Trained vs. Untrained

I recently attended a safety and security presentation. One particular element that I found particularly interesting was how trained vs. untrained people respond during a crisis. It looks like the original source for the information is from the Center for Personal Protection and Safety


As you can see, the path for trained and untrained start in the same way but then take very different paths. It made me wonder about how these play out in all of our non-life threatening situations.

When I’m stuck, do I commit to action or descend into helplessness? Conversely, is it possible that when I’m feeling helpless I might need to respond with action?

Trust in His Story

My family and I have been catching up on Star Wars over this Christmas break. Yes, we even have Star Wars pajamas and a BB-8 (a small robot in the new Star Wars movie) stuffed toy for our dog. Seeing the movie on opening night a few weeks back left us feeling a wide variety of emotions. J.J. Abrams, the co-writer and director of the film, has said that the key for the film was to return to the roots of the first Star Wars film and for the story to be based more on emotion than explanation (here). We thoroughly enjoyed the adventure the movie took us on, but at the same time there were many moments that made us long for a resolution and feel sad. At the end, even with this mixture of feelings, we celebrated that there would be additional movies coming in the future where we could have confidence that the story would resolve and where good would conquer evil.
This past Sunday Pastor Janelle Koolhaas shared how we can have confidence in God’s everlasting story (listen here). She shared how Simeon and Anna, both in old age, were at the temple waiting to meet the Messiah (Luke 2:25-38). They were able to meet him as a baby but did not get to live to see Him live, die, and rise again. They only saw part of the story but knew that God would be faithful to deliver His people as he promised.

We, too, often do not see the whole story but have a unique story that fits perfectly into God’s plans. We find in His word, the Bible, that His timing is not slow or mistaken. Many times we may feel confused or broken but we can rest assured that our story belongs, is valid, and fits right in. In those times we can also take comfort by trusting in God’s story and what He has done, is doing, and will do.

Often, in my work at Fellowship and my personal life, I find it helpful to step back from challenging situations and attempt to look at things with God eyes and in light of His bigger story. I wonder things like:

  • What makes the timing right for this to have happened?
  • What happened in the past that equips us perfectly for this situation?
  • Who has God called into the story at this time and why?
  • What is the best possible outcome that would show God’s faithfulness?
  • How has God equipped me to have a positive impact?

You can probably think of other questions that allow you to see things from God’s perspective. Ultimately, this is a way we can show our faith in Him. This makes me think of a gift my daughter painted for me this Christmas. It has words about faith from Hebrews 11:1-3 (NLT):

“(1) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (2) Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. (3) By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”

I find great assurance in these words and have great hope for what God has done, is doing, and will do. You might also find comfort and assurance in reading and praying the following words from Psalm 146 over the coming days as an act of faith, hope, and love in being a part of God’s story:

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

Screaming Goats vs. Fainting Goats

This is an article I wrote for the Sunday’s Comin’ eNewsletter from Fellowship Reformed Church

Last week I discovered fainting goats on YouTube. Have you ever seen them? They are rather small and they have a strange reaction to being startled or scared–their muscles stiffen up and the fall over onto their side. Watching one video led me to more strongly entertaining goat videos which led me to screaming goats. What are screaming goats? They are goats that periodically make a scream that sounds strangely like a human. Now put screaming and fainting into the same video and you really have something special. Check it out here. I have to warn you, this video may induce serious laughter. In fact, it might even be contagious to others.

This past Sunday we laughed during worship when Pastor Brian helped us understand the ridiculous nature of Abraham and Sarah being told that they would have a child at such an old age (Abraham was 100). He talked about how strange it might be for someone to give birth in the geriatric ward. Can you imagine? In fact, Sarah knew we would laugh whenever we heard this story when she said, “‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ And she said, ‘Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’” Genesis 21:5–7 (NRSV)

This story was acted out beautifully by some members of our congregation. At the moment of Sarah’s laugh Jayne went into a pose that elicited laughter from us all. In case you weren’t able to be with us in worship, here is a photo that was captured by Jordan Clegg:


