Charles Ramsey – A Real American Hero?

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“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she homeless, or she got problems. That’s the only reason she run to a black man.” And with those words Charles Ramsey is thrust into stardom. From the tube to YouTube is colored with Charles Ramsey candor. His rugged charm is inescapable. Thoughts – unvarnished. Feelings – unfiltered.  Charles Ramsey is raw to the bone. I think this is one of the appeals of Charles Ramsey.

Without diminishing the fact that 3 women who were rescued from 10 years of hell in a home dungeon, out of the grips of a ‘mad man’, Ariel Castro, I want to focus on Charles Ramsey’s claim to fame. It is not that he sought fame, but it is more conferred on. We the viewers claim him as our knight in shining armour who performed this heroic feat. He is the people’s knight – unassuming and unabashed. Far from the mythic character that we usually see of our heroes, this “Dark Knight” does not come to us as a heralded doctor, shrewd lawyer, or courageous firefighter. He comes as simply the guy next door – the guy or gal that we always want to be but feel ashamed to be outside our home.

The pressure to live up to be someone who you are not can be very deflating – no doubt imprisoning. Where all the images you see in the media are people with the million-dollar smile, suave hair do, and picturesque career of an entertainer, the allure builds to take on the mythic persona: beautiful, strong and flawless. Unfortunately, beauty is fleeting; strength is taxing; and flawlessness is elusive. Nevertheless we pursue these elusive qualities, and the bars within are strengthened. The inner imprisonment is lengthened.  Charles Ramsey is our momentary breath of fresh air from a regular hero. He is our hero, akin to John Hancock, to help release us.

You remember the 2008 film Hancock where Will Smith starred as a bumbling superhero? We may have chuckled a bit when hearing that term: a bumbling superhero. It seems so oxymoronic. Superheroes are supposed to be perfect, sober and virtuous. In a word: godlike. They meet Plato’s idea of the Ideal. Hancock is definitely not, and so is ours.

Charles Ramsey is a figure that runs and flies against our contemporary norms. Unconsciously, this is what we are seeking, and maybe Charles Ramsey is a valve to let us release this pressure – a pressure to perform to an unattainable standard. Thus, we are drawn to Charles hearty laugh, folksy persona and Black jargon. We are drawn to his frankness. Yes, we are drawn to him. We finally find a hero, our GI Joe who says what is on his mind; who bears his chest; and who could care less what others may think of him. He is not a devolved Neanderthal but an involved human who saw an opportunity to love beyond his comfort zone and help those resilient women out of the Castro house of horrors. So he speaks. We listen. This is what we yearn to be, but many of us are imprisoned and would like to be set free. Free to be…free to be like Charles Ramsey – our American hero!

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Love – A Cause Worth Dying For!

I remembered talking to a woman about marriage not so long ago. The woman indicated that she thought about getting married a few times in her previous relationships. At the end, she decided against it, because she wanted to live life still. I replied to her that marriage is not about losing freedom. However, I concurred there are few things that one would have to give up, because a new life is taken on so to speak. I asked her if she is with someone presently and she replied yes. I sensed from her reply that there is a desire for marriage and beginning a family. However, there were some reservations holding her back, because of her view of marriage. Her view (and many others) of marriage is the phase of life where one settles down to have children. I indicated to her that she should not view marriage as a time to just settle down by virtue of a marital certificate. Marriage however should be viewed as the courageous life that you are willing to pursue, fight, and love for the lover’s sake.

The only way you will know that you are ready for marriage if you are willing to literally die for your partner – your love. If you (or your partner) cannot say that, you should continue to live your free life, because you maybe are just wasting your time (and tax-payer dollars for a divorce). A marriage of that nature would be – at best – unfulfilling and worst – ending in divorce.

Let me clarify what I mean by dying for your partner. They are seen in the countless stories of police officers that get wounded in the line of duty to save the innocent who are in danger; firefighters who literally jump into burning houses to save the lives of the faceless; and soldiers who throw their bodies on landmines to save the wounded from the enemy’s camp. These are courageous men and women who put their bodies on the line. Many suffer paralysis, burns, sickness and death because of their love for people. They are willing die for people who they do not know – strangers. How much more of a burden for us who are in an intimate relationship? Are we willing to die for our love?

