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Monday, March 26, 2018


Twitter is not my thing. At least, not yet. We tweet at the office for the radio program, but even though I have a Twitter account, I’m virtually tweetless.

However, even non-Twitter types have become very familiar with the use of so-called “hashtags”—as in #MeToo. That Twitter and Facebook item has become a rallying point around self-identifying announcements by thousands upon thousands that sexual harassment has impacted them. And the conscience of America has been awakened.

Would one expect that any workplace is immune from this problem? It is not. Including the workplace known as “the church.”

I will not delve into what I see in terms of abuse in religions outside of one—the Christian faith. A simple web search on priest abuse reveals multiple stories. I’m not going to focus there either. I’m sticking to my own family of Protestants.

The past two weeks have brought difficult and highly problematic news stories to the public eye about some faith groups and gifted church leaders. Mark Galli is the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today. He wrote a powerful editorial about a troubled organization known as Sovereign Grace Ministries in which he calls for an “independent investigation” into alleged “child sexual abuse and staff cover-up.” (A link on his story is below.)

Let me quote a most troublesome observation by Mark Galli: “Many now wonder if there has been a habit of covering up and denying child and sexual abuse in evangelical churches in general—if there is something in the evangelical DNA that makes us hesitant to deal with accusations quickly, openly, and truthfully when there is the suspicion of grave sin in our midst.” That…is painful.

Two other recent stories from Christianity Today reveal different, but equally painful, situations. It inspired the headline writer to suggest: #ChurchToo. One story involves Andy Savage, who has been serving as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis. It’s a megachurch that ministers to thousands.

Many years ago, Savage was involved in youth ministry in Houston. He became “too friendly” with one of the students. Despite his repentance at the time and requesting forgiveness, the victim felt the church was mostly unresponsive to what happened. Recently, after #MeToo gained traction, she spoke out against the Andy Savage abuse in 1998 while claiming she is still haunted by it.

Her concerns were raised publicly. The story gained wide attention. Highpoint Church backed their pastor. But recently, Andy Savage resigned.

The third story, which is complicated and still evolving, centered around the incredible visionary and church leader Bill Hybels, here in Chicago. There is flat denial of charges of sexual misconduct by Bill. But there are very credible sources claiming a different story. Again, a Christianity Today link can be found below.

The trail of pain, and the cost of desires gone wrong, is impossible to calculate. Moreover, there is a need of insight and guidance by church leadership in dealing with such matters. Grace and justice are wrestling in conflict.

These are not new problems in the church. Words of warning have been given to us often by the apostle Paul. One of the hardest verses of Scripture to live by is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

May God give all of His Kingdom workers the strength to live by that verse. Especially in these days, we must seek God’s guidance…daily. Call it a #NeedWisdom moment.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information: 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rank and Yank

Organizations that have a very high priority on winning see personnel transition as an unfortunate part of the game. Witness the hubbub over the seeming revolving door at the White House and with the Trump appointments. This past week we saw the termination of the Secretary of State and rumors of possible departures of the President’s National Security Advisor and White House Chief of Staff. ABC News reported this week that barely more than a year into the Trump administration, more than a dozen notable members of both the White House and the administration at large have left their posts.

Let’s face it. Donald Trump likes to win. And he’s willing to part ways with talented people to put a team together that he feels best suits his leadership style and preferences.

Why is media shocked by this? It happens in every administration, but perhaps not to this degree. Transitioning a government cannot help but be messy.

Before we get too upset with the seeming cutthroat nature of this, I suggest we take a reality check from the world of sports. Or business.

Free agency season in the National Football League just provided more enormous salaries to a fair number of players. Some of them who are not among the greats of the game. But they fill much needed positions. As as result, teams are saying goodbye to some very fine players to meet the team’s “salary cap.”

Look at the Green Bay Packers. This team just cut their talented receiver Jordy Nelson. Upon hearing the news, their top-rated QB Aaron Rodgers created, in essence, an “ode to Jordy Nelson’s departure.”

This annual transition within sports organizations happens every year. And while fans bicker about who should stay and who should leave, there is often little compassion shown to those who go. Why? Winning. It’s all about winning.

And it’s true in business as well. Famed CEO Jack Welch (formerly of General Electric) strongly believed that managers should assess their employees every year. He would have them divide their personnel into three categories: the top 20 percent, the middle 70 percent, and the bottom 10 percent. The Wall Street Journal did a summary of his thinking a while back. (Link below.)

As for those in the top 20 percent, Welch advised management to shower them with “praise, affection, and various and generous financial rewards.” He also advised against the sharing of financial rewards over a much larger group.

As for the middle 70 percent, these team members should be coached and trained and pushed hard with thoughtful goal-setting. All this, hoping that these people would move into the top group. In the words of Jack Welch, “You do not want to lose the vast majority of your middle 70–-you want to improve them.”

And what about that bottom 10 percent? The hardline leader Mr. Welch states, “There is no sugarcoating this. They have to go.” He explained this philosophy in more depth in his 2005 book titled—get ready—Winning.

This practice, of course, has critics referring to this as “rank and yank.” It seems heartless on one level. But the pursuit of championship teams often takes on this mindset.

I belong to a different kind of fellowship. Our leader puts a high price tag to be part of His team. All who seek to follow Him get the same message. Three times in the Gospels in the Bible it’s repeated, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23, ESV)

But here’s the thing. He welcomes EVERYBODY. And nobody who takes up His cause needs to worry about getting cut. There is no bottom 10 percent.

And oddly enough, in the game of life now and for eternity, Jesus is always the winner.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information: 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Leader of the Pack

I have a strong admiration for those who pursue a PhD. Compiling a doctoral thesis is an impressive accomplishment. Plus the commitment of education to get there.

