Are you a Generous Mind?

Are you a Generous Mind? If you are intrigued by the idea, this is a place to explore what it means to you. Our blog focuses on helping you to learn what it means to be generous with what you know. You will find helpful tips and encouraging examples that will inspire you to release your ideas to the world! Find out more at www.generousmind.com.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Same Reality . . . Different Filter


This Gary Varvel cartoon has been going around social media recently. I think it has gained traction because it highlights a fundamental reality of our world today. We all live in the same world but we use very different filters to understand it. 

Its like a photographer who takes one picture but then goes back to their computer and creates very different images through the use of the many filters and tools at their disposal. And you may find that you love one of those pictures and hate the other. The underlying reality was the same, but the filter put on it made you perceive it very differently. 

As a Generous Mind, my immediate thought is how generosity could address this very real issue that many of us face. And I think there is an easy answer. Instead of trying to convince people to like our filtered view of reality rather than the one they have chosen, why don't we start but being generous with our filter. What would that look like?

Well, for starters, it would mean sharing how we filter information with others. As Generous Minds we need to be open about the sources of information we trust, the way we look at the world and the values and beliefs that shape how we see things. If we did this, it might lead to more people understanding why we see the world the way we do. 

Secondly, we need to be willing to consider that our filter might have some problems. We may have some biases and assumptions that don't hold up very well. We may have some preconceived notions that have never been tested beyond our own echo chambers. 

Third, we need to use our generous example as a way to model this for others so they will share about their own filters. 

Once we understand the filters we use, we might be able to better discover the truth together. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . Jump

A year ago, this month, I helped wind down daily operations of GMI (Global Mapping International) as the CEO. While there were months left of work to finalize the shutdown, last year in August and September I took a sabbatical to ask God what might be next for our family in our Kingdom service.

As I have shared with many of you since then, we felt God challenging us to focus on the innovation space within a larger organization where we could invest in helping design new programs and redesign older ones that needed to be rethought. His leading seemed very specific and that is always a bit scary. With fear and trepidation, we decided to walk faithfully in it and see where things might go.

Since October, we have been patiently (sometimes not so patiently) listening to the Spirit’s voice, seeking to align our lives with His and building a platform to serve as an innovator.

I’m happy to announce that God has given us a clear next step that fulfills so many of the things we had been hoping and praying for. On August 1, I will begin my role as Director of Program Innovation for SIL International. Founded in 1934, SIL serves language communities worldwide, building their capacity for sustainable language development by means of research, translation, training and materials development. They have a unique role in language advocacy and development and also a key role in the Bible translation process. I have been so impressed with how SIL is seeking out the intersections of life and language and asking God how they can serve the Kingdom at those strategic points.

I am very excited to be joining SIL’s innovation group (called Innovation Development & Experimentation; IDX) and learning from a talented group of innovation leaders, entrepreneurs, data scientists, technologists and product managers. My role will focus on defining new programs to be developed and shepherding them through the innovation process until they can be successfully integrated into SIL’s core efforts. I have had the privilege to work with SIL’s Chief Innovation Development Officer, Steve Moitozo, for the past several months on a consulting project and have known him for several years before that because of GMI’s partnership with SIL. I know I have a lot to learn from him and look forward to working on his team and benefiting from his Godly leadership. I asked him to share a few words about my joining the team,


“At SIL we to want to help people do the things that matter most to them in the languages that mean the most to them. One of the key ways IDX enables SIL is by converting its ideas into healthy operational programs that help people thrive with their languages. I am excited that Jon has agreed to work with me and the IDX team as we help SIL innovate by doing new things with uncertain outcomes. I'm sure his mix of experiences, aptitudes, and heart will be a great compliment to SIL's innovation agenda.”
- Steve Moitozo


During this year of transition, I have learned many things. I have grown in patience, learned to listen more intentionally and increased my understanding the value of proximity and presence. I have invested strategically in my local community. I have invested in my wife and children and been blessed by their amazing personalities and gifts. I have sought out leaders and innovators around the globe in order to learn from their experiences. I have also had the great pleasure to serve as a consultant for some amazing organizations who asked me to help them during this time. I’m so grateful to each of these organizations (and my many friends and partners within them) for allowing me to come alongside them: Spoken Worldwide, SIM International, David C Cook, Tyndale House Foundation, 1615, Community Bible Study, Radio HCJB, In Christ Communications, the Retirement Reformation, Camino Global, and SIL International.

But as I jump into this next role, the thing I am most aware of is the hundreds of people who have been praying with and for me and my family in this transition. I have cherished your kind emails, encouraging words and genuine concern. Your faithfulness in prayer and support have given Mindy and I the confidence to wait patiently for God to give us direction; knowing He would provide for our needs. I would request that you continue to pray for us as we dive into this new challenge.

I look forward to being in touch with many of you in my new role. I will still be blogging here at Generous Mind and on The Future Shapers. I will also continue doing the innovation webinars. I can’t wait to see how God will use this new season of learning, working and leading to grow me, encourage others and bless the Kingdom.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Where did all the Farmers Go?

Click to view original chart. 
In this NPR interactive visualization we see the how the percent of US jobs in five categories has changed between 1850 and 2013. Wow, what a difference 163 years makes. A sector (Service) that hardly existed has steadily grown and Blue Collar work has stayed surprisingly steady. The real change is the move from making the food to sitting at a desk eating the food as we type away on our computers.

Study this chart for a few minutes and think about the changes that this visualization represents. Rural to urban . . . family business to big corporations . . . active to sedentary . . . local to global, and on and on.

Think about your family and go back a generation or two. How have these trends played out in your own family tree?

