This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you.To help make sense of all these links, I have grouped them in the following topics: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous.

I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

In looking ahead to this weekend, Rev. Dr. David Lose reflected in “Epiphany 4B: First Things First.” Bishop Michael Rinehart also shared thoughts and ideas about Epiphany 4B.

Bishop Rinehart also shared the message this past week in Houston at Lakewood Church as part of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” His sermon was titled, “Living Water.” Bishop Rinehart also shared pictures of the visit.

Pope Francis shared thoughts “on Christian unity encounter, accept, and listen.”

Also in the past week, it was announced that Pope Francis will visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. 

Friend and pastor Joe Smith reflected about the importance and necessity of administration in ministry in “The Value of Administration and the Value of Go.”

Last week, “Marcus Borg, leading liberal theologian and historical Jesus expert” passed away. David Gibson shared the news.

Earlier this month Carey Nieuwhof shared “7 Surprising and Endearing Characteristics of Highly Effective Church Leaders.” Characteristics include: they show up on time; they do their homework; they call you by name; they’re okay not being good at everything; they follow through fast; they take their work- not themselves- seriously; and they’re incredibly down to earth.

Friend, professor and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared thoughts about her recent class and other insights in “A visit to South Carolina.” Within this, she shared thoughts about identity, community and what it might mean to be agents of God’s love. Check out the thoughts and included video.

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston shared and asked about “Authentic Accountability (or Who Tells Us When We Screw Up & Do We Acknowledge That – Yes – We are Screw Ups?)”  Jan also shared about “Memory-Making in Church.”

#ChSocM (Church Social Media) shared its weekly transcript, with this week’s focus on “Building a Social Media Team.”

"The Sacred Valley" by Peggy Hahn
“The Sacred Valley” by Peggy Hahn

Brian Dodd shared about “12 Practices of Highly Successful Pastors Who Love People.” Among the practices listed are the idea that highly successful pastors who love people: can’t fake it; pray for people early and often; look for opportunities to serve people; teach God’s Word; are accessible; give their people hope; can’t wait to talk to people; are generous; are humble; want to bring out the best in their people and generously share their knowledge.

John Meunier wrote and asked, “Going all-in for mission?

Anytime I read about innovation, change and the church I get excited. So with that in mind, I appreciated seeing this post by Leif Kehrwald over at Vibrant Faith, “Transforming the Way We’ve Always Done Things.”

I’m very excited to share the news from my friend Peggy Hahn and on behalf of LEAD that Peggy and LEAD’s first book has been published and is available on Amazon, “The Sacred Valley: A guide for growing leaders with a deep, bold, consequential faith in Jesus Christ.” Check out the book! I think you are going to love it as much as I already do.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In news that gives me hope, Brian Fung writes that Senator “Cory Booker’s introducing a bill to help cities build their own, public Internet services.”

The Humanosphere shared a great deal of important cross-sector type news this past week. First, Tom Murphy shared about “The Gates Letter, 2015 edition.” Speaking of Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Paulson wrote that “Bill and Melinda Gates bet on a technologically improved future.” Also for the Humanosphere, Tom Murphy also shared about “The 169 target sustainable development goals likely here to stay,” according to the United Nations. He also wrote that, “Microfinance is not a quick escape from poverty, studies show,” and shared about “What [President] Obama said on international development in his State of the Union address.”

Here’s a question for you, especially if you are involved with nonprofits or nonprofit leadership. “Are you or your nonprofit or foundation being an …?

Julian Stodd shared a couple great posts, “The Concentration of Meaning: Birth of the Social Age,” and “Monarchs and Monasteries: Emergent Communities in the Social Age.”

In case you missed President Obama’s “State of the Union Address” last week, you can see the transcript here.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Bob Tiede shared a guest post by Mitch Ditkoff, “Why You Need to Ask Why.”

Lolly Daskal shared “12 Significant Ways That Great Leaders Are Different Than the Rest of Us.” Lolly writes that if you want to be great: make people feel valuable; make the time to connect; be honest and straightforward even when the news is bad; take the heat; share the credit; give praise, and do it often; delegate responsibility without micromanaging; celebrate skills, and appreciate talent; challenge the status quo, and don’t settle for mediocrity; invest in your people, and make them feel important; encourage and inspire; and build team spirit, and encourage inclusiveness.

Tanveer Naseer shared some thoughts in explaining “Why We Fail at Leadership.”

Last spring James Pepitone wrote about “Making Mindful Managerial Decisions.”

Last week I shared “Three Questions to Break the Ice.” The questions include: If time or money weren’t an issue, what is your dream? What part of the purpose, vision, mission and/or values of the organization you are part of connects most with you and why? And, what is the dream for your organization?

Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson

Steve Keating shared a couple great posts including reflection about “Motivational Leadership,” and “What Your People Need to Know.”

In case you haven’t heard it yet, the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are facing each other in this year’s Super Bowl on Sunday. With that in mind, Brian Dodd shared “15 Practices of Highly Successful Inspirational Leaders: 15 Leadership Quotes from Russell Wilson.” (Russell Wilson is the quarterback for the Seahawks.)

Anne Loehr shared and wrote, “What I Would Ask Danny Meyer About Leadership, if I Had a Seat at His Table.”

Dan Rockwell, the Leadership Freak, shared a whole host of great posts. Among them were, “How to Find Your Nut,” “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” and “7 Ways to Deal with Old Leaders.” Dan also shared about “If You Were Gone in Twelve Months.” There are great insights in here about leading in the short term with the long term vision in mind. These insights I think would be particularly valuable for interim leaders of all types, as well as those who are trying to build organizations and groups for the future not dependent on yourself or anyone leader. Dan also wrote about “How Values Expedite Connection and Integration.”

Cranston Holden wrote and asked, “Do you have Minions or People with Purpose?” Good question. Cranston also shared a quote from Jim Rohn on “The Challenge of Leadership.”

Jon Mertz wrote and explained “How Human-Centered Leaders Follow Principles That Matter.” Three reasons that Jon notes that leading on principle matters: it brings clarity to discussions and decisions; it creates and sustains organizational culture; and it serves as a way to galvanize organizational purpose.


Jon Mertz also shared thoughts about “The Rising Entrepreneurial Mindset of Millennials.” Within this, Jon shared three values of the entrepreneurial mindset of Millennials: always improve; always engage; and always collaborate. There is also good thought in this about the importance of purpose. Jon also wrote for Thin Difference about “Sustaining the Conscious Millennial Leader Mission.

To bridge the gap, you have to mind it first.
To bridge the Boomer-Millennial gap, you have to mind it first.

Thin Difference also shared a guest post by Megan Dougherty that, “It Takes Two to Tango: Bridging the Boomer-Millennial Gap.” Four ways to bridge the gap include: be curious; be patient; be kind and be flexible.

Jeremy Chandler shared “10 Things This Millennial is Learning About Leadership.”

Leisa Peterson wrote that, “Millennials are Redefining Success – Why the Rest of Us Should Pay Attention.”

TK wrote a guest post about herself, “The Millennial Girl Who Dreamed of Being a Female Catholic Priest.

Hannah Becker, the Motivated Millennial, asked, “Can Your Passion Be Your Profession?” That’s an important vocational question for Millennials, but really all generations. What do you think?

Back in March, Chelsea Krost shared a guest post by Amanda Loveland asking “4 Questions Every Millennial Must Ask Themselves.” The questions to consider are: Do I know how to make my own money? Am I willing to do what is required to have a child and have a life? What can I do better than anyone else? And, what is one thing I can do today that will significantly improve the quality of my life?

Chelsea also shared a guest post by Julia Jornsay-Silverberg, “Managing Millennials: Three Common Mistakes.” The three common mistakes that Julia notes are that when managing millennials, people “ignore our ideas,” “focus only on salary,” and “set strict hours.” Definitely check out this post!

Neighbor Love

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared some reflections about this time of year in “A Longer Epiphany.”

With the news that Marcus Borg passed away last week, The Very Reverend Barkley Thompson shared about his friend in “My friend, Marcus Borg.”

