August 29, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

    No "summer break" in this weekly news/commentary column, delivered to your e-mail driveway. In fact, rather than resorting to "vacation fluff" during these hot August weeks, we've cranked it up a notch. This is Installment #6 in a six-parter, based on Drucker's Five Questions for Leaders.

    In the last decade, marketplace careerists have been challenged - by people like Tom Peters and William Bridges, by publications like Forbes and Fast Company - to consider themselves as a stand-alone enterprise: it's the concept of "You, Inc." and "The Brand Called 'You'." Manage your position in the firm as if you were an independent entity, with the chance to produce and succeed at extraordinary levels.

    That's been the perspective of this series. If you're the CEO of a ministry nonprofit with employees and budget and board, that's great; the Drucker Questions are "bulls eye" bullet-points for your leadership enhancement. But, what if you're employed in the marketplace, with a full-plate of professional demands that fill up your days... and a family at home, wondering when they're going to see you?

    Here's the news, friend: you're still "in business," in the Kingdom, responsible for managing a ministry called You. Career is what you're paid for; calling is what you're made for. Both identities are engaged, in-parallel, 24/7. The intent of this series has been to challenge your effectiveness in the ministry called You.

   What is your mission? Who is your customer? What does the customer value? What are your results? What is your plan? You'll never produce "fruit" (Jesus' terminology for "bottom line impact that is eternal") until you can answer those questions with clarity and authority. Today: what's your plan?

    Jesus hand-picked 12 men to train for Kingdom leadership. During their three-year graduate program with the Master, he incorporated some short-term assignments to sophisticate them for their future roles, after his death/burial/resurrection/return to heaven. In Matthew 10, "He called his 12 disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness (those were the day-to-day activities that filled Jesus' ministry calendar) These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions..."

    He didn't just "kick them out of the nest." He gave them a strategic plan to follow; it got down to the nitty-gritty of the organization. "Go... but only to Jewish communities. Here's your message: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is near;' stick to the script. Do what you've watched me do: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Don't take any money with you, and leave your luggage at home: if people won't support you, move on to another community. Find a key person in each community and stay in his home; use that as your base of operations. Some people will turn on you; expect opposition. You're going in my name, so their response to you will be their response to me... and, ultimately, they'll be rewarded or judged - by me - on that basis. (Matthew 10:1-42, boiled down by Bob-o).

    There was no confusion about what they were supposed to do; but, would it work? Upon their return, "the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught" (Mark 6:30) Mission: accomplished.

    Here it is, after six installments, bottom line: your life is about more than your career, your family and your relationships. You're here to fulfill your unique Kingdom assignment. You may lead a team in that effort... or, you may be a "one man band." Whatever your form... it warrants your highest strategic efforts.

    Chances are, your Monday-Friday daylight hours are spent pursuing outcomes that are important... but forgettable, on a 1000-year horizon. What you do alongside that life - relative your Kingdom assignment - has the potential to have eternal staying-power. Is that dimension of your life the most strategic?

    Paul had a plan: "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). The map in the back of your Bible charts the travels of Paul - and his team - as he executed that plan.

    So... what is your mission? Who is your customer? What does the customer value? What are your results? And... what is your plan?

Bob Shank


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