Having said this, sometimes I look over written material from these well traveled learners and I think, “That’s pretty basic.” In those cases, I like to try my own hand at moving the discussion forward. Let me give you an example.

Patrick Leddin is a professor (PhD) at Vanderbilt University. He claims also to be a “global consultant” and writer. He recently submitted an article on LinkedIn titled, “5 Communication Behaviors of Great Leaders.”

None of them should be disputed. Here they are:
  1. Choose to address poor performance.
  2. Choose to understand what motivates.
  3. Choose to listen.
  4. Choose to talk straight.
  5. Choose to share perspectives.
True, an organization will soon flounder with a number of poor performers. Move them forward or move them out. I’m confident even not-so-great leaders know this.

Likewise, finding different ways to effectively motivate makes for a dynamic workplace. Good listening habits provide many insights a leader will miss if he or she is doing all the talking. Delivering a message that needs to be said respects the employees right to know. And keeping a culture where creativity thrives (hearing others' perspectives) might deliver your next great opportunity. 

So that is Professor Leddin’s “5 communication behaviors of great leaders.” Here are mine. 

  1. Frequently remind team members why you hired them. This has a two-tiered emphasis. The first is the simple reinforcement that you (or your company) picked the right person for the job. This alone provides the kind of encouragement that motivates. The second gives an opportunity to challenge for great things. Tell the employee of the challenges ahead and why they are capable of delivering results.
  1. Give hope for your company’s future. Great leaders reinforce the value that a company provides and why it serves the marketplace well. Beyond their personal contribution, employees want to believe they serve a worthwhile purpose. They enjoy working in a place that has earned a positive reputation and is advancing. 
  1. Admit organizational missteps. In a world where coverups seem all too common, how refreshing when a company can share with internal (and external markets) that, “We goofed on this one. And we learned from it. Here’s how we’re going to move forward. Fellow employees…help us!”
  1. Demonstrate ways that reveal your company has heart. This is NOT running a campaign for your workers to give time or money toward. It means having a watchdog in place for knowing where individuals within the company need some help. And showing true compassion for giving it. It communicates powerfully.
  1. Convey that you are a leader of vision and maintain a dream. You know the speech. I’m not African American, but the Martin Luther King, Jr., speech “I Have A Dream” is so rich and powerful. Great leaders keep vision alive by sharing that their dreams are still alive. And occasionally asking team members about THEIR dreams.
Not all of the Psalms were written by King David. Some include verses about King David. Here’s the way Asaph describes the gifted leader, “David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill.” (Psalm 78:72, NET)

Learning to communicate well is a skill. Pure motives are a matter of the heart. A great leader will embrace both.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information: 

Monday, March 5, 2018

M & Ms ... Sweet!

You thought I meant candy, didn't you? Those sweet round morsels covered in chocolate. But, no. I meant "multitasking and meditation."

Dan Harris is a broadcaster with ABC. He’s done field reporting, guest hosted Good Morning America, (GMA) and has been the host on Nightline. It was on a GMA program in the spring of 2004 that the unthinkable happened.

Dan Harris had an unexplained panic attack while on national television. As he describes it, “It felt like the world was ending. My heart was thumping. I was gasping for air. I had pretty much lost the ability to speak.” Terrifying. And in front of an audience of millions. You can see clips of this on YouTube.

I can relate in a more limited way to Dan. My first panic attack happened at the age of 19. Certain circumstances would trigger them. Being unable to remove myself from a situation was a baseline trigger.

So, while in Iceland working as a television sportscaster for American Forces, I was on camera nightly. I could manage my panic issues most of the time. A studio remodeling created a more difficult situation. I had to work inside of a small room the size of a closet while staring into a TV camera with a very warm light focused on me. A few times, this inescapable box caused my panic to elevate...but I could not leave.

Interestingly, the panic mode of Dan Harris took him on a search for answers. And this journey has led to several books describing his pursuit of relief and peace. His most recent is titled, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book.

Two aspects of his journey are worth considering. One involves meditation. The other focuses on our mistaken perception of how we multitask. The two are connected.

Dan Harris has his own approach, which emerged from a study of religions. He follows a method taught by a monk. To keep himself from thought overload, he’s learned to stop multitasking. As Dan tells it, “The term 'multitasking' is a computer term. Unlike computers, we humans only have one processor.” He adds, “We can’t multitask. So we do it to our own detriment.”

It’s interesting that many in Silicon Valley find great relief in meditation. They learn to remove the constant flow of information from so many levels that clog up the brain. Have you been there?

That’s why Dan has re-programmed himself to approach life differently—disciplining his focus to one thing at a time. When someone comes into his office, he’ll turn off his computer and pay attention to just that conversation. Look at what people do today: text while walking, read and send emails during meetings... and the same at lunches or dinners even with our loved ones. Bottom line: we can all take steps to avoid a multitask-driven life.

Dan Harris has become a zealot for the meditation cause. He started a company he calls “10% Happier” which uses an app to teach people how to meditate. The app features meditation teachers and scientists delivering a variety of lessons on the subject.

As a Christ-follower, I believe there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to approach meditation. Bluntly, any form of meditation that emerges out of false religious practices is risky. Emptying the mind would be an example of this. (I’ve included a link below with thoughts by theologian Dr. Albert Mohler on this.)

As Dr. Mohler explains, the Bible teaches that we SHOULD meditate. But with our focus on spiritual truths. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV) And the Psalmist writes, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” (Psalm 119:15, ESV)

If you struggle with peace of mind, step away from multitasking and give the Creator of the Universe some focused time. I think the investment will give you a better than 10% happiness return.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information: