What Peyton Manning Teaches Us About Organizational Culture

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Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos recently took on the San Diego Chargers in Denver. It was a game where Peyton looked sharp, throwing three touchdownds. In the press conference, he pointed out emphatically that the scoreboard operator needed to elevate his game. It seemed that one off-sides penalty on Denver was, at least indirectly, caused by the scoreboard operator getting the fans filed up (and loud) while Denver had the ball. Manning also said it was unacceptable to continually put the opposing QB on the board to be booed by the crowd (Read the story here).

The next Sunday, Mike Tirico and Chris Mortensen were discussing the incident on their ESPN Radio Show. Mortensen said that Manning had the staff and fans trained in Indianapolis that it would be almost completely silent in the dome while the Colts had the ball. Manning’s expectation is for the home fans to provide the home team and advantage by lowering their volume while they have the ball.

This is an organizational culture issue. It sounds like everyone in Indianapolis knew of the culture that Manning (and thus, the Colts) expected when the offense had the ball. On the other hand, I wonder how this has been communicated or taught throughout the Broncos organization.

Whether it is a church, a business, or a sports-team- culture must continually be taught and created to meet the expected goals. As a pastor, I must communicate the vision, the values, and the expectations to my congregation and staff regularly so that their actions and decision making processes continue to help create a healthy culture. I cannot decide alone that our congregation will be known for radical hospitality- it must be communicated, taught, and modeled to those around so that they begin to catch the vision for the culture that can be created.

I’m guessing that the scoreboard operator in Denver had a conversation with someone about Peyton’s expectations. Are there conversations that you as a leader need to have with an individual or your organization about the culture you hope to create?

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Death With Dignity

By now you’ve likely read an article or saw a news story about Brittany Maynard- a 29 year old US woman who has terminal brain cancer. Brittany has made a decision to end her life on November 1st through a doctor’s assisted death. (You can read her op-ed piece from CNN here.)

Since reading the story I’ve been thinking through what it means. Some people call Brittany courageous for her choice to “die with dignity” while others are calling this suicide. I met with some guys from church this afternoon and we discussed the story over lunch- discussing this story in light of our faith and the scriptures. I wanted to share some things that I’ve been thinking about the story.

In the article Brittany writes,

“I’ve had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”

This is, perhaps, where I have strong feelings about this. Because- who really gets to die on their own terms? My terms would be to die in my sleep after a very long and healthy life. But I don’t get to choose my terms. Neither did my high school friend who was killed by another motorist on the road earlier this year. Neither does the child caught in the cross-fire of gang violence. People die everyday of cancer and other illnesses, but not on their own terms. People are killed tragically because of the choices for others- but not on their own terms.

From a Biblical perspective, God has created us and has numbered our days.

“A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

From my own personal belief, if God has created us for a determined amount of days- then my life has purpose during the days ordained for me. I am uncomfortable with the concept of dying on our own terms and taking death into my own hands rather than my Creator’s hand. I also believe there is great dignity in facing life (and death) with joy and vitality. Learning that we are dying does not mean that we have to stop living.

There has been another story in the news that contrasts with the story of Brittany Maynard- it’s the story of Baby Shane and his parents, Dan Haley and Jenna Gassew. After learning, during pregnancy, that Baby Shane had a rare condition called anencephaly where Shane would be born without parts of the his skull and brain. Shane’s life expectancy was a a few hours to a few days. Baby Shane’s parents made a decision to live life- even in the face of death by making a Bucket List of things to do together with Baby Shane. Again, facing our death does not mean we have to stop living.

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Home For a Week

We’ve been home from China with Malachi for a little over a week now. It has been a lot of fun being a family of five- especially in the comfort of our own home.

Malachi has been making so many adjustments. It’s easy to forget how hard this must be for him- from the language, to leaving his caregivers/friends at the orphanage, to the change in time, and now having to learn a different way of life. We do see adjustments- his schedule is getting better (especially his sleep). We get excited when he hands us his sippy cup instead of throwing it on the floor!

We are blessed and excited to see how God continues to work in our family!

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Following A Dream

On September 10th of this year I traveled to China with Andrea and Abbie (our 7 year old daughter) to fulfill a dream of providing a home for a child without a family. That child is Malachi, a 15 month old from the Henan Province of China. He is a happy child with a smile that lights up a room. On September 15th, Malachi officially became part of our family. It was a surreal moment for sure.

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People have asked Andrea and I how we got started on the track to adopt- especially from China. The short answer is that before Andrea and I were married, we were having one of those conversations that couples have:

How do you put the toilet paper back on the roll? Over the top or in the back?

Frosted Flakes or Fruity Pebbles?

How many kids do you want?

And somewhere in the midst of that conversation came up the topic of adoption. Andrea spent six months living and serving in India and Nepal and I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil when I was a teenager. Those experiences of traveling outside of the country certainly had a major influence on our conversation that night. I imagine that we talked about quite a few things while we dated that never stuck. But somehow, a conversation about adopted a child stuck with us.

After having two girls, Abbie and Chloe, the possibility of adopting came up again (we continued to talk about it from time to time). We knew the time frame to adopt and that if we wanted to adopt then we needed to get started. This was the summer of 2012.

Here is how it went down. It was a day or two before we were to leave on a two week vacation and we had decisions to make. We were discerning about starting the adoption process AND putting our house on the market. So the night before we left for vacation, we signed the paperwork to begin the adoption process, cleaned our house and signed on with a real estate agent. It sounds a little crazy, but we’ve found in our life that when we jump in with both feet that God makes sure everything works out!

A couple of years of following our dream, that dream has come true. Our trip to China was a great family adventure and a lesson to our girls about following our dreams and following the nudges that God gives us as we seek to follow Jesus.