Please understand that the spotlight of intimacy shines at its brightest during the scenes of courage and selfless acts between lovers. In the face of bullets of criticism, the torpedoes of insult, and the bombs of rejection from your hostile love does not change the fact that the cause still remains great, significant and worthy. This leads to the critical questions: Am I ready to be hero/heroine when the spotlight is on me? Will I give of myself at all cost? Would I put my body on the line for my love till the point of pending death? This is the test for marriage readiness – nothing more, nothing less. It is the ability to translate the heart of a soldier into this fragile and sensitive world of relationships and marriage. If I am willing to do the extraordinary, these consistent and ordinary acts of kindness will be always possible:

1)     Walking away from quarrels and fights in order to find peace with one another.

2)     Giving your partner affection during times of mutual discomfort or fatigue.

3)     Encouraging your partner to spend time with their friends who are positive to their life.

4)     Creating days of undivided attention for your partner.

5)     Getting involved in your partner’s activity that you might not always enjoy doing.

6)     Resisting the urge of being unfaithful to your partner.

7)     Endeavoring to see the world from your partner’s point of view.

Here is the principle to remember. If I am willing to do the more challenging and courageous act of dying for my partner, then every other selfless act or sacrifice becomes trivial with respect to the magnitude of dying.

I want you to imagine this with me. Put your hand on your heart. Feel it beat for a minute. Imagine if your heart was not beating. Would you agree nothing else matters then? You are aware if that heart stops beating at any point; your life is at the cusp of death. Similarly, if you believe your partner is your heart but they are not beating for you – guess what – you are having a heart attack. If your partner does not beat for you, your relationship will eventually wither and die. Again, nothing else truly matters then. The same is true with you. I ask you to remember this connection, because no heart lives for itself. It shares its life and many ways gives up its life for the body to grow.

Relationship especially marriage is the school where we are taught the unending course of selflessness. It is the profession that we learn to risk our lives, so love can live. Now I ask you… are you willing to die for your love to always live? Simply, is it a love worth dying for…soldier?

~ Written By: Denley McIntosh

P.S.

I think about the tragic shooting in Colorado as a contemporary and evocative example where we heard surreal tales of heroic and sacrificial effort mightily exuded through “ordinary” men and women to protect their beloveds from death’s door. Seeing and feeling the pain of death has not beclouded the light of love refracted through the prismatic stories of these courageous individuals. I must say, within the dissonance of the pain and sadness, it was beautiful to hear the love these fallen had died for. My heart goes out to them and others alike.

 

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Diverse…But Not Included

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I was at a university situated in Toronto to speak to youths on the importance of pursuing post secondary education. After a long morning of speaking and fielding questions from high school students, I had the opportunity to play a little “hooky” and wander the busy university halls near the auditorium where the youths huddled for their final pep rally on education success. During my meandering, I came across a booth that was set up to address racial diversity and equity. The young woman working the booth was possibly in her late twenties. “Terri” as I will call her – was culturally mixed of West Indian origin (but predominantly an Indian background). As a university non-faculty employee, she engaged me about her work on diversity and racial equity, which I found fascinating. As she pulled me over to her booth to show me more information, I felt compelled to converse with her to understand her background and passion about this important area.

Suddenly and without a moment’s notice, there was a loud blare of hip-hop music. The heavy-bass sound came from rowdy hall where the youths were unwinding for the day. My impromptu lecturer ended class on me prematurely by strutting to meet her female friend to hear what was going on. As I stood there – a little caught off guard and feeling small because I couldn’t compete with the swagger of tunes from Jay Z and the like – I thought Terri would return to finish the conversation. If that was too difficult, I thought maybe she would say excuse me, politely end our conversation and perchance, include me in the conversation about the raucous. Unfortunately for me, she did not return; but lapped up the excitement with her colleague leaving me EXCLUDED from the fun. As I rode the afternoon train home, I pondered the morale of that odd situation. I arrived on the fact that she advocated for diversity but did not practice the art of inclusion.

