What Happens at e-boost?*

Visit a destination (incubator**);

get ready to launch

 

Encircle early stage start-ups***:

  • vision
  • milestones
  • constraints: what’s holding you back?
  • strategy
  • executable plan

Share ideas and ask for feedback

 

Learn from and laugh with others

 

Share life lessons

  • Success = pivots
  • Success = focus away from self

 

See old friends and make new ones!

 

*Thanks to Hope College and Trinity Christian College students and alums for attending!

**Thanks to Omar Sweiss (1871) and Ethan Adams (Future Founders) for the tour!

***Thanks to Mackenzi Huyser and Kendra Wright of Chicago Semester for hosting e-boost Chicago!

e-boost Chicago, Oct 7-8!

 

 

 

Announcing e-boost Chicago!

The purpose of e-boost Chicago is to strengthen, build, and harness the power of our e-tribe to give our student entrepreneurs a boost.

What’s in it for student entrepreneurs? An opportunity to be inspired and consulted by experienced entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial students, and a chance to grow their network of advisory relationships.

What’s in it for entrepreneurial students? An opportunity to experience a taste of entrepreneurship.

What’s in it for Trinity alums and friends of CECE? An opportunity to make a difference — to help empower the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and leading entrepreneurs!

Session Schedule (Choose to Attend Some or All Activities)

  • 11:00 AM –  Stop at 1871 and Future Founders (222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1212, Chicago, IL 60654) for a quick pre-e-boost Chicago event tour!
  • 12:30 PM — Meet at Chicago Semester (11 E Adams St # 1200, Chicago, IL 60603) for a quick lunch.

 

  • 1:00 PM — Welcome
  • 1:15 PM — e-circles: Student entrepreneurs pitch their startups, foreverUIKG, and Glacier Peak, to participants. Participants then form teams around student startups to: Assess the Situation, Brainstorm Goals and Strategies to Achieve Next Phase/Step (Boost!); Develop Implementation Plans (ASI);  What is Strategy?  Vision (where do you wish to be in 3-5 years), Milestones, Constraints (What’ holding you back?), Strategy (How will we overcome those constraints?), Execution Plan

 

  • 2:30 PM — Break (snacks)
  • 2:45 PM — Share Plan Highlights and Debrief
  • 3:00 PM — e-(Open) Mic — share your idea and ask questions of the audience
  • 4:15 PM — Break (snacks)
  • 4:30 PM — e-panel: Matt Gira, Co-Founder, Fathom Underwater Drone; Ryan Hesslau, foreverU; Scott Brandonisio, Co-Founder,  RingCam.

 

  • 5:30 PM – Break (light dinner)
  • 6:00 PM — e-speaker: Craig Steensma, Founder of Eshots (6:45 PM — Q&A)

 

 

 

Register by Wednesday, Oct 5, at https://www.facebook.com/events/320958918254856/. Thank you!

 

Why Trinity Business?

Immersed in the City and Grounded in Vocation

Trinity is an academic institution.  But we aren’t in the knowledge business.  We are in the people-development business.  Knowledge acquisition is necessary for holistic learning as is hands-on learning, rigor, and a collaborative, community-oriented environment.

We know that students don’t know and shouldn’t feel pressured to know what is going to be their career or major as first-year students.  What makes us distinct is that we empower students to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling while they are at Trinity and part of the Trinity community.   We do this by offering a solid business core and several specialized majors.

 

Bachelor of Arts in Business

Our Bachelor of Arts in Business program gives students the freedom to enroll in our business core courses and pursue a major or minor in non-business discipline.

Specialized Programs

Accounting

Our Bachelor of Science in Accounting program provides students with the learning experiences to discern if accounting is an appropriate career path for them.   In the process, Trinity’s accounting majors posted the highest average pass rate and highest average score among CPA exam candidates in Illinois.

Entrepreneurial Management

Our Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Management, along with our Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment, offers students the experience of working through the process of starting a for-profit, non-profit, or social enterprise organization and prepares them for managing within especially innovative organizations.

Finance

Our Bachelor of Science in Finance program helps student experience and understand banking and finance, and includes courses in securities, asset allocation, global finance, and tax.  Complemented with internships in downtown Chicago and the surrounding area, students develop the knowledge, skills, and values to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling in this specific and important business field.

Marketing

Our Bachelor of Science in Marketing program focuses on creativity in business and strategic decision making in product and services marketing.  To help discern their gifts and calling for marketing-related work, many of our students enhance their project-based coursework with internships in downtown Chicago, including through our Chicago Summer program.

11 Metaphors for Entrepreneurs

A metaphor compares one thing to another for rhetorical effect.  I hope the following metaphors will make the journey of entrepreneurship easier to understand.

  1. Flow.  Do what absorbs you.  Consider Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of “flow:” find that activity in which you are a fully immersed, feeling energized, and experiencing joy.
  2. Birds of a Feather.  Who you are, what you know, and who you know are the means of your entrepreneurial endeavor.  According to Saras Sarasvathy, the founders of Starbucks did not study market trends but their own need for quality coffee; Facebook began as a sophomoric (pun intended) social comparison tool among friends.
  3. Bird in the Hand.  Expert entrepreneurs follow an inductive approach.  Surprisingly, they don’t begin with a “situation analysis;” rather, according to Saras Sarasvathy, they begin with who they know and what they know.  Ring Cam began as a group of college students with an idea to solve a problem they understood.
  4. Jockey.  In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes it’s first Who, then What.  Idea pitch and business plan competitions, even Shark Tank have it wrong.  The quality of the people matter more than the quality of the idea.  He wasn’t alone in giving this advice. In 1957 Arthur Rock was instrumental in the creation of Fairchild Semiconductor.  In 1961 he created the first venture capital firm, and was an early investor in Intel, Apple Computer, and Teledyne.  In 2003 he gave a $25 million gift to Harvard Business School for a center for entrepreneurship. One of Arthur Rock’s maxims was that it was more important and better to invest in people than ideas.
  5. Soul.  The entrepreneurial journey is a mountain to climb.  To stay in for the long-run you need to feed your soul.  In other words, you work is bigger than you and realizing that, ironically, is not overwhelming but motivating and freeing.  Which of the world’s needs are you meeting?  What is that “still, small voice” suggesting you do?  How are you engaged in transforming culture for God’s Kingdom?  Is this a calling?
  6. Pain.  One of the tests of a calling is whether it costs you something.
  7. Patch-Work Quilt Maker.  Expert entrepreneurs are quilt-makers, according to Saras Sarasvathy.  They create their work with others, who also contribute their ideas.  Creating businesses is a tight-knit communal project.  To use another metaphor, they are business fabricators. In contrast, puzzle-makers are opportunity arbitrageurs.
  8. Building.  The most difficult thing for many people is to stop planning and to start doing.  Specifically, according to Steve Blank, one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is talking with potential customers, suppliers, channel members, investors, etc.  The expert entrepreneurs studied by Saras Sarasvathy immediately created partnerships with customers who even helped finance their business project.
  9. Lemonade.  Expert entrepreneurs leverage contingencies.   Ivory soap and 3M sticky notes were mistakes.  Amway’s founders failed when they attempted to operate hamburger stand, air charter service, and sailing businesses.
  10. Marriage.  It is impossible for two people to do enough due diligence before marriage.  Success in marriage is less about planning and more about adaptation.   Nothing is more valuable than learning and communication.  The phrase for learning and communication in business is rapid iteration.  Failure is not “not an option,” it is a reality.  You are going to make mistakes.  We don’t set out to make mistakes, but we welcome them for learning purposes.
  11. B Student.  Expert entrepreneurs thrive on EI (emotional intelligence).  The Wright Brothers may have been geniuses, but what made them so is that they never quit trying.  Want to get inspired?  Read David McCullough’s biography.

