This Week’s Links- The last of the links for 2013

Internet1Happy New Year’s Eve!  Also, Happy Seventh Day of Christmas!  As this is Tuesday, its time to provide you with a sampling of some of the things I have been reading or thinking about in the past week.  This week’s topic categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; and Stewardship. I entrust these to you, and hope you find them interesting, helpful, and thought provoking.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Bishop James Hazelwood recently offered a very helpful reflection on this year’s buzz (good, bad, and ugly) about Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber.  I am so glad that he wrote this, because what is said is what I feel has needed to be said.  Many people have missed the point about what the Spirit might be up to through the ministry of Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, and so this I believe is a good reflection and cause to take a step back.

Bishop Hazelwood also shared recently a great reflection which has made the rounds by Peter Steinke (renowned congregational systems theory expert) about helping congregations and the church understand where they are, and where they may be going, or may be being led to.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Apparently Pope Francis is pretty popular, as his approval ratings have been soaring. I for one, am not surprised. When you have a leader doing faithfully what they are called to do in both deed and action, this can happen.

Looking ahead to the new year, 2014, Greg Atkinson shares what he believes are or at least might be four keys for creating an irresistible church. What do you think?  I like the spirit of this, but I have to admit it kind of rubs me.  Then again, that might be my fear that an “attractional church” can at times be too much of a response (or even concession) to a consumerist culture. Hmm… Makes me think though. How does this post make you feel, or what do you think about it?

Looking back, Gary Laderman shares what he believes are the “Top 5 Religion Stories…Of All Time!

Leadership Thought & Practice

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic offers some thoughts on why change can really be so hard to make and do.

Speaking of change, here is a great reflection from Thin Difference on the relationship of hope and change, a fitting reflection for the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

Dan Rockwell shares three steps to radical change, as we continue this series of links on change. The steps he outlines: 1) identify the need; 2) lead the change; and 3) manage the change.  Take note of the seven points he shares needing attention or reflection before change is begun or dived into fully though.  This is a very quick and helpful read.

If you are looking to enhance your learning and networking, check out this very helpful resource, a list of some of the top leadership, innovation, and strategy professors on Twitter.

Jon Mertz shares four keys for leading through uncertainty. The keys he outlines are:  keep a problem solving mindset; embrace transparency; be adaptive; and take mindful breaks. Check these out, I have found them very helpful for synthesis purposes and trust you will too.

John Boudreau, Ravin Jesuthasan, and David Creelman make the case for why questioning everything is a good thing (if not necessary) especially to optimize talent management.

Shelley Kirkpatrick recently shared some easy tips to upgrade one’s vision statement. The tips she offers are:  1) Describe your impact; 2) Make employees part of your vision; and 3) Make it unique. Her tips are practical, and her reasoning is helpful, especially if in the process of reevaluating a vision (or in the case of others, the need to altogether change or create for the first time a vision and vision statement).

In the spirit of New Years, and looking back at the year that was 2013, here are some of the ideas that shaped management in 2013 as outlined by Katherine Bell.

Neighbor Love

Pope Francis’ first Christmas address of his papacy given last week included calls for global and holistic peace, awareness and turning away from greed, protecting the environment and helping those in need, among other things.

Christmas Tree in Gouda (1 of the 101 photos showing faith around the world)  Credit:  Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images.
Christmas Tree in Gouda (1 of the 101 photos showing faith around the world)
Credit: Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images.

As we look back on the year that was 2013, here are religious photos from some of the most powerful moments courtesy of the Huffington Post. All told there are 101 of them.  Check them out.

Chris Higgins for Mental Floss and the Gates Foundation shared 11 reasons to be optimistic for the year ahead, as we look ahead to the new year.  Check it out.  I share the hope. Do you?

