The Importance of ‘Bounce’ in Leadership

Back in college choir there was a warm-up that we would often do before concerts and performances to get us fired up. The words were simple enough, but as we said them, we built with intensity and expression, physically and verbally. Together the group would say in rhythm:

I’m going to do, whatever I do with real energy. I’m going to do whatever I do with real energy. I’m going to do whatever I do with real energy…

As goofy as that warm-up might sound, it works to build the energy, and center the focus. There is also a real insight for leadership in this too. With a warm-up such as this, you build your energy, focus, and excitement. You put a “bounce” in your work, attention, and practice.

bounce walkingThat begs the question, do you have a bounce in your step? 

What I mean is, do you walk with purpose? Are you excited about what you are doing and about to do? Or, do you walk slowly without energy? Do you go from meeting to meeting, task to task, going through the motions but without any real sense of joy?

In life and leadership having a ‘bounce’ matters. Joy matters.

If you love what you do, chances are you will be fully invested in what you are doing, fully present, and giving it your all. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, others will be able to ultimately see that you are going through the motions, counting the minutes until the day is over, and always looking toward the weekend.

Now, I am not saying the point of life is to work. But, I do believe that if you don’t enjoy doing what you are doing, you really should think twice about why you are doing it. Sometimes obviously there isn’t another option, and you need income to pay the bills. That’s a perfectly acceptable reason. But, in those cases, perhaps there is some way to turn a not so joyful experience at least into a more tolerable one.

Thinking about a bounce, usually I can tell if I am enjoying what I am doing by the way I walk. When I am walking in a hurry, but still taking time to smile and enjoy the people and surroundings around me, I know I have a bounce in my step. When I am walking slowly, without any real motivation, I know that’s an indicator for me not that I am tired (though that is certainly possible), but more likely that something needs to change.

What gives you a bounce in your leadership and life? In what ways do you need to find more of a bounce?

Image Credit: Walking

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on Tuesdays I share some of what I have seen, read, and found thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media and Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing for worship, or writing a sermon for this weekend, I have a number of links for you. First of all, if you are following the revised common lectionary, spend some time with friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis‘ thoughts on how the “Resurrection is Companionship.” Karoline also joins friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Matt Skinner and Rolf Jacobson in the Sermon Brainwave for the “Sixth Sunday of Easter.” Also, check out Bishop Michael Rinehart’s take on “Easter 6C.”

If you are following the narrative lectionary, spend some time with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker who are the voices of the narrative podcast, “I Love to Tell the Story.” This week they share their perspectives on “Faith, Hope, and Love,” based on the narrative reading from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Also, spend some time with this “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13,” from Dr. Shively Smith.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth wrote about the church, ministry, and vocation in “Today.”

Blogger and pastor Timothy Brown articulated and shared, “An Immodest Proposal Regarding the Dissolution of Most Congregations As We Know Them.” Give this a read and see what you think.

My wife Allison Siburg (who is a pastoral intern) wrote and shared, “I’m Dreaming of a Church Budget: Not Like the Ones I Used to Know.”

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston wrote about clergy and gender in asking, “Would it Surprise You in 2016?

Horrible and sad news came over the weekend from Seattle’s Curry Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, as “After 66 years, Central District church wakes up to hate crime.”

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of its weekly chat from last week which focused on the question of, “How can we use social media to care for creation?” The chat was moderated by Carolyn Clement.

Pacific Lutheran University provided an update about the process of “Calling a New Pastor.”

In exciting news from my hometown, “Martha & Mary marks 125 years in North Kitsap.” Martha & Mary has a long history of serving young and old as a Lutheran social ministry, one of more than 300 under the umbrella of Lutheran Services in America.

Friend, professor, and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared this look from Pew Research at “Religion in Everyday Life.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In news from Alaska Airlines, Tom Banse writes that “Alaska Air (is) upbeat after first Justice Department Meeting about Virgin Takeover.”

Social leadership theorist Julian Stodd shared a number of intriguing posts, including thoughts about: “The Intersection of Formal and Social“; “A Matter of Perspective“; and some “Words about Learning: Pace.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Justin Irving wrote about “Team Leadership and a Collaborative Orientation.”

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great leadership posts over the past week, including “10 Questions to Ask when Choosing Leaders,” and “What to do When New Leaders Screw Up.”

Tanveer Naseer reflected about “Understanding the Power of Expectations.”

Brian Dodd shared a look at “The top 10 Leadership Posts” he read from last week, as well as “7 Practices of Leaders Who Build Healthy Workplace Cultures.”

Seth Godin reflected about “Processing feedback,” as well as how “The tidal wave is overrated.”