Mission, Hedgehog, Flywheel

 

Good to Great in the Social Sector

For a summary of notes on company building from Jim Collins’ Good to Great, click here.

“During my first year on the Stanford faculty in 1988, I sought out Professor John Gardner for guidance on how I might become a better teacher.  Gardner…stung me with a comment that changed my life:  “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said.  “Why don’t you invest more time being interested?” (Author’s Note)

“When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness” (p. 1).

Defining Great:  Calibrating Success Without Business Metrics

“[The] distinction between inputs and outputs is fundamental, yet frequently missed” (p. 4).

“A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time” (p. 5).

“For a social sector organization…performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns” (p. 5).

“It doesn’t really matter whether you can quantify results.  What matters is that you rigorously assemble evidence–quantitative or qualitative–to track your progress” (p. 7).

Level 5 Leadership–Getting Things Done Within a Diffuse Power Structure

“‘You always have power, if you just know where to find it.  There is the power of inclusion, the power of language, the power of shared interests, and the power of coalition'” (p. 10).

“In executive leadership, the individual leader has enough concentrated power to simply make the right decisions.  In legislative leadership…no individual leader–not even the nominal chief executive–has enough structural power to make the most important decisions by himself or herself.   Legislative leadership relies more upon persuasion, political currency, and shared interests to create the conditions for the right decisions to happen” (p. 11).

“Level 5 leaders differ from Level 4 leaders in that they are ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the movement, the mission, the work–not themselves–and they have the will to do whatever it takes (whatever it takes) to make good on that ambition” (p. 11).

“Level 5 leadership is not about being ‘soft’ or ‘nice’ or purely ‘inclusive’ or ‘consensus-building.’  The whole point of Level 5 is to make sure the right decisions happen–no matter how difficult or painful–for the long-term greatness of the institution and the achievement of its mission, independent of consensus or popularity” (p. 11).

“If I place a loaded gun to your head, I can get you do to things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practiced leadership: I’ve exercised power.  True leadership exists only if people follow when they have the freedom not to” (p. 13).

First Who–Getting the Right People on the Bus, Within Social Sector Constraints

“The great companies…focused on getting and hanging on to the right people in the first place–those who are productively neurotic, those who are self-motivated and self-disciplined, those who wake up every day, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it is simply part of their DNA” (p. 15).

“First, the more selective the process, the more attractive a position becomes–even if volunteer or low pay.  Second, the social sectors have one compelling advantage: desperate craving for meaning in our lives….Third, the number-one resource for a great social sector organization is having enough of the right people willing to commit themselves to the mission” (pp. 16-17).

The Hedgehog Concept-Rethinking the Economic Engine Without a Profit Motive

“The essence of the Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, ‘No thanks you’ to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test.”  When we examined the Hedgehog Concepts of good-to-great companies, we found they reflected deep understanding of three intersecting circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what drives your economic engine” (p. 17).

“[A] fundamental difference between the business and social sectors [is that the] third circle of the Hedgehog Concept shifts from being an economic engine to a resource engine” (p. 18).

I submit the resource engine has three basic components: time, money, and brand.  ‘Time’…refers to how well you attract people willing to contribute their efforts for free, or at rates below what their talents would yield in business (First Who).  ‘Money’…refers to sustained cash flow.  ‘Brand’…refers to how well your organization can cultivate a deep well of emotional goodwill and mind-share of potential supporters” (p. 18).

“The critical step in the Hedgehog Concept is to determine how best to connect all three circles, so that they reinforce each other.  You must be able to answer the question: ‘How does focusing on what we can do best tie directly to our resource engine, and how does our resource engine directly reinforce what we can do best?” (p. 22).

Turning the Flywheel–Building Momentum by Building the Brand

“By focusing on your Hedgehog Concept, you build results.  Those results, in turn, attract resources and commitment, which you use to build a strong organization.  That strong organization then delivers even better results, which attracts greater resources and commitment, which builds a stronger organization, which enables even better results” (pp. 23, 24).

“[Building a great organization requires a shift to ‘clock building’–shaping a strong, self-sustaining organization that can prosper beyond any single programmatic idea or visionary leader” (pp. 24, 25).

“[A] key link in the social sectors is brand reputation-built upon tangible results and emotional share of heart–so that potential supporters believe not only in your mission, but in your capacity to deliver on that mission” (p. 25).

“Every institution has its unique set of irrational and difficult constraints, yet some make a leap while others facing the same environmental challenges do not….Greatness is not a function of circumstance.  Greatness…is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline” (p. 31).

What Does It Mean to Find Your Calling?

1st and 2nd-year college students ask: What program do I major in?

3rd and 4th-year college students ask: What type of job do I pursue?

College alums ask: Am I in the right job? The right career?

For many people the question ultimately becomes: Am I called to do something? What am I called to do?

The answers aren’t clear. And the questions don’t end. They don’t end because many times our jobs, careers, and lives don’t jive with our deepest beliefs and values, or God’s Word.  You might say, at an archetypal level, we always feel a bit lost because we were created to work and we can’t find work that completely fulfills us; in short, we are looking for a way back to Eden — where we live in perfection relationship with God, humanity, and creation. The truth is that we won’t find it in this world, but in the next. So our quest in faith continues. It has to. We are wired to seek God’s blessing. It is our journey of faith.

What We Are Called To Do

The Gospel of Matthew calls us to be blessed. What does that mean?