RJ Grunewald reflected in and about “4 Values that Influence My Ministry.” The values RJ highlights are: nothing new; beauty; translation and relationships.

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared his sermon for this past weekend grounded in Matthew 5:1-20, “Blessed are the meek: Another reason God doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl.” Even though I’m a huge Seahawks fan, I definitely agree with Frank on this.

MSN shared a post with major social justice/injustice and inequality implications in “The 5 Worst States for Black Americans.”

Speaking of injustice and inequality, Charles Blow wrote an incredibly powerful op-ed, “Library Visit, Then Held at Gunpoint- Charles Blow: At Yale, the Police Detained My Son.” Charles notes, “In these moments, what you’ve done matters less than how you look.” This is injustice and racism. It’s real in our society, and we have a lot of work to do to change our culture.

Friend, blogger and intern pastor Chris Michaelis shared a couple sermons that he has given recently. These include, “Signs of Life,” based in Matthew 5:13-14, as well as “The End of Our Wits,” based in Matthew 4:1-17.

In the moving and feel good story of the week, you should check out this story about a “Packers fan’s heartwarming ‘thank you’ to Seattle might bring you to tears.” Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you should check this out.

In a story with huge environmental justice importance, Regina Garcia Cano shared news about how a “North Dakota Pipeline Leaked 3 Million Gallons of Brine in Oil Drilling.” This story was also picked up here.

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller wrote an inspirational word partly inspired by the Seahawks victory over the Packers last week for the Old Dominion Wrestling Team this past week in “From the Mat: Weekend Word.”

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day having been last week, Rev. Dr. Amy Butler asked, “Will the Church Fail or Fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy?

Recently friends of mine from LEAD journeyed to El Salvador to lead, teach and equip a faith community there to lead “Camp Hope.” With that in mind, Peggy Hahn shared, “Three things I learned about being Centered in Christ from our El Salvadoran Sisters and Brothers.” Peggy learned: to let love be genuine; rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering; and extend hospitality to strangers. Also, Neil Christians shared some thoughts and pictures as well about this in “Camp Hope in El Salvador.”

I’m not going to mince words, I’m getting very upset at civic authorities and jurisdictions who put restrictions on the ability of people and communities to feed the hungry and serve the poor. I am sad to report that my home state now has a city to be added to the list, Kent. Well, Kent, let it be known you are not acting within the ways of neighbor love as can be discerned in this story, “Kent woman feeds needy despite warnings from city.”

"a Micah 6:8 tribute" by Vonda Drees
“a Micah 6:8 tribute” by Vonda Drees

“Jamie the Very Worst Missionary,” shared a highly important post earlier this month, “Depression is Not A Scandal.” I couldn’t agree with her closing thoughts more. She writes, “People are in desperate need of help and they shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and get it. Just talk about it…  End the stigma of depression and save lives.”

John Pavlovitz writes, “Stand Up, Straight Christians, It’s Time for you to come out of the closet.” John convincingly writes, “Ultimately, the greatest evil is never the injustice that exists in our world, but our silence in the face of it. So for them; for those LGBT people hanging by the thinnest of threads right now and for those who love them, I’m begging you: stand-up, straight Christian, and come out of the closet.”

Friend, blogger and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts from the past week. These included: “through the Great Commandment lens,” “a Micah 6:8 tribute,” “unforced rhythms of grace,” “everyday people trusting the waters,” and “the holy between us.”

The Humanosphere shared a guest post by Margarite Nathe highlighting “10 Global Health Issues to Watch in 2015.”

The Humanosphere also shared a guest post by Lauren Hashiguchi, “Visualizing Haiti’s New and Improving Health Landscape.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.

Kevan Lee shared what I have found to be a helpful post this week, “The Ultimate List of Social Media Acronyms and Abbreviations, Defined.”

Kate Nasser wrote and shared about “Entrepreneurial Success From Great Social Media Finds.”

David A. Frankel shared, “8 Game-Changing Marketing Lessons From the ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge.'” Lessons learned include: anyone can participate; very simple rules to the “challenge”; compressed time period to complete challenge; perfect time of year; simple, but descriptive hashtags; and small expectations from the start.


Joseph Yoo shared reflections about “When Pastors Don’t Give.”

Michelle shared a few good stewardship and financial type posts. These included: “We’re Selling Our Home and Moving into a Rental House,” “10 Ways to Make Money Online from the Comfort of Your Home,” and “How I Paid Off $38,000 in Student Loan Debt in 7 Months.”

Sarah Cooney shared some thoughts “Debunking Bulk Buying.”

Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy Pomroy shared a couple great posts over the past week. On her own blog, she continued her current series of posts with “2015 New Year’s Resolutions: Runners Up.” She also provided a guest post on the COMPASS Blog sharing some financial goals and resolutions related to savings, paying down debt, the purchase of a new home and new expenses. Check out both of these posts!

Over at Young Adult Money, Erin reflected about “How Unplugging Can Save You Money.”


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a few vocationally rich posts like normal this past week in her “Friday Favorites,” “Sunday Snippits,” and “Tuesday Tea Time.” Julia, I have to say that Allison and I share your movie tastes. We both loved “The Hundred Foot Journey” as well.

Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton
Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some life and vocational reflections in “The Preacher, Not Preaching.”

Friend, professor and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared a vocational and life reflection piece simply but appropriately titled, “Grateful.”

Jan Edmiston shared some reflections about “Truth Changes.”

Friend and blogger Angel Yackel shared some great life reflections in “Change.” In this she writes, “As we settle into our new home, our new town, our new congregation, I have no choice but to put my trust in God. I already know in my heart that this is the right place for us, and I am confident that we will grow individually, grow together, and grow with our congregation and the Church as a whole. I see so much beauty in what is around me, and though I’ve been a city girl my whole life, I’m pretty excited about small-town living.”

Friend, artist and blogger Vonda Drees depicted about “What new thoughts visited me?


The Rev. Canon Robert Hendrickson wrote and shared, “Liturgy: It’s not the Work of the People.” Give this a read and see what you think.

Victoria shared, “Worship on the Eve of the Reformation, Part 2: The Eucharist.


Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared a couple posts including, “Administrivia,” and “Where (a lot of) Feminists Go Wrong.” (Don’t judge that second post until you check it out.)

The 12th Man Flag flies a top the Space Needle in Seattle. Go Hawks!
The 12th Man Flag flies a top the Space Needle in Seattle. Go Hawks!

Every once and awhile I find a comic that I have to share. I think Calvin and Hobbes really hit the nail on the head last week with this strip. What do you think?

Here’s another good story about my hometown (and favorite) airline, Alaska Airlines, doing some good in the world and going beyond the basics of business.

This past week, baseball Hall-of-Famer and Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks passed away at the age of 83.

Finally, how could I not end the links without another post related to the Seahawks? Here’s a story by Ashley Fox about Pete Carroll and his time previously serving as coach of the Patriots that helped shape him into the coach that he is now.  Also, if you don’t know about the Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch, he’s a man of generally few words for reporters, but with a love of Skittles. With that in mind, you have to check out this “press conference” and the “Marshawn 8-Ball.” (Shout out to Carrie Gubsch for sharing that with me.) Here’s hoping for a great Super Bowl this coming Sunday!


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed them! As always if you have topics to include in the links, or questions and ideas you would like me to unpack on the blog, please let me know about them. Until next time, blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; The Sacred Valley; Russell Wilson; Mind the Gap; “a Micah 6:8 tribute“; and the 12th Man Flag over the Space Needle.

Three Questions to Break the Ice

Hopefully it is a bit easier to "break the ice" in a conversation than it is to cut and break through the ice of the frozen seas.
Hopefully it is a bit easier to “break the ice” in a conversation than it is to cut and break through the ice of the frozen seas.

I have been helping a friend and colleague plan a series of conversations and workshops recently. As part of this experience, we have been sharing questions with others that we hope to help open the conversation and “break the ice.” Among these questions, we have landed on three in particular that we have found to be helpful.

