This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have seen and found interesting in the past week with all of you. As we are in the midst of Holy Week, you will see a number of posts within that theme. There is also a rather large group of posts and links related to the recently passed law in Indiana regarding “Religious Freedom,” under neighbor love. In addition to these there are great questions about leadership; thoughts about Millennials; stewardship opportunities; social media tips and much more. To help make sense of all the links I have grouped them into the following topic categories: 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!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Palm Sunday has passed and we are now traveling through Holy Week. With that in mind, you will see a plethora of posts related to Holy Week dates, passages and topics. Some will be shared under this topic category and others will appear below under Neighbor Love.

To begin with, Bishop Michael Rinehart offers some thoughts, reflections and ideas if you are writing a sermon or planning worship for Easter Sunday in “The Resurrection of our Lord: Easter Sunday.

Rabbi A. James Rudin shared about “The Promise of the Good Friday-Passover Overlap.” This is a must read, so please check it out!

Friend, pastor and blogger Jamie Brandt-Brieske shared thoughts about the start of Holy Week in “Holy Week, Holy Space.” Check out this great introductory post to the week and share it to help others reflect and go deeper as we journey to the upper room, the garden, the cross, tomb and to the world.

Christina Embree shared some great ideas for faith formation and Holy Week for all ages in “Practical Holy Week: Telling Your Kids the Story.

Are you looking for ways to show you care to ministry leaders during Holy Week? Here are five ways that birch & raven shared. Thanks to Kevin for sharing this with me first.

Images of Palm Sunday
Images of Palm Sunday

Pastor and writer Nadia Bolz-Weber asked and shared, “Not sure if you want to go to Holy Week services?

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis wrote specifically with Palm/Passion Sunday in mind, “No Preaching Required.” Karoline also wrote and shared this reflection, “A Vision Check-up,” based on John 12:20-33. In looking ahead towards Easter, Karoline wrote and shared, “Resurrection Matters.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared her “Interactive Palm Sunday Homily for Children and Adults,” which really serves nicely as a beginning overview and grounding for all of Holy Week.

Diane Roth also wrote about “Unrealistic expectations.” Check out these reflections about expectations of congregations and pastors. Here’s a sample of what Diane writes, “Maybe that’s natural. Maybe it’s part of all of life, or at least, every relationship. We do our best to tell the truth, and to hear the truth about each other. But in the end, marriage, friendship, and entering into every kind of community is a leap of faith. We love each other and we hurt each other. We soar and we fall flat on our faces. We blame each other during the rough patches. The romance fades. We are bound to disappoint each other sometimes. So we continue to harbor unrealistic expectations. That’s just the way it is. Only one thing is needful: not to lower expectations, but to take another leap of faith, and practice forgiveness.”

Julie B. Sevig shared about, “‘The Best Conversation Ever’: Lutherans lead in advance directives.”

Are you looking for an opportunity to serve abroad? If so, check out this opportunity of the “Bega Kwa Bega Program Coordinator,” being shared by the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rachel Held Evans shared, “What brought me back to church…” and “On ‘Going Episcopal.'”

Emily Atkin shared that the “Episcopal Presiding Bishop, A Former Oceanographer, Makes Religious Case Against Climate Denial.”

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of its conversation from last week, focused on “Assuaging Fear and Encouraging Engagement in Social Media: Fear, Moses, Loving thy neighbor and more.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some reflections about a recent visit to a young missional community in “Agape Cleveland.”

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston wrote and shared, “Ideas Are Cheap, Action is Costly,” “Teaching Our People How to Say ‘Hello,'” and “I Am an Evangelical Christian.”

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote and shared, “Coming to terms with the times: Creating programs, chasing youth trail telling love of God.” I suspect many a ministry leader can relate to this and the challenges of programs in ministry and the desire for youth in church, etc.

The ELCA Young Adult Cohort shared this post by Jenny Sharrick, “Breaking the silence. Dismantling the stigma. Erasing the shame.”

