Body Prisoners

If you’re part of the body of Christ, you’re joined to prisoners. We’re in this together.

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3

When a truck struck and killed a young woman towards the end of 2016, a man I grew up with from youth group, a friend, had his life change forever. As the driver, he was instantly imprisoned in guilt, remorse and grief. Months later, he was sentenced by the judge. He’s still in prison.

It’s changed us all, most notably his family. This week, I’m staying at their place.

I’ve been praying for him and his family for months, but last night I saw a news report on a similar accident where the driver didn’t go to prison at all. I felt renewed faith to believe for early release.

So today I did a study of bible heroes who were imprisoned (or in solitary confinement). Jesus was a prisoner, so was Peter, John, and Paul. Almost all of the New Testament was written by prisoners. The Old Testament is full of prisoners, too, most notably Joseph but also Samson, Jeremiah and Daniel. The legacy of these prisoners has changed the world, not just during their lifetime, but for thousands of years.

Today, they inspired me. I was reminded of our anointing, our purpose, to believe for the impossible, to see the supernatural, to set prisoners free. Christ came to work freedom miracles – that we’d be free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus told us that when the nations are judged, one of the criteria for righteousness is visiting prisoners (Matthew 25:36). Yet most of us, haven’t had that as part of our spiritual expression, ever.

I’m prophesying release for my friend. If you’re praying for someone in prison here’s my notes from this morning’s study: Bible prison

Whether we’re physically in prison or not, we can believe that God will repay two blessings for each of our troubles (Zecheriah 9:12) . He’s a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Photo by Pablo Padilla on Unsplash

 

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Camel Choking, Creativity & Productivity

I want to introduce you to the gentle art and joy of camel choking.

It’s transformative – particularly in the spheres of creativity and productivity.

It’s an ancient art. And true Masters are rare.

But we’ll come back to our humping friends later.

Speaking of friends, I’ve just come back from spending two days at my best friend’s house. She probably wouldn’t describe herself as having the gift of hospitality. But she’s always been beautifully hospitable to me.

It’s been thirty years this year since we first travelled overseas together. We discovered a lot about each other on that trip. She knows me. And she loves me.

Her prophetic hospitality preemptively provides what I want without me even having to ask.

But this morning as we were leaving, I realised I’d never been through her front door. I asked if I could use the front door on my next visit. Her husband said “No. Only people who are selling something come to the front door. All our friends and family know to use the backdoor.”

Stories are like that. They have a creative backdoor way of accessing parts of our heart that are intimate. Statements and strangers might try and knock on the obvious entrance way. But they’ll be left on the front porch with their pitch. They’ll never know the real way to get inside us. They’ll never be invited to relax and hang out with us on the back deck overlooking the lemon tree and other things we’re nurturing in our private garden.

Maybe that’s why Jesus made up so many stories.

But He also warned us not to neglect the front doors – the obvious pathways – the things designed specifically to be entered into first.

Can you imagine if Jesus was a full-time blogger? I love the language and imagery He used to describe our very human ability to miss the bleeding obvious.

“… you are blind! Think about a man picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that.” (Matthew 23:24 ERV)

I’m starting to realise I catch too many flies. And I inadvertently swallow too many camels.

Camels are designed specifically to be too large and too lumpy to sip down without realising it. And yet, sometimes, I do.

I get so consumed with the tiny fly details of everyday life that I overlook the obvious. I drink in negativity and stress all too easily and i neglect to pause and recognise the positivity and productivity that’s found in the bigger issues of life.

Lately, I’m determined to choke on the camels.

One of the large and lumpy things I think I’ve missed, is the very first verse in the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…. 

There was darkness and chaos and lack, but God created something beautiful.

He didn’t try to make the best of a bad situation. He created a new situation.

Another version translates Jesus words as “you are straining at gnats”. Part of the flies in my drink are when I’m straining … straining to be more patient, less judgemental, more kind and loving.

All the things that I know Jesus displayed.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

But why am I straining to be more patient and less judgemental when the front door that God created for me to enter into first was the door of creativity?

