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, April 15, 2018

Innovation In Mission is Happening This Week

We are so excited about this week's live web event: Innovation In Mission. If you haven't signed up yet, please take a minute to get registered. It's free and packed with great insight on how you can build a culture of innovation in your organization.

In preparation for that event, we did a guest blog post for our Sponsor: InChrist Communications. Take a moment to read the post: "What Successful Innovators Must-And Must Not-Assume"

We look forward too seeing you there at the end of the week!

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Discovering a Posture of Proximity

NOTE: Take a moment to read my top 30 tweets from "The Power of Proximity" after reading this review.

My journey into proximity started when we began attending Fellowship Bible Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado over a decade ago. This missional community was different than other churches we had attended. Instead of going "out there" to serve, our church was engaging with our community and its needs at every turn. Whether it was at-risk kids, broken people hiding in the suburbs, tough bikers or struggling homeless families, I watched God mend hearts. While our family was only engaged in some very targeted ways, being a part of this body gave us a new perspective on living among people in need and walking alongside others on life's journey.

I knew there was something powerful about walking alongside those in need in a more incarnation way but I didn't always have words to describe the power of what was going on. It wasn't until I attended Bryan Stevenson's Global Leadership Summit talk in 2017 that I got a word to describe the posture of service. That word was "proximate."

As my wife and I were on a sabbatical following the Global Leadership Summit, that word kept coming back to me as a significant idea that I needed to study further. It was during that time that I had a conversation with my friend, Michelle Warren. She and I had worked together on a refugee advocacy event and I had appreciated her work. But when she told me about her new book "The Power of Proximity," she had my attention. I knew God was challenging me to stop, read and learn.
"The most profound move you can make to address pain and injustice is to become proximate to it." Michelle Ferrigno Warren
The most profound lesson from this deeply personal book is simply that proximity makes a tangible difference in our ability to impact someone's life. While that might seem obvious, our society is living in a very different place generally. We retreat behind garage doors, phone screens and tinted car glass to avoid the needs of others. With all of the amazing advances in technology, we have found many ways to stay comfortable, keep pain at arms length and avoid getting involved.

This book challenges that posture head on. Michelle explains that, "Proximity to the poor does not just reveal what we don't know, it teaches us things no article, conference, class or book can convey." That idea is foundational to her approach. She challenges the reader that simply thinking about the problem will never allow us to make a difference. For that we have to get close, get messy and take a risk.

She goes on to eliquently make the case for why poverty and injustice must be addressed . . . both at a personal level and an institutional level. And it is the very proximity she advocates that makes her case. It is clear that as we become proximate to the pain and injustice of the world, we must respond.

Michelle's personal story is interwoven throughout the book and it is clear that she has lived her topic. It would be so ironic if an author wrote about proximity but did not live it in a meaningful way. That is not the case with this book. She has lived a life of sacrificial service and is now teaching us out of the joy, pain and daily realities she has experience.

As she walks through the challenge of taking a proximate posture, she recognizes how scary it will be for many and how much fear there may be. I love this quote as she challenges people to move beyond fear, "Choosing courage is doing the next hard thing in front of you, not worrying about the consequences or what others are doing."

But, importantly, she goes beyond the personal action of the individual to talk about injustice within systems. I'm a big picture person and she widens the lens of the issue to talk about how proximity can help people to address macro problems in society that lead to injustice. But if you don't like to think about the big picture, she has plenty of insight into what you can do on a community level as well. She balances both views well.

Finally, she ends with a focus on hope. I'm proud of Michelle for ending this way when so many others end with a hard hitting challenge for people to "get with the program." She rightly recognizes that no amount of cajoling will move people into proximity. It is only a deep hope in what God is doing in the individual lives of each person on this planet that can mobilize us to leave safety, comfort and the known for the proximate.
“It is with eyes wide open to the pain, stagnation, brokenness, and oppression in my proximity to the poor that I wake up in the morning and drink my big glass of hope.” Michelle Ferrigno Warren


