Archive for March, 2007

Constraints and Creativity

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Our staff read The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All last fall together. It’s the story written from the perspective of someone who gets a behind the scenes look at the entire production process of Cirque du Soleil. It’s really an interesting book for someone looking for some thoughts on creativity. One of the most surprising ideas that I found in the book was the relationship between creativity and constraints. I had always assumed that creativity thrived when no rules were in place and you were absolutely free to go wherever you wanted. The production team of Cirque du Soleil couldn’t disagree more. Repeatedly throughout the book they talked about how the presence of constraints fueled their creatiivity. In one section, the author talks about his surprise as he listened to one of the directors talk about budgets and deadlines.

“Budgets and deadlines?” I joked. “I didn’t think any of the normal rules applied here – including gravity!”

“Oh we’ve got budgets and deadlines, all right,” she said. ‘Without them I don’t think we’d be half as creative as we are. They force us to come up with solutions we’d never think of otherwise. Constraints on time, money, and resources can be incredible motivators! Some of our most inspired ideas have arisen from the most Spartan situations.”

I was reminded of that principle today while reading an article in Business Week entitled, “Creativity Loves Constraints.” You can access the article here, and after you read it, ask yourself the question: How are you using and/or creating constraints in your system in order to fuel your creativity?

*Quote from Spark, 28.

Follow up thoughts from Mosaic

Friday, March 30th, 2007

My week now runs Saturday to Saturday. The reason for that rhythm is that most weeks I preach on Saturday night. So, each week I spend a few days letting go of last week’s message and a few days preparing for the message that is coming up. Occasionally I have a week like this when my brain gets stuck in the past and I have to do a bit more week on last week’s message (even though I can’t go back it time) in order to move forward.

Last week, we started looking at the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Rather than reviewing everything I talked about, I can simplify by saying that the main idea that we looked at was that in order for Jesus to bring to Lazarus the gift of life, he had to let him die. The irony of this story in the book of John is that the act of raising Lazarus from the dead is what gets Jesus’ killed. So why does Jesus do it? Because Jesus is about life. Jesus dies that we might live. And because Jesus is about life, we are a community that is fundamentally about life… So I spend some time thinking about what that really means… wrestling with the question: how is that lived out in community?

Here’s what I’ve come up with…

  • We affirm together that the way of Jesus is the best way to live.
  • We gather to participate in the life of God.
  • We seek to encourage and inspire one another to engage the mess and beauty of life.
  • We accept the honor and responsibility of modeling the life of God.
  • We believe that the mission and practice of our community is informed by God’s dreams for our world.

I’ll post some additional thoughts about each of these ideas in the next few days.

Where I’ve been…

Friday, March 30th, 2007

It’s been a while since I have had anything substantial to say. Usually what that means is that I am working too much and I have fallen out of balance again. Usually, as my blogging goes, so goes my balance. But the last few weeks have been a bit different. I’ve been pretty balanced recently, but I have been spending some time focusing on some other things.

When I first started in ministry, one of my favorite quotes that I used to direct my life was, "leaders are learners. If you stop learning, you stop leading." I originally thought the quote was from Doug Fields. Then I heard it from Rick Warren. Who knows who shared it with him? The point is that this idea really shaped the way I approached the work of ministry… But as life gets busier and your job gets more difficult, sometime the task of learning gets pushed down the priority list. It’s a very subtle shift. It happens gradually and in many ways it goes completely unnoticed… Until one day you realize, "I’m not learning, and I’ve stopped leading."

In the last year, that’s certainly the situation I have found myself in.

Last week while reading John Maxwell’s book, The 360 Degree Leader, I was reminded of why learning is so important to leading.

"If you look back at past accomplishments, and they don’t look small to you now, the you haven’t grown very much since you completed them. If you look back at a job you did years ago, and you don’t think you could do it better now, then you’re not improving in that area of your life. If you are not continually growing, then it is probably damaging your leadership ability. Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus, author of Leaders:The Strategies for Taking Charge, said, ‘It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from followers.’ If you’re not moving forward as a learner, then you are moving backward as a leader."

So the question for all leaders is this: what are you learning?

