When the poor and needy seek water, and there none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them. I the God of Israel will not forsake them. - Isaiah 41:17


I was reading this passage this morning and immediately got a little uncomfortable.  I was uncomfortable with the tension of knowing I must trust in the words of scripture and what God says, and the thoughts of….”this just isn’t true.” God, how can you say that you supply for the poor when there are so many who are poor in our world today?  And in grace-like form that He reminds me, he told me, “I do supply for them. I send you. I send my people.”

It’s easy to forget you know? To forget our responsibilities and part that God has called us to play in bringing about the kingdom of heaven. I’m so thankful I was reminded of this, this morning. Thank you Jesus.

Image courtesy of johnragai (Creative Commons): http://ow.ly/p7l1O

Within any organization, there’s always the tension of sticking true to vision and compromising for opportunities….heck, even trying to fit new opportunities into our “vision” that have no place even being there. Some of the temptations may be funding issues to keep the doors open, rapid-quick growth without much forethought, or even helping others.  So where’s the balance between sticking true to your vision and being open to other opportunities.

Reflect on the “Why”

Always stay true to the “why”.  The “what” can get us in trouble some times.  But the “why” is why you started in the first place.  The “why” is what drives you.  It’s what keeps you up at night.  If you lose the “why” you lose your passion for continuing in what you do.

Vision Leaks

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek, says that vision leaks every seven days.  Whether or not this is an accurate calculation or not, it’s true that vision slips very easily…especially for other team members who do not have buy in like the organizational’s starter.  It’s important to remind yourself and team the vision you have for the organization and future.

Opportunity Is Not Synonymous With Success

Just because it’s new and flashy doesn’t mean that it’s good.  Constantly switching from one opportunity to the next is very unhealthy for your organization and sanity for that matter. It’s tempting, I know. The projects we work on and once were excited about before, sometimes loses its luster.  However, not sticking with them through the “bland” seasons causes many of us the never ending pursuit of jumping from opportunity to opportunity, only looking back and missing out on what could have been.

Dont Be Afraid of Opportunities

Not all opportunities are bad, and some fit really well with your vision….even those you never thought of before.  Don’t be afraid of opportunities because they are new. Approach them through the lens of your vision and see if they are a good fit.


image courtesy of David Hepworth: http://ow.ly/ohEf6 

I was listening to Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast the other day while riding the subway, and he gave a great nugget of a lesson on always pursuing to make things better within your organization. This concept is something that Chick-Fil-A does very well with their value of what they call “the extra mile”.

With any given task, initiative, or project, how do we not only make sure we get done what is asked of us, but also go the extra mile of making it better? This is something that we are always exploring within Medici Project. How do we make an experience better for students?  How do we make curriculum better?  How do we make our coaching networks better?

There are so many people who are doing really good stuff, but they quit there. During a Chick-Fil-A meeting a few years back, the board room was discussing on how they can see massive expansion at a faster pace. Truett Cathy spoke up and said, “we don’t need to be discussing how to get bigger before we discuss how to get better.” “If we get better first, our customers will demand that we get bigger.”

We all struggle with this….wanting to get bigger and noticed before even honing in on the intentionality of making good quality products, programs, or experiences.  If the adage that Truett said, “if we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger” is true…then what are you doing to get better today?

Image courtesy of FontFont under Creative Commons: http://ow.ly/o8I4n 

What king would give up his throne to give his life for those who rebel against him? What makes a king do that? A king who has the whole world in his hands, and can command obedience? It’s a king who loves the rebel. A king who loves the confused. A king who loves the misunderstood and mistaken. It’s a king who is love Himself.

It’s a powerful thing…love.

It’s more than an idea or a verb. It is a full personality weaved in the makeup of the one it embodies. It’s just as much part of His D.N.A as the blood that runs through my veins.

He Himself is love.

Image courtesy of frameloop under Creative Commons: http://ow.ly/nO6lN 

The model of “non-profit” world is shifting in the 21st century. From a model of yesterday, fully trusting in philanthropic donors, monthly support, and other ways to keep the doors open, everything seems to be shifting, and not just financially. From storytelling to mobilization; business models and getting people bought into your vision, we must seek out newer and strategic ways of reaching sustainability and growth. So, I’ve compiled a helpful list of ideas, tools, and resources to use in order to move your organization forward.

All of the below are tools and resources that I currently use or have used in the past. Check ‘em out:

Books

  • Uncharitable: In Uncharitable, Dan Pallota explores the historical framework and model of non-profits, making a strong argument of why non-profits should run their organizations like a for profit business.
  • Making Ideas Happen: Scott Belsky is great at helping us turn ideas into execution.
  • Master Planning: The Complete Guide for Building a Strategic Plan for Your Business, Church, or Organization.
  • Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work

Websites

  • 99u.com: Awesome blog and insights on making ideas happen, time management, and creativity.
  • stayclassy.org: Great blog line on everything non-profit: strategies, insights, fundraising, scalability, etc.
  • philosophersnotes: More Wisdom in Less Time: Philosophers notes gives great 5-6 page summaries of some of the leading books in leadership, organizations, and execution.

