Tag Archives: Leadership

A Thin Violence in the Desire to Influence?

A Thin Violence in the Desire to Influence

The way is down, friends. This way to freedom.

What does it mean to “influence?” The dictionary reads: “…the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.”

How do we look at it, at the process of influence? What’s our first visual image? Someone with charisma and someone with a little less than? Someone with a good answer and someone with a little less than? Someone with _______ and someone with a little less than?

Is it the “strong” making something happen in the “weak?”

But, friends, what is “strong?” What is Continue reading

What is “Success?” (A Father’s Day Question)

~day 17: the Kingdom of God is among you~
Image by theroamincatholic via Flickr

Success. Really, what is it?

Some demonize the word, telling us that we’re missing the point when you think of success to much. The point being: live life to the fullest and let success fade from your vocabulary. Letting the thoughts and imaginations of success fade will open you up to more fully live in the present moment, they say.

That idea is usually said in light of success being some kind of notoriety and acclaim and the pursuit of such. It’s even related to the precious moment the life of wanting a relationship – that when you finally quit wanting it, well, there it happens.

Now, these things said, I think there’s another frontier to be explored when we think about (or maybe don’t think about) success. I think it needs a redefinition – by re-, I mean looking back to what the word is supposed to mean. To do this, I want to share something I recently read that expressed a new but old take on success.

Paraphrasing: Success, in social activist and author John Perkins, says, is all about succession. It’s all about passing something down to others or to the next generation. For Mr. Perkins, that something being passed was a vision for the Kingdom of God unfolding in front of their eyes and visioning how to participate in those spiritual rhythms.

For us, especially us fathers, on Halmark’s dedication to us? I think it’s a good time for all of us to re-examine and constantly examine Success. Is success to us all about getting big, looking for our break, or finally arriving (all of which might just have a little time and place, I’m not sure)? Is success for our children all about them doing the same: landing a high paying job, getting a college degree from a big school, or expressing themselves in ways that will bring notoriety to themselves and the family?

If those are our preoccupations, then we’re not talking about success, we’re talking about illusion: how we want to see ourselves and be seen by others. (Sure, integrity is important, but why and what kind?) Success is this: What about our lives are we passing down to our children (and this will take a lot of time, energy and perseverance)? What about our religious convictions and spiritual rhythms are we guiding our children to explore? How are they learning to see and walk in the Kingdom of God? How are we being led by God’s Spirit to guide our children toward Jesus Way life and create real success via succession?

A reading of Deuteronomy 4 might be an appropriate thought closer.

Book Note | Follow Me to Freedom: Leading As an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne, John M. Perkins

didn't like itit was okliked itreally liked itit was amazing (my current rating)

(Review is below a few paragraphs.)

There’s a good story on how this book landed in my house. A few months back, Shane Claiborne was invited to speak in our city, Kansas City, and my church was blessed to have hosted his presentation and afterward-conversations. In preparation for such a big event and catalytic personality, I read up on some Claiborne – starting with Irresistible Revolution. …Loved the story he told in that book. I also picked up the intriguing Common Prayer – I’ve enjoyed all kinds of prayer books in the last two years. So, in my hunt for Claiborne books that I thought I’d enjoy and that I felt could give me a glimpse on his take on Jesus and the Jesus Way, Follow Me to Freedom landed on my Amazon wishlist. (At the time of this post, it’s currently on the Bargain List for $6.00 now!)

This is how it went down.

I was having a day when I felt like I could use a little inspiration or boost when it comes to leadership qualities or plain ol’ enthusiasm. We were driving on a longer trip, I was in the passenger seat, and we were all enjoying that dreamy, relaxed time of a road trip where we’re all content looking out the window. …except for Jude, our then two year old little boy. Jude was restless. He needed something to capture his attention for a bit. What else did I have to help with this but my phone?

The next thing I knew, I got an email saying, “Thank You for Your Amazon.com Purchase.” My head cocked for a second and even entertained the idea that someone had JUST hacked my Amazon account. But then it hit me as I looked at what had been ordered – Jude had ordered a book for his daddy and by the strange grace of God, a book that really is warming his daddy’s heart.

Thanks Jude.


I’m a fan of Claiborne’s but don’t always see eye to eye, yet, deeply appreciate his take on the Jesus Way. (I’ll have to write another time about what I might not yet see eye to eye on him with — that feels like it’ll be a long post.) I had not heard of John Perkins before this book. But, now I want to learn more.

Follow Me to Freedom is one of the best leadership books I’ve read and I’ve found myself reading a few over the last three years. I found that the way it was written really helped a lot with the feel and vibrancy of the ideas and language — it’s conversationally written, like a play, where you see “John:” and then “Shane:” and their thoughts stream from there. You get to participate in what feels like a coffeehouse conversation on leadership and vision and, really the core of it, the blossoming Kingdom of God.

The great take away, the moment I had to put the book down and felt like if I didn’t read anything more, I’d be ok, was the moment John Perkins wrote about success. His writing throughout the book was all about a leader receiving the grace of a vision and bringing others along with him. Success, he said, was about succession and passing that vision on to others and helping them implement and explore how to flesh out that vision. Passing it on! That’s it. To me, a REVOLUTIONARY way to look at success.

So, how does that definition affect us?

Well, instead of accumulation or outward appearances marking someone as “successful” in their life from a distance, we examine if they’ve grasped what’s been passed down to them and we look at what they’re doing with that. So, for us Christians and our young generation, success for us is not how many kids show up in the Sunday School classrooms, but how many of those kids and families are catching the vision of God’s grace and kingdom making it’s impact of love on this world and seeing themselves grafted into that movement of eternal living. That’s success.

Success is also values passed down from one generation to another — without yet critiquing the values themselves. Sometimes success needs to be disrupted.

With Perkins’ very helpful take on Success, I’m left to wonder, what would our world, from the urban to suburban to rural places, look like if we began to take into our imaginations this kind of view of success — where the “bar” is less about accumulation or appearances and more about receiving something that grafts you into a lifestyle and that lifestyle takes on some new nuances with the coming generations? What would our world look like? I can only peacefully imagine.