If you’re looking for a place to start, I highly recommend this book from Maxwell. Some of his work seems pretty repetitive, but I thought this was one of his best. Good luck learning.


Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I started a post to apologize for not posting much recently, but I hit the same wall that has kept me from blogging.

So let’s do this simply. I’m sorry.

A quote for Sunday

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

Albert Einstein

Destined for greatness

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Leaders have to manage distractions, and overcome adversity. A leader must be faithful to the vision. Leadership takes endurance, it takes character, and most importantly, it takes creativity. My daughter is destined to be a great leader. See ex. #1.


This morning, the mission was the biscuit, and the distraction was the evil sun. Did my daughter quit? Did she simply say, “this is too hard. I can’t go on.” No, she wen to her room and got her sunglasses. She apapted to the new paradigm. That’s what leaders do.

Virb is cool

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Like a lot of others, I’ve been messing with Virb a lot this week. So far, I really love it, and it’s really incredible how they have addressed everything that was really bad about myspace while also adding a ton of additional features. I had lots of complaints about myspace, but one of the things that sets Virb apart is that it doesn’t feel “teenager.” It has a classic web 2.0 elegance to it that is a lot cleaner and “mature.” If you don’t know what I mean, just check out Virb. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly.

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So, outside of setting up my Virb, I’ve been working on a page for our Mosaic Community to connect and a page for the music we share at Mosaic as well. In the myspace realm, you basically had two options setting something up. You were either an individual or a band. In Virb, you have a few more choices. They’ve expanded the options to include an “organization” and a “music organization” such as a record label. You can also set up groups within Virb, although groups don’t have the option to customize their page. So I opted to setup an organization page for our community and I setup a music page for our music.

Maybe you’re like my wife and you’ve never checked out any of this social networking stuff. For those of you in that category, I never would have recommended myspace, but the technology seems to have moved in such a way with Virb that it’s worth checking out. You might be surprised how handy it really is. If you don’t know how to begin, shoot me an email. I’ll be glad to help.

If you have been using myspace, consider switching. I think you’ll find it’s well worth the time you’ll spend setting up your new page. Steal the graphic I shared here and put it up as your profile pic to encourage others to make the switch. Here’s how my myspace will look for the next month until I take it down.

For Mosaic readers, here’s our community page, and here’s our music page.

Happy networking.

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Halfway home…

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Today is Day 23 of the Meatless Marathon. There are 23 days left in Lent after today. After counting that up today, I felt affirmed that Kyle, Johnny, and I have made it halfway through the season without having any meat (except for some stray bacon bits in a salad one day!). Johnny and I had a bit of an inconvenience today when the cook decided to upgrade our Fettucini Alfredo to an order with chicken. We had decided to return to the office to watch the opening round of the NCAA tourney on the big screen TV, so Johnny and I were a bit surprised to see a lot of chicken in our food.

It looked good, but luckily the Nix boys helped us out and devoured our chicken for us.

Thanks Josh and Jason.

23 more days to go.

Catching Up…

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

So far I’ve had a pretty fruitful Spring break. I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and look ahead at what I have coming up in the next three months. The calendar is filling up pretty fast for me which is making me a bit anxious, but I am really excited about participating in several of these upcoming activities including, “The National Conversation on the Emerging Church” in April (Austin, Texas) and the Generation X|Y Gathering for UMC church practitioners (Fayetteville, Ark). I hope everyone else is having a good break, and taking some time to breathe in life.

Please let this work…

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

I really hate myspace. I admit to owning a myspace, but I really hate using it. Why do I have one then? Basically, the only reason I have a myspace is to provide another convenient way for students to contact me. I do get a lot of messages from kids through myspace, but I can’t stand using it. Why?

  • I hate logging in! Seriously, I can’t stand waiting ten minutes for this process to finish!
  • No, I do not want to sign up for a singles service! Stop showing me soft-core porn everytime I log in!
  • Ugly! Ugly! Ugly! The interface for myspace is so ugly!

Which is why I am really excited about Virb, a new social networking service that actually looks like it has some promise. It looks great, so far the system seems to being flow pretty smoothly and I haven’t been bombarded with half naked women!

So, do something new! Ditch myspace! Join Virb!

Here’s my profile. I’d love to be your friend.

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