Repost: The Best of the Worst of Times

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

Recently a number of our Senior Staff members read together the book Onward by Howard Shultz. It is the story of how Starbucks reinvented itself as a result of the economic crisis that began in early 2008. Business as usual was no longer the usual business. If Starbucks failed to recognize the new realities and modify their approach to their core business, they would find themselves barreling headfirst into disaster. Bold leadership steps, fresh and innovative thinking, and a willingness to embrace and adapt to a “new normal” were all required. If they had responded by deciding to operate just the way they did before the crisis they might no longer be in business. Because they confronted the brutal facts of their operation, and were willing to adapt as necessary, they have emerged far better and stronger than they were in the best days of their past . Onward recounts the journey, the challenges and the decisions that had to be made.

It seems that difficult times can prove to be the best of times if you capitalize on the opportunities that challenging times present. Adversity forces you to evaluate your assumptions, methods, systems and products like you would do at no other time.

The parallels to the church struck us as both profound and obvious. What makes a church successful at one time or in one environment might well be the church’s undoing if it determines to tenaciously hold onto the success and methods of the past. Challenging times provide both the catalyst and the impetus to make bold and difficult decisions that have the potential to take the church to new heights. While the church is one of the most “change resistant” organizations ever founded, difficult and challenging times can prove to the best of times! This is the essence of James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“This is why, I think, so many companies fail. Not because of challenges in the marketplace, but because of challenges on the inside.” Pg. 41

“…Starbuck’s renewed effort to play to win as opposed to playing not to lose. For the past few years, Starbucks had been acting out of fear, mainly a fear of failure. So much of what the company had done was defensive, done to protect itself. Our primary goal had been to avoid missing our earnings projections rather than to actively engage our customers.” Pg. 82

“We thought all we had to do was show up to be successful.” Pg. 156

“Unlike the phalanx of global financial institutions that considered themselves too big to fail….perhaps we viewed our company as too good to fail…” Pg. 173

“Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over communicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choice; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.” Pgs. 309

Thank you God for crazy tough times like these! The present moment holds the potential to allow us to grow and become what we would never become otherwise.

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Repost: The Best of the Worst of Times

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