Posted by: Rob Fike | July 17, 2012

Linked 2 Leadership


In previous contributions I have addressed ideas relating to spiritual leadership. From the perspective of this approach to leadership, some common ideas and sayings are actually false.

Here are 12…

1) Leaders Empower Others

The idea that leaders empower others is well-intentioned but it is a fallacy. Other people already have tremendous power, leaders simply free them to use the power and skills they already have. So, the leader focuses not on empowerment if that implies giving away power, but liberation.

As John Gardner pointed out:

“Leaders are almost never as much in charge as they are pictured to be, followers almost never as submissive as one might imagine.” That influence and pressure flow both ways is not a recent discovery.

2) Leaders Lead Others

Likewise the frequently stated concept that the task of the leader is to lead others is now simply old fashioned. The leader recognizes that…

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Posted by: Rob Fike | May 2, 2012

Team Listen [Part One]: People First

Customer Service is a constant topic of discussion among people, whether we overtly address it or not. We complain: it’s what consumers do. But what happens after the smoke settles and our grievance has hit the morning air over the telephone wires, e-mail thread, twitter outburst, or – God forbid – an in-person exchange?

During a recent staff meeting, we were asked for an example of a good or bad experience we had with a company based on this interaction. I sat silently as I usually do, taking in the responses. What struck me was that companies who failed to help and companies who succeeded were attributed to 1 singular weakness/strength: Listening.

A bad company answers the phone call like this:

Customer: Hi, I’ve been having trouble with my coffee maker. I’ve powered it down, unplugged it, changed the filter and plugged it back in.  It still won’t work.

Rep: Okay, well first thing I’d like you to do is make sure the coffee maker is plugged into the wall outlet.

Customer: I just told you I unplugged it and plugged it back in.

Most customers are already upset at this point. The rep didn’t listen to anything the customer said, and, instead, decided to read from the cue cards.

The “good” companies – their “good” customer service – were determined by their ability to listen to their disgruntled customer. They set aside the problem for the moment and listened to what their customer had to say. They took what the customer said and guided them through to a solution – whatever solution that might have been – after listening and taking their problem to heart. These successful customer service reps didn’t pull out a card full of stock answers, reading off 1-by-1 until the problem was solved.  They focused on the customer, listened to them, and took what they said specifically to find a solution. It’s not about fixing a problem: it’s about making the customer’s problem the employee’s problem. They became advocates for the customer.  In listening to their customer, the rep made the customer feel valuable to not only the rep, but the company as a whole.

This isn’t just about business: it’s about a way of life. Listening to people shows them that you not only value their opinion, but you value them as a person. I find I struggle with this myself: thinking about my response to their comment when I should be listening to what they have to say. We must make listening a part of our life’s calling. It’s essential to our spiritual lives as well. Consider the words in James:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

[James 1:19-25 NIV]

James’ words aren’t just about listening. Listening is a good start, but if you cannot be an advocate for the words spoken into your life, then what good are they? They are useless without acting upon them.

This continues back into Customer Service: if, as an employee, you listen to a customer’s problem intently, but do nothing for them afterwards – it’s useless. You have to be an advocate for your customer and their problem. Acting toward the solution posed by their words that you’ve taken to heart.

Listening is just the beginning, but being a part of “Team Listen” is a great first step! But we also must put people first, be their advocates in our companies!

Posted by: Rob Fike | May 2, 2012

My buddy, Rey Lopez, offers his thoughts on Respect – a good read. Check it out!


 re-spect [ri-spekt] noun esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person

“If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
Matthew 5.47 (NLT)

“Men are respectable only as they respect.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who do you respect? Why? Is it because that person lives by a set of principles you aspire to live by yourself? Is it because you agree with the way that person lives? Is it because they treat you nicely? Is it because they have a life that you wish for yourself? It occurred to me recently that, for the person who wants to live life like Jesus, none of those things are respect. I’m not sure what they are. Maybe it’s preference or a desire to just hang out with people you agree with or, in the case of the…

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Posted by: Rob Fike | April 14, 2012

Rey Lopez talks “Blue Like Jazz” – I hope it’s as good as Rey thinks it is.


So, it’s finally here. Blue Like Jazz opens in theaters tomorrow. It’s been hard to stay away from some of the early reviews. Variety and the Huffington Post gave it decent nods. Interestingly a Village Voice reviewer and a conservative evangelical site found themselves agreeing on a less enthusiastic take on the film, albeit for different reasons.

One reviewer said that the film’s harshest critics are from the extreme ends of the spectrum. For those at the far end of evangelical fervor, the film will not be Christian enough. For the “freedom from religion” crowd, it will be too Christian. I don’t care about any of that. What I care about, what I want more than anything else – and what I want from every film I see – is nothing more than a good story, well-executed. By “well-executed” I don’t mean a film with a big budget, lots of things exploding…

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Posted by: Rob Fike | April 14, 2012

“I Think, Therefore I am.”

