Changing A Culture With Your Ears
August 25, 2002
Theme: Moses exercised the most forgotten leadership skill from people in a
position of power—he listened carefully, prayed and then acted.
What was the problem? (vs.26)
Moses faced three problems:
practical question of the women: What
shall we do? Life is unfair?
God is unfair? The rules are
social question: What shall we do
with these women?
leadership question: How do I handle this?
The Long-lasting implication and application
Lessons from Moses on leadership
Lesson from the women on faith
or Sacred Cow?
The daughters of Zelophehad, son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir,
the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph.
The names of the daughters were Mihlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.
They approached (2) the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before
Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, (3)
“Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah’s followers, who
banded together against the Lord, but he died because he had no son?
Give us property among our father’s relatives.
(4) Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had
not son? Give us property among our
So Moses brought their case before the Lord and the (6) Lord said to him, (7)
“What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.
You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their
father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.
to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over
to his daughter. (9) If he has no
daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers.
(10) If he has no brothers, give brothers.
(10) If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s
brothers. (11) If his father has no
brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may
posses it. This is to be a legal
requirement for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
we deal with one of the hottest issues in leadership--how to make good
decisions.” In the 30 minutes
today, I can only introduce you to this subject.
If you own a business, or are on the board of an organization, or in
leadership I suggest you take these ideas and probe them deeply.
Some of the questions we raise could determine the outcome of your impact
as a leader.
issue is innovation:
the bigger a company gets, the more difficult it is to make innovative
August issue of Fast Company raises the question of “bigger” and the ability
to innovate. James B. Lee, Jr. VP
of Morgan Chase, put it this way: “Bigger
is not better. Bigger is absolutely mandatory.” That is the prevailing logic
today: Size is not the result of
success--it is a precondition for success.
Unless you are ubiquitous enough to rule at retail, muscular enough to
squeeze suppliers, and global enough to operate in every corner of the world,
then you do not have the resources necessary to stay in the game.
And if you can’t stay in the game, you can’t win.”
can big companies innovate? Rajiv
Laroia was charged with optimizing wireless standards for his company.
His team came up with a new idea, but it would mean cannibalizing their
own products. The company
wouldn’t innovate, so he and his team left the company and started Flarios
Royal/Shell, five years ago set aside 10% of research budget for “crazy
ideas.” Anyone could apply for
the funding--not tied to managers. A
group of four or five employees--well known mavericks and nonconformists--were
charged with deciding how the money was spent.
The strategy was called GameChanger.
It has attracted 150 projects a year and 10% of those programs have
agree with Gary Hamel, who says, “Innovation is the most exciting problem to
solve in the world today.”
only is this true in Silicon Valley, but it is really true in the church.
story today in Scripture is an old story, over 3000 years old, and yet it deals
with the same leadership challenge--innovation of visionary leadership.
problem with the church, and church leadership today is that our sacred cows
imprison us so that no one is able to challenge the status quo.
But Moses and the five daughters of Zelophehad teach us how to be
liberated from our sacred cows.
What Was the Problem? (vv.
practical questions of the women: What
shall we do? Life is unfair?
God is unfair? The rules are
story is one of the two incidents recorded of the decisions, which Moses made
about civil and family affairs in the governing of the children of Israel as
they came out of Canaan. It is
interesting that the other time is recorded in Numbers 36 and it is also about
the daughters of Zelophehad.
was now quite old. He had led the
Israelites for forty years of wilderness wanderings. All those who had left the
land of Egypt had died, except for Joshua, Caleb and Moses.
A new generation had been born and was anticipating the new land.
the midst of this division of the land by lots the five daughters of Zelophehad
brought a petition to Moses. Since
their father had died in the wilderness wanderings, according to Jewish, civil
law, there would be no inheritance. The
family had been promised a part in the land that lay before them, flowing with
milk and honey. It is possible that
many times while they were wondering in the wilderness that they had anticipated
what their portion of the land would be like.
Yet it looks now as though they have lost all this.
When their father died, their inheritance seemingly vanished because
their father had died and there was no male heir.
By custom throughout that whole Middle East region, only males could
inherit property. It looked like a lost cause.
something made these women hope that things could be different. What do you
think it was? I like the words of
Ray Stedman when he uses his "sanctified imagination."
He says that he can imagine these women getting together after the death
of their father and talking it all over. After
all, that would surely be a woman's approach to the problem, wouldn't it?
