It’s Not About You


The following is an excerpt from my newest book length project.  The working title of this new book is “LeaderSheep; Leading from a posture of submission in Business, Ministry and the Kingdom of Heaven” and is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2018.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Few books of the last quarter century have been more influential in Christian circles than Pastor Rick Warren’s,  “The Purpose Driven Life”.  In 2007 Publisher’s Weekly declared Warren’s magnum opus of Christian living the “best selling non-fiction hardcover book of all time.”  In just 5 years it had sold over 30 million copies and become the second most translated book in history behind The Bible itself.  In recognition of the influence he had had on a generation of Christ-followers  Warren was asked to pray for the nation at the inauguration of President Barak Obama in 2008.

The Purpose Driven Life was originally published at a time when America, and indeed the entire world, was reeling from the first act of war committed on her soil since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  The terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001 shook America’s confidence to its core and sent people searching for answers to life’s biggest questions.  The sub-title of the book “What on Earth am I here for?” spoke to those people in a deeply profound way and helped to drive sales of The Purpose Driven Life to stratospheric heights.

But if anyone thought that The Purpose Driven Life was going to give them a feel good, step by step motivational message about how to get back on track through some inward journey of meditation and search for meaning they wouldn’t have gotten off the first page.  For those looking for that type of self-centered motivation the book opens with a punch to the gut that Warren delivers in a signature style reminiscent of an iron fist in a velvet glove.

The first four words of The Purpose Drive Life are “It’s not about you!”   

I can’t think of a better way to start talking about LeaderSheep than by setting the expectation, direction and tone of this work with a reminder that the purpose of leadership is not self-promotion.  It’s quite simply not about you!

In order to be LeaderSheep we must first recognize that we are not leading for personal gain or personal reasons.  Sheepish leaders have a clear sense of purpose, that much is true, but first and foremost they know that their purpose has actually nothing to do with them and everything to do with the flock.  If you are going to be a sheepish leader the first thing you need to do is find the purpose of the thing you are leading, be it an organization, a division or a product launch.

For more on finding purpose or to follow my progress I write this new book contact me at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.  As always I crave your feedback, questions and comments are always welcome…

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

That Dusty Book on the Shelf


Americans revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates. – George Gallup, Jr.

bible

I go to great lengths in most of discussions about religion, Christianity in particular, to make it clear that I am not a theologian.  I say it over and over again.  I am simply a humble servant and disciple of Christ who makes it his business to try and understand what Jesus meant and apply it to my life.  That’s why when I came across this article recently about how few Christians actually read the bible I was intrigued, check it out.

Are Christians Scheming Swindlers?

In making his key point the author quotes 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who said:

The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Honestly I disagree with Kierkegaard on this front.  It’s not that we pretend not to understand, most of us understand quite clearly.  No instead we rationalize our understanding in one of three ways.

1-                  I just don’t have time to study the scriptures.

In my experience this is by far the number one reason I have heard for people who don’t read the bible.  The question of understanding is irrelevant when you don’t take the time to study.  Kierkegaard is right, the bible is very easy to understand, especially in this day and age when there are so many different translations available.  The old excuses that I heard growing up, that the language was too old and archaic just don’t wash anymore.  Yes the King James Bible is hard to understand, it’s like reading the must insufferable passages of Shakespeare, but you need not read the bible in old English there are hundreds of other options.

Nowadays the most common excuse goes like this, “Okay fine, the language has been updated but have you seen that thing?  It’s huge!  I work 40 hours a week and then I come home and spend upwards of 15-20 hours running the kids all over town, when exactly am I supposed to find the time to read a book like that?”  Honestly I don’t have much to say about that, it’s all in where you put your priorities, I read for about 10 minutes a day, surely you can find 10 minutes!

2-                  That was then, this is now.

What this comes down to is historical rationalization and present bias.  But the main reason why we can say this is that we have deluded ourselves into thinking that human nature has changed.  The Bible is certainly set in a historical context, that’s not at issue here.  But the main message of the Bible speaks to the human condition and human nature and that has not changed.

3-                  There has to be more to the story, what about (fill in the blank)?

If the bible doesn’t answer your questions in the way you want it to who’s at fault?  Most of the “what about” questions are really attempts at rationalization.  A favorite point of debate lately has been the 6th commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill”.  There is no room for a “what about” question here, it’s pretty clear.  Even if you rationalize and say that the English translation is too focused and the proper word should be “murder”, as Pastor Mark Discoll of Mars Hill in Seattle recently attempted to do, that’s still pretty clear.  Personally I say just don’t put yourself in a position where the question even comes up.  If you have to rationalize between the meaning of killing and murder you’ve missed the point, err on the side of caution and just don’t do it.

There are also times when the “what about” question is centerd on something the bible just doesn’t address in specifics.  There we need to use a little bit of judgement and try to find a principle that could apply.  When I can’t find a specific example I fall back on 1 John 4:8 – “God is Love” or to put a bit more detail around it:

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. [Colossians 3:12-14]

You can’t go wrong if you bind everything together in Love.

The Mission


So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Corinthians 5:16-21]

So my wife and I had a big debate the other day about war and capital punishment.  Fundamentally it came down to a question of how we see the mission of the Church.

Her argument was that there are some people who are just so far gone, so deeply embedded in a life of sin that they need to be punished even to the point of death.  My argument was that all people regardless of what they have done are infinitely valuable image bearers of God who deserve a chance at reconciliation.

The problem with my wife’s argument is that there is no hierarchy of sins.  It is impossible to rank some sin as worse than others, some deserving of death and others not.  If as the Bible tells us, the wages of sin is death, then even so much as a white lie or a moment of covetousness toward your neighbour’s new car is disserving of a thunderbolt from heaven.  If God meted out justice like that I for one should have died a thousand times over.

The Old Testament is very clear about the need for reconciliation with God and lays out some specific punishments for sin designed to bring us back into communion with Him.   Faith in Jesus does not negate the need for that punishment, as some people may believe, rather as Jesus hung on that cross he took all of the sins of the world upon himself and paid the price of reconciliation.  Now when God says to me “here is your punishment” Jesus stands up and says, “I’ll take that on behalf of my friend father.”  Even though the crime is committed by me but the price of reconciliation is paid by Jesus.  So what Paul is saying in his second letter to the church at Corinth, quoted above, is that while sin has separated us from God, Christ reconciles us.

But it doesn’t end there.

Paul goes on to say that having been reconciled with God through faith in Christ we have a mission of reconciliation to the rest of the
world.  Therefore; it is not our job to help God punish sinners in any way, Jesus paid for every sin already but it is our job to be ambassadors and help everyone to see that the cheque for our reconciliation with God has already been picked up.  All that is left is for us to go back to God.

Put another way;

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  [John 3:16]