The Preface of My New Book: The Dimensional #Leader


This book discusses the qualities of the dimensional leader, which any person seeking a leadership role should seek to develop and master over time. As spatial dimensions contain three spheres of width, height and length, so the dimensional leader model exudes the three dimensional qualities of character, competence and communication. David was the consummate dimensional leader, who displayed these three qualities from his inaugural scene, at the time he fought and defeated Goliath, and throughout his entire life as the leader and commander of Israel’s army. David’s leadership legacy is summed up in an obscure passage in Psalm 78:72, where the dimensional leader’s paradigm is revealed:

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart [character]; with skillful hands [competence] he led [communication] them.

This passage of scripture has been written as David’s epitaph; a one sentence summation of his leadership legacy. Any thoughtful reader of this passage should pause for a moment to deliberate its substance and significance, to ponder its hidden treasures. It won’t take you very long before the hidden gems burst forth, revealing the transformative qualities effective leaders should cultivate and master over time.

The subtitle may have also left you asking, “What can a shepherd boy teach me about leadership?” The answer is obvious; a shepherd boy has already taught us principles about leadership, especially how a dimensional leader thinks and acts in times of great challenge. We just need to dive deeper into the story to exhume purpose for our lives today.

When we read about David’s great triumph over Goliath we simply bypass two previous encounters – Eliab, David’s eldest brother and King Saul, the flustered and reluctant leader of Israel. David had to navigate through these two individuals first to get to his ultimate goal – that of confronting and defeating the malicious behemoth, and thus, wiping away the reproach from Israel.

I am positive there have been times in our lives where you and I have had this thought, “I want to be like David.” However, we do not realize the price it took David to achieve a level of leadership mastery. Somehow we bypass those elements of personal sacrifice and testing in the shadows; the hidden places and events, which shaped David’s character. We have the tendency to look upon those who have succeeded as one of God’s favorite kids who were given a free pass to greatness, and somehow everything was handed over to them on a silver platter. This way of thinking is not realistic, nor fair for those who have achieved a level of greatness among us. Greatness comes with a price tag. In other words, anyone who has ever had some legacy worth talking about had to overcome personal challenges and overcome barriers, which catapulted them to a new and improved station in life. It may have been they were willing to confront their fears, which kept them limited and regulated to a mediocre and mundane life. These champions of life succeeded somehow, because they were able to cross what I call the lines of resistance.

A line of resistance is a force seen or unseen, which works against you to constrain you or impose a limitation by restricting you from achieving your dreams, your goals and ultimately your destiny. A line of resistance is also a roadblock or barrier to stop you from moving forward. A line of resistance can eventually create a limiting mindset, a negative attitude, even a habitual pattern, which hinders you from accessing and pursuing your goals, to the point of discouraging you from actualizing your true potential and purpose in life.

In the natural realm, a line of resistance can come from the people around you. In the spiritual realm, the lines of resistance arise from Satan and his hoard of demons. In a personal sense, many lines of resistance already exist in our fallen nature, producing destructive patterns in our life. At other times your lines of resistance can be produced when something dramatic occurs in your past where a negative history was created. This negative event in your life may have produced an insecurity, which is now rooted in fear and controls you. If this is true, you then begin to build an image about yourself, which is not based on reality.

David was confronted by three people, each one tried to restrict and limit him in some manner from succeeding on his mission. These three individuals attempted to create lines of resistance in David’s life.

1. Eliab – David’s brother represents the line of criticism.

2. King Saul – David’s leader represents the line of authority.

3. Goliath – David’s archenemy represents the line of fear and intimidation.

The lines of resistance can be self-imposed or they can come from well meaning people, like our close friends or family members. For instance, someone can give us erroneous counsel diverting us down the wrong road from our destiny for many years. This is why parents, mentors, clergy, and others play a pivotal role in developing and directing the lives of young people. If we “buy-into” these limitations we can end up living on the wrong side of the tracks, instead of what could be — a life of mastery, filled with abundant living.