Social Media & Blogging

With some hope for improved civil discourse, civility, and debate heading into the new year, we have news that some websites will begin more closely moderating comments sections, with the goal of nixing the inappropriate, profane, and downright nasty. Some might raise “free speech” issues, but I would argue that any one who runs or owns a website has a right to allow for whatever content they want to be seen/not seen.  When people can provide comments anonymously, I think they often can stoop to a level beneath societal discourse and I hope this might be a move not to censorship (though it might seem as such) but rather to increased civility, respect, and dialogue.

Stewardship

It might have been missed among all of the other stories and news of December, and all of the holiday related cheer.  But here is something from the beginning of the month by Bill Gates about how one can be a more effective donor.  It’s a good read, so check it out and keep this in mind when thinking about and wanting to do some good in the world.

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That wraps up this week’s edition of the links, the last set for the year 2013.  As always, if there are topics you would like me to explore on my blog, please let me know. Also, let me know if there are certain areas, stories, or articles you would find helpful if I would include them in this weekly offering of the links.  Until next week, here’s wishing you a Happy New Year full of new adventures, affirmation, challenge, discernment, joy, peace and love.  -TS

Image Credits:  1) Links; 2) Pope Francis; and 3) Christmas Tree in Gouda.

In Gratitude

light on treeThis week has been a great week.  This week has also been a hard week.  Today was my final Sunday at the church I have served on staff for a little over the past 3 years.  I started there as Music Ministry Coordinator and within a year was the Worship Coordinator.  This was the fourth Advent and Christmas season I helped guide the congregation through.  It was also the fourth Advent and Christmas seasons which I helped lead the choir during. Today, the congregation shared their appreciation with a wonderful brunch between services and sending within the final portion of both worship services.  It was moving.  It was emotional. It was special, and I am humbled and honored.

I have loved this congregation and the people in it, and I have been loved by them.  I love this congregation, and am loved by the congregation.  I have loved serving with the staff and other leaders (both past and present- and especially both of the pastors I have served with while there). This was not an easy thing to do, to leave this congregation. But in my own discernment, in my own family situation, it was time.  It doesn’t make it easy though, because I have loved this role and these people.  I have loved serving as part of this community, and I believe they have loved me as well.  I felt the love today, as on most days, but today especially with the wonderful brunch and the moving sending.

The Choir
The Choir

The choir surprised me.  I have to admit this. I thought I had directed them for the last time on Christmas Eve.  Little did I know, and perhaps I should have expected it, that they were up to something.  Apparently they have been rehearsing without me the past couple weeks.  This just goes to show that they are in good hands and will be just fine without me. : )  We had our choir party this weekend, and I still didn’t know that they were up to something.  The choir humbled me with their friendship and love at the party, but then this morning in worship, they got me. They got me good.  Not only did they pull out one of the favorite pieces the choir has done in my time there “Be Not Afraid” by Craig Courtney, they asked me to direct them.  That was special.  They sang beautifully. But then, there was more. After the sending in the service they sang an original arrangement of Psalm 46 which Tom, the main pianist for the congregation and music extraordinaire had written and arranged for choir dedicated to me. That got me. I was balling.  Tom is an amazing man, friend, and an amazing musician and so is his wife Mary. The two of them have been right there supporting my wife Allison and me at every step, and its been so much fun to lead music together with them these past 3+ years. I hope we will be able to collaborate more together from time to time into the future.  Anyway, to make a long story short, the choir which I didn’t imagine 4 years ago I would ever direct, made me cry today. I honestly don’t cry much, and certainly not in public. So, I am grateful.

Looking out from my church office
Looking out from my church office

Today, all I can say is thank you and I will miss this congregation.  I leave them, at least in this role, but I do not leave them as someone who is turning his back. I will come back and visit. I will stay in touch, because this community of faith is special to me. It was the first place that embraced Allison and I as a couple and family.  We are known as the “Siburgs” here and that’s something no other place referred to us as until we were here in Minnesota.  I have grown tremendously as a part and member of this community. My biggest hope is that I leave them as a better congregation then how I joined them, I hope my being there has had a positive impact. I know God is up to something with this congregation and I look forward to seeing what that is.  I also look forward to seeing what my next chapter will involve.  Prayers and opportunities are all appreciated.

