David Sokol and Worldview.

David Sokol is the heir apparent to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. I recently read several articles about this astonishing executive. He’s smart, wealthy, driven and intentional; not the type of person that wastes energy or time.

The most interesting thing to me was how Sokol touts his organizational values. Several years ago he laid out his principles in Pleased but Not Satisfied, a short self-published book about his management beliefs. Sokol’s six laws are: operational excellence, integrity, customer commitment, employee commitment, financial strength and environmental commitment.

These are wonderful values, but in and of themselves they are powerless. What gives them power is the imposing personality of a leader who tirelessly drives them home. I don’t know how effective David Sokol is in helping to create workplace environments that aren’t dependent upon his powerful confidence and charisma. What I believe with all my heart is that without people who believe in the “why” you do what you do, the “how” and the “what” do not bring significance to the work.

The best description I have seen of this concept is found at TEDx. Worldview is critical to aligning values for people who are connected to an organization; whether it is a family, business or church. The Biblical Worldview Institute uses this same premise to develop an understanding of how worldview (why) drives values (how) that determines behavior (what). Go back and click the TEDx link above. You’ll be glad you did.

Stephen Covey writes about the why in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, see habit #3, “Begin with the end in mind”. He also addresses the “why” in The principles of Leadership. They’re both great reads and I highly recommend them. Covey drives home the fact that if we’re not intentionally principle-centric, then something else in our center (core purpose, or “why”).

If I met David Sokol, I would love to find out why he is driven to do what he does. Seeking money is not innately meaningful. It is a behavior (what) sculpted by values (how). One of his principles for business gives us particular insight into his how, but gives no indication of why. “Environmental Commitment” can be motivated out of a biblical stewardship theology, a monetary incentive, a personal affinity for creation or nature, or peer pressure. There are more potential “whys”, but of the four I listed, only one that does not change over time (biblical stewardship may manifest itself differently within a culture, but it does not change based on what people think).

What happens when principles are in conflict with each other? C.S. Lewis wrote, “Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.” In Sokol’s case, his ethical instinct became in conflict with his financial strength instinct, when the Waxman-Markey Bill was making it’s way through Congress in 2009. Sokol helped to lead the effort to lobby in the senate to kill the bill in the Senate.

The instincts and principles of the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and more were firmly opposed to Sokol’s environmental ethic. Their principle of conservation and protection of the environment is rarely subverted by a financial principle. On the whole, people I’ve met from those organizations are living primarily for the purpose of the environment (what). That may sound like a worldview, but the actual “why” of their existence is peer pressure that leads to situational ethics. There is a strong emphasis on collaboration, shared learning and synergistic relationships. Those are all noble efforts (how), but the core purpose of their organizations is, on the whole, poorly defined and feeble-founded. An exception within the environmental movement is The Evangelical Environmental Network,  claims to operate from the “why” of “tending to the garden” (a reference to the Genesis story of God entrusting Adam and his descendants to steward creation).

Why does David Sokol run businesses for Berkshire Hathaway? I’d like to know. Why did he (seemingly) oppose his environmental values by fighting the Waxman-Markey Bill? Because the “how” of his life was in conflict. I don’t know if his instincts were even at war with each other. Maybe it was such a simple financial decision that he never explored the environmental commitment that he claims to live.

Advertisements

The Teleios Man

It’s been four years since the death of one of my closest friends. His name was Sean T., and we met our freshman years at Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington. Sean was a local boy, like me. That’s about where our similarities ended. My family cared for and protected me. His abused and neglected him. Especially his dad.

If you prefer to look away from the ugly underbelly of sin, stop reading. Sean’s dad was a predator. He feasted on the sexual identity of his own son, stripping Sean of innocence, his purpose and his social belonging. Sean opened up his pain to me on the first day we met. He shared how his dad had molested him from his earliest memories. He shared how he had prostituted himself to make money in high school. He floundered for the words to express the anguish he felt… and the shame… from his severely broken relationships.

Sean was new to the faith. He had recently given his heart to the Lord and was attempting to break ties with the friends that would drag him into all kinds of sin. Pot, alcohol (which eventually took his life), lies and other types of evil were a perpetual temptation. Through me and my friends, we loved Sean with a love he had never known. He expressed how much  he loved to belong to our group.

Sean’s social awkwardness was compounded by ADHD, obesity and very low self esteem. People sometimes ran away as though he had the plague. I sometimes wanted to run too. I knew that I would never know the full extent of the grace Sean was given, and somehow, the Lord let his grace flow through me to Sean.

When his liver finally gave out, I was at Harborview Hospital by his side. I encouraged him to stop fighting and be with Jesus. His mom flew up for his well-attended funeral, and as we ate together before the service she made this comment:

“When someone does that to a child, they kill the soul and let the body walk around.”

