The Scorecard

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There are two scorecards we can use to tally our success.

There are two scorecards we can use to tally our success.

How do you gauge how you are doing? Everyone has a scorecard. It is probably not a physical scorecard, where personal or professional progress is tracked. Most of us keep a tally of certain things that end up measuring whether we feel we are succeeding or not. We get a feeling of satisfaction or discontent from those metrics.

There are outer scorecards. Calculations are made using pedigree, place, profit, or professing principles (just professing them is sometimes enough, without keeping them.) I am not discounting what can be known about someone by some of these visible metrics. However, the exterior life can be deceiving. Not only can it be used to trick others, it is easy to trick ourselves.

The best corrective to the potential deception of an outer scorecard is an inner scorecard. An inner scorecard is the satisfaction we feel with who we are. To be clear, the inner scorecard is not about reputation. It has nothing to do with who others think we are. There is ultimately no satisfaction in the false rewards of reputation.

I see Paul outlining an outer and inner scorecard in Philippians 3:4-9. He defines an outer scorecard as “confidence in the flesh” (v.4). These were things like ethnicity (Israelite, Benjamite, Hebrew), title (Pharisee), action (persecutor), morality (by the book). At some point though, he says he crumpled up that scorecard (v.7). The new, inner scorecard he started using was simply “to be found in him” (v.9). Paul was motivated to be true to the one opinion that counts.

The inner scorecard always trumps the outer scorecard. No matter the background, how impressive the title, what we have built, or even the standards we have managed to maintain; if we don’t feel on the inside that we are lining up with the way things really are on the outside, we will never be satisfied and never receive approval from the One opinion that ultimately matters.

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Satisfaction, Success, and Significance

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Significance comes from making a difference that lasts.

Significance comes from making a difference that lasts.

I love the Model X Tesla. I know that is a poor use of the word love. Go ahead and judge me—I’ll take it. The Model X is an all-electric car with doors that open above the roof. They are called falcon wings—their take on the Mercedes 300 Gullwing. It’s a car that melts the soul.

It would be satisfying

It would be satisfying to own a Model X Tesla. In theory I could buy one. I would have to sacrifice a couple of my kids’ weddings and college educations. But in theory, it is an attainable goal.

Reaching that goal

How satisfying would reaching that goal be? Teslas have an 8 year unlimited mileage warranty. There are test models which have had over 500,000 miles put on them. Let’s say I maintained it well, kept the rust off, and had good fortune with the computer system. Maybe I could enjoy it for 20 years.

A point in time

There is a satisfaction that comes from the success of reaching a goal. My definition of success is a goal reached at a point in time. Being the owner of a Model X (reaching that goal) would create a measure of satisfaction; maybe for as long as 20 years.

Last over time

By contrast, there is a satisfaction that comes from significance. My definition of significance is making a difference that lasts over time. The longer the impact lasts, the more significant it is.

Limited satisfaction

I have reached many goals up to this point in my life. I am sure you have, too. I have bought houses, started programs, and built businesses. There are many successes I can look to as accomplishments. All were goals I set out to reach that happened in a point in time. But the satisfaction from those accomplishments has been limited.

Lasting significance

I want to give myself to more than successes though. I want to be able to say I have done something that had some staying power. There may be a few items that get passed on to my kids or grandkids that last beyond me. But there is something in me that wants to know what I am giving myself to has eternal significance.

A life of significance

What are those areas where a difference can be made that last over time? What impact can be made that lasts throughout time? What are the eternal investments that can be made? Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT) I think Jesus wants you to experience the satisfaction that comes from successes. However, more than the limited satisfaction of success, he wants you to have the unlimited satisfaction of a life of significance.

An eternal mark

There is nothing more lasting than a soul. A Model X may melt the soul, but it doesn’t make an eternal mark on the soul. This idea is clarifying for me. Is there a more worthwhile place to attempt to make a difference than a soul that will live for eternity? Can anything compare to the significance found in impacting a soul that last beyond time?

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Perspective Is Everything

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What do you do when you don't like what you see?

What do you do when you don’t like what you see?

He’s not successful

I was driving. Mady, the 9-year-old, and Bella, the 6-year-old, were in the back seat. Mady was flipping through a magazine and asked. “Do you have to be good looking to be successful?” Bella replied, “No, dad is good looking and he’s not successful.” I didn’t know whether to be proud that she thinks I’m good looking or sad that she thinks I’m a failure.

Distorted perspective

Success (wealth, power, approval, and all that goes with it) can distort my perspective. It can really do a number on the way I see the world in general and my life in particular. I think this is evident as the choice of new leadership is before our country.

A perpetual problem

The perspective distorting influence of success is a perpetual problem. It is not unique to our day. The classic example of this in the Bible is Psalm 73. The writer admits to being swept off his feet by the successful.

Calibrating our perspective

There was a remedy that straightened out his twisted thinking. He explained it in one line, “Then I entered the sanctuary of God” (v17) There is nothing more calibrating than a vision of the infinite and eternal. Everything (ourselves, others, the past, present, and future) is right-sized in light of what is truly True.