It means to be pure of heart. It boggles the mind to think it is a blessing to be pure of heart. To be pure of heart seems so boring. It doesn’t seem like living that way would be any fun. But that is our good culture perverted by sin making us feel that way, not the Word of the Gospel.

So what does being holistically counter-cultural mean for our daily lives?

Three Levels Of Calling

Gordon Smith also tells us that in addition to being called to believe, we are called to a mission and to immediate responsibilities. In other words, I believe that when we choose to accept God’s Word we choose to strive to be pure of heart.  To be pure of heart means we accept an invitation to follow Jesus, seek our purpose in life (vocation), and perform our day-to-day work (occupation), forever trying to integrate our occupation with our vocation, which is the key to spiritual growth and happiness.

So choosing to follow Jesus is a fundamental, critical decision. Following that, a fundamental critical decision is discovering our mission, purpose, vocation.

Vocation vs Occupation

These days, when we hear the word calling, we hear it in the context of our job. Or, it refers only to the ministry. Both interpretations are extreme. Our calling is not our occupation, and it is not narrowly limited to working for a church; our mission is bigger than any job. Our occupation may be only a means to an end; or, it may be more. But more than likely we have a greater purpose, a more holy purpose. Even though we can argue that work is part of God’s good creation (Adam and Eve worked in the Garden before the Fall), our work life, the economy, etc. are also part of the fallen world. Our calling may be more pure, yet never (in this life anyway) practiced with moral perfection and purity of heart.

An analogy may be helpful. In our job, we tend to seek upward mobility. That is the way of the world. But Jesus calls us to downward mobility — to be a servant of all, a Good Samaritan. To get a job and career, we tend to advertise our “resume virtues.” We emphasize what we did according to an economic model. Yet when we die, people remember us for our “eulogy virtues,” for who we were according to a moral model. To put it another way, Adam I is the Adam of occupation. Adam II is the Adam of calling. The culture of occupation tends to be one of scarcity and upward mobility; the culture of vocation tends to be one of abundance and downward mobility.

  • “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….To nurture you Adam I career, it makes sense to cultivate your strengths.
  • 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. …In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself….To nurture you Adam II moral core, it is necessary to confront your weaknesses” (David Brooks, The Road to Character, p. xii).

Other Myths About Vocation

In addition to equating our job to our occupation, we may have accepted other myths about calling.

  • Calling (vocation) is not something we find alone. God blesses us through other people. Calling requires accountability and feedback from our community. This reflects or primary, general calling; Elizabeth Newman writes that our primary calling “is to be a people who live in communion with our triune God” (“Called Through Relationship” in Kruschwitz, Vocation: Christian Reflection).
  • Calling (vocation) is not something we choose. What we choose is whether to accept it. Calling starts with listening, listening to what grieves us. To be called requires hearing. For example, “Moses did not invent or determine his vocation, he receives it from God….’Vocation’ differs from ‘career’ in this regard; while ‘career’ (related to a Medieval Latin word for ‘race track’) refers primarily to human effort (as in ‘What do you do for a living?’), vocation points in another direction. The initiative resides not with us, but with the One who calls and invites” (Newman, ibid).
  • Calling (vocation) is more than “finding our talents and figuring out what to do with them. Rather and more fully, it is discovering and living out of the infinite and gratuitous abundance of God” (Newman, ibid). Think of Moses: sometimes our calling may not match up with our talents.
  • Calling (vocation) is more than meeting market needs in a profitable way; calling pulls us into unprofitable situations. Vocations are revealed through grieving about the market’s shortcomings. Bill Hybels writes that calling begins with experiencing “holy discontent.” What in the world we grieve about is something God places on our heart.  For example, does economic injustice make you sad? Does racism? Segregation? Sexism? Poverty? Lack of childcare in your church or community? Lack of care or concern for the elderly? Lack of care and concern for the marginalized? The people in prison? Lack of good educational options? Food deserts? The inability to share information among friends and family? Cancer? Alcoholism?  The parts of the world’s brokenness that make you sad are those parts that are worth paying attention to.

Richard Goosen and R. Paul Stevens summarize nicely a positive perspective on calling in Entrepreneurial Leadership:

Dimensions of Vocation

  • God takes the initiative. “[Calling] is not generated from within a person but from the outside, and the outside comprises not merely our parents and our society, but God….All calling is based on the reality of a God who takes initiative, who seeks to include human beings in his grand project of transforming everything” (p. 111).
  • We are called to be others-focused. “We are called to a way of life…as other-oriented values and goals as the primary source of motivation. The calling is to life — relationships, civic responsibilities, church membership, family, neighboring and work — not just to work….we are called not only to invent, innovate and accomplish, but to do this in a particular way, the way of faith, hope and love, the way of justice, compassion and self-control” (pp. 111, 112).
  • We are called to be purpose-driven. “Calling…directs people to approach a particular life role (e.g. work) in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness….The English Puritans brilliantly distinguished between the ‘general’ calling, by which people are summoned into a relationship with God to become children of God, and the ‘particular’ calling, by which people are guided into particular occupations, such as magistrate, homemaker, pastor or merchant” (p. 112).
  • We are called to a contribute to a Grand Purpose, to be part of the Grand Narrative. “Life and work are not merely for our own advancement, not even simply to provide for our families, but we are caught up in a grand purpose, in the grand story of God’s plan for creation and people. The entire notion of calling is rooted in the meta-narrative of the Christian faith and subsumed by it” (p. 113). Thus, “‘Calling is a transcendent summons, experienced as originating beyond the self, to approach a particular life role (e.g., work) in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness, and that which holds other-oriented values and goals as primary sources of motivation'” (Philip Wu, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, pp. 109, 110). The Grand Narrative? Creation, Fall, Redemption.

A Process For Discerning Our Vocation

So if we believe God has given us a purpose for our lives as a way to bless us and call us to purity of heart, how do we discern that purpose? Goosen and Stephens give us some advice in the form of self-reflection questions.