Have you ever taken an inventory of your life to find out what can be possible? Have you ever challenged yourself to break out of the old mindsets that keep you where you are? This book will challenge you to identify, confront and traverse over those debilitating lines of resistance, which have kept you from experiencing a life above and beyond your true and rightful potential.

Be challenged and enjoy!

Joel

NOTE: You will be able to purchase The Dimensional Leader – The Leadership Strategies of a Shepherd Boy

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Worldview – Cultivating a Governing Philosophy of Leadership


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The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.”
– George Orwell –

Western culture, an idea derived from the tenants and teachings of the Christian faith, has been “under direct and unremitting cultural assault form those who want to destroy the bedrock of values of Western civilization.”[i] “We see the effect of this everywhere in the West,”[ii] and “without a basis for moral authority, no moral consensus can be reached, which is why we are in an ongoing and increasingly strident cultural war.”[iii] This cultural war over Western civilization is a struggle over which governing philosophy or ideology will prevail to dictate the cultural values and norms of civilized society. Will it be “the core values of Western civilization [which] are grounded in religion,”[iv], or moral relativism, which rejects the thought of absolute truth itself? For those of you thinking, “Wait a minute, Western Civilization is a Christian idea? Yes it is! Although the Kingdom of God is neither a Democracy nor a Republic, the very idea of a free society is derived mainly from Christian thought, and the primary reason why we should stand and contend for Kingdom principles to prevail and shape our culture.

In a direct way, Christianity finds itself totally immersed in a cultural war over worship. How is this so? The very root word for culture is “cult”, meaning “a particular form of worship.” Since we all worship someone or something, this someone or something determines how you and I create and order our lives, govern self and our family; how we approach the workplace, and even how we see, interpret and impact culture at large. Those in positions of influence tend to influence the values and mindsets of large segments of society. Culture then receives either an upgrade or downgrade depending on “who” leads and “what” worldview, values or philosophy are being translated to the masses to influence and shape culture. You see, every culture offers a unique expression distinct from other cultures. This exclusivity is their particular brand of worship. Why is a certain way of worship more important than others? It’s simple, you become like the object of your worship, for ‘those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”[v]

This struggle over worship originated in the pre-material world, when Lucifer attempted to exalt himself over God’s throne (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19) to divert worship from its rightful proprietor. Lucifer’s treasonous act cost him a position and place as God’s “anointed cherub”. As a result of his disloyal conduct, Lucifer was cast out of heaven to the depths of Sheol, which is the abode of the dead. This war over worship manifested itself once again in the Garden of Eden, where Lucifer acting as Serpent tempted Eve, sweeping her and Adam into a forbidden path, which opened the floodgate of evil into God’s material world. Mankind, though created in the image of God, was now tainted by sin with the propensity for evil works. Lucifer’s destructive brand was transferred from a timeless dimension to a limited one, from God’s abode to His material creation. In a brief sentence found in Genesis 6:5, evil’s manifestation within the heart of mankind and its geographical spread throughout the earth realm reached its full measure:

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Since then, this war over who controls culture, and who is to have the supremacy in worship has been fought on various fronts throughout history. This struggle has been the central theme of history’s struggle over good versus evil, which is evident in the visible and invisible worlds; a battle between God’s angelic hosts and Satan’s hordes of demons, God’s chosen remnant and the unredeemed; the righteous who live by faith, and the wicked who live by their own evil creed.

This struggle over which worldview will dominate to dictate the culture norms and trends continues to the present moment; a struggle between the Judeo-Christian worldview and a post-modern, secularized mindset. This cultural crusade is most noticeable in our arts and entertainment, the so-called artistic arena of sitcoms, movies, music, and print media. You just have to visit the magazine racks of your local bookstores to see the evidence; covers glorifying scanty clad women, narcissism, gossip, betrayal, and weekly portraits of break-ups and infidelity among the Hollywood elite. You can also watch daily soaps and nightly sitcoms abounding with immoral scripts, overflowing with sexual innuendo, lust, adultery, and the “new normal” arising in popular culture are same-sex themes. More demonstrative are the movies released in theaters, which are watched by millions of viewers each day spewing a barrage of soft to hard-core pornographic scenes, profanity, the illicit use of drugs and displays of extreme violence. For example, a beloved children’s movie had a scene of a male toy soldier humping another male toy soldier, taking the position for gays to openly serve in the armed forces. The sad part of this embedded piece of propaganda, particularly in a child’s movie, was that it was viewed by millions of young people, and children along with their parents. It was Hollywood’s way of demeaning and rejecting the deeply held values of the traditional family, and the long held views of the nation’s military policies and priorities.

