Early Christian Banquet Worship

Pliny the Younger.
They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

Army Leadership Definition

Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.

An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.

As defined in Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22, Army Leadership August 2012

The Commander’s (Leader’s) Intent

HesburghVisionWithout a clear understanding of what the boss wants, organizations will inevitably fail to achieve it. Without the gift of mind reading, success depends on the boss clearly communicating what he wants. This holds true regardless of the nature of the organizations, its size or purpose. Church leaders, business executives, managers, and heads of families could take a lesson from an enterprise that literally depends on communicating intent to save lives.

The military understands that the absence of a clear understanding of the commander’s intent, for any given operation, could result in the unnecessary death of people. The U.S. Army’s manual on the operations process emphasizes this by connecting the commander’s intent to everything about an operation including how the staff plans operations, the disciplined initiative of subordinate commanders when the plan changes, and the level of risk that is appropriate to achieve the ends state.

The commander’s intent is a clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command, provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desired results without further orders, even when the operation does not unfold as planned (ARDP 5-0, Pg 1-5 )

Several principles govern the creation of intent:

  1. Commanders (substitute any leader as necessary) must have a vision (end state)
  2. Commanders must create and communicate intent by describing the components of their vision on their own. I have been in too many planning meetings where the boss asks the staff to come up with the intent; this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated.
  3. The intent must be concise and easy to remember, the shorter the better.
  4. The intent should be understood two levels below the commander. In Army terms, a brigade commander will frame intent so that a company commander understands it.
  5. Intent will provide the framework for action, shared understanding and focus until the end state is achieved

“The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”— Theodore Hesburgh

With these principles in place, a commander can frame their intent using three components: Expanded purpose statement, list of key tasks, and statement of end state

  1. Expanded Purpose. The Army communicates purpose, or why an action is taken, in the mission statement of an operation order. The expanded purpose gives the context beyond why an action is planned by addressing the strategic implications to success and how it affects other parts of the organization.
  2. Key tasks. A brief list of activities required to achieve the desired end state. Staffs use the key task list to ensure the development of suitable and acceptable plans. When situations changes and significant opportunities present themselves, subordinates use the key tasks to focus their efforts to take initiative and achieve the end state.
  3. End state. Similar to a vision statement, the end state statement in more descriptive in describing the conditions that will exist when the organization has successfully met the commander’s intent. Write the description of end state in present tense as if everything has been actualized and the organization has achieved the best possible outcome.

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Sin Through Weakness and Goodness

Bad and mediocre people are tempted to sin by their own habitual weaknesses. The earlier lies or thefts or adulteries make the next one that much easier to contemplate. Having already cut so many corners, the thinking goes, what’s one more here or there? Why even aspire to virtues that you probably won’t achieve, when it’s easier to remain the sinner that you already know yourself to be?

But good, heroic people are led into temptation by their very goodness – by the illusion, common to those who have done important deeds, that they have higher responsibilities than the ordinary run of humankind. It’s precisely in the service to these supposed higher responsibilities that they often let more basic ones slip away. – Ross Douthat, New York Times, November 13, 2011

Are You a Leader or a Tyrant?

When we as leaders get in the habit of thinking that other people are there to support our success, we’re actually notleaders, we’re tyrants.  Only when we go through the emotional, psychological and spiritual transformation to realize our role is to serve others, do we deserve to be called a leader. – Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of VISA

 

Rules of Influence

  1. Live a life of undivided integrity
  2. Always demonstrate a positive attitude
  3. Consider other people’s interest as more important that your own
  4. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence

from Chris Widner: The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins With You

The Lost Art of Backward Planning


Jesus had a plan…and he executed it right on time.

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 (NIV)

Short of the divine knowledge Jesus possessed, few of us would be able to deliver exactly on time with as far to travel and as many things to do.  Along the way he taught  parables, eased Martha to the better choice, confronted demons, expressed woes to the pharisees, healed people, dined with his disciples, and prayed all night before being arrested…right on time.

Granted, the things we do day-to-day don’t have eternal consequences for all of humanity, but why do we seem to always miss deadlines, cram all night to study or finish a project, or flat out miss deadlines?  We’ve lost the art of backward planning.

