Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Month: September 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Experience Isn’t Enough

experience-leaders

As a young leader (being under the age of 40), I often find my ideas or comments not quite holding the weight of others who have the proverbial “experience” label. Before we go any further, I want to be clear that I have many mentors and respected leaders beyond the age of 40 whom I love and respect. For me, age and experience do not define the quality of the leader anymore than a youth’s passion makes him or her more valuable than the old guard. This is not one of those discussions.

What this discussion is revolves around the fact that experience in and of itself is not enough.

While commuting to work, I was listening to the latest Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast (Sept 2016).  Stanley interviews Glen Jackson, a powerhouse in the marketing world, and one of the comments that caught my attention was about experiences verses evaluated experiences. Why it caught my attention was because it answered am age old question I have had for over a decade – Does experience (age and opportunity) always trump youth and innovation?

Obviously the answer is “No” because we see both rise all of the time. Nevertheless, youth and innovation, still seems few and far between when you zoom in from 30,000 feet to the everyday work place of most millennials. Plenty of them (and even myself as a Gen X) find we are up against those who have had experience as opposed to us who have not. In some cases it is true that experience should trump blind passions, but in other cases it can be most dangerous.

How can it be dangerous? Back to the leadership thought from the podcast.

It’s not so much about experience as it is about EVALUATED experience. Any of us can have an experience. Having an experience may or may not lead to a good and positive outcome. Think about this, what if an experience we had was not adequately or appropriately evaluated, thus leaving us with a damaging or inadequate view of a certain situation, idea, person, or personality?

Left unchecked without evaluated leads not only the person with the experience but the ones said person oversees having a skewed version of a reality that can be seen differently if only evaluated appropriately. As one proverbial Lemmings following the leader over the cliff one by one, the non-evaluated experiences of a leader can cause widespread misunderstanding at best and damaged relationships and corporate culture at worst.

Although the podcast applies the idea in its own way (and I recommend listening), I will focus on my own thoughts geared towards experience vs evaluated experience. As mentioned above, we all have experiences. Simply having an experience does not make one better than another. What leads to betterment and growth is evaluating our experiences.

Society moves at such a fast pace anymore we often do not stop to evaluate. Well, when we do stop to evaluate it revolves around something that annoys us and out comes the immediate evaluation, negative product review, or unfriending of Facebook connections. We rarely take time to evaluate when something is good.

So here is some advice. Next time something goes well, stop and take time to ask a few evaluation questions:

1. Why was the experience enjoyably?

2. How was this experience different than others?

3. When can I adequately apply what I learned?

4. Who else would benefit from what I have evaluated and learned?

5. What will be one major idea gained from the experience I can apply regularly?

6. Where could this experience take me in the future?

Although you can ask so many more questions or make more applications than I have above, you get the point. These are just the six questions I like to ask, because of ease of recall and the use journalism’s – who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Your next step from here can be to start asking questions after you experience something (whether good or bad). Another step can be to challenge others, especially those above you to begin asking these types of questions after an experience. Experience is not enough to truly grow, only evaluated experiences can help us achieve new leadership insights and growth.

Don’t let life pass you by without examining your life and leadership. You may be one solid evaluation away from the next advancement in your life and leadership.  You got this!

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” -Socrates, Plato’s Apology

 

3 Ways Churches Can Support Singles

singlenessblog

Guest Blogger: Holly Tucker

God created within each of us a need for relationships.  When God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  (Gen. 2:18)  His solution to this problem was to create a wife for Adam.  It is His desire that we have someone to walk with and support us throughout life.  However, for some of us, singleness is a part of our life.  It doesn’t define us, but it does affect our life.  And it isn’t a phase that is guaranteed to change.  It could, and more thank likely change at some point, but we aren’t exempt from the need for relationships.  So, the question that needs to be answered is, how do we meet our need for relationship while we are still single?  I believe there are 3 ways that the church can and should assist singles in this.

1. Pray With Us.

Relationships are greatly strengthened when we pray together.  If you pray regularly with your spouse, perhaps you can verify that statement.  Assuming that you pray with your spouse every day, or at least most days, and you notice how it brings you together as a couple.  Another great benefit to praying together is that this reminds you that someone else is committed to caring for you and standing with you no matter what happens.