So what is a dream of yours? Is there something that you want to do; something that you’ve been called to do that you haven’t? What is holding you back? What would it take to get you to jump in with both feet?

As we adjust to being a family of five and I realize that this dream has come true- I’ve wondered to myself- “What new dream will God give us to pursue?” I can’t wait!

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Adoption Update: The Home Stretch

We are at the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and begin to really think about returning home. Andrea completed the paperwork this afternoon for our consulate appointment on Monday. We should receive Malachi’s visa on Tuesday, and be homebound on Wednesday. Abbie knows that she has four more sleeps in the hotel room before we are able to board a plane for Philadelphia.

Today we had the opportunity to go with another family to the Guanzhou Zoo while the rest of the group when to the Guanzhou Folk Art Museum. Both families that went to the zoo brought a child along- we brought Abbie and the Molton’s brought their son Malachi. It has been good for Abbie to have someone to goof around with on the trip. Abbie has also made some new adult friends- Miss Beth and Anna, our guide in Zhengzhou are two in particular.

The zoo was a lot of fun. We had to take a taxi and purchase tickets while playing charades to communicate what we needed. The zoo was very nice and has some neat animals in it. There was an elephant there that was probably the biggest I have ever seen. There were also red pandas and two giant pandas- which was really cool to see since we are in China.

Tomorrow we are going to an open air market to look for some items to bring back home. We are hoping to find a few traditional Chinese dresses for the girls, and an outfit for Malachi. After the market, it will be swimming and exploring. It’s a rough life, I know!

For those wondering- Malachi has been doing well in the transition. We do see some behaviors that are likely products of being an institutionalized child- but we also see a fun loving little boy. It will be a lot easier to work on these behaviors in the comfort of our home.

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The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

I just read this story at USA Today about Anhueser-Busch upset at the National Football League regarding how they have handled cases of domestic violence. USA Today ran a statement by Anhueser-Busch that reads:

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.

“We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

They are concerned with the NFL’s handling of these behaviors? How about any concern about how alcohol fuels men (and women) to do dumb and violent things in drunken stupors? How many college girls have been sexually assaulted as a result of someone’s decision making process affected by alcohol? How many wives and children get smacked around after a Sunday night football game when the husband/father is ramped up by Budweiser and upset at the outcome of the game? How many families have been broken apart because alcohol’s role in fatal accidents?

Is alcohol the root of these problems? I know it is not. Excessive alcohol consumption magnifies the brokenness is men and women every where. This statement from Anheuser-Busch reeks with irony as they call out the NFL. Who is calling out Anheuser-Busch?

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Some Random Thoughts While in China

We arrived in the city of Zhengzhou on Monday and it has been raining cats and dogs ever since. Which hasn’t made it real fun getting around the city! We were supposed to visit a few sites today, but they were all outside so we opted for a free day to hang out at the hotel, swim, and catch our breath. So I thought I would take the time to share some random thoughts about China- and one about the NFL.

1. Like many countries, traffic laws are a suggestion. Here in Zhengzhou, I counted 20 cars that through a light after it turned red. To cross the street, you have to get a critical mass of people and scooters who are willing to step out in front of the oncoming traffic at the same time in order to move like an amoeba across the street safely.

2. While the temperature is pretty fall-like here right now, the train and the local Wal-Mart are like saunas.

3. There are vacant cities everywhere. Not completely vacant, but everywhere we have gone we’ve seen 20-30 high rise buildings grouped together that are partially built and completely empty. It’s like a scene out of some post-apocalyptic thriller. In some places, these buildings form a city (or would form a city).

4. I know that there is diversity within China (different Chinese ethnic groups), you do not see a whole lot of non-Chinese diversity. This has made traveling fun as people are quick to pull out their cell phones and take pictures of the Americans- some even brave enough to stand with us while the picture is being taken.

5. Along with number four- Abbie is a hit here in China. People stop to watch her or will come to the store window to see her walk by. After being pretty shy about it, Abbie just smiles when she realizes she is being watched (and that people are taking her picture).

6. One of the funnier moments of our trip, so far, happened in the elevator of the hotel we are staying at. There was a Chinese couple in the elevator with us and he kept staring at Andrea- who was holding Malachi. Finally he said, “Isn’t he a Chinese baby?” To which we replied, ‘Yes, yes it is!”

7. In the Chinese culture, babies are kept well dressed- meaning multiple layers even when it’s warm outside/inside. This has been strange, especially when it’s warm, but we try to comply. In a few days we’ll be able to dress Malachi however we want. But we went swimming today with Malachi in the hotel pool. Not only did we all have to wear swim caps, but the hostess at the pool warned us that the pool was too cold for Malachi and that we should try to Jacuzzi. The pool was 80 degrees while the jacuzzi was over 100 degrees. They even came to check on us multiple times to make sure Malachi was ok in the pool. He did just fine!

8. Speaking of dress, children who are out of diapers where pants with slits in the back. When they need to go to the bathroom, they just squat and go. Even in public! We witnessed several examples of this at Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. The parents had bags to clean up the #2- which was a little too much like cleaning up after a dog.

9. Malachi is from the Henan Province- and the Henan Province is home to nearly 100 million people. The province is the birthplace of the Chinese culture and has a 3,000 year old history.

10. Construction on The Forbidden City, where we got to tour, was started in 1420, seventy years before Columbus arrived in the Americas.

We are at the halfway point of our China adventure. Tomorrow we fly to Guanzhou, where Malachi will receive a medical examine and apply for his visa to enter The United States. This weekend we get to reunite with three other families who are in different provinces receiving their children- and do some site seeing. We are told that there is a very good open air market and a Chinese children’s boutique in Guanzhou- so we hope to find some treasures to bring home!

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