Thank you for all of your love and support. Thank you for letting me join you as a partner in ministry alongside you. You have left me humbled and honored.  I feel blessed and am blessed to have been able to be a part of this community.  I hope the same can be said of the community about me, and I trust that whatever is next for both me and the congregation will be exciting and wonderful new chapters.

Image Credit:  Light on Tree

The Learning Leader

One of the most discouraging things I have heard from different leaders in the past year is that “I don’t have enough time to read all of these things.” There is truth to this.  Time is precious, and its a gift.  That’s why it is important to prioritize what one does in their work and as a leader.

My parents and my wife and I upon graduating from Luther Seminary (May 2012)
My parents and my wife and I upon graduating from Luther Seminary (May 2012)

Whether its reports, blogs, articles, publications, newest books, etc, one of the things that I encourage any leader to do is to make the time to read and learn.  Part of what it means to be a leader is to be a learner. My Dad first taught me this, and he continues to teach me this.

So what does it mean to be a learning leader?  You could unpack this in a number of different ways.  For the sake of this post, I am going to share five observations which I see as helpful indicators of what a learning leader is. (This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure if I were to create a list it would probably have hundreds of points, so please don’t treat this as an exhaustive list but as a starting place of observations).

1) A thirst to learn and stay current

If you are a leader, it is important to have a grasp of what is going on both within your purview but also outside of your immediate context.  This enables you to be able to integrate learning from other areas into your contexts, organizations, etc., and also to be able to translate your learning to others in different areas.  Learning is not a one directional but a multi-directional on-going process.  It takes intention or a thirst to learn, to spend the time learning or to integrate time for continued learning into one’s busy life and schedule.  A starting place simply could be to spend a half hour of your day perusing some of the news stories or latest posts from a host of news or thought leadership publications.  For some people reading is enough. For others, its also important to take time to write and think about what you have read.  If you are like me, this means allowing some space to reflect and perhaps even blog about what you are thinking about.  Putting your thoughts down on paper or in an electronic form can be helpful to continue to process, but also to engage in conversation and dialogue of mutual learning.  (I have found Twitter and blogging and reading others’ blogs to be very helpful for me in this regard.)

2) Willingly admit that you don’t know everything (and no one does)

Let’s be honest, I don’t know everything and neither do you.  To be fair, no one knows everything.  As my Dad repeatedly taught me, “There will always be someone smarter and more talented than you.  Just don’t let their be a harder worker and more motivated person to do well as you.”  There takes a certain humility and honesty to admit that you don’t know everything, and to admit that you never well. That’s part of being a leader though, and its an important part to be able to overcome or reign in potential hubris. It also points to the need for collaboration, partnership, and mutual and collective learning and leadership.

3) Build your team, mentors, and connections

In that same vein, to overcome the lack of knowing everything, even with technology and information at our fingertips, it is essential to build a team you can trust with people who think and work differently than yourself.  Diversity of perspective and experience are invaluable for a team to be able to do as well, and to be as effective as possible. In the same way, finding mentors in different areas with different perspectives and experiences are equally invaluable.  From these, building connections in different areas, sectors and with different perspectives helps round you out as a leader and provide you with invaluable sources of learning that although they might challenge your perspective, will in the process make you see things in ways you might never have imagined.  Trust me, you will be richer in life for this, and most likely, much more wise.  (I am currently discovering how appreciative inquiry really points to all of this, and its fascinating.)

4) Embrace questions

It’s probably no surprise that I add a piece about questions.  Whether its an openness to continually ask “Why do you do what you do,” or to live and breathe with Peter Drucker’s 5 Questions, a learning leader loves questions. They love to ask the questions and facilitate conversation about them to wonder and imagine. But they also embrace being asked the questions because it allows them to reflect, re-imagine, and when necessary change in order to be better aligned or at least closer to their overall mission, vision, and values. If you are not asking and thinking about the questions, you are already behind the person in some other place who is. At the heart of learning is the act of asking a question.