Although singles cannot experience prayer together in the same way that a couple can, there are ways that couples can assist in this.  Ask what our needs are currently, don’t assume you know.  Pray for God wants, not what we want.  We will have days when we are overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness and rejection.  It’s normal.  But God may not want to change our circumstances, and that’s ok.  Remember that we face the same struggles that you do.  We have responsibilities, temptations, and weaknesses, many of which make us no different than you.  Pray that God will strengthen us the same way that you would pray for your marriage.  If we choose to open up to you, listen.  Don’t think we aren’t happy with our lives, we are just having a bad day.  Be a spiritual example for us.  Just because we don’t need to be told how to be a good spouse doesn’t mean we don’t need your advice.  Show us how to live for Christ in the situation that we are in now.

2. Encourage Us.

Life doesn’t discriminate between singles and couples when storms happen.  Loved ones pass on.  Financial difficulty pops up.  And sometimes our relationships get strained.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we aren’t alone.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are valued.  Church culture places a high value on families, which is absolutely necessary.  However, these messages can be so overwhelming at times that it can leave us wondering if there is any encouragement left for us.  We may never be the supportive spouse who prays for her husband while he is at work.  We may never be the loving mom who tucks her kids in at night.  We may never bear the responsibility of fighting for our family.  But we may very well have the opportunity to fight for a child who was abandoned by his family.  Or maybe our role will be to assist parents in teaching their kids about Christ.  God may ask us to use our time to stay with some kids in our church so their parents can have a weekend away together.  But if we are to accomplish our purpose, we need to stay strong.  And that means that we need the support of other believers who will encourage us when we feel like giving up.

3.  Celebrate With Us.

The two greatest moments in anyone’s life are when they get married and when they have a baby.  Those are great things to celebrate and should be honored.  But not everyone shares those experiences.  Sometimes our greatest moments seem smaller in comparison.  Maybe we just landed our dream job.   Perhaps we just accomplished something we’ve been working on for a long time.   But regardless of what we are celebrating, we need people who will rejoice with us.  Let’s honor singles by showing them how great their life is and reminding them of all that they have to celebrate.

These are just a few ways that couples can impact Christian singles.  The greatest thing to remember is that our lives are all just as valuable to God.  We may face different struggles, and our purpose may be different, but we are all in this together.  And in the same way that we honor marriage, let’s show every single in our church that we honor them.  We all have a part to play in the kingdom of God, and when we work together, we can accomplish great things.


hollytuckerHolly is currently serving as the preschool director at Westwood Christian Fellowship. She is currently preparing to become the kids’ director at Life Church, a church plant in Glasgow, Scotland.  Holly received a Bachelor’s in Education from SAGU, and went on to obtain a Master’s in Accounting from AIU.  However, her real dream is to help care for orphans in other countries.

Celebration of Discipline: A Summary

celebration-of-discipline-e1430087078920

Richard Foster’s Celebration of Disciple is one of the rare books that is praised as a classic while the author is still living. Foster’s book has celebrated over 25 years of being in print and is recognized as one of the most influential books on spiritual formation to date. Christianity Today named it one of the ten most influential books of the twentieth century. Well-known authors such as Dallas Willard, Madeleine L’Engle, and Brian McLaren have all posted positive reviews and praise of Celebration of Discipline.

First, it is appropriate to explore who the author is. Richard Foster is a Christian theologian and pastor whose spiritual influence has come form the Quaker tradition. He earned his undergraduate degree from George Fox University (Oregon) and his Doctor of Pastoral Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary (California). Since Celebration of Discipline, he has written additional book on the topic of Christian spirituality and spiritual formation. Theses facts position Foster as an adequate authority on the topic of Christian spiritual formation.

The book is divided into three parts: the inward disciplines, the outward disciplines, and the corporate disciplines. The inward disciplines are meditation, prayer, fasting and study. The outward disciplines are simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. Finally, the corporate disciplines are confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.