If you are looking for some Monday motivation to start your week with next week, consider this look at “5 Ways Successful People Tackle Monday Morning,” from William Vanderbloemen.

quit and followIn contemplating life, vocation, and leadership, Lolly Daskal shares a list of “10 Reasons Why You Need to Quit Your Job Right Now.” Lolly’s reasons include: your body is telling you to go; you’re not able to excel; you’re unappreciated; you crave contentment; you have a bad boss; your values aren’t supported; you’re miserable; you’re suffering from stress; your reputation is at risk; and you feel in your heart it’s time for a change.

Monique Valcour writes importantly that, “People Won’t Grow If You Think They Can’t Change.”

Steve Keating wrote about, “Managing People.”

Ted Bauer wrote, shared, and pondered about “Transparency in business: What’s the value?” What do you think?

Anne Loehr shared a spring roundup of articles where she was featured or included in sharing thoughts about leadership, community, organizations, and more.

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference wrote about “Why Being a Good Observer Matters.”

Also at Thin Difference, Megan Dougherty wrote and asked, “Want a Different Outcome? Take a Mindful Moment.”

Thin Difference also shared a guest post by Kelly Olenski, “Practicing What I Preach: How a Trip to Target Made Me More Mindful.

Millennials

I discovered a great podcast from last fall which took up the question, “Do You Really Know What Millennials Want from Events?” If you have an hour to listen, or an hour to fill while on the road in the commute, check this out and see what you think.

Neighbor Love

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon from this past weekend based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, “Alien righteousness (it’s even stranger and more awesome than it sounds).”

Rev. Dr. Will Willimon shared about his new book, Fear of the OtherNo Fear in Love, on his blog, as well as an interview with Shane Raynor on Ministry Matters.

"la trinidad" by Vonda Drees
“la trinidad” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included: “the icon of intimacy“; “a living being“; “praying peace with the earth“; “twinkle, twinkle“; “holy hunches“; “la trinidad“; and “the soul’s think tank.”

Pastor and blogger Todd Buegler shared his sermon from this past weekend based on John 13:31-35, “Love, Thank, Repeat…

Joshua Russell wrote about Oregon high school student, Olivia Dalke, a “Contest winner (who) explains the many dangers of global climate change,” in The Mennonite

Friend, pastor, and blogger Emmy Kegler shared her first sermon as an ordained pastor based on Acts 11:1-18, “The Tie that Binds.”

Looking for insight on emotions, feelings, narrative, and story telling? Check out this post from “Brene Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative.”

Friend Peggy Hahn shared this reflection from Dan Clendenin about “Taking the Long View.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared about “A Word About Disaster Response & Recovery.”

My wife Allison shared this great and thought provoking piece by Erik Olaf Thone, “Killing Lutefisk Lutheranism.”

With the sad news from Minnesota and the passing of Prince last week, pastor and blogger Karl Jacobson wrote and reflected about, “Prince, and the Theology of the Cross.”

Angela Zimmann wrote about equality and creative resistance in, “You Have Committed a Hate Crime.”

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth wrote and shared, “Is thinking about Luther a waste of time? – Luther and Liberation.”

Social Media & Blogging

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

Stewardship

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared a look at “The Top 10 Mistakes I’ve Made with Money in Ministry – Part 1,” from Rev. Ryan Baer.

Vocation

Friend and blogger Tyler Scott wrote about life and vocation in, “Boxes of memories, junk and everything in between,” and in pondering, “How much potential do we really have?

Laura McCafferty asked, “What Is Your Good Life?

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared her weekly dose of “Tuesday Tea Time,” for a moment of pause and reflection in the midst of life.

Captain Mike Swanigan and Russell Wilson
Captain Mike Swanigan and Russell Wilson

In a story about one long time leader and captain’s recent retirement, Britt Thorson wrote about how “Russell Wilson surprised favorite pilot, and celebrated the retirement,” of Captain Mike Swanigan. Alaska Airlines’ blog shared about this in “Swani Song: Captain Mike Swanigan to make his final flight,” as well as in this story by Glenn Farley about the “Well love pilot to retire from Alaska Airlines.”

Speaking of airplanes, here’s a great story about the Wartburg College Choir and how, “88 soaring voices thank United for saving a trip.”

Speaking of retirements, in Seattle, a number of leaders and long-time faces in front of and behind the cameras recently retired from KING5.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes wrote about “Self Promotion- The New Normal.”

In a vocation themed article David Isay wrote about “How to Find Your True Calling in Life.” Definitely give this a read and see what you think.