Isn’t that a great moment? All this laughter made me want to learn more by asking my friend, Google. Check out these amazing health benefits:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

I think I’m going to have to find more ways to incorporate laughter into my life. As we learned on Sunday, God’s grace should cause us to break into laughter with how unexpected and amazing it is. You can experience this by saying the following statements we heard on Sunday:

  • God loves me
  • God wants to be in relationship with me
  • God has saved me
  • God forgives me
  • God heals me
  • God is with me
  • God takes me as I am
  • God wants to use me for His will

Were you able to do that without breaking into a smile or maybe even a laugh? Can you believe it? The God who spoke our world into being loves you, forgives you, is in you, and gives you eternal life! This is the good news of the gospel.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ’For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” Mark 10:27 (NRSV)

Fill It Up

This post was written for a Fellowship Reformed Church eNewsletter called “Sunday’s Comin'”

In July, we took a family trip with the goal of spending three days in New York City. We chose to stay in New Jersey at a hotel recommended by my Aunt and Uncle who live there. We could then commute into the city by water ferry or driving. On our first night in New Jersey we went to visit my aunt and uncle. We were running a bit early so we stopped to fill up with gas. In New Jersey, you are not allowed to fill up your own vehicle with gas. You need to wait for an attendant who takes care of it for you. Remember those days of full-service gas stations?

Fast forward a few days and we, after some wonderful days in New York City, started driving home. We found that we needed to fill up with gas again in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, like Michigan, allows you to fill your own car with gas. So, I got out of the vehicle and started filling up. As I was standing there a lady on the other side of the pump came over and said, “Excuse me. I’m from New Jersey and don’t know how to use this pump or remove the gas cap. Would you be able to help me?” I was happy to do so and showed her how to remove the gas cap from her car, insert the credit card, remove the nozzle from the pump, select the grade of gas, and start filling the tank. She was very appreciative.

As I headed back to my own vehicle, I thought about how helpless it must feel to own a car and not know how to put gas in it. Thankfully, she was willing to admit that she did not know how to do it and then ask for help. It would have been a very different exchange if she would have demanded me to fill up the car with gas by saying, “Excuse me. Fill up my car with gas.” I might have responded by ignoring her or questioning her motives. It was the act of admitting first and asking second that opened my heart to her story and made me more than willing to help.

I remembered this story when I heard Pastor Brian preach about confession this past Sunday. He defined confession as getting honest with self, others, and God about our brokenness. In a way, this woman at the gas pump had to confess that she did not know how to pump gas in order to receive help. I wonder what it might be like if we put ourselves in a similar posture of confession with an area of life where we might feel stuck and helpless. Would we then be able to have the courage to admit or confess in order to receive help or forgiveness and ultimately freedom?

What might you confess this week in order to more fully experience life?

1 Peter 2:4-5 “Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (NRSV)

GLS15 Personal Reflection

The Global Leadership Summit this year energized, convicted, and inspired me. The following ideas have been key take-aways for me:

  1. A recurring theme through both days was that the disciplines that I continue to see as important in my life, yet are so hard to stay consistent with, are critical to my health and development and must continue to be an intentional pursuit (spending time with God in solitude, music, and physical fitness). In particular, I’ve been making sure to listen to more music!
  2. Horst Schulze ( ) was probably the speaker that shifted my thinking the most. He opened my mind to the service industry and how serving should come out of truly caring about and for others. I loved learning aboutthe movement of interactions with people which includes:
    • Welcome within 12 feet you need to say welcome or greet someone by showing care in the eyes
    • Comply to what a guest wants from you by caring for their needs
    • say farewell
  3. I loved listening to Brene Brown ( ). Her movements of “the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution” were a wonderful reminder on sharing the story we tell ourselves to others. She said under “the revolution” that “When we deny the story it defines us. When we own the story we can write the ending.” It was really good stuff and I’m “trying this on” in many of my relationships.
  4. Albert Tate’s message ( ) was a wonderful reminder, “The work is not about your name, it is about His name. It is not about your power, it is about His power.” I’ve found great peace in His message of relying on God and being blown away with what God can do when we simply bring Him what we have and rely on Him do the rest.
What impacted you?