Inclusion should be the goal of diversity. Contrarily, exclusion of inclusion makes diversity an ends in itself but not a vehicle to develop dialogue and build community. As virtues precede ethics/legality – analogously – inclusion precedes diversity. You cannot build an embracing community on social ethics but on virtues (some might even call it grace). Ethics only sets the parameters of relationship but not the temperature as virtues would provide. Inclusivity, the virtue of love in expression, would be the warmth for cultivating relationship.

What is the difference between inclusion and diversity you ask? Diversity, simply, is the state of having plurality of company (age, gender, race, ability etc.) within a group of people. Inclusion is the ability to create a home within your heart for that plurality of company. It is the ability to create space for the heterogeneity of values /experiences in others, and allows that person to come in and sit so to speak. You are mindful of their uniqueness and are willing to engage them for greater level of understanding. The byproduct of this inner exercise is the plurality of the company you keep – hence social diversity. In fact, the plurality of company is a condition for diversity of age, gender, race, ability etc.  I fear that diversity that is practiced by many ardent subscribers is one of ethics and not of relationship.  They practice diversity to feel good about themselves, because they are part of the ‘movement’ of social change. Unfortunately, this is self-centered and not other-centered, which is the real goal of loving inclusion.

When Terri walked away and carried out her fun without me, in my presence, she reminded me that we all practice exclusion in subtle ways. This happens daily I would say. It could be predominantly a group of men, which focuses on male talking points excluding women from engaging. It could be predominantly a group of white women that focuses on their issues, which excludes minority women from inputting. It could be predominantly group of Indians or Asians that excludes other co-workers from understanding through language.  It could be even certain activities or events we coordinate at work, at church or in the community, which inevitably eliminate those who we do not want to include. (It is covered up with the word Oops or “I’m sorry”.) Was I shut out from the aforementioned discussion with woman and her friend because I was a man? Or was I shut out because I was outside of their age group and social sphere?

Did I approach Terri at the end to let her know about her poor manners? I did. The only thing she said was sorry, she did not seem concerned to re-engage in our conversation. I recognized she said enough, and I should move on. I will not find inclusion in her space – at least not now.

Now you may be saying that I’m being hard on Terri. Possibly, but her unique role as advocate for diversity/equity lent well to the illustration and its morale. Diversity is not enough, but we need inclusion as well. We must practice inclusion by being aware of the fences that we erect around the presence of unique company. If we do not care, we will just have a force-and-synthetic mixture of people with no organic-and-genuine connection to each other. Simply put, diverse but not included.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

 

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Judges in High Chairs: Assessing Our Critique of the Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Altercation

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I was sitting at the kitchen table feeding my 9-month old son some yummy homemade apple-pear sauce, as he sat in his high chair.  Prior, we had an entertaining food fight with the squash I fed him that he promptly spat on me when he decided he had had enough of the stuff in the green bowl.  He started to get restless, voicing his democratic right to reject the food that was painstakingly prepared for him. As he played out his version of the Hunger Games, I recognized this war of food was not going to get me anywhere, so I replaced his squash with apple-pear sauce in his green bowl. As I started to feed him the apple-sauce, which he usually enjoys, he contorted and dodged the spoon with his desert. With much tactical precision, I finally cajoled him to take his desert. While I was feeding him with a mixture relief and agitation, I pondered why he rejected the food he loved so much. Then, it donned on me. He saw the green bowl and jumped to judgment that I was coming back to feed him some more squash.  My son was making a snap judgment on the basis of seeing the bowl instead trusting his all-wise dad.

 My son is not the only one who make snap judgments, but many well educated adults take posture of my son sitting in his high chair, making critical, unwise judgments and spitting ‘squash’ on the accused. We act in many times as a judge in a high chair.  