Friend and professor Dr. Lynn Hunnicutt shared some life and vocational reflections in her continued detailing of her biking adventures in “Chipseal and Daffodils.”

Margaret Felice wrote about, “What every artist can learn from Prince.”

Miscellaneous

Troy Larson from Minnesota Connected wrote and shared, “Minnesota Icon Dies- The World Mourns the Loss of a Prince.”

Friend, blogger, and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared this piece by Sam Miller about “What Happens When Baseball-Stats Nerds Run a Pro Team?

If you love to travel check out this list of “The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016” according to The SmithsonianThis year’s 20, are close to National Parks, and shared in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week. -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Godin quote; “la trinidad“; and Captain Swanigan and Russell Wilson.

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on Tuesdays I share some of what I have seen, read, and found thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Stewardship; and Vocation. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are writing a sermon or preparing for worship this coming weekend I have a number of links for you. For those following the narrative lectionary, check out this “Commentary on Acts 18:1-4,” from O. Wesley Allen Jr. Also, spend some time with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker on the Narrative Podcast discussing the “Church at Corinth.”

For those following the revised common lectionary, Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some thoughts on “Easter 5C.” Also, be sure and listen to this “Fifth Sunday of Easter” Sermon Brainwave with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner. Thinking about this weekend’s readings, Karoline also wrote and reflected that, “Resurrection is Love.”

Over on her blog, friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis also wrote and shared that “Resurrection is Protection” and “Resurrection is Abundance.”

My wife Allison continued her look and study on church administration writing, “Governance, Volunteers, and Boards, Oh My!” She also dug into finances, budgets, and stewardship in writing that, “I’m Dreaming of a Church Budget: Not Like the Ones I Used to Know.”

Allison also shared this piece from Karl Vaters pondering the question, “Is ‘Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy the the Service’ Killing the Church?

I’m excited to share news that the Grunewald Guild has announced the appointment of its new directors, Jim and Vonda Drees. If you follow the links regularly, you know that Vonda and I are good friends and I love sharing her artwork each week with you. Congratulations to both Jim and Vonda on this wonderful news!

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth wrote and shared that, “The ELCA is not a person: Eight theses.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared vocational and ministry reflections and perspectives in writing, “Bi-Vocational Pastor: Your Fundamental Belief in People.”

Friend, professor, and mentor Dr. Terri Elton wrote about church, ministry, and vocation in “Reset in New Jersey.” She also shared this hour long video on “Practice Discipleship: Wondering Through Service Learning.”

Terri also shared news about the opportunity to have a “Christian Book Fair for your church” by Augsburg Fortress and as shared by Beth Lewis.

My friends at LEAD wrote and shared hopes for leaders to “Take Your Life Back.”

Derek Wiley wrote about “Young pastors at work in The Dalles,” including friend, blogger, and pastor Tyler Beane.

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of their weekly chat from last week which focused on the question, “How do you keep the momentum of Easter going online?” The chat was moderated by Kwame Pitts.

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland blogged about the implications of time and participation in reflecting about “1,000 Fewer Hours.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Friend and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this post by Linda Timmons pondering, “What Does it Mean to be a Faith-Based Organization?

James Doubek reports about the importance of taking notes by hand, rather than via computer first. I have personally found this to be true. How about you? Thanks to friend and professor Dr. Lynn Hunnicutt for first sharing this article with me.

Julian Stodd shared some “Words about Learning: Transition.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Brian Dodd shared, “4 Ways Leaders Get Smarter, 4 Ways Leaders Get More Resilient and Much, Much, More.”

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great perspectives, including “7 Ways to Inspire Enlightenment with Curiosity,” and a post with both leadership and accompaniment implications, “The 10 Powers of ‘With.'”

I had the privilege of interviewing a great local leader earlier this spring in Ridgefield, Washington, Police Chief Carrie Greene. It was announced yesterday that she will be retiring in May. Thank you for your service and good and faithful leadership.

Justin Irving wrote about “Transformational Leadership and Organizational Transformation.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared some great leadership perspectives and reflections in writing, “Refine.”

Steve Keating wrote about authentic leadership and its attributes in sharing about, “How to Pick a Presidential Candidate,” as well as the seemingly opposite of authentic leadership, “Controlling Leadership.”

Vin Scully
Vin Scully

Anytime that I can put icon and legendary voice and baseball announcer Vin Scully in The Links is a great day. Ken Fang shares this video and story of how Vin recently shared a story about leadership, life, and resiliency while broadcasting a Giants-Dodgers baseball game. Vin’s moral is this, “You’ve got to some how survive. You’ve got to some how battle back,” in sharing a story about a baseball player, a snake, and a jack rabbit. I know you are intrigued so definitely check this out, watch, and listen.

