Archive for the ‘familiy’ Category

Articles

Corporate Mystic: The person we want to be

In art,Books,business,Community,culture,devotional,faith,familiy,family,Fun,generosity,leadership,Prayer,principles,Spiritual,Sports,Theology on November 30, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , ,

“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.” – Bruce Lee

Twelve characteristics make up the corporate mystic:
Absolute Honesty
Fair
Self-Knowledge
Focused on contribution
Nondogmatic spirituality
Get more done by doing less
Call forth the best of themselves and others
Open to change
Special sense if humor
Keen distant vision and up-close focus
Unusual self discipline
Balance

I hope to come back to these and examine each more deeply but I’ll leave you with this story…

“Master,” said the student, “where do you get your spiritual power?”
“From being connected to the source,” said the master.
“You are connected to the source of Zen?”
“Beyond that,”said the master, “I am Zen. The connection is complete.”
“But isn’t that arrogant to claim connection with the source?” Asked the student.
“Far from it,” said the master. “It is arrogant not to claim connection with the source. Everything is connected. If you think you are not connected to the source you are thumbing your nose at the universe itself.”

Don’t forget the source.

Advertisements

Articles

The (free-range) Chicken Theology of Work

In art,Bible,church,Community,culture,design,devotional,Evangelist,faith,familiy,food,Friends,Fun,Japan,Localization,mission,movies,Prayer,principles,Spiritual,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 11, 2012 by mstevensrev


Image
My theology of work is forever changing and evolving, and one place that I journey with others on this path is at Kiros, once or twice a month depending on my travel schedule I attended the breakfasts meetings they put on where they often have a speaker share some perspective on living out their calling as a Christian in the marketplace.  As a side note I also had the privilege of speaking to the group last March, if you want to check that our it is here.  This last Friday Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary provided one of the best talks I have heard on the topic, his stories had us rolling on the floor, his theology was simple enough a child could understand while making thoughtful people think, and his love of the scriptures came through as everything was driven by the text.  The premise of Richard’s talk was very simple, you have been called by God to your work and you have the opportunity to examine that calling in this life to better understand your ‘responsibility’ to live out that calling in your fullness.

There were so many rich stories to share but my favorite was one Richard shared about a friend who is a chicken farmer who examined his role in the plan God has in raising chickens on his farm.  There is a tension when you come to farming or the role animals have on this earth and the tension is this: Animals are not people and animals have not merely been created to serve our purposes.  Another way to say this is a chicken won’t write Shakespeare, but a chicken is not merely a piece of meat.  Therefore this farmer thought deeply about the theology of raising chickens.  He came up with this, “God wants every chicken on our farm to have the opportunity to strut his/her chicken self infront of the other chickens.” In that theology I hear echos of the local farm movement as described to me by Mark Canlis, that the goals of these farmers is to have their cows (or other animals) only have one “bad day” in their life.  That day would be the day they are slaughtered. Though the image Richard provided me was so much more winsome because I see in my mind that chicken strutting around, rather than focusing on the bloody chopping block.

This can be a helpful premise for chickens, but I propose that people cannot think deeply about these issues because we don’t recognize that we have been created to strut the glory in which we have been created, theologians refer to this as being created in the image of God. Marianne Williamson was famously quoted in a speech by Nelson Mandela, she says,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measureIt is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The knee jerk reaction people, especially from my theological tradition have, to this kind of thinking is that we are sinful therefore pride and arrogance must be guarded against. This warning is fair but it sets up a false choice between humility and glory.  Jesus lived in the fullness of God and yet was extremely humble.  He accepted all people as equal, he did not use them as means to an end, the only part I would add to our responsibility in the area of humility is that we recognize that we are wrong intentionally because of bad motives and unintentionally whereas Jesus did not have this struggle because he was God…he was perfect. One friend of mine says, “I’m wrong 50% of the time, the hard part is that I don’t even know which 50%, but God is making me better.”  Live out in the glory that you have been created in, be quick to acknowledge when you fail at it, and in gratitude acknowledge that the source of every good gift in your life is not your own but rather a gift from God.

