"Thoughts" On Important Themes

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

 

The best test, and difficult to administer, is:  Do those served grow as persons?  Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?  The first order of business is to build a group of people who, under the influence of the institution, grow taller and become healthier, stronger, and more autonomous.

      -Robert Greenleaf

 

You have to be very well defined to take on the servant’s role.  Intentionality and self-possession are the hallmarks.  (“No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and to take it up again.”  John 10:18)  To truly serve, one must be servant to others’ ultimate best interest, not a slave to others’ approval.

 

STEWARDSHIP

 

The antidote to self-interest is to commit and to find cause.  To commit to something outside of ourselves.  To be part of creating something we care about so we can endure the sacrifice, risk, and adventure that commitment entails.  This is the deeper meaning of service.  Let the commitment and the cause be this place.  It is not so much the product or service that will draw us out of ourselves.  It is the culture and texture and ways of creating community that attract our attention.  Our task is to create organizations we believe in and to do it as an offering, not a demand.

      -Peter Block

 

Each member needs to believe the organization is theirs to create. Partnership means each of us at every level is responsible for defining vision and values.  Purpose gets defined through dialogue.  [Accountability means] Each person is responsible for outcomes and the current situation.  There is no one else to blame.

      -Peter Block

 

PARADOX

 

Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out.  The cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms forever without altering its shape.  Because it has a paradox in its center it can grow without changing.  The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.

          -G.K. Chesterton 

 

Most of the important questions we face are paradoxical in nature.  A paradox is a question that has many right answers, and many of the answers seem to conflict with each other.

      -Peter Block

 

LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS

 

The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels of an organization.

      -Peter Senge

 

We all know that teams can learn; in sports, in the performing arts, in science, and even, occasionally, in business, there are striking examples where the intelligence of the team exceeds the intelligence of the individuals in the team, and where teams develop extraordinary capacities for coordinated action.

        -Peter Senge

 

Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human.  Through learning we re-create ourselves.  Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do.  Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it.  Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.  This, then, is the basic meaning of a “learning organization” – an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.

       -Peter Senge

 

A learning organization is one in which individuals are always growing, learning, and creating.  It is an environment in which there exists mutual respect and a willingness to examine both one’s own assumptions and those of others.  Learning organizations are characterized by an openness to experimentation and a recognition that failure is sometimes the price of risk. . .  An organization’s ability to learn dictates how quickly it can adapt to perpetually changing conditions.

       -Thomas Hawkins

 

THOUGHTS ON PURPOSE

 

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one . . . the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

        -George Bernard Shaw

 

Purpose does not usually appear as a clearly framed goal, but more likely as a troubling, unclear urge coupled with a sense of indubitable importance.

        -James Hillman

                   

Motives come from the past; purposes involve the pull of the future.

Yes, we are pulled by the past; yes, many of our actions, and even thoughts are largely reactions – but only largely; not entirely.  We are also pulled by the future – more appositely:  by our own sense or vision of our future.

        -John Lukacs

 

CHANGING (METANOIC) THOUGHTS

 

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven in near.”

        -Matthew 4:17

 

Be no longer conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.          

          -Romans 12:2

 

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

        -The Ninety-five Theses, Thesis 1

 

[Baptism] signifies that the old creature in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new person should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

        -The Small Catechism, Holy Baptism, IV

 

Now, properly speaking, repentance consists of two parts: one is contrition or the terrors that strike the conscience when sin is recognized; the other is faith, which is brought to life by the gospel . . . .  Thereupon good works, which are the fruit of repentance, should follow.

              -Augsburg Confession XII: 3-6

 

To grasp the meaning of “metanoia” is to grasp the deeper meaning of “learning,” for learning also involves a fundamental shift or movement of mind.   Through learning we re-create ourselves.  Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do.  Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it.  Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.

         -Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline, pp. 13-14

 

Deep change differs from incremental change in that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving.  It is change that is major in scope, discontinuous from the past and generally irreversible.  The deep change effort distorts existing patterns of action and involves taking risks.  Deep change means surrendering control.

         -Robert Quinn, Deep Change, p. 3

 

Pain can be a teacher.  Real learning begins when the threat of pain emerges.  No transformation happens without a crisis.

         -Peter Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, pp. 77, 79

 

Many are the plans of a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose which prevails.

         -Proverbs 19:21

 

God has saved us and called us for a special purpose – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.

         -2 Timothy 1:9

 

For it is God who energized you to choose and to do according to His good purpose.

            -Philippians 2:13

 

And we know that God makes all things synergize for the good of those who, having been called according to His purpose, love Him.

            -Romans 8:28

TIMELY THOUGHTS

A Catalogue of Testimonies, both Secular and Sacred

 

Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.

       -Jaroslav Pelikan

 

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes—our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.

         -G. K. Chesterton

 

The past makes us, but just as surely we make and remake the past.  Technology . . . has tilted the balance in favor of the living who now fashion the dead in their image.

       -Jedediah Purdy

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

       -George Santayana

 

History teaches nothing but only punishes for not learning its lessons.

       -Vassily Kliuchesky

 

I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

       -The Psalmist (Psalm 77:5-6a, 11)

 

The great achievements of the past were the adventures of the past.  Only the adventurous can understand the greatness of the past.

       -A.N. Whitehead

 

I am a man who truly loves the past.  Traditionalists, on the other hand, do not love it; they want it to be not past but present.

       -José Ortega y Gasset

 

Movements that are often described as resurgences of the past are instead battles over the future, conducted by the means of the present and dressed in the clothing of the past.  [They] cannot be called assertions of the past.  They are arguments about the future, couched in the language of the past because it is convenient and powerful, but achieved at the cost of violence to history.

       -Jedediah Purdy

 

The people were unprepared to redefine themselves; their future was hostage to their history.

       -Watts Wacker & Jim Taylor

 

Motives come from the past; purposes involve the pull of the future.

Yes, we are pulled by the past; yes, many of our actions, and even thoughts are largely reactions – but only largely; not entirely.  We are also pulled by the future – more appositely:  by our own sense or vision of our future.

        -John Lukacs

 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?  I will create a new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

       -Isaiah (Isaiah 42:18-19a, 65:17)

 

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old had gone, the new has come!

       -Paul (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.

       -The Psalmist (Psalm 100:1)

 

Everyone who knows the Scriptures and becomes an eager learner in the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom.

       -Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:52)