5) Continue to learn how to learn

Perhaps the most important thing one learns when they attend school is simply “how to learn.”  You can never be taught all of the historical facts, all of the mathematical or scientific rules, or the philosophical or theological viewpoints.  But you can be taught how to continue how to learn.  Do you learn by reading quietly? By reading aloud? Do you learn by writing?  By engaging in conversation?  Everyone has different learning styles, and different times of the day actually when one might do some of these things better than others. That is something important to learn about yourself and to shape your schedule as much as you can to build around these strengths of yours.  Likewise, its important to stay current with potential tools (like in my life time, the move from the early PC to the laptop to the tablet to the smallest of mobile devices with all of these resources at your fingertips).  As new technology, ways of doing things, and other innovations are developed and discovered, its important to be able to continue to learn how to use these to most effectively continue to learn and to be able to use these tools to enhance your own learning.

What do you think?  Would you call yourself a learning leader?  Why or why not?  What other ideas do you have about what it means to be a learning leader?

And so this is Christmas…

Merry Christmas!  As we begin the actual “Twelve Days” of Christmas, we remember what it can mean for God to literally break into the world in new and unexpected ways.  One of the best quotes that I have seen shared this year comes from Michael Spencer.  He writes:

“The incarnation is the complete refutation of every human system and institution that claims to control, possess and distribute God. Whatever any church or religious leader may claim in regard to their particular access to God or control over your experience of God, the incarnation is the last word: God loves the world. God came into the world in the form of the people God created (including you and me)…. We all are marked by God’s fingerprints.”
— Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

Within the incarnation God does something totally unexpected. God becomes human and overturns all human conception of the way things are and should be.  God’s love is not fair. If it were fair, there would be no such thing as grace.  Rather, because of God’s love and the gift of grace, we are forgiven, loved, and made heirs of the promise as Children of God.

View of the Olympics (from First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo, WA. Taken 12/31/06).
View of the Olympics (from First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo, WA. Taken 12/31/06).

My favorite Christmas carol is “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”  Perhaps its because its a spiritual, and I just resonate musically with spirituals. Perhaps its because of the image of the mountain makes so much sense given I grew up in a town with a view like this (at right), that of Poulsbo, Washington with the majestic Olympic Mountains out to the west past Liberty Bay (in the foreground) and the Hood Canal (not pictured).  These are parts of it, I am sure.  But even more so, I love this song today because at the center of the song is the chorus which proclaims,

“Go Tell it on the Mountain, over the hills and everywhere.  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.”

It’s not a “keep this to yourself” message, its a “go and share” and “do likewise” message.  It reminds me of this Tweet I saw earlier this week. “What happens in Bethlehem, doesn’t stay in Bethlehem.” Yes, it’s playing on the Las Vegas slogan, but its actually quite profound, and missional to the core.  The good news of Christmas, news that is part of God’s on-going work and action (that we read about regarding the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus) and that we discern together as a community is not meant for a few. It’s meant for all.

A Nativity Outside of the Vatican (photographed and seen by me in January 2008)
A Nativity Outside of the Vatican (photographed and seen by me in January 2008)

So what is Christmas?  I believe its a time to rejoice, smile, and be thankful. But its so much more! It’s also a time to remember why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do. It’s a time to remember that God is with us, Emmanuel, because God wants to be with creation and humanity that God created. God chooses to be in relationship because God loves us.  This is good news.  It’s also good news that our conception of power, order, fairness, right and wrong, etc., is not the same as God’s. Because invariably we would come up way short in every way.  Rather, God’s way is that of a mysterious and overarching love and grace which transcends difference and I also believe particularities. What can we do about this love and gift of love, except smile and share it with others?

Merry Christmas!  May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you today and everyday, and may the love of this season lead you to share that love with others.

