Relationships

Why You Can't Be Responsible for Everyone

I’ve always cared about the journeys of other people. Years ago, serving as a youth pastor, I was concerned about “my” students learning, maturing, and owning their faith. As a pastor overseeing “connections,” I served with a team implementing a process by which adults could find relationships through "groups" and volunteer opportunities. I didn’t rest easily until everyone had made those connections. When I managed a retail clothing store years ago, I also cared about the job performance and personal lives of my team. 

I still care for people. I still feel responsible. But not as I once did. And I’m really happy about that. 

Safe Space. Real Journey.

This past weekend my wife, Laura, was invited to be part of a small panel for a conversation during the 11:00 am Gathering at our church. And — she was invited just 10 minutes prior to the start of the Gathering. This wasn’t about poor planning at all. Rather, a woman who had participated at the earlier Gathering time had become ill and was unable to serve on the panel at 11:00 am. So, our friend, Beth Graybill (who has taught, hosted and led discussions beautifully through our recent Everyone an Icon series) made the ask.

I’m grateful for Laura. And I’m grateful for South Bend City Church. Here’s why.

What's My Purpose? Asking a Better Question.

I’ve observed in my life and the lives of others that our effort to live with purpose and meaning often creates disillusions. False expectations.

My primary work is to come alongside individuals to help them discover and affirm just who they are; to understand and embrace their one-of-a-kind, true self; to identify and live out a sense of personal purpose. And in doing so, there is a risk that I can over-promise and under-deliver.

A Citizen with a Purpose

I've recently struggled with how to speak into and about the deeply broken climate of these un-United States of America. I wrote a social media post recently, then removed it after a few comments clearly revealed I was risking not being endeared...and I was, based on my own fear, not “keeping peace.”

But, to fully embrace my personal purpose - "to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE" - means I must speak for those Human Beings who are in multiple ways being denied their unique purpose to live out their Truest Self as image-bearers of God.

I'm deeply concerned and angered by... 

I Vote Everyday. What Am I Voting For?

I just took down a Facebook post from an hour ago. I was rather straight-forward about my growing frustration with our political reality. After a few comments I realized my desire to “voice” my heart to defend people who have been disrespected, marginalized and even dehumanized was tangled up in a seemingly no-win debate among people - who really care about our country. Because my desire wasn't to begin a political conversation, creating side-taking banter about candidates or partisan preferences, I deleted

Give the Gift of Purpose

Maybe you’re one of those gift-givers who actually thinks about the appropriateness of a gift. Does it “fit” the character, interest and personality of the person? I know people like this: my wife, Laura, our daughter, Liv, our friend Shelley. There are a few people I know whose joy comes, not only from giving, but from giving the perfect gift - for THAT person in their life. Maybe you’re one of those gift-givers: you want to give gifts that have a sense of real purpose.

Is there someone on your gift list…

Keep reading…

Lasagne Lessons

If you were in our home last evening, I’m not asking you to send me an email or text or Facebook message, telling me how flavorful pasta can be without enough sauce to call it lasagne. It’s okay. Really. You didn’t fail me by not praising my attempt at dinner.

However, the truth is this: I still want approval. About my cooking, about my training, about my appearance, about my life. I still want the satisfaction and accolades that come from performing.…

Room at the Table

I think I’ve always grown up hearing that people matter. At least most people. 

I’m pretty sure the people I attended church with, the leaders and pastors in my life wouldn’t say “most people.” They’d say all people matter. It’s just that the language I heard (and I used) and the approaches I watched (and I participated in) didn’t always reflect that every person matters to God…and to us.

When I was a kid, what I heard went something like this…

  • “They practice a false faith.”

  • “Their doctrinal system is wrong.”

  • “They are sinful.”

  • “They are lost.”

What's the Big Deal about a Day Off? Really.

It’s easy for many of us to just go, go, go. After all, this is the one and only life we have. Once we discover how we’re wired, what our talents are and what our purpose is, it’s time to "get to it," right? Maybe. But we often burn up the wonder of discovering why we exist because we don’t know how to exist without working every day of the week.

Why is it so difficult for us to unplug? To take a “day off?”

Here are five reasons we often lean in to our own demise.

*Note: if your work is in a church, feel free to replace “work” with “ministry” if that helps you.

Discipleship as Story: A Shared Journey of What It Is to Be Fully Human

I’ve been to India twice now. On both occasions I took in a trip to Agra to visit the Red Fort and the famed Taj Mahal. I was traveling with my family on the second tour and wanted them to experience all I had in my first Eastern adventure. 

You see, my first tour was with a native travel guide who completely immersed herself in the history and legacy of her country. She told stories about the people and events that had inhabited the sites as though she had experienced them herself. She was connected with the story. She told it as if it was her own. I listened with keen interest, hung on every word. I was invited into her world, her history, her life. I not felt I knew her country and her heritage; I believed I knew her. 

Eager for my wife and daughter to experience the same riveting interaction, we embarked on the two-hour ride to Agra from New Deli. My eagerness waned as…

Your Team Wants You to Ask Yourself These 10 Questions about Trust

The more conversations I have with clients, family and friends, the more I’m thinking about trust these days. Seems there’s precious little trust actually being experienced in work places and homes. Let’s start by defining trust.

