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 29, 2012

A Generous God

Why do we go to church? There are many reasons. Sometimes we want fed as Christians, other times we go to serve others. Still other times we go out of obligation. Sometimes we don't know why we go but the routine propels us to the doors of the building.

I have gone for all those reasons but the reason that I have been most passionate about going recently is to be near to a generous God. What do I mean? As I talk with people, attend our community class, sing with the congregation, share communion, hear from a fellow believer as they share from the Bible, I receive an overwhelming amount from God's hand.

The ideas flow like a river. New blog posts, answers to questions I have been asking, new approaches to challenges in my life, and on and on. It isn't that God could not share those same insights with me at my home or on a hike in the mountains. But God has chosen to use the context of our communal time with Him as a place to give generously.

When you go to church are you expecting to receive insight, innovation, creativity in every area of your life? Or do you silo church into the "super-spiritual" subjects of theology and church history and refuse to accept God's generosity in other areas like your career, family questions, home projects or hobbies.

God uses the time we come close to Him to download ideas into our lives. Sunday isn't the only time He chooses to do this, but it is one of the times I choose to focus on God and give Him the chance He so greatly desires to influence my thinking. I long for the day when He is speaking to me and giving me insights on a daily and even hourly basis.

But the first step is to spend time with God in a receiving mode. Do you expect God to be generous?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

10% of Your Ideas

"Be sure to set aside a tenth of all your fields produce each year." - Deuteronomy 14:22

Reading Deuteronomy has been a wonderful adventure in rediscovering the world God was creating for the people of Israel. His plan was to create an amazing country designed around his laws instead of ours.

As I read about God's expectations related to tithing, something caught my attention. He is speaking to agrarians who raise crops and livestock. And he tells them that "a tenth of all your fields produce" should belong to God. This meant all the things that were produced by the work of their hands must be taken into account as they give God His portion.

What does that look like for us today. We have mostly translated that into giving money. But I wonder, should we give God our ideas as well? What would that look like.

Well I think I know what that means:
1. Sharing with others ideas that will benefit their lives - tips, encouragements, how-to's, etc.
2. Helping others to brainstorm and think through the challenges they are facing.
3. Taking the areas where you have expertise and giving them to those in need and the Body of Christ.

I think this topic is especially important because so many of us work in the Idea Economy. We get our money and value from the ideas we develop and steward. Yet we seldom think of giving ideas away as part of the discipline of giving to God.

What would the world look like if the millions of knowledge workers were tithing their ideas? I would love to find out!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Reinventing the Rules for Reading

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” ― C.S. Lewis

Good habits take discipline and intentional action . . . two things that our time-starved culture struggles to grab hold of. One of the great habits that drive our ability to engage our world for the better is reading. And on World Book and Copyright Day, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about the discipline of reading.

The need to talk about this is growing more and more necessary. We were amazed recently to read a guest blog post by Justin Zoradi on Donald Miller’s blog that shared some of the recent stats on reading patterns in the United States. One of them was that “80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.”
From you readers out there I can hear a sudden and uncontrollable “gasp!” But from the overall culture, it is probably not that concerning. After all, we are consuming a huge amount of content in many formats each day and few people could argue that we are not being introduced to thousands of messages every work week.
However, consuming media in “twitter-sized” bites and reading a book about a given topic cannot be compared. We use twitter plenty, but when we really need to dive deep we don’t expect that topic’s hashtag to give us the meat we are looking for. Instead, we pick up a good article, a well-thought out blog post or, yes, a book.
We are reading differently today because of all the changes in our world. That’s ok . . . as long as we realize the benefits of reading an idea that has been well thought out, well researched and presented in a compelling way. But how can we decide the place of the book among the countless content options we have today?
C.S. Lewis set out a simple rule many years ago (see the beginning of this article) challenging people to mix the reading of new and old books to get a broader perspective and understanding of the topics that they care about. This can be helpful because it gives value to ideas from different times, allowing us to see beyond the fads and cultural blinders that so often hamper the thinking of a person living in a specific place and time.
But we ask the question, “How would we update C.S. Lewis’ rule for the age in which we live?” What a challenge! But if we are successful, maybe we can help reintroduce the discipline of reading into the lives of the next generation.
“It is a good rule to read . . .

-          A book written by someone from another culture as often as you read a book written by someone from your own.

-          At least one article recommended by your twitter followers each week.

-          Three blogs for every one you write.

-          Books that have nothing directly to do with your career or position at work.

-          Content recommended by your close friends which will give you an opportunity for discussion.
These are some of our suggestions for updating C.S. Lewis’ rule. What are yours? Recommend other options for a chance to win our latest book Through the River: Understanding your assumptions about truth. (We will pick a random entry to decide the winner.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creating What Matters Doesn't Come Quick

We all know it is true, but we still don't want to believe it. Everything in our being says that there is no such thing as the quick buck, fast results and instant success, but we fight it every day with all our strength . . . why?

Woven into our Western narrative is this story of the person who lived on the street one day and a mansion the next. Or maybe the one that showcased the business who was about to go bankrupt and then got its lucky break and made millions. We want to believe that story. That is why we buy lottery tickets.

But deep down we know that the real payoff in life takes time. To create something that really matters to the world you have to invest significant effort. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the "10,000 hours" that it takes to be excellent at something. It is the truth. Things that matter don't come quick.