The question that Richard’s (free-range) Chicken Theology brought up for me is, how do you apply this in the darkest valley’s of your career and work? In the past two years before my current job I walked through a few of those valleys, the struggle of broken promises that would not reward me for my work, getting fired, and having a job where I felt lonely and hopeless.  How do you strut your stuff in those circumstance? I asked the question and Richard’s answer was twofold as I understood it, in thinking about it I think there may be at least third option as I understand it.

Richard said first your current circumstances may be preparation for the next step.  This rang true for me because I look back on the last two years and acknowledge that I would not be currently living in such glory without all that I had gone through.  The experience humbled me, gave me fearful experiences that I persevered through, and provided tangible knowledge that assists me daily in my current job.  Learn everything you can if you are going through a hard time, examine your character, life and work for there could be something on the horizon you are completely unaware of that will be a blessing.  This answer provides hope, but the truth is like a chicken we are completely ignorant if our future date is the chopping block.  And yes I know that even for the child of God the chopping block is not the end of the story because there is greater glory beyond, but I still find this answer a part of the overall answer rather then complete.

The second answer Richard provided is that your vocation could be less then the sum total of your calling.  Our callings are greater than our work, I sell therefore I am a salesperson yet I am a father, husband, churchman, and the list goes on and on.  Perhaps your work is merely a platform that provides you the freedom to pursue the other callings in your life with greater glory. I have met many people in my life that this is the circumstances they live in, they are lawyers but their passion is to see the gospel forwarded in particular countries in the world like China.  The short side of this answer as complete is that we were created in a garden where all aspects of life were intended to work for God’s glory, so when we set create an arbitrary distinction between our work life and home life, for instance, it is impossible to live as God intended…as a whole person.  I know for me personally when my work life was hopeless it was very difficult to enjoy my time at the park with my children, most of my conversations with my wife were in tears clouded by depression.  This is why I contend again that work as a platform merely for the rest of our life falls short in allowing us to live gloriously.

A third option I want to propose does not answer the question fully either. As a matter of fact I sense that used incorrectly it could be the most damaging of the the options as it is the most deterministic and could create an undeserved heavier burden on someone already struggling. This option is the most Taoist or Confucius of the options, and because of that I think it is the most practical (in touch with how the world really functions and how our role relates to that functioning).

A documentary came out recently titled, Jiro dream of Sushi “by David Gelb takes a look at the work and life of Jiro Ono, a Michelin three-star sushi chef who, at 85 years of age, continues to work on his craft every day at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo office building basement opposite a subway station entrance. His colleagues, his country, and at least one very knowledgeable food writer recognize him as perhaps the greatest sushi chef alive.” This description is taken from an article on Lifehacker by Maximiliano El Nerdo Nérdez.  In the article titled Lessons We can Learn from Jiro Ono, Maximiliano encourages readers as his first point to fall in love with your work.

“Once you decide on your occupation,” says Jiro, “you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Deciding on your occupation is a challenge for we live in a society that provides the opportunity to live in reasonable comfort regardless of your job or if it is in line with your calling.  The hard work is not finding a job, it is discovering calling…once your calling is discovered or rather accepted (if you are a Calvinist) then the path of occupation is more clear though it may be a difficult path.  Part of my calling is as an evangelist, meant that for a time my occupation would place me circumstances to lead people to a similar vision of my spiritual practice though for most people I talked with they would not share the same vision.  So I became a pastor of a church in Oakland, CA.  The church had financial challenges from before I started there, attendance was poor, and it was in a city that was not necessarily supportive of the entire scope of work we were pursing.  The path for me as an evangelist was not easy.  Now that I am in technology services my calling as an evangelist has not changed, but the path is much easier in many ways, and the path still allows me to live out my glorious calling while dedicating myself in excellence to my occupation.

Today I want to encourage everyone, strut your stuff in front of us other chickens. If you are in a dark valley, remember your current occupation (or lack of occupation) could be a learning step, a platform for other work, or the place you have been given to dedicate yourself.  Even as I write that I believe the answer is all three not merely one or another.  When I worked in a church we began each service with a call to worship, and I would frame the call to worship and the entire service with these words, “The good news for those God loves is that he has the first word to us and that first word is always blessing. God loves you and has made you in his glory! The good news does not end there rather God has the first word and the last word.  The last word of those God loves is also blessing, you have been delivered.” So regardless of your circumstance remember you have been created for glory and you will be delivered unto glory. Amen.