Gene Veith shared some perspectives and thoughts about “Who the unchurched really are,” with some thoughts from Robert Putnam.

Friend, social media coach and ministry leader Carrie Gubsch shared “Great is the Enemy of…” by Scot McKnight featuring thoughts about the “faithfulness of small church pastors.”

The Millennial Journal shared about “Pope Francis, Mary, and a Church Where Women are Leaders.”

Friend Beth Lewis shared this post by Pastor Andrew about “What (He) Learned as a visitor at an #ELCA church.” Beth also shared, “Connect with Storytelling.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Julian Stodd wrote and shared, “Storytelling and Scaffolding.”

What do you think about an idea of driving from Moscow to New York City, or vice-versa? Maybe some day this will be possible as, “Russia Wants to Build a Road Connecting London and New York.”

For some insights you can use in daily life, last fall Kevan Lee shared about “The Healthiest Way to to Work: Standing vs. Sitting and Everything in Between.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Dan Rockwell shared about “How to Cope with Success,” and “12 Ways Successful Leaders Find Energy.” Some of the ways Dan notes include: lighten up; let someone help you; take a short walk; go to bed earlier; create organizational structures and systems that don’t depend on you; reconnect with your purpose and believe.

Dan Forbes shared “A 3 Minute Course On Delegating.”

The LEAD group gathered together having fun like we did the whole weekend at the E!
Leadership lessons can be learned in unusual places, even when hanging out with friends and taking funny photos such as these!

Tanveer Naseer reflected about “Why Successful Leaders Focus on Giving over Getting.”

Anne Loehr writes that “Leadership Lessons Can Be Learned in Unusual Places.” Some of these places which are highlighted in this post are: from dogs; from parents and children; from the arts; from sports; from public restrooms; from the dorms; and from travel. Where have you learned leadership lessons?

Steve Keating asked a question that all leaders should reflect on often, “Are You Truly Productive?

With March Madness and the Final Four in mind, Brian Dakin wrote and shared, “Leading on Management: Leadership, Tournament Style.”

I came across this post from Brad Feld from last fall over the past week on “The Deep, Dark, Emotional Challenges of Being a Leader.

In a post that is insightful for leaders, advisers, coaches and consultants, and potentially parents, pastors and any type of advice giver, Jessica Stillman shared “3 Essentials for Giving Better Advice.” The essentials she highlights are: know your audience; use analogies; and obtain context.

Last fall Alyson Shontell shared about “The CEO of a Billion-Dollar Startup Uses a Simple System to nail Work-Life Balance Every Week.”

If you or others on your team(s) work remotely, check out these ways “To Stay Sane Working from Home,” from Alex Turnbull.

Sad news to share as Linda K. Joyce longtime social worker, local and civic leader and YWCA director in Kitsap County passed away.

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!
An Alaska Airlines plane

James Clear wrote and shared, “Let Your Values Drive Your Choices.”

In a story that exemplifes great leadership, awesome service and the Drucker notion that “the customer is always right,” comes this report from Hayley Cooper about an “Alaska Airlines employee (who) pays for Vancouver woman’s airfare after runaround by Delta Airlines.” Way to go Judy! Check out this story and see if you would have served and led by example like Judy.

Eric McNulty wrote, “Lead by Asking.” Within this are six important questions for consideration: What do you think? Do we think…or do we know? How are you doing? How am I doing? What does this mean over the long term? And, how can I be helpful?

Millennials

Back in November George Bradt wrote that “The Mantle of Leadership is Passing to Millennials- Get Ready.”

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Marwa Hijazi about “The Growing Roles of Millennials in the Workforce.” Marwa notes that Millennials in the workforce: learn differently, think differently and want to lead differently. What do you think?

Also at Thin Difference, Jon Mertz shared “5 Things My 20-Something Self Should Do, 30 Years Later.” The 5 things that Jon noted were: Take the time to write life goals and philosophy; have a walk-away, walk-on fund; be wise financially earlier rather than later; invest in engaging relationships and set family values and goals.

