UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

Modules

Thanksgiving Looks A Little Different This Year

Thanksgiving Looks A Little Different This Year

Thanksgiving looks a little different this year. Today I am exchanging turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin for ugali, chapatti, and mandazi. Instead of watching schoolchildren perform plays about pilgrims and Indians I am watching a host of nationalities and tribal groups as they role play stories of old. But one thing remains the same: I am deeply grateful. This week Freedom to Lead is in Kenya. Next week we will go on to Zambia. In these weeks I am rubbing shoulders with men and women leaders from many nations who are deeply committed to the work of Christ and to leading well in their spaces. And I am deeply grateful. My large extended family in Florida is gathering potluck-style on folded tables outside. And while I miss being with them this year, I have a different kind of family right across the table from me here. My Family Across the Table

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The Wow Factor

The Wow Factor

Telling the Story As a global team in a faith-based nonprofit, a big part of our job is to tell our story. Depending on the audience, we might craft the story a little differently or choose to hone in on a specific kind of story that resonates best. But our job is to tell the story. It is the story of Freedom to Lead International. They are the stories of men and women in Asia and Africa who are being developed as Christ-centered leaders in their areas of influence. We tell stories of people who are seeing communities impacted and churches coming together and peace being made. Yes, there are even stories of hardships and challenges with prayerful hopes that God will make his way in these situations. Telling the Story Well As storytellers, however, we want to be a good steward of that which has been entrusted to us. We strive

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Leaders Who Seek Peace

Leaders Who Seek Peace

Freedom to Lead (FTL) recently traveled to work with a group of second generation leaders that are being developed in Adjumani, Uganda through The Garden Project. These Christian leaders are primarily refugees that have fled from Sudan. In light of their war-torn lives, the Sudanese brothers and sisters found FTL’s module on Peacemaking to be especially relevant. When I returned home, I was reminded that we also need leaders who seek peace. Is All Conflict Sin? One of the themes we kept revisiting during our time together was the discussion about whether all conflict is related to sin. To many of us conflict seems always sinful. However, after examining stories and interacting with the early church experiences, we can see that sometimes conflict is simply the result of not having enough resources to go around. For example, conflict may happen if two people want the only seat left on a

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I Am Reverend Fofana

I Am Reverend Fofana

Imagine 27 church and mission leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, and Madagascar gathering together to engage in stories and discussions about Leadership for a Healthy Church. This is what we have been privileged to witness this past month. One participant shared that he had a vision the night before of a water pump that would not yield water. He said, “in my vision, I was so thirsty so I used the water pump but no water came out. I did not know what the vision meant.” What he later came to learn was that the image of a rice field vs. water pump style of leadership is our driving image for this first leadership module. We encourage the leaders to be “rice-field” (Christ-centered) leaders rather than “water pump” (power, big boss) leaders. It’s a simple image, but it has profound impact. Big Boss Leader Also central to this first module

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The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

Teaching About Peacemaking Through Song Today we’d like to feature a song from Freedom to Lead International®‘s (FTL) most recent trip to Bamako, Mali. It is here where indigenous musicians developed culture specific songs to go along with FTL’s leadership development module on Peacemaking. The Lyrics “Avoid the Slippery Slopes,” says the lyrics of today’s song. And just what are the slippery slopes? The slippery slopes are two natural responses to conflict: “to fight” and “to take flight.” However, these are responses that a wise leader needs to learn to avoid. Instead, a good leader will seek the narrow path that leads to reconciliation. FTL’s The Garden Project curriculum uses the image of a muddy path with steep, slippery slopes on either side in order to teach leaders the difficulty of navigating conflict and moving toward resolution (see below). The Musicians This team of Bambara musicians from Bamako, Mali created today’s

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Abigails in Ethiopia

Abigails in Ethiopia

Agents of Reconciliation Violence is dividing the Ethiopian people, but a cohort of Christian leaders is resolved to walk Abigail’s path to peace. Many Ethiopian people in East Africa are desperate. Demonstrations are fueled by widespread discontent over the declining quality of life throughout the country. Leaders of the opposition party have recently been arrested, leading to increased unrest. Electricity, water systems, and infrastructure are collapsing, and daily life has become difficult for many. Within the mayhem, a group of Christian leaders want to be agents of reconciliation. They are embracing Abigail’s example to avoid further bloodshed among their countrymen. Abigail the Peacemaker Abigail was a peacemaker in ancient times. According to the Bible’s Old Testament, she was Nabal’s wife. After protecting Nabal’s property, the warrior David requested assistance from Nabal . But Nabal was both arrogant and stupid; he refused David’s request. David was ticked, so he determined to

