“Finding Our Way”

Earlier this year, United Methodist leaders published Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church, edited by Bishop Rueben P. Job and Neil M. Alexander. Several bishops each contributed a chapter, including …

  • Enforce (Gregory V. Palmer)
  • Emend (Hope Morgan Ward)
  • Disobey (Melvin G. Talbert)
  • Disarm (Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.)
  • Order (J. Michael Lowery)
  • Unity (John K. Yambasu)
  • Diversity (Rosemarie Wenner)
  • Trust God (Rueben P. Job)

Overall, I thought the book was well-written. It’s certainly diverse as it represents perspectives from all across the theological spectrum.

The book is written in light of the increasing polarization in the United Methodist Church and the growing concern about where the denomination may be headed, particularly as we near the 2016 General Conference. The editors note that it’s possible that “the result of the current turbulence will be schism.” Or, “Perhaps the result will be no change or partial change in the current language of the Book of Discipline” (2). Either way, Job and Alexander state, “In whatever ways we engage and respond, we are called to choose at all times to walk humbly, embrace faithful love, and do justice along the way” (6).

My purpose in this post is not to summarize each section or state my position. I will simply post some of the statements I highlighted.

In the first chapter on Enforce, Bishop Palmer proposes an alternative word, “Uphold,” which he believes is less harsh. He states that …

a failure or unwillingness to live within our agreed covenant potentially undermines all the work of the General Conference. It seeks to substitute my wisdom or that of my tribe for the work and wisdom of a larger, deliberative body. It makes me and my viewpoints the center of the church’s wisdom. (13)

Palmer adds …

In refusing to uphold our promises, we make a mockery of the process and the promise. We could well be unreliable partners for future covenant-making and promise-keeping. We depend on each other to have a truly hopeful future. (17)

The most controversial chapter in the book is the one on Disobey, written by Bishop Melvin Talbert. Talbert argues that in 1972, “we acted to construct another wall. We voted to identify homosexual practice as ‘incompatible with Christian teachings'” (37).

Talbert believes that “including same-gender married couples and single persons with a homosexual identity will renew and revitalize churches for faith, witness, and service” (42). Therefore, Talbert calls for “biblical disobedience,” which he calls “doing the right thing, no matter what” (48).

Talbert argues …

Wherever injustice and oppression appear, we solemnly promise to disobey unjust church laws because we give priority to Jesus’s commandment to love each other as much as we love ourselves. (51)

Bishop Kenneth Carter suggests, “The recovery of a coherent theology of grace and holiness and a rejection of the partisan political captivity of the church could lead us to a coherent social teaching” (56). In order for this to happen, “we begin with an intention of seeing the best in each other” (64).

Carter reflects on the consequences of status quo or schism. He acknowledges, “There is a growing energy in the polarities at the edges of our denomination … There is a weakening of the impulse toward unity” (66). Carter also notes, “The dismantling of our connection would involve casualties and would in all likelihood, if previous General Conferences are a witness, be a violent process” (69).

In his chapter on Order, Bishop Lowery writes …

Presently, the position of biblical obedience, which evokes action by some of civil disobedience against church law, is corrupted by the lack of meaningful penalties applied to those engaging in disobeying church law. It is now acceptable for some advocates, some church juries, and some bishops to settle for a twenty-four-hour suspension of the guilty clergyperson. Such a meaningless level of accountability has the effect of giving a person an extra day off for violating church law established by General Conference. Such actions offend the very integrity of the advocated biblical obedience. (75-76)

Lowery sounds a call to “re-order our life together.” He notes …

The painful reality is that we lack coherence in doctrine. We don’t have deep clarity on mission. (We agree to ‘make disciples,’ but we don’t agree on what it means to ‘make a disciple.’) And we are locked in a struggle over discipline. We do not have unity. (79)

Picking up with the idea of Unity, Bishop Yambasu says, “We need to stop this fight” (87). Bishop Yambasu, who is from Sierra Leone, offers a personal perspective from Africa …

I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. The Bible provides direction for all those who proclaim Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe, therefore, that sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and adultery are inconsistent with the teachings of scripture. I think this is the prevailing view of our denomination. This is what missionaries from the United States and England taught us when they took Christianity to Africa. They built churches, schools, and colleges, and we learned what the Bible teaches. We believed and internalized it. It became part of our social and spiritual makeup. … For us now to be told by the church in the United States that what we were taught in the Bible is not true could be traumatizing for the African Christian. (87)