In this section, I have briefly touched only upon the entertainment sector but I can go on with other sectors of culture such as science, education, politics and a variety of media outlets spewing venom and misinformation every day to undermine Christian virtue, and uproot the founding principles, which formed a nation under God.

Therefore, it is critical today, more than times past, for Christian leaders to cultivate a governing philosophy of leadership, which is most commonly known as worldview. A worldview, according to Christian apologist and author Norman L. Geisler is simply a way a person “views or interprets reality.” Geisler adds, the concept of “Worldview is derived from the German world Weltanschauung, meaning a ‘world and life view,’ or ‘a paradigm’… the framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life. A worldview makes a world of difference in one’s view of God, origins, evil, human nature, values, and destiny.”[vi] Chuck Colson’s examination of Christianity led him to this insightful summary:

“Christianity is a worldview that speaks to every area of life, and its foundational doctrines define its content. If we don’t know what we believe – even what Christianity is – how can we live it and defend it?”[vii]

Colson concludes his summary on worldview with the obvious reality that “our ignorance is crippling us,” meaning that without framing a cohesive and comprehensive worldview among Christian leaders today, we will keep losing the cultural war over the biblical values, which have shaped our culture and sacred institutions for generations.

Whether we know it or not we all approach and interpret life through a philosophical lens consisting of a set of presuppositions grounded in our existing reality, which forms our belief structures and value systems. Our value system dictates how you and I live, how we commune with our world, and how we apply God’s moral law and ethics to everyday life. Our approach to solving the problems arising in our world, such as poverty, defining biblical sexuality, marriage, human rights, even preserving human dignity in all phases of life from the mother’s womb to a person’s last breath are derived from a person’s worldview.

Significant Research – Worldview Metrics and Optics

To prove my point, let’s take a look at sound research by the Barna Group, a respected Christian research organization. The Barna Group claims a “worldview serves as a person’s decision-making filter, enabling them to make sense of the complex and huge amount of information, experiences, relationships and opportunities they face in life. By helping to clarify what a person believes to be important, true and desirable, a worldview has a dramatic influence on a person’s choices in any given situation.”[viii]

The distressing reality is that many Christians are not on the same page when it comes to viewing reality through a biblical lens. Research seems to indicate Christians do not possess a comprehensive and cohesive biblical worldview.

In 2009 The Barna Group conducted a study called, Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years, which revealed astonishing factoids, such as – “Only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview”, and “among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.”[ix] Now, you can begin to grasp the American Christian dilemma. In other words, Christianity in America is floundering to influence and shape culture? Other critical facts of the same survey reveal, “Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking.” The survey found that:[x]

▪  One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.

▪  Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.

▪  Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.

▪ A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.

Given these measurements, what optics emerge concerning the Christian believer? The truth concerning the state of our culture is found in the lack of belief in “absolute truth” even among Christians. In addition, the skepticism among the same group that Satan is a real entity is incomprehensible. These numbers should not only cause alarm among our church leaders but should also sound the alarm to rally around making Christ-centered disciples. We must go from a “Disneyland faith” to demonstrating a sound biblical faith, which is grounded on reality and truth. As believers, we cannot be ashamed of Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, and the central tenets of the faith once delivered to the all saints for every generation.

Now, let’s take a look at what I call a Transformative Worldview.

