My family story is one of holding our household together through my wife's long battle with leiomyosarcoma. Eighteen occurrences in sixteen years is a lot for anyone. We've made it this far, raising our children and now enjoying being grandparents, while building Design Group International, completing research projects related to graduate education, and finding ways to enjoy life, however constricted it might feel.
The Organizational Development Muse
Topics: process design, process consulting, becoming a steward leader, executive coaching, stewardship based leadership, Convene, peer-based consulting teams, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, steward leadership, leiomyosarcoma, Executive Development, Peer-based advising, peer-based executive teams, Executive peer-based advising
Our book Fighting Disease Not Death: Finding a Way Through Lifelong Struggle is being widely read. Lorie has been speaking at a number of churches (about once monthly is what she feels she can manage), and will speak next at First Baptist Beloit, Wisconsin on Sunday 19, February. Thank you to everyone who has supported this effort!
Just when you think you've witnessed all the craziness in the fundraising world, another goofy incident pops up. If I did not spend so much time writing and speaking on the subject I would probably just roll my eyes, but because I am able to see just how much one act of silliness can harm future opportunity I can't pass up the occasion to keep teaching.
Three questions keep coming now that the book Fighting Disease, Not Death: Finding a Way Through Lifelong Struggle is available. We decided to post our responses here as a means to answer them more readily.
My wife Lorie and I are often told that we have many things going on. Apparently we are perceived as busy people. That does not match our self perception. Lorie’s long battle with cancer has robbed us of so much of our time and diminished so many plans and forced us into such long waiting periods, that any healthy periods become crammed with buying groceries, catching up on yard work, staying abreast of our professions and paying our bills. We appear busy around others simply because so much time is given to forced stases. It appears everyone is at least partially right!
Perceptions are so easily misconstrued or only partially developed. A virtuous leader must understand this and commit to long and patient communication if she or he wants common and useful perceptions to form. Too many persons in leadership roles decide instead to embrace the ease of manipulating the half-formed reactions of people to their own, selfish ends.
Timothy Dwight, president of Yale University from 1896-1898, was no dummy. He had taken academic prizes in Latin and mathematics. He was also part of an extended family that included a Supreme Court Justice and famous preachers. Still, even with all that brilliance, he joined the initial outcry against the development of vaccines—something both Catholics and Protestants initially opposed. He is reported to have said:
“If God had decreed from all eternity that a certain person should die of smallpox, it would be a frightful sin to avoid and annul the decree by the trick of vaccination.”
Religious people have such a reputation for this sort of thing—opposing innovations and our dabblings in science and then later coming round to see the benefit. We move from not opposing the will of God to participating as co-creators with God as each new wave of scientific discovery changes society and eases suffering and the benefits can no longer be denied.
This is not to say that all scientific work is noble and contributes to our well-being. Let’s not forget Nazi attempts to genetically engineer the human race. And let’s not forget some of the clinical trials perpetrated on unsuspecting people in the good ‘ol US of A. Even the initial development of the small pox vaccine by the British Doctor Edward Jenner in 1796 had a few ethical problems with it. As the story goes, he forcibly injected an eight year old boy with both cow pox and then small pox. No medical consent form anywhere in sight.
But how shall we know when a line has been crossed and benefit to society is no longer the end pursued by scientific research, rather knowledge for the mere sake of acquiring knowledge, or worse, just keeping the grants rolling in? I think this question supplies part of the answer–keeping the right end front and center and focused. What we do must attempt to bless generations beyond our own lifetime and not just provide benefit for the moment.
This is what has kept our family going through more than nine years in my wife’s cancer battle–through surgery, endless doctor appointments, experimental protocols and our current six month harsh chemotherapy regimen. We battle this disease, not because God wills it, but because with God we oppose what takes life, cheapens it, shortens it, reduces it or crushes it.
-mark l vincent