Hopefully you had a great Fourth of July! We spent the weekend with our daughter Jamie and son-in-law Cal. We went to see Charlotte’s mom, her sister Carole, and brother-in-law Keith. It was a great weekend.
Now for the resources. Hopefully at least of one of these will be interesting and even helpful to you.
This post contains reflections on Robert L. Johnston Jr. who was my Greek teacher at Abilene Christian University. One semester, I took a Greek readings class with him and learned much about Greek, the text, and what it means to be a Christian gentleman. I was the only one in this class. Each day he served hot tea prior to reading the text.
Seth Godin says much in so few words. See “The difference between impossible and nearly impossible.”
See Roger Olson’s fine post “How American Evangelicalism Has Changed . . .” This made me pause and think.
“My Zombie, Myself, Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead.” From The New York Times.
I am very thankful. (Each Thursday I write a post with church leaders in mind. However, today I want to focus on what I am grateful for. Perhaps this will simulate your thinking and even your gratitude as you consider your own life.)
I am grateful for my family.
- I am grateful for Charlotte who dared to move to Memphis at this point in our lives to begin a fresh new chapter in our ministry. I am blessed.
- I am grateful for Christine, mother of two wonderful little boys. I can’t imagine a more attentive mother. So thankful for Phillip, a good and devoted husband and father.
- I am grateful for Jamie, the social worker with such a heart. Thankful for the way she is thoughtful to so many. So thankful for Cal, an unassuming, gracious husband and man.
- For those whom I’ve known for so many years. So grateful to receive those texts, e-mails, and handwritten notes. I take none of this for granted.
Some of us seem to live by the adage, “If I don’t talk about it, it is not real.” Or put another way, “If I don’t talk about it then maybe it will go away.”
Consequently we close our eyes and hope it will go away.
Have you known anyone like this?
1. The doctor gives a stern warning to a 40-year-old man, “You have cancer. This has to be addressed immediately.” The man later tells friends, “I won’t be going back to the doctor anymore. I’m not about to undergo those treatments.” Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.
2. The woman says nothing to her husband who exhibits all kinds of suspicious behavior. In front of their friends, they talk about their fantastic marriage. Meanwhile, at home they sit in silence, rarely speaking to one another. Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.
I heard Laura Nichol Speak last week in Pittsburg at the meeting of The Association of Theological Schools. She is a business consultant from Houston. Excellent presentations. This reading list is from the Rios Advisors website.
Ebooks versus paper
See this article which appeared in the Financial Times “Ebooks vs paper” by Julian Baggini.
Really like what NBA commissioner Adam Silver did during the draft for Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Just days earlier Austin received news from doctors that he had a disease which would prevent him from ever playing competitive basketball. Here Silver announces that the NBA has “drafted” Austin.
From Duke’s Faith and Leadership, Laura Nichol has written a fine piece “Rethinking capital – its more than money.”
Jan Hoffman recently had an interesting piece in The New York Times entitled “Cool at 13, Adrift at 23.”
Thom Rainer has written an important post regarding ministry and burnout. See “Autopsy of a Burned Out Pastor: 13 Lessons.” I suspect that any minister who has ever experienced burnout will relate to at least a portion of this post.
You might read Skye Jethani’s thoughtful post “How Churches Became Cruise Ships.”
I just read an important post! The post by Terry Rush was important because it is exactly what I needed to hear today. How easy it is to forget Resurrection power! See “The Kingdom Energizing Factor.”
Michele Cushatt has updated her list of memoirs. See “In Search of a Good Memoir (UPDATED).” By the way, Michele is an excellent writer. Her blog is very good!
Michael Hyatt has written an excellent post on the value of sleep and makes some great suggestions. I need all the help I can get with this subject! See “6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More.”
Most parents I know love their children and want to do a good job with them. Many of these people will do most anything to give their children a head start in life. Some will go to extraordinary lengths to give their children an advantage.
Yet, it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers.
The following are some ways to mess up your kids:
1. Model before them a self-centered life. Focus on yourself, your pleasures, your desires, and your preferences. Teach them by way of your example that life is all about “me.”