What she hadn’t seen was the restoration work God had done to redeem Sean’s soul over the years. Sean was working on becoming complete in Christ, a “Teleios Man” as my friend Larry Titus would say.

In his book of the same name, Larry writes about mentoring and helping men to be complete. We’re all born into a broken state; broken relationships with sin-infused desires. Teleios is the Greek word for complete or finished. Larry writes about his experiences and expertise in mentoring men towards completeness in Christ. Some of these men are more wounded and abused than my friend Sean.

My challenge is not to figure out if I’m better or worse off than other guys. I’m challenged to live the most complete life I can, centered around my pursuit of God. My passion is getting as many men around me going in the same direction. I really don’t care if I’m at the front or the back of the line. I care about which line I’m in.

Do you have a Sean in your life? Are you being mentored and mentoring? At church about a year ago, the pastor singled me out to point out that I intentionally mentor younger men. He commented from the pulpit that I was probably mentoring at least three or four men. A quick mental tally (this isn’t really something I regularly tally) and I had the actual total: 12. Nice biblical number. I’m proud of those men. I love sharing my life with them, and I really love seeing their lives become more complete because of Jesus working through me.

Colossians 1:28-29 “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which works so powerfully within me.”

Rex D. Manley August 6, 1932 – January 10, 2011

Devoted husband, loving father, friend… a true follower of Christ.

Minutes ago, my dad breathed his last. This brief blog will give you insight into my relationship with my father.

Born during the throes of the Great Depression, my dad grew up among the hard-working blue-collar class in Eastern Washington. He is the younger brother of two siblings; a brother who drowned at nine years of age and a sister who succumbed to cancer about ten years ago.

Rex D. Manley was a racehorse owner, Air Force radar tech during the Korean War, salesman, business owner and dedicated volunteer at Northwest Foursquare Church (probably his favorite job).

One of my favorite stories is when my dad was in eighth grade. He and my grandpa cleared forty acres of trees for planting. Every hour after school, and every hour of every Saturday was committed to unimaginably difficult work. Years later, my grandfather apologized for working his 14 year old son so hard. My dads response was, “You didn’t hurt me one bit.”

Towards the end of his high school years, my dad bought a racehorse that had been kicked by its mother. The owners thought it was worthless. My dad loved that horse and trained it to race. The first time the bells went off, the horse froze. It had a late start out of the gate, and yet it managed to best six of the other seven horses.

The horse figured out how to get out of the gate on time, and it went on to take first place in the next 11 races. That equated to a little over $2,000 in winnings for my dad. Not a bad take for an eight-dollar horse.

More than the money, that horse helped to create a significant transformation in my dad. Until this fortuitous relationship, my dad was unusually shy. He would avoid new relationships at just about all costs. People scared him to no end. The life of a racehorse owner did more than bring him out of his shell. It launched him into the (very intimidating) limelight.

A quick rabbit trail: What does an 18 year old do with $2k? He walked into the Ford dealership to buy a brand new car. What does an 18 year old with $2k who gets snubbed by the Ford salesman do? He walks across the street to the Chevrolet dealership and plops down a wad of cash for his brand new car.

My parents were married for over 20 years when I was born. They had four kids in 10 years and one more (me) after another decade had past. I have known the blessing of a very good man I called “dad”. He made many sacrifices for my benefit, including sending me to a Christian school and teaching me a solid work ethic (it didn’t hurt me one bit either).

Dad hit his head almost exactly a year ago. A brain bleed caused a traumatic brain injury. It frustrated him to no end that he couldn’t make the rounds at the food bank. His body completely failed him, and he shared with me how badly he wanted to be with Jesus.

One of the highlights for my dad over the last year  was listening to the stories of me being a part of Rooftop 519 and becoming a Pastor . He would introduce me to his nurses as “The Pastor” or, “Mr. President”. He lived his life vicariously through me, pouring in encouragement and advice every time we met.

He’s with Jesus now, leaving behind a legacy of great relationships with friends and family. Thank you, Dad. I love you and we will all miss you. Until we meet again.

The Great Reversal

The Great Reversal was coined by historian Timothy L. Smith. This term identified the shift of many evangelicals away from social concern to individual concern. Put another way, the emphasis of Christianity for the majority of those in the United States and the United Kingdom during the early part of the 20th century shifted. One hundred years ago, Christians en mass abandoned their passions for social concern and works to individual concern and grace.

I believe in sola gratia and most followers of the faith overwhelmingly agree that justification comes through grace alone. However, the very example of Christ’s love, compassion and evangelism, is depicted by a Christ who bore man’s physical burdens as well as spiritual pain.

Many Christians I know dislike the welfare system; I would list toward counting myself among them. The problem is that my spiritual forefathers created the need for the system by abandoning their social concern in favor of pursuing individual spiritual concerns. The Great Reversal preceded, and I believe paved the way, for the modern Government-run/taxpayer funded system of socialist care we provide in the United States. Our current bother was birthed by the impotence of the churches of yesteryear.

