Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tips on How to Stop Whingeing and Whining

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Some people have been whingeing and whining and my ears hurt. Not you of course. Not me either. It's always that 'other' person.

What is God's opinion of whingeing? How do you stop whingeing and whining? Below you'll find some tips on how to curb the grumbly nature.

Even if you are not a Christian, have a read of the following. Get a different perspective on grumbling.

It became apparent to me today, that in fact the Bible has quite a few instances of people whingeing and whining. Let's have a look specifically at three stories in the Bible:

Genesis 26:19-22 - Isaac Re-digs the Wells
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. [Sitnah means opposition] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

In Isaac's time, a deep well full of water, was a source of influence. People were whingeing and whining about who owned the wells. Interestingly that Isaac speaks of 'flourishing in the land', after people had stopped whingeing! What can we learn from this? Is it that God will allow us to flourish if we do not whinge?

Exodus 16:1-8
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”

You have a sense of the graciousness of God in this situation. The Lord heard the grumbling. The Lord heard the constant complaining. Even despite all this whingeing, God chooses to be gracious and provide for the Israelites. Talk about a patient God! I do not think this passage encourages us to whinge in order to receive from God, but rather gives us a clear picture of the grace and patience of God.

Nehemiah 4:10-14
10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

Nehemiah is seeking to rally the troops and rebuild the walls around his home city, Jerusalem. Not only does Nehemiah have to deal with those outside the area fighting against him (Sanballat, Tobiah and others), but he has to content with whingers from within the camp. Maybe they lacked faith? Maybe they were concerned about their well-being? Either way, they were whingeing and whining.

What was Nehemiah's response? Did Nehemiah step onto the band-wagon and start saying, 'You know what, you're right guys, we are under attack. Let's step back and have a whine. In fact, let's start a focus group and establish our whingeing with a chairman and secretary to take minutes.' No. Nehemiah, continued on with the vision placed in front of him, despite the grumbling. There's a leadership lesson right there!

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We could think of other stories in Bible about grumbling and whining. What about the story in Acts 6 about the Greek and Hebrew women and the whingeing about the distribution of food?

What seems to be the biblical consensus?

When we glean into these passages about God's view of grumbling, we have the sense that God is pleased with those who rise above the whining. God seems more concerned with Nehemiah rebuilding the walls, or Moses leading the people into the promised land, or Isaac actually re-digging the wells. God's perspective in a sense is less on our problems and issues, but on working through the issues to come up with a solution!

God did not whinge and whine about the sinfulness of humanity. He simply sent Jesus.

How do you stop whingeing and whining? What are the best tips?

Take a Godly perspective. Look beyond your current situation. Look to the potential. Understand God has better days in store.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cutting the Fat - Best Management Practices for Leaders

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Best Management Practices - Cutting the Fat!

No, I'm not talking about my latest weight-loss fad. I'm probably not the right person to listen to in relation to that. I'm talking about cutting the fat in business. Let me explain.

I spoke with a political leader whose Government was recently voted in across their state. As he flew to a remote town to conduct business, he noticed that five different small planes, from five different governmental departments had flown to this small town on the same day. There were twelve people all together, all fulfilling different functions within the government. Step back for a minute and notice the problem. There's a leadership problem here. Five different departments on five different small aircraft. The politician went and spoke to one of the pilots. He asked whether it would have been possible to fly all 12 people in a slightly bigger plane to the same town. The man mentioned, 'Oh, of course.' Think about the savings! One slightly bigger plane, as opposed to five pilots, five tanks being refuelled, etc, etc.

If this particular state government learns to cut the fat in this particular situation, they will save thousands of dollars! I'm not even talking about cutting jobs, offending people or anything sinister, I'm just mentioning about how to be a good leader and steward of the resources given to you. Sure there are four pilots who are not flying in that particular instance, but I'm sure there would be other flights to fly. This is cutting the fat. Making the business lean. Cutting away the excess. It's a best management practice!

My father for instance has a black belt in Six-Sigma (What is Six Sigma?). I barely know what that entails, but I do know that it involves coaching businesses on how to improve their policies and processes in order to bring a greater quality end product, in a quicker space of time to the end customer, with a greater profit margin. To do that, you need to cut the fat. (It is also linked with intuitive leadership.)

Why is it when you order a bunch of books from an online retailer (Amazon, Book Depository, TheNile, Dymocks, etc), some businesses will have the product on your doorstep in one or two days and other businesses will take ten or more days? That's no doubt because the latter business has terrible lag time between the order being made and the product being sourced, and then terrible lag time between when the product is packaged and to when it is sent. Let's cut to the chase - you need to cut the fat.