In the closing chapter, Bishop Job states, “This is no ordinary time in the life of our church, and this is no ordinary conflict” (106). He calls for a way of discernment, “a call to radical, risky, and complete trust in God rather than in our own ingenuity or rhetoric” (106). Job suggests three basic steps …

  1. “Immediately stop the propaganda.”
  2. “Declare a moratorium on celebrations and trials regarding same-gender unions.”
  3. “Begin a practice of prayer and discernment that leaves our preferences outside as we enter this extended period of seeking only God’s direction.” (108-109)

As I said, the book is written from a broad theological spectrum. Depending on your position, there will parts that inspire and encourage you as well as parts that trouble and anger you. Such is the nature of the battle in which we find ourselves. Please join me in praying for the United Methodist Church and for the upcoming General Conference in 2016!

This Saturday (Nov 1), the authors of Finding Our Way will participate in a two-hour webcast on the topic. Also, visit ministrymatters.com/findingourway for responses by other bishops and for information on how you can join the discussion.

“Replenish”

Two years ago, I started reading Replenish by Lance Witt. I chose the book because of my experiences with stress (see Hitting the Wall, which includes links to other parts of the story). The Leadership Team at Centre Grove also spent several months reading and discussing the book.

There’s a lot of helpful content in the fairly short book. The book is divided into 41 short chapters. It’s impossible to cover it all, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Witt cautions about the idolization of leadership that has taken place over the last few decades. He warns, “All of the training and focus on leadership has been a gift, but we must not turn it into an idol.”

One of my favorite quotes from the book states …

We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.

Witt says, “When leaders neglect their interior life, they run the risk of prostituting the sacred gift of leadership.”

Ministry is a character profession. I can’t separate my private life from my public leadership.

It’s important that leaders are spiritually healthy!

… the Great Commission will not be fulfilled by human ingenuity or innovative thinking alone. This God-sized task will only be completed by Spirit-filled, spiritually healthy churches. And these churches will not be spiritually healthy unless their leaders are spiritually healthy.

Witt’s language about the “front-stage life” and the “back-stage life” of leaders is helpful. Witt says, “We all have a front-stage life and a back-stage life.” The front stage is about “doing” and the back stage is about “being,” and the two are connected. “If we neglect the back stage, eventually the front stage will fall apart.”

Leaders must stay connected to God. “When you have disconnected from the Vine (Jesus), ministry will become joyless striving and stressful pushing.”

Unfortunately, leaders can often become too focused on “image management.” Witt states, “You are walking in a ministry minefield when your outward success begins to outpace your inward life.” A healthy soul helps guard against preoccupation with image management.

Witt writes about the danger of ambition. God-given ambition is good. “But when it is hijacked by self and ego, it can leave a wake of destruction in its path.”

When approval is the driving force in your life, it messes with your motives. You run decisions through the filter of ‘What will people think?’ rather than ‘What’s the right thing to do?’

One of the things that prevents many of us from being healthy spiritually is the pace in which we live. Witt writes about the “need for speed,” and contends, “Hurry is a devious soul enemy.”

Many of us live with a stuck accelerator. The frantic pace of life resides in the church as much as in the community. … We keep the pedal to the metal, trying to grab every possible opportunity. Adrenaline is our hormone of choice.

But Witt argues, “Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul,” noting that “busyness will damage your soul.”

Intimacy with God is critical for leaders. Witt states, “there’s a correlation between my communion with God and my courage for God. The deeper my intimacy, the greater my tenacity to stand courageously.” He notes, “Solitude creates capacity for God.”

The final section of Witt’s book is on healthy teams.

If you want to talk about an organization’s true spiritual health, you have to look at the health of the team that leads it.

Witt believes, “A healthy staff culture does not happen by accident. You won’t drift into it any more than you would drift into a healthy marriage.” Teams must become a family. “In order for your team to be healthy, there must be a sense of family. You must learn to laugh together, cry together, and resolve conflict together.”

This book has been helpful for me. If you’re interested in similar books, see my posts on Secrets From the Treadmill by Pete Briscoe and Patricia Hickman and Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.

Character, Competence, & Chemistry

I’ve been familiar with these terms for a while. These three Cs—Character, Competence, and Chemistry—are critically important for teams, including church ministry teams!

I was reminded of this again lately as I’m reading slowly through Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels. The book includes brief sections on 76 different concepts, including a chapter on these three Cs.