1) If time or money weren’t an issue, what is your dream?

This is usually our first question. This helps people leave a little bit of reality behind for a moment, and to transcend any real or imagined barriers that they may have. Answers to this question that I have heard have ranged from being able to feed all of the world’s hungry to being able to always be on vacation on a private yacht traveling the world and experiencing its many diverse cultures. I don’t value this question as a barometer for character. I value it really as a way to break the ice and to open a door to conversations and visioning about what is possible when you open yourself up beyond just yourself and your preconceived notions.

2) What part of the purpose, vision, mission and/or values of the organization(s) you are part of connects most with you and why?

Of whatever you are a part of, you are in fact a part of a team or group. Why are you part of it? For a paycheck? That’s fair, but my guess is that there is some deeper purpose or resonance with the team or group you are part of that connects with you. What is it? Why does it connect with you? This sort of reflection can be amazingly eye opening both for yourself as an individual and leader, but also for your peers, colleagues and organization. In a sense, this may well point to the “why do you do what you do” piece and question I often like to highlight and have people ponder together.

3) What is the dream for your organization?

This is as open-ended as it sounds. In its best use case though, this is the vision casting question. It provides an opportunity for the individual to share their ideas and dreams, and then if done in concert with others, the chance to collectively hear each others’ dreams and ideas. From here, communal discernment and discovery can happen.

How would you answer these three questions based on where you are in your life’s work and context(s)?

Writer’s Note: Most recently, the organization where these questions have been asked have been to people and leaders in specific churches & faith communities. However, I believe these questions would work for most contexts and situations. (For faith communities, I also like to add the question, “What might God be up to around here?”) 

One More Bonus Question: For whom (or what) does your heart break for?

If you’re itching for a little more vocational discernment or self-discovery, this question can really begin to unpack what areas you are passionate about in terms of serving, or in terms of meeting the needs of the world/community of which you are a part of.

Image Credit: Ice Breaker


This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have read and found interesting over the past week with all of you. To help make sense out of everything, I break all of these links into categories. To this end, this week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links and find them to be as thought provoking as I do.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some reflections and thoughts about the revised common lectionary appointed readings for this coming weekend in “Epiphany 3B.”

Also, in thinking about worship this coming weekend, check out these reflections from Rev. Dr. David Lose in “Epiphany 3B: Following Jesus Today.”

Taking a wider view of the liturgical season of Epiphany, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared, “Epiphany Expectations.” Karoline followed up that post with another one titled, “The Immediately of Epiphany (Mark 1:14-20).”

With lay leadership and volunteer management in mind, Brian Dodd shared, “26 Things I Say to Encourage Church Volunteers.” Brian also asked, “Do Christian Leaders Really Need to Like Who They Work With?” What do you think?

Friend, pastor and blogger Joe Smith shared a timely post in “Important Questions Entering Annual Meeting Season.” Questions of consideration include: Does the meeting have to be in the worship space? Does the budget debate have to be during the annual meeting? And does all the discussion have to happen in one large group? (In a related post, I shared a bit about the congregation I am currently serving’s annual meeting awhile back. If you missed that post, you can check out those reflections here.)

John Meunier shared thoughts about a local faith community withholding money and support to their larger church in “Using dollars to disagree.”

The ELCA Network of Children, Youth & Family Ministry shared about its new leadership.

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)

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day in mind, pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston writes that “We need more color – in every way.  I believe that the God who created every gorgeous hue requires this of us and relishes in it.” Jan also wondered about “The 22nd Century Church?

In thinking about the church and change, blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans reflected about “Post-Evangelicals and Why We Can’t Just Get Over It.” As she notes allow me to repeat, “It’s strange how the ghosts of your last church haunt the new one.”

RJ Grunewald shared some thoughts with the church and worship in mind in “We Sing to Remind Us Who We Are.”

Church Social Media (#chsocm) shared a transcript from last week’s chat in “Encouraging Participation and Engagement With the Reluctant.”

Pastor and blogger Nurya Love Parish shared “More on Mission, Subsidiarity, and Diocesan Operating Budgets.”

News was shared over the weekend that the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican are collaborating together in “Catholics and Lutherans Plan Joint Ecumenical Commemoration in 2016.”

Katie Grimes over at Women in Theology shared, “In Gratitude for Trolls; In Celebration of Bad (Eucharistic) Table Manners.”

LEAD shared “You were born for this!” In this post check out about LEAD’s sense of call, mission and perspective and how LEAD wants to be part of helping you grow in your leadership, ministry and service by accompanying you in your service and ministry to help you become and grow to be even better in your role(s) and as a leader and Child of God.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Julian Stodd wrote and asked, “Invested in the Status Quo?” Julian also wrote, “Here Be Dragons: The Ecosystem of the Social Age.” Check out these posts for the engaging titles alone.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared a couple thought provoking thoughts and posts. First he shared, “Teaching As We Always Have, Even Though the ‘Always On’ Generation Isn’t Listening.” Ron also wrote, “How We Should Respond to the New Terrorism.”

Stephanie Vozza shared about “The Random Events That Sparked 8 of the World’s Biggest Startups.”

Shala Burroughs wrote, “Jack-hammers and Your Circadian Rhythm: What Happens When You Start Working Independently.”

The Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle
The Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a full list of resources about “Appreciative Inquiry,” including an upcoming session with Jeremy Scrivens. Check this out!  If you are unfamiliar with Appreciative Inquiry, check out this post for a very brief overview from about a year ago.

Henry Mintzberg wrote, “To Win-Win in a Balanced World: Ask John. Ask Irene. Ask the BIG question.”

Elizabeth Bernstein explained “How ‘Active Listening’ Makes Both Participants in a Conversation Feel Better.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Chuck Blakeman writes that, “Engagement and Empowerment Programs are Signs of a Much Deeper Problem.” What do you think?

Ingrid Green shared this great read “We Still Don’t Know the Difference Between Change and Transformation,” by Ron Ashkenas with me. Check this post out!

Dan Rockwell shared a number of thought provoking posts over the past week. Among these posts were “The Five Practices of Leadership,” which include: model the way; inspire shared vision; challenge the process; enable others to act and encourage the heart. Dan also shared, “The 3 Most Dangerous Things Leaders Don’t Do,” which are: acknowledge when it isn’t working; forgive and give second chances and intentionally create positive experiences with and for teams. Dan also shared thoughts about “How to Coach Angry Leaders,” and “Seven Principles of Passion.”

Tanveer Naseer writes that “Women in Leadership is Not a Zero-Sum Game.”

What lessons about leadership might you learn from surfing?
What lessons about leadership might you learn from surfing? Check out the post by Anne Loehr for more. (And if you are in the cold of winter where you are, visualize warmer weather and wonderful time in the ocean and at the beach.)

Anne Loehr wrote and shared, “Surf’s Up: Five Leadership Lessons I Learned from Surfing.” The leadership lessons include: stay the course; focus; adapt to your new reality; celebrate failures; and ask for help. This post is great, and definitely the best titled leadership post that I found over the past week so be sure and check it out!

Steve Keating shared a couple great posts. First, he shared “How to Hold a Productive Meeting.” Steve also shared about “The Frustration of Being Better.”

Cranston Holden shared some good perspectives about focus in “A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep.”

Dan Forbes wrote that “Sometimes Leaders Need to Push.” In this Dan reflects and asks, “Who pushed you? Think about it. Hasn’t their been times in your life when you needed a push? Maybe it was your parents, a teacher, a minister, a spouse or a circumstance. You were comfortable, not growing, stagnant even. You were fearful about taking the leap that you knew needed to be taken. Then along came the push. It was a leader who pushed you. That’s what leaders do.” So, as Dan asked, allow me to repeat, “Who pushed you?” Great question!

Lolly Daskal wrote about “How to Become the Most Compelling Person You Will Ever Know.”

Back in October Paul Jun shared “Must Reads for Leaders: 10 Invaluable Books for Moving Hearts and Minds.”

Brian Dodd shared “12 Things You Must Do to Develop Highly Successful Young Leaders.”


