Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (New York: Penguin Group, 2010)

Seth Godin posts on his website 365 days a year. About once a month he comes up with a classic, worth saving to a PDF, categorizing, tagging, and saving. If you are not already subscribed to his blog, I recommend it: Seth Godin

The featured book of the quarter is Linchpin.

Here are “mustard seeds” I highlighted:

Is there anyone in an organization who is absolutely irreplaceable? Probably not. But the most essential people are so difficult to replace, so risky to lose, and so valuable that they might as well be irreplaceable. Entire corporations are built around a linchpin, or more likely, a scattering of them, essential individuals who are worth holding on to (page 49). Kindle Edition.

Art, at least art as I define it, is the intentional act of using your humanity to create a change in another person. How and where you do that art is a cultural choice in the moment. No one wrote novels a thousand years ago. No one made videos thirty years ago. No one Twittered poetry three years ago (page 99). Kindle Edition.

Successful people are successful for one simple reason: they think about failure differently. Successful people learn from failure, but the lesson they learn is a different one. They don’t learn that they shouldn’t have tried in the first place, and they don’t learn that they are always right and the world is wrong and they don’t learn that they are losers. They learn that the tactics they used didn’t work or that the person they used them on didn’t respond. You become a winner because you’re good at losing. The hard part about losing is that you might permit it to give strength to the resistance, that you might believe that you don’t deserve to win, that you might, in some dark corner of your soul, give up. Don’t (page 115). Kindle Edition.

Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential (page 116). Kindle Edition.

The road to comfort is crowded and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing (pages 115, 116). Kindle Edition.

Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re busy hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more (page 116). Kindle Edition.

When someone says to me, “I don’t have any good ideas . . . I’m just not good at that,” I ask them, “Do you have any bad ideas?” Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding bad ideas. All the creativity books in the world aren’t going to help you if you’re unwilling to have lousy, lame, and even dangerously bad ideas (pages 116, 117). Kindle Edition.

One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you’ll discover that some good ones slip through (page 117). Kindle Edition.

You’d think that the biggest self-doubt would be that something you’re working on might fail. And no doubt, many of us lie awake, filled with anxiety about big failures. Consider the argument that it’s just as likely you hold back out of fear that something might work. If it works, then you have to do it. Then you have to do it again. Then you have to top it. If it works, your world changes. There are new threats and new challenges and new risks. That’s world-class frightening (page 121). Kindle Edition.

We assign motivations and plots and vendettas where there are none. Those angry customers didn’t wake up this morning deciding to ruin your day, not at all. They’re just angry. It’s not personal and it’s not rational and it certainly isn’t about whether or not you deserve it. It just is. So now what are you going to do about it? When our responses turn into reactions and we set out to teach people a lesson, we lose. We lose because the act of teaching someone a lesson rarely succeeds at changing them, and always fails at making our day better, or our work more useful (page 178). Kindle Edition.

Humility is our antidote to what’s inevitably not going to go according to plan. Humility permits us to approach a problem with kindness and not arrogance. But humility is not the same as compliance. Humility doesn’t mean meekness or fitting in at all costs. Compliance feels like a shortcut to humility because it permits us to deny responsibility for whatever goes wrong. But compliance deprives you of your superpower; it robs you of the chance to make something better. The challenge, then, is to be the generous artist, but do it knowing that it just might not work. And that’s okay (page 224). Kindle Edition.

 

Church Discipline: “Tell it to the Church”

how? when? why?

How and when and why do you “tell it to the church”?

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17, NKJV).

We learned about it as one year was changing to a new one several years ago: two prominent, active couples, the man in one and the woman in the second, had become infatuated with each other and were moving toward dissolving their marriage for each other. I knew them both well. I’d done premarital counseling and performed the ceremonies. The elders and I had breakfast the following morning after I was informed and discussed the situation. Both extended families were concerned and cooperated in trying to bring resolution, although the parents of one involved weren’t members of the church.

After several contacts and visits over two or three weeks, we saw no sign of repentance. In this church, we met with a counselor twice a month to discuss whatever was current in our work. On this Monday morning, one of the elders told of our concern and intent. He related that our visits with the two hadn’t resulted in a change in attitude and said we would announce to the church the following Sunday that if there was no repentance in two weeks, the elders would ask the church to withdraw fellowship.

Our counselor replied, “You can do that and probably run off several families and upset the whole congregation.” We asked what else we could do. Didn’t the Bible teach withdrawal of fellowship for people involved in this?

His observation: about a third of the congregation is already upset because they know what’s going on and wonder why you haven’t already done something; about a third of the congregation knows about it and thinks it’s too soon for such drastic action; about a third of the congregation doesn’t even know anything about it. The elders followed his suggestions.

1. The following Sunday, one of the elders read a statement with no names mentioned.

“Brethren,

“Thank you for your care and concern for others. It is my feeling this is Biblical, and very much Christ-like.

“Two of our young families are in tremendous pain and difficulty at the present time. This is so disappointing and I feel so tragic, especially with the potential for the Lord’s work these families have had.

“Since late December your elders and brother Jerrie have been aware of the circumstances and have worked daily on these problems, both in personal contacts and in prayer. The past few days have been distressing and the situation seems to be deteriorating. We desire and seek your help. Please pray sincerely that this hurt can be healed. If you become aware of anything that can be done, please contact your elders with your help.