The simple (and amusing) scenario with my son communicates a very profound truth. When we make snap judgments, we show our immaturity and yes, childishness in not getting essential facts. We act like judges in high chairs. We see the color of the bowl and jump to an erroneous conclusion. The color of the bowl is not a metaphor on race but it includes it. The color of the bowl represents the fact that our perception can be skewed on the content of the situation.  Just because we have ‘seen it before’, it does not mean we have seen it before. I think that is one of the lessons that are emerging for us analyzing and critiquing the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman deadly altercation. Many of us are not checking our Mr. and Ms. False Perception before they walk in the door with their baggage of lies. The typical outcome is that we clothe ourselves with these lies and maltreat people accordingly to match the wardrobe of the day.

Malformed judgments were not something new. I was reminded when Jesus of Nazareth encountered many judgmental people who jumped on every opportunity to disrespect and condemn flawed people for their errors and/or crimes. Irrespective of circumstances, including racial disputes, Jesus spoke out and warned judgmental people need to temper their attitude even if they had “all the facts.” They must not set themselves up as a judge but a friend of humanity.  Was Jesus overlooking crime or injustice? No! We ought to pursue justice, not as avengers – but as peacemakers as He would exhort. This role viewed and still views justice as a means to bring peace, as best possible, to all parties, which includes victim and victimizer. (The victim’s family stands in the place of the victim if they are deceased.)

 It appears that peacemaking seems to be a far cry to the commentaries (and commentators) that we hear and see on the various forms of media. Why? Because we have the tendency to “call it the way it is” based on our own opinions absent facts. Who does not want to play the role of Judge Judy or Joe Brown? In all honesty, it is fun capitalizing on human frailty in others and exercising it in ourselves.

So how do we avoid judging or drawing poor conclusions about others? I acknowledge that it is hard but if I will offer an acronym to help us in this matter. The acronym is J.U.D.G.E.  Something that I wish Piers Morgan and Touré were able to consider in averting the messy verbal tussle on air via Piers Morgan Tonight.1  

JJump back. Whenever we hear a case, we should be aware that our tendency is to form an opinion as a reflex. We should restrain ourselves from doing so and take a mental jump back from false conclusions. This is the first and critical step. If this is not done, there is no way that we will make it to the last of letter/step in J.U.D.G.E. dealing with the right behavior.

UUnderstand. This implies searching for the facts and listening with an open mind. Many people were calling Mr. Zimmerman a racist, which may not be so. One can demonstrate racist behavior or prejudice but does not mean one’s a racist. We should endeavor to understand the situation as completely as possible.

DDeliberate. A sincere intent to reason and reflect on the facts to discover truth is crucial. This reasoning cannot be done in a vacuum but through informed dialogue and reading credible sources. As we reason through the facts and arrive at cul-de-sac in our thinking, we can let our biases fill in the gaps or become the bridge toward an end, which is only a dead end.  Indeed, our biases are usually a ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’

G – Guard against. This reminds us that our opinions are not gospel and subject to change. Also, we recognize that we cannot demean people who are clearly in the wrong.  We must recognize hatred, bitterness, and malice seeps out and shows the world our toxicity and ugliness, which ‘make-up’ cannot cover. We must guard against the attitude of condemnation for no one wins.

 E – Express respectfully. After all the inner wrestling to determine wheat from chaff, truth from fiction, we are communicating our conclusions in a fair and courteous manner especially to those who disagree with our views. We do this always with a posture of a student who is willing to still listen and learn at the feet of truth. We desire to express our best side and not the ugly within. Our behavior leads to justice and peace as the transcendent goal.  

Saying all this, am I negating the possibility of discrimination or everyday racism? Nope, it was clear listening to the 911 tape of Mr. Zimmerman speaking that bias was present. Am I denying there was a possibility institutional or organizational racism? Nope, it was clear that the Sanford Police force has a track record for unjust treatment of Black offenders compared to other races. Am I tempted to label and malign George Zimmerman as such a vile human being? Yep, the urge is there. However, I was reminded that what goes around comes around. Or as Jesus would put it, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 2 Thus, I am compelled to restrain my rabid tongue and malignant attitude toward him as best as I can for the Lord’s sake.

