Plundering the Egyptians: energy is more efficient than efficiency

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(c) David Duphil

Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.

Energy is More Efficient Than Efficiency

Efficiency is a great thing. Getting things done with less waste, in less time, with less redundancy, requiring less people is worth pursuing. The idea being that if you and your team can be more efficient it means that you can get more things done, faster and with less effort. And there’s nothing really wrong with that.

To a point.

Because there does come a time, like with pretty much everything, when the pursuit of efficiency starts to become a hindrance. There comes a point when the energy put into becoming more efficient actually becomes detrimental to getting done the thing you’re actually trying to get done. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

1)     It could be that you begin to lose focus on the quality of what your pursuing in the effort to streamline the process. If efficiency is the pure goal – or understood to be the pure goal, with no qualification, then quality may be sacrificed in exchanged for swiftness or lower costs, for example. Now this isn’t always a problem, but it can easily become one.

2)     It could be because you become so focussed on becoming more efficient that it distracts you from actually doing what you’re trying to do.

3)     It might be that instead of expending the brainpower on becoming more efficient that effort might be better used on trying to be better, which isn’t always – or even often – the same as being more efficient. Particularly if your working with and through people. Efficiency isn’t the best lens through which to view working with people. Systems can be efficient. Processes can be efficient. But efficiency doesn’t often work well as the guiding rubric when you’re dealing with people. With people you want to be effective rather than efficient.

4)     And sometimes it’s simply because you are trying to achieve the wrong thing. And so it doesn’t matter how efficient you get at doing it, it’s still not the right thing. And so all it means is that you fail quicker, with less effort and less redundancy along the way.

In some cases a pursuit of efficiency can actually get in the way. In some cases it actually stifles creativity and innovation. It can stifle appropriate risk-taking. It can stifle passion and enthusiasm for all things except efficiency itself. And it can end up working against you so that you actually achieve less and take longer to get there.

Efficiency is good to a point, but seeking to trim all waste and all redundancy and time processes down to the second is, in most cases, foolish. Better to focus on energy.

People who have energy will get more things done in less time with more enthusiasm than the person focussed on efficiency. A certain type of energy, mind you. Not an ADHD, erratic and unfocussed-type energy but instead a disciplined and focussed energy. People with that kind of energy will work and achieve more than purely efficient people.

And so efficiency is good to a point, but that point comes quickly. After that, pursuing efficiency becomes a hindrance and not an efficient use of time and resources. Better to focus on energy – finding people with energy and finding people who can energise others. Then those energetic people, working within processes that are largely streamlined, will achieve more results quicker.

Energy is more efficient than efficiency.

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Plundering the Egyptians: get out of the way of good people

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(c) graham smith

Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.

Get Out of the Way of Good People

We all want to work with good people. We’re all trying to fill our teams with good people. And sometimes we do get people who join us and work with us who come to the team perfect and ready to go. But most of the time people need to be trained and developed. Most of the time they start out decent and available and we develop them to be good or even great.

The trouble is once people have become good at what they do we are often the last to notice. And so we keep treating them as if they are just decent but available. And we just get in their way.

If they’re good then we need to let them do their thing.

There’s two reasons why we need to let good people go do their thing:

1)      If we have good people that we then spend time telling them exactly what to do then we waste our time. If they’re good people they’ll be able to call their own plays to achieve the goal. We could be spending that time doing other things, investing in other people. Scripting the moves for a good person is a waste of time. We should just get out of their way and let them be good people and do it their way. The goal is that the thing gets done, not that it’s done my way.

2)      The other reason to let good people do their thing is because there’s almost no faster way to demotivate someone than when a good person has someone getting in their way, micromanaging them. It’s a good way to lose someone. Good people don’t need to be motivated, they just need you to not demotivate them. So just let them do their thing and support and encourage them and get them whatever they need to do a good job.

If someone is actually good at what they do, then we should trust them to do a good job. And if we trust them then we should get out of their way and let them run. If you have genuinely good people, or even great people, then give them the goal and give them the resources and get out of their way.

Could Jesus Have Sinned or Not? Coherence and Comfort

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In the last few posts I’ve been arguing for a traditional understanding of Jesus’ impeccability. Yes his temptations were real, yes as a real human he had the capability to sin and yet due to the uniqueness of his person he was yet not capable of sinning. And I’m saying this is roughly the classical and orthodox position across the last two millennia. You can catch up here, here and here.

