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Book Review – The Mission of the Church Five Views in Conversation

I was excited to review this book in light of my role with Missional University. However, I am being challenged to get through it for multiple reasons, including the fact the book is very heavy reading. Realizing it comes from Baker Academic Books, this is not a total surprise, but this reader would contend it is a senior level college or graduate level textbook. It is not a book for a general Christian audience.

The book has many exemplary features, including well-known and respected authors writing and responding from each of five different perspectives on the mission of the church: prophetic dialogue, multi-cultural translation, integral transformation, sacramental vision and kingdom community. After each of the five authors present their summary of the perspective they explore in a chapter, they take one chapter to respond to each of the other perspectives. As the five perspectives are not mutually exclusive, this format works okay.

In this reader’s mind, it is really a five views on the mission of the church. It does not have the element of a back-and-forth conversation like Ron J Sider & Ben Lowe’s The Future of our Faith (Baker, 2016).

Note: This book was provided to the reviewer free of charge by Baker Books for an unbiased blog review.



Managing in a Global Economy

Have you thought about the unique skills necessary for managing a business in a global economy? The days of a company’s operations happening in one geographic space are dying quickly. While teaching an introductory management course at Prairie Colleges, we discussed the dceo-boardifferent skills required for managing a global economy than managing in a one-site, same country, location.

Along with the basic skills of planning, organizing, leading and controlling, in a global economy, managers will need to be skilled in understanding:

  • Inclusiveness – along with demonstrating equality among male and female employees, managers will also need to understand cultural differences and certain unique religious customs in various contexts. Violating these cultural norms, even inadvertently, could be highly offensive.
  • Cross-cultural communication – related to the above skill, managers in a global economy also need to understand cross-cultural communication. This is more than just speaking another language, though that may be part of the communication challenges. Non-verbal communication is also different in various cultures, even different within the same country. Part of this communication difference is related to whether you are operating in an honor or shame culture.Other cultural differences that will matter significantly in cross-cultural communication relates to questions of patriarchal vs matriarchal cultures or elder-respect vs youth celebrating cultures. A young manager who does not appreciate the deference shown to older (and wiser) leaders simply because it is cultural appropriate will be frustrated.
  • Technology – one of the main reasons multi-national corporations can maintain quality control over the products and services they offer in a global economy is because of technology. Communication that required face-to-face meetings can now happen because of the technological advancement of our times. A manager needs learn the technical skills, though they are increasingly user-friendly. (If you got to this blog, you probably have the necessary technology skills!)
  • Freelancing – in many industries, the prevalence of freelancing is almost making permanent, full-time jobs obsolete. While freelance work is not without its negative effects for both the employer and employee, it is a reality of the new global economy that managers need to negotiate. Many large global corporations use local suppliers and distributors. Freelance is really an extension of this concept.
  • Global citizenship – Good corporate citizenship has historically been measured by an organizations’s impact in its backyard – community, state/province, or country. In the 21st century, good corporate citizenship considers the global impact. The recognized brands go beyond geo-political borders to be universally recognized. The spokesperson’s are not just popular stars in a given sport, but  individuals recognized worldwide.
  • Sustainability – Partially because of the technology and global citizenship responsibilities, managers increasingly need to be keenly aware of various ethical issues that affect the sustainability of the company and its operations. Any hint of “sweat shop,” underpaid labour, misuse of natural resources, or other practices that enable products to be made cheaply in one part of the world is judged as unethical. Managers not only have to oversee production or human resources, they have a responsibility to make sure their production model is functional and sustainable for various environments in which they operate. If the organization relies primarily on “western” money or models of efficiency, it is unsustainable and thus unacceptable.

My experience with multi-national NGO’s is limited. What do you believe are some other necessary skills or areas of understanding needed by managers for the global economy?


Book Review – Love Your Work by Robert Dickie III

Robert Dickie’s Love Your Work is an interesting read for those who are realizing the changing nature of employment in the 21st century. While discussing renew, repurpose, reinvent, and revector (subtitle “the 4 practical ways you can pivot to your best career”), he explains well the realities of working in a new global, technologically advanced society.

