I mentioned in the last post that there’s been a lot of life in my life lately, and that it’s been unbelievably stressful. More than I could handle (which needs to be a whole post sometime, but read this to start) to be sure.

I had a trial come up in one of the jobs. It was pretty major, and it centered around some things I’d done, not done, and allegedly did. Controversy isn’t anything new for me…my particular personality has (usually via my sin) caused more than a little of it over my career. Because of the issues around this trial, there was a lot of uncertainty.

I think uncertainty is one of the worst things for me personally. It’s easier for me to handle a certain high pressure situation than an unknown one. Anticipation of problems tends to be worse than the problems themselves. Another part of my psyche, I’m sure, and one that is occasionally humorous after the face.

One good thing about trials is that they can help you see your soul more clearly. There’s always more than enough sin in my soul to be worthy of an accusation, and there’s always more than enough sin in my actions to cause problems for others. And the same is true for you. This one in particular led to some great conversations with people who love me about places I’m succeeding and others where I’m failing…and dissecting both the “why” and “what do we do next.” While painful in the moment it’s extremely beautiful as God, in His grace, points out the filth, helps you to pick the dirt off yourself, and washes you with His Word. In this particular trial I am immensely thankful that my pride rarely got in the way of hearing the correction and encouragement of others.

I was in a teleconference on Monday that settled some things around this trial. Tuesday night, after a particularly emotional and full day at work (I’m really behind and that just adds stress, you know) was date night. On date night, no matter how much work I have to do I leave the laptop at the office. And I realized, halfway through a bowl of chips and salsa (have I mentioned here how much I love mexican food) that I wasn’t feeling weighed down as much. My spirit felt light and unburdened and I had a relaxing conversation with my beautiful wife, uninterupted by my whiney stress-filled soul.

God gives grace in the moments, and He gives peace. Nothing around me had changed in the least…there were still undone projects that needed me to go into the office early the next day. There were still all of the undone things on “the list.” The people I love all still had the same problems. But God gave me peace in the moment.

And this is peace that surpasses comprehension (Phil. 4)…peace that calms your soul when storms continue around you in your life. It doesn’t make any sense to be calm right now, but you are. That’s when you know the peace is a gift from God’s hand and not something you conjured up in your own soul. And God gives you peace because He loves you.


Standing for Life Isn’t Politics….it’s Sacrifice and Service

Last year about this time I took a trip to Memphis to meet with the local Morning Center staff.   We had a celebration/reunion with some of the former patients while I was there, and another Morning Center board member, Walter Hoye, was there with us.  When Walter spoke to the staff, which was incredibly inspiring, he quoted from Leviticus:

And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.

via Leviticus 5 KJV  – Bible Gateway.

Walter got across to us pretty quickly that being pro-life wasn’t a political view, but a view that should lead us to action:

Heaven doesn’t care how things work out politically…heaven cares whether you are committed to being a witness for truth.

And Walter understood that it took sacrifice.  He’s been arrested for standing for life.  And during an arrest he was told this:

“Jesus has a tendency to discourage women from having an abortion.” — Oakland police officer to Walter Hoye while arresting him for sidewalk counseling.

That officer, whether he knew it or not, was making a profound statement of truth.  When the truth is preached to women on the verge of paying someone to murder her child the truth has a way of lighting a fire in the conscience.  And that’s why we need to be there: at the clinics and proclaiming the truth and praying.  And that’s why places like the Morning Center need to be there ready to help women through pregnancies they didn’t plan or desire with first class, Gospel-centered maternity care.  And that’s why people like you and me need to be there ready to rescue the children when mamas want to place them for adoption if the mama chooses not to or cannot parent the child herself.

Being pro-life isn’t a political position.  It’s a choice.  It means shaking off the apathy and fear and standing up for mamas, babies and providing hope.  And it means serving them no matter how hard it is and sacrificing your time, money and sometimes even your freedom to provide that service to a woman created in the image of God and her child.

Will you join me and the Morning Center in the work we’ve been called to do?  If so:  Pray. Give. Stand. Serve.




Productive Conflict

Creative solutions and conflict can make everything better across an organization:

A major vehicle maker’s products were famously hard to repair—for example, the wiring was arranged in a way that the engine had to be removed to replace the headlights. Costs skyrocketed. The remedy: The company forced the engineers to work in the service department where they had to confront angry technicians and angry customers, and understand the consequences of their engineering decisions.

