Neighbor Love Reflections from Acts 8 and Nadia Bolz-Weber

PastrixI am in the midst of reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix:  the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.  So far, I love it. It seems to be a very honest and authentic memoir of what it means to be found by grace, as well as what it means to be a person who has seriously wrestled with faith.

Yesterday while I was reading I read through chapter 9, “Eunuchs and Hermaphrodites.”  I couldn’t help, especially in that chapter think that this is a chapter all about how difficult it is to love your neighbor.  As Bolz-Weber alludes to, the challenge of “inclusion” is that we generally only want to include so many types of people and then exclude others who we may not agree with (91).  This realization is an important one for all of us to make.  We aren’t called to create barriers and to ‘be inclusive.’ We are called to be part of the community, God’s community which knows no bounds and has no limits. Or, to use Bolz-Weber’s image, God’s tent has no limit.

I greatly appreciate the way she weaved the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8 within the chapter. I am not going to give away the story, because you really need to read it for yourself. But I am going to share two quotes that stick out with me this morning.

“I realized in that coffee shop that I need the equivalent of the Ethiopian eunuch to show me the faith.  I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the ‘other’ to show me water in the desert” (94).

Neighbor love, I believe is built off of being in a multi-directional relationship.  This is not an “us and them” scenario, we need each other.  If we really believe that all are created as Children of God, it only follows that we treat each other as this and meet each other with mutuality, love, and respect. By doing so we learn about each other, but we also learn about ourselves.  We also come to see God, and more of what God might be up to in the world by meeting others.

“We all can be converted anew by the stranger, and see where there is water in the desert and enter fully into the baptism of God’s mercy with foreigners, with the ‘not us.’ And then go on our way rejoicing, having converted each other again and again to this beautiful, risky, expansive life of faith” (95).

Whether we meet someone in worship or not, by meeting, we have an opportunity to learn and see more of God’s creation. By meeting another, we meet another Child of God.  Meeting another is risky, but its also beautiful.  Having faith is risky, but its beautiful and expansive.  To love our neighbor may be risky, challenging, and stressful; but I promise you, its wonderful.

I look forward to continuing to read this book, and expect to share my sort of review on it some time next week.  Thanks to Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber for sharing and writing so honestly.

Source:  Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix:  the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, (New York, NY:  Jericho Books, 2013).

Image Credit:  Pastrix

Review: The Practical Drucker

I recently had the pleasure to read The Practical Drucker:  Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker, by William A. Cohen.  In this work, Cohen has taken some of the key nuggets of Peter Drucker’s insights and separated them into forty short vignettes or chapters.  No chapter is longer than eight pages, making this a book that is easily readable and very accessible for the on-the-go leader with a few minutes here and there to read.  The chapters themselves are grouped into four parts:  People; Management; Marketing and Innovation; and Organization.

In sharing my own thoughts, I will categorize them into four parts:   what I loved; what I liked;  what I might have done differently; and what questions are created by this text.  This review will not be one that gives a certain amount of stars, or a grade.  Rather, it will show and share what I found particularly helpful (or not) in this text in an effort to help you in your decisions on whether to read this text for yourself, to sample it, or to skip it.  For the record, I would encourage you to read The Practical Drucker, and I believe that it is the best book about Drucker and his thoughts since the publishing of The Drucker Difference:  What the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders in 2010.

Layout 1What I loved:  The idea and concept of being a “how to” approach to Drucker’s ideas and writings was profound and unique.  Given the sheer amount of writing Drucker did, to be able to provide a somewhat synthesized “how to” implement much of Drucker’s ideas and perspectives is a great contribution.  Rick Wartzman, the executive director at The Drucker Institute said similarly, “By combing through Drucker’s enormous body of work and deftly synthesizing the ‘how to do’ (as opposed to the ‘what to do’) aspects of his writing, Bill has made a great contribution.  In this way, The Practical Drucker is less redundant and more a revelation” (The Practical Drucker, ix). 