Stefanie reflected and asked, “How do Millennials Define Financial Success?” Great question. What do you think?

The Broke Millennial shared about Millennial weddings and newlyweds in “I Now Pronounce You, In Debt.”

The Public Religion Research Institute shared survey results about “How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health.”

Neighbor Love

"holy portals and big bangs" by Vonda Drees
“holy portals and big bangs” by Vonda Drees

Friend, artist and blogger Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “holy portals and big bangs“; “Where did I neglect myself?“; “Spirit, fill me“;  “Rest on this…“; “and sometimes wrestle“; “let us put out leaves“; “because each leaf effuses hope” and “a living faith.”

In news you may have never heard before out of North Dakota, Archie Ingersoll shared about a “Local couple who lost son to suicide took early stand for gay rights.”

Allison shared a post by a friend and classmate, “Not in 2015” with important thoughts about justice, women’s rights, violence against women and feminism.

Senator Ted Cruz formally announced his candidacy for President of the United States by speaking at Liberty University. In sort a response to that, Benjamin Corey wrote and shared about “If Jesus Gave a Speech at Liberty University (Here are some things I think he’d say).” What do you think?

John Cubelic wrote, “I’m twentysomething, I vote, and I won’t take seriously any candidate who doubts climate change.”

One of the biggest neighbor love and social justice stories from the past week in the United States comes from Indiana and the recent passage of a “Religious Freedom” law there. In light of that news, tons have already been written and shared. Among these pieces, I have found a number of them rather interesting and thought provoking. First, to clarify, at least 19 states have “Religious Freedom” laws. Indiana is the newest one, but it should be noted the context of and content in these laws is not all the same, and the law has some differences from others states. (Thanks to friend and professor Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner for first sharing that last link.)

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared the news that in response to the law’s passage, “Salesforce cancels all travel to Indiana, (and) won’t subject customers or employees to discrimination.” The state of Connecticut has even announced a boycott of Indiana as has Washington and the potential discrimination allowed for by this law. David Badash noted about Broadway’s Audra McDonald’s response to the law. Within Indiana, university and college presidents have also shared their responses, including Valparaiso University’s President Heckler who issued this statement.

Also, Gregg Doyel wrote that the “‘Religious freedom’ bill demands listening not shouting.” The NCAA even provided a response regarding the law, as have “Thousands of Businesses” in standing up for diversity. Additionally, Sam Baker shared about “How Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law Could Fail.”

Thinking theologically about this law, there have been perspectives all over the map as you might expect. Bishop Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen wrote, pondered and asked, “Religious Freedom? Really?” (Special thanks to friend and professor Rev. Dr. Robert Saler for first sharing that post with me.)  John Meunier wrote and reflected in “The hysteria over religious freedom.” John Pavlovitz wrote and shared, “A Letter to Christians in Indiana, from Jesus.” Blogger and pastor Tim Brown shared about what he thinks that “Christians in Indiana should do in Response to the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act.'” In response to the news from Indiana Jan Edmiston wrote, “Against My Religion.” Mark Joseph Stern also shared about the Disciples of Christ’s protest of the new law.

My opinion of this law, is that it was ill-conceived. But after learning that it is being used already to justify discrimination, in fact openly by some business owners such as this, I believe this settles the contention that “this law is not about discrimination.” Whether it was intended to or not, the fact that the law allows for discrimination in practice shows that this law is wrong! It is not within the bounds of neighbor love in its active usage, and at the very least needs to be amended. (And in an update, there comes news that Indiana “plans language to ‘clarify’ religious objections law.” We’ll wait and see what that actually means and looks like.)

With Holy Week in mind, John Pavlovitz shared, “Waiting for Easter: A Eulogy for Jesus.”