The 3 DNA Strands of a Transformative Worldview

Today’s leaders, who desire to have a drastic affect upon culture, must understand and consistently manifest the three DNA strands of a transformative worldview. The American version of our Christian faith is not working to transform culture. Therefore, we must go back to the foundations of our faith, grounded in the reality of the gospels, the historical narrative of the book of Acts, and the epistles written by the apostles. In my understanding, a comprehensive Christian worldview must instill a firm belief, power and the ability to transform culture. These strands of a Judeo-Christian worldview are demonstrated time and time again, commencing with the four Gospels, and continuing with the apostolic movement in the Book of Acts, and throughout key places and seasons in history. Today, the transmitters of this worldview should note these strands are deeply intertwined, much like a chord of three strands; each part producing a powerful synergistic affect translating to extraordinary results among individuals, society and culture at large. Here are a few samples:

‘And truly Jesus did many other signs [power] in the presence of His disciples… these are written that you may believe [instill belief] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life [personal transformation] in His name.”
–John 20:30-31

This pattern was also a common during the early apostolic age:

“At Iconium Paul and Barnabas… spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed [grounding belief]… So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there [transforming a city], speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders [power].”
–Acts 14:1 & 3

“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months [grounding belief], arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God… This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard [a transformative message] the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles [power] through Paul.”
–Acts 19:8, 10 & 11 (NIV)

As you can see, the dynamics of a transformative worldview are evident in scripture. Therefore, as Christian leaders, we must reassess our worldview and examine if we, ourselves, and, or our ministry is aligned properly to the biblical pattern. Does your ministry bring people into a personal and practicing faith? Does your ministry manifest power via signs, miracles and wonders where people are in awe of God’s majesty? Is His presence evident in your congregation, compelling a curious community to your doorstep on Sunday mornings and other gatherings? Is your ministry spreading its influence by transforming the local neighborhood, city and region? If you can answer, “yes” to all these questions, then you are operating within the bounds of a transformative biblical worldview. If not, then you must reassess your ministry, humble yourself and seek God’s face for His presence and power to be released upon your life and your ministry.


[i] Philips, Melanie (2010) The World Turned Upside Down – The Global Battle Over God, Truth and Power. Encounter Books, New York, New York.

[ii] Colson, Charles W. (2008) The Faith. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pg. 68.

[iii] Ibid, pg. 68.

[iv] Philips, Melanie (2010), pg XII.

[v] Psalm 115:8

[vi] Giesler, Norman L. (2000) Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Book House, pg. 785.

[vii] Colson, Charles W. (2008) The Faith. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pg. 28.

[viii] The Barna Group. Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years, accessed 2-3-2013.

[ix] The Barna Group. Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years, accessed 1-21-2013.

[x] Ibid: The Barna Group. Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years.

Nevada, Are You #Ready4Reform? by Kathia Pereira


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On Monday and Tuesday (10/28-10/29) more than 600 conservative leaders showed up at the doors of our House Representatives to urge them to pass Immigration Reform Legislation. A very important move from the conservative leadership of this country who decided to speak up on behalf of those who have no voice because they are undocumented.

The big push for immigration reform began not only for the cry of legalizing more than 11 million undocumented individuals currently living inside the U.S. but also for legislation that will improve the current broken immigration system. Specifically, our conservative leadership asked for agricultural visas, general skill visas, and high skill visas for professionals and secure borders that will allow us the certainty of knowing who is living inside the U.S.

Nevada was represented by many sectors of our population, from the food industry to medical and high tech. Most importantly, faith leaders represented Nevada from the Evangelical churches and with great humility asked for dignity and respect for those who have no voice but who have contributed to our great nation in many ways.

Our delegation met with Congressman Amodei, Senator Heller, and representatives of Senator Reid and Congressman Heck’s offices. Doors opened to the same greeting:
We are ready for reform! and all of our representatives answered: “We are ready too”.  It is a fact all of Nevada’s House representatives and Senators agree in the need for Immigration Reform. All of our senators and representatives understand the positive impact immigration reform will bring to our economy, national security and society as a whole.

