December 5th, 2013
A while ago I heard Bill Hybels say that, “Facts are your friends”. He was talking about the output of a large congregational survey they had undertaken and explaining that no matter how good or bad the results, at least you know how things are. That is, you are not left guessing or even worse making wrong assumptions.
This is of course true, but the difficult task can be working out what the facts are, based on the data. This is because there is a task of interpreting information in order to work out what it is saying. Different results can be drawn from the same numbers and whether unwittingly or deliberately, false conclusions reached. As the famous phrase, often attributed to Disraeli, but more likely from Mark Twain, says, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Nate Silver shot to fame as a skilful statistician, accurately predicting the results of US Presidential elections, and has some good advice for those wanting to interpret data. Inc.com has summarised an interview with him and come up with 5 key lessons for non-statisticians who want to be more careful in their handling of information.
Here is the summary:
- Correlation and causation are not the same thing – just because shark attacks and ice cream sales go up and down at the same time of year does not mean that one causes the other
- Averages can be useful, if you know their limitations – single results that are significantly different from the rest can shift an average and make it misleading
- Be wary of intuition – it can be good, but it can lead to taking the wrong direction from the start
- Look for the truth – rather than using the numbers to justify what you think you already know
- Make predictions – these can then be tested in the future and you can see how accurate your conclusions are
Here is a link to the original post.
If you want to read more on the subject, here is a link to Nate Silver’s book:
December 3rd, 2013
The reader of the New Testament cannot fail to notice, among other things, the importance placed on the church and the Kingdom. However, we can be left wondering what is the relationship between the two. If nothing else it can appear strange that Jesus is always talking about the Kingdom, and very rarely the church and yet the rest of the NT reverses that emphasis.
One option is to assume that Jesus was aiming for the Kingdom, but unfortunately ended up with the church instead. Another thought could be that the church and the Kingdom are the same. A final possibility is that the Kingdom is a reality only the in the future and so church happens in the meantime. Unfortunately none of these is satisfactory.
In this message I explore the relationship between the church and the Kingdom, which can be summarised in the following way:
- Church as doorway to the Kingdom
- Church as witness to the Kingdom
- Church as instrument of the Kingdom
Here’s the book mentioned in the message:
November 14th, 2013
Although leadership can seem like a fairly simple concept and something that is the same in many different places, it is important to recognise that leadership has different levels. We need to understand these different levels or we can risk great leadership not resulting in the outcomes we expected.
Tony Morgan, on his blog Tony Morgan Live, helpfully identifies four fundamental levels of leadership. We might find ourselves moving through this list as the organisation or ministry that we lead grows over time, but also we might need to utilise different levels in different areas of life at the same time. Here are the four levels:
- Lead by example – doing a lot of the work with the intention that others watch and are inspired
- Lead other people – working with those who are doing the work and helping them to fulfil their potential
- Lead other leaders – working with leaders who are operating as above, encouraging them to release potential in others
- Lead by vision – leading as above, but with a wider focus and influence which comes not from ‘line management’ responsibility but as a result of others buying into the vision
The original article is well worth a read.
The key thing is recognising what is required of us. It seems to me that applying the wrong level of leadership to any given situation, even if that leadership is well undertaken in terms of competency, will not result in a good outcome. Therefore, we need to be able to operate at different levels in different contexts.
November 12th, 2013
At SBC we have just hosted Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit (see the session posts here). As ever, it was an intense time of learning and challenge. However, as with any conference, the danger can be that despite our best intentions and passion at the time, we end up not really doing very much with it all. As a result the ‘high’ quickly fades and we end up leading in exactly the same way as before. This post aims to give a few ideas on how we can avoid this pitfall.