Top 30 Tweets from Power of Proximity


As we read Michelle Warren's book, Power of Proximity, we shared many of the quotes on @GenerousMind's twitter feed. The following represent our favorite 30 of those tweets. Follow the hashtag #PowerofProximity to see others sharing from Michelle's book.  
  1. The most profound move you can make to address pain and #injustice is to become proximate to it. @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  2. “Throughout our world, all kinds of half-dead beaten-up people are lying on the side of the road in need of a Good Samaritan willing to help them find healing and safety.” @mcfwarren  #powerofproximity 
  3.  “Proximity gets us so close to the pain of an issue that it radically changes our perspective and demands a deeper response. The longer we stay proximate, the more our perspective is shaped and the more we respond to what needs to be changed.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  4.  “Proximity to the poor does not just reveal what we don’t know; it teaches us things no article, conference, class, or book can convey.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  5. “Being proximate is necessary to engage brokenness because it transforms our lens. We cannot learn from a distance.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #lifelonglearning #SocialJustice #quote 
  6. This is a hard truth. We know about many things, but that doesn’t mean we are using that knowledge to love others. #powerofproximity 
  7. “When we live in proximity to the poor and we are not poor, it’s easy to think that our version of acceptability is more appropriate for our neighbors than their ways of thinking and doing.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #EmotionalIntelligence #lifelonglearning #poverty 
  8. “In essence, God’s justice recognizes that the poor need special attention. The poor need to be restored to their productive place so that the community can move forward together.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  9. “Wrestling in our heart with change can feel exciting at times, but for the most part it’s lonely.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #changemanagement #Change 
  10. “Justice is not a response to a problem, #mercy is. #Justice looks beyond the problem to see how people ended up in that broken place and works to overcome barriers so they can be restored.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  11. “Where in the Bible do we see God leave people in a broken place? We must be agents of restoration who are willing to engage systemic injustice.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  12. “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  13. “As you stay proximate, do not resist the transformational work that is happening to your heart and mind.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #socialjusticeday #poverty #Mercy @ivpress 
  14. “Privilege is something we have when we are able to elect in and out of a chosen position…God brought people into positions of privilege for the purpose of using their privilege to influence the issues of the day.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #leadership 
  15. “Only from a distance do we think fixing oppression and #injustice is someone else’s job. That is why proximity is powerful. Proximity compels us to choose a side.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #SocialJustice 
  16. “Standing against privilege carries the ultimate risk of burning the bridge that leads back home.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  17. “Proximity is powerful because it compels you to act in sincere ways, and what you lose in funding and approval from the privileged you gain in sustenance for the long haul.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  18. “My proximity to the poor did not simply transform me; it made me a deeper, wider, and stronger person in every way.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress #ThursdayThoughts 
  19. “In proximity to the poor we come to a crossroads, an intersection of God’s heart and our agenda.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quote #socialjustice 
  20. “Strong people are made because of strong decisions to move forward in weakness.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  21. “Choosing courage is doing the next hard thing in front of you, not worrying about the consequences or what others are doing.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  22. “It is not noble to stay silently on the sidelines. It is time for the church to be the church!” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  23. “Choosing courage doesn’t mean the fear goes away. Choosing courage also doesn’t mean we have to be aggressive or abrasive as we work to inspire others to make courageous choices.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  24. “Choosing courage doesn’t mean the fear goes away. Choosing courage also doesn’t mean we have to be aggressive or abrasive as we work to inspire others to make courageous choices.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  25. “Jesus makes us all brave if we take his opportunities to practice courage over fear.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  26. “The bigger the problem, the more people we need walking together toward the solution.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  27. “People are not our enemies. Injustice is the enemy, as are all the powers that want to keep people in those systems in a broken place.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  28. “Doing right together is not a minimal effort. It is essential. No single group will ever be able to do the work of justice alone.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  29. “Hope is a spiritual and even religious choice. Hope is not a feeling; it is a #decision. And the decision for hope is based on what you believe at the deepest levels.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  30. “It is with eyes wide open to the pain, stagnation, brokenness, and oppression in my proximity to the poor that I wake up in the morning and drink my big glass of #hope.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 

Friday, March 30, 2018

You are the Hero of Your Story

In his book "Ideas Have Consequences," Richard Weaver wrote, "The hero can never be a relativist." This rings true because a hero stands for something greater than themselves . . .  something that transcends their own minds and represents a wider truth. 