  • What are our passions and motivations? What gets us our of bed in the morning? What makes us feel fully alive? “‘We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings'” (Elizabeth O’Connor, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 120). “What do we daydream about? In what kind of activity do we lose all sense of time? When do [we] feel fully alive? What are the things [we] obsess about, wish [we] had more time to put energy into? What needs doing in the world that [we’d] like to put [our] talents to work on? What activities reflect deep and consistent interests? This is from God, built into us by the Creator” (p. 120). For Bill Hybels, this list should also include that part of the broken world that causes of grief. It will likely be something we experience personally. You might say, then, with Henri Nouwen, that we are called to be “Wounded Healers.”
  • What are our gifts and talents? What are we naturally good at doing? Where might there be an overlap between our skills and opportunities (to serve others and make a living) and our deepest motivations? “God calls us by equipping us to serve in a specific way” (p. 121). However, “God does not have a wonderful plan for our lives as is often proposed….God has something better than a wonderful plan: a wonderful purpose. A plan is terrifying, especially if we make a mistake in reading the directions. A purpose is evocative. A purpose is like a fast-moving stream that carries us along and allows for some mobility from side to side…” (p. 119).
  • What is our unique personality? There are many accessible tools to assess this and coaches to help us interpret the results. I have found Myers-Briggs and free on-line knockoffs (“16 Personalities”) to be helpful. Also, I have found Peter Drucker’s class article “Managing Oneself” to be valuable.
  • What values and virtues do we cherish? Values are “cherished ways of behaving.” E.g., living with integrity can be a value, as is living according to a vision and purpose. Virtues are ingrained personality traits, such as faith, hope, and love, that determine how we function. Virtues, in contrast to values, have opposites — vices.  Christian virtues include the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)” (p. 122). [Vices might result from our need to be needed, a need for status and approval, a need to be in control — called “blocks and dysfunctionalities” (p. 123).]
  • What providential circumstances have led us to this point? It turns out that where we were born and the family we were born into and the one we created are important, as are the messy things in life we experienced. Henri Nouwen wrote a great book, Wounded Healers, to make the point that Christ was wounded to heal us. We too have experienced wounds which help us understand the circumstances of others. Parker Palmer also speaks best to this point. He says, “Let your life speak.” We don’t make the call. We listen to what God is already doing in our lives. Calling is something we see by looking in the rear-view mirror.
  • What is God saying about our purpose? Some people hear from God directly. Most of us don’t. “Some locutions or words come from without; they are corporeal and are heard in the ear even if no one else is able to witness the sound. Some come from the inmost parts of the soul. They are imaginary, though not in the sense of fabricated. They are not heard in the ear but experienced as an impression received by an imaginary faculty. And some locutions are intellectual and spiritual as God imprints a message in the depth of the person’s spirit and understanding” (p. 124).

Where do those questions overlap for you?

Re-framing the Questions

As you can see, the questions are not:

  • What program do I major in?
  • What type of job do I pursue?
  • Am I in the right career?

The question is What am I called to do? Or, better, the question is will I accept God’s calling to believe and then choose serve God and love my neighbor? And then, How? That evolving how can be a guiding policy for your life. Your major, job, and career will then take care of themselves. The tension will then be in trying to integrate the your calling (vocation) and occupation together.

There will be tension between your vocation and occupation. Christians live in two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of humanity. God is forever sovereign but those kingdoms won’t perfectly overlap until Christ returns.

Vocation-Discovering Practices

Elizabeth Newman outlines some spiritual practices to facilitate the discovery of our calling (vocation).

  • Hospitality: “the practice of welcoming another person — even a stranger — into our lives, trains us to be open to surprise.”
  • Meditating on God’s Word: the practice of lectio divina, or “holy reading…enables us to grow in dependence not only on the Bible (and thus the earliest Christians) as a rich resource for forming us, but even more on God.”
  • Spiritual Direction: “the practice of meeting with a spiritual friend who listens to our stories and joins us in discerning how God is working in our lives….trains us, like lectio divina, to resist the idea that we must discern our vocation alone. Rightly understood, Christian vocation is about growing in our ability to be vulnerable, about listening to and with others for the guidance of God’s spirit.”
  • Fasting and Sabbath-keeping: the practice of sabbath-keeping “trains us to participate in the rhythm of work and rest, as we set aside time to rest in God.”
  • Prayer: “the practice of prayer helps us resist the idea, so common in our culture, that waiting is of little use….The rich kind of waiting we practice in prayer trains us to be patient with ourselves, others, and even God” (Newman, ibid).

Patience, prayer, and reflection, so counter-cultural to the culture of occupation, are a critical part of the discerning process.

A Prayer for Discernment

So what do I major in? What type of job do I want? “What am I called to do?”

The answer requires patience. Seeking to hear requires prayer. Goosen and Stevens suggest this prayer by Thomas Merton:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone” (Thomas Merton, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 125).

Lord, help us listen and may our major, job/career, life, and calling/purpose significantly and holistically overlap so that we may experience the blessing of purity of heart.

 _____________________

Photo credit: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251628

This article first appear on LinkedIn.

Drucker on Non-Profit Management

Product Details

Preface

“[Non-profit] institutions are central to American society and its most distinguishing feature” (p. xiii).

“[Non-profits] do something very different from either business or government….[A non-profit’s] product is neither a pair of shoes or an effective regulation.  Its product is a changed human being.  The non-profit institutions are human change agents.  Their ‘product’ is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or young woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether” (p. xiv).

“[Non-profit ] institutions themselves know they need management all the more because they do not have a conventional ‘bottom line.’  They know they need to learn management as their tool lest they be overwhelmed by it.  They know they need management so that they can concentrate on their mission” (pp. xiv, xv).

The distinct characteristics and needs of non-profits (p. xv):

  • keeping accountable to their unique mission and measuring results
  • developing and implementing strategies to market their services and obtain funding
  • introducing innovation and change to volunteers
  • engaging the board and keeping it from meddling
  • attracting, training, and managing volunteers for performance (results)
  • addressing individual burnout

Two distinct challenges (p. xvii):

  • Converting donors into contributors — into people who experience self-realization and look at themselves in the mirror and see someone “who as a citizen takes responsibility”
  • Giving a sense of community and common purpose

The Mission Comes First

The Commitment

“What matters is not the leader’s charisma.  What matters is the leader’s mission.  Therefore, the first job of the leader is to think through and define the mission of the institution” (p. 3).

“A mission statement has to be operational, otherwise it’s just good intentions.  A mission statement has to focus on what the institution really tries to do and then do it so that everybody in the organization can say, This is my contribution to the goal” (p. 4).

Three Things

“[So] one asks first, what are the opportunities, the needs?  Then, do they fit us?  Are we likely to do a decent job?  Are we competent?  Do they match our strengths?  Do we really believe in this?…So you need three things: opportunities, competence, commitment (p. 8).

Leadership is a Foul-Weather Job

“The most important task of an organization’s leader is to anticipate crisis….One has to make the organization capable of anticipating the storm, weathering it, and in fact, being ahead of it.   That is called innovation, constant renewal.  You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, that has high morale, and also has been through a crisis, knows how to behave, trusts itself, and where people trust one another….for without trust they won’t fight” (p. 9).

