New Poem Posted (Finally!)

I often like to use layout and space in my poems, to indicate flow and emphasis. For some time, though, I’ve been struggling with WordPress “eating” any non-breaking spaces I used to achieve that space. So, rather than having indents like I wanted, all lines would be left-justified.

Last night, I finally found a workable solution, and got a new poem formatted the way I want. (For the geeks reading the site, it involved using a “<span>” tag with some characters marked “hidden.”)

So, the poem is finally posted! It’s nothing earth-shattering — an observation poem I wrote after watching exactly the event described in the poem — but I’m glad to finally be able to share it. It’s called The Tornado in the Coffee Shop, and I hope you enjoy it!

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Mean for Jesus

(A Lection Reflection on Mark 7)

Some years ago, the denomination I was serving in was in the midst of a wrenching fight. One group was trying to take control of the denomination, and they were framing their tactics as “returning to the truth” — which meant, of course, that anyone who disagreed with them was automatically on the side of falsehood.

One day, the pastor I served with returned from yet another denominational meeting with yet more fighting. When I saw him come into the office, I could tell he was upset, so I asked what was wrong. Usually calm and easy-going, he replied with a strong amount of emotion, “I am so tired of people who feel called to be mean for Jesus!”

I’ve never forgotten that moment, or that phrase. Why? Because it perfectly captures a certain type of person of faith, one that many of us have had to deal with — and one that some of us may be.

Let’s talk about that person, and look in the mirror while we do. Continue reading

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Are You Leading or Managing? Are You Sure?

(This is the second in a series of posts on “leading vs managing.” If you want to keep up, signing up for the newsletter is the best way. /shamelessplug)

leading-vs-managing-ab-1-728In the introduction to this series, I laid out the distinction between leading and managing. Essentially, I said that those are shorthand for “managing the work” and “leading the people.” These are the two essential jobs of any kind of leader: deliver results, and build people.

Whenever I lay out this admittedly basic idea, I almost always get lots of head nods around the room. People understand it, and they agree with it. “Yep, we have to do both.” If I then ask them if they themselves do both parts of their job, most people again nod their heads. But if I press the point and ask them how they know, they become less certain.

There are actually three very simple tests you can use to see if you are balancing these two facets of being a leader. Here they are: Continue reading

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You Can’t Have It All

(A Lection Reflection on Joshua 24 and John 6)

Choices. We all face them. This sandwich or that one? This house or that apartment? This job or the other? Get married or stay single?

And even though we know that almost every choice opens one door and closes another, we continue to persist in trying to have our cake and eat it too. We “keep our options open,” we figure the angles, we walk down the middle of the road, we don’t choose sides. We try to have it all.

And the church? Sometimes the church is the worst offender of all.

Continue reading

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Leader, Manager, Predator, Shepherd

(A Lection Reflection on Mark 6 and Psalm 23) (also part of the Leadership series)

Fire up the Google machine and put in “sheep without a shepherd,” “Jesus as shepherd,” “the Good Shepherd,” or “the Lord is my shepherd.” You’ll find a gazillion sermons, blog posts, and web pages talking about church members as sheep, Jesus as shepherd, why us poor humans need shepherding, and so on.

This post isn’t one of those.

Instead, let’s take a different approach. Let’s answer two questions:

  1. What are the differences between leader, manager, predator, and shepherd?
  2. What does being a “good shepherd” mean? And should we try to emulate that?

I’ve got two different blog threads going here, and I’m going to take this opportunity to weave them together. Let’s see if it works — join me below the jump. Continue reading

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