September 14, 2015

In spite of all the chaos associated with leading the middle school youth group, I have grown to love these kids. After feeling initially terrified about how to interact with them (am I cool enough? Will they think I’m a geek? Will I be too strict?), I soon loosened up and actually got to know them. Much to my surprise, I discovered that they each have distinct personalities and interesting ways of viewing the world. When you get past all... Read more

September 11, 2015

I’ll admit that leading middle school fellowship was not the most glamorous of choices for my volunteerism, compared to, say, planting sustainable organic gardens in the church yard, or delivering freshly baked bread to new visitors. But there was a deeper motivation at work here: I felt sorry for those kids. There you have it. I sympathized with them for having to be that age. It’s not their fault! Someone has got to help see them through! I know first-hand how bad it can be. Eighth grade was... Read more

September 9, 2015

Here’s a valuable tip for those of you thinking about volunteering with your church’s middle-school youth program: have very low expectations. Taking a few mental steps down the staircase of Acceptable Standards for Organizational Behavior proved to be very helpful for an executive manager such as myself in more effectively leading a gangly group of thirteen-year olds at my church. I found out very early on that the weekly youth meetings of our Middle School “ministry” (please note that I use that... Read more

September 7, 2015

Continued from the previous post. I believe that the strength of our faith in God can be directly measured by how often we are terrified. If you haven’t had that nauseous, sinking feeling in your stomach lately, then maybe you have not been exercising your faith enough. And you are probably not growing. Fear is inevitably the thing that holds most of us back from reaching our potential, or from even trying. That’s not really breaking news, or anything. There are... Read more

September 4, 2015

When I was twenty years old I had an intense interest in songwriting. I wanted more than anything in the world to sign a publishing contract and have some of my songs recorded by major artists. I knew it was a brutally competitive industry, but many people had told me that my songs were pretty good. More importantly, I felt that I was “special” and God would make a way for me, without much effort on my part. Of course,... Read more

September 2, 2015

We have a saying here at my company: we like to see managers get “bloodied up a bit” before moving them into more prominent leadership roles. If we believe someone has management potential, we will intentionally put them in a situation where they will encounter extreme conflict, opposition, or just plain ambiguity (which in and of itself can be very stressful). Then we will watch closely to see how the manager candidate responds. How will they handle an impossible situation... Read more

August 31, 2015

For all of you aspiring leaders out there, let’s just cut the crap and get right to the point.  Rather than dragging this out into six years’ worth of leadership-advice-blogging, which would innevitably get picked up by Random House, who would publish a best-selling book series, which would lead to 225 days a year on the motivational speaker circuit and then spin-off to a consulting empire where I teach thousands of people the secrets of “How to Not Suck as a Leader,”... Read more

August 28, 2015

This Blog’s tag line says “Connecting Business Life with Spiritual Life.” Sometimes I stick very close to business issues, and other times I veer happily on to little side roads, because there really is more to life than business, right? But, today we are going to get back to business. I figured it’s about time that Shrinking the Camel post a good word or two on the fine subject of leadership, drawing from my vast experiences as a business executive and former career-ladder-climber. Plus there is... Read more

August 25, 2015

Continued from the previous post and the one before that and the one before that. So there it is. The crammed family schedule was not the culprit here. I forgot about God – no, I avoided God – because I was panicky and needed to be in control of the mess I was in at work. Isn’t that ridiculous? But isn’t that so human, too? My nightmare scenario is so inferior to the alternative of having an omniscient loving God to... Read more

August 23, 2015

Continued from the previous post and the one before that. This was not a small deal I was working on, mind you. No, it was a $30 million deal with a very attractive return. Thirty mil may seem like peanuts to some of you hot shot corporate muckety-mucks, but for me this was significant. I had poured my heart and soul into this project over the past couple of years, shepherding and coddling and feeding it delicious appetizers, and basically... Read more

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