Cooperation matters because it is a necessary condition for effective teamwork and it matters more as the business environment becomes more complex. There are ever-increasing competitive pressures, regulatory requirements, and customers and other stakeholders with increasing numbers of demands. Too often, organizations respond to this complexity by getting complicated rather than by creating the conditions for cooperation. They add management layers, dedicated functions, processes and “best practices”—all in an attempt to control their people but which have the effect of deterring cooperation and making the organization clumsy and slow to respond.

via The surprising secret of happier, more productive organizations: conflict – Quartz.

If you’re in leadership in a firm, consider what you can do to shake people out of their comfort zone and to promote constructive conflict during meetings.  People need to mix it up a little to make better decisions and keep on track.


Today is July 3.  Last year on this date the first post appeared here at Changing Horses Midstream.  Not sure whether this means its’ time for reflection or celebration or both.

Here’s my opening salvo:

I recently interviewed to return to college.

This the returning to college part is something I would have, if anyone had asked (you didn’t….why not?), said I would never do again. I’m at the top of my game, in many respects. I have a senior level job that I love working for a ministry that I love and I have all the internal and external credibility that I could ever need. Why would I ever subject myself to school? I hated college, the first time. I didn’t really get into it the second time. I wasn’t terribly fond of the correspondence program I dropped out of. And I couldn’t get out of high school fast enough.

via 03 | July | 2013 | Changing Horses Midstream.

Returning to school is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  And one year later, 11 months into the 16 month program, it’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.  The program here at Bradley has helped me to understand the scope of business practices so much better than I would have if I’d not gone back to school.  It’s been really rough on my family (and there’s still a rough 5 months to go…my last class and the comprehensive final exam is still 5 months away).  By the numbers I have 156 days until that last class and 49 days of class (including the international trip) to go.  By efforts I’m imagining I have four major classes (and one minor) left with potentially accelerating difficulty.

Performance Management and Controls, with its infamous Business Plan is in the rear view mirror.  Whew.  Very glad to have that done.  In front of me I have:

  • Building Employee Commitment (3 class days, major #1)
  • Managing Technology (5 class days, major #2)
  • Leading Successful Change (change management, 2 class days)
  • Global Environment and Issues (4 class days plus a 12 day trip to India, major #3)
  • Strategic Positioning and Performance (5 class days plus the comprehensive final exam, major #4)

I am completely unsure of what this is going to be like.  All of the classes look hard, but I’ve only seen the syllabus for the first one, and I have a sketch of what the last one will look like.  I’ve also gotten some input from the prof for Global Environment so I know generally going to be expected there.

One year of blogging.  Five classes left in five months.  Tick, tick, tick….


Making People Matter

Here’s a snippet from a short article, that could turn into something later, from a non-profit management blog I read on “matter-ness.”  If you’re interested in people management, I’d encourage you to take a look at the article and consider how you can help show those you work with that they matter to you, to your team, and to your organization.

For me, matter-ness began with a minipheny I had as president of my synagogue. For a year as president my inbox was filled with angry complaints. What happened to my parking spot? Why was the door locked? How come I didn’t know she died? And my favorite: why didn’t anyone call when I was in the hospital even though I didn’t tell anyone I was in the hospital?

And then it occurred to me that all of these complaints were actually one complaint: Why don’t I matter here?

via Matter-ness as Organizing Principle | Allison Fine.


We have a two day leadership off-site meeting today and tomorrow.  This one focuses on MVV:  Mission, Vision and Values, and will be fodder for a Vision Map that we’ll use to help communicate our vision and plans to the rest of the staff regularly.  I’m really looking forward to it, but can’t tell you much because we’re not done yet and nothing is public.

I can tell you that we’ll be watching this video today, and you should too:


One of my favorite, and perhaps absolute favorite, business authors is Patrick Lencioni.  Two of his books in particular (Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive and Three Signs of a Miserable Job) have been timely and amazingly helpful in my work over the past few months.  (Yes I’m still reading non-school, non-fiction even now… can’t stop needing it.)

Patrick does a monthly newsletter/blog and this month’s was on Simplicity.  Well worth reading.  Here’s a snippet:

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Albert Einstein believed that “most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone.”

And yet, in my consulting to organizations of all kinds, from high tech companies to churches to banks, I find that there is a natural tendency among managing leaders to add unnecessary complexity to situations, problems, descriptions and solutions. As a result, plans do not come to fruition, employees get confused, customers become disappointed and leaders are left discouraged.

via Pat’s Point of View – Patrick Lencioni : The Table Group: A Patrick Lencioni Company.

Oh, and I’ll be writing reviews of those two books at some point soon.  At least that’s the plan.