This chart has me asking a few basic questions:

  1. Who is growing our food today anyway? 
  2. How much more will the Service Sector grow and will it grow to the detriment of Blue or White Collar work?
  3. Is White Collar work already plateauing? 
What are your questions? What will you do differently as you look around your would this week with this new perspective?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Beyond Puzzles: Innovating in Complex Systems


As many of you know, I have been invited to be a regular contributor on The Future Shapers. Read my announcement here. It is an innovation thought leadership platform that is striving to deliver content with some innovative new business models.

I'm looking forward to sharing the unique perspective God has given me about innovation on this platform and I hope you will take some time to explore the content on the platform and connect with my articles as well as the articles of other thought leaders.

My first article is about the importance of perspective and accountability in innovation. Here are a few key quotes. I hope you will click through and read the full article. 

"But in a world of integrated ecosystems, there are endless possible next steps with countless potential endings . . . and, like those immersive adventures, not all of them are good. An innovator is almost never handed a jigsaw puzzle type of challenge."

"Navigating integrated ecosystems is central to mature innovation efforts within organizations. And this navigation effort requires understanding two concepts that are not often seen as core to innovation: perspective and accountability."

“Learn to see great things great and small things small.” Corrie Ten Boom

"As our ability to see the situation in front of us from different perspective grows, our need to understand accountability also grows. Just as perspective untangles the complexity of organizational innovation, understanding accountability does the same. Wikipedia talks about accountability as 'answerability.'"

"When we are able to change perspective just-in-time and navigate layers of accountability with courage, we are well positioned to deliver innovation within the organization we serve."

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Courage is Living by What is Real

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash
What is courage? When someone stands up to a bully and defends those who are being abused, we call them courageous. When a soldier enlists to defend our nation, we call them courageous. When a thought leader writes truth in the face of power, we call them courageous.

But courage is more than justice, duty and truth.

Courage is living by what is real. When you or I recognize what is real and respond accordingly we live courageously. That sounds simple, but I challenge you to test it out in the lives of those you consider to be courageous. I think you will find that it holds true.

So in order to live courageously we must have clarity about what is real. How good is your grasp on reality? It could have a lot to do with whether you are living courageously. If you are doubting your clarity around what is real, seek out sources of truth: trusted people in your life, God's Word, subject-matter experts, etc. Hold up your assessment of situations to those sources of truth and discern your grasp on reality.

When we know what is real, we can discern right from wrong. It is out of that discernment that we can look at a situation and see if it should be praised or if it needs to be corrected. Courage is required for both responses.

When we see what is right, we are responsible to affirm it. When we see wrong thinking, we are also responsible to confront it.

When the rest of the world is deceived in their thinking, acknowledging what is real takes courage. One example is the current national discourse in various nations about immigrants. It is courageous to defend the foreigner, widow and orphan. Those who are seeking a better life, those who are in danger and those who are suffering deserve our loving response (even if that love includes asking them to follow the law in their search for a future). Part of that response is to protect them from those who are responding in fear, anger and hate to human beings that should be loved. That response will take courage as many who are stoking those fears are the people in power who should be tasked with crafting a loving response.

What are the realities that God wants you to acknowledge and respond to in courage today? Can you list them? Are you prepared to respond? Will you trust Him for the courage?


Friday, June 29, 2018

Stewards Shape the Future

As Knowledge Stewards and Generous Minds, one of our responsibilities is to help shape the future. We are tasked to take the knowledge we have gained and make a difference for others as they face the future God has put in front of them.

With that responsibility in mind, I'm excited to announce that I will be contributing to a new content platform, The Future Shapers. What is it? Well, it's two things:

It is an online platform that will be bringing together innovation thought leaders to help you navigate many of the challenging issues you face today as you strive to creatively design solutions for today's changing world.

It is a new business with an exciting business model. Rather than reaching sustainability through advertising, the founders are developing a micro payment model that allows readers to pay for only what will be a help in their work. Find out more about the innovative model as well as how you can invest here.

It is a great privilege to be adding my voice to this community and I will be sharing with you when my first article goes live next week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Your Generous Mind will Outlive You

Ideas have a very different kind of lifespan than humans do. Ideas aren't bound by flesh and bone, illness, locality or finances. Instead they are bound by influence, recollection and application. Its not that idea's aren't physical; they are codified in words that can live on for hours, days, months, years and even centuries in scrolls, books, newspapers, blogs, digital archives, and so on.

But ideas are not stuck on a physical or digital page. They take root in the lives of those who take them in. Those ideas do their work in hearts and minds; producing whole new generations of ideas. Generosity begets generosity. 

So today as I commemorate a year since Jim Reapsome, my mentor and friend, passed away, I have two ways of thinking about his life. One is the deep loss I feel from not having more of him in my life. From our breakfast meetings in local diners all across Chicago's western suburbs to my intense editing sessions where we were working on getting a piece of writing just right, he made my life richer. I miss that. 

The other is the rich access to His thoughts and perspectives through what he wrote. Even this morning, I started my day reading a devotional he wrote on the life of Jesus and I was immediately connected to his heart. Jim's Generous Mind is still having an impact even though I can't call him up or write him and email. 

That is the power of a Generous Mind. If you share the ideas God has put on your heart, those ideas will continue to have power and significance as long as God chooses to use them. For some it might be as long as their friends are alive; for others it might be for centuries. The length of time isn't what is important. What is of value is the offering. God chooses to use it only when you offer it.

So what ideas does God want you to share today? Will you offer those ideas as testimony to what He is doing in your life and what you are learning as you walk with Him? How might those be used? That's not for us to know. But isn't it encouraging that the lifespan of our ideas, given as an offering to Jesus, is potentially far greater than we can imagine?