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How to transition well

Credit: Eric Risberg via AP

This year marks Tim Cook’s fifth anniversary at Apple. Over the past few days, various media outlets have run articles assessing his leadership so far at the iconic company. Apple has largely transitioned from a cool tech company under Steve Jobs to an all-encompassing behemoth under Cook, with tentacles in hardware, software, music, and, reportedly, the automobile industry.

This got me thinking about the various transitions that involve leaders . The first transition comes with assuming a new leadership role. Subsequent transitions follow within that role. Leadership, comprised of numerous transitions along the way, in many ways mirrors life: we transition from child to teenager, from college student to adult, from married with no children to married with children. How we respond to these transitions defines how we grow and mature in our lives. With the new school year underway, an obvious transitioning point for so many in our culture, let’s walk through strategies that help leaders transition well.

Michael Watkins wrote a popular Harvard Business Review book entitled The First 90 Days, an excellent read about this subject. One of the most important things a leader in transition can do is to mentally prepare for the new role of leadership. Max DePree’s maxim of leadership applies here: the first task of the leader is to define reality. Before leaders can define the reality for others, they have to do it for themselves. Mental preparation involves giving yourself time and space to reflect and think about the new task ahead of you. Whether you are an internal processor or an external processor, the need for this reflective space is important, as it is the birthplace of the motivation and energy that you will rely upon for your new endeavor.

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American earns Olympic award only 17 have received

David J. Phillip Via APThe Washington Post reports that last night's 6.2-magnitude earthquake has killed at least thirty-eight people in central Italy. Today's New York Times has a heartbreaking story on the effects of Zika on the brains of Brazilian babies.

In the midst of all the bad news, I was excited to read some amazingly good news today.

American runner Abbey D'Agostino became famous for helping fellow runner Nikki Hamblin after both were tripped during a race at the Rio Olympics. Abbey was severely injured but finished the race. Now she and Hamblin are the eighteenth and nineteenth recipients of the Pierre de Coubertin medal. It is not awarded at every Olympic Games. Rather, it is reserved for the most exceptional displays of sportsmanship and the Olympic spirit.

Abbey explained her behavior during the race as an expression of her faith, and the world took note. There's something in us that responds to the God who made us.

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Fake ISIS attack causes widespread panic

Credit: Horesovska Marketa via APToday's news takes us from the momentous to the mundane.

This morning's New York Times reports that a fake ISIS attack in Prague, intended to protest the threat of Islam, caused widespread panic in the streets instead. The suicide attack in Turkey has now claimed fifty-four lives, twenty-two of whom were under fourteen years of age. Students beginning school in Miami yesterday were coated in bug spray to prevent the Zika virus. And Speedo USA has dropped Ryan Lochte's sponsorship after the Rio scandal.

Meanwhile, the highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge in the world has just opened. It stretches 1,410 feet (nearly five football fields) over a valley that is nearly 1,000 feet deep. It will feature the world's highest bungee jump (count me out).

Closer to home, St. Dominic's Catholic Church in San Francisco has been the custodian of a fragment believed to be part of the True Cross of Jesus Christ. According to its priest, "The True Cross is a relic that goes back 2,000 years to the very cross of Christ himself." The fragment was stolen from the church last week. A sign has been placed on the case asking for the thief to return the relic, no questions asked.

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Ellen DeGeneres and the sport of judgment

Credit: Richard Shotwell via APUsain Bolt demonstrated his other-worldly speed once again in Rio, as he became the first person to win gold in the 100-meter dash three in three consecutive Olympics, sparking a slew of memes about his domination. While most of those jokes fell by the wayside rather quickly, the picture posted by Ellen DeGeneres quickly drew cries of racism and bigotry from the all-too-easily incensed masses. The comedian photoshopped a picture of herself riding Bolt with the caption, "This is how I'm running errands from now on," and apparently that crossed the line for many.