Articles

Sharing life together, though complete and utter strangers

In art,Community,culture,devotional,faith,familiy,home,music,poetry,politics,Prayer,Spiritual,Uncategorized on November 10, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: ,

Moments in this life take on a forever quality that I would have thought could only be reserved for heaven.  Last night was on of them.  This month I turn 36 years old, still a kid I know, and Karin and I went to a house concert of a music hero of mine name Bill Malonee who I have have been listing to for twenty years.  There are many times that Bill’s path has crossed mine and each has been significant and meaningful to me, some directly others indirectly, some glorious others painful. I’ll start with how I ‘met’ Bill and then I’ll tell you my favorite story about him.

I moved back from living overseas my first to years of high school.  The transition back had it’s challenging chief among them was I got cut from the varsity basketball team of my new school after having played varsity for two years overseas previously, thanks Coach Brotias.  Suddenly my plan to be the next Bobby Hurley and start at Duke was looking like it was in jeopardy. In addition I had not registered for a beach trip a group of my new friends were going on with my church because it conflicted with basketball.  I was left discouraged and going to be alone in it, until this small group of young guys (5 of them) made sure that I was going to the beach with them. That was a long way around the barn, so I’ll get to it.  On the three hour ride to the beach instead of riding on the huge bus, where all the girls were which should have been motivation for us, my group of guys piled into a small van, probably the worst smelling van in history.  There we had our own boombox to control the music we listen to on the way.  Erik Crown brought his Jimmy Buffett tapes.  Being new to the group and from a family of teetotalers this was highly offensive and I struggled with listening to ‘drinking’ songs while going on a church retreat.  Little did I know these young men were setting me on a journey more theologically rich and challenging then I could ever imagine and they were using music.  This is the same group of guys who introduced me to Bill Malonee, the story would only be better if his name were Bill W:)

ImageBill Malonee was the writer and frontman for a group call Vigilantes of Love, or for fans like us VOL. They were a gritty thoughtful theological rock band with folk influence from Athens, GA.  VOL and Bill’s lyrics became a soundtrack for my life, one learning to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly. My soul was fed and challenged with lyrics like:

I’ve been trying to negotiate peace 
with my own existence. 
She’s gotta stockpile full of weaponry; 
she breaking every cease-fire agreement.
-Welcome to Struggleville

Now look if you’re gonna come around here 
And say those sort of things 
You gotta take a few on the chin 
You talking about love and all that stuff 
You better bring your thickest skin 
Sometimes you can’t please everyone 
Sometimes you can’t please anyone at all 
You sew your heart onto your sleeve 
And wait for the ax to fall
-Skin

It’s amazing what you’ll buy if you think last chance went buy
You weave a new set of lines to cover yourself
‘Cos love is just a plea at the deepest point of need
We take the reasonable facsimile most of the time

-Reasonable Facsimile

If Bill approached faith with gloves it was not the white gloves I was used to it was boxing gloves, and he seemed in my mind to be on the receiving end of the punches…most of the time.

Years later one of my closest friends played bass in a band, The River, from Eastern College in Philadelphia. The River found their inspiration from bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival, in your face Southern Rock with a great lead singer who’s voice clearly woke you up.  The River’s first big show was to open for Vigilantes of Love and they were honored at the opportunity.  Nervous and extremely excited they took the stage, played their set, during and afterward they knew there was something terribly wrong. Later that night while hanging out with Bill, he showered them with complements about their potential and asked, “Would you like some advice for the future?” Receiving wisdom from an artist that had made it was a great opportunity so my friend said yes and in all humility and graciousness Bill said, “You guys have some real talent, for the future I would just invest in a tuner.” The River is no more but the story lives in rock and roll lore as one of the most gracious and hilarious moments, on par with anything that was scripted in the movie, We are Spinal Tap.