However, our House representatives cannot issue their votes for immigration reform unless and until the House Speaker, Mr. Boehner, will introduce any of the existing immigration bills for a vote. Apparently, a miracle is needed for Mr. Boehner to take a stand on Immigration Reform. I believe in miracles and our people deserve them.

Inaction is not an option. Our country deserves to act according to the great conservative values of our founding fathers. Immigration Reform is no longer a political issue, it is a moral issue and a necessity. Can we really claim to be “One nation under God” when we have a sub class of human beings that may be victims of abuse and exploitation? Can we call ourselves “One nation under God” when our own children suffer the anxiety of not knowing if their parents will be deported and their families separated? It is time for all men and woman of faith to declare with loud voices that we are  “One nation under God!”, and all of our people documented or undocumented are people of God too.

Our representatives are ready for reform but they cannot vote. At this very moment we need to #PrayforReform that Mr. Boehner will allow a vote to come to the House floor.

___________________________
Kathia Pereira is an Immigration Attorney, and a well-known immigrant advocate in Las Vegas. She has dedicated the last 10 years to educate the Hispanic immigrant community about immigration laws and their consequences.

You can follow Kathia on social media:
Facebook: Inmigracion al dia-Lic. Kathia Pereira
Twitter:  @lic_kp

American Exceptionalism by Jim DeMint


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“America is an exceptional nation—that is, one like no other, not just now but in history—because it is dedicated to the universal principle of human liberty… This is grounded in the truth that all men—not just Americans—are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights by their Creator. As a British admirer of America, G.K. Chesterton, once put it:

‘America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.’

We are, in other words, not a nation based on ethnicity, but on beliefs, and not coincidentally, that is why we attract people of all ethnicities and they become proud Americans.”

AmericansCreed

#Leading a Thriving #Organization


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Organizational executives, managers and leaders have good intentions to create thriving organizations that reflect their vision and mission for successful outcomes in the marketplace. Over the years, I have had the privilege to work for many organizations in various capacities; as an employee, a middle manager, a pastor, an executive, as a coach and marketing consultant. In other words, I have seen the internal dynamics of how organizations are managed and led; some thrive whiles others struggle to survive. To accomplish this monumental task of building a thriving organization it will take an organization to understand and embrace the four pillars of a thriving organization, which are simply strategy, synergy, structure and systems. Let’s start with the first critical layer of strategy.

1. Strategy

The original meaning of the world strategy reveals the “art of the General”, which implies the General’s broad grasp of the craft of warfare based upon years of acquired acumen and intuition from experiences on the battlefield. We can break down this art form into to three layers: hindsight, insight and foresight. Likewise, those in positions of mid to higher management in an organization have years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom derived through their education, exposure to people and events within an organization, and past experiences on the job. The accumulated wisdom of these employees is critical for tapping into new strategic methods for success.

Strategy is the sum of two parts: it’s your acumen and your approach. Strategy is melding what you already know and how you will go about executing what you know. Strategy, however, fails on many accounts. The most critical one is the lack of collaborative imagination that keeps many organizations operating in the dark at mediocre levels. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, understood the power of collaborative imagination. His wisdom was and is today second to none; the biblical narrative notes a person like Solomon will never be matched again, so listen carefully! King Solomon provides our culture today with a great Tweet tucked away in Proverbs 24:6:

Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”

Can you imagine tapping into the combined acumen, intuition and experience of many advisors? So why don’t you take an assessment of the creative members on your team and begin to tap into their combined wisdom for strategic advantages and advances in the marketplace. The wisdom is all around you… are you listening?

2. Synergy

One lazy afternoon, on my day off, I went to the afternoon matinee to see the movie Pitch Perfect. It simply amazed me on many levels! It wasn’t the humor, although I had a load of laughs. It wasn’t the brilliant singing that caught my attention although it was American Idol on Steroids. The main message for me was how a singing team formed and fermented into greatness. Let me see if I can sum up the important snippets of the movie that helped me see how teams form to create dynamic energy and synergy:

1. Pride was present at first since the old guard did not want to give up their place or stature on the team. So they resist anyone trying to introduce new ideas, which will improve the team’s performance.