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In Christian circles we get touchy about talking on such matters, like organisational and leadership structure is some sacred cow that was instituted by Jesus himself. We somehow believe we are being unfaithful to the movement/denomination that God birthed if we make systemic changes. No.

After reading some of Neil Cole's Organic Leadership, I got fired up about this. I'm not advocating the Christian church simply start meeting in houses and become anti to everything that smells of Christendom. What I am saying, is that we need to do more to be intentional about being good stewards of our resources, and finding ways to cut the fat in our bureaucracies. Some may argue we need to flatten the hierarchies. I would argue we need to ensure quick, sound, decision-making occurs, and if that can happen within a hierarchy then there's no issue. By cutting the fat we may well place a whole other bunch of people from administrative desk jobs, to front-line missional practice.

Leadership in all fields of work should embrace this best management practice of cutting the fat.

Meanwhile, I will work on bringing you the latest weight loss literature to help those who need it! God knows I do.

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* The most important truth about leadership
* Leadership and Management Similarities/Differences

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Leadership is not a Dirty Word

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When you think of leadership, what comes to mind? For many, leadership conjures up images of authoritarianism, control and bureaucracy. This view of leadership is a top-down view, that involves generally the CEO, manager, commander-in-chief, etc, who wield the decision making power, and are in charge of shaping and leading an institution.

I argue that leadership need not be seen that way, especially in a negative sense.

What if we took a different view? What if the God-given capacity to lead a group of people to fulfil a particular God-given cause, came from anyone willing to be used by God in that capacity? What if that leadership was expressed in a myriad of different ways and contexts? I have read stories of teenagers changing the course of history, because of their courage to stand for their convictions. I have seen people of many different personalities, ages and cultures become leaders, not because of some institutional position afforded to them by an organisation, but because of a passion to take people on a journey to make a difference.

Leadership need not be authoritarian.

Leadership can and should be life-giving, purposeful, compassionate and overall a tremendous privelege.

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  • See the most important truth about leadership here.
  • See the truth about influence and what most secular people won't tell you.
  • Also - addicted to mediocrity? How to beat apathy and half-heartedness.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

We need Blokes like Joseph

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So the story goes like this. Mary conceives miraculously of a child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph wants to move on, and divorce her quietly, but with some words from an angel, Joseph sticks by Mary. What an embarrassment it must have been for Joseph. For Mary to have a child so young must have had the town talking. I’m sure the local gossip would have been enjoying spreading the news.

I wonder how often Joseph thought about whether he should really trust Mary. I wonder how often he considered how he could get out of the situation. Yet Joseph made a choice. He chose to stay with Mary through the thick and thin.

We need blokes like Joseph today. You know what I mean, blokes who will stick by their partner even when the circumstances are tough. Blokes who will patch things up and make it work. Blokes who will humble themselves to be the best partner they can be, for the good of the relationship. This kind of trust, faithfulness and commitment surely characterised Joseph’s life, maybe it will characterise yours?

Ponder: Do you relate to Joseph’s story and his choice to stick with Mary?

Bible: Matthew 1:18-25

Daily Devotional - 7th September, 2012

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Law No. 13 - The Law of the Picture - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

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John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - Law No. 13 - The Law of the Picture

'People do what People see'.

This leadership principle is really the old adage, that people will copy what you do, not what you say. Those of us with children know this well. We can tell our kids a thousand times to use their manners, but if we never use our manners, we will struggle to create that habit in them! They follow what you do, or rather, they do what they see.

In leadership we may well call this integrity; having our words line up with our actions. We may well label it as being authentic.

John Maxwell speaks of a leader from the military sector, known as Dick Winter. He would be the first out of the trenches inspiring his paratroopers to arise out of the ditches and push forward in battle. While the mild pacifist tendencies within me struggle a little with this story from the military, I don't want to lose sight of the purpose behind the story. Dick Winter summed up his own leadership in 2006 when he wrote, 'I may not have been the best combat commander, but I always strove to be. My men depended on me to carefully analyze every tactical situation, to maximize the resources that I had at my disposal, to think under pressure, and then to lead them by example.'

That's the leadership principle worth holding on to. 'To lead by example'. For a follower of Jesus, leading by example, means servant leadership. It means if you want to create a culture of people serving God, then leadership is probably best expressed in helping to clean the toilets occassionally! Servant leaders serve.

Whitley David says of leadership, 'A good supervisor is a catalyst, not a drill sergeant. He creates an atmosphere where intelligent people are willing to follow him. He doesn't command; he convinces.'

Norman Vincent Peale remarks on leadership that, 'Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice but set a bad example.'

Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize-winner) said, 'Example is leadership.'