I loved the structure and topics overall as presented in the text.  Cohen’s stated goal in the introduction is to “explain forty of [Drucker’s] most important concepts and truths:  keys for solving real-world problems and fundaments for today’s effective management and keen leadership” (3).  Taking this goal at its face value, I believe the book certainly does this, and it does so well.

There are plenty of concepts within the book which I love.  To highlight a few, I appreciate the connection of Drucker to James MacGregor Burns in the idea that leaders should treat all people like people (40).  It’s an important reminder, one valuable for leadership and management. It also humanizes leadership and allows people to be people respecting them for their gifts, strengths, talents, and plain and simply for who they are. Likewise, this connected to Drucker’s ethical viewpoint that “Above All, Do No Harm” adapted from Hippocrates (90-96).

I greatly appreciate chapter 33:  “Social Responsibility is a Win-Win.” This chapter, perhaps more than any other deals directly with my own areas of interest around the intersection of the different sectors of society in meeting the needs of the world.  Cohen includes Drucker’s major thoughts regarding what a corporation can and perhaps must do to be socially responsible.  These include:  Don’t leave it to government; the corporate mission comes first; there is an unlimited liability clause; there are unique ethics of social responsibility; and there are opportunities for competitive advantage inherent in being socially responsible (209).  

In the second to last chapter, chapter 39: “You must know your strengths” Cohen offers what some might call an obvious reminder to focus on strengths, but he also brings the reality and human element in with Drucker’s perspectives in the area.  He adds helpfully, “While we can work on building our strengths, we are limited by time to do this.  So focusing on the development of a minor strength while missing a major one can cause you- in the vernacular- to miss your calling” (246).  This resonated with me much, bringing back an idea I had in arguing that “management is a liberal art” based on conversations and learning with Dr. Joseph A. Maciariello at the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, as well as my own interpretation of Drucker which he presents in chapter 2 of his seminal work Management, (you know the big blue book), “Management as a Social Function and Liberal Art.” 

What I liked:  Similar to Drucker himself, Cohen makes effective use of short, snippet examples.  These serve well to briefly illustrate the concepts, their importance, and how they can be experienced and realized.  One such example comes in chapter 9, “What Everyone Knows is Usually Wrong.”  One thing I learned and was reminded of constantly at the Drucker School was the importance of questioning.  Cohen wrote, “What Drucker wanted to emphasize was that we must always question our assumptions, no matter from where they originate. This is especially so regarding anything that a majority of people ‘know’ or assume without questioning” (56). To help illustrate this, Cohen made use of an example from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the truth that Doyle never wrote the words “Elementary, my dear Watson” which are always associated with his created Sherlock Holmes (57).  He also introduced the rationale for the Sanhedrin in taking issue with themselves when there was a unanimous verdict (58).  These two illustrations help illustrate examples of “what everyone knows is usually wrong.”

Another interesting snippet, was Cohen’s decision to include the story about the IBM founder Thomas Watson declining to fire an executive who lost $1 Million for the company.  He included the humorous but encouraging quote, “‘Fire you?’ exclaimed Watson.  ‘We just spent one million dollars as part of your education'” (69).  

I also appreciated Cohen’s chapter 30:  “Drucker’s theory of abandonment.”  Abandonment is something Drucker advocated for, and I believe it is essential for real innovation and growth.  To help illustrate abandonment, Cohen included a story about Jack Welch and General Electric (188-189). 

What I might have done differently:  Now, I have no issue with what Cohen included.  But I might have done a few different things, based on my own interests and understanding of Drucker.  First of all, I might have included some more of the social-sector applications of Drucker’s thought and wisdom.  Drucker wrote extensively on his friendship and what he learned especially from Francis Hesselbein, formerly the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, among other social sector leaders and perspectives.

For my own work, I have also found Drucker’s 5 Questions to be the most helpful tool and resource for me in implementing Drucker’s perspectives and thought.  In this way, I wonder if they would have been perhaps the most practical and accessible “how to” for Drucker related questions and concepts and then would have been helpful for Cohen to reference at least.  For more on these 5 Questions, see The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.