There may be some who feel that I am not supporting Trayvon Martin. I hope my readers are not ‘jumping’ to that conclusion. Like many other Black men, I have experienced racial profiling. Saying that, if we are going to be a judge, let us J.U.D.G.E. properly and accurately, unlike my baby boy. We can at least advance the cause for social change in a meaningful and open way – without the high chair.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

 

Sources:

  1. Piers Morgan & Toure Debate – http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/headlines/video-piers-morgan-toure-argue-trayvon-martin-killing
  2. Gospel of St. Matthew 7:2

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The Church…The Ultimate High Performing Team

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When you think about high performing teams, what comes to your mind: sports, business, maybe even entertainment? How about religion specifically churches? I can hear the choruses of “Yeah Right!” But wait – what if this is true? In fact, I argue that it can be true. Jesus expects a high performing team within His Church, which can mobilize to demonstrate compassion, justice, truth and wisdom in any society.1 I know the question on the lips of those who are committed or casual church-goers and may only know churches that are anaemic, scandalous, hypocritical or greedy: how is this possible? Let us think about this empirically.

A high performing team is defined as an organized group of people who work together to exceeded expectations in meeting goals or results. We have the examples of Apple thriving in the Great Recession, or the New York Giants that rose from a mediocre season to win Super Bowl XLVI. Christ followers, the Church, are God’s team who are called to work in unity and harmony to deliver on the goal of serving a hurting world. Many times, this is in the midst of great persecution within many parts of the world.

Meeting a hurting world is a profound goal, which can be only exceeded by high performance – when women and men follow Jesus’ leadership. In fact, there is no more critical service that can be offered than the Church who delivers on this heavenly service to its customer base, because of its enduring qualities. From delivering services like diversity training to building parenting skills, it is all part of the package that Jesus would require as CEO, whom Christians would refer to him as Lord. Being a Christ follower is having the opportunity to mutually develop a high performing team through focusing on their values and mission, being flexible and enjoying synergy. Let us see the parallel more closely.

High performing teams are value/mission driven  

In order for businesses to have ongoing success, executives require their employees to not only know their mission and values – but breathe it. The mission must move from the top floor of the head to the ground floor of the heart. It has to be lived, which is then imputed into company’s products and services. These team members are like migrating geese, which have an inner sense of direction of where the company is going. They always fly instinctively in an alignment.

Similarly, Christ followers are called to know the value and mission of Jesus’ enterprise. Loving God and all of humanity is the value. Bringing people to know Jesus as God and Saviour is the mission. This mindset is fundamental in the effort to deliver services or ministries that God requires the Church to do. The good the church has done like creating schools/universities, orphanages, relief organizations, and hospitals (not always mentioned in the Media) in times past and now, is a result of men and women whom are aligned with their values and mission.

High performing teams are highly flexible

In this age of being lean and mean, employees must not only have depth of knowledge and skill, they must have breadth. These workers must be competent in more than one role. They must be able to stop on a dime and switch hats as congruent with their natural abilities. The team, the business comes first, and employees do what they can to fill in the gaps (hopefully in their area of strengths). Remember the migrating geese example. Geese always rotate among one another with ease as they lead each other. What a picture of flexibility!

Like geese, Christ followers must not wear their roles within their church with arrogance and disdain, but allow God to shift their roles as needed to meet the need of their customer base – congregants and community. This means unique ministries being created to serve their respective society. From addiction ministries to career-counselling ministries, it requires team members within the Church to be knowledgeable and skilled, so they can shift with God’s leading. Christ followers are called to work toward the good of our society. Flexibility has allowed Christ followers to continue to do this.

High performing teams are strongly synergistic.  

Synergy means 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or 5 etc. It also shows chemistry among team members, which cannot be easily quantified or explained. I would say, at this level, the team members share a common feeling and intuition that synergy provides. Synergy is critical for teams to have extraordinary success. It is the glue that takes peoples and groups who are different and make them stick in effective manner. In fact, the literal meaning for synergy is together-work. When a group has synergy, it is like watching an extraordinary dance group or synchronized swimmers. There is a beauty and fluidity of the whole, which comes from the layers of individual interactions.