Keeping Organized

  • GoogleI use google for everything.  Google calendar, docs, email, chat, +:  It keeps me organized
  • Action Method: Action method has all the resources you need to stay on task. From online task management systems to paper products, I use the mess out of them.
  • Creative Board: I’ve gotten away from recently using this resource, but it’s still a great way to plan, organize, and now what’s coming down the pipeline for you.
  • Evernote: I use Evernote for all of my note taking and web clippings. From blogs to ideas, journals to team brainstorming, Evernote is a great resource that seamlessly streams through all of your devices.

Image courtesy of vikebo: http://ow.ly/nzo7A 

I read a blog yesterday about 20 Things 20 Year Olds Don’t Get. It was a great article with some pretty good suggestions, so I wanted to give some insight to these thoughts from a 26 year old’s perspective. You can check out the original article HERE

Time is Not a Limitless Commodity 

I agree with this, but the author is missing a huge distinction here. The main one being that there are definitely millennials who are go getters and pursue achievement, and then there are those who feel that time is limitless.

You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated

I’ve always said that everyone has ideas, but what sets the world changers a part are those that put ideas into action. I think the author is spot on with this. Talent is very important, but producing results, even failing sometimes gets you ahead in the game much quicker than banking on raw talent.

We’re More Productive in the Morning

Yes yes yes yes yes! Task management is a much needed skillset for millennials. Especially in an age where our working stations also double as our entertainment stations. Millennials must invest in good time management skills. Also, as humans, we are more alert, keen to making sharp decisions, and finishing “big projects” during this time frame. Always save things like emails and smaller minimal tasks for the afternoon, that doesn’t necessarily require all of your alerted attention

Social Media is Not a Career

Maybe….maybe not. Jury is still out. As of right now, yes, it is a job.

Pick Up the Phone

This is the top lesson I’ve learned over the years. Relational capital ALWAYS trumps interaction through a digital platform…ALWAYS. People give, invest, and buy into your vision, organization, and product because of people.

Be the First In & Last to Leave

Love this..20’s are the prime training ground for vocational direction, work ethic, and foundation. You have to have a go-getter attitude to get ahead.

Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do

Take initiative, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

Always do this. I believe it creates better buy in and trust from your employer and/or leader. I remember a task I had a few years ago in which I made a decision that my employer did not like. I took full responsibility without passing the buck and this created trust.

You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked

I disagree with this. Millennials don’t want to be micro-managed or bullied in the workforce. As a leader, if you’re kicking your millennial employees butt, I promise they will not produce on a quality level that may demand your customers quantity level of what they buy from you.

A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing

Definitely a bad idea. Stay where you are

People Matter More Than Perks

I think millennials get this.

Map Effort to Your Professional Gain

Also…always envision the value of how what you are doing now, prepares for what you do in the future. I never liked being a stock boy at Fred’s Super Dollar Store when I was 16. But the lessons of work ethic then have definitely played into my work ethic now, 10 years later.

Speak Up, Not Out

Yes…your job is to always make the organization better, even addressing it’s faults and failures to the team, for the purpose of growth

You Have to Build Your Technical Chops

This is something that I struggle with personally, but very aware of when I look at resumes.  I immediately take notice when I see photoshop, graphic design, etc.

Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter

Yep…I’ve heard it said that you’re network is your net-worth.  It’s really all about relationships.

You Need at Least 3 Professional Mentors

Mentorship is huge!  Always seek out people that you can learn from.

Pick an Idol and Act “As If”

I completely agree with finding people that you look up to and learn from their actions.  This has been especially helpful for me in readings and more so along character issues, integrity, etc.

Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts

If you want to be a leader, you got to be a reader.  However, I would go even further and say read wide, and good content.  Always pick up the older guys and gals books first before diving into the young bucks.  Experience trumps theory.

Spend 25% Less Than You Make

Yes…budget budget budget.  Dave Ramsey’s Resources are great and highly suggest them for millennials.

Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It

I totally believe this.  A reputation of integrity and good character goes a looooong way.  It takes a while to build it, but it can crumble in one decision.  Always choose character over charisma and short-cuts.

Image courtesy of tharanp: http://ow.ly/ntUOD

For millennials, the generation that I personally fit into, our hope above anything else in work is to find value and purpose in what we do as a vocation. To be honest, most of my friends are more apt to take jobs with less pay if they feel they are adding value to someone else’s life and are gaining value from their employers, co-workers, and work environment.  our generation starves for this type of work culture.  So, as business owners or leaders, how do we create that?

