As a teenager and through my 20’s I was a runner. Being a runner was not a significant accomplishment for me. I had natural ability and I loved to run. For fun, I would run through miles of rural Pennsylvania forests and back roads. I loved the feeling that I got after running a mile or so and I enjoyed that “runners’ high” for as many miles as possible. Although I did not enjoy it as much, I continued to run on the streets in Pasadena, CA while living there in the 1980’s. However, in the mid-80’s while running down the hill to the Rose Bowl, I injured my knees and quit running. I thought my running days were over. Before the injury, I regularly ran at a 6 minute/mile pace.
About two years ago I started running again with Adjua, the Whitworth University student who lives with Nancy and me. We started slowly, barely able to finish a mile. That fall with beginning of a new academic year, Adjua stopped running, but I continued. I have been slowly gaining speed and adding distance. Many weeks I improve from the previous week. This week I ran a five mile loop in under 36 minutes. I have my sights on completing that loop in 35 minutes, a 7 minute/mile pace.
As I was running this week, I experienced a small “runners’ high.” I remembered what it was like to be able to run solely for its enjoyment. That caused me to wonder if I could recover the physical ability that I had several decades ago. Then I realized, I had already come a long way. Slowly, step by step, week by week, I have rebuilt much of the conditioning that I need to again call myself a runner.
Great accomplishments are often like my return to “runner” conditioning. They aren’t completed in a short period of time. Rather, consistent effort in the same direction over a long period of time is usually required for the most significant and rewarding results.
Yesterday our small and dynamic Anda Leadership staff team met for a day of reporting and planning. We had a lot to discuss and even though we met from early in the morning until early in the evening, the time passed quickly. We covered topics that are current and need immediate action and we engaged in a more strategic discussion in the form of a SWOT analysis. (SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.)
Most of our weaknesses and threats rise out of our short organizational existence and small size. For example, we have very limited funding and practically a non-existent track record of raising money. Our vision is to have a global impact, but our small size and shortness of organizational experience make that vision seem hopelessly unrealistic.
On the other hand, we have a number of strengths and opportunities that are exciting. The first item on our list, the first thing mentioned, was that we are committed to a God for whom all things are possible. We are committed to follow him as our leader. Also, even though we are only four staff, we have considerable individual experience and enjoy personal credibility in a number of circles. Anda Leadership is currently a nimble organization and represents a cause whose time is now. Many missions, development, and political thinkers are saying that enabling emerging market entrepreneurs is exactly what is needed to combat poverty, disease, war, and other spiritual and social problems. We have an opportunity to create an organization that is currently relevant and leverages current technology.
Possible the high point of the day was when we realized how much vision alignment we enjoyed as a staff team. Even though we had to work through a few issues, we ended the day with complete unity. What a joy to work with people who are completely committed to a common cause!
I read a helpful book over the weekend, The COACH Model, by Keith Webb.
Christian leaders who want to help others solve problems, reach goals, and grow will find this a useful resource. The underlying assumption is that most healthy people have sufficient knowledge and experience to solve their own problems. What they need is a coach, someone who will stimulate their creativity and help them think clearly about their lives. The COACH Model is non-directive and assumes the Holy Spirit is involved in people’s circumstances, teaching and reminding them of what is true. The model relies on powerful open questions which stimulate coachees’ ability to solve their own problems. The solutions are the coachees’ ideas. Therefore, they own the solution which makes it easier for them to accept responsibility for implementation.
COACH is an acronym that stands for, Connect, Outcome, Awareness, Course, and Highlights. I expected the acronym to be forced, but after studying each of the steps in the model, I concluded these words adequately describe the five steps. I particularly appreciated the sample questions that are included in each step. It is easy to see how asking the non-directive open questions of the COACH Model with people I mentor will often help them more than me giving them my opinion.
Do you mentor others? Do you have a model that you use or a structure that you follow? I’d like to hear what other leaders are doing as they help others grow, set and reach goals, and solve problems.
Recently, I received an invitation from a group of citizens of a key Central Asian country to train them to be better able to interact with the rest of the world, the West in particular. Their desire to become more engaged members of the global community, threatens their authoritarian government. This government does not want foreign influences like me to have contact with the people. The government rightly fears that I might reinforce ideas such as personal freedom, institutional accountability, and financial transparency.
The purpose of the training will be to gain agreement that financial transparency is a positive community value and to help them set up organizational systems which implement that value.
Would you like to join me on this trip that currently is scheduled for the second week in July? If you can’t actually travel with me, would you like to be involved in other ways? For example, I would love to have focused prayer cover before and during the trip. Also, we at Anda Leadership have funding needs and your tax deductible gifts help us interact and respond to these kinds of opportunities.
Let me know if you would like more information: email@example.com.
Laura, my oldest child, has begun the countdown to her wedding day, August 18. Laura holds a special place in my heart because it was for her that I first felt paternal passion. Even though it was more than 2 1/2 decades ago that she was born, I clearly remember the love I had for her. I could not keep my hands off her. I was surprised. I did not expect to be so taken by the small creature that was changing my life.
Through the years…
I sought to protect her, but not hover.
I sought to provide for her, but not spoil.
I sought to correct her, but not discourage.
I sought to be available, but not pushy.
I sought to love her, without conditions.
With her mother, I have been the primary human influence in her life. Now that is changing.
To Kagi, Laura’s new man, I say, “Remember, I loved her first!”
Sometimes circumstances dramatically affirm my belief that God has a plan and he is continually preparing us for the next episode.
Last week Nancy and I spent a couple days in the mountains.