I was in a conversation with a woman who was abandoning her husband and children in order live her own life. She wanted to believe that her leaving would have no long term impact on her children.
The reality is that our self-centered behaviors really do impact others. They certainly impact our children.
Beware of counterfeit ministry!
1. A church leader can become more concerned about image than reality. This church leader will spend much time and energy projecting a particular persona while the reality of this person’s life is elsewhere. In every generation, there is a temptation to want to appear cool, relevant, successful, sought after, important, etc. (Some words will resonate better than others. Nevertheless, the same principle is at work.) Unfortunately, that same person may be settling for a superficial spirituality instead of rigorous discipleship.
2. A church leader can speak one way in public settings while speaking very differently in private. Years ago, a woman shared with me her disappointment in a preacher who spoke warm words about a former elder at a church banquet. That same evening, he privately mocked and made fun of the same man he had honored in the public setting.
From Daily Blog Tips by Ali Luke: See “Top Resource: 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2014 from the Write Life.”
See Melanie Pinola’s article in Lifehacker, “Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills.”
See the article by Katherine Shaver (Washington Post) “Do Father’s Day Cards that portray dad as an incompetent boob reflect today’s fathers?”
Also note the review by Bruce Feiler (Washington Post) “Book Review: ‘Do Father’s Matter, on the science of fatherhood” by Paul Raeburn.
This is interesting. I would really like to read the entire report. See Geraldine Bedell’s “Mother’s of innovation” (Financial Times).
Some church leaders really connect with the people who make up the congregations they serve. Others have great difficulty. The following are a few suggestions that might help you connect. Perhaps one or more of these will be helpful.
1. Listen to people. Listen to a wide variety of people in your congregation. Too many church leaders seem to listen primarily to their critics while others seem to only listen to kindred spirits. Again, listen to people across the spectrum in your congregation.
2. Ask good questions. Give some thought as to the questions you might ask people in your congregation. Having specific questions in mind can help prevent an awkward silence when you don’t know what to say. It can also keep you focused on having an exchange with someone instead of dominating the conversation.
3. Reflect on what it might be like to experience another’s circumstance. For example, consider what it might be like to experience situations such as these:
*What’s it like to be divorced?
*What’s it like to be depressed?
*What’s it like to lose your job?
“What’s it like to have cancer?
*What’s it like to have lost a child?
*What’s it like to learn of your spouse’s affair?
*What’s it like to be secretively in debt due to gambling?
*What’s it like to be gripped by pornography?
Pondering such situations might flavor your remarks in sermons and classes. Such reflection might also help a church leader reconsider telling a particular joke or making flippant comment.
4. Don’t tell inside jokes. A speaker will make a remark in a presentation. Then he says, “That’s an inside joke.” A few people laugh while everyone else is baffled by the remark. This practice can leave other people feeling as if they are on the outside looking in.
5. Pay attention to the edges. Years ago, a woman gave me some very good advice regarding connecting with people who were on the edges of our congregational life. After a Sunday morning assembly, she asked me if I had met a couple who had been visiting our church. I had not. She said, “You are going to have to try harder. These are not people who are going to come to you.” She was right. I needed to be more intentional in connecting with people who were on the edges.
For a number of years, I’ve had a front row seat to witness first hand some great fathers as they’ve interacted with their children. Most of these dads also modeled what it means to love their wives with an unconditional love.
The guys who I have in mind are in their 30s and 40s. They are normal men who have a mortgage and go to work each day. Yet, they have allowed Christ to deeply impact their lives as fathers.
Here are ten traits of a great dad:
1. The best kind of dad first models faithfulness and loyalty to his wife. His children witness this. While many men behave in ways that are small and childish, this man is real grownup. This mans wife married a real man who refuses let his immaturity dominate the relationship. This kind of man also blesses his children as he relates to them as a real father.
2. The best kind of dad is more concerned about being what his kids need instead of being focused on his own ego. Some boy-men are so insecure they must have their fragile ego massaged each evening when they are home. Such ego needs doesn’t leave much time or energy for being attentive to their children.