Category Archives: Leadership

Replication is Probably Happening

This morning at our weekly men’s gathering we used an article by Michael Hyatt called, Leadership and the Law of Replication, as a spring board for some very challenging discussion. In summary, he argues that those we lead will be like us for better and for worse – even if we don’t recognize that it is happening.

And that’s why it is important to have some self-awareness and other-awareness. We have to know something of our own strengths and weaknesses and we also have to be willing to see them in others and recognize that it is probably a reflection of our leadership. This is especially true in parenting. Why do your children act the way they do? When you observe them, you are probably looking at a living mirror. And as one man pointed out this morning, that’s scary, and even cringe-worthy.

But how does replication take place? One of the most helpful moments of the morning was when we identified three ways replication happens. These observations primarily came from the opening story in the article that is posted above. Replication happens:

  1. By what comes naturally. What is it that we do that we don’t even know we are doing it because it is so much a part of us that we are like fish in water? What comes natural to us tends to happen over and over again. The question becomes this: “Is natural helpful or hurtful?” This is why self-awareness is so important; you are passing on something to those you influence and/or lead.
  2. By what is done consistently. What is done over and over again sticks. This is why repetition is a necessary component of teaching.
  3. By what is distinctly noticeable. Replication happens because something is visibly modeled that does not fit with what is normal. What do we do that sticks out to others? Whatever it is, it probably is being replicated – whether good or bad.

The potential trouble with all three of these means to replication is that they may not produce a desirable and virtuous outcome. So I offer four guardrails to protect us from ignorant and accidental error:

  1. Begin by asking what you hope to accomplish. What is your goal? What is the result you hope to see? What is success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need not proceed. Imagine deciding to build something without knowing what you want to build. That’s a recipe for frustration. 
  2. Have intentional processes. Plan to take actions that are noticeable and consistent for others to see. You may also have to eliminate some things that come naturally that don’t accomplish the intended end. For instance, if you desire responsive and disciplined children, don’t watch TV while eating potato chips for four hours a day.
  3. Seek to be self-aware. It’s a frightening thought that you could be passing on to your children or followers something that you are completely blind to. Ask introspective questions about yourself often.
  4. Embrace community and shared leadership.  The shortcoming of number three is that we really like ourselves and are therefore often blind to weaknesses that are obvious to others. We should invite trustworthy and wise people to critique our lives. When was the last time you asked your spouse what you could do better? What about a fellow leader? Also, by placing ourselves  in a committed community of people and by sharing leadership, our weaknesses can be minimized because the people who follow us see a diversity of strengths that no one person alone possesses. My sons, for instance, need to see other males who are acting like men so that they don’t conclude: “That’s just the way us Prentice men do it.”

If we hold any kind of influence with people then there will be replication. So consider this question: If people imitated me in everything I did, would I be glad?

General Petraeus and Private Vs. Professional Matters

I was driving along in my automobile, listening to an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) about the General Petraeus Scandal, when I heard this quote from military writer, Tom Ricks:

Our standards have changed, I think, in a way that’s not for the better. We are very lax about enforcing professional standards and demanding professional competence. Yet somehow, we have become very insistent about judging people’s private, consenting relations with other adults. Link to the whole interview. 

When I heard this I immediately wondered: “Does he really believe what he just said?”

It may be true that professional military standards have fallen. Truthfully, I don’t know since I am no expert on the topic. I doubt, however, that people care more now about people’s private lives than they used too. If it seems that way, it most likely is the result of an unending and vicious appetite to fill a never-ending news and social media cycle. So I am not really sure people are more insistent about judging people’s private business, I just think there is more access to everything celebrity and scandalous.

This information age makes me glad that I am no a celebrity.

What’s troubling about Ricks’ comment, though, is that he seems to imply that what is done in one area of life has nothing to do with what is done in another. He seems to be suggesting that we should be able to live life in isolated categories that would allow for a person to cheat, lie and break promises to a person or persons, and then expect us to believe that actions over here, have nothing to do with what goes on over there. If a person isn’t honest with their spouse, a person they made a public covenant with before God, why should  a different result be expected professionally? I have a hard time seeing a clean divide.

I have been a General Petraeus admirer for a while, but  his unfaithfulness to the covenant he made with his wife causes me doubt the commitment he made to do what is right to defend our country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. He may have still been able to be a fine CIA leader, but it does cause me to doubt. It is inevitable that his private life casts a shadow on his public life, and the same could be said the other way around.

Is this fair? No less than cheating on his wife is fair. We all will reap what we sow – whether now or later.