“The starting point is to recognize that change is not a threat.  It’s an opportunity” (p. 11).

What To Look For In A Leader

“If I were on a selection committee to choose a leader…what would I look for?

  • First, I would look at what the individuals have done, what their strengths are.
  • Second, I would look at the institution and ask: What is the one immediate key challenge?
  • Then I would look for–call it character or integrity” (p. 16).

Basic Leader Competencies

“Most organizations need somebody who can lead regardless of the weather.  What matters is that he or she works on the basic competences.

  • As the first basic competence, I would put the willingness, ability, and self-discipline to listen.
  • The second essential competence is the willingness to communicate, to make yourself understood.
  • The next important competence is not to alibi yourself [humbleness]
  • The last basic competence is to understand how unimportant you are compared to the task….The worst thing you can say about a leader is on the day he or she left, the organization collapsed” (p. 20).

Balancing

  • “One of the key tasks of the leader is to balance up the long range and the short range, the big picture and the pesky little details….
  • Another, which I think is even harder to handle, is the balance between concentrating resources on the goal and enough diversification….
  • The even more critical balance, and the toughest to handle, is between being too cautious and to rash.
  • Finally, there is timing….You know the people who always expect results too soon and pull up the radishes to see whether they’ve set root, and the ones who never pull up the radishes because they’re sure they’re never ripe enough….
  • Then there is the balance between opportunity and risk….Is it reversible?…Is it a risk we can afford?” (pp. 24, 25).

From Mission to Performance

Converting Good Intentions Into Results

“[You] need four things.

  • You need a plan.
  • You need marketing.
  • You need people.
  • And you need money” (p. 53).

Rules

  • “Don’t put your scarce resources where you aren’t going to have results.  This may be the first rule for effective marketing” (p. 55).
  • “And then, the second rule, know your customers” (p. 55).

Strategies

  • “So, the design of the right marketing strategy for the non-profit institution’s service is the first basic strategy: the non-profit institution needs market knowledge.
  • It needs a marketing plan with specific objectives and goals.
  • And it needs what I call marketing responsibility, which is to take one’s customers seriously.  Not saying, We know what’s good for them.  But, What are their values?  How do I reach them?” (p. 56).
  • “The non-profit institution also needs a fund development strategy….Fund-raising is going around with a begging bowl, asking for money because the need is so great.  Fund development is creating a constituency which supports the organization because it deserves it.  It means developing what I call a membership that participates through giving” (p. 56).

“The first constituency in fund development is your own board” (p. 56).

Winning Strategies

“In non-profit management, the mission and the plan–if that is all there is–are the good intentions.  Strategies are the bulldozers.  They convert what you want to do into accomplishment” (p. 59).

“One prays for miracles but works for results, St. Augustine said” (p. 59).

  • “First, the goal must be clearly defined.
  • Then that goal must be converted into specific results, specific targets, each focused on a specific audience, a specific market area….
  • Next, you will need a marketing plan and marketing efforts for each target group….
  • Next comes communication–lots of it–and training….
  • Then you need logistics….What resources are required?…
  • Finally, you ask: “When do we have to see results?” (pp. 63, 64).

Successful Innovation

  • “The first requirement for successful innovation is to look at a change as a potential opportunity instead of a threat….
  • The second question is, Who in our organization should really work on this?…
  • Then think through the proper marketing strategy….Look into the possibility of developing a niche” (pp. 68, 69).

Defining the Market

“The most important tasks in marketing have to do with studying the market, segmenting it, targeting the groups you want to service, positioning yourself in the market, and creating a service that meets needs out there.  Advertising and selling are afterthoughts” (p. 74).

“The answer marketing gives is that you must formulate an offer to put out to the group from which you want a response.  The process of getting that answer, I call exchange thinking.  What must I give in order to get?  How can I add value to the other party in such a way that I add value to what I want?  Reciprocity and exchange underlie marketing thinking” (p. 76).

Building the Donor Constituency

“It’s just more efficient to organize with a notion that you are going to have a long-term relationship with your donors, that you’re going to help them increase their support of the organization” (p. 86).

“First of all, what you want to do is acquaint donors with what you are as an organization, what you are trying to get accomplished, so they can identify with your goals” (p. 86).

“Development means bringing the donors along, raising their sights in terms of how they can support you, giving them ownership in the outcome of your organization” (p. 87).

“So you market research tries to identify two things, to use technical terms:  both market segmentation and market value propositions” (p. 93).

  • “You have told us, first of the central importance of the clear mission, and the importance of knowing your market, not just in generalities, but in fine detail.
  • And then of enabling those volunteers of yours to do a decent job by giving them the tools that make it almost certain that they can succeed.
  • And finally, what I heard you say loud and clear is that you don’t appeal to the heart alone, and you don’t appeal to the head alone.  You have to have a very rational case, but you also must appeal to our sense of responsibility for our brethren” (pp. 96, 97).

Managing for Performance

What is the Bottom Line When There Is No “Bottom Line”?

“Performance means concentrating available resources where the results are.  It does not mean making promises you can’t live up to” (p. 108).

  • “Performance in the non-profit institution must be planned.  And this starts out with the mission.  Non-profits fail to perform unless they start out with their mission.  For the mission defines what results are in this particular non-profit institution.
  • And then one asks: Who are our constituencies, and what are the results for each of them?” (p. 108).

Goals

  • “The first–but also the toughest–task of the non-profit executive is to get all of these constituencies to agree on what the long-term goals of the institution are….What I learned was that unless you integrate the vision of all constituencies into the long-range goal, you will soon lose support, lose credibility, and lose respect” (p. 110).
  • “[Non-profits] have to distinguish between moral causes and economic causes.  A moral cause is an absolute good….In an economic cause, one asks: Is this the best application of our scarce resources?” (pp. 111-112).

Don’t’s and Do’s–The Basic Rules

  • “In every move, in every policy, the non-profit institution needs to start out by asking, Will this advance our capacity to carry out our mission?” (p. 114).
  • “Dissent…is essential for effective decision-making.  Feuding and bickering are not.  In fact, they must not be tolerated.  They destroy the spirit of an organization” (p. 114).
  • “Don’t tolerate discourtesy” (p. 115).
  • “In the information-based institution, people must take responsibility for informing their bosses and their colleagues, and, above all, for educating them” (p. 116).
  • “Organizations are built on trust.  Trust means that you know what to expect of people.  Trust is mutual understanding.  Not mutual love, not even mutual respect.  Predictability” (p. 116).
  • “Everyone believes in delegation.  But it needs clear rules to become productive.  It requires that the delegated task be clearly defined, that there are mutually understood goals and mutually-agreed upon deadlines, both for progress reports and for the accomplishment of the task.  Above all, it requires clear understanding of what the person who delegates and the person who takes on the assignment expect and are committing themselves to.  Delegation further requires that delegators follow up (p. 117).
  • “An appraisal should always start out with what the person has done well.  Never start out with the negative:  You’ll get to it soon enough” (p. 120).