Backward planning is the process of determining the right time to start something by subtracting from the finish point the time required to complete it .

Here’s a simple example:  It takes 2 hours to drive to your mothers and you need to be there by 7:00pm.  Subtract 2 hours from 7pm and you need to leave at five.  WAIT, WAIT…don’t stop reading, it gets better.

What we fail to do is apply this simple concept to more complex projects like the yearly report, your  masters degree thesis, or even family panning.   Here’s some simple steps to backward plan your next project.

  1. Determine the finish point
  2. List all tasks that must be done in order
  3. Estimate the length of each task
  4. Subtract each length from the finish point

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The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Good Shepherd)

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-7

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:1-7 (NIV)

Context:  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who are critical of his association with sinners.  Both presumably are hearing his response to them in the form of three parables, the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the loving father.

Outline

1.  “Suppose one of you…”

  • The Pharisee would not have considered the profession of a shepherd nor allowed his son to be one
  • Shepherding in the oral tradition of the Jews was a proscribed trade…that is, a trade that according to rabbis would be impossible to have and keep the law.   Lists of such trades can be found in the Mishnah (Kidd 4:14, Ket 7:10) and the Babylonian Talmud  (Kid
  • Even though a Shepherd is a symbol for God throughout the old testament, the experience of the time was that a herdsmen were not law-abiding Jews (therefore sinners) and The law-abiding
  • Aggressive and offensive language

2.  “loses one of them “ (Bad shepherd)

  • The structure of Middle Eastern life and language requires that people do not blame themselves; “I lost my sheep” would be presented as “the sheep went from me.”
  • Sheep are constantly getting lost.
  • Shepherd must be diligent

3.  “And when he finds it “ (Good Shepherd)

  • As Bible experts they would have instantly recalled Psalms 23, Jeremiah 23, and Ezekiel 34
  • Ezekiel 34 Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel

1…‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Ezekiel 34:1-5 (NIV)

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:11-16 (NIV)

4.  “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home” (Picture of a good shepherd)

  • Rugged terrain made it difficult to bring the sheep back; a lost sheep is confused, exhausted and unable or willing to stand.   Often 70 lbs a sheep would have to be carried by the shepherd (not joyfully)
  • The sacrificial action of the shepherd alone will save the sheep
  • John 10:1-18 The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….   14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:11-15 (NIV)

  • The cross was not used as a symbol of salvation in the early church.  Scholars believe this was because crucifixion by the cross
  • The image of a shepherd with a sheep across his shoulders was often used as a symbol of salvation.  Carving in the catacombs and frescos in early house churches depict a shepherd with a sheep that is proportionally larger than the  the shepherd
  • The early church understood the

5.  “‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

12 “…If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  Matthew 18:12-13 (NIV)

6.  Summary

  • The Pharisees come face to face with the prophesy of Ezekiel, they have failed as the shepherds God intended them to be and through their religion, have neglected the lost sheep
  • God loves his sheep
  • Only through the shepherd will the lost sheep be found.  Through no effort of our own we are saved through Him
  • Joy – common theme of each of the parable.

7.  Call The good shepherd loves you and longs for your return to the fold.  He will seek you out in the darkness.  He will lift you up onto his shoulders and rejoice.  All you have to do is let him…

Change: Threat or Opportunity?

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck asserted, ‘It is the nature of man as he grows older to protect against change, particularly change for the better.’ By its very nature, empowerment brings constant change in that it encourages people to grow and innovate. Change is the price of progress. Insecure leaders view change as a threat rather than an opportunity. – John Maxwell

Leading from the Outside

Unless you are prepared to see things differently and go against the current, you are unlikely to accomplish anything truly important. And to go against the current, you have to be something of an outsider, living on the edge, a member of a small but vibrant counterculture.  You must free yourself from habitual ways of looking at things, cultivate an independent and questioning perspective, and be ready to embrace alternative and counterintuitive points of view.

Dove Frohman in Leadership the Hard Way: Why Leadership Can’t Be Taught – And How You Can Learn It Anyway (J-B Warren Bennis Series)