At 60 years old, I can legitimately say I have perspective. I can look back and connect the dots of my life and look ahead with anticipation of what God has in store for me. Instrumental in helping me gain perspective over the past 11 years is being involved in several small group communities like Convene. Left on my own, it is difficult to hold my life in perspective. My worldview becomes narrow and biased. Isolation breeds self-pity, negativity, and ultimately, hopelessness. It feeds my ego, my self-sufficiency, my need for control. It creates an inward spiral that draws me further into myself. In contrast, community helps keep me in perspective. It shows me that I’m not alone in my brokenness. It allows me to understand my trials and challenges relative to other good people’s struggles. It helps me examine my own lifestyle and character and forces me to challenge my own limiting beliefs. Community creates an outward spiral that draws others into my life.
Last week, a member of our Eastern Wisconsin Convene Team initiated a group e-mail that grew into a string of blessings upon one another in business, family and service. What started as an encouraging word of appreciation became an abundant offering of prayers, requests for prayer, expressions of thanksgiving, and further demonstration of the significant service in which our Team members engage. It was one more piece of evidence of the leadership community fabric forming while we work to develop ourselves and our businesses Underneath this leadership fabric is a Team Covenant.* It goes like this:
We are a team. As a team, we define our culture. Condemnation is checked at the door and disagreement is welcome in the room. We recognize that fully present participation is our highest contribution to our teammates. Because we are teammates, we commit to give abundantly, to receive in similar measure, and to keep confidentiality We choose accountability to follow through on what we say personally and in business, mutual assistance, and open communication.
The increasing length of each sentence is intended., and each sentence cascades into the next. Here is a little more definition:
We are a team. We need to be committed to and contribute to each other as we grow ourselves and our businesses.
As a team, we define our culture. Even if another entity were to dictate the values by which we should operate, in the end we take responsibility for creating the environment by which we grow ourselves and our businesses.
Condemnation is checked at the door and disagreement is welcome in the room. We recognize that we do significant discernment work when we gather. When we collectively care about the result, differing values, sometimes even competing values, come into play. We are not going to hold back our judgment about a matter. Neither are we going to make definitive, unthinking, or insensitive pronouncements.
We recognize that fully present participation is our highest contribution to our teammates. This part is especially hard because so many matters compete for attention before, during and in the moments after one of our Forum Days ends. And yet, our ability to be fully present and undistracted with our Convene Team, means we grow in our ability to be fully present with our employees, our families and our friends. When we are fully present in these key relationships, we make it possible for them to flourish. When we are mentally and emotionally elsewhere, we become a significant contributor to their floundering.
Because we are teammates, we commit to give abundantly, to receive in similar measure, and to keep confidentiality. Being present means we concentrate and think with our teammates, and we leave our conversations in the room. This makes it possible for us to learn, as well as contribute our learnings, in safety. So, we must hold an open posture as we give and receive. If we do not remind ourselves to keep this discipline, we will only tell and sell rather than listen and learn. Our commitment to learning means we ask questions for the purposes of further discovery before we start dealing out what we already know. Learning fosters our needed and continuing growth.
We choose accountability to follow through on what we say personally and in business, mutual assistance, and open communication. We declare what we will work on, report on the effort, admit our mistakes, make our corrections, and celebrate the hurdles we cross. We keep committing ourselves to listen to how we are perceived, and develop our capacities even as we live well within themm so that margin and life balance can be honored. We keep making ourselves open to the counsel of peers.
The women and men in our team keep telling me they are better leaders and better people because of their involvement, especially because of the care they receive and can offer, alongside the insights they gain. We don’t do it perfectly. Far from it. But we earnestly pursue it. Does participation in such a peer-based advising team hold interest for you as a company owner or CEO, wherever you might live?
Would you like to contact one of the Convene Chairs along the western shore of Lake Michigan?
*Convene asks all participants in all teams to sign a covenant that covers all members in all teams. Many individual teams develop supplemental covenants, specific to the fabric of their teams, such as this one.
If you enjoyed this article about living in covenant from Mark L. Vincent, you’ll enjoy our live learning venue even more! Join hundreds of leaders learning together how to operate their company well, all on a biblical platform at the Leadership Summit 2017 in Hilton Head, SC on May 3-5, 2017. Find out more here.
Can’t make the Summit but crave more learning? Tune in to our Convene online leadership learning portal!
You wake up in the morning hoping your actions will have purpose. You want the work you do during the day to be affirmed, to be directed towards a meaningful end, and to have an impact on the lives of those around you.
You want to lie down at night and feel satisfied, content that the work you did was your very best and made a difference in the grand scheme of things.
You want the peace of mind, the satisfaction that comes with living out your purpose in the world.
You want fulfillment.
And you know what? You can find it. Everyone can.
Each person is created in God’s image, and like him, has the desire – and the ability – to be creative and find fulfillment using their God-given talents.
You can find fulfillment in many ways, by knowing your place and purpose in your community, your family, your church, and especially in work.
You can find fulfillment by living into who God created you to be, and doing what he created you to do.
In short, you find fulfillment when you discover and carry out your calling. This fulfillment finds expression in many ways – in serving your community, church, and family. In these places, you can make contributions that have eternal significance.
