Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nupedia anyone?

Few people now know that the internet encyclopedia giant Wikipedia was actually preceded by Nupedia.

The key difference between the two was that Nupedia was designed for experts to submit articles, and had a 7 step review process before articles went live.  In its first year, the experts at Nupedia posted only 21 articles.  Not the type of encyclopedia that's very helpful.

Wikipedia started as a side project of Nupedia, a way to generate some more ideas and grow involvement.  But it quickly passed it by.  (Understatement!)  In its first year Wikipedia posted over 18,000 articles.

What changed?  Experts and reviews were no longer needed.  They took away the slowing "pinch-point" and it exploded.

What's the lesson?  It's almost scary to write this:  If you're the expert you might need to get out of the way.  You might be all about growth but have a "review process" that slows the growth you're seeking.

21 vs. 18000.  I'll let you decide.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Expecting a Tax Return?

I know not everyone gets a tax refund.  But for those of us that do, this is probably worth reading:

It's easy to think about your tax refund as a cash bonus from Uncle Sam that you can spend on whatever you want, but I'm not so sure that's a good and Godly response.

All of our money, wherever it comes from, belongs to God anyway.  And just like with our regular income, we should seek to honor God with 'lump-sum' incomes that come our way as well.  A few questions and points that may be helpful:
  • What percentage of your regular income are you giving away?  I would think about matching that percentage with your refund.
  • Do you have any pressing needs that this extra money can help you take care of?
  • Do you have anything you are (or should be) saving for?  
  • We shouldn't spend all of our tax refund at nice restaurants in April and then complain in June of not having enough money to buy beans and bread.
In general, the less impulse-ridden your money decisions are, the better.  So if you're expecting a tax refund, plan to honor God with it now, before it arrives.

Repost from March 2013.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Would you rather...

When I make a request of someone I'd rather receive a genuine and quick "No" than a half-hearted and delayed "Yes."

I'm not sure how I do in reciprocating that:  It's easier to stall and delay, or try to think of an excuse for why you can't do it than it is to just turn someone down quickly and kindly.

Just say Yes if you can and No if you can't.  I think it's that simple.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What about life outside of your ministry?

This is directed at my friends in ministry, and includes myself.

How would you rate your ministry on a scale of 1-10.  Don't think too hard. Just rate it.

What about your marriage?  1-10.

Your personal spiritual life?  1-10.

Your parenting? 1-10.

Your friendships? 1-10.

Are they all the same?  Ideally they are all 10s, but I think if we're honest with ourselves we put the most work into the ministry.  And maybe we even wear success in ministry as a badge, hoping to cover up lower scores in the rest of our life.

Jesus had a life outside of his times of ministry.  How do you think he scored?

If you want to chat more on this, join me and other youth workers at 11:30 Thursday at 700 Main in Peoria.  It should be fun.  Plus COCUSA's buying lunch.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tips for a good marriage

In advance of Valentines Day I'm offering these tips to all the guys out there.

Actually it's just one tip:  (And you don't have to buy anything.)

LOSE THE SCREEN.

I'm not sure which screen is your issue, but you probably have one that needs to go.

TV: I'm still surprised how much time people waste watching TV (even people that I often look up to in other areas).  I don't know how you can expect to grow your relationship with your wife when you're spending 2 hours a day watching TV.  If you can't get rid of your TV (because it's built into the foundation of your house or something... I'm not sure why you couldn't) then at least move it out of your bedroom.

Computer: We'll pick on Netflix here, as I've heard more than one person reference getting rid of cable TV to get Netflix.  You might be saving a little money, but you just traded screen time for screen time.  If you truly need a computer, set yourself some hard limits.

Phone: I'm in this category. Just put it down when you're at home.  Leave it somewhere and only check it or grab it if you need to.  (The less data or wifi you use the better.)

There you go, one free easy way to improve your marriage.  Don't believe me?  Try it and see.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Getting Better

Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google once said: "We knew that Google was going to get better every single day as we worked on it, and we knew that sooner or later, everyone was going to try it.  So our feeling was that the later you tried it, the better it was for us because we'd make a better impression with better technology. So we were never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better."*

That quote has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now because it's so counter intuitive.  How could you not want everyone in the world to know about your product or service as immediately as possible?

Are you focused enough on improving what you do and what you create that you actually believe it will be better if people wait to try it?

Maybe instead of finding more fans, buyers or donors, we should just get better.

*From The Dip, by Seth Godin, pg 68

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Give them a new leader

One day the Lord said to Moses, “Climb one of the mountains east of the river, and look out over the land I have given the people of Israel. After you have seen it, you will die like your brother, Aaron, for you both rebelled against my instructions in the wilderness of Zin. When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate my holiness to them at the waters.” (These are the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) Then Moses said to the lord, “O lord, you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Please appoint a new man as leader for the community.  Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." - Numbers 27:12-17
Faced with the end of his own life and failure to reach the promised land due to the consequences of his sin, what does Moses do?

Does he whine and complain?  Does he say "good riddance" to the nation that had caused him so much personal strife and anguish?  Do he barter with God for a little more time or access to the promised land?

None of those.  He simply asks that God will provide a new leader when he is gone: a guide and shepherd for the people.

When we move on to something new:  Are we thinking only of ourselves?  Are we glad to leave the old behind?  Or are we praying for someone new and better to come take our place?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Learning from sadness

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
After all, everyone dies: so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

So the question coming out of any time of mourning for a lost loved one is this: What have you learned?  Are you refined in any way?

Brittany's grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago.  I think I learned a couple things:
1) Leading and influence doesn't require you to be loud.
2) Family time is an important thing for fathers to create and protect.

Now the challenge for the living is to actually put those things into practice.