The book is easy to read and moves along at a good pace (This reader guesses this book is the written compilation of career seminars the author gives live in person). Dickie also includes numerous resources, from online career/work assessments to identifying useful e-newsletters and podcasts for the reader to subscribe. In these ways, the book is practical. However, within the actual content of the book, there specific steps to take to pivot your career are limited.

Overall, the book is an interesting combination of “Wake up and smell the coffee!” because here is how working is changing and “Ra-Ra-Go-Get-Em!” cheerleading, seeking to inspire individuals to make the necessary changes to compete in the global, technological millennium. It contains many good life principles for succeeding in work/career (and other areas) such as in chapter 5 Make it Happen where he discusses the need to face your fears and the importance of endurance. Likewise, chapter 7 contains useful advice on Leveraging Failure.

Its an enjoyable read and has some good resources. For a young adult, it may be a great help as they start on a career. For this mid-40 reader, it was interesting, but not overly helpful!

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Should a CEO praise the board?

Have you ever expressed appreciation publicly for your supervisor(s)? A good leader is able to share the credit with his team, those who work with him/her and report to them on the organizational chart. But do you as a leader ever express gratitude for those who are over you on the organizational chart?ceo-board

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No, I don’t mean “buttering up” a person or group because you want a pay raise or new contract? I don’t mean empty words of flattery. As a CEO should you ever praise your board for the work they do?

Consider when the pastor – who talks regularly about the importance of having a spirit of unity among the congregation – shares how much he appreciates the regular monthly meeting with the elders because they work hard, laugh together, and sense God leading them together in various decisions in unity. The board, officially the pastor’s “boss” have just been affirmed for their hours of volunteering in meetings before the congregation. Likewise, the congregation sees the leadership setting the example.

What about the college president who makes sure in each of the annual reports to the constituency to acknowledge and express his appreciation for the board members who volunteer to meet for 2-3 days twice a year?  There’s no big issue pressing in terms of a leadership change or concerns in the organization. And that’s why it’s the perfect time to honour the board members for their behind-the-scenes service to the various constituencies – students, staff, alumni, etc.

As a leader, you might be a gifted encourager of the team you lead, appropriately and generously celebrating their work and accomplishments. But as a CEO, you should also recognize and value those above you, without looking like you are “fishing” for something else.

I would suggest yes. Why?

  • Because when you appreciate anyone, it is good and right.
  • When you appreciate those who are over you on the organizational chart, you set a good example for your team.
  • When you appreciate your board, you acknowledge the organization is bigger than any one person.
  • When you appreciate your board, you show your humility and submission to others, even as the “top dog.”

So leaders, it is great to appreciate the people you work with each day. But don’t stop there! Honor the board members who serve you and your organization too!

More Reflections on Being a Disabled Dad

While I write from the perspective of a disabled dad, the more I write the more I realize these are challenges – choices – each father must face. I just have an more acceptable excuse! But make no mistake, it is just that… an excuse. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As my brother &  his family are visiting for the holidays, all of us went out to a nearby farm, skated on the pond and enjoying sledding & snowmobile rides on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Last night, I reflected on why the day was significant.

I went… with the family.
Instead of staying home and doibbotson-fam-skate-sled-steve-sitting-by-fire-dec-28-2016ing other work (or watching something mindless on tv), I joined the family, fully realizing I am not able to skate, walk through inches of snow, or enjoy sledding up & down hills and around the open field. Yes, it was a little cool on the feet since I did not wear thicker socks or proper winter boots, but the campfire provided more than enough heat. We enjoyed almost three hours in the winter wonderland and I witnessed our children, their cousins, grandparents, and my siblings having so much fun. But I did not use my inability to actively participate as a reason (excuse!) to be absent. I had to be there to enjoy it!

