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Friday, January 16, 2015

Stuff I Used This Week 1-16-15

Even though it's already halfway through January, for some reason this felt like my first full week where I was really stepping into 2015. Up to this point, I've been scrambling to catch up from the time off between Christmas and New Year's, digging myself out of email, returning phone calls, set up new calendars and schedules, etc. But this week, several new projects kicked in. So here are three articles that spoke into those projects and processes in helpful ways.

The Mistake Most Managers Make in Cross-Cultural Training. This applies in so many settings, I don't know where to begin. But for my denomination in Southern California, we are finding so much of our efforts revolve around empowering and equipping our churches being led by Majority World leaders. For example, this week in one of courses we require for ordination, we had 24 leaders, only 9 of whom were Caucasian. In fact, 10 of the 24 were born outside of the US! As this article states, and as we keep experiencing, learning about cross-cultural differences is not just about information, but also about understanding

We Still Don't Know the Difference Between Change and Transformation. Again, I could apply this in multiple ways. But one of my main leadership roles is serving as the Director of Recruiting and Leadership Development for the Center for Transformational Leadership for the Free Methodist Church in Southern CA. And while as Wesleyans we deeply believe theologically and spiritually in the process of personal transformation, we also want the leaders we identify, train and release to be people who shape culture in the process of change and transformation organizationally and strategically. This article speaks to that and how we guide both change and transformation on a larger scale.

Toward a Theology of Leadership. This one is a bit more wonky, but SO GOOD. At Westmont College I usually teach RS190, the elective on internships for Religious Studies major, but through a lovely intersection of various things, I've been invited to co-teach the Religious Studies Senior Seminar capstone course this semester! Even better, my colleague and co-instructor was up for the challenge of setting the theme of the course as a study in the "theology of leadership." The link here defines more expansively what that phrase means, but if I only have 10 seconds with someone who asks me in passing what I am teaching, I tell them that this is focusing far more on the WHY of leadership and not the HOW. Everything I'm reading, from Gregory the Great's Book of Pastoral Care to Dallas Willard and Gary Black's The Divine Conspiracy Continued, are really sparking me to dig even deeper into how leadership has evolved and been defined and determined in church history, where it is today, and where we need to go. If you are a leader, take the time to read this article. It will challenge some of your assumptions.

Finally, I can't end without a thoughtful quote. I never tire of hearing from Henri Nouwen:

Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

May 2015 be a year of HOPE for you!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Stuff I Used This Week in My Work 1-3-15

Happy New Year! This past week was lovely... not too many appointments, and some free time to step back and view everything from 30,000' as I mapped out some projects for the new year. I came across these three things that touched on things that I am directly dealing with. Perhaps they will be helpful to you....

4 Tips to Help Millennials Find Meaningful Work. What I like most about this post is that it perfectly reflects what I'm trying to accomplish in our Free Methodist Intern Program! As I posted it on various networks, it got repeated "likes," mostly from those in that 18-35 year old group. Sure, I get a little tired of "10 Best" this and "5 Ways" that, but this article is not quite so superficial. Here's a couple of sentences: "Seek opportunities that excite you and inspire you to wake up in the morning. Build a purposeful career by experimenting with opportunities you actually care about." Again, that is my goal in the intern programs that I have run and am currently running -- seeking to give chances for young people to feel the weight and experience of significant work, with all the responsibility that comes along with it. I find more and more that young adults lack work experience (for a whole host of reasons), and are often rather unrealistic about what they should be looking for.

The strong message that I took from this article (witnessed by the demographics of those who "liked" it) is that young adults are leaning more toward finding meaningful work than the mighty dollar. We can be cynical and call that a first-world problem ("Oh, that we all had those choices...") or we can simply note it and work with it. I'm choosing the latter.

How Do I EVER Conquer Email? I don't know about you, but email is the bane and blessing of my work life... sure, I love that I have far fewer phone calls to make, and time is less spent on sending an email than having a conversation. But after getting tangled in a convoluted email thread with a group, or missing an important message because my inbox was too full, or not hearing back from someone I really need to hear from "because I just don't do email" or perhaps worst of all, when my inbox has a little red bubble with 3 digits floating above it.... I just want to give up. But what are my options? Many email management apps promise they can get you to zero and do your groceries too, and I don't believe them. But I'm feeling a cautious optimism about Tipbit, which I read about recently in Fast Company magazine. Read a review on Tipbit, or just give it a spin. Others tell me that the new Google Inbox is wonderful, as is Mailbox, but they didn't grab me when I tried them. Tipbit felt different. Who knows?

How We Grieve ~ very poignant and personal podcast from Tom Ashbrook. As I have mentioned previously, I tend to listen to NPR like it's my job, given that I work from home a good part of the time. "On Point" from WBUR in Boston is a top favorite, and I was deeply moved as I listened to this 45-minute roundtable conversation led by Tom Ashbrook the host, who has recently returned after a 2-month absence that followed the loss of his wife to cancer. If you've dealt with grief yourself or are caring for someone who is, this was deep tonic. I'm saving this one for future use.

Joy and Sorrow. When it comes to Facebook, I mostly post quotes or passages that I find meaningful, rather than latest cat video (though I've been known to succumb to watching these rather quickly when they are placed in front of me!) Here is the quote I posted yesterday, and it echoes some of the lessons learned from grief that were touched upon in the On Point episode.

Joy and sorrow are never separated. When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about. Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth. 
Henri Nouwen