The Effective Decision

  • “The most important part of an effective decision is to ask: What is the decision really about?  Very rarely is the decision about what it seems to be about.  That’s usually a symptom” (p. 121).
  • “The next question in decision making is opportunity versus risk.  One starts out with the opportunity, not with the risk:  If this works, what will it do for us?  Then look at the risks.  And there are three kinds of risks:
    • There is the risk we can afford to take…
    • There is the irreversible decision, when failure may do serious harm.
    • Finally, there is the decision where the risk is great but one cannot afford not to take it” (p. 123).

“You do not prevent disagreement, but you do resolve conflict” (p. 127).

“Businesses usually define performance too narrowly–as the financial bottom line….In a non-profit organization, there is no bottom line.  But there is also a temptation to downplay results….That is not enough” (p. 139).

“One sometimes has to remind them of the Parable of the Talents in the New Testament:  Our job is to invest the resources we have–people and money–where the returns are manifold” (p. 140).

People and Relationships

People Decisions

“Those who have a batting average of almost 1.000 in [people] decisions start out with a very simple premise:  that they are not judges of people.  They start out with a commitment to a diagnostic process” (p. 145).

Stage 1: “The right questions are:

  • How have these people done in their last three assignments?  Have they come through?
  • Then…look at people’s strengths.  What have they shown they can do in their last three assignments?
  • Once you come to the conclusion [that you have the right person], go…to two or three people with whom she has worked” (p. 146).

Stage 2: “The second stage comes ninety days later, when you call the newly appointed person in and say….Think through what you have to do to be successful, and come back and tell me” (p. 146).

  • “First, one doesn’t try to build on people’s weaknesses….But if you want people to perform in an organization, you have to use their strengths….
  • A second don’t is to take a narrow and short-sighted view of the development of people.  One has to learn specific skills for a specific job.  But development is more than than: it has to be for a career and for a life” (p. 147).
  • “The old rule is, if they try, work with them.  If they don’t try, you’re better off if they work for the competition” (p. 150).
  • “Effective non-profit organizations also have to ask themselves all the time: Do our volunteers grow?  Do they acquire a bigger view of their mission and greater skill?” (pp. 150, 151).

Stage 3: “The more successful an organization becomes, the more it needs to build teams.  In fact, non-profit organizations most often fumble and lose their way despite great ability at the top and a dedicated staff because they fail to build teams” (p. 152).

“Once the right match is made, there are two keys to a person’s effectiveness in an organization.

  • One is that the person understands clearly what he or she is going to do and doesn’t ride off in all directions.
  • The other is that each person takes the responsibility for thinking through what he or she needs to do the job.
  • That done, the person goes to all the others on whom he depends–the superior, the associates, the subordinates–and says, “This is what you are doing that helps me.  This is what you are doing that hampers me.  And what do I to that helps you?  What do I do that hampers you?” (p. 153).

“Are we, in other words, building for tomorrow in our people decisions, or are we settling for the convenient and the easy today?” (p. 155).

The Key Relationships

“To be effective, a non-profit needs a strong board, but a board that does the board’s work.

  • The board not only helps think through the institution’s mission, it is the guardian of that mission, and makes sure the organization lives up to its basic commitment.
  • The board has the job of making sure the non-profit has competent management–and the right management.
  • The board’s role is to appraise the performance of the organization.
  • And in a crisis, the board members may have to be firefighters.
  • The board is also the premier fund-raising organ of a non-profit organization–one important role it does not have in the the for-profit business” (p. 157).

“Wherever I’ve seen a non-profit institution with a strong board that gives the right kind of leadership, it represented very hard work on the part of the chief executive officer–not merely to bring the right people onto the board but to meld them into a team and point them in the right direction.  In my experience, the chief executive officer is the conscience of the board” (p. 158).

From Volunteers to Unpaid Staff

“[Quality] control is maintained because of the common vision” (p. 164).

“Emphasis in managing people should always be on performance.  But, especially for a non-profit it must also be compassionate….People work in non-profits because they believe in the cause.  They owe performance, and the executive owes them compassion.  People given a second chance usually come through.  If people try, give them a second chance.  If people try again and they still do not perform, they may be in the wrong spot” (p. 183).

“A person is never gong to have a sense of his own, her own, dignity unless they are able to fulfill the expectation of completing the tasks and discharging the responsibilities that they take on” (p. 168).

[There] is no greater achievement than to help a few people get the right things done.  That’s perhaps the only satisfactory definition of being a leader” (p. 169).

The Effective Board

“I think a CEO has two primary areas of service.

  • I have to care for the vice-presidents, whom I supervise, and who have no other boss than me.
  • And I have to care for the trustees, who have no other direct and immediate or ongoing contact with the institution besides me and what my office staff does” (p. 174).

“We tell bad news at 110 percent and good news at 90 percent in order to compensate for our tendency to cheat, almost unconsciously, because we want to tell the board all the good news and we want to minimize the bad news” (p. 175).

Developing Yourself

You Are Responsible

“The first priority for the non-profit executive’s own development is to strive for excellence.  That brings satisfaction and self-respect” (p. 189).

“You cannot allow the lack of resources, of money, of people, and of time (always the scarcest) to overwhelm you and become an excuse for shoddy work….Paying serious attention to self-development–your own and that of everyone in the organization–is not a luxury for non-profit executives…Volunteers, particularly, who don’t get a great deal out of working for the organization aren’t going to be around very long” (p. 189).

“You want constructive discontent” (p. 190).

“And each of these volunteers sits down twice a year and write a letter to himself or herself (a copy to the [CEO]) answer the questions: ‘What have I learned?  What difference to my own life has my work…been making?” (p. 190).

“Leadership is not characterized by stars on your shoulder; an executive leads by example.  And the greatest example is precisely the dedication to the mission of the organization as a means of making yourself bigger–respecting yourself more” (p. 193).

What Do You Want To Be Remembered For?

“To develop yourself, you have to be doing the right work in the right organization.  The basic question is: “Where do I belong as a person?”  (p. 195).

  • “The first step toward effectiveness is to decide what are the right things to do.  Efficiency, which is doing things right, is irrelevant until you work on the right things.  Decide your priorities, where to concentrate.  Work with your own strengths….You identify strengths with performance.  There is some correlation between what you and I like to do and what we do well” (p. 198).
  • “I’m always asking that question:  What do you want to be remembered for?  It is a question that induces you to renew yourself, because it pushes you to see yourself as a different person–the person you can become” (p. 202).

