Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beyond Talent: Maxwell Draws Effective Roadmap

Beyond Talent by John Maxwell clearly spells out details that, if applied, will lead the reader to expanding productivity and effectiveness. It’s a quality roadmap for personal growth and team building.


Also, it’s depth (13 packed chapters) encourages the reader or leader to revisit concepts and suggestions for implementation over time. As a resource tool it has much value.

Some of the stories, quotes and highlighted motivational pieces I thought were weak. Using athletes as examples is tricky (Maxwell features Joe Namath) for two reasons: first an athlete’s skill and achievement are not naturally transferred to a workplace and second athletes often have much compromised integrity, to hold them up is to compartmentalize their character (rouge in personal life, but excellence in professional realm).

Also, some of the work rings of advice, not insight: “look for teachable moments, make them count (page 184).”

Overall, the work is solid and offers practical methods to add quality and opportunity to one’s life and skill set. Maxwell includes in Beyond Talent many warning and common traps that slow down progress.

Beyond Talent will serve a manager planning any kind of training meeting or an individual seeking a catalyst for greater development. Maxwell continues to encourage people to not settle, but pursue life with expectation that hard work, focus and discipline do pay off with satisfaction and success.

This review is part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Am I Going To Learn Today: A Path to Sanity and Perhaps Grace

"We don't work to earn God's blessing, we work because we already have it."  a tweet from Matt Chandler (pastor from DFW area) based on a teaching from Romans 12.  All scripture is a good read, but Romans 12 is a great spot to visit often. 

Anyway, that thought struck me, in conjunction with another thought;  there is a new study out titled Duty or Delight...I have no idea if its a solid study, but I love the title. 

Both comments come from the same root: faithful living in contrast to faithful thinking.  It's a lens to consider grace and daily bread as a concept or a reality. 

These ideas are floating around the reality of the very ordinary. 

The idea of responding to God's grace by giving and living in grace most all Christians agree with, but the evidence of our thoughts, minds and general cranky martyrdom (is it just me?) that permeate environments points to an conundrum:  what we agree with in theory does not show up in work and attitude.

How to make the move?  One thing that has worked me recently, is to approach any and all work--face the day--with curiosityWhat will I learn today?  If my posture is as a curious student, then generally the day is productive--I do learn things, about people about circumstances.  It's not all good, but it's always fresh.

If my goal and motivation is to learn I am in a much better place to grace--even if I am leading or teaching or parenting.  It focuses my attention out, in a good way.

Example?  This morning, my friend Ellen wrote a great reflection about the Christian "f" word (FINE), you can check it out here--she put "fine" in way I had not considered. 

In a committee meeting, study group, as I read and research and write--I really do learn so much, if  that is what I am after and I adopt that posture.   The key?  If that is my primary objective (as opposed to my comfy old postures of seeking approval, getting "it done", or establishing my rightness in situation) I have landed on more delight and less duty. 

It's so much easier for me to ask myself, I wonder what I will learn from this?  Rather than, "OK Carol have a grace filled attitude about this meeting, report, meal, event, bill paying, weed pulling, vet visiting" opportunity.

I move from a position that emphasizes process to one that emphasizes people, and it allows for much more joy to come into the equation.  It also emphasizes what's coming, not so much my standard pit stop to the disappointments of yesterday.

All is not perfect, I still am too cranky and quite a martyr in my work as team mom (too many annoying details) and my "to do" is is too long and I stress about things that I am overseeing and I am tired of driving around North Atlanta for hours at a time (note how privileged that list is that drives me crazy--hmmm need to ponder how I am spoiled)  So, I am a work in progress-but at least I am not too old to learn a new trick.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Can We Score Spiritual Maturity?

The following article comes from Scot McKnight's  Jesus Creed  blog (excellent work, brilliant scholar).  McKnight features a summary of George Barna's latest work, Maximum Faith.  The following excerpt is Barna's stepping stones on a faith walk.  The percentages represent where people step, and then stop on the journey toward maturity or what Barna calls "wholeness".



1. Ignorance of the concept or existence of sin. 1%


2. Aware of and indifferent to sin. 16%


3. Concerned about the implications of personal sin. 39%


4. Confess sins and ask Jesus Christ to be their Savior. 9%


5. Commitment to faith activities. 24%


6. Experience a prolonged period of spiritual discontent. 6%


7. Experiencing personal brokenness. 3%


8. Choosing to surrender and submit fully to God: radical dependence. 1%


9. Enjoying a profound intimacy with and love for God. 0.5%


10. Experiencing a profound compassion and love for humanity. 0.5%


McKnight then concludes with this question and summary from Barna:

What do you think of this schematic display of spiritual progress? Anything to add? subtract?
Barna thinks most are in a “mindless mutiny” and in a “hopeless meandering.” And he thinks many, many stop on the path. He sees five paths:


1. Moving sequentially: some go from 1 to 10. Others try other methods.


2. Settling for religiosity: some get to stop #6 and choose to settle for #5.


3. Exploiting cheap grace: they get to #6 and revert back to #2.


4. Becoming angry with God: they go through #6 but when they get to #7 they become angry with a God who would subject them to such a process of testing, and they often return as well to #2.


5. Traveling the biblical path: they leap from #3 to #7 and move onwards.

Now back to Carol's thoughts:  how is this analysis helpful, is it even relevant (would love your thoughts on that question)?  I think too often we live as faith is a concept--which we agree or disagree,  not the reality of simply who we are.
It's an important distinction, because holding faith hostage to a concept keeps us in control.  We manage it--with varying degrees of sincerity (victory in church speak).    Barna's categories and data seem to look at the concept side of faith, unless we dig into the nature of his descriptive and the idea of wholeness. 

Wholeness should not stop at  the absence of sin, described in Barna's categories 1-5.  Categories 6-10 are wholeness in experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The second segment of categories describe the reality of  living, breathing, feeling, valuing,  acting and reacting in concert with the real presence of Christ.  It's what Friday night and Monday morning look like when the reality of faith--the indwelling--is obvious and in control.  Not mystical but practical. 

Barna's works points to the beautiful truth that faith is not just the absence of sin but the presence of a power that moves and sees and cares about all things with love.

So, where do you "stop" on the path?  Do you think the Barna description is helpful or tripe?

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?