Heidi Oran at Thin Difference shared some “Practical Tips to Improve Self-Awareness.”

Also over at Thin Difference, Jon Mertz shared about “How to Trigger Innovative Leadership.” Jon offered these three ideas for how to be an innovative leader: require team members to participate in a community project; show confidence in the future state, not the current state; and start a design thinking conversation or lead a design thinking training class.

Jon also write a poetic leadership post entitled, “Didn’t Think It Would Happen This Fast.”

Millennials

Jeremy Steele shared a look at the “Top 10 church faux pas that turn off millennials.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and blogger Tyler Scott shared about life, vocation, meaning, and connection in writing about, “When qualifications distract from what’s really important.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth wrote about “The Geography of Grace.”

I shared my sermon from this past weekend on Psalm 23 and John 10 on, “Sheep, the Good Shepherd, and Promises.”

Friend, pastor, and Ph.D. student Mandy Brobst-Renaud wrote relatedly about, “Wanderers of the Fold, Doubters of the Flock, Sinners of his Redeeming.”

"Soul Joy" by Vonda Drees.
“Soul Joy” by Vonda Drees.

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included first of all some news from Vonda about her new transition and calling to the Grunewald Guild in “a glorious and wild transition.” Other beautiful posts included: “the Risen Presence“; “great-fullness“; “clay touched by God“; “seek and find“; “soul joy“; and “kindness and sorrow.”

My wife Allison shared this hard but captivating look from Darren Boyle at “How ‘riverside living’ has a different meaning in America’s homeless capital.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Acts 17:1-9, “The Intersection of Ourselves and Our World.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller also shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Acts 17:1-9 and wrote, “Don’t play the victim.”

Friend Cheryl Davis shared this look by Jeff Sharlet at “Donald Trump, American Preacher.”

Stewardship

Margaret Marcuson writes that, “Your church has more assets than you think (hint: it’s not just about the money…).”

In observance of Earth Day later this week the COMPASS blog is sharing environmental stewardship related thoughts, reflections, and posts. As part of this series last week it shared a two-part look at the idea that “We Are What We Eat,” with an overview and then a more personal reflection from Dori Zerbe Cornelsen.

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared this perspective from “Yvette Flunder on Preaching Stewardship.”

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner shared some “Great Financial Lessons My Dad Taught Me- Money Doesn’t Have to Make Your Life Miserable.”

On this blog I shared about some “Money Questions from Middle Schoolers,” and the fun I am having teaching confirmation students about money, faith, finances and stewardship.

Catherine at Young Adult Money shared about “5 Common Budgeting Mistakes (and what to do instead).”

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared her weekly dose of vocation and life reflections in her “Tuesday Tea Time.”

Pacific Lutheran University president, Dr. Thomas Krise, shared some “Q&A about salary increases, funding new initiatives, and budget accountability.”

Friend and blogger Tyler Scott wrote about the importance of rest in, “Don’t let society fool you – we all need rest.”

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week. -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Vin Scully; and “soul joy.”

Money Questions from Middle Schoolers

I am in the midst of a two-week series leading my congregation’s confirmation class in thinking about money and stewardship. Part of the first session was to paint a picture about money, and some of what the Bible has to say about it. This week’s session will be more about what it means to be a steward and how that is part of our vocation as Children of God.

Last week I invited the confirmation students to write down their questions that they would like to be included some how in this week’s session. Overall, I was quite impressed by their questions and think they will serve well this week for a “Jeopardy” style introduction, and a nice way to transition into thinking about stewardship.

The questions they left me last week are:

  • How long has a dollar bill been around?
  • Why does the ink have to be green?
  • Who was money invented by?
  • What is the biggest coin?
  • Why was money created?
  • Is money a label?
  • Would you be in trouble of accepting something else rather than money?
  • How much money is enough for retirement and donations?
  • Why are some people so greedy?
  • Why are some people obsessed with money?

These questions range from the function of money to the emotion and meaning attached to it. I’m excited to continue the conversation this week. Today I put together some answers to these questions thanks to my background, and the help of Google. But without Google, what would some of your answers to some of these questions look like?

In moving on to what stewardship might mean I think I will use the first minute of this video:

It would be a helpful starting place in moving the conversation forward. It would also be helpful in answering some of the confirmation students’ questions about greed, by helping start to frame the conversation of what scarcity and abundance look like.

On a side note, ask a group of middle school students how many times Jesus talked about money in the Bible. When you ask them their answers, and then tell them how many times he actually talked about it, their jaws will likely drop. At least that was my experience last week.