I have a few suggestions to get us started:

  1. Culture of Value
  2. Culture of Mentorship
  3. Culture of Ownership
  4. Culture of Friendship

Culture of Value

Millennials see right through the crap.We’ve been the most marketed to generation in history and know how to spot a fake a mile away. So, is your organization seeking to develop a cultural good that adds value to society, or are you always looking at the bottom line and developed a culture solely focused on the amount of revenue you attain or people you get in the door? At the core, millennials want to work for life change. Offer them this opportunity.

Culture of Mentorship

Despite what older generations may think, millennials really do want to be led. I’m not talking about ‘taking your hand and walking through the task’ type of leading. I’m talking about relational leading. Millennials want to feel that their boss not only cares about them as a person, but also their growth in skill-sets and passions. They truly want to be invested in as a person to be better…to be a better human, and a better worker.

Culture of Ownership

Empower, Empower, Empower…..then let go. Millennials hat micro-management. The more you manage, I promise you the quicker they will leave. Millennials want and need to have buy-in with their tasks and responsibilities. And as a leader, you must learn to trust them. They are a lot better than you think they are, and will surprise you more than not.

Culture of Friendship

Millennials value work that is mixed with pleasure, and a huge part of this pleasure is doing life with other people. Humans spend almost half of their waking hours in the work environment and one of the most needed human experiences is relationship. Create a culture within your organization that fosters relationships and friendships.

Image courtesy of _russiandolls: http://ow.ly/nrkSG 

Oh Holy Spirit, sweet Holy Spirit.  How do we live this life of discipleship and continual walk with jesus?  It is through you and you alone.  You…the advocate, petitioning to Abba on our behalf.  When we breath in you breath out.  When we breath out you breath in.  It is by you and you alone that we are able to live and move and have our being in Christ.  Rid us of our selves and all of our efforts.  Be our pace-maker, our life support if you will, helping us breath in the God we so desire.

Image courtesy of hickory hardscrabble: http://ow.ly/nlUVM 

image

Wow…I just got done with two days at a monastery in upstate New York.  I spent most of my time in contemplative prayer.  There wasn’t much petitioning or asking God about/for things, it was more focused on just being and resting in him.  One great resource I used was Phileena Huertz Gravity Contemplative Prayer program. It was completely different from other prayers I’ve engaged in mainly due to the purpose of not asking God for anything…but simply asking for him.

 

One of the biggest things I gained from my time here was an issue I’ve been dealing with for a while.  Growing up I was the poster child for Jesus.  I heard my whole life how good of a kid I was, how God is going to use me in mighty ways, and I’m going to do big things in life.  Well, after 20 years of hearing that, it’s hard to not try and perform.  This was the message given to me.  This is the expectation, so, if I don’t do big things for God, I don’t measure up.  And I’ve felt that…I truly have.  If God wasn’t moving and shaking everywhere around me or everything I touched, then apparently I wasn’t good enough.

 

But Jesus taught me something different over the last two days.  While I was at the monastery I read a book by Brennan Manning called Abba’s Child.  It’s a book centered around the message that God simply loves me for me and not for what I do.  It doesn’t matter if the ministry I’m involved in draws a large crowd, if I ever write a book, or if I ever get to stand on the stage at Catalyst.  God loves me the same no matter what.  From what I wear to how successful I am, it doesn’t matter to God.  He loves me for simply being me.  This is a new concept and liberating one at that.  It’s even a struggle.  My flesh wants to produce and perform, but God’s Spirit is constantly telling me to rest.

 

I love him so much.

 
image courtesy of Lel4nd: http://ow.ly/nkz5r 

Tomorrow I head into the mountains of upstate New York to the Holy Cross Anglican Monastery.  I’m excited about these four days of prayer, meditation, reflection, and deep desire for Jesus to mess me up in some awesome ways.  I ask that over the next four days you would pray for me. Pray that God above anything else would show me how much he loves me.  Like a child wanting to run into their daddy’s arms, I deeply want to sit there for a long time and enjoy him, and be ok with him enjoying me.

Ok…my roommate bought this “art” piece to hang in our loft.  He claims it’s a cat that has incorporated an image of the uni-bomber. I say it’s the uni-bomber and homeboy drew ears on top of it and sold it for $80….which one do u think it is?

Many of us face difficult situations within our walk with Christ.  Whether we find ourselves in sin, compromising situations, places we’re desiring to go or direction we’re seeking, one thing remains true: listening to our own minds and hearts doesn’t always work.  Eventually these things catch up to us like a panther who has waited patiently for us to run out of breath, pounces and devours our hearts, emotions, and sanity.