“For the Elders.”

No names were mentioned. But people who knew about this now knew that the elders and preacher had been involved constantly. The ones who didn’t know now knew that there was a serious problem in the church.

2. After a few weeks, another announcement was made:

“On February 6 of this year, the announcement was made to you that two of our young families were suffering extreme difficulty. For the two involved, ___ _______ and _____ _____ , their condition has continued to grow increasingly worse. It is now the need and request also the pleading of your elders that you be more involved in helping _____ and __ .

If you can contact either ___ or _____ by personal visit or letter, please meet with us this evening at 6 p.m. in the all-purpose room downstairs. It is our sincere desire to bring these two back to God, if at all possible.”

The room was filled that night. We did not tell what the couple had done. The elders told what we had done and of our ineffectiveness to bring them to repentance. The elders asked everyone who knew them to contact them during the next two weeks in whatever way they thought appropriate to ask them to reconsider and return to their mates who were willing to take them back: make a visit, talk on the phone, or write a letter.

3. Two weeks later, the elders requested that all who came to the first meeting assemble again in the fellowship room thirty minutes before evening worship. They asked the group to report their recommendations by responding in writing. They had prepared a letter to the elders:

“Because of my love for ___ and _____ , I recommend the following: _______________________________ _______________________________ Signed: _______________ “

4. Without exception, the individuals in that meeting said, “There is nothing left to do but to withdraw fellowship. They admit their sin and show no signs of repentance.”

5. The elders replied, “We agree with your evaluation and we will be announcing that during the services this evening.” We had a sad service that evening announcing the process, ending in asking the members to withdraw from this brother and sister until they repent. Several family members were present in that service.

Observations

1. Although these two did not repent, we didn’t lose a person because of this action. The families were involved. Close friends and other members were involved. When I left that congregation several years later, the grandmother of one of the parties thanked me for everything I did and that the church did to try to bring her grandchild back to repentance.

2. Elders cannot withdraw from a wayward member on behalf of the congregation. They can only request that the members withdraw.

3. If the members are not involved in the process, there is the possibility that someone will say, “If I had only known, I think I could have done something to help.”

4. If a person is asked to participate and chooses not to make any effort, they have no complaint.

5. It’s my understanding that this is to be a church effort—not just the elders and/or the preacher. It’s interesting that in the books that discuss church discipline (Matthew, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Thessalonians) there’s no mention of elders. This isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be involved and lead in this good work. It’s to observe that scripture doesn’t teach you must have elders to practice church discipline in all its forms and degrees.

Paul said,

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

What suggestions do you have for this third step in church discipline?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.

Jesus on Making Peace

repairing damaged relationships Jesus’ way

It was something said, done, or wasn’t said or done. Now two people who were close friends, brothers and sisters in Christ are alienated, hurt, and apart. Is there any hope for repair? I want to share with you a tract that Jesus wrote, I printed, and some have told me was helpful.

Jesus on Making Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9, NKJV).

The presenter in the first workshop I attended on conflict management said, “Many people are more interested in peacekeeping than in peacemaking.” By peacekeeping he meant trying to get comfortable quickly, trying to please everybody, trying to make everybody happy, appease all criticisms and complaints. In peacemaking, often it has to get worse before it gets better.

“Many people are more interested in peacekeeping than in peacemaking.” Click To Tweet

Reconcile with people you hurt

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison (Matthew 5:23-25).

Many like to skip this step. If I know I’ve hurt someone or someone thinks I have violated them, I need to go to that person immediately to get the matter resolved. Jesus says reconciliation is more important than worship.

Go to the one who offended you: ALONE!

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother (Matthew 18:15).

When someone sins (misses the mark) against me, I need to address that issue with that person. Notice the number of people in this meeting—2. I can’t obey this instruction of Jesus by having a fit in the foyer. There’re too many people observing and listening. This meeting involves me and one more.

Take one or two with you

But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16).

If the small discussion didn’t bring reconciliation, ask for help.

Two ways I’ve approached this.

  1. There’s been a time or two when I talked to friends, told them how badly I’d been mistreated, and asked them to go with me to visit my adversary to get him straightened out.
  2. On another occasion, I suggested to someone with whom I had a disagreement, “Why don’t you select a person and I select a person we both trust and see if they can help us. I suggest we not tell our story until our meeting time.”

Which do you think worked better?

Involving other good people can bring a calmness and objectivity that would be difficult for the parties involved. I have trouble listening to someone when I’m thinking of my next response. When people not involved in the conflict are listening without having to respond to every statement, they can listen, take notes, and suggest solutions.

If in these meetings the “one or two more” think I am the instigator or at least a propagator of the problem, I may need to make amends and ask forgiveness before we go to the next step and tell more people.

I have trouble listening to someone when I’m thinking of my next response. Click To Tweet

Tell it to the church

And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector (Matthew 18:17).

If the meeting of two and the meeting of three or four hasn’t brought reconciliation, involve the larger group.

Read more about telling it to the church: Church Discipline: Tell It to the Church.

You can print the tract on letter-size paper: Jesus on Making Peace.

What suggestions do you have for working with conflict?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.