Also in thinking about Holy Week, Dr. Norma Cook Everist pondered and reflected, “What Was the Motive for the Crucifixion of Christ?

The choirs singing "Ride on King Jesus"
Some more images from Palm Sunday- The choirs singing the Spiritual “Ride on King Jesus”

Friend, pastor and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon for Palm Sunday, “Life-or-death faith (or why Christianity is against comfort,” grounded in Matthew 21:1-17.

In Chicago, Palm Sunday included walking, marching and palm waiving “Churchgoers urging higher minimum wages.”

I also shared some Palm Sunday themed reflections in “Walk,” as part of the Lent Photo A Day journey. In addition to that post, I also shared some reflections in: “Follow“; “Debit“; “Broken“; “Pain“; and “Hope.”

RJ Grunewald shared reflections and thoughts in “Jesus is for Losers,” and “The Emphasis of Mission in Justification.”

Elizabeth Rawlings shared some deep neighbor love and theological reflections in “A Nation of Sodomites,” providing a response to some more popular interpretations or views of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Within the vein of stories about local municipalities with ideas to make it harder to care for the hungry and homeless, news comes from Washington State of a business owner who has an idea (which I frankly find wrong and appalling), to require a “Permit to panhandle.” Creating barriers for those in need just makes the socio-economic and societal problems and challenges worse.

Rachel Held Evans shared a guest post by Margaret Feinberg about “Why Christians are Wrong about Joy.” Rachel also asked, “Are culture war ‘victories’ worth the casualties?

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared some, “Very Smart Writing on Teens.”

Matthew Deery shared about how “John Oliver Hammers Another Societal Injustice,” “Municipal Violations.”

Social Media & Blogging

Rachel Gillett explains “Why We’re More Likely to Remember Content with Images and Video.”

Courtney Seiter shared “10 Unique Insights to Look for in Your Social Media Monitoring.” The insights she highlights, include: sentiment; feedback; questions; links; pain points; content; trends; advocates; press and influencers.

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

Back in July Kevan Lee shared about “Why Your Social Media Posts Are More Popular Than You Think: Inside the Invisible Audience.”

Heidi Cohen shared “How to Curate Content Like a Pro: 8 Lessons.”

Stewardship

I am excited to share that Adam Copeland will soon be the Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary. I’m looking forward to seeing where this leads, and hopefully to meeting Adam in person soon.

Grace Duddy Pomroy in action talking about stewardship, giving and young adults
An image from last year’s “Jump Start Your Stewardship” event where friend Grace Duddy Pomroy presented.

Spring is a time when some synods and denominations offer local stewardship events. In April, the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Area Synods of the ELCA are hosting a “Jump Start Your Stewardship Event,” check this out and you can register for the event here. Down in Houston, LEAD also shared about an upcoming opportunity in May, “When It Isn’t Working: A Stewardship Seminar.” Check this out, and if you are in the area, plan to attend.

Brian Dodd shared, “3 Financial Mistakes Which Will Sink Pastors and Their Ministry.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared, “Retrain Your Brain to Be More Grateful.”

In a timely post about taxes, here are “6 Tales of Tax-Time Blunders.”

COMPASS shared a new post as part of its March series on taxes with some thoughts and ideas from friend, blogger and “Classy Frugalist,” Grace Duddy Pomroy pondering, “What Could You Do with Your Tax Refund?

On the subject of tax refunds, Young Adult Money shared about “How to Spend Your Tax Refund Responsibly.”

Grace also shared the excited and happy news that her and her husband are finally homeowners.

Young Adult Money also shared some helpful ideas in “6 Reasons to Prioritize Paying Off Student Loan Debt,” and “7 Inexpensive Ways to Enjoy Summer.

Stefanie shared tips and ideas about “How to Travel the World for Practically Nothing.

With creation care and environmental stewardship in mind, check out these “Creation Care Tips from the Synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team” by Lisa Brenskelle.

Vocation

Megan Leibold and I.
Megan Leibold and I.