Because we work in the area of cause development and community nurturing we run into this narrative all the time. People want community and they know that communities are made up of people and relationships. However, they also want to believe that they can mass produce a community with the snap of a finger. We have to lovingly and regularly remind them that it just doesn't work that way.

This cultural narrative of the "quick win" has been around for quite some time. But thankfully we are seeing real signs that it is being rejected by many in the next generation. In fact we are seeing more programs and new initiatives that focus on a significant time investment rather than reaching for "better, faster, cheaper and more."

We have come across two examples recently that will illustrate a change from quick wins to long-term investments:

Unreasonable At Sea: This is a program for tech companies looking to make a difference globally. If you are wanting to launch a global initiative, you can apply to spend 100 days on a ship visiting 14 countries accompanied by 20 mentors. This experience is an in depth and intense training and equipping time with the goal of launching globally significant business initiatives in the tech sector. Would you take the time to get on a ship for 100 days as a technology executive? What a commitment but what great potential!

Praxis Labs: This is a 1 year program for social entrepreneurs that provides 3 gatherings, 25 mentors and a chance to win $100,000 towards their endeavors. Through the very intentional program, these entrepreneurs are equipped to be effective in their role and see their business succeed. But it is a long-term commitment that includes paying for the program as well as investing in the process. Would you make that kind of investment to take your game to a new level?

These two examples are small glimpses at a different way of looking at creating things that matter. It isn't about chance, luck or working the numbers. Instead it is an intentional, holistic and sacrificial process that takes great commitment to pursue.

Are you still caught in the grand narrative of the last century? Are you seeking that quick win that will change your fortune? Or are you looking at the big picture, making intentional sacrifices to accomplish things that matter?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Generosity is Personal

Whenever someone said "It's not personal, it's just business," it always bothered us. But until we heard this great quote from Meg Ryan's character in the romantic comedy "You've Got Mail," we never could put words to that feeling.
In the movie Tom Hank's character (a businessman who ran Meg Ryan out of business) said, “It wasn’t personal.”  Meg Ryan's character reacts by saying: “What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s “personal” to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway? . . . Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

This issue came back again when Hilary Rosen, a democratic activist, criticized Mitt Romney's wife for being a stay-at-home-mom. In her apology, she said, "It's not personal." But our response to her would echo the words of Meg Ryan's character. "All that means is that it wasn't personal to you." It was very personal to the person she was attacking - Anne Romney.

When we share our ideas it is always personal. There is no impersonal transfer of facts when we are engaging each other on the media platforms of the day. Even wikipedia entries showcase the author's passions for the subject. Whether you are on the radio, sharing at a book club, writing a blog, speaking at a local event or addressing the nation on television, your ideas are very personal . . . to you and to those you are addressing.

In fact ideas are meant to be personal - that is what gives them life. It has only been since modernity that we have tried to strip ideas from their subjective value and shell out "just the facts." In the end the reality is that there simply aren't a list of facts anywhere that you could share without building in your personal values, perspectives and opinions.

And just as Meg Ryan's character came to realize, we don't believe that is a bad thing...necessarily. Any time an idea hurts someone the way Rosen's did, it is to be condemned. And, we need to value objectivity when it is called for. There are times when we need to strip away feelings and provide the key information. But most of the time our personal investment in the idea is what brings it to life, makes it personal and adds value to those who see us as a thought leader. It is also what shows our true feelings and our character.

So next time you feel like holding back your generosity because the information is your personal opinion, remember that your personal input is part of what makes it valuable. Just make sure that the power of what makes your idea distinctively yours is used to honor God and those around you. Otherwise your generosity becomes a weapon instead of a support to your audience and the world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Generous With Our Children

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:6-7

What a challenge these verses are! They speak to an intentional and regular process of sharing God’s truth with our families and those closest to us. What strikes me most when I read these verses is the use of time. Moses is challenging the people of Israel not to simply talk of God in those special dedicated times that we call “services” or “outreaches.” Instead Moses is challenging the Israelites to see every part of their day as an opportunity to speak truth into members of their family.

Usually our days are very busy and we have them scheduled very tightly. We get a sense of comfort from controlling our schedules and defining our agendas. It is also much easier not to really think if we are busy. We can run from activity to event and back again and spend very little time reflecting on God or on our relationships.

But what happens if we are intentionally being generous with God’s truth while we walk through daily life? Well, to put it simply, it changes our hearts and our actions. If we are speaking truth as we do life, we are speaking truth into those situations and God has a vehicle to teach and also to help us act more like His son Jesus.

We are novices at doing this, but we are trying. I find myself looking for examples of God at work during the day and then bringing those up with our kids. I also integrate teaching time into a simple stop at the grocery store by purchasing a treat and debriefing the day after the groceries are purchased but before we run home. We also listen for things on the radio or in life that might be “teachable moments” that we can use to bring Godly principles to life.

Looking for those things has changed me. I don’t see a divide between my spiritual pursuits and my daily activities. Instead I see a God who is present all around me and weaving His truth into my life. Here are a few simple things you might do to be generous with God’s truth as you invest in your families:

1.       Ask your family questions that help them think about what God has to say about the situation you are dealing with during your day.

2.       Harness the events of the day and help your family see how God was at work and what God was teaching you.

3.       Debrief the activities of your day with your family so that they get the chance to consider what God was doing.

4.       Bring God into your day early through prayer or comment so that your family can have the right perspective on the activities of the day.

How can you be generous with what God is doing in your day as you shepherd your family?