Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Motivated by LOVE

Happy New Year!

The speed with which 2014 came and went was staggering... growth, life-turns, joys, sorrows, learning, new and old mingled into our life-adventure. In 2015, I look forward to a new phase in our adventure at Agape Community Church.

Looking back and looking forward is helpful especially if it is motivated by LOVE. Self-love drives personal reflection (I was, I am, and I can be), loving others drives systemic reflection (we are together), and loving God, drives spiritual reflection (something bigger than all of us). All three are motivated by love and all there are necessary.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More on Integrity

Dr. Henry Cloud in his book “Integrity” defines character as the ability to meet the demands of reality.  The implication is that the entire person works well together to effectively handle all the realities facing a person.  He shares six character dimensions that must work well together for a person to have a good “wake”: establishing trust, oriented toward truth, getting results, embracing the negative, oriented toward increase and oriented toward transcendence.  This blog entry will briefly cover each dimension.

·         Establishing Trust – This is the ability to connect in authentic ways with others.  The danger is interpreting personal opinion as the obvious reality – the attitude is that “everyone else is clearly wrong or not yet seeing it”.  The leader is not really listening to others or may have an inability to connect with what others are feeling, thinking, or experiencing.  Trust is established when the led understand that the leader understands and empathizes.  However, trust must mature beyond understanding into knowing that the leader will do what is in the best interest of the led (engaging them in the process); at this level a trust, a person no longer feels the need to be guarded.  With the guard down, people can be authentic and vulnerable with each other; this is the point when trust is solidified.

·         Oriented Toward Truth – Regardless of how difficult to face, truth is always a better alternative.  A leader must look at the available data and find the courage to ask the tough questions that uncover truth.  Explaining away truth (a.k.a. self-deceit) seems to take more emotional energy and adds personal stress than coming to terms with reality.  Deception always fears the truth and fear adds stress.  A leader of character must have the courage to disconnect the self-defense mechanisms and face reality; they must have a deep hunger for truth rather than comfort, and willingness to accept the new information and adapt to it.

·         Getting Results – To get results, the leader must know their own skills and talents.  Given his strengths, the leader of character will know to maintain the right boundaries (i.e. stay away from the jobs that do not suit him).  This requires the personal integrity and confidence to admit the strengths, and the humility to accept the limitations.  In addition to skills and talents, a leader who gets results invests in preparation and planning.  When the course of action is identified, the leader once again needs to tap into courage – this time is the courage to make difficult decisions to achieve the desired results.  The challenge here is choosing between conflicting goals that govern the decision making process.  The courage to make decisions must be partnered with perseverance to overcome obstacles and the knowledge to handle failure and setbacks. 

·         Embracing the Negative – A leader who accepts the assumption that life will bring problems is better equipped to handle them.  Facing this reality recalibrates the leader’s attitude toward difficulties – they are expected events rather than surprising interruptions.  Given this assumption, the leader must learn to recover quickly from problems and to separate his own identity from the issue he is facing.  Additionally, a leader cannot pass the responsibility to others – the leader owns the results and the issue; however, that does not mean that a leader does not confront issues or people.   The art of confrontation is rooted in the first two aspects of character:  trust and truth.

·         Oriented Toward Increase – The difficulty with character is that it constantly needs to be improved even after many years of maturity. A leader must not be satisfied with the status quo – the leader must look to grow and mature.  Growth is a sign of life and it happens consistently in life; however, growth does not happen uniformly throughout life.  Growth often means taking risks; however Cloud makes a distinction between risk and gambling.  Risk taken after calculated planning is growth not gambling.  Growth always requires an investment of time, money, or both and a submission to some type of growth structure or plan as well as formal and informal mentors.

·         Oriented Toward Transcendence – A mature character must see the world as bigger than the self.  Without this grand vision, a leader becomes narcissistic and self absorbed.  Facing the reality of transcendence is part of the growth a person must go through to have a balanced “wake”.