My struggle – leaders fail

Fail

One of my biggest lessons in leadership is that leaders fail, and that it is necessary and good to fail.

The more I read of leaders the more I realise that those we often hold up as fantastic leaders in their own fields struggled time and time again with failure.  Their success is built upon a foundation of failures from which they learn and grow.

As Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The other thing I’ve learnt is that just because you fail doesn’t mean you should drop that dream or goal – it may just need more practice or not be the right time for it to work.  Just check out this infographic:

Failure

The Never-Ending Pursuit of Happiness

pursuit-of-happiness

I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Sampson’s article in the LICC Newsletter:

The overarching goal in contemporary western society, at an individual and national level, is happiness.

To exchange the word ‘happiness’ for the phrase ‘well-being’ is to uncover the underlying purpose behind most current conversations in public policy, the third sector, and even the business community. Even David Cameron has argued that we need GWB (General Well-Being) to be our focus instead of GDP, as not everything that is important can be measured financially.

Cameron is surely right. However, the reason why society has been pursuing growth in GDP is that, until very recently, we were convinced such growth would make us happier. The moral argument behind our obsession with increase in wealth has been a deep-rooted sense that ‘more is better’.

This obsession has been challenged by a number of factors – the economic crisis, environmental destruction, the ‘epidemic’ of obesity, and particularly the mountains of research which has revealed that while GDP has dramatically increased in the last 30 years, we have not been getting happier. Happiness is still the goal, but there is a growing realisation that the path we are on will not get us there.

In many ways, the emerging public conversation brings with it a more generous approach to religion. ‘Well-being’ as a concept certainly can in theory acknowledge the important place of religion in society, at least much more than a purely financial metric. Though this shift should be cautiously welcomed, one of the key contributions that Christian thought and practice can make is to call into question the dominant assumption that happiness is the goal. The crucial conversation is not about means (how we get there) but about ends (what we should be aiming for).

The church’s prophetic witness is to testify to our true ‘end’, memorably summed up in the Westminster Catechism – ‘to glorify God and enjoy him forever’. Happiness – or the richer word ‘joy’ – is found in and through God, partially in this life and fully in the life to come. In the words of Augustine, ‘God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.’

To pursue happiness as an end in itself is to condemn oneself to a life without rest. It is a life in the image of Wile E. Coyote in his never-ending pursuit of the Road Runner – always chasing, but never catching.

Renew within me a Spirit of Holiness

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Lord Jesus,
My soul and body are defiled by so many sinful deeds.

My tongue and my heart have run wild without restraint,
causing misery to others and shame to myself.

My soul bleeds with the wounds of wrongdoing,
and my body is a playground of selfish indulgence.

If I was to come before you as a judge,
you could only condemn me to eternal torment,
for that is what I deserve.

Yet I come before you,
not as a judge, but as a savior.

I depend not on your justice,
but on your mercy.

As you look upon the wretched creature that I am,
I ask that your eyes be filled with compassion and forgiveness.

And as I sit at your table,
I beg you to renew within me a spirit of holiness.

Ambrose of Milan

Living as Easter People

Easter crosses

In Jerusalem, Westerners ask where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is, but Eastern Christians know it as the Church of the Resurrection.  Some Christians stop at the cross, at Jesus bearing the sins of the whole world.  Others go through the cross, the empty tomb and emerge surprised, seeing the old world lived in differently with new colour and joy.

Easter is not about death and destruction – business as usual in the old world.  At the empty tomb Jesus’ followers are surprised by life, bewildered and transformed by hope.  Old rules have been broken.  We’re offered new life not because Jesus absorbed the sin and muck of the world on the cross, but because having done so, God then raised him from the dead. #

I want to be an Eastern Christian in Jerusalem, to live in the light of the resurrection.  Easter is not possible without having first gone through Good Friday and Empty Saturday; but, if we stop at Good Friday, we have believed the lies of the old world that death has the final word.  We must move on to be the Church of the Resurrection – confident to live as Easter People with ‘resurrection’ as our cry.

A covenant with God

stained-glass

Tonight in our service at the start of 2013 we used the traditional Methodist covenant prayer:

‘I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.’

The prayer was adapted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, for use in services for the Renewal of the believer’s Covenant with God.  Wesley says that the first service was held on Monday 11 August 1755, at the French church at Spitalfields in London, with 1,800 people present.  The words of that original covenant prayer are lost, but are thought to be reflected in the Directions for Renewing our Covenant with God which Wesley issued as a pamphlet in 1780.  Services using the Covenant prayer have been included in most Methodist books of liturgy since.