The Institute for Christ Centered Manhood aims to foster a desire in men to be the kind of Christ centered fathers, husbands and sons that can lead their families to God and his will in an immoral and wicked world. The Lord challenged his servants to be “Wise as serpents and harmless as doves” see Mathew 10:16. As men and leaders of homes, families, business, and communities, we can play a major role in a renaissance that will return integrity to our spheres of influence. This effort is facilitated in part by this forum and blog where ideas may be shared and problems discussed. I also offer my services as a guest speaker and consultant in organizations, church groups, and service clubs. My fees and rates are available by emailing a request.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Leading for Excellence Part 2

Vision & Outlook:

It is imperative that leaders have a handle on the particulars but do not claim to be an expert in all of things.  Once this is understood, the daunting tasks ahead are far more manageable.  The leader of a symphony orchestra does not play all of the instruments, he has a “score” that has each and every note that all instruments play.  As he leads the music, he sees AND understands each and every player’s role and how it all fits together.  He is an active participant and as the conductor, he is in charge.  The musicians defer to the conductors judgment and direction, yet they are the ones whose bodies are employed in the physical act of playing the notes.  Likewise, a leader will surround himself with quality musicians whose instruments are spread sheets, bank ledgers, fundraising, marketing, and a myriad of other skills.  So our task here is to understand these processes and know how to employ them to build programs. 
            We often get excited about our dreams and ideas for some grand master plan for the future while sitting in a coffee house pontificating on a bar napkin.  In our enthusiasm, we want to jump to implementation.  We ignore the minutia that needs to precede the implementation of that bar napkin theory.  Dreams and ideas can come to fruition but they need real work to lay the foundation.  The ideas come to fruition through what Daniel Chambliss says is  in his work “the mundanity of excellence” (1989).  Inspiring others to have a vision of the terminal goal and the energy to do the day to day tasks to get there is a task of the leader or visionary.  Leading for excellence is keeping your eye on the mark and your hand to the plow in the daily even mundane tasks.  Those tasks alone do not accomplish excellence, but the synergistic sum creates excellence in their collective power. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thoughts on Organizational Leadership

Leading For Excellence

Part 1 of 4

            Why do some organizations succeed and some fail?  Given similar demographics and models in the same market, why does one business thrive and one struggle?  We realize that any given community can only support (with the available resources) so many grocery stores, pizza parlors, and burger joints.  In the non-profit world, competition, while not as visible as in the for-profit world, is still very real.  Leading for excellence is one of the keys which determine the success or failure of any given venture, whether it be non-profit or for-profit, private or public.  Excellence is key.  It is not enough that a leader is charismatic, dynamic and in fact “excellent;” that excellent leader must lead for excellence in his or her team and organization.  Excellence needs to be the culture and vision of the organization, from the CEO all the way down to the janitor.  Excellence occurs where we have the convergence of skillful thought and planning in four main areas:  Selection & Training, and Vision & Outlook, Attitude & Energy, Strategy & Planning,

Selection & Training:
It all begins here and is illustrated by the following three points. 
First:  Leaders must select, train, and sustain people to find meaning in their work and place them where this is most likely to occur.  This will occur when a system is designed to address this in the three areas mentioned (selection, training, and sustaining).  It starts in the “front-end” hiring process.  Then we need to provide training that fosters this and as leaders we must continually seek to sustain our employees’ feelings of fulfillment. 

Second:  As a lover of gardening, I have spent hours upon hours - graph paper in hand, planning the lay out of a vegetable garden.  I take into consideration things like: sun exposure, amount of shading of the plants they would be growing next to, harvest and replanting schedules, fertilizer types, drainage and watering needs, pest attraction, etc.  I love this analogy to systems and leadership.  A job of a leader, like a gardener, is to lead people (and plants in a garden) to be a part of a system rather than just a collection of parts (or plants).   When we are part of something greater rather than a collection of parts, this can lead to a fraternity of sorts that provides added strength and resiliency.  For leaders to accomplish this they must have a proficient understanding of group dynamics.  A leader must understand and know his people in order to know where in the group dynamic the employee fits the system.  This is a function of a great HR person who will work closely with executive staff.

Third (and leading to the next area):  All staff, not just leadership, needs to be converted to serve the mission and values.  All roads – All programs – All activities BOTH lead to AND emanate from Values and Mission.  A leader exudes the mission and values of the organization. 

