Leading vs Managing — An Introduction

(This is the first 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-1-728There is a great site on the interwebz called Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition. It’s Don Clark’s site about leadership, learning, training, and performance improvement. There is a quiz on there about today’s topic, and the quiz includes two statements that you have to rate in importance:

Nothing is more important than accomplishing a goal or task.
Nothing is more important than building a great team.

Of course, everyone taking the quiz asks how both of these can be true, and Don answers from his Army days — Continue reading

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Worship As B-Roll

We had an interesting moment in worship this morning. I was in my usual place, sitting with the choir in the loft, when I looked up and noticed a TV camera crew in the back of the sanctuary. The camera man was shooting some B-roll, while the reporter was just standing there, watching the service happen. They recorded for about ten minutes or so, and when I glanced back there again, they were gone.

B-roll,” for those of you who haven’t done video production, is video shot of backgrounds, buildings, and other scenes. It is used as intro and outro shots, or to have something on the screen during a voiceover. Since our church is been indirectly in the news this week due to the marriage equality ruling, I wasn’t too surprised to see the TV crew. As I was watching them, though, the thought occurred to me:

How often do we approach worship as B-roll? Continue reading

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What If Gandalf Doesn’t Show?

(a Lection Reflection on Psalm 130 and Mark 5:21-43)

There is a scene in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where Gandalf is leaving Aragorn to go get help. As he mounts up and prepares to leave, he says

“Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.”

And with that bit of foreshadowing, Gandalf gallops away.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the rest. The orc army attacks Helm’s Deep, breaks through the defenses, and is poised to massacre all the forces of good — when, at the darkest moment, the sun rises on the fifth day, Gandalf appears in shining white, and with him is an entire army on horseback, ready to turn the tide and win the battle for the good guys.

What brought this sequence to mind is a verse in this week’s Psalm (Psalm 130): Continue reading

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Is Jesus Calling Us To Be Superheroes?

(a Lection Reflection on Mark 4:35-41)

I have a guilty habit to share: I enjoy reading adventure novels. Jason Bourne, Dirk Pitt, Jack Ryan — I buy them in paperback, and usually read them in a couple of days. They’re brain candy, empty calories, but I still get a kick out of them.

The heroes in these books share at least one thing in common: they’ve learned to manage their fears. Over and over again, when faced with situations that would paralyze most of us, they are able to think through their options, make a plan, and execute that plan. And, of course, they ultimately come out on top. (Hard to have a series if you kill off the hero.)

So here’s my question for this week’s Gospel lection:

Is Jesus calling us to be superheroes?

Continue reading

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Of David, twigs, and seeds — a lesson about the Kingdom of God

(A Lection Reflection on 1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13, Ezekiel 17:22-24, and Mark 4:26-34)

I love the Onion. So, when they put out a faux compilation of their work across the 20th century entitled “Our Dumb Century,” I had to have a copy.

On the last page, there is a news story entitled “All Corporations Merge Into Omnicorp.” It makes you laugh (ruefully) because you know that becoming bigger and more powerful through merger is a common tactic in business. Why do companies do this? Because size=might and might=right. It’s self-evident in our world: if you’re big, it’s because you’re the best, and therefore you should be in charge.

I can hear some readers now, saying “I don’t think that way.” No? Who gets asked to speak at your meetings? Who does workshops on successful church work? Who gets written up in magazines? The pastors and staff of the mega-churches, right?

Note that I’m not saying that big=bad, or that growth and success cannot be trusted. Instead, I’m just pointing out the central truth of our lections this week: Continue reading

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