Tag Archives: Seth Godin

“No Win in Comparison”

Yesterday I preached on the spiritual emotion/virtue of humility. I borrowed a phrase from Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, who preached “There is no win in comparison.” The real enemy of humility is not just pride, but envy; we have a constant need to compare ourselves to others to see if we measure up. If our self-worth is based on a comparison model, we never win.  There is always someone who is richer, smarter, faster, fitter, holier than we are.

Then yesterday, Seth Godin wrote in his blog about the danger of comparison in one’s business model.

Compared to magical

The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.

The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.

Compared to that, how are you doing?

I don’t know much about magical unicorns (I will need to check with my daughter Suzanne regarding that), but the one place I go for comparison is Jesus Christ. Not that I live a “What-Would-Jesus-Do” life, but rather a life based solely on “What-has-Jesus-created-and-called-me-to-be-and-do?” As a child of God, my value and worth rests totally in God’s Son. When my heart, mind, and soul focus on Jesus, then the comparison model does not have a chance.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me (Galatians 2:20)

Lord Jesus, keep my focus on you and your call in my life.

“If I were you. . .” Repost

Compassion and empathy are Christian virtues that Jesus taught us to cultivate. Jesus’ command “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:38) is a central to our Christian faith. We cannot love unless we empathize with our neighbor and seek to understand his or her situation. As St. Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Now empathy and compassion are not restricted to the church. Seth Godin is a respected author on marketing and business. He wrote in his blog yesterday about the need for empathy in customer service.

“If I were you…”

But of course, you’re not.

And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer.

Empathy isn’t dictated to us by a focus group or a statistical analysis. Empathy is the powerful (and rare) ability to imagine what motivates someone else to act. . .

When a teacher can’t see why a student is stuck, or when an interface designer dismisses the 12% of the users who can’t find the ‘off’ switch… we’re seeing a failure of empathy, not a flaw in the user base.

When we call a prospect stupid for not choosing us, when we resort to blunt promotional tactics to get attention we could have earned with a more graceful approach–these are the symptoms that we’ve forgotten how to be empathetic.

You don’t have to wear panty hose to be a great brand manager at L’eggs, nor do you need to be unemployed to work on a task force on getting people back to work. What is required, though, is a persistent effort to understand how other people see the world, and to care about it.

Seth’s last point, “to care about it” is part of what it means to have spiritual emotions such as compassion and empathy. Our faith can impact our daily lives, even at work.

Lord Jesus, teach me to care about the people and thing for which you are passionate.

Organizational Care

Seth Godin, wrote an intriguing post recently about caring and organizations:

No organization cares about you. Organizations aren’t capable of this.

Your bank, certainly, doesn’t care. Neither does your HMO or even your car dealer. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to discover this fact.

People, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring. It’s part of being a human. It’s only when organizational demands and regulations get in the way that the caring fades.

If you want to build a caring organization, you need to fill it with caring people and then get out of their way. When your organization punishes people for caring, don’t be surprised when people stop caring.

I began to wonder if that is true of a congregation.  Certainly one of the confessed values of a Christian congregation is to care, to love, to be like Jesus. But what does care look like?  Here leadership is essential. Leadership within the congregation can promote a culture of care, can model what caring looks like, and how collectively and individually we care.

Pentecost by artist Jean Sader

This Sunday is Pentecost, the church holiday in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to ignite the birth of the church. Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first disciples remained huddled in a room in Jerusalem.  As described in Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was dramatic: a mighty rush of wind, tongues of fire on people’s heads, and multiple languages suddenly heard.  A huge crowd gathered outside the room, amazed, perplexed, confused.  What was this?

Here is where caring leadership stepped up.

 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd. Act 2:14

Peter took the leadership role and modeled how this new community would express itself.  He cared for the assembled crowd by telling them the story of Jesus Christ and how his life, death and resurrection had changed the world.  His words were tough at time, reminding the people of their participation in Jesus’ crucifixion.  Yet Peter, with the support of the eleven, did the most loving thing possible: he called people to trust in Jesus.  At Resurrection, we would say Peter “called all people to a vibrant life of faith in Christ.”

How does the church promote or restrict caring?

Lord Jesus, teach me to care as you cared for others.

Marketer for the Ages

Seth Godin is a marketing author whose blog I read regularly.  Today he wrote regarding worldviews:

In All Marketers Tell Stories, I argue that most organizations shouldn’t try to change the worldview of the audience they’re marketing to.