Character
Often, our tendency is to put competence at the top of the list. But character is really the most important element. Andy Stanley says, “Have a ministry; don’t hire one!”

Hybels writes …

You have got to do your due diligence to be sure the person you’re about the invite onto the team has a proven track record of being a truth-teller, a covenant-keeper, a person who seeks to be conformed to the image of Christ, someone who manages relationships well, and one who credits the efforts of others when a victory is won.

Character matters. A lot.

Competence
Competence also matters, of course. It’s the most obvious element of the three Cs. As a leader, you look for “gifts and talents and capabilities that will take your ministry to the next level of effectiveness.”

Chemistry
As Hybels notes, chemistry often gets overlooked. We expect competent people fit in and play well with others. But that’s not always the case.

Hybels confesses …

I learned the hard way to trust my gut on this: if I get negative vibes the first two or three times I’m in someone’s presence, it’s likely I’m not going to enjoy working with that person day in and day out. Sounds crass, I know, but I have learned this painful lesson too many times.

These three Cs are important for all kinds of teams. It’s particularly challenging for (mostly) volunteer teams like the teams found in churches. Sometimes, the primary requirement to be on a team in a volunteer organization is simply willingness. Beyond that, we recognize, to some degree, the value of character and competence. But chemistry—the ability to fit in and play well with others—is the most overlooked.

How do you discern whether a person is a good fit for your team?

“Shaped By God’s Heart”

I recently read Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea. I should have included this book in my doctoral dissertation (how leaders shape missional culture), but I missed it!

Minatrea’s definition of a missional church is …

a reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim His Kingdom in their world. (xvi)

The author argues that over the centuries churches developed a “maintenance mentality,” in which “they retreated to the sanctuary, their place of comfort, growing ever more inward in their orientation.” As a result, “They maintained the status quo” (7). Too many churches are now “focused on survival” (7).

The author distinguishes between “mission-minded” and “missional.” Whereas mission-minded churches support missions, for people in missional churches, “missions is more centered in ‘being and doing’ than ‘sending and supporting'” (10-11). Minatrea asserts, “every member is a missionary” (11). “Missions is not perceived as an expression of the missional church, but as the essence of the church.” (11)

Minatrea describes “four dimensions of missional churches”

  • Love God
  • Live his mission
  • Love people
  • Lead them to follow

The book centers around “nine essential practices of missional churches.”

1. Have a high threshold for membership.

Missional churches are high-threshold churches, and they clearly communicate the responsibilities of church membership. (30)

2. Be real, not real religious.

Minatrea notes, “The hunger for authenticity is epidemic today” (43). He contends, “The litmus test of the missional church is how members live when scattered during the week” (48).

3. Teach to obey rather than to know.

Minatrea states, “The goal of biblical instruction in the missional church is obedience, not simply knowledge” (56). “Their goal is members’ obedience to spiritual revelation” (54).

4. Rewrite worship every week.

Rather than simply going through the motions, and doing things the same way week after week, missional churches incorporate these ingredients …

  • God is the focus of worship.
  • Worship is experiential.
  • Worship is about content, not form.
  • Worship is highly participatory.
  • Worship values creativity.
  • Worship is more than words. (66)

5. Live apostolically.

Today, members of missional churches must be bilingual in that they must be able to communicate in terms that can be understood by those without as well as those within the church. (79)

6. Expect to change the world.

I love this. “The point of the kingdom is transformation” (89).

7. Order actions according to purpose.

It’s so easy for churches to fall into ruts, doing things the way they do because that’s how they’ve always been done. “Missional churches do what they do for specific reasons” (101). In fact, everything in missional churches is done on purpose …

  • They know their purpose.
  • They check that actions are based upon purpose.
  • They let go of what does not serve their purpose.
  • They do only what serves their purpose. (102)

Toward the end of the book, the author argues for simple structures. He says missional churches …

seek to create low-investment structures and keep their mission and purpose as their priority. Their structures must be flexible, capable to adapting quickly to the changing opportunities their context brings to the missional purpose. (145)

8. Measure growth by capacity to release, not retain.

For missional churches, the goal of church growth is not to get bigger. The goal is to equip more people to live as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. The measure has to do with function, not size. Enlargement is a by-product rather than the focus of growth in missional churches. (112)

9. Place kingdom concerns first.

Minatrea notes, “no significant Kingdom accomplishment will occur until churches value Kingdom more than their own sectarian accomplishments” (127).

