A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions

A Life of Deep Gladness: 7 Questions


Frederick Beuchner, a brilliant author (and Presbyterian pastor) states:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.


  1. How aligned are those two key elements in your ministry…in your life?
  2. If there is any uncertainty in their alignment, what is the source or cause of their linkage?
  3. How important is it to you to experience “deep gladness”?
  4. Are you motivated to meet “the world’s deep hunger” with your life’s calling?
  5. Assuming for a moment that your calling (work, ministry, job) isn’t pulsing with “deep gladness,” how impactfully can you meet the world’s “deep hunger?”
  6. Gently now…if you’re not now, this very day, vitally engaged in sharing that from which your “deep gladness” bubbles, for what do you delay changing your situation?
  7. What steps can you take, now, today, that will realign your deep gladness with what the world so desperately needs from you?

Engage here. What is your place of “deep gladness?” How does it meet “the world’s deep hunger?” Who do you know that needs to consider these questions right now?

Delighted photo credit goes to this wonderful artist: Monica Blatton via photopin cc

Sanctified Ignorance Leaves A Lasting Impression

Sanctified Ignorance Leaves A Lasting Impression


Sanctified Ignorance?

In The Rudder of the Day, by Dan Miller, he shares the story of a clergyman completely undone by his termination. Being fired brings shock, dismay and crushing bitterness. This Pastor’s church had, for reasons left unspecified in the story, chosen to take the drastic step of “letting him go.” Dan’s point is that, in all honesty, it is impossible that this Pastor had not been provided ample clues. Indeed, in unpacking this man’s career demise, it became clear that clues had been scattered across years of his ministry. So, the clergyman had “sanctified” his ignorance over time and repeated avoidance-impulses.

Et tu, Belshazzar?

In Daniel 5 we read about the witless Belshazzar, who is the original guy completely undone by the proverbial “writing on the wall.” Good thing for the King Belshazzar, Daniel was ready and able to interpret the cryptic message God had scrawled across the palace wall. Even though the message was dire in every respect, the King gratefully gave Daniel increased wealth and status in his kingdom. That same night the King was murdered, fulfilling the dire message.

As Dan points out in his story, the newly unemployed Pastor–with some help–could see there had been red flags (writing on his wall) for years: grossly overweight, medicated for depression and a bleeding ulcer, etc. Raising the question:

Were these not clear signs of a life out of balance?

Why is it that so often those in ministry expect their world, within the church, to operate differently than outside? This naive Pastor functioned on the premise that simply if he was committed to God everything would just work out. After sufficient reflection, this servant of the Lord realized he’d operated from a simplistic, intentional and “sanctified ignorance.” Ouch.

Let’s unpack this: “sanctified” + “ignorance.” Meaning set apart to be…unaware. Or worse: to impart…willful delusion. We’d all admit that would be a bitter bill to swallow on the way to humble enlightenment and steps towards rebooting one’s ministry. Indeed, double ouch.

But, again, how often do those in ministry wander through it in a state of sanctified ignorance?

I would submit to you: too many of them and too frequently. Unfortunately, we know of one Pastor who absolutely needs to immediately recognize this reality in his life, for his sake and his congregation’s.

Dan Miller declares,

The belief that if we love God and have committed our lives to him, everything will just work out, is an immature theology….will lead to a life of mediocrity…[and] is not the path of accomplishment, of excellence, of maximizing our impact and witness.

Amen and amen.

Engage here. Do you agree? Disagree? Do you see the writing on the wall for your pastor? Or are you that pastor? Who else needs to consider this?

photo credit: Robert Crum via photopin cc

First Church of the Holy Sausage

First Church of the Holy Sausage

Making Sausage

Is Church Leadership Really Like Watching Sausage Being Made?

Recently, I heard it said, a bit jokingly, that there are two things a person shouldn’t see:

  1. Sausage being made
  2. Church leadership in action

Having seen my fill of church leadership in action, both as a full-time staff member and a deeply involved volunteer, I can tell you that there is some truth to the metaphorical warning. Like any institution that involves multiple people in a decision making process, the very process can be laborious and messy. Points of view, positions and even feelings can get ground up and extruded out, while the goal is that something palatable and useful is being made in that process.

I can also assert that more than a few times I felt as if I was the sausage. Or at least the raw material from which the sausage was squeezed from. Very little seemed “sacred” within the discussion and implementation of the leadership of the church. Indeed, it seemed no better than the poorest of secular behaviors.

But Must It Be Like This?