Friend, blogger and seminarian Beth Wartick shared some powerful and moving “thoughts on Raising a Son.” Beth also recently wrote, “On Being a Jesus Feminist.”

I have to admit some joy and pride in sharing this story about my “sister” Megan Leibold as well as fellow Lute Anikka Abbott, “Former Lute/Miss Pierce County Passes Her Crown to PLU Senior.”

Friend, blogger and ministry leader Julia Nelson shared her weekly vocationally rich installments of her “Tuesday Tea Time,” “Friday Favorites” and “Sunday Snippits.”

Miscellaneous

Friend, blogger, crazy Mariners fan and math teacher Tim Chalberg shared a number of posts as we are now less than a week from baseball’s opening day. Tim wrote and shared: “Playing Pepper 2015,” “Bizarro 2015 Mariners, Part 2: This Too Shall Pass” and “Bizarro 2015 Mariners, Part 3: True to the Blue.”

In big news for soccer, futbol and sports fans, news broke last week that the “Minnesota United (were) Awarded MLS Expansion.” Minnesota will officially join Major League Soccer in 2018.

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That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always, if there are stories or types of posts you would like me to include in the links please let me know. Also, if there are questions, ideas or topics for me to think through and write about on the blog, please let me know that too. Until next time, blessings on your week and thanks for reading! -TS

Image Credits: The Links and “holy portals and big bangs.”

March 29th- Palm Sunday #Walk #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 
 
 
 
Images of Palm Sunday
Images of Palm Sunday

The word designated for March 29th is “Walk.”

Today faith communities and congregations everywhere remembered and celebrated as part of Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. For many this may have included walking and processing in together in a communal walk like the parade of Jesus, the Disciples and children upon triumphantly entering into Jerusalem.

Hear these words from the gospel of Matthew, which you might have heard (or something like them from another gospel) in worship today:

A congregation beginning its procession and walk on Palm Sunday morning
A congregation beginning its procession and walk on Palm Sunday morning

“When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; until them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this,

‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The conclusion of the procession with the choirs gathered up front
The conclusion of the procession with the choirs gathered up front
The choirs singing "Ride on King Jesus"
The choirs singing “Ride on King Jesus”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.'” – The Gospel of Matthew 21:1-11

 

How did you remember or celebrate Palm Sunday today? How is your Holy Week beginning? 

March 28th- #Hope #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 
 
 

The word designated for March 28th is “Hope.”

Mom and I on the beach on a sunny day in Southern California! Happy Birthday Mom!
Mom and I on the beach on a sunny day in Southern California! Happy Birthday Mom!

As we turn toward Holy Week, there is reason for hope. I could easily find a picture of sunshine or some kind of Easter type picture to depict hope, but today instead I choose this picture of my Mom and I.

Not only does a sunny day at the beach provide me hope, so does having my Mom there and knowing she loves me and supports me. I am thinking of Mom today because it is her birthday. My Mom continues to inspire me as she tries new things, finds new roles, and continues to learn and ask big questions. I have to admit, I’m really blessed that both of my parents put such an emphasis on experiencing life, travel, loving and serving others, and continuing to learn, wonder and ask big questions. I guess it’s no surprise that those passion areas and areas of interest have definitely shaped some of mine. It’s also no surprise, that my Mom’s genuine hope and trust that things will work out has also continued to help me find hope in the midst of my life’s adventures.

Who provides you hope and inspiration? What gives you hope? 

March 27th- #Pain #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 
 
How painful is it to look at such a loving pup and no they don't currently have a home?
How painful is it to look at such a loving pup and no they don’t currently have a home?

The word designated for March 27th was “Pain.”

Before Allison and I moved into our current home, and back while we were both still students, we went looking for our first pet at the Humane Society. At the time, we were living in a no-pet building, so it was a mute point. But in meeting some friends like Rocky here, we came quite close to being willing to move to a different building.