This Week’s Links

Internet1It’s Tuesday. It’s also Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas to all of you!  As hinted at last week, this week’s links and next week’s (because of Christmas and New Year’s) links will likely be a bit shorter than usual. But that’s okay. I still intend to share some of what I have read or pondered about over the past week.  This week’s categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought and Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought and Practice; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Worship. Enjoy!

Church & Ministry Thought and Practice

Kyle Oliver shared this look at faith formation and how to expand its reach with hybrid networks. Give it a read if you are involved in Faith Formation, Learning in Congregations, or if you are in leadership in a congregation. Give it a read also if you are at all interested in what it might mean to be part of a congregation which takes seriously the calling to equip and empower people in recognizing their gifts, continuing to grow in who they are (and who they might be called to be), etc.

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells

In the spirit of the Christmas Season, here is a story about the church bells of Bethlehem.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In the spirit of the Christmas Season, here’s a nice little story about how Bill Gates participated in a Reddit Secret Santa exchange.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Tammy Erickson explains how to “Never Say Goodbye to a Great Employee.”

Rudolph
Rudolph

In the spirit of the Christmas Season, here are 4 Leadership Lessons from our favorite Red-nosed Reindeer, Rudolph.  Thanks to Randy Conley for sharing!

Neighbor Love

There was far too much written about all of the “news” last week in this area to recount in this week’s links. For a quick sampling see my post from late last week.

Now, there are a couple of things in this area which I have not shared yet. Here is a story by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about some of the affects on livelihood and families that the oil boom has had in North Dakota, which has not really been widely reported on.

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams shared an important and great essay response to recent controversial (and more accurately “wrong”) statements about the Mother Abbess and her portrayal in the recent NBC made-for-TV production of The Sound of Music.

In the spirit of the season, here is a good reminder that Jesus himself was a refugee, as we are told in the scriptures how Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee the threats of death new born children by Herod. Likewise, I believe recognizing this is important and calls us to action and account for our current practices and laws around immigration and refugees.

Social Media & Blogging

A Nativity in Rome (one of many Nativities I found while visiting Rome in January 2008)
A Nativity in Rome
(one of many Nativities I found and personally photographed while visiting Rome in January 2008)

In the spirit of the Season, here is “A Social Network Christmas.” Check it out! You will be glad you did.

Stewardship

I recently discovered this interview about Christian giving. I don’t agree with everything that is said in this, but I think it makes for good reflection and food for thought about stewardship and giving.

If you still have a few last minute gifts to make or shop for, or if you have a couple extra days because of family gatherings for Christmas happening in your family perhaps a couple days after Christmas, Hannah provides 10 great and very affordable gift ideas.

Vocation

Brene Brown recently offered some tips on how to live with uncertainty. I think these are helpful and beneficial to everyone, especially people who are in the midst of discernment and/or transition in some way or another.

Worship

In a post that I am sharing too-late to be helpful for this Christmas, I offer this to those of you who are worship planners or have input on worship design to save and store away for next fall when you begin to plan your Advent and Christmas worship seasons. Here are 10 Ways to Leverage Christmas to Reach Unchurched People from Carey Nieuwhof.

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That will do it for this week’s links.  I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas with your friends and family!  Christmas Blessings to you and your’s! -TS

Image Credits:  1) Links; 2) Christmas Bells; and 3) Rudolph.

Words and Actions Matter- Neighbor Love in Light of Recent Events

I was fully intending for my next post to be about leadership, primarily about learning leaders. But then news had to break out over the past two days across the country, in this week before Christmas which I feel called to reflect on and perhaps even respond to.  My response is my own personal reflection, and is not representative of anything or anyone but myself.

Phil Robertson
Phil Robertson

First came news about Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who shared some views (which were probably not surprising) that were not expressed in much of a way that was appreciated by his show’s network A&E.  Because of those statements he has been suspended.  Just about everyone within every sphere has blogged or tweeted about this today, so I don’t intend to write any more here.