I saw this clearly when I was a Youth Minister, and working with teenagers. You could say to them that having a good attitude was important, but if you didn't act in such a way that your actions were congruent with your words, it would fall on deaf ears. My character was in a sense more important than talking about my character. Leadership is best lived out by example, not rhetoric.

That's John C. Maxwell's Law of the Picture. "People do what people see." (adapted from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership)

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Modelling Agency has my Number

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I know the modelling agencies will knock me back. I mean I haven't tried to apply, but I am confident my runway skills will not be up to scratch. Then of course, there's the lack of hair, which of course rules me out of ever helping to sell Palmolive to the masses. Some of you are thinking, 'What about the looks Pete, and the slim figure needed for such a job?' Well, like I said, I haven't applied, and I would not want to assume their answer...

I am not offended by this. I understand that modelling agencies have particular values and rules that govern its industry. Without some sort of framework to operate within, the whole industry would collapse.

Is this not similar to the Christian faith? Churches, that represent God's people on earth, have frameworks that are used to create a sense of stability and cohesion. Without a holiness code, would anything simply be acceptable? Without doctrinal statements, would any theological presupposition be adhered to? Without any rules governing the ordaining of people into Christian leadership, would anyone simply be suitable?

It's not that these frameworks are wrong. They are not. They are just open for abuse. They are at times overly-regulated by people. They are set up by broken people, who are in need of a Saviour.

I am not offended by these operational frameworks that for the most part are led by the Holy Spirit to help govern particular faith communities. Let it be sharpened by other people of faith and the wider community. Let the Word of God inform the necessary changes. Let it not become a beuracracy but merely a way to bring focus to the task at hand.

Modelling agencies do not offend me with their values and rules. Either does the church.

By the way...

A modelling agency has my number.  

Daily Devotional - 6th September, 2012

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Grace of God - Has God already been Gracious to you?

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Who can describe the grace of God? Who can even begin to consider the complexities of what the grace of God is like?
Christians are fallen, broken people who have handed or continue to hand over their sin-problem to Jesus. The amazing story that arises from that is that God is incredibly gracious in the attitude and response of God to us. God is full of grace. Our sin does not separate us from the love or presence of God. Jesus took on our sin at the cross.

The Psalmist offers this prayer, ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us…’ (Psalm 67:1). In Jesus God has been gracious. In him, we find hope and forgiveness. While I encourage you to pray that God might bless you and empower you, and strengthen you, the thought that goes through my mind, is that Christ has already shown you grace. We can pray God be gracious to us, but through that, maybe God will simply reveal to us, the grace that has already been lavished upon us from the cross of Jesus.
God's expression of grace was shown when Jesus lived, ministered, died, rose and ascended into heaven.
Ponder: Has God already been gracious to you?
Bible: Romans 3:21-24
 
Daily Devotional - 5th September, 2012

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Daily Devotional - 4th September, 2012 - An Advertisement for Christianity

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Daily Devotional – 4th September, 2012

People follow who you are, not what you say. If you are a follower of Jesus, then understand, you are the advertisement for Christianity. You represent Christ in this world. When people see you, hopefully they see a glimpse of who Christ is. Have a look at these words from the Message (2 Corinthians 6:4-10):

‘People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.’
Surely the greatest testament to a faithful ‘Jesus-life’ is when unbelievers can look at you and see the nature of God and for it to be so attractive, that they want what you have!

Ponder: When people look at your life, with all your ups and downs and struggles and joys, do they see Christ? Will they see Christ?

Bible: 2 Corinthians 6:4-10   

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Law No. 12 - The Law of Empowerment - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

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John Maxwell's cry here is that, 'Only secure leaders give power to others'. To empower others means to give others power, right? This means, to delegate, to pass on knowledge, to not do everything yourself. This is the key to leadership, to pass on power means to not think so highly of yourself, that you cannot have someone else fulfil the tasks at hand.

As Maxwell says, 'the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable.’ We must empower others. We must not have what some call a ‘Messiah complex’. You know, the leadership mindset that no one can do the work better than us and we therefore remain privy to all the information, we control the process and we keep people from being involved. Let’s consider some examples of the law of empowerment.

Henry Ford is the prime example John Maxwell uses to explain the law of empowerment. In the early days of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford was a visionary. He made the car accessible to a wide audience, and Ford was booming. Though, Henry Ford was an autocrat. He withheld information. He was antagonistic. He was everything that empowerment is not. See, as Admiral James B. Stockdale says, ‘great leaders gain authority by giving it away’. Henry Ford held onto authority and thus disempowered people.