I let others serve my family.
I realized later how blessed I am to have two brothers, a father, a nephew-in-law, brothers & sisters-in-law, who all helped our children… whether tying up their skates, skating around the pond with them, playing hockey with them, sitting with them on the snowmobile or pulling them behind the skidoo on a sled. Everyone had a great time together and I enjoyed seeing others joy in having fun with our children. My wife also did a few activities with them, but for the most part, our extended family just all did stuff together, every one taking turns.ibbotson-fam-skate-sled-pond-dec-28-2016

While I could be frustrated I, myself, could not do those things, its not about me. The children experienced the same activity and had just as much fun, whether uncle was pulling the sled or dad was. They had just as much fun skating on the pond, whether grandpa did up their skates or mommy. I have to let others serve my family, more often than I like. Ideally, that is how a family works; every family member serving all the other family members. How often do we not allow others to serve us because our ego, pride, and arrogance get in the way?

I looked for the benefits.
As you may have noticed, I have little sympathy for those who walk around (or live) feeling sorry for themselves because of their “disability.” Rather I choose to look for the positive things arising in a situation, try to put my personal dis/likes aside, and find the benefits! There is no value in playing the “what if…?” game. It only leads to further frustration. Living in reality and learning to identify, reflect, and enjoy the blessings is a much more meaningful way to live (and makes it so that other people are actually willing to hang around with you).

As mentioned in the opening, these lessons apply to all fathers and mothers – not just me as a disabled dad. Maybe I am more acutely aware of my limitations, though I think that may also make me more attentive to taking advantage of the many benefits available.

How have you been challenged to take difficult circumstances and work them for good?

Feel free to check out other posts about the dangers and benefits of being a disabled dad and a disabled husband.

Book Review – Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

Although not a gymnastic fan, I heard of Simone Biles as she led the US Women’s Olympic gymnastic team to the team gold and won all round individual gold at the Rio Olympics. The little bit I heard about her story sounded interesting and so when I was offered a chance to review her new autobiography Courage to Soar, I chose to broaden my horizons. I am glad I did as this was an enjoyable book to read.

Soon to be 20 years old (March 2017), Biles reflection on her life, specifically the circumstances surrounding her adoption by her maternal grandparents, is thoughtful and encouragingly honest and realistic. There is evidence she has processed multiple personal challenges, as well as life-as-a-teen-athlete pressures, thoughtfully and well. She does so by sharing honestly about the struggles and with graciousness to the individuals involved. For someone fairly young to be able to reflect on various situations and express them (even with the help of New York Times bestselling author Michelle Burford’s help) is impressive.

The recounting of various events, whether gymnastics related, school-choice related, or faith related, at times seems to be overly detailed, though each account relates to a significant aspect of her growth as a gymnast and as a young woman, so it is not without purpose.

If you have a teenage daughter, especially one interested in gymnastics, I would recommend the book as a gift. There is much to be emulated in the way Biles’ works through various issues emerging in a young woman’s life.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers.

The best question…

wedding pic free dig photoI’ve asked lots of questions in my life, but ten years ago this week, I asked the best question of my life. I asked Sarah, “Will  you be my wife?” (Amazingly, she said yes!)

Increasingly, I realize as a leader I should be asking more questions before sharing my opinions, expertise or rationale regarding a topic.

Leaders ask questions… to find out information. Contrary to some people’s opinion, leaders do not know everything. More often than a leader wants to admit, they simply don’t know. Ask questions to gain knowledge. Instead of showing yourself ignorant, a leader actually demonstrates vulnerability, openness, and a collaborative spirit by asking questions.

Leaders ask questions… rather than make accusations. Your suspicion about a colleagues’ may be correct, but instead of making a statement that possibly ascribes foolishness or false motives to the person, ask a question? If there is a reasonable explanation, you have saved yourself embarassment. If your negative assumption was accurate,  you will find out without sounding like you expected an excuse.

Leaders ask questions… to help people think differently. As a leader, you may be ahead of your team in thinking about future applications or implications of a decision. You may even be able to project forthcoming challenges with a situation. However, rather than take the opportunity to share your great knowledge and insight, asking a question will help your team think more broadly about the issue. By engaging in a discussion, you will not be handing down an autocratic decision.

How else have you found asking questions beneficial to your leadership?

What is the best question you have ever asked?


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