The first time God mentioned love, prayer, scriptures, church, faith and patience are practically light years away. But He shows off His creativity in the first verse.

If you’ll make time for church and prayer and scripture – you’ll do well.  But can you first create a little more time in your schedule for creating? I promise you it’ll be transformative if you do!

The exact representation of God must first be creating. And when I look at His exact representation Jesus was creating all the time. Some of His best creative works were His stories.

If being a creator is the front door of being more Godly, then creating stories is the front door of being a creator.

I have no idea (let alone any other of the required capabilities) how to create a whole universe. But even children can create a story.

One time when I was a children’s church leader, I was putting up the Christmas tree and one of my toddler congregation, Naomi, came in not long after I had just started. Curious about the still bare tree, she asked me “where are the decorations and the presents?”

Feigning a panic, I invited her to be my co-creative and solve our universe of the darkness, chaos and lack.  “Oh no – there’s no tinsel and no presents! What are we going to do?”

She took it all in her stride. She shrugged her shoulders and held up both hands. Then emphatically said “It’s okay. We can just pretend we’ve got them.” Then, clearly satisfied with her solution, she joyously skipped outside again.

The story she’d told herself was one where the lack of presents and tinsel didn’t exist anymore. She’d created a pretend universe where “we’ve got them”.

If creativity is the front door of Godliness, and stories are the front door of creativity, then the story of the seed is the front door of stories.

The Parable of the Sower, as it’s more commonly known, was a story Jesus specifically designed to be the large and lumpy first thing we enter into.

“Jesus told them: If you don’t understand this story, you won’t understand any others.” (Mark 4:13 CEV).

This story is kingdom kindergarten. It is an opportunity to find the ideal way to multiply. The first few times, the sower failed. He failed to find a place where his seed could do what seeds are designed to do – reproduce themselves; in other words create something new – the exact representation – from the old.

The camel is obviously to create a copy. That’s what great about stories. They are highly leveraged – they can be copied over and over and over again – for free. I’m still copying this story a couple of thousand of years later – talk about reaping a harvest!

Thousands of year before Jesus told this story, this was the first commandment that God gave us (before He gave us any of the more famous commandments).

Genesis 1:27-29 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Our design, our blessing, our gifts are all about productivity; to be fruitful and multiply, to be seeds who create trees and produce fruit that yields seed … copying ourselves to create a new generation of copiers.

Patience, and all those other Christ-like characters are fruit. They are reproduced. They are created copies. They can’t come from spending our time straining, only by creating. When we do the creating part, they are the natural, joyous ending. If we try to achieve them outside of the creative process – it’s like trying to produce an orange without an orange seed – it’s at least straining and stressful, if not impossible!

I shouldn’t be straining at the gnats of impatience in my life. They should be swallowed up. By what? By the large and lumpy works of creativity that I’m producing. My camels should be huge enough to be a choking hazard for anyone!

When I see Jesus interacting with people, He doesn’t seem to be straining at their gnats, He seems to be creating. When people are hungry, He reproduces lunch. When people were maimed, He creates limbs. When people are hurt, he creates love. When people have died, He creates life.

Sometimes, He’s creating curiosity, then surprise, and healing, like with the woman at the well. Jesus enjoyed that so much, He skipped a meal to do it. There’s a bouyancy that creativity brings that’s better than breakfast!

When He first called the professional fisherman, He created a great catch of instant income for them. In the same place they’d ended up broke the last time they tried it, He created so much their nets broke! When it was tax time, He created their tax money.

When those same fisherman saw Him walking on the waves, they were terrified. He turned their fears into an invitation to have fun when He said to Peter, “Come!’.

Lunch, love, life, limbs, curiosity, surprise, income, fun…. It may seem obvious, but what if being more Godly was just about ignoring all the gnats you’re not and choking on the camel of creativity? For God, it was just the beginning… and it brought about a total transformation. I wish you a new beginning – not just in your personal relationships but in your business productivity and income, too.