What is your favorite stewardship insight? What is your biggest money or stewardship question currently?

Sheep, the Good Shepherd, and Promises

The following is the majority of the sermon that I preached at Messiah Lutheran Church this weekend based on the readings for Easter 4C, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The readings included: Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, and John 10:22-30. I did something I don’t usually do when preaching, breaking into a couple short Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and/or camp songs. Special thanks goes to Allison for inspiring me to break into song, and to Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis‘ “Craft of Preaching” post which helped me frame my thoughts this week. 

“I just want to be a sheep, ba, ba, ba, ba; I just want to be a sheep, ba, ba, ba, ba; And I pray the Lord my soul to keep, I just want to be a sheep, ba, ba, ba, ba.”

The Rose Window inside the Tower Chapel at Pacific Lutheran University. At the center of the window is a depiction of the Lamb who becomes the Good Shepherd. This room and window holds a special place in my heart, as a PLU alum. It is the space in which I asked Allison to marry me... the rest is history.
Check out the beauty of the Rose Window from the inside of the Tower Chapel at Pacific Lutheran University. At the center of the window is a depiction of the Lamb who becomes the Good Shepherd. This room and window holds a special place in my heart, as a PLU alum. It is also the space in which I asked Allison to marry me… the rest is history.

If you don’t recognize it, that’s a popular camp, Vacation Bible School, and Sunday School song which seems appropriate when you think of what it means to be a sheep, and have a shepherd.

Jesus the Good Shepherd, it’s one of the most familiar images we have of Christ. It’s a true comfort to know that God promises to be with us, knows us personally by name, and calls to each and every one of us. It’s a comfort to know in this Easter season that the Resurrection itself, the gift and promise of eternal life, is that very act by which the Good Shepherd says I will go to the ends of the earth, the ends of the universe, the ends of life itself, for you.

One of my seminary friends and professors wrote this week that the image of the Good Shepherd during Easter, allows us to understand the “Resurrection as Protection.” She wrote that, “The empty tomb is a promise of protection. Not from the truth of life, but for the sake of the truth of your life.”

The tomb doesn’t replace the pains or challenges of life, but it reminds us that death does not have the final say, and that even in the midst of the “valley of the shadow of death,” we shall fear no evil because God, the Good Shepherd is with us.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been an interesting few weeks for me since Easter Sunday. There’s been some traveling, and some much needed rest and relaxation time. There’s been new experiences like this past week meeting with the different faith leaders involved with Compassion Ridgefield, hearing some of their stories, glimpses of miracles and God’s promises in action, as well as their hopes to continue to serve and grow as God is leading and calling that great ministry to do.

There was a day of teaching and hanging out with just about every different generation there is, as on Wednesday I spent time with the preschoolers in chapel singing, “Hallelujah.. Praise Ye the Lord,” and then later in the morning with a great group of adults pondering Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain,” in the gospel of Luke, and I capped off the day leading confirmation in thinking about money, faith, and stewardship. Those were just a couple experiences of this crazy, but wonderful past week.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. You restore my soul, O Lord, and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.”

It’s been an interesting few weeks too, because I have a confession to make… I didn’t sit down to start writing this sermon until Thursday afternoon.

Now that might be normal for most pastors, but that’s anything but normal for me. It felt like I was procrastinating, but at the same time, I don’t know when I would have written this sermon, nor would I have changed any of the great ministry experiences I had over the course of the past week or two.

Jesus the Good Shepherd
Jesus the Good Shepherd

I wanted to sit down and have the time to dig in and find something brilliant to say about Jesus the Good Shepherd. I wanted to remember some great story of beautiful still waters, like those of the creek and pond in the woods behind my parents’ house where I grew up. I wanted… But it’s been an interesting few weeks, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

There have been visitors. Good questions. Prayer concerns. Trials and challenges of the deepest nature of life. Those moments where we really cling to the promises of Psalm 23, and the reminder from today’s gospel that God gives us eternal life, and that we will never perish. In a nutshell, the past few weeks have been real life, and I suspect you have had some days feeling like that too.

I have been caught this week, by the start of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” or “I shall not be in want…” What an interesting and down-right counter to human nature expression and exclamation. “I shall not want.”

The stewardship implications are rich. Trusting in God and God’s abundance, and not focusing on our own desires.

The life implications, of choices, decisions, and ideas are many- The desire to be in control or have things go as you want them to; And the desire for change, or the “if only I would have known,” or the “what if’s…” There’s plenty of those too. All of these ideas and more come to mind when being confronted by the psalmist when declaring, “I shall not want…” And perhaps confessing how often we give in to those wants is important.