Jesus describes his Church as his physical body. More than a metaphor, Christ followers are the example of synergy with a cause. They are a unit of empathy. Where else will you find rich and poor working together, Black and White working together, or men and women working together? Or even better, where else would you find a mixture of all these groups working together? The Church embodies synergy, which demonstrates their high performance toward impacting communities for the good all over the globe.

People may dispute the correlation and say it is a stretch. So let me indulge the naysayers with this. Jesus took a group of lowly and obscure men and groomed, trained and discipled them, so they could lead a revolution in their day that is unparalleled even today: Men and Women who embraced the values and mission of service that were counter cultural; Rich and Poor who were flexible with their roles of service; and Jews and Gentiles who united synergistically to see each other as family. As a team, without weaponry and most without education and money, they turned the 1st Century Rome on its head – transforming the culture with their service to humanity. More, they created franchises, which are accurately referred to as churches all over the world and still expanding. No company, not even McDonald’s had duplicated that feat.

YFGC – a high performance church

Saying all of that begs this question. Beyond Western Churches (Europe and North America) who may not always live up to that charge, is there an example today of a high performing church? How about in the East? There is one prime example: Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC) led by Pastor David Yongii Cho in Seoul South Korea. This church is known to be the largest church in the world approaching 1,000,000 church/team members. The extraordinary thing about this church, YFGC is located in one of the most unlikely place for its success. It is in a country, South Korea, that borders the communist nation of North Korea, which is aggressively anti-Christian.

More, South Korea had a history of being strongly antagonistic to the gospel message within the 19th century. The antagonism was demonstrated by persecution of Christians to the point of death. Yet, almost 50 years in existence, the church had been able to grow in considerable size. The growth was not simply coincidental but intentional, because they focused on being a high performing church.

YFGC is value/mission driven

Right from the start Pastor Cho focused on having his team know the value and mission of Jesus and applied it in the South Korean context. YFGC had strong focus on both physical and spiritual healing. A focus aligned with Pastor Cho’s passion and personal experience of healing near the cusp of death from tuberculosis.2 He endeavoured to have healing realized among his flourishing church. Of course, the mission was to share the message of salvation or deliverance from sin and sickness, which was never forgotten. Moreover, YFGC would lead South Koreans to have an ever-increasing joyous relationship with Christ. When church/team members of YFGC experience this truth, with as much excitement and passion as Pastor Cho, these lay women and men would act on the values and mission to change South Korea and the world.

YFGC is flexible

YFGC’s growth was contributed by their cell group strategy. Cell group was a method of empowerment by decentralizing authority and responsibility to smaller groups within their local setting. It was a bottom-up form of leadership and management as oppose to top-down. (This would be analogous to the term of Kaizen in the domain of continuous improvement within business operations.) YFGC used small group who are well trained and discipled to impact their immediate community and find better ways of meeting their needs. They groomed future leaders in every cell group.  As they anticipated growth, the cell groups would split to be led by the leader-in-training.  YFGC flexibility was further enhanced by fostering an egalitarian environment. Pastor Cho utilized the gifting of women in roles that were traditionally available to only men. Pastor Cho’s cell groups were akin to an agile organization.

YFGC is synergistic

In 1958, the YFCF began in Seoul with 5 people: Pastor Cho, Choi Ja-shil and her 3 children. These were not wealthy or highly influential individuals. However, they were committed Christ followers who had an amazing chemistry to grow their church exponentially through simple door knocking of homes, committed service to the poor and heartfelt prayer for the sick. YFGC grew to 3,000 by 1964, 8,000 by 1968, 100,000 by 1979, 400,000 by 1984, and 700,000 by 1992.3 The exponential growth was a by-product of team members working synergistically. These members were not coerced into Pastor Cho’s church but loved to becoming a high performing church. The ministries established to meet education, poverty, and homelessness were a result of their synergistic efforts.