Now regarding the five questions, Cohen does reference pieces of them throughout the book.  Most notably, these have to do with who the customer is and what they value.  Cohen writes, “Only the customer can truly define what quality is, what the customer considers of value can use, and therefore what is important to consider in a purchase” (109).  This connects with the purpose of business being to create a customer (142).  Drucker argued this throughout his works, but it is still amazing how the large scale answer to the question of what the purpose of business is, “is to make a profit.”  What Cohen provides in synthesizing and distilling some of Drucker’s wisdom is the critical reminder that the purpose of business is not to create a profit (201) but to create a customer.  However, this is not to downplay the importance of profit.  This is the piece that I appreciate Cohen drew out, but would have loved to see more expansion around.  Drucker argued as Cohen surmised that “a company can only make a social contribution if it is profitable” (204).  This means that being profitable is necessary for sustainable social good and responsibility.  What then is the purpose of profit though? For Drucker, profit’s importance was that it was the resource that was used for marketing and innovation (206).

What questions are created by this text:  Drucker and the idea of the question go hand in hand.  Drucker taught us to think and ask questions.  I believe that Cohen really drove this point home, and in a way that helps create questions for the reader of this work in contemplating their own lives, leadership roles, and organizations.  In this way, I believe this book is really a success in light of the goal of being a “how to” approach for Drucker’s thoughts and wisdom.

In particular, I would like to highlight a couple of places.  Within chapter 5, Cohen offers Drucker’s reminders that failure is not the end, and for success one must never stop learning (38).  To overcome and grow through failure, and to learn requires being able to ask questions.  These questions might be about ourselves. But they also can be about the world around us.  Drucker was revered for the way he was able to predict the future, but he did so largely by taking the large view of society and asking questions, especially some questions about what was assumed as a norm.  Cohen adds, “Drucker gave us some good ideas on how to predict the future, but he said that the best way was to create the future ourselves” (101).  To create the future, you have to allow space to think and ask questions. 

In Cohen’s mind, this is the most profound insight from Drucker.  According to him and as he writes in chapter 40, Drucker’s most valuable lesson is “to think and ask questions” (254).

In light of this, I wonder in no particular order:  1) What does everybody “know” now that in a year or two will be disproven (185)? 2) When did I actually make the decision to become a leader (44)?  3) In what areas in your life would it be good to claim ignorance in order to be able to ask questions, and hopefully the “right questions” which would ideally help oneself and others to think for themselves and discover (221-225)? 4) In light of crisis in organizations, such as the December news from Target and the theft of account information, how might Drucker’s insights shared in Cohen’s chapter 36 “What to do when an organization faces a crisis” prove helpful for reflection?

What questions come to mind for you about this book based on my thoughts here?  As always, if you have questions, thoughts, or items for discussion on this post, or any post, please do not hesitate to comment below, email, or contact me on Twitter.

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References and Sources

Image Source:  The Practical Drucker

Texts and Books:

William A. Cohen, The Practical Drucker:  Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker, (New York, NY:  AMACOM, 2014).

Peter F. Drucker, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, (San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass, 2008).

Peter F. Drucker, Management:  Revised Edition, (New York, NY:  Collins Business, 2008).

Craig L. Pearce, Jospeh A. Maciariello & Hideki Yamawaki, eds., The Drucker Difference:  What the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders, (New York, NY:  McGraw Hill, 2010).

This Week’s Links

Internet1It’s Tuesday, and so it means that it is time to share links to some of the things I have read and found interesting in the past week.  This week’s categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous.  I hope you enjoy these and find them thought provoking.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Brian Moss recently shared his thoughts on “How to Resurrect a Dying or Plateaued Church.” There is definitely good stuff in here, though I think it lacks space for or at least articulation of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process.  What do you think?

In an update on some of the discord and struggles within the United Methodist Church, here are some quick notes from Renee K. Gadoua.

Clint Schnekloth offered a great reply (one I was similarly considering writing for myself) to a recent American Bible Society Barna Study regarding “The Most and Least Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S. in 2014.” Check out the original study, and then see Clint’s reply.  I probably would have toned down some of Clint’s assertions if I had written this, but overall I do agree that the statistics and findings are suspect in large part because of the questions and the process used to survey about the particular questions.