Here are a couple of other thoughts:

  • Ricks comments: “We have become very insistent about judging people’s private, consenting relations with other adults.” This makes adultery sound very harmless, but I can tell you who didn’t consent – Holly Petraeus. By the way, it’s not private. The commitment to covenant faithfulness is a public one and God is watching. If a person wants to pretend like God isn’t there, well, they will have to take that up with God.
  • We humans intrinsically want others to be committed and honest. We have a sense of justice about us that expects honesty from others. We have an internal moral compass – especially with what we expect of others. I think this is why  the unbelieving world hasn’t yet completely discarded marriage. Humans have an innate belief that commitment and honesty are virtuous things. If not, why then would anyone make a pledge to a lifetime of monogamous commitment? It doesn’t take a contract to procreate. Put yourself in Holly Petraeus’ shoes and ask whether her husband’s actions were just a consenting relationship among adults. No one that I know wants to be betrayed.
  • We humans are fallible creatures. As I said, I admired and thought highly of General Petraeus for his service to our country, but his fall is another stark reminder that we all are unrighteous and, therefore, we all need Jesus. We simply must not make idols of broken people. But neither should we assume that we all are destined to fail miserably. We are saved by faith in the gospel and not by works, so that no person may boast. But we are saved for good works of righteousness (Matt. 5:48). We have to navigate the tension without running into a ditch on either side.
  • We should pray for General Petraeus, his wife and our leaders. We would want that for ourselves (Matt. 7:12).

What do you Expect?

Tomorrow (Tuesday, August 24th) at 9:45 we will gather for staff meeting and we will have a new pair of university interns who will join us for the first time. Welcoming new staff to their first staff meeting  is a helpful trigger that allows me to introduce and remind what I expect from everyone on staff. I am not a dictator but I have found that it is clearly communicated expectations which enables good communication and in turn builds trust. After all, how can anyone know what success is if there hasn’t been a clearly communicated standard of what is necessary?

Consider for a moment what would happen if you were planning a trip with several people and you were in charge but  never told them where they were going, what they should wear, how much money they should bring or what they would be doing. It is probably safe to say that the people you planned the trip for won’t be going with you anywhere anytime soon. It seems to me that far too many leaders make the simple mistake of not adequately communicating what each person should and can do for whatever it is they are asked to do. What ensues as a result of failed communication of expectations is frustration and all sorts of organizational dysfunction. This is why I try to regularly evaluate, update and communicate expectations.

Here is the list of expectations the staff will receive:

  1. Biblical and Christ-Centered for God’s glory. This is the foundation for all we do and attempt to do.
  2. Mission and Commitment – the universal church and our local church is God’s plan to demonstrate the gospel by “taking an unchanging savior to a changing world.” To be committed to Jesus is to commit to His mission.
  3. Trust – Accountability and Confidentiality– I trust you to do what God has called you to do, but you must be accountable to do it. Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Confidentiality: What’s said in staff meeting stays in staff meeting – at least some things. There must be mutual trust among the staff.
  4. Jesus Excellence and Sunday Mornings – This is the only time the whole church is together. We need to be excellent and Bible-saturated and Jesus-centered. Key Question: Does Jesus look good on Sunday morning?
  5. Thick-skinned – You must be willing to both critique and be critiqued in your areas of ministry. You must be able to take constructive criticism and lovingly give it. But do it with a Matthew 7:12 ethic.
  6. Consistency – “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it is chronic inconsistency.” – Jim Collins
  7. Serious Yet Joyful – Ministry is serious because eternity is serious, but you must be able to have joy and fun doing it. Balance.
  8. PaceSetting Awareness – You as the staff are pace-setters. If you are cranky and short, others will follow. If you are friendly, others will be friendly, etc. Those who follow take on the attitude and actions of their leaders.
  9. Soul-care and Boundaries – You must be disciplined in caring for your own soul. You must read the Bible and Pray and Worship and Rest because if you don’t, you won’t be able to help others if your soul is atrophied from neglect. You must set appropriate ministry boundaries.

Taking Adultery and Lust Head-on

What does it mean that we largely ignore the pervasiveness of lust and pornography in our church culture? Is it just taboo because it is awkward? Is it inappropriate? Was Jesus being inappropriate? Is it a case of “What we don’t know won’t hurt us; ignorance is bliss.”? Is Jesus being unrealistic about his standard of practical righteousness concerning sexual purity?

This Sunday we will be preaching through Matthew 5:27-30 and hitting head-on the topic of adultery and lust. Below is a brief exhortation to our CORE Group facilitator/leaders about the need to go forward with this topic and the teaching of Jesus. Please be prayerful as we continue to go through “Exposed; The Sermon on the Mount.”

There is a reason we go through the Bible and not around it. We must deal with hard texts. This will be an uncomfortable text and topic (Matthew 5:27-30) as all difficult topics are, but keep in mind that tension is our friend because it causes us to think and act, hopefully in obedience. In times like these I see why Joel Osteen stays positive instead of biblical, though in doing so he clearly has no regard for the way Jesus or Paul or any other biblical writer did ministry and confronted real problems and sin. Adultery and lust are very taboo topics in the church and get danced around a lot. I will try to be sensitive to the complexity of this topic in my sermon. I would expect you will do the same and be tactful in facilitating. However, I will not avoid it and I implore you to hit it head-on too. The world rightly looks down on the church because we will not take on hard topics and deal with “real” issues, pretending like everything is fine when in fact it isn’t. Let that not be true of Eagle Heights for the praise of His glory in all things, especially in the depths of our hearts.

We will not be like Christ until we realize that we need Christ so that we can obey Christ. May the Spirit of Jesus convict, heal and change us as we honor the word that He inspired. HOW DO I BECOME A CHRISTIAN?