In Relationship (Part Seven)

fightHealing or Terminating a Relationship

Relationships are rarely strife free. And when conflict enters a relationship it must be dealt with quickly and decisively for the continued health of the relationship. The two options for a broken relationship are: 1) Heal the relationship; 2) Terminate the relationship. Allowing the relationship to go on in its broken state is not an option.

How do you heal a relationship? You must confront the other. Passive aggressiveness solves nothing. Passive aggressive people will act as though they are the righteous ones as they avoid confrontation. They act as though they are the ones committed to the relationship. They will not be the ones to end a relationship. But truthfully, they don’t care about the relationship at all. They want the relationship to end. They don’t want to put in the work to heal it. And, when the relationship does end, they can take the high road and say, “Well, it wasn’t me who ended it.”

Confrontation always involves the risk of termination. Each time you confront someone you’re in relationship with, with the purpose of healing, you risk ending the relationship. And if that happens, so be it. Allowing the relationship to go on in its broken state is not an option.

How to confront? One way would be to write down all the actions of the other which are bothering you, and have the other write their own list as well. Then, sit down together and go through each other’s lists. Predetermine to not leave the room until you come to some solution. The solution might lead to the healing of the relationship, or the termination of it. If there is to be healing, both parties have to be willing to compromise. If one or both parties are unwilling to compromise, termination will be the result. If that happens, accept it and move on peacefully.

Also read In Relationship Part One; Two; Three; Four; Five; Six

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Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part Four

goal-vs-vision-1024x732I recently finished reading How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. In it, Adams makes a good suggestion which goes something like this: Don’t set goals in your life, rather, build systems. And that got me thinking about the difference between Visionary leaders and Masters — Visionaries set goals, Masters build systems.

As I wrote about before, a Visionary leader does not have much to offer other than his vision. To follow the Visionary you must celebrate his vision, but after that, you’re mostly on your own. And if you do not celebrate his vision you become a pariah. In fact, you could be very good at what you do, but if you don’t celebrate or connect to the vision you’ll be ignored. And vice versa, you could be terrible at what you do, but if you do celebrate the vision you will be promoted.

Visionary led movements which never transition to Master led movements usually die with the Visionary. I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). The CRC was founded in 1857 and has roots going back to the Reformation. I don’t doubt that the CRC will still exist 100 years from now. I also know of Christian church movements which are only 40 years old. These movements are Visionary led and I don’t see them lasting another 40 years. Once the Visionary dies, the fuel feeding the movement burns out.

So I agree with Scott Adams, but I will change the wording: Don’t rely on vision, rather, build systems. Systems will outlive the Visionary. You can start with a Visionary, but don’t die with the Visionary.

A system does not mean a bureaucracy. It’s true that can happen, but a Master won’t allow it. A Master creates a system in which everyone can operate freely and not be bogged down by unnecessary rules. Systems are not void of progress; they create an environment in which progress is normal. For example, a friend of mine is trying to lose weight. In the past he would always set a goal of how many pounds he would like to lose. He would reach that goal, but never sustain the new weight. Now, he has abandoned the goal setting and is creating a system instead. The system is not pushing toward a specific weight but rather is creating a lifestyle in which a healthy weight becomes normal.

Christian Visionaries love to quote this Bible verse: Where there is no vision, the people perish… See how important vision is? It’s in the Bible! But, it’s funny because they don’t quote the whole verse. In fact, they don’t even quote the full sentence. The whole verse is this: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV) The word vision in the passage is the Hebrew word châzôn, which refers to a prophetic vision. The prophetic vision here is not some scheme conjured up by a leader, but rather it is a divine revelation from God instructing us how to live our lives. What is that divine revelation according to this verse? It is the law. And what is the law? It is a system.

A system sustains life and is superior to anyone’s vision. A system is intergenerational whereas a vision is only held passionately by the originator, and maybe by his immediate successor… maybe.

Forget the vision. Be a Master and build systems.

Read: Part One; Part Two; Part Three

DilbertGoals

Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part Three

one-size-fits-allIt’s easy to have strong opinions about generalities. It is equally easy to speak in absolutes when you think you know everything. But often these opinions and absolutes are not qualified. And once you start asking detailed and specific questions, those strong opinions and absolutes begin to break down. There is nuance to life and only God can see and know everything. As for us, we can only speak in absolutes when we know 100% of the facts (very rare) or when we repeat what God has already said (and even that is often argued about).

Visionary leaders tend to speak in absolutes. What they believe they know and what they believe they’ve experienced in life is a “one size fits all” for everybody, and if someone disagrees with them, they can’t except the idea that anyone could correctly see things differently from them.

This single-mindedness is both virtue and vice. Of course a visionary needs to have a single target in sight, and not be turned left or right by self-doubt. But, this also could prevent them from having any relationships with anyone who is not a follower of theirs. Now, a visionary reading this might ask, “So! What’s wrong with that?” And that’s fine if that’s how you want to live. But I think there’s a danger it will make you resentful, bitter, and suspicious. You’re trapping yourself into a limited way of thinking and you’ll be personally offended every time someone doesn’t agree with you or does not want to connect themselves with you.

Be a Master instead…

  • A master strives to have 100% of the facts but always is aware that he rarely does.
  • A master is open to new ideas and is not afraid of change.
  • A master never adds to God’s word, and never condemns where God does not.
  • A master has relationships with other masters and those relationships are built on a love for the work, not politics.
  • A master lets his apprentices go off on their own when they’re ready — he doesn’t expect them to follow him forever. But, he is always there to offer advice when needed.

Read Part OnePart Two; Part Four

Like People, Like Priest

I am a western English speaking Christian worker in Cambodia. I administrate a Christian elementary school. This position is a good fit for me for both general and specific reasons. It is generally a good fit because I like kids (usually), I care about kids being discipled for Christ, and I care about education. It is specifically a good fit for me because, as the administrator, I am able to work from behind the scenes and let much of the forefront decision-making be done by local people. Why is that important to me? Because I want my work to reach and be effective to Cambodians, and that best happens, in my opinion, when Cambodians work with Cambodians. As the old Khmer proverb says: Only the spider can repair its own web.

bbbAnd such is the principle of Like People, Like Priest; people will follow those they can relate to. If you’re an English speaking expat starting up a church in an Asian city with a high population of English speaking expats, don’t be surprised when the people coming to your church are all English speaking expats. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are honest with yourself and admit that you are the pastor of an expat church and not the pastor of a Cambodian/Thai/Burmese, or whatever nation you happen to be in, church. If you wanted to be the pastor of a church of nationals, there are some major steps that need to be taken to do that, mastering the language for example, and you might find you are unwilling/unable, for various reasons, to take those steps.

Being honest with yourself about what you are truly capable of doing is the first step to finding the right fit for your life and being an effective participant in the building of Christ’s kingdom. Who can you connect to? Who can connect to you?

Passive Aggressive Poison

passive aggressive ninja“I don’t worry, if they have a problem with me, they will preach about me!”

That’s what a friend told me when describing the leadership at a bible college he was attending. He had discovered that when and if the leadership was unhappy with what he was doing, rather than confronting him directly, they would come at him indirectly through passive aggressive tactics. And a great way to destroy relationships is to act passive aggressively.

What is passive aggressiveness? It is simply an avoidance of direct confrontation due to cowardliness. If passive aggressiveness takes root in your group it becomes a poison killing the tree. You have to deal with it quickly.

I’ve been guilty of this behaviour myself in the past, but I’ve made a rule to avoid it. It takes time to recognize it in yourself, but gets easier to stop over time.

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