Pastor Frank Schaefer
Pastor Frank Schaefer

Then came news yesterday morning that Pastor Frank Schaefer had been indeed defrocked by the United Methodist Church because of his presiding over a gay wedding, and primarily for his unwillingness to relent to church law out of his conscience.  (A good and thought provoking blog post about this in combination with the Ducky Dynasty news comes from Shane Raynor.)  Given that there have been other United Methodist gay weddings, with this one coming to mind recently, this doesn’t seem like its going to be going away. The United Methodist Church has a hard year or two ahead of itself I think in having to wrestle with and examine deeply who it is as a church and why it believes and practices what it believes.  (Wrestling and deep questioning is important and a healthy part of any church though, so this could be a good thing for the Methodists.)

I saw news shortly after this that the Supreme Court in New Mexico has determined that Gay Marriage will be legal in that state. This leads New Mexico to be the seventeenth state that allows gay marriage.

Finally, I saw this story about Rep. Jack Kingston from Georgia.  This is a real story about a real politician.  It amounts to, as far as I can discern, “let’s let the poor be humiliated more and be made an example of.”  It would perpetuate a culture of bullying in public schools.  I try not to get on my soap box on my blog, but this story more than the other three stories I refer to above, is really tugging at my heart strings today.  Yes, there might be some validity to the teaching about not having a free lunch, but there are better ways to do this then to humiliate children, young adults, and students.  All this would do would be to create more visibly “class distinction” if not all out “class warfare” in public schools. I’m sorry.  There is no room for this. There is a reason that we have public education- so that all people can have an education. Not “some people.” But “all people.”  This is not just a moral or social justice issue. This is a civic issue, because education is the backbone and foundation of any civilized society.

Taking a step back, these four stories, are just that, four separate stories. However, when taking them together I think they say something about neighbor love and our conception (or lack thereof) of it.  How do you love your neighbor as yourself?  Yes, Duck Dynasty is a hilarious show, which I believe has positive family portrayals, but in watching it, are we inadvertently supporting statements that are homophobic and ignorant by its patriarch?  How do you love your neighbor as yourself by attending church, or having some kind of faith practice (or not)? Does the right for another person to marry whom they love affect your right to marry the person you love? How do we provide the essentials for education for our young leaders and next generations?  And how do we enable them to be the best, brightest, and collaborative and hopeful? All of which I believe are necessary and essential in our increasingly interconnected world.

I am not sure I have any answers to these questions. But they certainly leave room for wondering.  As we are in the last full week of Advent now before Christmas, what does it mean to believe what the shepherds are told by the angel:

“Do not be afraid; for see- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David:  a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11, NRSV)?

Mary and Elizabeth
Mary and Elizabeth

What do Mary’s words within the Magnificat mean when she says:

“His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever” (Luke 1:50-55, NRSV)?

Here’s what I know.  God is for you.  I believe for “all the people” like the Angel proclaims.  To try and create barriers within community because of difference of opinion and perspective I think is counter to this gospel message of hope and community building.

The people and institutions in these news stories certainly have the rights to hold the views they have.  But their words and actions matter in how they treat and affect others.  To think otherwise is to be naive or disingenuous. I just wonder, how can the grace and peace that we proclaim because of Christmas and its meaning which is given because of the life, death, and resurrection, inform our response to stories such as this.  What do you think?

Image Credits:  1) Phil Robertson; 2) Frank Schaefer; 3) Mary and Elizabeth

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday!  As it is the practice on this blog, I share some of the things that I have found interesting or thought-provoking over the past week.  This week’s categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship; and Miscellaneous.  I entrust these to you, and hope you enjoy them.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

As part of the Advent series being shared over at the Femonite blog, comes this reflection on “An Early Advent.” Thanks to Hannah for coming up with this brilliant idea to help us journey through this Advent season.