For me, I’m spending a lot of time in kingdom kindergarten – story-telling. Making stuff up is way more fun than straining to be patient. As I’ve started treating everyone I meet like they are a patient who’s just entered my creativity clinic, being patient has become a tiny gnat issue. I’m rediscovering what a joy it is to truly live like Jesus – not just for me – but for all those around me. I’m gonna make more stuff up!

Kisses, cupcakes, comedy, camel stories… What will you create for the next person you meet?

 

Sales Perfection

I was struck by the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 19:21 this morning.

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

This dude had it pretty good, already. He was a Rich, Young, Ruler.

When you’ve got wealth, youth and leadership on your side, life must seem pretty perfect already.

So it would’ve been more shocking than if Barnaby Joyce himself had fallen pregnant to be told to give away everything you had.

But Jesus didn’t say to merely give away everything he had. He told him to go and SELL and then give the money away.

Why?

Why did Jesus tell him to sell?

I have no idea, really. But I’ve been thinking about it …

  1. Humility – sales is inherently humbling. I once had my house on the market for six months without any offers to buy it – despite lowering my price by over a hundred thousand dollars (from $599,000 to $499,000). As a ruler, he would be used to just decreeing and have others obey. But you can’t order your customers to order.
  2. Agreement – you can’t sell anything unless you and the seller can agree. The kingdom of heaven operates within the power of agreement. You have to learn to agree with God’s word, despite what experts (like doctors) or loved ones (like family and friends) or circumstances tell you. Agreement is so powerful that Jesus said that even just two or three people can agree, He will show up personally!
  3. Relationship – sales is an inherently relational activity. Even when your sales is to corporates or governments, you need all the “working together” skills. Even turning his personal taste in precious possessions to money so that the eventual recipients could buy whatever THEY wanted, would give our rich young ruler the skill of thinking about the other person’s needs and desires.

What do you think? Why did Jesus suggest he sell? And why tie sales together with being “perfect”?

 

Changing the World, in an Hour

On the first Sunday of 2018, I decided to take on a challenging mission:
Change the world, in an hour.

In particular, I’d like to make the world a more equal place, firstly for those experiencing unemployment.

When I recently told people I was “unemployed” they seemed to hear all kinds of other things. I just meant that I was between projects, but they reacted as if they’d heard – on the dole, broke, lazy, bludger, stupid, idle, hopeless, unemployable etc… unless they’d been unemployed themselves. Then they knew it’s something that can happen to any of us at any time. And that when it does, we could do with a little extra help.

So, forgive me if I’m not blogging at ShazJones.com as regularly as I usually do. I’ll be busy.

You can follow my 2018 project on the Equality Hour website, twitter, or facebook.

And if you’d like to help me change the world, in an hour, please join the community – I’m going to need all the help I can get to invest in the future of as many unemployed people as I can!

Whatever you’ve decided to do in 2018, I hope you help others along the way and have fun doing it… I know I will!

 

Attracting Younger Members Masterclass

The Attracting Younger Members Masterclass with Seth Brooks live from Portland, Oregon was amazing!
Seth revealed his secrets for reaching 5-10,000 young people every week
How he doubled a young adults group in less than 60 days
Where young people gather (online and offline) so you can reach large numbers easily and instantly
Leadership Lessons for Growing Organisations

and literally, much, much more!

Aaaaaand because I love you, I’ve made the replay available.

Oh yeah, and it’s FREE!

Simply, go to our ShazMedia channel to register and you can access the replay immediately.

 

Finding Hidden Treasures

We all know appearances can be deceiving. But should they be?

If you watch Superman, you’d have to answer yes.

Superman super hiddenMost of the world only sees Superman’s heroic deeds meeting other’s needs – his instagram feeds.

But Clark Kent is the one who earns the money. Think about that for a minute… He’s slaving away at his desk, most of the day, most of the year, being boring old Clark. And getting paid.

Superman is merely the part-time volunteer.  Clark is the full-time worker.