Mary Harris Todd offered this nice reflection, “Give a small church the chance to nurture your children.”

Anita Bruce-Mills recently had a conversation with Jacob Akinyinka of Connektin.com which has been entitled perhaps provocatively, “Churches must move with the times or risk being left behind.”  What do you think as you ponder this?

I came across this article from October by Mike Loomis from my friend Carrie Gubsch.  Mike shared, “Two Communication Keys that Doubled My Church.”  Admittedly, numbers aren’t everything for me. But, I definitely agree with the importance of being able to tell people why a congregation exists, and how that reason(s) shapes who they are and what they do.

Linda PostBushkofsky wrote the cover story for the February edition of The Lutheran about “Welcoming women as leaders.”  Check it out.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates

Last week I shared Bill & Melinda Gates’ annual letter. In response to that, here is Chris Blattman’s review and grade of the letter and its predictions.

Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Center recently shared “10 facts about Americans and public libraries.” I think these insights and findings have implications for larger communities, non-profits, congregations, etc.  Take a peek and digest these.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Nicole Gallucci shared “Five tips for motivating millennials.”  Her five are:  clarify your expectations; give them the tools they need to thrive; show them why their work matters; give them regular feedback; and share the big picture.  Check this out!

Tom Agan writes that “The secret to lean innovation is making learning a priority.”  Give this a read, there are good insights for leaders and organizations about how to diffuse learning throughout the organization.

Monique Valcour writes, “If you’re not helping people develop, you’re not management material.” As you might guess she adds (I think helpfully) that commitments to employee learning and development, strengthens employee commitment.

The Stand Out Leader offers a quick little reflection and reminder about Servant Leadership. Think about the idea that “the greatest way to get ahead, is to serve others.”  What do you think about this?

Jessica Rohman shares thoughts and perspective on “Why workplace culture is key to business success.” She includes some ideas about how to leverage company culture for success.  These ideas include:  “hire for skill and culture fit; put your organization’s values to work; and find out what makes your company great- and build on it, internally and externally.”

Eric Ravenscraft writes and reflects “Avoid pointless measurements and focus on real life experiences.”  What do you think?  There is truth to be said that experience and the story are (or at least can be) much more important than numbers and statistics. (And I am saying this with economics and management degrees.)

Neighbor Love

In news released last week, the “world’s 85 richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest.”  That is disparity to a ridiculous extreme.  The gap between the “have’s and have not’s” continues to grow and this has important implications for how we serve and meet our neighbors.  Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite brings some important Christian theological reflection in response to this news.

Pope Francis released his thoughts on disparity and economics a while back which I included on this blog. Apparently that story is still ruffling feathers, which perhaps is a good thing because that is what in some ways the gospel is supposed to do- to challenge us to change and to call us to action as part of God’s kingdom and work.  If we are comfortable in the world, the way it is, we have missed the point of Jesus’ ministry.

In related thoughts, Jared Bernstein offered his thoughts on “Why growing income inequality matters.” Please give this some good reflection.

Sarah Bessey shares some reflections on hope as a radical act of faith.

Last week was also the 41st anniversary of the “Roe vs. Wade” decision.  Naturally, there were some reflections worth sharing like this one from Zach Hoag.  Rachel Held Evans also offered some reflection, particularly about “why progressive Christians should care about abortion.”

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Eastside Catholic High School has recently been in the news.  In light of this story, and the protests by students at that school, a priest has emerged who supports the students’ protests.

Friend, adviser, and my seminary discipleship group co-leader Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner writes an important reflection about enjoying the Super Bowl (which is this upcoming Sunday), but to be “suspicious of its values.” He is right on, so most definitely give this great reflection!  Though, I did have to joke a little with him, because he is a San Francisco 49ers fan.  Had the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl, I wonder if he would have been so quick to write this? (Admittedly, I am a Seattle Seahawks fan, the 49ers current major rival in football.)

