Blazin’ a Trail

I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve climbed around that tree.

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  ~ Unknown. (Sometimes attributed to Emerson & McAlindon)

Meridian State Park (Texas) is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s where I first understood the cross. (I guess I’m actually still working on understanding it’s magnitude, but. . .) Anyway, one of my memories of Meridian was a time when my friend Shayne Hackworth and I went exploring. We blazed trails all over that park. We found natural springs and uncovered fossils. We saw and experienced things the rest of our group missed. We’d take turns leading each other. We waved big sticks in front of us as we traveled in order to clear the spiderwebs from the trail. In spite of our efforts, I still remember getting covered in those webs. Cuts and scratches all over our legs were common as well as the occasional poison ivy rash.

Leadership was not glamorous or easy. It was a sacrifice. It was a way to honor those behind you. The leader may have been out front, but he served his followers. He was in the lead position, but he placed himself underneath them. He believed they were more important and understood that they could travel further and accomplish more if he served them by taking the lead position. He got more dirty, more bloody, and more sweaty than the rest of the group.

Leaders serve.

Servers lead.

 

Jesus: True and Better

Love this video.

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.

“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.”

Job Search

family 02smOur church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.

In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.

Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.

I have experience in:

Speaking
Teaching
Writing
Discipleship
Small Groups
Missions
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production

I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies. You can get some ideas about my philosophies and ideas about ministry from these articles:

Leadership:
Bottom Leaders
Change
Changing a Culture
Follow the Servant Leader
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Man, Movement, Machine, & Monuments
Wizard of Oz Leadership
Church Thoughts & Ideas:
Harvest
Planting a “Practice”
Social Media and the Church
Welcoming or Welcomed?
Worship by Sweat

I have also written a couple of articles that were published by smallgrouptrader.com. These are the direct links:

I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

Think Different

Thought I’d post this apple advertisement ’cause to me it’s all about leadership.

I am crazy enough to think God can use me to change the world.

Changing a Culture

09-01-22-icebergSome of the church leadership people met with Dave Herman, (our “Transformation Coach”) this morning and I created a few diagrams to help explain some of the things he shared. Although we talked about quite a few other topics, most of the conversations centered on changing a culture.

I think it’s important to first define culture. For the purpose of this conversation, we are not talking about the culture at large but rather “organizational culture” and specifically our own church (Lake Jackson FUMC) culture. In my “Christian Leadership” classes at CBS, we learned that organizational culture is defined as “that which is assumed.” People assume things to be a certain way because a culture has told them so. Assumptions are made based upon the way things have always been done within the culture of that particular organization. Culture is an understood (and mostly agreed upon) set of rules by which everyone plays within that organization. Culture was also described like an iceberg. The way an organization does things (what is seen) helps us understand it’s culture, but there’s usually a lot more under the surface. You can change what is seen, (like core values or mission statements) but without changing the cultural support, nothing will really be different. The look may change, but the direction and momentum remains fixed because culture carries so much weight.

Anyway, here’s the first diagram:

01 Changing a Culture

The congregation is represented by the blue line and the leadership by the green.


Church/organizational culture is portrayed by the purple wave which flows in and out of it’s members as a story. The church culture is very difficult to define (a wave) because it is ever-changing and organic in nature. Culture is created, reorganized, and understood by the average member throughout their lives. When they hear stories of things going on in the church or are reminded of memories of the “good ol’ days,” they instinctively define the church by those stories. Although it changes often, the church culture is mostly defined by who the people are, and what they’ve done in the past. This results in a status quo or good ol’ days mentality. Some of the members, are also leaders. They may not hold positions, but they have influence and others hear their stories with greater appreciation.


03 Changing a Culture

The leadership of the church is called by God to direct, empower, and equip it’s members to live out the story of God rather than the story of the status quo. They should be mostly concerned about the future of the church and should speak a new story into the lives of it’s congregation. A story which represents the calling they believe God has placed upon them collectively. The red wave represents this “God story.” It’s also important for this story (vision) to be clear, concise, and compelling. (not like a wave)

I should be clear to say that the purple wave may very well be Godly too, but it is fluid in nature and much less defined. Setting a church on a specific course requires strategy which calls for definition and focus.


05 Changing a Culture
Too many church leadership teams function the wrong way. They call members to join them. Yet, in the servant leader model, the leaders are called to serve their members – step out of their positions to work alongside them. In doing so, they build relationships which allow them to gain influence. Once that influence/relationship is built, the leader can tell the new story and begin to have an impact on the culture from the ground up. A leader serves. That means culture is formed as leaders kneel.

06 Changing a Culture

As those relationships grow, the members, become leaders/interpreters/proponents of the new story which they have seen lived out in their leaders. Pretty soon, enough members have become a part of the new story that the church culture approaches a tipping point. Then the culture truly begins to be shaped by the new story/vision as it ripples through the congregation. Unfortunately, there will always be a few people who will never join the new story. When the whole culture changes around them, they find themselves trapped. Some will leave the organization. Others will just go into hiding, hoping that the new story will fail so they can come out and say “I told you so.” Some will just live out the rest of their lives in bitterness – always trying to regain their personal story. The good news is that God’s story has room for everyone! Some (the disciples) will choose to follow while others (the Rich Young Ruler) will hold on to their own and miss out on God’s best.


I’m excited to be a part of a new story here at Lake Jackson FUMC. I pray that I can be one of those green X’s who will serve this church family by humbly telling a new story and seeking to love in such a way that the culture, community, and my friends will know Jesus more.