But then there’s the rest of the Psalm and the good news in this week’s gospel reminder from John. We are who we are, just the way God created us to be. That goes for you, and it goes for me. God loves you for who you are, and needs you to be who you are. This goes for times when we’re so busy we feel like we can’t sit down and do necessarily what we want to do at that moment. That goes for times when we love what we are doing, and are confident or proud of our results.

That goes for times when we are bogged down with the questions of “what if,” the challenges of self-doubt, and the voice in our heads that might say, “you aren’t good enough,” or “you don’t know.”

Those messages aren’t of God. God’s message for you is this:

“You are one of my sheep. You, beautiful, joyful, dancing, mourning, grieving, wondering, questioning, doubting, and faithful, you are indeed one of my sheep. And there is nothing- no one, not a thing, no terrible story in the news, no ruler, no leader, no politician, no institution or organization, and no church that can change that. Because you are one of my sheep, and I know you. You will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Maybe that’s a message I needed to hear earlier this week when I worried about not having time to write a good enough sermon. Maybe that’s the message you needed to hear as you quickly ran through the drive through lane while trying to get your kids from school to baseball practice, or as your mind raced from project to project, or meeting to meeting.

You are one of the sheep.
You are one of the sheep.

When I hear these words this week, I am drawn back to the loving memories of my grandpas, and their funerals. I am also drawn back to harder times of high school, when over the course of a year, four of my class mates lost their lives to suicide and mental illness.

Of all the periods in my life, that’s when I learned more than any other, how true my Grandpa who also happened to be a pastor’s words were when he often told me “a sermon without grace, isn’t a sermon at all. People need to know that they are loved just because of who they are.”

And that’s what I think is at the heart of the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. As John the writer of Revelation declares, “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes.”

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

That’s a promise. That’s a deep love, the love a shepherd has for all of his or her sheep. And that’s a promise, and love for you, made possible through the work of the cross and the resurrection that you can’t do anything about, but embrace it and live and serve joyfully in the knowledge of it, and thanks be to God for that. Amen.

Image Credit: PLU Rose Window; “Jesus the Good Shepherd“; and Sheep.

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Allison and I have returned from a wonderful vacation, and with the return, comes the return to regularly scheduled programming here on blog.

Each week on Tuesdays I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship or writing a sermon for this weekend (like me), I have some helpful links. First, if you are following the revised common lectionary check out Bishop Michael Rinehart’s thoughts on “Easter 4C.” Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis digs into the themes of “Good Shepherd Sunday,” in writing that “Resurrection is Protection.” Karoline also joins friends and professors Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson and Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner in this week’s Sermon Brainwave podcast all about the “Fourth Sunday of Easter.”

If you are following the narrative lectionary check out this “Commentary on Acts 17:1-9,” from O. Wesley Allen Jr., as well as the Narrative Podcast on the “Church at Thessalonica,” with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

Jan Edmiston wrote that, “The Future of Ministry is All About…Curiosity.” What do you think?

Friend, blogger, and pastor Aaron Fuller reflected about being a “Bi-Vocational Pastor: ‘Rethinking leadership… but not reinventing the wheel.” Aaron also shared some great children, youth, and family thoughts for ministry in “CYF Ministry Thoughts: ‘Get the Grandparents to Do It.'”

Aaron also shared this article by Earle Cornelius who wrote that, “Facing a shortage of chaplains, military recruiters make seminary visits part of their itinerary.”

In exciting news, The Lutheran magazine has been rebranded as Living LutheranAmong the stories in the latest issue I particularly appreciated this article by Erin Strybis, which echoes some of Aaron’s post above about being bi-vocational, “When making a living and living in service intersect: Bi-vocational ministry a gift, challenge for ELCA church workers.”

In the latest issue of Living Lutheran, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton importantly ponders, “Can we answer the question ‘Why’?

egg hunt
What Easter looked like at Messiah North County before worship.

From my role as mission developer at Messiah Lutheran Church, I shared a couple weekly blog posts, including thoughts about “Doubt, Unbelief, and Easter Eggs,” as well as on “Visioning: Looking Back and Moving Forward.”

Messiah was also excited to share news about its “College Summer Interns for 2016,” two great leaders from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

CBS News shared this look at “Faith, Spirituality, & the Future.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess wrote a strong review and offered a resounding recommendation to read Choosing our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones, by Dr. Elizabeth Drescher in “Choosing our religion.”

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared insights from Dr. Elizabeth Drescher, featuring “3 Things You Might Not Know about Nones.” The things Adam shares from Elizabeth are that: Nones aren’t unbelievers, at least not most of them; many are looking for spiritual community, just not necessarily a religious community; and Nones aren’t inarticulate about religion and spirituality- they’re creating new languages.

