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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reading, Listening, Adjusting

It's been about a month since I posted some of the resources I've used recently... as school years end and summer approaches, my calendar has been packed with events and celebrations and planning.

Nevertheless, as life plows along, I have used the long Memorial Day weekend for the last several years to step back and take stock in how the first half of the year has gone so far. I reflect on what has happened, look at my goals and schedule, and revisit some of my plans before the second half gets going. What's working? What isn't? Do I need to shift and change some things? Do I need to reboot and start over in some ways?

I have found some of these resources valuable in kick-starting this process for my 2016 Memorial Day weekend... hope yours goes well!

Listening is an Overlooked Leadership Tool. I just read this one today, but am kicking off my post with it. I've already forwarded it to two friends who are managing teams. I liked it for multiple reasons, the main one being that for many years I have found that one of the greatest gifts I can give someone is to just shut up and truly listen. As this article says, "Listening is an overlooked tool that creates an environment of safety when done well." In a world where distractions proliferate more than ever, and many of us only offer "continuous partial attention," it can be significant to put away our phones, close our laptops, and be truly present. What a concept.

Westmont Chapel Message, March 14, 2016. Shameless self-promotion here. My chapel message at Westmont this spring. 

The Growing Allure of the Gap Year. Much of my calendar in May has been occupied with kicking off the sixth year of our Free Methodist intern program. I continue to love working with young adults, and will confirm that after some 30+ years of doing so, I find that the landscape is continuously shifting and changing. I hung onto every word of this podcast. The options for young people when they graduate from high school and college are really going in some fascinating directions. We cannot layer our own template of experience on top of theirs. Open your eyes and ears and give a listen.

Whoever Loses His Network: Beyond Fear and Anxiety in Networked Individualism. Yep, weird title, I know. But well worth the time to read it. There is some major Chicken Little fear-mongering going on in regard to the effects of technology on "kids these days." This article delves far deeper, past the superficial sound bytes, and examines bigger issues. This link is an excerpt from Dr. Andrew Zirschky's book on screen usage and teens. Zirschky is generally known as "the" expert on this topic in the field of youth ministry. It seems long, but in part it is because it has extensive (and helpful) footnotes. Read and discuss with parents and volunteer leaders: this article explains how students in 2016 create their networks of friends... Back in the day I measured that by how many people could sign my yearbook! Learn more here about how youth work on having as many "followers" as possible on Instagram or Snapchat. "Youth ages 12 to 17 lead the way as creators of content on the Internet with nearly all of them sharing content in some form, whether pictures, videos, blog posts, tweets, or status updates."

Helpful link for board and committee work and strategic planning. I wear many hats, and one of them is serving as a consultant to churches, non-profits and businesses on how to guide staff and key leaders through strategic planning, implementation and evaluation. Currently I'm working with eight different organizations, and repeatedly I've used some good stuff from Board Source. Getting their newsletter is free, and they offer occasional articles, graphics and slide shows that are useful. I just downloaded clear and compelling slides on the 9 characteristics of a mission statement and the definition of a vision statement that I'll be using in the future, I'm sure.

What am I reading?
I've rededicated myself to daily reading for at least 30 minutes a day. I want to avoid getting easily Fixer Upper or Chopped (though I absolutely love both of these shows!) Here is what I'm currently reading:
sucked in to Facebook and Twitter, or yet another episode of

Liberating the Church: The Ecology of Church and Kingdom by Howard Snyder. I'm a Howard Snyder groupie. His book The Radical Wesley changed my life. This one is proving to be equally challenging, all the more because it was written 20 years ago (1996) yet proves to be remarkably prophetic in regard to what I see on America's church landscape today.

Santa Biblia: The Bible through Hispanic Eyes by Justo González. A short book by not a shallow read. Also written in 1996, but utterly relevant. It is opening my mind and heart in powerful ways.

The Gospel of John. This one never gets old, and just this morning I noticed something brand new, despite having read through this gospel multiple times. Several commentators quote this about John's Gospel, and I find it true: It is “a pool in which a child can wade and an elephant can swim."

I finish with Psalm 119:57-58,

The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words;
I implore your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.