The view has been criticised as both incoherent and offering no comfort whatsoever. And yet this isn’t incoherent and I think it does offer comfort.

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Could Jesus Have Sinned or Not? Anselm

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(c) thecreativshark

In the last two posts, which you can check out here and here, I’ve been trying to articulate the traditional position when it comes to the impeccability of Jesus.

I thought it would make good sense to see how a historical theologian understood and grappled with this issue.

So here’s Anselm (born around 1000 AD). His view is worth quoting at length here from Anselm’s work Cur Deus Homo book two, chapter 10. The book is a dialogue between Anselm and another guy Boso, and they’re talking about Jesus here:

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Could Jesus Have Sinned or Not? The Classical View

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Recently I went to a conference where one of the speakers was discussing the ability of the incarnate Jesus to sin. You can read a bit more about it in this post and read my understanding of his proposal as well as why I thought it was insufficient.

In this post I want to look at an alternative explanation to one the speaker put forward.

I should make clear this isn’t my explanation of the impeccability question in that I didn’t make this up. This is, as I understand it, the classical explanation. At least in broad brush stroke. It is what I think about the issue though.

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Could Jesus Have Sinned or Not? A Recent View

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Earlier in 2012 I attended a conference where one of the speakers was addressing the question: was Jesus sinless or was he unable to sin? And if unable to sin, then how can his temptations be real?

Here’s the problem: the Bible both shows us examples of- and explicitly states- that Jesus was “tempted in everyway, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV84). The Bible also says that it is impossible for God to sin, that is he is impeccable. Jesus is God incarnate, and so that would seemingly mean impeccable. How do we account for this? And how can Jesus’ temptations be in any sense ‘real’?

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How do Evangelists Happen?

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With the death of Chappo, famous and influential Sydney Anglican preacher/evangelist, the question has been asked by Michael Jensen: Where are the evangelists?

This is a good question to ask and Michael asks it well in this article. And as always he makes a number of great points.

Here would be my thoughts:

1) The world is a different place.

I think Michael’s right about this, as seen in the difference in the Billy Graham crusade in the late 50s compared to those in the late 60s and 70s. The big crusade/gathering has dropped off in effectiveness. Even the smaller, local evangelistic events have dwindled in their impact. And I think Jensen’s right in that part of the reason is because of bad to mediocre preaching at these types of things has meant we don’t trust them much anymore.

2) The title Evangelist is out of fashion

Now I’m not wanting to claim to speak for every person, but my sense is that the title “Evangelist” is unfavourable. People seem reluctant to claim it for themselves or bestow it on someone else.  Part of this seems to be that the title sounds kinda pretentious. Part of it is probably that those of us in the younger generations aren’t overly impressed with titles to begin with, let alone a pretentious sounding title.

But these two factors, and your persuasion-mileage may vary for each of them, aren’t the main issues in my opinion.

3) This is an issue wider than just “Where are the Evangelists?”

Sydney Anglicans are about to enter what seems like a leadership vacuum. The acknowledged and greatly respected leadership of the Diocese are dying or retiring soon. And there’s a vacuum underneath them. And these are great ones who are highly respected and for good reason. Chappo is a good example of one of them. What an impact he has had. A clear leader who others looked to. But this seems a wider issue than simply evangelists. Options for Archbishop are slim pickings.

It seems like the heaviness and influence of those currently at the top has been so great that those underneath haven’t needed to develop much. Not that they aren’t amazing men and women who could have, just that they never needed to or had the space to.

My point is this seems wider than just Where are the Evangelists. This seems more like: Where is the next layer of leadership? It appears like it’s skipped a generation and so now it’s the young leaders in the Diocese who seem like they are the next leaders in the Diocese. And yet when we’re talking young guns we’re still talking about people who are all in their early to mid 40s. What about the young leaders in their 20s and 30s?

4) And here’s the brutal fact

Amazing leaders who are gifted and who can do so much on the strength of their giftedness and personality but who cannot build into the next generation so that it is better and goes further than they themselves ever could are of only limited value. Good but not great.

Leaders who run organisations or Dioceses not perfectly but still brilliantly, but then when they are not around those organisations fall apart or manifest large holes, probably shouldn’t be labelled great. Good but not great.