Wouldn’t it be awesome if all of our churches were growing in these passions and practices?

“The Externally Focused Church”

I just read The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson (2004). It’s a good book about the church in action through service.

Rusaw and Swanson suggest, “Externally focused churches are internally strong, but they are oriented externally” (17). They are “convinced that good deeds and good news can’t and shouldn’t be separated” (24).

Externally focused churches “identify needs of their communities and start ministries or programs to meet those needs” (29). They also “partner with existing ministries or human-service agencies that are already accomplishing a shared mission in the community” (30).

The focus isn’t really about growing the church as much as it is about transforming the community in which the church exists.

The church has a place in creating healthy, transformed communities. Churches don’t have the luxury of withdrawing from the community. Whether they feel wanted or not, churches must realize that the community cannot be healthy, and all that God wants it to be, without their active engagement and involvement in its life—that’s the way God designed it. (58)

Service, or faith in action, is also part of one’s discipleship. The authors contend, “We learn from the scriptures, but we grow by serving others” (76). They say, “In serving, people have all kinds of opportunities to have their faith stretched” (77). Further, “The way to inwardly build a church is through outward service” (87).

Relationships are key. The authors devote an entire chapter to the importance of relationships. They argue, “The church that develops long-term, trusting relationships with the community is the one that has an opportunity to influence its culture” (94), adding that “Building long-term, trusting relationships with the community doesn’t happen overnight” (95).

On the connection between good works and good news, the authors argue, “Good works are the complement but never the substitute for good news” (120).

They write …

The Christian faith, for the most part, has been reduced to a philosophy—principles and tenets that we believe and can defend but don’t necessarily practice. It is our actions toward others that separate Christianity from philosophy. It is tying loving God to loving our neighbors as ourselves that puts legs to our faith. (116)

There’s also a chapter on casting the vision for an externally focused church. While I’ve always considered myself a visionary leader, the authors argue that all leaders are visionary leaders. They say, “It is a myth that not all leaders are visionaries. If you lead, you are a visionary” (147). That makes sense.

The work of vision is no small part of what a leader does. Rusaw and Swanson assert, “An effective leader spends part of every day focused on turning vision into reality” (150).

Well, if you’re looking for a resource on becoming an outward focused church, The Externally Focused Church is worth a look.

Moving From ASAP to ALAT!

One of my favorite books is The Circle Maker.

That should come as no surprise. I’ve written seven posts about the book (last one here, with links to the previous ones).

In the book, Batterson writes …

Maybe one of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren’t answered as quickly or easily as we would like, we get tired of circling. Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes.

Batterson blogged further about this …

You know the acronym: ASAP. It means “as soon as possible.” While I was writing The Circle Maker I realized that I was automatically attaching an ASAP to all of my prayers. Zero patience.

The biggest transformation in my personal prayer life has been to a totally different mindset: ALAT. What does it mean? As long as it takes … it involves raw determination. Zero quit.

Few qualities in prayer, and in life, are more important than patience, endurance, and perseverance. Let us learn to pray with zero quit. ALAT. As long as it takes!

“The CEB Study Bible”

I grew up in a denomination that only read and approved the King James Version of the Bible, and viewed other translations with a great deal of skepticism. But in seminary, I began to read, enjoy, and prefer modern translations (that was also during a time when several translations were developed, including God’s Word, the Contemporary English Version, and the New Living Translation). In fact, each time I read through the Bible nowadays, I try to read a different translation (I’m currently reading through the the NET translation using The Bible App).

My translation of choice in recent years (especially for preaching), and the one I read through previously, is the new Common English Bible.

Recently, they published The CEB Study Bible. I pre-ordered it a few months ago and have been using it as a study resource ever since I received it. At the official site, you can view a sample section from the study Bible.

It’s hard to give an in-depth review of such an extensive work, but just from the portions of Scripture I’ve studied in recent months, I have been thoroughly pleased. In fact, it has been my favorite study Bible ever since the first passaged I read!

While study Bibles don’t go in depth to the degree that full-length commentaries do, study Bibles focus on the highlights, often providing some great nuggets (with commentaries, you often have to weed through a lot of chaff!). Other study Bibles I commonly refer to include: NLT Study Bible (another favorite), The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (which I received at ordination), Life Application Study Bible (good for practical application), and the Archaeological Study Bible (good for historical/geographical context). I also really like The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and New Testament (which I believe is in the process of being revised).