Thin Difference shared a guest post by Megan Dougherty, “It Takes Two to Tango: Bridging the Boomer-Millennial Gap.” There are implications in this about working in concert together, with reflections about four ways to work together: be curious; be patient; be kind and be flexible.

Also for Thin Difference, Jon Mertz reflected about “The Role of Patience in Purpose.” In contemplating this, Jon offers thoughts about how patience equals risk; purpose meets time; and what are the implications for Millennials about the power of patience in purpose. As Jon asked, let me repeat, “What role does patience play in your purpose?”

Jon also reflected on “The Rising Entrepreneurial Mindset of Millennials.” There are three values he particularly highlights: always improve; always engage; and always collaborate. Reflection is also given in this to the importance of purpose.

Richard Fry with the Pew Research Center writes that “This year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers.” There are huge implications for all facets of life and society in this I believe. What do you think?

Back in October, Claire Cain Miller wrote about “Where Young College Graduates are Choosing to Live.” There are important thoughts and implications for and about Millennials.

Chelsea Krost shared “6 Bootstrapping Tips From an Entrepreneur Who Turned $3000 Into Millions.”

Neighbor Love

act ~ love ~ walk by Vonda Drees
“act ~ love ~ walk” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of great posts, reflections and works of art over the past week. Among these great posts include: “The Heart’s ‘big bang'”; “act ~ love ~ walk“; “salvation’s song“; “lectio divina“; and “awe precedes faith.”

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day being yesterday, Relevant shared his “I Have a Dream” Speech.

Dr. Elizabeth Drescher shared, “Selma’s Prophetic Call to Ministry Leaders.” With the movie about Selma in mind, Elizabeth writes, “I hope all of us will see the movie—twice, three times, even—and that we will see ourselves in it. Not, mind you, our historical selves, but the selves who will march God’s justice into the present day, widening rather than narrowing the circles of care that define the reach of our faith.” Amen.

Friend, blogger and pastor in waiting Emmy Kegler shared more on her blog in “Gay Christian Network post the second: ‘How Dare You.'” This is a very powerful and honest reflection that I hope you check out.

In Minnesota, Bloomington’s city attorney Sandra Johnson is pressing charges against protesters who protested at the Mall of America back in December. Regarding this, Mark Osler wrote, “Mall of America protest: A large assembly, a prosecutorial error.” For the record, I think this is a grave mistake on her part. I also think this is also a big mistake by the mall. Until the charges are dropped, or the mall changes its tune, I will no longer be shopping or visiting the mall. Those that feel similar to me, I invite you in joining my protest and refusal to shop in a place that is unwilling to give space to an important conversation and discussion. (Not to mention their utter over reaction with police and security. It does not reflect well on the state of Minnesota, the city of Bloomington nor the Mall of America.)

The Humanosphere shared a number of important neighbor love related posts. Amy VanderZanden shares the sad news that “Deaths from falling are rising.” Also for the Humanosphere, Tom Murphy shared about “The striking economic toll of Ebola and war on African countries.”

Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton
Allison and I with one of our favorite mentors, Dr. Terri Elton

Friend, professor and mentor Dr. Terri Elton wrote that “It’s messy.” Within this post full of neighbor love, theological and vocational reflections and ideas are some thoughts about baptism. These thoughts include: baptism can’t be tamed; Jesus jumps into the mix; and baptism should come with a warning.

Blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans shared a couple of great posts. First, she shared a guest post by Andy Kort in “Marriage, Ministry, and ‘Troubling the Waters.'” Rachel also shared, “Ask a Womanist Biblical Scholar… (Response).”

John Meunier shared some thoughts about ministry and neighbor love in “Why they approve of our stand against sex trafficking.

Friend, pastor and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon for this past weekend, “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen- nothing else matters.” Frank also shared “Excerpts from a Confirmation midterm,” which should definitely give you some hope for the present and future as Frank suggests. Kudos to your confirmands that you are teaching Frank (and to your teaching and pastoring)!

Victoria also shared her sermon for the past weekend in “Under the Shade of a Fig Tree.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Jamie Brandt Brieske shared two of her sermons for the past couple of weeks including her sermon for “The Baptism of Our Lord,” and “Epiphany 2: Come and See.”

And for one more sermon, here’s one from Eric Worringer in “#NSFW – A Sermon for Epiphany 2B.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared some reflection about a question she sort of heard mentioned by a family recently in “What’s More Important Than Your Eternal Life?” I love the way Diane shares, wrestles and leaves open questions in this. To give you a little taste of the post, she writes, “To me, it’s a powerful combination:  to trust God enough to bring to God the hardest questions of our lives.  And to teach our children that they can do it, too. What is more important than knowing God so well that you can ask God your hardest questions?”

John Pavlovitz reflected about what he sees as “The Greatest False Idol of Modern Christianity.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

I came across this post by Miranda Paquet from August asking, “Are You Sharing Other People’s Content? Here’s How to Do It Right.

Dave Lane shared “21 Blog Writing Tips From the Experts.”

Friend and blogger Carrie Gubsch and pastor and blogger Keith Anderson shared this post about “Social Media and the Cost of Caring.” There are good and important thoughts and data in this about social media and stress. Check this post out and its data and reports to see and learn more about what has been discovered about the relationship between social media and stress.

Melissa Dahl wrote back in October, “Keep it Writing, and It Will Soon Be Automatic.”

Back in September, Sharon Hurley Hall shared “7 Research-Backed Tips on Improving Twitter Conversions.” The tips include: use images; get the timing right; promote your tweets; use the power of recommendations; follow Twitter’s advice; work out why people follow you; and play your (Twitter) cards right.


Young Adult Money shared a couple wonderful posts over the past week. DC explained about “How an Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP) Works.” Also for Young Adult Money, Erin wrote and asked, “Living in an Expensive City: Worth It?” What do you think?

Brian Dodd shared about “The Story of how one church received a $1+ million gift and how you could as well.”

Michelle shared a few great posts over the past week. She shared about why she believes that “Being Positive Can Change Your Financial Situation and Your Life.” Michelle also shared, “4 Life and Financial Hurdles to Tackle This Year,” including: tackle your money problem(s); stop feeling stuck; quit being bored; and leave your unhealthy lifestyle. Michelle also offered, “10 Ways to Save Money in 2015.”

In a somewhat related post, Broke Millennial shared some “Practical Tips How I Save (and You Should Too).”

Over at Debt Roundup, Mike Collins shared some “Common Investing Mistakes Made by Young People.”

On the Broke and Beautiful Life, Stefanie wrote and shared, “Inside the Artists Wallet: Realizing Trade Offs and Carving Alternate Paths.”


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a few vocationally rich posts as always. She shared her weekly installations of “Friday Favorites,” “Sunday Snippits” and “Tuesday Tea Time.”

I shared a post that was more daily life and vocationally reflective than anything writing that it is “A Joy to be in Community.”

In honor of her husband and my friend Will’s birthday last week, friend Katie wrote that, “He is not ‘The One.'” Here’s some of the beauty and honesty in this post from Katie, “There is no such thing as ‘The One’, but when we openly and freely bind ourselves to another person, we make that person ‘Our One’. And we, as two individuals also become one entity. And I think that is so much more beautiful  and freeing than the feeling of being required to be with someone else because they were made for you in eternity. Will could have been another person. But he’s not. Will is my one because I chose to enter into this union with him and I will fight to keep him as my other half.” Thank you for sharing Katie!


"The joy of victory and the agony of defeat." #GoHawks #WeAre12
“The joy of victory and the agony of defeat.” #GoHawks #WeAre12

Friend and pastor Kaitlyn Ferguson shared a list of “28 Unexpectedly Awesome Things to Do in Seattle.” Kaitlyn, if you want more, you know you can just talk to Allison and I. 🙂

I wouldn’t be true to my Northwest roots without saying a word about the Seattle Seahawks. If you missed Sunday’s game and miracle finish (at least from a Seahawks’ fans perspective), check out these stories. First, Michael Silver wrote that, “Seahawks’ Russell Wilson fulfills prophecy of amazing finish.” Then check out “The Monday Morning Quarterback: Seattle, Suddenly Super” by Peter King. What a strange game and an amazing finish. I am glad there are two weeks between the championship round and the Super Bowl, because I need that time to catch my breath. Are you looking forward to a clash of the Patriots and Seahawks?