GLS15: Session 7b Liz Wiseman

Global Leadership Summit 2015
Session 7b
Liz Wiseman
Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing  

  • rookie moments when doing something challenging and meaningful
  • “I don’t want a job I’m qualified learn or there would be nothing to learn.”
  • Questions to ask yourself about rookie moments:
  • how di dyou feel
  • how did you operate
  • what did you do when you didn’t know what to do
  • what was your aspiration?
  • We operate in simple small gritty and powerful way
  • Experience
    • “Once we have knowledge we tend to make assumptions and they can often be bad assumptions.”
    • With experience, sometimes we see what we expect to see and sometimes we can miss things entirely.
  • Inexperience
    • bound to make some rookie mistakes
    • has an upside that must be explored
  • The upside of inexperience
    • operate in hunter gatherer mode to seek expertise from others
    • LEARNING CURVE: delight > discovery > desperation (fire-walker mode–quick and careful) we tend to learn the most when we are feeling a bit desperate > deliver > delight > comfort OR hubris
      • signs you are on a plateau
        • things are running smoothly
        • you already have the answers
        • you get positive feedback
          • when we are at the top of our game we are in danger
        • you’ve become the mentor
        • you’re busy but bored – soul-sucking and contagious
      • can we be dulled to danger simply because we feel comfort?
    • when you have nothing it forces you to turn outward
    • when challenge level goes up, satisfaction level goes up
    • the secret of the rookie zone is it is powerful because we don’t like it–we want to reduce the tension (rubber band stretch between people)
    • as leaders we sometimes stretch too hard or we reduce the tension to rescue people
  • How do we rekindle rookie smarts?
  • master the art of the pivot of Leader & Learner by trying the following:
    • things are running smoothly SO INSTEAD throw away your notes in order to have fresh thinking
    • you already have the answers SO INSTEAD ask the questions
    • you get positive feedback SO INSTEAD admit what you don’t know
    • you’ve become the mentor SO INSTEAD let someone else lead
      • leaders need to be able to stop and to be able to go in reverse
      • try following someone on the team
      • go and spend time with the newcomers and allow them to renew you
    • you’re busy but board SO INSTEAD disqualify yourself and put yourself back at the beginning of the learning curve
      • when we put ourselves back in the rookie zone we do our best thinking and find our greatest joy “It’s awkward but it’s exhilarating”
  • “If you want your team to stay relevant, lead them into the unknown”
  • stay a learner and know when to put your rookie on
  • Our greatest joy comes from daring to begin again.

GLS15: Session 7a Sam Adeyemi

Global Leadership Summit 2015
Session 7a
Sam Adeyemi
Crushing the Power Chasm

  • born into a middle-class family with dad a government employee
  • construction in the family
  • family went through financial hardship
  • desired success and comfort
  • “When God asks you a question it is not because he doesn’t know the answer. Most of the time he wants to confront you with your foolishness.”
  • “You will not find the definition of success for your ministry or organization until you help the people I sent to you to succeed.”
    • "The object of leadership for many leaders is their own success, but the object of Christ’s leadership was the success of His followers
    • John 14:12 – for Christ the object of his leadership was not Him, it was the success of His followers
    • this takes the focus off of us and on to the people. Ask, “What are their needs? What are their problems? What are their issues?”
    • Selfishness is the focus of many leaders – James 4:3
    • “Following you should hold the promise of life change for those who follow you.” – Mathew 4:19
  • In many cultures being a leader makes you superior to the people you are leading. In such a culture leaders don’t empower others.
    • Mark 10:42 – Jesus is lived in such a culture
    • Powerful are very powerful and powerless and are very powerless
    • “The downside to power distance is that it can leave followers with low self-esteem and afraid to challenge a leader’s views.”
      • they tend to wait for approval before they do anything (a permission seeking culture)
      • people will not give feedback to the leader
      • leaders can be less accountable
    • “Jesus crushed the power gap between men and women, adults and children, leaders and their followers.”
      • Jesus embraced the children and told adults to be like them
      • Jesus healed on the Sabbath to confront the power structure
      • “As leaders, we should create the Jesus type of power structures”
      • Matthew 10:1 – disciples given authority and power
      • “Jesus gave power away.”
      • Jesus said to Peter, if I can do it you can do it to
  • “There is something about leaders and talented people that makes us think others cannot do what we do.”
    • Numbers 11
    • Shepherds feed sheep which allows sheep to give back to sheep and invite more sheep
  • There is a huge opportunity in parts of the world where people are oppressed and there are power gaps.
    • It is not the absence of money that makes you poor. You need ideas to make money.
    • There are opportunities to empower people
    • “Jesus did not only crush the power gap, he overturned it”
    • Luke 22:27

