shape….The shape is advance-retreat-advance” (p. 265).
  11. “Defeating weakness often means quieting the self” (p. 265).
  12. Wisdom begins with knowing our limitations (p. 265).
  13. The good life is not possible “unless it is organized around a vocation….Vocation is found by looking without and asking what life is asking us. What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy?” (p. 266).
  14. “The goal of leadership is to find a just balance between competing values and competing goals” (p.266).
  15. “The person who successfully struggles against weakness and sin may or may not become rich and famous, but that person will become mature….A mature person possesses a settled unity of purpose” (p. 267).

The Meaning of Life

Sometimes we forget to ask the big questions.

Why are we here?

Here are some answers from Everybody Loves Raymond: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZb4jBE0Gr0

Why are we here?

Here are some thoughts from Called to be Saints:

“Jesus assures his followers that in him they will find life abundant, surely echoing this wonderful line from Psalm 1 that they will be like trees planted by streams of water.  What are the contours and what is the character of this abundant life?  What is the good life for which we were created and to which we were called?  What are the indicators of a life well lived?  To what end were we created?  And thus, to what end have we been saved? (p. 14).

The Call for Transformation — to be Perfect, to be Holy

“[An] articulation of the call to spiritual maturity can and ideally should be inherent in each dimension of the church’s life and ministry…” (p. 17).

“The Old Testament is essentially the account of a God who forms for himself a people who are specifically called to be holy” (p. 17).

“Jesus uses language that makes some readers uncomfortable; he speaks of perfection (p. 18).

“When we view the human vocation and sanctification from the vantage point of creation, we see the human vocation as fulfillment of creation.  To be complete in Christ, to be ‘perfect,’ is quite simply to be what one was created to be” (p. 19).

“The biblical vision is a life lived in radical dependence on God and in deep mutual interdependence with others” (p. 25).

“Our theology of the Christian life must take account of how suffering…a means by which God forms and purifies us” (p. 31).

“A holy person is a wise person.  A holy person does good work. A holy person lives in a manner consistent with how God has loved us. A holy person is a happy person” (p. 36).

The Christian Life

“[The] Christian life is defined as knowing or gaining Christ, and this ‘knowledge’ is not a reference to intellectual understanding but to an experiential encounter with Christ.  Paul used the language of to know in the same way it is used to refer to intimacy in marriage — we know Christ intimately” (p. 42).

“[Our] transformation is both an external transaction, by Christ and for us, and also a participation in the life of Christ Jesus…” (p. 45).

“And so evangelism is about fostering and cultivating the opportunities for a person to meet Jesus: to meet Christ Jesus in real time.  in the end it is all about Jesus.  It is not persuading [others] of certain truths or laws, or even about believif ng that Jesus has done something — that if they ‘believe’ it will lead to their ‘salvation.”  It is rather about meeting Christ Jesus in person and in real time.  Thus the church is nothing other than the place where there is a ‘Christological concentration:’  people who in worship and mission are about Jesus.  That is their passion and focus and commitment.  And as you join them in worship and in mission, in time you too will come to know this living Christ” (p. 57).


Why are we here?  What is the meaning of life?

Transformation = Sanctification = Meditating on God’s Will = Becoming Dependent on God = Participation in the Life of Christ = Becoming Holy = Flourishing = Happiness

Our E-Club Foundation

Last night at the E-Club event the Future Founders Foundation (http://futurefounders.com/about/) gave its FFScholars awards for participation in entrepreneurial efforts during the 2015/2016 school year. TCC was the initial partner with FFF in offering this program.Award winners from Trinity included: Anthony Dykstra, Platinum; Dyvon Melling, Platinum; Ryan Hesslau, Gold; Tanner VanMaanen, Gold; Tyler Schneider, Gold; Jordan VanderKamp, Silver; Casey Huisenga, Silver; Azariah Pargulski, Blue; Craig Vandergalien, Blue; Keegan VanMaanen, White; Zack Austell, White; Cynthia Gliwa, White; Sarah Kooiman, White; Jared Mulder, White; Katlen Siwinski, White.  In addition, Tony Dykstra was given the Outstanding Leadership Award.