2. Then there is friction between the old guard and the newcomers since the new ideas being offered are better than the old ones. It’s takes some time for the old guard to realize their methods have become obsolete.

3. Thirdly, the old guard finally accepts reality and realizes it needs to adapt and change. They are now willing to make some accommodations to make the team better.

4. And finally, the team comes together to implement the new ideas. There’s a dynamic shift in team culture and performance.

Synergy is hard to create but when it is present it is dynamic and energizing. When a team creates synergy it begins to release that corporate magic many organizations long for. How do we know when synergy is present? It is evident when optimum energy is released and dynamic synergy is increased.

3. Structure

Every organization is structured in a unique way. Some structures are more rigid than others, such as the military and Law Enforcement agencies, while other organizations tend to adopt a more fluid and flexible approach. “By structure, we mean the framework around which the group is organized, the underpinnings which keep the coalition functioning. It’s the operating manual that tells members how the organization is put together and how it works. More specifically, structure describes how members are accepted, how leadership is chosen, and how decisions are made.”[i]

The structure solely depends on what your organization wants to accomplish. For instance, let’s take two examples from nature to make my point. An eagle and a duck are structured quite differently from one another since they have different purposes to perform. One is meant to fly in high altitudes, and to dive at fast speeds to catch unsuspecting prey by surprise. Eagles like to be alone most of the time; they are the kings of the air. While a duck is given webbed feet to navigate through the water, and tightly knit feathers to keep them warm in cold climates. Ducks like to fly in teams, and work together to fly long distances.

Each bird has a particular function to play and purpose to fulfill. These distinguishing features provide you and I insight into the roles they perform in their respected environments.

Let’s take another example from nature. What about a tree? An Oak tree has a firm base extending to the general body. It is immovable and strong. Then as the branches move out they thin out and become more flexible, bending by the wind, even with the subtle breeze. Structures in organizations should have a stabilizing structure but should also allow flexibility is some areas of the organization to accommodate quick changes.

4. Systems

Systems are like highways that connect motorists to interchanges, intersections and bridges, which provide a proper flow of traffic so that people can get to places in an efficient manner within a specified time frame. Let me provide you a personal example:

I remember a time when our church fed thousands of inner city people on a Saturday afternoon. At the time, our church had an extraordinary cook on staff that was once Donald Trump’s private Chef (and you know Mr. Trump is a pretty picky guy). Anyway, when it came time to feed the multitudes, I just happened to walk into the kitchen area where I overheard the Chef say, “This is how we are going to take the food out to feed the folks.” To shorten my story, he had adopted a system with six steps before the people could even receive their food on the table. I thought to myself, “This process or system is going to take forever. We can do better?” So immediately, I took the Chef aside and advised him of a more efficient way. After I made it sound like it was his idea, he adopted the new system. The result of this simple change in the flow of food delivery was that everyone was happy, from the volunteers who had to serve the food, to the Chef himself, and the multitudes receiving our compassionate services for the day. All it took was a simple change to the “system”, which provided more efficient outcomes.

Systems should be made simple, but most people make them more complicated than they should be. The Chef in this situation had extraordinary skills but he lacked the basic skills of how to deliver his product efficiently.

What area above is the weakest in your organization? Which one is the strength of your organization?


[i] An Organizational Structure: An Overview. http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1092.aspx, accessed on 4/7/2013.

People Are Not Illegal


by DANIEL GARZA

Farm workers have long been an important and enduring fixture of the American experience. Yet far too many Americans, unsympathetic to the damage words can have I suspect, will refer to the 48 percent of those who farm work in the United States in violation of our immigration law as “illegals”.  We’re better than that, aren’t we?

Today, the impolite label is ubiquitous – it’s in newspapers and magazines, it’s used by pundits on political talk shows, it spews from the mouths of babes, and uttered by the office water cooler whenever the issue of immigration reform comes up.