So, how do we deal with situations and seasons that are difficult when we walk with Jesus?

1. Lean into Holy Spirit

Understand, Holy Spirit is not an it and Holy Spirit is not weird.  Holy Spirit is the living breathing direction giver and comforter of God.  Jesus said that Holy Spirit came for the reason of convicting, comforting, and directing.  We can trust that Holy Spirit is for us and not against us as we seek direction from God on where to go, how to repent, and what to do.

2. Lean into the Scriptures

God’s Word is living and active….literally.  Holy Spirit works hand in hand with directing our hearts to understanding scripture and how to apply it to our lives.  God is speaking…not just barking out orders, but even as we read his word as believers, he is drawing our hearts to WANT to be obedient.  He not only tells us what to do, but gives us the grace and desire to do what is right and wise in his eyes.

3. Lean into Community

Unfortunately, this is one of the most missed out yet vital necessities within a Christians walk with Christ.  When we have a hard time understanding God’s word and hearing from Holy Spirit, biblical community (being in gospel centered relationships) is there to coach, encourage, lovingly-rebuke, and direct us on where to go.  For me, this has been one of the most incredible gifts that Christ has given in helping decide direction and understanding.

image courtesy of Shaun Dunmall under the creative commons license: http://ow.ly/maufq 

image

As Christians in North America, we must acknowledge that racism is still deeply embedded in the framework of our thoughts and worldview.  Since the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1965, racism has not been played out so overtly, but the subtleties of racism are still a part of everyday life.  I currently am reading a book entitled A Church Enslaved: A Spirituality of Racial Reconciliation written by Tony Campolo and Michael Battle.  There are few highlights I’d like to point out in my reading in which Campolo and Battle deem as the North American Church’s chief sin: RACISM

Modern Racism
"Most of the insidious effects of racism in American society today occur in two ways. The first is when racists in powerful positions are able to have a surreptitiously negative effect on the lives of people of color."  Unfortunately, people of my racial demographic (caucasion) rarely agree that white privilege exists.  However, it does.  Honestly, the undergirding of white understanding of the world around them are imbedded as adolescents to believe that white is superior and black is inferior.  We can see this system played out in many avenues, but to name a few:
  1. Wage Earnings: On record, white people tend to make more money than other ethnicities
  2. Job Opportunities: Employers are much more apt and comfortable hiring whites over other ethnicities (also…black women are hired at a higher rate than black man)
  3. Education: The trend of the 1950’s educational resources still remains today.  In the 50’s and 60’s, white children received around $145 of educational allotment where black kids received only $49.  The ratio has gone up for both into the new millennium, but the system leans to provided more for white students than others.
  4. Job applications with white sounding names are more likely to receive call backs.
"The second way racism occurs, which is through people who are trying to "do the right thing" but, out of naiveté or unexplored feelings of racial bias, behave in ways that perpetuate the results of "old-fashioned" racism." Examples of this would include:
  1. Dysfunctional Rescuing: takes place when white people take a patronizing or condescending stance toward people of color.
  2. Blaming the Victim: attributing systematic oppression to the one who suffers under it.
  3. Avoiding Contact: when white people segregate themselves in primarily white communities.
  4. Denying Differences: when white people attempt to minimize the obvious physical, cultural, or behavioral differences of people of color, particularly when such factors may play a crucial role in bridging racial divides.
  5. Denying the Political Significance of Differences: minimizing the differing influence that social, political, economic, historical, and psychological realities have on the lives of people of color and whites.
Christianity and Racism
"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28) 
Historically, this passage has been used by the church to describe a simple conglomerate of spirituality that all of us believers are “a part of”.  However, the down fall, historically speaking, is that this only limits itself to inter-racial relationship between Christians.  The implications of total racial reconciliation goes way beyond just christian to christian.  Martin Luther King Jr. made a statement that 10:00am on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in North America. Given the brutality of the slave trade, it’s a wonder that many African Americans emerged as bible believing Christians.  ”Christians” used the scriptures as their standing ground against other races during the slave trade, continued to do it during the civil rights movement, and even told ME growing up that it was a sin if I were to date a black girl.  
Historically, black slave owners were reluctant in allowing African Americans to have their own churches due to the possibility of the and African American movement that could “threaten white hegemony in the South’s political economic system.”  So, slave owners kept their slaves within their own confines and required them to worship with their white masters but typically making them sit in the balcony while the main floors were reserved for whites.
This nonsense leads us to a question asked by the great Slave abolitionist himself, Frederick Douglas.  Douglas asks, “how can slaves of African descent believe in the religion of their white masters who prayed with them on Sunday but beat them on Monday?
image courtesy of Thiophene_Guy under creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/3955872159/