As Time's John McWhorter noted, however, it's difficult to believe that she wouldn't have created the exact same picture if the winning runner happened to be white rather than black. Is the most logical conclusion from that picture really that she believes, as McWhorter satirized, "that a black person's proper place is as some kind of pack animal?" Any reasonable person would admit that such a characterization is flawed, even if DeGeneres's post opened her up to such accusations.

Rather, McWhorter sees it as evidence of a culture in which there is "a certain joy in this ritual, stylized witch hunting" and where people's responses in these situations are more "a kind of ritual piety designed to demonstrate our goodness to the PC gods" than genuine disdain. It seems hard to look around us and not agree with that assessment. But why is that? Why is it that so many people take enjoyment from demonizing others for a careless word or shortsighted remark?

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Child Suicide Bomber Attacks during Turkish Wedding

Credit: Mahmut Bozarslan via AP


Fifty-one people were killed and nearly seventy injured in a Turkish town near the Syrian border on Saturday night. While no group had claimed responsibility for the attack as of Monday afternoon, Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was quick to lay the blame at ISIS's feet. The blast, set off by a suicide bomber no older than fourteen, took place late in the evening at a Kurdish wedding celebration. Given the attacker's age, it's unclear whether he detonated the vest himself or if it was triggered remotely.

Many of those killed and wounded were no older than the bomber, as the children were gathered closer to where the detonation took place while their parents and other adults danced in the street. And while knowing why the attack happened will do little to comfort those now mourning the loss of family and friends, the prevailing belief is that the target was chosen in retaliation for the Kurds' help in driving ISIS out of their Syrian stronghold of Manbij and/or as a warning to Turkey, who recently stated that they would step up their official presence in the conflict.

It would appear that ISIS wants other nations to think twice before entering the fray, which is understandable considering the fairly consistent defeats the terrorist organization has suffered across recent months. Similar logic is behind the escalating violence in Baghdad, and it's really the only thing they can do to fight back as their footprint in the region grows smaller and smaller. Their willingness to show a complete disregard for innocent life is part of what makes the group so dangerous, but it also offers constant reminders of why it's so important that they be defeated.

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Why you should see 'Ben-Hur'

Credit: YoutubeBen-Hur opened in theaters last Friday. You probably know that the plot involves a chariot race and may wonder why you need to know more. You likely have not heard of any of the actors apart from Morgan Freeman. The film has generally not received positive reviews from critics.

So, why do you need to see the movie?

Let's begin with some cultural snapshots. Only 35 percent of Americans believe that absolute moral truth even exists. As a result, we're told that we should tolerate all behaviors that do not harm us personally. Of course, such tolerance does not extend to those who do believe in moral truth.

For instance, this morning's Wall Street Journal reports that the Zika virus is renewing the debate over late-term abortions. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said earlier this month that he opposed abortion for pregnant women infected with the virus. Pro-abortion advocates rebuked and ridiculed him, calling his position "outrageous."

Maj. Steve Lewis is an officer at Colorado's Peterson Air Force Base. He was recently forced to remove an open Bible on his desk after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation protested against his "around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine."

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USOC apologizes for Ryan Lochte's false claims

Credit: Mauro Pimentel via AP Two American Olympic swimmers are on their way home this morning from Rio de Janeiro. The lawyer for a third US swimmer says he will make a $10,800 payment and leave Brazil later in the day. Authorities have determined that Ryan Lochte and the group were not robbed as he had claimed. The US Olympic Committee apologized last night for this "distracting ordeal."

This is not the only distraction marring the Games. A member of the British team says he was robbed at gunpoint earlier this week. Before the Olympics began, a New Zealand athlete says he was kidnapped by Brazilian police and forced to withdraw $800 from his bank account.

Some 450,000 condoms were allocated for the 10,000 Olympic athletes, more than three times as many as for the 2012 London Games. It seems that Olympic officials expected the athletes to have an average of forty-five sexual encounters during the sixteen days of the Games, or three per day.