We’re a little less than a month away from the start of Spring Training and the start of the baseball season. In the mean time friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared some Seattle Mariner thoughts in “Imagining Brad Miller as a Center Fielder.”


That will wrap up this week’s edition of the links. As always, if there are types of articles you would like me to include, please let me know. Also, if you have questions or topics for me to think, write and wrestle about and with on the blog, please let me know that too. Until next time, thanks for reading and being part of the conversation! Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Appreciative Inquiry 4-D CycleSurfing, and “act ~ love ~ walk.”

A Joy to be in Community

This post is more vocational and personal reflection than anything. If you are looking for something earth shattering or overly insightful, I apologize. If you want some honest, happy and grateful reflections you are in luck. 

"The joy of victory and the agony of defeat." #GoHawks #WeAre12
“The joy of victory and the agony of defeat.” Smiles for Allison and I, but not so much for our God Son.      #GoHawks #WeAre12

This past week was full of conversations, meetings and meaningful work. I give thanks for all of it. It wasn’t entirely an easy week, but it was a great week. There were conversations with friends and mentors about calling, opportunities and possibilities. The choir and bell choir that I am currently directing at their first rehearsals of the New Year, and it was a joy to be back together again for the first time since Christmas. Then, the next morning Allison and I had our Endorsement Interviews as part of our candidacy for rostered leadership in the ELCA. Both interviews went extremely well and we were both endorsed for different ministry rosters. I am grateful for all of the leaders who were part of those conversations, as well as to the mentors who have been in conversation continually through this journey (and will remain part of it for the foreseeable future).

This weekend featured a wonderful conversation over dinner with the first ministry couple we met in Minnesota as a young married couple. They took us in, mentored us and have been our number one cheerleaders here ever since. It was such a joy to be able to spend time with them earlier this weekend, and to laugh and imagine together.

This afternoon we had some of our Minnesota “family” over for food, fellowship and football. Yes, I admit, I had a bit of interest in the game between the Seahawks and Packers. Many of our friends did as well out here (who happen to be Packers fans). What a game. It went from feeling a little bit like the “worst of times” to the “best of times.” It was a strange game, but it was a joy to be enjoying it with our friends and family out here.

It’s weeks and weekends like this, where all I can say is really thank you. Thank you all! Thank you for being part of our community, for the conversation, encouragement, the willingness to wrestle with big questions and to work and try and do something good in the world. And thank you for being with us. It is a joy to be in community with you!

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. To help make sense of all these links, I have broken them into topic categories, which are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are planning worship for this coming weekend and using the revised common lectionary, check out Bishop Michael Rinehart’s post “Epiphany 2B” for some helpful ideas and reflections.

Beth Lewis shared some great ideas and resources in “Professional Development for Congregational Leaders.” Check this out, especially in thinking about how you can become a better leader in your congregation or faith community this year.

Jen Bradbury shared thoughts about how to keep the momentum going among your faith community’s youth after big events like 30 Hour Famine and mission trips in “Keep It Going.”

In exciting news, it was announced this week that Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans are co-creating an event entitled, “Why Christian?” To expand on that question, they write, “Why, in the wake of centuries of corruption, hypocrisy, crusades, televangelists, and puppet ministries do we continue to follow Jesus? Join us for three days of courageous storytelling to answer just this question.” This event will be happening September 18th-20th in Minneapolis. I’m excited for this, and I think Allison and I are planning to register and attend. Check it out. It sounds exciting!

In other exciting news, are you looking for an excuse to escape winter and travel to Florida? If so, I recommend joining friend Rev. Dr. John Nunes at the “2015 Lutheran Leadership Summit: Building the Future.” This sounds awesome, especially with the focus on topics related to leadership in Lutheran social ministry organizations. If you share this interest, like I do, definitely check this out!

Blogger and pastor Nurya Love Parish wrote that “Subsidiarity isn’t simple. This data proves it.”

Andrae Crouch
Andrae Crouch

LEAD shared their January toolbox, hosted by friend and leader Peggy Hahn. Check out the video about congregations and faith communities which are taking changing contexts seriously, listening and leading to what is going on and what God might be up to.

Jill Callison wrote and shared, “Pastoring is for girls: Bishop DeGroot-Nesdahl’s legacy.”

Sad news came last week as Andrae Crouch, the legendary gospel figure and songwriter passed away. You might recognize some of his work like the hymn “Soon and Very Soon,” or even in the music of such favorites like “The Lion King.”

Ian Duncan and Justin Fenton shared the news that Bishop Heather Cook (of the Episcopal Church) was “charged with manslaughter in death of cyclist Thomas Palermo.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Anne Loehr reflected about “The Future of Work: Creating Purpose-Driven Organizations.”

Nonprofit with Balls shared some thoughts about non-profit management, leadership and funding in, “Yo mama is a double-dipper: Funders’ micromanaging of nonprofits must stop.”

I came across this post from October by Paul Zak explaining, “Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes writes that “Most Educational Technology Does Nothing to Improve Teaching and Learning.” What do you think?

Julian Stodd shared “4 Aspects of the Agile Organization.” The four aspects that Julian reflects about are: mindset, technology, learning and leadership. Julian also shared about “A Guide to Developing Social Leadership.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this video from Cathy Moore about “The Big Mistake in Elearning.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Lolly Daskal shared “12 Fatal Flaws that Derail Leaders.” The list of fatal flaws includes: not setting the example; not having a strong vision; not building people skills; not communicating; delegating badly or not at all; forgetting your mistakes; not fostering emotional intelligence; ignoring your team’s development; losing your inspiration; lowering your standards; resisting change and letting integrity and honesty slide.

Tanvi Gautam shared “The three ‘Ls’ for 2015,” learn, listen and lead.

Steve Keating wrote a couple great posts including, “Managing and Leading are Different and Essential,” and “Words do Matter.”

Dashboard- Keep your eyes on the road ahead, not just focused on the dashboard.

Lead with Giants shared a post by Jane Anderson, “Dashboards- Keep Your Eyes on the Road Ahead.”

Brian Dodd shared “13 Reasons Why Everyone Should Want to Be a Leader.” Some of the reasons offered include: leaders get to celebrate accomplishment; leaders get to build up the self-worth of others; leaders get to live lives fueled by deep passion; leaders get to call others to action; leaders get to bring people together; and leaders get to do it all again tomorrow. Why do you want to be a leader?

Larry Putterman shared “9 Reasons to Hire an Interim CEO.” Reasons to consider include: crisis management; direction change needed; new technology implementation; turnaround and restructuring; keep up morale among employees; pre- or post- merger direction; successful planning; gain ‘fresh eyes’ to problems; and downsizing or upsizing.

The American Management Association shared a post by Jim McCormick on “Delegating Successfully.”

Dan Rockwell shared “10 Ways to Rise Up After Screwing Up,” “16 Ways to Think Like a Leader,” and “15 Qualities of Great Coaches.”


Kayla Matthews shared “5 ways Millennials can get ahead in 2015.” The ways reflected on in this article include: look for millennial-specific funding; move beyond technology; embrace the unglamorous; seriously consider student loans; and look for traditional partners.

Ross Pomeroy and William Handke shared good news for Millennials in “The Most Entitled Generation Isn’t Millennials.”

Jon Mertz shared “5 Bold Ideas from Recent Millennial Momentum.” The ideas Jon shared include: be an entrepreneur of yourself, always finding ways to improve; moving from spark to reality takes work and smart people engaged; collaborative ways lead to better consequences; know your pivot points- feeling failure should not prevent you from taking a different path; and don’t have a ladder mindset, have a breakthrough mindset.

Jon also shared about his project, “Active Leadership: A Calling for Millennials and More.” Will you help Jon in getting this off the ground?

