I’m reading a fantastic book right now. It actually has nothing to do with what I usually write about. Instead it focuses on business
The book is called The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, written by Patrick Lencioni. It is divided into four parts, which cleverly enough, is what the author claims are needed to build a healthy organization: Build A Cohesive Leadership Team, Create Clarity, Over-communicate Clarity, and Reinforce Clarity.
Currently, I am working my way through the Create Clarity section. There are six questions that the author says an organization must answer. For today’s purposes, I’ll stop with the first one: Why do we exist?
It amazed me that the first question an author asked is a question that many of us ask ourselves. Why do we exist? There are a lot of angles that we can ask ourselves personally, but the answer that Lencioni gives can’t be much different than what our personal reason for existing is.
The reason a business exists and, I think, the reason we exist are the same. We exist to make someone’s life better.
Now, someone might say that we exist to give God glory, to lead others to Christ or to leave the world better. I totally agree with those. We do exist for those things. But won’t they all make someone’s life better?
So, let’s wake up each day with that result in mind. Let’s seek to make someone’s life better.
I mentioned the other day that we took a spiritual gifts test at church recently. I failed to mention what my particular gifts resulted from the test.
Leadership, teaching, knowledge and prophecy were what this test said my gifts actually were.
It is interesting that two of these are things that I truly love and have a passion for. I love to teach the Bible and use that in my campground ministry every summer. Leadership is a passion and I pursue learning as much about it as I can. Knowledge and prophecy? I don’t know quite as much about as these others.
What I do know is that there is something that I hadn’t really thought about until the last couple of days.
Your gift does not equate your role.
Just because I have the gift of teaching does not mean that you should automatically have a role of teacher.
Having the gift of leadership does not mean that you should have the role of leader.
The other two? I’m still not 100% sure what role might possibly line up with them.
Here’s what I do know.
You can be a difference maker with each of these gifts. My pastor called me out in front of the church and asked what my job was. I told him where I worked. He said that I am called to be a difference maker there.
You have the gift of teaching? You might teach one person that you come in contact with.
You have the gift of leadership? You might lead someone to greater things than they can imagine.
The gifts of prophecy and knowledge? I’ll get back to you on those.
The bottom line is this. Don’t stress about your role. Look for opportunity to glorify God with your gift.
What difference are you making?
We have been having a series that recently wrapped at church. It took us through four steps of Follow, Connect, Discover and Serve. We followed up a sermon each Sunday on each point with a class on Wednesday night.
For the Discover section of the series, we took two tests. One was a short version of the DISC personality profile. The other was a spiritual gifts test.
I was not surprised by the results. I was an extremely high D with a little bit of I thrown in. After seeing my results from several DISCs over the years I believe that I am a natural D who has developed the I so that I don’t totally bulldoze people along the way.
My spiritual gifts test? Well, I’m not really going to go into what they are except to say that at least one of them irritates me in other people. Combine that with the fact that hospitality ranked among my lowest and I come to a pretty good conclusion.
I don’t really like to be in groups of people.
I jokingly tweeted, after taking the test, that I don’t play well with others.
I actually like people fairly well. It’s just that when I have to start interacting with more than a few people, I feel awkward and out of place.
The purpose of all of this is that we were supposed to discover our purpose. That’s probably a lot to ask for a couple of hours of looking at this.
The bottom line, for me at least, is that I have absolutely no idea what my purpose at my church is. This would have caused me a lot of angst a few years ago. Now? Not so much.
I may never know what I’m at my church for. That’s ok. I’m pretty doggone happy. I know what I’m good at, what gift I’ve been given and what I like to do. If the Lord wants me to do something in my church one day, I’ll find out.
Do you know what your spiritual gift is? How about your personality profile?
I heard a story once of a girl in college. She was a fantastic musician, majoring in some sort of music. Each day she would wake up before class, clean her room and begin her day.
And she was not progressing in her music. She was not getting better like she thought she should or even like her music teachers thought she should. She discussed this problem with one of them and eventually described her day. It was suggested that each day, rather than clean her room before class, that she practice before she did anything else. She reluctantly agreed to do this. Before she did anything else each day, she practiced her music.
And she began to improve and get better at her music.
This reminds me of my friend who is a world-class mandolin player. Growing up he would play his mandolin from the time he woke up until he went to school. When he got home from school, he would play until he went to bed. Often he would forget to eat dinner.
Both of these musicians neglected other things in their life to concentrate on their music. You might even say it was planned neglect. This was the only way they were able to get better and to the level of accomplishment they wished to achieve.
The last 36 hours or so have been like that for me.