What does this mean to you? Leave your comments down below and I’ll be sure to read every single one of them! Can’t wait to see your responses 🙂

Posted by: Rob Fike | March 15, 2012

Abraham, Isaac & the “Use it Later” Vault

I work for a church and many times creative ideas get scrapped (for whatever reason: time, money, conflicting vision).  This has caused a lot of frustration on my part.  A week or two ago, we had one of these great ideas that inevitably got scrapped, and I’ll share it with you here.  Maybe you work at a church and you’d like to use it.

Our message was going to be on Abraham and his journey.  Our creative team sat down and came up with an incredible “God moment” around this tune by Sufjan Stevens titled “Abraham”. The idea was to use this song at the beginning of the message in a bumper video with a man standing on a hill in the wilderness, looking out at what God laid before him – a Journey of Blind Faith. Mind you, this was leading into Easter (March 24-25, or April 1), so the lyrics are even more powerful.

Here are the lyrics:

Abraham, worth a righteous one.
Take up on the wood,
put it on your son.
Lake or lamb.
There is none to harm.
When the angel came,
you had raised your arm.

Abraham, put off on your son.
Take instead the ram
until Jesus comes

Later after the message, the band would reprise the song. In this moment people would be able to use a card they’d been given in their programs that said “My Isaac”. This moment was about “sacrificing” their most precious thing – whether it be a relationship, a job, a goal, a dream – to God. The idea is that people would hand over their most prized endeavor to God, just as Abraham had done. People would write down their “Isaac” and take it before an “alter” at the foot of the stage. Abraham, in this act, showed that he was willing to give up Isaac – to hand it over to God – because that’s how much faith he had in the Lord. Aren’t we called to do the same?

Visually, the video team would take old paintings of Abraham and Isaac, and using photoshop and after effects, make them 3-dimensional layers so that Abraham and Isaac look like they’re moving atop the backdrop.

I posted this hoping it wouldn’t stay locked in the “Use it Later” vault over here and maybe someone else would pick this up and run with it.

Posted by: Rob Fike | February 22, 2012

Satan and the Garbage King (coming soon)

Satan & the Garbage King

I have been a little silent on my blog, so I wanted everyone to know that I’m still working on stuff, I’ve just been busy with school, work, and wedding preparations.  I have a posts coming soon and I’ll throw out the topics so if anyone wants to give me ideas on how they feel about it, just comment below 🙂

Upcoming topics:

  • Satan & the Garbage King [re: Hubris]
  • The Names of God
  • The Power of Silence
  • Accountability in Relationships and Leadership
Comment on whatever topic you’d like, and I promise I’ll read it and think about it as I’m finishing up my posts.  Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Rob Fike | January 31, 2012

Don’t go back to the Pig Trough

Don’t go back to the Pig Trough

The story of the Prodigal son (or the Lost son) is a well known parable of Jesus.  It describes the journey of a young man (humanity) who squanders the inheritance of his benevolent father (God) and winds up eating out of a pig trough (the fall/sin).  The Prodigal has become something of a lexicon for the disenfranchised or outcasts, but in its truest sense it is about this son who lost his way away from his father.  What’s amazing is that the son finally realizes, as he eats the scraps left for the pigs, that his father treated his servants far better than this.  He decided to return as a servant or slave to the father, but then soon found his father took him back with open arms and thanksgiving.  The son was redeemed from squalor destitution.

(here is the passage in Luke)

Luke 15:11-32

New Living Translation (NLT)

Parable of the Lost Son

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

This is the transformation of Christ: the redemption of mankind to the sons (and daughters) of God.  But not only is the transformation important, but so is the lesson underneath this story: Don’t go back to the pig trough.

Don’t go back to the pig trough.  We may feel inclined to return to the garbage we broke free from.  The old ways, the old recordings, that “pig trough” is comfortable.  We know what we’re dealing with, and we understand the expectations (and they are low back in the pig trough).

Growth isn’t comfy.  In fact, it’s painful and mysterious in many respects.  Sometimes it feels better to return to our stagnant ways than face the uncomfortable adventure that growth offers us.  We aren’t going to grow and then stop and be comfortable.  We’re going to grow continuously.  Stopping puts us back on the bench of our life’s game.  God doesn’t call us to sit out the decisions of our lives.

Jesus says, “[9] I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture. [10] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9-10 NIV)

Jesus said that he came to give us life “to the full”, not “to the full, but kinda sorta when it’s convenient to you… if you want.”  The full abundance of life comes from introspection and realizing we are living at the pig trough, picking ourselves up and walking to the father’s house.  Reconciliation brings freedom, but it also brings temptation.  Don’t go back to the old ways because they are easier.  Take the path of growth: sometimes uncomfortable, but fulfilling, growth.

Don’t go back to the old ways because Christ freed us from them.  As it says in Romans:

“[6] For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… (Romans 6:6 NIV)”

Live in freedom! Discover your mission! Hear God’s calling and get prepared for the growing pains!

Songs for the Listening:

Take a look at these songs. The first is “Prodigal” by One Republic. You can buy it here:

And here is the other song, an AFTER and REMINDER that His Love NEVER FAILS.  “Your Love Never Fails” by Jesus Culture.  You can buy it here: