The leadership we need

The most effective leaders in my life have been people who tell me things I did not want to hear. Why? They do not just want me to feel good; they want me to be good.

It is rare to be in a relationship with someone you trust, who encourages you consistently, and who is still honest with you when necessary. Be that type of person to someone else, and all the good stuff you need will come back to you.

Leading When I Don’t Know

One of the best phrases I have used in leadership is, “I don’t know.”  Admitting you don’t know something actually invites new knowledge and collaboration.  You may be able to fake your way through a conversation a time or two, but a sharp person quickly figures you out.

A confident leader is able to admit what they don’t know. This practice puts people at ease and gives more weight to what you actually do know. Plus, who really wants to be around a “know-it-all” anyway?

A Refreshing Sabbatical

Our sabbatical ended yesterday, and I am so glad to be back at work with new perspectives, deeper appreciation for God’s blessings, and a renewed awareness of my call.

I’m so grateful for the CIL family that made this time possible, and I look forward to loving and serving this faith community with more effectiveness in this next era of ministry.

Why all the effort on Sunday?

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As I am reflecting on our fantastic Easter services, I am amazed at how many committed people it takes to provide a church experience in the 21st century. I cannot adequately thank all the people who contributed sacrificially to make our celebration successful.

For all the important and accurate critiques of the modern church, this is our culture, and people in the United States are accustomed to worshipping in a particular manner. So, a successful service requires elements like professional childcare, skillful music, a comfortable building environment, a humorous and academic sermon, time efficiency, artistic expression, marketing, and strategic relational connections – to name a few things. These characteristics require great forethought and strategic planning. I have found that no matter how far ahead you think and work hard, there are always things you could have done better.

Still, unlike many award shows, concerts, or cultural events, we do this every week. Easter Sunday is special because Jesus has made every day special. The amazing volunteers at CIL and other churches will continue to bring it every week. Why? He is worthy of our best every time!

Reflections on George H.W. Bush

bush_prez_0I am quite an admirer of George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), and think of him fondly on the news of his death. I always liked Bush, but when I was younger I was not overly enthusiastic about his leadership.  As time has progressed, my appreciation and respect for him as a leader continued to increase, until he has developed in my mind – for too many reasons to put in this post – as one of my favorite historical leaders.

He produced cooperation.  He was strong against tyranny.  He was compassionate towards the disadvantaged.  He was very human and very American.

Thirty years ago, Bush stated “We need a kinder and gentler nation.”  We needed that cultural challenge then, and it still calls to those who will listen today.

Thanks, Eugene

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Eugene Peterson died last month (October 22, 2018) after a long life of service to the kingdom of God.  He was an author, scholar, and pastor.   I never met him, but his writings marked my ministry greatly.

51ltEQZuJVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_His 2011 memoirs titled The Pastor, came into my life at just the right time.  One of my pastors – Ronnie Meek – asked me to read Peterson’s book. It was a time of internal struggle with my call, and disillusionment with the modern definition of a pastor that I was watching destroy several of my colleagues while eating away at me.

In December 2011, Beth and I were exploring Chicago (see picture).  As I followed Beth around Michigan avenue, I carried Peterson’s wisdom with a 1stedition Kindle Reader.  Page after page, chapter after chapter, Peterson’s enjoyable stories and thought-provoking phrases chipped away at my hidden obsession to be to be a super-star religious leader.

In Peterson’s stories, I noticed my story in a new way.  As he wrote, “I was a pastor long before I knew I was a pastor; I just never had a name for it.”  God used this book to bring me back home to God’s call.   Since that time, I have referred back to passages in The Pastormany times to re-center my call to this exhilarating, boring, spectacular, ordinary, complicated, privileged call to pastor God’s people.

the pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “gets things done” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God—this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.” – Eugene Peterson