This is the third installment of the series, and perhaps the most theological. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Two weeks ago, we learned that the manager role is the “catalyst” role. As change agents, managers must speed up the reaction between the employee’s (or volunteer’s) talents and the organization’s goals. But what is at the heart of management?

According to Matt Perman, the heart of good management is treating people well, who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Manager should treat people well because of the Great Commandment, specifically its second part:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39, emphasis added)

If we are to love God, we are also to love people who are created in His image. Leaders ought to manage people in light of the Great Commandment, loving them and treating them well. Why orient management around the Great Commandment? Perman asserts that (1) it is right—we have no other option; (2) it serves people better—treating them as people make them more effective and grow as individuals; and (3) it serves the organization—respecting people increases the organization’s effectiveness.

On the last point, Perman writes:

The good news is that there is not a conflict between treating people right and accomplishing the results of the organization. Rather, it is when we treat people right that the organization accomplishes better results. (Emphasis added)

So leaders, if you want to reach organizational goals better, then treat people well.

Leaders, are you managing people in light of the Great Commandment? Are you treating people well?

PS In the last installment, we’ll take a closer look on the “four keys” of great management.

It’s no secret that I’m into local romantic films. Since watching Cathy Garcia-Molina’s One More Chance back in college, I have jumped into the almost-cultic bandwagon of Pinoy love movies. I even watched all flicks featuring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo, the stars of One More Chance, on big screen after their blockbuster hit back in 2007. (By the way, I made a series of articles on the lessons I got from Starting Over Again, a Pinoy rom-com released last year. Check the first article here.)

After 8 years, Star Cinema released A Second Chance, the sequel to One More Chance. One More Chance was about the breaking up and getting back together of Popoy Gonzales (played by John Lloyd) and Basha Eugenio (Bea). A Second Chance was about the married life of Popoy and Basha.

Popoy and Basha (Photo from

Popoy and Basha (Photo from

I was doubtful if the sequel can live up to the hype and follow through with the success of its predecessor. I was asking: Can a story about the married life equally match a story about the pre-married life?

To answer my question, I watched A Second Chance last weekend. To my amazement, it matched One More Chance. And for all the lessons one could glean from it, I think it even surpassed its predecessor.

There were lots of lessons from the movie and I would want to share some of my takeaways. Here are 3 things A Second Chance did for me (I’m warning you now of possible spoilers):

First, it gave me a realistic vision of marriage. More often than not, movies give us overly-romanticized ideas about the married and pre-married life. A Second Chance does otherwise. It shows us that while marriage can be a happy union between a man and a woman, it is not without hardships and hard work.

In the film, Popoy and Basha started the marriage well (honeymoon years!). But over the years, their marriage went through conflicts, trust issues, unwise financial decisions, a poor sex life, etc. Their story shows that their marriage, just like others’, is imperfect. After all, marriage is a union of two sinners.

After watching the movie, a friend jokingly remarked, “Ayaw ko na atang mag-asawa” (I think don’t want to get married anymore). My friend was sharing the sentiment of many other singles who saw the film. A Second Chance, thus, did well in giving a realistic, even brutally-realistic, vision of marriage. While it didn’t discourage marriage, it made people think about jumping into a lifelong commitment with another person.

Second, it showed me that husbands need respect from their wives. We could glean many lessons on marriage roles from the movie. But let me zero-in in one aspect: Basha’s loss of respect for Popoy. It’s not overt; it’s subtle.

Here’s how it began: Popoy experienced business challenges that led to financial loss. When Basha learned of it (because Popoy hid it from her), she took over the business, making decisions for it and even disregarding her husbands’ input and past decisions. Subtly, she took over the marriage as well.

Then there was this scene where Popoy admitted that he didn’t want to come home anymore. Why? Because he felt like a failure in the eyes of Basha. Clearly, he had lost the respect of his wife. (It was at this point of the movie that I got teary-eyed. As a man, I could feel that heavy blow to Popoy’s ego.)

But this could be avoided if Popoy had been more open to his wife and together they faced the challenge instead of subtly “switching” roles.

Third, it helped me embrace the present. I may not have been into a relationship before. But that doesn’t mean I’m without heartaches.

I made decisions and acts that led to emotional pains and regrets. I asked myself questions, “What if I did this?” “What if I didn’t say that?” “What if…?” So many “what ifs”!

But I liked what Popoy said towards the end of the movie: “It’s brave to ask ‘what if’, but it’s braver to embrace ‘what is’.” He had learned to accept the fact that an imperfect Popoy is married to an imperfect Basha.

I should stop asking “what ifs” and learn to embrace “what is”. That’s braver. But I think it’s bravest to trust God and entrust “what will be”—the future—to Him.

This is the second installment of the series. See Part 1 here.

Last week, we learned that leaders are managers. They must manage well, viewing management as a ministry, to connect conviction and operation, and to accomplish their organization’s mission more effectively.

But what exactly is management? Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman write on what I consider a people-centric kind of management. (And from this point on, I will be referring mostly to the authors’ management viewpoint.1) In their excellent management book First, Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman describe the manager role as the “catalyst” role:

As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically, the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong, one employee at a time.2

In order to speed up the reaction, the “catalyst” (manager) must select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person. These are the primary activities of a manager. If you noticed, these focus on the individual, on people. (So there goes away the conventional thinking that management is just processes, systems, and whatnots, lifeless and mechanical.) Sure, the manager may do other responsibilities. But he ought not to deviate from these if he would want to excel in his role.

Buckingham and Coffman go more specific on these activities. They say that managers must select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, and find the right fit. These are the “four keys” to great management. (I will discuss more on this in a future installment.)