We have a two-week cycle at work where we end in, for me, a stressful rush. I got home Tuesday night and could have written a post to have one out there, but it would have stunk. So, I focused on my job and resting. In fact, I’m writing this at 4:30 in the morning rather than at night because I just needed to rest and have my mind right.
Planned neglect is really just a way of prioritizing what’s important. We’re easily distracted from what we really need to be doing. It’s just a matter of finding out what is most important to you and doing those these before anyone else. You want to read your Bible? Neglect other things. You want to exercise? Neglect other things. It’s not very complicated, but it’s not easy either.
Audit your life. See where your time is going. Figure out what you really want to be doing. Then do the important things first.
Planned neglect. That’s how you get things done.
Today is Groundhog Day. Yes, the day that spawned a Bill Murray movie where a man replayed his life over and over countless times.
We will pause and pay attention to a rodent from Pennsylvania. Supposedly he will determine whether or not we have six more weeks of winter. Of course, we have about six more weeks of winter no matter what, so what does old Phil know anyway?
It reminds of the time where Jesus told Pharisees that they knew how to read the skies, yet they didn’t know how to read the signs and know who He was.
We face the same danger. Not in the sense of prophecy or anything like that. The issue is that God has given us all the signs we need to see who He is.
He has given us His word to read and know him there.
He has given us His Son. Jesus said that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father.
He has given us the Church, His Son’s Bride, which we are part of.
He has given us prayer, a means to talk to Him on a regular basis.
He has given us the Holy Spirit, one like His Son, who Has sent to our hearts.
Let’s not be like the folks who will celebrate a rodent’s ability to view its shadow. Let’s not miss the obvious. Let’s pay attention to what God has given us.
I have been blogging for a while now. In fact, it’s been just over seven years since wrote that first terrible post. Many other terrible posts, of course, followed it. Like anything else you are aren’t very good when you start. You work yourself up to not too bad with the hope eventually you will be good. At least that’s my experience.
The question some might asked is why? Why do I, or anyone else, sit down to write these posts day after day, week after week, for years?
My motivation began when my friend, Matt, encouraged me to blog. It was a way for me to unload ideas that I had no other forum for.
Then, as I’ve mentioned before, I began to use this opportunity as a time to grind my ax. Or axes in some cases. Not the wisest of choices.
How about now?
Maybe I’ve learned my lesson. Maybe I’ve found the real reason to write a blog. It really comes down to one thing.
If I’m not adding value to someone’s life, then this really only become an exercise in vanity, a chance to prop up my ego.
It’s the same as anything else.
Why teach or lead a class or a group at church? You had better be adding value to someone’s life.
Why take a leadership role in your business? Adding value had better be part of the equation.
If you aren’t, you are only focused on yourself. You will find that you are aren’t really leading anyone. You may be telling people something. You may be conveying information. But you won’t truly find yourself leading anyone.
I encourage you to pause for a second. You can do that right now. I’m in no hurry. I’ll wait on you.
Take a look at yourself. Examine your motives. There’s nothing wrong with some that improve your own life. They just can’t be the only ones. There better be some that include someone else.
How are you adding value to others?
Over the last month or so I have been sporadic about writing and posting to this blog. I explained a bit about that the other day. As of today I have posted each day this week. A funny thing happened as I watched this play out.
I didn’t have many ideas for writing over the last month. I managed to find something to write about, but I didn’t have a strong flow of ideas that I write about.
That changed this week. I’ve written every day. It is almost like a faucet was turned on and the ideas began flowing again. I captured several ideas yesterday and plan to write about those ideas in the coming days.
Why did this happen?
I think it’s like a campfire and a knife. If you sit around the campfire it will burn nicely for a while. It will keep you warm. It’s comfortable. Eventually, though, it will go out. You have to add wood to it. You have to stoke the fire to keep it going. It’s the same thing with ideas for blogging. You have to do things to keep the ideas coming. You have to read. You have to look at the world differently.
My son has been out of school over the last few weeks due to Christmas and inclement weather. He has spent a lot of time with his grandfather. One of the things they have done is sharpen their knives. A dull knife is of little use. They sharpened the knives to the point they would shave the hair off their knives. It’s same with this blogging thing. You have to keep the knife sharp. You have keep yourself in working order so that when the opportunity comes you are read to write.
What’s the common denominator? You. You have to work at it. You have to grab another log. You have to poke the fire a little. You have consistently hone the knife to keep it sharp.
You have to do this for yourself to continue writing and blogging. You really need to do this in every area of your life as well. You need to do this in your spiritual life. You need to do this for your family. Your career. Your finances. Your friendships. Your health and wellness. Your mind. You have to keep stoking the fire and sharpen the knives in all areas of your life.
What are you doing to stoke the fire and sharpen the knives in your life?