GLS15: Session 6 Brian Houston

Global Leadership Summit 2015
Session 6
Brian Houston
Resilience: One on One with Brian Houston

  • parents a part of Salvation Army up until he was 3 and dad had nervous breakdown
  • grew up in New Zeeland
  • new book coming out in September “Live Love and Lead”
  • call felt from his early years to be a preacher (Ephesians 1:1)
  • father had abused a young person and was a huge emotional hit – still a challenge to this time
  • changes in life after a panic attack and finding self in a low point
    • changes in way of travel
    • no more sleeping tablets
    • adding more discipline into certain parts of life
    • have risen out of the depths very quickly
  • music from Hillsong
    • build a church that helps others build church
    • Darlene was instrumental part of music for 15 years
    • “Music is an arrowhead for a healthy church.”
  • in most organizations who you start with is not who stays with it over time
    • “It is always good in leadership to take your time and invest in people”
    • Ecclesiastes 3 – you are beginning a season and we are all only hear for a season – let’s give it our best to God for the season (Bill Hybels)
  • planting Hillsong churches in many challenging cities around the world
    • Goal of: “Building influential churches that can impact culture”
    • building churches in various places and being themselves
    • put the right person in the right place at the right time and God does great things
  • movie about “Hillsong United” and their latest album which will be released in the near future
  • an anointing on his life that he helps people know that God can do great things – a Faith anointing
    • loves what he does
    • loves the Lord
    • loves people
    • keep getting up and keep showing up and God will do great things
  • longevity is the greatest strength that anyone can have for God
  • Music and leadership have a very interesting juxtoposition
    • leaders who carry the biggest pressure have the closest affinity to the power of music
    • many strong leaders need to listen to music for strength
    • people in evaluative position have a hunger in their soul for things like music
    • in a time of pressure listen to the same song over and over
  • “Leaders see what other people can’t see yet…these unique pressures often lead to fear.” (Bill Hybels)
  • There is no other name than the name of Jesus – we can trust in God’s word and His promises – they are beautiful and unchangeable
  • songs have a huge potential to bring healing to people
  • anointed music is often created in pain]
  • song “I’m no longer a slave to fear”
  • Psalm 68 “I will be a father to the fatherless”
  • song “you are a good, good Father”
  • song “oceans”
    • “so much of leadership is water walking”
    • “leaders are almost always out of sight of land” (Bill Hybels)
  • “leaders, you cannot do this journey without help from God” (Bill Hybels)
  • “It is our job to stay connected to the God who can help us do great things” (Bill Hybels)
  • we can cheer each other on through the power and blessing of music" (Bill Hybels)
  • song “through it all my eyes are on you…it is well” “It is well with my soul”

