Reflections on a Funeral

Reflections on a Funeral

A college campus is a place of growth, laughter, tears and learning. As students grow to the intended goal of graduation, we have the privilege of watching them and waking alongside them. At the conclusion of their undergraduate education we gather to celebrate them.

Recently I sat in a service for two freshmen young men. It was a service of celebration for their lives, loves cut short by an automobile accident. The service was meaningful and beautiful, with speakers who knew the students. It is amazing how quickly bonds form on a college campus. Yet despite all the good that this service offered to friends, faculty, staff and the family, it was still out of order. This isn’t how we are meant to celebrate lives on a college campus, but it is life, and sometimes life is messy, getting thing out of order.

I am grateful for the Campbell University community and how we care, celebrate and grieve together. Prayers continue for the families.

 

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Learning to “See and Hear” One Another

Learning to “See and Hear” One Another

Do we have rules of engagement for civil discourse and conversation where we disagree, sometimes passionately? My social media feeds, television screen (whether Fox, CNN, MSNBC or ESPN) and even conversations at parties, church and ball fields often turn into places where the rules are unproductive at best, unhealthy at worst.

Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr. write, “Peace eliminates hostile relationships that hinder productivity and waste human talent and energy and enables helpfulness to dominate our intentions and interactions (2014).” It seems to me that we have a lot of wasted human talent and energy that is going towards hostility and anger, not towards any type of peaceful and productive work. Do not get me wrong, I don’t think peace means things are not often contentious, but rather it serves as a foundation to eliminate hostility.

With that as my backdrop, I wonder if what we lack are rules of engagement for productive, helpful and spirited interactions that address issues without causing deep and hurtful divides.

  • Conversation should not have conversion as its goal
  • Listen to what is said, not for a chance to speak
  • Pray with one another, not for the other to change
  • Unity does not depend on uniformity
  • Find joy in learning
  • No matter how heated the discussion gets, remember that you have to shake hands at the end
  • Compromise is not always a bad thing
  • Debate should show us our blind spots
  • Love your neighbor
  • Treat your neighbor as you want them to treat you
  • Being loudest doesn’t mean you win
  • Winning shouldn’t be the goal
  • Be kind!

From my faith background, I see Jesus always standing beside the oppressed, loving the hurting, and offering hope. Perhaps when we are willing to walk in the shoes of another we can begin to embrace a similar compassion.

 

 

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A Nutty Look at Perspective

A Nutty Look at Perspective

Two squirrels race across the backyard fence, leap to a tree, skittering around it several times and back to the ground from on end of the yard to the other. As I watch from my kitchen window I cannot help but smile at the activity. Then I wonder, how would this be discussed depending on the audience.

With my kids: “Look at the squirrels playing.” 

With my neighbors: “They have been active this Fall. I wonder what winter holds?”

With my friends when 14 years old: “We should get our pellet guns and slingshots (Yeah I had a slingshot…a big bad fancy one with a wrist support on it).”

With my friends now as we act like 14 year olds: *insert your own nut joke.

How we view things often depends on with whom we are viewing them. When we view things with only one lens all the time, our perspectives become very narrow. This relates to politics, religious views, sports loyalties, and our ethics. We rarely learn from people just like us. We learn by engaging other people and information with curiosity, seeking to explore rather than explain.

Just a thought. Maybe today we explore more when we want to explain.

 

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Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America

At the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Greensboro this past June, Cori Williams from Volunteers of America heard of the work of which CBF missional communities are engaging. It appeared to be a great opportunity for CBF congregations to build a new partnership in their local communities. Cori provided the following information about Volunteers of America. If your congregation is seeking a place to live its missional calling in the community, Volunteers of America may be a place to begin.

“Volunteers of America is a nationwide faith based non-profit organization that specializes in educating, supporting, providing, and caring for the most vulnerable people in America. We are a Ministry of Service founded with a mission “to go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand.” We are dedicated to journeying alongside the individuals we serve. Some of the groups we serve include the homeless, veterans, unemployed, disenfranchised communities, and we are one of the nation’s largest providers of affordable housing for seniors with disabilities.

We are a 16,000 member family with a willingness and desire to collaborate and partner with other faith based organizations to help provide resources and assistance to the communities and individuals who are in need. Our Founders, Ballington and Maud Booth, saw an opportunity to put their faith into action, to make the world a better place. For more than 100 years, our spiritual and social legacy has inspired our work. That legacy lives on today in a ministry of service that transforms lives!”

Here are some of the community based programs and services that Volunteers of America provides (ways that your congregations can collaborate)

  1. Community Programs (e.g. Back-To-School Campaigns, Food and Clothing Drives, Holiday Gift Giving Donations)
  2. Mission Centers which provide meals, clothing, employment assistance,vocational training, and worship services
  3. Annual Worship Services (e.g. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas)
  4. Substance Abuse Counseling and Rehabilitation
  5. After School Tutoring

Learn more about the Missional Communities or how your congregation can seek out its missional calling through a new discernment based approach called Dawnings!

