Archive for the ‘leadership summit’ Tag

Outrage and Hope   1 comment

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook (often dangerous) and came upon an article that shocked me to the core. Actually I was so outraged that I had to at least try to investigate if the information was  an example of the notorious”fake news”. So for reasons that I trust will become apparent I am resisting the urge to provide you with a link to the article so you can be outraged as well. Suffice it to say that article recounted how one of our news stations broadcast an investigative report on how Iceland has succeeded in almost completely eliminating Downs Syndrome from their population.On the face of it an interesting story until as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that the report is celebrates and praises an achievement that has been brought about by aborting any pregnancies that have the slightest chance of being Down Syndrome children.

Now I confess that to a limited extent this is personal to me. I have friends who have Downs Syndrome children and without exception they are wonderful human beings and the world would unquestionably be poorer without them. While making unique and productive contributions to their communities, they spread  joy and love in ways few others are able to parallel. However as I thought about this further I became dissatisfied with the idea that I could merely join the chorus of protest and outrage. As a follower of Jesus I have so often regretted that all we seem able to do is join the chorus when, if we really believe that Jesus is the hope for the world we should be able to find away to proclaim hope with an equally loud and passionate voice.

By God’s grace in this particular situation I believe I found a way to do just that. One of the most compelling podcasts I listen to comes from an organization simply named Q*  Its founder, Gabe Lyons, and his wife Rebekah have a Downs syndrome child themselves, and in a recent edition interviewed an wonderful lady, Heather Avis. Heather has adopted two of these amazing children. She tells a story of joy and hope that provides a powerful repost to anyone who considers  the elimination of such people is anything to be celebrated. So I enthusiastically provide links both to this conversation and to her book ” The Lucky Ones.”

One final thought, I am wondering if the sharing of hope should not be a priority in my thinking whenever I consider responding to the vast range of tragedies and outrages that litter our news media from home and abroad. If, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the answer and that He is enough then it is that hope which is the unique and powerful contribution we can offer, in humility, to these conversations. Otherwise we simply join the rhetoric that fuels the anger that so often brings yet more tragedy… What do you think?

*Q is an organization that facilitates wide-ranging conversations about the most challenging issues of our day. It is probably the most stimulating podcast I listen to and is guaranteed to challenge you to think differently!

Give and Take   1 comment

We have all been told many times that it is better to give than receive, but is that always true? John Gottman, a marriage researcher, has found that a person’s willingness to receive  and accept influence (feedback) from their spouse is a key predictor of a healthy, stable marriage. I can recall receiving professional feedback that  for some reason lived on in my mind for years.  For  parents it is frightening to realize that our children will learn  how to respond to correction and coaching by watching our responses to  the various forms of feedback we receive. All this would suggest that the art of receiving feedback might be more important that we think.

In their recent book “Thanks for the Feedback” Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone‘s research indicates that this is indeed true. At the recent the Global Leadership Summit Sheila taught on the subject. Her content was so compelling that I immediately purchased the book and I want to share some of the lessons I am learning as I read.

Whether it is  graded assignments at school, “likes” on our facebook posts  or simply a warm smile when enjoying a carefully prepared meal, feed back washes over us from all sides. Our reactions can range from joy to anger and there is much we can learn that will  help us both understand  our responses and handle them more constructively. Firstly feed back is received at the intersection of two of our most fundamental  needs,  our desire to learn and improve and our yearning to be accepted and loved as we are.  Many of our negative reactions are caused by a series of  what the authors call “triggers”. “Truth triggers”  are set off by a sense that the content of the feedback is somehow without substance while “Relationship Triggers” are a consequence of the type of relationship we have with the person offering the feed back. “Identity Triggers” result in us doubting who we are and shaking all our insecurities regardless of the content of the message. Without exception when these triggers are activated we are disabled from any constructive conversation about the content of the feedback itself.  However when we recognize their existence and are ready for them we have a much better chance of benefiting from what is said.   If we do indeed want to learn and improve there is of course much more to come so watch this space for more nuggets from this excellent book.

Looking under the carpet   Leave a comment

For the past few weeks I have been preaching on the subject of temptation under the title of “Short Cuts.” In recognizing my own capacity for “yielding” to the pervasive and persistent nature of temptation I observed what I chose to call Level 2 Temptation. This is the human propensity to respond to our yielding by sweeping all remembrance of the matter under the proverbial carpet in the hope that it will be forever erased from the memory.. The principle driving forces behind Level 2 Temptation are shame and guilt. These are first evidenced in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve go from being “naked, but they felt no shame” Genesis 2:25 to “suddenly feeling shame”  Genesis 3:7 (both NLT). This realization triggers the desire to hide and is followed by the assignment of blame by all those involved. This all falls under the overall category of attempting to sweep under the carpet. Tragically however the collection of things we keep under the carpet become arguably the most debilitating and destructive part of our lives. It has been said that we are only as healthy as our secrets and it is under the carpet that most if not all our secrets are hidden.

My understanding of this was greatly illuminated recently when Maggie and I had the privilege of attending the Global Leadership Summit. One of the sessions was lead by Dr Brene Brown, a research professor in social work from Houston. The main thrust of her work has been on the subjects of vulnerability and shame and her TED talks* on the subject are compelling (evidenced by the millions of viewings they have received).  Dr Brown points out that guilt is the knowledge that you have done something bad but that shame is the overwhelming conviction that as a consequence you are bad. The answer, she suggests very persuasively, is vulnerability, the willingness to courageously turn over the carpet and deal with those festering secrets in a loving, safe and nonjudgmental environment.

Is there any greater challenge to the church family than to be such an environment? The word of God makes it clear that Jesus has provided the answer for guilt since, “when we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” 1 John 1:9 and the statement “if we are in Christ we are a new creation” deals directly with shame. So how can we seek to be this place of safety? Primarily I believe, we must be willing to be open and vulnerable ourselves. Take the courage to turn over our carpets and encourage and support each other in the process. The fewer secrets we have, the healthier a community we become. When we are honest with our struggles, we give people freedom to be honest about theirs. Healing and change only happen when things are brought into the light Loving, emotional health is one of the most attractive characteristics of individuals and their communities. Jesus’ death and resurrection have given us the hope that deals with guilt and shame. Let’s experience it ourselves and offer it to one another and resist Level 2 Temptation- keeping our carpets free from clutter!


(* This is the link I promised in the sermon “Carpet or ConfessIon”)

Posted August 22, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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