Final thoughts on the high performing church

Within 50 years, South Korea has evolved from anti-Christian nation to nearly half of its population becoming Christ followers who are experiencing the benefits of pursuing the values and mission of Jesus. (In fact, the movement elevated the status of Korean women who were treated as second-class individuals in the culture.4) Indeed these qualities of a high performing team are applicable to the Church as Pastor Cho has shown. Having opportunities to touch lives in every sphere of their existence has driven YFGC’s growth and has been the catalyst for the resurgence of other church affiliations i.e. Charismatic Catholics. To maximize those opportunities which Pastor Cho can attest, a high performing church requires Christ and His Spirit to be involved within the plan and execution. It is assumed that prayer and reflection is subsumed within any direction chosen. When that is done, great results is a natural by-product. Although there is no guarantee that our bosses or managers will recognize our high performance but we know that Jesus always will:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” 5

Is the Church perfect? Of course not – but are YOU able to “cast the first stone”? If hatred, jealousy, pride or un-forgiveness, have NOT coursed through your veins at anytime, then you are welcome to throw. Otherwise, how have you helped the church become all it can be? Or are you too preoccupied denigrating the team Jesus is continuing to build? What is the call to action for YOU and not the so-called hypocritical person you are thinking about? Let Jesus deal with them…but now He is talking to you, “follow me!”6

So if you are looking for a high performing team to join without barriers for admission, (re)consider the Church. Jesus is still recruiting. Give it a shot. It will change your performance and more importantly – your purpose in this world.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

Sources:

  1. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Matthew 10:15-17
  2. The Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dr. H Vinson Hynan, http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj2/synan.html
  3. Yoido Full Gospel Church page, David Cho Evangelistic Ministry site, http://www.davidcho.com/NewEng/bd-1.asp
  4. Young-hoon Lee, The Life and Ministry of David Yonggi Cho and The Yoido Full Gospel Church, http://www.apts.edu/aeimages/File/AJPS_PDF/04-1-YHLee.pdf
  5. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Mark 9:42
  6. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. John 21:19

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Saluting the Queen of Pop with a Single Finger – Welcome back Madonna

With every pom-pom shaking, skirt fluttering and child asking “what’s that mommy?”, millions of onlookers who stood as faithful and newly subjects were being ushered into celebration… or blush. The re-emergence of a pop diva was about to dawn along the horizon of the Gen Z  coastline, to rightly take her throne.  With Nicki Minaj acting as the messenger, Cee Lo  standing as court jester and M.I.A. giving the single-finger salute as sergeant-of-arms, Madonna took center stage to meet her blended generation of subjects. Although Madonna’s performance was not her best, the wave of her persona carried  the sizzling show to a mighty crest, sweeping us away from rushing to the Bud, the wings and the call of nature.

I must admit it was a colourful half-time show far exceeding the last few Super Bowl slumbers.  Come on –  what’s a half-time show without some drama? From the wardrobe malfunction of yesteryear to now the finger malfunction of yesterday, this half-time show got us talking. We pretended that we wanted a tame show, an absolute slumber. However, deep down inside, we wanted a wild show – an absolute slammer.

Some may say the M.I.A.’s act casted a negative light on the show. I would disagree. She served Madonna’s purpose as a servant in her royal court. M.I.A. lived up to her thug status with minimal detriment to Madonna ‘angelic’ status.  Her action was merely a decoy to distract us and remind us that the Material Girl is back.

I would say everyone won! M.I.A. was thrown back into the forefront reminding her fans that she is still a hard thugette after mat leave. Madonna was thrown back into the forefront scooping up X to Z generations with her ensemble cast. We won, the viewers, because we found a reason to waste time at work the Monday with idle chat without being reprimanded. Again proving the day after the Super Bowl  was one of the least productive days for a company. We also got a bonus to boot with the coming of Madonna to an altar…I mean a concert near you.