See below for more from Volunteers of America

 

 

 

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42% Obesity in America by 2030

42% Obesity in America by 2030

Yes, you read that statistic correctly. In a report from the Duke Global Health Institute, released May 7, 2012, researchers estimate that by the year 2030, 42 percent of the US population will be obese. Let that sink in. This will affect the culture economically and spiritually, in lost production and social capital. Consider each of these things individually for a moment.

Economically: Just health care and insurance costs alone will be crippling to an already stressed system. If the obesity rates were to remain level for the next 20 years, the savings is estimated at over $550 billion in health care related expenses. Who is going to pay those costs?

Spiritually: This is not just an issue of faith and spirituality. It is also an issue of the human spirit. Self esteem may not be based solely on someone’s appearance, but it is a factor. As some faith groups teach only about the condition of the soul and denounce sexual lifestyle, their congregants are increasing their waistlines without hearing of Daniel’s choices to live a healthy life.

Lost Production: Related to the economic impact on health care is the work related impact due to increased time out of work. People living unhealthy lifestyles are more prone to injury, illness and absenteeism from work. If workers are missing time, then others either have to pick up the slack or employment choices must be made. It would be a shame if unfit bodies led to unfit organizations.

Social Capital: Social capital is most simply defined as the glue that connects the community. That glue is strengthened through civic and community engagement in both informal and formal ways. As people work, volunteer, and play together, the social capital of the community increases. As relationships grow, so does social capital. What happens to a community where people lack the desire or energy to get out and volunteer to clean up the school grounds or coach a kid’s soccer team? A vicious downward spiral is created in the health of the next generation.

Sure these are all broad generalizations, and hardly an exhaustive list of how an obese nation costs each of us in far greater ways than the obvious ones. Consider for a moment how this culture will affect leadership as well. As a manager or small business owner, how will you plan for staffing issues and health care insurance? As a faith leader, how will your community serve effectively? As a community leader, where will people engage in healthy, relationship building activities?

To conclude, I would offer a few suggestions to encouraging healthy lifestyles among leaders.

  1. Daily exercise relieves stress and enhances the brain’s health.
  2. More energy comes from a healthy body.
  3. What is going to improve your life more, watching an extra hour of TV or joining a group that plays kickball or basketball, or runs and rides trails?

These are just my thoughts about the timeliness of the study and May’s focus on health and leadership. I’d love to hear yours in the comment section or over at twitter (@b4man72).

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aLeader: Accepting

aLeader: Accepting

A favorite phrase of mine lately has been, “Don’t judge me.” Clearly I am not the originator of the phrase, and mostly, it makes me laugh at myself. There are times however when I find myself saying it and realize I am self-conscious about the topic.  There are times when I hear others use the same phrase. I am convinced that we probably share the same reasons for saying it, mostly to be funny, but sometimes to mask some insecurity.

Leadership is a place where you are constantly being judged, even if you do not realize. An old leadership joke goes like this. Imagine a tree full of monkeys. You ask the monkeys how things are going. Those at the top talk about the great view and how everyone seems happy. You ask the monkeys at the bottom and they tell you when they look up all they see are buttholes. Leaders are judged.

Perhaps one of the harshest judges of a leader is the internal voice of the leader. Regardless of where you are a leader, you are judging yourself. Sometimes you are second guessing decisions and possibly beating yourself up over the results of another decision. In her book, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott, tells of a piece of advice she regularly reminds herself of, that what other people think of her is none of her business. You may have mastered this skill at work or home, but you always know what you think of yourself. Is your self-image a healthy one or are you constantly beating yourself down?

A key principle for personal leadership is to be accepting. While so much effort is made to accept and welcome others, we often neglect to accept ourselves. If you carry anxiety or disappointment in yourself all the time, you will project it on others. When you project it on others, you are not only hurting yourself or your team, but you are robbing yourself of healthy relationships. Are you perfect? No. Are you every going to be perfect? No. Have you adjusted your expectations yet to not judge yourself by the standard of perfection? No? Well start today. One great way is to tell yourself, “don’t’ judge me.”

 

“During the weeks of December and January, Brook Powers and I will be guest blogging on one another’s websites. We will be partnering together to offer a professional leadership workshop, aLeader, in February. aLeader is all about becoming an authentic, affirming, accountable, accepting leader in your personal and professional life.  The unique approach we each bring to leadership and wellness will make for an exciting way for you to enrich the way you lead your life and those with whom you come in contact. Click to request details when they become available.”

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