We could quickly modify that quote to say, "A Generous Mind can never be a relativist." Simply put, if you have the courage to release your ideas to the world, you must have the conviction that there is truth in them and that this truth applies to others as well. 

And today being a Generous Mind is truly a courageous stance. We live in a world where personal truth is assumed and anyone who imagines that they have a broader truth to share must be an arrogant fool. 

This is why we see more and more sharing in the form of story rather than big ideas. We can accept someone sharing their story where we may struggle to hear them share truth we may be challenged to consider. Their story is a personal treasure whereas their ideas are seen as their personal baggage. While this is a shame, it is an opening. Every story has a hero and you are that hero in your personal story. 

What is God calling you to be generous with today? Could your story be an opening to share big ideas that reveal truth to an increasingly skeptical world?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One-off Innovation Won't Cut It

www.innovationinmission.com
For the past decade the nonprofit community has made an important diagnosis but prescribed the wrong medicine. We recognize that we are in a fast changing world where today's impactful programs don't mean similar success tomorrow.

While this realization has been important and needs further acceptance, the general response has been inadequate. Because donors and nonprofit boards tend to be fairly risk adverse, nonprofit leaders have tended to take a project-based innovation approach. This approach has mostly been funded on the backs of major donors and foundations willing to take a risk on a given project.

The assumption with the project-based approach is, "If we do something more innovative in this one area, it will spread throughout the organization." This assumption is typically not proven out. Why?

At the center of the discussion about learning organizations that innovate, the issue is whether the nonprofit has an innovative culture. Does it have appropriate understanding of risk? Does the organization reward creativity, learning and new approaches? Are resources allocated to activities designed to learn and create? Is there permission to fail if done in a disciplined way?

If a nonprofit doesn't have a culture that is open to innovation, then that group can do all the innovative projects it wants but it will not result in the bigger transformation they are hoping for.

That is why we are announcing a free Live Web Event on April 20th at 10 a.m. Mountain Time. The theme is Innovation in Mission: Developing a Culture of Innovation. We have invited four innovation thought leaders from different spheres of influence together to bring you a unique event focused on how you can develop a culture of innovation within your organization. Cris Beswick, Jon Hirst, Paul Dzubinski, and Derek Seipp will help you think through how you can be a force for change in your organization on this journey to true innovation.

Explore the line-up of speakers, event schedule, resources available to attendees and registration form and we look forward to engaging with you in this Live Web Event. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Tech Made Me Do It

"Real life is slow; it takes professionals time to figure out what happened, & how it fits into context. Technology is fast. Smartphones and social networks are giving us facts about the news much faster than we can make sense of them..” Farhad Manjoo

Source: Getty Images
A scan of more discerning and thoughtful commentary will turn up a recent chorus of voices (like Farhad's) warning against the agenda of the tech that dominates our daily lives. I'm not talking about the voices yelling at us to chuck our cell phones and spend more time on our front porches (even though I love a good front porch discussion). There will always be those who wish we could go back 20 years to a time where life was seemingly easier to understand and control. 

No, I'm talking about a growing realization that our technology has a preference. The way it is wired wants to affirm certain patterns and discourage others. Our apps and gadgets are training us to adapt to them rather than the other way around. This is only more obvious as our tech gets circuitry wired with machine learning and AI. 

But besides the obligatory naysayer to counter the glowing technologist in an interview, we give very little space to consider the preferences of our technology. So let me highlight just three things that our tech wants us to do that may not be in our best interest:

  1. Go Fast: Our tech values speed and efficiency above truth and context. Whenever it has to make a choice, it will always choose what it values and push us to do the same.
  2. Stay Connected: Technology gets its power from being on all the time and accessible at all times. It only exerts power over us when we are connected to it and thus it pushes us to stay connected.
  3. Want More: Part of technology's power is the fact that it has been able to deliver incrementally more power/speed/access/information over these past years. Tech thrives on wanting more and making others desire more at any cost. The more we want, the more power tech has as it pushes the limits of processing power and data aggregation. 
We could probably go on to name 20 more things that our tech values that impact our behavior. But these three make the point. 

It is our job to be discerning. We must realize that technologies' values are probably not the values that should guide and govern our lives. And at that moment we must ask the deeper questions about what values we have and how we hold ourselves accountable to live by them. 

In the end, "My tech made me do it," is probably not going to be a good excuse!


