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Tribes

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

As a college student I got to spend a few weeks in Romford England. I was part of a group of young missionary students and our leader taught us how to do street evangelism. His point was simple: You’ve got four minutes to make your point. Why? Because those who are listening will move on and you will have a new audience. I think Seth Godin, in his new widely-read book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
, must have learned to write while watching a street preacher. Still, he’s got some good things to say about leadership and change and fear and the need to have courage. What do you folks think of Seth Godin? This one paragraph struck me:


People don’t believe what you tell them.

They rarely believe what you show them.

They often believe what their friends tell them.

They always believe what they tell themselves.


What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.

What do you think of this? Would you say Jesus or Paul were leaders according to this way of framing leadership?



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RJS

posted November 24, 2008 at 6:18 am


I had never heard of Godin before this post – but looking at the excerpts and reviews of this book on Amazon is somewhat disturbing. There seems to be something wrong here, not wrong in the sense that it is false or won’t work, but wrong in motivation, ethic, lifegoal.
On the other hand – the line quoted above they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change. This idea is interesting, and I think both Paul and Jesus were leaders in this fashion.
Interesting.



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J. B. Hood

posted November 24, 2008 at 7:24 am


Hi Scot,
That’s a fascinating quote.
I’m sure you and many of your readers are familiar with Langdon Gilkey’s remarkable book, Shantung Compound. Reminds me of the struggles Gilkey encountered when camp leaders tried to move folks to action on behalf of others. For instance, appealing to morality/idealism will NOT make someone a better person; it only gives us ammunition to excuse ourselves from responsibility on the basis of morality/idealism. The default story was still ‘protect myself and keep myself from hunger’.
We really need a ‘story to tell ourselves’, a re-programming; as different as running DOS and Windows, really.



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don bryant

posted November 24, 2008 at 8:40 am


Example of a story that changed someone?



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Bob Smallman

posted November 24, 2008 at 10:43 am


I check out Seth’s blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) nearly everyday, not particularly because I agree with everything he has to say but because he nearly always teaches me something about communicating with an audience that is not necessarily inclined to listen to what I have to say.



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John W Frye

posted November 24, 2008 at 10:45 am


Don (#3)
You are kidding with that question, right?



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Rick

posted November 24, 2008 at 11:41 am


A good podcast interview with Godin was done by the Catalyst crew:
http://www.catalystspace.com/content/podcast/catalyst_podcast_episode_45
In regards to the leadership style, I think the quote is too general. I think Jesus and Paul used various forms, depending on the audience.
For example,
“People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them.”
Jesus did in fact “tell” and “show” Thomas.



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RJS

posted November 24, 2008 at 11:55 am


Rick,
But wasn’t the intent always to get people to buy into – to tell themselves – the kingdom of God story?
Tell and show doesn’t create change – “Buy into” creates change.



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Rick

posted November 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm


RJS-
Yes, but how they (Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, etc..) would lead into that realization would vary, depending on the audience, setting, etc…
“Show” & “tell” would not be, nor perhaps could it ever be, the only leadership method, but it can be one of them. I think the “don’t” and “rarely” are overstatements.



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MattR

posted November 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm


Godin will at least challenge you… I agree with Bob (#4), you’re bound to get something to think about re; communication.
I think you could argue this describes Jesus’ leadership well… He was telling a Kingdom story. And his words and actions supported this viral story He wanted to infectiously transform the world.
In my experience most people don’t want to change… even if they see positive results (show), or the inspiring stories of friends who have changed (tell)… most effective is if you give them a compelling story that they can begin to live into and buy into first, then there’s a framework for the rest.
I’ve seen this happen with those I minister to in emerging culture… they often don’t buy into a message, or change their behavior to become ‘Christian’ first. Instead they begin to try on the Jesus/Kingdom narrative first, to see if it ‘fits.’ This is often through Christian community.



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Dave!

posted November 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm


So why believe what Seth Godin tells you? Isn’t his point self-refuting?



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Travis Greene

posted November 24, 2008 at 2:39 pm


Dave@10,
Yes, but by not believing it you’re proving him right. So you’d better go ahead and believe him to prove him wrong. And down the rabbit-hole we go.



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RJS

posted November 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm


From publisher’s weekly review:
Short on pages but long on repetition, …The book’s helpful nuggets are buried beneath esoteric case studies and multiple reiterations: we can be leaders if we want, tribes are the way of the future and change is good.
Nothing here actually makes me want to look at the book.
Rick,
Separating the paragraph Scot quotes from the rest of the book – Wasn’t a lot of what Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and such did really build relationships? In Godin’s scheme then – relationship builds trust, and they often believe what their friends tell them.
Tell and show is most effective in relationship.



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RJS

posted November 24, 2008 at 4:01 pm


Wow, beliefnet came back at me with text has expired, refresh text, and didn’t lose my original post.



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Your Name

posted November 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm


RJS-
“Tell and show is most effective in relationship.”
If Godin phrased it as you did, then I think his analysis would be more accurate.



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Rick

posted November 25, 2008 at 6:52 am


yes, #14 was me. I guess when I resubmitted I left off the name. sorry



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Your Name

posted November 25, 2008 at 10:40 am


I’ve only read one of Seth Godin’s works “Purple Cow.” I’m neither a fan nor a detractor because I don’t know enough about him. I do think his thoughts as well as others from the secular marketplace are valuable for all of us that are looking to share Jesus with the world. I’m quite confident that the principles that Seth Godin is espousing are intended purely for profit in the marketplace. What he’s learned, however, can be valuable for us. If all truth is God’s truth then the norms that marketers and social researchers observe are, in my opinion, part of general revelation. They are a part of what God is revealing about us. They principles are, therefore, legitimate when we, seeking to honor and glorify God, use them for that purpose and help others to do the same.
For instance in applying Godin’s thesis from “Purple Cow.” To get someone’s attention something has to be remarkable. Jesus is remarkable and if we draw attention to him in remarkable ways we are glorifying him.



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Tim Hallman

posted November 25, 2008 at 11:06 pm


“People don’t believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”
I think there is some truth to Godin’s assessment. I suppose for Jesus and Paul we can point to the little communities they built as means of communication about the future and change.



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