My guess is that some of us use the term out of obliviousness – we hear the label so often from others it simply becomes an apt moniker. We do it to others too. Devout Christians, particularly people who express faith publicly like Tim Tebow and George Bush, are deemed fair game for similar “acceptable” disparagement by the public.

Or, some unconsciously opt for the moniker because it subtly dehumanizes and renders them as lesser than ourselves, as if to spare us from having to consider that their dreams and aspirations are equal to ours. You see, if they were, equal that is, it would make all the difference.

Currently, there are two million farm workers – the majority of which hail from Mexico – and despite the disparaging treatment they receive, they nevertheless quietly continue to make personal sacrifices and vital contributions to the America economy. These sacrifices range from separation from their countries of origin, families, and cultural ties to working the most challenging and rigorous jobs, under the most difficult conditions, and for the least reward.

I myself was raised playing under the shadows of orchard trees and in the long rows of sugar beets on days there was no school until I was old enough to labor alongside the family – at 14 years of age. While working the fields, I probably witnessed U.S. Border Patrol Agents make sweeps for unauthorized laborers about a dozen times. Men in dark green uniforms and gold badges would pour out of a convoy of government vans and trucks just before alarming screams of “la migra!” would permeate under the canopy of fruit trees – chaos would immediately ensue.

Desperate men and women, some gripping their children in a tight hold, would scramble and scurry every direction to evade capture – and subsequent deportation. We would stand by our ladders, in stillness, waiting patiently for my father to explain to the first agent that approached “It’s okay, we are U.S. citizens” (to their credit, they always believed him).

All at once, I was struck by feelings of resentment, confusion and helplessness. My instincts were to intervene, to object or obstruct. But one, especially one so young, resigns to the way things are because, well, that’s the way things are. That is, constant evasion, anonymity, and invisibility is a way of life for those “living in the shadows”– the implied price one pays for a shot at opportunity.

It is a way of life that takes its toll.

I recall on one occasion a fellow worker walked over to dad, said he decided he would be moving back to Mexico after five years of hard living in the United States. Overworked, poorly paid, unappreciated, and tired of living in the shadows, he said he had had enough. My dad placed his hand on his shoulder, held it there for some time, and wished him well. He was gone by the end of that week never to be seen again.

In the fall of 1987 dad himself determined to leave the fields for good and open a business. After thirty years of being paid the prevailing wage, he had no retirement, no health plan, no vacation or sick leave days accrued, and no retirement party. Quietly, without fanfare, we got in our car one day after filling the last bin of apples and moved on.

Although the world didn’t stop to mark the milestone, it was a great day for our family. Days of arduous farm work were now be behind us, and soon to be added to the middle class rolls, our family was better off for it.

There are scores of incidents and other memories I hold that speak to the adversities faced by farm workers which give me reason to be grateful, every day of my life, to those who continue to slog, toil, and sweat under the elements – day in and day out – mostly sight unseen.

What is more, few concede the Nation’s need for agricultural labor is indispensable. Listening to those who call for mass deportation, you would think fruits, vegetables, and meats magically appear on store shelves, and at cheap prices – and always will. You would also think there is a long line of aggrieved Americans, upset their farm jobs were taken from them. Neither assumption is true.

Ignoring that seeds must be planted; fields must be cultivated, saplings must be irrigated, fruit trees must be pruned, and blossoms must be thinned; that fruits and vegetables must be fumigated, kept warm from the cold, picked, sorted, packed, stacked and transported by hundreds of thousands of people; some would deport the very people that do these things tomorrow if it was feasible without fully grasping the economic consequences of such an act.

And there are other menial jobs they do such as roofing, mowing lawns, dishwashing, milking, cleaning horse stables, and adult senior care to name a few that do not get as much as a nation’s thanks. They do them anyway. Even as we scapegoat them when the economy goes bad, when job numbers dip, and federal spending skyrockets.