You may also be interested in a 2009-post I wrote on Online Bible Study Tools.

What are your favorite study Bibles or other study resources?

“The Seed”

The latest book by Jon Gordon that I’ve read is The Seed (see previous posts on The Energy Bus and Training Camp).

The Seed is about helping you find your purpose in life and at work. The book is a fable centered around Josh, a talented young man who has lost his passion at work. His boss gives him two weeks off to clear his head and decide if he really wants to work at the company.

Josh takes a trip into the country where he encounters a wise farmer who gives him a seed with a lesson. The farmer tells Josh, “You’re lost because you don’t know your purpose!” He says …

Purpose is our ultimate guidance system that provides us with direction for our lives. Purpose fuels passion and this passion gives us confidence and vitality to go after our dreams. To live without purpose is to wander aimlessly through life like dust in the wind. … But when you find your purpose, you discover the power that fuels all of creation. You find your reason for existing. You find the path you were meant to travel and the passion to thrive on your journey.

Adversity plays a key role in shaping our lives and our purpose in life. The farmer says, “adversity is not a dead end but a detour to a better outcome than you can imagine.” Parents, in particular, have a tremendous opportunity to model how to handle adversity: “the greatest lesson we can share with our children is the way we live our life and how we respond to adversity.”

The farmer offers great advice regarding work. He says …

… don’t choose where you will be the happiest–choose where you will learn the most. … Where you experience resistance, you find the lessons that you are meant to learn. People often run when they face resistance, but to grow you must face it and learn from it. We often have to go through things at work and in life that don’t make us happy, but they teach us lessons that lead to our happiness in the future. Every job, good or bad, trains us for the work we are meant to do in the future. Challenges only make you stronger.

As we encounter adversity, it’s helpful to remember that God is in control, and God’s timing rules. The farmers reminds us …

(The universe) runs on God’s perfect timing (GPT). There is a time and a season for everything. There is a time for action and a time for rest. There is a time for events to happen and a time for delays. Delays in life happen for a reason. Humans don’t like delays, but they are essential for a human’s preparation and growth.

The farmer outlines four stages as we discover our purpose: Preparation, Planning, Growth, and Harvest. Adversity prepares us for our calling. Then …

… the seed must surrender its own vision and desires as it is placed in the ground. It must die to itself so it can give life to something greater–something that will rise up from the ground and grow beyond its humble origin.

The harvest stage is “where you reap the harvest you have sown with your seed.” The farmers suggests, “During the harvest stage, your purpose becomes so clear you can say it in a simple sentence.”

But it’s one thing to know your purpose, an even bigger challenge “is finding the courage to follow it and live it in the face of adversity and naysayers.”

If you’re struggling in your current job or if you’re wrestling with your purpose in life, this book could be helpful.

“Direct Hit”

Several years ago, Paul Borden consulted with the leaders of the Susquehanna Conference. The Matthew 28 Initiative, a strategy for transforming congregations, developed out of that experience (read more at Growing Effective Churches).

I’ve written about Centre Grove UMC’s experience with Matthew 28: see Transforming Congregations Through the Matthew 28 Initiative (the before) and The Matthew 28 Initiative In Review (and after). See also the recent article on the cover of the conference’s newspaper.

Borden’s book, Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field, is a good manual for Matthew 28. The book shows pastors how to lead churches to become outward-focused, focused on the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s what transformational leadership is all about. Borden states, “Your purpose as a church leader is to lead a congregation to find those strategies and tactics that will enable followers to effectively reach those lost and dying people with the good news” (28).

An outward focus is essential. In fact, Borden says, “Congregations have two types of customers,” primary and secondary …

Primary customers are the ones who are not yet part of the congregation because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Secondary customers are the disciples who are already involved in the congregation. (33)

Since it’s natural for churches to turn inward and focus on “secondary customers,” there will naturally be barriers to becoming outward-focused. Borden lists some barriers to leading change in inward-focused congregations, including the fact that “Most pastors do not see themselves as leaders.” Further, pastors often “perform in an environment where faithful endeavor is honored, but fruitful results are not expected or demanded” (20-21).

Borden argues …

few pastors have taken seriously the role of leading an entire congregation to change from conducting ministry for personal consumption to conducting ministry for the purpose of transforming the community that surrounds it. (22-23)

But that’s exactly what must be done. Borden states, “Healthy congregations are outward-focused, and they maintain that focus against tremendous forces that are constantly encouraging an inward bent.” That doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These churches “are led by pastors and a team of leaders who are clear about their mission and focused on achieving a vision” (22).