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Leading Through the Grief of Change

Leading Through the Grief of Change

Leading Change Through Grief A primary responsibility of leadership is to initiate and manage change. Like many of my peers, I have eagerly embraced this role of change agent during my career. In fact, I like change – that I initiate. On the other hand, I haven’t been so receptive of change when someone else is initiating it. My track record is pretty typical when another leader has initiated change that affects me. Getting in touch with this common reaction is helpful to guide others through the difficult process of change. Most people are uncomfortable with change that someone else initiates, because change – even good change – often brings a sense of loss and grief. How leaders help their people navigate the grief of change often determines leadership success or failure. Leadership and the Five Stages of Grief The experience of change is akin to the loss and grief

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Church Leaders: Leading Change in the Church

Pragmatism in Practice “It doesn’t matter if it’s right; it only matters if it works.” This motto for leading change dominates 21st century corporations. It’s pragmatism in practice. Pick up any popular book on leading change. The odds are that you’ll find several underlying themes: Shareholder profit is paramount. Growth is deified. People are disposable. Speed is king. Decapitating opponents is part of the game. Ethics is expedient. If these themes are not explicitly stated, then they’re just below the surface. And much of the recent literature on leading change targeted at church leaders borrows heavily from this thinking. Leading Change in the Church To be fair, much that comes from the corporate sector can be helpful for church leaders. However, the default mode for running a secular company is not predisposed to a biblical approach. Too often corporate views are being baptized among church leaders with bible verses and

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Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Leadership Metrics Leaders craft the cultures of their organizations – consciously or not – by what they consistently measure.  If leaders want something to become important – or remain important – in the minds and hearts of organizational stakeholders, they must figure out a way to measure it.  On the other hand, if leaders do not highlight a particular value or provide a means to measure it, that stated value will not likely be an actual value in the organization – especially in times of stress and pressure.   Measurable Metrics A newly-appointed Christian college president decided to initiate a campus-wide focus on the spiritual development of students, faculty, and staff.  As he launched the initiative, he faced unforeseen obstacles. Whereas the stated (written) values of the institution emphasized the importance of spiritual formation; however, academics consistently took precedence over spiritual formation in budget and scheduling decisions. In their attempt

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Spiritual Formation: Life Abundantly

Spiritual Formation: Life Abundantly

This post is the last entry of our blog series on Spiritual Leadership while the Freedom to Lead team is in India and Nepal this month. Spiritual Formation This past month we have been talking about the Streams of the Spiritual Life.  Our discussions have addressed both the leader’s personal spiritual development as well as his or her role in the spiritual development of others.  And to do that we need to understand where we’ve come from. First, we explored about what it means for us to live in the “in-between,” and the significance of understanding each of the streams of the spiritual life, knowing the source to be Christ. From there we moved on to the New Life.  We asked honest questions when looking at the Abiding Life. We then examined the Empowered Life. We asked ourselves what it means to live out the fullest meaning of the presence of

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The Witnessing Life: Fed to the Lions, Burned at the Stake

The Witnessing Life: Fed to the Lions, Burned at the Stake

This post is part of the Spiritual Leadership Blog Series while the Freedom to Lead team is in India and Nepal this month.  Only two more posts remain in the series.   An Example of the Witnessing Life Their names were Carpus and Papylus.  And they demonstrated the Witnessing Life. In A.D. 165, Carpus and Papylus were brought before a governor in Rome and charged with the “crime” of being Christian. The governor of the district had discovered that Carpus and Papylus did not celebrate the pagan festivals. He ordered the men to be arrested and commanded them to accept the Roman pagan religion. The men replied that they would never worship false gods. Carpus, who was a leader in the church.  Not even torture could persuade him to change his mind. He simply kept repeating, “I am a Christian and because of my faith and the name of our

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The Compassionate Life: Let’s Call Evil For What It Is

What about terrorists? Yesterday we were challenged to look at The Compassionate Life a little closer.  In the attempt to write a modern day parable similar to The Good Samaritan, we look at different kinds of people that cross our paths every day.  I believe God brings certain people across our path for a reason, but sometimes we have to go TO them. As we think of these people, though, we ask ourselves the hard question: “what type of person is the hardest for me to extend compassion to?” And what does exactly does it mean to live the Compassionate Life? So, what about the terrorists? I’m not limiting ourselves to people like ISIS or extremists half a world away who strap bombs to their chests.  I’m talking about people closer to home, those who make the local news because of things like violence, rape, and murder.  Inner city gangs

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