Just a final note of thanks to Dave Herman. This is very insightful information, which will benefit us greatly as we seek to be a part of God’s work in the transformation of His church. I also want to apologize if I have misrepresented him in any way. The explanations are a combination of his words and my own thoughts. Dave, if you’re reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I get it mostly right?

Faith and Fear

paulIn his book, Paul the Leader, J. Oswald Sanders says, “The man who does not know fear cannot know courage.” (p.44, 1986, 4th printing, Navpress)

 

I have always believe myself to be a courageous man. My brother and I grew up daring/encouraging/shaming each other to try the next more dificult feat. I want my son to grow up seeing a father who is a man of courageous faith, and yet, I must admit that I’m not sure there’s anything that I’m attempting right now that’s scary. (Besides my roles as husband and father – and by the way, those are the most important roles I will ever have.) I’m not sure I’m exercising my faith too much right now. I know that I’ve gotta be faithful with what He’s given me in order to be given more, and yet there’s also this timing thing. I know I can’t wait ’til everything is perfect to step out in faith ’cause it’ll never be perfect, but. . . I also don’t want to step out in my own strength before the Spirit prompts me in His power. This whole “following Jesus” thing is hard.

 

Anyway, this one statement from Sanders has sent me on a journey into my own perceptions of life and faith. I share it here, hoping that it will stretch your mind a bit too.

A Leader’s Poem and Prayer

POEM by Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,

we have lost our thirst for the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

we have ceased to dream of eternity

and in our efforts to build a new earth,

we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future, in strength, courage, hope, and love.

PRAYER:

“Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Leadership Quotes

I was reading about leadership on-line the other day
and found these quotes. I just thought I’d share them ’cause they’re good. I
especially love the second one from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Something about that
one just rings true in my heart. There’s this sort of resounding
“Yes!” that just wants to rise up out of me when I hear it.


“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when
people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader,
who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We
did this ourselves.'”
— Lao-Tse

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us
to be what we know we could be.”

Ralph
Waldo Emerson

“If
the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch.”
— Jesus Christ

“Dictators ride
to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting
hungry.”
— Winston Churchill

“The task of
the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not
been.”

— Henry Kissinger

“The task of
leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness
is there already.”
— John Buchan

“Great leaders
are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and
doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
— General Colin Powell

“Men make
history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership,
society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize
the opportunity to change things for the better.”
— Harry Truman

“A leader is one
who influences a specific group of people to move in a God-given
direction.”
— J. Robert Clinton

“All Leadership
is influence.”
— John C. Maxwell
Injoy, Inc.

“You cannot be a
leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow,
too.”
— Sam Rayburn

“Your position
never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so
living your life that others may receive your orders without being
humiliated.”
— Dag Hammarskjöld

“The final test
of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the
will to carry on.”
— Walter Lippmann

“People ask the
difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss
drives.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

“The first
responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.
In between, the leader is a servant.”
— Max DePree

“Management is
efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the
ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
— Stephen R. Covey

“He who has
great power should use it lightly.”
— Seneca

“As a leader,
you’re probably not doing a good job unless your employees can do a good
impression of you when you’re not around.”
— Patrick Lencioni

“The older I get
the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do.”
— Andrew Carnegie

“I think leadership
comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there
are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a
friend, a neighbor makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do
things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets
blaring, activity.”
— Scott Berkun


“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you
become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  — Jack
Welch

Church Leadership

DonkeyThis is how it feels to be a leader in the church sometimes. The only difference is that it looks like this little girl has more influence than most church leaders do. Of course this may have more to do with the leader than it does the church. I’d bet that relationship has something to do with it. What do you think? When things aren’t going so well around the church, which one is the bigger donkey – the leader or the congregation? Who is the one who can pull the church along? Is there anyone with that kind of influence? Would Jesus have that kind of influence? Do children have that much pull or is your church only pulled along by seasoned elders?

Follow the Servant Leader

LeaderI was watching some kids play the other day and was reminded of the games I used to play as a kid. I especially remember “Follow the Leader.” Everyone wanted to be the leader, and I don’t know about you, but I used to try to do things that the other kids couldn’t do. I would climb over things and under things and make all these weird sort of moves trying to show everyone how good I was. If someone couldn’t follow me, I thought it was ’cause I was such a good leader.

Well, things have changed over the years. I’m realizing that the best leaders are the ones who everyone can follow. It’s not the leaders job to make himself look good, but to move at a pace where everyone can keep up and everyone can play in the game.

I remember one time as a kid when I thought I’d be real smart and I led this group of kids around to the tail of the line so that I was following the last person in the line. All of a sudden there was no leader ’cause I was following the last person. It was just a big circle.

There’s something poetic about this idea as you think about the leader following his people – kind of a leader who serves sort of an idea. But the whole concept breaks down if you’re trying to go somewhere ’cause all you’ve got is a big circle.

This whole servant leader thing is tough ’cause the leader has to be out front taking the hits for everyone (like leading people down a trail where you’re the one who breaks all the spiders webs out front) but he also has to be serving the rest of the group by encouraging them and equipping them to follow. He is in the front and the back at the same time.

Jesus is the only one who ever did this very well. He served people and led them at the same time. I heard someone say that Dorthy on the Wizard of Oz did a pretty good job too. (Check this post) I wanna be good at it too. God help me ’cause it just seems too difficult sometimes.