Leaders must 1) be in tuned to the front end process of selection and training and helping get employees to get their personal needs met while at the same time 2) be in tuned with the group dynamic and see where people fit to meet the needs of the system all the while they are getting their own needs met.  Then 3) while people are getting their own needs met and the system is getting its needs met, leaders must see that both people and system are meeting the needs of the mission and values and that the mission and values are conversely meeting the needs of the people and system.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Dad

An old man wrinkled by time and experience, bowed by the weight of a lifetime of responsibility, walks alone on a cold crisp night.  The man has taken this slow and deliberate walk to no particular destination and with no particular purpose in mind.  The deliberateness of the man’s walk comes partly from the frailty that so often accompanies a man of many years and partly from the wisdom that comes with those years which says that some things need not be rushed.  As he walks, the man’s thoughts focus only on the trail and the beauty of the night.  All that can be heard are the sounds of darkness and his own footsteps.  A gust of wind accosts the man and he gathers his coat more tightly around him.  He holds onto his hat and leans in to confront the wind as he continues down the path.  After covering some distance, the man stops only to find himself on a precipice overlooking the city that he has called home for nearly eighty years.  The view is clear before him, and his still sharp mind reflects on his long and fruitful life.  The sights of the city below seem to stimulate memories long buried and deemed irrelevant.  As he reviews the past, he is struck by the splendor and glory of the place that he has called home for so long.  He realizes that he has taken much for granted all of these years.  The man is humbled and thankful to God for his life and for what he has been allowed these past eighty years.  He sees the place he played hide and seek with the neighborhood kids and he appreciates again the joy and carefree feelings of childhood.  He hears his dear mother’s voice calling him to dinner, and he remembers all of the time spent around that kitchen table.  He sees the place he met his wife and tears come to his eyes.  He now realizes that she indeed may have been as perfect as he thought she was the first time he laid eyes on her.  He sees their first home together and the children that he worried about and gloried in all those years.  This exercise brings the man to the realization that his life has become a mosaic.  He sees that his life has had a definite pattern that has been watched over by some power greater than himself.  He does not quite understand but he is wise enough to appreciate.  After much reminiscing, the man realizes how cold it really is and decides to go back from whence he came.  Before he goes, the man takes one last look over the scene and realizes that this will probably be the last time he finds himself in this place.  He adjusts his coat and hat then turns to leave, and his journey home is just as slow and deliberate as the walk that brought him to the precipice.  As we reflect on this man’s experience, we conclude upon first consideration that he is just another old man.  In his own mind he is nothing special, but I believe that if we were able to experience this man’s life first hand, we would probably find him a man of true greatness. 
Many a man has made this journey at some point in his life.  A man whose life has had meaning, meaning for himself and meaning for others, is worthy of consideration.  True greatness does not come from doing but rather from becoming.  A man whose life has brought meaning only to himself has lacked the vision and understanding of what life is all about and has fooled himself.  A man who has brought meaning to others brings meaning upon himself.  Truly great men act and are not acted upon.  Truly great men inspire others to action.  This inspiration comes not from what is said but rather how it is said.  Truly great men are not necessarily memorable or noble; rather, great men inspire the memorable and noble thought.  Michael Angelo’s creations did not make him great.  Michael Angelo’s creations were inhabited by the spirit of inspiration and love and that is what made his creations great.  The words of Martin Luther King Jr were not new to the English language.  His were common words made uncommon by the inspiration and love that inhabited them.  They were words that inspired others to action.  The power of one man to inspire noble thought is incontestably a study in true and legitimate greatness. 
My father was no Michael Angelo.  While he invented things, his creations did not inspire anyone other than his children.  My father was no Martin Luther King Jr.  He could not command an audience or bring anyone to an ovation with any gift of speech.  My father was not a lot of things, yet he was a lot of things to those who loved him.  He did inspire, and he was a man of true and legitimate greatness.  He was a man of greatness because of the power of his character that so indomitably accompanied him no matter where he went or what he was doing. 
As a child, I watched my father lead and work in countless groups both formally organized and otherwise.  Never once did I see him command as so many do.  There had been times in my youth when I mistook his behavior as weakness.  I often mistook him for the servant.  It was not until later in my life that I began to understand what strength really was and that my father was a giant among other men.  The dichotomy of this realization was that my father never recognized his greatness and would never have been able to fathom the thought.  He often thought of himself to be one of those “insignificants.”  I have recently begun to think that his humility was so intertwined with his greatness that if he ever realized his greatness he would not have been great.                                                                                                    
Why is greatness, true and legitimate greatness, so rare in the men of this world?  I have contemplated this for quite some time, and I have come to the realization that our society fosters and rewards dysfunction.  We put so much emphasis on production, getting ahead, and climbing the ladder that we forget that we are part of the human family.  We must understand that as a member of the human family our every action and interaction no matter how seemingly insignificant greatly influences the world around us.  The understanding of stewardship instead of the erroneous beliefs of ownership, honor instead of pride, and principle instead of perfidiousness has not been instilled in the men of recent generations.  If we are to remain a viable and progressive society, we must foster greatness in our men.  If we do not, we will fail.
In light of these revelations, I have been working on a book about my father because: I do not wish the life of my father to be forgotten by my dear children who only knew him for such a short time, I want to aid in my own grieving process, and to show the world what men must become in order to remain that viable society.  Despite this unabated talk of greatness, I do realize that my father was far from perfect, and I do not wish the reader to think that I am blinded to his imperfections.  I acknowledge that he was a man of occasional temper, a passive aggressive man who in his dealings with his own family was rather inadequate.  His self-consciousness was often communicated through his occasional aloofness, but despite these flaws, he was a great man.  I will tell the story, you decide.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thoughts about Christ Centered Mentorship & Helping