Foster intentionally designs his book to correlate with the actual growth of a Christian. The spiritual disciplines find their genesis within the Christian (inward) and grow outward and finally are established (and celebrated) corporately. Although a Western mindset attempts to define everything in a linear manner, one should not attempt to view Foster’s work as progressive alone. Many of the disciplines work together and can only be reinforced when done within community. The ultimate goal of the process is the life of a Christian to find depth and meaning being spiritually formed in the image of their Creator. Foster himself explains, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but deep people. The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depth.”

As this author reviews the finer points of Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, John Westerhoff’s Spiritual Life and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines will be consulted to add depth to the discussion. Although Westerhoff does not reference Foster’s book, Willard’s does on a few occasions (plus, one cannot help but notice Foster’s influence on Willard as they read his book). Thus, the remainder of this essay will address the nature, purpose, process, and product of the Spiritual Disciplines.

I. The Nature of the Spiritual Disciplines

The nature of the spiritual disciplines is based in God. In other words, the spiritual disciplines are the natural outworking of one living a spiritual life. This is different from the purpose and process. The purpose and process are finding their birth in the nature of one living deciding to live a spiritual life. John Westerhoff explains, “The spiritual life, as I understand it, is ordinary, everyday life lived in an ever-deepening and loving relationship to God and therefore to one’s true or healthy self, all people, and the whole creation.” Notice that Westerhoff explains the nature is based in an ordinary, everyday life of deciding to follow God. Therefore, they find their basis in God (the natural source of life) and their further value in our living them out (the natural response to a life in God).

Dallas Willard explains, “…we as human beings must lead our lives before God in an open, adventurous, and reflective manner.” Willard then quotes Archbishop William Temple, “We only know what matter is when the Spirit dwells in it; we only know what man is when God dwells in him.” Some may assume this is the purpose of the spiritual disciplines but when reflecting deeper, the reader must understand the very nature of the disciplines is to awaken our lives into the life of God.

Foster sheds more light on this idea, “God intends the Disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings: people who have jobs, who care for children, who wash dishes and mow lawns.” The nature of the disciplines is to be a natural part of the life of the person whose spirit is alive in Christ. Therefore, the nature and purpose of the disciplines although closely associated can and should be differentiated. Thus, when the Christian has a grasp of the nature, the purpose has a clearer meaning.

II. The Purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines

The purpose of the spiritual disciplines as mentioned above by Foster is a deepening of the spiritual life of a Christian. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2:10 that the Spirit reveals things to Christian about God, even the “depths of God.” Foster quotes Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep.” The spiritual life finds its highest meaning in exploring the deeper things of God. Understanding the deeper things of God is the beginning of spiritual growth (purpose) and leads to inner transformation (the product, which will be discussed in detail below).

In chapter three of Westerhoff’s Spiritual Life, he explains that the life of a preacher or teacher (and this writer contends that this complies to all who seek to be spiritual) should be aligned with God. The purpose of the spiritual disciplines is to align the Christian with God. Through activities like solitude, suffering, contemplation, and sacrifice, the Christian understands the purpose of these disciplines is to assist in their spiritual growth as they are formed to God’s image.

Being formed to God’s image is about placing one’s self in position for God to transform them. Foster expounds, “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.” This comes from the realization that human will power will never transform us. The purpose is not that through human will we transform into the image of God but that through the power of God working in us through the disciplines we are transformed. Although a subtle difference, this truth must be accepted from the onset. Foster rightly explains, “When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift form God to be graciously received.”

The purpose of the disciplines is to realize the source of righteousness is not through the disciplines but through the God (the source and nature of the disciplines) who establishes these practices for our benefit. Therefore, the purpose of spiritual disciplines is for the Christian to grow deeper spiritually, to align their life in God for God, and to place their self in a position to be transformed by God. How this is done is the appropriate question to follow and to move the discussion forward.

III. The Process of the Spiritual Disciplines

The process of the disciplines is a life-long journey. From the beginning, Foster explains that the process must not be made into law. The purpose is spiritual freedom. The purpose is to delight in a God who is transformed the Christian by his grace. Thus, in the process of the disciplines, the Christian must be cautious. Foster explains, “The Spiritual Disciplines are intended for our good . . . It is possible, however, to turn them into another set of soul-killing laws. Law bound Disciplines breathe death.” What is the answer? Foster explains that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Christian’s teacher and guide.