“Developing yourself begins by serving, but striving toward an idea outside of yourself–not by leading.  Leaders are not born, nor are they made–they are self-made.  To do this, a person needs focus.  Michael Kami, our leading authority on business strategy today, draws a square on the board and asks:  ‘Tell me what to put in there.  Jesus?  Or money?  I can help you develop a strategy for either one, but you have to decide which is the master” (p. 222).

Know Yourself

One of my fondest memories from high school was leaving a dance and walking a mile to retrieve my car.  The snowflakes were falling gently and I felt warmed by them as I walked.  In my solitude their peaceful descent felt comforting, like God was touching me and telling me to be who he created me to be.  But who was that?  Many years later I read this article and it reminded me of that memory.  The article helps me better understand who I am. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

From “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker* in HBR Leadership Fundamentals.

“Now most of us, even those of us with modest endowments, will have to learn to manage ourselves.  We will have to learn to develop ourselves.  We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution” (p. 7).

“We need to know our strengths in order to know where to belong” (p. 8).

The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis.  Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen.  Nine or twelve months later, compare the actual results with your expectations” (p. 8).

“Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis.

  • First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths.  Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.
  • Second, work on improving your strengths….
  • Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it” (p. 8).

“It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits — the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance” (p. 8).

“Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.  It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction” (p. 8).

How Do You Get Things Done?

“Comparing your expectations with your results also indicates what not to do….In those areas a person…should not take on work, jobs, and assignments.  One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.  It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence….Energy, resources, and time should go instead to making a competent person into a star performer” (pp. 8, 9).

“Amazingly few people know how they get things done….For knowledge workers, How do I perform? may be an even more important question than What are my strengths?….A few common personality traits usually determine how a person performs” (p. 9).
  • “The first thing to know is whether you are a reader or a listener” (p. 9).
  • “The second thing to know about how one performs is to know how one learns” (p. 9).
    • “[Writers] do not, as a rule, learn by listening or reading.  They learn by writing” (p. 9).
    •  “Some people learn by doing.
    • Others learn by hearing themselves talk” (p. 10).
    • “Am I reader or a listener?  and How do I learn? are the first questions to ask.  But they are by no means the only ones.
  • To manage yourself effectively, you also have to ask,
    • Do I work well with people, or am I a loner?
    • And if you work well with people, you then must ask, In what relationship?” (p. 10).
    • “Another crucial question is, Do I produce results as a decision maker or as an adviser?” (p. 10).
    • “Other important questions to ask include, Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a highly structured and predictable environment?
    • Do I work best in a big organization or a small one?  Few people work well in all kinds of environments” (p. 10).

“The conclusion bears repeating: Do not try to change yourself — you are unlikely to succeed.  But work hard to improve the way you perform” (p. 10).

“To be able to manage yourself, you finally have to ask, What are my values?….To work in an organization whose value system is unacceptable or incompatible with one’s own condemns a person both to frustration and nonperformance” (pp. 10, 11).

Successful careers are not planned They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values” (p. 12).

“Knowledge workers in particular have to ask a question that has not been asked before: What should my contribution be?  To answer it, they must address three distinct elements:

  • What does the situation require?
  • Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
  • And finally, What results have to be achieved to make a difference?” (p. 12).

“Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships.  This has two parts.

  • The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are.  They perversely insist on behaving like human beings.  This means that they too have their strengths; they too have their ways of getting things done; they too have their values.  To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your coworkers….
  • The second of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication” (p. 13).

THE Goal (Part V): Called To Be Joyful

By Gordon T. Smith

Emotional Holiness

“One of the primary indicators and fruits of faith is joy in midst of a confusing and broken world….[Joy] arises from a life lived in wisdom, with a vision and passion for good work and with a resolve and capacity to love as we have been loved….[Joy is] the fruit of or the evidence of our union with Christ” (p. 154).

“What defines the church and the Christian, intellectually and emotionally, is the deep awareness that all will be well.  This means we will get angry; we will fear and we will get discouraged.  And we will mourn the deep losses of life.  And yet sorrow is not our true home.  We were designed to live in joy” (p. 157).

“[Holy] people are happy people.  They know how to dance….They are not happy all the time, of course.  It is important to stress that holy people feel keenly the fragmentation of the world.  They sorrow with those who sorrow; they know how to be angry without sinning. They know what it is to be profoundly discouraged without allowing their discouragement to go to seed so that they are nothing but cynics.  They know the pain and sorrow of mourning; they have experienced loss and they have walked with others who have experienced loss.  And yet what defines them is an emotional center, an emotional resilience, an emotional maturity that is perhaps most evident in deep and abiding joy” (p. 158).

By John Ortberg

“The decision to sin always includes the thought that I cannot really trust God to watch out for my well-being” (p. 69).

Unveil

“There is nothing more winsome or attractive than a person who is secure enough in being loved by God that he or she lives with a spirit of openness and transparency and without guile” (p. 76).

“Some people use their intelligence as a veil.  Others use ignorance.  Some veil themselves in busyness, in their work, in their vast competence and success….Ironically, many people in the church veil themselves in spirituality” (p. 79).

Accept

“Acceptance is an act of the heart.  To accept someone is to affirm to them that you think it’s a very good thing they are alive.  We communicate this in a hundred ways, but the most powerful way is to listen with patience and compassion as they reveal their dark secrets” (p. 101).

Empathize

“[Generally] people who don’t read others well aren’t aware that they don’t” (p 108).

“[There] is a direct correlation between the number of words you say and the number of sins you commit” (p. 111).

“Every human being you know is making a request of their friends, though it often goes unspoken.  Here is what they ask: ‘Motivate me.  Call out the best in me.  Believe in me.  Encourage me when I’m tempted to quit.  Speak truth to me and remind me of my deepest values.  Help me achieve my greatest potential.  Tell me again what God called me to be, what I might yet become” (p. 121).

Conflict and Confront

“To be alive means to be in conflict” (p. 131).

“Avoidance kills community.  Avoidance causes resentment to fester inside you” (p. 132).

“Scott Peck says that most of the time we live in what he calls pseudocommunity.  Its hallmark is the avoidance of conflict.  In pseudocommunity we keep things safe; we speak in generalities, we say things that those around us will agree with.  We tell little white lies to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, no one gets tense.  We keep relationships pleasant and well-oiled.  Conversations are carefully filtered to make sure no one gets offended; if we feel hurt or irritated, we are careful to hide it.  Pseudocommunity is agreeable and polite and gentle and stagnant — and ultimately fatal” (p. 180).