Here’s the thing: why is it acceptable for the church to behave in the same way as the secular? Indeed, is it so commonplace that it’s to be joked about?

Sausage, by its very nature, has a predictable sameness to it. Precise widths. Uniform lengths. Consistency of texture and taste. One link just like the next. Like little soldiers. After having been crushed, mangled and ground.

Is this what we really want from our church leaders’ experience? Numbing repetition? Commitment to “the way it’s always been done?” Creativity crushed? Acceptance of poor behavior amongst leaders?

A New Metaphor

If, in fact, the actions of the leadership of any church can be compared in any way to the making of sausage, then something is completely out of whack. While this may be commonplace among the secular (and I’m not convinced that’s true), it is not acceptable within a Christian community. It’s nothing more than a glaring symptom of disease, a heartbreaking lack of vision, capitulation and a full embrace of the world’s mediocrity.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Does that sound like sausage making and something to avoid watching?

Engage here. Do you believe that church leaders are called to something higher than sausage creation? Is there someone you know that may need to consider this paradigm shift in metaphors…and behavior?

The Gospel According To Homer

The Gospel According To Homer

Homer philosophy - PFR fit




One of the definitions of gospel is “a thing that is absolutely true.”

I love this cartoon, because it’s really funny. In fact, I’ve used it in pretty high-powered business meetings as a “stopping idea.” We often need to have something surprise us into stopping long enough to question our thinking. This funny cartoon does that, in part, because it’s so funny.

Which begs the question:Do we find this cartoon (used with my permission after scanning our own, personal-use, refridgerator magnet) so funny because it presents a belief we recognize lots of people hold as true…even self-evident?

Which begs another question: How often are we one of those “lots of people”?

Engage here. What do you think about Homer’s Gospel? Why? And who do you know that may need to question this belief?

Time To Evolve Your Resolve: 10 Tips

Time To Evolve Your Resolve: 10 Tips

2013 New Year Resolution Tips, Part 1

As 2012 nears its end, assuming it isn’t later today or the 20th (depending on which Mayan calendar you’re working from), expect a flood of magazines, op-eds, posts and tweets to call you to make resolutions for a better 2013 than your 2012. Your best year ever. To be the person you always have wanted to be. But it requires resolve. Clearly, you don’t want to be found slacking on such an important and critical task. Or do you?

Perhaps the very best magazine for providing high-level resources for delving into your new you is Success. I first learned about it from Dan Miller, of 48Days.com. Dan highly recommended it (thanks, Dan!), so I started up my subscription and haven’t stopped. What I most enjoy and appreciate about it is the enclosed bonus CD, because it contains lengthy interviews with some of the key contributors for that issue, or the primary people featured. It is an awesome value-add. So, if you need some additional insight for establishing your 2013 resolutions, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better.

10 Tips for Resolution Evolution

However, before you resolve to go sailing off into the rarefied air of high-minded resolution making, here are a few bits of guidance.

  1. MAKE BIG GOALS: Perhaps you’ve heard of “BHAGs”–big, hairy audacious goals. Many goals aren’t reached because they weren’t compelling enough. A BHAG should make your heart flutter.
  2. WRITE THEM DOWN: Just write them down, will you? Until you write it down, it’s just an idea floating around. The simple of act of placing that idea on paper establishes it as serious to you.
  3. KEEP LOOKING AT THEM: So, when you write your BHAGs down, keep them in a journal, your day planner, on the notepad on your smart phone or a post-it note on your fridge. Refer to them at least once a week; daily is best.
  4. BELIEVE & COMMIT: If you are intentional about your written BHAGs–you really want to see them come into reality, knowing full-well that reaching them will mean you must stretch beyond anything you’ve done before–then your prospects are good! If your approach is more like, “Well, this would be cool if it happened but, you know, what are the odds of that…?,” you might as well close this window and go back to whatever you were doing earlier. Believe in yourself. Commit to setting a bunch of small personal bests throughout the year. They add up.
  5. EXPECT & ACCEPT: Here’s the trickiest challenge. You need to expect and accept some disappointments along the course of the year. Setbacks will come. And…you’ll also make progress! You’ll need to expect that outcome, and accept those moments, too. If you don’t, who will?

Just remember that virtually everyone that has succeeded in some area that you wish to grow into used the same steps that you will.

The other 5 steps tomorrow! Why not resolve to read them?

What’s been your experience with New Year resolutions? Inspiring? Frustrating?

Engage here.

photo credit: challiyan via photopin cc

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