Leadership of Transparency and Compassion

I enjoyed a recent opportunity to speak with the CRISTA Leadership Team at our annual summit meeting.

Last week we gathered 93 of our leaders for our annual three-day training session. Every year, this is one of our most important events. We invited Bill Robinson, President Emeritus of Whitworth University, to speak to us about leadership. This topic selection came out of a critical look at feedback received from our staff. Our goal for the time was to, as the leadership group, become 100% transparent and clear about what we expect of ourselves as leaders and how we can communicate that expectation to the 2,000 staff serving so enthusiastically in each of our seven different ministries.

It will take a few months to finish the process and I will make sure to keep you posted via this blog. I am grateful for the unity and commitment God is building through these great leaders He has brought to CRISTA.

We ended the training with the below quote from Henri Nouwen that exemplifies the kind of leaders we want to be.

“Mostly we think of people with great authority as higher up, far away, hard to reach.  But spiritual authority comes from compassion and emerges from deep inner solidarity with those who are ‘subject’ to authority.  The one who is fully like us, who deeply understands our joys and pains or hopes and desires, and who is willing and able to walk with us, that is the one to whom we gladly give authority and whose ‘subjects’ we are willing to be. It is the compassionate authority that empowers, encourages, calls forth hidden gifts, and enables great things to happen.  True spiritual authorities are located in the point of an upside-down triangle, supporting and holding into the light everyone they offer their leadership to.”

More than ever, I am determined to continue building leaders of compassion here at CRISTA.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Striving to be a wise and attentive leader

Talking AND listening with World Concern President, Dave Eller at CRISTA's 2011 Summer Picnic

Talking AND listening with World Concern President, Dave Eller at CRISTA's 2011 Summer Picnic

Proverbs 1:20 “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.”

I can’t think of a better thing to seek after, or to pray for, than wisdom.  Especially if you are a leader who is called upon to make decisions every day.  In the first chapter of Proverbs, this verse outlines a simple truth—wisdom is readily available to us. She calls out every day in public places, she cries aloud on the street corners.  For many years I have struggled to understand this passage along with the many others like it in the great book of Proverbs. I had always thought of wisdom as a mysterious gift that God gives us. Even so, I somehow sensed this “mysterious” wisdom is probably not the whole picture.

More recently I’ve started hearing a lot about listening as a key trait of a leader. In reality though, this concept isn’t a new one for me. I have heard this for a long time and simply not recognized it as an essential component for every leader. The concept of listening even made the list of Dr. Steven Covey’s7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For me, the path to being a more attentive listener continues to be quite the journey.

One thing I am discovering is that listening well, comes from within—when we  develop a deep curiosity about other people’s perspectives, because we believe that each person is unique, valuable and has insights that we may not see immediately.  Most people will share their thoughts with you openly and freely if they believe you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and—now this is important—if you stick with the conversation until it is over.

This idea of truly listening presents a fundamental personal problem.  It is the lifelong battle between humility and pride. If you really care more about your own ideas, point of view, and feelings, it will be difficult to sincerely tune in to others.  Most of us struggle with pride. Give it up! Get over it! If you want wisdom, humility is the way to go.

So my take-away is that wisdom is readily available. Every place we go, we need to have our ears perked up and eyes wide open to start tuning in. Just as God speaks to us through other people; wisdom is calling us through others.

Wisdom is readily available if you want it!

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Can We Really Pray Without Ceasing?

Is praying without ceasing an unreachable aspiration or is it really possible?   

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This year our leadership staff and the board of trustees are reading through a book titled “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.  It is a daily devotional book subtitled “Enjoying Peace in His Presence”.  I find it simple and brief, but also profound and motivating. 

I have been spending more time early in the morning simply sitting quietly in His presence. I ask God to make me aware of His presence, will and direction in each matter I will encounter during that day.  As a result, my own interest in asking Him to bless my plans is fading away.  Every matter I encounter includes everything—the good and the bad.  

This clock stands tall on the CRISTA campus reminding us it is always Time to Pray

He is granting the requests of my prayers.  

These days most people multi-task.  Sitting in my office meeting with groups, or in one-on-one meetings, I find miracles happening through my own version of multi-tasking.  I’ve become more engaged than ever with the person I am meeting with, and at the same, talking to God in the stillness of my heart.  

I ask Him to allow me to see what is really going on in that specific conversation taking place, and how to be His ambassador.  I am finding great joy in doing so.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

 

CRISTA Looks Ahead to Week of Prayer

I believe 2012 will be banner year for CRISTA Ministries. We will begin the new year with a week of prayer, January 3-6.  As an organization, we are working to include each of our world-wide ministries. The week will start with a special devotion in the Schirmer Auditorium on the morning of Tuesday, January 3, and conclude on Friday, January 6, with prayer walks around the Shoreline campus.  Tuesday night you will find many of us gathering in Reimer Library for a prayer and fasting event from 5:00 p.m. until midnight. 