So, what are the behaviors of transformational leaders? Borden discusses several …

  • Passion
  • Courage
  • Flexibility
  • Missional
  • Wisdom
  • Positive
  • Responsibility

Passion is highly important. It “comes from God’s work in our lives,” and is “at the heart of all effective leadership” (31).

Courage is also essential because leading change is never easy!

The control of established congregations by people who do not want to grow and are unwilling to give up privileges of membership is the biggest problem faced by those desiring to lead congregational change. The movement from an inward focus to an outward focus, with rare exception, demands a major shift in who controls the behaviors of the organization. Tackling this major issue demands courageous leaders who are willing to risk all for the sake of the Great Commission. (34)

Transformational leaders must also be missional.

The command to make disciples requires an entirely different kind of leader than one called to oversee current disciples and perhaps grow congregations by reaching others who are already disciples. The most effective pastors today are missionaries at heart. (38)

I love that phrase: “missionaries at heart.” If pastor’s are going to be transformational leaders, they must be missionaries at heart!

Transformational leaders are also positive; they do not feel the need to use guilt or coercion. They simply cast vision.

Positive leaders are constantly showing disciples what God can do and wants to do, and how God is delighted to use disciples to bring about the kingdom of God. These leaders do not lead by compulsion, using guilt to get people to serve. Rather they cast vision, assume the best, and then develop new leaders and disciples who have been convinced that they can do many things in time and space that will have eternal value. (41)

Borden devotes two chapters to vision and creating a sense of urgency. Borden writes, “Vision is derived from the passion of a leader who has a prophetic fire burning within the soul to accomplish something significant for God” (45). Borden details how pastors can effectively develop and communicate the vision.

Borden also gets practical in helping congregations move forward and suggests recruiting three teams for the development phase: a prayer team, a vision team, and a team of leaders to implement the change.

Leading change, and transforming congregations, is not easy, but for the church to truly be faithful to God, it’s work that must be done. Borden states, “The whole purpose of congregational transformation is to get congregations once again fulfilling God’s mission” (57).

Direct Hit is built on the belief that churches ought to be about the mission of making disciples of Jesus and that pastors must lead churches to be passionate about, and devoted to, that mission!

“The Energy Bus”

Over the last several months, I have enjoyed reading some books by Jon Gordon, including Training Camp, which I wrote about here.

I also read and enjoyed The Energy Bus, which is about positive energy. Gordon contends …

… positive people, positive communication, positive interactions, and positive work and team cultures produce positive results.

Gordon adds, “and the essential ingredient is positive energy.”

The book is a fable centering around George and a bus driver appropriately named Joy. One morning, while heading out to work, George discovers that his car has a flat tire. He decides to ride the bus to work, and due to a delay at the garage, George ends up riding the bus for a couple of weeks, providing plenty of time to learn ten secrets to positive energy.

Staying positive is a challenge even for the most positive among us. Bad things happen that test us. In Gordon’s story, George is told …

Every flat tire happens for a reason. You can choose to ignore it or ask what that reason is and try to learn from it. … You can choose to see the curse or the gift. And this one choice will determine if your life is a success story or one big soap opera.

Later, Joy tells George …

Every crisis offers an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser; to reach deep within to discover a better you that will create a better outcome. So while this is your crisis, what matters most is what you do with it.

Choosing your attitude is important. When you choose correctly, Joy assures George that “everything and I mean everything will begin to change.”

Joy says “thoughts are magnetic. What we think about, we attract. What we think about expands and grows.” She warns, “when you complain you get more things to complain about.”

One of Joy’s rules states …

You positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity. Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt.

Along the way, George finds a mentor in Jack, a wise and seasoned leader, who encourages George to become a Chief Energy Officer.

Deciding to become a Chief Energy Officer means that you share positive, powerful, and contagious energy with your co-workers, employees, and customers!

This is a real challenge for leaders who influence and shape organizational culture. Jack says …

Negative people often tend to create negative cultures whereas positive corporate cultures are created by positive people.

The ultimate takeaway is that we must be intentional about our attitude and energy. We can choose to let situations and other people deplete us or we can choose to take a higher road. And, as people of faith, we have unlimited resources to do so!

To learn more about The Energy Bus, visit theenergybus.com. You may also be interested in The Energy Bus for Kids (see energybuskids.com).