My online dictionary states that trust as a verb means: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone.

Conversely, the same dictionary defines distrust this way: to doubt the honesty or reliability of; regard with suspicion.

My experience confirms that people know quickly whether they are trusted or distrusted; whether their supervisor believes in their strengths or regards them with suspicion. People know when their leader hovers, limits, takes back a responsibility or removes authority.

I Don't Want to Press 3 for Service

It seems that when an organization is faced with staffing challenges, the need to operate more efficiently, or simply to address a potential problem, the tendency is to create as little change or hassle as possible for the organization. So, the change, and often the hassle, is passed on to the end user: the customer, the guest, the human on the other end of this would-be relationship.

What is the current challenge for your church or organization? 

    You could miss this Easter opportunity, but you don't have to...

    A few days ago, a pastor asked me if I had any “Easter tips” to share. My pastor friend, like most churches, has begun or already planned their Easter weekend services. Having a few tips isn’t a bad idea. 

    This Easter we will all expect new guests, many of them returning to church - any church - for the first time in years. There will be people who appear “new,” but who gather with our faith communities twice a year: Easter and Christmas. Most of us will see more people attend our Easter services than on a “normal” weekend. Because of this, it’s not unusual

    Stop Your Target Practice

    I love it when people begin to discover that they are loved by God. I especially love it when they move from understanding how much they matter to God, to seeing that other people really matter too. They matter as treasures God created. They matter to that person who's just discovered God's grace. It's beautiful.

    It's disappointing though, when followers of Christ begin to see their friends as walking targets, a bull's eye target to faith-wrestle to their knees, so they can be "saved." People can tell when the friendship is motivated by pure love that is curious, genuinely interested and invested. And, people can tell when the "friendship" is about completing a soul-saving objective. When that happens...

    How to Give a Care

    We use this word, care, easily and often throughout the day.

    • “Do you care if I have a cookie?”
    • “I don’t give a care.”
    • “I care, just not enough to do anything about it.”
    • “I care for you.”
    • “Be careful!”
    • “He should be under a doctor’s care.”
    • "I don't care."

    Care is defined as a noun: the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something; serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk. It’s also a verb: feel concern or interest; attach importance to something; look after and provide for the needs of.

    Maybe it’s just as easy to miss actually caring for someone as it is to say, “I don’t care for...

    Honest in Church?

    Church is too often the most risky place to be spiritually honest. - Peter Enns

    It's a challenging statement. And yet, most of us know exactly what it means. Of course, we are complex beings, thoroughly connected: body, mind, spirit. So being spiritually honest can be as difficult to as revealing our mental illness, our emotional insecurities, our addictions.

    How does this risk exist in too many churches? What contributes to our mask-wearing? Perhaps some of the following are true...

    • Do we expect only joy should be expressed in corporate worship?
    • Do we say "how are you?" with any intention of hearing what's true - regardless?
    • Do we believe that Christ-followers should never feel depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation?
    • Do we value closure and convincing over journey and process?
    • Are we afraid our question of faith...

    Care is Intentional

    What if you could learn...

    • how to listen - not only to words, but to someone's heart?
    • how to leverage your own brokenness in order to step with love into the brokenness of someone else?
    • to journey with someone whose shame is binding, confusing and masking their true identity?
    • to avoid some of the ridiculous...

    Right Where You Are.

    A common mantra in the Church about God’s love goes like this: “God loves you right where you are, but too much to leave you there.” I’ve said it too. It’s true. 

    Sometimes I wonder if our mantra risks communicating an unwillingness to love people right where they are. 

    I talk to others a lot about accepting people right where they are. It’s at the core of the guest services training I do with churches and organizations. It’s what I teach. And yet, I’m embarrassed that I am still learning...

    What's Your Label?

    I didn't meet the guy who drives this Jaguar convertible. But he picked up this label somewhere - and then paid to announce it to everyone. At least everyone who sees his ride.

    It's interesting - the labels we wear. Some we give to ourselves. Many we take on from someone else. 

    • Successful. Failure. Incapable. High Capacity. 
    • Skinny. Fat. Attractive. Ugly. 
    • Leader. Crowd-follower. Independent. Stubborn.
    • Rude. Sweet. Professional. Normal. Real.

    I don't know where you picked up the label or labels you most naturally wear - ...

    Grateful You Were Born

    I reminded Laura shortly after midnight - November 15, her birthday - that I am so grateful she was born. I'm a better person because God created her. Clearly.

    Just hours before I'd sat in the living room with a dear lady and her family and friends, talking about the wonderful memories of her 32 years of marriage to her man. He'd died suddenly of a heart attack just the night before. 

    We don't get any guarantees. Every day is a gift. 

    Next week Laura and I will celebrate 32 years of marriage. I hope we have at least 32 more. But, we get no guarantees. 

    So, I'll tell Laura again tomorrow "I'm so glad you were born." I'm grateful...

    • for her courage. She's