Given the news in many church and ministry circles about celebrity pastors, this is a good cautionary tale from David Fitch.

This is a helpful resource on religion in America’s states and counties.  Take a peek to see how people are identifying as religious (or not), as depicted in six maps.

In a sort of update the Methodist minister who has been suspended has said that he will minister even if defrocked. I hope he isn’t defrocked, because I believe that would be a very dark day for the Methodist Church.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In hope for collaboration across political parties, comes this series of photos from the bi-partisan trip to South Africa to celebrate and remember Nelson Mandela.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Dan Weedin shares this reflection on how it is important to be able to translate across sectors, industries, organizations, etc. This is important in order to effectively share insights beneficial beyond just one sector or company.

Portrait of Machiavelli
Portrait of Machiavelli

Here is a post from August on characteristics of a Machiavellian leader.  Needless to say, you don’t want to be one.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently shared 5 management tips. They are:  1) See the big picture; 2) Talent is only one part of success; 3) Reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate; 4) Bet for the short and long terms; and 5) Know your limits.  What do you think of these?

Jan Bruce shared “3 Things Top Leaders do to Stay Authentic.” These things as she seems them are:  “acknowledge the negative and rise above it; cultivate transparency; and be more than just ‘yourself.'”

Ben Lichtenwalner shared, quite helpfully and entertainingly, “7 Leadership Lessons from Yoda.”  Check it out, you will be glad you did!

Jim Dougherty offered this helpful article at HBR on ways for new leaders to build trust.

Mark Goulston offers a helpful reflection on “What to do when praise makes you uncomfortable.” This could be especially helpful for leaders in ministry, non-profits, and perhaps people from more passive or “Minnesota nice” type cultures.

Richard Branson offered thoughts on how to find talented people who can grow your business and team.

Finally, within the leadership category this week comes this list of “6 conversations every leader needs to have.” What do you make of this list?

Neighbor Love

Here is an important, and very much condemning, look at how current political practices and decisions are making the poor poorer (and could make them even more so if more benefits to the poor are cut), and very much being a disservice to our neighbors in need.

An interesting look at sainthood from The Economist of all sources.

I am sure you have heard how news anchor Megyn Kelly said both Jesus and Santa were/are white.  Such an erroneous statement needed a deep response, and here comes one about how such an erroneous statement is not only bad history, its also bad theology! I am very glad and thankful Jonathan Merritt wrote this!

Kurt Willems yesterday wrote a helpful reflection on “defining sin in a better way:  shalom disrupted.” What do you think of this perspective?

Social Media & Blogging

Martin Zwilling offers thoughts on how your consulting start-up can be kick started through effective use of your blog.

If you have not seen this before, check out this “Digital Story of the Nativity.”  It’s very cool!

Stewardship

Friend of this blogger and blog, Grace Duddy, is back with some helpful reflections on how to give frugal gifts for Christmas without looking cheap.

Vocation

Danielle LaPorte offers helpful reflection on how in contemplating one’s vocations and passions, its important to leave room for imagination and for the future chapters of one’s life to unfold.

Worship

Not that this will be helpful now as we are a week away from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but if you were to have any last minute thoughts about changing the worship order for Christmas Eve, read Greg Atkinson’s take.

Miscellaneous

santa with reindeerBy now, you probably know that I am a sports fan, especially a Mariners and Seahawks fan. So, I share this funny Christmas pardoy with you about Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch from Dave Ross. Enjoy!

In some early celebration of Christmas, I share this story with you from Mental Floss about why NORAD started tracking Santa.

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That will wrap up this week’s edition of the links.  With Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve falling on the next two Tuesdays, the links may be disrupted or a bit shorter than usual.  We’ll see.  Until then, hope you enjoyed these stories and reflections.  Let me know if there are particular stories of interest you would like me to include, or things you would like for me to reflect on as blog posts.  Blessings in this last week of Advent! -TS

Image Credits:  1) Links; 2) Machiavelli; 3) Santa with reindeer