I think all of our lives are a bit like that. Most people who only know me via social media, can’t work out how I earn money because I’m never selling, I’m just superheroing.

I’d worked in media before, at newspapers and radio stations, but it was when I first started working in television, that I began to understand the phrase “the magic of television”.

Television rarely shows you the boring bits. It’s called SHOW business for a reason – they’re always putting on a show. And that show hides the boring bits and bad news… the business.

Understanding what to hide and what not to, is a key skill in media.

And it’s the key skill that Jesus addresses in Matthew 6 when he shows people how to get maximum rewards from the same activity; it’s often by hiding what you’re doing.

It’s not a case of not being authentic, quite the opposite. It’s a case of not doing things with the primary motivation of putting on a show – the performance, the being seen, is a type of reward, but it robs you of the true reward.

There are two different kinds of deceiving appearances; hypocrisy and intimacy. One draws attention to how good you are and how bad others are. The other uncovers yourself before God and lovingly covers over the sins of others.

When Jesus told stories about heaven, it was often also about the hidden… a pearl buried in a field, a seed sown in soil. Most of the most precious things in this world have to be searched for – pearls, gold, oil … none of them are freely found on the surface.

I find it interesting that angels are often so “deceptive” the we are encouraged to be hospitable to everyone because it’s possible to be completely unaware that you are entertaining angels.

Even if your business is struggling, don’t judge a book by its cover. Your business has hidden treasures in it. Some people, especially media people, are practiced in seeing the hidden things that others are completely unaware of. It’s like they have Superman’s x-ray vision.

If you want to start working with me to uncover your hidden treasures, email MissShazJones@gmail.com and let’s turn this show into a business!

5 Profit Lessons From Silicon Valley

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a propensity to teach. Even before I started school, I somehow knew that a teacher stood out the front and talked while everyone else listened. I wanted to be the person others listened to. As a four year old it had nothing to do with money or profits, I just enjoyed teaching. So I would line up all my dolls and teach them. Inevitably, they were naughty (I don’t know where I picked up such a foreign concept from 😉 so I would smack their tiny, plastic bottoms!

Two weeks ago I spent time in Silicon Valley and I didn’t sit in a classroom, but I learned lessons that I’d never heard anyone else talk (or write) about.

  1. Size Matters
    The most overwhelming first impression was how HUGE everything was. I felt really tiny all of a sudden, like a four year old in a world of adults. Google, Facebook and Apple all have massive properties. I knew they were global companies and that their headquarters would be big. But there is not just one large building, there is campus after campus, building after building, facility after facility. At Google for example, you’ll need a cycle to move between all the locations which sprawl out over Mountain View.
    Creating a sense of scale, helps profits by giving your customers confidence.
  2. Security Matters
    These tech giants are not just concerned with keeping their software secure, they all have a very visible army of security guards physically protecting their properties. You are not allowed into any of their buildings. You are instructed to just take a photo and move on. And it’s even more pronounced in Silicon Beach (in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach area). Google’s offices don’t even have a logo. And Snapchat’s headquarters has no logo, frosted glass windows and security guards.
    Creating a sense of security, helps profits by giving your employees a sense of confidence.
  3. Real Estate Matters
    Google especially, and to a lesser extent Facebook and Apple have leveraged their income streams into successful investments in real estate. Google owns much more real estate than the offices that their more than 50,000 employees turn up to every weekday. In fact, they own more than 10% of all real estate in the neighborhood. There are places you can stand in Silicon Valley where Google is the owner of everything as far as the eye can see.
    Creating a sense of permanency, helps profits by giving your investors a sense of confidence.
  4. Education Matters
    Facebook is the favourite choice of the big three, especially among women, who want to work with Sheryl Sandberg, and everyone who wants a healthy work/life balance (the sprawling employee carpark is empty on the weekend). Apparently, for every one job opening at Facebook, an average of 10,000 applications pour in. Apple has a reputation for attracting those who love design and want to be the best, but different… even though there is a lot of pressure and constant deadlines. Google has high pressure deadlines too. I was told that “Push” is the favourite word of managers there. And the carpark is sadly full on the weekend. But it is the place you go, if you want to get the best training and development. The Education you receive at Google is *almost* as good as students receive at the nearby campus of Stanford University. All three of the giants benefit from this local pool of students where the campus is packed with motivational banners saying things like “Change the world!”
    Creating a culture of learning helps profits by giving suppliers a sense that you will continue growing.
  5. Location Matters
    I once read that the quickest way to acquire any skill is by association. I’ve read many times that you are the sum of the five people who most associate with. That’s why where you locate yourself matters. Silicon Valley has an entire ecosystem of potential customers, employees, investors, suppliers and entrepreneurs. You can go into just about any cafe (and savvy journalists and bloggers often do) and hear conversations about technology, business and growth. In this environment becoming profitable is so easy it can happen almost accidentally .
    Choosing a strategic location helps profits by giving owners a sense that you are surrounded by profits. And I learnt that teachers don’t always have a classroom: sometimes just associating yourself with success, can teach you much more than a smack on a plastic bottom.