Dr. Terri Elton with Allison and I  (sorry Matt, we need to get a picture with you too)
Dr. Terri Elton with Allison and I
(sorry Matt, we need to get a picture with you too)

Friend, adviser, and my other seminary discipleship group co-leader Dr. Terri Elton wrote an important reflection about access to information and what this has changed, as well as its implications for learning, teaching, and faith formation.

Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately with all of the turmoil and unrest. Pastor Laura Truax shares some thoughts on “What the Ukrainian Priests are teaching us.”

Stewardship

Addie Zierman shares a reflection from Jen Bradbury about “One Small Change:  Supporting Someone by Hiring Them.” This is a good stewardship themed reflection.  What do you think? What ideas does this lead to for you?

Vocation

Tim Schraeder recently shared, “Communication:  The Power of Disconnect.” Give this a good read, because there are great implications for vocation, life, and for those in some kind of ministry.

Worship

Kurt Willems recently shared some thoughts on worship and particularly on the songs we sing in worship.  Give it some reflection.

Miscellaneous

If you haven’t heard by now, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are facing off in the Super Bowl this coming weekend.  I can’t hide the fact that I do have a rooting interest this year, obviously.  As a native Washingtonian, I am most certainly a Seahawks fan.  Here’s hoping for a great game!  Anyway, in this spirit, here are some things that the cities of Denver and Seattle perhaps have in common.

While in undergrad, I had the privilege of doing a study-away course as part of my economics major.  We studied about environmental and economic change in Italy.  As part of this trip, we got to spend some time in the Cinque Terre. Check this out for a list of reasons why the Cinque Terre is a region you really should visit.

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That will wrap up the links this week.  Hope you are staying warm, and that you have a wonderful week.  And, Go Seahawks! 🙂  Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits:  1) The Links; and 2) Bill and Melinda Gates

“For You”

The interim pastor I served on staff with until recently repeated the phrase and concept “for you” ad nauseam.  It would show up weekly in his sermons, in conversation, and in theological reflection.  But you know something, the more that I heard that over a year and a half, the more I began using that phrase too.  It just resonates, yet it is simply profound and summarizes the gospel so well.

communion breadThis image and phrase came back to me this morning.  Since leaving my staff role in a congregation, I have entered a state of wandering to some degree.  It has been good though.  Because of this sort of flexibility I have been able to visit some other congregations and hear others preach, like last week hearing Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  I have also received communion at different services and with completely different worshiping communities to some degree this month.

It struck me though today, just how wonderful something as simple as saying or hearing the words “for you” can be.  To be honest, I received communion last week and received the bread from the hands of Bishop Eaton. That was nice, like receiving from any great pastor. But yesterday morning, I received the bread from a young elementary school girl.  She gave me a little bit more than a full piece, but that’s okay. When she said the words “for you” a smile came across my face.

That’s just the point.  We proclaim these to be the “gifts of God for the people of God.”  They aren’t magical, they are a sacrament for the people.  They are given by God to be shared and given by all to all.  No matter if receiving the food from the presiding bishop, an elementary school child, an exhausted senior pastor, a stressed out associate in ministry, a millennial trying to find that fulfilling job opportunity, a senior citizen struggling to maintain balance in life, or whoever… worship, and in this case communion, transcend all demographics of age and experience (or at least we hope and trust that they do).  God meets people just where they are at in life, no matter the circumstance in new and amazing ways.  One of these ways I believe is through other people meeting their neighbors, friends, and strangers in life.

One of these moments then, or at least a moment of recognition, came yesterday for me.  “The body of Jesus Christ is given for you.”  Amen.  Sometimes we have to be woken up and made aware of the here and now.  To be mindful, present, and to cultivate a sense of presence some times it takes a moment such as this to be reminded that you are here now and “I am for you.” This was a reminder I needed, and perhaps you do too?

As we start another week, for many like in the upper mid-west another week of crazy cold, its important to know that God meets us and is present every day and everywhere. God is for you, thanks be to God.