And thanks to Kyle Harkema and Rick Hamilton for coaching and connecting Future Founders to Trinity.

A great foundation!

Transformative Learning

By Gordon T. Smith

“[The] crux of the matter, the heart of the issue, is that Christian institutions — colleges and universities of higher learning — have the potential to offer transformative learning” (p. 219).

“The greatest value that higher education offers the world — whether for the marketplace or the church — is wise men and women of mature character who are capable of providing vibrant moral leadership” (p. 220).

“I propose that we can say to a prospective student, this is what we hope for you and long for you and offer to you.  This is what we are about.  This is what it means to be part of this academic community, this university, this seminary.

  • You will grow in wisdom and in your capacity for wisdom.
  • You will mature in your vocational identity and calling, and you will receive the inner tools and resources for a lifetime of vocational discernment.
  • We will grow together in love and in our capacity for love, even as we are loved.
  • You will become a happier person: you will know the joy of God, but more, you will grow in your capacity for joy” (p. 222).

Managers and Leaders: What They Do

Business in Chicago

“What Great Managers Do” by Marcus Buckingham*

“[There] is one quality that sets truly great managers apart from the rest: They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it.  Average managers play checkers, while great manager play chess.  The difference?  In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable.  You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths.  in chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves” (p. 39).

  • “Great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it.  Their job is to rally people toward a better future.  Leaders can succeed in this only when they cut through differences in race, sex, age, nationality, and personality and, using stories and celebrating heroes, tap into those very few needs we all share.
  • The job of a manager, meanwhile, is to turn a person’s particular talent into performance.  Managers succeed only when they can identify and deploy the differences among people, challenging each employee to excel in his or her own way.  This doesn’t mean a leader can’t be a manager or vice versa.  But to excel at one or both, you must be aware of the very different skills each role requires” (pp. 39, 40).

“The ability to keep tweaking roles to capitalize on the uniqueness of each person is the essence of great management” (p. 41).

“To that end, there are three things you must know about someone to manage her well:  her strengths, the triggers that activate those strengths, and how she learns” (p. 43).

  • “To identify a person’s strengths, first ask, ‘What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?’  Find out what the person was doing and why he enjoyed it so much.  Remember: A strength is not merely something you’re good at.  In fact, it might be something you aren’t good at yet.  It might be just a predilection, something you find so intrinsically satisfying that you look forward to doing it again and again and getting better at it over time [i.e., a talent theme]” (p. 43).  “To identify a person’s weaknesses, just invert the question: ‘What was the worst day you’ve had at work in the past three months?’ (p. 43).
  • “A person’s strengths aren’t always on display.  Sometimes they require precise triggering to turn them on…..The most powerful trigger by far is recognition, not money….Given how much personal attention it requires, tailoring praise to fit the person is mostly a manager’s responsibility” (p. 45).
  • “Although there are many learning styles, a careful review of adult learning theory reveals that three styles predominate” (p. 46).
    • “First, there is analyzing….The best way to teach an analyzer is to give her ample time in the classroom.  Role-play with her.  Do postmortem exercises with her.  Break her performance down into its component parts so she can carefully build it back up.  Always allow her time to prepare….[Don’t] expect to teach her much by throwing her into a new situation and telling her to wing it” (p. 46).
    • “The opposite is true for the second dominant learning style, doing.  While the most powerful learning moments for the analyzer occur prior to performance, the doer’s most powerful moments occur during the performance….So rather than role-play…pick a specific task…give…a brief overview of the outcome you want, and get out of [the] way” (p. 46).
    • “Finally, there is watching…Watchers learn a great deal when they are given the chance to see the total performance.  Studying the individual parts of a task is about as meaningful for them as studying the individual pixels of a digital photograph….If you are trying to teach a watcher, by far the most effective technique is to get her out of the classroom.  Take her away from the manuals, and make her ride shotgun with one of your most experienced performers” (p. 46).