TED Talks

One of the greatest sources of inspiration that I’ve come across over the last year is TED Talks.  TED is igniting some of the most thought-provoking discussions relevant to our world today.

The annual TED Conference is held in Long Beach, CA and other TED conferences are hosted world wide.  TED draws together some of the most influential leaders in Technology, Entertainment, and Design in hopes of synergy for the future.

The TED Talks are talks given by influential leaders in these three arenas at the TED Conferences.  They are the main reason why TED has quickly become the influential summit that it is.  TED speakers have to be able to communicate one main idea in their message.  One idea.  Just one.  It has to be focused.  It has to be intentional.  It’s one shot to share one specific idea worth spreading.

For communicators, pastors, and teachers in ministry, it can be difficult to boil your messages down to just one point.  It’s something that I struggle with each time I go to speak.  The temptation is to let the rabbit trails pull us away from being laser-focused in our message.

One of the best resources that I’ve found to help with the concept of communicating one main idea is Andy Stanley’s book, Communicating for a Change.  Hardly any pastors can remember their own three-point outline, why should we expect our listeners to remember it as well?  In Communicating for a Change, Stanley gives a fantastic layout for helping to communicate one main idea in your messages.

We can learn from TED by boiling our messages down to one idea at a time.  If anybody should have ideas and a message worth spreading, it’s believers in Jesus Christ.

Facing the Critics – Part 2

It’s safe to say that, for the most part, negative critics can be some of the least liked people ever.  It seems like their lot in life is to predict your shortcomings, remind you of past mistakes, and be at the ready to point out when you screw up.  They’re the paparazzi of spectators.

Not all criticism is bad.  There are some good benefits of having critics.  Positive criticism challenges me to get better in areas of weakness and reaffirm my areas of strength.  I can’t get better unless I know what I need to work on.  These are the people who point out areas that need some work and help you get a head-start on fixing those areas.

It’s the negative critics that can eat your morale from the inside out.  For the people who are negatively critical with nothing constructive to say, I welcome their criticism for two reasons.

1) It gives me to chance to sharpen how I respond to criticism, especially since their criticisms are usually unfounded and illogical.  It makes for some pretty good smiles and laughter later.

2) It allows their attention to be diverted away from people who might not be as readily prepared to handle negative criticism.

Like the story about Andy Stanley that I mentioned yesterday, be prepared to dialogue with your critics.  Don’t just disregard their comments, that just deafens you to what could be great learning opportunities.  Weigh what you hear against common sense and wise, trusted mentors.  And most importantly, care more about what God wants than what others do.

Facing the Critics – Part 1

Last week I read a blog post about someone’s recent visit to North Point Community Church in Atlanta, pastored by Andy Stanley.  The main theme of the post was the author’s struggle with the “mega church” feel of North Point.  For whatever reason, this blogger personally isn’t comfortable with the overall vibe of a “mega church”.  Okay, that’s fine, he’s afforded his opinion.  I’m not going to be bashing him or any another writer; that’s not who I am, that’s not why I write.

Andy Stanley happens to be one of the men of faith that I look up to the most for insight as a communicator, pastor and leader.  North Point is doing some phenomenal ministry in their city and I know that God is working in the hearts and lives of people who attend North Point.

The thing that bothered me was the setup towards the end of the post.  It opened up a thread of criticisms that were directed towards North Point, their ministry, and Andy Stanley.  As I kept reading through the comments, it was turning into an all-out, major beatdown.

It blew me away though that a ways down the comments thread that Andy Stanley personally entered into the discussion.  Probably similar to how I would respond, his first reply was just a tad sarcastic, just a tad.  But after the first response broke the ice, he continued to comment and interact with the other posters.  I noticed something.  He was open and honest and, sarcasm aside, he wasn’t apologetic for North Point.  He interacted with some hard-hitting questions and responded in a way that turned the conversation into a positive opportunity to learn together.

If you are doing what God has called you to do, don’t hide from it.  Be open.  Be honest.  Welcome feedback.  Prepare for the naysayers.  Be preparing now for how to handle the hard questions to come.  And pray for God to give you wisdom and the right words to turn negative criticism into positive conversations.

License Plate

I saw a license plate while I was driving around Denver yesterday.  It was one of those vanity license plates, which are always fun to try to figure out.  This one’s message was all about ripping on a popular baseball pitcher.  There was no mistaking the message; the owner of those plates hated a particular baseball pitcher.

