Leadership

The Leader’s Edge

Last fall I started an online video training segment for our small group leaders at SCG called The Leader’s Edge. The purpose of the video training has been to offer bite size sound bits to our small groups on topics relevant to them in a format that would be quick and convenient for them to take in. The implementation of this video training was a shift in our small group leadership development strategy, because it had become clear that trying to do an additional 2-3 workshops a year was unnecessarily taking our leaders away from their families and/or their groups a few more nights a year. So after discussion with the team, we decided this was the best stewardship of our leader’s time as well as the churches resources.

None of our online trainings have been more than 10 minutes in length and each training addresses the needs, issues and topics that small group leaders consider relevant. The purpose of these segments isn’t to cast vision, but to provide timeless training segments that can be watched and listened to at any point in the group’s development, especially as needs and issues arise in the group and the leader needs help and perspective in addressing them. And trying to crunch down a topic into 8-10 minute segments forces us to make sure we’re clear and concise in our communication.

In this week’s segment of The Leader’s Edge, I talk about how to creatively integrate prayer into our small groups. If you’re interested, have a listen…

The Blame Game

If you remember the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins, the Cubs were just five outs from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. However, in a fly ball out to left field, Steve Bartman tried to grab a foul ball, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. That moment shifted the momentum of the game and helped the Florida Marlins rally for an 8-3 victory to tie the NLCS. The 26-year-old Bartman, a youth baseball coach, was escorted by security guards from Wrigley Field after he was threatened by angry fans and pelted with debris.

With his life threatened by angry fans, a police guard was posted outside his suburban Northbrook home that evening. Bartman issued a public apology to Cubs fans saying, “I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan’s broken heart.” He would go on to ask that, “Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends, and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs.”

His wishes were unanswered. The Marlins would go on to win Game 7 and advance to the World Series thereby cementing Bartman’s gaffe as a key moment in the Cubs’ history. Angry broadcasters castigated him. Thousands of people blamed him for playing a role in the Cubs’ loss.  Can you imagine an entire major metropolitan area blaming you for the loss of your team’s ability to go to the World Series. Even worse it wasn’t really the guy’s fault. One fan didn’t blow the game. It was the eleven other goofs and blunders on the part of the Cubs that cost them the series. Furthermore, the loss of the sixth game just tied up the playoff. The Marlins beat the Cubs without fan interference in the seventh game.

In one degree or another, I guess we all operate like Cubs fans, looking for someone else to blame. Blaming makes us feel better about ourselves, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions, and no amount of truth to the contrary will convince us. Yes, in playing the blame game, we hope to exonerate ourselves by making sure that the person, who we believe has failed, is properly identified and punished.

Those who play the blame game set themselves up as judge, jury and dispenser of punishment. And it’s a nasty little game that God absolutely demands we forfeit, because he has a different intention for us. Instead he wants us to stop blaming others and learn to accept ourselves in spite of our imperfections, knowing that our worth is not dependent on our performance, but on what God says is true of us. For living in the reality of what God says is true of us, gives us the freedom to extend grace and compassion to ourselves and others, in the same way that God extends grace and compassion to us.

Scarcity

I was having a conversation with one of our small group coaches today about how to develop additional leaders in the church. As she was sharing some of her observations as a coach, I was reminded of a term so eloquently coined by author Steven Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Without using Covey’s terminology, what she was describing is what Covey outlines in his book, as he describes the difference between living out of an “abundance mentality” vs. living out of a “scarcity mentality”. However, in this conversation what she was conceptualizing was Covey’s ideas in the context of the church and specifically to a viewpoint held by many within our ministry.

Like it or not, it’s a problem that pervades the church and most organizations and people don’t even realize that they are operating out of it. And it affects the way they think, they way they view people and the way they orient to our world.

People with a “scarcity mentality” tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. They believe there is only so much to go around, so they hold on to things, people, money, staff, and relationships with clinched fists. Whereas people with an “abundance mentality” tend to see everything in terms of win-win. People with an “abundance mentality” are genuinely more happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of others. They go out of their way to speak well of others, to help others, to elevate others, because they truly believe their success adds to — rather than detracts from their ambitions and goals.

As Covey notes, there are some stark differences between the two mentalities. Here are a few:

Scarcity – Believes there is not enough blessing to go around
Abundance – Believes there is more than enough blessing to go around
Scarcity – Believes I have to succeed and make sure that I look good
Abundance – Believes that if I succeed and you succeed, then we all succeed
Scarcity – Believes that you have all of the answers
Abundance – Believes that I don’t have all of the answers
Scarcity – Believes you have to have clinched fists
Abundance – Believes in having open hands
Scarcity – Believes in dictatorship and micro-management
Abundance – Believes in operating with openness and trust
Scarcity – Believes in motivating themselves and others out of fear
Abundance – Believes in motivating themselves and others out of grace

I can’t remember which conference I first heard this concept presented, but scarcity is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations and the church today, because it operates on the premise that there is not enough to go around, which in turn affects how we relate to others as well as how we lead our organization and our team. Instead of operating in scarcity, organizations and the church need to operate out of a mentality of abundance. For a mentality of abundance is rooted in the belief that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). In abundant thinking, we develop, believe in and encourage the success of those around us and in turn build great organizations and teams.

The World Needs Leaders…

The World Needs Leaders…
who cannot be bought;
whose word is their promise;
who put character above wealth;
who possess opinions and a will;
who are larger than their vocations;
who do not hesitate to take chances;
who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;
who will be honest in small things as well as in great things;
who will make no compromise with wrong;
whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
who will not say they do it “because everybody else does it”;
who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;
who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;
who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular;
who can say no with emphasis, although the rest of the world says yes.
Leading the Way, by Paul Borthwick

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