I think of a recent example of the newly elected Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (Australia), Terry Mills. He continually speaks of giving power away; of Government not holding on to all of the decision making processes. Giving power away (or rather empowerment), seems crucial to effective leadership.

As a follower of Jesus, let me give you a prime example of one who empowered others. Jesus Christ of a little town called Nazareth was born to a very average, normal kind of family. It was a miraculous birth, sure, but it was also a seemingly normal upbringing nonetheless. In just three years of public ministry, Jesus taught many the essence of empowerment. He taught the disciples, he sent the disciples out, and he debriefed with the disciples. Following his resurrection from the dead, the Gospel of John records Jesus telling the disciples, ‘I am sending you…’ Jesus ascended back into heaven, and the disciples were given power (empowered) to fulfill the mission of God. He pretty much was saying, ‘You know guys, this mission that I was a part of on this earth, is the same mission I’m giving you. Now go!’ That’s empowerment.


In applying the law of empowerment in your own leadership journey, consider these words from Maxwell:

Begin dwelling on people’s positive qualities and characteristics. Look for people’s strengths and envision how they could leverage those strengths to achieve significant things. Imagine what individuals could become if they made the most of their gifts and opportunities. Then help them to do so.  

God help us to empower others.

That was Law No. 12 – The Law of Empowerment – adapted from John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

I wrote a post on six elements of power, some of which are negative and some that are positive. This posts comes out of the teachings of John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959, who highlighted 5 sources of power that we need to be aware of.


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Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

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Daily Devotional - 3rd September, 2012 - Clouds across the Moonlit Sky

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Daily Devotional - 3rd September, 2012

I'm standing on the curb, glancing up at a moonlit sky. Stars in their abundance. The fresh breeze across my face. A little chill down my spine. What a sight. A clear, full moon, and a sense of awe. Two words cross my mind... "Praise God."

Then I saw the clouds, darkened by the night, begin to shift. They slowly moved across the sky and began to block the brightness of the moon, until they completely covered up my inspiring view.

Then a Bible verse immediately crept into my consciousness. Have you heard the one that mentions that the Devil blinds the minds of unbelievers? Have a look at this verse from the Bible - 'The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The faith light shines brightly like the moon for some. They have a growing understanding of who Jesus really is and have committed their lives to following after him. For many others, the clouds have completely moved across the light and faith remains a complete mystery.

Jesus, would you move away the barriers that have swiped across the consciousness of people in our society, that they may see the fullness of who you really are?

Ponder: Pray that God may remove those elements of your life, that seem to impede your capacity to wholeheartedly connect with him.

Bible: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6


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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Daily Devotional - 2nd September, 2012 - Just a Name on a List?

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Daily Devotional - 2nd September, 2012

When we go to a movie, we don’t normally watch the credits. I mean, who sits there and tediously reads the hundreds of names of people who worked to put the movie together? The fact is, we have no interest. We don’t know the names, and have no bit of curiosity that makes us sit and watch the names scroll on by. That is, of course, unless you are part of the production of the movie.

At a launch of a movie, the credits are the main thing! It’s where the workers cheer and applaud each other for their hard work. It’s where the recognition flows, and the pats on the backs are made.
In the Bible there are a few lengthy passages of lists of names. We call them the genealogies. We have no interest. They’re like credits of a movie for us. But God knows each of those names and knows all about them and God values them. God knows the list of names intimately, and God is interested in each one of them.

See, you are valued by God, and are not merely a name on an employee chart, or the middle child of a large family. God knows your name, and God knows who you are. In fact, God created you just the way God wanted to...

Ponder: “I am not simply a name on a list. I am not insignificant to God.”

Bible: Matthew 1:1-17


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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Daily Devotional - 1st September, 2012 - Why are you Worried?

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Daily Devotional - 1st September, 2012

God knows the future from the beginning. So then why do we find ourselves so worried about life? Maybe that statement doesn't apply to you, but I know many wonder about the value of their life. Or rather, they wonder whether their life is having any eternal significance. "Is my life actually achieving anything of worth?" If you have been wondering this lately, I have a word for you.

Let me say, it's not helpful to play a tape over and over in your head that questions your value in Christ. What matters, is that your life is IN christ, not what you achieve FOR Christ. God's love for you is not conditional upon your perceived 'success' or otherwise in ministry. God's love for you is a free gift from God, and actually, nothing can separate you from that love (Romans 8:38-39). Man's opinion of you does not necessarily match God's opinion of you. In fact, God's opinion of you is what matters.

God is sovereign. God knows you future. Rest in him and deepen your revelation of the absolute extravagant love of God.

Ponder: Consider the fact that God knows who you are, and loves you intimately.

Bible: 1 John 4:7-12

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