Our theme verse for 2012 is Colossians 3:1-3.  “If then you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  This verse reminds us we are raised with Christ and sit with Him at the right hand of God. Therefore we have access to heaven’s resources and strategies if we will agree with the scripture in 2012 and indeed access it.  Here at CRISTA, I believe this to be true too—that we can grow the Kingdom for Christ as an organization.  And if that is so, we can expect BIG things. God is not reasonable. He is lavish and does things on a grand scale. Therefore we should expect He wants us to do the same for His work at CRISTA.

The week of prayer’s primary purpose is not to simply collect a huge list of prayer requests for which to ask God to grant. Intercession and petition are very important, but first and foremost this is a week to remind us about our relationship with Christ, our calling to be in His presence every day, to worship and adore Him, and to ask Him to be the one who guides and leads us. We are seeking to know Him and His will regarding the focus for this year and to then ask Him for the desires of our heart. For CRISTA, there is nothing more important during this special week.

I hope everyone in our community will enthusiastically participate.  Many of our individual ministries will schedule prayer time with their team.  I hope the kids at each school will learn more about prayer, I hope all our senior residents set aside special times to pray, I hope our listeners in broadcasting in Washington, Canada and Texas will pray with us, I trust our staff at Camps will join in, as well as our overseas offices for World Concern and CVM.

The exercise of prayer is hard work. It takes commitment. It takes faith. It takes time. Whether you are a staff member at CRISTA, a volunteer, a church partner, or a donor—I encourage you to be part of this week by either participating in one of our events or simply finding time to spend with our savior, seeking His will.

Learn more about the CRISTA week of prayer specifics here.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Honoring the Christ-Like Character of Bob Reeverts

A long time friend and mentor of mine, Bob Reeverts (pictured right), graduated to heaven a few days ago.  I knew Bob and his wife, Ann, for 45 years. Bob was my Regional Director for Young Life in the Bay Area and later became the International Director for Young Life in Colorado Springs. More importantly, he was a relentless and loving warrior for Jesus every day of his life. I never knew a man who was more consistent in the character traits that reflect Jesus Christ, than Bob Reeverts.

The first year as my boss, he met with me every week. He would give me an assignment out of a little book he kept on growing in Christ, and had me return the next week—with my homework done and my bible verses memorized. It was a rich and life-forming experience for me. Now, I have in turn, had those same kinds of meetings  with over 30 young leaders, each time following Bob’s example of giving away what God has taught me.

Recently, I have been reading some about character and reputation.  Reputation is what others think of you (don’t worry about that). Character is who you really are and is built over a lifetime (this one can be tough, sorry about that!). Bob taught me the most important decisions I make are the ones when I am alone and nobody sees. Every action and every thought either builds or tears down our character. I couldn’t agree more, and often taught this lesson to my four boys.

At CRISTA, I hope we are known as people of character more than anything else. Character that radiates the love of Christ through the way we serve people. That is a legacy worth building.

 Bob Reeverts was a man of character. I will miss him dearly.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Why CRISTA Exists

Campers at CRISTA Camps left behind rocks representing the burdens that, thanks to God's transforming love, they will no longer carry.

I have been speaking to our employees and our supporters (customers and donors) about why CRISTA exists.  No matter the audience, the main component I emphasize is that CRISTA partners with God’s Spirit to work throughout the world, transforming lives of individuals—and as a result—the societies in which they live.

 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” This does not have to do solely with the transmission of information, but also includes incarnating the life and ministry of Jesus Christ to those we serve.

We not only explain the message, we are the message—how we live and how we treat others.  I Cor. 3:4-6 declares, “Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Because of the example given to us in Christ, we can move forward in confidence as we both tell—and live—the message.

I have the privilege of surrounding myself with front line servants in this work and in turn witnessing, often first hand, the outcomes of these transformations.

See some of these stories for yourself at crista.org.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Spiritual Discernment

Praying for God's hand and guidance in the lives of these King's High School Graduates

I have been thinking about spiritual discernment.  Most committed followers of Jesus are interested in doing what God wants them to do. It is also one of the questions I get often from young people, “What does God want me to do in this situation?”