Succession makes the good great. Investing in the next generation so that my ceiling is their floor is surely one of the main tasks of the leader. And certainly would be high on the agenda in the second-half of a leaders projected tenure.

And certainly it seems the case that the current great ones in Sydney are exceptionally gifted. And maybe in some sense the confluence of all these great ones at one time was a unique moment in history. And I’d guess a case could be made for that that would be fairly persuasive. So I don’t want to deny the extraordinary gifts of these men, giftedness that simply may not be present in those who follow behind them, though I’d be less persuaded by that point.

But even if that were the case, it would be a strange thing if there was actually a vacuum below this top layer. If such a vacuum did exist that would signal that something has gone amiss in the leadership of that top layer.

Succession makes the good great.

5) Greatness is made not born

And I’m not sure that there are no great ones in the ranks below. Though they may not be great at the moment. But I really believe greatness is made.

Yes people are born with gifts. Yes people have different aptitudes. Yes people have different ceilings for their skills that they will not be able to go beyond. But those gifts and skills also need to be developed. Wisdom needs to be accrued. Experience needs to be gained.

Chappo in his prime was better than Chappo in his early days. He got better.  He had potential that he then grew into and realised as he honed his craft. His greatness was made.  He didn’t come out of the womb a great evangelist. He progressed.

So I dare say there’s probably not someone as good as Chappo currently floating around the Diocese. But there might be someone as good as Chappo was when Chappo had been preaching for the same amount of time.

There’s a danger of comparing one finished product with another that’s still in process.

There may be a someone, or more likely a whole slew of people, currently in the Diocese with Chappo-potential or even greater. They may be in their 40s. They may even be in their 30s. They may even be, heaven forbid, in their 20s. Imagine if they were still in their teens!

Who is investing in them and training them and encouraging them and building them and giving them opportunities?

Now sure, every person has responsibility for themselves and their own development. People shouldn’t wait for things to be handed to them. They should be proactive, even in creating their own opportunities.

And no doubt people are investing in the next generation and training and developing people. But it’s probably ad hoc and of varying quality. But it’s not Diocesan-wide. And if  “the Diocese” wants them, “the Diocese” should probably start looking and perhaps helping invest in them.

6) The Evangelists are out there

Now I don’t know that for sure but I’d be pretty confident it’s true. And I’d be ultra surprised if there was actually literally none.

But they’ll be hard to spot because they won’t be as good as the Chappo benchmark. Because while he was around they never needed to be that good, they never needed to step up.

But now he’s gone. And now they do.

And so now it’s time for a generation to rise up.

And if the 50s and 40s won’t do it, maybe the 20s and 30s will.

Quote: Bunyan on Fleeing or Enduring Persecution

(c) thecreativshark

John Bunyan is famous for being the author of Pilgram’s Progress. He’s less famous for being held in prison for 12 years because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. He had four children at the time, one of them was blind. He desperately wanted to be with them but he chose to remain in prison rather than promise to stop talking about Jesus.

In 1684 he wrote a book called Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers. In it he addresses the question: when should I flee from danger and when should I stand and endure the danger? He knew how to answer for himself – he remained in prison. But he knew that his answer was not and should not be the answer for everyone.

“Thou mayest do in this as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly; if it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Anything but a denial of the truth. He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Ex. 2:15; Moses stood, Heb. 11:27. David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12; David stood, 1 Sam. 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11-12; Jeremiah stood, Jer. 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10; Christ stood, John 18:1-8. Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33; Paul stood, Act 20:22-23. . . .

“There are few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly. . . . Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word, Matt. 10:23. . . .

“If, therefore, when thou hast fled, thou art taken, be not offended at God or man: not at God, for thou art his servant, thy life and thy all are his; not at man, for he is but God’s rod, and is ordained, in this, to do thee good. Hast thou escaped? Laugh. Art thou taken? Laugh. I mean, be pleased which [how]soever things shall go, for that the scales are still in God’s hand.”

John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, p. 726

Quote: Murray on Unlimited Atonement

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(c) thaeger

“Unless we believe in the final restoration of all mankind, we cannot have an unlimited atonement. On the premise that some perish eternally we are shut up to one of two alternatives – a limited efficacy or a limited extent; there is no such thing as an unlimited atonement.”

John Murray, The Atonement, 27