I began to think a little more about it.  Who would use a very visible part of their everyday life as a mini-billboard to broadcast their hatred for somebody?  Who would hate someone so openly?  And then I started thinking some more.

How many times have I gotten upset at someone and spent the next half hour, hour, maybe even the rest of the day thinking about how horrible that person is?  If the world could just hear about how horrible that person is then I’ll feel vindicated.  We all do it.

People spread hate in lots of places.  Blogs.  Facebook.  Church “prayer groups” and “Bible studies”.  Emails.  Text messages.  Sermons.  Conversations.  Even in prayer, thinking that bad-mouthing them to God will somehow alert Him of who “those people” really are at their core.  Newsflash:  He already knows about them and guess what?  He still loves them, no matter what you might want to think or say about them.

Hatred seems to have a wide playing field that we’ve allowed it to have.  We were never meant to be wrapped up in hate.  Yes, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:43-45).  But don’t make yourself a slave to hatred and spite.  It’s exactly what Satan wants you to do.

Friday List – July 16, 2010

Happy Friday!  Hope you have a great weekend.

  • Old Spice has done it again.  Swan dive.
  • I saw Despicable Me on Wednesday night.  Great movie, especially if you like unicorns.
  • It’s good to know that even with the YMCA changing their name to the “Y”, the song will go unchanged.  Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Stone Cold Austin, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, and Dolph Lundgren all in one movie?  The Expendables comes out August 13th.  Don’t disappoint!
  • In case of emergency, make sure you read this sign first.

Leader before vision

How hard is it to follow a leader you barely know?  How hard is it to trust a leader that you barely know?  People have to buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.  There isn’t a foundation of trust and history with the team members.  That is one of the hardest things that I have learned during my last 5 years in ministry.  Any leader who casts vision to a team that barely knows or trusts him is facing an uphill climb from the start.  It raises all sorts of questions in the minds of the team.

How do we know that this leader knows what he’s doing?

Does this leader have what it takes to take us in the right direction?

Do we trust that this leader has the team’s best interests in mind?

How do we know that we’re not just following what the leader wants instead of what God’s called us to do?

These are good questions; questions that a leader has to address.  A leader doesn’t have to answer all of these questions; he can’t, he shouldn’t.  Only time and evidence will show their team the answers.  How a leader addresses these questions goes a long way towards how the team receives their answers over time.

Leaders, don’t shy away from questions.  Be open.  Be honest.  Spend time in the lives of your team members.  Brace yourself for hard questions.  And pray for God to give you clear vision and opportunities to prove yourself faithful to God and your team members.

Friday List – July 9, 2010

Happy Friday everyone!  Whatever your plans are for the weekend, I hope you enjoy the Friday List to start off.

  • Andres Cantor can make any sport exciting.
  • Walk into Wal-Mart.  Pick up a phone on one of the support pillars.  Dial #96.  Congrats, you’re now on the intercom.  Just don’t do what this guy did.
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader trailer is here.
  • “My love language is like LeBron James’, adoration.” – Jonathan Acuff, Stuff Christians Like
  • Speaking of LeBron, no love lost from Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, in this open letter to Cavs fans.  By the way, does anybody check the font type before it gets posted for millions to see?
  • Quote of the Week — “…like Miley Cyrus, I can’t be tamed.” – Bryan Allain.

Happy Independence Day!

I’m taking a break today from the Shift reflections to celebrate Independence Day.  Today I plan on celebrating my freedom as an American but more importantly as a believer in Christ.  It’s easy to take both of them for granted and I thank God for the sacrifices that have been made for both areas of my freedom.  Nations fall and empires crumble but the cross remains the same.  May you find your freedom in Christ today.

Finally blogging…

After reading a great post by Michael Hyatt, I agree with his purpose for blogging.  For all of the articles, blogs, books, and conversations that I read and am involved in, I want to be able to openly reflect and archive my own thoughts and reactions to them.

There will probably some temptation to try to be overly profound.  I might assume that I could impress whoever might catch a glimpse of my writing.  Besides being a waste of time, that would defeat the whole purpose of why I’m wanting to blog in the first place.  Epic fail.

Hyatt made an interesting point when he mentioned that he blogs “in order to clarify my thinking and archive my best ideas. In short, I blog for me.”  I want that same type of purpose to be found in my writing: to write for my own enrichment and evolution into the leader, dreamer, and Christ follower that I’m called to be.

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