Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hope Expects Good

Dean Merrill wrote in The God Who Won’t Let Go, “Hope is actually very close to fear. Fear looks at a set of grim prospects and says ‘It might fail.’ Hope looks at the same set of grim prospects . . . and says, ‘It might work.’ Hope and fear are thus like two ships passing in the night but headed in opposite directions. They are at the same dark murky point in the ocean. But by morning they will be miles apart.” (p. 23-24)

Mindy found a definition of hope that is very simple: Hope expects good. I love it because it is so easy to apply. When you wake up in the morning do you expect good or evil? Is hope guiding your life or is fear?

Lets apply this to innovation. The innovator is a person who has learned to hope. They expect good out of every new project, strategy, line of investigation. Hopefully they are realists, but that doesn't stop them from having an attitude defined by hope.

What does it mean for you if you live expecting good?
1. You see opportunities when others see brick walls.
2. You give people a second, third, fourth chance when others wouldn't.
3. You probably smile a bit more.
4. You have a determination and persistence that allows you to persevere through major challenges.
5. You are close to the Father's heart - that is how He sees each of us.

So as you read this, are you expecting good from your day or evil? Is your work being defined by hope or by fear?

I pray that it is by hope - the hope that comes from the heart of God.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are you being eaten alive by criticism?

Every innovator will be criticized. No matter how nice you are, how loving, how considerate, how calculating or how sympathetic. The simple reason is that change and new ideas bring criticism. There are people who do not want change, or maybe it would be better to say that they are truly afraid of it. Out of that resistance and fear will come criticism.

I am listening to a book called "Tribe" by Seth Godin. It is an excellent resource on innovation and I will highlight it next weekend. One of the things he says in the book is that the fear of criticism keeps us from stepping out and doing the innovative things that are necessary to move our causes forward.

In my life, I will admit that I am very afraid of criticism. It is like termites eating away at me from the inside where no one else can see it. Many times I have ideas that I just don't feel I can share because of the criticism that might come my way. I don't think I am alone. I think that my fears are pretty normal.

Moreover, I think that under similar fears are hiding hundreds - maybe thousands - of good ideas. We are being eaten alive by criticism or the fear of it. Our organizations are languishing because we will not share our breakthrough ideas. Our causes are stagnant because we will not put forth the new thinking. Our relationships suffer because we will not share the ideas that might bring insight and new horizons.

So what should we fearful yet creative people do? Should we throw off all inhibition and share everything? Should we clamp up and wait for people to ask us for our ideas?

I think this particular challenge calls for a few things:

1. Love: We need to bring our ideas out in love and kindness for those who might struggle with them. We need to realize that there can be many reasons for criticism that we do not understand or appreciate.
2. Courage: If God is calling us to innovate in a certain way, we need to be brave enough to bring our idea out even if we know we will be criticized.
3. Dependence: We need to know that the success of our idea rests completely in God's capable hands - not our energetic efforts. We need to give our idea to God and allow Him to bring it out.

So if you are afraid of sharing your idea today, take courage. One of the things that I daily try to remind myself is that my identity as a person is not in what others think of me. My identity is in Christ and His love and care for me.

Now that we have talked about that, are there any ideas that you feel God is asking you to share? Share them with this community and ask for prayer as you pursue them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clearly Seeing New Opportunities

One of the seminal jobs of an innovator is to gaze into that cloudy thing we call the future and intuit new opportunities. The ability to see where something is going and apply that to a specific audience or a specific challenge is what defines an innovator.

Now that means many times we will be wrong or at least not as right as we wish we were. There will be times when we got the opportunity right, but someone else got there first. Or there may be times when we see the challenge that needs to be met, but the audience is unwilling to go there with us. That's all part of the game.

One of those innovators that I have been so impressed with over the years is Phil Vischer. He saw a huge audience of people looking for Christian kid's content and so he created Veggie Tales as a way to meet the opportunity. But even though he lost Veggie Tales in the end through a series of challenges, he has now picked up on a new innovation.

Phil Vischer has launched something called JellyTelly. This new innovation is a step ahead of many others and has some huge potential. Some of Phil's challenges with Veggie Tales was in the area of distribution. So with JellyTelly, he is creating wholesome kids programming delivered straight over the Internet instead of through cable or DVD. Kids can watch new programs for 1/2 hour each day right now and as he is able, the new company will expand that and provide more programming.

Not only will this give young writers and producers a whole new outlet for creating kids programming that reflects Christ, but it gives parents another way to engage their children with the Bible.

So for 2.99 a month, a family can access daily programing and games that reflect their values. We will see if Phil has identified an opportunity that the audience will grab hold of. But whether or not that happens, Phil has shown himself to be a world class innovator in his work and faith.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Billy Graham's 90th birthday

One of the great innovators in modern evangelism is Billy Graham. He turns 90 on Nov 7 and the BGEA has set up a cool way for you to share your memories of him or a birthday wish. Watch this video:

And then go to to leave your special message.

Upcoming Writers Conference

I would like to share about a ministry that we support - MAI (Media Associates International). They hold a key conference for writers from around the world every 3 years called Littworld. That conference is a place for writers to learn, get plugged in and to move forward in their careers in their respective countries.

Littworld will be held in Kenya in 2009. Read a bit more about it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Relentlessly Broken

Recently a friend of mine said something to me that really stuck. He has been going through some difficult times and having to trust God in some large ways. As God is working in his life, he realized that maybe this brokenness and trust isn't just for a season. Maybe it is for always.

You see, he shared with me that as life got harder and he trusted God with more, he secretly thought that some day God would back off and let him run things again. God was trying to teach him a lesson but didn't want to run things this way all the time.

But then my friend came to a realization that has hit me very hard. "Maybe God wants us to be broken and dependent all the time!" Wow, that is hard to even contemplate, let alone live up to. Where would I even start?

We have this strange game going on with God where we let Him run certain areas of our life for a while and then demand them back. As if we were doing God a favor by allowing Him to take part.

So what does this have to do with innovation? Plenty. What I find myself doing as I strive to come up with new ideas and concepts is best described in a simple list:
1. I have a problem/opportunity that I am trying to figure out.
2. I struggle with a solution and then remember to ask God.
3. God leads and I follow . . .
4. Then I thank God for the idea and say, "I'll run with it from here."

In Christian circles we can get caught in a trap of treating God as the solutions fairy. When we need a new idea, a solution, a fresh perspective, we go to God in prayer. However, as soon as we feel that we have an answer we remove it from the feet of Jesus and we place it at our own.

I can think of countless times that I have done this in my own life. I want God's help but not His leadership. I want His vision but not His direction.

We have to be willing to relentlessly submit to God . . . at every step of every idea/action/task. We have to be willing to live - like my friend shared - broken lives all the time and not just when we are learning something or going through a hard time.

God wants all of our ideas, our efforts our leadership to be bent to His vision, mission and will. Are we willing to live lives like that as we innovate?