During the conference
Although this has passed for this year’s GLS, it is still worth considering. Here are a few things we can do during the conference to increase our chances of us applying what we have heard:
- Take your own notes – there is something helpful about the thought process that goes into considering how to write it down
- Build bridges – no-one else leads in exactly your context so always be thinking about how what is being said could relate to your situation
- Discuss with others – everyone hears things differently and the insights of others can be really helpful
- Identify key ideas – summarise as you go so that the things that are important for you are not lost in the large quantity of information you receive
- Identify key actions – note down the main activities that you want to do as a result of the conference
After the conference
This is where it really counts. Unless we have a strategy for how we apply things once the excitement of the conference has passed, then most of it will be lost. Here are some ideas:
- Don’t bombard – the temptation can be to download everything we have heard to others in one hit, however this usually ends badly
- Reflect with others – if possible meet with others who attended the same conference and share with one another your key ideas and actions
- Share with others – either in regular meetings or in specifically arranged gatherings share with others some of what you have learnt and help them to know how they can learn more (books, DVDs etc.)
- Further learning – decide which things require further study and reflection and put plans in place to make it happen (e.g. buy the book or set time aside to read through some websites)
- Add tasks – add specific actions to your task list; don’t be afraid to hold some back for a time in the future if you have too much to get done in one week
- Accountability – whether with a mentor or a friend share with someone what you plan to do and ask them to hold you accountable for it
- Revisit – make a note or a diary reminder to revisit it all in four to eight weeks time in order to keep on track
Have you got any tips not covered above that help you process an intense conference? If so, please do share them in the comments below.
November 9th, 2013
From time to time every leader gets discouraged and wonders whether it has all been in vain. In this stirring final session Andy Stanley reminds us that from improbable and precarious beginnings, Jesus has built his church just as he promised.
The central teaching of the church is not ‘we believe something is true’, but ‘we believe something happened’.
If a guy can predict his death and his resurrection, I am with him, no matter if I understand it or not.
- Building a gathering
- Something has happened
- Interrupted plans
- A cross in the Colosseum
November 9th, 2013
Colin Powell is without doubt an amazing leader having served at the highest levels in a number of different roles. In this short address he highlights the simple truth that leadership is also about followers and that great leaders focus on taking care of their followers. Every time I hear Colin speak I am left with the impression of him being a hugely demanding and caring leader for whom people would want to give their all.
If you want to be a great leader, take care of your troops
If you want to go somewhere, make sure you have a destination
- Creating followers
- Trust your people
November 9th, 2013
When it comes to attracting and retaining the best people, we can often feel disadvantaged in the church world because we cannot pay what others are willing to offer. However, Patrick Lencioni points out that money is actually only a satisfier (people just want enough) and that other things drive people. By phrasing things in the negative, Patrick looks at how to create miserable jobs and therefore get rid of your best people.
Some of the things people most want from a job are actually free!
3 signs of a miserable job:
November 9th, 2013
Through an engaging retelling of the story of Saul and David, Chris Brown challenges all of us as leaders about our attitude towards our roles. Saul forgets to whom the Kingdom really belongs when David’s achievement begin to overshadow his own and begins to attack him. Saul had room in his company for David, but not in his chariot. Jesus drives the message home when he turns the definition of leadership upside down and demonstrates servant leadership.
It may cost you to be like Jesus, but it cost him a whole lot more
- Do I have room in my chariot for a David?
- When forced to choose, do I expand His Kingdom or my reputation?
- What difference is the Holy Spirit currently making in the way I lead?
November 9th, 2013
In this session Brené Brown highlights the three irreducible needs of human beings and then takes us through each one in more detail. Her assertion is that without opportunities to be loved, to belong and to be brave there is always suffering. While this may sound a little distant from the world of a leader, Brené helps us to consider what this might mean for the organisations of which we are a part.
The final quotation from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust, and sweat, and blood. Who strives valiantly, but comes up short again and again. Who in the end knows the triumph of high achievement and who when he fails does so daring greatly.”
The irreducible needs of people:
- To be loved
- To belong
- To be brave
November 8th, 2013
Through, stories, humour and high challenge, Bob Goff has one simple message for us in this session: love takes action. Real love will result in something happening, it is not just a feeling or even kind words. In particular the story of his involvement in two inter-connected lives in Uganda is deeply moving and reminds us that love in action in not always easy.
Bob Goff reminds us that a stalker is someone who knows a lot about a person, but without actually having a real relationship with them. “I realised that I was stalking Jesus and I was creeping both of us out.”
- Do stuff
- Let leadership develop
- Land the plane
- Be not afraid
- The interrobang
- Say yes