Hear ye, hear ye … I have just posted my first-ever book review on Amazon!
It is for UnLeader: Reimagining Leadership … and Why We Must, by Lance Ford (Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012). I received a review copy in September 2012 and read it then — and have peeked at it (and the stack of notes I wrote!) off and on ever since. I was planning to post a review last year, but other circumstances took over for a while and many things disappeared into that vortex.
However, what the time-lag added to the writing of my review was the reality that for 16 months, UnLeader keeps coming back to mind as really something extraordinary. I hope what I’ve posted will give a fresh and helpful perspective on grasping the value of what Lance Ford has produced, and the gift it is to the Kingdom. I also hope you will buy a copy, read it, and be changed by the powerful and empowering message that Lance Ford offers!
And here is that review … Continue reading
Dr. Barb Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors to complete a survey…
Six years ago, a friend blogged about Barb Orlowski looking for survivors of spiritual abuse to fill out a survey about their experiences and recovery. This was for Barb’s doctoral project. I participated – it changed my life!
Back then, the landscape of the survivor community was way less developed, and there was far less research available. Dr. Orlowski’s ground-breaking work deservedly got published in the book Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness (Wipf & Stock, 2010). All the while, she’s continued working behind the scenes to minister to survivors, get them connected, and provide new resources. Her compassionate investment in this marginalized community has made an incredibly positive impact for the Kingdom!
And now Dr. Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors for a new study. It uses a similar set of questions to her 2008 survey, but she is also looking to research how widespread spiritual abuse is. If you are a survivor and didn’t participate in her original study, please consider helping her with this one. I know from experience that it provides an invaluable opportunity to reflect carefully on what happened to us, and synthesize that with intuitive hunches about issues like:
- What made me susceptible to spiritual abuse?
- How do toxic leaders capture followers and then keep them under control?
- What process did I undergo to bring healing from those wounds by religious wolves?
I believe you’d find taking this survey helpful to you, too, if this is the right time for you to think through the destructive impact of abuse, and how reconstruction has been happening in your personal life. The invitation letter with details from Dr. Orlowski is below. Continue reading
Group work is already hard enough, especially when bringing together people from diverse backgrounds with a goal of pursuing actions for the common good. We need practical tools to help us reduce and resolve friction over differences, create integrity in our processes, and measure the qualitative and quantitative aspects of both our project impacts and their costs. But we do also need more …
Sadly, sincere people can inflict horrific damage, even while attempting to do good. In my 40 years of non-profit work and volunteerism, I’ve experienced far too many negative effects of abusive leaders, dysfunctional teams, toxic organizations, and wobbly collaborations. At their worst, these led to leader and/or volunteer burnout, unresolved conflict, emotional abuse, poorly conceived processes, absent procedures, preferential treatment of some, marginalization of others, irresponsible goals, failure to document or evaluate the legacy we’re creating, and gross waste of resources. It is an unfortunate irony that attempts at social transformation could prove so destructive.
I believe we can do better in doing good! That is why I chose to see the personal costs I paid in bad experiences as an investment toward creating an approach to doing good and doing no harm. I do not want to see happen to others what happened to me. Doing some good never makes up for inflicting simultaneous and significant hurts to recipients or participants. So, I’ve written this book with many original, integrative frameworks that explore sources of teamwork conflict and resources for healthy collaboration. I believe it will prove a powerful tonic to counteract change-project toxins … Continue reading
Someone working on a research project recently asked me for my definition or description of “spiritual abuse” and how I would “measure” the levels of abuse and recovery that a person experienced. I’ll get to that task eventually, as it is part of my own research work on metrics of transformation.
But, to answer my researcher friend, I realized that first I needed to figure out the contours of what makes a system conducive to either constructive growth or to harm. A quickee checklist of abusive actions would be meaningless for measuring the degree of destructive impact from spiritual abuse. At the least, a workable checklist needs a reasoned and relatively comprehensive theory behind it. If we’ve developed a clear context for said checklist, that makes it possible to interpret the abusive actions, not just observe their presence. And my intuitive hunch is that a systems approach will also make measurement more possible for the overall negative impact or positive recovery from abuse.
So, I started by mentally cataloging what I have concluded a “safe” and “healthy” environment looks like – and then how the elements in that system get corrupted through “abuse” and “power-lust.” I also ran all of that through the grid of the book I’m writing about how to measure the qualitative impact of personal and social efforts for transformation. (We too often look at only the quantitative elements, like dollars and hours spent and the number of people at our activities. But those really only indicate our investment in the opportunity to possibly make changes – not the changes themselves.)
This all meant my approach to what’s “healthy” needed to include frameworks I use, like paradigm systems and quadruple bottom line thinking for achieving goals for the common good. (The definitions of these frameworks come in earlier parts of the book, but I’ll at least sketch them out here.) So, what follows is the overview of safe versus abusive systems that came out of that process. It’s still rough and needs more work, but it’s getting there.
Huge news here. FINALLY – I have the first drafts done on the ENTIRE series of 6 books in my Opal Design Systems curriculum! It’s all about developing safe and sustainable transformational ministries in our postmodern, pluralistic, post-Christendom culture. This first-draft stage took 5 years for filing off the excess and writing to fill in gaps to make the series as accessible as possible, keep to the essentials, and amplify it with media (graphs, charts, graphic art illustrations, immersion learning exercises, and movie case studies that show the ideas in action).
Part of what kept extending the timeframe on the project was that I had to get all 6 books done at the first-draft stage before I could go back through in order, #1 through #6, for the last round of editing. (Even for people like me who are predominantly random in our learning styles, some things just do have to be done in sequence!)
So, after I complete a long and lingering list of small to-do items in the next few days, I’ll start the FINAL editing on Books #1 and #2 on July 10th. Planning to work part-time on them the next 4 months, getting them revised, reviewed, and ready for print-on-demand publishing.
NOTE: I will be off-line and unplugged a lot, from now through October. So if you email or message me and don’t get a quick answer, that’s why.
Hopefully, my next major update will have news on how to order these books! Meanwhile, thanks so much to those who have been praying I would have stamina and encouragement on this project, and to those who’ve supported me in many ways behind the scenes. I started this curriculum in 1991, I’m almost done, and now seems the timing is providentially ripe for the content to be relevant. Huzzah! Hoorah! Hooray!
And have a great summer all y’all …
The Fragmentation of Evangelicalism
and the Precipitation of the Missional Movement
Part Nine: How These Frameworks Play Out in Our Overall Attitudes, Styles of Interaction, and Community Connections
Review and Preview
In Parts Seven and Eight, we looked at two key issues in how the organizations we create either enhance or hinder discipleship.
- Access to Discipleship Systems – Is our entry/intake system radically inclusive, temporarily tolerant, or radically exclusive?
- Discipleship Activities – Is our discipleship system grounded in license, liberty, or legalism?
Another way to consider these concerns is how they work (or don’t) to keep people in the game, so to speak. Have we established an open system, a “centered set” that enhances cooperation around what the Holy Spirit is doing in someone’s life, to keep people engaged and cooperating with God’s principles and His providence? Or have we created a closed system, a “bound set” that creates a competitive environment to shut out and shun those who don’t measure up to “God’s standards” (a term we often use to hide our own idolatrous ideals)?
In Part Nine, we’ll look at some details of how these open or closed systems affect individuals, relationships for peers or partner organizations, and community dynamics – again, using images to illustrate the concepts. Continue reading