Helping Philosophies that the Christ Centered Mentor needs to understand:

-Constructive Criticism: No such thing.
Criticism in any form creates anxiety and when we are anxious, learning is impossible. 
I think of the Savior being approached with the question “which sinned, this man or his parents?”  The Savior’s response was not to blame but to heal and teach.  This does not mean you do not stand up for moral principles; after all, even the savior cleansed the temple.  When teaching and healing is the goal, criticism is counterproductive. 
-Transference & counter-transference.
The idea that these can be eliminated from a helping relationship is utterly false and any one who thinks any differently is lying to themselves. 
Emotions should not be suppressed – they need to be understood and managed.  

Gives away the blamer’s power and bestows it on the blamee. We only have power to change something if we take ownership or blame for that “something.”
What about that the women taken in adultery?  I believe the Saviors example fits here.

In a therapeutic relationship, bluffing is always detected.

-Belief that we can know others is erroneous.
No human has the capacity in him/her self to know the thoughts of others, no matter how well we are acquainted. 
We can conceive of others thoughts, we can empathize, we can even mirror and anticipate with almost complete accuracy, but there are no mind listening devices that can literally hear the thoughts of others.  Only by being in-tune with the Spirit can we be led in this regard. 

-Life is a business of the heart not the intellect.
We cannot live life in our heads, we must be who we are. This does not mean we cannot change our natures or who we are with the Lord’s help, but we must come to accept our own metaphorical and sometimes literal genealogy BEFORE we can make any difference in our lives. We must operate through our hearts, not our minds.

-I (and everyone) am the center of the universe.
We are human creatures and as such we see life through a lens. We cannot see it through another person’s lens, we only see through our own. We can ask others what they see, but we cannot see what they see. We are each the center of our own universe and the world does revolve around each of us. 

-Dancer will survive the plumber.
Our ability to experience life and grow through each experience, to take it as it comes if you will, will produce a healthier life than a static one perspective approach. Life is the constant and we are the variable not the other way around.

-Control vs. Tolerance.
The idea that we can exercise control or dominion is a fallacy. In the helping professions especially we must meet people where they are, we must encourage not direct. We must support not judge (unless you are called to that position). We must be tolerant and not controlling. Through Socratic questioning we can affect others to change themselves, but telling people what to do never changed anyone.
Think about Saul (Paul). The Lord asked him a question (“why persecutest thou me?”) and stated some facts (“It is hard to kick against the pricks.”) He did not command him to stop; he invited him to think about his life and change sides.
-Doing for vs. doing with
The whole teaching a man to fish thing - We do not learn by being given only by doing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The inspirational figures in my life:

The Lord has cautioned us that salvation is only in him.  Our testimonies cannot be wrapped up in another mortal and those who do put their trust in man are doomed to failure in matters of eternity.  However, in the way that Paul councils the saints in Philippians 3:17 to be “followers of him,” I also have figures in my life that give me inspiration.  Mentoring relationships are key and every Christ Centered man needs to first and foremost have a relationship with the Savior and with his spouse, but a close second is to have a mentor in Christ, a sponsor if you will.  Christ-like friendships and supports are a key element in a Christ Centered life.  I have a number of inspirational figures in my life, Three of them I wish to mention here are William Booth, My father William Burton Thomas, and H.C. (Joe) Raymond:

William Booth: 
William booth was the founder of the Salvation Army.  His story can be found in a number of places.  One good synopsis is found at

The General
I grew up in this organization and have found myself molded and fitted for the Lords service by Booth’s words and his story.  Some of the most famous words attributed to him are as follows:

While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight-I'll fight to the very end!

William Burton Thomas:
Dad in his last year

My Father William Burton Thomas was a man of God who for all of his faults filled me with a love of the savior and of serving others.  When I think of my father I think of the Scripture II Corinthians 10:4.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 

 H.C. (Joe) Raymond:
At a time in my life when I had changed directions and was seeking a new life in a different field, I met a man who served as an internship supervisor.  I found the opportunities that I had to work with Joe and bounce ideas off of him and discuss my budding philosophy and understanding of the principles of life and organizational leadership, were some of the most profound of my life.  Joe became more than my internship supervisor, he became a friend and mentor.  Joe, like my father, is just a man but I found that the opportunity to work with another man who mentored me in Christ and leadership helped me be who I am.  I believe these kinds of relationships need to be fostered.  Joe’s current professional projects can be found at

Christ Centered Organizational Leadership:

There are a number of works that offer great guidance in this regard.  My favorite texts are Steven Covey’s writings in this area - see  (I am in no way affiliated with the Covey Center and have no relationship with this organization).  I have worked in the private and non-profit human service field for more than twenty years and really my whole life.  I have also been in the restaurant business for much of my life.  In all of my experiences, I have had both successes and failures.  These experiences have brought me to boil these thoughts down to a number of organizational leadership principles that I adhere to and speak about. 
These are just some of my talking points in this regard.  They are fairly unorganized here but as time goes by I will expound on each of them and you are free to ask for an expanded discussion on any particular one:

Select, train, and sustain people to find meaning in their work and place them where this is most likely to occur. 

Leaders of systems need to have a proficient understanding of group dynamics

All roads – All programs – All activities BOTH lead to AND emanate from Values and Mission.

Leaders ensure effective planning and follow the process thru to implementation and accountability

Emotional attachment to an issue is a factor but is ultimately trumped by sound business principles when program planning.

Mission and Values are essential to agency practice.  Planning needs to emanate from the mission and values filtered through internal and external analysis

Leaders understand and orchestrate the energy in an organization in order to facilitate desired action and change. 

Leaders demand a well thought researched plan that includes all three goal/outcome levels before implementation is proposed. 

Organizations make service delivery and customer perception a key feature of program planning.

Leaders are effective conductors of mission and vision focused program planning efforts that motivate and inspire throughout the entire program development process.

Leaders ensure that the proverbial cart and horse are in the proper order when it comes to program development.

Leaders communicate destination and inspire action to get there. 

Leaders plan and strategize as a rule and then the organizational crisis becomes the exception.

Leaders take a long term outlook and steel themselves for long term efforts and challenges.

Leaders have vision and keep their eye on the mark.

Leaders utilize accountability mechanisms to ensure implementation.

Leaders train others to be leaders.

Ten things that a Christ Centered Man supports and seeks after:

A Christ Centered Man is benevolent and loving.
He sees himself as a servant of others
Stands up for truth, freedom, and personal responsibility
Accepts all people as children of God and harbors no prejudice
Is honest in his dealings with others
Treats all women and girls with the utmost respect, honor, and equality
Clean and plain in speech and lifestyle
Kind and charitable (tithes their time as well as their money).
Puts first things first
Seeks the spirit of the Lord through daily scripture study and unceasing prayer. 

Ten things that the Christ Centered Man shuns & abhors:

There are a number of things that are not conducive to a Christ centered life.  Some may be controversial but true nonetheless:

Abuse (emotional /physical)
Unions and Secret Combinations
Unrighteous dominion in all its forms
Liberalism/Progressivism/Socialism and all other left wing politics
Intemperance and all other narcissistic sophistry and lifestyle
Vulgarity in speech and behavior