Niraj Warikoo reports on how, “Lutheran Social Services Michigan changes name.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton wrote about “Safe Containers,” in thinking about nonprofits and congregations who are taking the holy risks to innovate and experiment, as well as “Let the Summit Begin,” about a recent gathering taking up questions related to faith formation in the ELCA.

In news from the Pacific Northwest, the Episcopal Church has returned to Poulsbo.

For all of you Luther scholars, Beth Lewis shares news from Augsburg Fortress about a “New Annotated Luther series from Fortress Press with a 30% discount.”

In news from PLU, Jeff Dunn writes, “Garfield Book Company: saying goodbye to a dud?

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared transcripts of its past two weekly chats which focused on “Crowdsourcing,” as moderated by Jason Chesnut, and “After the Alleluias – Easter, Holy Week & Lent on social media,” as moderated by Beth Felice.

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner shared news about how “Westminster Presbyterian Church Invests in Long-Term Vision.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some words and many pictures of his recent time at “Valparaiso University (for the) Liturgical Institute.”

Friend and executive director of The MennoniteHannah Heinzekehr wrote about innovation and missional thinking and creation among “New models for ministry in Southern California.” Check out this great piece for some inspiration, and to hear about some exciting things happening in ministry in Southern California.

Pastor developer at Shobi’s Table, Rev. Margaret Kelly wrote about “This Beautifully Messy Church.”

This next post could have been shared under leadership below, but I think it also aptly fits in this section and is particularly appropriate for church and ministry leaders of all ages. My friend Beth Hartfiel from LEAD, wrote about “Growing Leaders of Any Age,” and shared some tips and important and helpful ways to do this, including the upcoming Disciple Project. Check it out!

In important data which highlights the need for change and innovation, Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson writes about, “The Supply and Demand for Clergy in the ELCA.”

My wife, and a current culminating pastoral intern, Allison Siburg is doing a focused study this spring on Church Administration. As part of this work, she is blogging weekly as part of her class with Dr. Terri Elton. Her first post in this series of study lays the groundwork for her questions, reflections, and discovery as she writes about, “A Red Thread: An overlooked and necessary part of ministry.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this look at social entrepreneurship and innovation from “Lisa G. Fischbeck: A Place at the Table?” Mary also wrote convincingly and with great conviction that, “Public Education is a Crucial Matter!

Thinking about life on the other side of Easter, and about innovation and leadership, friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton wrote and shared, “And then… LIFE.”

In big news from the past week, my hometown favorite airline, Alaska Airlines announced news that it was acquiring Virgin America Airlines. Details on this news can be found at “Flying Better Together.” In light of this news, Bryson Kacha wrote about why this might be a good decision by Alaska Airlines in writing, “Alaska Airlines: Eliminating the Competition.” As you might expect, not everyone is as excited, as Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson shared his thoughts and feelings in this post.

Social leadership theorist and blogger Julian Stodd shared a number of great posts over the past couple of weeks. Julian wrote, “Let Slip the Dogs of War: Unfit Organizations and the Social Revolution,” “Beyond Digital: Into the Social Age,” as well as sharing some, “Reflecting on Learning.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Julian Stodd wrote about “The Tallest Leader,” shared some “Social Leadership Illustrations,” and some “Illustrations about ‘Community’ in Social Leadership.”

Cynthia Bazin shared “The Best of Lead with Giants – April 2016.”

Brian Bandas wrote about persistence and leadership in writing about “How to Make Millions by Chopping Wood,” as shared over at Thin Difference.

Seth Godin emphasized “Big questions before little ones,” as well as sharing some thought about “Treating your talk as a gift.”

What leadership mistakes have you made and learned from?
What leadership mistakes have you made and learned from?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of thought provoking posts over the past week. Dan highlighted “The Five Biggest Mistakes New Leaders Make,” which according to Dan are: leading an unprioritized life; working too hard; chasing too many opportunities; neglecting feedback; and having all the answers. Dan also shared, “6 Questions to Find Your Reason for Being,” as well as about, “The Big Five of Remarkable Leadership.”

Carter McNamara shared thought about “How to avoid word-smithing the mission, vision, and values statements.”

Ted Bauer asked the important question, “Why Do We Focus so much on the quantity of work we do, instead of the quality?

Brian Dodd shared a post inspired by golf with “7 Leadership Quotes and Lessons from Jordan Spieth,” as well as reflection on the question of “Who and What is Leadership About?

Steve Keating asked, “Do you know enough to succeed?

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Karin Hart and David Dye about “The Easy Way to Have Tough Conversations with Employees.”