Image Credit:  Communion Wafer

Inspired by the Presiding Bishop

“In baptism we have died the only death that matters, and that should make us very dangerous people.” – Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, The Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), 1/19/14

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton with Allison and I  (photo taken by Thomas Siburg)
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton with Allison and I
(photo taken by Thomas Siburg)

This past Sunday and Monday, Allison and I had the privilege to see and hear from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton for the first time in person.  Needless to say, I was inspired!  Allison and I were a tad jealous this past summer when my brother actually had the pleasure of eating ice-cream together with both Rev. Elizabeth Eaton (then Presiding Bishop elect) and Rev. Mark Hanson (then Presiding Bishop).  I even shared some of Thomas’ perspectives here on this blog.  Anyway, this was the first time, as far as I know, that Bishop Eaton had come to the Twin Cities since being named Presiding Bishop to preach.  She preached on Sunday at Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Brighton, and then presided at chapel the next day at Luther Seminary and took part in a panel discussion in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We had the opportunity to hear her preach on Sunday, and I was greatly inspired and moved.  I could sense what Thomas referred to as the Spirit moving through her words at the Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh this past summer.  She preaches to the point and heart of the gospel, and does not mince words.  I greatly appreciate this.  Why do we so often beat around the bush when we have good news to share?

This good news is grounded in our identities as children of God, and as Bishop Eaton said and is quoted above “we have died the only death that matters.”  Because of this as she preached, “we are set free for something!”  “We are set free from ourselves, and we are set free to get over ourselves and to serve.”  For those who think that there is more that we have to do, well, she didn’t mince words.  She recalled being sick recently and flipping through TV channels while laying on the couch.  She said that she kept coming back to a channel with a televangelist proclaiming, “you have to accept Jesus into your hearts.”  Well, as she said, that made her mad because of how wrong the televangelist was.  As Bishop Eaton preached, “we don’t accept Jesus, Jesus accepts us!” Jesus accepts us for who we are, broken though we may be.  There is nothing we can do to earn Jesus’ acceptance, grace, or love. Because all of these are gifts we could never earn.  To think otherwise devalues the work of God.

So, returning to Bishop Eaton’s claim, “we have died the only death that matters,” AMEN!  The logical question is, now what are we going to do about it?  How are we in the world- living, loving, and serving?  How are we embodying our baptismal identities?  How are we meeting our neighbors where they are at?  We have been washed in the waters and marked with the cross of Christ forever.  For what end?  To hide? No! But to be active in the world, engaged in the world, discerning what God might be up to in the world and participating in that work of God in our daily lives.  As Bishop Eaton said, “we are set free for something.”

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I would like to extend my thanks to both Christ the King Lutheran Church and to Luther Seminary for hosting and creating these opportunities.  I would also like to give a special shout-out to my dear friend Carrie Gubsch for all of the hard work she put in, in coordinating and communicating, before and during the bishop’s visit.

This Week’s Links

Internet1It’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for the links to stories, articles, and other things I have found interesting and thought provoking.  This week’s topic categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Neighbor Love; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship; and Miscellaneous. Enjoy!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Let’s begin this week’s links with a potentially controversial and thought-provoking opinion piece by Dr. Elizabeth Drescher.  She asks, “Are liberals too ‘special’ to go to church?”  What do you think?  It’s an interesting perspective worth a read and some reflection I think.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw a Tweet about this last week.  Karl Vaters shared, “Forget being culturally relevant- let’s get contextually real.” I love the title, and I love the post.  The church is not about a “one size fits all thing” or a way of doing things.  The work of the church is about bringing the gospel and Good News of grace and love to all people in both Word and Deed.  This means that the way the message is shared and the way people are met is going to be unique and appropriate as per the context.  Jesus met people as they were and where they were in life.  This is what I believe the church is called to do also.

The Winter 2013 edition of Lifelong Faith is now available.  Within this PDF publication are a number of resources and articles on trends and developments in Faith Formation.  Friends and professors Dr. Terri Elton and Rev. Tim Coltvet are two of the many authors included.  Check it out!

