It’s the Second Day of Lent. Why Does This Matter?

Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I experienced Lent as little more than a joke. “What are you giving up for Lent?” my friends would ask. “Homework,” I’d say with a smirk, or “Obeying my parents.” Lent was one of those peculiar practices demanded of Roman Catholics – another great reason to be Protestant, I figured. It never even occurred to me that Lent was something I might actually be interested in, or benefit from, or decide to keep, or come to value as a way of getting to know God bett … [Read More...]

Ash Wednesday: Practice and Meaning

What is Ash Wednesday? For most of my life, I didn’t ask this question, nor did I care about the answer. I, along, with most evangelical Christians in America, didn’t give Ash Wednesday a thought.But then, in 2004, Ash Wednesday loomed large in American Protestant consciousness. Why? Because on that day Mel Gibson released what was to become his epic blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. For the first time in history, the phrase “Ash Wednesday” was on the lips of millions of evangelical Chr … [Read More...]

The Future of Not Working?

The title of a recent article in the New York Times caught my eye: "The Future of Not Working." Annie Lowrey describes in detail a new, tech-inspired effort to fight poverty. GiveDirectly uses mobile phones to provide some villagers living in Kenya with a modest, guaranteed income. This test of so-called "universal income" is not without it problems, according to Lowrey, but it seems to have an overall positive impact on the the lives of those who struggle with extreme poverty.I must admit … [Read More...]

Lent Begins This Week on Ash Wednesday

The Christian season of Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday.Throughout the world, many Christians will attend special Ash Wednesday services, where they will be reminded of their mortality and need for a Savior. The imposition of ashes on the foreheads of worshipers is a powerful symbol of the fact that "we have come from dust and to dust we shall return" (Genesis 3:19).If you would like to learn more about Ash Wednesday, you might find helpful a piece I have written called "What … [Read More...]

Two Excellent Articles in the New York Times on Christmas

Kudos to the New York Times for publishing two excellent articles on Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, of all times.The first is "Humanizing Jesus" by Peter Wehner. Don't let the title worry you. This op-ed is not denying the deity of Jesus or turning him into nothing more than a "good teacher." Rather, Wehner reflects thoughtfully on the true meaning of Christmas, which is God becoming human in Jesus. What a refreshing piece!The second excellent piece in the Times in a conversation … [Read More...]

How to Build the Perfect Team

I just read a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine, something I'd recommend to all leaders and managers. "What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team" was written by Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and bestselling author.This article is an excerpt from Duhigg's forthcoming book, Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Honestly, this is the sort of book that I would pass by in airports and avoid like the p … [Read More...]

Harvard Crimson Upholds Value of Religious Diversity at Harvard

Harvard Divinity School began a new, online edX course today called: "World Religious Through Their Scriptures." This course seeks to help students develop more awareness of and sensitivity to religious traditions throughout the world.That HDS would do this is not particularly surprising. I was startled, however, to read the editorial piece in the Harvard Crimson (undergraduate newspaper) written in response to this course. The Crimson's positive editorial included a paragraph on the … [Read More...]

Finding Jesus at Work in The Atlantic

There’s a fascinating piece that has just been published in The Atlantic. It has the intriguing title, “Finding Jesus at Work.” The focus of this article is on workplace chaplaincies. [In] recent years, a number of companies have . . . hired spiritual leaders to serve on their staffs. Though slightly less trendy than nap rooms and yoga classes, workplace chaplaincies are another attempt to make workers more productive by catering to their “whole” selves. Sometimes, these chaplains serve as spiri … [Read More...]

What is Success, Really?

This week, in my Life for Leaders devotions, I am thinking about success. My inspiration is a passage from Genesis, a description of Joseph's work in the house of Potiphar. In this passage we read, "The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man" (Gen 39:2). What does this mean and what can we learn from Joseph's example?On Monday, I talked about "God as the Source of Success." Yesterday, my theme was "Challenging Our Idea of Success." Today, my topic is "Success and Trustworthy … [Read More...]

Nick Saban Canoes the Mountains and His Team Wins the National Championship

Okay, I admit that's an odd title. Please let me explain.A week ago, the University of Alabama football team won the national championship, beating Clemson 45-40. The turning point in the game was a surprise play, in which Alabama used an unexpected onside kick to grab hold of the momentum, not to mention the lead.If you've been following college football for a while, you know that this play was doubly unexpected because Alabama is coached by Nick Saban, who is one of the most successful … [Read More...]

Why Do We Love a Good Fire in the Fireplace?

I am one of those people who loves a good fire in the fireplace. I am certainly not alone. A crackling fire has an almost magic power to draw us in.Now part of that magic has been documented through a study published in a recent edition of the journal, Evolutionary Psychology. The title of this article says it all: "Hearth and Campfire Influences on Arterial Blood Pressure: Defraying the Costs of the Social Brain through Fireside Relaxation." Christopher Dana Lynn, an anthropologist at … [Read More...]

Leaders Need a Great Heart

Check out this excellent interview of Bill George, a prof at Harvard Business School.  Faith & Leadership asked George,  "What does it take to be a great leader?" He responded: To be a great leader today, you have to have a great head and a great heart. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The longest journey that you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.” You might have a high IQ, but if you do not have an emotional intelligence, then you are not going to be successful. Quali … [Read More...]

Advent Devotion: Waiting for the Shepherd

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!” Psalm 80:1-2 Introduction to Advent Devotions This is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the season in which Christians throughout the world prepare for a fuller, richer celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent is a time of expectation, waiting, and hope. During the four weeks b … [Read More...]

God of Peaches

Note: The following devotion is from Life for Leaders, a daily digital devotional. You can subscribe to Life for Leaders at no cost here.When I read Genesis 1:11-12, I can’t help but think of my life in the Texas Hill Country. For seven years, my family and I lived in this beautiful region to the west of Austin and San Antonio. It features rolling hills, rocky outcroppings, winding rivers, and millions of oak trees. If you’ve never been to the Hill Country, I heartily recommend a visit. (On … [Read More...]

The Curious Meaning of “God”

This post is from Life for Leaders, a new daily devotional I am writing as part of my work at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. You can learn more about Life for Leaders or sign up to receive a daily email devotional here. "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." Genesis 1:1-2 I began ​yesterday's Life for Leaders devotion​ by pointing to … [Read More...]

First Impressions of God

This post is part of Life for Leaders, a new daily devotional I am writing as part of my work at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. You can learn more about Life for Leaders or sign up to receive a daily email devotional here. "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." Genesis 1:1-2  When was the last time you really wanted to make a … [Read More...]