Sunday, February 04, 2018

My Birthday Request

"...in every region of the world today there is a 
Christian heritage that we need to learn from." 
Miriam Adeney (taken from "God's Foreign Policy") 

As birthday greetings come in from around the world on my birthday (Feb 5), I am reminded of the great privilege it is to have friends in every corner of the world. Many of them come from cultures and with personal narratives very different from my own. But each represent a small piece of the richness I feel as I celebrate this special day. 

I have been thinking about that great blessing in my life, and I decided that for this birthday I would share that with each of you. No, I'm not going to share my friends and connections with you today (Even though I'm always excited to help people connect.). That is not what I had in mind. 

Instead, for my birthday, I would like to give you this gift in the form of a request to each of you reading this post:

"Will you stop what you are doing right now and learn something about someone you know who comes from a different cultural/geographical/socio-economic background than you do?"
  • You might think of a co-worker from a different country and Google it to learn a new fact.
  • Or if you are having coffee with a friend from another part of your country today, ask them some questions about their unique experience in person.
  • Maybe you will stop and talk to someone who is living on the streets and have a simple conversation. 
  • If you support an orphanage or local organization in another country, you might look up that country in Operation World to learn about what it is like for believers there. 
Whatever you decide to do, would you take a moment to do it and then post a reply to this blog post with a quick sentence about what you learned? 

I have no idea what God will show you as you take time to learn from others. But I can promise you this: 
  1. Learning usually leads to humility, understanding and insight.
  2. Your new insight will allow you to be a better friend and engage the world more effectively.
  3. As you learn from others, your life will be blessed in ways that neither you or I can imagine!
I look forward to hearing what you learn. 


Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Tool to bring the Bible to Life as a Leadership Guide

"Bible-centered leadership begins with a commitment of the heart to seek after God by engaging his Word." 

As I interacted with Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible (Steve Moore's new book), what came through most strongly was not a series of pithy ideas about leadership but the challenge I quoted at the top of this post. Steve is challenging leaders to see God's Word as the primary source of wisdom to grow as a leader. That doesn't mean that we can't learn from Drucker, Godin and the like, but it does mean that the Bible is deeply relevant to a leader's journey of service. I have served as the CEO of a nonprofit and can attest to how difficult it can be to make the Bible a core influence on leadership. There are so many people out there telling you they have the answers. Everyone has a methodology, a coaching technique or a framework to try. So it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of leadership literature and forget that the book by your night stand is actually the best resource of all. 

Steve's extensive research uncovered more than 1000 leadership conversations in the Bible. The book is a distillation of those 1000 conversations into 10 key themes that he saw over and over. He weaves together the Biblical accounts with direct and simple wisdom for leaders. I saw Ezra, Paul, Samuel, Moses and others in a new light. Instead of ancient holy men, they became leaders struggling with the very challenges I face: change management, staff conflict, staying focused on vision, and countless others (Read through the top 30 quotes I tweeted from the book here). 

One of the mistakes we as leaders commonly make is to compartmentalize our devotional time from our professional development efforts. We assume that God can help us love our neighbor but can't help us to tackle the Monday morning staff meeting. This book drives home the fact that God has deep wisdom to guide us as leaders, fathers/mothers, husbands/wives, community members and friends. 

By focusing on themes such as prayer, worship, favor, change, failure, risk, humility, and others, Steve ties the real life leadership challenges portrayed in Scripture to 21st Century leadership realities. Fundamentally, God's perspective is the key to navigating our roles as leaders. This quote sums that up:
"We grow in leadership effectiveness the more we learn to interpret life from God's vantage point, which gives us a better perspective."
My greatest take-away goes back to my introduction. I need to be diligently engaging with Scripture as part of my preparation as a leader and faithfulness in my role. I realize that too often my engagement with the Bible is far too removed from my task list for the day. God embedded leadership conversations in the Bible to help me to live out my role with a Kingdom perspective. I now must decide to listen to what He has to say. Will you listen to God's Word in this new way?