The United Methodist Church is back in the news. Another minister, this time Rev. Thomas Ogletree (retired Dean from Yale Divinity School) will face a trial for officiating the marriage of his son to another man.

Rich Birch shared what he sees as “7 Leadership Transitions in Growing Churches.” What do you think of the tensions he sees? What other tensions might you add to this list?

Cross-Sector Collaboration

While a student at the Drucker School, I was engaged in a number of classes and discussions around the possibilities for public-private and public-private-social partnerships.  Lauren Rosenbaum, Edward Van Buren, and John Mennel recently shared a very helpful perspective on what they see are “Partnerships for the future.”  William (Bill) Eggers helpfully added his take at the end of the article as well. Jessie Zeng then offered a quick summary and review of that piece and what Eggers added for his take.  Check out both of these and see what you think.  This vision for partnerships is already becoming a reality, and it gives me hope that different people in many different sectors and organizations are recognizing this trend and see the benefits and potential benefits of it.

Leadership Thought & Practice

This article could have been placed both under leadership and vocation, but its here so we’ll go with it.  Kevin Daum shares “5 tips for successful reinvention.” His tips are:  1) leverage your best moneymaking skills; 2) go with what you know; 3) fail loudly; 4) make network-building a key priority; and 5) make opportunities happen. Check this out, especially if you consider yourself an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial leader (or if that sounds interesting to you).

John Keyser recently shared “14 tips for developing ‘leadership presence.'” Check out the list, its a good one!

Stephen Lynch recently posted some “Management myths and management facts.” What do you think?

Carey Nieuwhof shares his perspective on “How to be an appropriately transparent leader (without oversharing).”  This is something really important for all demographics in leadership, but as I have seen especially among millennials (and for myself), authenticity and transparency are imperative values in and for leadership.  How to walk that line and find that balance is important, and this could be a helpful reflection toward that end.

In last week’s set of links I shared a perspective from Bill George about the Target crisis.  Here’s a different perspective on it from Marla Tabaka.

Roger L. Martin shared in HBR what he calls “The big lie of strategic planning.” Give it a read when you have the time, especially if you are a manager or leader.

Skip Prichard shared “Everything Connects:  an interview with Faisal Hoque.”  As he asks, “how are you seeing ‘everything connect’ today?”

Neighbor Love

If you need some hope in humanity today, here are 14 responses to hatred that show that hatred can be overcome when people do good and decent things.  If you need more hope, check out this beautiful story about an act of in-flight kindness toward an autistic child.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rachel Held Evans shared what I found to be perhaps the most beautiful and hopeful blog post I have ever read this past week.  Her post, “Unstoppable Grace:  Thoughts on the Gay Christian Network Conference,” is honest, authentic, and exhibits a true and genuine sense of meeting, recognizing and embracing one’s neighbors.  It is powerful and important. Please give it a read.

Lisa Sharon Harper asked late last week, “What kind of world is this?”  She argues that we must end this “ideologically driven war on the poor.”  I for one, completely agree.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush shared “7 ways to be sure you are a Martin Luther King Jr. kind of Christian.” King’s Christianity, according to Rausenbush was grounded in love (and I would agree).  Check out the reflection and see what you think.

Grantland recently published a story that elicited (and rightfully so) responses of hurt, pain, and outrage.  They responded to this piece with their recognition, learning, and hope to be better.  See their response.  I think its a good one- one of honesty and genuinely admitting mistakes and failure and asking for forgiveness.  This whole experience though I think demonstrates how much room we all have to grow in how we try to understand, accept, and meet our neighbors.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently published their annual letter.  In this letter they explain in detail “3 Myths that block progress for the poor.”  Take some time to digest it.  There is good theory and economics here.  For someone with a passion especially for development economics this is a great read.

The State of Utah has not often made it on my links, but I am happy to change that this week.  “Utah is ending homelessness by giving people homes.”  Thank you Utah for being a leader in addressing homelessness in a positive and hopeful way.  I hope other states and municipalities will take note.