As they talked among themselves, they began to realize something.
Probably they noticed one important factor about this promise of the land
-- that it was not according to merit but according to grace, that God was not
asking the Israelites to earn the land of Canaan, but he was giving it to them.
It did not depend on how hard they worked or how many battles they
fought, but rather upon the grace of God that would make it available to them.
These women had been raised in a home that understood faith and grace and
other such terms, and as they thought about these things they said to one
another. "Look, perhaps all is
not lost. After all, if this is a matter of grace and not of Law, then let us
remember that grace can give what Law cannot.
Perhaps, if we ask, God has already made provision for a situation like
ours. There's nothing revealed that
is against it, and, perhaps, in grace, God has found a way to supply what we
they handed the problem over to Moses and the leaders of the congregation:
they stood before Moses, and before Eliazar the priest, and before the leaders
and all the congregation, at the door of the tent of meeting
(Num 27:2 RSV)
you look back in Chapter 26, Verse 51, you will see that the number of the
people of Israel was 601,730. But
that included only the men; women and children were not included.
It is before this entire congregation of over a million that these five
the greatest obstacle they had to cross is what I want to talk about this
morning. It is something that we
deal with in business, in organizations and especially in the church.
It is the issue of sacred cows—those traditions that we think are
sacred, but are not. And those are
difficult to change.
They raised a
question of thinking outside the box. We
hear that phrase a lot and it is so overused that I was tempted not to use it;
however, the metaphor really helps us to understand what these five women had to
leadership question: We are told to think outside the box? What box do I think
four spheres of thinking paradigms (boxes)
what box should we think outside of? Picture
with me four boxes, each one inside the other.
One: The laws—our laws of the land
largest box--the most external--is the law.
When you think outside this box, you end up in jail.
What is happening in Enron right now is an example of leaders who thought
outside that box. They broke the
is not wise to think outside this box unless you want to land in jail.
It is interesting that in the New Testament the only law that the first
church broke was on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The church never took a stand on slavery or other social issues.
That is a whole different subject, but for the most part, the early
church obeyed the laws of Rome.
Two: Values – (i.e. Theology—the sacred)
second box is our values, what we are willing to die for—what we believe.
For the church this is our theology.
Calvary Church is an evangelical church that has a Baptist theology.
We believe in the inspiration and authority of Scriptures in all matters
of faith and practice. We believe
that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
We have a theological base.
in 1969 the church decided to
emphasize it’s evangelical theology rather than it’s Baptist tradition and
dropped the name “Baptist” off of the title.
It seems so natural now, but in 1969 it met with a lot of opposition.
I can remember when the secretaries started answering the phone,
“Calvary Church.” and church members would say, “Are you ashamed of being
a Baptist? Have you changed your
staff meetings we would discuss this issue and our conclusion at that time was
that “Baptist” had many negative caricatures and we valued being an
evangelical church. The church that
Susie and I belong too has not learned that lesson and sometimes I think it
values the denomination more than Christ.
the values box, the next box is culture. Each
country, business, and church has a culture.
Our culture is usually determined by our history and soon this culture
the early ‘70s, Southwest Airlines totally changed a business culture when
they sold one airplane to pay some bills and ran the same flight schedule with
three airplanes. Their famous 20
minute turn around became the new culture of Southwest airlines.
But, they did not mess with the first box—the laws of aerodynamics.
They just changed how they were going to get people in and out of the
airplanes. In the early 70’s,
when they were going through an incredible cultural change, they even
experimented with music and found that if they played the William Tell Overture
when people got into the plane, they moved faster.
Inner Box: Sacred cows
toughest box to deal with is the sacred cows.
These are the traditions that have grown for so many years, that people
confuse them with the law. And
changing these are almost impossible—but leadership is the ability to
challenge the sacred cows.
definition of a sacred cow is the following:
Once a rule is in place, it is very difficult to replace that rule, even
though the original reason for the rule has disappeared.
QWERTY Configuration is an example of a sacred cow.
If you look at the top row of letters on your keyboard of your computer,
you will see the letters QWERTY. This
was created in 1870 by Sholes and company, a typewriter company that was having
trouble with typists who were typing much too fast and their typewriters were
jaming. Some of us in this room
this morning are old enough to remember our old typewriters with those long
steal arms that would smash a letter on the paper when we pushed the key down.
So, the engineers designed a key board configuration known as the QWERTY
configuration in order to slow typists down.