ImageSo last night I had to opportunity to experience a house show with Bill Malonee and his wife Mariah. Time has not stood still, Bill has a son only ten years my junior and I have three daughters who did not exist when I was introduced to Bill.  As I sat on the floor at Bill’s feet, he poured out his soul, challenging me to remember those who have died as a result of corporate greed in West Virginia coal mines, wooing me with lyrics of songs that have transformed my soul from the past, and introducing me to a new friend Seth Martin. In a world that I have information on anything I want, Bill reminded me that there will always be those who are called to be prophet. Whether they are riding in boxcars like Woody Guthrie or playing Madison Square Garden like Bob Dylan, I need a prophet to speak or rather sing into my life reminding and rekindling my soul as to what is important.

Today my soul is rekindled, may you take a moment yourself and listen to one of my favorites of Bill’s called Double Cure.

ImageThanks Bill.

Articles

Starbucks’ amazing marketing and happy election day

In advertising,art,blogging,Blue Monster,Community,culture,design,faith,familiy,Friends,Fun,mission,politics,principles,publicity,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 6, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , ,

Living in Seattle I am very accustom to hearing people criticize Starbucks, my thoughts on the topic of coffee are that I prefer how other companies roast their beans. Therefore it is aesthetic not cynical in my critique.

ImageOne thing I am blown away with regarding Starbucks is the sophistication with their marketing.  Today I am in Redwood Shores, CA working at a Starbucks before my appointments.  The baristia offered me a ‘free’ bracelet that clearly has $5 donation marked on it, my defenses went up and I started trying to uncover the angel.  The bracelets are for Let’s Create Jobs for USA, a campaign sponsored by Howard Schultz and others that has raised $15M and leveraged $105M, estimating 5,000 jobs created for small business in the USA.  Since it is election day they are giving the bracelets away for free.  This ‘gift’ took me from being someone who would never donate to the cause to someone not just interested in donating but blogging on it.  Brilliant.

This is a corporation taking advantage of a term I learned from Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid, check out his article on “Social Objects are the future of marketing.” Hugh states:

The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the rea­son two peo­ple are tal­king to each other, as oppo­sed to tal­king to some­body else. Human beings are social ani­mals. We like to socia­lize. But if you think about it, there needs to be a rea­son for it to hap­pen in the first place. That rea­son, that “node” in the social net­work, is what we call the Social Object.

I’m wearing my bracelet, talking with those around me at Starbucks about it, and will wear it to my appointments this afternoon sharing my experience.  The ‘gift’ Starbucks provided me today is not only the bracelet but the opportunity to be part of a story that is larger than myself…that is impacting the world for good.  This is something that we all should inspire to provide the people around us. There is a place for companies to provide something for free, if that is all you do you are not a company rather a charity (and that is good too).  Starbucks used a social object to engage me on a cause but also it helps change a brand that I do not have the most favorable feelings toward.

So on this election day that is filled with disgusting shit on all sides, make a positive difference.  Inspire something larger than yourself to impact the world for good.  Perhaps it means not having the shitty conversation with someone who may think differently then you, or maybe it is something else.  Do your civic duty and vote, then go hug someone you love and let them know how grateful you are for them.

Articles

Growing into the person you have been created to be

In art,Bible,Books,business,church,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,familiy,Friends,Fun,fun video,leadership,Lord of the Rings,movies,principles,Proverbs,Reading,Theology,Uncategorized on November 4, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , ,

During the past week I have been thinking through many of the experiences of my life that have been used to bring me to where I am at. This morning as I am reading I came across a passage in 1 Samuel 21, that clearly reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings, and it was a passage of scripture that I never have remembered reading.

In a previous post I spoke about King Saul, who had been chosen the leader of God’s people Israel really for no other apparent reason other than God chose him by placing God’s Spirit upon Saul.  Later in the story a new King (a different King) is ordained and the Spirit of God leaves Saul, only returning temporarily in the story.  The kingship essentially is passed on to a young boy named David.  Now just about everyone in western culture knows of David because of the story of David versus Goliath. In a battle between God’s people and their most brutal enemies, the Philistines,  a bet is made to decide the war, instead of all the warriors fighting the Philistines make an offer that if an Israelite warrior can defeat the best of the best of the Philistines it will settle the dispute.  Sounds like a good way to spear blood shed the only problem is the Philistines have a weapon of mass destruction named Goliath. He is essentially an indestructible giant that leads God’s people into fear and cowardliness. Except for one pre-pubescent boy named David, who as everyone can remember defeats Goliath by relying on God and using a slingshot an one stone.  This is often used culturally as a parable on bravery, when it is actually a story of relying on the work of a powerful God in impossible circumstances. Through the event David is thrust into popularity that creates almost constant tension between the old King, Saul, and the newly ordained not yet King, David.  Multiple times Saul tries to kill David, and the story I’m about to share takes place after one particularly intense attempt on David’s life by Saul where David flees.