Worldview is a term popularized by George Lakoff. It’s the set of expectations and biases that color the way each of us see the world (before the marketer ever arrives on the scene). The worldview of a 45 year old wine-loving investment banker is very different from that of a fraternity brother. One might see a $100 bottle of burgundy as both a bargain and a must-have, while the other might see the very same bottle of wine as an insane waste of money.

It’s extremely expensive, time consuming and difficult to change someone’s worldview. The guys at Opus One shouldn’t spend a lot of time marketing expensive wine to fraternities because it’s not efficient. Sell nuts to squirrels, don’t try to persuade dolphins that nuts are delicious.

There’s an exception to this rule, and that’s the necessity of changing worldviews if you want to become a giant brand, a world changer, a marketer for the ages. Starbucks changed the way a significant part of the world thought about spending $4 for a cup of coffee.

Another exception is Jesus Christ.  He came to transform the way we look at and live in the world.  Sometimes our problem is that we want to fit Jesus into some niche in our lives, “Jesus, just fix this problem I have and then leave me alone.”  We want Jesus to rescue us from a difficult circumstance and then quietly step back from the foreground, but he comes to the Lord and Master of our house.   Jesus truly came to  be the “marketer for the ages” that changes the story by which we live. 

 Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. ( Hebrews 12:2 The Message)

How have you tried to adapt Jesus to your life rather than allowing him to rule?

Lord Jesus, be LORD today in my life.

John’s Portrait of Jesus

St. John the Evangelist by El Greco

At the end of chapter twenty, John declares,

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

Contemporary readers of the Gospels often compare them to modern biographies, but the Gospel writers did not intend this.  They were creating vivid portraits of Jesus that inspire and transform the reader.  The writer of John states that he could have included other material but chose not to.   The gospel writers were artists, not biographers.

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist?  I don’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush.  There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions.  These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists.  On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artist with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations.  Art is about intent and communication, not substances. (Seth Godin, Graceful, Making a Difference in a World that Needs You. 2010, p. 22)

The writer of John, inspired by God, created a masterpiece. 

How is your life touching others with creativity, joy and vibrancy ?

Prayer, Lord Jesus, inspire me to create beauty and joy in your name.

Nurturing Encouragement

This morning Seth Godin, a marketing guru and writer, wrote on his blog about “Turning the habit of self-criticism upside down.”   In it he wrote,

  When reviewing just about anything you’ve done with yourself (in your head), the instinct is to be brutal, relentlessly critical and filled with doubt and self-blame.

When talking to ourselves, what if we were a little more supportive?

I identify with this self-criticism habit and know others who do so as well.   It is so easy to find fault with one’s self. 

One habit that helps me turn off that “critical inner voice” is to provide encouragement and support to others.   To turn from inward to outward, to turn from self-criticism to praising others.

St. Barnabas the day after he split with St. Paul

My Biblical model for this is Barnabas, a little known early church leader.  He is first mentioned in Acts 4:36.  His original name was Joseph; he was Jewish religious official from the island of Cyprus.  On his conversion to faith in Jesus he sold a piece of property that he owned and gave it to the church.   He was quickly renamed Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” because he so freely support others.   He supported Paul after his rocky conversion.  Paul had first persecuted the church and the early leaders were skeptical of Paul’s conversion.   Barnabas stood by him as a kind of sponsor/mentor.  Barnabas accompanied Paul during their first missionary journey (Acts 13:2) and the great council in Jerusalem (Acts 15).  Then Barnabas was willing to split with Paul when Barnabas wanted to encourage and support John Mark in spite of John Mark’s spotty record.   Barnabas lived a vibrant life of encouragement and exhortation.

I have discovered my own need to have several “Barnabas” in my life.  My colleague and friend, Pastor John Straiton, has always given me passionate support during my ministry, both by prayer and encouraging words.  My friend Tim has kept my running and biking in spite of injuries and struggles.  And many members and friends of Resurrection have given me words of encouragement and support in my first months here. I am so thankful for these gifts.

How do you give encouragement to others or yourself?

Recommended Blog

Seth Godin's blog

I am looking for good blogs to read.  If you have one that you have appreciated, please pass it along.  The one blog I do follow is by Seth Godin.  Here is a sample of his blog:

What are you working on?

If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?

I hope so. If not, you’re wasting away.

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.

Seth is one reason I started this blog for Resurrection.   You can subscribe to his blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/