If you want to chat about how you can apply these lessons from Silicon Valley unicorns to your specific business, go to the start working with Shaz page.

Silicon Valley tech tour

Partnering For Profit

I’m stubborn.

Sometimes, that’s a good thing. If I’m right and I’m fighting a righteous cause, it’s a very good thing. Nearly every successful person I know has credited at least part of their success to persistence.

If I’m wrong, or what I’m doing isn’t even important, let alone right, stubbornness is a liability.

I once heard a very rich man say “Skeptical and Broke is a bad combination”. He was talking about how thankful he was that he took a risk on something he wasn’t convinced would work. And how now that he was rich, he has turned his skepticism way up.

Just about everything we do is a partnership. We need to recognise what are good partners and what aren’t.

Some people just bring out the best in me. Then there’s the others…

Partnering can be tricky. In business as well as marriage, the right partner can multiply your effectiveness. The wrong partner can block your effectiveness entirely.

And profit is always a partnering thing.

Jesus questioned whether gaining the whole world was profitable at all when the loss was too high – your own soul.

The bible talks about how powerful the word of God is (Hebrews 4:12) but then says it can be rendered completely ineffective by tradition (Matthew 15:6).

Scriptures tell us that faith is the one thing that is absolutely required to please God (Hebrews 11:6), but is not profitable – in fact it is as useless as a corpse – if it isn’t partnered with works (James 2:14-26)

I recently worked in the political sector for the first time. So I studied political books. In Alan Behm’s memoir “No, minister” he quotes the perfect maxim:
“He knew nothing but thought he knew everything; making him perfectly suited for a career in politics”.

Ignorance can be bliss when it is partnered with an insouciant innocence or even a voracious curiosity. But when it is partnered with arrogance it is dangerous at best, and too often completely destructive.

So if you’re mixing it up, how do you find good profit partners?

I look for people that can profit from my knowledge.

I look for situations that can profit from my expertise.

I look for opportunities that will profit from my passion.

I look for projects that will profit from my strengths.

If you do that, you should continually grow in profits.

And it’s just as important to avoid those situations where the losses will be too great. I was reminded again recently how vitally important it is to avoid partners (people, situations, opportunities and projects) that don’t value my knowledge, expertise, passion or strengths. Saying no to those things might make people think that I’m stubborn. And they’re right.

 

Pic Credit: @andrewroblesphoto

Master of Scale

One of my favourite podcasts is Masters of Scale, where Reid Hoffman (Venture Capitalist and co-founder of Linked In) interviews entrepreneurs about how they scaled.

There’s lots of great lessons every episode, that I won’t try to recreate here – it’s worth a listen.

But it always reminds me what a BIG thinker God is.

No, for all the nations of the world
    are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
    than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
    as though it were a grain of sand.
Isaiah 40:15

Just picture that for a minute…. God picking up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand balancing on the tip of his finger….