While on the road David and his men are starving so he stops in to see Ahimelech the priest for some food. The part of the story that gets most of the attention is Ahimelech the priest allows David and his men to eat the holy bread, a big no no.  Then Ahimelech realizes David has no weapons:

8 Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste” 9 And the priest said, c “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down ind the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me”

The sword that David won in battle during his youth, is only given to him once he becomes a man.  There is no explanation as Ahimelech just provides it.  The part of the story that is not mentioned other then not being given a reason that David didn’t know about this sword beforehand or already have it, is that it appears David is now ‘big’ enough for the sword.  Going back and reading the story of David and Goliath reminds us that Goliath was a giant, therefore Goliath would have possessed a sword worth of his stature.

In my minds eye I never picture David as a large man, actually after reading this morning I realized that most of my images of David depict him as a handsome late teenager or twenty year old of average stature.  I’m uncertain of any descriptions of David’s stature later in his life but there are many details that provided this picture for my mind: in spite of being a successful warrior David was a musician and poet, David had a way with the ladies, and David had a deeply intimate emotional relationship with Saul’s son Jonathan.  All these details combined with being introduced to David when he is a boy have lead me to always picture him as a smaller man, until now.  In this story he is handed Goliath’s sword without concern that he is ‘big’ enough to yield it when necessary.  David has physically grown into the great manly character he demonstrated as a youth when he defeated Goliath.

This morning I am struck with the connection to the story line in The Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn the misanthrope ranger, who is a human son of the king of Gondor destined to lead the Kingdom of Men into prominence in Middle Earth, receives Anduril.  The sword that defeated Sauron in the ancient epic battle of middle earth that freed the ring of destiny from the possession of the evil King Sauron. Embedded in this post is the scene where Aragorn is given Anduril.  This is a picture I have of David receiving Goliath’s sword from 1 Samuel.

One other brief note on this is related to David’s use or lack there of use of the sword.  After being handed it I would be very excited to go out and yield it at the first opportunity.  Yet David does not, he understands that God has given him many ‘swords’ at the moment and in the next conflict he is faced with he does not use Goliath’s sword as justification that God intends him to go and start a fight with all those who oppose him.  David understands that just because you have the sword doesn’t mean that you are meant to use it.

12 And David g took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David when faced with conflict while holding Goliath’s sword at his side, uses his cleverness to avoid getting killed by Achish by acting crazy.  It reminds me of a friend’s explanation of wisdom, “Wisdom is not merely knowing the correct action to take, but rather the correct action at the appropriate time.”  Everyone has a destiny, something that you have been created to do, embrace it.  When you are given a physical reminder of that destiny use wisdom because possession of the great gift does not necessarily mean that you are meant to use it in that circumstance.

Articles

Open communication and repair work critical in stressful conversations

In Bible,Books,business,Community,culture,faith,familiy,leadership,Spiritual,Theology,Uncategorized on October 12, 2012 by mstevensrev

Patrick Lencioni and his consulting group the Table Group have great material that I have benefited greatly from.  The general concept of their work is that companies fail, not because they aren’t smart enough, but because they are not healthy.  Their goal is to lead organization (and people) to act in smart healthy ways.  A big part of this is open honest communication even when it it difficult.  These can be tense moments and adding to that is sometime you can be wrong even when being ‘honest’.  One friend of mine who is a teacher says, “I’m wrong 50% of the time, the problem is I’m not sure which 50%.”  This is where repair work comes in.  In spiritual terms this is called repentance when your error (intentional or unintentional) has been brought to light.  In psychological terms Dan Allender refers to this as putting your weapons down, an act much harder said then done.

