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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!