C.S. Lewis noted that we don’t have a soul, we are a soul. We have a body. The problem with an over-emphasis on souls is that we forget that the quickest way to a soul is through the body. Prayer changes things in the spirit, but so does a much-needed bandage to the flesh change things in the spirit.

This is not a political, psychological or sociological problem. This is a theological issue. Does the church have, and more importantly, do Christians have a primary charge to provide relief to the poor?

Matthew 19:21

Luke 11:41

Acts 4:34

Our responsibility is not social justice debate. We are in a prolonged exegetical and theological affront to our stewardship theology, primarily as it relates to our personal comfort. Can we domesticate Jesus to the point that we no longer try to look like him, but mold him into our image? We don’t need social justice, we need Jesus justice. The kind that would bring a grown man to his knees, willing to give his shirt, his job and his life for the kingdom. The kind of reckless abandon to the faith that makes it really difficult for people in need to not believe in God.

Watch how one man take on Nike Slave labor

Currently Reading:

When Helping Hurts

Domesticated Jesus

The Christian Atheist

Happy New Minute

As I write this, the fireworks and screams have already begun around the world. 2011 is here for more than half of the earth’s population. I can already hear the sound of resolutions giving way; like a semi-breached dam preparing to shatter.

The problem isn’t making a resolution. What I have noticed is that it is really hard to suddenly stop anything when you get really good at it. For instance, I am a really good eater (and I don’t mean well-mannered, unless my manners will increase my access to yummy calories). My first resolution ever was to give up ice cream. I was 13 & pudgy, and I finally figured out that chicks don’t dig pudgy unless you’re a puppy.

How did I work up to my resolution? I practice my craft. 6 ice cream bars latter, I made my vow to never again have ice cream, and I really wasn’t even tempted to have any until at least a day later. You know what I did.

That experience with my resolution helped me to see how fruitless a sudden and sometimes whimsical resolution can be. Resolutions do work when they are a part of a disciplined lifestyle. When we demonstrate faithfulness by the moment in our godly disciplines, we are much more likely to truly resolve to do the right thing. There is very little power in a resolution by itself. There is great power in tenaciously seeking God in the seconds and minutes of our life.

“He will die for a lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” Proverbs 5:23. We all know people like this. I’m sure they make new year’s resolutions, maybe several of them for each December 31 that rolls around. We do not often enough live in the moment; disciplined and steadfast in our resolve for righteousness. We wait for something big to be our catalyst for something better. Unfortunately, the big things in life usually uncover our deficiencies rather than strengthen them. Take Peter, for instance. His embarrassing denial of Christ was preceded by at minimum four smaller failures.

Peter lacked discipline. Christ told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times, but he was very overconfident. Then Peter fell asleep when he should have been praying. In Gethsemane, Peter chopped off Malchus’ ear, a reckless and grossly undisciplined act. When Peter followed Jesus into town, he kept his distance. He already denied Christ in the proximity he kept. How could he resolve to do something like claiming allegiance to Christ when he’d practiced the exact opposite?

The Holy Spirit is in the moment. He is here, now, initiating with us to make the best choices we can. He doesn’t want us to wait until the new year, new day, Sunday, a retreat, a wedding or the birth of our children or grandchildren to do what he wants us to do right now.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other… Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16,17,24,25

There are many distractions to our discipline. Cut them out. If TV, facebook, Xbox, cars, or needlepoint get in the way of your daily devotion and discipline, wean yourself away from those things. They are not sinful in and of themselves, but they rob you of the moments that you could do something actually meaningful. Do things that resonate with your purpose and identity. Delve into your passions and discipline yourself in the gifting you have. Resolve to do what the Holy Spirit would have you to do this minute. Here’s what’s at stake.

Annual resolutions:

  1. Have a very high failure rate
  2. Lead to spiritual and intellectual frustration and apathy
  3. Don’t help you to develop your purpose and generally lack meaning
  4. Are forgotten by the following year

Resolving to give the minutes to Jesus:

  1. Have a very high success rate
  2. Lead to spiritual and intellectual fulfillment and engagement
  3. Help you to develop your purpose and meaning
  4. Are experienced at the end of your life, and remembered daily until then

What if Peter had been faithful in the moments preceding the cross? What if he had accepted his initial rebuke, prayed with Christ, disciplined his anger and taken the faithful steps of a friend? Peter went on to give all of himself to the Kingdom, even his life. I am sure if he had a mulligan, he would have the internal fortitude to live with Christ in the last minutes he spent walking this earth.

If you read this before the New Year, don’t wait. Give this very minute to Christ. If you’re reading this after the New Year, do the same thing! Joshua 24:15