View from the Pew
Biblical wisdom nurtures leaders
When Stan Ponz teaches folks at a workplace leadership seminar to adapt to their customers, he cites some famous sources.
"Paul said he was all things to all men. He adapted his style to his audience, so the audience would have value added to them," said Ponz, a motivational speaker for several years. "It's good marketing ... because you know your product is good and you want to add value to your customer."
Who's that Paul Somebody he's citing, the author of the latest how-to-succeed best-seller?
No, it's Paul, the avid evangelist who took Jesus' teachings on the road in the first century. His 1,900-year-old letters that were how-to-be-Christian guides for people he taught in Ephesus, Rome, Corinth and points east are part of the New Testament, still guides for Christian living.
The lesson in adapting to the audience -- "I made myself weak to win the weak," etc. -- is from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.
Ponz has tapped the wisdom of Old and New Testament writers for years in giving workshops to businesses and secular agencies. His most recent was a seminar for U.S. Forestry Service divisions in Alabama and Florida.
In his day job the Rev. Stan Ponz does the same thing. He came to Hawaii 18 months ago to become senior pastor at International Baptist Church in Nuuanu. It was the fulfillment of a dream for him and his wife, Carol. They intended to head for the islands after Florida Bible College 30 years ago. In the meanwhile he has been pastor in Texas and California, taught at seminaries and developed a ministry in training leaders in the church and secular world.
With his Make It Clear Ministry and the Uniquely You seminars, Ponz has been in Hawaii several times to give leadership training workshops at churches, businesses and military bases.
The Bible-based motivational training developed by Ponz and Mels Carbonell, president of Uniquely You, will be presented next week at the Nuuanu church.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Rev. Stan Ponz came to Hawaii 18 months ago to become senior pastor of International Baptist Church in Nuuanu. He now offers to businesses and secular agencies workshops that tap the wisdom of biblical writers.
The International Leadership and Assimilation Conference will open at 6 p.m. Tuesday and continue from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Thursday sessions will be from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. It's free, and it's open to businesses as well as church groups. Participants are welcome to come and go, said Ponz. Registration is requested so they can plan for the Wednesday lunch and dinner. Call 595-6352 for information.
"The moniker's bigger than it is," said Ponz, whose Southern roots are revealed in accent and vocabulary. International refers to the church name, not the expectation of attendees from foreign lands. Talks by Carbonell and Ponz will be followed by break-out discussion groups led by other ministers.
"When we are invited by a secular agency, we will present biblical truths, but not in an in-your-face, 'Jesus says' kind of way," Ponz said. "I will say, 'There is an ancient proverb,'" rather than quoting chapter and verse as with a Christian crowd. "I don't violate scriptures, but 'scriptures' isn't the first word out of my mouth.
"When the session is over, if I have free time, I will offer an optional session for people interested in talking about the same topic on a spiritual level."
Key to the training is to "take people through a profile of themselves to discern what their personality is," said Ponz. "They are hard-wired with a personality," which can be outgoing, passive, people-driven or task-driven. He believes once people recognize the traits in themselves and each other, they can adapt to each other to work as a team in the workplace or in a church.
He leads a group to review what was "the passion" when the organization was started, what their vision is now, and the community they want to reach. "Then, how can they transition into where they want to be? It's not a cookie-cutter process. We adapt it for each. The principles don't change like the Bible doesn't."
Not unexpected in a newcomer embracing Hawaii, Ponz has adapted his spiel and selected a few Hawaiian words to develop a theme of "Shepherding with Aloha."
"I believe the meaning of aloha includes giving people a safe place to discover God, a place to hear God not through a blur of distractions. The Bible is full of aloha stories.
"Lokahi -- meaning unity and harmony -- goes beyond the noun; it is an attitude. It is a clear idea in developing a team.
"Ohana means more than a family. It is creating a safe place, a group who are sacred to you.
"Hookipa -- meaning hospitality -- is about the good Samaritan. Not just taking care of people, it is seeing it through to the finish.
"Alakai -- to lead or guide -- is leadership by example and influence. Take the initiative but don't run so fast ahead of your warriors that you become the enemy."
Put them all together, they spell ALOHA, Stan Ponz style.