Forgive

Forgiveness is not:

  • Excusing
  • Forgetting
  • Reconciling.  Reconciling “requires the rebuilding of trust, and that means good faith on the part of both parties” (p. 158).

Forgiveness is:

  • “[When] we decide to stop trying to get even….
  • A new way of seeing and feeling….[When] we discover the humanity of the one who hurt us….
  • [When] you find yourself wishing the other person well” (pp. 159, 160).

Include

“There are few joys in life like being wanted, chosen, embraced.  There are few pains like being excluded, rejected, left out.  At the core of Christian community is a choice, in the words of Miroslav Volf’s great book on the subject, between exclusion and embrace….It is part of our fallenness that makes us want to be in not just any group but an exclusive group….We exclude others because of pride or fear or ignorance or the desire to feel superior” (p. 186).

“The desire to make it into the Inner Ring is by its nature insatiable.  You will never succeed.  However, when it comes to the choice to include people, you can hardly fail.  They may refuse you, of course.  But the mere effort will expand your heart and bring joy to God” (p. 192).

“Bonding activities might involve people in the same ethnic group or economic status.  Bridging connections, by definition, are ‘outward looking and encompass people across diverge social cleavages” (p. 195).s

Be Grateful

“The ability to assign value is one of the rarest and most precious gifts in the world.  People who live deeply in community learn to discern and express the value of other human beings.  They are masters of expressing love in word and gesture.  They assign high worth, value, and importance to others by viewing them as precious gifts…In a word, what they give is called honor” (p. 205).  They are grateful for God and others.

 

THE Goal (Part IV): Called to Love

By Gordon T. Smith

Social Holiness

“God is not a solitary being; rather, the divine being is a union of three persons bound together by the mutuality of love.  In like fashion we affirm and celebrate that the human person is not a spiritual monad but a being designed to live in interdependence and communion with others.  Adam was created in the image of God to be in communion with God, but Adam was not created a solitary or isolated being.  Genesis 1 celebrates the deep goodness of the created order, as is evident from the recurring line ‘and God saw that it was good.’  But then we have one of the most extraordinary declarations in all of Scripture when God says of Adam that it is not good for him to be alone” (pp. 128, 129).

“The biblical vision is for the individual to thrive in community and in mutual interdependence….The deep challenge we all face…is that our hearts are bent on independence, self-sufficiency and autonomy.  No one is naturally loving” (pp. 130, 132).

“Humility is the antithesis of self-dependence” (p. 134).

Radical Hospitality

“Listening is the fundamental means by which we honor [each other] and fulfill the call to honor others above ourselves” (p. 139).

“If we are marked by sincere or genuine love it is evident in this: that we listen more and talk less” (p. 140).

“Hospitality also means that we do not impose ourselves upon [others] — we give them their space” (p. 140).

Patience, Forbearance, Forgiveness, and the Resolution of Wrongs

“[We] cannot love until and unless we graciously come to terms with the imperfections and failures of others….This will include at the very least that we are patient with others, that we bear with and forgive each other” (p. 141).

  • “Patience is closely linked to hospitality, only now our hospitality is that of those who accept rather than demand, whose hope and aspiration for the other are not oppressive but grace-filled.  We let God do God’s work in the life of the other in God’s time” (p. 141).
  • “Forbearance is the twin sister of patience….This mark of compassion and generosity signals not tolerance of evil or wrongdoing but the reality that all of us are on the road to transformation…” (p. 142).
  • “To forgive means we let it go; we no longer hold it again [each other].  We bless [each other] rather curse the one who has wronged us” (p. 142).

“[The] flipside of the call to patience, forbearance and forgiveness: the proactive resolution of wrongs” (p. 143).

Generous Service

“Specifically, to serve the other is to respond to genuine, concrete need” (p. 144).

  • “First, it is important to stress that our generosity is always a generosity ‘in Christ’….
  • Second, ‘in Christ’ also means that our acts are never to our own merit or honor; we can and must learn how to serve quietly without seeking recognition or thanks for the simple reason that we do it in Christ and for Christ….
  • Third, to love is to actively seek the welfare of [each other].  We are called to love; therefore our way of being in the world is always one of attentiveness for the well-being of all.  And thus there is a close affinity between love and justice….
  • Fourth, one of the most powerful forms of service is intercessory prayer.  We serve one another by praying for one another.  It is done quietly and without fanfare; it is offered in secret as an act of service…” (pp. 145, 146).

 

By John Ortberg

We have a need to connect.

“The yearning to attach and connect, to love and be loved, is the fiercest longing of the soul.  Our need for community with people and the God who made us is to the human spirit what food and air and water are to the human body” (p. 18).

“Neil Plantinga notes that the Hebrew prophets had a word for just this kind of connectedness of all things: shalom — ‘the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight'” (p. 19).

“Community is the place God meets us” (p. 21).

“Community is rooted in the being of God” (p. 34).

“The Trinity exists as a kind of eternal dance of joyful love among Father, Son, and Spirit” (p. 35).

“In the Bible, a person’s name generally stands for his or her character and identity.  To gather in Jesus’ name means tro relate to other people with the same spirit of servanthood, submission, and delight that characterizes Jesus in the Trinity” (p. 40).  What does that mean?

The Fellowship of the Mat

Think abouwt the paralyzed man and the friends that brought him (dropped him through the roof) to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12).

“Here is the truth about us: Everybody has a mat.  Let the mat stand as a picture for human brokenness and imperfection.  It is not what is ‘not normal’ about me.  It is the little ‘as is’ tag that I most desire to hide.  But it is only when we allow others to see our mat, when we give and receive help with each other, that healing becomes possible” (p. 47).

“Humility and trust are more at the foundation of community than penrfection.  If you want a deep friendship, you can’t always be the strong one.  You will always have to let somebody else carry your mat” (p. 48).

A Community of Roof-Crashers

  • Family: “A group which possesses and implements an irrational commitment to the well-being of others…noticing and doing (p. 52).
  • Friend: “When someone is your friend, your greatest desire for them — deeper than external well-being or even physical health — is that things are right between them and God” (p. 56).

In Community with Jesus

“Count on it: In community with Jesus and with those who love you, most of what happened to this man will happen with you: Sin will get named and dealt with.  And although this sounds frightening, it may be the best gift of all” (p. 57).

“The truth is, the more spiritually mature you grow, the more you will find your heart being drawn to people.  You want to reach out to people, especially those neglected by society or far from God….People who don’t love people can’t love God” (p. 59).