Early Thursday morning, I left for a hike. As I walked down the road toward a trail-head I was surprised to come upon a befuddled young couple. We were in a remote area, a place where you do not expect to find other people. They were as surprised to see me as I was to see them, but they were also hopeful. Like Nancy and me, they had looked for someplace to camp and did not find a convenient spot. However, in their exuberance, they managed to drive their car around a Forest Service gate and then became hopelessly stuck in the snow. They set up their tent on a small patch of ground where the snow had melted and spent the night there. When I found them they were trying to get their car out. When they saw me, I became a fresh hope. Would I be able to help them?
After assessing the situation, I agreed to try to pull them out with my truck. The biggest obstacle was getting around the gate. I don’t know how they managed to get in there, but I figured my Toyota could go anywhere their Subaru could go. And it did! Actually, it didn’t take much time for me to pull them out.
They were very grateful and said I was a God-send. I enjoyed the adventure.
As I reflect on the situation, I am amazed. The two 20-somethings that I helped were in a difficult spot. The chances of finding another person in that particular location are extremely slim. Even if they did happen to find someone, that person might not be willing and able to help them. They were facing a long day of walking, hitchhiking, and unplanned expenses such as Forest Service fines and tow truck fees. However, because I was there, their big problem became a small problem that was resolved in under an hour at no cost to them.
When they told me I was a God-send, I felt they were exactly right. God has a plan for us and he equips us to accomplish that plan. Our job and joy is to walk in his plan.
Sunday evening, Nancy and I enjoyed world peace. We went to a local Muslim family’s house for dinner.
The tasty and plentiful Arabic dishes were good and our conversation was entertaining. However, more importantly, we implicitly recognized that Christians and Muslims are a lot more alike than they are dissimilar. We talked about common interests such as the layout of our houses, gardening, teaching children, sports, and international travel.
Just think what would happen if every Christian and every Christian family in the world would befriend one Muslim or Muslim family and if every Muslim and Muslim family befriended one Christian or Christian family. They might not usher in total world peace, but it would move us a long way in that direction.
They would also enjoy some really good conversations and food!
Last Monday morning as I was planning my week’s activities, I realized that there was some open space. A flexible schedule combined with a growing case of spring fever gave rise to the idea of spending a couple days in the mountains. I felt I could arrange my tasks so that I could be gone from Tuesday afternoon until Thursday evening. The weather was calling for warm days with scattered rain showers. So I convinced Nancy, my wife, that she wanted to play hooky with me for a couple days.
Tuesday morning we tied up loose ends and pulled together supplies and left home around 1:30PM. We drove east to Idaho with sleeping bags, tent, enough food to keep us going several days, and hopes that the weather report was accurate. We became a bit concerned when we crested the pass near where we intended to camp and saw piles of snow ten feet tall. By the time we dropped to our camping elevation, the snow was less than a foot deep. Nevertheless, we adjusted to Plan B and slept on our air mattress in the bed of the Tacoma. We spent Wednesday and Thursday having an adventure and creating memories.
I am always recharged by the mountains. I particularly enjoy going into the mountains with Nancy. I am convinced there are few things we do that does more for my spiritual, emotional, and marital health than spending time in the clear air of higher elevations. It is there where I am reminded of the beauty of God’s creation and the power of his will. What joy! What refreshment!
Thank God for the recharge!
Harold Wik died last week. Although few outside his family and former colleagues will notice, he lived a remarkable life of missionary service that started in Shanghai in 1946 and continued in SouthEast Asia until 1982. Last June 22nd, on his 95th birthday, he wrote:
The most important single fact about me is that I am a Christian. I am so glad that God did not overlook me in God’s masterpiece plan of salvation… God’s Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God… I am a resident in the state of Pennsylvania in the USA, but my spiritual citizenship is in heaven.
Thank God for humble servants like Harold Wik who have gone before and for those who serve today to bring the message of enduring peace to people burdened with various troubles. Although the world gives them little notice and often despises them, heaven celebrates them.
The news from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is confusing.
The most prominent stories report horrific attacks on churches which kill dozens of people. For example, yesterday during Easter celebration services in the city of Kaduna, a suicide car-bomb detonated in the street near two churches. Both churches were badly damaged and at least 38 people were killed. Fortunately, the driver was turned back from the churches’ compound or the damage could have been even worse. No one has claimed responsibility, but it is assumed that this terror is linked to the Muslim affiliated group Boko Haram which has claimed responsibility for other attacks on churches.
Simultaneously, there are at least two trends in Nigeria that are having an even greater impact on the country and the world. This news receives less media coverage.
First, there is the issue of the growing church. According to the most recent edition of Operation World, the Anglican-affiliated Church of Nigeria has “grown from 900,000 in 1960 to perhaps nearly 20 million in 2010.” There are several other denominations and church networks that are growing and also claim millions of adherents. Churches are being planted at an amazing pace; so many that it is difficult to find mature leaders to mentor all the young Christians.
Second, there is the issue of the growing economy. Nigeria is Africa’s the second largest economy after South Africa. Nigeria’s GDP growth rate is 7.2% and will probably surpass South Africa’s economy by 2025. Much of this economic growth is fueled by Nigeria’s vast oil reserves, but oil is not the whole picture. Nigeria’s entrepreneurs are gaining competence, confidence, and enthusiasm. If Nigeria’s government continues its path toward stable democracy and if the people continue to take steps to battle terrorism and corruption, Nigeria will become an economic force in the global market place within a few decades.
Most Westerners consider Nigeria a lost cause that will always be needy. The high profile terror attacks by the Boko Haram and stories of corruption and political instability reinforce these perceptions. However, there is another story that needs to be told. As the gospel gains influence and as Nigerian entrepreneurs build respectable businesses, a new future is being written. There is hope for Nigeria!