Work especially is an area where you can find fulfillment. Your daily work provides you with the challenges and opportunities to serve God and others. In fact, it’s the best way to serve others. And service is key – ultimately, work isn’t just about your personal fulfillment. It’s about serving your neighbors and even complete strangers by using your God-given gifts, talents, and resources to help meet their needs. Your service gives people a glimpse of how things will be when Christ returns and restores creation in full.
There are, of course, times when work may be difficult. Some days you feel the “thorns and thistles,” the stress, the burden of your responsibilities more than others. Through it all, work remains a formative activity for finding fulfillment by teaching us about God and ourselves.
Fulfillment can be found in whatever work God places in front of you, regardless of whether it’s your dream job or not. When we work hard everyday at the work God has given us, it’s pleasing to him and way more fulfilling for us.
Ultimately, fulfillment is not found in our circumstances, but in the actions – and attitudes we take towards our work, family, church, and community each and everyday. It’s found in working diligently to glorify God, serve the common good, and advance the kingdom of God in all that we do.
Originally published by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE). ©Institute for Faith, Work & Economics 2015. Used by permission.
If summed up in a single word, ministry is simply “readiness.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7. The expression and manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given to me for the benefit, advantage and profit of others.
I’ve always been perplexed with the basic view of ministry as something one must get into or sign up for, as opposed to it simply being someone you are. Lingering over ministry there looms a black cloud that implies if we’re not involved in one of the many categories or vocations of the standard ministry pool, then we are not serving the Kingdom, and therefore not in ministry. Not to negate the many core areas of need in the Church, but vocations are nothing more than things we do. As such, they can be done out of bondage, obligation, pressure and selfish motives rather than desire… turning them from ministry into misery where the heart is tainted and the results anemic, if that. True and lasting ministry resides in who we are being while doing the things we do - in vocations or otherwise. It’s about the posture of our hearts being in that special space where the fruits of the spirit are evident through counting others as more important than ourselves. It’s moving in the spirit of giving where for a time we forget about our own struggles, shortcomings, insecurities and agendas and focus on serving others with excellence and without conditions or expectations. This is ministry, and as we share our gifts with others, the fullness of Christ’s presence shines through, tasks are done, and we’re refreshed, alive, and ready for what’s next. The ministry of “readiness” knows no limits where it can show up. The light is always on, shining on others, regardless of location, vocation or situation.
The Big Question:Do you view ministry as a place you go to, something you do, or do you see it as someone you can be… every moment of every day?
Peer-based advising teams are proliferating. Yesterday I was asked about another one dedicated exclusively to CEOs of manufacturing companies. Had I heard of it? No. And I was not surprised because every month brings a new player in a crowded space. It is crowded because peer-based advising teams offer a proven resource to a strongly felt need: reducing leadership isolation, pooling time/expense in order to arrive at quality decisions and actions far more efficiently and persistently, and developing the leader along with the organization they serve.
As with any market, over time, low quality and non-sustaining offerings are going to disappear and the more resilient ones will prosper. That day is not yet. So…assuming you are a leader convinced of the value and committed to joining a peer-based advising team, how do you discern among the options?
And…since you are specifically considering Convene, what is its distinctive?
Here is how I answer the question about the Convene distinction:
- Love of God and neighbor. Convene centers on Christ and the gospel of mercy and forgiveness. That gospel is then lived in loving service to others. This element is front and center as difficult decisions about sustainability, profitability and legacy get made. It makes all the difference between seeing people as commodities or people as assets. Other peer-based advising teams may or may not have this element, and with varying emphasis.
- The Owner/CEO is developed as a steward. No-one really “owns” a business. It is going to pass on to others eventually, and the condition of its passing says everything about the stewardship of the leader. Who the leader is becoming, how they operate, and the well-being of all stakeholders are measures of stewardship. They are the measures that count. A healthy balance sheet and organizational growth are tools of the steward’s work, and contribute to the final sum.
- Community is the third leg of the stool. The other two legs are the development of the leader and the development of the organization. In developing leaders (leg 1), some peer-based advising teams work only with leadership capacities as they relate to business. Others invite the leader to work on their whole person (family/emotional/spiritual/physical well-being), believing the whole person is in play at all times. It almost goes without saying that all peer-based advising teams work on organizational challenges and opportunities (leg 2). Not all of them work at community, however (leg 3).
- Community is built on fierce conversation, iron sharpening iron, going toe to toe while confidentially and graciously working at personal and business challenges.
- Community is built on diverse and multi-faceted perspective. Convene Teams are not intended to provide fellowship among homogenous, same industry networks. Rather it is plowing and harvesting in the fields of what the leader does not yet know that they do not know, believing they will be the better for it. They do this work among people with the same commitment and the same level of leadership responsibility coming from a broad swath of organizations.
- Community is building a fabric of relationships that extend beyond time spent in Forum Days—genuine and mutual concern for each other’s welfare and the strength of their families.
- Community as in bringing our best to our times together because we are a team. What we get out of the time together matters a great deal, but far more important is that we prepare well, bringing our whole selves and full attention in order to provide our best thinking for fellow Team Members. The result of caring about the quality of our contribution as the highest priority is that the Team Member grows in the leadership capacity they seek to develop.
Convene Teams are recognizable because of this distinction of the ethic of loving service, the commitment to organizational stewardship and the building of strong community. This distinction is at the heart and the method of growing exceptional businesses, becoming high-impact leaders, and honoring God.