The process, as mentioned in the summary, starts with the inward disciplines, moves to the outward disciplines, and is reinforced by the corporate disciplines. Foster lists them in three categories not to focus on the importance of one over the other but to give them a workable and understandable process.

Within the inward disciplines, Foster focuses on mediation, fasting, prayer, and study. These disciplines aim at quieting and refocusing the inner life of the Christian. All of these are counter-cultural in a society that is programmed to be fasted-paced and self-indulgence. Meditation quiets and fills the mind. Fasting empties the stomach refocusing the appetites. Prayer adds depth to meditation and fasting, as well as being the “central avenue God uses to transform us.” Finally, study is vital to being counter-culturally transformed also. Foster explains that the renewal of the mind comes through the study and application of God’s Word (cf. Romans 12:2).

Foster describes the outward disciplines as simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. These disciplines are also counter-cultural, but manifest more readably in the natural world. Simplicity has an inward dimension but results in an outward lifestyle. This discipline provides perspective on our things so we are free to share them and steward them. Solitude is inner fulfillment (i.e. silence) and freedom to be alone, not to avoid people, but to be comfortable in the presence of God. Submission and service are about laying down one’s own will for the purpose of God and others. Again, these disciplines have an inward dimension, but have manifested their reality in outward manners that should be the defining characteristics of a Christian.

Finally, Foster explains the process of the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. As corporate disciplines, these are often spoken of and promoted more frequently from the pulpit or the lectern. Confession, although done first to God, should be practiced among the Christian community. Worship is the, “human response to the divine initiative.” The basis of worship is founded in God but celebrated in community. Although Foster explains that guidance was not a popular practice when he wrote the book, today, spiritual guidance finds prominence in the growth of the mentor and coaching movements. Foster highly recommends the Christian to find a spiritual director to help them process through the spiritual disciplined life. Finally, he ends with celebration, which is “at the heart of the way of Christ.” The Christian should not gloss over the discipline of celebration because it is central to all of the disciplines. The end goal of all of them is to celebrate the growth, depth, and connection the Christian gains. This provides an excellent transition to the product of the disciplines.

IV. The Product of the Spiritual Disciplines

As just mentioned Foster teaches that the end product of the disciplines is the celebration they create. “Joy is the keynote of all the Disciplines,” Foster explains. The Christian can celebrate their newfound freedom when living out the results from their practice of the disciplines. For example, when the Christian practices study, they are freed from the destructive patterns of the world and renewed to the counter-cultural ways of Christ. This is reason to celebrate! This is the product that results when one of the disciplines is practiced.

Westerhoff agrees with Foster when discussing the product of a spiritually informed life. His understanding is founded in the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. One of the fruits is joy. Westerhoff later explains that another product is being in proper rhythm with life. These are much needed changes in a society that lives in fear and worry, instead of joy, and out of balance, instead of a God-ordained rhythm.

Also adding to the discussion, Dallas Willard explains that one major product is life transformation. This he believes is one of the major reasons why spiritual disciplines are being discussed more in today’s society. Willard expounds, “True character transformation begins, we are taught to believe, in the pure grace of God and is continually assisted by it. Very well. But action is also indispensable in making the Christian truly a different person–one having a new life which, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, :Old things have passed away and, behold, all things become new.” Failure to act in certain definite ways will guarantee that this transformation does not come to pass.”

The product is intertwined with the process, just as the nature and purpose of the spiritual disciplines have major correlations.
In conclusion, the reader can identify through Foster’s work the necessity of the spiritual disciplines for living a truly well rounded and defined spiritual life. Finding their genesis in the grace and work of God, the disciplines when practiced by the Christian will produce spiritual maturity. This maturity is not based on works, but based on the heart, mind, and life that is being transformed through the very practice of the disciplines. Before the Christian, especially the Christian minster, can help others change, they must be willing to change. Therefore, it is fitting to end with Foster’s quoting of theologian Leo Tolstoy, “Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline. New York: HarperSanFransico, 1988.

Westerhoff, John. Spiritual Life: The Foundation for Preaching and Teaching.
Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.

Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives.
New York: HarperCollins, 1988.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Leading Happy

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