Isn’t it true though, that this question extends beyond our youth? One of my biggest roles at CRISTA is to work with our Board of Directors to “discern” God’s will in the strategy we develop, and to then follow His leading in each individual decision we make.  In my quest to understand, I did what any smart person would do in this day and age.  I searched the internet. There is a significant amount of writing out there containing great information. Fortunately, I stumbled upon one particularly insightful page (www.spirithome.com), which I plan on using in my leadership role at CRISTA.  For your benefit, I shamelessly cut and pasted the valuable information here.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Bill Robinson’s Incarnate Leadership

I like to read books on leadership. There are so many out there today—including some with dramatically opposing views. One of my personal favorites though, is Incarnate Leadership by Bill Robinson, former President of Whitworth University.  It is published by Zondervan and well worth the read.   Plus it is short and straight forward.

I find it biblically insightful and applicable for leaders at all levels. Bill has included five chapters, each outlining a unique leadership principle.  Chapter one on  Minding the Gap, two on Leading Openly, three on Bending the Light, four on Living in Grace and Truth, and the last one on Sacrificing.

Reading ought to be about learning and learning ought to change the way we behave.  I meet weekly with the seven people that report directly to me.  One member of the group will lead us through a chapter each week. First, we focus on whether we really understand and believe what he is saying.  We then discuss what we can actually do in the week to begin to put these principles into practice.  The following week we return and report on what we did and how it went.  It is simple but really helpful.

We are all on a journey of learning. Be a lifelong learner!

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Famine. This is a word that most of us probably do not react to emotionally or understand rationally… but we should. It should strike fear in the hearts of all who care about their fellow man. Those of us who proclaim the name of Jesus should be particularly moved, but because it is so far aware from our everyday reality, we rarely are.

This Somalian woman just arrived at a World Concern compound. She walked 400 km to get there.

This Somalian woman just arrived at a World Concern compound. She walked 400 km to get there.

The United Nations declared a famine in parts of Southern Somalia on July 20, 2011.  Overall, the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Northeastern Kenya and Southeastern Ethiopia) is experiencing it’s worst drought in more than 60 years. According to the U.N., 11.5 million people are now affected by the draught, with 3.7 million (more than half the population of Somalia) being in need of humanitarian assistance. Acute malnutrition rates of Kenyan and Somalia  are the highest since 2003, reaching 47% among Somali refugees. 554,000 children (1 in 3) are malnourished in southern Somalia. Approximately 1,300 Somalia refugees are arriving in the Dadaab refugee camp in Northeastern Kenya every day.  The Dadaab camp which was built to hold 90,000 refugees, now hosts an estimated 380,000 displaced people. The head of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees described the current crisis as the worst humanitarian crisis facing the world today.

CRISTA’s World Concern has worked in Somalia for more than 30 years. We also currently operate well established programs in Eastern Kenya.

We will work on both sides of the boarder and provide:

  • Increased access to water
  • Emergency food rations
  • Vouchers to purchase food at local markets
  • Emergency medical assistance (working alongside Medical Team International).
  • Sanitation and hygiene

Right now we will target 10,000 people. What a privilege it is to bring love and concrete relief to these brothers and sisters.

Here is how you can help:

  • Donate immediately by phone at 1-800-755-5022.
  • Visit our website and donate online.  The main banner at the top will take you to the Horn of Africa landing page.  You can also go directly to www.worldconcern.org/crisis
  • Start a personal fundraising page.  Click here and involve your friends and families to be creative in their fundraising effort.

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries

508 Mentions on Rest

Kathleen and I just returned from a one-week vacation in Oregon. We stayed at Camp Sherman which is simply one building at the crossroads of some gravel roads, and lots of campgrounds and cabins. We rented a cabin right on the river with some lifelong friends. This is my kind of vacation! We had lots of conversation, fishing, good food, and naps.  As usual, I didn’t realize how tired I was. I am a Type A, Driver personality and never seem to be able to let my foot off the throttle. There is always so much to do both professionally and personally, and we never seem to have enough time to get everything done.  Does this sound familiar?

Coming back from my vacation I feel rested!  Not only do I feel better, and have more energy, it gives me a fresh outlook and enthusiasm for the days ahead. I took some time to look up the word “rest” in my computer program on the Bible. I discovered there were 508 references to “rest” in the bible in this particular program. So clearly, rest sounds like an important thing for us to keep in mind. From only the second chapter in the Bible, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (New International Version Bible, Gen. 2:2), to one of the most familiar in the New Testament, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). This concept pops up everywhere in the Bible. 

We need to rest so that we can listen to God. When we hear His voice, we need to obey so that we can get in line with what He is doing and what He wants us to do. It is not about us asking God to bless our plans, but instead about us getting in line with His plan and us drinking in His love. But… it starts with rest.

I am not sure if I really stressed enough how I feel today regarding the importance of rest. Go get some rest!

Bob Lonac

Bob Lonac
President & CEO
CRISTA Ministries