Chelsea Krost shared a post from November by Kelly Clay about “How to Work for Companies that Focus on Social Good.” Some of the ways to engage companies that focus on the common good include: join online conversations; research companies; and implement social good in your own company.

Neighbor Love

One artist's depiction of John the Bapist
One artist’s depiction of John the Baptist

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson wrote that, “John the Baptist makes Lutherans nervous.” I for one, was intrigued by this sermon title alone this week. Check it out. For a sample, Frank writes, “For all of our ‘What would Jesus do?’ questions, the reality is that we can hardly even begin to know what it is that makes the Son of God tick, but John was human, John was like us. So maybe we should be asking ourselves, ‘What would John the Baptist do?’ That’s a much scarier question, a much more real question, and the kind of thing that could call into question all of our deep-seated motives and bring to light all of our insecurities. It’s the kind of thing, in short, that could revolutionize the church.”

In a timely post, given the weather and frigid temperatures much of the United States has been experiencing lately, Logan Robertson asked and wrote, “Shelter the Homeless. Then What?

Friend, blogger and pastor in waiting Emmy Kegler shared a wonderful and honest reflection in “Gay Christian Network post 1: Why I’m Here.” I really love the beauty and honesty in this conclusion when Emmy writes, “I do not agree with everyone who speaks at GCN.  Not all of them speak of God exactly as I would.  Not all the songs we sing are ones that play the chords of my heart.  There are hungers still unfed, like safe spaces for all to worship in their own towns, and discussion of trans* issues on a conference-wide scale, and more minorities in leadership.  And I am tired.  But it is a holy exhaustion, in a beautiful place, surrounded by hungry people who are finding seats at God’s table. Join us.”

John Pavlovitz was also at the same conference as Emmy, and shared some of his thoughts in “Singing Songs with Unicorns: My Weekend with LGBT Christians.”

Friend, professor and advisor Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner shared this post by professor Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto, “In the Beginning & In the End: Christians & Climate Change (Genesis 1:1-5).”

The Humanosphere shared a number of important posts related to social justice and neighbor love issues and ideas this past week. Among the posts they shared included that the “US ranks poorly in commitment to fight global poverty,” and “Vaccine on track to eliminate one of Africa’s most feared and deadly diseases- meningitis,” by Tom Paulson. Also for the Humanosphere, Tom Murphy shared that the “U.S. sequester took a big bite out of global research and development spending.” David Horsey also shared a guest post for the Humanosphere, “Obnoxious freedom: Editorial cartoonist David Horsey on the Charlie Hebdo murders.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a powerful video of “Young women speaking truth.” Mary also shared some important “Resources for Suicide Prevention.” Please check these both out and share them widely with your networks.

Mary also shared this post by Arthur Chu, “The plight of the bitter nerd: Why so many awkward, shy guys end up hating feminism.” What do you think?

Anthony Moujaes wrote and asked, “How should faith communities respond to drone warfare?

Friend and pastor Stephanie Vos shared some good thought-provoking thoughts, ideas and connections in “Kurt Vonnegut, Baptism, and the Importance of Remembering.” Here’s a sample from Stephanie’s great piece, “Isn’t baptism this kind of reminder – a reminder with water? That we too are drops in this great ocean, that we belong to one another and this planet that is our home, that God speaks of us with tenderness and love and pride, that kindness is the best and only way to reach out to others.” Check out the whole thing.

Accompaniment, as depicted by Vonda
Accompaniment, as depicted by Vonda

Lutheran World Relief shared a powerful and moving video, “Their Smiles Say More Than We Ever Could: Thank You.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from this past weekend, “Change Your Mind,” based on Matthew 3:1-17.

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston explained about “How to Get Run Out of Town in 6 Easy Steps.”

Friend, blogger and artist Vonda Drees shared a couple great posts, “Beloved- a new you,” and “Accompaniment.”

Zack Hunt shared a list of what he sees are “The 10 Least Necessary Bibles Ever Published.” What do you think?

Friend and intern pastor Chris Michaelis asked a question many have been pondering over the past week, “Is All Speech Free?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the Links in his “Really Recommended Posts.”

For those of you in ministry, I think you might appreciate this post from Chris Martin, “10 Simple Ways to be Missional on Social Media.” The ways Chris highlights are: don’t be a jerk; ask how you can be praying for people on Facebook; share thought provoking videos and blogs that might cause your friends/followers to ask about your faith; start a blog and share devotional material on it; use your Facebook page to raise support for mission trips or church fundraisers; give updates on teams on the mission field; create a Facebook group for small groups and use it as a hub for communication; remind youth of events; treat everyone you talk with on social media as if you’re talking to them in person; and don’t be a jerk again.

Friend and social media coach Carrie Gubsch shared this post by Jason Metz, “Data is Data.”


Young Adult Money shared “My Goals for 2015.” What are your goals (financial, stewardship and otherwise) for 2015?

Young Adult Money also shared, “7 Ways to Make Money Online.” The ways offered include: start a blog; freelance writing; Qmee; give lessons; sell tweets & other social media updates; sell things on Etsy; and enter giveaways.

Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy Pomroy continued her January series on finances in “2015 New Year’s Resolutions: Organizing Your Financial Life.”

Michelle wrote and shared, “How to Manage Your Finances Effectively.” There are good thoughts about: automating payments; having one bank account; keeping track of account set-ups and rewards; setting reminders; having combined family finances; and have a diversified fund for retirement.

Over on the COMPASS blog I continued the January series on financial resolutions sharing some thoughts about “Financial Resolutions and Improving Your Finances.”


RJ Grunewald reflected about “The History of Vocation.” In the reflection, thoughts are given to the ideas of vocation as the call to Christ; vocation as the cal to ministry; and vocation as all of work.

RJ also shared a list of “15 Voices to Listen to in 2015.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared some vocationally rich posts in her “Friday Favorites,” “Sunday Snippits,” and “Tuesday Tea Time.” Special blessings and congratulations go to Julia this week as she was formally installed this past Sunday.

Friends Katie and Will shared more about their time in South Africa in “Happy Halloween!” I know what you’re thinking and no, this post was not written months ago. This is a new post. Read it and find out why.


Victoria reflected about “Worship on the Eve of the Reformation.”


I came across this fun post last week, “The History of Philosophy, in Superhero Comics.”


That will conclude the links for this week. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have topics or questions that you would like me to wrestle with on the blog please let me know. Also, if there are types of things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Until next week, thank you for reading and being part of the conversation. Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Andrae Crouch; Dashboard; John the Baptist; and Accompaniment.

This Week’s Links

Internet1With Christmas, New Year’s and spending time with family the past couple of weeks, the links took a bit of break. Well, they are making a return today, a Thursday, to share some of the great stuff I saw and found from the past couple of weeks. They’ll return to Tuesdays, their normal day, next week. To help sort through the links, I have categorized them under the topics of: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous.

I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are still planning worship or a sermon or message for this weekend you’re in luck! Bishop Mike Rinehart shared some thoughts and reflections about the readings for “The Baptism of Our Lord.” Also, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some important thoughts for those of you who may be preparing to preach this weekend in “Baptismal Blessings?” Definitely check her reflections out.

Ed Stetzer wrote that “Some Churches Should Die and Stay Dead,” in thinking about “How replanting could be the best answer for a dying church.” What do you think?

A cross covered in pictures of the "living saints" who are part of a particular faith community's body and congregation.
One of the creative ideas that Diane Roth blogged about this past year was this- a cross covered in pictures of the “living saints” who are part of a particular faith community’s body and congregation. This

The Christian Century released a list of “The 14 most-read network posts.” Congratulations are in order for friend and pastor Diane Roth, for authoring the most-read post, “Why you come to church.” Congratulations are also in order for fellow blog friend and pastor MaryAnn McKibben Dana who wrote the second most read post, “Lessons from Jimmy Fallon on stepping into leadership.”

John Meunier asked and reflected, “How does the church make the world better?

Tom Murphy shared news from the Humanosphere about how the “Pope makes climate change a priority for the church.”