Stewardship

Part of stewardship means being a good steward of your resources- for yourself and for others.  If you are like me, you probably shop at Costco to stock up on certain things (and perhaps occasionally use Costco to shop for your non-profit or congregation as well).  Here are some tips to get the best deal from Jillian Rogers.

For those of you interested in stewardship, my good friend and the brilliant stewardship minded Grace Duddy will now be sharing her insights on Twitter.  Follow her!

Vocation

This could have been placed under leadership or vocation.  Mihir Patkar shares “Frame your goals as questions to motivate accomplishments.”

Jon shared “8 practical ways to become a better version of yourself professionally.” These ways that he shares include:  set a fixed waking up and sleeping time; enhance communication skills; listen to your mentor; upgrade your skills; learn something new; create a list of your accomplishments and goals; pick up a new habit; and keep ideas flowing through a journal.

This I am sharing because I have found it potentially useful for myself.  Here are some tips for leveraging yourself, especially if providing (or considering providing) some consulting skills or services.

Miya Tokumitsu shares, “In the Name of Love:  Elites embrace the ‘do what you love’ mantra. But it devalues work and hurts workers.”  What do you think?

Worship

Some thoughts from Brian Dolleman on celebratory worship, and a wish to be weird.

Miscellaneous

The Deflated Metrodome in Minneapolis
The Deflated Metrodome in Minneapolis

I have openly admitted to being a sports fan on this blog.  On Twitter lately you have probably noticed an increase of Seattle Seahawks related Tweets.  I’ve been excited because the team is now going to the Super Bowl.  Can you blame me?  Anyway, in that spirit here is one story about a Seahawk which I think is good news and a cause for inspiration.  Derrick Coleman has overcome the challenges related to being deaf to be a professional football player.  Check it out.

Also in sports related news, this past weekend the Metrodome in Minneapolis was deflated for the last time.  Here was a nice piece saying goodbye to it by Jim Caple.

If you fly or travel a lot, you might find these tips about air travel search sites helpful by Seth Kugel.

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I hope you have enjoyed this week’s offering of the links.  If there are types of stories or articles that you would like me to include in the links going forward, please just let me know. If there are particular topics you would like me to explore on this blog, please let me know that too.  Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits:  1) The Links; 2) Martin Luther King, Jr.; and 3) The deflated Metrodome.

Some thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (photo taken by Tamara Siburg)
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
(photo taken by Tamara Siburg)

Today, the United States observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  In doing so, we remember and celebrate a leader, visionary, and one of the foremost people who authentically lived and understood what it really means (in its most difficult of ways) to love one’s neighbor.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of service, a day of reflection, and a day of learning and making a commitment to change for the better.  It’s a day created to serve and make our communities and world a better place in the images of Dr. King’s dreams and vision.  It’s a day for us to reflect on the calls he shared and help others share about learning to accept one another as equal members and participants of community.  It’s a day to take seriously those calls and to do something about it.

There are plenty of opportunities across the United States today to be involved and to learn a little about Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you are in the Twin Cities you might check out this series of events scheduled to take place at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.)

Part of a mural at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (photo taken by Tamara Siburg)
Part of a mural at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (photo taken by Tamara Siburg)

In taking a step back and reflecting myself, this past summer I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.  There you can visit the sanctuary at Ebenezer Baptist Church where King preached for much of his ministry, the house he was born in and grew up in, his and his wife’s tomb, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, a museum and  collection or two, as well as a number of other important parts and reflections about his impact.  If you have never visited before, I encourage you to do so.

Upon my visit I stumbled across a book I had never seen before by Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here:  Chaos or Community?  Needless to say with my interests that you can discern through this blog, it was a no-brainer to purchase this book.  And in honor of MLK, I want to leave you with this passage that is a part of King’s powerful concluding chapter which I encourage you to read.  The depth of this passage is really on my mind today.  Give it some reflection, and see where your heart and mind lead you in reflecting on it.

“A true revolution of value will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.  We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act.  One day the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life.  True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”  – Martin Luther King Jr. (198)

Credits/Resources:

Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here:  Chaos or Community, (Boston, MA:  Beacon Press, 1968).