Today I read a passage in the Bible that highlighted this for me.  It is from Joshua, the background is the nation of Israel has entered the Promised Land.  Amazingly of the twelve tribes that wandered the desert, one and a half of them decided not to enter the Promise Land.  I guess they were tired and felt like staying across the river and not fighting anymore battles in the Promised Land was the best option for them.  So they set up home away from the rest of God’s people.  After Joshua and the rest of the people had secured the land, they took a look back on the other side of the river, and to their surprise the one and a half tribes (Rueben and the half tribe of Manessah) had build a huge alter.

Joshua 22:10-12 And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size. 11 And the people of Israel g heard it said, “Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel” 12 And when the people of Israel heard of it, h the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.

The other tribes already ready for battle after many victories were pissed and ready to teach these people a lesson.  Adding to their frustration they had already had an incident of the disobedience of some folks worshiping other gods and sleeping with other women (The sin at Peor) that God had punished the entire nation for, and as the text says they were still recovering from that.  The were in a state of religious zeal ready to wipe out anyone not following God, especially their own.  This is a tense situation, probably more tense then any faced by the Table Group in a corporate setting.  Instead of just attacking the tribes sent these seemingly rebellious tribes a message:

Joshua 22:13-20 13 Then the people of Israel sent to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, iPhinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, 14 and with him ten chiefs, one from each of the tribal families of Israel, j every one of them the head of a family among the clans of Israel. 15 And they came to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16 “Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar this day k in rebellion against the Lord? 17 Have we not had enough of l the sin at Peor from which even yet we have not cleansed ourselves, and for which there came a plague upon the congregation of the Lord, 18 that you too must turn away this day from following the Lord? And if k you too rebel against the Lord today then tomorrow m he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. 19 But now, if the land of your possession is unclean, pass over into the Lord’s land n where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us. o Only do not rebel against the Lord or make us as rebels by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 p Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and m wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity'”

They decided to communicate before going to war, principle number one.  Then the seemingly rebellious tribes responded back:

Joshua 22:21-29  21 Then the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh said in answer to the heads of the families of Israel, 22 “The Mighty One, q God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! r He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the Lord, do not spare us today 23 for building an altar to turn away from following the Lord. Or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on it, may the Lord himself s take vengeance. 24 No, but we did it from fear that t in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the Lord’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the Lord. 26 Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27 but to beu a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we v do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the Lord”‘ 28 And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, ‘Behold, the copy of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be u a witness between us and you’ 29 Far be it from us that we should w rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord w by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!”

The action of building this huge alter that was seemingly rebellious was actually the complete opposite.  Though the tribes did not start by proclaiming their righteous intention, they started with building the bridge.  God is God, if we did anything wrong let God allow you to destroy us.  Principle number two, bridges can be built from both sides.  Only then did they let their intentions (heart) be known.  The tribes built the alter, not to worship, but rather as a symbol.  As outsiders across the river they did not have access to the same worship as God’s people, they did not want to be forgotten by their brothers and cousins.  Principle number three, let your heart be know even if what you did may appear stupid.  Amazingly, though the other tribes were geared up for war…they listened:

Joshua 22:30-31 30 When x Phinehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh spoke, y it was good in their eyes. 31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh, “Today we know that z the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord”

The people of Israel, the battle ready warriors, listened.  Listening is principle number four. God was present, they acknowledge this and they saw that their assumption was wrong which they admitted.  This goes back to principle number two but also provides principle number four, it is okay to be wrong. 

Joshua 22:32-34  32 Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the chiefs, returned from the people of Reuben and the people of Gad a in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the people of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33 And the report b was good in the eyes of the people of Israel. And the people of Israel c blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and the people of Gad were settled. 34 The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, d “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God”

Admitting they were wrong the tribes put down their weapons.  At that point the conflict was closed and both sides moved forward in faith knowing that God is in control. Principle number five, trust is essential in order to move forward. This could have turn into a long drawn out theological fight on whether building the alter was the best action or they could have created committees to examine the communal effectiveness of allowing the alter to stand or they could have scolded the blood thirsty tribes who just put down their weapons for being warmongers, but they did not.  The moved on both sides trusting one another.