Brian Dodd shared a number of good posts over the past couple of weeks. Among them, he shared what he sees are “The Top 30 Blogs Christians Need to Read in 2015,” as well as “The Top 30 Christian Leaders You Need to Follow on Twitter in 2015 Part 1.”

Brian also shared a timely post for ministry leaders thanking fellow leaders and volunteers for their work and ministry, especially around the busyness of Advent and Christmas in “4 Ways to Thank Church Volunteers.” The ways he notes include: don’t use church stationary; go up the organizational ladder; use your phone; and get specific. What suggestions might you add?

Pastor and blogger Nurya Love Parish shared, invited and asked, “Give Me 5 Minutes, I’ll Give You a Better Blog. Fair?” This is such a great idea, and I think I will copy it on my blog in the next week or so. Until then, please do check out Nurya’s blog. I love following it, and I invite you (like I did) to take her short survey as a way to continue the conversation into the new year of 2015.

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston shared some thoughts and ideas about “Negotiating Church Salaries & Benefits (when budgets are tight).”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Rick Nauert shared news of a study finding that “Employer Acceptance of Religious Beliefs Can Aid Worker Performance.” What do you think?

Anne Loehr writes that “To Retain Female Talent in the U.S. Workplace, Create a Purpose-Driven Organization.” This is an important point, and I hope its true not just for females but all people actually.

Nonprofit with Balls shared “Ten resolutions for the nonprofit sector for 2015.” What do you think of these resolutions? What might you add to the list?

B51SBHJIMAA7Speaking of nonprofits, Maren Hogan shared “Advice for Nonprofits: How to Retain Employees.” Some of the great advice includes get a recruitment budget and show employees the big picture.

I came across this forth coming book from Jeffrey Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development. It looks like a must read to me as someone who likes to think about sustainable and developmental economics, non-profits and NGOs.

Paul Jun wrote, “Never Stop Learning: How Self-Education Creates a Bullet-Proof Career.” As part of this, Paul shared four ways in particular: start with heroes from the past; take advantage of free educational resources; explore unrelated subjects; and make learning a habit.

Here’s a good thought for start-ups and organizations of all kinds, “Start with values, not your idea.”

Thin Difference shared a couple intriguing guest posts over the past couple of weeks. These include one by Michael Chibuzor, “How to Create an Innovative Business System,” and by Mark Kirkpatrick, “A Guide to Productive, Healthy Habits.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Over the past couple weeks, leadership blogger Dan Rockwell shared a whole host of fantastic posts. I encourage you to check them out, especially: “The Journey is the Answer“; “5 Choices to Extraordinary Results“; “The Four Letter Word that Makes the Difference“; “5 Ways to Spot Leaders with Character“; “10 Ways to Build Success in 2015“; “3 Ways to Make the Most of the Past in the Future“; “5 Ways to Turn Into the Next Storm“; “13 Questions that Eliminate Clutter and Create Clarity” and “10 Ways to Pursue Excellence without Negativity.” Dan also shared a nice Christmas themed post in “The Atheist and ‘Oh Holy Night.'”

Tanveer Naseer shared his “Top 10 Leadership Insights for 2014,” as well as a guest post by James O’Toole explaining “How Successful Leaders Use Culture to Influence Behavior.”

Dan Forbes writes that “You Are Either Growing or Rotting.”

Also on the Lead with Giants blog, Susan Thorn wrote about “Leadership and Human Connectedness.”

The College Football National Championship between #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon will be played Monday January 12th at 8:30pm ET on ESPN.
The College Football National Championship between     #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon will be played Monday January 12th at 8:30pm ET on ESPN.

As we are just a few days away from the College Football National Championship Game, Brian Dodd shared a imely post listing “21 Practices of Leaders Like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer Who Perform at the Highest Level.”

Steve Keating shared a few great posts over the past couple of weeks. These include: “You’re Gonna Need a New Excuse,” “A Leader in Name Only,” and in an appropriate post over Christmas and the holidays, Steve shared, “FORGIVE This Holiday Season.”

Gary Sheard asked in the American Management Association’s “Playbook,” “Are You an Awful Manager?” What do you think?

Here’s an interesting post I came across last week written this past summer, “6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day.”

Friend Carrie Gubsch pointed me to this great post by Jeannie Walters, “Destructive Leadership Practices: Is Your CEO in Denial?” Give this a read and see how you are doing as a leader, as well as how your team and organization are doing. What do you think?

Vivian Giang shared “How 7 Successful Entrepreneurs Find Focus.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference shared a great post with implications for leadership and legacy in “Live and Lead So Others Will Not Miss You.”

Thin Difference also shared a guest post by Frank Sonnenberg, “17 Action Steps to Take During Tough Times.”


Gillian B. White asked and reflected, “Compared to Previous Generations, How Bad are Millennials’ Finances?” I’m curious what you think about this, especially when considering the subheading, “Research suggests that though they have lower net worth, in some ways today’s young adults may not be much worse off than their predecessors.”

In another post about millennials and money, Young Adult Money shared, “3 Retirement Planning Priorities for Millennials.” The priorities include: get started with automatic contributions; increase the amount contributed over time; and make time for retirement planning.

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Megan Ritter entitled, “Close the Communication Gap: Tips for Millennial Job Seekers.” The great tips included this are: find a mentor; avoid unnecessary distractions; recognize your faults and fix them; real expressions are crucial; and LinkedIn is valuable and essential.

Teresa Novellino shared a wonderful article about “Twitter chat queen Chelsea Krost on Millennial marketing for 2015.” If you don’t already follow Chelsea, I highly encourage you to follow her on Twitter.

Speaking of Chelsea Krost, she shared a post by Danielle DelMonte entitled, “Putting the Breaks on New Year’s Resolutions.”

Kim Lachance Shandrow wrote and shared, “Attention Millennials: How to Excel at the Dying Art of Phone Conversations.”

Ted Coine reflected and blogged on “The Authenticity Paradox,” by Herminia Ibarra which is the focus topic of the January issue of the Harvard Business Review,  “The Problem with Authenticity.”

Tim Colvin writes and explains, “Why Millennials Are Generation Responsibility.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared a beautiful Christmas reflection titled simply, yet profoundly, “Lowly.”

When going "home" for the holidays hurts? Well.. not quite, but when you spend time with part of your family, you might have to see scary dolls that are supposed to resemble people in your family.
When going “home” for the holidays hurts? Well.. not quite, but when you spend time with part of your family, you might have to see scary dolls that are supposed to resemble people in your family.

Liz Riggs wrote, “When Going Home for the Holidays Hurts.” I came across this post shortly after posting the links right before Christmas Eve, so it’s a bit late for this year. However, stow this post away for next year, as there are good thoughts and reminders here for you (if you “go home,” or for those you love and care about who “go home” for the holidays).

Friend and pastor Stephanie Vos wrote a wonderful and thought provoking post with Christmas and the Incarnation in mind entitled, “God Slips Into Skin.” I encourage you to read this because it’s a perspective that I hadn’t quite as deeply considered before.

During the 12 Days of Christmas, Jarrod McKenna wrote that “Every Christmas Carol (is) A Protest Song.” If you didn’t read this, please do. It’s profound! Here’s a sample, “Let us open our eyes to the empires and our ears to the angels’ protest songs. Let us fall on our knees in worship, then roll up our sleeves in discipleship.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared a few great posts over the past couple of weeks. First, I had to check out his honest confession in “‘I Hate Christmas’ – A Pastor’s Confession,” which I bet he is not alone in feeling among a number of clergy and ministry leaders. Even with that confession in mind, Aaron also shared his Christmas Eve sermon titled, “Peace.” He then added some more thoughts in his sermon for the Second Sunday of Christmas, “My beef with 8 pound, 6 ounce, baby Jesus.” Check out all of these posts and see what you think.