The truth is the journey for most entrepreneurs involves growing your capacity so that things that used to seem way too big for you to handle, become so easy to handle, it’s like flicking a grain of sand off the end of your finger.

You have to stretch your mindset, exercise your faith, grow your skills, enlarge your ability to deal with finances and much more.

The area that I see first-time entrepreneurs struggle the most is with people skills. Leading a team of people ain’t easy. It just ain’t. But the way you steward people is often the most limiting factor in the scale your business grows to.

Allow your team members to be late, annoying, sick, make mistakes, lacking in talent and disappointing. Because guess what? That’s how you got here, too.

I’m really good at spotting talent. And I’m good at recruiting and developing talent. Mainly because of all the mistakes I’ve made in these areas!

One of the best techniques I’ve learnt, is to look at the other person and repeat in your mind “We need you”. And smile. We are one body. We need each other. Any other mindset is truly a deception.

Often, the reason people seem to be “more trouble than they’re worth” is because they’re not yet in the right spot. An eye is really useful when it’s helping you to see. But if you’re trying to walk on it, it will seem really painful just to be around.

Jesus knew that leaving the 99 to recover the 1 was the only way to ensure His flock would grow into a multi-generational, global flock. We need that cheeky little sheepy baa baa on board. We’re all the better for being together.

So it might be time to do a team audit. Is everyone displaying they’re worth? Are they providing value to others? If they’re not, it’s up to you to unlock their value. How? Usually, by assigning them to a new project, a new team, a new context. How do you choose that new role?

Wait for it. It will shock you. Ask THEM!

And then LISTEN to them. And give them honest appreciation and feedback.

The writer of Hebrews doesn’t say “Don’t neglect the gathering of yourselves together…” He says “Don’t neglect the assembling of yourselves together.” Hebrews 10:25

If you’re the key to growth (and you are), your role is to approach the organisation like an orchestra. You have to make sure all the violinists are sitting together so they’re not poking out the trumpet player’s eye every time they play.

Even if growth isn’t your role, if you are answering phones but you’d rather be blogging or coding a website, help yourself, your organisation, and everyone else around you, by letting them know. There maybe some timing issues, but the sooner you let your team leader know, the sooner you can become a functional part of the assembly.

Success is funny. It’s like putting together a Swiss watch. Your assembly shouldn’t have even one screw loose. You might need to use tiny tweezers and a magnifying glass. Assemble it to be a finely honed machine – not losing a second – “working like clockwork”.

That’s the irony of thinking big. Scale is about being able to handle the whole earth as if it is a tiny, delicate, detailed grain of sand. Getting the details right is what allows you to go global at staggering speed.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the WORLD = BIG thinking….
and make disciples = SMALL doing.

On the first episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, the co-founder and CEO of global growth Godzilla AirBnB, Brian Chesky, summed it up this way “In order to scale you have to do things that don’t scale”.

 

Priceless Advice to Profit

One of the best things you can do to profit, is to step away from your business.

I heard a preacher last month say “I love those big red double-decker buses they have in London. I took a photo of one for you!”

Up on a giant screen flashed a completely red screen. And he said “Sometimes you’re too close to see what is right in front of you!”

So, getting some distance is often the first step to getting wisdom.

Have you ever met someone who only ever sees problems (even when everyone else is awestruck by a miracle)? They think they’re so clever they want to put floaties on Jesus because they think they alone understand the difficulties that Jesus just can’t see.

Even if you’re not surrounded by problems or problem people, take some time out from listening to your own thoughts and from seeing what is up close. Listen to the advice of others who have already beaten their own path to profit.

Often, they’ll tell you how profit is the worst place to start (but a great place to end).

One of the unique things about entrepreneurs, unlike other business owners, is that they are usually creating something brand new. So there’s not necessarily going to be technical advice of how to solve your specific problems.

But there are clues left by other entrepreneurs about what might be even more important – people like Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.

The point is, there’s always help. This video helped me – I trust you are at least inspired to pursue your own pathways to profit. And hopefully also learn something that you can put into action today to help you see a double-decker busload of profit heading your way!