In the midst of such bad news, Abbey D'Agostino continues to share good news. The best news, in fact.

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We are not Victims

Credit: APAs the world around us becomes increasingly antagonistic towards authentic Christianity, more and more believers are falling prey to the temptation of regarding themselves as victims of a hostile culture. It doesn't help that similar cries of lament are regularly heard from the pulpit to politics and everywhere in between. To be sure, there is no shortage of evidence to demonstrate that we, as Christians, no longer enjoy the same sense of freedom and authority that we had in previous generations. But if we look around us and our first impulse is "woe is me," then we've missed the bigger picture.

One of my favorite prayers in all of Scripture is found in Daniel 9:4–19. Often overlooked because of its position among all the prophesies and difficult-to-decipher passages that tend to capture our imaginations, it is one of the most practically applicable passages in the book. Please take a few minutes to click on the link and read it. It won't take long, and hearing these words from one of the godliest men in the Bible is vital to understanding the proper perspective for us to take when looking at how to best live out God's will in a non-Christian culture.

Daniel offers this remarkable prayer after spending more than sixty years enslaved in Babylon. While he's enjoyed success and privilege as one of the king's most trusted advisors, it's been over six decades since he last saw his home or could call himself truly free. And despite those struggles, we don't find a person outside of Jesus in the whole of Scripture who's portrayed as more righteous and faithful than this man. If anyone had reason to look at his life and feel as though he'd been treated unfairly, it was Daniel. Yet, that's not what we see here.

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'We have to finish! This is the Olympic Games'

Credit: Mike Egerton via AP Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi noted, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

When New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin fell in the women's 5,000-meter run Tuesday morning, American runner Abbey D'Agostino tripped over her and fell to the ground as well. Hamblin lay on the ground until she felt D'Agostino's hand on her shoulder. "Get up, get up! We have to finish!" Agostino said to her. "This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this."

The two finished last and next to last, but both will advance to Friday's final because they were tripped. Hamblin told reporters, "I am so grateful to Abbey for helping me. That girl was the Olympic spirit right there. I am so impressed and inspired by that."

Christians need more of the "Olympic spirit" these days.

The Washington Post reports that abortion advocates are becoming more proactive than ever. As Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards says, "We need to challenge or repeal every single restriction that's out there."

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What is your Why?

Credit: Rebecca Blackwell via AP

Every four years, the Olympics captures the attention of the world. We’ve witnessed Michael Phelps bring his total gold medal count to a staggering twenty-three. We’ve seen Simone Manuel and Jenny Simpson make history in their respective events. We’ve watched Simone Biles dominate the gymnasium. We’ve stared at the screen in disbelief as Katie Ledecky blew away her opponents in the pool.

Along the way, we’ve also witnessed the heartache of competitors who came just short of medaling, the pain of athletes who couldn’t finish because of injury, and the agony of runners disqualified because of a false start.

The common thread in all the athletes at the Rio Games is that these Olympics are a culminating moment for years, even decades, of preparation. Every athlete has a story of how they got to the Olympics, and those stories are often so powerful that they overshadow the competition itself. We don’t watch as much for the actual events themselves as we do for the stories of the athletes in them. We watch because we want to know why they are there, what adversity they have had to overcome in their journey to this moment.

Every Olympic athlete has a “why,” a reason why they’ve dedicated their lives to a particular event, a motivation for the countless hours of practice and hard work they put in with no one watching. For many of the competitors, the “why” is the glory and fame that the medals represent. For others, it’s to break a barrier or accomplish something no one in history has ever done. Some are carrying the expectations of an entire country or hoping to honor their loved ones who aren’t there to see them.

The Olympics provides an opportunity for us to be inspired by all these various “whys.” They should also cause us to reflect on our own personal “why.” As Os Guinness asks in his short work Rising to the Call, “Do you have a reason for being, a focused sense of purpose for your life? Or is your life the product of shifting resolutions and the myriad pulls of forces outside yourself?”

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