Also with Christmas in mind, Rev. Dr. Will Willimon shared reflection in “Incarnation: The Truth About God.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared some great posts over the past couple of weeks too. First, Frank shared his sermon for Christmas Eve, “Stories, not numbers, on this Christmas Eve.” Frank also shared his sermon for the First Sunday of Christmas, “Not a little more. All,” as well as his sermon for the Second Sunday of Christmas, “Herod’s death meet Jesus’ new life.”

Right before Christmas Rachel Held Evans shared this post with the fourth Sunday of Advent in mind, “Advent 4: Bringing God’s Dreams to Life.”

Speaking of Advent, friend, PhD Student, and newly ordained pastor Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared, “Belated Advent Posting… Still Waiting.” She also wrote and shared, “Now. It’s Go Time.” Blessings on your ordination Mandy!

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston shared some “Signs of Hope for 2015.”

Friend, blogger and intern pastor Chris Michaelis continued his daily Advent devotionals right into the 12 Days of Christmas (and now Epiphany). I encourage you to check out all of his posts in the on-going series, especially: his post on Christmas Eve, “O Emmanuel;” on Christmas Day, “The Nativity of Our Lord;” and “New Year’s Day and the Holy Name of Jesus.”

With Christmas and Epiphany in mind, Dr. Norma Cook Everist asked, “What if the Wise Men Had Not Brought Gifts?” She also shared some neighbor love and social justice reflections in asking, “Integration or Apartheid for Us and Our Children?

Speaking of social justice, friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared, “Bet You Can’t Read This and Still Believe There’s ‘Justice for All.'” Ron also reflected in “Eschew the South.”

Candice Czubernat wrote asking, “Did my sexual abuse make me gay?” This is a powerful read. In her conclusion, Candice writes, “When I think about what I went through, I no longer wonder if there’s a connection between the pain I experienced and the fact that I happen to be attracted to women more then men. I also don’t feel the heaviness, or burden I used to carry around that was connected to my abuse. When I think about it I feel strong, grounded and at peace. I am not broken but I am beautiful.”

Friend Andy Jolivette shared a very honest reflection in “What i think I know (about God).” Check this out, and the videos included as well.

This week in the United States the 114th Congress was sworn in. With this in mind, Pew Research shared, “Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 114th Congress.” What do you make of this faith composition (if anything)?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended,” with a twist, focused especially on “books and movies, bread and wine, and more!”

Over the past couple weeks I stumbled across a number of great social media insights that were shared over the past few months. Back in October, Derek Moryson shared “5 Questions to Help You Create Customer-Centric Landing Pages.” Back in November, Kevan Lee shared, “The 10 Latest & Greatest Social Media Strategies to Boost Your Results and Save You Time.” In August, Danny Brown shared, “3 Types of Editorial Calendar to Manage Your Business Blog.” Also, in June, Social Fresh shared “16 Social Media Tools the Experts Swear By.”

Thanks to to good folks at WordPress, I am able to share with you my blog’s “2014 in Review.” Check out the report to see how this blog grew over the past year, and please see if you have ideas or questions for the blog to explore now in 2015.


Vonda's beautiful work.
Vonda’s beautiful work.

Friend, artist and now blogger Vonda Drees shared this beautiful piece inspired by Richard Rohr, “perfect giving and perfect receiving.”

In the spirit of the year end and year beginning, I shared some thoughts about “Year-End Giving- Some Reflections about Faith and Finances” on the COMPASS blog, and excerpted on my own blog.

Within the topic of stewardship and finances, Young Adult Money shared about “Why You Might Want to Open Your ‘Junk’ Mail.”

Friend and “Classy Frugalist,” Grace Duddy Pomroy shared some “Frugal New Year’s Resolutions,” with an invitation for you to share yours, and have her reflect on it during January. Check out this post and take Grace’s poll.

In a related post, COMPASS is sharing a series of reflections about Financial New Year’s Resolutions this month. Check out the first post in the series, and be sure to come and see the upcoming posts in the weeks ahead.

In the spirit of the New Year, Young Adult Money shared “7 Ways to Improve your Finances in the New Year.” The ways offered include: evaluate your debt; automate retirement account contributions; contribute to a health saving account (HSA); get life insurance; church a credit card for rewards; commit to analyzing your spending; and find a way to increase your income.

Michelle shared some thoughts about “Unhealthy Habits That May Be Making You Poor.”

In thinking about faith communities and giving, Brian Dodd wrote “Trust- The Real Reason Many People Do Not Give To Your Church.”


Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared and reflected in “Solitude.” Give this a read and learn about the “Star Words,” which she shared in worship recently. I think this passage is especially vocationally rich, as Diane writes, “I knew what many of the words were, and I was kind of hoping for ‘inspiration’ (which was at the top of the star pile at one time) or ‘time’ or even ‘writing’ (something which would be on my list, if I was constructing a life).  But, instead I got ‘solitude,’ which I know, deep in my heart, is a gift, and which I both desire and fear, at the same time.  I know I need solitude, but I am not always sure what I will find when I am alone with myself.  Or maybe I suspect that I do know, and that is the problem.  Will solitude be inspiring for me, or will it be a big, empty space?  What will God say to me, if I give God room to say it?”

RJ Grunewald reflected in “The Post-Christmas Call.” I greatly appreciate the timeliness of this post, especially as RJ concludes, “When the holidays end and the New Year begins, there is often the sense of entering back into the real world. As you enter the normal places that you were in before Christmas, may you enter those same places doing the same jobs but with a a reminder that we do our work in light of everything we’ve seen and heard.”

I alluded to this earlier under the Stewardship section, but friend and artist Vonda Drees is now sharing her thoughts and images via a blog regularly. Check out her blog and be sure to follow it! I promise you will be inspired.

In moving from one year to the next, Parker Palmer shared “Five Questions for Crossing the Threshold.” The five questions to consider are: How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness? What is my next challenge in daring to be human? How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature? Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next? And, what is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me? Spend some time wrestling with these great questions.

Over the past couple of weeks friend and blogger Julia Nelson has continued sharing all of her vocationally rich posts. She has shared “Tuesday Tea Time,” not just once, but twice. She also doubled up on “Friday Favorites” with this post as well. She also shared two editions of “Sunday Snippits” too.

Friend and pastor Erik Gronberg shared, “One Big Thing.” I love this reflection, and am inspired to share some goals like Erik did. What might be your BHAG this year?

Friends Katie and Will continued to share about their adventures in South Africa in “Snowman with a Sunburn” reflecting a bit about Christmas and sharing Christmas greetings as well as some New Year’s thoughts in “#thisisafrica,” and “Part 3: Reflections.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared some vocational reflections that I think most people can relate with at least some times in “Exhausted.”


In one of the best posts I have seen on worship in quite a while, Victoria reflected importantly about “The Myth of Traditional Lutheran Worship.” Definitely give this a read if you haven’t yet, especially if you are interested in worship and/or the Lutheran Church.


Upon landing back in the Pacific Northwest on an Alaska Airlines flight, seeing this plane with a "Team Russell" on it, made me smile. Way to go Alaska Airlines, and Go Hawks!
Upon landing back in the Pacific Northwest on an Alaska Airlines flight, seeing this plane with a “Team Russell” on it, made me smile. Way to go Alaska Airlines, and Go Hawks!

I’m happy to share news that my favorite and hometown airline, Alaska Airlines, was recognized recently as Jaunted’s “2014 Airline of the Year.” Congratulations Alaska Airlines!

Friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared an interesting post about baseball and this year’s “Historic Hall of Fame Class.


That will conclude this extra long edition of the links from Christmas and New Year’s. The links will return to normal next Tuesday. Until then, please let me know if there are particular questions or ideas you would like me to think about on the blog. Also, are there particular articles or topics you would like me to include in the links? Thanks for reading and blessings on the rest of your week and upcoming weekend! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; The Age of Sustainable Development; The National Championship; and Perfect Gift and Perfect Receiving.

2014 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog. So, in the spirit of starting the New Year off on the blog, here’s a look back which will hopefully point to some of the many questions and ideas that we’ll ponder together in 2015 on the blog.

None of this would be possible without your readership and collaboration. Thank you for being part of the conversation!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.