Yes, I know, twelve million are estimated to be in violation of our immigration law, and I agree it is an undesirable condition. It’s not an excuse; the term “Illegals”, when used to label otherwise good, decent, hardworking people criminalizes the person, not the illicit action he or she committed. As has been said by others; humans are not illegal, what they do is illegal.

Rather, with astonishing ease and comfort many refer to them as “illegals” while their children stand listening close by. Actually, I cannot think of another group of American children exposed to more cruel disdain of their parents – and we call them “anchor babies” to boot. Have we not felt the sting of being a walking, living target of someone’s contempt?

Americans have expressed ongoing disagreements over immigration since the nation’s founding, and there is little doubt the debate will continue long after we’re gone. This piece is not an attempt to persuade you to advocate for or against immigration reform, it is solely a call for a respectful dialogue.

I know Americans to be the kindest, most compassionate people on earth. The stain of slavery –which had existed for thousands of years- was obliterated by us. When totalitarianism threatened to take over the world, we stopped it. And I’m convinced we have the moral fiber to solve the ethical challenges of our time.

By all means, voice your convictions regarding immigration reform, it is, of course, your right. But regardless of where you stand on the issue, my hope is that as Americans, we examine empirically and collaboratively what is socially, economically and politically most advantageous for our country without reverting to condescending pejoratives. It adds no value.

Immigrants to America have always shown a strong work ethic, a deeply rooted commitment to provide for their families, and have always been ardent defenders and valuable contributors to our free market system. These are virtues the vast majority of us share as Americans, and more importantly, as fellow humans.

Daniel Garza is Executive Director of the Libre Initiative. Previously he was deputy director in the Office of External Affairs at the White House.

The Fatherless Epidemic


Challenges

What is fatherlessness anyway? Fatherlessness is simply the absence of a father’s influence in the lives of their children. Fatherlessness ranges from mere absenteeism, neglect or ineptness to parent effectively. For example, it has been discovered that when a father leads the way spiritually that 93% of family members are likely to follow him, as opposed to only 17% of family members when a mother attempts to take the same spiritual role. This is a significant finding and confirms the role, authority and influence a father possesses over his family. Fathers in the Field, an organization dedicated to mentoring fatherless boys claims:

Some 24 million boys are growing up fatherless in America – Nearly a third of all American children are born to unmarried parents; the numbers are even higher among poor, minority populations – 40% among Hispanics, and 70% among African-Americans.”

As you can see fatherlessness is rapidly rising among Hispanics, and consuming the African-American community. Unless we get serious about this cultural epidemic, fatherlessness will continue to disrupt the family and devastate communities, perhaps even bring our culture to its demise. Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift notes:

Enduring cultures have strong bonds across the generations. In contemporary American culture, we’re seeing those bonds dissolve rapidly, in the span of a single lifetime.”

Dr. Sax is referring to the generational bonds between grandfathers, fathers and sons. This trend of generational disconnect in our society is showing significant signs of cultural decline. The following statistics from Fathers in the Field website should alarm you:

1. Fatherless children commit 72% of adolescent murders.
2. 70% of juveniles in reform institutions are fatherless.
3. 67% of state prison inmates come from fatherless homes.
4. 60% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
5. 30% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
6. Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
7. And, 11 times more likely to exhibit violent behavior at school.

It is for these reasons and other unseen factors that we should pay more attention to the fatherlessness issue in our society, but just how do we begin to address this epidemic? Dr. Sax provides the following insight:

To become a man, a boy must see a man. But that man doesn’t have to be his father. In fact, ideally, it shouldn’t be only his father. Even if your son has a strong father or father figure in his life, he also needs a community of men who together can provide him with the varied models of what productive adult men do.”

So where do we find this “community of men”? Many high profile athletes who were considered “role models” have abdicated their leadership role in the area of providing the leadership to inspire a generation of young boys by scandals of infidelity, drug exposures and boyish antics on public television for all to see. These examples of fallen heroes and others from admired professions force us to turn somewhere else for answers.

What solutions can you offer to curb the “fatherlessness epidemic” in America today?

Updated article, previously published on Ezine Articles on 3.19.2010