Even though we have much faster configurations today, why hasn’t the
computer industry changed it. Because
of the sacred cow ruling:
a rule is in place, it is very difficult to replace that rule, even though the
original reason for the rule no longer exists.
of visionary thinkers who thought outside the box.)
remember in the 50’s when we started an early, 8:30 a.m. worship service.
We had always had worship services at 11:00.
Why would we change? Researching
the history of the 11:00 o-clock workshop service, we discovered that the reason
that we worshipped at 11:00 a.m. was so that farmers would have time to milk all
of their cows, get the morning chores done and make it to church on time.
In Los Gatos, we found that we didn’t have anyone milking cows.
The 11:00 a.m. service was a sacred cow and trying to change it was not
of the innovators in the last 50 years. Billy
Graham broke tradition in the South when he integrated his evangelistic
meetings. Youth for Christ, Young
Life, Navigators and Campus Crusade for Christ were all highly criticized for
starting organizations outside the church.
Bill Bright was really criticized for the four spiritual laws because he
started with the love of God when he stated, “God loves you and has a
wonderful plan for your life.” Only
liberal churches talked about the love of God first.
We always used gospel tracks that started out with “Man is sinful and
separated from God.”
How Was the Problem Solved? (vv. 5-11)
Three Observations Of Visionary Leadership
call it the 80/20 rule of leadership. Many
leaders today do not listen. They
practice the 95/5 rule—they talk 95% of the time and the 5% they are
listening, they are really not listening but thinking of what they are going to
say next when you take a breath.
if the issue is a sacred cow or a theological issue is an important role that
leaders need to exercise. And it is
not always an easy decision. So
what does Moses do? He prays.
Many of you remember Jon Courson who was raised in this church.
Jon was always a dynamic leader from the time he was in the 7th
grade, when he entered the youth ministry here.
When Jon was a sophomore in high school he had 75-100 student leaders in
his home from Del Mar High School studying the Bible with him.
He was reading books like “The Cost of Discipleship” when he was a
sophomore in high school. After he
graduated from Biola, we went up to Southern Oregon and started the Applegate
Church. Susie and I were visiting
him several years ago and after the service he took us on a tour of the
facilities. In his office I saw
something I had not seen in any other pastor’s office.
He had a kneeling bench in front of his desk.
I asked him about it and he told me that it was on that bench that he
received the vision for the church. It
was on that bench that he would pray over every aspect of the sermons he
preached. Jon was a man of prayer.
What a thrill it was to see such a talented and gifted person, who was
humble before God. And I just found
out that Jon has been asked to take Chuck Smith’s place at Calvary Chapel.
must look at the issues that come up before us and ask the questions, “Is this
theology or is it a sacred cow.” Leaders
are willing to ask that question and pray over it and then take the risk to take
take the risk—not just Moses—the five daughters had a daring faith.
brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, "The
daughters of Zelophehad are right; you shall give them possession of an
inheritance among their father's brethren and cause the inheritance of their
father to pass to them. And you shall say to the people of Israel, 'If a man
dies, and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his
daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his
brothers. And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his
kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it. And it shall
be to the people of Israel a statute and ordinance, as the Lord commanded
Moses.'" (Num 27:5-11 RSV)
is interesting is that because of this law, Jesus was able to receive the
inheritance through the line of Mary. He
was not the earthly son of Joseph and if challenged, he would be an heir to the
throne of David. But because of
these five woman and their courage to challenge the status quo, Jesus was able
to inherit the throne of David through his mother, Mary.
thing I love about Calvary is that you have been willing to hold on to your
theological foundation and challenge the status quo.
People see a need for a ministry and begin it.
I had the opportunity to speak at the “Job Ministry” for the many
people in Silicon Valley who are out of work.
When I arrived early, a man from Petaluma had heard about this meeting
came and asked about it. That night
I also heard the testimony of a young woman who had been out of work and she had
just gotten a job. But what was
more exciting was the fact that she had received Christ.
the wild thing I see you doing—that is way beyond me is your Octane
ministry—where people bring their computers and play games—for 24 hours.
I guess people really love that stuff, and innovative people have figured
out a way to bring people together to reach them for Christ.
is the future of the church? Who
are the visionary thinkers? Who are
the visionary thinkers at Calvary who are going to think outside the cultural
norms and within the Theological norms to change the world?
Read more about Tom McKee on his web page: http://www.tommckee.com/