Corrects every distortion

Billionaires are a fantasy compared to eternity (v20). Troubles are seen for what they really are (v23). Pleasures are merely the smell that catches our senses as a foretaste of the substance that lies ahead (v25). Being near God corrects every distortion (v28).

A devout musing

“Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea, be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling bellows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” -Charles Spurgeon

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How Success Is Measured

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Hole in the ground

How do we know if we’re doing well in our work? Having a job in the helping services arena makes answering that question a tough one. So is there a way to appraise how we are doing?

My reading in the gospels this weekend was from Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus’ story of entrusted possessions. It is more popularly known as the Parable of the Talents. There were six things that stood out to me.

  1. God entrusts what he has to others.
  2. God earns where he hasn’t worked.
  3. God gives more to those that do something with what they have.
  4. God takes away from those that don’t.
  5. God only measures a person against oneself.
  6. God expects a person to invest what has been given.

Can we appraise how we are doing? I think the context of this story and one phrase in this story speaks to the fact that we won’t really know how we’ve done for a long time. This story is in the middle of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus tells this story in the context of talking about the future. In verse 19 he says. “After a long time….” Rick Warren says, “There are three things you can do with your life: waste it, spend it, or invest it. The best way to invest it is in the things that will outlast you.” That is the long view. If success is measured by what outlasts us, then we won’t know how we’ve done for a very long time.

However, I think this story speaks to one way we can appraise how we are doing. God entrusted more to the servant he first commended and took away from the one that didn’t do anything. Are your responsibilities shrinking or expanding? Are you seeing possessions (don’t just think monetary) grow, staying static, or shrinking? God gives more to the faithful. An honest look at the state of what God has entrusted to us is one way to appraise how we are doing.

The most important appraisal I see in this story is the personal appraisal. God settled accounts with each servant individually. The master’s commendation was personal. He didn’t say, “Let’s see how you compare with the other guy.” He said, “You have been faithful.”

I think this is how God deals with you. God only measures you against you. This is freeing and challenging at the same time. God has entrusted you with something of his own. He expects you to invest what you’ve been given.

How well are you doing in your work?

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Are You Living Like a Slinky?

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Slinky__2__by_L_X

 

The Slinky was invented (discovered really) by a naval mechanical engineer right after WWII. He was developing instruments for ships when he knocked some coiled steel over, which sprang down upon some books, then onto a table, and finally landed upright on the floor.

 

Imagine a Slinky traveling down stairs. I heard Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-a, use this as an illustration of successful, lasting leadership. You can watch his talk via the link below. He gives three reasons why the Slinky is the way you should be thinking about your leadership. I think it is a powerful picture of how you can live life.

 

1. Nothing happens ’til leaders go first. 

What are you wanting to see happen? Take initiative. Make the first move. Are you wanting to see people reaching out more? Then how about you inviting your neighbor over to dinner? Are you wanting to have a culture of service in your home, office, or church? Are you placing the needs of others before your agenda? Are you wanting to see more kindness between people? How consistently kind are you?

 

This is exactly what Jesus did. He wanted to see humanity restored. He wanted people to have abundant life (John 10:10). He wanted to restore that which had been lost (Luke 19:10). To recreate humanity into what he desired, he had to go first. And he did. This is what Philippians 2 beautifully describes: “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.”

 

Jesus made the first move. He became what he wants us to be. Initiative is one of God’s chief attributes.

 

2. Leaders develop followers. 

The Slinky works because of connection. Cathy says, “Leaders intentionally endear themselves to others.” This doesn’t happen by accident. I think the operative word in “leaders develop followers” is not leaders or followers, but develop. This speaks of intentionality.

 

The Slinky is a great picture of how to get those connected to you to follow: descend. Be vulnerable. Be humble. Allow yourself to fall down. Patrick Lencioni has written how connection, trust, and vulnerability work together. There is a great clip from a presentation below.

 

Again, we see this in Jesus. He was intentional about connecting with a small group of people. I already mentioned how he humbled himself into humanity as Philippians 2 expresses. And I think the epitome of Slinky living, connecting servanthood and developing followers, is seen as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:15, after demonstrating such vulnerability by disrobing, says, “Do as I have done for you.”

 

Also, Jesus demonstrated vulnerability and intentionally connected himself to humanity in Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:39, even though he was perfect, he still made the request whether there was another way to complete his mission. The phrase “never let them see you sweat” did not come from Jesus.

 

3. Followers become leaders. 

Success is succession. Are you building a team? A Slinky doesn’t work because the head keeps pulling everything into action. Momentum only occurs because at some point it is hard to identify which end is the head and which is the tail.

 

What move will you make right now?

How will you be more vulnerable?

Who will you bring into the action today?

 

Links:

 

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Links List December 4th

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  1. [3] dangers of using social media in the pastorate.
  2. Should we worry about an over-use of social media in the pastorate?
  3. Obstacles as blessings.
  4. Measuring success in your church.
  5. Have you heard about this? My Hope with Billy Graham.
  6. 100 college students are asked about their biggest obstacle.
  7. For Fun: If it hasn’t been discovered yet, how do they know they’ve only discovered a third?

Quote

“On every level of life from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and all efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.” – Evelyn Underhill