Seven ways to avoid getting stuck

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Over the years, I’ve seen people get stuck – personally and vocationally.There’s no formal definition for that place in life.  But minimally, I suppose, we are “stuck” when we are profoundly uneasy with our circumstances, at dis-ease with the direction in which our lives are moving, and apparently unable to do anything to change the situation.Some people get stuck in the past, trapped by regret, guilt, or unaddressed injustice.  Some get stuck in the present with patterns of behavior that … [Read more...]

6 Questions We Need to Answer about Clergy Formation

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Some weeks ago, a Facebook friend who is also a young pastor posted this message (which I have quoted here with his permission): So, this is a bit of a vent/rant.  I'm frustrated, discouraged, and worried.  Worried about the future, discouraged about where my ministry career has brought me, and frustrated that I feel like I'm in a prison called The Church with no apparent way out. I've been researching a career change to nursing, which seems infinitely more promising for career options and f … [Read more...]

The Wrong Side of History

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From my list of errant (but oft-cited) truisms: "The wrong side of history"... History is mute and dumb.   The product of human choices, moral and immoral.   Capable of advance.Capable of gross and brutal retreat.  Capable of virtue in some places.  Capable of cruelty in others. Sometimes, many others.   The course of history is dependent upon the good, which is God.   It is also a servant to evil, which is the absence of God, one choice at a time.   "The right side of histor … [Read more...]

Body Image and 5 Paths to Freedom

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My wife and I love to cook.  We were watching Food Network’s show, "Chopped," and waiting for the Cubs game.The guest chefs are former or current models: 2 men, 2 women.What is distressing, but not surprising, is that the women have obviously struggled with the projection that up-ended and savaged their lives. Both have obviously spent decades of their lives, struggling with what other people and the modeling industry expected of them.The net result was a loss of self-acceptance, fr … [Read more...]

The Making of Zombie Theologians: Catechesis, Spiritual Direction, and the Future of the Church

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Over the years catechesis acquired a bad reputation. There were a number of reasons for this state of affairs.One was the traditional format that was used to teach the Christian faith. Catechesis became inextricably attached to an aging format that consisted of leading questions and brief answers that were committed to memory. As such, teaching the Christian faith was associated with pat answers, simplistic truths, and a dictatorial approach to transmitting the Christian faith.In an age … [Read more...]

3 Things Francis Taught Us Today about Politics

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The address that Pope Francis gave this morning before Congress was holistic and pro-life.  He spoke to the needs of the poor, the dreams of the common man and woman, the preservation of the creation, the devastating impact of violence, the danger of fundamentalism, the fragile nature of the modern family, the death penalty, and the need to protect the unborn.  He pointed us to the contemplative, Thomas Merton, and the activist, Dorothy Day.  He spoke to the example of Martin Luther King.  In sho … [Read more...]

The One Reason a Global Church Matters

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Earlier this week The Guardian declared, “Justin Welby’s plan to split the Anglican Church tells us a lot about religion and politics.”  As English Bishop Nick Baines observed, the headline also told us a lot about the journalistic talent of some of the folks at The Guardian.  Baines tweeted, "Can't they read?" Evidently not. Clearly, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not trying to split the Anglican Communion by calling for a global meeting of the church’s leaders.  What he is trying to do, I s … [Read more...]

From Beneficiary to Benefactor: Turning the Corner in the Third Generation

Last week’s blog was devoted to a question for leaders: “Are you a founder, an inheritor, or a beneficiary?”Based on some reading that I did some years ago in The Harvard Business Review, I suggested many enterprises (religious enterprises included) fail in the third generation, because their leaders treat the institutions and organizations that have been entrusted to their care as an entitlement. What are the characteristics of a third generation leader who avoids that temptation and becom … [Read more...]

Are you a founder, an inheritor, or a beneficiary?

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Some years ago The Harvard Business Review reported that 97% of all family-run businesses fail by the third generation.  The article theorized that the reason for this rate of failure can be traced to the generational changes that take place in the lifespan of those businesses.I no longer recall exactly how the article framed the analysis, but my memory of it and my version of the argument goes something like this:The founding generation has the vision for a family business.  It makes t … [Read more...]

Nine Ways Your Pastor Can Help You Plan for a Funeral

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In recent years churches have made a greater effort to prepare members of their congregations for death.  But much of that conversation is still squarely focused on advanced directives and clergy often delegate that responsibility to people who know more about the attendant legal complexities.  That, no doubt, is an appropriate choice.Churches and clergy pay less attention to the funeral arrangements themselves.  Having been through that process with members of our family and with pa … [Read more...]


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