Top 30 Tweets from The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible

I have had the pleasure of reading Steve Moore's book "The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible." As I read, I shared twitter posts of some of the most significant ideas he shared. I hope my curated list of my top 30 tweets from the many more I shared. If you haven't read the book yet, I would encourage you to purchase a copy and share your own insights from the book with others who could benefit.
  1. “...the legacy of leaders, and the success of the organizations they lead, will be determined by the cumulative outcome of their most important judgment calls.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  2. When the gap between knowledge and obedience is small, faith and spiritual power become great. And when the gap between knowledge and obedience is large, faith and spiritual power remain small. @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  3. "Jesus measured maturity by a person’s obedience, not knowledge." @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  4. "Influence that leads to action is at the heart of leadership." @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #leadership
  5. #Leaders who regularly take time to rest, think, and reflect are swimming against strong currents created by the culture around us.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #SaturdayMotivation #leadership #WorkLifeBalance
  6. “...the first expression of groupthink in a #nonprofit board is making organizational perpetuity, rather than mission effectiveness, its highest objective.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #governance #leadership
  7. “...pride is very good at hiding, often behind overconfidence.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #leadership
  8. "There is no spiritual merit associated with increasing risk by failing to plan. Nothing about planning is incompatible with prayer.” @MooreMissions #prayer #risk #Top10BibleLeaders
  9. "Some of the loudest voices in the United States against #refugee resettlement are Jesus-followers. The core of their message is a desire to keep our country safe. Welcoming refugees, they believe, is just too risky.” @MooreMissions #RefugeesWelcome #risk #Top10BibleLeaders
  10. "The opportunity to make a significant impact almost always comes with significant risk. In fact, the two are directly related.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #risk #innovation
  11. "By his very nature, God is on mission. True #worship is both the goal and the fuel of #missions, and is therefore central to Christian #leadership.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  12. "Peter is known for walking on water with Jesus. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood in fire with Jesus. In both cases, it was the presence of Jesus that made the difference." @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  13. "The first responsibility of spiritual #leaders is to lead followers into a relationship with God, fostering the kind of intimacy that flows from true worship.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  14. "Jesus-following #leaders who attempt to lead without #prayer flirt with the sin of presumption, assuming God will add his blessing to their human effort.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #spiritual #leadership
  15. #Prayer is like the string on a kite that keeps us tethered to God’s heart for the people we lead, as we are carried by the wind of his Spirit. @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #leadership
  16. "When #leaders connect their responsibility for #leadership to God, their attention naturally turns to the followers he has entrusted to them.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  17. "The 1st response for #leaders walking through character-based failure is #repentance of sin. The 1st response for competency-based failure is acceptance of #responsibility. From there, regardless of the context for #failure, #resilience is key.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  18. #Leadership is not an individual sport. But the higher we go in leadership the harder we must work to sustain a network of life-giving and authentic #relationships.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  19. #Innovative #leaders understand how failure can unlock a treasure trove of good ideas. This upside of failure is why leaders on the steep side of the learning curve urge their followers to fail faster.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  20. "Wise #leaders welcome robust conversation about the implications of #change. That’s how unintended consequences are often identified.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #changemanagement
  21. "Spiritual authority is to leading change what oil is to an engine. It lubricates the process, reduces the friction, and prevents the situation from overheating.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #changemanagement
  22. "Our character as leaders is refined as we walk with God through difficult circumstances and experience his sufficiency to meet us at our point of need...Over time, followers recognize the godly character he forms in us.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  23. #Leaders gain spiritual authority by modeling godly character over time, engaging with followers in spiritual experiences and serving them with gifted power.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  24. "Spiritual #authority is not the only form of legitimate #power. But it is the most important. Effective Christian #leaders view spiritual authority as their primary and preferred power-base.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  25. "As we become highly self-aware, we discover new levels of confidence and clarity about how God has equipped us to add value to other individuals and contribute to a team.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  26. "We grow in leadership effectiveness the more we learn to interpret life from God’s vantage point, which gives us a better perspective.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  27. "Perspective is to life what a scale is to a map.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  28. "Humility & its companions of dependency & faith often fly in the face of our #leadership instincts. We tend to take charge & feel responsible to make something happen, rather than putting our faith in what God can do through us.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  29. "Hope is not a strategy. But leaders without hope almost never develop a good strategy.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders
  30. (God’s) "Favor is never a shortcut. It is never a reward for mediocre service.” @MooreMissions #Top10BibleLeaders #leadership