Here are two videos from Dan Allender related to conflict in marriage, but the application is much broader http://theallendercenter.org/2012/03/conflict-and-forgiveness/, I have embedded one of the two related to forgiveness.

Articles

Poetry instead of PowerPoint in the boardroom

In art,business,China,culture,faith,familiy,Friends,leadership,poetry,Proverbs,quote,Spiritual,Technology,Theology on December 22, 2011 by mstevensrev

A friend and inspiration of mine and many other Nigel Goodwin has an encouraging idea he shares with those creatives in the boardroom.  While spending a few days with Nigel and a group of others at a Kindlings Hearth Event, we had been discussing slippers and lingerie…which is probably an entirely different blog post unless you know Nigel because I’m certain you have discussed similarly unique things with him.  At some point he stops and says, Michael when I do consulting with companies I want to see the humanity brought back into their existence so “When I go into the boardroom I start with poetry rather than PowerPoint.”

While Nigel’s words were inspirational, there was a good part of my heart that sank.  Of course Nigel with his experience and maturity is able to bring those worlds together, he is a uniquely gifted GIFT from God to the rest of us.  As a young, inexperienced, highly ambitious and motivated sales monkey I could not picture that reality, but in that there was hope.  In the short term I embraced bringing the humanity back into those rooms, and noticed results.  With clients such as Google who treat vendors as nameless faceless units and make rational decisions upon the data that has been thoroughly scrubbed for accuracy, it is not easy unless you are intentional.  Though I noticed the more human meetings became, the more laughter there was, the more people longed to have lunch together afterward and there was a small patch of green growing in this area.

That would have been a miracle in mind and the truth be told only God could be responsible for bringing life and humanity to a Google boardroom:)  And yet I had an even bigger surprise yesterday and am grateful that I had the eyes to see what I had stumbled into.  This year has been filled with job transition and the turmoil related to that change.  Thankfully I am celebrating two months with a new company that I am really enjoying and excited about.  Yesterday I found myself in Cupertino at our office with the head of a Business Unit discussing recent shifts within the company and how we are to move forward.  We were setting out a goal for the next three months and clearly came up with the foci and metrics to measure success, yet we had not named our goal.  So I ask the Business Unit head what is mantra for the group.

A grin came across his face and he said that he has a slide on that which he presented.  While finding it on his computer his demeanor shifted from the confident young leader to shy.  He said that often these are the hardest ideas and seem really good in private but are silly in public.  I felt like I was on holy ground.  Then he presented this image to us. Thankfully he did not have the English translation because he was able to share with us more context which made the word so much more than the translation expresses!  It is a quote from Confucius which most people from China know very well, roughly translated it means, “To put the world in order we must first set our hearts to right thing, to then focus on craftsmanship, to then care for family and team, and then the world.”  I have begin to read commentaries and other translations of this proverb and needless to say it is very profound.

After listening to the explanation I was asked what I thought.  I said it was amazing, the full extent of why I think it speaks to me will take an evening and a meal together but in short is universal and human, capturing and relating what it means for us to be ourselves.  How beautiful to have the opportunity to start with ‘getting our hearts right’ with my co-workers, I desperately need people around me who are concerned with that because it has a direct effect on everything in my life, including my ‘numbers’.  I said, “It is deeply human.”  Then on a level even more deep my coworker asked me with an amazing amount of vulnerability in his eyes and voice, “Is it too Chinese?”  The weight of that question would be hard for me to describe in this blog post, but in short it felt like through this poem/proverb I was being asked if we were all people in a shared struggle with what it means to live in this world.  Again I said it, “It is human, and with roots from China it is perfect for our company.”  There was some more discussion but one of the action items we took away was to send out an audio file of the poem so that the American’s on the team can learn how to say it…as it is mean to be said.

We took a break and before we started again, I told the team about Nigel.  This wonderful friend who brings poetry into boardrooms instead of PowerPoint, and I said he would be very proud of the discussion we had around a poem.  In this I cannot express my gratitude….

P.S. For those of you who haven’t seen the TED Talk related to dance and powerpoint please check it out, this is very dear to my heart.

Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal: John Bohannon on TED.com