Justin Irving wrote about “Servant Leadership and Follower Focus,” as well as “4 Top Leadership Priorities.”

Anne Loehr shared practical steps for “How to Define Your Organizational Values.” The steps she outlines include: assess your current organizational culture; review your strategic business plan; determine the culture needed to achieve your plan; decide if your values need to shift; define what your chosen values really mean; and incorporate these values into organizational processes. Additionally, Anne also shared, “Seven Practical Tips for Increasing Empathy.”

Andrew Saunders reflected about, “Why Peter Drucker is one of our most influential management thinkers.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference shared an interview with Matt Tenney all about “Mindful Leadership: Purpose, Integrity, Presence.

Also at Thin Difference, Molly Page wrote, “Stop Distractions from Stealing Your Joy,” and Eric Torrence discussed “The Difference Between Debating and Discussing.”

Millennials

Molly Page at Thin Difference shared some great “Thoughts on Community from the Thin Difference Community,” that I was humbled to be counted as part of.

Jeremy Chandler at Thin Difference explained and shared about, “Why Self-Awareness is Critical for Millennials’ Success (and How to Get It).”

Martha Hiefield wrote and explained about, “The ‘M’ Word: Why I Don’t Hire Millennials.” Definitely give this post a read.

Given neighbor love and civic conversations about immigration that are on-going, Michele Waslin notes that, “Polls Show Millennials (are) More Likely to Reject Deportation and Support Path to Citizenship.”

Neighbor Love

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from a week ago based on Acts 1 entitled, “Now What?

Friend Julia Nelson shared a couple great posts, including this look at “The ‘radical’ legacy of television’s Mister Rogers,” and “My Gender, So Far… – Rev. Andrew Tobias Nelson.”

On Maundy Thursday Pope Francis washed the feet of refugees, which the following week, “President Obama Reflected About,” as shared by the Millennial Journal

"Will You Leap?" by Vonda Drees
“Will You Leap?” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past couple of weeks. These posts included: “imago dei“; “no edges“; “lead us, Love“; “edges of creativity“; “newness at the edge“; “a step of faith“; “Will you leap?“; “fringe wisdom“; “surprising grace“; “your art matters“; “let us look!“; “infinitely healing“; “a riot of generosity“; and “a Greater Breath.”

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth explained, “Why I’ve abandoned law/gospel preaching.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared a couple sermons about the Holy Spirit, writing about, “The uncomfortable gift of the Holy Spirit,” based on Acts 1, and about the “Outside In: Why the Holy Spirit uses the voices of the voiceless,” based on Acts 3:1-10.

In news out of North Carolina, the “North Carolina Attorney General Refuses to Defend New Anti-LGBT Law.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth wrote and shared, “I was looking for a sign from God, and wrote this poem, Confessions,” as well as about, “The Call of Ananias,” and thoughts about “How I measure.”

Blogger and pastor Lura Groen wrote that, “The Trans Community set me Free,” as well as “I Hope You Have Only Good Sex.”

Friend, blogger, and intern pastor Matt Byrd reflected about “why and where.”

Friend, pastor, and Ph.D. student Mandy Brobst-Renaud wrote that, “Billboard Jesus Can’t Save You.”

Social Media & Blogging

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

Stewardship

Back in March the COMPASS blog was focused on debt management. As part of the series, I took up the question about, “Higher Learning and Student Debt: Is It Worth It?

During April the COMPASS blog is considering how you can be “Eco-Friendly on a Budget,” sharing thoughts about environmental stewardship in observation of Earth Day. This week the COMPASS blog is taking up the idea that “We Are What We Eat,” in two parts, with the first part today focusing on farming, and community supported agriculture. Later in the week, there will be more reflection on what this might look like.

Vocation

Friend, blogger, and soon to be a married man Tyler Scott shared some good reflections about life, change, and proper credit and attribution and writing about, “When internet quotes take on a whole new level of meaning.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared some deep life and vocational reflections in her latest editions of “Tuesday Tea Time” from a week ago, as well as today’s edition of “Tuesday Tea Time.”

News was released last week that friend Carol Carver, “Stillwater choir director steps down after four decades.”

Friend, blogger, and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes reflected about “Nostalgia’s Lure.”

FTE, the Forum for Theological Exploration shared this amazing animated video exploring and considering the definition of vocation. Check out the video and be sure and share it.

Miscellaneous

In fun sports news, and news all Seahawks fans might appreciate the hilarious “‘Seahawks Superlatives: Jimmy Fallon’ (video was) voted content of the year at NFL Digital Media Summit.”

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week. -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Mistakes; and “Will You Leap?