Rocky was so sweet, and our hearts just felt in pain for him. How could such a great dog not have a home? Within a week we went back to the same shelter, and to our sadness for us but joy for Rocky, found out that he had been recently adopted. Rocky found a home. He would have been a great pup for us, but I think it worked out okay for us. A year later we adopted our cat Buddy (or more like, he adopted us), and we have been our little family unit ever since.

What causes you pain in life? How do you cope and deal with pain? How do you respond to others in pain, and provide care and support to them? 

March 26th- #Broken #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 
A depiction of the Last Supper that was recently given to the congregation I am currently serving
A depiction of the Last Supper that was recently given to the congregation I am currently serving

The word designated for March 26th was “Broken.”

“In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

We hear these words, or words similar often as part of the communion liturgy. They are followed by the words for the cup, and then usually the Lord’s Prayer and the actual giving of the bread and cup in, “The body of Christ, given for you.” And, “the blood of Christ, shed for you.”

The word broken though can also describe the pains, hurts and brokenness of this world. The prevalence of discrimination, racism and prejudice. The fact that so many people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, or that so many in the world hunger and thirst, while many more are homeless. The very fact that -isms of any kind exist creating “us and them” and barriers that divide, is a result of brokenness.

As we approach the start of Holy Week, we remember the pains which Christ endured in his journey to and through the cross. But we also know that he did so, because he cared for this broken yet beautiful world. God did not turn God’s back on us, and even on the cross we hear the words from Christ, “Forgive them…”

Merciful and Healing Godrestore this broken world. Help us see where You are leading us, and help guide us to be part of Your healing and redeeming work in this world. Amen. 

 

March 25th- #Debit #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 
A depiction of the Crucifixion
A depiction of the Crucifixion

The word designated for March 25th was “Debit.”

Depending on your view of “Atonement” or “At-one-ment” or any sort of theological perspective in between, the idea of debt or debit can make a lot of sense, rub you the wrong way, or perhaps both and more. In thinking about debit today, I went back and found this depiction of the Crucifixion that I believe I saw in 2008 in San Sebastian area outside of Rome.

When you think of “Debit” what comes to mind for you? 

March 24th- #Follow #lent2015

During the season of Lent, I will be sharing a short post each day as part of the Lent-Photo-a-Day Journey, providing a sort of brief reflection and witness through the journey to and through the cross, to the tomb, and out into the world.

 

The word designated for March 24th is “Follow.”

“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27

It is amazing what will follow you when you have food to offer.
It is amazing what will follow you when you have food to offer.

What does it mean to follow? Who do you follow? Does anyone follow you? If so, why? 

To follow in a religious or faith way is a wonderful thing. But for a minute, I have to admit I remember one of the favorite lessons of Dr. Jean Lipman-Blumen at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management. Jean would often ask in class, “Do you know what the definition of follower is?” Rhetorically of course, that could mean “one who goes or comes after or along with someone or something or another’s teachings (like a disciple).” The disciple piece is a good one, but in terms of leadership, the idea of follower can sometimes get a frown. She suggested instead of follower, to consider the idea of one being a “constituent,” because there is a bit more of an active element in that role. The term implies a level of some importance, like as being a voter or “necessary to the whole.”

With that perspective, what might we gleam about being a follower if we think of such as a constituent? For me, it is a nice tweak to an often perceived more passive role. To be fair, the disciples and apostles are not passive. But in today’s use of the term, a follower seems passive. When I think about it though, I like the idea of us as constituents, because it recognizes that we are more than just quiet or silly sheep following God (though that’s generally how we usually act). We are capable, called and equipped with particular gifts, vocations and passions which can be used in God’s work in the world. That’s more than just being some “follower.” That’s being a leader, but it’s also being part of God’s mission, a constituent of God’s mission and a steward of God’s gifts.

When thinking about your life, leadership and/or ministry, how are you a leader? How are you a constituent? How are you a follower? What implications do these answers have for your faith journey?