So instead of giving THE FINGER down for M.I.A., we should give her the thumbs up for making Elton John’s life more miserable.  Madonna emerged from the ashes of yesteryear while Elton can only sing the Circle of Life in a casino somewhere and pout at the roar of the lioness – Madonna, the Queen of the Pop Jungle.  We can only say welcome back.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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The DULLberry – How The Culture of Canadian Conservatism Has Helped Killed RIM Innovation


When I coined the term DULLberry to aptly describe what RIM’s BlackBerry has become, I had two thoughts in mind. Firstly, I imagine a business where innovation has been ‘taxed’  to point of dullness. Lastly, I thought about a product, BlackBerry, which symbolically demonstrates that enervation of innovation. It can be argued from both sides of the fence whether RIM/BlackBerry – in its current state – will thrive or dive. I would suggest it is hard to be definitive that one or the other will be. So I will lean toward a more moderate position, a middle ground and say that RIM will just – survive. I say this not because I have a lack of confidence in the new reign of leadership at RIM or I dislike the BlackBerry for I am quite content with mine. I say this because RIM is a prisoner within the country they reside. Canada is the fertile ground where the DULLberry is grown.

When I refer to Canadian Conservatism, I do not mean Canadians whom lean toward a political right-wing party. However, I am referring to Canadians whose first inclination are to stand pat and wait, and such resist fundamental change especially the way we do business in this global economy. Canadians  who spout off  ‘what’s wrong with RIM’, ‘why can’t they add this feature like the iPhone’, ‘why is my BlackBerry not like the Android…’, are smugly forgetting this aspect of their Canadian meta-narrative or just simply ignorant thereof. An incessant flow of innovation as if turning on the kitchen tap, unfortunately runs against the fabric of being Canadian.

Innovation requires a high-degree of risk. It speaks about uncertainty of the final outcome with your idea, your job, your brand, your reputation and yes…your business. Many Canadians and their companies are highly adverse to strong risk. Of course, risk aversion has its advantages. Our banking institutions have a financial system that is best in the world touted by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty (our counterpart to Timothy Geithner, the US Secretary of Treasury) and corroborated by the IMF. These economic pillars continue to withstand the quicksand of US sub-prime mortgages and their associated tentacles of financial instruments. Yet, it begets the question: do we have the best banking institution intentionally or incidentally? I would say incidentally. Our banks did not set out to be world’s best (as far as public branding goes). Their success in this regard is a by-product of Canadian Conservatism, which has helped anchor our economy from sinking into the abyss with those in Europe.

Now that’s the good news! Canadian Conservatism will keep us a float. What’s the bad news? It means Canadian Conservatism will just keep us a float. A key distinguishing feature between America and Canada is that Americans have a culture of risk-taking. From sending people to the Moon to sending people to war, these require a great deal of risk. When talking to the average American, there is a prevailing attitude of being number one. And they will prove why it’s so, courtesy of their politicians. American executives’ conversations are saturated with doing work differently – doing work better. Many tend to ask where is the next seminar on leadership, what cutting-edge knowledge can I scoop up to win or how can I grow my business and myself to the next level. To this mass of people, there is a hunger for going where no one has gone before. There is a insatiable hunger for innovation. These men and women will go and get it. That attitude is rooted in the American dream. It is part of their meta-narrative for better or for worse.

Many Canadians on the other hand will watch-and- wait and perform smoke tests on these innovations. If it does not blow up, then we will jump on board. If it blows up, we are seen as the wiser for sensible caution. (I would adapt Bobby McFerrin’s song of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to ‘Don’t worry, Be Cautious’ as our national ditty.) Now the drawback with that attitude is that it is hard for us as Canadians to be or stay number one in the realm of business. If it is endemic to our culture to have a wait-and-see attitude, how on earth do we expect our Canadian companies like RIM NOT to naturally drift toward that risk-averse attitude? If Canadian companies who are ran predominantly by Canadians and employ predominantly Canadians that come out of risk-averse culture, how will these individuals will all of sudden be something different than being Canadian?

This is my point. If RIM was an American company, I would dare to say RIM would be ahead of Apple. Quite simply, not because of leadership alone, but because they would have access to a cultural hotbed of risk-takers. RIM would be a microcosm of the daring American populous. The risk-taking attitude of the American culture will spill over into the work environment spurring on innovation. It is just inevitable.

I wish RIM all the best in their transformation efforts but just know, RIM has to buck the trend toward Canadian Conservatism… or risk being called DULLberry.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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