I think Buckingham and Coffman’s viewpoint is the “best management thinking”, in agreement to Matt Perman. It respects people’s individuality, freedom, and autonomy. Moreover, it ultimately respects the individual who is created in the image of God. This respect for people, according to Perman, is “the guiding principle of management.”

Leaders, are you a playing the “catalyst” role well? Do you speed up the reaction between your people’s talents the organization’s goals?

PS In this article, we just described what management is. In a future installment, we will be more specific on how to apply the “four keys” to great management. It will be the most practical in the series.

PPS Don’t forget to read Matt Perman’s whole article. It is a more comprehensive treatment on the subject of management. The title alone should already entice you to read it: “Management in Light of the Supremacy of God: How Should Christians Think About Management?”

1Dr. Albert Mohler have more in mind when talking about management, including budgets, policies, structures, etc. But in this series of articles, I will mostly be referring to management that focuses on people.
2Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All the Rules (Great Britain: Pocket Books, 2005), 54.

As a leader of a student ministry, I organize weekly fellowship gatherings. To determine growth (or decline) of the gathering, I check for attendance. And to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with attendance.

Photo from

I have to admit that when attendance is high, I’m happy and encouraged. But when it’s low, I sometimes get discouraged and even question my calling, which is quite stupid. (The lesson here? Don’t place your joy and sense of affirmation in the performance of your ministry.)

Sometimes, I fall into two extremes as well. The first extreme is being too numbers- or quantity-oriented. A church or ministry is said to be doing well when attendance is high. But we— church/ministry leaders—know that this is not always the case. Quantity doesn’t automatically mean quality.

The other extreme is not caring for attendance at all. But if we don’t care at all, then we have no way to determine if the church or ministry is growing. We also can’t tell if our people are inviting and evangelizing non-Christians enough, and if we’re spending resources wisely.

So how do I now view church/ministry attendance? Thankfully, I am helped by Timothy Z. Witmer. In his excellent book The Shepherd Leader, he contends that “shepherding” is at the heart of the biblical picture of leadership. Just like literal shepherds, one of the key responsibilities of a shepherd-leader is to protect his “sheep”—the people—especially from straying. Witmer notes that “[o]ne of the first observable evidences of straying is a change in church attendance patterns.”1 He also writes:

If reduced attendance is a warning sign of straying, the shepherd-elder must have access to the attendance patterns of his sheep. If this is the case, then it is urgent that leaders develop a system for monitoring the attendance of members. Remember that one of the key synonyms for “elder” in the New Testament is the word “overseer.” Many elders are not aware of the attendance patterns of members and, therefore are not in a position to make a swift response to their absence. All too often, by the time a member’s absence is noticed, it is well into the “difficult to re-involve” stage. Despite the fact that there is a universal agreement about the importance of members’ worship attendance, many churches fail to make an effort to keep track. Yet, this is one simple means of [protecting the sheep from straying]…2

Different churches or ministries employ different means to check attendance. In the student ministry that I lead, we check by counting attendance in our gatherings. If there’s a significant drop or a consistent decline, we are alarmed and make swift response.

But how do we determine who are absent? Our student ministry, just like our church, employs a small groups strategy.3 So the small group leaders determine who are absent and makes the follow-up.

So I hope that your view of checking and counting attendance changed for the positive, even slightly.

What’s your view of checking/counting attendance? How does your church or ministry check attendance?

1Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010), 182.
2Ibid, 184.
3Witmer points out in his book that a small groups strategy can be disadvantageous to a shepherding ministry when there is a low small groups involvement among the people of the church. In light of our topic of attendance, this means we can have a difficulty of determining who are absent and doing a follow-up on those people.

This is the first installment in the series.

Leadership and management.

I used to pit them against each other. I tend to associate the former with the words vision, influence, and conviction; the latter with process, systems, and structures, which are lifeless and mechanical. When I think of a leader, I think of a person serving the people placed under him, just like the Lord Jesus. But when I think of a manager, I think of a person bossing around his subordinates. Thus, I elevate leadership and look down on management.1

But my idea of management started to change when one of my intellectual heroes painted a new picture for me. Dr. Albert Mohler claims that leaders are managers. Not all managers are leaders, but all leaders are managers. In his excellent leadership book The Conviction to Lead, he devotes a chapter on the topic of management and starts it with this paragraph:

Leadership and management are inseparable, and no effective leader can disparage or neglect competent and efficient management. Leaders who cannot manage quickly become leadership failures. Leaders who leave all management to others are no longer leading the organization, no matter how they may flatter themselves by pretending otherwise. If you think you’re above the tasks of management, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.2

These are strong words!

So why should Christian leaders, inside and outside the church, be concerned with management?

Mohler believes that leadership is deeply convictional. Now if leaders don’t manage, “the actual mechanics of the organization, its policies and procedures, will be in the hands of others.”3 When that happens, “there will be a disconnect between conviction and operation,”4 and the organization is doomed to fail.

Furthermore, Matt Perman claims that management is a form of ministry and allows an organization to be exponentially more effective in accomplishing its mission. He writes:

Christians should care about whether the organizations they work in are managed well and, if they are managers themselves, they should manage well.

Leaders, we are also managers and we should manage well.

So leader, are you convinced of the importance of management? Are you managing well?

PS In the next installment, we will learn what management exactly is.

1I took management subjects in my college years. To be honest, I enjoyed them and even excelled on them. But I tend to dichotomize between leadership and management. And when compared with one another, I lean towards the former.

2R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Conviction to Lead (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012), 115.

3Ibid, 117.