Session 5b Sheila Heen

Global Leadership Summit 2015
Session 5b
Sheila Heen
Thanks for the Feedback

  • Feedback comes in many different forms
  • “Feedback is my relationship with the world and the world’s relationship with me”
  • feedback is one of the toughest conversations that happens in all organizations
  • people all of the world struggle with feedback conversations
  • these conversations drive organizational learning, employee engagement, and cross-functional collaboration
  • in any exchange between giver and receiver, the receiver is in charge because they can choose what they want to receive
  • what might it look like to teach receivers how to receive feedback, even poorly delivered feedback
  • 2 human needs
    • the need to learn and grow (this is energizing) “feedback should be joyful”
    • the need to be accepted or respected or loved the way we are now
  • types of feedback (we need all three)
    • A ppreciation being noticed by others which gives motivation
    • C oaching anything that helps you grow, learn, get better (as you get more senior you have a tougher time receiving coaching)
    • E valuation rating and ranking
  • 93% of American workers feel under-appreciated at work
  • evaluation and coaching get tangled together which removes the effectiveness of the coaching
  • even when we hear coaching we don’t always take it
    • it was wrong
    • we don’t trust them
    • being too stubborn
    • being too young
    • many others reasons…
  • boundaries are important “if you can’s say no then your yes’ are freely given”
    • we decide too fast (when feedback comes in we look for what is wrong and can always find something wrong)
  • 3 trigger reactions to feedback
    • truth triggers: is it true, good, accurate
    • relationship triggers: who is giving the feedback
    • identity triggers: the story you tell yourself about who you are and your wiring
  • skills to receiving feedback
    • (1) not deciding if the feedback is right or wrong and, rather, think about what the giver means
    • (2) See yourself clearly and accurately (everyone has blind spots)
      • facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, patterns of behavior, impact on others
      • talk to your friends for help: (1) supportive mirror to encourage around what is wrong with the feedback (2) honest mirror to find out what might be right with the feedback
  • when leaders become better receivers
    • receive more feedback
    • become a role model
    • automatically become a better giver
  • become a better giver
    • don’t ask people for feedback in a general way
    • “one thing” pick one person who matters in my life and ask:
      • What’s one thing you particularly appreciate?
      • What’s one thing you see me doing – or failing to do – that you think I should change (or is getting in the way?
  • “We need each other to see our own limitations and where to grow next”
  • “Feedback accelerates your personal, professional, and spiritual growth”

Session 5a Horst Schulze

Global Leadership Summit 2015
Session 5a
Horst Schulze
Creating World Class Service

  • “Ladies & Gentleman serving Ladies & Gentleman” background
    • started working in a world class hotel at age of 14
    • observed a mater Dei who came to work to be excellent in his profession and caring for the people around him
  • A great business
    • (1) keep the customer (dissatisfied – terrorists against company, satisfied – neutral customers willing to move somewhere else, loyal customers – fight for them)
    • (2) find new customers
    • (3) get value from customers
    • (4) work on efficiencies
  • Customer loyalty
    • your customer/guest trusts you, you have developed trust
    • giving the customer what they want is how to develop trust
    • all want three things
      • the product needs to be defect free
      • timeliness – super important and be super attentive to this
      • the people who give it to you need to be nice to you
    • this is the same in all businesses
    • being nice to the customer is the most important thing
  • Service – begins the instant you make contact (the first 10 seconds) – essential
    • Welcome within 12 feet you need to say welcome or greet someone by showing care in the eyes
    • Comply to what a guest wants from you by caring for their needs
    • say farewell
  • caring is the thing you remember
  • good service over time results in customer loyalty
  • personalized/individualized service results in customer loyalty
  • Why do we go to work? Create and be excellent – serve employees by demanding and leading to excellence
  • our role, as leaders, is to demand excellence and caring
    • carefully select possible candidates with a process that looks for caring
    • orientation that includes letting everyone know that no one can claim they are better than anyone else…every person and their positions are important..let people know how they benefit from what they do
      • we are leaders. We have forfeited the right to make excuses
      • is the direction and destination good for all concerned. If you can say no in one case, don’t do it.
      • say who you are as an organization, invite them into the dream of the organization and purpose, it is immoral to higher people just for a function.
      • the key product that we deliver and that is being produced is service to human beings. respect to human beings
      • “if it is important we need to repeat it”
      • “if you receive a complaint you then own it”
      • 24 point credo/canon
    • sustaining “come to work to be part of a purpose” “service is caring from the heart”